Happy Atheist’s Day
“The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God.” Psalms 14:1
I can’t count the number of times I’ve had a smugly ignorant theist throw this line at me, like I’d never heard it before, blithely ignoring the fact that I don’t give any credence to the source. I’ve finally decided that I’m just going to adopt and own the putative insult in their psalm, much as the early US adopted the “Yankee Doodle” song. That makes today Atheists’ Day for me (I speak for no one else). Fine, I’m a fool!
The question remains, of course: “What kind of a fool is he?”
I rather like the common interpretation of the Fool from the Tarot, key 0. (No,I don’t believe in cartomancy, I just like the symbols.) The Fool is an innocent, bound on a journey he knows not where, open to discovery and trusting to experience rather than received wisdom, free from societal constraints, someone who is able to let go of outmoded beliefs and ideals with the courage to pursue their own path.
While forging your own path always includes the danger of walking off a cliff, the rewards are many and deep. If the received wisdom is false, then it is better to be a fool. Aristotle, whose name is almost synonymous with wisdom (and he was indeed wise in many many ways, don’t get me wrong) made many errors that appear ludicrous now, because he accepted the conventional wisdom of his day; for example, he claimed that women had fewer teeth than men. Had he been a Fool in that area, he would have looked for himself.
That notion of looking for oneself is anathema to the nonFools who believe in the Bible, of course, to the extent that it was for most of Christianity’s history a crime punishable with death by excruciating torture to publish the damn thing in a language ordinary folk could understand. Actually looking through telescopes or microscopes at the real world was a very risky thing when those people were fully in charge.
Then there’s the pusillanimous notion of being “wise” in the sense of keeping quiet for fear of oppression. Wise guys keep omerta, without regard for natural justice. This is a notional wisdom which conventional religions are, shall we say, not entirely unfamiliar with! For myself, I’d rather be a fool and speak truth to power than “wise up” and knuckle under.
This particularly applies, of course, when the enforcers are imaginary – and, thankfully, the Inquisition being behind us, they mostly are.
If, that is, you are a Fool, and don’t believe the nonsense – sky fairies, hellfire, all that dreck – that passes for wisdom amongst theists.