21 May 2008

If only there was a Scarlet P...

So I've been meaning to write this for a few months now, ever since I put up the Scarlet "A" for atheism but got sidetracked by assignments and other pursuits to write what needed to be written.

Why write anything, you ask? Aren't I an atheist? I write a lot about it, so what gives?

Well, technically, I'm not an atheist. I'm a pantheist.

So I do believe in something as opposed to just plain old non-belief. I'm not saying atheism is nihilism, it's just lack of a belief in the supernatural/spiritual/etc. Atheists hold many beliefs, like everyone, they just happen to lack one belief that most other people seem to have.

But wait, you say! Aren't I describing a line of demarcation between my pantheism and atheism, so why do I have the "A"? Well, hold on, I'm getting to that.

I do possess a spiritual belief in the inherent "being" of everything. Just the fact that everything in existence actually exists shows that, at base, existence or the state of "being" is the common denominator of all things. I think there is a spiritual kinship between all things, and the only "will" (if you could call it that) behind this common spirit is the single-minded will to exist.

Nothing beyond that, though. No design. No plan. No intent beyond simply existing.

I know it may smack of teleology and even perhaps a bit of ontology, but it's only my own poor definitions that may make it seem that way. But even when I considered myself an agnostic atheist I still at least believed in the human spirit, so it's not so different. It's just where my explorations into science, philosophy, and history have taken me so far. Right now, it makes the most sense to me, even if I can't describe very well the abstractions of it I conceive in my head.

But what does this have to do with atheism?

Well, pantheism is no more or less rational than agnostic atheism. I don't parade my beliefs as science, or even as an absolute truth. It's just what *I* think. And it may change someday. There is still the possibility, however remote, that something could bring me back round to Christianity, even though I have absolutely no clue what could possibly bring me round again.

Anyway, when it comes to religion, I don't see it as conducive to modern civilization. I see the acceptance of any absolutist position as the first step toward totalitarianism, and there are few things more absolutist than organized religions.

In this, the atheists and I are one. It is also a fact that, becuase I do not believe in a divine will or distinct personality when I talk about "god", the believers consider me in pretty much the same way they considers atheists. Not always, but most Christians I've talked to about my beliefs treat me the same as what they would call an atheist, e.g. I'm attacked for materialism, nihilism, moral relativism, etc. the same as when I was an atheist. They like that I don't call myself an atheist, but I get all the same flak that I got when actually identified as an atheist. So I'm really just another non-believer to those kind of people.

The bottom line is, I support Richard Dawkins' initiative to get people to talk more about non-belief, or at least belief without religious dogma. I think if we can get people to think more independently, more intelligently, then things will continue to improve in the world. Absolutist religion is an impediment to progress, to the betterment of humanity.

...that reminds me, I was also attacked for being a humanist, which is apparently a throwback to the 1970s fundamentalist term for the "New Atheism" of that era.

So I'm all for more people talking, more people thinking, and more people questioning. Doubt is necessary for improvement. Doubt is hope, hope for something better. It's not settling for the "good enough"-type answers provided for by ancient superstitions. Question! Question! QUESTION! It's the only way we move forward. The Scarlet "A" is a symbol of that, and so I sport it on my blog.


Samuel Skinner said...

Pantheism IS irrational. It is an unprovable and unfalsible theory. Atheism itself could be revised with evidence- pantheism can't. In fact it is worse than normal theism in that regard.

William Cowan said...

Well gee, what's the doctrine of pantheism that can't be changed? This is news to me. When did it become an organized religion?