Monday, November 05, 2007

The atheist religion.

First of all, here are my cards on the table as far as religion goes.

I don't know whether there's a god. The more I see of the world, the less I can accept that anyone sensible is running it. I am unconvinced.

Equally, I can see no evidence at all to say there isn't a god. Evolution doesn't disprove God. Scientists creating microscopic life forms in the laboratory don't disprove God. They're working with what's already there. Life. Where that originally came from remains an unknown. Copying is not the same as creation.

There might be a god, there might not. I used to refer to myself as a non-committed atheist. That's my position. Now, on with the rant.

I won't use that description now. There are atheist groups! They have meetings! They sit around and discuss not-God and don't sing hymns or pray. They ridicule the religious who meet equally regularly and do the opposite. Atheism is the trendy new religion.

To me, that's like having a non-knitting circle. Meet once a week and don't knit.

There is a point to a knitting circle. People meet and share in an activity. There is a point to a religious meeting (I might not agree with it, but then I don't knit either). People of shared belief meet and enjoy the experience.

What's the point of a regular meeting where you turn up and collectively refuse to do something? How can that achieve anything at all? There are far more enjoyable ways to waste your time.

Almost all these groups specifically deny the Christian God. They never mention Allah, or Pan, or the whole range of Norse, Hindu, Roman, Greek, Celtic etc gods. Why? Does it take so much effort to not-believe that they can only deal with one at a time? How many gods can one person not-believe in? Is there a limit? Are they going to have public burnings of non-heretics at some point? It certainly seems to be heading that way.

I can think of nothing more ridiculous than an organisation dedicated to not believing in something. Why do such groups even exist? If you don't want to join that knitting circle, don't join. It's not complicated. Why set up your own non-knitting circle where non-knitters congregate, sans wool? I really don't care if someone else knits or not. Let them knit. I'll wear it (that's a conditional promise. I want to see it first) but I won't knit it. Maybe the knitters have something. Come nuclear Armageddon, those who can make clothes might well be the only survivors. Maybe the religious are right. Maybe they're not. I'm on the fence.

The thing is, if the atheists are right, then it really doesn't matter if people go to church. If the religious are right, then it does. To my mind, those who follow a god might be onto something, so it's safest not to dismiss their beliefs out of hand. Maybe all those gods are real. Maybe none of them are. Why do those who don't believe in gods feel the need to get militant about it? Are they destined to form right-wing non-religious terrorist cells?

I don't ride a motorcycle, but I've never joined a non-motorcycle club. I've never owned a gun but I'm not a member of a non-gun club. Yet those things should exist, if the Church of Atheism exists.

Why stop there? Let's form a club where we sit in closed cinemas and don't watch a film every week. What about non-insurance for your car? If you crash, you pay them. What about an unfriendly society? Wait, I might join that one.

Where is it going to end? I see atheists dropping out of the Church of Atheism. One by one, they'll declare they don't believe there's not a god, and we'll come full circle.

I've watched documentaries where smug professors declare there can't be any ghosts. Their arguments are always circular and start from the premise there are no ghosts. They boil down to 'I'm right because I say I am'. Is that better or worse than saying 'This is right because the Bible/Q'ran/whatever says so'? It's worse. These professors are setting themselves up as the High Priests of Science. Science shouldn't work like that. It won't work, as long as these High priests reign. But that's a different rant.

Still, these scientists are pronouncing their beliefs as conclusive proof of the non-existence of something. Science cannot prove the non-existence of anything. They are speaking from personal belief, and using their positions to decry someone else's personal belief. That's nothing short of disgusting. It's also pointless. Why declare yourself an expert in something you don't believe exists? Why even pretend to study something you don't believe exists?

Atheists are those who are convinced there is no god, and no afterlife. I have no problem with that. The religious are equally convinced there is a god (or gods) and that there is something after death. I have no problem with that either. Believe whatever you want. It doesn't change my life one jot.

I can see why the religious group together. I can't see why the atheists bother. Are their lives really that empty that they need to band together to waste their time (and remember, they believe this is all the time they'll have) in putting down another group of people?

Atheist organisations are the most idiotic idea anyone's had since the inventor of administration. If you're in one, get out now. Join a train-ignoring group or something. At least you'll get some fresh, if slightly diesel-tainted, air.

Rant over. My position remains unchanged. My answer to 'Is there a God' is still 'Maybe, and that's final'.

I'm not calling myself an atheist any more. It's a religion now, and it's not one of the better ones.


Anonymous said...

You should go to
and read the Job study notes.

Dr. Shedevil said...

What about Alcoholics Anonymous? That's a group who gets together regularly to rabidly discuss not drinking. Note these meetings are rarely held in bars.

ThatGreenyFlower said...

Rom, I tried to go to to look at the Job study notes for you, but it crashed my computer. Seriously. So don't go there.

I think that the main reason that most believers (by which I mean, those who believe in whatever-it-is that they believe in) go to church/worship/discuss is to be in the company of like-minded individuals. So maybe they're not meeting to talk or learn about a diety (or lack thereof) as much as they are to be around others who believe the same as they do. It feels comfortable, and reassuring, and it makes one think one is right. So I totally understand why atheists meet, why alcoholics meet, why Baha'is meet, why Girl Scouts meet. It all makes sense. Most of us are social creatures to one degree or another, after all.

Romulus Crowe said...

Dr. Shedevil - no, they never have those meetings in bars. That's why I don't go. All the same, they are meeting to support each other to overcome an addiction. If they were lifelong teetotallers who met once a week to not have a drink, then they'd be in the same category.

Romulus Crowe said...

Greeny - I was really unlikely to go there, to be honest. If I have questions on the Bible I ask Tom Sheepandgoats or the JW's who call around sometimes. I can argue with them without it ending up in an insult exchange. If I don't agree with them, they don't get all grouchy with me. Most other religious groups do.

I see what you mean about people reinforcing each other's beliefs and commitments at these meetings, but the point of atheists is that they don't believe. It's like Muslims having non-Bible-study meetings, or Christians having non-Q'ran-study.

They are meeting to not-believe and to reinforce their non-commitment to something. It just seems silly to me. It's like saying you don't want to learn to speak French, so every week you go to a place where everyone of similar mind gathers and doesn't speak French. Surely it's easier just to ignore the things you don't want to do, and spend your time on things you do want to do?

There isn't a lot of time, and spending it talking about things you don't believe exists seems like such a waste.

Romulus Crowe said...

Almost forgot. Most people are social creatures, that's true. Not all ;)

ThatGreenyFlower said...

So the atheists are going to a gathering of other athiests so they can make fun of the believers and feel all the more self-important for being so intelligent. All together. In a group of like-minded people.

As for those of us who aren't social, well, we stay home!

Romulus Crowe said...

Greeny...well, okay. They are drawn together by their need to reinforce their nonbelief.

However, I still don't like the idea of atheist groups. They join up for the purpose of ridiculing another group, and have no purpose of their own.

If they're as intelligent as they claim, they should realise they don't know everything. I don't follow any religion, but I don't say any of them are wrong because I can't prove it. I don't worship any god because if there is one, I'm pretty sure he (or she) doesn't like me.

I concede your point. But I still say I'm right to make fun of a group whose sole purpose seems no better than schoolyard name-calling.

Well, I'm not biased at least. Religious or atheist, I'll have a dig at them all!

There are advantages to sitting on this fence. ;)

ThatGreenyFlower said...

I'm all fine with your making fun, actually. It was quite an amusing read. My only point was that people mostly like to get together with other people with whom they have something in common...even if it's non-belief. It's almost certainly programmed into us due to the evolutionary advantage of people in groups compared with the lone individual.

If I'd lived during the dawn of humankind, when people were more frequently food for carnivores, I would've been picked off immediately.

Southern Writer said...

There's a writer's forum I used to visit, but have quit because there are a handful of "scientists" who like to bait members by posting provocative titles like Is there life after death? or Do psychics charge too much? When you read the posts, it turns out to be mostly the original poster slamming the possibility of life after death, or the non-existence of ghosts, or how all psychics are money-stealing frauds, etc., and anyone who disagrees is treated to an endless tirade. It seems the originator thinks that by the sheer VOLUME of posts, by SHOUTING everyone else down, by being ADAMANT that HE'S RIGHT and EVERYONE ELSE IS WRONG that it somehow makes it true. I got into such an argument with one that we were both told to shut up by the forum owner. The "scientist" then took his tirade to a different section of the forum, renamed it, drew in more unwitting people, got his like-minded buddies to join him there, and ... I stayed out of it, but it makes me never want to go back. The place seems to have the mindset that being rude is "freedom of speech" and that anyone who doesn't appreciate their viewpoint is "thin-skinned."

So maybe the point of atheist meetings is pat each other on the back and tell each other how right they are.

Romulus Crowe said...

SW- I've come across those too, in real life. They really are as hideous and objectionable as they sound. All they do is repeat the mantra 'Science knows All'.

Fortunately there are a lot of scientists who realise that science knows very far from 'all'. Indeed, these sensible scientists realise that if the day ever comes when all that exists is catalogued and explained, then scientists are out of a job. Claiming that day has already arrived isn't a good career move.

There are a lot of unanswered questions in every branch of science. You'd think, by now, biologists would have classified all the animals on the planet, yet they keep finding new ones. Not just insects, there are recently-discovered species of apes, and a whole ecosystem in the potholes below Australia.

If you had insisted, in the 1960's that the giant squid was real, you'd have been laughed at. Now it's been described, and there are more than one species.

I've wondered if those who deny any form of survival of the spirit are those whose ghosts hang around, confused and frightened, unable to grasp what's happened to them. There might be a link there.

By the way - any atheists reading, I don't regard all of you as rabid loonies. Just those who gather in packs to not do something. Atheism is a perfectly valid state of mind, just as not riding a bike is a perfectly valid way to spend your time.

When you join the non-biking club, that's when you cross into the realm of the ridiculous.

tom sheepandgoats said...

I can easily see why someone might become agnostic, and even atheist. But, in the case of atheist, I can't imagine why anyone would be gleeful over it. Accepting once and for all that this life is all there is and there is absolutely nothing beyond, I would think would be depressing.

Become convinced it is true....okay. But be happy about it? That I can't figure.

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