tony baldwin

tony baldwin

What is Atheism? and why am I one?

Why I am an atheist, not an agnostic.

Really, for me it’s a simple question: “What is an atheist, and why am I one?”.
Clearly, I can’t answer for every atheist, but when a friend on Diaspora* asked this question recently (on this thread), I replied, and thought I’d post my reply here:


Who would Jesus bomb?

Essentially, Atheism is a lack of belief in diety/ies.
I have no reason to believe that there is/are any diety/ies. Thus, I am an atheist.
I do not believe there is/are a god or gods.
The fact that you have some ancient book that says there is one, frankly, is not sufficient reason for me to believe.
Lots of peoples, cultures, religions, have a book. Why should I believe yours over theirs?

And don’t even start with that,”Well, something or Somebody must have created all this! Nothing comes out of nothing!”
Because that just starts a whole circular argument that goes nowhere…
Nothing can come out of nothing, you say, so a god must have created everything?
Then, from whence came your god? Who or what created it?
After all, you just said that everything must have been created…

Oh, you felt God’s hand when you prayed in church?
And the Hindu who felt the hand of Krsna? The Muslim who spoke with Allah?
Religious experience can be created by a broad variety of means, even with magnets.
It’s all rather meaningless.

So,

  • A theist believes there is a god or gods.
  • An agnostic (a-gnostic: anti-gnosis) believes that it is not possible to know whether there is/are a god or gods.
  • An atheist does not believe there is/are a god or gods.

Then, another way of looking at it, for me:

  • There are those who think the question “is there a god?” is an interesting question, and believe the answer is “Yes!”.
    They are theists.
  • There are those who think the question “is there a god?” is an interesting question, and believe the answer is unknowable.
    They are agnostics.
  • There are those who think the question “is there a god?” is an interesting question, and that the answer is “no”.
    These are atheists.
  • Then, there are some who just think it’s a stupid question

I really kind of count myself in this last category, but since I have no belief in the existence of a god or gods, that qualifies me as an atheist.

After all, I can’t prove there is no Santa Claus, either, nor that there are no unicorns or dragons or faeries….but I’m fairly certain that I can assume, in these cases, that the lack of evidence for their existence can be reasonably construed as indicative of their non-existence.

Perhaps I should make one more clarification:

I do not have a belief that there is no god, nor that there is a god.
I simply lack any belief there is one.

Do you understand? Lack of belief in something doesn’t indicate belief, necessarily, in something else.
Do I have faith there there is no god? I would say not. Faith (i.e. belief) is not part of this equation for me.

Do I know there is no god? Some would say that to make such a claim would be tantamount to claiming omniscience. But, hmmm…do I know there is no Easter Bunny? or Tooth Fairy?
Do I know that lightning is not caused by Zeus, or thunder by Thor?
Do I know that the Earth is not resting on the back of a giant turtle?
Can I prove these things? I mean, really…can I?

When every instance of a belief in some deity or another is based on some ancient mythology intended to explain natural phenomena that the ancients could not otherwise explain, phenomena that are ever increasingly understood and explained by science, why would I assume that science won’t continue to explain that which we once did not comprehend? Why would I rely on some ancient mythology to explain existence? Why would I even entertain such a thought? Doesn’t it seem silly?

All the biblical miracles will at last disappear with the progress of science. ~ Matthew Arnold

Relevant links:


tony

tagged: #atheism #atheist #religion #agnostic #agnosticism #theist #theism #god #gods #belief #faith

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