February 27, 2008

Atheism: More Antagonistic Than Homosexuality and Evolution Combined!

Posted in Skepticism, Writing tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 1:25 pm by lifelessonsfromwriting

At least, that’s the way it can seem. As someone who keeps tabs on all three topics, I’m always stunned at how much people can get riled up by an atheist (even one who isn’t particularly argumentative or offensive!). I’m also bemused at how an otherwise friendly, rational-seeming Christian can end a conversation with ‘Oh and by the way, you might not want to go to heaven, but I sure do. So you’d better repent quickly!’ – or something to that effect. What? Threats? I thought only God was allowed to do that!

Anyway, I thought this cartoon was priceless. I’ve also noticed that no Creationists took a shot at the challenge in one of my previous posts, so to reiterate: I was being entirely serious with it. Come on, you guys love to take shots at evolution, right? Surely you can put that much effort into building a case for your own theory hypothesis quackery.

I’ve been re-reading ‘The Subtle Knife’ because the parts at the beginning of the book, where Will finds himself in Citagazze, are quite similar to a lot of stuff in my own book (in terms of mood, not content). It always amazes me when I re-read an author who I last checked out before I started to write seriously. I think that if you write enough, and particularly if you read a lot of what other amateur writers put on the internet, you inevitably become a critic. I had always thought that there was something unusual about Pullman’s style, but it’s only now that I appreciate what.

Basically, he writes with an extraordinary richness that has nothing to do with the words he’s using. He tends to use short, even simple sentences, and is quite direct. The depth comes from the story itself, and he conjures detail and life out of a few ordinary words. I’ve always much preferred this approach than using a lot of eloquent adjectives and long-windedness (I’m looking at you, Tolkien), and it’s what I’d like to get with my own writing. Not now, obviously, but at some point in the future.

I have a very odd phobia that I’d like to write about here. If you don’t like self-indulgence, just skip on past to whatevr it is I ramble about next (I’m using this as a ‘warm-up’ for my writing for the day, which is why it’s probably only half-coherent). You know those nature shows about sharks and fish and whales? I can’t watch those. In fact, I wanted to get a picture of a basking shark here to illustrate what I maean (because of their size they tend to be photographed with a lot of empty blue ocean in the background, which is really what freaks me out), but I literally couldn’t look at the picture long enough to get the URL.

Now, this isn’t too much of a problem unless someone ever puts a gun to my head and tells me to go scuba diving in the pacific, except that it’s not just ocean pictures that do it. I was reading about the Cassini space probe yesterday, and decided to take a look at some of the Jupiter photos. And wouldn’t you know it, but there tends to be a lot of black space in the background? This picture was even worse. It’s a picture of Eta Carinae, a massive double star, surrounded by the Homunculus Nebula. Fascinating. Beautiful. So terrifying that it had me hyperventillating when I accidentally opened the large version.

This irrational fear has gotten progressively worse in recent years, to the point where I start to get nervous if I’m reading something with a possibility of a picture that will freak me out. If I get a National Geographic, I read the contents page meticulously to make sure there are no stories about ocean wildlife, lest I accidentally find myself on a double-spread photo of a shark floating in the blue void.

Rest-assured, though, that I’m not crazy in any other ways, unless you count trying to write a novel as a mental illness.

Current word count for [untilted]: 20,010

Target word count for the end of the day: 22,000

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5 Comments »

  1. Samuel Skinner said,

    Is this similar to the fear that when you’re over a body of water something is down there…?

    Atheism is more antagonistic because atheism quite simply implies the believer is wrong. People don’t like being told they are wrong or forced to think.

  2. lifelessonsfromwriting said,

    Is this similar to the fear that when you’re over a body of water something is down there…?

    It’s similar, except that it doesn’t matter if I know there’s nothing down there or not 🙂

    Atheism is more antagonistic because atheism quite simply implies the believer is wrong. People don’t like being told they are wrong or forced to think.

    But then, most mainstrea religions not only imply that non-believers are wrong, but also explicitly state they’ll go to hell when they die. I’d rather here ‘Your cherished beliefs are wrong’ than ‘You’re going to burn for all of eternity because you’ve got an ounce of sense’!

    Thanks for the comment!

  3. Samuel Skinner said,

    Cognitive dissodance- a polite term for double think- holding beliefs without thinking about them. That is the only explanation I can think of.

    It doesn’t matter if something is down there- only that you can’t see the bottom. Oddly this only affects me on small boats- cruise ships are fine.

  4. lifelessonsfromwriting said,

    That’s the thing, though – it happens with pictures or scenarios in which there definitely isn’t anything ‘down there’, for example in the Eta Carinae picture I linked to. In that picture, it’s the thing in the middle ‘floating’ the blackness behind it that gets me, not any sort of fear of something else lurking where I can’t see it.

  5. Samuel Skinner said,

    Oh… that would be infinity. It is best not to think about it to much- it is really, really BIG.


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