One Reason I’m an Atheist

A recent conversation with a family member about my lack of belief inspired me to think more about why I’m so different than others in our family.  I left behind religious belief years ago for countless reasons, and I am able to better understand those reasons the older I get and more time I have to reflect on my choices and experiences.

Although I have no interest in starting a debate, I’d like to share one simple reason why I cannot be intellectually honest and believe in a god (regardless of the religion that god might originate from).  Besides other countless reasons, I cannot bring myself to believe or even seriously entertain the thought of believing in a being that would create smaller, inferior beings to worship him/her.  This level of cosmic narcissism is revolting to me, and it astonishes me that more people don’t consider this.

Let’s step back and consider God as a being. He or She is an all-powerful, all-knowing, master-of-the-universe being. One day, for whatever reason, this being decides to create the universe, and with it, earth and all its various creatures. The details differ depending on who you ask, but the general story is similar across religions and cultures. This being could have created this world out of boredom, out of inspiration, out of desire for companionship–and these all seem possible, but at least in the Judeo-Christian-Muslim tradition, it seems that this omnipotent being creates humanity to worship him/her. If we imagine this being to be morally superior (this being created morality, after all), how can it’s modus operandi be something we generally find repulsive–the desire to be worshiped? We point out dictators and totalitarian rulers, and comment on how their need to be worshiped, to be revered in image and song, and we say how sad, how strange, how characteristic of a serious personality disorder that is…yet we fail to question that quality in a superior being.

If, of course, our gods were created by us and exhibit the qualities we might expect a superior being to have, it makes plenty of sense that that being would be jealous and self-serving and cruel to those who fail him/her. That, however, is not how the story goes generally.

I’m not interested in inciting hatred or starting a riot, but I am certainly interested in questioning our assumptions–especially those assumptions that lie deepest beneath or everyday thought, those things we take for granted without even realizing it. I remember once that the late Christopher Hitchens likened believing in Judeo-Christin-Muslim theism to choosing to live in a mental North Korea, and while that certainly is designed to incite a strong response, is he wrong? Might the fact that so many gods feel like dictators be evidence of their humble human origins, where the experience of peoples living under absolute power cannot help but color (or determine) the nature of their gods? Certainly some food for thought.

 

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37 Responses to One Reason I’m an Atheist

  1. Steven Hoyt says:

    no one chooses belief or doubt in god. too, it seems the things you use to justify doubt are merely appeals to negative consequences.

    you either have a disposition to think there’s some big other or you don’t, but neither is chosen; everyone believes only what they think the case is, and this impression is all there is. there can’t be evidence for any transcendent being. logic doesn’t entail truth and proves nothing about reality, and it’s based on reasonableness, not logic itself, reason. so, there’s only the fact that all our thoughts are predicated on reality that justifies belief in deity; that it’s not just us making it up.

    no one denies there are numinous experiences and without any way to make heads or tails of them, we can only argue folks misattribute them to the divine, or misattribute them as just being a purely human reaction to the out of the norm experience.

    unless a person can somehow believe something is true without thinking it’s actually true, then there’s no picking theism or atheism.

    as for the crap people say about deity, that has no bearing on there being deity. folks either like or don’t like what’s being said. but yeah, the ideas you’ve pointed out that others think about god are pretty dumb.

    just a thought.

    • Cody says:

      Interesting. So you’re saying we can never actually be sufficiently metacognitive? Seems like that might lead one into a strange nihilistic agnosticism where nothing can be known, or where what is “known” is of no value at all.

      • Steven Hoyt says:

        what is “metacognitive”?

        we believe what we think the case is. that has nothing to do with nihilism or determinism. the question is what we think the case with deity is and why. theism and atheism have the same basis; an impression about the world, an abductive inference. that’s the point.

      • Cody says:

        Metacognition is thought about thought, more or less. I’d say there’s an important distinction between theism and atheism: theism holds the belief of the supernatural, while atheism holds no such belief beyond what we can rationally determine. You can certainly make the case that our scientific method is imperfect, but that’s a separate question. To say “we believe what we think the case is” suggests a kind of faith in thought, but what does that mean? It seems like there’s some skepticism of thought itself there, which is broaching epistemology–we question how we know what we know. And in that process, I’d argue the answers arrived at through the scientific process is more reliable than those arrived at by theology. Not to say, of course, that there is no such thing as transcendent experience of anything, but just that that may indeed be natural.

      • Steven Hoyt says:

        i know what metacognition is. there is sentiment and there is cognitive deliberation. i’m saying there’s nothing substantive in further clarification.

        hear me here. there is no epistemological distinction between arriving at theism versus arriving at atheism. neither are based on evidence. it’s perfectly easy to make sound arguments for and against deity. our impression of our total experience of reality is what leads us to reason one way or other, not some method of reasoning.

        when i say “we believe what we think the case is”, i’m saying there is no instance where we have a say in what to believe.

        further, science has nothing to do with the question of deity existing. whether theism or atheism, it is and only is an abductive inference about existence and particularly about numinous experience.

        attribution of the numinous to the divine or solely to a feature of being the kind of animal we are, either is seen outside evidence and reason. it is a matter of what seems most reasonable to say.

        follow?

      • Cody says:

        I do follow, I’m just not necessarily willing to think an arrival at theism or atheism are equally likely outcomes of the same process. In the most basic sense, yes, they’re both arrived at through abductive reasoning, but with quite different parameters, and those parameters make all the difference, e.g. whether the theory we arrive at through evidence is based on observation of the natural world, or based on imagining what might lay beyond that natural world–to say nothing of the numerous theologies. I wonder, too, what is gained in concluding that both theism and atheism (and maybe all abstract of philosophical though) is arrived at abductively? If abduction is how we come to know, or at least theorize, and if we’re aware of that process, don’t we in fact have a say in what we believe? Or might we at least be aware of how we circumscribe the process that leads to that belief?

      • Steven Hoyt says:

        i’m willing to think whatever is most justified to think. ad populem doesn’t matter or the natural inclination would mean you’d likely be a theist; wrong if an atheist.

        what are the different parameters? both are empirical estimations; empirical meaning “by way of experience”.

        i don’t think you’d disagree that no one literally in their right mind can believe something is true while knowing/thinking it’s false. so, we absolutely have no choice in what we think the case is. however, that doesn’t at all imply we have no role in what we come to believe. we have a “say” in what we inquire of, how, and what sorts of things justify various ideas. however, we have no choice in believing something is false if we think it true, or true if we think it false. any exception is a product of a psychological malody; and yes, YEC folks are of that sort.

        why any of this matters to me is that there’s nothing to argue about the existence of deity. to do so is merely to assert “my impression is better than yours”, and over a completely metaphysical question. we can’t say any disposition toward the question is true or false, only that we can put can’t say meaningful things from them, practical things that have some very real value.

      • Steven Hoyt says:

        “can or can’t”, not “can put” … text gesturing running amok.

      • Cody says:

        Fair enough. There seems to be a distinction you’re trying to make between thought and belief, and we’re just not connecting there. I think your final point is well-put in that the god debate can be rather unproductive as we don’t typically address the underlying assumptions that undergird our beliefs and thought-processes. Still, as we are concerned with truth, and how that truth bears on our life, it’s an important debate, and one that has huge ramifications.

      • Steven Hoyt says:

        here, i’m actually likening belief and thought as interchangeable, not as being distinct. of course there are distinctions to be made, such as commitment and action and so on, but these are aside from the point i’m making.

        the question here is likely over whether or not you think the question of the existence of deity has truth-value, not just that one thinks with all propositions that there is or is not a case. meaning, there may or may not be deity but it’s not the kind of proposition for which verity can apply.

        how do you lean there?

  2. If God was really a narcissist he would have consumed you by fire already. However God so loved the world he became Flesh and died for your sins on the cross to show you mercy

    • Cody says:

      Why would his/her narcissism lead to my murder?

    • Steven Hoyt says:

      interesting that you think logos or memra is a person. nowhere in the scriptures nor the etymology of these words, they use or philosophies are they ever reified. these are intent, reason, mind, the abstract link between a deity separate from the world and impersonal, and that which intermediaries manifest in the world.

      that’s not just the hebrew usage but nearly all surrounding religions of the time.

      even in johannine literature, most christians invent a new interpretation of logos in the prologue so they can support the insane, incoherent doctrine of the trinity.

      read consistently in the greek, jesus is the embodiment of what god intended for mankind all along; jesus is the way (hodos) we were all meant to be in the world (zoe), the truth of what humanity is (alethea).

      pelagianism and abelardian atonement theory, ideas far more closer to christ in historic chronology than PST, express a sensible, non-magical, non-transaction based means of seeing jesus the nazarene.

      • The Word is God and Word became Flesh is pretty clear

      • Steven Hoyt says:

        if you’re illiterate, sure!

        logos is a word you ought to look up in a concordance, mate. it comes from stoicism and platonic philosophies and originally used by cicero to denote “divine mind”.

        this is a dialectic exercise.

        “logos” is synonymous with “will, plan, reason, intent” … so that:

        god’s “plan, will, reason, intent” became flesh. in other words, jesus is what god had in mind all along.

        there is separation between myself and my ideas. my ideas are not ontologically me. hence, my ideas “are me” in that they resemble my mind, and are “with me”, and are not me ontologically when they materialize. this is both logos and memra.

        take a second and google at least!

      • Thanks for the insults.. very constructive .Logos is clearly translated to Word ..

      • Steven Hoyt says:

        LOL … get a concordance for starters. after also using a dictionary to look up “polysemy”, google logos and memra.

        argumentum ad nauseum or via repetition isn’t at all constructive. ;)

      • Would you just admit Logos is Greek for Word already

      • Steven Hoyt says:

        no! because logos is not a person, a book, or ANYTHING physical. again, LOOK IT UP!

      • Word became Flesh John 1:14 Look it up !!😃

      • Steven Hoyt says:

        you ARE illiterate.

        logos became flesh! logos is intent, purpose, will, mind, reason.

        John 1:14 … jesus embodied god’s intent for humanity.

      • Steven Hoyt says:

        http://biblehub.com/greek/3056.htm

        hmmmm … an embodied idea.

        it seems jesus embodied an idea god had all along; ie how humanity was to be.

  3. “cosmic narcissism”

    Nailed it. Go look up the list psychiatrists use to diagnose Narcissistic Personality Disorder and apply it to any Abrahamic god. Seriously, just pick one out of a hat.

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