What we atheists believe

Aractus 25, August, 2015

The Aractus Creed (subject to review):

We believe in the prophet, our apostolic father, Charles Darwin;

Creator of wonder, evolutionary biology, and wonder;

We follow the teachings of the great holy book “Origin of Species”;

We follow the guidance of his disciplinary descendant, Richard Dawkins;

Towards truth, wisdom, discovery, and wonder;

Even though sometimes he can be a giant douche;

We believe in his ways of inductive reasoning and the holy scientific method;

We believe in his teachings written down in the academic journals of Science, Nature, and the Journal of Theoretical Biology;

We believe in the pursuit of Power, Wealth, Wisdom, Knowledge, Happiness, Health, Development, Advancement, and Progress;

We acknowledge the inspired work of secularists;

We strive each day to understand their teaching;

We believe that the Christian god isn’t really real;

And that when we die we don’t go anywhere we just rot in the ground.

2 comments on “What we atheists believe”

  • West Black says:

    Hi Daniel, Wes here.

    I will comment on your Aractus Creed (and pose a few friendly questions to you) in a minute.

    I will ask my questions thusly:
    For example, Question 1 will be written as Q1.
    Apologies for any and many spelling mistakes. English isn’t my first language :)

    Just quickly allow me some background info and context for why I will be asking you all these questions. (I wasn’t sure if I should reply to you personally or write this as a comment for others to read as well. I stuck with the latter, as I started writing this as a reply on my Tablet, and I don’t know how to copy and paste it into an E-mail. Sorry if this isn’t correct Internet-reply-to-a-blog etiquette. This is probably only the 2nd or 3rd time that I replied to a post I’ve read on a blog).

    So, background:
    I stumbled upon your blog when I did a search on the guy on Penn and Teller’s Fool Us show that did the ‘Sherlock Holmes’ trick. Magic is a hobby of mine and I wanted to see what other theories are out there on how the trick is done. I consequently landed on your site, and have been reading and skimming through some of your posts. I like and admire the way you write. I plan to spend a great deal of time here in the future. I tip my hat to you, Sir! Your Blog is quite an accomplishment. Well done. I always find it admirable when I see a lot of attention and effort has gone into something that someone is passionate about.

    I share many of your interests (atheism, science, history and religiony, psychology, conspiracies, film and media) and I am looking forward to see what you write and read your thoughts on the above mentioned subjects in more detail.

    I will comment on your Aractus Creed in a second… just quickly this:

    Like yourself I grew up as a Fundamentalist Christian. My background is Dutch Reformed/Pentacostal/Charismatic. Long story short: I studied theology with the aim to become a pastor. I grew disilussioned with the church, started doubting the bible, and reinforced my own doubts when I did my own independant studies. With my christian worldview shattered, I shifted from Orientation to Disorientation. As you probably know, one does not become an atheist overnight. It was a gradual journey. But I do recall, one day I woke up… and my ‘certain belief’ made way for ‘certain unbelief’. I was an atheist. Not a ‘trying to convince everyone around me to become an atheist as well kinda atheist’… more a ‘I’m happy I finally swallowed the red pill’ kinda atheist. But through the years, more and other metaphysical questions have crossed my path (or, for a less Christians sounding metaphor, my viewpoints about the mysteries AND certainties of life evolved), which led me on different paths and to asking even more questions. Suffice it to say, I feel less dissilusioned, and I have progressed from Orientation and Disorientation to somewhere between Disorientation and Reorientation.

    I do not want to divulge what I do and don’t believe exactly in this reply to your post, I can maybe do that when I write a reply to one of your other posts, or via private correspondence. I would love to pick your brain and hear your thoughts on various matters. I just have a few comments and questions about your Aractus Creed. I hope you will take them (my comments) as kind and (my questions as) sincere.

    Question 1a (Q1a)
    If I interpret it correctly, your Aractus Creed is a wink at the Nicene Creed. It is clear that you are an atheist. Why did you choose to write a (for lack of a better term) ‘atheist statement of belief’ in this way, tipping your hat to (or dare I say, parodying)
    this famous Christian creed? The way you did it is quite clever. Is it to make fun of what Christians believe, or did you deliberately wanted to keep it tongue in the cheeck?

    In the same vein, you use a lot of christian terminology in your creed, e.g. words like: Creator, prophet, apostle, wonder, teachings, holy book, truth, wisdom, wonder, holy, power, knowledge, happiness and inspired. Granted, many of these words are not only used in the bible and/or christian circles, but I still find it interesting that the words you use to describe what atheists belief are normally words you associate with a religion. Most atheists I know would profusely disagree that atheism is a religion. Do YOU see atheism as a religion? If not, would you concede that fundamentalist atheists can (and do) sometimes rival (and even supercede) religious fundamentals when it comes to defending and debating what they believe (which CAN cause them to act obnoxious, unloving, arrogant and unsympathetic, i.o.w., ‘like a giant douche’)?

    Comment: I think people on BOTH sides of the debate needs to learn how to really listen to each other, and treat each other with respect, even though they don’t agree with each other’s view points or world views. Which brings me to love.

    Why doesn’t the word (and the concept) of LOVE fit into your creed?
    Comment: Seeing that you are also interested in movies… I don’t know if you saw Lucy, the Luc Besson movie where Scarlett Johanson plays a woman who increases her brain power to (finally) a 100℅, and jumps up a few (!!!!!!!!) notches up the evolutionary scale, and essentially —— SPOILER ALERT! ——- becomes God. (Lucy, where are you? I.AM.EVERYWHERE.) I think, and I think Daniel, you might agree with me) that this film pretty much sums up the quentesential neo-atheist (and arguably also trans-humanist) world view. I mean, even the title LUCY is a direct reference to the famous Australopithecus skeleton found in 1974 by Donald Johanson…. hey, wait a minute! Donald Johanson… Scarlett Johansonn! Coincidence? Conspiracy!? Makes you think, doesn’t it Watson? (Hee-hee ;)
    Anyway, I really liked miss Johansson in the film, the movie’s F/X, miss Johansson, the philosophical, metaphysical, evolutionary and existential questions it raised, and did I mention miss Johansson …? … but I found it frustrating, and ultimately a downer, that with all the extra super brain power and cosequently wisdom and knowledge and evolution into God-likeness the character acquired, there was no manifestation, acknowledgement or message about love. Do you think that was actually Luc Besson’s message? I personally feel he slipped up. I think you and I and most people out there would agree that IF god/God exists, that hopefully his/her/it’s MAIN CHARACTERISTIC would be love. Even fellow atheists think so. Just one example, like James Cameron (e.g. his benevolent aquatic-alien in The Abyss). I guess this will segway into a whole bunch of other kind of questions like: Where-does-love (in all its permatations) -fit-into-the-evolutionary-chain… -is-it-simply-just-chemicals-at-work, -and-that’s-it?

    I guest, my question is simply, where’s the love, man? Doesn’t atheists believe in love? (And if they do, why isn’t it in your creed)?

    Your post title is ‘What we atheists believe’. Do all atheists believe exactly the way you believe… Or, to phrase it differently… Would you say all athesists believe the same, or is there different ‘congregations’ (schools of thought) that differ radically from each other?

    And the same goes for the universe and evolution….

    Thus, Q4:
    Does the whole scientific community agree on how the universe and evolution happened, and or is it a case like with what christians tend to say about the bible: agree about the essentials, but disagree about the nonessentials?

    If indeed there is only one school of Atheist thought, would you say your Aractus Creed sums it up? Sorry, this might come across as a trick question. Maybe I can ask it in another way: why do you write ‘subject to review’ in brackets behind your creeds’s heading? Is it because:

    a) you have doubts about what you have written * comment: I doubt you do :)
    b) because of the wonderful nature of the scientific method, new evidence can come to light in one of the various disciplines (e.g. evolution, mathematics, quantum theory, physics, physical science, etc.) which can shed a fresh or new light on how the universe and we as humans work, thus changing the parameters of the general atheist consensus?
    c) you also haven’t made up your mind about everything (I guess this answer is the same as (a)
    (d) your not 100℅ happy with the way you phrased it yet
    (e) none of the above

    What do you mean when you say that you/atheists follow Richard Dawkins’ guidance? Does it only pertain to his scientific/evolutionary biological/atheistic viewpoints, or also his viewpoints and how he expresses himself in public (even when it can be ‘douschey’?

    Q6b: Do you think it is a good idea to follow the inspired (inspired?) ideas of a man, regardless whether he is a saint or a dousche? And, would you agree with this statement?: The truth is still the truth (the message is still the truth) whether the messenger (the one bringing the truth) is a nice guy or not?

    Q7: Can you please clarify what you mean by the pursuit for Power? Doesn’t power corrupt? And doesn’t ultimate power corrupt ultimately? (Or are these just empty sayings?).

    Q8: Please clarify what you mean by ‘the inspired works by secularists’. What is inspiration? Do you agree with this part of the Merriam-Webster definition of inspiration?: A force or influence that inspires someone. The Oxford dictionary states that it can simply mean to be mentally stimulated to do or feel something creative. Is inspiration also simply chemical processes in the brain? And… not to beat a dead dog further… coming back to love: Don’t you find it interesting that the most art have been inspired by love (e.g. most songs written and sung is about love/love lost… not to mention the books that have been written, the movies made, the plays written, the babies made, the pets named, washed and walked, the cars driven, the food eaten and wine drunk, the refugees taken in, the orphans looked after, the relief given to sick people in hospitals…. )? Love is an inspirational force. Even your writing of this blog… it is a labour of love!

    Q9: … I guess my next question is: Is the inspired works of secularists better (or valid alone) above/more than the ‘inspired’ work of people of faith? For example: Is 2001 Space Odyssee, directed by the brilliant, misunderstood, depressed, difficult-to-work-with atheist director Stanley Kubrick, more inspired, and thus ‘true’ than, for instance, the brilliant, misunderstood, hyper-active, difficult still I’ve faith catholic Mel Gibson’s Braveheart? Was the composer Richard Wagner’s music ‘inspired’ because he was an atheist, and George Friedrich Handel’s
    music not? Why can ‘religious people’ AND ‘secularists’ benefit from and be inspired by art/movies/music etc. made by ‘believers’ AND ‘non-believers’ (is there truly such a thing?) or be operated on by christian/atheist/hindu/jewish/communist/muslim/agnostic doctors, but why is science set in stone: why should the word of ONLY atheist scientists be taken as the INFALLIBLE word of G… Science?

    Is it conceivable that if people of faith had it wrong about science *, couldn’t (can’t) people of science have it wrong about faith?

    I, myself, don’t know. I can only suggest, like Burt Bacharach (that grew up Jewish) sang in the first Austin Powers movie:
    What the world needs now
    Is love, sweet love
    It’s the only thing that there’s too little of

  • Aractus says:

    I don’t know if you noticed, but Shawn left a very nice comment on that page. I don’t want to get into the business of discussing magic methods, although the internet makes keeping your magic secret methods literally impossible in this day and age. You can buy the Sherlock Holmes trick FYI – I personally would make my own more realistic looking props, but I’m not a magician. Also, thank you Wes for your very nice comment!

    Second, I of course don’t really have much if any respect for Darwin. I have more respect for Jesus than I do for him, although Jesus was a criminal.

    1a. Atheists don’t believe in anything. Well we do believe in stuff, but it’s OK if we’re wrong. An example is mathematics – in maths there’s what we call the ‘Pythagoras Theorem’. This is something that is attributed to Pythagoras of Samos – and there’s a possibility that he might not have even existed. Probably he did exist though, and no one today knows if he came up with the theorem independently, or if he borrowed prior knowledge. This because it’s been shown the Egyptians had made use of the calculations the theorem provides centuries earlier. So we call it the Pythagoras Theorem, but it may have little or even nothing to do with Pythagoras of Samos.

    So what’s that mean? Christianity is not based on the teachings of Jesus, at least in my opinion. Jesus preached for about 1 year or so – Paul by his account in Galatians preached for 17 years whilst remaining “personally unknown” to the Jerusalem Church – and then for another 10-12 years until his death/martyrdom. Nearly 30 years in all.

    I was taught probably what you were taught is that all Christians believe the Nicene Creed. We know that’s not the case though because there are non-trinitarians, and there are even Mythicist Christians that do not believe in even a historical Jesus (Thomas Brodie is a scholar for example that takes this view; and according to our weird friend Richard Carrier there’s only seven scholars in the world himself included that are Jesus-sceptic). So my point in using the Nicene Creed is that it’s not the basis for Christianity – it’s a creed that many Christians (the majority in fact) believe, but you can be a Christian and disbelieve it just like the Aractus Creed is not going to be believed by all, if any, atheists.

    1b. There are certainly atheist religions like Kopists, but no atheism itself isn’t a religion. And yes absolutely – religious practise has proven health benefits that do not occur with other social activities like sports clubs. A lot of atheists deny this; although religion can also stunt cultural progression as well – and an example of that I use is domestic violence and what Sir Matthew Hale had to say about it (well marital rape) back in the 17th century that formed the basis for legislature in the UK and its colonies for several centuries.

    2-3. The creed is mostly nonsense.

    4. Why would anyone “believe in” outdated scientific publications? Darwinism is wrong as well – it attributes all evolutionary process to survival of the fittest, but that can only partly explain evolution on the whole. Flight has been evolutionarily invented several time, for example. Bipedal dinosaurs could not fly – but looked like birds, laid eggs, had wings, had feathers, even had tail plumages, and importantly already had the low bone density that would later be required for them to develop flight. Low bone density is hardly an evolutionary advantage for the dinosaurs – they don’t know that in a few million years time they’ll be able to fly!

    7. I don’t have time to go into the pursuit of power. It certainly corrupts otherwise good people, that’s the point. You can think about people like Jimmy Savile who abused the power they had to the Nth degree.

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