About a year ago I became very intrigued by Atheism. I knew in general what an Atheist was, but never really gave it any thought. It was simply someone who didn’t believe that there is a god. But as I became more involved in social media, I noticed Atheism was more than people who just didn’t feel like going to church. I began to encounter “Anti-Theists”. These are people who for lack of a better comparison, are the god-less equivalent of “Bible Thumpers”. My biggest fascination with these individuals were their total conviction in their beliefs. I had to stop.
What if they’re right?
What if there is no God?
Have I done enough learning to make sure my faith is legit?
I don’t want to be one of those “dumb Christians”.
I wasn’t raised to believe something just because someone else said to, so I immediately went to a trusted friend of mine with the statement “I’m very curious about this Atheism thing and looking at reading more about it”.
While he didn’t discourage my new found curiosity, he didn’t encourage it either. He pointed me to several authors and researchers who have devoted their lives to showing the compatibility of science and logic with religion. I haven’t read the books yet. Instead I spent the next several months reading books and articles, watching debates, discussions, and lectures from Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, and Richard Dawkins. I followed blogs from the American Atheists Association and even tried engaging in discussions on the websites.
However, despite all of the logic I wasn’t convinced. I will concede all the arguments about the Bible’s authenticity. I’ll acknowledge the evidence for evolutionary theory and how antiquated and narrow creationist theory is given scientific discoveries by even Christian research facilities. But I kept coming back to one question I couldn’t get an answer for; How do you know there’s not a god? Atheists seem so sure. But they are as equally sure as the religious faithful are that there is a god. I decided to ask a prominent Atheist activist and blogger who replied by saying:
My definition of “atheist” is someone who doesn’t believe in god. NOT someone who says with complete certainty that a god doesn’t exist — I don’t think anyone can make that claim.
And I would say the same thing for religion. I can’t say with complete certainty that god does exist. But that’s where the Atheist despised word called “Faith” comes in. Faith is being sure of WHAT WE HOPE FOR and sure of the things we can’t see (or better put, what we can’t explain for the time being). It is not an excuse for ignorance and blind obedience. Despite what many people think faith doesn’t take the place of fact. What it does is fill in the blank where we have not discovered an answer. 3000 years ago it took a lot more faith to be either religious or Atheist than it does today. And your stance on the existence of god provides you with the lens through which discovery provides meaning.
Now lets be clear, this is more than a flip of the coin in believing whether there is a god. Choosing whether there is a god or not isn’t a cosmic gamble on where you spend the afterlife. You shouldn’t choose which side of the argument you’re on based on the odds of the best outcome. This isn’t Pascal’s Wager, which is an absurd argument for belief in a god. Belief is personal and with that belief comes a certain amount of faith.
In the end, without really having a reason to not be a Christian, I decided there are more reasons to remain one than not. I will admit, I despise the institution of formal religion as much as anyone. But reset the entire relgion debate to one question “does god exist”. The rest of the debate is meaningless without first answering that question, which for the time being is a matter of opinion and personal belief; and yes Faith.