I can’t agree with some atheists that dismiss religion completely. Whether I agree with their ideas or not religion matters to a lot of people worldwide.
What I see in the debate between Atheists and Theists is primarily a difference in values and worldviews, not specific claims.
The study of values or Axiology is what needs to be looked at more.
Axiology (from Greek ἀξία, Axia, “value, worth”; and -λογία, -logia) is the philosophical study of value. It is either the collective term for ethics and aesthetics, philosophical fields that depend crucially on notions of worth, or the foundation for these fields and thus similar to value theory and meta-ethics.
So what are the values in play here? The differences seem to revolve around what we can know, how we face uncertainty and more. Below I go through some of the points of difference.
What can we Know
What we have here in the Atheists-theist debate are two different questions and answers.
- Theists think the question is, ‘Does a God exist? And they would answer ‘yes’. (Note that God is always their image of it.)
- But an Atheist or a Buddhism would see the question as ‘Can we tell the difference [there is a god]’, and the answer would be, ‘No’.
When you have the second question and answer, the first becomes unnecessary.
Many people, including Buddhists, accept that many questions are unanswerable. Asking ‘why we exist’ and ‘how the cosmos come about’ may not have an answers. As such these question are unimportant once you learn this.
Theists seem desperate to have, to cling to an answer; for atheists, and other non believers, they don’t need an answer. They can accept the mystery of life as an important part of existence, not something to try and sweep aside.
The mystery of life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.Alan Watts
An important point is the lack of an answer is not a failure of a worldview, merely the acceptance we have limitations.
All the above shows there a difference is how we face uncertainty and the unknown, some need clarity, others accept mystery. Atheists and sceptics love an uncomfortable truth more than a comforting belief.
In Buddhism, the problem is ignorance, cravings, and attachments and the solution is found through insight or knowledge. Not of the cosmos but through the examination of our mind.
Authority vs Autonomy
Some people seem to need an authority figure in charge to help them feel safer. Before Christ, there was the Oracle, Witch Doctors, Shamans who had the authority.
Yet many are suspicious of power and those who wield it. Such suspicion can extend to religious authority and even the Gods.
There are some who value autonomy, independence, and freedom. To follow a leader, and god is to give up on those values.
Some people don’t need a pre-packaged system of ideas handed to them by culture. They don’t need that meta-narrative of God and faith. Some prefer to work it out for themselves, find their own path, and draw from many sources of inspiration. One example is Existentialist movement in philosophy. Accepting responsibility, making our own choices, and creating our meaning.
It’s also an idea in Buddhism. The Buddha is not an authority to follow but a guide to aid you.
It’s very much personal responsibility for personal decisions. As Buddha once said, anyone can do what he has done. In Daoism, there is no authority of the Dao. It’s an impersonal idea of nature going about its own business.
I find it ironic when so many religious types advocate for authority, seemingly oblivious to the fact that their religion was born out of rebellion against authority.
Harmony vs victory
Another difference in values seems to be the attitude toward conflict or harmony. Some see the world as a battlefield, where they are amid spiritual warfare.
Whereas others value harmony as a critical attitude towards existence. Not to eliminate differences but find ways for everyone to get along with. It’s the reintegration of opposites, not the destruction of one by the other.
What strikes me about theists is how some try to turn spirituality into a pissing contest, desperately trying to ‘one-up’ each other and find the existential and moral high ground to claim victory.
It’s a lot of people waving around their flags, shouting about how right they are. It’s a symptom of a desperately insecure ego.
‘Solve the problem at the source, and the rest will fix itself.’
I don’t begrudge believers for needing to believe, but I take issue with the claim that everyone has to be just like, them.
Some theists seem very insecure, clinging to their God out of fear and self-loathing. They project their insecurities and values onto others.
Their mistake is thinking everyone is like them. However, not everyone share’s such neediness; Buddhists, Daoists, and self-proclaimed atheists and non-believers don’t need what theists seem to need.
It shows that belief in an all-powerful creator god is not necessary to live a good life.
The values that inform our lives affect how we show up in life, how we do religion, and philosophy. That is to say the differences raised here suggest a further question, what is Philosophy (and religion) for? .