As anyone who follows my twitter knows, I've been going on a music binge the last few days. Like most people, I love music and listening to all my old favorites while finding some new ones has got me thinking about music and how religious people tend to want to shanghai music and the arts as being products of faith. Either that, or religious people have declared at times that appreciation for these finer parts of life isn't possible without faith.
I have never believed in god or had those passionate feelings people of faith seem to feel when they're talking about their relationship with god. I have never accepted anything about Jesus or Mohammad or anything of the sort. Yet, I do feel profoundly moved when I listen to music. I feel emotions well up in me, I feel like dancing, I smile and laugh when some music comes on and I grow morose and somber when I hear other songs. I can't image that the feelings I'm feeling are somehow muted because I don't believe in god and I don't know how someone who does or doesn't believe might be able to tell to the other person how they specifically feel or what they don't feel.
I think that music is something all people share and it is insulting, ridiculous and rude for someone to say that atheists can't appreciate music as much as anyone else just as it would be insulting to say that doctors, Jews, rugby players, or any other group of people can't enjoy music as much as everyone else.
I laugh when I read someone building that tired old atheist straw man - the atheist who finds no joy in life and lacks passion, is a grump and is cold-hearted but sometimes this stereotype does honestly hurt my feelings. I have a lot of passion for life because I believe it's the only one I have. I try to be both warm and inviting to people but also respectful of their privacy because that's how I prefer to be treated. I have a passion for knowledge but that doesn't mean that by default my demeanor is fridgid.
Atheists may seem cold and mean because we require the build up of a pretty thick skin in order to deal with being told we're arrogant, we're insolent, and we don't feel the same way everyone else does. Most days I don't care one bit about the uninformed opinions that people have about me because I'm an atheist, but today I was so happy listening to music all day long that I was reminded by my own enjoyment just how wrong those uninformed opinions are, and for the first time in a long time, I felt hurt.