“Are you an Atheist?”
I’m often asked this question during lectures despite the fact that I use the word “God” regularly. My usual response is to take cover in cleverness: “My atheism depends on your theism. If you believe in Zeus or Apollo, then, yes, I’m an atheist. If you believe in a god who chooses one people over another and privileges one strip of real estate over another, then, yes I’m an atheist. If you believe in a god who has children, or who dictates books on mountaintops or in caves, or who saves some and damns others, then, yes, I’m an atheist. But if you believe in the God of Einstein and Spinoza, the God who is Reality itself—the seen and the unseen, the known and the unknown, then I’m not an atheist.”
Most of the time this works, but sometimes being clever just falls on deaf ears: “But, are you an atheist? Do you believe in a God we can pray to? YHVH, Allah, the First Person of the Trinity, or even Krishna? Yes or no?”
“There is no ‘but’ here. It isn’t a difficult question. And you answered it honestly. No, you don’t believe in God, so, yes, you are an atheist.”
At this point someone usually comes to my defense and suggests I’m an agnostic, but I politely refuse this offer of help. While it is true that no one can prove or disprove the existence of God, I will state unequivocally that I don’t believe in the existence of Krishna, Allah, YHVH, the Trinity, or any other object of theological speculation.
So am I an atheist or not? And how about you? Are you an atheist?