Monday, August 26, 2013

Atheism Is Not Arrogance

There is nothing arrogant about not believing that the entire universe was created with you in mind and that the forces of nature conspire daily to teach you moral lessons. I never quite understood how the theist can buy into that argument that one who refuses to believe that the purpose of the cosmos is for them, is somehow arrogant. If anything, it is a lot more humble to believe you are just a rather small and insignificant part of an unbelievably vast cosmos.

To the devout Christian or Muslim theist, they cannot stand the idea that you are actually enjoying your life without giving constant praise to their invisible sky-daddy. How arrogant of you, they think, for not living your life in total submission as a slave to the will of god. Thus within the Abrahamic tradition, you have at the same time the arrogance of the human-centered universe, and the masochism of the slave mentality. At the same time the theist can declare, "It's all about me..." along with "...but I don't deserve it because I've been very naughty."

But how is not wanting to live your life as an abject slave with no will of your own, arrogant? Only from the masochism of the slave mentality could such a accusation arrive. To the masochistic theist, life is supposed to be lived in fear and submission. Any pleasure derived from life must immediately require an equally sized propitiation along with the recognition that the pleasure was undeserved. And only then, according to the theist, is the arrogance associated with atheism avoided.

Consider what this fundamentalist Christian wrote me in a debate I just had over on his website (emphasis mine):

People were made by God but then wanted to be god. They thus rebelled and came up with as many religions and worldviews as they could to calm themselves from the guilt and impending judgment that they knew would take place for their evil. The pinnacle of that is atheism which gets rid of God altogether. The atheist assumes this position and tries to posture himself as being smart for doing it and everyone else as dumb for not because he's trying to psychologically appease himself. He wants to comfort himself that he is OK for living life in such a godless manner. Hence, atheism is a psychological disorder that distorts reality, thought up to drown out the convicting voice of the Holy Spirit that the individual's evils are shameful and condemned by a Holy God.

This is the old "Atheists just want to be naughty" argument from the book of Romans that I've already critiqued here. But why must anyone accept the notion that enjoying one's life without perpetual praise - and guilt - towards an invisible being is arrogant? Life should be happy and pleasurable. Who but a masochist would want a life filled only with hardship? The stoicism evident in religions like Christianity leave one to believe that any pleasure outside of the narrow guidelines that god set forth is automatically arrogant. I've also butted heads with spiritualists who feel the need to give constant thanks to the earth for providing them with what the earth unconsciously yields. I tell them that the earth doesn't care one way or another whether they are well feed or happy, but it often goes right through them.

Maybe the issue is giving praise itself. I am not extolling the idea that we should never praise. Rather, we should give praise where it is deserved. We should praise our families and loved ones who assisted us when we were in need. We should praise the courage of the leaders who made it possible for our right to pursue happiness. We should praise the brave men and women who laid down their lives to preserve that right, and the ones who continue to preserve it today. We should praise those who fight for justice and equality and oppose oppression.

What did god do to deserve constant praise? Is it because he's just somehow intrinsically perfect? But that would be like praising someone just for being born really tall: it took them no effort. Is it because god created us? Again, if it is true, it took god no effort. He also chose to create a world where billions go to hell - and he created hell. Is it because god wants to be praised and worshiped? If so, he is jealous and arrogant, two traits not associated with perfection. Is it because god has power over us? If so, then god doesn't really deserve our praise, no more than Adolph Hitler or Stalin did. He's just a bully.

In the end many atheists don't praise "god" because we see no evidence of his existence and we think that such a being wouldn't deserve it even if he did exist. We are content with enjoying our lives without feeling guilty about it so long as our pursuit of happiness doesn't unnecessarily harm others. And we certainly don't think that human beings are the goal or purpose to the entire universe, and that we have the right to tell other people how to live their lives because god gave us that power. That's about as arrogant as you can get.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...