My understanding of reality and claims of the supernatural.
Theism and other incredible claims of supernatural beings and events are just some among many allegations of what occurs in the universe and how it all works. Unless one is willing to accept that every claim made by every human is worthy of belief, then one is left with the inescapable problem; How do I determine which allegations are reliable and accurate and which aren’t?
It can be pretty important to get right. Just ask the victims of the World Trade Centre bombings.
I believe logic and intelligence dictate that decisions on any allegations be made utilising a consistent approach. If I claim that I use only the direct experience of my five senses to verify whether something exists or not, then I should not be making exceptions for “things which cannot be detected by human senses, yet could also exist”. (This is an obviously erroneous example, not what I use as the baseline for what exists).
I base my decisions on what can and does exist in the universe on the physically evidenced understanding and direct experience of the majority of humanity.
I accept as accurate/truth that there are constants or “laws/principles” in how the physical world operates. i.e. the fundamentals of physics & astronomy, biology, chemistry and mathematics.
I accept that at the present time humans have discovered many (but maybe not all) of these laws, and what is known has been tested, evidenced and put to use for the benefit (and sometimes detriment) of humanity. When credible evidence of new ones are discovered, they are tested, observed and added to the knowledge of humanity.
My personal experience and that of every other person I have ever met or spoken with confirms that these “laws” are reliable. e.g. gravity will cause everyone to fall off a cliff rather than float mid air like Wile. E. Coyote, and neither I, nor anyone I know (or know of) personally, has ever walked on water (unaided by technology).
My personal experience and that of independent, evidenced based research is that these laws cannot, and therefore could not ever have been, circumvented. If you believe these laws accurate, nothing “supernatural” can exist. In the history of humanity to date, nothing supernatural has been reliably evidenced (to the same standards as the “natural laws”) to exist.
I choose not to deviate from this approach to decision making when it comes to the issue of whether anything supernatural (including Gods) can or does exist.
What about the “laws” which have not been discovered or correctly understood by humanity. Can gods exist/operate there?
To hypothesize about what is not known is an endless path of thought to nowhere, of no practical use for living one’s life. If we simply guess about what is not known, both the possibility that a spaghetti monster exists and does not exist are equally valid.
I choose not to bother hypothesizing on the infinite possibilities of what is unknown. Why?
If one chooses to believe something supernatural can and does exist because it is possible humanity has not yet discovered (or understood) the “laws” which allow for and evidence it’s existence, then to be consistent with this position they must also believe that everything that the human mind can imagine, and it’s opposite, is equally possible.
That person cannot logically be a theist exclusively, and cannot believe exclusively in any one supernatural entity or occurrence.
To be logically consistent that person must be agnostic on every concept the human mind can generate. That person must believe in the possibility of everything, and therefore believes in nothing meaningfully.
I choose to believe/follow/act according to what accords with the currently known laws of the universe and to encourage the further exploration of what is unknown.
I am currently an atheist. If humanity discovers (using the same process which has unarguably been the most successful for humanity to date) a law which evidences the “natural” existence of a God or Gods, I will no longer be.
How did I arrive at this position?
I was indoctrinated into the Catholic Church from the earliest age I can recollect.
When I was of an age that I realised not everyone in the world held the same beliefs about Jesus Christ/God/Holy Spirit that I and my family and fellow parishioners did, I started to consider how I could determine who was correct.
The earliest step in this justification of my religion involved investigating the beliefs of other religions. I inquired into Hinduism and it’s derivative Buddhism, and then Judaism. I have very little knowledge of Islam.
The next step was considering the actual historical basis for my own “faith’s” theology, and how I ended up “believing” it.
Lastly, I subjected the premise of the Christian (and every other) God to tests of logic and evidence against the accepted physical laws of the universe, and my personal experience.
I’m happy to expand on each of these processes if you like, but this will add many more words.
Following this process over more than a decade, I came to the conclusions that:
1. No one religion can claim with logical certainty that theirs’ is the true/correct path to the true God(s), as they all offer similar promises which can only be validated after death (so conveniently, no one can confirm their truth).
2. The historical facts are that the Christian belief system is founded solely on a heavily edited, inconsistent, compilation of second, third, fourth, etc, hand allegations of supernatural activity provided by unidentifiable authors (who often plagiarised each other), written decades and centuries after the alleged events, during a time in history when new religions/cults/sects were being formed all over the Greco-Roman world, including in the city of Jerusalem and it’s surrounds.
The teachings and alleged miracles attributed to the Jewish Rabbi, Jesus of Nazareth, are not unique to him in the recorded history prior to, during, or after his alleged life.
The versions and interpretations of the spiritual teachings attributed to Jesus of Nazareth by the many Christian sects are so inconsistent, contradictory and edited over the history of the “church” as to be unreliable documentation of the original teachings, if there ever were any.
3. I found no logical or credible evidentiary basis to assume the belief that there is an omnipresent, omnipowerful, silent and invisible God or Gods controlling the universe they created.
4. It is an evidenced anthropological fundamental that humans all over the world have created numerous Gods to explain what they don’t understand. The biggest unknown and fear in humans is death, and Gods were almost unanimously involved in explaining and creating an afterlife, so that humans can “cheat death”.
5. The historical evidence undeniably points to the creation and utilisation of Gods and religion for political purposes. This continues today. This goes to another motive for the formation and continuation of these institutions and their allegations.
6. There is credible evidence that across all the major world religions, membership and indoctrination in the beliefs thereof are compulsorily imposed on the children of current followers, thus excluding all alternative beliefs from serious consideration (if not outright dissuasion) during the important formative intellectual and psychological years.
These childhood beliefs (often reinforced by fear of death) are very difficult to move away from, even when the adult intellect casts serious doubt over their credibility, and the follower no longer actively participates in the ceremonies or gatherings of his/her childhood religion. The “non-practicing” theist.
This has lead me (and others) to conclude that many theist beliefs are the result of this early childhood psychological influence, often tied in to the wish for eternal life. i.e. fear of death.
7. Finally, no God or Gods have provided any measurable benefit to my life or that of anyone I know, or know of, that can’t equally (and more logically and credibly) be explained by the known “laws” of the universe.