Atheism and the Lure of Religion

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Dear Atheist,

You don’t make any sense to me.

Most people who know me know that I’m agnostic. They also know that I try my best to have respect for all religions… even Scientology. However, Atheism doesn’t make any sense to me.

By dictionary.com definition, there is a difference between an atheist and an agnostic:

a·the·ist [ey-thee-ist] – (noun): a person who denies or disbelieves the existence of a supreme being or beings.

ag·nos·tic [ag-nos-tik] – (noun): a person who holds that the existence of the ultimate cause, as God, and the essential nature of things are unknown and unknowable, or that human knowledge is limited to experience.

I am agnostic not because I’m trying to keep my feet on both sides of the fence or I’m holding onto some sort of insurance policy if heaven exists, but because there is a rule in science that states lack of evidence doesn’t necessarily prove or disprove a theory.

Scientifically, there is no concrete evidence that a deity exists, neither is there concrete evidence that a deity does not exist. There is only faith. I don’t have such faith. Religious people have faith, and I sort of understand why and how faith can be somewhat appealing, but it just doesn’t work for me.

Just as religious folks are in awe of, and are humbled by their faith, I am humbled by the fact that it is a pure unknown. I am humbled by the possibility of something bigger than us, even though I don’t concretely know what that something is. I think it’s because of this I cannot conform to any religion. I cannot conform to the answers that mankind has made up in an attempt to account for instances and things we just don’t know and don’t understand. I’m not going to make up an answer or whip up a story of an omnipotent being just because I don’t know. I’d rather admit my ignorance and be humbled by that, than to ride the wave of religious convention.

 

“Just because it cannot be scientifically proven, that doesn’t mean it is automatically scientifically disproved”

 

With all that being said, I could still see why people will adopt a religion. I sort of get it. However, I don’t get an atheist. There is a major flaw to atheism. A flaw that is even exponentially more enormous than the flaws of religion. And this flaw is the scientific contradiction. Most people who claim they are atheist will state that they are an advocate of science, and that there is an immense lack of empirical evidence pointing towards the existence of a deity. The problem with that is the basic scientific rule that states lack of evidence doesn’t prove or disprove a theory. That is the equivalent of a thirteenth century man stating that the world is flat because at that time, in his civilization, there wasn’t enough evidence to prove that it is indeed a sphere. Just because it cannot be scientifically proven, that doesn’t mean it is automatically scientifically disproved.

And this mildly upsets me about atheists. Religious people have faith, and there is no logical way to argue with faith. There is none. Once someone has faith they see and feel something that someone like myself doesn’t see or feel. Atheists have no faith, and arguably they also have no science… which makes no sense to me whatsoever.

 

“Religious people have faith, and there is no logical way to argue with faith”

 

Even most world-renowned scientists who once claimed they were atheist, like Richard Dawkins, publicly changed their point of view to purport that they are agnostic because it is a viewpoint that is much better aligned with the proponents of science. To be an atheist is to be so far on one end of the spectrum where one is certain a deity does not exist, that it is ironically comparable to someone on the opposite end of the spectrum who is wholeheartedly convinced, without a shadow of a doubt, that there is a god.

I think Bill Maher said it best when he stated that he’s not an atheist because being atheist is having a certainty about god’s non-existence that is as strong as a religious person’s certainty of god’s existence. Such certainty, on either side, is impossible.

Although I am not religious at all, I still see the appeal, the lure and the functionality of religion, but it’s hard for me to truly respect the views of an atheist… especially one who uses poor, unsubstantiated, sub-scientific notions to attempt to state their claim.

 

Sincerely,

Aaron

 

8 Comments

  1. Sherwin

    June 14, 2010 at 1:41 am

    If you’ve got an hour to spare, watch this really great debate between Richard Dawkins and Professor John Lennox about the existence of God after the release of The God Delusion.

    http://www.fixed-point.org/index.php/video/35-full-length/164-the-dawkins-lennox-debate

  2. Hyacinth Guy

    June 14, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    You had a comment on facebook which said, “I live in a body, I am not a body” I believe that “I” is the God in me. God is spirit, or energy and that spirit and energy lives in me. Energy is neither created nor destroyed so eventually it would just leave this body and perhaps take on another one. Faith is simply believing in your own potential and if people choose to see that as your God potential then so be it. I agree with you, I don’t get the athiest concept.

  3. Karen Francisco

    kfrancisco

    June 14, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    Thank you for your candid perspective. There are few who would put it as eloquently as you did.

  4. Shanna

    June 20, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    I used to be very much an agnostic of this mindset … but lately I’ve begun to think differently. You see, it may be true that there is no sound logical argument that disproves the existence of a god, just because something cannot be disproven does not make it likely. It means that we do not have necessary data to solve the problem, and we are definitely faced in a sort of odd logical conundrum as a result. But, one could say the same thing about unicorns, ghosts or the tooth fairy. We really can’t disprove anything supernatural, because by definition these things are unscientific and don’t follow the rules that govern more concrete matter. However, being unable to disprove ghosts or the effects of obeah does not mean that I think they are likely. And because these beliefs are not universally accepted, nobody challenges the fact that I don’t have faith in them. It’s the socio-cultural importance of gods that make them seem more likely than a haunting, not any scientific superiority. So, if you’re to have views that are perfectly logically coherent, agnostics must take the same position on the tooth fairy, obeah, Papa Bois, ghosts, etc. etc. as they do on God. I’ve come to realize that I’m not really comfortable with that myself and decided to identify myself as an atheist as a result.

  5. aguy

    June 21, 2010 at 2:46 am

    Shanna, you make an excellent point. However, Papa Bois, unicorns, ghosts or the tooth fairy have never been the topic of discussion regarding existentialism among mankind, nor have they been charged with having an integral role in the creation (and manipulation) of humans. Your argument is still very substantial because there is no scientific argument to suggest that they don’t exist, but because most humans (whether science based or faith based) do not place any worth in the relevance of their existence these mythical creatures seem to have no impact on our society.

    Also, all these mythical creatures you mention are very specific and all have a “story” that accompanies their existence, very much like the Christian god, or Muslim god, or Jewish god, or Hindu god etc. All of which I reject. Simply because, in my opinion, the stories that surround all these gods (and mythical creatures alike) are manmade attempts to answer questions that maybe at the time of inception could not be properly answered. My adoption of agnosticism isn’t to support any one of these very specific gods (and mythical creatures alike), as I reject them all, but to support the possibility that there may be something bigger than us out there that we as humans are currently unaware of and also lack the ability to explain. Some may call that ‘thing’ a god or omnipotent being, or whatever (all semantics), but I just choose not to dismiss the possibility of its existence.

    All in all, I really do like your take on it and it has been one of the best arguments I’ve encountered in quite some time, however, we will have to respectfully agree to disagree. Thank you sincerely for your input.

  6. Morpheus

    June 28, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    firstly, god and his heaven CAN be scientifically

    disproven .If you were to look at some of the deep

    space images from the hubble telescope you will see

    how stars , galaxies and the solar system was created.

    go to wikipedia and do some research on the big

    bang and you will find out why scientists place so

    much confidence in it. If you compare the fossils or

    embriyos or genes of animals and plants you will start

    to get the picture how life was created through small

    mutations and natural selection over billions of years

    without any supernatural intervention. even if

    something is unknown doesnt mean it is unknowable

    and should be attributed to a supernatural being. eg-

    people attributed lightning to god 300 years ago ,

    but that doesnt happen today.
    thus all atributes of a possible supernatural being can

    be disproven.

    secongly, I dont recall Richard dawkins changing his

    stand at any point of time.He still publicly calls himself

    an atheist.

    thirdly, atheists also have faith ,but this faith is

    different from religious faith because it is based on

    principles which can be tested and can be verified by

    anyone.and are not based on 2000 year old books

    whose texts are written in a way such that they can

    neither be verified nor tested because of their

    supernatural element.in short the atheists faith is more

    logically sound than religious faith.

    fourthly,”Although I am not religious at all, I still see the

    appeal, the lure and the functionality of religion, but

    it’s hard for me to truly respect the views of an

    atheist… especially one who uses poor,

    unsubstantiated, sub-scientific notions to attempt to

    state their claim.” if you find religious explainations to

    be more scientific than atheist explainations then my

    freind you arent even an agnostic. at best you are a

    liberal theist in which case no matter what is said in

    this forum you will not change your point of view .In

    any case i am glad that you dont have any extrimist

    religious views .do some more reading into atheist

    literature and the arguments aganst the existence of

    a superior being.may be then you will understand

    why atheists have the views that you find so

    unacceptable.

    note : shanna also makes a valid argument.

    I recommend you to read this :
    http://www.godlessgeeks.com/WhyAtheism.htm

  7. Keita Demming

    July 23, 2010 at 5:51 am

    This is an impressive article, you are brave to write this in a country like ours, I guess it is on the web so it is not specific to our region of the world. You have straddled the line of respect for people who have faith very, very well. My only point here is that argument should also stand for people who have faith.

    If you are arguing that “Just because it cannot be scientifically proven, that doesn’t mean it is automatically scientifically disproved”, should it not be the case the one withhold judgement until one has the proven the claim. So in a sense one cannot come to a decision on either end of the spectrum. This would mean that the agnostic position, is holding position until one has proven either side of the case. I am just saying that your lack of misunderstanding of atheist should extend to believers as well, since on the same grounds they are believing in something for which they have no evidence. The problem is that you are talking about an emotive response to faith.

  8. Liam

    July 24, 2010 at 4:27 am

    Dear Mr.Misinformation
    How could you possibly write something as small minded as “I respect all religion EVEN SCIENTOLOGY” thats the equivalent of saying “Im not racist I accept every race EVEN BLACK PEOPLE ” Even if it was not conscious It insinuates all the same…Secondly ATHEISM IS NOT A RELIGION it is only application of inductive reasoning to life ..I stress that it is not a religion and CANNOT be summarized ,As in I do not believe that anything Supernatural should be the basis of any reasoning/morality/ethical logic OR ANY FORM OF DECISION MAKING AT ALL this is not following or belief it is lack of belief it is not DENIAL it is REJECTION
    Inductive reasoning gives the likely hood of a deity no footing in the atheist mind because it simply states that a god MAY exist
    (repeated) Atheism is not the DENIAL of that said diety it is the REJECTION of whatever “way of life(to make things simple)” that accepting it may incur xD

    hopefully I clarified a little on how misinformed you were on exactly what it meant to be atheist
    id like to proceed to point out EXACTLY how freaking small minded

    “Just as religious folks are in awe of, and are humbled by their faith, I am humbled by the fact that it is a pure unknown. I am humbled by the possibility of something bigger than us, ……………….ake ip up a story of an omnipotent being just because I don’t know. I’d rather admit my ignorance and be humbled by that, than to ride the wave of religious convention.”

    Seems to me Are you freaking insinuating that an Atheist may know no humility :O WHAT FREAKIGN GROUNDS DO YOU WRITE THAT ON???? thats freaking insulting! if i were you i would come off that agnostic pedestal that your apparently raising yourself on but FIRSTLY i would like to point out how small minded it is to assume that humility can only be obtained via Religion

    It is very humbling..to me to look at the stars distances my human mind can barely comprehend or imagine away and sizes that are unknown to me and accept that if they were to snuff out it would make no difference to anything relevant to me..humbling because if we all were to snuff out it would not matter atall somewhere else..simply enough HUMILITY OBTAINED ethics and morality can just as easily be obtained but i do not want to spam

    The presence of Inductive reasoning (does not) COUNTERACT the lack of empirical evidence
    simply put the argument i made for Agnostic vs Atheism
    and simply put I DO NOT UNDERSTAND YOUR AGNOSTICISM
    cuz that is the same as saying i Believe in a higher being because it MIGHT exist
    that logic can be used again to say i believe in jesus because he MIGHT exist.
    so tell me man are you familiar with all the gods that have ever existed because they MIGHT exist
    if i had that logic i wud be quaking with fear just incase horus is really pissed off right about now -_-
    cause u know i never know if hes there or not >_> in basic its the same shit as a religious and what u believe an atheist to be so dont look down on it so hard.tahts why it makes sense to just choose a damn side and that is the difference between a logical atheist and an agnostic .
    these are like four dif comments i facebooked on this..and i felt the urge to repost here.

    Arrogantly,
    Liam

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