||[24 Jan 2010|10:47pm]
The more I learn about Christianity and its followers, the worse I feel about it. Sometimes I literally almost start feeling a sick pit in the bottom of my stomach. It actually... scares me sometimes. More and more, I begin to see it as a dangerous cult. It's a phenomenally unsettling religion, and I'm surprised and a little appalled that more people can't see this.
Anyway, today I've decided to ramble a bit about why I don't call myself an atheist, and about the terminology of the words "atheist" and "agnostic". The latter I will touch on first.
For many people the term "atheist" automatically brings to mind "one who believes that there is (are) no god(s)". Now, let's deconstruct that a bit. "Believes" (i.e., holds a position regardless of evidence or lack thereof; a "belief" being something personal and in no way necessarily bound to logic or evidence) "that there is (are) no god(s)", (i.e., a claim for which one would logically have to provide evidence, or concede). In other words, claiming that there definitely is (are) no god(s) is a logical fallacy because this fact is currently not known. There is no proof one way or another, regardless of any evidence that leans in one direction or another. Similarly, there is no absolute proof that there is no population of pink unicorns on a distant planet, despite logic telling us that there probably isn't. However, I would not call this atheism (I will explain why below). For clarity, I would call this antitheism.
Breaking down the word "atheism", we have "a-", a prefix denoting a lack of something, and "theism", the belief (regardless of evidence or lack thereof) in a god or gods. So what we get based on these roots is that an atheist is "one who lacks the belief in a god or gods". It says nothing about what the person potentially does believe, only what they don't believe. Lacking a belief in a god is not the same as believing there is no god. Atheism makes no claim as to whether a god exists or not, simply that the person does not subscribe to the belief that there is a god. In most cases, the atheist will lack any personal beliefs and will simply say, "I don't know" or "It is impossible to know". This would be considered an agnostic stance, agnosticism actually describing the position of the person in this example, rather than their lack of a position.
Now for my own views and what I will and will not call myself.
My view on the god issue is as follows -- I lack a belief in all established gods of all known religions, past and present, and have a personal belief (a bias, which as a skeptic I freely admit to be a bias) that they definitely do not exist and have never existed. My definition of a god is a conscious force that pervades the entire universe/multiverse and is responsible for its existence. I believe that currently no one knows whether or not there is such a conscious force, and lean toward the position that there most likely is not. I have no definite belief on whether or not humans could ever discover whether or not a universal consciousness exists. It is a subject that I am still mulling over. On one hand, I tend toward a view that with sufficient knowledge anything can be known. However, it is questionable as to whether or not humans ever can have sufficient knowledge, therefore leaving it all unanswered as far as I am concerned.
Religion is any explanation for existence that claims to be true but is based upon speculation or belief rather than proof. A religion may or may not involve a god or gods, but a belief in a god or gods is necessarily religious, as it has not been proven.
A speculation on existence without proof (and making no claims of absolute truth) is called philosophy. Philosophy may speculate about the existence of gods, but makes no claims.
An explanation for existence with proof (which requires a definite, established method of analysation, hypothesising and constructing an entire theorem) is scientific.
I define my personal view as nonreligious (as I do not subscribe to a belief in any god, established or not, nor do I subscribe to any explanation for existence that has no proof), philosophical (as I am entirely willing to speculate), and ultimately scientific (in that I will not believe something unless it correlates with scientific data). Terms such as "atheist", "agnostic", etc. I find are too constricting and definitive for my views, which are more non-specific I suppose.
Whew. That's enough for now.