Recently I had a little facebook exchange with someone about Atheism, and I would say that for the most part he and I agree. In my youth, I was an ardent atheist. I spent a lot of time reading a lot of philosophy and eventually I became a panatheist. Then I spend some more time thinking and I began to wonder about the word ‘god’. How could I debate the existence of anything if I wasn’t even clear on the definition of what it was we were talking about?
God is often conceived as the supreme being and principal object of faith. In theism, God is the creator and sustainer of the universe. In deism, God is the creator (but not the sustainer) of the universe, he is the creator of time, space, human beings, animals. In pantheism, God is the universe itself. Theologians have ascribed a variety of attributes to the many different conceptions of God. Common among these are omniscience (infinite knowledge), omnipotence (unlimited power), omnipresence (present everywhere), omnibenevolence (perfect goodness), divine simplicity, and eternal and necessary existence. Monotheism is the belief in the existence of one God or in the oneness of God. – Wikipedia
I wonder if it as obvious to others how deeply ingrained predominant religious systems are in every culture. Just look at this definition from Wikipedia (and I do grant you that Wikipedia does have a lot to be desired as a solid reference, but it does reflect the accepted social attitudes pretty well.) The word god is capitalized. Isn’t that what we do for proper nouns? Doesn’t that automatically assume the existence of God as a single person? Capitalization implies a name. Also, I noticed that there is no reference to she, only “he”. I’m pretty sure that there are and have been plenty of deistic religions where the creator of the universe is conceived of as female. Native American beliefs are full of them.
Definition of atheism form the Oxford English Dictionary – noun: disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or god.
When presented with these definitions, I then had to ask myself, am I really a panatheist? Because of all of these definitions of the word god, panthesim seems the most logical. But I also have to ask, why are we debating this at all? Now if you think you are an atheist and don’t know about Pascal Blaise and his little formula, start googling or binging or what ever you do. You have a lot to learn about your ‘beliefs’.
The Atheist’s Wager suffers from the logical fallacy of the false dilemma, relying on the assumption that the only possibilities are:
- a benevolent god exists and punishes or rewards according to one’s actions, or
- a benevolent god does not exist.
That’s all good and fine. My eight year old son loves to debate like this on the playground- “Does not! Does too! Does not! etc”. But I have a hard time confining my view of life, the universe and everything to a simple statement of opposition to an outdated belief system. I really don’t have an issue with people believing in silly things. If we don’t have false ideas about how the world works there would be no questions, no science. My difficulty lies with people who think they know the answers. And that includes Atheists. If your sole conviction is that a personal god does not exist, then your convictions are just as narrow and dogmatic as those claiming the opposite.
Don’t get me wrong, I’d be pretty damn shocked if this alleged personal god ever revealed himself unequivocally to the world. But I cannot prove that those who believe in a personal god are wrong, which is good scientific method. Because if you can “prove your theory” by definition it becomes a belief. You can support your theory with a series of facts and it then becomes a scientific law, but that only means that no exceptions have been found up to that point. (If you are having problems following along google/bing/whatever: scientific hypothesis theory law definitions.)
So, if you are espousing the view that there is scientific evidence or proof that god does not exists or are asking someone to provide you with it, not only are you a poor scientist you are indeed an atheist. The word it’s self is derived from the Greek atheos, from a- ‘without’ + theos ‘god’. Which brings us back to the definition of the word god. Because if your definition of the word god includes the pantheistic definition (i.e. God is the universe itself) you may have problems. Unless you’re also a Buddhist.
My friends, I do not condemn you for your lack of desire to buy into all that crazy proof-of-gods-existence shit, but I beg you to stop buying into it. And I ask you, by engaging in the debate on these terms are you not becoming simply the other side of the thing you are condemning?
Let us think instead – how can we disengage the discourse on the mysteries of life from it’s social confines? How can we rely only on our senses when they are so narrow and easily fooled? How can we examine a concept of humanity, morality or social good if our primary tool for discussion is a language heavily laden with loaded concepts from antiquated ideologies? How can we discuss things for which we have not yet developed words?
Grilled Rosemary Lamb Chops
(from the people who brought you “the lamb of god” and “thou shalt not kill” – christianchefs.org)
3/4C (177ml) Balsamic Vinegar
6T (89ml) Olive Oil
3T (44ml) Fresh Lemon Juice
3T (21g) Fresh Minced Rosemary (1T/7g dried if you must)
6 Cloves Minced Garlic
1t (2g) Ground Black Pepper
12ea. 1″ (2.54cm) thick Loin Lamb Chops (fat trimmed)
(optional) Mesquite Wood Chips soaked one hour (Grape Wood Chips are good, too)
Mix first 6 ingredients in a small bowl.
Place lamb chops in a single layer in a glass dish.
Pour marinade over meat, cover with foil and refrigerate for 4 hours, turning chops occasionally.
Season lamb with salt and pepper and place on grill.
Grill chops till done basting with marinade.