Monday, 3 September 2012

Why Atheists are wrong...

The Symbol of a new Faith

No, I'm not about to launch into some sort of proof of god's (or gods for that matter) existence but just to cry a little at the problem with atheism. I've always liked to play with metaphysics:

Let me start, dear reader, with the one clear fact in all this – there is a “creation”. OK it could be an entirely accidental creation, it could be a glorious combination of accident and subtle external intervention or the Great Goddess Woo might have made it from tears at the death of her pet dog. What you believe here isn’t important – what is important is enquiry – asking the question.

You see atheism is as much an act of faith as believing in gods and less so that believing in fairies. Atheists can no more prove their position than can bearded monks sitting on the flanks of Mount Sinai. And the bearded monks are often far more metaphysically interesting and open to doubt that the "skeptical" atheist.

A while ago I had a gentle little dig at the great prophet of militant atheism, Richard Dawkins:

I make no secret of my disagreement with Dawkins – his spiritless, dry, confrontational obsessions have created an atheism that is no longer fundamental but that requires a range of beliefs beyond the essence of atheism. That essence is, of course, very straightforward – that there is no god. What Dawkins has done has been to take upon himself a jihad directed at anyone who does not adhere to his obsessions – unreconstructed Darwinian evolution, a view that religion is a pathology and utter contempt for any promotion of a religious viewpoint.

Indeed the adherents of Dawkins have set about creating a religion - it even has a name now: Atheism Plus (or A+) complete with a funky logo. Soon all the little Dawkinsites will be wearing badges with this symbol - a bit like the little fish symbol that evangelical Christians wear or maybe a green turban or a gold bracelet.

These Atheist jihadi are keen to set out their stall - amidst all the denial of religiosity, our Atheists demand that Atheism must change society, just as does Christianity, as it is with Islam:

If there is no god, if religion is a sham, that has significant consequences for how we should structure our society
These atheists - followers of the prophet Dawkins - do not stop with believing that there is no god but go much further. Religion must be first condemned and its influences removed from any public influence. Atheism these people tell us must be practiced:

Atheism sensu stricto may be a specific assertion about a fact of the universe, but atheism as practiced is a defining idea in a mind and a powerful foundation for a human community. It has meanings and implications that we must heed and use for achieving our goals.

Let me adjust that so you can understand:

Religion sensu stricto may be a specific assertion about a fact of the universe, but religion as practiced is a defining idea in a mind and a powerful foundation for a human community. It has meanings and implications that we must heed and use for achieving our goals.

The statement makes just as much sense (which to me is absolutely none) in either version. Atheism is wrong. Not because there is a god but because to assert god's non-existence is no different to asserting god's existence. And to construct a faith-based organisation that singles out other faith-based organisations as targets is indistinguishable from the Islamic idea of jihad or the evangelical injunction placed on Christians.

The logic of Atheism dies when you treat it as a religion. And, because atheism requires a profound act of faith, it can only be a religion.



Leg-iron said...

Embrace apathism! There may or may not be a god. We don't care.

No meetings, no discussion, no anti-anything books. No denial of anyone's beliefs, no arguing, no confrontation, no fighting, no denigrating.

It's a remarkably easy way to live.

Byron Smith said...

I do not agree. I personally have to operate from a set of naturalistic presuppositions so disbelief in god is a necessity unless a naturalist definition of god backed up by evidence actually exists. Atheism doesn't require any faith as I understand it, unlike religious faith which can thrive in the absence of evidence. Asserting god's non-existence to me isn't like asserting god's existence, because I am not even sure that the concept of deity in a naturalistic universe is even a valid rational concept in the first place. I think Evolution predisposes us towards religion for social and reproductive benefits, so perhaps the concept of deity might be innate. But I do not think that the concept is rationally valid unless that could be proven so. Sorry for rambling, but that's my $0.02 on it.

Anonymous said...

That's because atheism is not in any way a religion whatsoever. All you did here was twist the connotations of your poorly chosen words to suit your purpose. This is very misleading media. The very word atheism means "no theism" no theistic beleifs. None. Everything atheists consider when thinking of the universe is based on reason and logic. There are no beliefs, or faith, simply acceptances of facts based on evidence and observations painstakingly made of our universe. There is no word for people who don't beleive in Santa's existence, or disbeleive that frosty the snowman was a real live entity that influences their life. The burden of proof lies on the asserter. Atheism is not religion and should never be considered anywhere near similar. This piece makes you appear quite silly. Richard dawkins would dwarf you in an intellectual conversation.

Ivan D said...

My own experience of science has taught me that despite our great advances, we are relatively ignorant and should therefore perhaps practice more humility. I use science and logic on a daily basis but do not believe that these tools are beyond improvement or challenge.

You make a valid point in that militant atheism requires faith so is effectively a religion. Belief based on science and human rationality is to many more justifiable than belief in the unseen and unknown, but it involves a degree of conceit and trust in methods that might be less solidly grounded than some would have us believe.

Leg-iron's comment presents a far better philosophy than anything Dawkins et al have produced thus far.

Anonymous said...

This is like if I criticize christians by listing my problems with baptists (or any other single denomination)


Terry Collmann said...

"to assert god's non-existence is no different to asserting god's existence."

Nonsense. The effects are totally different. You don't end up with the Bible, the Koran or the Book of Mormon by asserting god's non-existence. The problem with asserting god's existence is that it is then very easy to assert a set of universal rules to live by that are allegedly laid down by god - and if anyone tries to challenge those rules (eg, how exactly you define marriage) all you need say is "God says this - look, here's the Book that is the Word of God." You can't get that with atheism.

SadButMadLad said...

Atheism is a religion just as much as communism is a religion. A belief system. It doesn't matter about theisms or gods or deities or some evolutionary predisposition to a reason for the randomness of nature. It's a belief in something. And a grouping of people who all believe the same thing and perform rituals or incantations or use symbols in order to provide a sense of identity.

If you want a non-religion agnostics or more like it. Not bothering to believe in anything in the first place.