Here’s some news: Atheists are actually human. I’ll bet no one knew that. In fact, there are some that seem to believe that we atheists are completely rational all the time, like Mr. Spock, in Star Trek. In fact, as I’ve written time and again, we are no different than anyone else with the that single exception: we don’t believe in gods.
Yes, atheists can be irrational. Is that a real surprise for anyone? We are individuals, not limited necessarily to groupthink as those that are religious. We often debate various points of politics, culture, and society in general. Some hold fast to their belief in something they think should be a societal norm. Others disagree. Is that a form of irrationality or is it something that we have come to accept, however erroneous, over time?
The reason I’m writing about this is due to this article: Why atheists are not as rational as some like to think. It’s a mish-mash, in my opinion, of how atheists are in fact no different than anyone else. It doesn’t say anything that any atheist I have ever known doesn’t say, basically. There’s a lot wrong with it, and I thought about going through a paragraph-by-paragraph dissection, but then thought I’d let my readers view and comment as well.
I will however take on a few assertions. One is that atheists, according to this writer have some sort of eureka moment. I’m not saying that doesn’t happen, just waking up one morning and deciding they are an atheist, but I doubt it’s as common as the writer wants us to believe. It’s not a light switch, as I written in the past, and everyone I have ever known that left religious belief for atheism did not suddenly decide. For me, it was years in the making. It was doubting and questioning and not receiving sufficient answers that eventually lead me to my disbelief. For some, it the realization occurred when they were young, teenagers. For others, it was later in life. The point is that it took time, whether it was one or two years as a young person, or many years, knowing, when the decision came, that they may be ostracized by family and friends as well as their community.
The writer next takes on science. As I’ve written, I Don’t Believe in Science. I trust science, but science is not infallible. I trust the process, the Scientific Method. I didn’t replace one god for another, as the writer of the above article would have us think. Believers claim that their god or gods are in fact unerring in every aspect of life. Science doesn’t make any claim remotely close to that. It is a process of trial and error, sometimes overthrowing previous hypotheses. Sure, I know plenty of atheists that say they believe in science, but what they’re really saying is just that: the process that enables us to understand ourselves, our planet, and our universe, is an ongoing and the knowledge we gain from failure, will eventually, over time, lead to some success in whatever field is explored.
What believers don’t get is that knowledge doesn’t come from some god, but by the sweat and tears of a lot of people, over a long time. All of us would like instant answers, cures, but that’s not the way science works. We can talk about hypotheses currently being explored, but no one can determine what the outcome, if any is ever determined, will be.
This is the difference with atheists. Not that we are more rational than others, but that we think of the possibilities of humans. We don’t rely on the supernatural to define for us what is reality or not; What is moral or not.
I cannot speak for every atheist, nor would I presume. Yes, we have our differences, no different than any other person. No we are not perfectly rational in any definition of the word. I think I may confidently say that atheists are not looking for answers beyond ourselves.
Atheism is nothing more than the non-belief in gods. That’s it. Everything else is subject to the individual. Unfortunately, it’s also become, in some instances, another form of groupthink – not about non-belief but on other subjects. This is where those, like the writer above I think get their opinion of atheists in general. It’s wrong, in my opinion, because there are some atheists willing to discuss/debate. Others, unfortunately will not tolerate any dissent from their orthodoxy.
All that says though is that we, like everyone else, are just human, trying to weave our way through this life, attempting to understand the world around us.
Being an atheist doesn’t make anyone more rational. It only allows us to question, without fear, our own universe.