Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Cormagh, A Personal Story

deej wrote: Atheists, what is the significance of your "lack of belief in gods"?

Cormagh responds: The fact that I lack belief determines practically everything about me, from the way I raise my kids to how I think of and treat others. While I had belief in gods I spent a certain amount of my time preoccupied with how these gods wanted to act and much less to actually care about how I wanted to act and why.

deej wrote: You must find something especially important about your lack of belief
if you label yourself an atheist, so why is it a position worth defending?

Cormagh responds: The position of atheist is to me that of clear thinking person, one without any religious baggage. If I have benefitted so much from being an atheist, why shouldn't I find it important. Of course I am speaking as someone who once was a theist; someone with no experience with theism would not have the broad basis of comparison I do.

deej wrote: As pointed out time and again on this forum, Atheists 'believe' that atheism is not a belief system but merely a "lack of belief". Elaborate for me: does your "lack of belief in gods" have a profound affect on the way you live your life? If not, why spend so much time arguing for your lack of belief? And if so, why not stop hiding behind the blanket statement that atheism is a "lack of belief" as opposed to a "belief", and actually defend your 'worldview'? Why not stop criticising Christianity and rather defend your own position?

Cormagh responds: We shouldn't stop criticisizing Christianity because it is a major part of the problem with the persistence of the Superstitious World. Our own position doesn't need much defence; Atheist "appologetics" consists mainly in attacks on theism for a reason. For an atheist, theism is the whole problem in a nutshell.

deej wrote: Tell me, is the way you're living your life right now significantly affected by your "lack of belief in gods"? If not, why on earth do you post on this forum? It seems to me that too many atheists post merely to criticise Christianity and thereby feed inflated egos. It is not the truth you're seeking, but rather self-aggrandisement. Prove me wrong and defend your "lack of belief". Show me that this forum is not just an online collection of egotistical tripe...

Cormagh responds: The actual reason or "continuing the tradition" of atheism (since that's the question you're really posing here: What is the integrity
of atheism?) is for me, to repay a debt. I had theism built into me by my upbringing. My school and even my own parent did what they could to build a religious structure into my mind. When I reached puberty, I began to stop the spread of the virus, by asking myself questions about gods and trying to find the answers. The result was that I transformed myself from a believer to an agnostic, using analytical
tools I had learned from reading William James. I probably could have stayed agnostic all my life. One day, Bob, a friend of mine, was talking to me about cosmology and I said something about God. He asked me who God was. I replied in my agnostic language that it was power, influence, etc. in the Universe, which seemed to me to be
unanswerable. Then he said something that reverberates still in my mind. He said, "Then why do you have to call it God?" The lightbulb went on, and then something shattered. I realized that the name "God" was just a trap I had been led into by years of bad education. From that point on I remembered that when I needed an explanation for something important, powerful or unknown, no matter how humble it made me feel, I didn't have to call it "God" anymore. I could now just describe it as it was or as it appeared using whatever language was most fittng.

Cormagh responds: It was a couple more years before I lost all of the "stigmata" of religion, such as fantasies about the "Devil" (I was Catholic), but it was that question about the word "God" that finished the job of freeing me from all of the religious abuse and indoctrination I had received since I was a child.

Cormagh responds: So being an atheist leaves you with nothing to defend. Some of us have the pain of religious indoctrination, some of us don't. And we're not
"seeking the truth", other than in the ways any scientist or lawyer might do it. We we all have in common is that we really have no beliefs that need defending. I can say that criticizing Christianity is not egoistical, it is for me, simply a way to repay a debt I still owe to my friend Bob.

by Cormagh of AvC

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