Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like



Now that I see that Mark Zuckerberg is no longer an atheist, I’m doubling down on my own unbelief. Anything to mess with the man who brought us Facebook.

I never understand this kind of conversion. I mean, it’s not as if evidence of the existence of a god or gods has improved in the past year or two. Believers are making the same arguments they made five hundred years ago, and atheists are going, “I don’t think so.” What happened to Zuckerberg was an internal thing, probably a sense of mortality striking him as he cruises into his thirties after a whirlwind decade. Or worse, he might feel somehow chosen.

I’ve never been the kind of atheist who criticizes believers for their belief. Reality looks different from different angles, like the famous cartoon of several blind men describing the elephant they’re touching. (The one touching elephant scat says, “An elephant is soft and mushy.”) From my point of view, nothing points to a supernatural clockmaker who loves each and every one of us. From where my mother sits, though, the comfort she takes from her religion trumps any argument I could ever make against it. To her, that’s reality.

I’m the kind of atheist, on the contrary, who has never doubted — my atheism, that is. I’ve been impenetrable as far as “proofs” of God’s existence are concerned. But that makes me wonder if Zuckerberg was ever really a nonbeliever or, instead, just the kind of super-busy nerd who didn’t give these things much thought. He has a wife and a kid now, and it’s maybe a little hard to believe that the same thing happens to the fabulously wealthy after this life as to the shelf-stocker at Walmart. How can that possibly be?

These are mysterious things. But I hate to break it to Mr. Z: What one believes doesn’t change what is. Maybe he’s taking Pascal’s side of the wager, that it’s safer to believe than not, since the consequences can be bad with the latter if in fact God is out there watching. On the other hand, he’s one of the wealthiest men on Earth and the eye of a needle isn’t getting any bigger. What’s a tycoon to do?

Sometimes I think public people are outward faithfuls and inward atheists, knowing that PR is a great way to buy a halo. After Trump, MZ might have notions of running for president one day for all we know. But whatever the case, I wish I didn’t know what Mark Zuckerberg believes and that it didn’t really matter either way.

17 comments on “Faceblecch

  1. 1WriteWay
    January 11, 2017

    My husband argues that I am agnostic than atheist. I really don’t know and don’t know how I could possibly know whether there is a supernatural being that loves or hates us all (or, as in our favorite TV show Supernatural, doesn’t really care).

    Which I guess some people would say is what faith is all about, but I have my issues with that. Some of them are very personal. Many years ago, in the short span of a few months, my uncle died after a long illness, his son and two of his son’s friend drowned in a canoeing accident, and his daughter had a miscarriage. My aunt, a Catholic by marriage, found comfort in her religion. Her whole family still does. I simply cannot find comfort there or anywhere except perhaps in Nature where it makes sense that bad things happen to good things as well as good things happening to bad things. The cycle of Life, I guess. With human beings, there’s a higher consciousness, a decision-making process that allows us to suffer for the good of others. We exercise it rarely and so I think perhaps all this (higher consciousness, morality) is just an evolutionary hiccup.

    In any case, I don’t care what Zuckerberg believes or doesn’t believe. I just want Facebook to stop suggesting that I “friend” him 😉

    • Kevin Brennan
      January 11, 2017

      I’ve always thought the atheist vs agnostic argument was kind of academic. It’s like, “I’m agnostic because if there’s ever any convincing proof that comes along, I guess I’ll be open to it.” Kids, there’s not going to be any convincing proof. Be an atheist.

      But it’s true, people come to religion for all kinds of reasons, often highly personal. But the main reason is that they’re raised in a given religion. I was raised Catholic because my parents were Catholic. I didn’t audit a menu of religions and pick Catholicism. I was brainwashed by Mom and Dad!

      Anyway, I’d never “friend” Zuckerberg. Unless maybe he friended me first … 😉

      • 1WriteWay
        January 11, 2017

        Well, so much of science is predicated on disproving theories and you can’t really disprove “God” (or whatever you want to call it). Nor can you prove it/him/her. What I do believe is, we can never know and should never know. I can appreciate the idea of a force, something responsible for the worlds to be in existence, but so abstract we can’t find words for it. It’s the sense I get when, for example, I’m canoeing and find myself in a grove of cypress trees, and prothonotary warblers are singing and dragonflies are flying, and otherwise everything is so still, I forget about myself. Some might call it “being one with Nature” except I’d rather stay in the canoe (alligators, you know). Anyway, moments like those, I feel “something” (and my husband would say I’m just a spiritual kind of person) and I like what I feel. It’s like looking at a mountain and knowing it’s been there for eons while everything around it changed. I like that kind of feeling. What I don’t like is the anthropomorphizing that comes with so many religions. Then it’s all about You, not environmental stewardship, not being kind to your neighbor, but You, what You can get from God, how God will answer all of Your prayers. (When I had cancer years ago, I was encouraged to pray because “it really works.” Seriously? All of a sudden I’m going to pray to something I don’t believe in and I’ll be cured? I didn’t know it was so easy. Too bad those starving people in other countries don’t think to do that.) Sorry to go off on a rant, but I know too many people who use their religion to suggest they are “chosen” and thus special. And some of them even voted for our soon-to-be Narcissist-in-Chief, which actually, now that I think of it, makes sense.

      • Kevin Brennan
        January 11, 2017

        I’m totally with you on this rant. I get the same feelings in nature, where you realize you’re part of the universe, not outside of it. And your atoms aren’t going anywhere when you’re gone. And time is so long that it can’t be fathomed. On and on.

        And you’re so right on the way religion seems to nudge people toward thinking about themselves (and loved ones) rather than others, even though Christianity, for example, is supposed to be about caring for others. Oh, they’ll pray for you, but they’re really praying that your soul doesn’t go to Hell.

        Oy. I think I’ll stick with my nature worship and leave it at that!

        Finally, I’m so glad you’re in good health now. I’m sure it’s medicine that worked, not prayer … 🙏🏼

      • 1WriteWay
        January 11, 2017

        The cancer scare was in 2001. Endometrial cancer. I credit myself with knowing something was wrong and being my own advocate. My gynecologist at the time just wanted to put me on Depo-Provera. Sigh. If I had agreed to that, I’d probably be dead now. Fortunately, I didn’t agreed 😉

      • Kevin Brennan
        January 11, 2017

        Wow, good instincts! Sometimes I wonder about the medicine biz. I’m glad you knew your own body better than the doc possibly could …

      • 1WriteWay
        January 14, 2017

        It does make you wonder. My husband has suspected he had hearing loss for a few years but his primary doctor wouldn’t refer him for a hearing test. So Greg mentioned it to his doc at the VA. They not only got him a hearing test, but the VA also gave him FREE hearing aids (they believe his hearing loss might be related to engine noise from flying when he was in the Navy). Then he started getting a weird rash on his face and his primary doc thought it was no big deal. So, again, Greg mentioned it to his VA doc who referred him to a dermatologist who diagnosed him with a precancerous skin condition and prescribed medication. Sigh.The VA has been very good for Greg for preventative care; fortunately, we haven’t had to worry about using them for anything more serious. And he did finally dump his primary doc and is seeing a new one soon. Sometimes you need good instincts but you always need to be a good advocate for yourself.

  2. kingmidget
    January 11, 2017

    When my siblings and I started producing the next generation of our family, my sisters each had their first children six weeks apart. Neither baptized them in the faith of our childhood — catholicism. Or any other faith. One of my sisters, who was an avowed atheist, expressed concern at one point — “what if we’re wrong, shouldn’t we at least baptize them just in case.” And I thought the same as you do — it won’t change what reality is. The great unknowable.

    I’ve gone back and forth between whether I’m an atheist or an agnostic and the older I get the more convinced I become that I am an atheist. When I get in conversations with the religious, it ultimately comes down to this … if there is a God, of which I see no evidence, who created God. And the religious among us have absolutely no answer to that. They generally want to ignore the question.

    I’m with you, however, if religion provides people comfort, I don’t want to take it away from them. I just wish more religious folks in this country would actually live up to the tenets of their faiths. 😉

    As for Zuckerberg, I only heard of this because of your blog post so I don’t have the details, but it certainly seems odd.

    • Kevin Brennan
      January 11, 2017

      It’s true that believers can never get past the question of who created God. They just say there is nothing bigger than God. But but but …

      It’s a difficult step to say that existence is absurd, like the Existentialists preach, and I think a lot of religious people can’t take that step so they accept all the inconsistencies and illogic of religion. It feels better than admitting there’s no Big Daddy.

      • kingmidget
        January 11, 2017

        That’s what it comes down to … those who need to feel there is something out there (Big Daddy) and something after this life and those who don’t.

        I’m perfectly comfortable with the idea that this is my one and only life and there is no more logic to my existence than what I can make of it.

  3. pinklightsabre
    January 11, 2017

    I agree (about wishing we didn’t know/care). I didn’t, until I read this. I’ve been avoiding the news for some reason these past several weeks. I guess since the election (frightful!). Are you an atheist that sides with spirituality over monodeism, or whatever the word is there I can’t think because not enough coffee?

    • Kevin Brennan
      January 11, 2017

      Spirituality is one of those loaded words that I’ve never been able to wrap my head around. It feels like it’s connected to the divine, so since I don’t believe in the divine I must not be spiritual. On the other hand I do have a strong emotional connection to nature and music and art and love, so maybe that’s kind of spiritual.

      I better go find my David Hume book and review some terms!

      • pinklightsabre
        January 11, 2017

        Roger that, homer.

  4. vishal4u
    January 11, 2017

    Now considerinf the case of Mr Z, don’t you think that he has given up being atheist, because the fear of losing all that he has earned is dwelling and enlarging in his heart as he is getting older.
    A atheist never gives up, but if fear starts creeping in his mind then his belief is shaken and he then rushes towards his religion for assurance.

    • Kevin Brennan
      January 11, 2017

      Good point about fear. It’s a great motivator.

      Zuckerberg should hedge his bets and look into cryo-preservation!

  5. The Opening Sentence
    January 11, 2017

    I recently read some speculation that Zuckerberg might be eyeing a career in politics. He won’t get very far as an atheist, so perhaps his miraculous conversion is to do with votes.

    • Kevin Brennan
      January 11, 2017

      I saw that too, and I thought he might want to buy himself a little charisma while he’s at it. 😉

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