Friday, September 25, 2015

A Believer's Inquiry Part II: Of Gnomes and Gods

The following is the second of two email exchanges between myself and believer author Dick Gist.  Once again, if I am not appropriately representing your position/s as freethinkers, or even if I am, please feel free to comment on the blog article by clicking on "comments" at the end of this article on my blog,  or via this link    Thanks!


Over the years I’ve “buried" a number of inadequate gods, and each experience was one of doubt and pain and sadness. But each time, a greater god appeared. I’m curious. In order to reject or deny a god, one must have in mind that which he/she is rejecting, and it would be interesting to know what that is for people (just a suggestion). I have to tell you, I don’t get enough stimulation of the sort I get from you, so I really appreciate your input.

The best,

I'm a little at a loss as to your experience with "inadequate gods" and how atheists might relate to it vis-a-vis understanding which god one is rejecting.  It may be owing to the possibility that you are too invested in the "Everyone must have 'something' to believe in!" mindset that most theists seem to have, and seem to be unable to get beyond. But here's my best attempt at answering your question: 

As an atheist the very concept of a god has as much meaning to me as the concept of gnomes has to you.  You reject gnomes at face as not real, a non-existent creature, a creation of man's mind.  You do not need to substitute your rejection of gnomes with some other mythical creature; nor do you have to analyze what gnome qualities you reject.  I'd bet dollars to donuts it's not even a consideration.

Similarly, atheists' view God/gods of any flavor; with any  attributes or temperament; from any culture, time period, or civilization;  as just one more "gnome".  We don't need to find some replacement. 

In lieu of dependence on / belief in supernatural beings, most atheists tend to invest their lives in scientific reality, reason; in family and friends; in education, civility, fairness, and justice; in empathy for those less fortunate and the ethic of reciprocity; trying to make the here and now in the only world we will ever know as good as it can be.   No boogieman, or man-god, or four armed elephant god need apply. 

This is often difficult for the religiously indoctrinated to wrap their arms around, an alien concept, their having known nothing else but supernaturalism. 

Alas, while belief in gnomes is harmless, belief in supreme beings and the expectations and requirements they are  perceived to demand from their followers and practitioners is often quite malevolent and destructive. That is what makes me an anti-theist as well as an atheist.

Anyway... I'll work this aspect of our exchange into a second blog, and invite my readers to add their own perspectives.  We have no doctrine or dogma, so  I'm speaking for myself and from info gleaned from my association with many non-believers over the years.

Yours in reason,



NewEnglandBob said...

"..."...most atheists tend to invest their lives in scientific reality, reason; in family and friends; in education, civility, fairness, and justice; in empathy for those less fortunate and the ethic of reciprocity; trying to make the here and now in the only world we will ever know as good as it can be."

I agree 100% but you left out football, bacon and Mozart.

NewEnglandBob said...

I really don't care what religion demands of their followers though. Let them do whatever they want to themselves. What makes me anti-theist is when they try to foist thei nonsense on others.

Dromedary Hump said...

Heheh..well...bacon and Dvorak anyway.

Jefandrues said...

Very succinct and agreeable definition of an atheist's philosophy (well, mine, at least)
You can add the universal "Do unto others ..." and poetry to football, bacon & composers mentioned above.

Bill Carruthers said...

Well said sir !

Sue Kocher said...

Once again, Bart, you speak for me.

HE said...

I am 100% atheist and I agree 100% with your responses to both inquirers. A realistic/rational view of the real world should dismiss any belief in a god or goddess, or angels, demons, etc. If that doesn't work, the believer should read their holy literature with at least one ounce of comprehension, honesty, realism, and moral values. Ignorance will no longer be bliss.

billofjazz said...

Hi Hump,

I have to wonder if your correspondence with Dick Gist isn't having a profound effect on his belief and dependence on the existence in the supernatural.
I will continue to read your emails as they are published and distributed, all the while looking for that inevitable kink in his supernatural armor.

NDO said...

I agree with Bob with an additional consideration. It is merely annoying when believers try to "save" us non-believers. However, it is dangerous when a believer holds the power to bring about the end of the world because they look forward to "going to their God". So the guy in the white house who has their finger on the red button better be an atheist and not someone who welcomes the rapture.

Rudolf Kellmann said...

I very much agree with your assertion that belief in gnomes is harmless, but belief in supernatural beings can be destructive.

paul said...

When dismissing Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and other childhood fantasies as make-believe, I found it impossible to substitute the more "adult" fantasies surrounding religions. Maybe something in my environment was different from that of the typical child, but it has always made sense to me to treat all fantasies dealing with the supernatural and the empirically impossible with equal amounts of skepticism and disbelief.

Eric B. said...

OK, as an atheist, and an anti-theist, I'm fully invested in Reality. I also follow certain Buddhist doctrine (but zippo that smacks of anything supernatural, reincarnation, etc.) as a guide to living a happy and effective life. I am evolved, I am educated, I have myriad and extremely varied interests, I am giving, I live in the here and now, I am grateful, I am fulfilled, I am happy. I have no need for, no room for, nor can I intellectually justify the existence of a god. Blessings and may you and your loved ones be healthy and happy.

Anonymous said...


Well said. I agree with your assessment of believing in Gnomes is equivalent to believing in God(s) and that both beliefs look inadequate from an atheist POV.

As others said, it's not so much the theist God(s) beliefs but the religions organizing around those God(s) beliefs that become toxic to the well being of everyone.

- Fastthumbs