Science says atheists don’t exist, they just choose a different Ultimate Value than others. The god that I hear militant fundamentalist atheists rail against is a big old dude, riding on the clouds with his finger poised over the “Smite” button.
They don’t like him. I don’t either. This is the old sky god that has been a popular metaphor at various junctions of human history: Thor or Zeus hurling thunderbolts-you’d better follow the rules or you’re toast!
You might recognize this sky god even among “Christians” who prefer obedience to love, like old John Calvin and his sadly deluded followers at Westboro Baptist Church.
What scientists say is that the human brain is hardwired to believe stuff. We all believe many things and very few, if any, of those things are ‘provable.’ Some things, we decide, are more probable than others, that’s all.
To say that a thing is not real because it cannot be measured by human senses (even with human-invented instruments) is absurd. Were germs, infrared and ultraviolet light not real until we could measure them? Could there be other things that are real that we cannot yet measure scientifically? Obviously, yes. Could there be some things that are real that we may never be able to measure scientifically? Scary thought? Relax and accept that we don’t know everything and that’s O.K.
We all choose an Ultimate Value: Love, truth, beauty, nature, God-something. If we choose God, to think of him we pick a metaphor, as cognitive scientist George Lakoff explains in the video below:
1) Father, protector, shepherd, nurturer
2) The Ultimate Everything: Ultimate Love, truth, beauty…
3) Source: We didn’t make our life and the good things in life, the source did.
4) Nature: Spinoza, who was accused of atheism, said God is, in fact, all that exists. Einstein said his was the God of Spinoza.
If you like science, watch the Lakoff interview below, conducted by an Enlightenment atheist, who bases his beliefs, he thinks, on the certainties of science.
You may have a mischaracterization of Spinoza’s idea. Spinoza was accused of atheism because he was, in fact, a pantheist. It’s not that god was all that exists, but rather all that exists is god: from the table you are probably typing on to the floor beneath your feet, everything is god. The accusation was that because everything is divine, there is no special separate existence which is divine, thus there is no personal god which is the source of the accusation of atheism.
I’m an atheist, and it’s not that I say there is no god but that there is no evidence to support the belief that “god exists.” If you are using the term “god” to designate something like the Cosmos or the source of all existence then, sure god exists, but to claim that there is a being with a distinct personality separate than I, and many like me, need some kind of evidence for that belief–whether epistemological or rational.
Thanks for your comment. Yes, I realize Spinoza was a pantheist and that he was accused of atheism because he did not buy the God metaphor of his coreligionists (the Jews.) My point it that we may be too hung up on our labels, on naming a thing and thinking we now have it all boxed up and figured out. Although all three “monotheistic” religions (there goes another label) say of course God permeates all reality, they split hairs with Spinoza.
Lao Tzu addressed this when he said, “THE Tao which can be expressed in words is not the eternal Tao; the name which can be uttered is not its eternal name. Without a name, it is the Beginning of Heaven and Earth; with a name, it is the Mother of all things.”
I like Lao Tzu, but I am a Christian and I like how Jesus said it more simply, “You guys strain out a gnat and swallow a camel.”