Monday, June 13, 2011

I Think I Finally Get It

If you're an atheist, you probably hear this a lot: You hate God. It's not that you don't believe in God, it's that you totally hate him. Probably because your relationship with your father was bad. But you totally believe in him.

This argument is, of course, wildly frustrating. You're inside your own brain. You know what you think and believe and for someone else to tell you different is, at best, rude. Plus, how do you argue with someone who thinks they know you better than you know you? There's really nowhere to go with that.

I love music. I have always loved music. When I was five, my favorite record* was by the Tijuana Brass. I would play it endlessly and dance to it. (I was never into kids' music at all.) I played clarinet for six years. The last two years, I was playing several hours a day (up to six on weekends) and earned a scholarship to study music. Nerve damage to my right hand ended that dream, but music is still as important to me as food.

That's not true. I have chosen to spend money on music instead of food. Music is more important to me than food.

Anyway, last week, my brother-in-law (hereinafter "BIL") was at the house at the height of my husband's mixing marathon (he sent the album for mastering Wednesday). We don't have soundproofing, so you can hear the music fairly clearly on the first floor. My BIL asked me if that drove me crazy, because it would drive him crazy to hear that all the time.

I was flabbergasted.

The Awkward Out (album name) has been the background to everything I have done in the last year: cleaning, bathing, gaming, watching TV, if my husband was awake and not in the room with me, that's what I was listening to. And I love it. I've been bereft since the album went for mastering and my husband, burnt out after two weeks of 16 hour days, hasn't been writing/recording.

It turns out that my BIL doesn't like music. He doesn't like any music at all. Music is as irrelevant to him as God is to me.

That seriously freaks me out. I don't understand it. At first, I thought my BIL just doesn't like Skull Has a Secret's (band name) style of music. I don't judge anyone's taste in music. I like some weird stuff myself, so I'm not judgey about anyone else's taste.

No, he just doesn't like music. I find this very hard to comprehend. So I think I get where believers are coming from in refusing to believe I don't believe in God.

However, no matter how bizarre a statement I may find "I don't like music" to be, I trust that my BIL knows how he feels on this subject. I don't argue with him when he says he likes to watch Nascar. That's five hours of left turn, but if he says he likes it, he does. And if he says he doesn't like music, he doesn't.

And when I say I don't believe in God, I don't. Trust me on this one.

*Yes, I am totally that old.


  1. Yep, I've heard that I hate God before too. (And I'm not an atheist.) I've also been told that I turned my back on Him simply because I "loved my sin too much." It's amazing the reasons some people come up with to "explain" my lack of belief in (their) God. So I can identify with your reaction to accusations that you hate God.

  2. It might be incomprehensible, but you just have to trust people on it.

    And I've been told I love my sin too much, too. Though nobody's ever really clear on what my sin is. Other than hating God.

  3. Yes, I am totally that old.

    Actually, that tells me pretty much nothing about how old you are.
    I'm only seventeen, but I used to play Billy Joel records when I was little. To this day, my family has a record collection and a functional player. (Well, it was functional last time we used it, which was about a year and a half ago. We have the Power of Youtube (tm) now.)

  4. Well, at least I have you beat there. They usually tell me exactly what my sin is. Sometimes (way too often), in excruciating detail.

  5. Would it help if I told you that records were the only option at the time, Brin? That I was quite impressed with tapes when I saw them? Hard to believe, but cassette tapes were a vast improvement over records in that they were more easily portable and you couldn't scratch them. Oh, and making mix tapes was the bomb!

  6. As a theist, I must say the idea of someone not liking music at all is actually more foreign and incomprehensible to me than someone not believing in God. I understand why you don't believe in God. I don't understand how someone can not like music.

    If we use this analogy, it's more like this for me: I absolutely love the Beatles and think they pretty much shaped and influenced all of the rock and pop music that came after them. I think they are genius. You on the other hand, not only don't care for them, but don't think they were all that talented and were just a British pop band that made it big for no reason other than young girls thought they were cute.......and we have agreed to disagree on this point.

    A few years ago, your analogy would have been a pretty accurate description of how I felt though. Also to someone who is coming from an area of privilege and doesn't understand that, atheists appear to be people who are saying, "MUSIC SUCKS AND YOU SUCK FOR LIKING IT!" while throwing CDs into a bonfire, not because of anything you are doing but because of blindness to our own privilege. Protests like blasphemy day just seem mean-spirited when you don't understand.

    While I don't think there is any hope for fundies to ever not think that atheists are the worst people on earth, (because they aren't all that crazy about folks like me either) I think more Christians would be tolerant of atheism, if they would take some time to listen to what was actually being said rather than having kneejerk reactions to things. I know it was hard for me at first to not feel like I was being blamed for things that I didn't even agree with (part of why I write about what I do).

    I hope what I just wrote makes some sort of sense.

  7. No, I get it what you're saying.

    I could have easily taking my BIL's statement to be a rude spit in the face of everything my husband is working so hard for. It certainly wasn't meant that way, but I know that because I know my BIL, and he's a very nice guy I have nothing in common with.

    If he were a stranger, especially one I felt was malicious for some reason, perhaps I would have been offended.

  8. Hey--this is sarah (from slacktivist). I'm just popping in to agree with FC's comment:

    [[As a theist, I must say the idea of someone not liking music at all is actually more foreign and incomprehensible to me than someone not believing in God. I understand why you don't believe in God. I don't understand how someone can not like music.]]

    I can understand people not believing in God--I have more doubts than most Christians do, to be honest. But music? Man. I couldn't ever imagine *not liking* music.

  9. I like some weird shit too, but most of my taste in music can be summed up as "things you could synchronise the apocalypse to". I mentally visualise action-scenes of various descriptions while listening to music: the more epic the music makes the scene, the better I like it. This encompasses more than just full-scale orchestra and choir: there are some astonishingly dramatic pieces done by bands and singers that I would otherwise join the hatedom for: Linkin Park, My Chemical Romance, etc.

  10. On a related note, religious people so totally can't comprehend atheism that the discussions can get really...baroque. Like when a Jehovah's witness told me something along the lines of "You may be comfortable with your current belief system, but is god?"

    I wanted to be all, "lady, you are trying to give me a guilt trip on behalf of someone who, as far as I'm concerned, doesn't exist (at least not in the Christian sense). This would be like me telling you that Morah, The Beagle-Headed Goddess of Sex Toys (who I just made up) disapproves of you. Oh, you don't believe in Morah? Well NOW SHE HATES YOU EVEN MORE SO NYAH NYAH."

    But instead I told her that now was not a good time for me to discuss this stuff, and I went back into my house.

  11. hey, PerverseCowgirl, you be careful! i'll have you know that i've been a TRUE and FAITHFUL servant of Morah since the day i first discovered what sex toys WERE!

    moving on to reality [look, *I* thought it was funny.]
    is you're BIL tone-deaf, or have other hearing problems?

    in my experience [yay anecdotes!] there are only 3 kinds of people who HATE music: those who cannot it hear it correctly, those who have little or no emotions, and those who are afraid of it.
    i have to assume that if your BIL was visiting just to visit, he has emotions. it's possible that he's afraid of music, but that's generally something that *only* lines up with certain forms of childhood trauma - usually but not always religious in nature [do you KNOW how many religions teach that music will cause one to "commit sin" just because it makes you FEEL? man, i hate people sometimes]

    whereas it's much more likely he's tone deaf or similar

    and... all of that the prelude. be careful of this analogy. "not liking music" because one is tone deaf is REALLY easy to make as an analogy about WHY people are atheist... i.e. that the atheist is missing some vital component that ALLOWS them to believe, they are "spiritually tone deaf" and, therefor, less human. it's COMPLETE bullshit, but i've heard this argument from people. :(


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