Atheists And Stories

Dana has a terrific post countering the simplistic inference that just because we reject the Jesus story as true, we atheists must be incapable of appreciating stories. She explores what’s wrong with this idea numerous of interesting ways. Money quotes:

I’m a Gnu Atheist, my darlings, which means I’m one of those hardcore majorly-atheistic atheists, and I still love stories. I bloody well adore mythology. If you’re a believer who can’t wrap your mind around that, think of the Greek and Roman myths you’ve adored, and tell me that someone who doesn’t believe in that stuff can’t appreciate it. Go on, go ahead. I’m listening.

Hmm. Crickets are out in force tonight. Lovely.


But we science-loving atheists can see stories others can’t, too: in data, in mathematics, in genomes. We don’t need a god story to make sense of those stories. And they are epic.

Trying to crowbar a god or two into the stories nature tells seems ridiculous, like adding something to the plot just because it’s currently popular. It would be like adding a vampire romance to Macbeth: clunky, contrived, and utterly useless to the story, taking away far more than it gives. Science doesn’t need gods. Discworld, on the other hand, would be impoverished without them. But that’s the difference between fiction and reality.

No, we atheists understand and appreciate stories just fine. I think the problem for these believers who claim we don’t is that we don’t accept their myth as a true story. And they can’t accept their tall tale as fiction, so rather than confronting the fact that what they believe is fictional, they tell themselves that we just don’t get it.

I couldn’t have said any of those numerous great points any better myself. Read more.

My post on how Genesis is not only literally false but also false philosophically and my in depth analysis of the flawed philosophical implications of numerous possible interpretations of the story of Adam and Eve are a couple of my favorite posts I have written about why just appreciating that the Bible is filled with myths does not mean that you have to find them to be perfect myths deserving to be elevated above all other stories as uniquely special.

Your Thoughts?

  • Elf Eye

    This atheist teaches literature at a university and writes fan fiction, neither of which would be possible if she did not love and appreciate literature. Ironically, my area is early British literature, so many of the stories I teach reflect a Christian world view, and most semesters I have to provide background information on that religion to my students, in spite of the fact that most of them are nominally Christian.

    • Camels With Hammers

      Same goes for this atheist philosophy teacher when Christian ideas come up in the history of philosophy (or in philosophy of religion itself).

  • FootFace

    I think this is a variation on the theme of atheists being cold, calculating cyborgs. We supposedly can’t understand emotions, we feel no affection for people or places or things, and we hate all sentiment.

    We’re hardly human, in other words.

    I am a writer and editor. I love stories. And humor. And animals. And my family. And so on.