I am an atheist.
This is not some bold declaration, this is a statement of fact.
But what does that mean? “I am an atheist.”
Well the first three words are pretty obvious aren’t they? “I” is what we called in school the “first-person singular.” a shorthand way for this current agglomeration of atoms to refer to itself.
“I am.” “Am” is a verb used by the first-person singular for “be,” according to the dictionary. “Be” refers to “a permanent or temporary quality, state, job, etc.” (http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/be_1).
Okay. what am I getting at here? Besides the fact that this keyboard is not conducive to typing.
I, John Grow, born in 1968 and currently returning to type this sentence after admiring the ass of a passing woman in a pair of lovely boots, do not believe in the god of the Abrahamic religions. This to me is a “no-brainer.”
The god of the bible (whatever that entity is–even the books that make up the bible are inconsistent on that score) is a work of fiction. Whether it was earnestly generated from the worldview of the writers of the various books or whether it was cynically constructed by those same men for population control and tribal identity, it is a work of fiction.
You, whomever you are, if you are “a believer,” you hold in your head a certain construct that you call “god.” Or “Jesus.” Or “Allah.” Or even “Buddha,” if you really didn’t pay attention to what buddhism is about.
This mental construct is what you refer to when you speak of god or Jesus or the others. I don’t know if I need to spell this out further to you, but if you really were paying attention to what and how you learned, it should have been plain that your version of Jesus, let’s say, and someone else’s, are as different as the minds that hold them. Even if you both had the same classes in school, your conclusions are affected by your history and environment to that point, and the perceptions which have evolved from that.
tl;dr: Your Jesus is *your* Jesus, not someone else’s. You merely agree for the sake of argument you’re talking about the same thing.
There is a term called “consensual reality” that I first read in my Zen days. Basically, reality is what we agree it is among ourselves overtly or tacitly, hence “consensual.”
So when you all talk about your god or your Jesus or your allah, you need to consider whether you speak of your own concept or the one you tacitly agreed to by joining whatever fan club you belong to.
This is one of the things that go into what I mean when I call myself “atheist.” In my worldview, this also means I don’t believe in a heaven or a hell or a soul, though I have experienced both heaven and hell in my own life. I also use all three terms–”heaven,” “hell,” and “soul,” as shorthand for bigger, harder-to-wield concepts.
I used to do the same thing with “god.” The concept I proxy with that word is closer to Einstein’s or Spinoza’s concepts than to the Abrahamic one.
In the end, they are still mental constructs. Everything is, and nothing is (hello Meher Baba).
We exist in a matrix of constructs of our own creation. Somebody else made the Valentines Day cards in the rack in front of me, as well as the wire rack itself, the paper and the ink, the paint, the steel in the wire. But the concepts behind them are just things some group of somebodys came up with at various points in linear time.
The wan loneliness I feel at not having a sweetie to give one of those cards to is also a construct. One of ego and longing and the soupy mess those have made in my life since at least puberty.
Truth is as slippery and illusory as any other mental construct. I’d go so far as to state that truth-seeking is nothing more than a search for validation of the concepts one already holds.
This is especially true if you’re not honest about the most central and basic illusion of them all: Yourself.