Dead Fish and Atheism

My late fish.

RIP, Bertrand. You will be missed.

This weekend, while I was at Clairmont Campus, my fish died. I also won $200 in a trivia competition. Things pair good and bad, I suppose.

So, on a slightly less macabre note: Biological Anthropology tshirts.

“Zygomatic: it’s a process!”

“I was reproductively isolated and all I got was this lousy dwarf elephant.”

Wholphin versus grizzpole, with the text “Hybridize this!”

A hobbit anthropologist uncovering a human skeleton. “They’re so big!”

“Alas poor Yorrick, I drew thee well.”

Anthropology: the most warped of the sexy, sexy sciences.

Other than that, I’ve been enjoying spending my trivia winnings on Etsy purchases–specifically a custom dress from this woman, who sews in Thailand, as part of my attempt to build an ethical, adult wardrobe, and a wine bottle serving tray from this woman as a gift from my mother, which was well-received. The purchases give me hope that I can, as I age, keep myself reasonably well-appointed without tearing my conscience apart too badly. My only worry is shoes. My Sociology course (Social Problems–we spent the first class watching a documentary on the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, which was super fun) is rubbing off on me.

Tonight also marked the first Interfaith Council meeting. We ate Thai food with a group of 30 students and two professors, and we talked about faith in college. I was asked a question about how I–as an atheist–handle being alone in the world, without a God to pray to. There was also a hint of “how are you a good person without faith?” For the latter, I simply said that I strive to be the best person I can be, and to go to bed thinking that I have done as much as I can to make the world better and done as little as possible which harms anyone. It’s never been a fear of God which kept me from doing bad things–just a fear of disappointing those who love me.

The first question, though (the one about being alone), confused me. I have never felt alone as a person lacking faith. I had never considered that I ought to. Certainly, I’ve felt lonely; it’s quite possible that I feel like that more than most people. But I have never once felt that I was alone. I have my parents and my sister and my relatives in various places and my friends at school and from other places and online. It has always been very clear to me that even when I felt my most abandoned, my most alone, that there was someone who was aware of me and who would be affected if I hurt myself or others. There have been times when I have been deeply unhappy, but never once have I truly despaired.

It makes me wonder if that is because of my family, or my friends, or simply a fluke of genetics. If I’m not normal compared to most people, I can see why religion (as in the idea of God–I’ve always seen why one would like the community) is appealing. It would be horrible to feel that alone. It’s part of why I find the Discworld version of Death so appealing. He’s–as messed up as this seems–kind of what I would hope God would be like. If there is an afterlife, I certainly hope that it’s closer to what the books depict than it is to anything else I’ve heard.

“I meant,” said Ipslore bitterly, “what is there in this world that truly makes living worthwhile?”
Death thought about it.
“CATS,” he said eventually. “CATS ARE NICE.”
Terry Pratchett

The books, despite their various gods and Death and so on, are very much humanist books. They are full of humanist faith, probably in no small part because Pratchett himself is a humanist. They are full to the brim of this idea that you do the right thing because it is the right thing; you are compassionate even when you are Death; you make the effort to turn something right if no one else will. Tiffany Aching and Moist Von Lipwig help the Wee Free Men and the postal service, respectively, because dammit, they are there and no one else is paying much attention. It’s what you do, gods or no.

3 thoughts on “Dead Fish and Atheism

  1. I’ve always kinda meant to read Terry Pratchett but I never actually have. I’ve just read your post and I’m off to Amazon to get me some of his books.

    Lovely post, thanks for the read and have a fab day. 🙂

    • ay gurl. As you fellow Athiest sister I do feel alone. There’s not even an SAT bubble for me (and I don’t like filling in the ‘other’ bublle)! Haha, just kidding (about the alone part, the SAT bubble actually bother me). But, in all seriousness, I’ve always resented and loved the fact that we weren’t raised in a religious household. I resent it because it seems it would make thinking about a lot of things easier, I love it because it seems like I can make decisions completely for myself.
      You go with your interfaithing.

  2. Pingback: I Was A College Vegetarian « Riot Campus

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