The Intelligencer published a new entry written by David Bereck today that makes you really question the ‘Intelligence’ bit. Titled ‘So you think you are an atheist…’, the article trots out some of the silliest and, well, stupidest arguments against atheism. If I didn’t know better I thought the author was trolling.
Do the people who practice atheism actually know what they are putting their faith into? I hope that more atheists take an interest in learning more about what they think they believe.
Can you be any further off the mark? Of course you don’t understand atheism if you think of it in terms of a religion. People don’t practice atheism. Atheism is absence of practicing religion. It’s like the idea of a vacuum that some people can’t get their head around: how can there be nothing – there has to be something. David seems to be having similar difficulties with the idea that not believing in gods really does mean that the concept of gods vanishes from our thoughts. That it’s become a non-issue.
David’s understanding of atheism in other people is influenced by things he himself believes to exists. He believes a God exists, hence he concludes that not believing in the existence of Gods is also a belief. But it makes no sense to try and enumerate the infinite number of things that we believe do not exist. Let’s instead look at what we believe that does exist. What differentiates you, David, from us is that in addition to the many beliefs we share, you also have a belief in gods. From that perspective it becomes understandable why the term ‘practicing atheism’ becomes a non sequitur. One can’t do things by not doing them.
Some atheists will not even know they have to use a lot of faith just to believe that from nothing … came something.
Perhaps it does require some faith. Yet somehow believers fail to grasp that it takes even more faith to believe essentially the same plus the existence of a magical all-powerful creature. But I think it’s important to point out that most atheists merely say ‘well, I don’t know what happened. Let’s see what the scientists can come up with’. ‘I don’t know’ is a much better, and more honest, answer than ‘I know that God did it’.
The other point of common sense is that chaos doesn’t result in order. If someone were to put all the parts of a Lamborghini in a garage and then threw a bomb into the garage, you wouldn’t expect to find a perfectly designed Lamborghini to drive away.
Yup, the good old 747 ‘Jumbo’ Jet analogy. So David probably read a Creationist book. Yes David, you are correct – except no-one ever said they believed that they would. What we actually believe is more likely by orders of magnitude than ‘God did it’, and it doesn’t require any magic at all. Perhaps you should invest some time to actually understand what scientists have to say about this.
The second point that chaos doesn’t result in order proves that even if I was wrong about the Big Bang Theory, there is no possible way an explosion (chaos) would ever be able to create a universe with such tremendous order.
No, David. It merely proves that you do not understand the laws of thermodynamics, and probably fail to grasp the scale of what you are talking about. It’s not as if it’s not understood how galaxies condense (order from chaos). It’s readily observable even today. There is no faith involved in believing something that elementary. It seems you are questioning not just the Big Bang, but matter accretion and other fundamental, well understood processes. That would be unwise.
I encourage people to question atheism because when you really look at the details from a different perspective, you have a much wider range of understanding.
And yet, strangely, you propose a much, much simpler solution: all this was created by a god. Complexity? God did it. Life? God did it. Universe, Stars, Planets? God did it. Your understanding is much narrower than a worldview that allows ‘I don’t know – let’s find out’ for an answer. You are not proposing that people open their minds – you advocate credulity in millennia-old superstition. It’s not a perspective that is difficult to understand, nor does it enrich understanding. It’s a bit like the Santa Claus myth. Everyone understands where it comes from. But it will in no way broaden our understanding of the world if we believed they were true.
David closes with
Personally, I am glad to be artistically created in the image of an awesome God rather than being the cousin of some slimy thing that crawled out of the ocean.
And that’s pretty much it – David prefers to think of himself as an image of a God who has a special purpose for him – rather than facing the possibility that his existence is mere happenstance, and that he is of no consequence at all. His belief, it seems, serves to elevate his self-esteem.