I’ve just been perusing the posts on the Google+ Community “Atheism.” I confess after reading so many posts filled with one-sided opinions—and not a few filled with bigotry and outright hatred—I was a little sick to my stomach.
There’s an old saying, “Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater,” which means don’t reject what is of value when you reject what clearly has no value. The similar aphorism, “One rotten apple doesn’t spoil the barrel” expresses the same idea.
The majority of posters in the Atheism community (which has 23,000 members), though, do just this. Most of them are anti-Christian and anti-blind faith in the Christian Bible which, they point out, is largely obsolete, fictional, filled with the machinations of an angry, vindictive, cruel, yet surprisingly absent Old Testament God. These posers are also justifiably critical, in my view, of those fundamentalist Christians who take the Bible literally.
But here’s the problem. All those Atheism posters also buy into the same kind of literalism—just one of a slightly different variety. Let’s take for example the story of Jesus walking on water. These atheists have a lot of fun with this one! There are Photoshopped images showing a bearded guy wearing a white robe walking on some body of water. The posters deride this idea in the most condescending way, not realizing that they are buying into and accepting exactly the same kind of literalism they’re admonishing.
It never occurs to either the atheists or the literalists that “walking on water” might be a metaphor for something else entirely. Well before the beginning of the Christian era, “water” referred to an inner reality or realm of awareness, or in more formal terms, a different ontological level of reality separate from the material realm of our ordinary senses and scientific instruments by a barrier embedded in our consciousness. (Chapters Three and Four of my book The Universe Is Fake have a lot more on this.)
(I’ve probably made a gaffe here for many of the atheists who are sure, following Daniel Dennett, there’s no such thing as consciousness in the first place, but since that’s merely an opinion, I’ll carry on.)
To “walk on water” really meant to be master of a certain altered state of consciousness which anyone can attain with practice, but not, I have to emphasize, by just reading a book (including mine) or taking someone else’s word for it without finding out directly for oneself. Direct experience. (Some books, though, do provide valuable pointers :-).)
Are the Atheists able to understand levels of meaning beyond the literal level, where their fundamentalist Christian opponents are not? I’d have to answer, No, they’re not capable of doing this, based on all the mean-spirited, shallow, scurrilous posts and supposedly “funny” cartoons their community members post.
Who Ya Gonna Convince?
The atheists in this community have thrown out the Christian God, but have replaced him with the God of Science. Both are supposedly infallible, and both are clearly equally intolerant.
They have rejected Jesus, but have apparently anointed Richard Dawkins and Steven Hawking as the new Gods incarnate making their writ holy to their own satisfaction. The exemplar of their holy Science is the Standard Model of Cosmology, the centerpiece of which is the Big Bang theory.
Humorous aside: Wikipedia indexes the TV sitcom of the same name as “Big Bang Theory,” yet indexes the astrophysical theory as merely “Big Bang.” The word “theory” is missing; indeed the whole Wikipedia article treats the theory as fact, which it is not. Indicates a bias, eh what? Okay, so this aside isn’t so humorous after all.
These atheists’ posts seem to accept this whole enchilada uncritically, not realizing that the Standard Model is in disarray (to be charitable), and the Big Bang theory is in tatters.
Evidence: Cosmological redshift as an indicator of galaxy distances is now known to be false, despite the number of astrophysicists who are as yet unwilling to admit it. (Nobody likes to admit they were wrong.) See The Static Universe: Exploding the Myth of Cosmic Expansion by Hilton Ratcliffe for details. There is no real evidence, therefore, that the Universe is expanding. So there never was any singularity; no Bang. The whole idea was based on conviction rather than observation. You can also check out The Big Bang Never Happened: A Startling Refutation of the Dominant Theory of the Origin of the Universe by Eric Lerner. This ain’t your father’s cosmology anymore.
As for Richard Dawkins, he is ably skewered by David Berlinski in The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and its Scientific Pretensions, as are Harris, Dennett, Hitchens and other of their ilk, so I won’t pile on here too much, except to say a word or two about evolution, the reductionist’s stable mate alongside Big Bang cosmology.
Dawkins asserts that there is a ton of evidence for evolution (or does he really just mean “adaptation”?). Berlinksi quotes Dawkins: “It is absolutely safe to say that if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution that person is ignorant, stupid or insane.” Strong words, these, that admit of no compromise. A fanatic’s words, full of fear. I’m reminded of the monkey whose hands cover his ears: “Hear no evil.” The problem with this position on evolution, though, is this glaring gap (lots of them, actually) in the theory:
There is just no evidence that the greater can arise from the lesser, regardless of how long this might take.
The argument is best illustrated from this example by the late astronomer Fred Hoyle: A shiny new Boeing 747 is never going to be assembled by a tornado roaring through a junkyard, regardless of how long or hard the wind blows. It’s just never going to happen, and there’s no undisputed evidence it ever did happen—even to create one of those flimsy little balsa wood toy planes with a rubber band-powered propeller.
Never gonna happen. But the reductionists and these militant atheists will continue to cling to these beliefs, unwilling or unable to remove their conceptual blinders. In this they are exactly like their religious Fundamentalist and Literalist brothers and sisters.
We all yearn for more meaning in life, but for many, many people, science doesn’t deliver it. Neither does religion. Meaning, be it noted, is quite different from mere diversion, which applies equally to both camps.
But doesn’t it seem like there should be some middle ground somewhere? Some third alternative?
Looking for a Middle Ground
One idea might be to realize that the current major monotheistic religions—Christianity, Judaism and Islam—aren’t starting points, but ending points. They aren’t causes from which one can draw any useful conclusions, but are themselves conclusions, final effects—final sets of dogma, edicts, commentaries and redactions that have been developed over centuries.
No viable alternative is ever going to be found from a religious end point that long ago absorbed, obscured and overlaid any original truths with official interpretations, ready-made to serve up to people, and selfishly serve the higher-ups. Instead, we must start with much more basic concepts, and not let literalism dictate what is and is not so.
The same thing holds for science. There are several great and complex mathematical edifices in physics and astronomy today. General Relativity and String Theory, to name just two. The problem is the mathematical theories, as beautiful as they might be to their adherents, just don’t apply to the real world.
Changing camps again, the idea of monotheistic Gods, as beautiful (or terrifying) as they might be to their adherents, just don’t apply to the real world, either.
There is far too much wishful thinking in both camps—all of which must be discarded, cleared out of the way, before viable alternatives can be found.
So, if you are entrenched in either camp, this is the end of the road for you.
In themselves, though, thinking and feeling—if backed up by experience (meaning observation on the scientific, rational side, and what we might call heart-knowing on the symbolic, intuitive side)—are valuable tools, to be used in tandem to find a genuine third way—a middle path that incorporates the best, valid contents and concepts of both sides.
This is the approach The Universe Is Fake: (and what to do about it) takes. Simple observations that what we see in our environment can’t possibly have occurred by blind chance. There must be another level of reality, unseen by ordinary instruments and senses, that is senior to the one we experience that has “arranged” what we see. We humans were once part of whatever Agency did this “arranging.” Here, no appeal need be made to any monotheistic God or religious dogma. In fact, it is only when this type of god, sitting “on high,” aloof, and separate, is removed from his perch that a new, alternative view can emerge: We ourselves are co-creators of ourselves and our environment in some real, functional way. (Let’s give ourselves a promotion for a change, eh?) Due to a forcibly reduced consciousness, caused by a global cataclysm, we may have lost awareness of this aspect of ourselves long ago, before history was written down. The book gives details on how this may have happened.
What we can immediately take away, however, is this. The axis of theism-atheism is a fruitless path of inquiry. There is too much make-believe at each end of it for any real advancement. Instead, we must start with the admission that reality is much more complex and multi-layered than either science or these religions have ever imagined. And humankind is very much closer to being godlike than either would have us believe. We are, though, to be sure, very ignorant gods who throw around our not inconsiderable powers (especially against each other) without realizing we could do so much better with a restored consciousness.
There are ways to do this.
We truly don’t know what we do and what we could do. To fully address the reasons why will have to wait for another time, yet I’ll ask this:
What if we grew up, grew out of our child-like fantasies and fears, stopped taking so much religious and scientific hogwash at face value? What if we took a trip inside ourselves—a trip neither the religious nor the scientific authorities want us to take? Again, there are established ways to do this, a few of which are described in the book.
What would we find for ourselves, without any outside authorities cramming their own ideas of reality down our throats?
I’ll answer that. We would find a vibrant, delightful, participatory reality that is actually warm, loving and friendly.
Many have experienced this reality. Set down you baggage, do some inner work, and you can, too.
No tornados required.