[Turing] Atheist Answer #15

[Turing] Atheist Answer #15 July 8, 2011

This post is part of the Ideological Turing Test Challenge. Go to the tab above for an overview and remind yourself of the voting and commenting guidelines here.

What’s your best reason for being an atheist?

Frankly, I don’t see, metaphysically, scientifically, you name it, why there needs to be a god, and if the universe and existence and sentience and all that can be explained without one, how could I ever believe one existed? If god isn’t central and foundational such that without him existence is inconceivable, it’s not really god, is it? It also helps that all of the world’s thousands of religions and cults contradict each other in various ways, and all of them have “miracles” they point to as proof of their validity, most of which are easily debunked.

What evidence or experience (if any) would cause you to believe in God? If you believed in some kind of god, what kind of evidence would be necessary to convince you to join a particular religion?

It’s very hard for me to conceive of anything. If I had a “vision” or some kind of “divine experience” I’d probably go to a hospital, not a church. If I had to join a particular religion I hope it would be a humble one that stayed out of everyone’s way, since faith is the opposite of certainty, and it’s absurd to go around trying to change laws (or keep them from being changed) on a hunch.

When you have ethical and moral disputes with other people, what do you appeal to? What metric do you use to examine your moral intuitions/cultural sensibilities/etc?

Generally I go for maximal harm reduction and lean pretty heavily on epistemological modesty. I think a lot of what some religions say about kindness and humility are pretty sensible and can lead to greater social harmony. I don’t really go in for the whole capital T Truth thing, so I’m not incredibly concerned about the objectivity of my perceptions or cultural biases. Are you living and letting others live? Great! Whenever I have disagreements with people I try to remember that just because I wouldn’t have reacted a certain way doesn’t mean that reaction is condemnable. I might not like the kind of person who, say, cheats on a significant other, but that just means I won’t hang out with them, not that I think it’s importantly wrong.

Why is religion so persistent? We have had political revolutions, artistic revolutions, an industrial revolution, and also religious reformations of several kinds, but religion endures. Does this not suggest its basic truth?

I actually find it wholly unsurprising that belief systems that have always striven to tie themselves to political power and authority are hard to kill. Once you reach a certain critical mass there’s a certain staying power, and it becomes self-perpetuating, not to mention that the resources many religions have access to make it very attractive to pay lip service and perpetuate the idea of religion as respectable. Everyone knows smoking is bad for you, but millions of people smoke. People are always finding new ways to poison themselves. The irrational is, sadly, unconquerable.

Voting opens Friday afternoon

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