November 5, 2010

Gods? Where? Swat them!

In all my books, atheists are the main characters.  One of my goals for every book is to show that atheists, even when placed in very strange circumstances, have no problem making moral decisions.

There are no arguments about gods and whether they exist.  That's boring because it's a conversation about nothing.  There are no gods.  Period.

Am I kind to religion in my books?  Not a chance.  I make fun of religion at every opportunity.  It's such a fulsome and hilarious target; I can't resist.  But I never argue about religion or even talk about it.  I just show what it does and how foolish it is.  Again, why argue about nothing?  We have better things to do.

Instead, I include humorous, cutting segments that decimate ignorant religious attitudes -- and then I move on.  Nothing to see here.  This is not a huge part of my books but it's definitely there.  I would say it's a constant.  But it's done with a light touch, hopefully leaving the reader with a laugh at religion's expense.  

This isn't the main thrust of my books.  It's just a facet, something you see as the story passes it by with a chuckle, and moves on.  All three of my books are about Earth-shaking new technologies, and how they'll change our lives.  The latest horror book and the earlier sci-fi novels all deal with humanity's experiences as we first engage with the new technology.

I think that's where the action is: in our early interactions with this technology.  What does it do to us?  What will happen to us as a race when technology opens a door that changes everything?  How will we adapt?  Will we still be human?

I like to think I write rousing, intellectually stimulating tales that most thinking people (that have a sense of humor) would enjoy.  However, although I'm an atheist writer, people who are hungry for arguments against religious apologetics will be disappointed. 

But I don't think that's what atheists are looking for in a work of fiction (i.e., arguments about god).  We just want a break from the deadly, deafening religiosity all around us.  We can't walk anywhere without bumping into churches and priests, temples and rabbis, etc.  Politics is all-religion all the time these days.  People stalk the streets wearing hocus-pocus totems like crosses around their necks.  Baseball players do sign-of-the-cross voodoo moves before each at-bat -- and Fox shows the players pointing "to heaven" in slo-mo replays!!  Oy.

We want to get away from all this because it makes us intensely nauseous. We would love to enter a fictional space -- a TV show, a book, a movie, a show on Broadway -- that shows us as the normal people we are.  We are not the freaks in this game.

When my characters say they don't believe in god, it's a joyous, freeing thing.  They don't talk about it, they just live it.  A life without gods is the only rewarding life, because only then are you free to see reality without blinders on.  True reality is a gorgeous thing far more interesting than a small idea like gods.  Read some science, folks.

I think atheists will find surcease in my books.  I hope the worlds I present will seem welcoming and eye-opening.

This needs a PS.  I've let about 12 people read my first book, "The Worlds."  Most were religious people, some even devout religious people.  Almost all of them loved the book and had no problem at all with the way I present the gods issue.  One person stopped speaking to me.  Hooray!  I think I scored my first wingnut.

But on balance, what this tells me is that a mentally healthy person, even if he or she is religious, can enjoy the easy humor I bring to the gods/no-gods divide.  I don't think my work is unkind to religion, despite what I say up top.  All it does is shine a light on the foolish structures that uphold this ball of nothing we call religion.

I would like everyone to read my books, not just atheists.  Mind you, I may have said this far too late in this post.  I imagine some people just click away when they encounter any argument that threatens their strange belief system.  But that's okay.  Those are the readers who shouldn't read my books.  The rest of you: just hang on.  I think I'll start publishing them in 2011.  Then you can judge for yourself.
Next up, gay issues and fiction.

PPS: I used that photo of myself because of the allegedly devilish gargoyles in the background.  Best I could do for an appropriate image. Bonus: a "divinity student" who visited me one evening long ago was afraid of them

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