Uncommon Sense

October 22, 2021

You Have to Believe in Something

Filed under: Culture,Reason,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 10:22 am
Tags: , ,

Religious people insist that atheists, like me, believe in something. This is true, but before addressing that point I must distinguish between ordinary beliefs and religious beliefs. Ordinary beliefs are based upon evidence and probabilities. For example, I believe the sun will come up tomorrow because, well, it has every day of human history and the probability of it doing so tomorrow is very, very high. Religious beliefs, however, lack evidence of that type and are not based upon probabilities. They are based upon teachings, scriptures, etc. Many Christian apologists deliberately conflate these two meanings.

The claim, everybody believes in something, therefore is true, but most people when they hear that are thinking of ordinary beliefs, while the apologist is trying to make that belief into a religious belief. The apologists insist that atheism is a religion, or that atheists believe in God, but . . . , etc.

I consider most religious beliefs to be childish beliefs, beliefs taught to children, using stories and other devices shaped to appeal to children (Noah’s Ark toys to teach a horrific story of genocide, for Pete’s sake). My hope is that these childish beliefs will fade away or be rejected as I have done.

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 1 Corinthians 11

Many express fear about what will replace the hole left in their lives when religion falls out of it. Some mock these feelings (“If I forgo Jesus, whose slave will I be?”) but I do not. To fill that hole, claimed to be a desire for a connection to the sacred, we could also possibly be saving ourselves from self-destruction if we were to go back to worshipping Nature. It is Nature that is the source of all life, including us. If we debase Nature, we reduce our ability to survive. Sun worship has been common throughout human history. Many scholars think that Christian halos are the symbol of the Sun added to the characters who sport it. Basically a halo says “I am the Sun god and I approve this messenger.”

Now when I use the word “worship” it is just to hold Nature as a sacred trust, not to imbue it with supernatural powers. (Aren’t the “powers” of Nature amazing enough?) Without the Sun, we definitely do not survive. Without forests, likely the same. Without potable water, the same; without breathable air, the same. Nature grows forests without our help, purifies water without our help, purifies the air without our help but cannot continue to do so in the face of the massive pollution we create.

If we are going to hold something sacred, how about that which provides for us to live?

Every hunter-gatherer society left on this planet has been around for millennia and has survived, mostly upon this basis. They have made do without destructive industrialization and rapacious capitalism. Should not our goals be how to manage these societal institutions to do nature no lasting harm?

For example, cutting down trees to make lumber to build things seems an acceptable practice, until we clear cut all the trees on a continent or island. (Look at what happened to the Easter Islanders when they cut down all of their trees. The same goes for tearing up mountains to reap the coal beneath them. The same goes for pulling all of the fish out of the sea, leaving it barren of ecosystems needed for the health of all. Should not such criteria supersede the one we use now, which is “how much money can I make doing this?”

If the theists are correct and “we have to believe in something” how about we believe in and protect that which gives us life. Not some indefinable god nobody can find, but Nature, which we can all find and appreciate . . . and need to survive and thrive.


  1. claimed to be a desire for a connection to the sacred

    I’d say more a palliative measure to placate their existential death anxiety.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by john zande — October 22, 2021 @ 11:20 am | Reply

  2. It’s all based on ego. They simply cannot imagine a world (even a “heaven”) in which they do not exist.

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by Gary Trujillo — October 22, 2021 @ 12:33 pm | Reply

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