Thanks to Susan a.k.a. Organshoes for alerting us to Jim Pierce’s account of his former atheism. It will be an ongoing thread on his blog, but here are some samples of what he has to say:
Atheism is not religion. I know that statement will draw some frowns from those of my fellow Christians who like to think of Atheists as holding to a religious faith, but that is far from the truth. Atheism is the denial of God. It is the premise that there is no adequate concept of God; where “adequate” means coherent. Therefore, it is reasoned that there can be no instances of the various concepts of God presented to us through the ages by the well meaning philosopher or theologian. The atheist, as I was, is not concerned with trusting in anything for which there is no evidence. Faith is not a component of atheism, and certainly not even faith in one’s self! The reader will find in this text an undeniable self-loathing that I went through, and which I think many other atheists probably suffer from, too. It is precisely this disgust with self that accompanies palpable hatred atheists have for God. The very object they deny exists is somehow an object of great dislike and one which occupies much of their thought life in so far as arguing why that object should not exist! However, you will never find an atheist who will admit as much, since either they would be insane for hating something that doesn’t exist, or something does in fact exist which they hate; thus they really wouldn’t be atheists at all! . . . .
Of course, the atheist has no reason to even look at the Bible as anything other than an ancient mythological work of debatable value to humankind. The point though, before it is lost, is that atheism is about skepticism which is the polar opposite of trust, or faith. For the atheist the question isn’t “Did God really say?” but rather it is, “Is there really a god; let alone one who could say anything at all?”
If the atheist does trust in anything at all, it is their own capacity for reason. We can’t make too much out of this, though. Some theists (those who believe in God) have suggested that atheists have made reason their faith, but in reality atheists seem to relish calling into doubt even their own reasoning! I know I did. There was a time where I believed that we could not get beyond ourselves in the pursuit of truth. That, in fact, there were just as many “truths” as there are perspectives in the world because we are imprisoned in our own minds where knowledge of the “outside world” is concerned. While not quite solipsism, my view was one of extreme skepticism that anyone could prove universal truths of any kind without involving their own perspectives. Another way of putting the point is that I believed there was no such thing as a “God’s eye point of view” or a “view from nowhere”. And, if I was right, then the idea of universal truth was chimerical, since some facet of truth had to be attached to individual observations and experiences.
In Mr. Pierce’s Part 2, he tells of his own background–again–in legalistic Christianity, not only as a child but as a minister, no less. Legalistic Christianity seems to be a prime breeding ground for atheism. (Parents, keep that in mind.) Keep reading his saga. I can’t wait to see how it ends.