I am an atheist. I can say it here. I can say it to other atheists. But can I stand up for myself to a believer? Not quite yet.
I’m pretty sure PS knows I’m an atheist, but I can’t seem to admit it in conversation yet. Instead, I say, “an atheist would think…’ or “They tend to say…”
We were having a discussion about religion and spirituality. We both agreed that religion and spirituality are different things. PS claims that atheists are denying part of reality. She says that we as humans have a connection to a higher power, to something greater than ourselves, and denying God or Goddess is denying a major part of life. I believe that connection is an illusion. Just because you feel a connection doesn’t mean its there.
We managed to agree that an individual human is more valuable (for undefined values) than an individual tree, but that if we cut down all the trees it would be bad. However, PS seems to believe that there is some mystical force or energy that determines what is alive and what is not, and that being alive connects all living things and that she can feel it. I believe that she may very well feel that, but that we are only connected to other living things in the ways that we actually interact with them.
I believe that anybody can convince themselves that they feel a connection, or no connection. Senses are fallible. Optical illusions, extremes of temperature feeling opposite, feeling bugs crawling at a suggestion. I once “heard” a piano cadenza when a doctor walked into my hospital room.
For good or ill, we didn’t get much further than stating our positions. I think we were both polite as well, since we value each others friendship despite disagreeing on the spiritual aspect of life.
You may have noticed I used the words “I believe” several times. There seems to be a lack of evidence as to the connection I’ve been talking about, but it is an untestable question. If you can feel a connection, but not do anything with it or feel changes in it, its rather hard to test. I prefer to dismiss non-falsifiable feelings as tricks of the mind. PS prefers to accept this one as real.
My introspection on these questions leads me to consider the nature of reality. I believe the world I see and feel is reality and not a giant dream. I believe that I am human, self-aware and able to communicate with other humans. I believe that there is a body of scientific literature that has tested many hypotheses and theories over the years. I believe that the people I see around me have their own thoughts and feelings and that I don’t make them up. I choose to accept as real those things which I could theoretically observe, given time and equipment, in the world that perceive with my senses.