understanding atheism

lurking7

It is hard for me understand a truly atheistic position. The theist and the Atheist both hold their positions as beliefs. One cannot prove, in the scientific sense that there is a god, but neither can it be proved there isn’t one. Ultimately it comes down to how one looks at the facts as they seem them. We all make an educated guess and exercise a certain amount of faith in our decision. Most fair-minded people I discuss these things with seem to agree with that.

I think an agnostic position is much easier to hold, because it requires no leap of faith. “There might be a god, there might not be, I don’t know!” (Jim, a Christian)

I used to think I was agnostic. Because although I didn’t accept that any of the religions in the world could be true, I had no way of proving that there isn’t a superpower creator deity lurking out there behind the celestial curtain.

In a similar fashion, I have no way of proving that a benevolent pink dragon isn’t waiting to provide a utopian afterlife for all its faithful followers. But I struggle to think that makes me agnostic about pink dragon deities: I’m sure my lack of belief is something stronger than that. So why would Christians think I should be agnostic about their god God, any more than I am about Dragon the dragon, or the Muslim god Allah or the Inca god Pachamama?

Let’s be clear about a few things:

1. Christianity is a popular religion. But so are lots of other religions. It stands to reason that for a species that has evolved fearing and worshipping invisible forces, religious structures based around this primitive superstitious instinct will continue to be popular. It also stands to reason that in our increasingly internationalised world, there will be some religions that have a greater mass appeal than others. Christianity offers the globally popular hope of an eternal and blissful afterlife, combined with protection and love in the current life, and an excuse plus forgiveness for bad behaviour. Of course it’s popular for those who seek religion in their lives! Popularity doesn’t make it more likely to be true than any other religion, just a more efficient parasite of belief.

2. Christianity, like every other religion, only makes sense if you want it to. The Bible is chockablock full of contradictions and nonsense that only those who are desperate to believe it can overlook. I’m not denying that, like most religions, it has interesting historical stories, some useful moral frameworks and some beautiful sections of writing in its holy book. If it didn’t it couldn’t have survived all these years. But on the most basic level, it’s impossible to reconcile the notion of a benevolent, perfect deity drowning almost all of its creation, demanding the vicious slaughter of whole groups of people, including pregnant women and children, regretting its actions, being jealous of fake gods, brutally testing its most loyal worshippers, and condemning most of its ‘beloved’ creation to eternal torment. I know Christians have screeds of writings trying to make all that sound plausible, but when the religious delusion glasses come off, you realise it’s really not even slightly possible.

3. Christianity is the religion of our culture. Many Christians lead such a culturally sheltered life, they think that atheists are rejecting the Christian god, and agnostics are not sure about the Christian god. I would ask Christians to try to understand that while we may discuss Christianity the most, given that it’s likely to be the religion we know most about, or the religion that negatively affects our society the most, we have a similar disdain for all of these antiquated superstitious belief systems. Please don’t feel either special or victimised, and remember that your invisible deity has serious competition from many other invisible deities on the same crazy scale.

Conclusion

I’m not agnostic. I don’t think it’s possible that any of the gods in any of the world’s many religions exist. I can’t prove they don’t exist anymore than any religious person following any invisible deity can prove their invisible deity does exist. But I’m not suggesting Christians are agnostic. I can only look at the facts and make an educated guess.

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