This is my response to some very thought provoking discussion in my last post.
1. It is not true that non-belief is uniform and not diverse because it boils down to, “I do not believe in god”. In that sense even believers are the same, “I believe in god.” In the very same way as there are ‘n’ number of forms ascribed to the concept of god, so are there ‘n’ number of ways to arrive at the conclusion that god does not exist. And these make all the difference. Non-belief can be reckless and i-don’t-give-a-damn styled or it may be the result of a very intense self-questioning, analysis, logic, awareness, knowledge and consciousness. There must be other ways too. But non-belief is also diverse in the ways Dawkins points out in his first chapter.
2. My objection to ‘atheism’ was neither it’s beliefs nor monotonicity. My objection is primarily to it’s overenthusiastic proponents, who tend to dismiss individual choice with their logic and rationale. You may have certain tools of knowledge that allows you to conclude the way you do, which others may not have, or may not know how to use.The only positive action in such scenario is to spell out those tools and instructions to use. In my case, I can say my tool is experience, logic, my incessant need for freedom, and the senseless rituals and sermons of religious pundits. As for instructions to use, I would refer people to books that made me think, eg. The Myth of Sisyphus by Camus, Plato’s Republic, and many other. I may even suggest The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, but the man has already created a notoriety around his logic, and a beginner may find it very difficult to agree with him – not because his logic is misplaced but because his tenor is.
3. Persuading people to be sceptical of religion is not the same thing as persuading them not to believe in god. You may accept the Gita without any belief in its religious overtones. I believe, one cannot be persuaded to negate god. It comes through a though process which is absolutely individualistic in nature. As said earlier, you can only provide the tools.
4. I meant always to just simply say I am an atheist and that I don’t make a big deal about it. The problem arises when atheists are tagged with atheism, which is being defined in one way or the other by every other person as if it was a sect or institution that you subscribe to if you fit that description. I am comfortable being an atheist but I do not subscribe to any theism, with or without ‘a’. When people start putting up 101-things-that-atheists-believe-in kind of crap, that’s when I am scared and want to shed the tag. My beliefs are not for anyone else to decide and spell out. I always believed that the incessant need for freedom and the rational mind are two most important things that drives an theist. And such people are bound to be sceptical of the 101-things clan of atheism as much as any religion. I was wrong.
5. By LfN “…Bookcrazy seems to object to a particular way of expressing atheism. I have no problem at all with atheists presenting the rationale for why they think the way they do… Similarly people of faith can present the rationale for why they think and believe the way they do (dogma is an integral part of this)…[F]or instance, Dawkins and Nietzsche. Like Dawkins, Nietzsche hated the Christian faith (among other things) but unlike Dawkins he took it seriously… So, from a standpoint of faith, I will spend my time engaging Nietzsche rather than Dawkins.” I agree. And I guess the Dawkins clan of atheism is starting to get attached to some kind of dogma, even if it is more anti someone else’s belief than for one’s own. God’s existence is a primary question but it must remain a personal choice. Religion calling dissent ‘blasphemy’ or atheism calling it ‘faith-headness’ is one and the same thing.
6. By Eric “If you’re a person of faith, your faith might be so essential to your psychological well-being that you assume that an atheist must have something to fill that faith-shaped hole ….[S]ome people just live their lives day to day and make what they will of it.” Agreed. Faith is not essential. This is the strongest argument against those who are not very religious but still believe in god. And I agree, its the most logical argument. Once you get that faith is not essential, you can see a lot of things blinded by faith. But, no amount of Eric’s or my shouting at roof-tops can make you see this. The only thing that I can think of that might help one to see it is to try and understand the logic or arguments of Camus and Sartre and a lot others, mostly tagged together as existentialists.
7. By Eric “Dawkins’s intellectual responsibility to Christianity is not to see it as worthwhile or legitimate, but to accurately describe it and carefully hew his criticisms of it to an accurate description.” Agreed completely. Also agreed that some of his books , including The God Delusion, does mostly that. But when the man speaks to an audience, he does exactly the opposite. He stands there as if he was a priest and the auditorium was a church and atheism was a religion. That I object to absolutely. At any rate, if that’s atheism, I do not subscribe.
8. The next two responses turn completely to the outsider’s problem (as Colin Wilson puts it) – what warrants your dragging yourself off the bed in the morning. I agree with Eric again. The fact that life is not eternal is reason good enough for one to hate sleeping, let alone dragging away from bed. One requires no ‘positive reason’ to live. You have been thrown in this world full of choices, not to find a purpose but to make one.
9. The reason for not believing in god is neither always nor exclusively logical positivism, or in simple terms the lack of proof of god’s existence. That’s a given. The question of proof is as difficult as disproof. A priest would say god chooses to create some and then let them evolve, and lo! You have a religious explanation to evolution. I think the concept of god as professed by most was a political invention way back, for reasons best described by Plato. This concept lives and survives on the inherent fear of the unknown, of future. Man wants an explanation to absurd events and “God’s Will” is one that never fails them. When I see the concept behind the invention, I need no proof or disproof. I know. God does not exist.