Contrary to what an atheist may try to convince others and even themselves, the entire concept of atheism is a mere illusion. Richard Dawkins, the late Christopher Hitchens, Bill Maher are all very public about being atheists and are antagonistic to the adherents of any and all revealed religions. However, I can provide a strong argument that neither they nor anyone else can possibly be atheists with 3 words:
Eyeh asher eyeh
See, three words. I will assume some of you don’t know what these words mean so I will explain them. Eyeh asher eyeh is Hebrew for “I shall be what I shall be” it has also been translated “I am what/that I am.” This statement is as brilliant as it is cryptic. No actual name is given, no definitive divine description, just an open-ended concept of indescribable and ineffable supremacy. There is a misconception amongst people who consider themselves to be atheists that the rejection of an interventional deity means they also reject the concept of a supreme intelligence or ultimate reality. The use of “Reason” and “Intellect” is a valid approach to such a topic and given the advancement of science and technology over the past few centuries (especially the last decade) we have seen the scope of the Divine drastically diminish.
The Ultimate Source
Galileo shattered the long-held belief that the earth was flat, the sky was a canopy, and the celestial bodies were mere lights in the canopy.
Astronauts erased the concept of heaven being a paradise amongst the clouds in the skies, thereby casting serious doubt on chariots of fire and men “ascending into heaven”.
Medical advancements have saved people from death, even brought people back from death-like states (ie. coma). Stem cell research has now advanced to the state where scientist are capable of manipulating and even splicing cells to regenerate organs.
Carbon dating has identified artifacts that date the age of human civilization far beyond the Biblical timeline.
However, the idea that the rejection of any religious text, creed, or doctrine or the literal or scientific debunking of them eliminates the concept of Deity is inaccurate, ignorant and irresponsible. Regardless of how far we go with science or how many theories we develop we still have not been able to discern the origin, source, or “author” of the various laws of nature and science. We have not been able to explain or discover the power that allows these laws to be executed in endless perpetuity. No explanations exist for the reason or cause of human emotions or our ability to discern the basic precepts of universal morality. This origin and this perpetual source is that supreme and ultimate reality that mankind has tried to understand. Whether through scientific exploration or theosophic study, the Divine is ineffable and we are not capable of understanding.
Where our intellect and reason falls short
For most of recorded history mankind has made many attempts at understanding this source. Our inability to prove or disprove the source or origin expels us from the right to deny it. The belief that this source is an interventional God is the belief of over 3 billion people and it has been for thousands of years. The concept of an interventional God is not based on facts though. It is based on faith. If one chooses not to believe in an interventional god that is fine. It does not rule out the fact that there is a an original and perpetual source of the universe though. If you base your belief on science, than nature or science is your deity. If you believe there is no source and everything just happened then chaos is your deity. However, out of chaos came order. Where did this order come from?
Our sense of reason can serve as both a gift and a curse. While one can reasonably discern various laws of science and morality, you can also box yourself in to your own limited knowledge of the universe which limits the greatness of it. The Age of Enlightenment gave rise to skepticism and literal criticism of religious texts but, it did not render them obsolete.
It is Jewish tradition that the Scriptures (Torah, Prophets, Hagiographa) were written by men for men and in the language of men. A literal interpretation of the text is not conducive to modern times as many of the mythical occurrences were similar to modern-day special effects in movies. The scribes wrote the text to instruct the simple-minded while the learned minds of the time labored for hours over the hidden meanings and allegories. Is an intense study of these texts still required? Perhaps for some but, the morality that has derived from their writing are now commonplace in a civilized society. As rich as religious text are in their allegory and moral lessons, they can easily be taken out of context mainly because, unlike the US Constitution they can not be amended. There is a revelation that continues to evolve and is infallible – nature. A walk along the seashore, a hike in the mountains, or a rafting trip on a river display the awesome power and beauty of nature. Gazing at the night sky on a clear night is a mind-boggling display of the vastness of the cosmos. Taking all of this in, is it remotely possible that there was no order, no source, and that all is chaos?
Atheism advocates the absence of an orginal source or intelligent design. If there is no source – then universe is an illusion.
© Nelson Rose, The Quest for Light