Jesurgislac’s Journal

October 25, 2008

The basics: why I am an atheist

Because there is no god.

No deity exists.

Not Aphrodite, Artemis, or Athena; not Bendis, Coyolxauhqui, Dewi Shri, Flora, Gleti, Hecate, Illat, Jarih, Kalfu, Lakshmi, Myesyats, Nephthys, the oh god of hangovers, Pan, Quetzalcoatl, Ra, Selardi, Tonatiuh, Udó, Vishnu, Woden, Xi Wang-mu, YHWH, or Zeus.

None of them exist. That’s why I’m an atheist.

Atheism is not a belief system: that is reifying a negative, which Terry Pratchett does so well on Discworld. Atheism is recognising the fact that humans invented the concept of god/gods, good stories to tell to explain what seemed like an inexplicable world.

I have no problem with people who want to believe in a god, or gods: I care about how people use their beliefs to form their lives. I support a believer’s right to believe in whatever god they choose, or whatever god they were given to believe by their parents, and except for fun*, I won’t try to argue a believer out of their conviction that this god exists.

*Fun: atheists, agnostics, and believers all debating together about the non-existence of deity and the belief that deity exists, without any serious expectation that anyone will be converted from one state to another. If you do not find this fun, do not join in this kind of debate. If you have serious expectations of converting someone via argument, that ceases to be fun and becomes a mission, which is way too close to actual, you know, work, dude.

We are storytelling animals – mythmaking apes. We look up at the sun and we see a chariot pulled by horses of fire, steered by a divine charioteer; we look at the ocean and we see a great wet god of tides; we look at the earth and see a divine mother of all life: we imagine a baker turning out humans of clay, a sculptor making mountains and seas, a burning bush that is not consumed, a feathered serpent, a god of war, of wine, of work. And for a given value of true – a story that resonates, that feels right, that inspires, gives joy, makes people brave – all these stories can be true in that sense. I can write the words blue moon, and make you see it burn in the night sky in your mind’s eye. But that doesn’t mean it’s actually there.

Dear Sir, Although now long estranged,
Man is not wholly lost nor wholly changed.
Dis-graced he may be, yet is not de-throned.
and keeps the rags of lordship once he owned:
Man, Sub-creator, the refracted Light
through whom is splintered from a single White
to many hues, and endlessly combined
in living shapes that move from mind to mind.
Though all the crannies of the world we filled
with Elves and Goblins, though we dared to build
Gods and their houses out of dark and light,
and sowed the seed of dragons—‘twas our right
(used or misused). That right has not decayed:
we make still by the law in which we’re made.

(Tolkien, “On Fairy Stories”, of course.)

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2 Comments »

  1. “Because there is no god. No deity exists.”

    A priori assumptions that ignore all the evidence that has been presented.

    As for myths and superstitions, real Chrsitians are on your side. We don’t believe that the sun is a chariot being driven across the sky. We beleive that it is a ball of burning hydrogen and helium, but we also believe that it must have had a cause.

    Comment by renaissanceguy — December 28, 2008 @ 4:44 am | Reply

  2. A priori assumptions that ignore all the evidence that has been presented.

    Really? What is your evidence, then, for the existence of Aphrodite, Artemis, or Athena? Or Bendis, Coyolxauhqui, Dewi Shri, Flora, Gleti, Hecate, Illat, Jarih, Kalfu, Lakshmi, Myesyats, Nephthys, Pan, Quetzalcoatl, Ra, Selardi, Tonatiuh, Udó, Vishnu, Woden, Xi Wang-mu, and Zeus?

    Aren’t you an atheist with respect to all of these gods? The evidence for their existence is the same as it is for YHWH: people believe in them, make up stories about them, and write those stories down/tell them to other people.

    As for myths and superstitions, real Chrsitians are on your side.

    Really? Real Christians believe that if there was an actual person named Jesus, an itinerant preacher from Nazareth who wanted to purify Judaism, that person died on the cross, was buried, and that – apart from the stories – was the end of him? The resurrection of Jesus is pure myth – as is the story that Jesus’s mother was a virgin made pregnant by deity – and there are a whole stack of associated superstitions with it.

    (I’m presuming that since you are over here commenting, you are engaging in fun discussion, and not attempting to convert me, as I am not attempting to convert you.)

    Comment by Jesurgislac — December 28, 2008 @ 5:46 am | Reply


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