We atheists regularly experience facepalm-level ignorance when it comes to reasons (excuses) people give for their continued faith. One variant of this strain of ignorance is the Argument from Incredulity: “I can’t imagine any other possibility, therefore ________.”
This idea comes up quite a bit, as evidenced by the Facebook status displayed at right. Apparently, we are “missing out” (on something many of us already experienced) and we are walking zombies. Another comment on a similar idea read “They don’t live, they simply exist,” all because people’s imaginations are strained when forced to think outside the cage of fundamentalism.
This seems to be a pretty common objection, so perhaps we can help them understand how we make it through life without God.
Deconversion and Truth
My own deconversion, as well as many others’, was not about choice. It was about being intellectually honest in pursuit of truth. Such is the case for many atheists who become such after having been religious, and such is the case with other mythologies people have believed either in their own infancy or the infancy of humanity:
Zeus and Thor do not make lightning, Santa does not deliver your presents, and Yahweh does not answer your prayers or reward you for holding irrational beliefs.
From here it is simply a matter of being honest enough to admit one’s own wrongness. This takes a modicum of humility that, while many religious give lip-service to, misunderstand the term entirely. It doesn’t take humility to hold the same position as the majority, to think that the creator of the universe listens to you, knows you by name, and changes his will just to suit your needs. Instead it takes humility to admit your own fallibility, to recognize the universe wasn’t created just for you, that a creator deity doesn’t think of you, and that after you die the world will be forgotten.
Nihilism, Absurdism, and Atheism
While in nihilistic philosophy, life loses its intrinsic value, there is much to be gained from the absurdist position described by Camus: Life may have meaning ascribed to it by the living. This is the position of most atheists, who realize that though there are only but a few short years for us, we have been given an amazingly rare and precious gift: we are the universe experiencing itself.
In my estimation, eternity diminishes the value of life far more than brevity, and the finite nature of my life is exactly what gives it so much meaning, and gives me so much joy. Thus, that which has satisfied me so far, the search for truth, will continue to satisfy me, and perhaps I can share that journey with a few other people along the way.
One recent observation is the notion that freedom, like many other terms, has been hijacked to mean the opposite of what it should, in a 1984-esque doublethink sort of way. Paul the apostle points this out throughout his epistles, declaring himself a free slave to a tyrant who threatens punishment and demands love, the essence of sadomasochism. The irony here is that there are delusional people across the world who are running around declaring themselves to be free, while having their minds enslaved to a fictitious, badly-conceived god.
Psychological projection comes to mind: rather than admit that it is fundamentally irrational (i.e. impossible) to be a ‘free slave,’ people would rather call the free members of society “zombies.” This point refers back to the first one: there is a fundamental lack of imagination in believers that reaffirms their argument from incredulity, and the imagination is limited by disallowing certain ideas to be considered (thoughtcrime).
It’s no coincidence that the only unforgivable sin is to deny the Holy Spirit: it is essential that believers do not entertain the thought that they might be wrong. Once you look at religion from an outsider’s perspective, it becomes immediately clear how insane and implausible the ideas espoused actually are.
The only thing it takes to “live without God,” is to be entirely intellectually honest about everything, and the only way to do that is to set one’s imagination free from the self-made cage of religion and actually think from an outsider’s perspective. Only then can one actually have an intellectually honest answer to the question of life without God.
If closed-minded adults were as inquisitive as children, I could quit blogging and retire.