Arrogant Atheists

31 10 2007

I’ve written a lot about religion on this blog. In fact you might even say it’s a favourite topic of mine. So far most of my vitriol has been aimed at bigots who hide behind Christianity, in particular the Catholic Church, but I have made reference to radical islam a few times either. Truth be told the only reason I do not attack islam more often is because I do not want a 747 through my living room. I have just redecorated and find that huge explosions are not good for the decor.

However the one faith I’ve not criticised yet is atheism. It is time I right this wrong, if for no other reason than to confirm that I am an agnostic, not atheist. Many may claim that atheism is not faith but this, I believe, is a fallacy. Secular Theology is a form of atheism and yet also, paradoxically, a religious philosophy. Equally some forms of Buddhism reject the existence of God and thus would conform to the definition of atheism and yet Buddhism is considered to be a religious belief system. The video below, which inspired this post, highlights what I believe is the fundamental weakness of an atheist argument.

His statement is that faith is flawed because it is the belief in something not backed up by evidence or fact. In that he is correct. However the logical extension of this is that atheism is flawed because it is the belief in something not backed up by evidence or fact. If atheism is defined as the rejection of theism, and thiesm is the belief in the existence deities, then atheism can be defined as the belief in the nonexistence of deities. Until an atheist can find me irrefutable evidence that God does not exist they are no less guilty of blind faith than those they criticise.

Many of the scientific theories used by atheists to attack theism are still viewed as theories due to a lack of conclusive evidence. Science states very few things to be “facts”. Of course imperial evidence does lend a lot of strength to these theories but although I subscribe to the theory of evolution I would still not be arrogant enough to call it fact. Scientists often disprove long-held theories which is why science has such a sceptical view of “scientific facts”. Blind faith in science is still blind faith.

However, even if one were to accept every single scientific theory as fact (and although I tend to reserve a modicum of healthy scepticism this is, by and large, the position I hold) at best the combination of these facts only serve to disprove certain elements of religious texts. This does little to further the atheist argument since it is known and accepted that religious texts were written by men. Men are fallible and capable of error.

Some atheists accept this and attempt to clutch at straws by maintaining that since science can prove that creation could have occured without a God that proves God does not exist. The flaws in this rationale are countless. Firstly it assumes that creation is God’s only purpose. To assume that we can definitively state what a divine being’s purpose is would have to be the epitome of arrogance. Secondly even if we were to take that giant leap of faith with the atheists the argument fails because that assumes that things only exist because they have a purpose.

One need only look at the world around us to see countless things that exist but are not “necessary”. Personally I’ve always wondered what purpose wasps serve. Although it may once have had a purpose, the appendix is now useless so why haven’t we evolved sufficiently not to have them? What about the portions of our brain which we do not apparently even use? What purpose do they serve?

Atheism is no better than religion and arguably even more arrogant in its insistence that those who reject atheism are somehow stupid. This is why I chose the path of agnosticism, recognising that we mere mortals are simply not intelligent enough to know whether or not God exists. Of course some mortals are not even intelligent enough to embrace their own stupidity and instead reject the only sensible choice.



10 responses

1 11 2007

A very well-thought-out post. All too often those who post about religion (and I’m speaking of all sides of the argument) are much like the guy in the video: thoughtless, selfish, foolish. Though clearly I don’t share your beliefs on a number of things, I’m glad to see that you’ve at least thought about it and have reasons behind what you believe. I’ve said many times over that it takes as much faith to be an atheist as it does to be any form of theist, if not more.

1 11 2007
Jayne d'Arcy

Well written. You almost make me want to convert to agnosticism. At the very least, I understand my husband’s agnosticism. A side note, it has recently been discovered that the appendix does have a reason for being in the body; it is an aide to the immune system in that it helps to manufacture white blood cells to fight off disease and infection. The appendix is at its largest in children and shrinks as we grow into adulthood.

1 11 2007
Mr President

Thank you both for your kind words. I did put a lot of thought into my choice to follow a path of agnosticism so I’m glad it shows. Whilst I may be quick to criticise religion I hope it’s clear that my main gripe is with zealotry.

I do not believe religion, per se, to be bad. Religious zealotry, however, is a divisive force. Having said that atheism is possibly worse than religion in that the majority of atheists are zealots whereas the majority of theists believe in “live and let live”. Few theists are as quick to preach as atheists.

So the appendix does have a purpose? Interesting, you learn something new every day. Which in itself goes to show to believing everything science tells you is an error. When I was at school I was taught the appendix had no known function (which was probably true at the time, since you said this was a recent discovery) but here were are with the knowledge that it does.

2 11 2007
andy d

I hate to say, “Yeah, what they said,” but I feel like I have too. That was a very good article.

I am a Lutheran. I was raised a Lutheran, spent some time questioning the existence of God and have returned to my faith. Personally, I believe faith is simply man’s way of trying to understand something we don’t have the mental capacity to understand. So long as you don’t hurt anyone, I won’t criticize your choice of faith (be it Christian, Atheist, or Global Warming).

2 11 2007
Mr President

Likewise I see faith as man’s way to understand the world. We as a species have always wanted to understand the unknown. What made us flock to religion is the same thing that saw others flock to science.

I also see faith as a beacon of hope to those who need it. This is why despite my agnosticism I still “pray” in times of stress and worry. Who I pray to I have no idea but I do. When my mother had a heart attack, and then her stroke, both times I prayed. It hurts nobody and helps calm me.

As I said, where I criticise faith is where people use it to justify bigotry.

7 11 2007
Wiki-Wednesday - I Know Things Now « Textual Relations

[…] back after a week’s hiatus (I actually forgot it was Wednesday, so impassioned was I by that YouTube video) and what a random topic to make a comeback with! Not just an article about Desperate Housewives […]

8 11 2007
Mr President : Defender Of The Faith « Textual Relations

[…] but intolerance. Does it matter if this intolerance is by radical Islam or radical secularists/atheists? Hitler, though not an atheist as is often mistakenly stated, did desire a religiously neutral […]

17 05 2008
Can We Be Good Without God? « Textual Relations

[…] and become so heated that Mr President found himself defending agnosticism from unwanted association with atheism. D’Souza states that, as far as Christianity is concerned the two are practically […]

13 01 2009

This is a very belated comment, but I wanted to commend you on this post.

Very well-written and well-argued.

I disagree with several of your points, but obviously you have put intensive thought and deliberation into your perspectives.

Even though I am an (agnostic) atheist [I assume there are no gods, but I do not know for certain], I thought this was an outstanding post.

27 01 2009

Well, I’m afraid to tell you this, but… You’re wrong.

In short, Wikipedia describes it like this: “The existence of gods is not denied, but may be designated unnecessary or useless”. This is exactly how I, as an atheist, live my life. To say that atheism is just another religion because it has faith is false, because atheism explicitly means the absence of faith. We certainly don’t believe in gods (which you already know), but we cetrainly don’t go around denying the possible existence of a god or gods either, because that would be idiotic. The logical extension of this is that it’s equally idiotic to believe atheism to be a faith-based religion when the very meaning of atheism is to not have faith in things we cannot explain or prove.

Yes, atheists can be arrogant, just like christians, muslims, hindus… But that’s a trait in humanity, not religion (or the lack of religion). There’s validity in blaming religious people for the bad things they do in the name of religion, but you cannot do the same for atheists, for they have no name in which to do bad things. To be atheist is to be alone, even if you happen to share the same opinions as other people.
If one of two people murders people, and they both happen to like milkshakes, you can’t blame the milkshake maker for the murders. If one of two people murders people in the name of, and with support from, his religion, we can, and should, rightfully blame the religion and the person who knowingly follows those beliefs even when they are obviously hurtful.

So, in closing, don’t group different people with different agendas together as one, when all they share is an opinion about something. Atheism is not a religion, it is not a faith or belief in anything, and it is not responsible for the actions of individuals. I absolutely share your sentiment on arrogant atheists, but they are not arrogant because they are atheists, they are just plain arrogant.

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