At the doctor’s office the other day filling out a questionnaire, I hesitated when asked anent religious preference if I were an atheist.
I put a couple of question marks after the word, and was thinking how to elaborate, when Mary scratched out “atheist” and put in “agnostic.”
Now, today, I find in looking at Newsday that I have some company: “For the first time in its history the United States does not have a Protestant majority. . . . About 20 percent of Americans say they have no religious affiliation.”
Further, “one-third of adults under age 30 have no religious affiliation, compared to 9 percent of people 65 and older.” I suppose that’s because we hear footsteps.
But to be godless, as it were, is not to say one can’t marvel at the creation, or to say that one can’t be eternally caught up in the wonder of it, or to say, further, that the unaffiliated are somehow unmoored and therefore cannot live ethical lives.
(Lately, I have found myself unmoored, at sea, but that is because I finally consigned an antique word processor to the trash heap. It’s just me and my laptop now, and I feel so alone in the universe.)
Back to religion, while the value to society of the high communal purpose that churches provide their communicants is obvious, it is no less obvious that historically religious beliefs have worked, and are working, much mischief and are causing much pain.
I know too that religion can be consolatory, but that’s not to say we cannot live well and bravely unconsoled. In fact, as Gore Vidal once said, simply knowing that this is it ought to spur us on all the more to make the best of things.