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I, Atheist

Updated on April 6, 2012
The talented Mr. Hitchens
The talented Mr. Hitchens

Active Atheists


They call them the “New Atheists”, although they've been around for a while and they are assertive, educated and articulate spokespeople for disbelief in supernatural beings which rule the universe. You can find them on radio and tv talk shows, spread across youtube, philosophy forums and social media sites and they have little or no polite respect for the ideologies and posturings of religion. Some of them write best-selling books with provocative titles like God the Failed Hypothesis, God is not Great and The God Delusion....and chief among the popular authors of the movement are the charismatic Christopher Hitchens and the dryer but no less impressive Richard Dawkins.


A New Breed


Call this new vocal breed smug, superior or just irritating, atheism as a proposition appears to be gaining momentum, propelled as it is by slick performers and technological communication. The lonely atheist can now find a burgeoning community of commiserating disbelievers on the internet. The one salient feature that links all the New Atheists together is the idea that believing in God equates to living in an intellectual slum. In other words, to accept religion means abandoning rational thought and embracing the irrational and there is almost a sense of outrage in the New Atheist's response to theism.


Are they right...? Well yes..I believe they are, even though some of them might seem a little militant about it, at least to religious folk. God is a very hard proposition to prove, certainly a God with characteristic features as claimed by the major religions. Thus far, "God" has proven just too elusive a concept to define, let alone believe in. Defend theism if you will but as a byproduct of emotional need or some other factor, rather than a sound conclusion of rational thought. The New Atheists have heard every so-called rational argument argument there is, from first cause to Pascal's wager and not a single claim can withstand scrutiny.



A Personal View


I call myself an atheist, mainly as a kind of convenience, though I am certain of nothing regarding the existence of anything. We do not have a coherent definition of God - no-one can say with any surety what the word means, so I am an atheist in the sense that I don't allow for the possibility of any Gods that have been put forward as truths...in the same way I don't allow for the possibility of flying green pigs.


Of course I do wonder about many things, - such as, if there is some driving force behind our universe or whether we are an accident of happenstance.. Heaven knows in that mysterious realm, anything is possible. However, I have to reject the certainties of religion, not least because they are so often at odds with truths..ie; provisional ones that we have about the natural world and how it operates. It seems to me feeble, as well as limiting, to be content with comfortable myths when the truths are still out there, yet to be unravelled.

Bottom line-God/Religion just doesn't make sense.


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    • thevoice profile image

      thevoice 7 years ago from carthage ill

      good reading unique thoughts

    • Jane Bovary profile image
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      Jane Bovary 7 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      Thanks Voice! I appreciate the comment..

    • Ben Zoltak profile image

      Ben Zoltak 7 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Well you know I had to peek at this. I say bring it on. The world needs more thought and argument regarding the status quo, so although I disagree personally, I believe that these atheists have a conviction to pursue. I heard the book title, "God is not great" a few weeks ago on another hub and it got me to thinking about my own beliefs, it's a great title for a book kudos to the author. I like how provocative that notion is, it points to the main "problem" nonbelievers have with a Deity, mainly, that there is suffering and unfairness in the world. The zealots response to that is simply to spout something along the lines that "free will" requires "mysteries" beyond our knowledge ad nauseum. But I personally have drawn a less glamorous and more lucid explanation in that God in fact is Great, but the existence we live in (however you define it's creation) is not at all times "Great". When I've argued this point in the past with Atheists they wave their fingers at me like sanctimonious preachers pontificating scientifically "but you said God was perfect, but you said God was great..." ad infinitum, so therein lies the crux of the argument for me. Both the zealot and the atheist are resolute in their beliefs, leaving little room for kinder inquiry.

      Anyway Jane, I enjoy you voice and look forward to reading more of your work, but I have to get ready to go back to one of my three jobs right about now. Na astrovia my friend.

    • Jane Bovary profile image
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      Jane Bovary 7 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      I've been thinking of redoing or scraping this hub..I'm not real happy with it. Drop by again when you get the chance Ben...I enjoy your company. I've got to get out of this place myself for a while..I've been neglecting too many things.

    • Ben Zoltak profile image

      Ben Zoltak 7 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      I did that for awhile too now I'm working lots of other jobs to make up for it. I'd say keep this hub and connect it to another rather than deleting it. Also wanted to mention, the cartoon was pretty funny, made me laugh anyhow.

    • Jane Bovary profile image
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      Jane Bovary 7 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      I'm so poor at the moment it's not funny..and here I am whiling away the hours trying to eke a few cents out of google. I'll snap out of it any day now.

    • Arthur Windermere profile image

      Arthur Windermere 7 years ago

      Only three paragraphs? I'd be interested in getting more of your thoughts about the New Atheists. Because they've become quite an in-our-face issue, haven't they? I mean, they're really gettin' up in our grillz, yo. It looks like they rely on superb scientifically-grounded arguments, but there's an awful lot of rhetoric in what they say. Dawkins and Hitchens are both very skilled rhetoricians. No surprise they're the most famous.

      The only two of them I really like are Michael Shermer and Daniel Dennett. That's because they're both very honest, logical, interested in ideas, and respectful.

      Also, this article appears to have no google ads. Otherwise I'd click one.

    • Jane Bovary profile image
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      Jane Bovary 7 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      Hi Arthur,

      Thanks for dropping by. I like both Dawkins and Hitchens but particularly Hitchens....he can be really funny and he's a good writer. Dawkins was out here recently and got into trouble because he described one of our independent [christian]senators as having "an IQ lower than an earthworm". He's right but he shouldn't have said it publicly...I felt sorry for the guy.

      They ARE superbly scientifically grounded arguments...do you doubt them?

      I haven't really read any Dennet or Sherman....in what way are they more 'respectful'? I don't think Dawkins and Hitchens are very often disrespectful[notwithstanding the earthworm comment]...they just just tell it as they see it. They wont put up with any BS but I see that as a good thing. I don't see why they should walk on eggshells around religion.

      Damn...what happened to the google ads!!?

    • Arthur Windermere profile image

      Arthur Windermere 7 years ago

      "Notwithstanding the earthworm comment." Well that says a lot. If you're willing to set aside the rude comments, then of course they're not rude. Right? "Well, not withstanding the mass-murders, Stalin was..." And of course Hitchens is funny. He's a journalist; he's trained to be snarky and amusing. Just like I said, he's a rhetorician. Have you ever watched Fawlty Towers? Basil Fawlty really makes me laugh. I sometimes think, 'He's great! It'd be great to know this guy.' Then I really think about it and realize, "No, it would be horrible to know him. I'd hate Basil Fawlty in real life because he's just a tenth rate human being." It's the same with Hitchens. He's funny and a good writer, so we think he's good and honest--until we really take the time to think about it with our oxytocin in off mode. I didn't say I don't enjoy Dawkins or Hitchens. I just think they're disrespectful and unwittingly dishonest, often using rhetoric to crush arguments they should engage with in an intellectually clear and honest manner. That's disrespectful to everyone involved. Logic and fact is preferable to rhetoric. This is why Socrates, and not Thrasymachus, is the cornerstone of Western philosophy.

      You can find some Michael Shermer videos on youtube. On his own channel. If you have the time, look him up. He's the editor of Skeptic magazine, incidentally.

      The ads are back! I'll click you outta that cardboard box, mea amica.

    • Jane Bovary profile image
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      Jane Bovary 7 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      Ill check out that video...thanks

      Arthur I suspect I'm not as nice as you....actually I KNOW I'm not as nice as you. The earthworm comment was uncharacteristic....I'm not sure how it got out.

      Lol...Basil Fawlty is a terrible person! That''s not a fair comparison. I disagree with you completely about the rhetoric... there is real substance to Hitchen's arguments. Nor do I think he is dishonest. Have you read his books?

      I also have to go with Oscar Wilde on this.."It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious".

      Christopher Hitchens is charming.

    • Arthur Windermere profile image

      Arthur Windermere 7 years ago

      I wasn't implying that you're not a nice person at all. You seem nice to me. When I said, "Well that says a lot," I meant about Dawkins and Hitchens. It says a lot that you had to add that disclaimer before defending them. Sorry I wasn't clear about that.

      I haven't claimed there's no substance to Hitchens's claims. I've said elsewhere--on that hub on religion and violence--that his research is very good. But he is a rhetorician and both he and Dawkins do engage in intellectually dishonest practices.

      I'll give you an example because I'm such a nice guy (apparently! hehe). At the end of one of Dawkins's lectures to a high school, one teenage girl asked Dawkins a simple question, "What if you're wrong?" She didn't mention any particular god. All she said was, "What if you're wrong?" Dawkins launched into a stock invective about how he could be wrong about Zeus, Poseidon, the "juju on the mountain" and several other cultural deities, but that there's no reason to take them seriously, so why take the Christian god seriously. That's intellectual dishonesty. He willfully misconstrued her point and buried her question under a stock invective he keeps for tough questions. He pulls that one and a few others out whenever he feels threatened. It's what Socrates called a "debaters argument" in the Meno.

      Yeah, Hitchens is charming. But Oscar Wilde, of course, didn't say that. A character in one of his plays said that. Like a good Heideggerian, I like to keep as many categories alive at once. How about a Kantian approach as found in the Critique of Judgment? People can be agreeable or disagreeable, good or bad, beautiful or ugly, sublime or not. Hitchens is charming, that is, 'agreeable,' but none of the others.

      Toodles, poodle!

    • Jane Bovary profile image
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      Jane Bovary 7 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      I know it was a character...I am after all, Ladyfinger Windermere's fan. I meant it flippantly, but you are right...it wasn't Wilde.

      Well...what the girls point was, is not very clear. Was he wrong about what? To just ask 'what if you're wrong?' doesn't leave him with much to go on. I suppose, in the absence of clarity, he made an assumption.

      I don't have a degree in philosophy..don't expect too much from me.

    • Arthur Windermere profile image

      Arthur Windermere 7 years ago

      Now I feel guilty. Residual Catholicism, you see. I hope I haven't been browbeating.

    • Jane Bovary profile image
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      Jane Bovary 7 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      Haha..no not at all. It's me. I'm having an attack of Schopenhauerian moroseness.

      You know what they say about Catholicism.....it's like being born with a club foot. You never quite get rid of it.

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 7 years ago from South Africa

      This is a really good Hub - your philosophical insight is great! I agree with Arthur that Shermer is a "better" atheist than Dawkins or Hitchens. I like his arguments and that he is repsectful even when he disagrees. Dawkins and Hitchens tend to come across a little like bad televangelists to me, all enthusiasm and judgement! But that's just me. I enjoyed this Hub and will link it, with your permission, of course! to my Hub about God. Well, I'm going to do it now and if you disagree I will remove the link, hahaha!

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • Jane Bovary profile image
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      Jane Bovary 7 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      Tony! I wasn't expecting to see you in here. It's nice to see your laid back face. I watched a little of Sherman today on u-tube...he was very good.

      However, I like Hitchen's panache. I find him very human and he doesn't even ask for donations. Televangelist!! ....you're too harsh on him.

      Feel free to link anything of mine even though I think my work on this hub is pretty ordinary.. ..thankfully Arthur and Ben have livened it up a bit.

      See you around.

    • qwark profile image

      qwark 7 years ago

      Hi Jane.

      First things first. Thanks for becoming a fan.

      I always go to a new fans site to see if I'm at all interested in what they are offering.

      Nice, short "hub."

      If you've read any of my comments in the "forum," you are aware that I don't know what this "god thing" is other than it being an "imagined" supernatural divinity.

      I also don't believe there are "atheists.

      "An atheist denies the existence of god/s.

      One cannot deny that which can only be imagined.

      One can deny the "concept" (thought, notion or idea) but there is no "objective" reality to deny.

      Ergo, one can only be a "wannabee."

      The same applies to alledged "christians."

      Keep writing...:-)

    • Jane Bovary profile image
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      Jane Bovary 7 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      Another visitation! qwark...I have read your comments on the forum...that's where you caught my eye.

      Thanks for coming by and for your unique contribution. Love that avatar.

      See you in the threads

    • qwark profile image

      qwark 7 years ago

      My pleasure Jane. I'll keep my eye open for more of your "Hubs."

    • secularist10 profile image

      secularist10 7 years ago from New York City

      The main contribution of the "New Atheists" and their ilk is that they have pushed non-belief right into the mainstream, right into the middle of the public debate.

      I do disagree with some of their harsh tactics and invective and smugness. But, at the end of the day... who cares? There's enough hard substantive stuff to compensate for that, and we all know how important it is to get media attention.

      If a religious person really wants to look into what it is we believe, they will be highly rewarded. But if they just want to focus on the rhetoric, it's their loss.

      However, I do think that over time, this whole non-religion movement/ worldview will only have legs if our side can spell out a rigorous intellectual alternative to the religious, and then communicate that to a broad, educated audience.

      On big issues like morality or the origin of the universe, I feel like we're growing, but we're not quite there yet. That is an endeavor that I personally try to further on my hubs and my blog.

      Remember, they have had thousands of years to flesh out philosophy and theology (complete with universities and libraries). We've only had a few hundred years.

      I recently watched the debate between Hitchens and William Lane Craig on Youtube, for example. I thought Hitchens made a good show, but he couldn't quite overcome Craig in the logic, argument or analysis department. If I were truly neutral, I would side with Craig.

      Anyway, hope you're doing well, Jane.

    • LogicalSpark profile image

      LogicalSpark 7 years ago from India

      Interesting hub indeed, Jane!

      Though I do not call myself an atheist, but yes, the concept of God of most (?) of the organized religions defies logic.

      God an angry, old man who wants us mortals to go on our knees & keep on begging for forgiveness for sins we did or did not commit, is just unacceptable.

      But, in absence of a better theory, I still do cling to the “God as creator of the universes” theory !

    • Jane Bovary profile image
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      Jane Bovary 7 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      I am well..thanks secularist. I agree, it's great that atheism is out there in the mainstream field of ideas and I think it is making a difference. You do a great job with your hubs and posts, I greatly admire you.

      I haven't found the media-vocal atheists, such as Hitchens and Dawkins to be too smug or disrespectful..but I have come across it in a few individuals.

      I disagree with Arthur about the rhetoric...in my experience it's the theists who tend to use the slippery rhetoric, dishonest tactics and ad hominems.

      Keep up the good work

      LogicalSpark

      Nice to see you here..Yes,.. the jealous, vengeful God is not very appealing...at all. Until we know...[if we ever can]...I'd just rather let the mystery be.

      Cheers

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 7 years ago

      ..well I spill coffee all over my keyboard everytime I think of Miss Bovary!!!

      And as for being an atheist - no that is not me - because I find Miss Bovary to be a (literary) goddess!!!

    • Jane Bovary profile image
      Author

      Jane Bovary 7 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      Only a 'literary goddess'..you're slipping grammy.

    • Joshua Kell profile image

      Levi Joshua Kell 7 years ago from Arizona

      Hello Jane. I did enjoy reading your hub. I like to try and see things from others perspective; for this is how one gains wisdom. I must say, that in my personal experience, God has made their Presence known to me many times. I am not a religious man, and I am an enemy of Catholicism; but I am also a magician and a Messianic Illuminist. I do believe in God, magick, Angels, spirits, aliens / UFO's (I saw one), and seek the supernatural passionately - this is who I am. I judge no one, and believe that to be foolish. I try to stay away from such controversy on this level. So, what I am trying to say is, is that I appreciate your perspective; your hub was very well written. Thanks for sharing, and have a beautiful day. May Light and Love inspire you to attain great things.

    • Jane Bovary profile image
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      Jane Bovary 7 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      Hello Joshua,

      Thanks for this. You're probably wise to stay away from controversy...sometimes I get sucked into it, but that's me...I'm a fool. You and I have had very different experiences but it's this diversity of thought that makes life..and us humans in particular, so very interesting.

      Cheers

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 7 years ago

      ....back to say - I don't know if I believe in the guy upstairs but I do believe in Dame Jane!!

    • Rod Marsden profile image

      Rod Marsden 6 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia

      Jane, there have been a few documentaries of late on television dealing with atheists. I would like to believe their is a God BUT...As for what proof I would need I don't honestly know. People who kill for their religion tend to argue to me by their actions that there is no God or at least a God that will do anyone any good.

      Australia right now has its very own Catholic saint. It is good P.R. for the Vatican for 2010. How long it will help the Vatican in this respect in Australia is anyone's guess.

    • Jane Bovary profile image
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      Jane Bovary 6 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      I keep meaning to do some work on this hub but never get around to it.

      I tend to go with Denis Diderot on this: "Whether God exists or does not exist, He has come to rank among the most sublime and useless truths." ~

      Meaning, we just don't know do we? What does that word 'God' mean? If we can't even define it, how can we believe in it?

      I don't know either..it's just impossible to have any kind of certainty about the God question. Perhaps one day all will be revealed...or perhaps it wont. In the meantime I'm not believing in anything that doesn't make sense, such as a Biblical God.

      The way I see it the Catholic Church is in a bit of a bind. It has survived, I believe, largely because it has held onto many of its edicts, traditions and rituals..yet it's those very things which often set it at odds with the modern world.As you say..anyone's guess what will happen.

    • Jane Bovary profile image
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      Jane Bovary 6 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      Rod, meant to tell you..just in case you might be interested, Christopher Hitchens is being interviewed on Lateline tonight and tomorrow night.I've usually found him worth a listen. He's extremely ill.

    • Rod Marsden profile image

      Rod Marsden 6 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia

      I like Christopher Hitchens. I have heard he is not well. I will try to catch him tomorrow night.

      Communication is the biggest problem the Catholic Church faces today. There has always been pedaphilia in the church but without mass communication like we have today it was once difficult to know how widespread it was at any given time. The pope that went up against Martin Luther was a pedaphile. He was also a greedy sod who managed to alienate himself from the German people and thus the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire (not to be mistaken for the much earlier Roman Empire). Most good Catholics back then, of course, didn't know what the pope was like. Most good Catholics couldn't read and a trip to Rome was simply not in their budgets.

      Stories written during the Middle Ages about nuns who run around with priests and monks that maybe comfort the widow too much are in my book collection. Some of them would have been well known locally with more than a hint of truth behind them but not widely known. Again a question of communication.

      We understand church politics today better than it could be understood centuries ago. We know for example that the Austrian pope of the 1930s showed himself to be pro-Nazi and he was also pro-fascism. He no doubt changed his mind as the world was plunged into war but even so his friendly discussions with top Nazis has been well documented. Back then it was radio and newspapers for the most part and, of course, books. Today there is the internet, mobile phones, radio, television, newspapers, etc. People learn fast what is going on and patterns of bad behavior that was once not apparent now easily becomes apparent. This was the case in recent years in both Ireland and the USA.

    • Jane Bovary profile image
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      Jane Bovary 6 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      And I wasn't even going to mention the pedophilia! That is a serious problem for the Catholic Church, for sure...they need all the PR they can get.

      Power and corruption seem to go hand in hand and I know that the CC has certainly had a less than perfect, morally suspect history.

      You're also right that it's much harder for these institutions to keep secrets now. What's that old saying..'truth has a way of outing itself'.

      Cheers and thanks for the thoughts.

      PS. I watched the Hitchens interview last night..which I found pretty compelling. It was mentioned that there seemed to be two groups of Christians concerned with his seriously ill state of health at the moment...one group were praying for him to burn in Hell (how very loving) and the other praying not only for his recovery but also his conversion. By the sound of it, that's not going to happen.

    • Jane Bovary profile image
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      Jane Bovary 6 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      Just take a look at The Voice's avatar up the top of the comments there...if that's not hilarious, given the theme of this thread..lol.

    • Rod Marsden profile image

      Rod Marsden 6 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia

      There was a pope who was the son of an Italian pirate. He paid his way to the throne of St. Peter and he did have mistresses. Me? I don't mind this pope so much. If I had power and money I'd be chasing the ladies around too. He was a lot better than the one Martin Luther had to go up against.

      I caught the second interview. It seems that 911 really touched him.

    • Jane Bovary profile image
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      Jane Bovary 6 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      Those popes were pretty colourful..

      Yes, Hitchens had some kind of ephipany as a result of 9/11. I was quite shocked how different(and ill) he looks. I mean he was on Q&A earlier in the year and looked great. Scary.

    • ediggity profile image

      ediggity 6 years ago

      Sometimes what you are searching for is right in front of you. Very well written.

    • Jane Bovary profile image
      Author

      Jane Bovary 6 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      Thanks ediggity. Merry Xmas...;)

    • profile image

      Baileybear 6 years ago

      See you are wondering what to do with this hub.

      I haven't actually read anything of Dawkins etc as of yet - only read some quotes on net. Perhaps you could put a few quotes by each of them and why they speak out etc eg I read that Dawkins used to think religion was harmless nonsense until 9/11.

      Perhaps also shatter some myths about atheism? Or FAQ? I read a terrible hub claiming atheists are satanists.

    • Jane Bovary profile image
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      Jane Bovary 6 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      Thanks for the good tips BB. This was the first hub I wrote here and I'll do some work on it...eventually. It was even shorter than that - I added the last paragraph only recently.

      Anyone who would claim atheists are Satanists has a screw loose.

    • Terry.Hirneisen profile image

      Terry.Hirneisen 6 years ago from Shenandoah Valley

      Come on Jane. We know God selects the winner of the Superbowl, the winner of Grammy awards, and even the Kentucky Derby. He is male with a white beard and will be pissed by your hub. :)

      Good Reading

    • Jane Bovary profile image
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      Jane Bovary 6 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      Lol Terry, thanks. I've never understood how people can think that God would single them out for shallow success yet ignore all the important things, like suffering and misery.

      If He's pissed by my hub, then so be it!

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