Saturday, October 23, 2010

Atheism And Why I'm Talking About It - Part One

I sit here not even knowing where to start. How about  "I'm atheist." Seems a logical genesis to this post (and yes the pun is intended). Yep, I'm an atheist but please don't mistake this declaration as a "coming out." Hell no (yes, another well intended pun). Coming out refers to a painful, risky, and brave announcement that you are not "normal." In spite of the fact that a societal majority (many friends and family included) live under the watchful eye of the "infinitely merciful father" it is neither painful, risky, nor brave to  declare my commitment to reason and free thought. Society currently sits historically at a point where "coming out" is real estate deservedly owned by our gay, lesbian, and otherwise sexually alternative cohabitants. What atheists do share with queers (calm down, "queer" is PC now) is the "abnormal" label. This is fine by me. Most "normal" people are only "normal" because they don't admit what makes them abnormal - but I digress. In my review of all things atheism (yep, "All or Nothing" has reared his ugly head once again) I too often come across declarations of oppression and rights violation by atheists who feel the theistic majority is preventing them from living a normal life. To these cry baby atheists (an actual sect within my cult) I say shut your pie-holes. The plight of the atheist in 2010 is quite comfortable. Exciting in fact. Which leads to the purpose of this post.

I hate evangelism. I really do. I live my life my way. If I am interested in your way you'll surely hear from me. Otherwise, get off my step, stop calling, and stick your pamphlet up your ass. Yet, there has never been a cause that I feel so compelled to proliferate than the message of atheism. I am aware of the level of hypocrisy that is about to occur - fuck it. Seeing that I am only human (humanist in fact) and there is no hell I feel quite comfortable being a hypocrite. Unlike the true believer (more on that later) I don't have to worry about an eternal afterlife in a sea of flames. All I have to worry about is some of you calling me hypocrite. I can call each of you as bad or worse so who cares? I also donated 600 beer and wine bottles to a local minor hockey bottle drive this morning  so I ain't all that bad. A tad alcoholic but certainly not immoral.

So, where was I. Oh yeah, why you all need to come to the bright side. How arrogant. But seriously, it's time for people to stop, put down their chosen sliver of technology, go to their room, close the door, and ask some questions. "Do I believe in god?" "Do I just say I do because everyone around me does?" "Do I believe the bible is a true story or do I think it is a fictional book of fables that tells us how to best lead a good life?" "Do I really believe that Mary had Jesus without having sex?" "Do I really think that Noah was over 900 years old and was able to gather two of every organism onto one boat to have sex?" I could go on but the purpose of this post is not to mock the bible - although I do find it fun and if you come to enjoy the same I can point you in the direction of some great websites that illustrate the countless contradictions and blatant hypocrisy.

Here's my point (sometimes it takes a while). It's time for everyone to determine where they stand on the theistic continuum. Are you a true believer - a gnostic theist? Or maybe an agnostic theist? Yes, you can believe in god but be agnostic. I bet most people didn't know this - I didn't. Let's  review the possibilities shall we?

Theism: What a person believes to be true.
Theism refers to what a person believes to be true in terms of the existence of a god or deity. A theist will state that she believes in god while an atheist will state that she does not believe there is a  god.

Gnosticism: What a person knows to be true.
Gnosticism refers to what a person knows to be true in terms of their belief. When speaking about the knowledge of an existence of a god, a gnostic claims to have a knowledge of what they believe to be true. This continuum has nothing to do with what either person actually believes but rather whether or not they claim that they know their belief to be true.

I am assuming that most of you are starting to see that this can be a bit complicated when we tinker with the possibilities:

The gnostic theist is the person who states that they believe in god and have proof that he/she/it exists.
The agnostic theist is the person who believes in god but accepts that there is no proof behind this belief.

The gnostic atheist is the person who does not believe in gods and claims to know that this non-existence is true.
The agnostic atheist is the person who does not believe in gods but does not claim to know for certain that they don't exist.

The key is to remember that the gnostic part applies to the specific belief of the person. For example, an agnostic atheist is not a person that doesn't believe in god because there is no proof of one. He is a non-believer who openly admits that there is no conclusive evidence that no god exists (although it may be the wealth of evidence - albeit inconclusive - against the existence of god that leads him to not believe) . Essentially, the agnostic will always claim that there is no conclusive proof of what he or she believes but they choose to believe anyway. The gnostic is more likely to be the evangelist: the person who has a belief and claims to have the evidence of it. The funny thing is, in my opinion, you can't prove either however the burden of proof should always be on the existence of something not the non-existence of something. But again, more on that later.

So, I will leave you with this morsel. Take some time to figure out where you stand. I am not going to lie, future posts on this topic will take a persuasive tone. However I must state two important points:

1. If you are reading this and choose to read "Part Two" I am not the moron who knocks on your door, calls you at 5pm, or leaves pamphlets in your mailbox.
2. Atheism is based on skepticism and we are always willing to explore the inexplicable and admit where our beliefs have weaknesses. I hope you can do the same, regardless of your gnostic and theistic slant.

Chat soon.