How many times have I heard people calling themselves ‘atheists’? I even called myself that at one time , thinking it was some new ‘revelation’. Yeah, there was a time when I couldn’t believe in god. There was a time when god seemed “illogical”, as some sort of a fantasy people created. I even said that “science is my religion”. Truth, knowledge, and all that . . . yeah, yeah, yeah
What I found out, though, is that I was actually very religious and that my ‘denial’ of god, in actuality, reflected this fact . . . and my desire to ‘believe’, which I didn’t want to admit to myself. As I watched people I began to see this same quality in other ‘atheists’ as well. I also began to see other reasons for it. Here are some of my observations:
- Atheism is often not a ‘refutation’ of god as they claim. It’s a ‘giving god another name’. I’ve seen many atheist basically do nothing but rename god. Instead of saying ‘god’ they say they are trying to ‘live a good life’ or something like that. It refers to the same thing, just stated differently.
- Atheism reflects, oftentimes, a frustration in belief. Deep down, they want to believe, but are unable to. There are many reasons for this. In general, the problems are socially based and reflective of a social crisis or situation. This means that some forms of atheism are a result of a ‘social breakdown’. Often, because of this ‘breakdown’ they don’t know how to believe and in what form to believe. It’s interesting to note that, at least in the U.S., we are speaking of a ‘social breakdown’, not a ‘breakdown in the religious institution’. I’ve always thought it was interesting that most claims of atheism seems to be a result of social problems and not religious problems, which is what you’d think it’d reflect. My observation shows this to be the most prevalent form.
- Atheism is often a statement that a person does not agree with their cultural traditions. This often gives atheism an opposing or refuting quality which it may not be. It shows, rather, that a new generation has changed from the older generation and can’t relate with the older generations point of view.
- Some atheism is a nothing but a form of rebellion. It’s a way to ‘oppose’ or ‘get back’ at society. This, also, is a general sign of a ‘social breakdown’. I’ve seen many so-called atheist say they are atheist for the sheer joy of going against the social norm and nothing else. I’ve seen this where it’s like telling your parents to “f— off!” since, in the person’s mind, religion represents the ‘authority’ of their parents generation.
- Some atheism is a result of a logical delusion. They disagree because their ‘logic’ can’t see any sense in a god. The concept of god does not fit in their logical conceptions of life. This is seen in scientists and intellectuals. This is probably the second most common version of atheism that I see.
- Some people call themselves atheist because they haven’t reflected enough on their stance in life and what they believe. I’ve seen many people who call themselves atheists because they don’t really understand what ‘god’, ‘religion’, and ‘belief’ are.
Looking at these, I can see three themes that keep appearing with atheism:
- The effects of social problems.
- A lack of example or a ‘belief’ to follow.
- The problem of logic contradicting the concept of god.
Either one or several in combination creates something like a ‘frustration’ in the person, a dilemma, that makes ‘atheism’ the only choice. This seems to me to show that atheism is not a natural path to follow but one created by a dilemma. In other words, it’s a reaction to a situation. This means it’s not a ‘primary philosophy’. By this, I mean that it’s not something that ‘come first’ or is ‘naturally appearing’. A ‘religious feeling’ is based in a ‘primary philosophy’, of a naturally appearing reaction to the world, of something that appears naturally in a person. In a ‘primary philosophy’ one is closer to life, of a natural life, because it reflects a more natural reaction. Atheism, being a ‘secondary philosophy’, is removed from life because it is “after” something, as a reaction to some other thing. As a result, it is not the initial reaction, the naturally appearing tendency. It’s for this reason that I think atheism is not a good ‘belief’ to have. It actually prevents a person from finding what they need. In some ways, its like a hole a person digs themselves into.
My personal opinion is that people are inherently religious. It is not something someone ‘chooses’. It is a fact coming from life and living. If anyone “lives” they must have a religious outlook on life. But, you must remember that I’m using religion in a broad perspective. I do not necessarily speak of religion in the context of an organized religion (which is what most people think ‘religion’ means). By ‘religious’ I mean a tendency to feel that there is “more” to life than what it seems. Typically it is based in a sense that there is a “something” more than us in life and that there is a “proper” way to behave and live. Because of this, there is generally an emphasis on living a ‘good life’. Everyone will refer to this fact in their life, perhaps describing it differently or using different words, but everyone refers to it and reflects on it in their life. Often, though, this reflection is done only at certain points in a person’s life but it’s there, naturally appearing. Its not unusual for atheists to do this quite often, as they are in a dilemma in life, which reflects their religious need.
My observation is that many ‘atheists’ are actually very religious, showing a naturally appearing and strong religious need. Behind atheism is often an extremely strong religious need, in fact, and a great desire to believe in something. For many reasons, they are unable to find it and so as if ‘hide’ behind atheism. This is why, whenever I hear of an atheist, I jokingly say something like: “. . . so I take it that your a very religious person then?”