Since my first post was on the subject of Thanksgiving, I put off the general introduction to my blog until now.
As you may remember, I promised that I would eventually get around to some of the obvious questions, such as "why am I breaking the silence now, after all this time?" and "why am I doing it on an atheist site?"
I'm going to at least begin to keep that promise in this post, and I think I'll start with the second, and probably more controversial, question.
There are several reasons why I picked an atheist site for these posts, and I'll take them one at a time.
The first and probably least important reason is that I am an atheist.
Sounds paradoxical, doesn't it?
In spite of the fact that I have an inflated reputation for paradox, I assure you that this is really not one at all.
It's more a matter of semantics.
When people talk about "believing in God," say in a debate setting for example, they often speak as though they are talking about some unknown quantity out there somewhere, beyond human imagining.
That's all fine—sound theology, really—if that's what they really mean.
But it isn't.
99% of the time, when someone says they "believe in God," they really mean some picture they have in their head, which is based on stuff they learned from their religion or their parents or grandparents, or just picked up from living in a religion-soaked culture.
Many times their church will even tell them that this picture is really nothing like the real God, but that doesn't stop them from meaning that picture when they use the word.
So, when people talk about "believing in God" they are really talking about believing in a picture: usually a picture of Jesus, or an ancient Mideastern king, or George Burns.
And, along with the picture goes a whole list of ideas about what that "God" likes or wants, what he (almost always "he") disapproves of, and how he works—also mostly picked up from religions, popular culture, and George Burns movies.
Well, except for the George Burns part, I'm nothing like most of that stuff.
It has its cultural purposes, but from a scientific point of view, it's all nonsense.
I could give you a list of the ways, but for the moment I'll just leave it at that.
The point is that, in terms of real everyday language "belief in God" means belief in all of that nonsense, and, of course, I don't.
On the other hand, atheists, for the most part don't mean that there is no such thing a ground of all being.
Many of them are scientists, even physicists, who spend much of their time trying to delve into the ground of being.
They don't necessarily call it that, but that's what they're doing.
Kind of flattering, really.
The scientists agree with the believers on one point—on the meaning of that phrase "believe in God."
That is, they mean pretty much the same set of nonsense by the word "God," only they don't believe it exists.
Just like me.
So, based on the definition used in normal language, as agreed upon by all parties except for a very small handful of theologians—who will just have to learn to live with it—I am an atheist.
I'll explain some of the other reasons in a future post.
Meanwhile, if you have any questions, please leave them in the comments section below, and I'll try to answer as many as I can.
The Ground of All Being