Monday, October 26, 2009
What does it mean to be an atheist?
The realm of the supernatural is a crowded place.
If someone asked you to look at the picture above and describe what you see, how would you answer? Well, you might point out the beauty of the trees, the dazzling sunlight, and the rich, soft grass. But if you were given a pencil and asked to add something metaphysical, how would you respond?
If you are a Christian, you will probably reply that in a metaphysical sense this picture is incomplete, as it does not include the presence of God, which is, it is claimed, all around us. If you had imagination, you would probably find a way to draw this in. But you are told not to worry about drawing God for now; just focus on supernatural creatures.
You might hesitate at this point, as you have probably never seen a demon or an angel before, so you base your sketches on Frank Peretti's books. After a few minutes you stand back and admire your drawings of demons and angels raging battle amongst the trees above.
Now imagine if representatives from all religions and faiths – present and past – were given a turn to draw their own supernatural creatures onto the same picture. Together with your demons and angels, a Muslim will add a djinn, a Hindu an Asuras, and a Chinese a shen. Soon the picture above will be completely covered with sketches of hundreds of creatures for which we have little evidence. As you probably expect, we will no longer be able to discern the trees, the sunlight or the grass, as these will be covered by layers of metaphysical confusion, jumbled colours of chaos and clutter.
Yes, the supernatural realm is a very crowded place.
Many people ask me what it means to be an atheist. To give you some idea, imagine the crowded picture, and then imagine a person taking an eraser and slowly removing all the sketches of sprites, goblins, spirit guides, elves and finally the demons and angels. The eraser returns the picture back to what it originally was – a simple vista of trees.
Take a look at this simple vista, but now for what it is, without thought of any hidden supernatural gods, creatures or forces. The beauty of the trees, the dazzling sunlight, and the rich, soft grass – that is what it means to be an atheist.
Posted: 7:01 am