Treat Scepticism with Indifference

Without wanting to stop you reading more than this sentence, I’m an atheist.

You’re still reading?  OK, some open minds out there, then.

As an atheist, I stand to be corrected but I am confident that there are no gods.  And now I’ve lost more readers, simply by using the word ‘gods’ – multiple.

Tell you what, whenever I use the term god or gods or even God, you put in place whichever (version of) your god(s) in place.  It’ll be easier for you.

I don’t expect to convert anyone to atheism.  It isn’t my place to do that.  Whenever I come across some religious person who has the audacity to shove her religion/beliefs/faith down the throats of everyone else on chat sites, then I will challenge her.

You want to evangelise me?  Then I can de-evangelise you, surely.

Except that religious people don’t like that.

I’ve discussed religion, faith and god (small g because I’m talking about the concept of a god rather than a given god to whom the noun could be applied as a proper noun) with different people.  Mainly, it has to be said, ‘Christians’ (quotation marks because few of them seem to know what being a Christian is about) simply because I speak English and most people who speak English as their native language are – if they’re religious – likely to be Christian.

As soon as I mention the word ‘proof’ it’s either ignored or I am given personal abuse.  There are a number of common responses to being challenged to offer some proof, any proof, of a god’s existence; a stock one such is: “God doesn’t need to prove himself.  He wants you to believe in him.  That’s why it’s called ‘faith’.”  One woman said that I “lack belief”.

Well, no I don’t.  I believe in all sorts of things.  The difference is that I believe in things that I can experience or that have scientific evidence behind them.  And when I say ‘experience’ I mean practically experience.  I don’t mean hearing a voice in my head or seeing someone supposedly cured by some money- or glory-grabbing conman.

Most people who hear voices in their heads are treated for some form of mental health problem.  Unless they’re religious, when they are feted.  Hmmm.

So I do believe in things – in lots of things.  I have faith that, if I drop my phone, it will fall to the ground.  I have believe that the movement of air that I feel against my face is the wind.  I eat religiously because I believe that if I don’t I will die.

I believe in evolution.  I haven’t experienced evolution but I believe that there is a great bank of evidence for evolution.  I’m not just talking about the incomplete fossil record – incomplete but nonetheless persuasive, in spite of the painfully transparent attempts of those who want to rubbish this evidence by suggesting that the gaps in the record mean that it simply can’t be right.  The gaps mean that we don’t have evidence for that part of the record.  It may not exist; it may yet be found.  It doesn’t mean that the pattern that is formed by the rest of the record is wrong and it certainly doesn’t mean that, because there are gaps, god is the answer to those gaps.

No, I also refer to the developing and increasingly accurate science of genetics which provides evidence of evolution.  The more we learn about this field, the more it becomes clear that evolution has left a genetic imprint on life today.

“God created the universe”.  How do you know that?  “It [insert religious text here] says so.”

You know, I could show you more texts that refer to elves, goblins, dragons, etc than you can about your god.  Which is more real?

What evidence is there that god created everything?  “Look at life.  It is too complex.  How can it come about by luck?”

Two arguments here: life’s complexity and the false understanding that evolution is about luck.

Life – existence – is indeed mind-bogglingly complex.  Then again, I find computers complex.  Somebody knows enough about computers to build them and fix them, though.  That is because that somebody is more complex than the computer.  You couldn’t get a computer to work by placing all its components in a box and shaking them up.  It takes someone much more superior than a computer to make a computer.

Existence seems to be the same, on an infinitely greater scale.  It looks very much as if existence is designed because most of it fits together and works together perfectly.  How could something so complicated have come about without a creator?

Well, if you start at the beginning, from nothing, and look at what exists now, then yes it does seem that way.  However, if you bother to look at what comes in between the extremes, then the evidence is clear.

But more than that.  Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that there was a Creator.  What can we say about this person?  The only thing we can with confidence is that this Creator has to be much more complex than what he created.  In the same way that a human who builds a computer is much more complex than the computer, the Creator has to be much more complex than creation.

The argument for creation is that it is too complex to have come about by evolution, by “chance”.  No-one who understands evolution believes life came about by chance, by the way, but let’s leave it at that.  Creationists often don’t understand the theory of evolution.  “It’s only a theory,” is as far as it goes.

So, if life on Earth, the Earth itself and the whole of existence was created, because it is far too complex to have evolved, what can we say about the Creator?  That the Creator is far too complex to just be.  So, where did this god come from?  Who created the Creator?

Nothing created the Creator, apparently.  He just is.

How much sense does that make?  ‘Creation’ – existence – is too complex to have come about by evolution; the Creator, who has to be much more complex than the creation, just is.  Nonsense.

If god exists, prove it.  If you can’t prove it, then you’re simply believing in an imaginary being.  My spoon is more use to me.

As I said, though, mostly this is too much of a challenge.  I’ve been racially abused: “Get your dry white ass back to your blog.”  I’ve been personally abused: “You’re f*cking thick.  You can’t prove God.”

Mostly, though, it is ignored.  “Just read this.”  “Let God speak to you.”  “The great God will judge you.”  How frightening are faeries?   How worried should I be about the Bogeyman?  Which vindictive leprechaun is coming after me and how should I hide?  What threat is judgement from a nonexistent being?

Look, I have respect for people who sincerely believe in a god, whether Yahweh, Allah or whoever.  I have respect for people who genuinely follow the teachings of Jesus, Abraham, Moses, Mohammed, the Gurus, etc.  Those teachings are about – for the most part – tolerance and acceptance.  Not always, but mostly.  They take a deal of self-control and humanism.  I have respect for those who have considered the possibilities and have decided that this is the right way.

What I have no respect for are the people who say they’re one thing but don’t have a clue what it means.  Racists, haters, abusers, ignorant people I have no respect for.  And, despite what they say, I don’t need to respect them.

But that – respect – is another post.

Let’s be clear, though.  Religion is a waste of time, a waste of a life.  There’s nothing sadder than someone who truly believes that our place in the world, our poverty, is to do with god’s will and it should be accepted.  If God wants you to suffer, in spite of his supposed love for you, what kind of person is he?

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