Atheism is Just Another Religion
I don’t have a problem with atheism. Not more than any other ideology or religion, and living in a world full of both for 30 years, you get pretty accepting of people’s persuasions.
Let’s start with a concession. If my choice were between atheism and the type of religion that most people go for, I’d be an atheist.
If someone is an atheist because they actively disbelieve in a hairy white guy sitting in the clouds governing the world, I’d have to say that’s a pretty reasonable disbelief. I believe this is what the Buddha meant when he answered a question ‘there is no God:’ that there is no God as we commonly conceive.
Much of the criticism levelled at what most people call religion is warranted. It’s pretty unreasonable. But we hear so much of this from Dawkins and Facebook that it’s high time for me to write about why atheism is just as silly as other religions. And the parts where it is not as dangerous are overshadowed by the other parts where it is not nearly as beneficial. And above all, it’s an intellectual abstraction no more based on earth than spirituality or religion.
Religion as collections beliefs and predujuices are not really religions as they were intended. Religion as we know it is social peculiarity sprung from the fertile ground around a spiritual teaching, overgrowing the essence like choking vines.
Religions are altogether human affairs, social, economic and political more than anything else. But the binding glue is emotion: the need for belonging, to understanding the world and to have an identity, something to tell ourselves when we wake up so that we might avert our attention from the elephant in the room: our life is nonesense and peicing it together would mean first tearing it apart. Religion, without spirituality (as is most religion today) is all that and more.
It’s cultural belonging, it’s sheep herding and control. It’s mind-numbing and ridiculous, facultly shutting and creativitiy stunting. But that has nothing to do with spirituality, reality, or the possibility of a God.
Atheism does less damage than any “religion,” but it’s not much better when it comes to a vehicle for understanding. It’s adherants make similar logical leaps for similar emotional reasons. In a ridiculous world, you can’t just be agnostic. You’ve got to be totally apart, as far away from the ridiculout fray as possible, to be sane, safe. Then, from that safe place, high above the grovelling masses, we can admit our superiority, to ourselves, eachother and -quietly- to the world.
Atheism provides a sense of intellectual superiority without any actual intellectual feats. “I don’t belive in God because I can’t see him, your religions are clearly nonsense and look what you bigots are saying.” Stupid people seem to believe in God so not believing in God must be smart, right? Seems like plenty of people have convinced themselevs of this, but as always it’s the “smart” people who raise my eyebrows.
Atheism is a reaction. Without the silly religions, there would be no need to declare an oppisite belief. It’s belief in the absence of something that is defined by other people’s beliefs.
Like religion, atheism fills the emotional need for belonging. “I am a “something.” I’m not just this person. I have a tribe of people who are just as shocked by the silliness of it all as me.”
It fulfils the need for a self-image. For people who see themselves as clever, the phrase “I don’t know” is not an option, ever. They must always know. That’s why atheists aren’t agnostic (people who “don’t know” and supposedly don’t care). Agnostics aren’t clever. They don’t have knowledge of something. They have the absence of knowledge of nothing. They don’t know. There’s no cleverness about it. It’s the answer a child might give you. I’m writing this thought because the arguments of atheists always strike me as vastly less clever than the “I don’t know” of agnostics. Because in explaining why they believe something that they don’t know, they lay flat on the table a bunch of arguments that can’t logically lead to an answer of the unanswerable. It’s always a belief. But it’s impossible for a “clever” person to say they believe something without evidence reason, so they’ll throw down a platter of perfectly good, but perfectly unrelated (religion, physical science, people doing shit) evidence.
The more detailed and scientific the reasoning the more stupid. I’m not able to get into any details because science is not my forte. But if someone’s saying that they know how the universe works, they’re deluded. They might know an awful lot about chemistry, physics, space, energy, molecules, sub-atomic particles, but anyone can see that they don’t know half of it.
Atheism is a belief.
Of course, comparing atheist-materialism and 7-day-creationsim (as opposed to regular intelligent-design creationsim), you’d be forgiven a smug smirk. But to seriously think you’ve got the answers, you’ve got to overlook the fact you don’t, and if you did, you wouldn’t know it. And to say 7-day-creationism, the belief of a few human beings, says anything about reality, that’s another level of anti-logic, no matter how plain crazy the religious people are.
There are great merits in philosophies like the matieralist ‘humanism,’ which essentially places the human at the center of our reality and strives to make him or her more comfortable there. But the merits springing from the efforts of such philosphically bent people aren’t mutually exclusive of the merits that come from a lot of activity inspired by religion.
Yes our industrial world grew out of materialistic ideology. But we can see that this has limits. It’s not the true way for a human to live because it encourages selfishness and tribalism, unsustainable for the global civilisation.
Everyone shoud be able to tell everyone how to think, for example, as I do in this article. And people should be free to think how they like, ridiculed or not. So yes, while I’m pointing out what I see as contraditions in atheism, I’m doing so with the expectation that religious zealots, atheist ideologues and whatever I am (I’m wrong somewhere, let’s face it), will continue doing what they do. I only wish we all had a little more patience in forming optinions before we poured them like concrete around our ankles.
Very little of what I’ve come across from atheists in social media is more than belittlement of other relgions or beleif systems (they don’t need to be belitted most of the time). Is the main practice in the religion of atheism the mocking of others? Because it seems like it.
The last missive I have for atheism is the misguided productivity of criticising. Whatever the real state of reality and meaning of life, it’s easier to make enemies but more effective to make friends. Despite the infantisinally small portion of “religious” fanatics whose effects are devastatingly disproportionate, most religious people will happily collaborate to improve the lot of humans. They’re willing to put their righteousness aside in order to manifest the essence of their faith, goodwill to all men (assumedly also women).
The atheists that spend their time talking about how smart they are and how stupid and unreasonable others are wasting their own time (and annoying me). Like the critics of other ideologies who believe the salvation of the world lies in their own intellectual reasonings, they need to shut their snarkly traps and focus on the good things in life.
It’s not the details, it’s the essence. In believing themselves to be better, righter, smarter, they’re promoting that mindset in the world. Whatever the belief, it can be passive, personal, mild and positive, or loud and abnoxious.
Smart is as smart does.
There I go again, breaking the cardinal rule of my own spirituality: “shut up, you know nothing.” Still, now this little rant is off my chest – it’s been a long time in the festering – I can move on to greater heights of not giving a fuck.