You know something? I am coining a new phrase. That new phrase is “atheistic dogma.” In debating with atheists, I have found that sadly, many atheists are just as suffocated by dogma as the religious people they want to claim superiority over. I am tired of hearing that if a person believes in a high power, they are religious. If I were religious, I’d say so. I have no reason to lie. Why so rigid with the definitions? Allow me to be rigid with a definition, then:
dog·ma: noun \ˈdȯg-mə, ˈdäg-\ a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true.
If your definition of “religion” is so strict that you refuse to allow anyone to define it or “spirituality” for themselves, or apply it to themselves and their own lives on their terms, or if you use your definition of “religion” to lump everyone who believes in a higher power into the same category because you feel it denotes the same thing in everybody, you are suffering from atheistic dogma. You – just like the so-called religious people you would like to claim such superiority over, or think you are so different from – are a prisoner of your own uncompromising, inflexible and ridiculous ideas.
A few examples (and yes, these conversations actually happened):
1. “If you used to be an atheist and are not now, then you are religious. Religion; – the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods. From the Oxford English dictionary.”
RELIGION and SPIRITUALITY or simple belief in a high power have almost nothing to do with each other. Religion is a man-made institution used to systematically control and extort money from people. It is bound by rules, governance and laws. Spirituality is a personal belief in something higher than the self and nothing more. They are not interchangeable. They are not the same thing. If you don’t agree with my definition of these things, that sounds like your problem. I don’t have to live my life or structure my philosophies according to your – or anyone’s – definition of ANYTHING. It’s funny how you claim that religion is controlling yet you are unable to allow another person any definition of it or spirituality that falls outside of what you think it is, or allow them to define themselves according to their own spiritual philosophies. Do you perhaps not understand what “controlling” means?
There is ALSO a definition of religion which reads: “a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects; an organized system of beliefs, ceremonies, and rules used to worship a god or a group of gods.” I do not possess or practice these things. You and everyone like you all have the same problem: You claim that those who believe in a higher power are all religious and that they all think the same way. You assume knowing about religion means subscribing to that religion. You assume a belief in a higher power or in God means everyone is a Christian (or follows some type of organized religion) or that it denotes the same exact thing in every situation or with every person. This could not be farther from the truth. People like you think of everybody the same way, then turn around and accuse others of being closed-minded. This is the classic “atheistic dogma.” It would be laughable if it were not so disappointing. Aren’t atheists supposed to be the enlightened, free-thinkers here?
2. “Free will my arse. Don’t be so stupid. Does a rape victim have free will? What a ridiculous thing to say. Free will is the stupidest argument ever made for religion.”
Using one extreme situation where a person’s free will has been taken away by ANOTHER person exercising THEIR free will to describe everybody and every situation is a little disingenuous, don’t you agree? Or maybe just kind of pathetic. If you have to use that type of situation to make your point, maybe your point isn’t all that valid.
3. “Religious people make up their own rules.”
So they have to adhere strictly to a code of laws and governance that you claim not to believe in or somehow they are wrong. OK. I’m glad you’ve proven how controlling RELIGION is. Oh wait, it’s YOU who is being dogmatic and inflexible. Oops. Your game is to try and trap religious people in their own rules and point out their perceived hypocrisy to claim some type of moral, ethical or intellectual victory for yourself and your obviously-deficient ego. That’s why you want to convince me – and yourself – of my being religious by YOUR definition. That’s why you refuse to allow me to define myself the way I choose. You can’t “win” without being able to apply your definition of religion to me and then attempting to point out my perceived hypocrisy as defined by your definition of religion. Sorry to disappoint but I am not religious. That’s why it isn’t working. I don’t have any of those rules.
4. “What about babies dying of starvation or AIDS?”
Do you not think PEOPLE have quite a bit to do with that problem? It’s like that thing where the guy says to Jesus, “Why do you allow war, starvation and genocide?” and Jesus says, “Funny, I was going to ask you the same thing.” People want to remove the human element from it altogether and just say, “If God were real, He would stop these things.” I have never understood that logic. Aside from the logical fallacy involved in that argument (which is glaringly blatant and akin to saying crime proves the police don’t exist), we have the ability to stop these things from happening. We do not. Wouldn’t it make more sense to worry about why that is? Nowhere in anything does it say that God would come in and end all terrible things. If people choose to do things that hurt others, God does not stop them. That isn’t how it works. The people who are dying of starvation are doing so because their government is corrupt and despicable. That is a HUMAN problem. People sometimes think of God as like an enforcer or the supernatural police. RELIGION is controlling. God is not. You are supposed to come to God of your own free will. If you do not, then you do not.
5. “That’s the paradox. He can’t prevent it because we have free will, but how can a loving god who says he loves each and everyone of us watch babies die through no fault of their own?”
I look at it like when you have a grown child. You love your child regardless. Even if they were a murderer you would love them, or a pedophile or whatever. But you don’t interfere with their lives. They have to live it themselves. I also wouldn’t say He CAN’T prevent it, but that He won’t. It is a sad fact that exercising your own free will can and often does affect more than just you. I don’t claim to have all the answers or to know the mind of God. That’s just how I see it.
It is the person committing the bad act who is letting children die. That’s what I mean about free will: it affects others, including babies. And from a spiritual standpoint: If God sees us all equally, then we are all His children. Therefore, if that is so, it is no different for anyone to be killed if they are 15 or 150 or 15 months old.
To me it’s different, but I’m not God.
In the end, nearly everyone involved in this type of debate – religious and atheist – is making the leap in logic that science and belief in a higher power must be mutually exclusive. This also could not be further from the truth; most truly intelligent minds realize that spirituality and science CAN co-exist. It seems that you only hear that argument from insecure people who do not truly understand either of these things.