Friday, January 09, 2009

Thoughts on Atheism

Well, this has been going through my mind for some time now, but this article prompted me to write on it. You may agree or disagree, but as it is my blog, I get to write what I believe. :) Freedom of Speech and all that.

In the U.S., there is so much talk of "seperation of church and state," etc. which, over the years, has been interpreted differently. What many people are apparently calling for is the government, and anything associated with the government, and anyone who works for the government, and any organization that receives money from the government, to be "religiously neutral." Ok, first we need to figure out what "religion" means. Some people think that religion refers only to beliefs that include a "supernatural deity" of some form. Another definition is a system of beliefs (Merriam-Webster includes both of these). Whatever you call it, everyone has a system of beliefs; things they believe in that shape their worldview, determine how they behave, shape their beliefs in how the country should be run, etc. My belief in God and Jesus Christ affects me to the core- it's not just a "belief;" it affects the way I live. That's true of everyone, whether they believe in a deity or not. Every person has a worldview and holds to certain beliefs.

Now, I may sound pessimistic, but frankly, I don't believe it's possible to have a "religous/world-view" neutral country. So many people say "well, we shouldn't offend anyone's beliefs, we shouldn't choose any group over another." It's not possible not to offend anyone. Whatever laws the governent makes will be based on someone's beliefs of right or wrong. Whatever decisions a court upholds will be someone's interpretation of a law. And those decisions and interpretations will largely reflect that person's worldview or the worldview of their supporters. All this to say, I don't want people to be naive. When people push to take God's name out of everything related to the government, they are not being "neutral." Yes, they have the right to fight for it, as I have the right to fight against it. Either way, we are both fighting based on our "beliefs," not on "neutrality." If we take God out of everything related to government and make sure our laws for the country aren't in any way related to the Bible or God, we are not making "neutral" decisions. If we tell the government, "you can believe whatever you want, but you have to speak and behave and make decisions as if there is no God," that is not neutrality, that is Atheism. Atheism is a worldview. And I believe I have as much right as Atheists to stand up for what I believe.

Now let's look at public schools. Do people actually believe that children are only taught things that have been 100% proven as fact? Do people honestly believe that children won't be taught any worldviews in school? I have enough scientists in my family to know that not all scientists believe the same things. What views do we choose? What views of history do we teach? What books of literature do we introduce to our children? All of these choices are made based on some sort of worldview. Whether your god (Marriam-Webster gives one definition as the supreme or ultimate reality) is science, or mankind, or nature, or the God of the Bible, etc... we all have some view of the ultimate reality. So, the question is, what ultimate reality- what worldview- is being taught in our schools? Is being held by the government? And who decides it? Obviously, I think it would be great if the government went with my worldview; I would think Athiests, Muslims, secularists, etc. would all feel the same about their own worldview. And it's better than being apathetic and thinking "I shouldn't impose my beliefs on others" because anyone who stands up for what they believe and pushes for or against a law is imposing their views on others.

I'm not trying to say that I have an answer. All I'm asking is that people stop pretending we can be "neutral." Whether the government listens to Christians or Athiests, Muslims or Jews, they're going to listen to someone. But please, don't tell me that I can't fight for what I believe in because it goes against the beliefs of others. Don't tell me that one group can fight for their worldview while I cannot fight for mine. I expect them to stand up for what they believe. But I also expect to be allowed to do the same.

People will make laws based on their worldviews and ideas of an "ultimate reality." Public schools will teach some sort of worldview. The question is, what will it be? And what are you going to do about it?


Rod said...

Dawkins has certainly taken the atheist apologetic out of the the "neutral" position, and in fact argues evangelically for it. This perhaps makes the playing field more level (in that respect) for those atheists who accept his argument. It however does not change your conclusion that we need to better articulate our own theistic, and in particular, Christian worldview when ever we have the opportunity, and be well versed on the issues of the debate.

Devon said...

Tree, I agree with you that there is definitely no such thing as being "neutral" in this debate and that true separation of church and state is neither possible nor desirable. Our worldviews matter, and if we're not going to defend them and act on them, we are wasting our time and not "bearing fruit" in a biblical sense. But I also think that as long as we live in a pluralistic society, we have to recognize that we can't always get our way in the social-political realm. When it comes to our schools and our hospitals and our military and our environment, we have to find a way to get along with those whose worldviews differ from our own, or nothing's going to get done and we're all going to waste away in our little bubbles of righteousness (If not kill one another off in "holy wars"). Therefore, I think we need to find a balance of standing up for our beliefs and not selling out, but also looking for the common ground between ours and other worldviews upon which we can build a harmonious - but not homogeneous - society. [Thanks for letting me rant :)]

Sara said...

As a person who's worldview is different from yours, I still agree with you.

We cannot keep faith and passion out of law and how the United States is run because laws are passed because there is passion driving them.

The sticking point is who calls the shots? Because we're a country that doesn't tell people (supposedly) what to believe or say, we cannot, nor should we, place value of one view over another.

Regan said...

I like what you had to say.