Religion offers answers on what to think, not how to think. by R.K. Chase
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Atheism is not a religion. We are all born atheists. There is no such thing as a Christian child or a Muslim child or a Buddhist child, just as there is no such thing as a Republican child or Democratic child. These designations are the result of indoctrination by culture. As we get older we try to justify our beliefs with our ever expanding body of knowledge, but if you truly consider yourself a truth-seeker then you will embrace being wrong in light of new information. That is the scientific method, and the enemy of religious fundamentalism.
When religious people caricature atheism as a religion, it really shows a lack of understanding about what religion and atheism really are. They are not mutually exclusive. The Buddha was an atheist; he rejected the idea of an eternal soul because he believed that that idea was the cause of suffering in the world. In believing that you are eternal, or even that you have a permanent identity, you immediately separate yourself from other people in the world. Your entire body replaces itself every 7 years and your body of knowledge is always increasing, so to assume that you are the same 'self' is problematic and will undoubtedly lead to conflict with other people who believe the same thing about their 'selves.'
Furthermore, there is no reason to assume that any supernatural power has played a role either creating or manipulating life on earth or in the universe in general. When religious texts were written they offered an account of the world using the best interpretation available to them. The King James Version of the Bible is an excellent example of the metaphor and philosophy employed by ancient thinkers. It provides great insight into what our ancestors perceived ultimate reality to be.
However, to still rely on these ancient documents and the dogma of religious institutions for guidance in your immediate life sells human reasoning short. Religion offers answers; it tells people what to think, but philosophy and science teaches how to think, which infinitely more beneficial to mankind.
Did you like this article? If you did, Thumb It! 53
thumbs so far
The views expressed
in this article are those of R.K. Chase only and
do not represent the views of Nolan Chart, LLC or its affiliates.
R.K. Chase is solely responsible for the contents
of this article and is not an employee or otherwise affiliated
with Nolan Chart, LLC in his/her role as a columnist.
I have noticed in Dubai that muslim children act about the same as Christian children. This is so true, unfortunately you and I know that people tend to believe in the stupidest of things. I wish we had our own "church" to go to so that people could satisfy thier need for fellowship. I think that it wouldn't last too long. Some A-hole would start babeling about something stupid.
In your previous article, you put forth Darwins work in support of science and reason over religion/creationism. This is a common tactic, and has led me to several possible conclusions;
1. You haven't read any of Darwins work.
2. You intentionally misrepresent Darwins work in order to support your position.
3. The edition of On the Origin of blah blah that you studied was distributed exclusively to smarter-than-everyone-else-bright-people-who-have-been-taught-how-to-think.
Darwin wrote extensively on his belief in the theory of Creation. If you had studied his work, you would know this. So go ahead professor, maybe it's time for your seven-year metamorphosis. Make a fresh start, do your own reading, and don't let anyone tell you how to think.
Go ahead and look up "micro" and "macro" while you're at it.
i'm not saying that darwin himself was an atheist. I am saying that he introduced the idea of evolution and popularized the scientific method. I try to represent all my viewpoints honestly. I would never learn anything if i intentionally misrepresented them. I was a church going christian for a long time, educated k-8th in a christian school and i have good christain friends so i know what's its like to be told how to think from a very young age. Atheists always point to Darwin because he got people thinking. I point to jesus when he says do unto others, but not because i think he is divine, its just the right thing to do.
First of all, I do not know why an article defending atheism is on a site which I thought was intended for political articles. Regardless, I will go along and comment accordingly.
Atheism provides an intellectual paradigm, a working framework, for interpreting all personal experiences and facts regarding life and existence. It provides its adherent with a set of mental "filters" through which all mental inputs are to be sorted with some inputs being automatically accepted while others are automatically denied. Its institutional "church" could be thought of as the halls of higher academia or the secular government. In that sense, it is no different from any other religion in human society, theistic or not. [That is not to say that all religions are equally reasonable or defensible; that is definitely not my claim.]
In other words, atheism tries to advertise itself as being the only "objective" paradigm for human thought, the preferred paradigm for "rational" people, while it is just as subjective and biased as any other paradigm. The personal benefits that an atheist receives from their atheism makes it impossible for them to actually be completely objective about it which is why most atheists will defend their atheism with a fervor equal to that of any religious zealot. Those benefits usually take the form of being their own highest moral authority and, therefore, being able to live their life the way they want with no real moral guilt and with no accountability to anyone (other than possibly the State). The atheist takes great pride in being able to look in the mirror and say, "Unlike those religious types, I am the only god to which I must answer;" it is self-worship at its worst.
Furthermore, no atheist can actually live life as a true atheist, because to do so is completely counter to the way people are wired on the inside. An atheist will tell you that no absolute morality exists, but they will scream for justice when someone wrongs them, even if the wrongful act is not illegal (such as lying). Atheism in consistent practice would require the jettison of nearly every single first principle of human thought (the inalienability of human rights, altruism being more valued than selfishness, romantic love being about more than just passing on your genes, the value of self-sacrifice, etc.).
I write all this as someone who was once an ardent atheist grounded very deeply in Neo-Darwinism, so I know exactly what I am talking about. If I can be convinced that atheism is an intellectual dead end, then I know that others can be, too. I highly suggest The God Who Is There by Francis A. Schaeffer for a thorough discussion of the conflicts between atheism, the human experience, and the world that we live in.
Atheists do have a moral code, a 'civic' moral code. You make the error of believing that morality can ONLY come from religious sources. Evolution theory shows we derived a manageable moral code for 'community' to happen, without adherence to religious dogma. Oral history performed this task for us, as we learned a posteriori. I suggest you examine your biases against atheism once again. And do this knowing that all people who have a fervent interest in their particular view being accepted, will be excited about it. The good thing is that humanists/atheists/free-thinkers have a much higher level of tolerance for contrary opinions than do others. I would much prefer to have an enlightened, free-thinking atheist/humanist soldier standing over me in a time of war, than a soldier who was a religious zealot. It widens the odds of survival by a long shot.
I sincerely doubt that you were ever "an ardent atheist grounded very deedly in Neo-Darwinism". I think that you're using one of the time worn ploys of manipulative theists; claim that you were once an atheist and you converted to yada, yada, yada.
First, only Christians with an ulterior motive use terms like "Neo-Darwinism". There is no such thing in science/biology as "Neo-Darwinism". There is evolutionary theory, which is supported by mountains of evidence.
Perhaps you could point to a source for the claim: "atheism tries to advertise itself as being the only 'objective' paradigm for human thought, the preferred paradigm for 'rational' people". Otherwise, you should just admit that is just your biased, emotional appeal to prejudice.
Most of the statements that you make concerning atheists are thinly vieled hate speech. You have the right to make them but they label you as a hate monger and a bigot.
I know that I've never heard an atheist assert that anyone who disagrees with his worldview is doomed to an eternity of damnation and punishment.
In regards to "intelluctual paradigm" atheism isn't one. Atheism is a conclusion based on lack of evidence for the theist assertion that there are one or more deities. The "intellectual paradigm" that one could say that the atheist uses is empericism or the scientific method.
Posted By: you know that one guy who used to be and anarchist
Date: 2008-02-06 20:25:58
First let me prefix this with, im an atheist for lack of a better description more than any other reason. I believe in evolution, and i don't believe a supreme power is governing this reality that i am percieving (note word choice). Now as for my thoughts:
All those argueing with chad:
The things he says are valid to and extent, i agree he appears a little militant but as someone who has been a fervent atheist in the past i vouch that i have defended my position just as fervently as the christians i argued with. However i was young at the time and see the error in that position. I will also vouch for his statements regarding atheisim as a limiting intellectual paradigm, this is true it results in the discarding of any idea that can not be rationalized throught emperical evidence.
Im happy you were able to overcome the limitations of your personal atheism however despite the fact you ultimately found that belief structure flaw, or perhaps lack of belief structure is a better way of describing it. It does not mean that anyone utilizing the mind set of atheism cannot however come to a point where they consider view points outside the strict realm of disbelief. This is where i consider myself, i ultimately believe that science will never explain the "why" of things, i actually don't think it was ever meant too. Infact i believe the author of the article also recognizes this particular point when describing the buddha as an atheist. Science and empericism is only meant to explain the mechanistic nature of things. As an atheist i choose to believe that the universe may be little more than a huge mechanical system, that quite frankly there may be no "why" to it just a "how". But as an open minded individual i am always willing to atleast listen to the beliefs of others, which its seems to me you have decided is beneath you. I've never met to atheist with exactly the same belief structure, however i have met many of religious folk who spew party lines so to speak about there beliefs, perhaps that doesn't mean any of them actually believe exactly the same thing but they have interesting ways of showing there diversity. So chad accept this your personal belief changes don't invalidate or even come close to describing a community of individuals such as atheists, being someone who takes the banner, perhaps hesitantly, take a little offense to your generalizations that may infact in a general way reflect the majority of atheists but do not however come close to describing the body as a whole. Perhaps you should seek you own self actualization and not criticize the path others take to the same goal.
When it comes down to it we are all just people who make our own decisions, i choose to be peaceful and try to be respectful because it makes sense in my own mind, not because i feely morally obliged. I live by the golden rule because as a selfish by nature being i seek what benifits me.
Peace people, try to listen and learn instead of bicker and fight.
Well reguardless of what you think, everyone has an eternity somewhere. U might think u just stay in the ground, I believe u spend it elsewhere. What if ur nonbelief is wrong u wld spend eternity in hell. You wld deserve it, It wouldnt be Gods fault. Hell is real and really for eternity. Our human mind cannot comprehend how long this is but let me assure u u will not enjoy it. The eternal burning, eternally tortured by flesh eating "worms", And finally eternal darkness to top it off. I do not wish any of you go to hell but u see that this thing christianity is not just a myth but ultimate truth.
Chad, you said this; >"Its institutional "church" could be thought of as the halls of higher academia or the secular government. In that sense, it is no different from any other religion in human society, theistic or not."<
This seems like an enormous stretch with the intention of classifying atheism as a church of some kind. An institutional church?? Really?
>"In other words, atheism tries to advertise itself as being the only "objective" paradigm for human thought,"<
I'm not aware of any advertising that atheism does regarding.... atheism. I'm aware of the advertising done by various religions and their presence on radio and TV. Where is this adverstising you're speaking of? As for it being an objective paradigm for human thought, I don't see that either other then the fact that it's uncluttered with dogma.
>"The personal benefits that an atheist receives from their atheism makes it impossible for them to actually be completely objective about it which is why most atheists will defend their atheism with a fervor equal to that of any religious zealot."<
I know of no atheist that feels compelled to defend anything. The atheist isn't asserting a belief into the mix and therefore has no belief to defend. The Theist however, is. Those beliefs can't be demonstrated as being true. The atheist knows that. The theist would be well advised not to attempt to present his beliefs as fact and something to fight over. Faith doesn't require proof, and therefore its actually hypocritical on the believers part to insist that something supports his belief.
>"Those benefits usually take the form of being their own highest moral authority and, therefore, being able to live their life the way they want with no real moral guilt and with no accountability to anyone (other than possibly the State). "<
Since morals are values, and values cannot be demonstrated as being true, what makes you think that the atheist seeks authority of any kind for his views. And to assume that an atheist cannot hold himself accountable or answerable for his own actions as well as the actions of others is completely naive. Believe it or not, they do have a conscience. Most atheist abide by the simplicity of the Golden Rule. Not because of some divine authority, but because it makes sense.
>"The atheist takes great pride in being able to look in the mirror and say, "Unlike those religious types, I am the only god to which I must answer;" it is self-worship at its worst."<
You seem to be forgetting...atheists don't believe in Gods. Themsleves included. They don't worship things. Theists do that. You seem to be stuck in the paridigm of religious thinking in attempting to describe how atheists think, but in religious terms. If you aren't an atheist, then how can you know what they think or how they think? Being a believer, how can you know what non-belief is like?
>"Furthermore, no atheist can actually live life as a true atheist, because to do so is completely counter to the way people are wired on the inside."<
You seem to be making an absolute statement of fact here. Can you demonstrate how what you're saying is true regarding how people are "wired" on the inside. Let me ask you a very simple question: Is there a possibility that you could be wrong about any of this? Or...do you assume some kind of infallibility. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that I think you're probably fallible, meaning that you could possibly be wrong. Knowing that is probably true, why should your statement which you can't prove be taken seriously?
>"An atheist will tell you that no absolute morality exists"< Perhaps you can show ONE absolute morality. This should be good. Demonstrate absolute morality for me. You do know that you're making a value judgement right there. I assume you place a value of some degree on your "morals". Do you feel a need to demonstrate that your values are true? I have mine as well. They probably are different then yours. The difference here is that I don't feel any requirement to demonstrate them to anybody. I merely try to put them in an objective form (that is to express them as clearly as possible) so that if someone has criticism or alternatives we can discuss them. Don't you think this is superior to trying to demonstrate the truth of some value once and for all?
>"Atheism in consistent practice would require the jettison of nearly every single first principle of human thought (the inalienability of human rights, altruism being more valued than selfishness, romantic love being about more than just passing on your genes, the value of self-sacrifice, etc.)."<
It's odd that atheist haven't encountered any of that. You seem to have some very dogmatic ideas about what atheism is. You'd do better in looking at what it isn't. Maybe you simply don't understand it. Ya think that's possible?
>"I write all this as someone who was once an ardent atheist grounded very deeply in Neo-Darwinism, so I know exactly what I am talking about."<
I don't think you were. Sorry, but I don't believe you. I don't think a person with an open mind that has committed to any degree of critical rationalism can find an honest way to close it. Neo-Darwinism? Are you suggesting that you don't subscribe to evolution? hmmm. Interesting.
Atheists and Gnostics are right in most of their thinking
It has been common among religious believers to look with misgiving to atheists and Gnostics, and to think that they are mistaken; however, in many instances the opposite is the truth; some religious beliefs are not just irrelevant, but baseless. The “God” of main line traditions simply does not exist. I accepted the challenge of finding the One who may be recognized even by Gnostics and atheists: the Existence itself, “All-That-Is.” If something is there, that is God. Look at the book “Christianity Reformed From ist Roots - A life centered in God” (Amazon.com). I am confident that some of your friends will be relieved of the illusion, as I did myself.