Thursday, May 8, 2014

Why do atheists care?

Ryan Fraser wrote an article in the Jackson Sun where he simply doesn't understand why atheists care about religion at all. But of course, there are plenty of problems in what he wrote...
I recently had an online discussion with an atheist. Have you ever tried to reason with an atheist about matters of faith? It can be a frustrating experience.
Really? Because I usually find debating with some believers to be frustrating.
When I asked him (atheist) about that, he replied that he was passionate about “truth.” Interesting.
Why is that 'interesting'? The truth is that I feel the same way as an atheist. I want to know the truth no matter what it is. Why is that so hard to believe?
First of all, believers choose to believe because they want to believe. Though we may not possess all the physical or historical evidence regarding creation, theology and Scripture, there is an underlying desire to believe in God.
I wouldn't so much say that believers choose to believe, since belief isn't voluntary. Most times people are brought up in religion and are indoctrinated into it. Because they are attached to it, and want it to be true, there is a choice that is often made. But it's not to believe, but the choice to never question what they believe or consider they could be wrong. Also, believers don't just not have all the evidence for God, they don't have any!
Second, agnostics perhaps want to believe in a higher power, but they get tripped up on requiring scientific and/or philosophical proof of his existence. They often cannot bring themselves to taking the leap of faith, which is necessary to accept some things at a spiritual level that often defy human logic and secular reasoning.
Ryan doesn't understand agnosticism properly, since it has nothing to do with belief at all.  But whatever, I feel like I know where this is going...
Third, atheists simply refuse to believe in any god. Though they are often highly intelligent people, they are spiritually bankrupt. They cannot understand why anyone would believe in an invisible God and consider those of us who do to be willfully ignorant. Atheists are unprepared to accept the metaphysical or miraculous of the
unseen, spiritual world.
Wrong! Atheists do not refuse to believe anything. Remember, belief is not a choice. I no more choose no to believe, than I choose what foods I like and dislike. Also, atheism is not a refusal to believe, but a lack of belief. There are many ways to lack belief, but in my case it's the lack of evidence. Despite what Ryan says, I am prepared to accept the claims of any faith... Provided you prove to me that the claims are true.
OK, so I’m left scratching my head. If someone does not believe in a god (capital “G” or not), opposes the Bible’s account of creation (and thus disputes intelligent design) and propagates the theory of evolution, why all this passion and fervor? Quite frankly, why would they even care? In my view, if I were a non-believer, it would represent a colossal waste of my time and energy.
If there is no such thing as God and no life after death, why bother to enter into a debate about it? I don’t get it! If I were nothing more than a highly evolved animal with no eternal soul or existential meaning beyond this life, I would want to live it up while I had the chance.
Why do we care? Why do we debate? Because it matters! Throughout history, religion has stood in the way of new knowledge. In fact, it often tells us not to ask questions and to be satisfied with not truly understanding the world. It has lead to horrors, and continues to today. Religion drove the witch burnings. Religion has inspired wars. Religion to this day still drives some to burn people at the stake, stone others to death, and mutilate the genitals young girls.

Then you have people that want to push their religion into politics and make their faith the law of the land. They want to misinform children about the truth of evolution. They want to deny homosexuals rights and marginalize them. To have the power to force what they believe on all, and count anyone who doesn't as second-class.

When religion is too intertwined with the law, it can and does oppress any who don't hold the official view. Holy wars can also be a reality once more. Former president Bush said that God told him to invade Iraq. A war that cost so many lives, and was fought on false pretenses. What more, Christianity tells it's believers to look forward to the end of the world because Jesus will return. I don't want someone that can't wait for the end to be in change of decisions that will impact the well being of our planet, or to have the nuclear launch codes at their disposal.

That's why we care about religion. Because it can affect everyone's life, regardless of what they believe personally. I don't care what a person believes in for their own life. But some believers aren't satisfied to stop there. Instead they want to dictate how others should and can live their own lives. So I don't see why atheists talking about religion is such a mystery.
Here’s what I think: If atheists are right about no God, they stand nothing to gain. On the other hand, if they are wrong, they stand everything to lose. By way of contrast, if believers are right about God, they stand everything to gain. But, if they’re wrong, they stand nothing to lose. Let’s face it — in the end, it all comes down to faith.
Wow, Pascals Wager... I am so underwhelmed. This is an incredibly poor argument that has been decimated through the years. But instead of me wasting space explaining why here, follow this link to a separate blog I wrote about this incredibly weak argument for belief.
When I look at the marvels and majestic beauty of the created universe all around me, I cannot help but see the fingerprints of God — the powerful and benevolent Creator. When I consider his amazing grace, I’m brought to my knees in awe and gratitude.
Cartoon by Chaz Braman
I felt similarly when I was a believer. However, there is nothing in nature that actually points toward the need for a god to have created it. Nature is quite amazing, and not given the credit it deserves. And furthermore, now that I don't believe, understand the natural processes at play, and understand that probability, I actually find myself so much more amazed, and full of so much more gratitude than I did when I believed.
But, you can’t make someone believe in a God they’re unwilling to accept — no matter how hard you try. There are many scientists who don’t believe in God, just as there are those who are Christian believers — though there is much variation in their basic propositions regarding the origins of life. It’s complicated — I know. But, in the final analysis, faith is a choice!
And you can't get a believer that is unwilling to consider that they could be wrong to change their mind no matter how reasonable your argument. But here's the thing... Most atheists are willing to believe. All you have to do is show us the proof. And some atheists even want religious claims to be true. I'm one of them in fact. I would like Buddhist reincarnation to be true. If fact, I wish is was true. But even in light of that, I don't believe it to be true because there is no evidence that it is.

Since faith is belief without knowledge, faith is a choice. You can choose to not ask questions, or research things. One can remain willfully ignorant. The actual belief isn't a choice though.
I choose to believe (in God)... What do you choose to believe?
I don't choose to believe anything. But what I do and will believe is whatever the evidence tells me is so. I am honest in my beliefs. But the question is, is Ryan being as honest?

-Brain Hulk

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