Atheism as Optimism
I don’t hate god, I don’t believe there is a god to hate. I say this because one hears on a regular basis about how “Atheists hate god” which, to me, is roughly equivalent to the statement “adults hate Santa Claus”. That being said, I have to admit if somehow incontrovertible evidence of god was granted to us tomorrow it would not change my position as an AntiTheist. As a matter of fact such proof would likely cause a great deal of anger and resentment in me. My atheism is, I believe, rooted in sound rational and reasonable foundations of historical study, some scientific understanding and a critical analysis of both the reality around me and the world as it appears in the various “holy” books. That being said I have to admit there is another aspect to my atheism. Some of it, I have to admit, is just plain old human optimism. That’s right, optimism. I am comforted by the notion that the world we inhabit is not the design of some higher life form. It gives me great solace to see that there is no puppeteer on the other end of the strings, and that in the end it is us who have to decide the shape of the world we’re going to live in.
The concept of the existence of a deity who watches with indifference as suicide bombers, ethnic cleansers, and radical anti-abortionists kill and maim in its name is abhorrent to me. I find the idea of a god who would litter the world with various competing faiths and then sit back and watch the millennia of fear, horror, death, depravity and deprivation that had to ensue as a result truly disgusting. I see nothing worthy of worship in the characterisation of deity laid out before me by the various faiths. In every case you’ve got an all-powerful entity whose primary entertainment seems to be pitting one group of its creations against another. For example, we’ve got the ancient Jews against the Amalekites (1 Samuel 15: 2-3) which was only one group which the Jews were expressly ordered to kill and pillage in the book or Muslims commanded to fight and kill disbelievers (quran 2:191). These are only two examples. There are a great many more.
I am happy to know that there is absolutely no objective reason to believe that there is a force in the universe which hates some of it’s creations so much that it has ordered the rest of us to shun and kill them. I’m delighted that there is no evidence to support the idea that after we die the vast majority of us will be consigned to a place of fire and suffering for not fully embracing the proper method of worship.
The characterization that “atheists hate god” is incorrect, as I stated at the beginning of this post but if there was a god to hate the god of the abrahamic faiths would certainly be deserving of that hatred, as well as fear, mistrust and disgust. I personally can’t think of anything more reprehensible than to claim to love something while threatening it with pain and death if it steps out of line.
The optimism comes into play with the conviction that these systems of belief are entirely man made. This is optimism because if we made it that means we can unmake it. Whether or not this will ever occur is another matter, but the possibility exists and that makes me hopeful. I believe we can eventually transcend the strictures, fears and prejudices of our ancient past and put aside the divisive, damaging and dangerous concept of theology in favor of a truly humanistic system.