What do you first think when you hear about atheism? Is it good or bad? Are atheists spiritual? Well, first of all, atheism is neither good nor bad; it’s just a belief that God does not exist. Similarly, agnosticism is an uncertainty in the existence of God. Atheism is not separate from spirituality, either. This is a free country; anyone can be atheist or agnostic if they want to be.
Is there any evidence not to believe in God? If you interpret the Bible literally, a belief in evolution and a belief in Christianity are mutually exclusive. Most atheists think that evolution is an unquestionable fact and much evidence exists to reinforce that belief. However, just because you believe in evolution doesn’t mean that you’re an atheist. Knowing and believing are two different things, and it depends on each person’s mindset.
But which mentality is “right?” Is there the same amount of evidence for believing in God as there is for believing in evolution? If you believe in God no matter what the evidence is, it’s because you want to believe. It has nothing to do with the facts or evidence.
Trying to decide which religion is right and which is wrong is an undeniable waste of time. For example, if you were born in India in a Hindu family, you’d believe in Hinduism, and if you were born in a Buddhist family, you’d be a Buddhist. It depends on where you grew up and what you were taught to believe.
Nonetheless, the question still remains: what should I believe in? There’s nothing wrong with not believing in God. Just because you don’t believe in God doesn’t mean you have an absence of faith or spirituality in your life. Science is something that is just as strong as religion. You can have faith in it and use it to make sense of the world. It’s the best tool we have that allows us to be able to come to terms with the future as well as the past.
I think believing in something because of evidence is practical and rational. For example, the earth is approximately 4.5 billion years old. We know this is true because we have evidence in the fossil records. There is a similar circumstance regarding the universal laws of gravitation.
According to an April 2009 New York Times article, the ranks of atheists in the United States may be increasing. The American Religious Identification Survey, a major study released in March 2009, found that those who claimed “no religion” were the only religious demographic group that grew in all 50 states in the last 18 years. Nationally, the amount of people who answered “none” on the survey nearly doubled, from 8 percent in 1990 to 15 percent in 2008. In South Carolina, the amount more than tripled, from 3 percent to 10 percent. It’s worth noting, however, that not all of the people who answered “none” are committed atheists or agnostics.
A Gallup poll conducted in 2012, based on interviews with 50,000 people from 57 countries and five continents, noted that religiosity is declining worldwide while atheism and non-belief are increasing. Religiosity has fallen by 13 percent since 2005, while the number of atheists has almost doubled. The U.S., France, U.K., Ireland, Canada and Vietnam are included in the top 10 countries that have experienced a “notable decline in religiosity” since 2005.
The word “spirituality” is most often heard in the context of religion. But in my opinion, “spirituality” is also nonreligious. For example, you can be spiritual through meditation. It is a mental exercise to give the mind relief from tension and stress, and at the same time, it improves thinking capacity.
Meditating or doing yoga doesn’t mean praying to some sort of Creator. Many people misunderstand what spirituality is because they believe spirituality means involvement of religion, spirits or souls. However, spirituality is something separate from religion. Being spiritual means experiencing the beauty of nature, self-love and transcendental love. This is a different way of experiencing the world around us.
Atheists can be spiritual. I believe that most atheists are spiritual. I think that being an atheist and following a spiritual path would be helpful in terms of science and spiritually. You can see the world in a different way.
Atheism is a result of trying to see everything rationally. If you don’t agree with me, then ask yourself a question: If God truly loves you then why would he not prevent all sorts of diseases like cancer and AIDS? Why can’t he eradicate poverty all around the world? If this is all God can do, I’m not particularly overwhelmed.
Anu Muthyam is a sophomore in computer science. Please send comments to [email protected].