Tag Archives: atheism

Confession of an Atheist: God exists.

There has, over the last few years, been a slow boiling discussion among some of the people I admire, here in the land of the internet, about God.

When I have time and energy I intend to examine this in more detail, and give credit to everyone- they all spoke persuasively and with critical intelligence.

But right now I am very tired. There is just a little time to get to shelter before the storm hits, and I find myself wondering if I have enough energy even just for that.

So here it is.

God exists.

God is an idea.

God is not only an idea- he is an ideal.

God exists- not as a spiritual or mystical being- but as a pattern of approved behavior coded into the minds of the people who are socialized into His religions- true believer or unthoughtful backslider or holiday attendee.

God is a character in a story. Unlike most stories, the story God occurs in is called religion.

So instead of the readers reading the story and deciding what to think about that character, readers are told, from every direction and on as many levels as possible,

-that THIS character decides what THEY think.  That Wrong is disagreeing with this character and Right is agreeing with Him.

If Zie does somehow exist as a spiritual or mystical being, somewhere out in the universe, it does not change the fact that this pattern of approved behavior exists. It does not change the fact that it gets coded into the minds of those who have been socialized this way- that this Thing is called god- the One and Only.

I will also kick Zier in Zeir goddamn shin if we ever meet- for  leaving us to wallow in this slop that passes  for divinity.

Because God- as described in the book that so many take as literal fact- and so many other take as useful metaphor-

-is a shallow, blustering, gaslighting, rageful, moronic rapist of a homicidal narcissist.

God is the personality (even if as an atheist you don’t believe he is also an actual person) who forms people’s ideas of acceptable and unacceptable behavior.

God is the Father.

Because God isn’t an Abusive Boyfriend. God is an Abusive Parent.

Because America has Daddy issues.

And America went out and got a Boyfriend just like Daddy.

 

 

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A Memory from Worldview Academy

The man stood on a podium in front of a screen.  The screen was showing him, himself.  He was at some kind of festival, complete with tent-booths and hippies.   He went into a booth marked Atheist- there were a couple of people inside.  To my child eyes, they looked dirty and unkempt.  To my adult mind they may have also been strung out, but who knows.

The Man was showing us how to talk to Atheists.

The man on the screen began asking the Atheists belligerent questions.  How do you know there is no God? Yeah? How do you know you’re not wrong?

The (strung out looking) atheists seemed befuddled and angry.  They started giving semi-coherent answers, repeating the same answers as the man repeated his same questions.

“Well, how do you know you’re not wrong” the chick atheist asked, conversationally.  She was obviously trying to calm everyone down.

“Nice try, but I asked first” said the man on the screen.

“I know I’m not wrong!”The guy atheist said.  “I wasn’t wrong when I was a teenager and I’m not wrong now!”

“Ha” The man on the podium pointed, as if catching that atheist in the act.

The images froze.  The sound of the festival was gone.

“Now, what do we know about that? 1 Corinthians 13: 11  ‘When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put…”

He rattled off the words until he came to the last phrase, which he drew out as if making a point.

“…the ways of childhood behind me.'”

Clearly, this atheist had not yet become a Man.  His Atheism was Proof.

The clip started up again, and, a devout, wide-eyed child, a budding teenager, I watched.  It didn’t occur to me that these were hardly the most articulate specimens of Atheist.  That a tent in a giant party was hardly the best place to debate. That the entire clip was like shooting fish in a barrel.  A propaganda piece at best.

That life is complicated and which phase of life one held a belief in is not, by any rational stretch of the imagination, proof of the belief’s truth or falsehood.

That Paul, in the rest of the passage, was describing the central role of love in Christian life.

1 Corinthians  13: 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

And pointing out that, without love, all the wittiness of the wise and divinely inspired is nothing- the clanging of  a gong.

1 Corinthians  13:1  If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

And this man was using Paul’s words as a hammer to drive home his ‘superiority’ over a strung out hippy.

None of this occurred to me.

But the scene stuck in my memory.

Leaning forward in my folding chair, with a crowd of other children,  I didn’t yet understand how long it can take to leave childhood behind.

 

names of things and theories

Lately, I’ve been looking away from and outside of the religion I grew up in.  The view doesn’t seem especially encouraging.

I have been thinking that perhaps the religion I grew up in was a fabrication.  I have been studying myths and their origins, and have been wondering if all religions are perhaps fabrications.  They are very odd creature.  They seem to grow and change like living creatures.  Evolving, I guess.

God, as I understood him, is a fiction we wrote.  So I suppose that makes me an atheist?

But when I read about atheism and atheists, I’m left with a bad taste in my mouth.   Things like Elevatorgate. And the issues that followed.

http://skepchick.org/2011/07/the-privilege-delusion/

http://skepchick.org/2013/09/my-time-with-richard-dawkins-or-why-you-should-never-meet-your-idols/

Or rape culture.  You can look up stuff about that on your own. Its easy.

I don’t know what my ultimate take away is on all that.  But I was slowly waking up to the fact that there was misogyny woven into the fabric of my culture.  Just in time to find misogyny woven in to the fabric of opposing cultures as well.

And then there are the problems of the Gulag.   And the fact that massacres have been committed (directly or indirectly) in countries where atheism was the dominant worldview just as easily and frivolously as witch hunts and crusades were carried out in areas where religion was the dominant narrative.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Gulag_Archipelago

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Leap_Forward

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_Albania    (communist albania section)

http://catholiceducation.org/articles/religion/re0273.html  (from what I have read of the first hand accounts, this seems pretty accurate)

It seems to me that there is no escape- no instant salvation if you say a prayer, join a group and just add water.  You can’t leave that ‘evil’ religion behind, and suddenly be inducted into a magical land of ‘good’ atheism.  Maybe you can and I’m just too depressed about my former religion to see it- but I’m too depressed about my former religion to see it.

I’ve been turning over two possible thoughts.

The first is that- perhaps there is a difference between atheism and humanism. Humanism is something I am just beginning to look into.  I can’t claim to know much about it.  Here’s an interesting article.

http://rationalist.org.uk/articles/4458/humanism-for-a-globalised-world

“What then is the humanism that Said wishes to not have thrown out with the bathwater of discredited colonial or racist projects? For him, ‘the core of humanism is the secular notion that the historical world is made by men and women, and not by God and that it can be understood rationally … Or to put it differently, we can really only know what we make.'”

– Priyamvada Gopal

If this is the definition of humanism, it looks like it has more potential than atheism.  The word atheism itself is a negative definition. The atheists I have read so far believe in human evolution, the non-intelligently designed nature of the universe and seem proud of the fact that they have used logic to puzzle this out.  Their science has been untainted by myth. As far as it goes, it seems their facts are correct.

But how far is the mere disowning of an Imaginary Father going to take us?

Is it possible to define ourselves by what we do believe in?  Are we allowed to believe in ourselves?

If there is no God. And we are what has existed the whole time. And we are the people who are creating and have created our subjective experience of human history.

Shouldn’t we crown ourselves emperor?

There is so much we left undone because we had left it in the mighty hands of The Imaginary.

And here, all along, we were the Imaginers.

I don’t know where this leaves me on the subject of religion.

If evolution- guided by survival and survival only- really is what produced us- it seems to have produced in us a deeply felt need for religion. If science has replaced religion, wouldn’t religion now be dying away- withering like a vestigial organ?  But it does not seem to be doing so.  So perhaps religion was not a primitive and now-outmoded form of science in the first place. And if religion hasn’t been functioning as an accurate/inaccurate scientific map of reality- it has certainly been filling some function.  

Given the sway religion has over our world, I would guess the unknown function that religion fills has not withered away either.

Should we affirm ourselves and try to discover and meet our needs, even in our ignorance?

Or should we try to remove this organ- assuming that, since we don’t know its function, it clearly doesn’t have one…?

I am as wary of atheism as I am of theism.  I believe that it is necessary- it is a statement of the facts as, it now seems to me, they are.  But it isn’t a statement of all the facts.

This… this… humanism… is not a position that appeals to me.  In the days of My Faithfulness, this seemed to me the most unattractive of all opposing view points.  I was used to the emotional thrill ride of a god who could order the complete massacre of your race one day, and declare his passionate devotion the next (Exodus 32: 7-14), so perhaps this was simply a matter of emotional education.  In my increasing discontent with the Elohim- YHWH- The One, atheism now appeals to me: as a way to declare a personal vendetta against Him.   This, sadly, is rather irrational.

Humanism, as defined above, seems fairly sane.

This brings me to my second thought.

“Macbeth’s self-justifications were feeble – and his conscience devoured him. Yes, even Iago was a little lamb, too. The imagination and spiritual strength of Shakespeare’s evildoers stopped short at a dozen corpses. Because they had no ideology. Ideology – that is what gives evildoing its long-sought justification and gives the evildoer the necessary steadfastness and determination. That is the social theory which helps to make his acts seem good instead of bad in his own and others’ eyes…. That was how the agents of the Inquisition fortified their wills: by invoking Christianity; the conquerors of foreign lands, by extolling the grandeur of their Motherland; the colonizers, by civilization; the Nazis, by race; and the Jacobins (early and late), by equality, brotherhood, and the happiness of future generations…. Without evildoers there would have been no Archipelago.”

—Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Chapter 4, p. 173

Without evildoers, there would have been no Archipelago- but without an ideology what would there have been?

What if we decided that no theory or religion was ever more important than the lives of our fellow travelers in this world- our brothers and sisters?