War of Misconception

How Atheists & Believers Always Get It Wrong

Updated 4 weeks ago Peter McCarthy
How Atheists & Believers Always Get It Wrong

When atheists and believers battle, which is more wrong than the other? Do both come off as just too much noise? It's like watching ping pong, a set of furious volleys, where neither competitor realizes the pong they’re pinging isn't God at all.

Atheists Ping Believers Pongs

God, the Debating Point

Believers and atheists irritate, cluttering talk about God with more noise than content. It's a classic example of creating more heat than light.

The mass media loves it. But it doesn't get us anywhere. That plastic ball keeps whipping over the net. Wood smacking plastic never gets any more resonant.

Both sides get it wrong, but neither hesitates to declare victory.

How Atheists & Believers Always Get It Wrong
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Worse yet, in the clamor for winning, both sides claim they have facts that, objectively, aren't facts to anyone else.

They're beliefs, assumptions about truth, based on faith.

Are We Talking About God or Not God?

Atheism's central claim is that there’s no God because the existence of a deity can’t be proven using the scientific method while physical laws can explains it all or, more accurately, will eventually as research advances.

So, who needs a God?

But all that really proves is that, if there’s a deity, it exists outside the known limits of science.

Rather than shut up about the impossibility of knowing what you can’t be known using conventional methods, militant atheists just get louder. And more sure of themselves.

Religious believers can be just as crazy, insisting that their belief in a (sometimes) all-loving (but essentially judgmental) God with a master plan explains the pain and suffering as well as the beauty and wonder we see around us.

Robert De Niro, yes, the actor, scored with atheists when he said, "If there's a God, he's got a lot of explaining to do." 

A God that lets children starve to death or be blown apart in wars while others parade through art galleries and relax over lunch, part of some plan, isn't the kind of deity many of us look forward to meeting, face to face, on the other side of life.

That God, it seems, was created to help the privileged explain why they should have more than everyone else and soothe the rabble with promises of salvation.

Debating against that God, the atheists play right into it.

Why, by the way, are they bothering to debate a thing they say doesn't exist?

The debate's a distraction. Noise obscures insight.

Really, they aren't talking about God, are they? They're talking about "god," with a little but monumentally significant g.

How Atheists & Believers Always Get It Wrong

The Believers Thing That Irritates Atheists The Most

The dreaded God of the Gaps!

When you think about it, absent the noise, some sort of something has to be present in everything. Something has to be there for the simple reason that something is there.

The lack of a good enough definition doesn't erase reality.

God’s a tricky term, misused on all sides, but it's the best we've got.

Some try to avoid all the implications layered on conceptions of God by using terms like "Source" and "The Divine." That's copping out.

If there’s a God, It’s God, and giving a deity a nickname won't change anything more than calling legendary Yankee Phil Rizzuto "The Scooter" turned him into a two-wheeled vehicle.

Either there is or there isn't, and using a different term doesn't change facts. It adjusts the colors.

The main reason I believe there is a God is simple: The idea of a deity is too preposterous, too bizarre and too extreme for any human or culture to have cooked it up out of nothing.

If God is an invention, a God of the Gaps created to explain the deepest mysteries, then there must’ve been a time when there wasn't one.

Like a Broadway star, God had to get a start somewhere, and someone had to come up with this astonishing idea.

God's inventor would also have to be so convincing that most of the people around him or her fell for it. And continued to keep falling for it, thousands of years later.

That, in a nutshell, is science's case for a God created by man to explain the inexplicable, and it's flimsy.
There is no evidence at all to support it, but atheists cling to it with the certainty of… well, true believers.

How Nature Lost The God Battle

No doubt, there was a time when our ancestors struggled to understand and explain elements and powers far beyond their knowledge or control, but there’s no reason to think they wouldn’t assign it all to nature.

Why would anyone invent so abstract a concept as God?

Weren’t the powers and mysteries of nature cool enough for hip cave dwellers?

The argument for a wholly invented God is weak. It’s what we did with God that's suspicious.

What we did with God is as simple as defining what went wrong. That is, somebody made God religious.

It seems more likely, if you read some of the texts, that charismatic leaders manipulated the frightened by claiming special insights into nature, attributing powers to gods with whom they had special access.
Access became power. Power begat religions.

It still works today.

The essence of nature never changed. Leaders invented gods extracted from nature and used them for control.

How Atheists & Believers Always Get It Wrong

In the beginning, the foolishness of the masses joined the greed of their leaders in forming an artificial belief system, centered on faith-based mythologies, that cemented hierarchies of privilege.

Silence, Silence, Silence, Saying All We Did Not Know

William Rose Benet in Sagacity on the folly of knowing it all

Another idea that makes God easy to live with is reflected in something Einstein observed. He acknowledged wonder, wonder that there’s so much about "the mind of God" that we don’t know.

Which brings up the greatest flaw in scientific claims about atheism — do we really know enough to make any firm conclusions?

Do we really already have that many answers?

With all there is yet to know in the observable universe and maybe even more in parallel worlds, how did we ever get so certain about the wonders around us?

This seems the silliest instance of human pride, yet scientific atheism is just speculation without it.

None of this proves there’s a God, but staying open to wonder and curiosity leaves it one of the possibilities, maybe the most likely.

I think that God is and always was nature, all of it, and the closest thing we have to scriptures are the laws of physics.

Physicists know we have mountains more to discover, layers upon layers to dig through, and history tells us that much of what we now find certain will be overturned.

We just don’t know what. That’s inspiring. The future is packed with surprise.

How Atheists & Believers Always Get It Wrong
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What Have Believers & Atheist Got Against Wonder?

Open the door. Let 'em in.

I believe there is a God, but I have no faith in religion.

We're so early in our evolution, a young species, and for all our ability to explore and discover, we’ve only scratched the surface.

I read about discoveries in genetics, astrophysics, nutrition, medicine and intelligence. Keeping religion out of science accelerates curiosity and discovery.

It may also help us understand or at least get a powerful sense or intuitive grasp on God.

For now and maybe forever, God is not something we can define or reduce to a human condition. If God exists, It must be genderless and encompass everything, all we already know and all we will get to know and maybe a lot we never will.

Otherwise, there is no God. It’s that simple, that perplexing.

You can’t have a patchwork God or a deity of some things but not others.

When believers, whether they’re of the religious or scientific persuasion, claim to know enough to make conclusions about the existence of God, perspective makes them look silly. Both need to get out of the way.

Let curiosity and wonder flourish.  

Hard For Saints As Well As Sinners

All we do not know

What we know so far is that there are incalculable universes of dimensions we know little or nothing about. Some of it is probably so strange that we don't see it because we don't know what to look for.

The most widely accepted theory about connecting all the dots within the physical universe needs at least a half-dozen dimensions more than the three with which we’re already familiar, the ones we use to make our maps of the world.

So, take your 3-D theater experience and multiply that by three more. How overwhelming is it?

Maybe the reason the other dimensions required by Superstring Theory are unknown is that we aren’t up to handling all of it yet, and to get along in the world, we don’t need to be.

Those strange dimensions we know so little about are every bit as much a part of reality or God as the three with which we are already so cozy.

We know so little.

Yet, so many of us are so sure.

What we know so far is that we don’t know very much.

Bigger Than Lincoln, Nebraska

So much farther to go

Some of the most exciting discoveries in recent decades are ones that trouble religions as much as they confound science. Spiritual inquiry has gone mainstream, and neither atheists nor believers know what to do with it.

Spiritual passion has always fueled religions, and science is invested in spiritual denial. But today, there it is.

Denying it is as futile as trying to corral it in a church.

Independent of science and religion, pioneers have begun to document another side of the reality in which we go about our business. Tapped into an unsettled curiosity about the distinction between life and death, researchers, sometimes by accident, have stepped into a dizzying array of possibilities that will take decades to sort through.

The perspective now dawning is that temporal life, what we do here on Earth and within the known universe, is only a slice, a small one at that, of a greater reality.

Our search for meaning, the laws of nature we rely on and our beliefs that fill in the gaps may do nothing more than give us a map of the small corner of a room filled with computers and operators.

It's like we’re citizens of the world, confident that being able to find our way around Lincoln, Nebraska, is all there really is to know.

The most ordinary spaces are so filled that every book ever written couldn't explain everything about it. 

It has always been hard to define the basis for what transcendentalists believe they derive from contemplating nature, including their own inner nature.

A spiritual, ineffable other world seems always to have been part of the aware human dimension. It powers religions and irritates atheists.

Taoism captures something in the human spirit by trying to describe "the way." It gets traction because people seem universally to grasp the idea of an inexplicable flow that conventional time and pace don’t really explain well.

More recently, though, researchers with real diplomas and respect in their fields (at least when they started) have begun to add some heft to the shadows.

When Elisabeth Kubler-Ross wrote her moving book, On Death and Dying, the medical community applauded its insights into how death happened and how it might be better managed. When she took her learning a step farther, into spiritual realities, she was scorned, a traitor to science.

Raymond Moody, also a medical doctor, noticed similarities in the stories of patients near death or who had been rescued from the brink of death. These were gradually collected by him and reported as near death experiences, a term he coined. His NDEs shed startling insight into an entirely other world that may be entered or returned to when physical life ends.

While scientific atheists and religions scrambled to redirect Dr. Moody’s findings to fit their entrenched belief systems, yet another doctor, Michael Newton, stumbled onto something even more profound.

Without intention while he was trying to do something else through hypnotherapy, Dr. Newton found that his patients were able to recall, not just past lives, earlier incarnations, but something else vastly more mysterious.

Dr. Newton’s subjects began telling mind-boggling stories of a universe from which the reincarnated lives were born. This life between lives was the more like an inner core of reality where God presided, one like our own in some ways and vastly different in others.

What his subjects described is easily passed off as incredible, wild imaginings of stressed out subjects.

But there is a problem that neither science nor religion can resolve.

The universe of life between lives described by Dr. Newton's patients has now been confirmed by the experiences of thousands of others, and a network of hypnotherapists continues to expand the knowledge base.

A Conclusion

We're going on a journey, and we don't have room for all that baggage.

Sewing up the loose ends for anyone who still needed proof after the discoveries of Doctors Moody, Newton and others, Jeffrey Long, in his book Evidence of the Afterlife, reported statistical results from reports of near death experience that leave little doubt that an afterlife awaits all of us.

More important, with that knowledge in hand, the tantalizing questions of what and why explode like a new galaxy waiting to be explored.

This leaves atheist sputtering between denial and desperate rationalizations, and it makes religions uneasy because the afterlife being found, the heaven of life after death, is nondenominational, which lets the air out of the limitations of churches and temples.

What's tilting over the horizon is a third way of understanding. It slices between the polarities of believers and atheists to shine a light on an evolving mystery of God, a new deity cut free from the restraints of belief and proof, settling slowly into the middle ground of knowing.

That's a God I’d like to learn more about.

Romanticizing God won't work either. The workings of our God must extend into everything, joy just as much as suffering.

Any insight we find must be seen with our eyes wide open, our wisdom embedded in a deeper truth, one we may never be able to know in our lifetimes.

Anyway, a God that's bigger than me, I can live with that. Like Einstein, I’d have a hard time trusting a God so limited I can figure him out.

Besides, I really like comparing myself to Einstein, the greatest figure of the last hundred year. I'll take his guidance any time.

His guidance says I should leave the outdated arguments between atheists and believers behind and go for something deeper, more personal and eternal.

Who's coming along?

 

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