2.05.2012

An Important Part of Freethought: Asking Why

Why?

I had a bit of a rebellious streak in my youth, and I am sure that there were times when I adopted an unpopular position simply to rebel against authority. This was probably also a contributing factor to how outspoken I would become about my atheism during my college years. If others were going to tell me about their religious beliefs after I had made it clear that I was not interested in hearing about them, I figured it was only fair that I comment on them. But while it may have contributed to my assertive behavior at the time, something else was far more important in shaping my worldview: skepticism and my willingness to ask "why?"

I recently mentioned to a couple of friends that I probably won't watch the Super Bowl this weekend. They acted shocked and asked what was wrong with me. I responded that I didn't care who would win the game and thought that I could find better uses of my time. Their response was telling. "But it's the Super Bowl!" The fact that this is not a compelling argument for me is not due to my wanting to rebel against cultural norms; it is due to my asking myself why I should do something I don't expect to enjoy just because someone else thinks I am supposed to do so on the basis of tradition.

Most of the interactions I have with others around Christianity seem to fall into a similar pattern. They blindly assume I share their Christian beliefs, I explain that I'm not a Christian because I do not have valid reasons for believing what they do, and I face shock, disbelief, and even condemnation. Again, it isn't like I decided not to be a Christian because I want to be an outsider for the sake of doing so or because I'm trying to rebel against something. I merely find myself asking why I would base my worldview on ancient myths without evidence.

I've lost count of the number of times I've been accused of failing to go along with cultural norms due to a desire to rebel or flout authority. On occasion, the accusations fit. But ultimately, the reason I don't go along is usually much simpler. I reject blind faith and keep asking why. I don't see that changing because that is one of the aspects of freethought I most value.