Been a bit busier this week than normal with the kind of work that pays me cash as opposed to spiritual dividends, so I’m a bit more spotty than usual with my posts. Might go for two today to make up for lost time, but we’ll see.
Some of the blogs I like to frequent, especially ones dealing with politics, arts and social commentary, are authored by folks who either don’t want to deal with church or God, or who flat-out don’t believe in any kind of higher power. (You didn’t think a guy who swears while spreading the word about God would just go to religious sites, did you? The Christian Coalition would have a collective seizure if they saw my Favorites on MSN and YouTube.) And something hit me recently, and maybe I’m crazy, but I don’t think anyone in this world lacks a religion, not even atheists. Bear with me a moment on this. Maybe I’m just spouting nonsense, but I think I’m on to something.
A lot of folks seem to think that somehow the world is a game of science vs. religion. I disagree completely. Plenty of great scientists have believed (and continue to believe) in God or some other deity. And science itself has provided support for events and people in the Bible, like the existence of the Hittites, whom a lot of Bible critics claimed were just made up, and the existence and destruction of those rockin’ capitals of sin, Sodom and Gomorrah.
So, we cannot say that science and religion are mutually exclusive. If that’s the case, what separates atheists from theists (Christian or otherwise)?
It’s the god we worship.
Yes, atheists have a god of sorts. And in most cases, their god is science. Science and faith don’t cancel each other out, but when God or any other spirit-based power is taken out of the equation completely, science (or pure reason, or some other similar thing) becomes a god. Atheists look to science to answer all the questions. If something cannot be seen, detected, measured or inferred from existing scientific knowledge, it generally isn’t worth considering its existence. Even love becomes a biochemical reaction, not a spiritual connection. Sure, it’s a damned fine-feeling biochemical reaction, but its just a product of hormones ultimately.
Yeah, that’s right, I believe atheism is a religion. It is a religion that lifts up science and intellect above the unseen world of the spirit. For most religions, their God or gods are essentially spiritual and that doesn’t wash with the atheists. Anything that puts an unseen entity above what atheists see as the pinnacle of evolution (humans) is utter dog crap to them. They see it as some comforting delusion that people would have faith in something unseen and unmeasurable. To them, it is as freakish as people who used to not believe in germs because they couldn’t be seen. Or who thought the world was flat as a damned pancake.
The thing is, I understand where they are coming from. I don’t even knock atheists for feeling this way. Truth be told, I think it takes a lot of faith to be an atheist. I’m serious. And isn’t that what religion is about? Faith. A hardcore atheist would probably whup my ass in a dark alley for saying that, because of course we can see the fruits of science, and they would say they are logical or rational, not faithful.
But what about that part of the human nature that seeks spiritual things? It seems odd that if evolution is such a wonderful process that keeps making creatures better and better and more adapted to their environment that it would give us all this intellect and reasoning and install some freaking flaw that has us looking for the divine. Just as the non-atheists have faith in the existence of spiritual things, so do atheists cling to a faith that such feelings are flawed and that no spiritual aspect exists. No soul. Nothing but a really advanced collection of water and trace minerals in a two-legged sack of skin.
Shit, that’s some serious faith. Because humans long for spiritual connection. I think that’s because the connection was broken by the first two real spiritually developed humans (I touch on this a little in my post Who Really Blew It In Eden?). God had to let us stew in our own juices for a while and work through the world and his “chosen people” the Hebrews to get us Jesus, who would restore that connection. Not everyone accepts that Jesus is that spiritual missing link, but then again, no one agrees that we’ve found an evolutionary missing link yet bewtween apes and primitive humans either. But atheists have to write that spiritual longing off as a flaw, just as I, as a man of spiritual faith, have to deal with the fact that God wants me to approach Him with faith and not show Himself to me in some rational, physical way. We all have our crosses to bear in maintaining our religious faith, whether theist or atheist.
Sure, you have atheists who believe in unseen and unmeasurable stuff, like psychic powers, the idea that extraterrestrials built the pyramids and stuff like that. But I think of that no differently than misguided Christians, for example, who insist the earth is only something like 7,000 years old and that the Virgin Mary actually remained a virgin after Jesus was born. And then, owing to a shared delusion, some people in both camps hold to the concept that Sarah Jessica Parker is actually sexy, but that’s a whole other story.
And I guess this is why I find the most ardent atheists both fascinating and at times frustrating. I and many other Christians I know don’t try to disprove science. So, in an odd way, I feel like Christians, at least those who maintain some critical thinking, are more well balanced overall. We don’t deny either the rational or spiritual aspects of ourselves. Yet atheists often won’t give an inch and will not be convinced at all that spiritual things could be real.
So, I guess what I’m saying is that the most fundementalist religion on the planet is atheism. Ain’t that ironic?