Being both non-Christian and non-religious in general, I don't pay much attention to Easter.
But since so many other people in the United States do, I feel drawn to play my part in this holiday/fantasy by dedicating a fresh blog post to the occasion -- drawing on some of my previous ponderings.
My secular attitude toward Easter was summed up a few years ago by "Easter infringes on my religious freedom." It doesn't seem right that my normal Sunday life gets disrupted by a national shut down in honor of someone (Jesus) I couldn't care less about.
My athletic club is going to be closed all day.
Why not just in the morning, so any devout Christians who have to work tomorrow can attend church if they want to? Which would allow us unbelievers to carry on with our own worship at the altar of shopping, fitness, latte-sipping, and such.
Regarding my spiritual attitude toward Easter, I can't do better than to quote from a 2004 post on my other blog, " 'He is risen!' No, almost certainly not."
Tomorrow countless Christians will consider that they have been saved through their belief that Jesus died on the cross and was resurrected several days later. Almost certainly they are wrong. Probably, both about being saved and about the miracle of Jesus’ resurrection. I find Blackburn’s analysis of people’s beliefs about God highly persuasive.
He says that it makes sense for any thinking person to be skeptical of all the conflicting claims about miracles, one of which, of course, is the Christian claim that Jesus died and then bodily lived again—as also will, supposedly, the Christian faithful.
“Which is more likely?” Blackburn asks: that something miraculous happens which is totally surprising, that in normal life just never happens (like the dead coming back to life), or that the purported miracle is the result of causes we encounter all the time: delusions, memory lapses, misunderstandings, metaphors mistaken for literal truth, deliberate fabrications for selfish ends, and so on.
In the course of browsing through my archives, looking for these previous writings, I came across one of my favorite posts: "Ten undeniable metaphysical truths." Marvelous title. Simple, strong, confident.
And utterly accurate. To date I've gotten 14,699 comments on this blog. None has undermined those ten undeniable truths. Here's my first three Easter-related truths:
(1) Nobody on Earth knows what happens after death. Why? Because if you're still alive on this planet, you aren't dead yet. My logic is impeccable. Near death or mystical experiences don't count as pointers toward a possible afterlife, because they're experienced in this life.
(2) There's no solid proof for God or any other unearthly divinity. If there was, religious skeptics wouldn't have a doubting leg to stand on. Everybody would believe. Plus, whatever religion preached the gospel that matched the proof would overwhelm competing faiths lacking the support of that evidence.
(3) No religion has more validity than any other. This follows from (2). Given that there's no evidence of God, in the sense of a personal (or even impersonal) entity that consciously creates and/or sustains the physical universe, every religion rests on the same foundation: the shifting sand of human speculation.
That said, I'm finding that as my churchless years go by, I'm becoming more comfortable with other people's religiosity. With this caveat: if they don't claim their beliefs are true for anyone else.
I'm up with (non-pathological) craziness, irrationality, absurdity, eccentricity, wildness, and far-out notions.
I'm still the same guy who spent a good share of his college years stoned on various psychoactive substances, listening to trippy music, and musing with my fellow "freaks" about whether on one of the atoms inside the water pipe there was another universe where beings were doing just what we were doing, while in turn we and this entire cosmos was merely a speck of smoke blown from the mouth of a much grander Turned-On Divine Poohbah.
Hey, it's possible. It was fun to speculate on. We didn't take ourselves seriously. There was no proselytizing, no dogmas, no "thou shalt's."
I don't object to people believing in weird stuff. Everybody does that. When I go into a coffeehouse, order something to drink, and get an extra warm smile from the cute-young-thing barrista, I know that I'm off into la-la land when a crazy voice in my psyche says, "Some chicks are attracted to older gray-haired men."
What's almost certainly true is that she likes larger tips. But I enjoy my little fantasy, recognizing it for what it is: a subjective emanation of my male mind, not objective reality.
We all have ways to get through the days. And weeks. And years. And a lifetime. Life isn't easy. Happiness isn't always at hand. It's natural to seek solace from sources both inside and outside our heads.
Such as religion. Such as Christianity. Such as believing that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, was resurrected on the third day, and is waiting in heaven to receive those who believe in him.
That's a comforting belief. I can understand why someone would embrace it.
I don't have a problem with people believing in whatever they want to -- so long as they don't expect others to accept it as anything other than a weird, wonderful, irrational, and almost certainly untrue belief.
Here's how Owen Flanagan puts it in his "The Really Hard Problem: Meaning in a Material World."
What sort of theism can co-exist with the scientific image? What I mean by theism is a set of propositions about the existence and nature of God or gods.
...But theism of the sort that takes certain texts as authoritative, that asserts that certain facts that cannot possibly be known by humans to be true are uncontrovertibly true, is a problem. Assertive theism, but not what I will call expressive theism, is epistematically irresponsible and dangerous to boot.
...But since expressivism is not committed to truth, not even to reasonableness, the story can be as wild and imaginatively rich as one pleases. Forces of good and evil, multiplicities of gods -- a transfinite number of divinities in transfinite universes creating transfinite numbers of new worlds through worm holes between universes enacting the most fantastic battles between forces of good and evil. Whatever you wish that feels compelling, satisfying, rich and deep. We are only talking about stories.
...Because they are untestable, such stories can be said, expressed, even embraced, but they cannot be asserted as worthy of true belief. They are not evaluable in terms of the "true" and the "false." But you can like your story so much that you treat it as true, even if it can't be evaluated as such.
Or at least, something like this might be the best way to describe the self-understanding of the persons who tell a certain story that they conceive mythically: They do not quite believe their story to be true (they can't responsibly do so), but they believe that belief in their story is beneficial.
So if you want, go ahead and believe that Christ is risen tomorrow. There's no harm in believing in belief. It's believing that beliefs are true that is the problem.