Sunday, August 2, 2009

Some thoughts on atheism

I've mentioned my position on my particular brand of atheism before (here) and I've been ruminating on it again today and wanted to put something down before the blogging dries up for this week. This is an idea that is still not fully formed for me so I'd ask that you give some feedback on it and excuse the disjointed nature of this post as well.

As I stated in my earlier post I think that there is no more reason to believe in gods than there is to believe in Sauron or Badger, Toad, Ratty and Mole. That's the reason why I say I think I know there are no gods - since there is no evidence for the existence of gods that can be scientifically verified or tested, or that is independent of the myths in which they appear I think that there are no gods just like I think that there are no Blue Meanies.

To me, gods are characters in a story that because religions have formed around them we treat differently than other fictional characters without religions to honour them. I believe that religion is so ingrained in us, even when we are not believers, that we still give it a special treatment even when we are proclaiming it shouldn't be given any special treatment and trying our damnedest to make sure we don't give it any!

I find myself asking time and again when faced with yet another believer; why must I make excuses for stating that a fictional character doesn't exist? Is the believer here saying that they accept the possible existence of Jedi Knights as well, for example? Or would they say that is silly because Jedi Knights are fictional characters and we know this because they were made up in living memory. I'd be forced to ask then; how do you know gods weren't just made up?

What, precisely, is the difference between the believers fictional character with a religion behind it, and any other fictional character without one? The obvious answer is the belief system built up around the character. But the belief system in itself is not proof that the character actually exists or might possibly exist. My argument is that because those belief systems do exist, we treat their fictional characters differently.

Anyway, this brings me to the additional point I actually wanted to make with this post, and it stems from something that I first heard Richard Dawkins propose (though I don't know where it originated although I know it wasn't Dawkins) - we are all atheists about many gods, some of us just go one god further than the rest. Would a believer say that their non-belief in Horus or Zeus is faith, or do they know that these other gods don't exist? If it isn't faith for them to state these gods don't exist - why do so many assert that it is faith for atheists when we say that their god doesn't exist? Do believers accept the existence or possible existence of other gods? If so, isn't polytheism really the answer to Pascal's Wager? Shouldn't the believer who says we can't know their god doesn't exist then believe that any gods can exist and their god is nothing special and just one possibility of many? How then do they justify monotheism?

Faith I hear you answer - which takes me back to the start. Gods are just characters in made up stories. They don't exist. I know this like I know that Dark Helmet and President Skroob don't actually exist. So why take it on faith alone that gods do?

Do we really need to claim that we need faith to say that we know the Gobots don't exist? So why give gods special treatment?

This is the part that I really don't understand - why do we give gods this special comfort zone - why are we afraid to say they don't exist? Sure they could exist - but so could any number of other things for which we never have to defend our non-belief. And yet no-one expects us to grant that these others could exist. Indeed for some of them we'd be considered nuts to just grant that they could.

There isn't much here that I didn't already bring up in my earlier post I know but this point occurs to me every now and then and I wanted to reiterate it and try and make my position clearer, as well as add the point about believers and whether they know other gods don't exist or accept the possibility that they could. This one interests me the most: do they really not see any contradiction in condemning us for dismissing the existence of gods when they dismiss all gods but theirs?

I have challenged believers before to give the evidence they use to dismiss all other gods when they have asked for my evidence for dismissing theirs. When asked by someone how you know there is no God, just reply like I do:

How do you know there is no Zeus. Or Apollo. Or Baal. Or Ganesh. Or Thor. Or Odin. Or Zoroaster. Or Hera. Or Ra. Or Anubis. Or Reshef. Or Seth. Or Korrawi. Or Vishnu. Or Prithivi. Or Freyja. Or Isis. Or Loki. Or Horus. Or Athena.Or Asclepius. Or Cerberus. Or Cupid. Or Posiedon. Or Eros. Or Aphrodite. Or Hades. Or Helios. Or Hephaistos. Or Hermes.Or Juno. Or Janus. Or Jupiter. Or Pandora. Or Persephone. Or Saturn. Or Mars. Or Amaethon. Or Aonghus. Or Dagda. Or Anu. Or Belenus. Or Balor. Or Aegir. Or Balder. Or Fenrir. Or Heimdall. Or Potrimpo. Or Svantovit. Or Tapio. Or Bunyil. Or Bacchus. Or Gurrangatch. Or Hephaestus. Or Maui. Or Hine-nui-te-po. Or Morpheus. Or Nai-No-Kami. Or Quetzalcoatl. Or Wotan. Or Xolotl. Or Artemis. Or porcelain teapot orbiting the sun?
Never had an answer yet.



  1. ...and remember the Bible is a book (or collection of smaller stories)....just like Spot The Dog but we don't worship Spot do we? ...or maybe we doooo.....hmmmmm.

  2. All hail Spot, master of the bouncing ball. See him run.

  3. I think you'll find that Spot worships us. But then, our existence can be proven by the fact that we can be seen placing big bowls of food in front of spot daily. Worship me Spot. See Spot Worship. Spot likes food.

  4. Why does your blog now want me to enter a username and password?

    In possibly related news, I can no longer see your recent comments section.

  5. KofF - Not sure, I haven't changed anything at least!

    When messing about with Firefox the other week I noticed that when I changed one of the security settings the Recent Comments disappeared, can't remember which one off the top of my head.

  6. Well, it's stopped doing that and the Recent Comments are back now, so doesn't matter.

  7. Clearly God's punishment for you, heathen.

    Well, clearly God's imposition of a very minor annoyance. He does work in mysterious ways...