Wednesday, March 19, 2008

How to define an atheist

The definition for Atheism is not very definite. There are many different interpretations, and many negative connotations. Many that are essentially atheists, wouldn't dare label themselves as such, while many atheists find it necessary to add to the label of atheism to give a better description of their belief. There is a rather lengthy discussion of the definition of atheism on religioustolerance.org

Here are a few quotes from the above linked website which convey how I feel about atheism. I'm still trying to figure out how to get this all into one line that sums it up well.

A belief that the existence of a deity is unlikely, but not impossible. No certainty exists. However, if the person had to make a decision based on the existence or non-existence of a deity, they would probably assume that no deity existed.

No belief in a specific deity. Faced with a wide variety of conflicting beliefs about deities, the individual has not accepted any of them as true.

A person who actively denies the existence of any and all deities is at least one form of Atheist.

"Weak Atheist," "Negative Atheist," "Soft Atheist," "Skeptical Atheist" to refer to a person who simply has no belief in a deity because there are no rational grounds that support his/her/their existence.

Madalyn Murray (later O'Hair), wrote a document used in the court case Murray v. Curlett, 1961-APR-27. It reads, in part:

"An Atheist loves himself and his fellow man instead of a god. An Atheist knows that heaven is something for which we should work now - here on earth - for all men together to enjoy. An Atheist thinks that he can get no help through prayer but that he must find in himself the inner conviction and strength to meet life, to grapple with it, to subdue, and enjoy it. An Atheist thinks that only in a knowledge of himself and a knowledge of his fellow man can he find the understanding that will help to a life of fulfillment. Therefore, he seeks to know himself and his fellow man rather than to know a god. An Atheist knows that a hospital should be built instead of a church. An Atheist knows that a deed must be done instead of a prayer said. An Atheist strives for involvement in life and not escape into death. He wants disease conquered, poverty vanquished, war eliminated. He wants man to understand and love man. He wants an ethical way of life. He knows that we cannot rely on a god nor channel action into prayer nor hope for an end to troubles in the hereafter. He knows that we are our brother's keeper and keepers of our lives; that we are responsible persons, that the job is here and the time is now."



This is me again, no more quotes.

Basically, I don't believe that god exists. I don't assume that it's impossible or provable, but if there is a god, then he definitely hasn't expressed himself through any of the religions that are currently practiced or have ever been practiced by humanity. Of the thousands of religions around, not one can logically show it's authenticity or divinity, yet according to each one individually, they are authentic and divine. Wouldn't a truly divine religion speak for itself? Be logically sound? Stand out among the crowd? Why choose muslim over christianity, or vice versa? Both are mutually exclusive, and both condemn you to eternal torture and punishment for non-belief, yet neither offers a guide to choosing the right path other than a gut feeling.
The very arguments for christianity's righteousness, are the very same arguments for muslim's righteousness and for that matter, every other religion. Even if one of humanities religions actually is divine, it is indistinguishable from all the other false religions, so who even cares? The argument over which religion is right, is to me, the same as arguing over whose invisible girlfriend is hotter.