I have been asked by Theists on many occasions to explain why I do NOT believe in their particular brand of theology when, to them, it is self evident.
How could I not believe when it is so perfectly self evident. I must surely be in denial. It must be the case that: I know their belief is true but have consciously chosen to deny its truth. I am somehow lying to my self and accept those lies as truth.
Lets take 3 different and mutually exclusive belief systems and examine the perception an adherent has of his own belief system.
- To a Wiccan, Wicca is self evident. It all fits together nicely. They can see the great cycles in nature. Their beliefs are 100% consistent with life, reality and what they observe. Everything they observe is living proof of the absolute reality of Wicca. How could I not believe when the evidence is all around me? Wicca is internally consistent.
- The Navajo Indians do not separate their religion and everyday life, they are one and the same. They see their beliefs as self evident. Their belief system is in total harmony with life. And of course, It is internally consistent.
- To a Christian, Christianity is self evident. It all fits together nicely. The requirements of the religion are in full agreement with what is considered morally and ethically correct. It fully explains all observable phenomena. It is again, internally consistent.
Note:- I know there are lots of different and conflicting versions of Christianity but to the adherent of each version, their version is internally consistent.
I am stressing the term Internally consistent for a reason.
To a Christian, the Wiccan religion is inconsistent. it does not agree with their own preconceived idea of what is consistent. Christians, convinced of the reality of their own beliefs, sitting in the middle of Christianity looking out at other beliefs, will obviously perceive other beliefs as inconsistent or false.
They are looking at the outside world through the coloured glasses of Christianity. Everything they perceive is modified by their Christian faith.
The same would apply to a Navajo Indian. He is looking at the world through Navajo eyes. His perception of reality is coloured by a believe system that he sees as 100% internally consistent.
And now comes another Sinbad Analogy....
Think of it as small town with lots of houses, big and small. All the houses have different coloured windows, the windows, as well as being coloured, are not very good quality, they all have distortions, bulges, twists, warps and bends in them providing a distorted view of the world outside. Most of the houses are beautiful inside, well decorated, colour coordinated, tastefully furnished and internally consistent. Each religion lives inside one of these houses.
An occupant of the Christian house will look around at his house and marvel at it's perfect decoration, the full spectrum of untainted order and correctness. He will then look out of a window at his neighbours house and see that they do not have the full range of colour and beauty in that house, everything has a red tinge to it, the greens do not look right. their house is Twisted and has no straight lines, it bulges in odd places and just does not look right at all. clearly their house is not consistent. It is inferior to the Christian house because when viewed through a Christian window, it is full of inconsistency and defects.
The Wiccan who lives in that other house will look around their own home and see that their house is perfect in every way, The furniture is arranged in exactly the right way, The decor has the full spectrum of colour and everything is precise, orderly and internally consistent. However, the Christian house across the street is hideously deformed when viewed through Wiccan windows, they can not possibly be able to see clearly because they are all tinged with shades of green.
An Atheist is a Godless person, He does not live by the constraints imposed by a house or it's occupants. He does not reside in any house, he is homeless, living outside in the open air. However, he has a very different perception of reality. He is standing on the outside looking in.
He can look at many different houses without the distorting perspective of having to view the other houses through coloured and distorting glass. He can see that the occupants of each house has a distorted sense of reality because he can see that Christians look through red glass, Wiccans look through green glass, Muslims look through blue glass. Some of the extreme cults live in houses with no windows at all.
Very few Christians are able to walk away from their house and take an objective look at it from the outside. When they do, they often realise their distorted perception of reality. Some can not return to the environment that has deceived them, that has given them a false version of reality.
So why do people go back into these houses or choose never to leave in the first place? It's because it's comfortable. Air conditioning in the summer, central heating in the winter, refrigerator, family and friends, TV, a familiar cozy environment. orderly, warm dry and clean. It's a nice place to be. It is more comfortable than living outside in the open.
It is easier to accept a warm, comfortable, friendly LIE than it is to accept a cold, indiffernt, unpredictable TRUTH.
So why do some Atheists who have lived in the metaphorical open air all their lives occasionally choose to live in a house with a distorted view of the outside world. Well just look at all the "Testimonies" given by Christians, how they were destitute, in decline, heading for destruction. This is a metaphorical version of the man living on the street, going through hard times, he's lost his clothes, He is weak, he catches pneumonia and is suffering from frostbite and is in danger of freezing to death. If someone calls out from one of those houses, and says, come on in, you can warm up in here and stay as long as you like. They will almost certainly go to live in the house, no matter what colour the windows are. Once they are in, it's very difficult to leave. It's warm and cozy. They remember that outside is cold and harsh. They often choose to stay. and after a few weeks when they are again fit and well, looking at the world through coloured windows, they soon forget what reality really looks like. Besides they no longer have the skills, clothing or the will to survive outside.
The strong, fit and healthy have no need of the comforts of the house dwellers. If they become weak, they can always knock on any door they choose. Us outdoor folk are out surfing, white water rafting, bungy jumping, scuba diving, paragliding. The weak who need the security and comfort of an institutionalised house can do so if they want. The gullible and stupid may get tricked into moving into a house and some people don't really like living in a house but can't move for fear of upsetting their fellow house mates or because they'll lose all status within the household.
The vast majority of Theists stay in their house because they just love their house to bits, all the residents and all the fun things they do. They have no intention of moving out and don't give a damn what colour the windows are. "Truth" is totally irrelevant and plays no part in their chosen lifestyle.
There is a lot of mileage in this Analogy:- If you look carefully at the Christian house you will see that it is built on the ruins of an old Jewish house. In fact most of the house is built from bits stolen from other houses. There is still a lot of Jewish masonry around with lots of Zoroastrian Brickwork, lots of Pagan timber frame. The house has lots of rooms all different, the people in those rooms say their room is as the original builders intended it, but it is clear that all the rooms have been personalised by the occupants. None of the original building is left, no one can agree on what it looked like. The only part of the building that is authentic Christian is the red glass in the windows.
The Christian house has 2 TV sets, one shows only the Old Channel and the other shows only the New channel. Both TV's show a selection of Documentary and Drama programs, but no one in the house can agree on which programs are documentary and which are drama. Once they only had one TV set and all the documentaries were 100% factual. Since they had the new TV installed, the documentaries on the old TV are no longer considered factual and some say they were just soap operas all the time.
So when the Proselytisers and the Evangelists come to AvG and ask us to take a serious unbiased look at their faith and that we should come and join them, It has no impact whatsoever. I know their intentions are often good. They perceive us as twisted, grotesquely distorted and tainted evil red, but their perception of us is incorrect. It is a perception distorted by their Christian world view. They only see themselves as normal people. People on the outside are inferior defective mutants in need pity or should be hated and sometimes they are even to be killed.
One day, when my mind is feeble and I am tired of life and I've stopped caring about the Truth, I may retire to the comfort of an institutionalised house of religion. I may sit in front of the TV watching the New God Channel, and occasionally I may look out of one of the windows at the hideously deformed red people on their way to the beach with their twisted surf boards and wonder why they don't want to live in my perfect house. Surely it is self evident that my house is perfection and everything else is corrupt.