Thursday, August 7, 2008

Atheism. Or, where you draw the line.

Origionaly posted by TySixtus

I came to the conclusion yesterday that Atheism is nothing more than a result of where a person is willing to draw the line with regards to what they will rationally entertain.

I know it's an over-used cliche, especially around here, but consider the various mockeries we use to (rightly) ridicule theology: The IPU, the Invisible Dragon in the garage, leprechauns, etc. Consider these, and now forget about them. We don't need them.

Let's stick with a known deity, who operates under knowable conditions, who interacts with the world in a detectable way. We'll use Zeus.

There is as much evidence to suggest the existence of Zeus as there is for any type of god. And I mean that. Even the sublime, unknowable god of Deism presents no verifiable evidence of it's existence. It is simply, at this point, speculation.

Ask your average American if they believe in Zeus. You'll get a funny look and perhaps a laugh. Why? Well this person has drawn a line as to what they will consider real, or possible. And this decision probably didn't come via a whole lot of soul searching, either. Chances are, most Americans are taught about Zeus the same way I was: it was presupposed to be a fairy tale. It was taught that way. Our culture automatically assumes it to be fiction. By the way, I'm using "American" interchangeably, here. Insert whatever nationality you wish. The premise stays the same.

But, consdier that maybe this person hadn't been taught anything about Zeus. Consider that a person reaches the age of 24 and has never read or been taught anything about Zeus. Tell them the story of Zeus turning into a bull to impregnate a woman, and this 24 year old is still pretty likely to ignore the story as bullshit. I mean, who would take it seriously?

We form beliefs about how the world works. Present us with something that contradicts known facts about how the world works, and we're pretty much going to dismiss it as nonsense.

So why is Atheism such an ostracized stance? Atheism is nothing more than using the same criterion (Is this idea reasonable?) that we use for 99.99% of all our decision making and belief-forming, and applying it to that .01% that pertains to god and the afterlife.

As an atheist, I use the same thought processes to decide on a belief in leprechauns as I do for (example) Yahweh: Is this idea reaonable? While a simple idea, this one question contains a checklist of reality, a list of things that I, as a rational man, will entertain as possible. And since the idea of Yahweh doesn't pass any stipulation of reasonable that I can come up with, it gets tossed into the "stupid" pile.

Why is this such a minority position? I have drawn the line as to what I'm willing to rationally entertain. I have availed myself of the facts, thought about them, discusses them and ultimately formed decisions (beliefs) concerning them. God, as I have thus far had it explained to me, is not rational.

Now I know some "agnositcs" are going to come in here and claim that I don't know what god is, and therefore it is unreasonable to reject it out of hand. But I say it is exactly because I don't know what god is that I reject it out of hand. Once again, this is reasonable behavior. If someone were to come up to me and claim "Glortep" exists, I would reject the idea automatically as I have no idea what a Glortep is. Want me to believe in one? Provide evidence one exists. And if your evidence is "Glortep is Nature" or "Glortep is Love" or "Glortep is the Uncaused Cause", I'll gladly point out that Nature and Love already have names (Nature and Love) and an Uncaused Cause could just as well be the universe.

Either way? Yep. Ol' Glortep heads for the Stupid pile.

To quote Sam Harris, "Atheism is nothing more than the noises reasonable people make when in the presence of religious dogma."

What is so damned unreasonable about drawing the line? Theists, you use reason every day, all the time. It puts food in your stomach and money in your bank account. It keeps you safe when you drive, and gives you the power of human speech. It makes you a functioning member of society.

Why, then, do you stop using it when it comes to god?


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