My good online friend Hemant Mehta, the Friendly Atheist, wrote a post entitled David I’m Trying To Figure You Out!. He quoted a bunch of things I’d said about atheism. His post is fair and playful. The ensuing comments are not so playful. Hey, that’s blogging!
But it does point to an issue I think is fundamentally important. I wrote a comment on Hemant’s post. Here’s what I said:
Well well well. I just noticed this post and the ensuing comments. Sorry for the tardiness in weighing in. After reading the comments, this is the overall impression I get: Why would I leave Christianity and the Church* with all its exclusivist dogmatism simply to run into the arms of another community that is just as exclusive and dogmatic? Don’t we see that THIS is the problem with the human race? I have come to conclude that it is labels that is the problem, so I reject them all. I’m not trying to belong to you guys or atheism any more than I’m trying to belong to the church or Christianity. But I do appreciate being invited to participate in the discussion… when there is one. This is my exploration. I can take no other.
Labels are the problem. Of course we need labels in every day life. I want to know what’s in the can of food. I want to order the right part for my car. There’s a million good reasons for labels. But when it comes to some things, labeling is counterproductive.
The word is not the thing. But our minds would like us to believe it is. The mind relishes categories, labels, names, distinctions and so on. And this is the problem with the world. We label someone so that we can separate them from us or make them a part of our team.
When will we understand that the divisions in the world start with the divisions in our minds? We will never know peace until we do.
*(I want to point out that by saying “Why would I leave Christianity and the Church…”, it doesn’t necessarily mean I have.)