Thursday, November 8, 2012

You Might Be An Inconsistent Atheist If ...

Lots of people claim to believe nothing on faith. They say they go by science and reason. But how do you do that? How many ideas do you accept as true that are not based on science and reason? I think there are quite a few. This is a good thing. Still it is even better if we can admit that to ourselves. If we inconsistently assert we don't think this way then we won't scrutinize our thinking as much as we should. So how can an atheist tell if he is being inconsistent? I am here to help with my list. You might be an inconsistent atheist if:
  1. If you believe in truth. If you think truth is worth great effort to find. If it is unthinkable for you to base your life on a lie even if it benefits you greatly. You can't imagine that being a good thing for other people either. Truth matters but we can't prove that from science. 
  2. If you think the people in your life have great dignity. We can't actually prove that people are important. We can say we are important and those we are in relationship with are important but that is pretty subjective. 
  3. If you get morally outraged at things. Did the Catholic sexual abuse scandal make you angry or did you just say "different strokes for different folks?" What about the shooting of the teenage girl in Pakistan who advocated for the education of girls? Nazi's? Anything. 
  4. If you have a sexual morality. Many atheists are pretty conservative sexually. They are faithful in their marriage. They don't want their kids to see smut. Many are more permissive. Still almost all have a line they won't cross. They draw it in very different places but they don't really believe there is not right and wrong when it comes to sexuality.
  5. If you think your life has meaning. You don't just focus your life on sex and drugs and rock'n roll. You try and accomplish something. Anything. You might even demand your children pursue something more than their own pleasure as well.
  6. If you give thanks. Thanksgiving is so natural we have a special day for it. When life goes well do you feel a sense of gratitude?
  7. If you go to a funeral and the reality of death feels deeply wrong to you. You might even find yourself talking to your loved one. 
  8. If you love someone with a deep self-sacrificing love. Something that is more than just brain chemistry. Something you might even die for.
  9. If you feel guilty when you do something bad and wonder if something bad might happen to you. If you want to make things right. 
  10. If you become overwhelmed by beauty. A piece of art. An elegant argument. An intricately complex biological system. 
The list is not complete but you get the idea. Saying you only believe in science and reason is a big deal. It does not just mean you don't go to church. It means you deny the significance of some of the most powerful moments in life. It is very hard for a real human being to embrace that doctrine fully and consistently. I think atheism taken to its logical conclusion is the most oppressive of all religions. 


  1. Your perspective is a common one, but I'll try to explain the atheist perspective. Saying we only believe science and reason isn't true for all atheists, but even if it was, it encompasses more than you think. Science is a way of explaining the natural world, so atheists simply deny the supernatural and think everything is understandable even if we haven't yet understood it. Make sense?

    I'll take issue with your points specifically. In number 1, you say that you can't prove truth. That may be true in a philosophical sense, but we can determine what is consistent with our shared perceptions of reality. That is closer to proven truth than any religion provides.

    Point 2, I agree that it is subjective. Someone's importance is only relative to an individual or group.

    Point 3, 4 & 9 deal with morality, which to me is just what is more beneficial or harmful to an individual or society. I am outraged far less than most, but in cases of loss of life, I am saddened by the waste of it all and want justice just so that it is less likely to happen again. I see this as completely rational, don't you?

    I don't think my life has meaning of its own right, but I want to create meaning in part to give me something to do, earn esteem from those around me and be remembered, pretty rational, right?

    I thank those who help me, because I'm social and want to maintain relationships.

    How is appreciating our time is limited not rational?

    It is kinda brain chemistry, and therefore explainable. Also, we are social creatures and it's harder to go through life alone.

    I'm never really overwhelmed....but I do prefer some music, movies and the female form. There are studies about how we form preferences,

    1. I put a reply to this in a new post