Letter to a Theist

Dear Readers,

Today as I was reading The Common Atheist’s post on 2.4 Billion and 1.6 Billion and no Bliss, I came across this posting on Three Paradoxes of Atheism by Neil Shenvi, or NAShenvi, as he calls himself.. He is a Chemical Theorist, and quite obviously, a theist. I was intrigued. You know I HAD to read that post. Not only did I have to read it, within just a few lines I HAD to reply to it. Only, there was no place for commentary. So I went to his attached website, and still had to search for awhile to find a way to contact him. You know, of course, I am not computer literate. Even moreso, I am NOT WordPress literate. But eventually I came across his email address, and following is, almost word-for-word (I corrected a few small errors I missed while proofreading):

His full quotes are in red, his broken into pieces quotes are in magenta:

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Dear Neil,
May I kindly enquire why it is you have a website and a blog on Word Press, yet you choose to make claims that cannot be publicly addressed since you do not leave a space for comments. You have an idea of “atheists” in your mind, obviously, yet you seem to know little about who atheists are. I am one. I have my own idea of a cosmology that does not include a superbeing of any kind, but does include a very strong spirituality that connects all living beings together. Yet, as I say, I am an atheist. How can this be?
It is mainly because we are not a group, nor a club, and especially not an anti-religion. NO TWO ATHEISTS think the same. Yes, there are those who try to stand up and speak for all atheists, but they can only represent themselves. NO ONE ELSE! Does that surprise you? It should, because like most people who are not atheists, you are likely so bound and boxed into having strength in numbers, you have probably misplaced the knowledge that the strongest number in the world is 1. No two atheists think alike, or even pretend to think alike. Atheism is a belief in one’s own cosmology, and no one else’s, therefore you are misled from the get-go. You cannot truly fight atheism as long as you believe atheism is a quantitative philosophy. IT IS NOT!
Yet you say we believe… Please allow me to correct that statement, because WE do not believe anything. The best that can be said is “I believe!”, or “in my opinion (IMO)…” Had you looked at who you are really dealing with, you would have known this. But it seems you have taken the easy way out. As a chemical theorist I would have expected more of you, but maybe you are too busy with chemicals to understand what words mean, and who people are.
But please, let me answer the charges you have levelled against atheists, such as “it is very hard for atheists to explain why seeking the truth is intrinsically good or why we are obligated to seek it.” My first thought is, why would I try to tell anyone “seeking … is intrinsically good,” when “seeking” is not something everyone does, so it is not “intrinsic” to anything. Millions upon billions of people on this earth seek, or rather desire (which is the correct verb in this instance), to be left alone, to live their lives as they see fit. No one, as far as your argument is concerned, has proven seeking to be intrinsic to anything. It is but an unproven assumption, intrinsic to nothing. But allow me to expand your statement one step, “the truth is intrinsically good.” Goodness has its root in the word “god,” so to a believer such as yourself, the truth is intrinsically god-like. Don’t  you think that is a rather fatuous statement? You are applying your belief system where there is no call to do so. God has not been proven yet, though nor has he been misproven. The point is moot. For now we will have to agree to disagree, because we are getting into an area that has absolutely no meaning in my vocabulary, so again, IMO, I cannot argue for either side. So, let us expand your statement once more, “seeking the truth is intrinsically good.” This, I presume, is part of your argument, though it is stated as an “a priori” truth,  or “truth is truth.” But is it? My truth is not your truth, and your truth is not my truth. So, either truth is relative to the beholder of the truth, or it is non-existant. There can be no “truth” when two people hold the same “truth” to be different. Truth either lies in between the two positions, or it lies nowhere at all. You can expound your belief all you want, that is your privilege. I won’t bother expounding anything because, as I said previously, the words are meaningless to me. They are beyond argument.
Ah, at last, we come to the crux of your statement, which is “it is very hard for atheists to explain why.” I could rejoin your argument with its counter, “it is very hard for a theist to explain why,” but why bother. Ring around the rosy, a pocketfull of posy, husha, husha, we all fall down! Not I fall down, not you fall down, but WE fall down. We fail to make headway from either side to the other side. We both end up looking like (biblical) asses. Yet you seem to think you have scored some points… And you may have, if like Trump you believe all you have to do is state an assumption is true and it will become truth. But that is not how the real world works. You must either prove your side, or disprove mine. You can do neither. For my part I just ignore the entire claim as meaningless, though I feel it is my duty as a living being to point out your so-called “facts” are fantasy. You really ought to check them before you try to make them true.
And finally, “or why are we obligated to seek it.” You may be obligated to seek out truth, I am not. If I choose to seek out truth, relative as it may be, I do so for my own edification. And when I find my version of truth (I much prefer understanding to truth, it is so much more meaningful to me), I may tell it to some others, but I do not offer it willy-nilly to everyone, but to only those who are looking for it. And, I ask deliberately that no one believe anything I say unless it is meaningful to them in some way. I will never again say, “Here is truth, believe me when I tell you. I KNOW WHAT TRUTH IS!” I do know what “my” truth is, I have no idea what your truth is.
So why do you feel obligated to find out “why?” Why is such a spurious question. Any two year-old understands that. At first s/he really means it, but soon the child learns it irritates the adult, and so continuously asks “why?” There needs to be no why. Because it is there. Because I made up the question. Because I want to learn. Because I want to understand. Take your choice. But that is what why is, a choice to know or not know, to understand or not understand. You ask, Why? I answer, Why not? I could tell you why if I wanted. I doubt you could tell me why not.

“The paradox of atheism is that the atheist, while usually committed to living a life consistent with reality, cannot bear reality as he believes it actually is.” Say what? To transliterate from theist to atheist language: the self-contradictory absurdism of atheism is that I who am living a life consistent with reality (as I find it), cannot bear reality as I believe it to be.
Oh, my. Oh, my. Oh, My! I must shorten that statement to make it even pretend to be understandable: I CANNOT BEAR TO FACE WHAT I BELIEVE IS REALITY? Please, give a person some intelligence, even if only that of a two year-old child. Since “what I believe to be reality” is something that I choose it to be, why would I construct a reality that I would not want to be in? The insanity of that thought is incredible! My reality allows me to be joyous, to smile, to laugh, to cry, to scream “I am alive! And I love it!” My reality does not require that I suffer, that I be in constant pain. My reality allows me to be in control of life as I know it, not to exist at the whim of some other being. Truthfully, Neil, you think an atheist cannot bear to live? I am appalled. I am human. Why would I want life to be anything but what it is? I, for one, do not want any other life. Thank you for asking.

“I am not asking whether atheists can do good. Rather, I am focusing only on the impact that atheism has on our moral motivation.” Dear sir, it is no wonder you do not understand atheists, in particular, this atheist. What have I to do with “moral motivation?” Morality is for theists. I am an atheist. I have no need to be moral. I have no need for motivation. What I am is responsible to all living beings. What I am is self-obligated not to intentionally hurt anyone, not to take life needlessly or frivolously. To help they whom I see need help. To soothe those I see are in pain. To succor those who are destitute, and I can give help to.
And I do this not through motivation, or through any sense of morality. I do it because I care. I do it because I can. I do it with compassion. And I do it because “I CHOOSE” to do so, not because I am told to do so.
What you call morality I want no part of. No one but me can tell me what is right or what is wrong, because there is no right or wrong. There is only life! And life is what I share with every living being, including you.
But I don’t believe you will care about me, because you have no duty to care. You might care about my soul, but believe me, you would be wasting your time. I have no soul. All I have is me, my life, my spirit, and Life itself. And that, sir, is why I am writing you today, because I care that you are working with fallacious facts, unbelievable understandings, and a need to be correct in whatever you write. Be honest with your readers, Neil, they deserve nothing less.
Thank you for your time.


rawgod

LIVE YOUR LIFE EACH DAY TO CREATE MEMORIES YOU WILL NEVER FORGET, OR REGRET

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Author: rawgod

Still a Hippie, and proud of it. Have my BSW, now retired. Would have preferred to be a Dr. of Philosophy, but the university I went to wouldn't let me study my own philosophy. Your gain, their loss. I live on the edge of society with my partner, five cats, a broodmare, and a three year-old filly who might make her racing debut this coming summer or fall. Remember the name, Tricksy T Clanton.

4 thoughts on “Letter to a Theist”

  1. That is true that our obligation as an atheist is not by commandment, but flows from our core. Our desires to make the world awesome—with the idea we can make the most of what religion has failed to do while having supermajority control of the world for thousands of years. Soon, after their economic system has depleated the worlds natural resources we will die off and advanced life will have no place to call home in this part of the universe.

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    1. Hey Jim,
      Hope you are having a good day.
      I don’t see us dying off just because the Earth’s resources are depleted. Humans are masters at changing to suit their environment, that has been the subject of discussion in many science fiction books over the yesrs, and for me more advancements have come through science 0fiction than any other branch of litrature. But I digress.
      There may be a killing off of a very large part of our population, l can see that, but short of a nuclear holocaust, or the moon crashing into the earth, I don’t see an end to our species. To our cultures, to our socieries, yes. They need to end anyways. But to our species, no. As long as there is life we will adapt. And I am foolish enough to believe that adaptation will be to something like the vision I have of the future. I feel it is inevitable, spiritual evolution would have to take a sharp turn in some other direction to stop my future from happening. Not impossible, but highly unlikely.

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      1. Entitlement to apocalypse is religions way of denying a need to act responsibly now. I get your point, but even until then we are forced to live in a distasteful system. To illustrate that, most people that earn enough to get out, get out as soon as they can and live peaceably away from it all. But here we are still living someone else’s dream.

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  2. Hey, Jim,
    If you are living someone else’s dream, it is generally because you have chosen to do so. Nothing in life says you must do this, or that. There are lots of places in the world you can go to get away from whatever it is you want to get away from. If there is something holding you where you do not want to be, find out what it is, and either how to change it, or where to go to avoid it. There are always choices.

    I choose to live at the edges of society. I live in a small town in Canada, but close enough to the Arctic Circle to get about 20 hours of light a day in summer. When I have to go to a city, I get as much done as possible on that trip so I don’t have to come back for awhile. For others it may not be the greatest way to live, but I get to be anonymous here in a way you cannot be in a city, though that sounds like a paradox. It is not. I do what I want. when I want, with who I want. I answer to no one but those I choose to answer to. I don’t live a life of luxury, but nor do I want to. My needs are simple. And I do my best to keep them that way.

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