Bruce, Do You Believe in God?

atheist and deist having sex

Written in 2010 Edited for clarity and grammar

I still get asked fairly often, Bruce, do you believe in God? Even though I self-identify as an atheist, some people doubt that I really, really, r-e-a-l-l-y believe that there is no God.

When it comes to the God question, I am agnostic. I can say with great confidence that I don’t believe any of the current deities in the human panoply of Gods is God at all. Could some sort of deity show up on the scene in the future? Sure, it is possible. Is it probable? No.

So why then do I self-identify as an atheist and not an agnostic?

First, I got tired of having to explain what I meant by the word agnostic. Saying, I am an atheist is pretty straightforward and less likely to misinterpreted.

Second, I live from day to day with no thought of whether a deity exists. I don’t do anything in my life that remotely says to someone else, Bruce believes in God (and I have met a lot of Christians who are just as atheistic as I am). Morally and ethically I do my best to live according to humanistic principles. (See The Humanist Manifesto III.)  My concern is with how I live in the here and now. I have no thoughts of Heaven (or hell), no thoughts of eternal life, and no thoughts at all about anything beyond the grave.

That said, when I look at the natural world I can certainly see how someone might adopt some form of deism. While I do not find deistic arguments intellectually satisfying, I do understand how someone might come to such a conclusion. Most of the deists I know are every bit as atheistic as I am. The difference between us is that they hope that there is some sort life beyond the grave.

Even if I grant the premise that it is possible/likely that a God of some sort created the universe, there is no plausible way for me to make the jump from this nonspecific, ambiguous God to the Christian God of the Bible. Believing that a God of some sort created everything is one thing, but believing that the Christian God of the Bible is that creator is a leap of faith I cannot take (and I wish Christians would admit that when they use the word God, it is not a generic God they are talking about).

At the end of the day, atheism and evolution offer the best explanations for what I observe in the natural world. Do they provide ALL the answers?  Of course not, but I no longer need certainty. I am quite content to live with ambiguity, and not knowing everything is a humble reminder that I am human. While I still thirst for knowledge and understanding, I know that my quest will never reach a place of certainty or infallibility.

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7 Comments

  1. Mark Birchall

    Bruce;
    Later in this post you claim to live your life based on the same new testament verse Christ gave as an example for his followers. I find that very strange.
    You have devoted all your efforts to the destruction of Biblical Christianity, yet quote directly from that very book as your life’s moral compass.
    What have I missed?

    Reply
    1. exrelayman

      Strange, I re-read the post and there is no reference to any Bible verse in what I see. Maybe it’s pc vs mobile phone version or something.

      At any rate, the Bible (and for that matter the document(s) undergirding any religion) will necessarily contain some worthy precepts, since a) how can they appeal to the people if they have nothing worthy of aspiring to in them?, and b) they are generally representative of some of the noblest, highest reaching thinkers of the culture at that time, despite the flaws we can see looking back from our perspective. So that, e. g., it would be sort of silly to not love your neighbor just because we don’t believe in the Bible, wouldn’t it?

      Reply
      1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

        I think Mark meant to comment on the Sin post where I mention loving my neighbor as myself.

        Reply
    2. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      It is a universal maxim,Mark. Such teaching can be found in many philosophical systems.

      I freely and frequently quote the Bible in my writing. It is what I am most familiar with.

      Reply
    3. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      I would also add that if you read the Humanist Manifesto III, you’ll see my moral and ethical foundation.

      Reply
    4. John Arthur

      Hi Mark,

      (1) To “love your neighbour as yourself” is a maxim that is not unique to Christianity or to Jesus, as Bruce points out. Buddhists practise loving kindness and compassion meditation and Buddha precedes Jesus chronologically. It might be worth your while to read some of the Dalai Lama’s books.

      (2). To quote something from the bible which someone agrees with does not necessitate belief in the whole bible nor does it require us to hold to verbal inspiration or inerrancy.

      (3) If you are an Evangelical, I challenge you to read some of Bart Ehrman’s books (if you have not already done so). Some of these can be googled free of charge in pdf format.

      Shalom,

      John Arthur

      Reply
  2. Brian

    Hey Mark , Jesus was a good example in many ways but he was not alone in that…. human history is full of decent examples of human behavior.
    Your use of the phrase Biblical Christianity is not clear. Do you mean the particular flavor of Doug Wilson’s version or your local church or what? Biblical Christianity is a multitude of delusions as individual as people are! I am an atheist who quotes many books too! Your comment is really a ‘don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater….’ if you research the origin of the phrase you will see that it refers to patriarchal bathing, men first and babies last, when the water was so dirty you might just lose the child in it! Patriarchal Christianity in America is just like that today! They are still drowning babies in filth. Or, not in your church?

    (BTW, Bruce, the partner in the pic crying ‘Oh God’ is using the only acceptable expression in the circumstance. To cry out to an imaginary figure allows the partnership to remain first and foremost. What I mean is, if my partner suddenly cried out in utter delight, “OH BRUCE” or “Oh Chester”, well then just imagine the post-coital distress, the ego crushed forever!)

    Reply

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