Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Atheists on "30 Days"

I really like the FX reality show "3o Days", created by Morgan Spurlock, of "Super-Size Me" fame. For those not familiar with the show, a person is made to live with a family of very very differing views/lifestyles/religions, etc, such as a Minuteman living with a family of illegal immigrants, a downsized IT worker living with a family in India were the husband/father does the job he used to. Granted, there is no real way to encompass what these people (on both sides) feel in the hour of the program, nor is 30 days living in a different environment enough time to really understand what that life is really like everyday, but it is an interesting concept and it makes people on both sides think, hopefully.

Last Wednesday's episode featured a Kansas City woman/wife/mother, who considers herself an atheist and a free-thinker who was sent to live with a Christian family and attend church and Bible study with them. I was really struck by the episode, thinking first "Do people really think this way?", then when I realized they do wondering how they could possibly think that way. Mark, the husband/father in the Christian family, kept bringing up to his wife and to the camera in his personal interviews how he could not understand what the atheist believed in, where she got her morals, and in what she could find hope. I guess I am just flabbergasted by the notion that Christians (or anyone for that matter) could think that atheists just don't have moral. As if atheist are only atheists so that they are free from God's moral authority. Believers throughout all times and places have felt themselves free from their god's moral authority, or at least consciously acted against that moral authority. It seems to be a foreign concept to most followers of a religion that people could be ethical and moral on their own, without believing in a higher power. Ethical and moral behavior, even when many of those ideas are passed down from the Judeo-Christian tradition, are taught to us as we grow up, no matter what religion we are, or aren't. And just because a moral/ethical principle has been passed down through the Judeo-Christian tradition does not mean that all atheists (or any atheists) will reject them wholly because of that. The morals of religious traditions are usually common-sense ideas for large civilizations and, whether you think those morals were handed down from God or dictated by wise old men who just said they came from God, they are still good ideas which most rational people will follow. I am just amazed at how the Christians couldn't fathom anything about what this atheist thought.

On the other hand, I do not really think that the atheist made a very good case for herself. Often, she was intimidated by the husband/father of the Christian family, but I would think that someone who prided herself on being a free-thinker would have put forth more thought for the Christians. But really amazing, thought-provoking episode.

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