Atheists On Air podcast has offered me friendships and encounters I never would have known. Today I received a beautiful letter from a fellow Atheist and Free Thinker. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. ~ Cash
It is he who gets drunk and emails bad rants about bears.
I’m one of those people who will probably never leave the church alone. I can’t imagine a life wherein the stone rolled forth from Mormonism will cease to spin in my head, even if it rolls in wild directions.
I’ve been an out atheist for maybe 3 years. Before that I deliberately maintained a distance from both Mormonism and atheism for about 7 years. I left the church around age 20. Yet the concept of Mormons crying as a mark of sincerity or as a reaction to a strong belief is something that I’ve only recently learned of in the past few months… because it’s something that seems so normal that one doesn’t consider until it’s mentioned by an outsider.
I wanted to share a recent experience I had. At the end of the first episode of Cosmos, Neil deGrasse Tyson talked about his personal experience with Carl Sagan. A number of images of Sagan and Sagan’s work were shown, and the lynchpin was Sagan’s own planner written, “Neil Tyson.” I had heard the story before, but the delivery in Cosmos brought it together to have a viscerally potent act that threw me into tears, wracked with sobbing of joy. I looked over at my fiance and with half of a laugh I said, “I’m not sad!,” to which she brushed my cheek and replied, “I know you love Neil.”
Similarly, I got really choked up the first time I listened to the recording of Ingersoll’s creed. (thank you Cash for pointing out its existence) I get confounded by chills and cloaked with warmth as I imagine seeing examples of profound goodness of character like Ingersoll, Sagan and Tyson. It feels strange, like I’m betraying my ideals by revering some prophet or messiah of modern wisdom, but I think I’m growing to be okay with it.
I think there is real power in glorifying real people who exemplify the attributes we value. We can look at them and see that each of them was one of us, and it helps to remind us that each of us can be one of them. Every atheist with even the slightest of philosophical inklings will try to answer the question of, “Why should I be good when no one is watching?” My own answer is that I wish for myself to walk a road not too different than those whom I respect, so that I can respect myself and hopefully earn the respect of others. I don’t dream that my reach can come close to that of the giants whose shoulders I stand on, but I do hope that wherever my touch is felt, those people can look upon me in the halls of memory and think, “He was a good man, and he made my life better.”
We just need to remember that our forerunners were great because of what they said and did, and the ideas were not great because of their speakers. We always need to remember that even the greatest mind launches a dud, and to treat bad ideas with scrutiny and their thinkers with sympathy.
Feel free to share any of the above in full, part or none, I just wanted to mention it since your show recently mentioned the crying Mormon phenomenon.