Religion & Beliefs

He’s Too Smart to Be Religious

There’s this guy that I see at the coffee shops that I frequent, he’s always working on his laptop and he’s cute and every once in a while we kind of nod and smile at each other in a way … Read More

By / March 12, 2007
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There’s this guy that I see at the coffee shops that I frequent, he’s always working on his laptop and he’s cute and every once in a while we kind of nod and smile at each other in a way that suggests one day we’ll flirt but not today when we have 3000 words to write in the next four hours. Anyway, recently I saw him at one of my favorite haunts, and just next to him was a table of three attractive girls who were drunk. I don’t know what they were doing at a coffee shop, but that’s not the point. They were drunk, and they were talking about Jesus, which is fairly typical in Nashville. If you recall, everyone in Nashville seems to be talking about Jesus all the time. I wasn’t paying any attention to their conversation both because they were obviously smashed, and because I had a lot of work to do. But my coffee shop buddy apparently was listening to them, because eventually he turned to them and said, “Come on girls, you’re too smart to believe that.” Then the girls started drunkenly defending the Bible, and my buddy just shakes his head and says, “We know none of that is true. It’s just an old story. You don’t need to get hung up on an old story just because someone told you it has meaning.” I don’t remember what the girls said to that, but I do remember that what I thought was, “Asshole.” I’ve hung around a lot of academic institutions, and these “too smart to believe in God” guys are all over the place, sneering haughtily at everyone who can list the first five books of the Bible. I think if you’re an atheist or you’re an agnostic, that’s fine. I don’t actually care, but I expect you to be at the very least equally passive and apathetic about my practices if I’m not preaching to you or breaking any laws. Not every religious person in the US is a registered member of the Republican Party, and I’m annoyed by the assumption that because my politics are liberal, I couldn’t possibly be doing anything as dumb-ass as observing the Sabbath. I have no interest in convincing anyone that I’m right about God, that I know the Plan and that I can direct anyone, even myself, in any definitely good direction. And these days, when zealous atheists (my friends and I call them frum atheists) give me their typical shpiel about how there’s really no way that there could possibly be a God, or no way that Moses got the Torah directly from God, or no way that the Exodus actually happened, all I can think is, “Shut up, man. You really don’t know any better than I do. That’s why it’s called faith.” I’ve been thinking about it today because there’s an article on Jpost called Atheism is Not the Answer, about, well, why atheism isn’t the answer. And while I think it’s convincing in some ways, it certainly leaves much to be desired on an intellectual level. Happily, scholarship and religion meet in a series of interviews published in the Biblical Archaeoloy Review about how scholarly research has effected the faith of a bunch of Biblical archaeologists. That is, people whose job it is to determine whether or not what it says in the Bible really happened. The interviews are definitely worth a read, but a lot of what’s said is that religion serves a larger and more important function than just dogma. Which is a great point. I have at least 600 more words of rant on this subject, which I will save for later this week, but I’m wondering if there are other people out there who have something they always say when presented with the whole, “But you seem too smart to be religious…” argument. Anyone got some heavy ammo for the frum atheists?