Beyond Atheism

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I know that I can't prove a negative, and atheists in general feel caught by a "democratic" need to acknowledge that since you can't fully disprove the chance, however small, that there might be some god somewhere, you must acknowledge that the delusional claims about such entities may at least in principle have some merit.

I do not acknowledge that merit, except as a mental exercise that one can do for fun if one feels so inclined, however, because in spite of my disbelief in metaphysical beings, I'm not an atheist.

The non-belief of atheism is easy, and you can get a long way with that. I know that all things in this vast universe are ultimately connected, but as little as I consider how it affects the red spot on Jupiter that I mow my lawn, consistently with the aforementioned atheists I don't consider the remote chance of something even less observable influencing my thoughts either.

It is easy to not believe, yet atheists seem stuck at searching for the turning point, where God has diminished enough in life's equation, to feel comfortable stating why they move on without him. I have never had anything to discuss with superstitious people, and have never wanted to debate with them.

I am beyond that point. I am beyond atheism: not only do I not believe there is a God, I believe there is no God.

Taking this step beyond atheism has important ramifications. Believing there is no Heaven or Hell, I have no doubt, not even at the level of academic agnosticism, that I cannot be forgiven or damned. This belief requires me to be thoughtful of my actions instead. It requires me to understand that how I treat people will reflect back on me within this lifetime. Believing there is no God means believing there is no supernatural purpose of my life, and that this is the only life I have; it is up to me to make the most of it, and now is the only chance I have.

Believing that there is no God means that I cannot assume that others will view the world the way I do. I have no god to instruct me how reality is, and I must reach a consensus with human beings instead. I must learn, and I must teach.

I believe that no suffering or joy is caused by an omnipresent force that bothers to test or help me. It is caused by chance and our own actions, and the belief implies that misfortune is something that I and my fellow specimens must deal with on our own rather than relying on that force to correct. We are responsible for our own actions; no God will reward us, and no Devil will punish us. We cannot expect God to fix our mistakes, and we cannot blame the Devil for them, believing that the former will forgive us for doing it, and that the latter made us do it.

Believing there's no god places a huge set of demands on me that a mere atheist wouldn't consider. Atheists act as if they still believe in that God, stuck with the same morals and ethics, believing in the same values, acting according to the same rules as those they think they've disaffiliated themselves from, and following the same religiously motivated traditions, ceremonies, and rituals as most other Christians.

I believe that we are not creatures bound by fate or supernatural decision, but I also believe that we do not roam free. I believe there is a trinity (if one dares to use such a term) of diamond hard necessity, fleeting hazard or chance, and freedom, and each individual's life is a trajectory throughout existence bouncing off these opposing and yet balancing elements of this trinity on every move.

Diamond necessity are the unescapable laws of nature and environment that limit our movement; death is an ultimate limit, but the less obvious limits imposed upon us by our biology and psychology are also only too real to us. It is within this imprisonment of being that we may wish to become distinguishable, which is a way to seem to avoid hard necessity.

But within these limitations set in stone, fleeting hazard occurs, much like a lottery or a fatal car crash coming out of nowhere. We may hope for or dread the results, but we can never plan or prevent them, and where diamond necessity destroys all hope of change, fleeting hazard is the chaos in the ordered necessity, the nonsense in the sense, that no-one would wish to be without.

And finally, there is freedom: as lightnings of hazard tear through the shadows of solid necessity, we observe that we are not automatons of an imagined fate. We revolt against diamond necessity wishing to control the chaotic chance, wondering if we are challenging the impossible. We instinctively wish to break free from stasis, to progress, and the more content one is with stasis, the more one is inclined to view this rebellion as evil. Yet while freedom is felt instantly, the freedom that bends diamond necessity takes an eternity to unfold compared with the lifespan of a single human being.

I turn the theist safety around. Much better than thinking it safest to believe in God "just in case," I find it safer to believe there is no God. There is so much self-denial, so much atonement, so much guilt, and so much rejection of life's joys at risk that the slim chance of avoiding the right Hell among so many variants cannot possibly warrant the effort. But I also prefer the safety of treating people according to my needs, to gain for my purposes, to trust skilled authorities, to get sound advice, and I wish to live in a society where my personal safety is based on responsibilities laid in the hands of the responsible.

It is not enough to renounce the gods, the heavens, and the hells. You must face the consequences: if there are no heavens, gods, hells, and devils, what have you? It is easy to sell your soul to the Devil, because souls are cheap. There's a much higher price to pay than your soul: it is that you recognize your own values, and that there's only here and now. Take this step if you claim to be an atheist, or you might as well pay homage to the God in which you claim disbelief.

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This page contains a single entry by Ole Wolf published on April 12, 2011 8:37 AM.

A Tribute to the Devil was the previous entry in this blog.

On the Author's Mind is the next entry in this blog.

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