Last night, Gleek that I am, I watched the “God” episode of Glee. There is no question that it was hysterical, what with Finn praying to “Grilled Cheesus.” It was also moving in its wonderful portrayal of Kurt and his father. Atheism was definitely shown as a reasonable position, but on that count the show could have been a bit more balanced.
Atheism, as it is presented in pop culture, is usually the choice of the angry and disappointed. Sue was depicted as particularly angry about the idea of God because of how people treated her mentally challenged sister. Of course, this being Glee, she uses her atheism as another hilarious way to tear down Glee Club.
It is not being angry and disappointed that causes people to reject the idea of a theistic god. Everyone goes through periods of anger and disillusionment. That some choose to cope by their dependence upon the supernatural does not speak to their higher level of spirituality or make their choice somehow superior. The portrayal of Kurt’s atheism was also somewhat anger-tinged, but I can see why the writers chose this. His father was lying in a coma, after all.
One of my favorite parts of the episode was Kurt’s articulation of his lack of faith. The writers even threw in Bertrand Russell’s teacup and a quip about the Flying Spaghetti Monster for good measure. The best reasoning that the writers gave him concerned the abuse that gays receive at the hands of the religious.
Most non-theists whom I know are very happy people. We have been liberated from the reliance on make-believe to give us comfort. We find beauty and meaning in the life that we are lucky enough to live, even if we know that the universe doesn’t exist for our benefit. We know that there is no universal meaning of life and knowing this helps us to craft our own meanings for our lives.
To sum up, I say good for Glee for going there. While I wasn’t completely satisfied, the episode left me in tears when Kurt held his dad’s hand and said, “I believe in you. And in us.” I could not have hoped for a better expression of humanism on a popular television show.