Is Atheism Inevitable? Or Is God Real?
This may surprise many of my readers, but I, Hope Alexander, have a degree in Religious Studies. I undertook this degree initially in the hopes that the ennui and existential crisis which I am capable of generating just by looking at a blade of grass might be assuaged and answered by understanding religion, the theology of the real. They weren't. But of all the hubs I've ever written, I'm the most objectively qualified to write this one.
The conclusion I have come to after obtaining this degree and then pondering it for several years is that we are dealing with a dual reality.
So, for those of you with little time and other places to click, here is my TL, DR conclusion:
God is both real and not real.
For those of you who prefer a more thoughtful approach, read on, I have endeavored greatly to make it worth your while. In order to lay out the thought process which has lead me to my conclusion, I use the never ending conflict between Christians, Jews and Muslims as a starting point.
Christians, Jews and Muslims have not always been killing each other. Initially they were regarded as being brothers, children of this one God. Then one of the kids realized that his oil had gotten underneath the other one's sand (a simplistic contemporary explanation for a conflict which has raged since the time before the Crusades, but you get the idea,) and they've been killing each other ever since whilst God allegedly backs one of them, then the other.
This makes God some kind of child pit fighter. If we don't like Michael Vick for making his dogs fight, then why do we not despise this God fellow for sticking a bunch of his children together in a world with limited resources and letting them go at it whilst he watches from afar?
Fundamentally, the concept of such a God is either false, abhorrent or both.
Yet, in spite of massive logic breaks in every single religion worldwide, people still tend to believe. Is this because they are stupid? I don't believe so. I have enough faith in humanity, and not quite enough arrogance in my own views to believe that fully half the population or more is entirely deranged.
My theory is that some people are simply created to believe. Whether or not there actually is a God objectively is entirely irrelevant. For those with the right wiring, God exists.
Of course, there are also those without the right wiring. I feel that I, and other atheists, fall into this category. To those without the right wiring, the idea of believing in a God is ridiculous. The notion of 'faith' seems silly. These people are more able to use science and rationality to explain the world because they are always seeking, always wanting to explain the existence which those provided with faith and religion do not worry about overmuch.
Atheists tend to be arrogant and think that people who have beliefs are mentally flawed, kidding themselves, or worse. I think this is a mistake. The fact that beliefs in Gods exist around the world entirely independent of one another is evidence enough for me that for some people God is real.
As Christians say “Jesus is in me.” For them, he truly is in them, he is hardwired into their brains. I don't believe that it is actually the Christian Jesus which is hardwired into their brains of course, I believe that culture overlays this 'God Center' with whatever beliefs it has and people come to associate this sense of the divine with whichever deity they grew up with.
Richard Dawkins often uses that approach to shoot Christians down. “Why,” he says “If you were born in ancient Norway, you would believe in Thor.”
Yes, you would, but that does not prohibit the sensing of the divine from being potentially real. Cultural overlays may muddy the religious person's perception, or even simply provide them a framework for understanding their feelings, but that does not discount their feelings entirely. Who is not to say that some of us are more adept at sensing the divine, as some of us have better sight, or better smell?
Both sides of the debate need to understand that reality is subjective. Always. Our perception is always colored by our limited knowledge, by our experiences, by our fears, desires and needs. This goes for the religious and the non religious alike. For some humans, God is a real and active force in their lives, for others, he or she is not. We are not dealing with an argument over what reality really is, we are dealing with the clash of two separate realities which co-exist in the same world.
For some, God is real. And from among those
who believe God is real, someone needs to step up and tell him to stop being a
jerk and feed those starving kids in Ethiopia already. My dollar a day doesn't seem to be cutting it.