Someone wrote a “letter to the editor” to The Globe and Mail. The writer, obviously a devout gentleman, explained that atheists assert that the lack of proof that there is a God proves that there is no God. I was reminded of the attack on Darwin, which claimed that he taught that mankind was descended from monkeys. The great man’s detractors knew that such a claim would offend many people, so they ascribed it to him, falsely. He never said nor wrote any such thing.
It’s a clever way to argue. Put nonsense into your opponent’s mouth, then disprove it. However, I have never in my entire life met any atheists who justified their positions with that argument. Atheists tend to be thinkers, and refuting that argument is a no-brainer.
Unlike the writer, I can’t speak for all atheists. I do know, however, how I came to that belief. It has nothing to do with the lack of proof of a deity.
I was raised in a not very religious home that was nominally Church of England. C of E is the default religion in the UK. Puberty made me curious about both girls and religion. The latter proved easier to study. I read the Bible, cover to cover, though I admit to skipping through the “begats.” What I read convinced me to change my designation to “agnostic.” Out of a sense of fair play, I also dipped into various other religions but found nothing to change my mind.
So, I was content to be a noncommittal, safe, agnostic, until about five years ago, when something or another got me reconsidering my beliefs, or lack thereof. My slightly more mature mind demanded that if I was to think about something, I should define what it was I was thinking about. I looked for definitions of the word “god.”
God is love. God is the prime source of everything. God is goodness. God is both omnipotent and omniscient. And on, and on.
The problem I ran into was that the definitions were all either so vague as to be without meaning, or self-contradictory. I can’t believe in paradoxes.
My conclusion was, that if “god” can only be defined in meaningless or oxymoronic terms, I was completely unable to even think about such a being’s existence. So, I’m an atheist. If anyone can give me a definition of “god” that is both relevant and makes sense, please let me know. You might talk me back into the Church of England.
Photo courtesy of: the-legion-of-decency.blogspot.com