Do you consider yourself an agnostic, freethinker, or atheist? If so, please let me know. And if don’t want to out yourself to your friends and family, then feel free to send me a private message.
I have a serious question for anyone that is against gay marriage for religious reasons: Why aren’t you trying to suppress atheists from getting married? After all, there are millions of gay people that actually believe in God (even the same one as you), but you don’t want them defiling the church through unholy matrimony. Meanwhile there are millions of godless heathens that go around getting hitched (even in your churches) in direct opposition to your beliefs, but I can’t recall one piece of legislation designed to deny non-believers the same rights as you want to deny homosexuals.
Q: Atheists: How do you explain life?
I’m one of those rare breeds who believe equally in God and in Science… I evidently see evolution, and I can even go along with the Big Bang Theory, but how do you explain what makes us alive? Or cognitive thought and imagination? How can these things be explained in the material world if you do not believe in a spiritual world?
Thats why I have to believe in some sort of Creative Force… because I cant reconcile life. How do you do it?
A: No offense, but your inability to reconcile your observations with your beliefs has no bearing on objective truth. I honestly don’t say that to sound rude, condescending, or anything negative. I’m simply trying to offer the suggestion that your perspective might be skewed to accept a certain assumption.
If you really want to boil it down to the absolute basics, I believe the reason we are alive is entropy. It’s the only “force” that ensures that things will change, and change is absolutely necessary for the existence of life. It reminds me of the quote by Alan Watts: “A living body is not a fixed thing but a flowing event.” We are not alive simply because we are alive but because energy itself is bound up in every atom, and entropy is the expression of that power.
Cognitive thought and imagination are simply the byproducts of a highly evolved neurological machine. Our brains were really only developed to take information in, process it, make a decision, and then react to that decision. All brains (and other brain-like systems) work in this way, and it’s only because our brains have become so complex that we’re able to experience things like imagination and abstract thought.
The spiritual world you’re referring to is a completely abstract concept. And since it has no basis in physical reality, it’s easy for me to reconcile with my beliefs. I hold a fundamentalist belief about the term “supernatural.” I believe that all things that exist outside of nature are supernatural. Though it’s clear that there is a “force” that drives life itself, it’s a typically-anthropocentric logical leap to say that it comes from any guiding hand.
If you absolutely must believe in some kind of intelligent designer, consider this. If you choose to do one thing over another, you have made a decision using your intellect. If that decision affects your life or anyone that comes after you, then you have altered your world through your intentions. If your intentions affect something in your world, then you have designed something. And the most intelligent designers I’ve ever encountered are human beings.
I believe the concept of Intelligent Design confuses cause and effect. There can be no deity that intelligently set things up the way they are or else everything would be more intelligently designed. Headaches? Disease? Cancer? War? Rape? Death? What good are these things to thinking and feeling individuals, and why would a benevolent creator curse us with so many problems? The truth is that there is no intelligent designer; intelligence itself has “designed” things to be the way they are. Every time a being chooses one thing over another, its intellect has affected the world. If there was a Great Designer, these decisions would be made for us. And that seems more like a video game than a life to me.
Q: Why do things need to be black and white?
I’m talking about logic & religion.
The religious and faithful have been called delusional, and the non-religious have been called logical. Why can’t a person be smart, logical, and also have a belief in God? I do.
One point made by atheists is that education should direct people towards reason, and they will then lose faith on their own. But I’m a college graduate and I still have no reason to be rejecting the theory or possibility of a God existing.
A: Logic necessarily has to be black and white because that’s how it works. There is no middle ground when it comes to the objective truth. If our rules about logic weren’t strictly defined, then nothing would ever make sense. Religion has capitalized on the black and white nature of things because it’s an easy way to (superficially) distinguish things it considers bad from the things it considers good. There is nothing but middle ground when it comes to the subjective. If our religions tell us that one thing is good and another thing is bad, then it’s a lot easier to swallow than all that fuzzy gray area.
A person can be smart, logical, and also believe in God but only if they have an incomplete understanding of logic. I don’t mean that as an insult. Logically speaking, very little about what religion has to offer makes sense. Invisible sky creatures? Telepathic connections to the undead? The Earth is only a few thousand years old? God speaks only to a handful of chosen people? Religion is the only path to morality? Be honest with yourself: none of those questions have logical explanations from a religious perspective.
Education does not necessarily lead to enlightenment. It is a path that must be tread in order to reach enlightenment. I believe that theists reach their beliefs from a rational process. And I believe that everyone that is presented with the proper evidence will be unable to conclude anything other than the truth. If we use logic to make conclusions, then we will all come up with the same answers. But if some of the variables are wrong, our conclusions will be wrong.
Agnosticism is often thought of as scientific because it appears open to new ideas. It implies that there is a possibility that evidence might exist that would prove that deities are real; we just haven’t found that information yet and we may never find it. Well, atheists aren’t that different. They haven’t seen evidence for deities and therefore they do not believe in them. But every true atheist is philosophically scientific, and new evidence will lead to new conclusions. So, if ample (and credible) evidence was uncovered that proved that deities do exist, then all true atheists would become theists. That’s no different than people claiming agnosticism.
There is, of course, that old argument that the difference is over belief and knowledge. Well, if you believe there are no gods, that makes you an atheist. If you believe the answer can’t be discerned, that makes you an agnostic. Though one claim refers to belief, the other claim refers to a belief about knowledge. And if you truly believe that there is even a possibility that deities might exist, then you are not an atheist. One cannot claim “I know X” and “I can’t know X” at the same time without being logically inconsistent.
Having personally gone through theism and agnosticism, I fully understand why people would want to call themselves agnostic atheists. It has a (slightly) better connotation to it than atheism, it sounds more open-minded, and it appears to be more scientific. But the truth is that claiming agnosticism gives credence to the idea of theism, and that is the polar opposite of what a true atheist believes.
Q: Science does not have any morals, yet Atheist still worship science?
It seems futile and I don’t understand. Why do you choose hell over the kingdom of God?
A: Science does not have any morals because science is not a religion. Mathematics and chemistry have no morals, either, and yet people have little doubt in their ability to send rockets to other planets and to create medicines that never existed. Atheists, as you put, do not worship science. Anyone can use science in their approach to anything. If it seems futile and you don’t understand, perhaps it isn’t the atheists that have an incomplete understanding of the universe.
Q: What’s with all of this animosity between Christians and atheists lately?
A: Lately? This crap has been going on for (literally) thousands of years. It just wasn’t until the invention of the internet that we finally got to see the theism debate argued across the spectrum. We have intelligent people, idiotic people, atheists, theists, agnostics, people that could give less than a crap, people that think this is the most important debate of all time, liberals, conservatives, anarchists, fascists, and all opinions in between interacting over the issue where they normally sat at home and kept most of their opinions to themselves.
For the most part, the people you read in here are the vocal and opinionated ones. Whether they’re atheists or theists, the opinions you’re most likely to read are those that are the most expressed. And the contention between theists (almost all of whom believe that atheists are idiots) and atheists (almost all of whom believe that theists are idiots) is front-and-center in Yahoo! Answers. The format of this site makes it difficult to have a conversation, so people subvert those restrictions by attempting to spout their opinions instead of answering questions.
Consequently, you get a lot of people that are mostly just responding out of a knee-jerk reaction to a question they’re passionate about. It doesn’t make their argument any more or less valid; it just makes it more obvious because it’s right there on the page for everyone to read. And the fact that everyone reads it makes people think they can argue instead just answer. So the atheists get annoyed with the idiotic theist questions/answers and the theists get annoyed with the arrogant atheist questions/answers.
As long as their faith convinces theists that they are correct, they will assume their arguments to be correct. And as long as their reason convinces atheists that they are correct, they will assume their arguments to be correct. And if both sides “know” they’re right, then the debate is fundamentally doomed to being contentious and hostile. Try not to worry about it. We’ll grow up eventually.
We are all born atheist. Once I hit my teenage years I became as devout of a Christian as I could possibly be. I went to church, prayed, and all the usual stuff. When I was in 10th grade I met a guy that had no qualms saying things like, “If there’s a Hell — and I highly doubt it — I’m going there.” I remember saying it once, laughing, and then realizing how liberating it was. I realized that all that religion was just me attempting to find myself as a young boy.
After that point I considered myself agnostic, and I remained this way for several years. Though deep down I didn’t believe in the existence of gods, I had this unshakable feeling that something was there, watching my every move and listening to my every thought. No matter what evidence I heard/saw/read, I didn’t see proof of God’s existence. But I also didn’t see proof of God’s non-existence, so it was easy to claim agnosticism. Though I was essentially atheist, my inability to shake that feeling left me referring to myself using an inadequate term.
And then I discovered Carl Sagan.
A friend gave me a copy of Cosmos and I consumed the whole thing in just a few days. Before I’d even finished the first chapter, my whole life had begun to change. It pried my third eye wide open and allowed me to begin my intellectual awakening. Before the year was over, I’d read over 30 books about science, biology, evolution, skepticism, physics, and astronomy, including almost every book written by Sagan. The whole process of rediscovering the beauty of nature and the purity of science didn’t just change my beliefs, it reshaped the way my mind worked. I can honestly say it made me into a smarter, more critical, more humble, and more compassionate person.
Right in the middle of all this, I read Sagan’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Dragons of Eden about the evolution of the human brain. Sagan never once told people they should be atheists. What he did was reveal the world to you in a way that made you realize where the whole deity thing comes from. We have always been a part of hierarchies, and we have always had alpha males. I don’t remember the exact line but I do remember the point he made: being part of a hierarchy and submitting to alpha males is an integral part of our biological heritage. It explained why people all over the world and in every culture believed in higher powers, why we elect supreme leaders (almost always male) even in nations that call themselves democracies, and why we literally worship sports like football and soccer.
When I realized that the feeling for God and other higher powers is a naturally occurring aspect of our biology, my whole world changed. I suddenly found that proof that agnostics were always claiming didn’t exist. I suddenly felt that assurance that I’d never felt when calling myself atheist. And, most importantly, I no longer resented religious people for believing in higher powers. Though I don’t wear my atheism on my sleeve (because of the stigma attached to it), I finally have complete confidence in my beliefs. No uncertainties, no doubts, and (most importantly) a sensible explanation for the existence of all spirituality.
I’m not an atheist because I have yet to see evidence that God exists; I’m an atheist because I understand the biological explanation for it.
© 1999-2022 Eric P. Metze