9.6.07

Godless

It is well known that an Atheist cannot be elected to any significant public office. Fortunately, I already know I will not be elected. So I am not afraid to let you know that I am an Atheist (perhaps a pseudo Buddhist/Unitarian/Ba Hai/Catholic/Humanist in practice, but Atheist nonetheless in theory). This makes me more of a minority in the U.S. than being homosexual, or black, or a woman.

One common misconception about Atheists is that they don't believe in morals. This is Nihilism, and it isn't the only only type of Atheism. A Theist believes that morals come from God. A Humanist believes that humans just are moral. A true Atheist does not know where morals came from, but is open to the idea that morals came from non-supernatural origins. It is possible that morality is an evolutionary trait, as new research suggests; establishing a code of conduct helps humans survive. Many other animals exhibit various degrees of what could be described as morals. Not surprisingly, other primates show the most developed morals, next to ours. Morality could be encoded in our genes. Young children show some understanding of morality, but it does develop and mature with age, so there is probably an element of environmental/cultural influence to morality.

Another misconception is the idea the Atheists believe that they know God does not exist. This is false. There is no possible way to prove this. If you want to call that Agnosticism, that's your option; I don't feel the need to pussyfoot with the terminology. But, while it would be very difficult to prove definitively that Bigfoot does not exist, most people are willing to dismiss the idea because of a lack of evidence. We don't believe in unicorns, or fairies, or Flying Spaghetti Monsters. Atheists simply don't make exceptions.

A third misconception is that Atheists think they can know everything. The reality is, we have a greater appreciation for the vast mysteries of the universe, because we can't just explain things by saying "God made it so."

So why can't theists tolerate atheism? My theory is that their own beliefs are so fragile that they will unravel if any sort of doubt is entertained. Of course, I think that if you are unable to defend your faith to criticism, then you really shouldn't be following it.

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