- Religion and Philosophy
Believers vs. Atheists -- An Appeasement
Is there any sort of appeasement between those who believe in God and atheists? I think there is. It takes both sides of the endless argument to give a little to reach a middle ground.
Atheists tend to hold their ground based upon the concept that there is no direct (scientific) proof of an external, supernatural force or forces governing our conduct. Believers tend to hold their ground on a matter of faith that God is as real as any scientific evidence. Many believers hold to the Bible as proof that God is as apparent as anything we might be able to perceive through our limited senses as human beings, e.g., the ability to touch, smell, see, hear the tangibility of God.
I propose a middle ground that is not uniquely my own invention.
What if both positions are equally correct? What if God and his evil equivalent do in fact exist but have embedded themselves within our minds? Atheists tend to hold their ground based upon the concept that there is no direct (scientific) proof of an external, supernatural force or forces governing our conduct.
I can't think of a single atheist who wouldn't admit that good and evil exist within us. They merely have to look around to see that both forms -- evil and benevolence -- occur around us simultaneously. The argument seems to flounder on whether there is an external force exerting its powers upon us. Let's put that argument aside for the moment.
Allow me to take this from the side of the believer, first of all. Believers often refer to the Bible in a literal context. We could spend an eternity debating what parts of the Bible are literal and which are allegorical. This line of argument is going to lead nowhere. If you are a believer and feel that you have the spirit of God within you, any arguments to the contrary are just going to seem abrasive and ignorant.
But, just give this a thought. What if the battle between good and evil (which I assume the Bible is all about) was channeled into your individual brain? This thought doesn't require you to dismiss or discount the existence of external entities having opposite purposes. The suggestion is what if the battle was purposely localized within ourselves.
If the contest is between good and evil, might it not be supplanted into the human mind and see how it plays out? Every individual would still face the same dilemma and choose goodness over evil or evil over goodness. We do seem to have some measure of free will, so choosing one course over the other would require a significant amount of "soul searching."
We appear to be free to choose whether to follow a narrow path of being "Christian" (even if one doesn't subscribe to the prescribed doctrine) or just lead lives of complete mayhem and debauchery. I'm not saying that being a non-believer would lead the group into devil worship. Non-believers seem to be doing a pretty good job of self-regulating themselves.
For atheists, if you set aside the concept of an external supernatural power, you are still left with the conundrum of good and evil. You don't have to accept an external supernatural being (or beings) to admit that good and evil exist and are playing a great role in our civilization. I posit the same question: what if good and evil are derived from our very makeup? We have good elements as well as bad -- this cannot be denied.
You may see this as having a more fundamental, psychological basis, something that might be studied and understood to some extent, and that's fine. But can anyone definitively say that something numinous is not at play? Yes, this seems like something extra, something extraneous to our makeup, but just because this element doesn't show up on an MRI, can it be discounted entirely?
Wouldn't this discretization run contrary to science itself that leaves all doors open? If we can contemplate that we are mere holograms, how is this possibility so far afield? Yes, the supernatural isn't something that lends itself to scientific study (so far), but physicists can accept the existence of dark matter while understanding nothing about it. They understand that there is something out there that contributes to the greater influence of gravity in the universe but have no clue what it consists of and are flummoxed about how to even study it. Dark matter (for now) is beyond the grasp of scientists, but supernatural elements are relegated to mere superstition and human gullibility.
The common ground is that both camps believe that good and evil are real. They can be termed by other means, but this is really the common language.
The differences are really only slight if you look closely. Believers accept that there is a God watching over us with a master plan. Atheists reject the mere idea of there being any kind of supernatural being that plays any part in human affairs. Atheists see this as an artifact handed down from generations of myth. They often make slight of it -- referring to God as some superhuman daddy in the sky that has forsaken his own creations. Believers feel that even though human beings suffer tremendously, it's all part of God's master plan and that in the end, we will all be judged on our merits.
I suggest that whether you believe in God or not, good and evil is amongst us -- and it seems to be playing out in an unbridled way through our own mental capacity. Believers might entertain the idea that God inserted himself into our consciousness and unconsciousness, and we will either follow his commandments or forfeit them. Atheists can reject the concept of any kind of supernatural implantation in our brains and that the rule of law is strictly one of a moral choice embedded in our genetic structure. It doesn't matter because in the end it all amounts to the same thing. We can differ in how we perceive reality, but arguing about our perceptions is a complete dead end -- one that doesn't lead to any benefit.
Ideally, we should all come together, set aside our differences because we all have a common purpose, which is to survive, to flourish, to be happy, reduce suffering. These are greater goals than squabbling over whose perception of reality is paramount.