Atheism

“Atheism turns out to be too simple.
If the whole universe has no meaning,
we should never have found out that it has no meaning…”

C.S. Lewis

I could never see the point of atheism. What exactly was it that you were supposed not to believe in? Most atheists seemed to have a concept of a God that they thought was manifestly ridiculous, so they chose not to believe in ‘him’.

It was a sort of rejection of religion, and yet appears to be a sort of religion itself, based on faith and belief in a negative. (Some atheists, eg American Atheists, suggest that athiesm is a ‘lack of belief in Gods or supernatural beings’ – surely itself a sort of belief.) The agnostic perspective always seemed to make far more sense to me, and modern perspectives on spirituality even more so.

Does this matter? Well, along with atheism you often find the package of materialism and secularism – and the rejection of the inner of things. All is outer, and there is this wierd belief that eventually inners (consciousness) will be explained by some future development of our understanding of outers, through science naturally.

And along with this secular materialism has come an evolutionism based on self interest, an economics without values, a denigrating and despoiling of the natural world, totalitarian governments determined to stamp out religion, an existential philosophy of despair,… Yes, it matters.

See also my posts on materialism and religion.

While writing this I came across this useful website critiquing the atheist position as essentially indefensible (from a Christian perspective).

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21 thoughts on “Atheism

  1. Atheists believe in not believing in anything. Whereas those who don’t waste their time in “believing” in something get on with the business of getting to know it and experience it.

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      • It still seems to me that you are rejecting straw men from your own mind. If I define God as ‘all that exists’, how can you not believe in that? (This may not be a very useful definition, but it seems a valid one. In the end it is not definitions that matter, but real spiritual experience.)

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      • I don’t think you understand the definition of strawman but that’s called pantheism. I’ve addressed this before in posts but the short version is that if it’s not concious then why worship it or call it god? It just exists which isn’t a good reason to worship ot or call something god.

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      • As a bit of a sceptic I don’t do worship. However I do marvel at the inescapable mystery at the heart of things. Some would call that the one God.

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  2. You admit not being able to understand why people become atheists, so perhaps understanding is beyond you. Although many of the assertions religions put forth do not make sense to me, I understand why people are religious. Any point of view is worth understanding, even if it does not make sense or the other person dislikes it.

    Atheism is not a religion in the sense that Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, and any other such religion is. It never can be. Taking the last definition of the word religion from below as “an interest, a belief, or an activity that is very important to a person or group” then, sure, atheism is a religion. But so is equally football or dogs or horoscopes.

    on-line Merriam-Webster dictionary:
    Atheism: a disbelief in the existence of deity; the doctrine that there is no deity.
    Religion: the belief in a god or in a group of gods; an organized system of beliefs, ceremonies, and rules used to worship a god or a group of gods; an interest, a belief, or an activity that is very important to a person or group.
    Doctrine: something that is taught; a principle or position or the body of principles in a branch of knowledge or system of belief – dogma; a principle of law established through past decisions; a statement of fundamental government policy especially in international relations; a military principle or set of strategies.

    Atheism is the rejection of deity, of activities to worship that deity. In the hugest understanding and definition of the word religion, atheism can never be included.

    Does being an atheist involve faith? Yes. Being human involves believing. Believing is having confidence in what is not proved, not known, not certain, in what is unseen. We have to believe in ourselves if we are to accomplish anything. When we try new things, we cannot be certain we can accomplish them, but we can believe that we can. We can believe in others, that they are good people doing right by others, we can believe that they will accomplish what they mean to, like a presidential candidate or the person we choose to spend our lives with. Do we ever truly know anyone, no, we can’t because we cannot read their minds or see what they are doing every second of every day. You can be married to someone for 5 years then he starts secretly sexually abusing your daughter for years, which he may have planned the entire time. We believe in ourselves, we believe in others.

    Scientific method is exactly that – a method. A standardized way of learning truth. Anyone can apply it. Some of us are not educated or intelligent enough to work the science others have done to confirm it for ourselves, but that is also why any scientific breakthrough requires replication by other scientists to be validated. Then it is not just one person or one biased group proclaiming a grand truth; it is something that independent thinkers validate also. I do not need to crunch the numbers myself; I trust that these trained scientists know what they are doing because I understand the method they are practicing. Their practices are consistent and credible, their conclusions proved by their application in the real world. Truths change within science as technology is developed. Religion, in opposition, clings to ancient truths and hates change.

    Agnosticism is refusing to place a bet. That doesn’t make it better or worse than atheism or religion. The religious and the atheist place their bets. That is all. Gamblers are playing with chance, but smart gamblers place their bets based on calculating the best chances, doing their research, making an informed decision. That is exactly what the religious and atheists do. The religious use holy books and what others taught them about the holy books over science, and their own experiences and observations. Atheists use science over anything else and their own experiences and observations.

    I have personally known many Christians, much more than other atheists. I can tell you that as an atheist from the age of 8 I have been almost always a loner as an atheist. I do not group up with other atheists and press for “self interest, an economics without values, a denigrating and despoiling of the natural world, totalitarian governments determined to stamp out religion, an existential philosophy of despair.” I believe healthcare should be a human right, that money should not determine who lives and dies in regard to it. I believe that climate change is human-caused and that if we do not take major actions soon we will have made the planet inhospital to humans. I do not want to stamp out religion, as I understand the human need for it and hate the idea of people controlling others in such a way. I do not live in despair.

    A Christian once asked me, “Without believing in God, how can you get out of bed every morning?” I think of her as I read your post. You just don’t understand us at all and that helps create these generalized misconceptions you have about atheism as a whole. Christianity is not one thing, it is millions of individuals composing many denominations, and within those denominations certain congregations or even families differing in small ways from others. There are Christians who are pro-life and Christians who are pro-choice and each of them calling each other traitors. Atheists are the same way. Perhaps you should spend less time stereotyping an imagined noxious glob of humanity and ask more questions about how atheists actually think and live. Maybe you should try understanding, even if it doesn’t make sense to you and you dislike it.

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    • Thank you for taking the trouble to make such a long comment.
      I think we actually have a lot in common.
      I don’t actually use the concept of God much, and if asked to define it is would say that it is the unity of all that exists – both immanent and transcendent in some sense. Hence my difficulty with atheism – how can one deny all that exists?
      I can see that if one comes from an entirely materialistic perspective then atheism might make sense. But to me materialism is not an adequate perspective on the real world.

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      • If you change the definition of a word, you can’t be surprised when you don’t understand conversations that surround it. God is defined as a creator, a ruler, or a deity presiding over some portion of worldly affairs. So just as a Christian may not believe in Zeus, an atheist does not believe in any god/creator/higher guiding being that interferes with our lives.

        Atheists don’t deny all that exists, they just don’t see anyone guiding what exists.

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  3. If your concept or definition of god is “everything” and mine is “something,” then we are setting up some sort of philosophical banter with no practical value. It’s not difficult. There are no gods. If you think that rock is god, good for you. I will grant you that fantasy, but I will not join you.

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  4. One of the uses of the term “atheist” (Atheos) was against those who believed in the Abrahamic God and who did not believe in the Greek Gods.

    I use the term to describe myself to someone who asks if I believe in god or if I follow a religion. It doesn’t mean my religion is atheism, it just makes it easier to explain. I was raised Christian but I rejected the teachings as not credible to me. I have a friend whose family has never been religious and as such, have always considered themselves atheist.

    You may believe “inescapable mystery” or “all that exists”, “unity of all that exists ” is your god and you ask “how can one deny all that exists?” (That is similar to the “God of the Gaps” argument). An atheist isn’t “denying all that exists”, an atheist can see it with their own eyes, we just don’t take something that is a mystery and use the term “god” to describe it.

    An atheist may call it “Big Bang”, or “Evolution”, An Buddhist/atheist like me finds it really interesting but understands it is a mystery, we may never know where all this mystery and intrigue comes from but the various theories are interesting.

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    • Thank you for your interesting comment, David.
      Maybe all we can agree on is that there is a mystery at the heart of things.
      The rest seems interesting discussion about words like god, God, atheism, that we do not actually have a common definition, or even common understanding, of.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for commenting. I tend to agree with your position on any specific named god. But I come from a position where all is one, interconnected. This could be called the one God, although I would not use this term. I don’t see how atheists could deny this as a valid perspective.

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      • Of course. It is clear however, that no evidence provided has definitively placed a deity in the picture. While I appreciate your considered responses, many theists here and on other social media sites are increasingly angry and frustrated with every scientific discovery which edges toward the lack of a creator/god. I would like to thank you for your considered and polite conversation.

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