A nice short post today…
Occasionally a christian friend has said to me “but you can’t prove that God doesn’t exist” or words to that effect. Usually after they’ve exhausted various other gambits aimed to make me think twice about my non-belief.
The first part of my answer is usually “yep, you’re right”. It’s impossible to prove that something doesn’t exist, after all. But that’s not where the burden of proof lies.
You’re the one who believes in something you can’t see, feel, hear, touch or taste. I don’t. You’re the one with something to prove, not me. So you go ahead and prove that your god exists. Until you do, I’ll just continue to assume it doesn’t, in the absence of any evidence to the contrary.
Unlike some prominent public figures who seem very caught up in semantics, I’m happy to acknowledge that I am an atheist, just as I’m also happy with the terms sceptic, bright, and secular humanist.
Having said that, let’s just make sure we all understand what an atheist is.
Being an atheist does not mean that I believe there are no gods.
It means that I do not believe that there are any gods.
See the difference? It’s subtle but really important. Atheism is not a belief system, let alone a faith or religion. It is simply the absence or lack of belief that there is a deity or deities.
There’s a popular and helpful quote here (I’m not sure where it originated):
Atheism is a belief in the same way that bald is a hair colour.
So religious folks who say “well, you still believe in something – you believe that God doesn’t exist” haven’t got it right. My lack of belief in a god isn’t a belief itself – indeed, it’s the opposite.
But neither do I believe in nothing, which is another thing atheists are often accused of. I believe some things that others may contend are not certain. I believe that I’m quite good at my profession, for example. I believe that peace in the Middle East is not achievable in my lifetime. I could go on. It just happens that the existence of a deity is not one of the things I believe.
I’m an Anglo-French person currently based in Malta in the Mediterranean. Malta has been my home for a few years now, and there are many things I like about the country.
However, living under a constitution that defines catholicism as the state religion is not one of them. Nor is the holier-than-thou blinkered religiosity that many of the Maltese exhibit one day, while treating asylum seekers like something they picked up on their shoe the next.
This hypocrisy finds its way into all aspects of a Maltese catholic’s life, from hanging a grisly crucifix in the car that they use to cut other people off and swear out of the window, to getting all steamed up about abortion while at the same time killing thousands of protected birds using illegal equipment.
Of course I’m not saying that all catholics are like that, just as I’m in no way saying that all Maltese catholics are like that. Actually, I think I AM saying that… And I see some manifestation of this phenomenon almost every day.
I call it “faux piety” and no doubt this blog will touch on it more than once. I have set the blog up as a way of exploring the various ways in which religious faith can be shown to be unnecessary, stupid and downright dangerous, but I also try to see the funny side sometimes. I will also explore the circumstances of my own religious upbringing and subsequent “deconversion”, in an attempt to understand my own strong anti-religious feelings a little better.
And let’s face it, if I get a bee under my bonnet about something else entirely, I’m liable to post about that as well…
Read, enjoy, think, comment, share.