(sorry for advance for all the typo's. Im usually much better than this -_-)
As a start to this blog, which hopefully will get a few reads here and there, I’d like to simply begin to underline the foundation of the discussion I’m preparing to have with myself. Atheism is a generally misunderstood concept and I believe shedding light on it here may help some understanding of my future point. I refer to a ground level of the term, dividing it into two groups. Anti-Theists; Who purport a platform of combative reasoning with any kind of superstition or religion/belief system that has no practical, empirical evidence. Essentially the type of atheist who would go out and debate, reason with, and convince people through words that what they are believing is in fact unfounded by any kind of evidence; scientific and spiritual. On the other side there are atheists and agnostics (and I shy at even using the term atheist for this group) who see no need for debate, or really to even pay attention to the arguments for or against. Unless the idea of creationism is affecting their lives in some way then there really is no need to bother with it at all. Some would call the first strong atheism, while the second you may know it as weak atheism.
If you’ll allow me also I digress momentarily, I would like to outline another difference between types of anti-theism, atheism, and agnostics. There are those out there who may call themselves by these names, but have the intentional motivations of self-gain. They have no system to live their lives, are not naturally altruistic, and therefore have no binding morality in which to entrust. Some may not even be on a level of intellectualism worthy of the realization that most “real” atheist go through. Simply put, they do whatever they want because they can. These types of people are not who I would generalize into the modern atheist; and intellectual atheist. I would propose not to affiliate the same types with the sort of disbelievers I’m speaking of and many philosophers would I agree. People who use the excuse of atheism to harm others, be irresponsible toward oneself and surroundings, and take advantage of their stature in society (no matter what that may be) is not worthy nor should be accepted as a modern, intellectual disbeliever. It is certain they would not be accepted as an intellectual – I am merely taking that a step further.
So back on topic, with that out of the way, it leaves us with the intellectual modern atheist of which there is still a weak and strong version. (Another way people may separate strong and weak atheism is the conscious denial of theism [strong atheism] or the unconscious absence of belief [weak atheism] – I will leave these for another discussion). Debate is a part of the intellectual circle and is not something that is completely avoidable, especially when studying or teaching any of the sciences. So the real trick is whether they get suckered into explicitly arguing with creationists to the point that it becomes much of what you do with your time, or whether you simply put out solid evidence and ignore the harpings that follow.
The question then I would propose to myself, is what kind of non-believer/person would I like to become? It is in my hands – my goals, my future degrees, and my interaction with communities – so this is where I will start my debate. On the strong atheism side – what an intellectual challenge and journey that would be. It would also be rather draining. For while there is no evidence for and religion to have the absolute truth, the philosophy and word play behind all of it is plentiful. The one thing they do have is word play – not that I can be out done by such of course – it’s just tiring to be led around in circles of verses out of a 2000 (about) year old book that corresponds with historical evidence some of the time.
(A famous author i once met and had the pleasure of speaking with gave me this advice on writing - write what you know. The men who wrote the bible wrote it in their time and in their setting. It is easy to match historical record when you are in fact, living in that historical time. It is as if someone today wrote a bible, and placed it in our society. Thousands of years from now there would by the mystic qualities and historical 'evidence' that such places did exhist. Interesting is it not?)
Anyone can take a ridiculous topic, write a book on it putting clever limericks, word play, and crazy reasoning into it so that it seems as though it is sound logic. The evidence is still lacking, but somehow it really makes no difference as long as your tongue can wittingly convince. Is that something even taking time out of my potential to debate with? Aside from many of the uneducated who thrash all they can with all their taught and told to use – for the theologians; are they really worth the trouble?
Many would say yes – they are the ones who control the masses of people, persuading them every chance they have to reaffirm their faith. Some would say no, because what exactly is it again that they are educated in? Word play? An ancient book? Tainted science? That is of course a generalization on my part. Many smart people are creationists and many theologians are educated in other areas. However the bias still remains. Is it a fight worth fighting?
So instead of debate, you can turn to simply pumping out evidence to the contrary, make it widely available, debate your colleges on the matter – the ones who are educated in the same field as you, and let go the panging of the theologians and mass of creationist garble. Let them fuss and muse over your work and research in their own way.
If you’re lucky they will not be the fundamentalist type who wants to kill you for your beliefs. Or restrict you in some way from freedom of speech and press. This is a downside to weak atheism – the encroachment of churches and believers onto the freedom that America stands for. To allow this to happen is of course irresponsible and of deadly consequence.
However as for the standpoint of less combative means, if creationists need further clarification, give it to them openly, but in no way debate them. Simply help them to understand, and spread knowledge. If they are receptive, excellent; if not, that is their own opinion they are welcome to have. Reality will persist whether they believe it will or not. Let the people choose what they think of the evidence without fighting them over it, or debate it and try to get them to let go of their previous closed minded points of view.
A question of which type of intellectual, modern day atheist would you like to be? The conflict is with no god(s); the conflict is with people. There is no question it should not be taboo to challenge peoples beliefs – but how far does one wish to take it before it is simply a waste of time? Where does one stand on the issue when evangelism is a growing mass of illogical hysteria? What will I choose for myself down the road …