Dissecting Thought: NOMA and religion: a naturalist perspective

Question Discussed:

-Is religion and science compatible? (Is faith compatible with science?)

The notion that religion and science are compatible is simply incorrect, religion and science are not compatible, they both explore means of understanding the world in different lights, religion in a different light to science; both express notions of what is, and both define the world differently (science in the light of evidence, religion in the light of revelations). This creates tension, as religion does interfere in scientific inquiry and science in religiosity. It is this contention as well the conclusion drawn from this that makes the NOMA model proposed by Stephen Jay Gould, simply impossible. It is the interest of this piece to express why this is and to explain the reasons why it is this way. So let us begin.

interesting it is to explore the pages of history especially that of natural history and the subsequent individuals involved in its making. History whose pages express the vast theories and scientific discoveries of the early Greek scientists, the first of the many natural philosophers to take upon a cosmic perspective of the universe, and investigate the physical dimension of reality, as opposed to the yearnings of illusory Images made from those physical entities trapped within it. The philosophers and researchers who mapped out the stars, discovered the atom, how the planets rotated and so on. Natural history is a very interesting subject to do research into; it was in this research that one (such as myself) found well looking up the origins of life, Palaeontologist Stephen jay Gould’s essay titled “NOMA” written in march 1997. It was at best to the reader (such as me) something of a no-show “Is this a pandering to religion?” having read this in 2013, it still makes good taste for discussion. So what better way to share those thoughts then in a piece on the subject matter? As mentioned before the essay was published by Stephen Jay Gould in March 1997 and can be found in “Leonardo’s mountains and the diet of worms” (1998) book (as well as “rock of ages”). At the time of the release of the essay, there was still dormant much less criticism it would seem of evolution and biology by the religious then there is today. In the essay Gould captures this brilliantly with a discussion that he had in 1984 well speaking with Jesuit priests in the Vatican well attaining a meeting on stellar science. He mentions how the Jesuit priests found it hard to believe that there was something as ridiculous as “creation science” or “Intelligent design”, even remarking to Gould that Evolution did not lay doubt in their faith. The essay expands on this discussion and the subsequent investigation of Pope John Paul the 2nd remarks in favour of evolution (1996). Yet the heart of the essay deals with the question “Is faith compatible with science?” (Though not in those words directly), a very interesting question to ask and an even more interesting way Gould answered it. In this essay Gould expresses the argument that religion and science are both mutually compatible with one another, and even essential to complement one another. He summarized this contention in the view that science and religion operated different realms of teaching authority (or “Magisterium” in Latin, plural “Magisteria”) and thus were both compatible and did not come into conflict with one another. This gave rise to the principle of NOMA (non-overlapping magisteria) that argues both realms do not overlap with one another. The reason for this conclusion rests at the principle that…

“No such conflict should exist because each subject has a legitimate magisterium, or domains of teaching authority-and these magesteria do not overlap…The net of science covers the empirical universe; what it is made of (fact) and why does it work this way (theory). The net of religion extends over questions of moral meaning and value. These two magisterial do not overlap, nor do they encompass all inquiry…“ (Natural History, Stephen Jay Gould, 1997)

NOMA has since then been used as a Segway by both prominent religion and science individuals to express the given neutrality (or alluded) neutrality between the two teaching authorities. Very much to the contention of many this attempted neutrality was been brisked and promoted (however one suspects for different motives then broadly accustomed to; for instance at the time in the USA the “creationist” movement was starting to lay a significant problem to science education, throughout the essay to the rest of the world evolution was a settled thing. Yet in the united states, protestant fundamentalism was gaining traction, so what would be a way to solve this by promoting the example of NOMA that faith and science were compatible, it could work…right?) Later in that same year astronomer and author Carl Sagan took this essay to the Vatican (even the Catholics had no issue with NOMA, given that not too long ago they were the ones burning those who promoted ‘wack’ theories) as (which one can only say) a sign of good “faith” between the two sides. Yet over fifteen years since the paper’s publication (and subsequent republication in the New York Times in 1998) and almost twelve years since the death of Stephen Jay Gould, this principle still raises much discussion and much criticism (as one can imagine if one is really were to put two forces on equal footing). Theologians, cosmologists, astrophysicists, authors, polemicists, rhetoricians and other academic and amateur individuals have expressed either disdain for NOMA or reverence of its notion. For the interest of this piece, the focus will be put on the principle of NOMA and on the subsequent question “Is religious faith compatible with science?” What will be explored is the epistemological conflict that exists between religious faith and scientific inquiry, the metaphysical naturalism that underpins methodological naturalism and the subsequent contrast to that of the theological underpinnings that reside with religious faith, the political ideology surrounding religion, moral argument, with the final verdict being made that religious faith and science both overlap with one another (P1-P4), and thus both magesteria will and in fact, do come into conflict with one another. This is made known beforehand as to provide a structured approach to the NOMA principle and to the question and baggage that it carries whenever it is discussed by contemporaries of either religion or science.

Now one must express at most that the notion that faith (that which will not submit to reason, change, or evidence and instead trust superciliously to the bitter end) is compatible with science (that which uses reason, logic and evidence to explore the reality of the universe, in the means that it is and revising always closer to a better understanding) is simply misleading. There is very much a conflict, and it is between two different means of acquiring knowledge; science on the one hand uses means of investigation of the natural paradigm of existence in order to come to understanding of the world. Knowledge is acquired through justifying one’s beliefs, and this justification for science and for rational individuals’ comes in the form of evidence that goes beyond PBB (proper basic beliefs, common axioms of philosophy), this evidence comes from the natural paradigm of existence. A deeper understanding allows for a deeper knowledge of the world around you, this is what natural philosophy (methodological & metaphysical naturalism) seeks to do. Faith deals with different means of acquiring knowledge this of course is different for every religion, but the general summation usually goes in the tone that some sort of divine revelation permitted by a deity is the means by which knowledge is acquired. Others mandate faith in a deity (ies) as central to acquiring knowledge of the world, this means in most cases believing the ancient writings of nomadic tribesmen, prophets and speakers for faith. The great monotheisms (Christianity, Islam, and Judaism) promote the path to knowledge as one of divine revelation, this being through the written testaments of prophets of classical antiquity who had trust and devotion to God(s), who were revealed to them. When one seeks to come to knowledge of the world through two different means, they will conflict with one another, and religion does that with science. Religion claims all answers, or paths to answers through its doctrinal teachings, science seeks to explore the world by the use of the natural sciences to come to knowledge by the justification of beliefs. If one seeks but to believe the word of the leaders as to attain knowledge that most certainly will come into conflict with the epistemic line that knowledge is acquired through inquiry and investigation as opposed to faith and divine revelation. This is but the first point as to why both science and religion are not compatible, and do overlap with their alleged “separate realms of teaching authority”. Yet there is a further note to be raised here, the epistemological conflict that rests with acquiring knowledge from different means (natural philosophy versus theology) is impossible, there is only one means by which to acquire knowledge and that has to do with justification of beliefs and the means by which we do that is through not just empirical means but rational means that all spring from the physical (natural paradigm of existence) realm of inquiry; through an investigation of what is as opposed to what we wish, knowledge can and most emphatically “is” acquired through the means of investigation; something that faith does not permit, as faith is the belief without proof, any definition is but a corruption of this meaning for all people who now use the word “faith” use it as a means of “undying trust” which again raised even more issues. Some of these issues lay in the stark contrast at how these two different realms approach learning. Religion and the notion it rests on which is “faith in God(s)” (speaking about monotheism strictly here, pantheism, and other forms of henotheism and polytheism diverge on different aspects that one could consider not faith but simple equivocation of trust with faith) has a negative view towards learning, anything that is not in benevolence of the deity is “poisonous” to it and thus should not be even approached. The major issue this stirs is confirmation bias, science holds to the notion of peer review and scrutiny; something that is completely opposite to religion! The approach to learning and knowledge from religion goes in direct conflict with the means by which science approaches learning and knowledge; and thus the magisteria overlap.

Science as mentioned already, is natural philosophy, and as so is under the presuppositions of metaphysical naturalism. Now there must be a note here, and that is methodological naturalism uses the means of the natural sciences and the tools of humanity to investigate the natural realm, and in principle is different to metaphysical naturalism which insists that the natural realm is all there is and thus works on specific laws that are unchanged; things such as supernatural entities and the supernatural realm cannot exist, as anything in the natural realm of existence is in reality; as reality is anything that is in existence within the natural. For if the supernatural realm existed with entities capable of amazing feats, then they would have to exist in the realm of nature, and that would then demote them from the status of gods, to normal material entities with abilities explainable to science. For if they existed outside existence, they would not exist at all, so terms such as “non-temporal” are but baseless claims. Methodological naturalism only concerns itself with investigations of the natural realm (that is it). Methodological naturalism however comes from the basis of metaphysical naturalist thought and thus has similar presuppositions 1) The future will be the same as the past 2) the natural laws govern the cosmos and everything within it 3) on the premises of these laws nature can be explored and knowledge of the known universe justified 4) the empirical method is the best means of attaining knowledge of the natural realm (and so on). These presuppositions are both current in methodological and metaphysical naturalism and thus are the basis of science. Religion works differently, it works on theology and the various means by which to secure, protect and validate the faith at the centre of the religion. In monotheism (specifically) Christianity has a religious text, as does Judaism and Islam, all of these texts are professed to be the spoken word of the deity who allegedly created the universe and all within it (through different means and so on). Theology is a means by which the various revelations that the writers of those religious holy text, can be understood in means of allowing a suitable framework for the faiths to have organization leading to active worship and dedication by those faithful. Religion lays origins to the supernatural as opposed to science who lays its origins to the cosmos (the natural), religion wishes to say that the natural arose through means of the supernatural and thus the world can be explained through the supernatural well science wishes to say that life arose from the natural and can be explained through the natural. As one can see both realms are again in conflict. A very good example is expressed in the NOMA document about the discussion that was sparked over the “evolution versus creationism” debate going on in America.

Now the theory of evolution is a well-established scientific process that explains the origin of species and the vast diversity within life, this includes individual organisms, DNA, proteins, molecules and species; a theory stating that organisms (and the all other aforementioned subjects) adapt to environmental pressures thrust upon them by nature actively selecting the best of those organisms to pass adaptation characteristics to other generations over successive generations. Those species thus will have greater chances of reproducing their genes in the gene pool and surviving their environment. Different environments mean different adaptations, and it is these adaptations over time that lead to the vast complexity we have today; random mutation (so far as we know it to be) will occasionally occur with a species giving it certain characteristics that may or not be useful. It is thus all species and all of life holds a common ancestry with one another, a “universal ancestor(s)”. This theory proposed by Alfred Wallace and revolutionized by Charles Darwin is not only factual but has like all good scientific theories the margin of predictability and determination. On the opposite side of the “argument” (not really being a serious danger) is intelligent Design, the simple notion that all of life is too complex and intricate and must therefore have a designer. Both ID and evolution deal with the field that NOMA states science should have dominion over, and it is this point that I raise that religion seeks to impose over science’s ability to accurately explain the natural realm, ID is just another argument thrown out by the religious community to try (and successfully is falling in support) and bring religion into the scientific class room. ID is not science it is pseudo-science, it does not hold to an accurate model of predictability, no explanatory value, no margin for experimentation it is just an assertion based on ignorance, speculation and psychological need and thus is not a valid (in any form) scientific theory.

One more point that needs to be raised is the political ideology that surrounds religion, unlike science which has no dogma (and to all those shouting ‘scientism’, there is simply no such thing, the whole notion of scientism is a philosophical pandering to religious critics who are saw that religion is being denigrated from social sphere of influence and now heading out with astrology, alchemy and all the other means by which our infant species came to first understand the world) as if it did it would not change for anything, unlike religion, science revises itself constantly finding better and more efficient ways of exploring the cosmos. Scientists spend long hours, and constant research that then will be peer reviewed and scrutinized vigorously; to say science is dogmatic is a pandering to religious paranoia. Scientists actively revise their thoughts in light of new evidence, always seeking to follow the evidence where it leads and making sure that what the findings they get are accurate. It is in this light that science (and one will have to repeat for sceptics) holds to no dogma and political ideology. Religion on the other hand holds sternly to the notion of not revising its dogmas, organizing collectively the downward notion that man is the subject to the gods. The purpose of this life (monotheism specifically) is to worship the deity and prepare for the next life, it is thus in this notion that religion holds a very stern (and has held a very stern) notion against progression. It silenced Galileo when he proposes that geocentricism was wrong. It burned those who dare question its dogma, killing individuals who spoke out against the church, imposed itself against the rights of women and the rights against LGBT. It continues to impose itself against the individuals rights, in places such as Iran Homosexuals are hung for committing sodomy, apostates are killed for denouncing Islam, homosexual and lesbian individuals are not allowed their fundamental liberties (in places such as Australia, their still exists excessive bigotry from the liberal government, with their obvious Christian conservatism). Religion holds an active political ideology to instigate control over civil society, and it has shown to do this time and time again. Religion as it stands has no interest in progression, whereas science is interested in progressing knowledge, religion is not, it stands at every single step of the way for scientific inquiry. Its supporters adamantly detest any inquiry as to go against religious dogma and doctrine, always trying to lay claim to scientific revolutions and twisting the light of reality to the illusory images promulgated by religious doctrines.

The final point that will be raised is the issue of NOMA’s principle, Religion is said to have teaching authority over meaning and morality, which Stephen Jay Gould fails to realise that what he instead is instigating is moral philosophy. Science can study human behaviour and morality and meaning have to do with human behaviour so in this aspect science does and can comment on alleged “religious concerns”. Religion is not in complete authority of meaning, science can explain the physical world and what is, but why cannot it comment on the why? Different cultures of religiosity have different meanings; in Buddhism (which is a philosophy and not a religion) reaching a state of Nirvana is considered fulfilment of the individuals’ inner sanctum. In Christianity meaning is found with a faith in God and an active serving of him, this may involve attending church spreading the gospel and preparing for the next life. Religion in these respects is not interested in finding meaning at all! Instead it wants to give you the meaning, science is different. In science the main understanding is to grow a greater understandings of the workings of natural existence, in these respects science wishes to find answers to unanswered questions involving the natural realm. Stephen jay Gould expresses that religion deals with “taking people to heaven” whereas science deals “discovering heaven”. This of course fails to realise that religion in most respects was our first aspect of discovering the world around us, the first ways at which to understand the world. Moral philosophy is different to religion, yes religion will deal in aspects of moral philosophy such as the origins of morality and what is moral. But science can provide means of finding efficient ideas about the true nature of morality, and can document (not yet, still a work in progress) where morality comes from, its use, the ideal system of morality and so on. In this respects Science (science of morality) does come into conflict and does overlap Religions alleged “teaching authority” (magisterium).

So what can be said so far in conclusion? Is faith compatible with science? Does NOMA work? In short the answer is no. Faith and science do come into conflict at a fundamental level, both deal in ways of attaining knowledge of the world, the one relies on divine revelation and unwavering trust in a deity for knowledge and the other deals with inquiry and revision into the realm of the natural. Faith deals with the belief in the supernatural, and science deals with investigation into the natural, which is all there is. The margin for belief and faith in a deity dwindles as scientific inquiry progresses, resulting in an ever dwindling regression to the point at which the need for faith and the supernatural inevitably become null and void. Faith undermines learning and progression, as religion seeks to avail a constant monopoly over the “Truth”, which is never changing and never growing unless with the deities’ permission (or the dear leaders of the sects’ permission) whereas science is interested in investigation and inquiry into the world always ready to progress and learn more about the cosmos. The underpinning aspects that science holds onto, the metaphysical natural perspective and has inevitably no draw of the supernatural aspect that religion plays to, as to the natural philosopher the supernatural realm just cannot exist as it would underpin science itself. Religion holds to a political ideology that undermines the individual’s right to his body, his voice and to his mind, whereas science holds no such constraints and no such dogma. The final nail in the coffin as to why science and faith do not work as well as the NOMA principle is because science can explain meaning and morality, and religion is not interested in pandering to progression and discovery more interested in the already pre-made product. Non-overlapping magesteria, the principle that religion and science hold to two different realms of teaching authority and thus do not overlap is simply not true and it is because of this fact that the model fails completely; as there is a conflict. The fact of the matter is (in the perspective of this writer) religion needs to die for progression and science to truly take off; across the globe there are quasi-religious states, with religion undermining the rights of the individual and pandering to the illusions of grandeur who seek not peace and not acceptance but seek separation and control. It is this reason as well as all the aforementioned reasons why religion and science can never truly be compatible with one another, and it is this understanding that only one is permissible and for this writer that has to do with the naturalist perspective, as it, is the only perspective truly valid. All others are pandering to the illusory psychological needs of the individuals. It may sound abrupt and it may sound prejudice but it is the truth, an inconvenient truth.

Knowledge is power

Use it

Written By: Anthony Avice Du Buisson

Knowledge Blast: Understanding atheism

We all at some point in our life when discussing religion or some aspect of belief, will be asked the trivial yet important question, “Do you believe in a God?”. To some the answer is “yes”, to others the answer is “no” and then there are those (especially igtheists), that question the meaning of the word, “God”, which they argue needs first to be defined before any enlisted answer can be provided. Generally to those who answer this question with a “yes”, they are presumed to have an active belief in that God and they are generally referred to as a “Theist” (an individual who holds a belief in a Deity); to those who answer with “No”, they are generally referred to as “Atheist” (an individual who are without a belief in a Deity or ‘lack a belief’ in one.). These are the only two positions when it comes to belief in a God, you either are actively believing in one (or many) making you a theist (or any branch attached to it) or you do not actively believe in a God, making you an atheist. Simple is it not? Yet some people, even academics, seem to be fine with theism but not atheism…why is that? Let’s find out shall we.

We are all born not believing in any notion particularly associated with a God/Gods; implicit atheism, is what we all are born with. We all are born with an absence of belief in a God/gods, this is the default state of belief for every child born into this world. Generally the notion of a God is introduced via cultural means; either one will learn it from parents, learn it in a religious studies class and so on. No matter where we learn the term it is still introduced from the culture we are born into, if not, another culture, but culture none-the-less. It is only when faced with the notion, that one can either accept it (with good merit and reason; as no one chooses to believe or not believe in anything, they are brought good reason as to either reject or accept the notion, this goes for the god notion as well) or reject it (with good merit or reason etc); however it should be noted that before the introduction of the notion, the default stance is non-belief i.e. atheism. When one rejects the notion of a God, with whatever reason or argument; they are enacting explicit atheism, which is the active rejection of belief in a God/gods (disbelief). Agnosticism (the epistemological position concerned with whether we can know a notion to exist or not) can be associated with atheism; as agnosticism concerns knowledge (a subset of belief) well atheism concerns belief itself. One may ask the question how this is possible, in which the reply can be that atheism rejects the belief in the notion of a God/gods, well agnosticism concerns itself on whether that notion of God/gods can be known at all to exist. Agnostics may wish to distance themselves away from atheists but the fact is this; if one actively believes in a God they are a theist (or any branch of theism) if one does not believe in a God, they are an atheist. There is no middle position when it comes to belief, either belief or non-belief, they cover all positions. Agnosticism is thus not mutually exclusive to atheism, rather it is compatible with atheism; as it concerns (and here it will be repeated) itself with whether we can know a God to exist at all, whereas atheism concerns itself with lack of belief in that notion, not on whether it exists or not.

“This is where the difference between ‘Agnostic’ and ‘Atheist’matters: Theism and Atheism deals with belief. Gnosticism and Agnosticism deals with knowledge. Gnostic think they KNOW the existence/nonexistence of a god, agnostics claim to not know. Theists and Atheists can be on either sides of that, were they believe or not believe in a god while also either claim to know or not know for certain if that belief is true. There are agnostic atheists, agnostic theists, gnostic atheists and gnostic theists.”-Fooly’s Mind

Positive atheism is where the problem resides, it is the explicit or strong conviction that a God/gods do not exist. This is what most anti-theists (or those actively who hold a disdain for religious beliefs.) hold when they refer to their atheism. Negative atheism includes all forms of irreligion or non-belief, from the absence of a belief in a God/gods and so on. Both positive and negative atheism are but two side to the same coin, they are both ways of defining non-belief or “atheism” (as already mentioned); they are both varying degrees of the same thing such as the case with hot water and warm water. The problem really resides around those who look from the outside into atheist thought, they may have the tendency to view it as a religion (which, if so makes them under a grievant misapprehension) by the way it may conduct itself in the world; it may be called “dogmatic” or by more ‘sower opponents’ as “dogmatic as religion”. Yet, let one dispense with the critics; to all those who do not believe in a God for whatever reason, you are an atheist. One can take this as a breach of one’s ‘personal beliefs or lack of’ but that is the fact. It is more common to see fellow atheists criticize atheism itself by the way many who hold to the title may act. Yet, many may hold to their non-belief as ‘a means to an end’ or may promote it, however the case it must be noted that atheism should only be considered a block of non-belief. It should not press issues, it should not be given so much attention as it has been given (this goes for theism to); it should not be even mentioned. Now this may seem strange given the previous words and advocation in the last couple sentences of this piece, but let me explain what I mean. Atheism, as already mentioned almost countless of times before, is simply “the lack of belief in a God/gods” that would be the end of it, yet so many individuals have labelled those who do not believe in their god as being ‘atheist’, this is why the word exists at all! And for this reason it is important that those who do hold onto the word must understand why it exists, and what it means now. What atheism means today is the stance against oppression; the stance of those willing to not be contempt in their thinking, it is the stance against those willing to die for their belief; for the word ‘atheist’ may be a ‘means to an end’ for some, to others it is simply another way of promoting defiance when needed and the stance against oppression (this is not an over-exaggeration of the word either, given its history, atheism has been on the receiving end of tremendous intolerance). Yet, It does not affect political beliefs (not by itself), what one does when he gets up in the morning, It is the starting block. Those who live their life as if there is no notion of a God existing are known as practical atheists or apatheists, and one can say that there are a great deal of practical atheists in both the non-religious and religious circles.

Nietzsche gives an important note on belief in God as “not being necessary any longer”; does one see those who believe in a God, when crossing the street, look both ways? Yes. It seems that everyone now in the modern age lives as if there is no God. Believers put on their seat belts, look both ways well crossing the road; they live their lives as if the belief in God is not necessary. Putting the cross on, on Sundays, and flipping it upside down on Mondays. the notion that is often promoted by believers is the façade “You need god to have meaning in your life” but what is the gross double standard they are setting? Atheism, is the underpin of all religions, no one actively believes in a God twenty fours a day, seven days a week, do they? Of course not! If one really had to do a study on the amount of “prefaced believers” in this world one could almost certainly say that the numbers of “real believers” would be “0”; as no one actively can believe in a notion every hour of every day.

New atheism, (a movement started from the post years of 9/11, popularly called a movement by the media) Is a movement set on the notion that; religious belief should be held to the same criticism as any other belief, and it should not be given respect just because of its own sake this means it must be laid to the same standard amount of scrutiny as any other subject. “The End of faith” and “Letters to a Christian nation” (2004) can be credited as the books that started the movement. This breed of atheism is a prolific atheism the kind at which wishes to dispense with religion. Yet, despite such vitriol by the religious to this “new” form of atheism, it must be noted, that if the religious think their views are untouchable and thus cannot be scrutinized; then let it be said that such “privileged delusion” needs to be quelled effective immediately. New atheism does not attack the belief in God per-seas, then it attacks what the belief in God does to individuals; atheists who are a part of this movement do not care what the individual believes in, they care about what the individual does with that belief. This is why the aim in recent times has been for social justice and equality, to replace organized belief that demands it cannot be criticized, with practical humanism. To dispense with the notion, that you need a God to find meaning and happiness, that the universe can only have come from a deity and morality could only be dispensed by a deity; is to dispense with the final hook that holds man in his infancy. The modern atheist movement seeks to show that individuals can indeed be good without God, find meaning in their lives, and gain a greater understanding of the world through enquiry. New atheism brings with it, not just atheism, but secularism, humanism, liberalism, gender equality and the slogan “Good without God”. They argue that “Religion and the belief in the supernatural have crippled society, crippled the need for enquiry and scepticism, resulting in the overall denigration of progress among humanity and thus must be made rid of as soon as necessarily possible.” Religion as it stands has morphed into a form of practical humanism, and any good that the religious hold, is in fact a goodness of humanism and the two are not to be confused with one another. Science and healthy scepticism is overall better than an impermeable faith in a God, this in a sense, can be summed up as the movement’s main aim; which is to push the need for religion out of society.

What is the point of a belief in God, when individuals who preface such a belief as being the “be-all-to-end-all”, are not even acting as if there is a God in their daily life? This incipient need to believe in that which, at the end of the day, does nothing overall to affect one’s character; is useless. If one harbours any form of belief or disbelief for not any good particular reason or any particular justification, it can be said that such individuals have no reason to be who they proclaim they are. Those who wish to keep their belief for the sake of security and moral fulfilment, need to realise that they are holding onto to the notion of a God for the sake of psychological need, and not because of whether it is true or not. Belief in anything is acquired through substantial evidence to prove and good reason to accept that evidence’s notion, non-belief comes as a default from not finding that evidence substantial and zero reason to believe in the notion. This is with all claims, we believe because we have substantial evidence to provide good reason, which is the standard ‘evidence’. Without evidence in the form of justification to believe in any notion that departs from justification, no matter sincere, is done so for stupid reasons. No amount of belief in the prospect of any notion makes that notion so. Every adult and child has to come to this realisation that you only believe in something because of justification and good reason, and you stop believing in something when the notion or belief departs from that. This is why non-belief will always be the default when it comes to notions like God(s), anyone who says otherwise has no idea what he or her are talking about. No one chose to not believe in anything, as they did to believe in something, they were given good reason to believe, and zero reason not to believe, it was not an active “oh I’ll decide not to believe” or ‘I’ll start to believe” are brains do not work like that, and it is naïve to think they do.

Every individual expressing their belief in any form of matter will need to know this when talking to an atheist of any sort unless to foolishly lump an atheist into a camp or an ideology he/she is not a part of. Though criticism (valid ones) have been made by people like Sam Harris, who say non-belief should not be given a label, just like not believing in Zeus should not be given the label “A-zuesist”. Valid criticisms like these do highlight the point that labels do carry baggage, sometimes unwanted baggage. For example, when theists use the argument that atheists are immoral because Stalin was an atheist, and he killed in the name of no God. Though this argument (if it can be called that and not a grievance whine) is not true, Stalin was indeed an atheist, but he had other motivations for doing the things he did that are too multiple to mention here. This goes for both atheist and theist a like who make claims that certain “bad guys” in history killed because of their faith or lack of it, must remember that there are a lot of facts that go into each event and each context, that it has become naïve to try use the Crusades to lump the evils of Christianity, or communism to lump the evils of atheism and so on. Ladies and gentlemen from across the aisle, hear me when I say that the only way we are going to unite, is if we dispense with belief being a dividing block on issues (this may be hypocritical given the amount of things that I write against “organized religion”, but that can be justified as I am against social injustice perpetrated by theocratic fascists) we should try to help one another and care for the merit of arguments alone, and not on whether they are uttered by a believer or a non-believer. We should love all despite what they believe, and only hold them accountable for their actions. This is why one has to say that humanism is the greatest uniter of both non-believer and believer, and that is what we should all aim for, a state by which we can obtain some form of unity based on humanism.

Knowledge is Power

Use it

Written By: Anthony Avice Du Buisson