I'm not so foolish as to expect us to be able to prove anything with this thread – it’s more that I thought it would be fun to play around with some ideas about atheism and theism, and see where it takes us. I guess some of you are atheists and may want to prove that that is the way to go - and others will be theists wanting to also prove that case. But for myself, I have no idea whether there is a God and, I believe that in the final analysis, it can only ever be an opinion, either way, with neither opinion having any more value than the other.
Anyway, first of all, let's define our terms. My Concise Oxford Dictionary gives the following definition for atheism: “Disbelief in the existence of God or gods; godlessness.”
And the same dictionary for theism: “Belief in existence of God or gods, esp. a God supernaturally revealed to man and sustaining a personal revelation to his creatures.”
I suggest when we use the word God, it is merely shorthand for any kind of divine intelligence, and is not limited to the Judaeo-Christian brand. So that’s our starting point. Theism is belief in a God that reveals himself to man. Atheism is disbelief in God.
And so I would like to get the discussion going with this thought, which came to me this morning as I was surveying an ants’ nest that has somehow appeared in my garden overnight. It occurred to me an ant in my garden can have no conception of the size and nature of the garden he is in, let alone the village that my garden sits within and even further than that, the country and the world, the universe and beyond. But does that mean that that garden, that country, that world, that universe cannot exist? It must exist, because the ant is dependent upon it for his life.
This shows that the universe's existence is not dependent upon the ant’s awareness or knowledge of it – thus, maybe it’s the same for us and God ...except there’s that second bit of the definition: “...a God supernaturally revealed to man and sustaining a personal revelation to his creatures.”
Well, I could step on the ant, and my existence would certainly be revealed to him just before his own ended somewhat abruptly – so that wouldn’t really work. The problem is, neither the ant or I are set up in a cognitive sense to be able to communicate. So how could I reveal myself to him? I think we would both have to undergo some sort of transformation for us to have any hope of any kind of interface.
For either me or the ant to have faith that could happen is not going to help us. We could go to church every Sunday and pray and sing about it, and it wouldn't make a blind bit of difference. We could dance around a fire and bang drums, and still it wouldn’t happen. He could give up chewing dirt for Lent, but still we would be no closer. In any case, the ant doesn’t seem particularly interested in anything other than building his nest.
So for this ‘revelation’ to occur, it will be up to me, as a shaman, to institute some of supernatural occurrence, to provide some sort of interface in another dimension where the rules of this one do not apply. We would both have to take a quantum leap. So could this be the supernatural (or other than natural) revelation referred to in the definition? And could it also possibly be the same as the one referred to as 'wordless wisdom initiations' in the mythologies and sacred texts of old, like the blinding light of Saul of Tarsus's road to Damascus revelation, that led to him not just changing his name but also his religious belief system?
Who knows? But it’s just to give us a starting off point.
Ishtar of and the .