I'll Bet You're an Atheist. The Reason May Surprise You.
I've long held the idea that to be an Atheist means you are certain no god exists. I'm not certain of anything of the sort. In fact, most everyone I know thinks of "Atheist" as a label defining just that. Including the Atheists. I consider myself spiritual and I've had way too many experiences of a supernatural nature to think there's nothing to faith. Because of this, I've never identified myself as Atheist. If pressed for an answer, I'd tell people I was agnostic. The cleanest answer I've ever had is that I don't believe in any god defined by any organized religion.
This brings me to the breaking point of my little story.
"Everyone is an Atheist to Some Degree."
That's what someone said to me one day. At first, I didn't really take it seriously. He told me Atheism is just lack of belief in something. Knowing American English pretty well, and understanding the relationship between root words and their evolution, I could see his point. However, even then, I didn't really get it. I was amused, but the reality of what he said didn't settle in at the time.
The thing is; I hadn't really thought about it before. Even after that conversation, I still didn't really give it much thought. I didn't care. The existence of a deity is of little consequence to me. The way people use the word “Atheist,” I had only thought of it as a label for someone who is sure there is no god. In fact, Carl Sagan once said he was not Atheist because to be Atheist required knowledge that there is not a god. This is probably where I first got the idea and came to the same conclusion myself.
Atheism Definition on OxfordDictionaries.com
Did You Know?
Did You Know the Definition or Just the Label?
As I said, recently, I've had to eat my words. I looked up "Atheism."
The simple definition:
“Disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods.
Origin: late 16th century: from French athéisme, from Greek atheos, from a- 'without' + theos 'god'.
That's it! Disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods.
What Do You Believe?
Do you believe in the following?:
- The Green Man
- Magical Spaghetti
- The Force
If you answered “no” to any of these, you are an Atheist in regard to a particular faith.
“Everyone is an Atheist to some degree.”
That doesn't mean you don't believe in your god or gods. It means you don't believe in a huge number of other gods. It doesn't change anything about your relationship with your own deity or deities. It just helps clarify your stance on other's gods.
Fear of Change
Most of us are afraid of changing our beliefs. We feel we have to stand steadfast to the moral guidelines our faith gives us. If this is you, if these ideas shake you in some way, or make you angry; I suggest taking some time to re-examine your faith. Not because I think you are wrong. Just the opposite. If our faith is so vital, so core to who we are, nothing can break it. Instead, questioning our faith can only help to clarify what we truly believe. After all, if our faith cannot hold up to our own questions, isn't that a fundamental flaw? Does that not mean that either the faith is wrong, or our motivation for believing needs corrected? In truth, most of the time when we question our faith, we don't change it. We simply better understand it.
Asking questions and quenching curiosity is a deep part of humanity, and as I see it, free will. If your religion is true, no amount of questioning can break it, right? Even if one loses sight of it for a time, truth is still truth. Is it not?
To look at a Christian perspective; God let Jesus be put on the cross because Jesus needed to truly understand humanity. That meant having a moment of doubt. If that's so, where is your moment of doubt, and what do you do with it? Do you accept that even Jesus had a crisis of faith, or do you run from it because doubt is a fearful thing?
I guess one of the biggest questions is: Do you need your faith, or do you believe in it?
Is your religion a crutch to help you cope with life? Do you believe what you believe because it get's you through hard times? Or is it the truth as you see it and therefore true whether you like it or not, and whether you feel it or not? If it's only there to get you through hard times, is that true belief, or a convenient lie? Are you okay with that answer?
I feel whatever one believes, it's important to understand that belief. My hope is that these thoughts serve you to that end. To follow your heart, spirit, intuition, whatever you wish to call it, and find the peace that goes with it.
"Everyone is an Atheist to some degree."
I'll Bet You're an Atheist
I know the statement "I'll bet you're an Atheist" sounds inflammatory. Perhaps as though to be "in your face" and try to force believers into admitting something, but I assure you that's not my intent. This article isn't about holding anything over anyone. There's no ideological agenda to push people into leaving their faith. There is no intent here, except to share what I've learned and pass it on to others. It is all about information and understanding each other.
I am an Atheist because I am not Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Wiccan, Heathen, Baptist, or a Satanist. I do not believe in the Norse gods, the Greek gods, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or the Giant Purple Unicorn. I do not accept the limitations imposed upon the creator of our creation by any religion conceived by humanity.
That's what I see when I look at organized religion. Limitations.
I'll bet you're an Atheist too, because unless you believe all religions are true, you are by definition. If not by label.
I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments section.