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Embarrassing Atheists

21 February 2013, 07:27

Yet again I find myself whiling away what might have been a productive late afternoon sniping in the commentary section of yet another proudly atheist article pattering on about Old Testament  inconsistencies. Has it been 30 years already? I was about 15 when this crap last seemed interesting. What did the lions eat on the ark? Where did Cain’s wife come from? Why Ararat and not Everest? Where’s the missing rib in guys? What race is God if we’re all in his image? The arguments seem ever more sophisticated, of course, thanks to Wikipedia and the cut-and-paste style of arguing, but it’s the same error. Reductio ad Absurdum might be a popular style of argument, but I prefer to call it common. There seems to be a glut of new scientists inspired by the likes of Dawkins that make sport out of ridiculing the text that supposedly inspires the religious beliefs of so many. That’s a bit like shooting Christian fish in a barrel. The Christians are safe targets of course, them being unlikely to track you through your ISP address and behead you for the indignities bestowed upon their god.

This crowd reminds me strongly of a number of individuals I’ve encountered especially in late teens and early twenties. The ones arguing furiously in the ref about how ridiculous it is to believe in God; writing angry death metal songs about the puny god of Golgotha; inking clever remarks in toilet stalls; wearing “Just say no to Jesus” T-shirts. So very certain that they’ve removed the veil and see reality as it is. But one-by-one they worked through their little rebellions and returned meekly to the stable. The problem with a (very) large number of Atheists is that they have a belief system that is basically religious. The onus is on believers to prove that their god exists, they shout. No it isn’t. There is no onus on a believer to prove anything, because faith transcends knowledge. It does not depend justification or proof. It’s not called a leap of faith for nothing. You throw yourself into the void where logic and the scientific method mean nothing, and hope to hell (believe to heaven, rather) that you will be scooped up and kept safe. Many atheists seem to have an almost religious fervor about the “rules” of the scientific method, which some would do well to read about a little more. It’s a solid and reliable way of dealing with the physical world, for sure. It’s given me a longer life than I might have had using goat viscera to attend my ailments, for instance. But it does not by far represent everything that makes us human. There is no logic in who I’m physically attracted to.  There is no logic in what makes me laugh or cry.  The need to believe in something higher than oneself, something bigger, something reliable, is the same need that makes some attach to a method of thinking and others to the idea of God.  It is expressed in our need to have families, belong to clubs, and generally to define ourselves in terms of the groups we belong to. It’s primal, it’s fundamental and there’s no escaping it. It’s the human condition. Given this, it’s no wonder that these young rebels without a cause return to a belief system that at least provides some comfort; some promise of release after all this pointlessness. Myself – I’m non-committal by nature. Sure the whole thing could be overseen by a punitive pan-dimensional prick. Who knows? Certainly there’s pain and death along the way. Try and find a bit of comfort, I say. The sea helps. Trees are nice. Nothing wrong with good company now and then. Whiskey helps for everything.

So attack religious beliefs by all means. I understand the fun of shooting fish in a barrel. I’ve killed my fair share of ants with a magnifying glass. But please don’t kid yourselves that you’re operating on some higher plane of existence because you’ve freed yourselves from the shackles of an ancient creation tale. Your certainty is as cute as any believer’s, but a little more annoying because this very method that you hold as your central tenet, should remind you every day that nothing is written in stone. Paradigm shifts in human thinking have happened regularly since we started recording them. It’s vain and foolish to believe we have reached the pinnacle of human consciousness with this point of view. 

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