Guest post: Of gods and Midgard Serpents

Originally a comment by Bjarte Foshaug on Calling all bullies.

To use my go-to example I see “god(s)” exactly the same way I (and practically everyone else) see the Midgard Serpent.

Jormundgand's Shrine: Jormundgand the World Serpent

I don’t call myself an “amidgardserpentist”, so why should I call myself an “atheist”? If anyone honestly wants to know what I think, they’re going to have to stick around for the actual content. And if they don’t have time for that, then no real understanding is going to be conveyed by me giving them a label. This is also part of the reason* I no longer call myself a “feminist”. Julie Bindel and Laurie Penny are not different kinds of “feminists” any more than Kate Smurthwaite and Eddie Izzard are different kinds of “women”, or fruit bats and baseball bats are different kinds of “bats”. These are homonyms, not subsets of the same larger set. Saying that “feminism” is, say, “a movement that fights the oppression of women” doesn’t really tell us anything when we can’t even even agree on the meaning of “woman” or “oppression”.

A label can be a convenient description or an indication of affiliation

I think most people – including self-described “atheists” and “skeptics”** – naturally gravitate toward the latter interpretation. Taking a stand based on ideas, values, principles etc. requires a lot of tedious thinking and will not always align neatly with the views of your “friends” and “allies” (as someone once put it, where everyone is thinking the same, no one is doing much thinking at all). Going with whatever passes for the official “atheist™”, “feminist™”, “leftist™”, “progressive™” etc. position requires zero thinking and automatically puts you on the “right” side of every issue even if the “right” side today (“Four legs good, two legs better!”) is the polar opposite of what it was just yesterday (“Four legs good, two legs bad!”).

* Besides not wanting to come across as claiming to speak for women.

** As became abundantly clear during the Deep Rifts.

13 Responses to “Guest post: Of gods and Midgard Serpents”