Saturday, February 17, 2007

Faith in Atheism???

As a recent deconvert from Christianity I must saythat many make a basic error in understanding when they claim Atheists have faith in Atheism. I gave up Christianity because I do not believe God actually exists. That's it. Atheism is not a belief system it is merely the view that Gods do not exist. That is all that atheists have in common.

I have beliefs, in democracy, tolerance, compassion, ethics etc. These are not related to my atheism. They are views based on reason and argument. They change as I grow, develop and learn. The key to these is that I may well be (almost certainly) mistaken on some and need to change my views based on discussion and experience.

Religious belief is not like this. It is based on revelation from a divine being. It is not subject to change or even admission that it might be wrong. The biggest problem is the demand that the whole world should/must (liberal believer/fundamentalist believer) follow these beliefs.

So can I discuss belief with believers. Not in a meaningful way. For the following reasons:
1) I can be mistaken the believer is always right. God said so.
2) The believer appeals to a higher authority which I think is imaginary.
3) I wish to act based on my reason the believer acts on an imaginary instruction set.

The old Zen story makes a huge error by making all of the men knowingly blind. It would make more sense if there were seven blind men six of whom believed through faith that they could see and rather than touching the elephant they spoke with divine authority and only the atheist touched the elephant, and got it wrong. Something like this:

There's a beautiful Zen story of seven blind men who had never before seen an elephant.One day an elephant was put before them and they were asked to describe what it was after each was enabled to make contact with it.The Catholic said the Pope has revealed that this beast is like a giant snake and should be avoided.The Anglican said the bible does not mention such a creature, so it is not there.The Presbyterian formed a committee and said they would report back next month. The Muslim declared that it revealed the glory of God and that everyone should become a Muslim NOW! Oh - and the atheist caught hold of the tail and swore it was definitely a fly swat.Who was right?
No one!

The point of my story is no one is right. The rational approach though has the best chance of getting somewhere. If we put all the views together we only end up with a mess.

So it needs to be understood that:

 Atheism is NOT a belief system.  Atheist THINK only one thing about God/s there are none.
Atheists have beliefs as does everyone else in ethics, democracy, reason etc.

The annoying thing is the continual refusal of believers to actually listen to what non-believers actually say.


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