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Apr 01 2009

FYI RE Atheism / Agnosticism

There are awesome people and idiots in every social group or subculture in the world.  This includes ninjas, and it also includes ones where there’s a correlation between education and likelihood of joining the subculture, e.g. atheism. Just like those poser kids and trend whores in high school, or confused college students trying out bisexuality based solely on getting laid more often and/or because it’s popular, and not out of any real attraction to both genders, atheism, and specifically the “New Atheist movement” is being invaded by people who come to the decision to be atheist not because it’s the most rational one — they join up to be “counterculture”, to piss their parents off, or to build an identity for themselves during their formative years. Let’s call these douchebags “trend-atheists“.

This is very annoying to people like me, who came to atheism after being indoctrinated into Catholicism and who was “confirmed” before he even realized what was going on, finally learning that the universe is a vast and mysterious place, but that it could be comprehended through rational study and scientific endeavour. In all seriousness, I had no idea what was going on with the whole confirmation thing. I remember being incredibly anxious to get home and play Megaman, and honestly didn’t know why everyone was making such a big deal out of me going to church and standing in front of everyone, then eating a cracker handed to me by the old guy in a funny costume who smelled like liniment and maybe a hint of Vaseline and was sooooo boring when he read from that book he always had on his podium, that I thought maybe I could replace with my latest Hardy Boys book one day so we could find out what evildoers Joe and Frank discovered when they entered Pirates’ Cave!

Another thing that bothers me is the lack of understanding of the terms being bandied about. There’s a huge difference between a gnostic atheist and an agnostic atheist. Again, as with trend-atheism vs rational-atheism, reality favours the latter. First, definitions. Theist obviously means, “believes in God”. Prefix “a-” in Latin means “not”, so atheist therefore means “does not believe in God”. Likewise for gnostic — to be gnostic means you think the existence of God is knowable, e.g. that it’s possible to discover with 100% certainty that God exists. To be agnostic thus means you believe it’s NOT possible to know with 100% certainty that God exists.

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As you probably have figured out from my previous rants introspections, I consider the concept of God to be inherently, by its very nature, by necessity, outside of our universe.  Since we cannot know with any certainty what’s going on outside of our universe, since our existence is an abstraction of only three dimensions of it, then God is inherently unknowable.  Even Richard Dawkins, one of the most vocal atheists out there, says he cannot know with 100% certainty that God doesn’t exist, but that he believes that God does not exist, and that the burden of proof is on those making the extraordinary claim that they can know that God exists with any degree of certainty whatsoever.  Anyway, the only way to prove God exists is for God to do something that tells us he does.  For instance, appear to us humans by making the moon into his head, and talking to all of us in all our languages simultaneously and telling us that he exists.  And do it once a generation, to prove to every generation that he exists, lest we start thinking all our parents and grandparents were just delusional or were making unverifiable stuff up (you know, like with the Bible and the fish thing, or the walking on water thing, or the wine thing…).  And also explain why it is that he must be worshipped or else he’ll damn you to an eternity of torture.  And explain why what might seem like self-serving vanity in any other creature is perfectly acceptable and Supreme Good in him, because torture for eternity just for not believing in a magical universe-creating invisible guy is a pretty douchy thing to do.

So, the only sane, justifiable position to hold in the face of the deafening silence regarding direct evidence of God is simply to act like there isn’t one.  Go ahead and enjoy life, better your fellow human’s lot, and do whatever you can to be a good, moral, and happy person, without worrying about what comes after you shuffle off this mortal coil, because there is no reward or punishment after death, no floating on a cloud, no eternal hellfire, no seventy-two virgins, and no cosmic High Score list on which you get to write your initials in as “FUK”.

tl;dr: I was atheist when atheism was underground, and people who use words wrong should be cock-punched. Or uterus-punched. (Don’t wanna be sexist.)

2 comments

6 pings

  1. 1
    Jenn

    Just stumbled onto your blog. I like it!

    I experienced so much crap through Catholicism that I began to think for myself rather than through a priest. The end result was discovering a name for the various beliefs I’d arrived at on my own and that name was: Agnostic.

    To me, Agnosticism just makes sense.

    I agree with the trendy group assessment, even though I, myself, am a college student. It’s like these new age college Agnostics/Athiests are the latest emo trend…and quite an insult to anyone who actually thinks for themselves since they aren’t much more than sheeple.

    To me one of the most important aspects of Agnosticism (and Athiesm) is the fact that an individual is freed from the constraints and threats laid forth by organized religion so that they may be able to proceed through life under guidance of their OWN mind and reason without fear of condemnation. That takes a lot of courage. I commend your life decision.

  2. 2
    Jason Thibeault

    I’m glad you enjoy the blog, and I hope you stick around! It’s always great to meet new readers.

    I do have to take issue with your labels though, and I’ll try to be as gentle as I can about this — as per the above, if you BELIEVE in a god or gods, then you’re a theist; and if you DON’T believe in a god or gods, then you’re an atheist. It doesn’t take EXPLICIT DIS-belief in deities to be an atheist.

    I myself am an agnostic atheist. It is the logical null-hypothesis. I don’t worship any gods because nobody has provided sufficient evidence for any of them. I accept that there MAY be deities outside the scope of human understanding, but I doubt they’re anything like any of the gods that have been suggested without proof so far.

    I’m very glad you’ve escaped Catholicism. I really do know what you’ve been through, as that was my faith prior to self-deconversion as well. I don’t know what you’re studying in college, but I’m sure that now that you’ve loosened religion’s hold on your mind, you’ll excel at whatever your intellectual pursuits might be.

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