An Atheist’s Take On Religion

6

Growing up I never had much of a choice in the matter. At the ripe age of 5 my dad introduced me to the question of how the world came into existence. My parents are both scientists and my father quickly introduced me to the Big Bang and the scientific evidence related to the creation of the universe. My mother would try to interject at times saying, “he should be able to make that decision for himself”, but in reality it didn’t matter. There’s something about learning from your parents habits that goes beyond the words they say to you. The logically inquisitive nature I inherited from them created an appetite for empirical data and proven hypotheses. Being older now I can see the tradeoffs of my formation as an atheist. Faith in anything does not come naturally to me and anything that I truly trust is based on empirical evidence.

This can affect something as simple as making friends. I’m not the kind of person to trust anyone to be inherently good. Sure, I’m pretty good at carrying out small talk with people I don’t know or people I know superficially, but I don’t see any value in these people. I don’t give off a vibe that’s conducive to  making numerous social connections with lower levels of sincerity. I know that religion doesn’t solve this, but religion from an early age can give people a communal experience. You’re exposed to a large gathering of people with similar beliefs that you may not be familiar with. I never had that sense of community and I feel very out of place in larger social gatherings. The analytical part of my brain is constantly picking out who’s actually worth talking to and that probably is a good indicator to you that I’m incapable of a true leap of faith.

Now don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t change my way of thinking for anything else, but I realize the consequences of the way I was raised. I hear stories all the time about people finding faith at every possible point in life, despite their environment, but I know in my heart that I’m in too deep to change that. Realizing the pros and cons of the stereotypical lifestyles associated with religious and nonreligious people made me understand the value in both sides. To all the aggressive atheists out there who downplay the social benefits of religion, you’re making a big mistake. What’s wrong with teaching people morals? What’s wrong with helping poor people and those in need? What’s wrong with building a sense of community? What’s wrong with giving people hope and faith? Many of my fellow atheists don’t disagree with the noble causes that religion is supporting, but they object to the instilling of beliefs in followers that contradict scientific theory. In all honesty I was brainwashed too, I just ended up on the side of atheism and rigorous proof.

To expand on that thought, I view atheism (as most people think of it) as an equal jump in logic when compared to religion. You see, there is no rigorous evidence that God exists, but that doesn’t mean you are correct in assuming God doesn’t exist. Ask any atheist how the particles that formed the Big bang came to be. They will not be able to answer you in full because atheists don’t know where those particles came from either. There is a trend over time that scientific evidence continuously encroaches on religious beliefs, but that does not mean belief in one is mutually exclusive or that scientific evidence will eventually do away with religious beliefs. In the grand scheme of things rigorous proofs and empirical results are a relatively new concept to humans and religion itself is quite old. So atheists are jumping to conclusions of the same magnitude as religious people, from a logical standpoint.

Presented to me by a Reverend

Keeping that idea in mind, I take issue with how most people define atheism. Wikipedia states,”Atheism is in a broad sense the rejection of belief in the existence of deities. In a narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities.” The second definition is what most people associate with atheism, but it marks a key ideological difference. It depends on what question you are trying to answer. If you wish to answer: Does God Exist?  – Well we’ve already been talking about that and as of this moment there is no scientific evidence. If you are trying to answer: Is religion logically solid? –  Then we can see the answer based on the atheist perspective is no. So the lack of proof as to the existence of God is what makes religion logically invalid, from an atheists perspective. Ironically those who reject God completely are equally wrong because they claim God to not exist without proper proof.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a bit you will see this common trend in my opinions shifting towards middle ground, but that is not the case here. I think true middle would be defined as agnosticism, which is “the view that the truth value of certain claims such as whether God or the supernatural exist are unknown and perhaps unknowable”. I’m an atheist because I’m not complacent. Agnostics are ok with saying there definitely is no answer and calling it a day. God may or may not exist, but I guess ironically the one thing I have faith in is the fact that logic and the scientific process will eventually give us a definitive answer*. Despite the results I am ready to take either answer.

As I was writing this I went to check my e-mail, but didn’t hit save. Somehow I ended up closing my browser and when coming back to writing I realized my mistake. Thank anyone upstairs for the restore function or I would have lost 1100 words. I don’t really have the initiative to do something over from scratch after an error like that so this post never would have happened. Wow, almost had a heart attack there. *Hits save*

Small disclaimer: When I say “logically invalid” in response to religion, I’m not dissing religious people. This term comes from philosophy and mathematics, referring to rigorous proofs where all conclusions follow from the premises. There must be no counterexamples or holes in the evidence you are presenting. You cannot selectively prove certain parts of a statement. Your proof must be completely universal in application. So the arguments I was providing, in terms of how I understand atheism, were based off of having the conclusions follow from the premises. Rigorous proofs are more complex than that and I gave the basic idea, but if you want more answers take a look here. (There’s this whole distinction between logic in philosophy and logic in math that I won’t get into here because that would realllllyyy make my brain hurt. That may be a topic for a future post.) 

*My use of the word faith in that sentence was pretty thought provoking as I was writing. Earlier I wrote about not being capable of leaps of faith, but I discovered through writing this that my belief in the scientific process is pretty much a leap of faith. There are no guarantees that the scientific process will or will not eventually lead to a conclusion, but I firmly believe the question will be answered. Demanding rigor is hard and I’ll relax my standards just for that one circumstance.

Which side are you on and how does that impact the way you live your life? I’d love to hear your take on religion.

6 comments on “An Atheist’s Take On Religion

  1. Archon's Den says:

    I’m a militant agnostic. I don’t know – and neither do you! My, and everybody’s, belief in ‘God’ depends on definition. There may be a greater being out there who created sub-atomic particles and set our universe in motion, although, as someone said, that just pushes the question out one level further. I could believe in such a being, but not your concept of him/her/it finding your car keys for you when you pray. 😕

    Liked by 1 person

    • royyman32 says:

      I can agree with pretty much everything you said. You made a good point about the distinction between religious practices and religious faith. Using faith in God to solve problems in the moment may be counterproductive to actually getting results. Your car keys example demonstrated that pretty well.

      Like

  2. Brandy says:

    I was raised Christian (I’m now Agnostic, leaning more Atheist) and I never really felt that sense of community and connection from the church. Maybe when I was a young kid – maybe. But most of my memories of church are me feeling out of place. I didn’t like the lectures and I didn’t fit in with the kids my own age (maybe because I knew them outside of church and saw how fake they were being in church). I suppose I do have some sense of faith about some things, but I often find myself analyzing, re-analyzing, and over-analyzing things, situations, and people. I do think that growing up as a Christian I learned to love all living things. I would even send my love to the Devil when I sent my love to God because I was taught to love everyone, good and bad, and not judge. That probably has something to do with me caring for others so much. (Although, there are plenty of people that I don’t like and think the world could do without, I’m likely to care about and like someone until I get to know them or I witness them doing something mean.) I agree that religion has its place in society (I even wrote my final paper in a religions class on that topic), but I also agree that that religion should evolve as our knowledge grows. Was it Buddhism that said if science finds something that disproves Buddhist belief, then Buddhism will have to change? I think it’s great that religion taught me to love, and I think religion does teach great morals, but I also think that many followers decide to disregard some of those morals while still claiming to be a follower (like love your neighbor and God is the only one who can judge others), which lowers my overall tolerance for the religion as a whole (I know it’s wrong, but I can’t help it). I also object to religious schools who teach things out of the Bible or other religious texts as though it’s actual historical fact and not belief.

    I think that religion can have a great place in society – but at a calmer level. There are so many extremest now (my dad thinks that in the future, this time with be called “the Era of Extremism”) that it seems as though religion is doing more harm to society than good. People are using religion to suppress one another rather than lift each other up. Religion is supposed to be something that comforts people and brings them together, while instilling good morals. I like to think I have good morals, despite no longer being a Christian. I also think it’s comforting to believe that when I die, I’m gone. Period. I just don’t exist anymore. I used to think that thought was depressing and I leaned away from Atheism because I liked to believe that something happened to my soul after I leave this earth. Religion should cater to individuals. When I was a child and scared of the dark, I found it comforting to think I had a guardian angle. I’m not longer afraid of the dark, so I no longer need that comfort that my religion once gave me. I just wish more people would see religion as a person thing and not an absolute truth that must be instilled in everyone and followed to the exact letter (which is open to interpretation). Yes, religious groups also do a lot of good like raising money to go on mission trips, but they also do a lot of harm like passing judgment on certain types of people to suppress them and hold them down.

    I really enjoyed this post and your views on the matter.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. royyman32 says:

    You made some really solid points there. Firstly I can agree with feeling out of place in religious settings. One thing I didn’t mention here is that I have many relatives who are religious and I have attended temple with them on several occaisions. The experience was always awkward for the same reasons you felt awkward in church. It is not always the case that religion brings us together, but for many people it does build a sense of community.

    As far as extremism goes, I think extremism is not tied to religion, but is just a problem in general. Atheists can be extreme too in demanding the fact that there is no God or agnostics for that fact in their belief there is no answer. This encourages me to think more about extremism, but in general I think it is possible to distinguish that from simply being a religious problem. I completely understand and agree with the problems you outlined with suppressive practices in religion and using religion as a vehicle for mass judgement. However I truly believe that extremists exist in minorities, but they are passionate enough to make their voices heard over others. Although I see a growing trend in extremist ideas within religious institutions. The conflicts between religion and science seem to be sparking this in my opinion.

    Thank you for your well thought out opinions 🙂 I can always count on you to give me a good response.

    Like

  4. Blues Fairy says:

    You give me hope in humanity. You’re the first atheist I come across who isn’t full of rage and hate towards theists. Seriously, every word you wrote had me nodding in agreement. I find prejudice and bigotry on both sides. People like to elevate themselves above others to make themselves feel better. But it has nothing to do with faith or atheism, and everything to do with fear,lack of compassion, and lack of personal boundaries.

    I wrote a similar piece on my blog http://midnightblues.me/2015/02/28/faith-shaming/

    Liked by 1 person

    • royyman32 says:

      Thank you for your kind words and I agree that prejudice and bigotry on both sides is counter productive. Often times extremists are better represented than middle ground opinions and I think that is equally the case with atheists. My goal is to bring all of us “sensible” people together and talk peace, love, and happiness.

      I’ll be sure to give your post a read 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

What's On Your Mind?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s