And if you’re a religious believer, what’s the question you most want to ask atheists?
I don’t generally interrogate religious believers about their beliefs. (Except in this blog, of course.) I just think it’s rude. Not the fake, fucked-up, “the etiquette restrictions on questioning religion are a major part of how religion protects itself from ever being questioned” sort of rude, either. IMO, it’s the genuine, serious, “according to my own morals and standards” sort of rude.
I mean, if someone comes into my blog, where one of the main points is to question and debate and critique religion, that’s different. People are free to visit my blog as they like, and to participate in the conversation as much or as little as they like, and to leave as they like. If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen, and all that. But at a party or some other in-person social situation, I think it’s obnoxious to essentially corner people so I can proseletyze at them. Or not even to proseletyze. Even just to ask difficult and intensely personal questions. I wouldn’t do that about politics, I wouldn’t do that about sex, I wouldn’t do that about money, and I’m not going to do it about religion.
But it’s also true that, whenever I meet someone who tells me they’re a Christian, or a Wiccan, or an astrologer, or whatever, I find myself bursting with questions that I don’t feel I can ask. I find myself making idle chit-chat about movies or restaurants… while I’m practically wriggling and jumping up and down with the effort to not ask the one question I most want to ask them.
I have a lot of these questions. But there’s always one big one. For me, whenever I meet someone who tells me they’re a Christian, or a Wiccan, or an astrologer, or whatever, the big question I want to ask is, “Why?”
It’s a hard question to ask without sounding incredulous. It’s hard to ask it in a way that’s genuinely curious, without coming across like you’re trying to pick a fight. (Heck, speaking for myself, it would be hard to ask it without, in fact, trying to pick a fight.) It’s hard to ask it without it coming out like, “Why on earth would anyone believe that?” In other words: It’s a hard question to ask without sounding like a jerk.
(The second- biggest question I want to ask, btw, is, “Do you really believe that?” Mostly with Wiccans and Neo-Pagans and such. I always want to ask them: “Do you really believe that casting spells works, in some supernatural way? Do you really believe in gods and goddesses and the spirits of the four directions? Or is this all just some metaphor, a way of framing your own thoughts that you find beautiful and useful?” But that’s really a question that you can’t ask without sounding like a jerk.)
I’m betting that a lot of the other non-believers in this blog have questions they’d like to ask believers but don’t feel like they can. And I’m betting that the believers who read this blog have questions they’d like to ask atheists.
So I’m curious: What are your questions? If you’re a non-believer, what do you want to ask believers? And if you’re a religious believer, what do you want to ask atheists?