Here’s a common question I receive:
FROM CONSERVATIVE CHRISTIAN TO ABSOLUTE ATHEIST? WHY DO YOU NEED TO GO FROM ONE EXTREME TO THE OTHER?
I think I understand where that question is coming from. Plenty of people who reject conservative Christianity still believe in God. Couldn’t I reject the more ridiculous aspects of my former faith while not abandoning God (or spirituality) altogether? This seems to be the opinion of my more liberal, deistic, and agnostic contemporaries.
I think I understand where the confusion comes from. I spend so much time on this blog and on twitter arguing against Biblical Christianity, it may seem that I believe in the false dichotomy of Evangelicalism vs. Atheism, as if those where the only 2 choices. Yes, I am aware that there are other ways of looking at the Bible, and there are other ways of viewing God than a biblical way. My rejection of Christianity is in fact separate, though related, from my rejection of supernaturalism.
There is saying atheist use that I don’t entirely agree with, but it was a bit revelatory for me.
You (Christians) are already atheists concerning the rest of the gods worshipped in human history. You don’t believe in Odin, Imhotep, Zeus, etc. Christians have already rejected 4,999 other gods. We atheists just take it one god further.
Fundamentally, I think a monotheist has more in common with a polytheist rather than an atheist, but that’s really beside the point.
As a Christian, it never even occurred to me to consider the existence of pagan gods. In all my Truth quests, I was willing to consider the positions of other monotheists… well, honestly, actually only other Abrahamic faiths. I researched in great depths the claims of Mormons, JWs, Roman Catholics, Jews, and Muslims to compare them with Protestant Christianity. But in all those cases, the Bible was still held as the authority and source of knowledge. And honestly, it’s still the same historic God, just different interpretations and presentations of him. But if someone would have presented me with Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, and asked:
Do you have a minute to discuss our lord and defender Zeus?
The thought of someone making blood sacrifices to the god Ares seems utterly ridiculous to me. But why? Do Christians have any evidence that there is only one God? How do Christians know there aren’t 50 gods?
Well, because the Bible says…
I’m going to stop you right there. What evidence do you have that the Bible is an accurate representation of the spiritual realm? Evidence, not claims, not logical arguments, actual hard evidence!
Well, umm, archeologist have verified some of the events of the Bible.
Yes, some but not all. As a matter of fact the entire Exodus, a movement of well over a million people, has no trace. There’s very little evidence of King David. And the only evidence we have of Jesus is the Bible. But most of the Bible was written after these events took place. So just because some authors may have wrote accurate accounts of a few historical events, doesn’t prove they wrote accurate accounts of spiritual events.
If I told you that I physically met with God and He audibly spoke with me saying “the drought in California was caused by Facebook memes”, nearly everyone would think I was crazy. Even though I was right about the historical drought doesn’t mean that God hates memes. A partially correct historical account doesn’t equal a correct spiritual account.
The Bible makes spiritual claims which are entirely unverifiable. There is no evidence to support the Bible as being more accurate about the existence of God or gods than the Qur’an, Book of Mormon, or the Necronomicon. In order to believe the Bible is right about God, you have to presuppose it’s authenticity and accuracy. In order to believe the Bible you also have to presuppose a monotheistic universe. People simply believe the Bible because they want to, not because of any evidence.
Some people believe that “a changed life” is evidence. But any philosophy, adhered to strictly, can change a life. Mormonism changes people’s lives. Islam changes people’s lives. Zen Buddhism changes people’s lives. Anthony Robins changes people’s lives. Veganism changes people’s lives. Evangelical Christianity does not have a monopoly on turning people around. With that statement, therein lies my atheism.
I reject Christianity because it’s claims are unverifiable and it’s benefits are not exclusive. But the exact same thing can be said of every spirituality. Any claim about God, the gods, spirits, etc., are unverifiable. And any benefit that comes from worshipping or venerating supernatural beings/forces are not exclusive. If you cannot verify a god’s existence, and if you can receive the supposed benefits without that god… then why bother with a belief in the supernatural at all?
Listen, I know it’s odd for some of you to even picture a world without a supernatural element. But do you have any evidence for the supernatural that goes beyond “that feeling” which makes you think there must be something “out there”? Whether it’s “God”, Shiva, or Karma, do you have any evidence that supports your supernatural claim?
In any way, whatever being is out there, it’s clearly neither omnipotent or beneficent (man, I’m breaking out all the $5 words today). Our prayers still don’t matter. ISIS is still torturing and executing thousands. People are still going to die from hurricanes and cancer, regardless of our beliefs or devotions. Whatever force may be out there, it isn’t doing a goddam thing to help us. You might be able to convince me to be a deist, and that our universe was created by a being who engineered the physical/mathematical laws that make life possible. But whoever or whatever started ball rolling have had a hands off approach with this world.
I am an atheist, not just because I disagree with the Bible, but because I see zero evidence for any spiritual existence/being/force.
As I’ve said in a pervious post, technically I’m an agnostic. Atheism is my opinion but I’m not against the possibility of a god(s). Without evidence though, I see no reason to believe in any spirituality.