Difference between me and another atheist

The following is a email exchange I've had with a comrade of mine (also atheist) regarding Obama. The first text will follow with ealiest to the most recent exchange on the bottom.


the Obama article:


 My response:

"oh... his... god..." (pun fully intended)

Friend's response:

I read it very carefully through the eyes (mine) of a person who
spent many years as a minister in the United Church of Christ, a
liberal mainstream church with an excellent record on peace and
justice issues, often times going beyond the boundaries of "the
acceptable."  From that perspective, I liked his statement, even
though he tried to combine both the pietism of the Black churches and the socially prophetic voice of the UCC as a whole, perhaps for political purposes.  Of course I no longer share his belief in God, but I do feel comfortable talkng to progressive Christians who are 180 degrees from the Christian fascists who have unfortunately become what many of the masses perceive as "The Christian Church."  Of course, I also do not share his political outlook and program, which will continue to be in support of the U.S. imperialist system, no matter how "sincere" he may be.  When I read his first book, I said that if he went to Washington they would either eat him alive or he would join
them.  Sad to say, he did the latter.

I do think we need to look at his comments in this article in an all-sided way.  I'm sorry Zack, but I found myself recoiling from your dismissive comment.  WCW can ill afford to neglect the development of a dialectical and materialist understanding of the many faces of religion in our society, as filled with contradiction as they may be. If we simply reject religious folks off hand, we will never get to the future that is needed for all of us, religious, agnostic, and atheist.


My counter:


 I agree that my snide and pun-filled remark "oh his god" was neither materialist nor dialectical in any meaning of the words (and I would go on to say it was vacant of any meaning on face value).

I DO, however, stand by the statement (whilst recognizing the curtness of it, I should have further explained) and I'll explain why.

Firstly… you, having such a long history in Christianity, and me having such a comparatively short time in it; I’ll work to refrain from insulting your knowledge in regards to it, but because of the disparities of our understandings, I’m sure I will (I mean not to and apologies in advance for it).

What I meant by the phrasing of “oh his god” as opposed to the normal colloquial term of “oh my god” was a poke (in jest) two-fold. On the one hand, the ‘simple’ and ‘intuitively obvious to the most casual observer’ hand, I meant to extend my obvious status as a skeptical non-believer. The other meaning I failed to give in the prior email was that of the idea of a specific “god” to Obama, the one he speaks of and (supposedly) believes in.

What I mean to say is no two theists have the “same” god. You could go from church to church and question people about what their god values or “wants” (with all the fun meaning of the word “want” brings to the concept of a god in the first place) from them. You could take it one step further and show the real acuteness of this by going to various parishioners of the SAME church and having the same results.. “god really doesn’t care about homosexuality, that is a distortion of any god I would believe in”, “god definitely cares about homosexuals, they’re going to hell for all of eternity”, etc.

Obama obviously professes to believe in a god, a judeo-christian one (if he wants to have a real shot at U.S. bourgeois politics)… but from person to person his god (just like everyone else’s subjective idea of a god) is HIS god.

That was mainly my thinking when I wrote the (as you put it dismissive) email and of course it comes from my own limited and somewhat aggressive attitude toward the faithful and unscientific proclamations that saturate this country. Dismissive, perhaps; but I don’t fundamentally have a lot of respect for the god concept and that’s the primary reasoning for the prior email.

Perhaps it’s that I don’t give enough merit to the dialectical relationship between oppressive conditions and religious notions… don’t know.


“It is difficult to free fools from the chains they revere.” - Voltaire