Random Thoughts on Atheism

Last week I wrote about my complaints against Faith. Now I take the other side. I have a few complaints against Athiesmm which is kinda “the Thing” in the crowds I run with.

“A Priestess” by John William Godward
Completed 1893

My frustration with religion in general and Xianity in particular has its locus in the fact that I find Reason to be dependable and the invisible god frankly undependable. I think it silly to believe in a god who allegedly gives me the gift of Reason and then chides me for making use of it.

But my complaint against Atheism is also rooted in Reason.

When you believe – as atheists do – that the universe is the accidental result of random forces then it is just silly to consider “Reason” to be dependable. You have no reason to believe that your Reason is anything more than the random collision of atoms inside your skull. Protesting that the existence of God violates your “rationality” is a prime example of sawing off the branch you are sitting on. Asserting that God cannot exist because it is irrational is like using logic to disprove the validity of logic. It’s nonsense.

Another common reason given by atheists against the existence of God is – again – the problem of evil. “If God is so powerful and loving”, they say, “why does he allow such evil?” While I certainly sympathize with this perspective, it is an irrational one. To declare something “evil”, you must have something else in mind to which you compare it – something that is “good”. But where did this idea of “good” come from? If the universe is nothing but a random accident in a chemical factory, then your idea of “good” is just molecules bumping in your head. This “goodness” you imagine does not exist outside your head. Just because lots of us have the same sort of “idea” doesn’t mean it exists anywhere outside of ourselves. (Unless, of course, you admit some sort of supra-human hive-mind or genetic memory into the equation, and that is something even less rational than believing in god.)

One final observation” many atheists – good people all – seem to share the belief that proper education is the key to solving society ills. “The reason we have all this trouble is because parents do a lousy job raising their kids and schools do a lousy job teaching them.”

This particular point of view holds that children are tabula rosa and the only reason they screw up is because of bad external influences. But this belief is crazy for a couple of reasons. First, if there is no external, objective standard of “good behavior” then a child who grows up to murder his parents and prostitute his sisters is no more “evil” or less “good” than a child who grows up to create a business that saves lives and employs thousands. Perhaps you and I prefer hospitals to concentration camps, but that is all it is – our preferences. Perhaps some other people prefer a drug-addled, crazed, murderous existence to a more benign alternative. Who am I – or you – to gainsay such preferences?

If the universe exists because of a chemical accident, then our ideas of “good” and “evil” have no objective existence outside our own heads. There can be no “good” and there can be no “evil” – there is only preferences. And it is silly to argue otherwise.

Secondly, in my experience, the people who hold this view seem to be – more often than not – childless themselves. Although this strange fact is neither proof for or against the existence of god, it is curious that people with the strongest opinions about the benefits of “proper” parenting and education are the people with the least experience at the job. Anyone who has actually raised children knows that they come into the world with their own pre-existing traits, many of which you as a parent have absolutely no control over whatsoever.


One other thing – tangentially related but not precisely on subject: I think atheists who protest against the existence of God because “a good God wouldn’t allow such evil” actually demonstrate more faith in the kind of God the Xians proclaim than most Xian apologists do. These atheists respect the idea of “Good” so strongly, that they refuse to acknowledge anything like “God” could countenance the evil we see in our world. Frankly, I think that is pretty damn admirable.


 So now that I have complained about both Atheism and Faith, where does that leave me? I’m not sure myself. Watch this space to find out.

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