The Psychology of Atheism
The question of whether a god or higher power exists is one of the most debated topics on our planet. With the formation of organized religion, people are able to choose groups that share a common belief or set of beliefs. We have Catholics, Muslims, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Buddhists, Mormons, etc. But the one thing that most religions across the globe have in common is the belief in the existence of a higher power. For the atheist, that belief is absent. How an individual becomes a “non-believer” or “heretic” often relates to their experiences and philosophy on life.
There is a reason we have all heard the caveat not to talk about religion or politics in mixed company.
Those topics have a way of igniting people’s passions. Religion is a hallmark of society, having been in existence for thousands of years. Many religious sects rely on the ancient text that has been passed down the generations (e.g.: Bible, Koran, Torah, etc.). These writings have instructed and guided individuals seeking spiritual enlightenment. They are also relied upon as proof a higher power exists.
Atheism and atheist’s views vary, but they all agree that a higher power or a god does not exist. To the atheist, our existence is a journey of life and death. We are all organisms on this planet, each surviving in one fashion or another. As to the “creation of man”, many atheists refer to modern science for an explanation (e.g.: the Big Bang theory). There are also scientific suggestions for how some of the “miracles” written about in the Bible and other religious works occurred. The main element that sets the atheist apart from the Christian, Buddhist, etc. is their acceptance that life (or death) has no mysticism. When the atheist dies, his remains will decay in the earth and that will be the end of him. There is no spiritual passage thereafter; there is no soul or final judgment before a deity. Simply, you live and you die.
Atheists might argue that the very existence of multiple religions and the wars (crusades), etc. in the name of religion are reasons not to believe. Great confusion appears over whose religion is the right one and whose is pagan. And to spill blood in the name of a higher power would seem the antithesis of “love thy brother.” It could be suggested that if religion proved anything, it would be that we can’t agree on what holy reverence we should pay homage to. And the debate over this continues to kill people to this day.
Why can’t the atheist believe in a god and miracles, etc.?
Many rely on a “seeing is believing” philosophy, with physical evidence to support their beliefs. The injustice would be to believe in something that cannot be proven and find it was in error. For Christian, etc. the idea of believing what cannot be proved only confirms their piety. Many atheists agree that the passage of religious doctrine is a human invention and subsequent corruption. With multiple authors of the Bible and various bits and pieces of religious literature that almost seem contrary to themselves (Old Testament versus New Testament), does religion really offer clarity? This is not to say many atheists do not appreciate religion. The Ten Commandments of the Bible establish a basis for morality that can be agreed upon whether you are a religious person or not. Who should not honor thy mother and father? Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. These teachings are healthy ones for creating respect towards others and society in general. Some might refer to these ideals as a way of keeping the peace, with the fear of an eternity in hell as a consequence for failing to heed them.
Life is full of choices.
The choice to believe in a higher power or god is obviously one of them. Some individuals choose to offer their lives in service to that belief. Others choose to believe but not actively practice. And some choose not to believe altogether, relying on a simplistic view of the world and life in general. Regardless of your religious preference, each being should have the free will to decide for themselves. Rather than denounce, we can respect the choice others have made.