why i am not an atheist

First let me put this straight: i am not a christian, nor a theist and certainly no agnostic. By most people’s definition, i am probably not even religious. Nevertheless, and all of that notwithstanding: i am definitively not an atheist. And here is why.

  1. Atheism, especially in its newly virulent strands (yes, i’m referring to Dennett, Dawkins &co.), has very little to do with a simple denial of the existence of God. Atheism is a Weltanschauung (worldview): it asserts unfounded propositions about the way the world is. It is thoroughly deterministic and naturalistic. The proposition “there is no god” is just as metaphysical as “there is a god”; and just as wrongheaded. Atheism is turning into yet another grand meta-narrative: it is not an alternative to religion, but simply its mirror image.
  2. Atheism does not simply deny theism, but goes all the way to dismiss any form of religion or spirituality. Atheism has become a form of scientism, repudiating any propositions that scientists cannot prove to be true. This, of course, is nonsense because as mighty as science has become, it can never prove that it is the only possible source of knowledge. Common sense knows that science can only explain a small portion of the world and remains hopelessly silent concerning many very important or pressing issues (in ethics or politics, aesthetics and religion).
  3. Atheism’s new-found belligerence is offensive to many people and thereby counterproductive. By protesting too much atheists will only convince their foes that they have resorted to shouting and preaching because they cannot convince anyone on the merits of their arguments, just like all other proponents of faulty systems of human thought.
  4. Atheism is not willing to meet people on their own ground, first trying to understand them so as to better explain its own position; rather, it insists on blindly dictating the modalities of the discussion. That is simply arrogant.
  5. Atheism is not an open, but a closed way of thinking. Atheism does not seem willing to ask: “Is there not a concept similar to ‘god’ that would prove useful for explaining the world?”; “What is religion good for?”; “What do the religious mean – beyond what they manage to say?” Atheism is just plain not curious enough for me.
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9 Comments to “why i am not an atheist”

  1. C.S. Lewis once wrote: “Consequently 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: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be a word without meaning.”–C.S. Lewis Mere Christianity.

  2. This is one of the most clear-headed posts I’ve read on any blog. Thanks for saying what needs to be said.

  3. Hi, I use to be a Catholic. But I was itching for the truth. What tickles my ears was that there were so many diversities of belief in so many different congregations in the name of the same God, and all of them were stating that salvation came only through them. I’ve learned that salvation come only through Jesus Our Lord. Accepting Him we become part of His body, His Church and bride. I am a Christian without any denomination. Jesus is my Lord. God the Father gave all power over all things to Him. Jesus taught his disciples to pray to God the Father in His name only. We live in a period of time where Christ will return for His bride.

    You need to know the truth. Religion is a fabrication of man to separate himself from God. There is only one true God. He is not “religion” but “government.”

    Matthew 24:37. As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of man.

    For a more insightful understanding of the above topic I suggest that you read a book entitled “Thy Kingdom Come, Thy will be done”, by Ron Graft and Lambert Dolphin, available Free in Internet version, http://ldolphin.org/kingdom.

    Yours truly,

    Andre
    North Augusta, On, Canada

  4. With all due respect, you seem a little confused about what atheism is. Atheism, by definition, is simply the position that you don’t believe in any gods. If you say “I don’t believe in a god” you qualify, just as much as someone who says “I believe there is no god”. Some people would distinguish atheists as distinct from agnostics though. I don’t think it makes much difference though.

    Either way, there is no need to malign either people who take either position. Most do not fit the caricature of an atheist that you use. Most are utterly reasonable people that you can’t easily distinguish from anyone else.

  5. Where did you get your definition of what atheism is? Certainly not from any books you’ve read. Atheism, pure and simple, is a-theism, that is, the non-belief in a god. Atheists do not necessarily assert that there are no gods, they just do not believe in any. We recognize that, obviously, the non-existence of something is impossible to prove.

    Speaking not for other atheists — because I can’t, since we have no doctrine — but only for myself, I would guess that most of us don’t care what nonsensical religion a private person believes in. It’s only when he or she tries to impose a belief system on others, either through governmental action or simply through terrorism, that atheists become, temporarily, united. If the government were out of the religion business, I suspect that most of us atheists would happily return to our non-proselytizing ways.

    Your silliness about atheism being a worldview is ridiculous. Is non-belief in the Easter bunny a worldview?

    And as far as our alleged belligerence goes, most of us only bite when you try to open our mouths wide enough to ram religion down our throats. Read the First Amendment.

    Arrogant? Dictating the “modalities” of the discussion? I guess you’ve been asleep while the Christian Right has been trying to hijack the country. Or perhaps you missed 9/11.

    As far as being closed: Yes, many of us are unwilling to dignify what we perceive as absurdities. But so are you, I’ll bet. When was the last time you had a serious discussion about the existence of Zeus or Thor, Quetzalcoatl or Osiris?

  6. The problem that I tend to have with religious people is their use of the argument, “Prove that God doesn’t exist”. This is of course a logical fallacy. One can’t prove a negative, nor is one obligated to. It is the responsibility of the believer to prove the existence of god, not the nonbeliever.

  7. What is ‘scientism?’

    It sounds to me like you assiduously avoid anything that might pin you down–any external absolutes. You see, that keeps you in control. The universe can be whatever you want it to be. Can you say ‘solipsism?’

    God forbid anyone should try to confine you to something so silly and limited as the natural universe. In your own mind, you are completely free! (Just don’t try to apply this outside your own head.)

    “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.”
    –Philip K. Dick

  8. “Atheism, especially in its newly virulent strands (yes, i’m referring to Dennett, Dawkins &co.), has very little to do with a simple denial of the existence of God. Atheism is a Weltanschauung (worldview): it asserts unfounded propositions about the way the world is. It is thoroughly deterministic and naturalistic. The proposition “there is no god” is just as metaphysical as “there is a god”; and just as wrongheaded. Atheism is turning into yet another grand meta-narrative: it is not an alternative to religion, but simply its mirror image.”

    Saying ‘There is No God’ is in no way a ‘metaphysical’ statement. God is irrelevent, because there’s no definition of God that is logically coherent. There’s no definition of God that is scientifically verifiable (or even capable of being studied). Saying “there is no God” is the same as saying “there are no pink unicorns”. There is a vast difference between asserting that something doesn’t exist, and asserting that something does — the burden of proof lies on those that say it DOES.

    “Atheism does not simply deny theism, but goes all the way to dismiss any form of religion or spirituality.”

    So? Why is this a problem? Why is it a problem to say “since there is no demonstratable way to show any ounce of truth in ‘spirituality’ then I’m not interested in it” (spirituality, by the way, is another buzz-word with very little meaning, and no coherent definition)

    “Atheism has become a form of scientism, repudiating any propositions that scientists cannot prove to be true. This, of course, is nonsense because as mighty as science has become, it can never prove that it is the only possible source of knowledge. Common sense knows that science can only explain a small portion of the world and remains hopelessly silent concerning many very important or pressing issues (in ethics or politics, aesthetics and religion).”

    You truly have no idea what science is about. Honest science lays no claim to universal knowledge. All science says is this: if you can’t show me where you got your conclusions, and if you can’t be intellectually honest enough to say that you are simply going on a “leap of faith” then I”m not interested in listening to you. Science doesn’t claim to have all the answers — what it DOES claim is a transparent process for getting what answers it DOES have… can religion or spirituality claim the same? No. Religion, spirituality, or whatever new-age word you want to use to describe the same, simply make grand claims with little or no data, extolling the ‘virtues’ of ‘relying on your faith’. As for bringing in ethics, politics, aesthetics to the loop, you are implying that somehow religion has a monopoly on these? Reason and philosophy can do a fine job working within these without some external cloud-jockey getting in the way and mucking things up — it’s time people started realizing that “God” or whatever deity/ghost/supernatural concept you want to insert, is not in the slighetest bit neccessary for ethics, justice, politics, etc.

    “Atheism’s new-found belligerence is offensive to many people and thereby counterproductive. By protesting too much atheists will only convince their foes that they have resorted to shouting and preaching because they cannot convince anyone on the merits of their arguments, just like all other proponents of faulty systems of human thought.”

    Atheism’s belligerance is simply those of us in the “militant atheism camp” as we’ve been labeled by others, saying “you know what? It’s not my job to tuck my tail between my legs and defer to religion anymore.” We’ve been treated like 3rd class citizens by every “religious” person for thousands of years. So sorry that us having a voice is all of a sudden offending your delicate sensibilities, but trust me, if every religious person in the world stopped trying to explain why we are “immoral” and “the root of evil” and just shut up about THEIR belief systems, then we’d probably be a lot quieter. But hey, I guess it’s not fair of us to be honest about how we feel about religion, we should just be quiet and let them keep telling us we’re worthless, sound good?

    “Atheism is not willing to meet people on their own ground, first trying to understand them so as to better explain its own position; rather, it insists on blindly dictating the modalities of the discussion. That is simply arrogant.”

    When was the last time a religious person tried to meet an atheist on their own ground? Again, you are basically saying that atheists need to defer to the religious, and THEN we can have a civil discussion. Why is it my job, as the hated minority here, to defer to someone who’s belief system already precludes me from having any worth? The ‘arrogance’ you see is simply us, as atheists, saying “you know, we don’t have any real reason to be tolerant towards people who hates us.”

    “Atheism is not an open, but a closed way of thinking. Atheism does not seem willing to ask: “Is there not a concept similar to ‘god’ that would prove useful for explaining the world?”; “What is religion good for?”; “What do the religious mean – beyond what they manage to say?” Atheism is just plain not curious enough for me.”

    Atheism is simply saying “there is no such thing as God”. That’s it. If you find that PEOPLE are closed in their way of thinking, fine, but that’s not athiesm itself. Plenty of Atheists have asked what religion is good for — some find it to be good for nothing, others find it to be good for a few things — but atheism itself is just a concept, not a way of thinking. Saying Atheism is “not curious enough” for you is like saying “democracy is not curious enough for me” — how can a concept be curious? You really ought to make a distinction between atheism and the people who self-identify that way. Just as I’ll never say all religous folks are bad people, even though I think all religion itself is deterimental.

    It’s interesting to me that, as more atheists begin to stand up and say “you know, I’m tired of being told to shut up and be tolerant” all of a sudden we’re arrogant, rude, mean, etc. It’s part and parcel for the world to insult Atheists as if we were somehow sub-human. It’s accepted that it’s ok to call us names, call us worthless, and write us off as 2nd tier citizens; yet *gasp* we said that Christianity was a pointless, mean-spirited, and deterimental-to-humanity religion and all of a sudden we’re the bad guys.

    You want to talk tolerance? You want to talk about having a level playing field? You want us to stop being “arrogant”? Then perhaps you should start with the condescending holier-than-thou religous folk who view us as the root of every problem in society.

    -olly

  9. You’re ascribing human characteristics to the idea “atheism” and painting it as a stereotyped person, and then you evaluate it as an idea on this basis. That’s the ad hominem argument taken to a new level.

    Imagine doing this with heliocentrism. If you were a geocentrist, you could “refute” it by ascribing all kinds of personal characteristics to the idea that the Earth goes around the Sun, claiming that it doesn’t go to church to take communion, doesn’t play nicely with other people, whatever. You could then conclude from this stereotype that heliocentrism is false without ever addressing its arguments.

    Your attributing personal characteristics to “atheism” is exactly as fallacious, and also limits you personally. When you meet someone and learn that he’s an atheist, you ascribe a whole stereotype of your on invention on that person and dismiss him out of hand. That’s one less enriching encounter that you could have had.

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