Last weekend, when I was gallivanting around parts of Middle and East Tennessee, my ladies had a day at the salon. Like women with beautiful, wavy hair everywhere, they got it straightened. I understand the impulse. Early in high school, when I found I could not get my hair to go into my eyes like Robert Smith, one of the members of the Cannon County Speech and Debate team showed me how to blow my hair straight. I did not do it very often, mostly because it was more work that it was worth (this was prior to the invention of the straightening iron) but I also did not want to run the risk of being labeled a poseur. In the alternative / punk / whatever-we-were culture of late 1980’s suburbia, there was nothing worse than being a fake, inauthentic person.
So the first thing I think when I imagine being an atheist, if just for one day, is that I’m a total poseur. I can’t really imagine being an atheist any more that I can truly imagine being a woman or being black. It’s not how I am built, which doesn’t make the way I am built any better or worse (although it does give me tons of privilege in this society.) The best I can do is a polite bit of fiction, a suspension of belief.
Except it’s not. Lack of belief is agnosticism, which is the end of logic as well. We can’t rationally prove the existence of God, nor can we rationally prove a negative (such as “God does not exist.”) Atheism, then, is the belief that God is not here because there is no God. This day, the day between the remembrance of the crucifixion and the celebration of Easter, is as close as Christians come to atheism. God is not here today.
So where does that leave us? Without God, how do we build a life of meaning? Even on a day without God, my life has meaning. If nothing else, I’ve got a wife that I can partner with and a daughter I can care for. That doesn’t mean nothing. Then there are the other people. Do they have dignity and deserve respect because God told me they did? Not today. Maybe not ever. Maybe they have dignity and deserve respect because they are. And they are all we have. Today, we don’t know if we’ve got God, but we know we have each other. What do we do with that?