Witches and Nothing
I have often repeated the story of my conversion to anyone who cares to hear, but I have never mentioned that first snowflake with started the avalanche.
Back in the happy blindness of my atheist days, one of my innocent pleasures was to sit around with like-minded friends and blaspheme, mocking the foolish Christians and their endlessly foolish God. No jest was too coarse for this pastime. Those of you who cannot comprehend the pleasure involved, it was the pleasure an iconoclast gets from smashing idols. It did not matter whether any real Christians were in earshot or not, because we were not especially mocking them, we were mocking an ever-present idea that was equally open to mockery when we were alone. (It also did not matter because no Christian was so rude as to voice a defense against our slanders and jibes, or even to request common courtesy from us.)
After graduation, one of my blaspheming friends became a neopagan, or, to call things by their right names, a witch. Yes, a sky-clad, tree-hugging athame-wielding warlock, complete with muttering and peeping and a big purple cloak. When we sat blaspheming, he did not seem to realize that, in my arch-rationalist atheist eyes, his devotion to his make-believe little gods and hocus-pocus make-believe powers was no more worthy of respect than the very beliefs he joined me in mocking.
Once upon a time I asked him, whether, in his religion, he believed in an afterlife or reincarnation. The question caught him by surprise, and he had no answer for it. During the same conversation, I asked him whether he had a metaphysical explanation for ethics, that is, whether his moral code had objective existence due to the divinity of his gods. The conversation was soon tangled in insurmountable confusion. He had never thought about it. ( Collapse )