Friday, May 16, 2008

Why I Don't Hate God

A charge often levelled at atheists, though not against me personally, is that we hate god, or that we truly do believe in him/her/them, but have turned our back on him/her/them. The reasons for this are various and sundry: we've been disappointed by him/her/them, we want to be free of morality and begin raping, killing, stealing and generally being nogoodniks, we've been abused by the church or by religion in general, or whatever nonsense happens to enter into the mind of the theist that helps them to misunderstand our position.

First, let me make it clear. I do not believe in god. I don't hate him/her/them. I don't wish he/she/they didn't exist. I have not turned my back on him/her/them. Quite simply, he/she/they doesn't/don't exist. I don't hate faeries, and I don't hate god.

Even without god, I've managed to keep the raping and killing to a minimum, and the urge to steal has been placated by swiping a pen or two from work. As for the nogoodnikness, I was always a bit of a misanthrope anyway, and so that hasn't changed much.

But I'll tell you something. There are times when I want to believe in god. Seriously. Honestly. And I don't, because I can't.

When I'm very lonely, very scared, very depressed, or very vulnerable, I'd like to pray and ask for help. When I'm tempted to do something foolish, I'm also tempted to pray for strength (which is, in my experience, yet another foolish thing to be tempted by). I still want to pray in all the situations that used to call for prayer, but now I don't because I know it didn't mean anything anyway.

Sometimes, I love the idea of god: a god that is infinitely powerful, loves me, and wants to help. Unfortunately, that guy does not exist. There are a number of reasons for that, but the problem of evil takes care of the compassionate and involved creator quite nicely. I've discussed the reasons for my disbelief before.

The point I'm trying to make is that sometimes unbelief is hard, but atheists do it because they can't believe, not because they won't. Pascal was an idiot. The basic assumption is that you can choose to believe. Maybe. But that makes the fact that it's a delusion that much more obvious: it's an act of will to explicitly deny what you know to be true.

I don't hate god. Sometimes I miss him. But as I've said before, ultimately, I'm better off with the truth.


"No longer must I sweep for you said...

Lately, I've wondered wouldn't a true atheist never "want" to believe in anything else? It is reassuring to read that during hard times it seems a natural thing to want to turn to the supernatural for support. I'm in a situation right now that could definitely use some "divine" intervention but I know when it's all over I will be able to look back and see that we got ourselves through it and we don't need to give credit to anyone else.

Father Shaggy said...

The definition of atheist is simply one who does not believe in god. That's all it says: I'm not an anti-theist, and I'm not an agnostic. The term defines my beliefs, not my wishes. I honestly do feel better now that I'm not pretending, and not feeling guilty for not feeling it. It's just that sometimes supernatural help would be nice.

Superpowers would be nice, too.