The Dogma of Fact

“Do I think I’m wrong about there being no god? Not a snowball’s chance in the hell I don’t believe in…But…it doesn’t mean I can’t be wrong…”



After surfing the murky waters of internet atheism, one prevalent theme emerges: Atheists love facts. They love to cite Biblical contradictions, and foam at the mouth about how crazy creationists are for not believing in evolution, despite every objective fact being in its favor. And while I’m not here to censure that kind of behavior (on the contrary, I generally encourage it), I do have something to say about it.

One of my chief concerns in becoming an atheist coming from a fundamental Christian denomination, was that I didn’t appreciate the dogma. When I was in high school, I realized “God” was just a convenient way of people saying “You have to do what I say.” Once I really began to think about what they had already told me God was, what they told he was about began to make less sense. So God was the reason I had to dress up for church, or couldn’t go to the movies, or eat pepperoni, or go out to eat on Saturday, or eat shrimp, or, and this is true, swim on Saturday because it was defined as “work.”

Fuck that noise. I wasn’t about people being able to control me and everything I did simply because they told me this magical being in the sky said so. However, I also want to be an educator one day, so I’m much more concerned with teaching others how to think than what to think, and that was what my former religion was all about.

But what does this have to do with atheism? 

I’ve noticed this strong leaning within the atheist community surrounding facts. “We know this for an objective fact!”, someone will say about climate change or secondhand smoking. And while we do have a good body of facts built up around areas like evolution or climate change, we should remember one important fact: Facts change.

Now, I’m not a complete relativist, but we’ve been wrong before. About just about everything. So when someone says something is an objective fact, even things that are discovered using the scientific method, we should always be leaving that possibility that we are batshit wrong and that the truth is the exact opposite of that thing. Because we do that. Kind of a lot.

Do I think I’m wrong about there being no god? Not a snowball’s chance in the hell I don’t believe in. And it’s good to believe things because you have empirical research, or evidence, or observation, or anything that’s not an anonymous person writing on a fucking scroll. But…it doesn’t mean I can’t be wrong, and having a correctly skeptical mind means changing it if or when it is demonstrated to you that you are wrong. Anything else will have you showing off a fucking banana as proof of a living Creator.

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