I see religion almost exactly as I see professional sports, I have no real interest. I am aware that many people around me like professional sports, I recognize the traditions, rituals, and celebrations, and I certainly aware of the zeal of many of the followers of professional sports. I’ve seen the passion, the arguments, the proselytizing, the banners, bumper stickers, and the colorful signage.
My disinterest is not due to ignorance.
I know most of the rules, I know the teams and I even often know a player’s name when I hear it.
As a child, I was into sports a little but as I grew up I simply lost interest. It no longer mattered.
I am not anti-professional sports. As I said, I recognize that it’s a very highly regarded passion for many, many people, even members of my own family. That they love professional sports, study it, talk about it, watch it on TV and even attend games that don’t bother me at all. I’ve been invited to join them on many occasions, I politely decline whenever possible. I do not hate professional sports, I simply am not interested.
I have attended gatherings of people watching a game.
I was not as uncomfortable as I was just bored. They were all up and about discussing details and intricacies about teams, players, coaches, plays, strategy and counter-strategy. There was even a heated debate over the instant replay rule. To a person not into professional sports, they may as well have been debating the levels of heavenly reward to an atheist, meaningless bickering over absurd concepts.
During the pre-game show coaches, reporters and former players debated the motivation and readiness of the players as well as the team itself. They extolled over how close the team was to the ultimate reward and laid out the obstacles before them. This was very much like watching TV preachers. To me it was “Blah, blah, blah, one hundred and ten percent, blah, blah, play one game at a time, blah, blah. . .”, tedious, meaningless drivel. I’d just as soon watch some old guy in a robe and funny hat wave incense over his flock while chanting in Latin.
The camera zooms in on ravenous fans, shirtless, painted fans shaking Styrofoam fingers at the sky, shouting something indecipherable. Other fans with signs and slogans jumping and waving, enthusiastic fans, true believers.
So I’m just not a follower of professional sports. That many other people are different is fine with me, it’s their lives, their time, their dime.
I used the analogy of professional sports, perhaps that’s as baffling to you as atheism. Try this. Think of something you know about, hear about, hear others express passion about, yet something you have absolutely no interest in, like NASCAR, poetry, The National Enquirer, Spongebob Squarepants, Country Music, broccoli, or chess. What would it take for passionate enthusiasts of these things to get you to come around to their way of thinking? Do you necessarily hate these things? No, probably not, you just have no use for them. That’s how this atheist sees religion, not as an evil empire, not as an enemy, not as a bastion to be toppled, just a game I don’t care to play.