Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Expletive deleted

Although I never really thought about atheism as a refuge from the consequences of sin, it is nice to have that monkey off my back. Obviously not believing in sin is not going to make it go away if it actually exists, but as far as I can tell, sin does not exist. Meanness does, of course, and selfishness and rudeness and stupidity and spite... I'm not even sure if I can say that evil exists in the commonly understood sense, although it is a workable definition for antisocial and aggressive behavior.

For the most part, what people mean when they talk about sin is what I would call bad. Murder, rape, insults, conceit, etc. Where I differ, however, is that nothing is 'bad' if nothing happens. In other words, the measure of an action is its result, not the action itself. If, in a blank hypothetical situation, a lie is less likely to cause harm than the truth, then the lie is the preferred course of action. Obviously a lot of blanks have to be filled in, but I think that anyone can imagine a situation where a lie is preferable (not even as extreme as the overused 'Hiding-Jews-from-Nazis' situation).

And 'sins' that hurt no one are the biggest wastes of time. Sabbath days, idolatry, etc. And blasphemy. "Pure bullshit!" as the late George Carlin would say. So I'm free to say whatever I like. Goddamn motherfucking cocksucker. Jesus Christ on a stick. Christ on a cracker. Jesus fucking Mary and Joseph. Etc. Victimless crimes. You could argue that they do hurt people who hold those names more dear than common sense, and I would agree, which is why I generally don't use that language in most company.

Which is, I have discovered, 90% of the fun. Now that the words have been stripped of their meaning and weight, simply invoking the name of a fictional character does not really satisfy my frustration or amazement. Sure, I still say the words, but mostly out of habit. I say "jesus christ!" when I'm surprised, "god dammit" when I'm frustrated, "jesus fucking christ" when I'm really frustrated. But if I take the time to think about it, the words feel hollow. They are just words, and no more significant than "darn it" or "gee whiz." In fact, the only reason I don't like to use those words is because they are like the blasphemous words but without claws. Which makes them even less interesting.

So I need some new words. Sure, I'll still say the blasphemy. I doubt if I'll ever get that completely out of my system. And I'm sure that Christians would like to feel good about that because I will not be slinging their precious words around, but the fact is that, far from giving them more respect than other words, I have to give them less - so little respect that I can no longer rely on them to amplify my feelings and emotions.

This is Nathaniel's blasphemy, signing off.

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