theism is natural
Theism is completely natural for the human race. I’m not an expert on anthropology, but it seems that every society has invented a deity. I think they usually worship the deity (or deities) by gathering in groups and saying or singing positive and repetitive phrases. They also seem to try to appease the deity, believing better things will happen now or in an afterlife if they sacrifice appropriate earthly objects, like children, chickens or money. Most people believe in the deity system that is dominant in the area of the world they are born into, but some do listen to other deity systems and, based on what they learn, decide a different one sounds more believable or rewarding.
The primary motivation for accepting a belief in a deity seems to be that it provides explanations for the parts of life we can’t quite comprehend. This in the past helped explain things like rainbows, earthquakes, plagues of locusts and how the planet came into existence. Nowadays, the deity systems are not required by everyone as an explanation for natural phenomena but they can help provide comfort and limited reasoning for the parts of life that are often out of our control – like death, behavioural problems and accidents.
Given that advances in science have provided explanations for things that only deity systems used to explain, and given that we have a much greater understanding of the world and the religions within it, more and more people are coming the logical conclusion that the particular deity dominant in their culture is unlikely to be true. And they look around at the strange inconsistencies or unpleasant aspects of the other religions in the world, and can’t believe them to be true either. And here we have the atheist. Not a naturally occurring default phenomenon, but rather the direction of evolution as information clears the millennia-old fog.
However, as far as I can tell there is a chink or two in the armour of the logic-clad atheist. We know that science is explaining everything without the need to resort to the supernatural, and we assume that what science doesn’t know, it will have have a way of finding – but why would this absolutely negate the possibility of a deity? Surely a deity can create a scientifically sound world. Also we know that the religions that exist are open to logical and/or moral destruction based on their inconsistent ‘holy’ writings, their corrupt and unpleasant institutions and the outright discrimination many of them promote. But how can we assume the deity communication channel is flawless? Even if it is, how can be sure there is one deity and why do we assume the deities would have our best interests at heart?
There is absolutely no evidence for the existence of any deity. The supernatural presence that many feel or the coincidences people view as divine intervention are subjective at best, and generally open to ridicule. But I can’t conclude that there is no possibility of deities being somewhere out there. They would have to be not quite the omnipotent deities we have been imagining, or deities I personally strongly disagree with, but there is a minute chance they do exist.
Does that make me agnostic? If so, can anyone truly claim to be an atheist?
To be honest, what would it matter? This in no way undermines the need to continue to challenge the accepted norms of organised religions when they are harming individuals and society. Women should have an equal voice within the leadership and congregation of all churches; homosexuals should have the right to be fully accepted in society; all people should receive non-judgemental sex education and access to birth control; and no rule that is written in any holy book should be adhered to if it doesn’t actually make any sense. The rest of it is just good fun, rough and tumble arguments about our personal perceptions and beliefs.