A Sound basis for Atheism

A still from the author's garden

Amongst one of the reasons for atheists to be atheists is that God cannot be seen. However, that is not a good enough reason to be an atheist. There are better ones. There are a lot of things that cannot be seen such as radio waves, gravity, love, hate free will etc. Atheists do not deny these other things. Other atheists try to deny God based on reasoning and logic and that too is a poor basis because for every piece of logic they offer there is a counter one. Some others deny God because of fear, frustration, anger, hurt etc. all negative emotions and this only strengthens the belief of theists.

The only sound basis for denying God and being an atheist to my mind is faith. There can be nothing more secure than that. On the other hand there can be nothing more secure than accepting God because of faith and that is what my previous post was about.

AfterNote: A lively discussion follows from person engaged in the spiritual arena for major portions of their lives Vincent from UK and Raymond from US. Vincent has considerable familiarity with Himalayan thought while Raymond has same with both Himalayan and Oriental philosophy. Both are author's too and have written much on the topic in their blogs and books.

NOTE: This blog post was originally dated January 23, 2011


Vincent said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vincent said…
Yes, Ashok, and after thinking about this for a while, as well as your latest comment on my post “God begins with a word”, I come to the conclusion that what faith means, to me at least is “a way of looking at things”, that is a special way of looking at things, in which one becomes fixed in that way, and not persuaded otherwise by argument etc. Is this your understanding too?
ashok said…
More or less Vincent this is my understanding too. But, it does go a bit deeper than that, it flows from the heart as a conviction that is further affirmed with experience.

It is not that a person of faith does not listen to an opposing argument in a rational manner. But he has heard many before and found none that shake his faith whcih in anycase id deeper than the realm of arguments/intellect.

I do not know if I have explained this well, perhaps faith is difficult to explain. It is a conviction like some have for a particular mode of morality that is not persuaded by arguments.
raymond said…
Ashok "On the other hand ther can be nothing more secure than accepting God because of faith and that is what my previous post was about."

This is true for many people.

But there are a few of us who get closer to a "god experience" by remaining open to everything, (not secure about anything) including the possibility that there might not be any God of the kind such that it will take care of all of our worries forever.

These of us do not care about any speculation regarding future salvation, our focus is restricted to immediate experience of the divine.
raymond said…
(just posting again to open the email option, which does not appear at first)
raymond said…
Vincent: "to me at least is “a way of looking at things”, that is a special way of looking at things, in which one becomes fixed in that way, and not persuaded otherwise by argument etc."

Same comment: my faith is strong, but not in any way fixed. I maintain it only as long as it works, and it has worked very well for me so far. (I think your approach to life probably works just as well for you as mine does for me.)
ashok said…
I agree with everything that you have commented Raymond.

Yes I also agree that there is no God that will take care of all our worries as long as the I remains, because then there will be the choices of the I and its consequences too, some that will lead to worries for the 'I'
ashok said…
But then it is also my belief that a relationship with the Divine helps to sort out those worries more easily than otherwise.
Vincent said…
Sorry to butt in Ashok, but when you say “as long as the I remains”, is this a roundabout way of saying “so long as I am alive in this body”?

Because we cannot do without the I. It always has choices, and therefore its worries are part of being alive in this world, in which worry is a built-in defence meachanism.

It’s true that the mystic within us seeks to escape the I, just as the flyer seeks to escape the pull of gravity.

But even the most adept aviator doesn’t spend his entire life in the air. He lives on the ground and refuels there. He takes flight when he can.

I think we can trace the notion of permanent flight, that is transcendence of the I, to unscrupulous salesmanship and propaganda, both from East and West.
ashok said…
I agree with you Vincent that as long as one is in this body one cannot escape the "I' and that worries serve a purpose.

However my experience and point is that the strength of the connection with this 'I' can vary.

A complete disassociation with it or transcendence is to my mind merely a theoretical limit, certainly impossible as long as one is in the body I think.
ashok said…
and yes certainly involving unscruplous salesmanship from persons who make a living out of those sales.
raymond said…
Hi Ashok

I think we might agree on the following: The divine will take care of nearly everything we need as long as we need anything. At least that has been my experience so far.

(When we are dead, we will have no needs.)

A question is: Is it healthy to have some degree of regret/anxiety about the apparent fact that I will die? Is it healthy to deny that death has any real consequence for me?

Those who believe that the "I" is ultimately merely an illusion apparently have a legitimate way to eliminate all such anxiety. Death has no real consequence for them.

But for me personally, at this point in my life, that denial of assigning any importance to my death, would appear to be (for me) a case of "bad faith."

Ernest Brown on Jean-Paul Sartre's "bad faith":

"Rather, bad faith is a sustained program of self-deception and self-negation in which the individual involved considers herself to be in full possession of the truth regarding not only her own condition, but the condition of the world as well."

What is also important to me and my spiritual practice is the plausibility that I might some day find out my perspective is completely wrong.
ashok said…
Death is inevitable. It is as real as the fact that we live. Therefore the question of denying death should not arise.

Many are afraid of death. I am not. Not even in the least, because I believe in reincarnation and look forward to a new life in a fresh body when the time comes for it. However, I do worry a bit that before death there may not be a prolonged illness. I hope not, and pray it will be swift and then it will be like a wonderful sleep to wake up refreshed to a new day and body ( as mentioned in my post on five stages of life).

Heart disease produces a swift death for many, including in sleep at times, so that prolonged illness is avoided. If you look up my post " When heart disease is a blessing" that will elaborate more.

Nice to have your views and participation here Raymond. Hope you keep plugging.
ashok said…
Raymond, This fearlesness of death arises from a knowledge of reincarnation and not of denying "I' because reincarnation in my knowledge can only take place as long as the 'I' exists along with its paraphenalia (desires, aversion, karma etc. etc.)
ashok said…
Yes and just in sync with your last para, life is all about learning something new everyday including revising old ideas and then revising them again and so on. There is no end to knowledge. It is as infinite as the Universe.
raymond said…
"This fearlesness of death arises from a knowledge of reincarnation"

Thanks for speaking clearly on this Ashok. Can we say from what you know that if there was doubt about reincarnation, there would be fear?

What I am most interested in is that we are presenting radically different points of view, and yet there seems to be little or no friction between us.

I believe this kind of dialectical discussion is useful to readers in that they can feel comfortable reflecting on their own thoughts and maybe even presenting their own differing ideas without threat of attack. And of course their views might inform our own further reflections.

I think much of the past study of spirituality might have wasted too much time trying to prove someone with an opposing view was wrong.

I think if I am afraid to hear your contrasting ideas, I had better reflect much more on my own position.

Later I will add something about my fear of having no fears.
ashok said…
Raymond you said

"I think much of the past study of spirituality might have wasted too much time trying to prove someone with an opposing view was wrong."

Yes most certainly that and also wasted time in trying to impose their own view. Both are avoidable. Everyone is entitled to their own view and differences are inevitable if they are sincere views. Each person is unique with their own unique experience.

Raymond, a point that you raised about fear of death, it is for me that reincarnation helps to eliminate that because I am intereested in experiencing and learning more from the world.

There are others, who fear death precisely because of Reincarnation and we had one such visitor that expresed it as a comment in an earlier post. She did not want to have to go through the ups and downs of a human life again. Therefore this position too varies from individual to individual.

What I read is that most persons appear to afraid of death. I can understand that because I have during my life been near it on more than one occassion and experienced that too. But later near death experiences were without any fear.

In another post comment Vincent had enquired if I was alos not afraid of things like pain and being mugged etc. I had replied that I am just as afraid of those things as anyone else, perhaps even more. This fearlessness is restricted to death.

The formidable Buddha too was perhaps afraid of reincarnation and found way out of it, to escape the cycle of birth and deaths.
This is very important post for that person who are interested in spirituality and meditation. It’s really usefull for us. Must read it.
Ashok said…
Thank you for your interest "Spirituality and meditation"
Ashok said…
I followed your link back S and M and found you have a blog but not posted anything yet. You are welcome to quote entire paras from this blog, just use the "" marks in editor after pasting and give credit to the source (This blog) Best wishes.

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