Accepting Responsibility for My Role in Enabling a Delusion

Old friends conversation people

"Why are you an atheist?" I open my mouth as if to begin my answer, an answer I've given countless times before. But the words don't materialize this time. And now I suspect I've made a mistake by answering the question all those times.

I don't mean to suggest that there isn't an answer. I know why I'm an atheist. What I mean is that I am beginning to suspect that giving an answer is unwise. In fact, I'm wondering if it is worse than unwise.

"Why are you an atheist?" is a question that nobody who knows what atheism is should have to ask. Why would any of us believe in things that aren't real? Why would any of us believe in things for which we have so little evidence?

But let's not go off on that tangent. I'll stay on topic and explain why I'm reluctant to keep explaining why I am an atheist. Doing so suggests that atheism requires explanation, even defense. It doesn't. It is the default position. We all start there. If we move on, whatever we've moved on to is what requires explanation.

When someone asks why I am an atheist, they are asking why I'm reluctant to go along with the popular delusion. They don't view it as a delusion, of course. They think I'm the one who is strange for not sharing it. When I answer the question, I'm playing into this. I'm acting as if atheism is something that needs explaining.

Is it possible that this is a form of enabling? As in, I'm enabling them to persist in thinking that what they believe is normal. If so, then I don't want to do this. I don't view it as normal, even though it is common.

Nobody knocks on my door to ask why I don't dine on lead paint chips. They knock on my door to tell me about their imaginary friend who died for my sins a couple thousand years ago. They expect me to believe that he plays an active role in their daily lives. And then they have the nerve to ask why I'm skeptical!

Are all conversations inherently good, or are there some that shouldn't take place? Despite good intentions, some conversations might do more harm than good. There's no question that I've had some of these.

Without meaning to, I fear that I've fueled a delusion that afflicts most of my neighbors. I've done that by playing along when I shouldn't have. Even worse, I've sometimes acted as if what they believe was less bizarre than it is. I'm trying to do better about catching this so I can correct it. It isn't easy.

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay