Justifying Faith is a brief essay from a collection titled The Religion of Disbelief, written by Elmore Kelvin Glib (1989- ). The Religion of Disbelief is a scathing review of atheism–not for the ideology but rather for the hypocrisy. Within the collection, Glib castigates modern atheists for their attempt to “spread atheism” as though it were a religion. He calls this “evangelical atheism.” Glib describes himself as a novice philosopher; thus, his collection was never intended for publication. The excerpt here is shared with his reluctant permission.
In my day, there was an awful lot of talk about finding yourself. There were gurus, self-help authors, life coaches. The overall consensus from these types was that you should avoid intimacy with the outside world until your “self” was found. Without having found yourself, there was a good chance you could be a danger to others or, at the very least, a nuisance.
So, what was finding yourself exactly?
Well, as far as I could gather, the first part of finding yourself was understanding yourself. Once you understood yourself, you had to learn to accept yourself. This, it was said, would finally lead to loving yourself.
That was the general process. I mean, I’m sure it was a bit more complicated than that, but it never stuck with me. I looked for myself (I did!)–vehemently for a time–but the only thing I ever found was that it was difficult to pay attention.
You see, there was a world on the outside of the self. I could feel its inertia skimming my toes, pulling beneath my sedentary feet.
I wanted to move with it, but I just couldn’t if I stared in to a mirror, or, worse, stared too extensively, too deeply, too inwardly.
I started doubting whether one could ever truly find him or herself. Weren’t we moving targets after all?
I don’t know. It was the spiritual panacea of the age, and maybe I dropped the ball.
When I was very young, and–in fact–throughout most of my childhood, I was told over and over again that I was special. I was told that the light that shone from within me was entirely unique; that my life–that all life–was a miracle. I’ve since learned that most children in the western world were brainwashed with the same silly sentiments.
Each of us grew up to believe his or her life mattered. It was a symptom of living in the age of arrogance.
These aphorisms, I believe, were deeply rooted in both democracy and in capitalism: the notion we were special; that we each had a voice; that we each could achieve our dreams.
Yet, at the time of my writing this, there are well over 7 billion people on Earth. We are being born far faster than we are dying (I know it may be hard for you to believe as you investigate the strata of our wrecked world, but long before the vast wasteland you see before you, we as a people were thriving–all too well, I think).
Therefore, it seems to me that the numbers don’t match the platitudes.
I don’t think we were that special, and certainly our lives didn’t seem to be a miracle. Since death was rarer than life in a sense, why was death not deemed a miracle? Because death was promised? Well, then–so wasn’t life for those who lived?
I wonder what the implications would’ve been if more people had realized this? How might they have lived their lives differently? I think we would’ve tried to make our lives mean more–we would’ve tried to actually be special–if we didn’t assume we already were.
At any rate, as it just so happened to turn out, I actually was special.