I’m signed up to receive notifications when there’s a comment on the CNN iReport that brought some of you guys here. And I do a lot of eye-rolling when I read the comments, especially since many believers don’t get it: We don’t believe in God, so there’s no use in trying to prove what a great guy he is.
But the following comment, which I’ve heard many times here and in other places, is the type of accusation leveled at nonbelievers that makes us yank our hair out, strand by strand:
“I am a non-believer” is an incomplete statement. While you may not believe in God, you do believe in something, someone, or yourself. It is humanly impossible not to ‘believe’ in something. Wonder how your ‘non-beliver’ belief object would stand up to the type of scrutiny you placed God under?
Well, duh. Of course, agnostics and atheists believe in something. We believe in things that are grounded in man’s experiences, which are based on the facts we know. For example, I believe that the sun will rise tomorrow. I believe exercise is good for the body. I believe anthropogenic activities affect the amount of GHG in our atmosphere. I believe in my abilities to address stupid comments such as this. I believe that our Christian society does not encourage people to question, to think outside the box. Is that better?
So I’ve now been caught believing in something–many things, actually–and the author of the comment is right. I should be very, very clear for people who don’t understand: I’m a non-believer in religion and in God. But I’m not really putting “God” under scrutiny if I don’t believe he exists–just as one cannot put Barney or the Easter Bunny under scrutiny because they are not real. But, wait, we can put Barney’s creator under scrutiny. Now….(tap, tap, tap on my chin) who would that be?
Who created Barney? Man did. (Actually, woman did.) And we can scrutinize the people who put words into Barney’s mouth, who dress him, who have made Barney into something that first existed in their own imaginations. Right? And Barney is “real” now only because he exists as a fictitious character.
As for the “non-beliver” belief object” (not my typo), that’s a little vague. Is this commenter suggesting that, in place of god, I have another object I worship? If so, let me just suggest that, for nonbelievers, we don’t feel any sort of emptiness in our lives without god. It’s not like when your dog dies and you want to run out and get another—god was never our pet. We don’t miss him.
I’m writing this on behalf of all of us who do not believe in god because, in addition to the comments above, we also hear this a lot: “Atheism is a belief, too.” Well, ok then. It’s a belief that there’s no proof to believe in a god(s), that it is not logical to believe. So we believe that it is not logical to believe.
If people want to label atheism “a belief system,” we now run into the problem that every person on this planet, living or dead, is or was an atheist. You don’t believe in my unicorn? He does exist! He runs fast as hell, he changes colors and he’s about the size of an atom. If you don’t believe in my unicorn, you’re an atheist. All believers are now atheists. It’s that simple.
There. I feel better now. I hope you do, too.