In Rabbi Adam Jacobs’ “Open Letter to the Atheist Community” on February 10th, he suggested that there were no “true atheists” because the “totality of the universe” is unknowable, therefore it would be impossible to definitively prove that God doesn’t exist. Jacobs also posited that Atheism was more a statement of principle than a cogent belief system; I say it’s neither. I say it’s a process and a mission.
The adjective “atypical” means “not typical.” A condition, event or stance of “atypicality” does not mean “typicality” (or a “type”) does not exist or that the state of being “typical” is impossible. It simply means a condition, an event or a stance is characterized by “atypicality.” The same could be said of the adjectival term “apolitical.”
The adjective “atheist,” therefore, means “not theist.”And an “Atheist” is simply not a Theist.
Atheism, then, is simply an existence not characterized by—or, in most of our cases, susceptible to—Theism. The onus to prove whether or not God, Allah, Jehovah, Yahweh, Elohim, etc. exists is completely irrelevant. If God, Allah, Jehovah or Yahweh do exist, we’re not fans.
To demonstrate my point, let me give you an example involving God in the Christian sense from the Book of Genesis.
I will readily admit that I’m not the smartest person around, but I know this: if I put cookies in several different cookie jars and tell my kids that the cookies in one jar contain the knowledge of good and evil and that they can partake of the cookies in any jar in the pantry except the ones from the cookie jar of good and evil, then—even if I put that jar on the highest shelf—my children are eventually (if not immediately) going to reach for the cookies in the forbidden cookie jar.
Any good parent knows this.
What kind of parent would scold a child after purposefully setting a trap and then watching the child fall into it? What kind of parent would exile his children from his grace because they fell into the trap he set for them?
I may not be the smartest person in the world or the best parent but, in this particular respect, I’m arguably smarter than God. And I wouldn’t have done what He supposedly did to His children even if the staging and subsequent results achieved the desired effect.
The therapeutic entity (or pseudo-entity) that Christians refer to as the Divine Author is clearly something of a mixed bag. He reportedly made the sun, the moon and the stars, but had no grasp of human nature even though we were supposedly made in His image (and likeness). It doesn’t make sense. An omnipotent being would, well, be omnipotent.
If God was or is truly omnipotent, shame on Him. Omnipotence implies infallibility. Infallibility precludes causal error. That means God knew He was setting up Adam and Eve and manipulated them to fail and then punished them for failing.
The lesson to be taken from the exercise is that God expects blind, abject obedience. No more, no less. And if this was God’s plan for us all along, He shouldn’t have bothered with humanity at all.
Perhaps my thought processes border on incivility, but I believe that (1) no reasonable creator would require abject obedience of any organism, (2) no responsible creator would grant any single species ipso facto dominion over all others (any more than He would favor one people, place or faith over another) and (3) no relevant, competent creator would value rote reverence and voluntary meekness over thoughtful query and existential initiative.
This leaves us with two possibilities: (1) The entire concept of God is a giant fraud and may comprise the greatest lie ever told or (2) God is imperfect and possibly incompetent.
I would certainly never presume to speak for all Atheists, but I have to say this: if God exists, I’m not impressed and I don’t want Him on my side. His taste in “chosen” peoples and cultures is lacking and His intentions are suspect.
My mission, then, as an Atheist, is not to prove or disprove His existence to His followers. It’s simply to discourage and dissuade them from trying to define, limit or marginalize my existence any more than they already have. And this applies to Muslims and Jews as well.
It’s typical to believe that life on this planet began with a desert god; and it’s typical to think the world will end according to a desert religion. But the intellectual landscape for some of us is not so barren. That’s what makes us atypical.