Atheists’ obsession with God

  • Some observations on the God debate


For a group that believes He doesn’t even exist, atheists are awfully obsessed with God. Being a member of many religion and philosophy pages on the social media, I can vouch for the fact that atheists are much more obsessed with the question of existence of God than are theists and deists put together. And it’s not as much participating in discussions started by others, but the in numerous threads on the subject the atheists start themselves.

There’s a certain theme to these threads. Many atheists love to claim that they are more enlightened and rational than poor theists because (in their own words) they only believe things when they have evidence that warrants their belief. David Hume’s “A wise man proportions his beliefs to the evidence at hand” is frequently pressed into service in a self-congratulatory manner; which sounds awfully like Queen Victoria, impressed by her own unparalleled merit, bestowing upon herself the prestigious award of the Victoria Cross.

Of course, the central issue at hand in such situations regards the ‘existence’ of God. Now, for my part (and I would be speaking for many theists), I don’t believe God ‘exists’– existence is inexorably linked with being confined in time and space, which God isn’t. He is outside– and independent of– time and space; and, therefore, He doesn’t ‘exist’. He is the reason for the existence of everything else. My own views on the subject have already been published in these pages; and so, for the purpose of this article I won’t complain about the use of the word ‘existence’.

What’s interesting is that while the atheists claim to have examined and rejected all evidence for God, if you ask them what evidence (hypothetically speaking) they would require before being convinced, they are not forthcoming with the reply. So, while there’s so much noise made about evidence being the king, they have rejected even the possibility of being wrong, so much so that they have never thought about even the possibility of valid evidence. The minority that says that we have seen into regions of the universe far away from our solar system and still haven’t seen God are obviously looking for an ‘object’, which God isn’t. The less said about them the better.

The angry tone of atheists suggests that they are not as convinced about their position as they would like to be

The discussion generally proceeds along these lines. The atheist accuses the theist of believing in God without evidence. When it is pointed out that to claim that there’s no God must also be based on evidence (his own maxim), he will typically respond by saying that he is simply rejecting the theist’s assertion without putting in an alternate claim of his own. Here he will try to hide behind the notion of burden of proof, which according to him rests on the one making the claim (the theist). At this point he is very likely to add that he doesn’t need to prove there’s no teapot circling the earth. Which is true because he is an atheist, not an a-teapot-ist. When he is told that by being an atheist, he is making a claim (the opposite claim to that of the theist, but a claim nevertheless) that there’s no God, unless he is an agnostic. To which he may take refuge in the excuse that he is merely making a negative claim, while it’s up to the theist, who is making a positive claim, to come up with evidence. This, even though it has been demonstrated long ago that any negative claim can easily be converted into a positive one. For example, “Object A doesn’t exist” (negative claim) can effortlessly be converted into “There’s at least one universe in which object A doesn’t exist” (positive claim). (Of course, as mentioned above, God is no object; I am merely employing the vocabulary in use.) As a wise man once observed, “Why should I be free to spout nonsense just because I rephrase it as a negative?”

Alternatively, the atheist at this stage will hide behind semantics by providing a link to some article which lists unending varieties of atheism. To be sure, there’s elaborate vocabulary in place to differentiate between the different shades of lack of belief. There’s positive atheism, negative atheism, hard atheism, soft atheism, and what-not. However, semantics aside, there are three broad positions on God: That one is convinced He exists (theism); that one is convinced He doesn’t exist (atheism); and that one doesn’t know one way or the other (agnosticism). The last position, while safest in that nobody would demand evidence for it, robs one of one’s rationale for being condescending and patronising. ‘I don’t know’ is hardly the position to bully others from. Probably this is the reason that only as a final resort will an atheist admit to being an agnostic. Also, ‘I don’t know’ probably isn’t ‘enlightened’ enough.

Another thing that stands out in these threads is the angry tone of the atheists. Their anger certainly suggests that they are not as convinced about their position as they would like to be. The other day I raised this point with an enraged atheist and asked him that, since he was presumably as convinced of the unreality of God as he was of that of Bugs Bunny, was he equally livid with children who thought Bugs Bunny was real. His reply: ‘Yes, if they are my kids.’ Speaks volumes for the way ignorance and arrogance feed off one another.