I wanted to reply to the "atheism is a religion of not believing in a God" (a
God?) thing by quoting, at some length, I'm afraid, Douglas Adams on the subject.
Mr. Adams, you have been described as a "radical Atheist." Is this accurate?
DNA: Yes. I think I use the term radical rather loosely, just for emphasis. If you describe yourself as ďAtheist,Ē some people will say, ďDonít you mean ĎAgnosticí?Ē I have to reply that I really do mean Atheist. I really do not believe that there is a god - in fact I am convinced that there is not a god (a subtle difference). I see not a shred of evidence to suggest that there is one. Itís easier to say that I am a radical Atheist, just to signal that I really mean it, have thought about it a great deal, and that itís an opinion I hold seriously. Itís funny how many people are genuinely surprised to hear a view expressed so strongly. In England we seem to have drifted from vague wishy-washy Anglicanism to vague wishy-washy Agnosticism - both of which I think betoken a desire not to have to think about things too much.
Other people will ask how I can possibly claim to know? Isnít belief-that-there-is-not-a-god as irrational, arrogant, etc., as belief-that-there-is-a-god? To which I say no for several reasons. First of all I do not believe-that-there-is-not-a-god. I donít see what belief has got to do with it. I believe or donít believe my four-year old daughter when she tells me that she didnít make that mess on the floor. I believe in justice and fair play (though I donít know exactly how we achieve them, other than by continually trying against all possible odds of success). I also believe that England should enter the European Monetary Union. I am not remotely enough of an economist to argue the issue vigorously with someone who is, but what little I do know, reinforced with a hefty dollop of gut feeling, strongly suggests to me that itís the right course. I could very easily turn out to be wrong, and I know that. These seem to me to be legitimate uses for the word believe. As a carapace for the protection of irrational notions from legitimate questions, however, I think that the word has a lot of mischief to answer for. So, I do not believe-that-there-is-no-god. I am, however, convinced that there is no god, which is a totally different stance and takes me on to my second reason.
I donít accept the currently fashionable assertion that any view is automatically as worthy of respect as any equal and opposite view. My view is that the moon is made of rock. If someone says to me ďWell, you havenít been there, have you? You havenít seen it for yourself, so my view that it is made of Norwegian Beaver Cheese is equally validĒ - then I canít even be bothered to argue. There is such a thing as the burden of proof, and in the case of god, as in the case of the composition of the moon, this has shifted radically. God used to be the best explanation weíd got, and weíve now got vastly better ones. God is no longer an explanation of anything, but has instead become something that would itself need an insurmountable amount of explaining. So I donít think that being convinced that there is no god is as irrational or arrogant a point of view as belief that there is. I donít think the matter calls for even-handedness at all.
Oh and by the way, me? I'm a Buddhist, but only by marriage.
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