I’ve taken a brief hiatus from religious writing. It’s been a struggle to find the time – and more specifically the motivation – to adequately research my projects, but I’ll get back to those and publish the rest of the series I was working on when that happens. Sometimes it’s just good to take a break to breathe in some fresh air and recharge my batteries, and do some thinking.
What is strong atheism? From the StongAtheism website I found the following definition:
Strong Atheism is the proposition that we should not suspend judgment about the non-existence of a god or gods. More extensively, it is a positive position against theistic values, semantics and anti-materialism, a rational inquiry in the nature of religious thought, a new way of thinking about religious and spiritual issues.
This doesn’t seem to be completely where I am. I’m…ambivalent. Ambivalent about being hostile toward theistic values and anti-materialism because ultimately that means being hostile toward people. Perhaps it’s because I spent so much time there. Maybe that’s not even what’s meant by having a positive position against theistic values. It seems to be the tactic that’s taken against theists, though. I’m not even absolutely certain that I’m a materialist, though I don’t think I have to be to make a rational inquiry into religious thought and to develop or have a new way of thinking about spiritual issues.
I do feel I have rational reasons for believing that the God of the Bible, nor any god that has been proposed to date, exists. If there is a “creator” I don’t think it’s those gods. At the same time other people who I would call rational come to vastly different conclusions about that. Does that mean that they are wrong? Or that perhaps I am?
According to many sects of Christianity, if I am wrong, I’ll have a high price to pay. Which is one of the reasons I don’t believe that god exists. BibleGod is invisible. BibleGod has left little to no empirical evidence of his existence – just possible footprints(because there’s stuff we don’t have empirical evidence of) – which may or may not be his(or some other god’s or gods’). BibleGod says that if I don’t believe in what I can’t see I will spend eternity in hell. That doesn’t square with a just deity. With the stakes so high it would seem that justice would call for his existence to be less ambiguous, less fuzzy. I digress…
I’ve watched, and participated in, the back and forth exchanges between atheists and Christians. It’s been…difficult. It’s been heartbreaking, infuriating, and frustrating. It’s left me with a really bad taste in my mouth for what any one of us calls debate. I thought debate was clearly presenting facts, viewpoints, and opinions drawn from those facts and viewpoints in the affirmative and the negative by opposing parties in a clear and concise manner for the consideration of an audience. I think with the advent of opinion news shows it has become increasingly more adversarial with insults and taunting rampant. That is disappointing.
It’s disappointing and, for me, particularly disturbing that adults cannot seem to speak to each other with respect and treat each other with dignity simply because of a belief or lack thereof. It doesn’t have to be this way. And if someone has researched enough that they feel firm in their position, how is that derogatory of those who hold the opposing view? It isn’t. Why can’t we seem to discuss these issues without vitriol, name-calling, questioning the integrity of those who hold an opposing viewpoint, or insulting their mental acuity? And I’m not just talking about the Christians here. Atheists: if our evidence and reason are strong we shouldn’t need insults and derogatory rhetoric, should we?
Ridiculing people for believing things that you don’t is not persuasive. It isn’t conducive to productive dialogue and, frankly, I’m a bit ashamed that I allowed myself to be drawn into it.