Atheism, a Theism?

Atheism isn’t a religion, okay? Atheists don’t worship their lack of god. They don’t worship nullity, or the void. They don’t worship, period. Worship is undeserved devotion, and that’s just not us. If something deserves my devotion, it’s usually because it has qualities I find appealing already and which I can access without worship. Music? I play the piano and the trumpet. I don’t need to imagine that music is somehow tied into the fabric of the universe to enjoy it. It’s tied into the fabric of my thought, and that’s what matters. Poetry? I can read and write and enjoy poetry without thinking that its beauty is definitional. Poetry is an amalgam of human experience and emotion, and has nothing to do with deities or fairies or muses or any of it. Things have beauty because we build and imitate them, and then admire their craftsmanship through our imitations.

Why do cosmologists speak of the pale blue dot, our little planet? Because of how unlikely and how wondrous it is. Because it conveys that at least on one planet in one solar system in one arm of one galaxy lives a people who can fathom at least part of the universe. And they can fathom themselves. And in fathoming, they discover that all of the answers to the mysteries of the universe will never be uncovered, and they’re sad because of it. And they invent their mythologies and pseudo-explanations. Because they wished they knew all of it. But they don’t. And they never will. And once they realize that in not knowing they have a precious excitement, they won’t care to know everything anymore. They’ll only care to know what they can know.

And that’s when they become atheists. Knowing only what you can know, that is atheism.

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by ankabyuth on August 12, 2007 at 4:50 pm

    the last few sentences – beautiful.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Steve on August 14, 2007 at 11:10 pm

    “And that’s when they become atheists. Knowing only what you can know, that is atheism.”

    No, that would be one who is an a agnostic.

    To even get a glimpse of understanding how much there is out there that we don’t know, and yet to emphatically claim that there is no God (atheism) is the height of arrogance or ignorance… or both.

    Reply

  3. Most atheists don’t claim they know a god doesn’t exist. They claim that there’s no evidence for such a thing. Most agnostics, on the other hand, will only say that there’s no evidence in either direction, or that knowing whether a god exists is inherently unknowable, which is different. There’s certainly evidence that seas don’t part at a whim and that water doesn’t turn into wine. That being said, there are degrees here. Some agnostics tend toward atheism, others toward theism. I don’t buy into arguments over semantics, which you seem to think substitute well for discussion of the points I actually make. Especially where cultural definitions differ from literal ones.

    Reply

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