Though my title applies to the nature of theism rather than atheism it has relevance in how over the years people have dealt with their atheism and failed to have it recognised as a social and political force.

I will start by getting my initial statement about the title out of the way because it is very simple to explain and will save confusion later. Theism is indefensible for the simple reason that without irrefutable evidence of a god any and all arguments for a god remain pure philosophy. Arguments for a real existing god are meaningless and doomed to fail. Theist often argue the problems they perceive (or are instructed to perceive) in science and atheism as if it in some way justified or proved their god, what they fail to understand is that if all of scientific knowledge was to be overturned tomorrow we would still be no closer to proving a god unless they could show a god did it. Trying to discredit scientific findings and theories is a waste of time they could better spend trying to prove there was a god. When pushed for evidence theists will often say they have faith but the doctrines of faith exclude any need of evidence and fails to meet the requirement. The very nature of god as supernatural also excludes evidence because evidence would make god part of the natural and easily proven by scientific means. Defending a philosophy is always possible (though theism fails there too) but defence of a real god entity is and will forever remain indefensible.

ExplainAtheism is indefensible in an entirely different way. Atheism fails to have any beliefs or doctrines of it’s own to defend. This creates a problem if you are trying to defend or promote atheism. Only this week I saw a preacher had written a book on the premise that atheists “need god” to make their case, the problem is that he has a point (though not the one he was trying to make). Atheism does rely on god, a philosophically constructed argument for god must exist for atheism to exist. This does not mean we accept or require a real existing entity as I am sure the theist writer proposes. Without the philosophy of god there would be no reason to be atheist, we could all get on with our lives in peace free from other peoples imaginary friends, ridiculous doctrines and attempts to subvert our political systems with religious agendas.

The point I want to make with this article is that idea of promotion is hard for atheism we’re always on the back foot. Atheism exists only to deny theism. Being heard or seen as a significant community has long been a problem and not having a doctrine or doctrinal organisation voicing our side of the deity philosophy has left behind us with generations of silence and oppression.

Atheism is not new, it existed in ancient Greece. I alone am the third generation of recognisably atheistic men in my family. This being atheistic in fact makes my point, we were atheistic because as non-believers the word atheist was not on our radar. I learned the word atheist in my 30s and it took another 10 years to fully accept it as the best and least confusing word to describe who I am. I know of religion, I wasn’t insulated from the world and who gets through life without a church funeral or wedding or at least one door knocking evangelist. In my case both of my parents had given any pretends of religion up before I was born. Years before I was born both had identified as members of christian cults (anglican and catholic). When I came into the world I had the luck of being raised with no religion at home and being allowed to discover it on my own. I did some religious instruction in primary school and even went to Sunday school for a while. In my later years, the years where morality becomes an issue, I did a far more comprehensive study of as many religions and doctrines as I could to find anything of value. I knew early on that all that god stuff made no sense and that I had no requirement for it. All my self discovery and learning only solidified my non belief and yet, I never recall learning or discovering through community involvement, the word atheist. Discovering the word atheism was part of a search for parents like myself who were seeking an end to stealth indoctrination of our children. Without that search I may never have identified as atheist or become a part of a community.

I am lucky in some ways that I was born and live in Australia. Australia has always be an irreligious country and though statistically many people will identify with a religion Australia it is a cultural religion not a belief in deity they lay claim too. All my life I have heard about how Australians don’t attend church, of late that has focused on the fact they don’t even go for the religious festivals any more. My home country has always been the sort of place where saying you didn’t believe in a god was possible and had a reduced impact on you life. Growing up pubs (public bars) were more important to the people around me than churches and it was not all that important to identify as atheist. My blood relations are a measure of religion in my life, my grandmother was raised as an orphan in a convent and was catholic, I had one nutter christian aunt and one of her sons now runs his own commune, if there were more it was unknown to me or cultural. That makes 3 people suffered from religion amongst my blood relations, an almost insignificant number amongst my 4 grandparents, 12 aunts and uncles and 50 cousins. Because of this low incidence of religious infection I have lost only a few friends and opportunities for my non belief and never family or even my life as I may have in other places in the world.

It was before the advent of modern social media, 15 years ago when my son started school, that I became a vocal atheist and yet still no under that label. As non believers my wife and I took on religion in state schools and had school prayers and creeds (our sons said “trust in god”) abolished in our state and still we had no organisation or community to identify with. Had we had a community we may have won more of our battles. It was a few years after these events that I accepted atheism and it took my wife another 10 years to accept the atheist label, not because it is wrong for us but because we had little to no understanding of the term, it simply wasn’t in our vocabulary.

The big problem with a country of people who culturally accept religion, they continue religions political and social power. Cultural theists see no great harm in identifying as something they may in fact not be. They believe saying you are one religion means another less desirable religion never takes control of our country, they never consider no religion as a valid option. Countries like mine also don’t discuss religion in a proper manner, meaning, we never get to know of atheism or other options to the one we see as our birth right. Having a religion is accepted as a cultural norm, if you say you have no religion you get asked your parents religion and you get associated with that rather than atheism. Cultural theism means nobody needs to say or even think you can live without religion. We non believers never get to know other non believers on anything but a passing level while religion uses it’s wealth and numbers to influence our political and legal system. Without doctrines and organisations we have no power or funds and no promotion.

This lifeIf it were not for the advent of modern social media (I used to Grex and admin on IRC so I know the now and then) atheism may still be individuals fighting personal battles against religion. As American style evangelism slowly take the place of traditional religion social media has benefited atheism beyond any other form of media. It has taken technology to promote and drive atheism forward and yet we still struggle to have the words recognised in the greater community. It is still easy to go through life not knowing what the word atheism means or recognising one of the symbols used by atheists. People like myself still go through life not knowing there is an option to cultural religion. People like I once was can still feel alienated and left out. As I myself have said, being the non believer in church is is like being sober at a party where everyone else is drunk. People in this world still feel that way, our voice is not being heard in the regular media and not everyone thinks to google their social issues.

I love the fact that within my lifetime atheism has lifted itself up high and become something theist preachers and organisations fear. I do however think we need to do more to be heard in the crowd. We need to become a culturally significant part of society driving for change and showing ourselves to be people. We need to diminish the stigma and hate theists have loaded us with so that even when new non believers hear the word they don’t fear it and can associate with it.

I started a Facebook group with two intentions. Initially we had to take on some theist bigotry in our community being spread through social media and then we had to offer support and community to other non believers in our community. Though we (largely I) are active in the international community on-line we are still only an offer of coffee and a chat if anybody wants one locally. This I believe is where we have to start, we have to be willing to give ourselves to help people who need a friend or someone to discuss their belief issues with. It is through our actions at the most basic levels that we take atheism from being the unspoken poor cousin of theism to the powerful doctrine breaking philosophical power house it is.

Atheism needs to promote itself wider, we need to be seen and heard. We need people to understand that there is an option not to be feared. My eldest will be the first generation of atheist to say all his life “I am atheist”. He will defend his atheism knowing he has legal protection and community but will he promote his atheism and voice it as often as theists do? How will atheism find it’s place in society if we don’t find ways to promote? It is important for the future of atheism that we, as individuals, embrace and defend our atheism publicly. Groups have limited function because they splinter and diminish the impact of causes. We need groups because humans are sociable animals and groups are in our nature but we need to work beyond groups. As individuals with our one common factor we should still work together but not shy away from the idea of atheism being able to be racist, homophobic and generally bigoted. This has to be our truth rather than demand people be humanist, atheist+ or not be atheisting wrong (trust me, you do not have to like everybody to be atheist or humanist). It is only from that position, the position where every non believer is happy to admit their lack of belief regardless of their choice of bigotry, that we get to discuss our bigotry, work it out and be free from doctrine. Only when we do this will atheism be a valid option for all people, something we can promote to everyone and make a very real social force.

Atheist_symbolFor atheism to push forward it needs to be visible and viable an option for everyone. We need to promote our negative philosophy and lack of doctrine and make it appeal to people. We need to work out who we are and who we want to be if we ever want to draw theists and non atheist non believers to our side. We need to promote or compassion and show our bigotry, we need to be human with failings and emotions. We need to show we can do what everybody else does but do it without gods. We need to make the negative of denial a positive of life and show how atheism improves us and our lives.

Having said that, I don’t for one second think we should all agree on everything or not argue amongst ourselves. We need to make our individuality a positive as much as we need to turn our message of denial into a positive. I look forward to more discussion and argument with my fellow atheists, I don’t need us to all be like me. I look forward to being wrong and being corrected. It is important to atheism that where we can we show how these things are positive things resulting from our atheism.

Atheism has enough people wanting to dirty it without our assisting them. It’s time we took an active roll in promoting rather than always being on the back foot refuting some new nonsense from yet another ignorant theist.

May your gods remain fictional.

The Antitheocrat.

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  1. […] Source: Defending the Indefensible […]

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