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Austin Cline

Atheism is a Choice?

By December 17, 2003

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Atheism is a choice not to believe in a higher power, thereby not having to look into a mirror/soul and answer for your sins, i.e. lying, cheating, deceiving, etc. Atheism is a religion for the coward at heart. It doesn't matter how intelligent or how much intellect you have. There are many intelligent people with no backbone to admit when they are wrong and atone for their sins, so they choose not to believe there is a higher power to answer to.

That, at least is the opinion of D.A. Wagner, expressed in a letter to the editor in the Joplin Globe. Wagner, I think, doesn't think too highly of atheism or atheists - but is that a consequence of being so grossly misinformed, or is he spreading misinformation because he doesn't like atheism? That's a difficult question that can't really be answered from so little information.

Wagner thinks that people choose to be atheists so that they can avoid having to deal with or accept responsibility for the things that they do wrong. That's a pretty harsh condemnation of atheists' moral character, and I doubt that Wagner reached such a conclusion after actually knowing any atheists close and personally. No, I think he just read it somewhere and ended up accepting it because it already fit in well with his preconceptions about the world and humanity.

Atheism is no more a "choice" than any other disbelief or belief. Atheists don't seek to avoid answering for their errors any more or less than anyone else. In fact, it is arguable that Christianity is an attempt to avoid answering for one's crimes - after all, it is a basic principle of most traditional forms of Christianity that Jesus Christ takes on the punishment for our sins so that we don't have to - we, in turn, are wiped clean. How is that "taking responsibility" for what one has done? Taking responsibility means accepting the negative consequences, not asking an innocent person to be punished in our place.

Not admitting that their sins affect not only themselves but those around them and that they need to answer to a higher power leaves only believing in the code of here today and die tomorrow, if it feels good do it.

Wagner's understanding of moral philosophy is pretty poor - there are a great many ethical systems beyond what he describes, quite a few of which are essentially atheistic in that they don't depend upon any gods. The code of "here today and die tomorrow, if it feels good do it" is not one I have ever seen any atheists adopt. I don't doubt that there must be a few, but in my personal experience they can't be all that common.

A person of faith is not perfect, but they at least have the courage to stand up and admit when they are wrong and try to atone for their sins.

Actually, in Christianity it is Jesus who atones for your sins - indeed, his atonement for humanity's sins is supposed to be his central mission, the reason for coming to Earth in the first place. Now, this is not to say that Christians never try to "atone" for their sins at all, but it does mean that being a Christian doesn't cause a person to be more likely to want to atone for their sins because they believe that, ultimately, someone else is doing that for them. An atheist, on the other hand, has only themself to rely up - they must doing they atoning, they must take responsibility, and they must act to make things better because no one else will.

People like Wagner might try to portray the situation for atheists as being somehow worse than it is for Christians, but quite frankly I don't find their arguments to be even vaguely persuasive.

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Comments
June 2, 2012 at 6:37 pm
(1) Pachomius says:

You have not answered the question, though, whether being and acting as a vocal atheist is a choice or not; if not what is it?

That is always the penchant of you vocal atheists, you always evade addressing the issue.

For you own intellectual candor, please examine at least in your own personal case whether being and acting as a vocal atheist is a choice or not; if not then what is it, and be brief, pithy, plain, and clear, don’t go into so many things and end up not answering the issue.

So, if it is not a choice, it is what? a compulsion, a coercion, an obsession, a vindictive defense mechanism, a logical conviction, or a scientific conclusion, or whatever.

And be brief, pithy, plain, and clear, don’t go into so many things and end up not answering the issue.

I know your kind, you talk a lot and even feel that you have addressed the issue, but it is all evasions: beating about the bush and feeling so satisfied with yourself that you have addressed the issue, but you are not fooling everyone except people like yourselves.

Hahahaha, I must regret the rant but it is most effective as an exposition to you of the issue, and your duty for your own sense of integrity to address it point blank.

I can now as usual await your recourse to evasion by going into something else but the issue, like what? like that you cannot understand my words, hahahahaha!

Pachomius

June 2, 2012 at 7:17 pm
(2) Austin Cline says:

You have not answered the question, though, whether being and acting as a vocal atheist is a choice or not

That is not “the” question because that isn’t a question anyone has asked here. “The” question is wether or not atheism is a choice; not only has that question be answered, it has been answered in some detail.

That is always the penchant of you vocal atheists, you always evade addressing the issue.

Perhaps you only feel that way because you make up new issues in your mind then, when people address the issues already under discussion instead of what’s been going on in your private mental space, you feel cheated.

But you haven’t been cheated. You simply haven’t been part of the conversation and, therefore, can’t really make any demands on others to address whatever you’ve been thinking about privately.

For you own intellectual candor, please examine at least in your own personal case whether being and acting as a vocal atheist is a choice or no

Perhaps you should display a bit of intellectual rigor and define your terms first. What, exactly, do you mean by “vocal atheist” and why is it an issue at all?

And be brief, pithy, plain, and clear, don’t go into so many things and end up not answering the issue.

First you need to establish that there is an issue at all. And by “issue,” I don’t mean something you’ve been obsessing about privately. No one else has any obligation to discuss your private obsessions.

I know your kind, you talk a lot and even feel that you have addressed the issue, but it is all evasion

It’s not an “evasion” to not address something that’s never been brought up before. It’s also not an “evasion” to not see any importance in something that only concerns you.

like that you cannot understand my words, hahahahaha!

Oh, I can understand the words. It’s the mind behind the words that escapes rational comprehension.

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