I like to ask people what motivates them, especially people who I find interesting. I finally decided to write and ask James 'the Amazing' Randi essentially the same question that I posed to Susan Blackmore.
Why, given that there is no god, do you do what you do?
I've just received Randi's very short but succinct answer, which is:
Because I care, and there are probably many hundreds of generations yet to come...
I guess this represents a kind of stock answer which I'm used to. I've got it from a few other atheists I know and it seems slightly lazy to me. Take Randi, for example, who's regular Friday newsletter is certainly required reading. He writes each week about one crazy con-artist or another and about the general stupidity of people who choose not to engage critical thinking abilities that others of us seem to have. In his own way he helps to try and reduce the spread and influence of pseudoscience and shams.
And yet, since every single thing is ultimately pointless, why bother interfering in the things that other idiots do? If people are silly enough to fall for other peoples' schemes including believing that they are descended from intergalatic aliens, isn't that their own fault?
I think my position has shifted from this apathy for the things humans do, to being more pro-active in making my bit of the universe that I live in better for me. I wrote an article last week which was a call to arms for atheists to try and change the way people think on a fundamental level. Change can only happen with action. If we sit around knowing that god doesn't exist, but just choose to collaborate with the masses who live in a fantasy world, then can we complain when they do things like destroy the environment or kill each other and us. I am often angered not by people's stupidity, but when people's stupidity affects my life. The rules were never written in stone by god, but were made up, by other human beings. Nobody is given divine rule. Humans give each other power, and belief plays a huge role in that. Maybe atheism should too.
So thanks to Randi. Short but sweet seems an apt way to end.Go Top