Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Sunday, March 11, 2012
What I Believe: An Atheist's Perspective
What do I believe? I should first start but telling you what I don't believe. I don't believe in ghosts. I don't believe in fairies. I don't believe in Big Foot or the Loche Ness Monster or chupacabra. I don't believe in UFO alien spacecraft from other worlds and the associated conspiracy theories. I don't believe that Lizard people are controlling the world. I don't believe in qi or meridian points. I don't believe that homeopathy is medicine. I don't believe that vaccines cause autism. I don't believe in a god or many gods or any god whatsoever. Especially not "one true god". I could go on indefinitely, but that's not the point of this post.
I don't not believe these things because I don't like them(some I do and some I don't) or because they make me uncomfortable(some certainly do), but because there is no good evidence that would support a belief in them. You may say there is evidence and sure, I'll grant you that, butany evidence does not equal good evidence. For instance, a story told by a drunkard of seeing a dog driving a car is evidence, but would you be inclined to believe him? No, of course not, because beyond it being implausible, which is not proof against it by itself, it simply isn't good enough evidence. You might ask him: Do you have a picture? A video? Can I see the dog? Can I inspect the vehicle?, etc. Also, as a crucial point, the standards of evidence are higher the more unlikely an event seems. "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."
But these non-beliefs don't define me. I am the sum of my parts. I have many beliefs. Atheism is not my defining characteristic but simply one way of categorizing me. I choose to use it because atheism is in dire need of addressing in our society currently. I am also a skeptic, humanist, freethinker, nerd, liberal, brother, son, friend, boyfriend and on and on.
What do I believe? I believe in science. More specifically, the scientific method. This is the basis of skepticism. Skepticism is what led me to atheism. Because of science I believe in many things. I believe the earth rotates and is round and revolves around the sun. I believe in evolution by natural selection and that humans share a common ancestor with chimpanzees and that all life on earth is related. I believe all matter is made of molecules, which are made of atoms, which are made of subatomic particles such as protons, nuetrons, and electrons. Which are made of even smaller particles. I believe that the Earth is approximately 4.6 billion years old and the universe is around 13.7 billion years old. I believe these things not only because scientists say they are true but because they show me how they know them to be true. They give good evidence.
I believe in love. I believe that love is caused by chemicals in the brain. I believe that this doesn't make it any less valid or true. I believe that family and friendship is important. I believe that a purpose to life is important. I don't believe that purpose is innate or "god-given" but is given by ourselves. I believe that as individuals we decide what our purpose should be. I believe that causing harm to others should be avoided if at all possible. I believe that people should be able to love whoever they choose and believe whatever they wish so long as they cause no harm to others.
I believe that we can only know things to be true in any sense by looking for evidence. Faith is detrimental to truth. That is my belief.