The November 15 edition of Rolling Stone, the talky 40th anniversary issue, is stuffed with interviews. The hippie magazine's estranged relationship with God is quite obvious. We mentioned Bill Maher recently, but there was more atheistic talk included. Take rock star Dave Matthews, who found the notion of an all-powerful, loving God "more irritating than Santa Claus." He'd like the idea, but it's "absurd. It's just our attempt to be more important than a tree."
Matthews was discussing the fate of the planet. He said social issues like so-called gay marriage are "tiny" next to our environmental survival. He warned of the possibility of "massive die-offs of people – which has been predicted," but then turned to the idea that maybe the existence of man doesn't amount to a hill of beans in the cosmos:
So often we talk about saving the planet, but what we really mean is to save the planet the way it is, so we can live here. So that is can sustain us. Because the planet doesn’t need to be saved. It doesn’t care if all the squirrels, elephants, and trees die and there’s just a couple of amoebas floating around at the poles. Mother Nature’s not going to weep for what she’s lost. In a handful of millions of years, everything will be green again and nothing will have changed. It won’t matter in the slightest. We will have been brushed off the shoulder of the living universe indifferently.
The idea that we’re somehow centrally important to the plaent’s existence is pretty comical – although I’d like us to be. I’d like to think that the yes of some heavenly body are watching us and saying, ‘Oh, look at my beautiful children.’ But it’s absurd. It’s just our attempt to be more important than a tree.
Rolling Stone noted: "You’ve talked publicly about being an agnostic, which is pretty daring these days. Politicians are falling all over themselves..." He replied:
Yeah, "get out of my way so I can get into the church." It’s so small a view of things. Obviously, there’s a source o f all things, however big or small it is. But if you give it consciousness, it just gets smaller. If you give it concern for us, it gets smaller.
I use the word "God" in my songs all the time, because I don’t know what the hell is going on. So that’s God – everything I don’t know. But the idea of God as a fatherly figure who looks down on us and worries about how we’re doing or takes sides when we have fights – it’s more irritating than Santa Claus. The world and the universe are far more wonderful if there’s not a puppet master.
Atheist author Sam Harris was also interviewed by the rock and roll mag. He was asked how this time will be remembered in forty years:
With any luck, we’ll all be embarrassed by the sate of our discourse in the same way our ancestors treated race during the first part of the twentieth century. We’ll be astonished by the smugness and the certitude with which people not only held their religious convictions, but imposed them on others through public policy and the law. We’ll look back in wonder that the Vatican was preaching against the use of condoms in the developing world, and that the United States impeded stem cell research becuse some imagined that microscopic human beings had souls. Forty years from now, we’ll realize that taking religion seriously was like taking astrology seriously.