I’ve been reflecting on how long I’ve been collecting information on religion, often by debating Atheism/Christianity for nearly 9 months now. Thanks to that, I now have pages of refutations, pages of proofs that Christianity is a lie all stored inside my head. If I hadn’t debated this, or applied rigor and done the research, I might have been vulnerable in the future.
Now I can go through the rest of my life solidly convinced the Christian God does not exist in any form, or any other religions.
The only plausible God for a learned Atheist would be a flawed one that simply exists
At most, I might be able to believe in a Deist sort of God, or a flawed God that simply exists and was not created, as Lem might put it. The moment it began to interact with humans, it would raise all sorts of questions. I certainly couldn’t believe anyone who claimed to have a revelation of that God. I’d need falsifiable evidence – not a collection of false prophecies from some ancient scriptures.
The first mover at most would prove the existence of a God, but it would not support that it had a form like the Christian God, or of any other God created by man. However that argument would need to survive the attacks of Richard Dawkins on intelligence design, and how evolution and complicated systems come from simple beginnings, not complex ones. What he really points out is how ridiculously hypothetical the first mover argument really is, and a list of fallacies were discovered thanks to Hume’s attack on it hundreds of years ago.
9 months of research and thoughtful debate
I hope enough of the data I’ve invested so much time in finding will will remain inside me for the rest of my life. I currently have the ability now to solidly prove the Christian God does not exist. On the other hand, I know even my best arguments won’t persuade a Christian who has made up his own mind, a priori. It’s quite sad really, but I must take pride in finding the truth, because I deserve the credit of trying, even if I had lucky breaks that freed me from the fetters of faith (a.k.a ignorance.)
No Christian can prove the Christian God exists; at best they can argue that it’s possible through a Laplace Demon argument (although not likely.) But inside my head are pages of contradictions and absurdities from the bible from different sources. For perhaps the first time in my life, I have a solid proof of something that I found out on my own. It’s something I can safely believe in, because I’ve held it to the fire and tested it countless times and in countless ways, and now I can know that it’s right in an objective universe. I’ve excavated through a surface of lies, and uncovered a foundation of bedrock that Theists will never know.
A religious person who heard me say that would immediately jump to conclusions and say I’m being dogmatic. To the contrary, when I started I had a shred of agnosticism left, and I tried hard to keep an open mind at first. The evidence simply added up, and the probability of God existing went from 50-50 to 10%, then 1%, and now it’s infinitely approaching zero.
I originally visited a popular Christian forum to test some arguments, knowing that a religious person who had seen a higher truth would be motivated to shoot holes in what I had written. It didn’t happen. Not even though I took the time to hear their arguments and check some of the links they provided.
The fundamental difference between Christianity and Atheism is that the Apologetics rely on calls to ignorance (believers wouldn’t like that word, and prefer to call it “faith”); Atheists however, have more rigorous and falsifiable arguments. Atheists are generally more objective, and more critically minded.
I find it interesting (and dismal) that some of my ancestors never deconverted. For instance, my grandmother is a good 40 years older than me, and her kids have lived 20 years longer than me. Surely, you’d have expected her to have seen the real light by now. What does that mean? Am I smarter than all of them? Or just much more tolerant of views that run counter to what I’ve been raised to believe? By what jest of the heavens above, have I advanced from inert contrarian leanings of a simpleminded caliber, and become an actual skeptic unlike family who can draw from much vaster experiences?
Gratitude about being an Atheist
All I can do is laugh a little, and feel gratitude that I had the imagination to break free of a lie. It almost happened by chance, and my knowledge of Buddhism arose from my interest in Japan and anime (an interest that was itself the result of chance factors, like the sense of alienation and the identity crisis many Asian-Americans have when forced to live in a white culture.)
I’ve often wondered about the price of knowledge, and how not every person is willing to abandon ephemeral pleasures or the satisfaction of being accepted among the dumb and ignorant for a clearer view. The universe is actual a pretty cynical place, with countless atrocities, fears and worries. On the other side of the sun are countless undiscovered asteroids on near collision courses with the Earth. On the other side of written history, are the experiments of covert agencies on humans; real atrocities that have been covered up to appease the guilt and sense of superiority of entire nations. People can only hear so much bad news before they turn away from the depressing and broken world we must cope with.
More depressing still is how we serve Nietzsche’s Ubermensche, and if society prevails, everything we do will be swallowed up and forgotten by a more evolved species of the future. It’s hard not to feel Nihilistic when you turn into an Atheist. I immediately tried to cling to some subjective values, like how I still wanted to do good in the universe, and repay favors that were done to me. It’s quite sad that the universe is fundamentally amoral, and there are no guarantees doing good deeds will result in rewards, since those all result from psychology, biological impulses, and chance rather than an omnipresent karma.
Atheism and Intelligence
I tend to think of apostasy as a quick indication of one’s intelligence. Although there are smart Theists, on the average, Atheists score higher on IQ tests, and the most successful entrepreneurs and the most generous philanthropists have been Atheists (Bill Gates #1, Warren Buffet #2, Carlos slim #3, in terms of wealth), and famously Andrew Carnegie. The most famous avant garde scientists (Einstein, Darwin, Freud, Stephen Hawking) have been Atheists. The most popular scientists on science shows for kids – Carl Sagat and Bill Nye were Atheists. It feels linked to the profession honestly.
I understand that people today score higher on IQ tests than they did in the past. Is this part of the reason my grandparents and their kids mostly remained Christian? I hate to pull the IQ card, and I don’t think of myself as smarter than the rest of the flock, but I still find it interesting and potentially reassuring. I mean, if the majority of the world believed there are Gods, ghosts, alien abductions, and ESP, you’d feel some doubts about being right in thinking otherwise. You’d need to either take time to confirm your views through tests or scholarship (which most of us do not do), or you could take the short cut and look at the views of people much wiser than you. Knowing the brightest modern minds tended to be Atheists provides fast reassurance.
Do I truly want to become wiser (and more isolated?)
Sometimes I question whether I want to rise higher on the knowledge totem pole, and a question in the form of an asphorism gives me room to pause. “It’s lonely at the top.” If I ever became the a king (like Damocles,) I’d have fewer friends. Sometimes it’s good to just ride with the times. I can follow the principal of living one day at a time, and dealing with one problem at a time, and I’ll let the bigger problems sort themselves out, and the eternal quagmires can be traversed long after I’m dead. I live in a relatively chaotic time, due to income inequality, dogma, cliques, selfishness and prejudice.
Egalitarianism is an elusive ideal from the Age of Reason that at the best of times seemed just out of reach; nowadays it seems to be in full retreat. Sure, we are becoming tolerant of homosexuals, but the larger problems of being tolerant toward each other, or breaking taboos and encouraging creative independence, “Just because” remain unfixed. Religion has a poor history of fixing those problems too, and is obviously at best a temporary band-aid, whixh can not ever be a permanent solution.