I've been focusing a lot lately on the aesthetics of what makes an Atheist; how we are defined, how we react to certain situations. However, I've not really gone into depth on how an Atheist thinks. Granted, this is a difficult subject to delve into as Atheists, like all people, are widely different and vary in just about every way from one person to the next. Though there are many similarities to how they think as well, especially when you get a like-minded group in one location.
The main problem I've faced with this topic, though, and the one that has kept me from writing about it, is that it's hard to get into someone's mind, especially when that someone is not yourself. While I may be an Atheist, there is very little point in trying to explain my own mind and my own way of thinking. It would be too personalized and completely unhelpful. However, my mind is all I have to work with. So, I came up with a new way of tackling this topic, and it is very different from how this blog has been handled thus far. Today, I am going to ask the Theists a question and then try to answer it myself in their stead. I already know it won't be very accurate, but I'm not trying to be. I'm simply demonstrating how an Atheist thinks when trying to understand Theists, which is one thing I've been trying to do more lately. Think of it as a New Year's resolution.
As with other touchy subjects, I'll have to give a warning right now that this may offend some people. I'm sorry if this does offend anyone, as that is not my intention. With this in mind, let's get to the question.
"How do Theists know their god(s) exist(s)?"
I figured something broad would give a lot of details to work with.
The simplest answer anyone can give to this question is that they don't. This then falls back on the faith aspect of Theism, where you keep belief that the particular god does exist despite your lack of physical evidence. This is great, as long as you don't then assume that there is no other possible solution. Faith, after all, is meant to teach an open mind.
Some people claim they look at the complexity of the universe and can't fathom it coming from something other than a god. The problem with this is that the most complex things we know about are not designed in the slightest, but the work of various forces. Sure, one could argue that these forces were set in place by this god, but that's going back to the first answer, faith, as there is no evidence for this.
There are those that have a feeling, deep within them, and they believe this feeling is their god. This is a lovely feeling, and one many people would benefit from. However, this also is not a way of knowing whether or not their god exists, but merely assigning something to their god arbitrarily. This, again, leads us back to faith.
The most often used argument for gods that has been used recently is known as the Kalam Cosmological Argument. Essentially, this argument states that all things that began to exist had a cause, the universe began to exist, therefore the universe had a cause. This sounds good, and is logically correct, but the facts aren't there to back it up. We're not entirely sure that everything that exists has a cause, nor are we sure when or even if the universe began. Without the evidence to back these premises, we are, once again, back to faith.
So, from an Atheist viewpoint, the only thing that lets Theists know that their gods exist is faith. As I've already said, faith is not a bad thing. As long as one keeps the open mind that faith requires, it can be a great tool and a great feeling. There are many Atheists who actually wish they could have the faith it takes to believe in gods. However, as I've stated in a previous blog, these Atheists also require evidence to change their minds, making faith unobtainable.
So, there we go, an Atheist's view on how Theists know their gods exist. I hope I have not offended anyone with this topic and that the Theists that read this now understand how Atheists think a little bit better.
Happy New Year to everyone. May this year bring even more joy and disillusionment than the last.