Do atheists exist?
Despite over 2% of the American population self-identifying as atheists, I guess some theists still try to pretend we don’t exist.
At least, that’s what one blog post and another ‘scientific’ article take a weak shot at trying to do. Here’s what I’m talking about:
This article begins by stating, “While militant atheists like Richard Dawkins may be convinced God doesn’t exist, God, if he is around, may be amused to find that atheists might not exist.” And it goes on to tell us, “Cognitive scientists are becoming increasingly aware that a metaphysical outlook may be so deeply ingrained in human thought processes that it cannot be expunged.”
While Vittachi concedes that “this idea may seem outlandish,” he explains that what we believe is not something we decide on our own, but lies somewhere in our “much deeper levels of consciousness.” He asserts that scientists claim “we are born believers … pattern seekers from birth, with a belief in karma, or cosmic justice, as our default setting.”
First off, you’re assuming that pattern seeking, karma or cosmic justice is the same as God belief. To be an atheist, you merely have to lack belief in God. That has nothing whatsoever to do with karma etc.
Second, even if we took this claim at face value and conceded that we’re born with the default setting of ‘God’, that in no way means you’re right about its existence. Hell, even if you were sure that God exists, you have no real way to distinguish which God is the correct one.
Vittachi continues by presenting evidence involving “invisible friends” – some person or persons with whom we all hold internal conversations – whether these are divine beings, spouses, near relatives or whatever.
There’s a huge difference between self-talk and believing your talking to a supreme, invisible being in the sky. Just because people talk out loud or in their heads doesn’t mean they believe in God. In fact, I’ve even talked to atheists who say they pray because it helps them sort through their thoughts, yet they don’t believe in God and they said they believed their prayers went nowhere.
But again, those things – spouses, relatives or whatever – with the exception of a divine being, doesn’t mean that someone isn’t an atheist. I could talk all day to my dead grandmother and that doesn’t mean I’m not an atheist.
Surprise! I still don’t believe your God claims or any other ones, either.
He relates how in social science studies, even those who claim to be atheist or agnostic, claim belief in some higher power. Though he comes up with some attempts at evolutionary explanations we are still left with huge percentages of humankind who have some sense of purpose in the universe – even those who claim no religious affiliation. He speaks of “the notion” of “an invisible moralistic presence” which motivates “religious folk.”
That’s because ‘higher power’ is a nebulous term that could mean almost anything. I could say I believe the universe as a whole is a ‘higher power’. Maybe I think black holes are a higher power. A ‘higher power’ doesn’t default to God.
Just because I’m an atheist, doesn’t mean I think my life or the universe is purposeless. It doesn’t take a magical being outside the realms of reality to make my life or the universe meaningful.
What the hell is an ‘invisible moralistic presence’ and which God is responsible for such a thing? I bet almost every religion claims their God handed down their moral strictures. What makes your God and your claims more credible? And even if (for arguments sake) I believed there was this invisible moralistic presence of which you speak, why would I jump to the conclusion that it was a supernatural entity and not a natural phenomenon?
One interesting argument he gives is that from literature. There seems to be a “manifestation of cosmic justice in fictional narratives – books, movies and games.” We’re told that “in almost all fictional worlds, God exists” – no matter what the “beliefs” of the authors. “In children’s stories … the good guys win, the bad guys lose.” The same goes for most adult stories.
So if I write a fantasy novel that includes Gods, I’m no longer an atheist? Is someone going to drive by and yank my atheist card?
I could write all kinds of fiction that includes Gods, good vs. evil etc. and that wouldn’t mean I believe in God(s).
Atheists can appreciate those kinds of stories just like a theist. Should atheist children stories have bad guys that always slaughter the good guys?
I don’t get this argument. It sounds silly to me.
It would appear then that rather than to seek an explanation for belief in God as many professing atheists demand, we need to answer the question “where does atheism fit in?”
The article continues with much the same argument with similar data and concludes “…it might be wise for religious folks to refrain from teasing atheist friends who accidentally say something about their souls. And it might be equally smart for the more militant of today’s atheists to stop teasing religious people at all.
Atheism fits in…all around you. We fit into the same places you fit in, you just might not know we’re there.
I don’t mind when religious people ‘tease’ me because I don’t usually get offended by teasing. Besides, if it comes to a debate, I have no problem defending my position. I don’t want to be one of those people that cry offense every time someone says something I don’t agree with or don’t like.
I also like deeper discussions like the ones typically spawned by talking politics or religion. I find them far more stimulating than talking about the weather.
As I implied earlier, these conclusions come close to, and even verify the biblical assertion that everyone is religious in some way or another, or at least has religious predispositions.
No…I beg to differ. They don’t come close to showing anything. At best, they show we’re predisposed to superstition. That in no way means belief in God. It certainly doesn’t mean atheists don’t exist. And it damn sure doesn’t make me religious.
By the way, I hope you look deeper than sites like All Gods People.com. I mean, they might have a vested interest in making it look like atheists don’t exist. I also read through your scientific article, and noticed two things.
- Despite making the bold claim that ‘scientists discover that atheists might not exist’, the article doesn’t provide links to these studies or any citations.
- The ‘science writer’ that wrote the article doesn’t seem to be an actual scientist or even have much to do with science. At most, he could be described as a science enthusiast.
Look, atheists exist. Just because we might self-talk, use religious language (bless you) while speaking, feel connected to the people, world and universe around us or like the same sorts of stories theists do, that in NO WAY makes us religious or means we believe in God.
We exist just like you do.
Speaking for myself, I won’t stop talking, writing about or examining religious claims or claims made by anyone else.
So you and every other theist might as well get over it and come to grips with the fact that atheists very much do exist.