Saturday 6 August 2011

A heartfelt invitation to believe

Occasionally as an atheist I come across the saying, "It takes more faith to be an atheist than it does to believe in God." This, of course, is usually spoken or written by someone who does in fact believe in God. Sometimes this person claims to have been an atheist in the past, but is no longer, so I might question their sincerity when they now claim to have less faith then they did before.

I would suggest they look into their heart and examine their innermost convictions. Though they outwardly profess a belief in an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent creator-agent, despite never seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, smelling or otherwise having any compelling evidence — physical, historical, documentary or scientific — for the existence of this agent, I contend that they do not believe in this agent. They know in their heart that this agent does not exist. They are, in effect, in denial about the agent's non-existence, and therefore suffering cognitive dissonance when they proclaim their faith.

To all those in denial about their unacknowledged atheism I offer this simple challenge and invitation. Does the truth matter to you? Does the reality of the external world present itself to you in a way that allows you to represent it to others in the same way — as real? Does what counts for you as "real" depend on whether it can be verified by others, and by yourself, on a repeating basis?

If so, I invite you to accept the reality of the universe into your heart as your only reliable, repeatable measure of truth.

And the truth will set you free.