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An interrogation of an atheist: (Part 1 – Relative Status)

belief and atheism
Belief and non-belief

Believer: Hi.

Atheist: Hello.

Believer: Let’s straightaway come to the topic. Do you have lesser regard for a believer in general?

Atheist: I did not quite appreciate this question or its relevance. There is no question of having unequal regard for any two individuals.

Believer: Lesser regard in the sense that an atheist stands out from the crowd. He looks elegant and intelligent. An atheist is generally not an unintelligent atheist. He becomes an atheist after some basic minimum analysis of his observations. One has to become atheist or remain atheist with continuous analytical rigour. On the other side, belief is a default state in the current world. There is hardly any intellectual effort required to be a believer. Is this the perception of the atheists?

Atheist: I am not really sure about this. It would be difficult to classify people who have chosen to be believers after an initial neutral stage and a good amount of analysis thereafter as totally inconsiderate.

Believer: As for the matters not related to faith, an atheist would have the same degree of love, respect and trust for every individual. When it comes to matters related to faith, an atheist would still have love and trust for a believer but it is difficult to reason out that he will have equal degree of respect. If two individuals analyze exactly same matter and come to two different conclusions, each of them is likely to have lesser regard for the intellectual capacity of the other. Isn’t it?

Atheist: Apparently it seems logical.  But even concerning matters related only to the faith, respect is not a direct function of analytical ability alone. Maturity and application of whatever deductions made also matter. Many other aspects around the analysis, faith or absence of it matter too.

Believer: But shall that mean that an atheist would have less regard for the ‘intellect’ of a believer in the matters related to faith, if not the other aspects of the philosophical deductions?

Atheist: I don’t think an atheist having better understanding of atheism than mine by virtue of his better intellect, is going to have lesser regard for my intellect. The regard or disregard has less to do with the intellegnce quotient. It has more to do with the approach towards the analysis or application of the faith. Still, when it comes to respect of only the intelligence in the matters of faith, some believers would just refuse to acknowledge certain factual aspects of atheist thought and this is where the aspect of regard or disregard ‘for intelligence’ comes into picture. Such believers just refuse to cross certain boundaries of thinking process and disrespect of their thinking emanates in the atheist’s mind.

Believer: The spiritual, religious or related orientation of a being doesn’t play a limited role in one’s life. It has an all encompassing effect on the entire philosophy of life, on thinking and behaviors in social and personal existence. Hence, liking a believer for an atheist would be as good as liking the leader of opposition for the ruling Prime Minister. We won’t mind much being friends if you like a Rolex watch and I like a Casio watch as such liking is hardly a determinant of a friendship. But faith is a significant matter. It affects nearly all the decisions. Do you think that an atheist and a believer would face compatibility issues in the practical walk of life? For a moment, let’s ignore the namesake followers in both the categories and consider only the genuine adherents.

Atheist: The spiritual or philosophical orientation is a really significant issue in the life. Every individual spends a lot of time in one’s life in the quest of a correct kind of orientation. One also spends a lot of energy in the justification of the spiritual or material theory one has espoused. Coming to your question, one can notice substantial number of clashes between these two classes both at personal and social levels. The degree of intolerance is on rise in both these streams especially in the social space. Even if we ignore all the namesake atheists and namesake believers, the behavoral and philosophical disrespect is on rise in the remaining on global scale.

Believer: What are the main reasons for this attributable to the atheists?

Atheist: Overly enthusiasm and extremism have been problems with all  the philosophies. Atheism is not an exception to that. As of the date, there is no individual global pioneer of atheism. There is no well laid down framework of conduct for its followers (and even the issue of the preparation of such framework might be a subject of a big debate). Hence there is a kind of chaos. In every aspect of life and in every decision making of the atheists there is new, free, independent and different interpretation of atheism. I hope that this chaos is short-term. Not only that it is fact based, atheism as a way of life has a potential to provide an unparalleled happiness to humanity compared to its predecessor- religion. Let me call it ‘welfare atheism’. However, the movement of atheism is rudderless and is not going to be without friction. The reasons for clashes between existing dominant philosophies and atheism are primarily- 1. Oblivion of principle of tolerance and jumping into the bandwagon of chaos of philosophies, 2. Shift of focus from welfare atheism to discovery of scientific truths on (absence of) God and relentless marketing of the discoveries in a provocative fashion, 3. Proneness to manipulation by the unscrupulous intelligent for unethical and selfish purposes, 4. Philosophical inconsistencies, incompletenesses and undesirabilities as alleged by the opponents. But note that except for point number four, the other issues are not in the form of intrinsic lacunae of atheism.

Believer: That was more accurate than a critique would have pointed out. Well, these were just warm up questions. In the light of general perception of believers in the eyes of atheists, I was not really sure of what kind of treatment would be meted out to me. What will the spirit of our discussion?

Atheist: Atheism stands for acceptance of the truth and rejection of the falsity. It really does not matter what the truth is – whether my old belief or my new understanding. I am really not as much keen in disproving a legacy of a placeholder entity (called God)  as much I am in proving the utility of atheist thought for the humanity. You have come here with same concern but on opposite side of  the table. Rest assured that your relative status is at par with mine and you will get all the respect that an equal gets in terms of seriousness given to your questions. We aren’t here to lose or win, but to explore what is what, what is more appropriate, what can be avoided and so on. We are here to merely discuss and go on discussing as we very well appreciate that the superiority of a philosophy is always a topic of controversy as the individual egos get attached to clashing philosophies leaving aside the true spirit of the noble proponents of the philosophies. A discourse need not always be mutual mollycoddling of like minded people or manifestation of bitter antagonism of the opponents. An interrogation of atheism would bring forth the queries in the mind of a skeptic. If I am able to put to rest his doubts, it would help in comfortable survival and propagation of atheist thought. And I won’t mind conceding ground candidly where I can’t hold it.

Believer: That is the most appropriate way of discussion. That is really exiciting and gladdening. Thank you.

Atheist: Thank you.