Have you ever heard the phrase “like a fish needs a bicycle?” If not, you’re welcome.
This phrase fully covers my spiritual belief system. As a non-theist (the cutting edge in fancy terms for not-a-believer in god or gods), I often find myself defending my beliefs. Sometimes I utter a firm “no thank you” to god-believers wishing to share their faith, and sometimes I weave masterful arguments ranging from logical, to emotional, to downright sassy, against god-believers in an imagined verbal sparring match that never comes to be. I spent some time in my youth as a god-believer, and I was often told to beware of persecution for those beliefs. I never once encountered any. It’s possible that this paranoia has followed me, gently reinforced by reactions when I share disbelief in gods.
“So you don’t like religion, but you must believe there’s something bigger up there right?” No, I mustn’t.
“You can’t possibly believe this entire universe just happened on its own.” Oh, I can, and do.
“You never know, your views may change, just give it time.” I’m not trying to cure a hernia over here; I’m comfortable with my beliefs.
Sometimes, when I’m feeling very “citizen of the world”, I experience a bit of guilt over not having researched many religions yet summarily rejecting them all. Just because the handful that I know often baffle and sometimes anger me, doesn’t mean they’re all like that. So why don’t I try to find one that fits? Because I’m a fish that doesn’t need a bicycle.
Have I so far functioned effectively and independently without a god? Check.
Do I consider myself a decent human being without fearing eternal damnation? Check.
Does the moral code I have developed through life experience and observation closely match that of other people (god-believers and non) who are also not assholes? Check.
Can I better myself through intrinsic motivation and support from my peers? Check.
Does my life feel in any way empty because I lack a relationship with a deity? Nope.
Have I ever been struck down by unnatural forces for operating without theism? Nope.
This fish just doesn’t need that bicycle.
My husband is a like-minded fish, and we’re just not a cycling family. We won’t be buying our fingerlings (baby name for fish – totally adorable, right?!) bikes or teaching them to ride bikes. We’ll teach them to swim and blow bubbles, to avoid worms on hooks and watch out for sharks. They’ll learn to keep their fins to themselves in a school and do nice fish things for the other fish. We’ll teach them to ask the tough fish questions. (That fish is blue and I’m orange, but are we truly that different? Do we not all need to eat fish food? Do we not all like to hide behind plastic diver dudes? Do we not all poop where we eat? The holes in this analogy are starting to leak.) We’ll try to keep them safe, but hope they’re never too scared to touch the butt. (If you haven’t seen Finding Nemo, I promise you we will not be teaching our kids to invade people’s personal bubbles.)
Now if you are a cycle-loving fish, I may not understand your passion or your particular bike model, but if it makes you happy, that makes me happy. If it makes you uncomfortable and causes you pain, I hear they make a nice gel bike saddle for that.