For atheists there is no God. I’ve wondered why. You may be thinking, “Because that’s the definition of an atheist!” I get that. I wonder why or how someone comes to the conclusion that there is no God. I understand Agnostics better. When someone says that they don’t know if there’s a God, I get that. I don’t know either. But that doesn’t stop me from believing. For an agnostic it does. At least I understand and share their starting point.
But atheists are a whole ‘nother thing for me. To declare, “I know for certain—there is no God,” that’s bold to state unequivocally that in no corner of the universe is there a being living who is bigger, wiser, more in every regard than we are. To make such a statement would require omniscience which would then make you the front runner for being God.
The rationale I hear given most often by atheists is that the idea of God is not supported by scientific fact and therefore a rational reasoning person cannot, does not believe in God. That’s a great first argument because it pretty much calls you out as being ignorant and naive if you do believe in God. It puts me in the same category with people who believe in the tooth fairy, Santa Claus, Superman or honest politicians.
Intellectuals, theologians and philosophers have been debating this great question for centuries with no decisive winner. It always comes back to faith, you either have it or you don’t. So what possible good is there in bringing it up again in a blog? I doubt any, but I get the idea that this is exactly the kind of thing that happens in blogs anyhow.
So I was wondering under what other circumstance would a reasoning person come across a thing that is very complex, having many inter-working moving parts from the giant to the infinitesimal, operating, having to operate within very tight tolerances and conclude, “My what an amazing bit of coincidence that this thing should just happen to fall together like this by pure random chance.” Would not a rational, reasoning person conclude that the intricacy, the interdependency and precision of such a thing would defy happenstance and imply intentional design? In my neighborhood it would but evidently not in academia.
But that isn’t the biggest tip off that something else is in play for atheists. I have noticed that when engaged in discourse by people of faith, atheists can get very angry. They might even resort to labeling and name calling. At that point it seems like this has become more than a discussion about possible alternative theories.
I imagine two people talking about the fastest way to get across town. One person says that the freeway, though longer, is actually faster because you can drive at higher speeds. The other person holds that side streets are faster because the route is shorter, more direct and less likely to have a multi-car pile-up. I can envision both people advocating enthusiastically for their idea confident they are correct. But I don’t see it degenerating into questioning the marital status of your parents at the time of your conception, as might happen in the God discussion. They’re just ideas. What does it matter that you think one way and I think another, except that I’m going to get across town before you. That strong emotion suggests an undercurrent of another kind.
But what could that be? Then from my childhood a voice speaks and I hear the words, “You’re not the boss of me!” Do you remember that? Because kids can be kind of bossy, we sometimes had to say, “Stop bossing me around; you’re not the boss of me.” Unless mom made you the boss before she left to run errands and your little sister won’t come in at night when you tell her to, saying you’re not the boss of her, but you are and then you get grounded because your little sister was out running around after dark when your mom gets home and you were supposed to be watching her. But I digress, Debra!
Religious people can also get kind of bossy. They seem to enjoy telling people what they should be doing and what they shouldn’t be doing. Religious people appear to enjoy threatening folks with horrific punishments from their god if you don’t do as they say. And quite frankly they can be pretty elitist and self-righteous when telling you how things are going to go. I can understand someone standing up to a religious bully and saying, “Hey, you’re not the boss of me!”
The problem is that religious people hide behind God, or at least a notion of him. If you’re not paying very close attention you might find that while you are trying to tell the religious bullies where to step off, it leaves you yelling at God, “You’re not the boss of me.” And that’s a problem because by definition, God would be the boss of everybody and everything. Telling God that He’s not the boss of you would be unreasonable and irrational. The only option for a rational, reasoning person is to decide that there is no God because there’s no way in hell I’m going to let those religious pin heads push me around.
And so we end up with angry atheists. What can we do about angry atheists? I don’t know. Once you get that far I think you’re pretty well committed no matter what is said or done. I suppose it will have to fall to God to persuade atheists he’s really there and he really does like them. But my dream is for all religious bullies to be struck dumb and for us who’ve encountered the living, loving God to become bold in telling our story so that open-minded agnostics might be coaxed away from having to know and to become willing to believe … and that they not become angry atheists.
Photo (Flickr CC) by Surian Soosay