Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I just added a new feature to the blog: a random atheism quote generator. It's right under the Atheist Blogroll.I thought they might have kicked me off The Atheist Blogroll because I haven't posted on religion (or nonreligion) lately but they haven't. Then again one atheist blog I visited recently basically tells the reader what she had for breakfast that morning. If you have a blog please consider joining the Atheist Blogroll. They even accept agnostics (although I think they kind of look down on them)because Agnostics do not have a belief in God and so can be considered soft atheists. Not sure about Buddhists. Personally I call myself a nontheist because many atheists rub me the wrong way. Sure I no more believe in the Christian God any more than I believe in Zeus (more of an agnostic on Odin) but I am not going to say that Paul Tillich's "ground of being" does not exist (mainly because I don't know what the hell it is). Many atheist bloggers attack only the worst caricatures of belief, although most believers are like that.

So what do I believe or not believe?

I do not believe in a personal God or an impersonal god either but am not entirely convinced that is not a god that transcends these narrow categories. Perhaps I am talking about God in the Einsteinian sense that Richard Dawkings describes. (And really Richard it wouldn't kill you to read a little theology.)Paul van Buren said that simple, literal theism is false, and qualified literal theism is meaningless or unintelligible, and I am sympathetic to this view, but then don't all the mystics say that god is beyond human understanding and trascends all our narrow categories? I used to be an agostic but that does sound kind of wishy-washy so now I am a proud nontheist.

Given our current scientific understanding there is no reason to believe that there is a life-after-death, and fairly good reason to believe there is not, however given the limited nature of our current level of scientific understanding I do not think the possibility can be completely dismissed. We do not know why the Universe exists or how it came to exist really and "we're working on it" is somewhat unsatisying. Still I refuse to base a theology on ignorance. Someone recently won an atheist contest with the slogan "Faith is no reason." If I kill a rodent I do not believe that it will continue to exist after death, so why should a slightly more advanced mammal? If there is nothing after death, then there is nothing to be afraid of.

The problem with the god hypothesis (and is it really even a hypothesis?--certainly it is not testible) is that it really doesn't explain anything. I cannot explain the Universe, therefore it must have been made out of nothing by some Entity, which actually sounds kind of creepy to me.

Speaking of atheist quotes, however, I like one by Christopher Hitchens: "What can be accepted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence." That's from memory but it's close.


Blogger A.M. said...

That's a great quote from Hitchens.

From what you write here, I wouldn't call you an atheist, just thoughtful and open-minded. Though, of course it is up to you to choose your own label, if you ultimately feel that labels are even necessary.

I find most Internet atheists to be excruciating company, often worse than religious fundamentalists. And the atheists are also fundamentalists, of a kind. Even Dawkins just says that there "probably" is no God, but some of the atheists I see posting online behave as if they've personally gone up to Heaven, checked, found it empty, and have returned here to announce that they know better than anyone.

The truth is -- we don't know. And whatever is out there or underlying all this, we may not even have adequate brain meat to comprehend it.

I adore your blog in part because it regularly engages with mystery (political mysteries usually), just teasing out a suggestive, numinous bit and generally letting it be. You don't claim to have all the answers. So I guess I am surprised that you relate to the atheists at all. "Not that there's anything wrong with that," as they used to say on Seinfeld.

Happy Thanksgiving!

7:42 AM  
Blogger gary said...

Thank you. You too. I like atheists for the same reason I like gay marriage. It really pisses off the religious Right.

12:43 PM  

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