Don’t believe what you read

I’m an atheist. More than that, if I find out that you believe in a higher power there’s a good chance that I will think less of you. I’ve tried not to, really I have, but if I learn that you need to believe in a supernatural being to make sense of the world instead of allowing yourself to see how truly magnificent it all is and how wondrous the rules that govern our Universe are to make it all possible without requiring some bearded engineer in the sky, I can’t help it.

This is why I currently have a problem at work. I work with some of the smartest people I’ve ever met. I’ve thought that before at previous jobs but, no offense to those of you I’ve worked with in the past, they had nothing on the people I interact with every day. Around my offices are whiteboards, presumably meant for collaborative discussions or maybe just for janitors to solve our problems for us, I don’t know. The one nearest me, however, is being used by someone to spread The Word. Missives such as “God is love” and “Jesus loves you” have been appearing daily 1.

So what can I do? I don’t know who’s doing it so I can’t have a chat with them, and even if I did I don’t expect them to understand my offense. I could belittle the comments by adding my own snarky comments, but that’s likely to just create contention rather than making the author understand anything. I could erase them, but it’s not my place to censor others, and in previous days when the board has been erased the author has just re-written them. I have been trying to ignore it but it really gets to me every day that I walk past and see it.

This has come to a head today because the people I sat next to at breakfast said grace before eating. I know, I know, it’s not like they said or did anything deeply offensive in the grand scheme of things, but seeing and hearing that ritual today, in a workplace built on science and rationality, when I’m already on edge thanks to the writings, seemed more than anachronistic; it seemed illicit, even subversive.

It’s entirely possible that I’m massively over-reacting and just need to shake my head and walk on by. However, I wonder what the reaction from others would be if instead of “God” or “Jesus” it said “Allah” or “Mohammed”.

I also realize in writing this that I am somewhat hypocritical, though I can reason my way out of it to protect my ego. A couple of months ago some Buddhist monks were in the building creating and destroying a mandala. I took no offense to their presence and certainly enjoyed the beauty of their creation. Why should I be more offended by Christian messages on a white-board than by a more visible presence of monks performing a multi-day ritual? My reasoning is that what the monks were doing was spiritual to them, but could be seen in non-religious tones by me. The messages on the white-board, however, are clearly an effort to force religion into peoples’ lives.

I think I’m going to continue to do nothing but rant quietly in my corner of the internet.┬áBesides, if I can’t write about this stuff on my blog, where can I write about it?

  1. The most recent one refered to 2012 as “the End”.