Last week, our topic was the inner longing for God we all have (or don’t, as the case may be). And I couldn’t help but ask what it would take for Brittany to be a believer. This week, we’re talking greater good. And motherhood. (Because I can.)

Have a question you want to ask Brittany or me? We’re having an open combox “ask anything” on Friday, September 27.

Here’s where you can findĀ all the posts in the An Atheist and a Catholic series here.

atheist and catholic

Sarah: Is there a greater good? How is it defined? How do we humans keep it from being degraded into something unsavory or uncharitable or less than it should be?

Brittany: I don’t know the answer to that one, and I’m okay with that. I’m not a philosopher or theologian, so I haven’t spent as much time thinking about it. I think that if we operate on the principles that most everyone agree are important, we’ll be good. Life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness seem like pretty unassailable universal values.

Sarah: How do you respond to the “unfriendly” nonbelievers you must certainly work with and come into contact with? You seem very involved with believers at various levels; what’s your approach/response to the “Christians are stupid” mindset?

Brittany: I usually ignore it. I don’t mind humor; I think jokes about atheists can be humorous, too (have you seen that meme with the smug atheist?). Everyone has things that they believe in that are “stupid” to someone. I prefer a little bit more respect or cleverness.

For example, the Flying Spaghetti Monster is an “atheist deity” which spoofs some other religions. But it’s funny and there are puns. So instead of “amen,” you’d say “ramen.” It’s disrespectful, but at least it’s clever.

I’ve talked to quite a few people who deconverted and have a lot of anger, and they tend to be the ones who have the “Christians are stupid” mindset. I think humor is a way that they can deal with those feelings of betrayal or anger at themselves for what they see as wasted years. So I can understand it, although I don’t find it compelling or true.

Sarah: Are there values you particularly admire about nonbelievers? Or a core set you’re aiming to grow within yourself and/or your child?

Brittany: I think that nonbelievers don’t have a monopoly on good values. I think open-mindedness is a trait that nonbelievers might have more of. My core values are compassion, tolerance, charity, and curiosity.

Sarah: Has motherhood and parenting changed anything internally about your approach to belief vs. nonbelief?

Brittany: Not really. I might be more conscientious and principled because I want to set the best example possible for Thomas. I don’t really feel like a different person.

Next week, we’re closing this first round of Q&A with a discussion of virtue and success. Then September 27, we’re hosting an open combox. And then, THEN we are going to do something a little different…