Am I really an Atheist?

I’ve a confession to make.

I’ve been having… doubts… about my Atheism.

It’s Wikipedia’s fault, actually. I was comfortable in my (weak) Atheism. Those of us who are not firmly on the religious side of the spectrum have a lot of names for ourselves – Agnostic, Infidel, Godless, Secular, Atheist, weak Atheist, and strong Atheist. Some poor lost souls have even called themselves Brights.

In this variety of choices I had settled on labeling myself a weak Atheist, because it seemed to best suit what I’ve found to be true. A weak Atheist isn’t someone who stridently claims the non-existence of God(s) – a weak Atheist is instead satisfied with the absence of evidence of any God(s) and holds no belief in God or gods as a sort of ‘default’ position.

My default position is that unless evidence presents itself to me, I am justified in holding no belief in gods of any sort.


When a religious believer asks me, “Do you deny the existence of God?” my immediate response has been, “Do you deny the existence of the Holy Invisible Pink Unicorn (pbuh)" (or perhaps the more modern Flying Spaghetti Monster.) Trying to prove the existence or absence of an intangible being is little more than mental masturbation – but it is a question that seems to get religious people all hot and bothered.

I’ve found it to be a nonsense question. I suspect that if language were more logical it wouldn’t even be possible to ask a question like this. You would end up with a paradox answer, sort of like 1/X where X=0. In language it would be like asking, “What color is sour?” (Well, perhaps a synaesthete could answer that question.) It’s similar to asking which fictional being is stronger, Superman or the Hulk? (Okay, I confess I’ve heard comic book geeks argue that question. I took it as a sign that I should change hobbies.)

I had believed that since the question makes no sense, I was justified in my non-belief due to illogic. I don’t say that gods, of any sort, do NOT exist, I just don’t think anyone could phrase the existence of a god in any way that makes sense. And I called this, ‘weak Atheism’. But that term doesn’t quite fit.

While trying to better define what I believe, I ran across a new word in Wikipedia. My new word for today is, ‘Ignosticism’. A person who is Ignostic believes that the question of God(s) existence is meaningless. The answer to that question cannot be confirmed or tested in any way, so the question should be ignored.

As Douglas Adams once said, “If you ask the wrong questions you get answers like ‘42’ or ‘God’.” Asking if God exists is a wrong question. Ask me and I visualize 1/X where X=0, or, “Lasagna tastes like blue.”

Wow. I’m Ignostic!

But I’ll still call myself Atheist – it gives religious people something else to complain about.


Scientia said...

Hi, Mark. Sorry for my long silence- I'll be emailing you back (finally) soon.

This entry is one I find hilarious; not even 2 weeks ago I found myself in a violent argument with both my younger brothers about the definition of atheism and why (as they informed me) I am not an atheist, even though (silly me!) I think I am.

The argument was a matter of definition and the strict Greek construction of the word (atheist), and its philosophical roots and definition, etc. I wound up on the "weak atheist" roll, though for a different reason than you- I cannot completely deny the existence of god(s) because to do so would be to gloss over the infinitesimal possibility that he/she/it does exist- in other words, it would be inaccurate, and thus very bad science indeed.

The most I can do is acknowledge that it is so vastly improbable that there is a god that the improbability is virtually infinite (thank you, great Douglas). Thus, because it is inaccurate to say that there is no possibility of a god, I cannot be an atheist. Or so they both claimed.

Bugger that, said I. I'm a pinko (pink unicorn woman, that is), and having the intellectual honesty to acknowledge the possibility of something as ridiculous as a deity doesn't make me less of one. But it's funny that you're posting on this just now.

And, by the way, thank you for giving me a new term with which to argue.

Anonymous said...

Hi Scientiae!
Welcome back! Does this mean that you'll be updating your blog soon?

Scientia said...

Yes, it does... thank you for asking. (I do mean that as more than a formality- nice to know someone cares if it's updated or not.) :-). More soon.