I am an atheist, and in the last year I have begun coming out of the closet. Your show really helps me put words to my feelings and Iron Chariots has been a wonderful resource. However I am unsure about how open to be. I am becoming more and more sure that belief in afterlife and gods all have a psychological tie-in to the majority of human beings to keep them sane. In other words, most people cannot handle a world with no "divine plan" where your dead spouse is NOT waiting for you in the afterlife and when you die, you're dead. The next reasonable question would be, "if that is true then why are atheists not all going insane?" . On a bell shaped curve (statistically speaking), there are always outliers that do not fall into the norm. That would be us, and yes I do feel it takes a strong mind to be atheist. If this theory is true then most of the world could not handle an atheist world. So in a sense we need religion and when we don't it will fall away over time. I see this happening now and I wonder if Im doing wrong trying to hurry it along by debating every believer that challenges me. I could be doing real harm by taking god away from someone who needs it, and besides no logic or reason in the world will make a believer let go of their death-denying delusion. Thoughts?
Elizabeth, I am a believer. I thought about the same question. My conclusion is that the whole "atheism vs. religion" strife is futile. It comes from a confusion between fundamental beliefs and knowledge. There are things we know and there are things we "believe" are true. If you take a knowledge and ask yourself "why is it this way?" and keep asking it about every answer you come up with, you will discover the fundamental belief on which this knowledge is based. You cannot prove a fundamental belief without circular reasoning. And all arguments between atheists and theists is nothing but circular reasoning. "God exists because he exists" or "God does not exist because there is no evidence, and there is no evidence, because He does not exist." - it's all the same flawed circular logic. If you think about it, the second statement involves 2 steps and it is more difficult to follow the circle. So, I go with the first.
But the process of finding your fundamental belief is internal. It ends with discovery of "who I am", your true identity, what you really believe and why. That's the process you have just described. And if you reflect upon the name of the Lord given in Exodus "I AM WHO I AM", that's exactly what it means. You find God when you find who you truly are and why, figuratively speaking. This is why people identify themselves with God and their own understanding of good and evil with God's understanding of good and evil. Don can show you a study showing that this is true.
With that said, don't argue with believers. They will mock and hate you, because you do not love their "WHO I AM". That's the Lord's attitude, by the way. He "hates" those who do not love his identity and kills them. God is inside each of us. Jesus was meant to show it to those who can see the allegory saying "Love others for who they are and as they are". One cannot find the Lord outside oneself.
I occasionally argue with atheists in forums to explain my fundamental beliefs and to understand theirs. Most messages I hear back are hate messages and I find that most do not understand their fundamental belief, just as believers.
One word answer to your topic question: No.
If you can name something demonstrable that God provides, I will be more open to the idea of people needing him/her/it.
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The ACA Lecture Series continues Sunday, October 11th at 12:15pm in the Austin History Center, 9th and Guadalupe. The building opens at noon. Texas Freedom Network's Dan Quinn will give us an update on their activities. The lecture is free and open to the public.