orbiting chocolate teapots
I have Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion here at the moment; I’ve been stuck at 1/3 of the way through for some time, with work and other reading taking priority. My position on atheism is quite simple: I’ve been calling myself a “theoretical agnostic, practical atheist”. This is summarised in this apposite quote from Isaac Asimov, Free Inquiry, Vol. 2, Spring 1982:
I am an atheist, out and out. It took me a long time to say it. I’ve been an atheist for years and years, but somehow I felt it was intellectually unrespectable to say one was an atheist, because it assumed knowledge that one didn’t have. Somehow, it was better to say one was a humanist or an agnostic. I finally decided that I’m a creature of emotion as well as of reason. Emotionally, I am an atheist. I don’t have the evidence to prove that God doesn’t exist, but I so strongly suspect he doesn’t that I don’t want to waste my time.
Recently I figured out another way to put it: the Abrahamic god (of Judaism, Christianity & Islam) is supposedly omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. So, the idea of there being such a god “somewhere else” is a non-starter, since “omnipresence” means there is no such thing as “somewhere else”, or “some other time”.
If he is Omnipresent, he is here now – but do we see him, today?
If he is Omnipotent, he can do anything – but do we see him doing anything, today?
If he is Omniscient, he knows everything – so why is there so much stupidity and ignorance in the world, today?
If there is useful information in scriptures, it is a product of its time, containing some universal truth, but also much that used to make sense but no longer does. (Example: there was a time when pork was unsafe, but we’ve learned how to cure it.) But this kind of change is too complicated for mere people to handle – not out of stupidity, but out of laziness – so I’m not surprised to see a fundamentalist push to regress society to match the scriptures. (Hey, life was simpler 2000 years ago, let’s go back!)
A god that might exist, but can not be perceived; who sees this screwed-up world and does nothing to fix it; who knows everything but lets his people wallow in ignorance; is a god who is absolutely no use to me. Leave that idea behind, the sun keeps shining and the Earth keeps turning. If there is a teapot in orbit around the Sun, it’s made of chocolate.