I have identified myself as an atheist for about a year now, before that, I was a practicing Catholic though there are a few things I had stopped doing over time for example I couldn’t bring myself to give offering [so no point in enriching the church], stopped going to confessions and saw going to receive communion as a long walk to the altar among others. In this post, therefore, I intend to reflect on the changes that have since taken place since I took leave of god. But before we get deeper into this, there is a passage in Nietzsche’s Gay Science that is appropriate for our purpose. He writes
THE MADMAN—-Have you not heard of that madman who lit a lantern in the bright morning hours, ran to the market place, and cried incessantly: “I seek God! I seek God!”—As many of those who did not believe in God were standing around just then, he provoked much laughter. Has he got lost? asked one. Did he lose his way like a child? asked another. Or is he hiding? Is he afraid of us? Has he gone on a voyage? emigrated?—Thus they yelled and laughed.
In many posts that I have seen by friends who were brought up religious, they talk about a certain loss, an emptiness and a struggle to let go or something similar. In my case, I think, the idea of god was quickly replaced by a desire to know, to understand reality, or as it were, nature that the feeling of loss, if it was there didn’t last quite long. In the duration that I have been godless, I have read more on religion than I ever did in the 28 years that I was religious. My major regret is that I wish I had known what I know now earlier. I have nothing against those who brought me up religious, they didn’t know better and they had themselves been brought up religious and my parents were not exposed to tools of critical thought that I have been exposed to. They did their best to grant me a good education and even though I was religious through my campus education, it is the love I developed for philosophy in first year that has made this journey interesting.
I have found questions about the historicity of Jesus intriguing, I have read a little about the Buddha, I have read a little on the authorship of the bible, the koran but I spend the most time reading philosophy.
In the passage about the madman, Nietzsche wants us[the godless] to urgently face the consequences of the death of god. What does this mean to me? In my case it has meant a fresh consideration of things that were hitherto taken as a given, for example, that man was created by god, he[god] was the author of morals, creator of the universe and all those things that have been attributed to god. I will attempt to explain some of these changes below in a little detail.
That man was created by god
This belief I think was held uncritically. I don’t know where life began, and I don’t think this will be known in the near future but I have a working grasp of how life has progressed on this rock called earth. I don’t think I rejected evolution even when I was religious, it was just treated as something different, though I must add here that I wasn’t a good student of biology in high school. I didn’t find it interesting as the physical sciences and just did it because it was compulsory.
God as the author of morals
I have come to think that we shouldn’t talk about morality at all. My thoughts are that morality are in line with this piece found here
On the intellectual side, many have worried that there is no good way to vindicate the assumptions and commitments of morality. A careful and clear-eyed study of morality will reveal, some argue, that morality is a myth; others argue that the various principles that are presented as authoritative standards for all are actually merely expressions of emotion or projections of the idiosyncratic attitudes of those advocating the principles; still others argue that in some other way morality is not what it pretends to be and not what it needs to be if it is to be legitimate. On the practical side, many have pressed the difficulty of getting people to judge themselves and others impartially; others have worried that, while we have an interest in convincing others to conform to morality, we ourselves rarely have any reason, really, to conform; still others have thought that the sort of freedom morality assumes is not available to humans as they actually are.
I also hold the view that in the Euthyphro dilemma conclusively makes any talk about morality, if there can be such discussion, independent of god. I realize that some of the things I thought immoral, appeared to be so since I was looking at life using a christian filter. Having replaced this filter, I find, my reasons for objecting to some act is sometimes not based on any stable ground other than own feeling. Does this mean then that everything is permitted? No.
The universe as a creation of god
This has been one of the most interesting areas of learning. I have read a bit of big bang cosmology, I have looked at the cosmological arguments that attempt to posit a god as necessary for the creation of the universe. I am persuaded to believe that the universe has always existed in some state especially since I can’t think of a break in the cause-effect continuum and the creation or annihilation of matter. These, to me, persuade me to reject the notion of god being required as a creator of the universe.
I believed then that man was responsible for his actions. That man chose to do evil. Did I have reasons to believe this? I don’t know. Whereas I think we don’t have free will, I don’t think it would make a difference even if we had it unless it can be proved that; i) the cause- effect continuum applies to everything else in nature except human beings ii) that our environment has no bearing on our actions iii) our previous experiences do not affect our decisions iv) that a person would act otherwise than they did in a given situation.
Other areas of life that have had to be modified in light of the death of god include my thoughts on nationhood and patriotism, marriage, the question of love, culture, after life, heaven and hell among others. These may not be a direct consequence of the death of god but a result of critical thought and application of the much praised common sense.
In conclusion, if I was clever before, I have just moved closer to genius 😛