I’ve always classed myself as a fairly ungodly heathen. Having Roman Catholicism rammed down my neck in school, I gained a profound suspicion from an early age. To me, the whole of Christianity seems to preach peace and freedom while forcibly denying anyone’s right to believe in anything other than a god who may, or may not, exist.
But at a party last weekend I made the mistake of mentioning to a rather large ruffian, in passing, that I was agnostic. As I sat at a table in the yard, casually smoking a cigarette, he stood up over my seat threateningly. He then built himself up into a fury about ‘sitting on the fence’ which I can only compare to an apocalyptic sermon.
I calmly asked him if he had any proof that there was no god? He replied that we hadcreation theory. I agreed, referring him to my (above) dislike of Christianity. I support reason and evidence, but what part of any scientific research has ever proved to him that there is, indeed, no god?
Aside from implying that the bible is the only standing account of gods existence, his rather brash and violent argument boiled down to this: ‘I do not have proof that there is no god. However, I believe that science is working towards this. We probably won’t find proof in my lifetime, but I know that it will happen one day and that’s good enough for me.’
I just know. Where have I heard this kind of reasoning before?
I tried to make the man see my point of view. I have no idea how the elements that created the big bang came to be. Being someone who needs evidence before I believe in something, I accept that I can neither prove nor disprove the existence of a god. Many over the centuries have tried and failed so why waste my time? Instead, I choose to enjoy my life for what it is, contentedly accepting that I will probably never know for certain. For this reason, I think agnosticism is in fact more logical than atheism.
I cannot describe to you the rage this put the lad into. It was absurd! For the first time I felt a fraction of how it must feel to be persecuted for your religion. Had we not have met like this we may have been friends but I was now shunned, hated even, purely because my beliefs were different to his.
The whole affair reminded me of John Gray‘s Straw Dogs. At one point he discusses the idea that atheism could only ever be an extension of Christianity because the religion has a unique ethos: that there is no alternative. While other religions accept that there will always be conflicting opinions, Christians set themselves on a mission to convert the entire human race. Hence all the missionaries.
In this respect the meta-theory of atheism is exactly the same, with Richard Dawkins on the front line fervently denouncing all the infidels. And the more I think about it the more I feel atheism is as bad, if not worse, than. O.k- over the centuries Catholics have taken many more billions of innocent lives. But in comparison they have a kind of blunt honesty about them. At least they admit that their religion is faith while they kill all the non-believers.
ManyI’ve encountered, on the other hand, hijack science as a kind of conversational ‘trump card’ to silence other opinions. They hide their faith under a guise of facts and figures whilst pretending to know the secrets of the universes creation. The funny part is, through believing in something without evidence, they are often the very thing they hate the most.