God @TheTweetOfGod: Everyone makes mistakes.

Let’s Talk Opinion in conversation with  Sifting Reality

duty_calls“Atheism is a belief, and it is a worldview, but I understand that it isn’t a religion even if some Atheists hold to their atheism religiously.  Newly trending is the creation of churches of atheism — pun intended. […] The fact that Atheists discuss, promote, evangelize, congregate over, and erect monuments to atheism leaves little doubt that it is something, and it means very much to them.”

http://siftingreality.com/2013/11/11/atheists-flock-to-churches-of-atheism-because-atheism-is-not-a-religion/#comment-75702

Atheism is not a belief.

It is a position vis-à-vis Theism, and that position is not one of negation, but rather one of excepting oneself from the conversation, since one doesn’t accept the basis for that conversation and therefore – there being no common ground, no common sets of rules and norms – there can be no dialogue on the matter.

A/Theism: Where Theism is the belief that at least one deity exists, Atheism is the non-engagement with that belief.

I am an atheist. But I could just as well say I am secular. I adhere to secular humanitarian values.

To an atheist, to posit the question of God equates to posit the question of Harry Potter – please bear with me, no insult intended and I will explain – in so far as both subjects are to an atheist the invention/creation/work of human beings’ imagination. So they do have value, but only as human creations, nothing else.

Man created God to make sense of a world that can be at times difficult to understand, frightening to cope with, and permeated with uncertainty.

Man created God

Several questions, which I hope you will help clarify for me:

1. Are they actually called churches or are they community groups or public houses perhaps?

It seems strange to me that atheists would be “congregating” in “churches.” It is far more likely that they would be meeting in community centres, schools or academies, and the above vocabulary would be used by Christians to try and make sense of what it is that atheists do, and lacking the necessary secular jargon – or perhaps simply choosing not to use it – they call the meetings “congregations” and the meeting halls “churches.”

2. I understand that atheists are still very much a minority in the US (truth be told atheists that actually declare themselves as such are still a minority everywhere in the world).

I also understand that being “out” as an atheist can mean being excluded from many community projects, volunteering opportunities and other group activities which in America tend to be organised by church groups.

Is it possible that what atheists are attempting to do, is to get together and set up alternatives, where they can still do the things they want to do, without being prevented from contributing to society because they happen to be non-believers. Again, I’m using stories that I have been told by American atheists over the years, many of whom have felt ostracised once “out”.

And you are quite right. There is something that means a lot to us atheists: humanity.

*

danielwalldammit says:  “It is entirely possible that the ‘something’ which makes atheism meaningful is not an object or even a lack thereof in the belief so much as the social significance of the stance taken amidst so many who opt for its opposite.”

zqtx says: “I think the organizers are illustrating the point that you don’t have to be a faith-based group to do good deeds or inspire others to do good deeds in the community.”

John Barron says: I don’t know if this one calls itself a church, but there are ones, in England at least, that do. But your definition of atheism is not the definition that has been used for centuries.  Yours is rather new and seems to be for the purpose of not having to defend your belief that no gods exist.

Dear John,
I beg to differ. The burden of proof lies with religion. Why would one be required to defend their lack of belief?

I don’t feel the need to defend myself, because I am not under attack. If someone tried to burn me at the stake for being a witch because I’m an infidel or a non-believer – then I’d get worried and build up a defence.

My definition is not new. It is simply a crispier repackaging of what Atheism stands for.

In any case, I did not say that God does not exist, only that to me God is an idea not an entity, and whilst I understand why others believe, for all intents and purposes I’m not part of that flock. I have my own set of truths, norms and values that I shape my life around.

Do Christians believe in a white dude with a beard that sits up in the skies?

I’d say not. If accepted as valid however, then yes, atheists don’t believe that the white guy in the sky with a big beard exists.

Regarding the “white guy with a beard in the sky” – as far as I’m concerned, it is not a Christian belief, but a caricature of it. Unfortunately this is also the case for atheism: what gets most press coverage are caricatures.

For the sake of mutual respect, it would be nice if the equivalent simplistic definitions of atheism would also be disposed of, alongside simplistic definitions of Christian beliefs.

Personally I trust that human beings are intelligent enough, and given the chance, articulate enough, to go beyond two-a-penny caricatures of their beliefs, thoughts, etc. and actually engage in mutually beneficial discussions about the meaning of life and death – because ultimately, each in our own way, those are the answers we are searching for.

Best regards,
-Vic

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19 thoughts on “God @TheTweetOfGod: Everyone makes mistakes.

  1. I was brought up in a very orthodox Hindu family, so God was and still is very much part of the household. But where God was a powerful dictator who would punish me for doing the wrong things (that being defined by my parents and teachers) , God is now an invisible friend who doesn’t complain if I blame Him for my bad times :). I believe that I now belong to the category of people (of whom I think are a minority) who doesn’t need a family of Gods (Shiva and His Family) sitting in Himalayas overlooking us and judging people’s good and bad deeds and punishing or rewarding them accordingly. But I do definitely like the idea of God and that I feel makes me a theist.

    • Yes, KG 🙂 If you like the idea of God then that certainly is the case. No bad thing. And thank you for your comment, and for sharing your story. To me this – exchanging ideas and discussing how each of us makes sense of the world – is one of the most rewarding parts of blogging. I am an atheist, but I also think variety is the spice of life, and I’d rather it continued to be so. 🙂

      • I have my handful of atheist friends so I can understand their belief (;) or lack thereof). But I also know of the self proclaimed atheists who are ready to ask me to pray for them when tough times strike them. I always thought those were the ones we have to be careful of 🙂

  2. I have been told over and over and over that atheism is a belief system, I fail, continually to understand how not believing in god constitutes a belief system? I don’t even believe in luck, but still these people argue. I don’t mind if people have their faith but I’d like my a right to an absence of one to be respected as well.

    • Thank you, Scarlet. This is one of the reasons that I’ve returned to the topic. For a long time I did not engage in discussions on religion primarily because I have very little interest in the topic. I’ve made my peace with it years ago. But there are times when I am somewhat surprised, not to say shocked, when I am questioned about my beliefs, and then challenged
      when I admit to not having any – at least none that could be categorised as religious.
      Ultimately, mutual respect is what I strive for. As you say, I respect others’ beliefs, but would like the courtesy of reciprocation. And that does mean not being asked to explain myself or defend my position. I can do both, but it can get tiresome.

      • I was a member of a blogging site until a few weeks ago that was more social media than anything else, I was constantly gob-smacked by the zealots there and their hate filled rants. I did try to keep out of it, the fanatical atheists where almost as bad – though much fewer.
        Interestingly one of the people there who I developed a very profound respect is a fundamentalist Christian, ironic that she and a former prostitute can have a mature relationship and these other people can’t seem to keep their noses out of the affairs of people who are certain of their beliefs. We do have a mutually respectful relationship, she and I, the point you make is exactly right.
        I think its immaturity, fear and close mindedness that is behind their need to convert you and everyone to their line of thinking.

  3. I used to be an atheist. While I still profess that the Bible and any religious texts are advents of man meant to guide and history shows to control the populace. My belief in God is sound and will never be broken again. While I disbelieve in religion and I can’t tell you what God is, I can tell you this. When I was seventeen I took my father’s handgun (I’d been raised around guns all my life, taught to shoot and am damn good at it. Reload ammunition, the whole kit-and-koobodle) I took the gun and put a bullet in, I put the gun to my temple and fired. It clicked, the hammer came down, but no bullet came out. It sat on the ground standing straight up. Meaning there was no way I dropped it, I knew I loaded it. Knew that for a fact because I had stared at the bullet in the gun for a long time. But there it was, on the ground.
    Something save me. Something intervened and for a reason, which I know but that is best left private.
    Aliens. God. Ghosts. Spirits. Electromagnetic forces — I couldn’t tell you what it was. But something stepped in, something that knew better than I.
    God is the word I choose to describe it.
    I still dislike religion.
    That’s my story. 🙂

    • That is one very powerful story, Nina. Thank you for sharing, and I have to say – that is one dramatic incident where not even fiction could quite equal it. Glad that the shot did not happen – I won’t quibble with the hows and whys – the fact that you are ok if by far the most important thing.
      🙂 Thank you.

  4. atheists and theists have somethings in common;
    they have a belief in something that so far has neither been proven nor disproven.
    give two blind men an elephant and you will get two different ideas of what the creature is, one may be feeling the tusks while the other feels the tail. but both may be right according to their perspective.
    if you believe something then you have a belief. if one believes that there is no god, then that is a belief.
    nobody can know for certain what the truth is and so we have faith in our respective beliefs, in that, all humans have a common ground.
    i know many atheists and theists alike and another common ground is zeal. everybody seems to Know that they are right, even though there is no pure evidence.
    humanity is a disgusting word, the godly and ungodly alike have created atrocities in the name of humanity, in the name of progress,
    the word humanity seems to have usurped the word compassion. humans kill, pollute, maim, and butcher, where is the humanity in this? 🙂
    i am reminded of the frog in the well. he knew nothing of the world outside and how are we any different? 🙂

    • Tugging onto that elephant’s tail as we speak 😉
      I agree with you “nobody can know for certain what the truth is”, although I take it one step further. For me all truths are relative, conditional on time, space, society, circumstances. I think of the world in terms of truths rather than truth. Some people have accused me of moral relativism because of this, but I think that it is possible to be a relativist and yet adhere to certain norms and values that help you lead a good life and be good to and with others. My norms and values however are not “sacred” in the sense that they are open to being questioned and revised. I keep an open mind and follow my instincts when it comes to making decisions. When it comes to instinct, I think that instincts are in fact knowledge which our bodies and subconscious minds have processed at such a high speed that our conscious mind may take a long while to arrive at the same conclusions, if ever.
      We will have to agree to disagree regarding humanity though, my dear TwinCentaur. What I meant by it is that my world is human centric. People is what I care about and building relationships is what to me is most important. My fascination with this subject never fades, getting only stronger with time, so humanity to me is a beautiful word 🙂

      • your humanity is a lot more beautiful than most i see 🙂
        of course there are many truths in the world but i wonder alot about trying to find the deeper truths. even beyond this world 🙂 not only the many natures of this world but of beyond if possible, i wonder if all truths lead to a greater Truth, but thankfully i’m also fairly apathetic 🙂
        can you see the Gemini in me? hehehehehe
        people confuse me, why do they need a book of rules on whether to kill or covet their neighbours? morals are basically a code of common sense 🙂
        although i believe in an Almighty of sorts, i’m sure it doesn’t matter whether we hold him sacred or not, instead i think he just wants to be remembered, other than that he leaves us alone while he bathes in a pool of milk n honey 🙂

  5. Politically in the United States atheists hold that the Freedom of Religion includes the Freedom of non-religion.

    And thus seek to enforce non-religion broadly in the public square. Despite the intent and clear language of the Constitution.

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

    Their political stance seems to be at odds with your idea on “no dialogue” and a “non-belief”

    As there is a quite vehement political dialogue going on here.

    As seen in Washington, where athiests put up a quite insulting display next to the Christmas tree in the state capital.

    Once can have a “non-belief” without being such an asshole about it, basically.

    I also mock such aggressive athiests by stating that they have a religious zeal and fervor of their own if they don’t understand that we must all live together somehow, and they are the ones out of balance. They are zealots. Purely and simply.

    I believe in God. Period.

    And will show your beliefs as much respect as you show mine.

    I believe in reciprocation, and I clearly fail at turning the other cheek. Such is my Lot in life. 😉

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