What makes atheism so different and rather shocking is not the lack of faith or the loss of moral code or a purpose. It is a lack indeed but not of belief that makes people shy away from atheism.
What I see common with all other religious people is their ability to interpret and choose what they believe. Within the framework of their religion they are free to create not only their morals and beliefs but they are free to create the universe and even god(s). The freedom to do so is immense. You are no longer at mercy of the universe but the universe is at yours. The craving for power is not a simple desire, our survival depends on not being weak and helpless. We need control over our surroundings and manipulate it for our benefits to survive. Religion gives people this power over all of universe and even more. The religious man is thus the almighty, for he creates his god as a mediator only to fit in the man’s universe, to obey his morale code and to fill in his gaps.
And this theme continues with the new age spiritual ideas where we see many people adapting and shaping ancient ideas to fit the modern society. The interpretations of Hinduism and Buddhism such that they are no longer archaic but suit my rationality as well as leave room for that religious feeling are immensely popular. Even among atheists Buddhism has a special place for being better or superior to other religious ideas. But it is also an atheistic belief system but where it differs from atheism is that it gives the follower a power to create the universe. To give meaning to things like reincarnation and rebirth and escape from suffering is a great freedom. It allows for ‘some spiritual force’ that guides us, that looks after us and that guides us even if it’s a calculus like Karma. In fact ideas like these which are usually vague and mixed up with jargon are possibly the most liberating ones, for all we know universe is unknowable and thus scientific knowledge is mere opinion. If we believe such ideas we can do away with the guidelines of religious doctrines and create a universe, a moral code, an understanding from scratch.
Also even though one of the strong arguments against religion is that it leads to violence and other vices, one of he strongest motivations for religion is the feeling that we are guided. In all our acts we are being guided by an all seeer who won’t let us also astray. By creating such an observer I have greater power over myself than I do without.
Now lets look at atheism, it relies on rationality and scientific enquiry to create a universe. No longer is an individual free to alter or edit or interpret the universe. He is at the mercy of only what the universe reveals. He is at the mercy of reality. The atheist is weak and powerless over his extended surroundings. Also the ideas of rejection of free will render men to just organisms who or even worse a consequence. When we realise how easily we can be influenced or manipulated it shocks us because we believe we have power over that domain. Atheism too takes away this power. It takes away my freedom to choose, to be moral. The atheist is at the mercy of his circumstances, his environment and so on. He has very little to contribute to his life to his greatness and his achievements.
All this powerlessness is not only unattractive it’s outright insulting and that’s why atheism too is offensive. It is a surrender to universe.
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