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Christian Howardson

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Religion and Atheism

Here's my take on an "Atheism 2.0" - all quotes are for emphasis:

Imagine a continuum; on the left side is a 100% conviction that a god(s)/afterlife do not exist, and on the right is a 100% conviction that a god(s)/afterlife is real. In the middle of this continuum, 0%, is a conviction that a lack OR presence of a god(s)/afterlife are on equal terms.

-100%--------------------------0%---------------------------100%

Believe in a god(s)/afterlife? If so, where do you think he (it?) resides on the above mentioned continuum? Why? As a point of reference, where do you think the existance of the toothfairy falls on this continuum?

Now, while my own personal opinion might be that the existence of a god(s) and/or afterlife (especially the one depicted in any of the three desert dogmas) are of extremely low odds (say, 99% for does not exist) and are not worth adopting as real, the important thing is that I am not absolutist in my point of view, because it is unprovable, even if only technically unprovable (ya can't bring back evidence of nothingness, can you?).

In my opinion, the "thoughtform" of the future is one were people do not claim an absolutist stance on impossible to prove concepts such as these. Arguing whether a god does or does not exist is pointless. Fighting over which god is or isn't a true god only leads to war. It's possible that the most humble and honest position is one of uncertainty. Imagine if everyone would just concede that they really just didn't know...might be a lot more peaceful world.

Also, the terms "atheist" and "believer" should probably be removed from our vocabulary. Not only have these terms been evacuated of any substantive meaning, but they've become words regularly used to express contempt or ridicule, which makes people defensive, and basically blocks any hope for open communication regarding the greatest mysteries of the universe.

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  • Jan 26 2012: As to the term "agnostic", it seems that people that bother to use that term are really just trying to hedge their bets. Here's a question: Are you "agnostic" about the existence of Santa, or the Easter Bunny, or leprechauns or invisible pink unicorns? Are you "agnostic" about the Flying Spaghetti Monster or Zeus? Are you "agnostic" about the existence of Mithra or Ra? If not, why would you be "agnostic" about yhwh? Why would you feel the need to hedge your bets just because as much of the population now believes in that fairy tale as they did in Odin and Hercules during their time? Are you *really* agnostic or are you just trying to placate the majority and appear less "offensive" to their delicate sensibilities?
    • Jan 26 2012: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agnostic_atheism

      Sums up my position.

      While not trying to placate, it may be productive to find a less offensive way of identifying what can be defined as a delusion, in this case, the belief in god or an afterlife. Can it be done? What if we changed the "I'm right, you're wrong" approach to an "I don't know and you don't know" argument? Will our species, as a whole, ever be able to find strength and meaning when faced with uncertainty and the infinite unknown?
      • Jan 27 2012: To be honest, I could really care less if someone is "offended" by my lack of buying into their delusion. I am more than happy to listen to their arguments for their beliefs, if they are willing to listen to my arguments against those beliefs. My attitude is pretty much, if you are offended by and don't want to listen to me laugh in your face, don't present your fairy tales to me as though they were in any way reasonable or made any sense.

        I think there is value in all approaches. Sometimes being extremely subtle has value, sometimes being blatantly, brutally honest has it's value. Obviously, subtly is not my strong suite (yes, I know it's PAINFULLY obvious, lol), so I'll let someone else cover the subtle, placating approaches. :)
        • Jan 27 2012: I know where you're coming from. Matter of fact, I'm basically there. I concur with arguments made by people like Richard Dawkins, Pat Condell, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, et al.

          The thing is, it would be easy if militarnt atheism was enough to make Christians, and the like, realize that maybe they are delusional, but it usually only leads to cries of persecution and a greater resistance to logical appeals.

          So I'm wondering, how does one level with religion without condescension, yet still maintain a stern anti-delusional message? And more importantly, how can we imbue culture with this sentiment so that religiousness is no longer the default?

          Just a passing thought. It may very well be this phenomenon of religion will have to take its course until its inevitable demise. But I'd like to be an active participant in its extinction, rather than a passive element living in the shadow of its specious and wide-spread influence. Guess that's why I'm here.

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