I saw a Facebook page recently entitled “Atheists and Rational Thinkers” and thought nothing of it. That was, of course, until I saw the kind of images they were posting, which were all anti-religious or, at the very least, portraying religion, specifically theistic religion, as being something that was idiotic to believe in. Then I quickly concluded that the page was at least mildly offensive. Thinking on it further, I concluded that it was actually a really offensive title for a Facebook page. Once again, we have a piece of modern culture, supposedly one aimed at “rational thinkers”, looking down on theistic religion.
I found this absolutely absurd! To claim that atheism, that not believing in God, is in any way “more rational” than being a believer. Those who have transformed science into a new God (not to be confused with true scientists, who, as you know, have no qualms about admitting what they can and cannot prove) have taken the term “rational” and changed it from its original meaning “pertaining to reason” and instead made it “scientifically supported”. Ironically, the terms began as the opposite! You had Empiricism on the one hand and the rationalists on the other.
Now, I am not claiming that science is in any way irrational, indeed I think that it is exceptionally rational and there are many rational arguments to support trust in empirical evidence.Indeed, there are also many rational arguments for the existence of God. “Oh,” I hear you say, “but those cannot be proven!” Well, I respond, that depends on what you consider to be proof! Empirical evidence, I hear you cry? Well then why call yourselves rational thinkers, because the whole point of rationalism is that it goes beyond the purely empirical. Just as there are flaws with arguments for God, so are there flaws with arguments for being solely empiricist.
I do not wish to argue against atheism or against science or against empirical or rational thought, though I do oppose closed-mindedness on either side of the argument. Though most of us have overheard or seen first hand the nature of zealous religious people and their well-known closed-mindedness, I am unsure that people are aware of how closed-minded people can be on the other side. Just because you are a believer in science does not give you the ability to speak with authority about everything, only that which science covers. Real scientists realise that and they spend their time talking about what they can talk about, it is only their followers who make alternative claims.
“Oh,” I hear you cry again, “but nobody commits terrible acts in the name of atheism!”
That is true, but then again nobody commits atrocities in the name of God, either, because it is impossible to do so. In fact, all such atrocities committed “in the name of God” are actually committed under one conception of God, because there is no conception of God which is the fundamental conception of it, even if there were, we either could not know its will or it has no such will. Either way it does not matter. Those who claim to commit such acts in the name of God actually mean they are committing it in the name of their conception of God.
The same can be applied to atheism. There are thousands of ideologies which are atheistic, some of them are good and some of them are bad. No, nobody commits terrible acts in the name of atheism, but they do in the name of atheistic organisations and ideologies. They kill in the name of their country, or their creed. The God element does not matter, because the authority to kill comes from their creed. Just as religious extremists do morally questionable (at least) acts in the name of their creeds, so do atheistic organisations. For example, take Nazism for example. Ultimately, it was atheistic (even though some might argue that Hitler was made into a Divine figure) and so many terrible things were done in its name.
It would be utterly infantile and illogical to condemn all atheistic ideologies on the basis of the Nazis. It would be akin to saying that the British government is fundamentally flawed because it is secular and so were the Nazis. So why do people feel that it is acceptable to damn theism itself for the actions of certain creeds within it?
So to those who think that they are more ration due to either their belief or disbelief in God, I have one thing to say: You’re not.