{Of all lies, art is the least untrue - Flaubert}

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Atheism and Pessimism

It is just a matter of my wilful thinking that I am finding a relationship between the two, but it looks like there ought to be some. I can't say it is based on my experience because I am neither of them in full sense but like both the concepts immensely and in my own stupid ways strive for them. As far as experience goes, it seems atheism and pragmatism go well, but on a second thought it emerges that they cannot go for long and on a third thought it comes up that pessimism doesn't go with anything seamlessly. So why it looks like pessimism might gel well with atheism. One thing pushing them together might be that both are anti-faith concepts, if we go by dictionary definitions, it looks like atheism does believe in a faith that there is no god, but a pessimist is more free, free not to believe in anything as mystic as god. Pessimism simply say nothing is going to be good. It may be called a faith but it is as bad as faith can get. A pessimist seems to be following some feelbad-faith, which is true to some extent but I don't care if people say pessimism is a way of life that makes it less-risky or less-disappointing because a pessimist will always assume bad things and what ever little good happens will bring smile to the ever-sealed lips of a pessimist, that should never happen, for a pessimist any good or bad is harbinger of bad and a true pessimist is also not happy about this, because if he is so he must be termed evil, he feels bad but in a detached sort of way, you will never find a pessimist going over-sentimental in a reality-TV sort of way.

But how I went about to get any link about being atheist and a pessimist. An atheist has made peace with the concept of god by not believing in it. For this moment let us not belittle god and his strong-bastion, religion on the basis of logic or rationality. Its a well proven fact that God-theory falls flat on that and taking about it will be beating god in the same stick which all the god lovers are so accustomed that they take it in a Gandhian-slap sort of way or reject it as a non-issue. If we see the concept of God in other light and try to analyse why it is so popular and so very soothing, it might help. The concept of God relieves us of our own burden and acts as a sandbag to blame/pray/aspire/request to. The best (or worst) thing that the concept of God do to us is to relieve us of ourselves, a similar thing done by self-help demigods, where they say don't worry, everything will be all right by my general-prescription. Some of the bestsellers novel-cum-self-help books use language with fancy frills to say that world will 'conspire' against us to get us to our goal. All this feel-good aura is based on the postulates of faith and hope and assumption that someone is there somewhere who is all-good and all-intelligent to take care of this messy world. On the other hand, atheism relieves with lot of worldly burden, but loads us of our burden. A atheist can't look to someone to do a favor if he or she reads few line beautifully set in tune with full faith , dedication and immense hope. The point what I am trying to make is that all the pep-talk about positivity is based on a concept of Godly faith in one way or the other.

Some people might think that atheism starts from desire to rebel against the imposed institutions, in some cases it is but these rebellious desires are not enough to sustain atheism, because the next unexplainable thing happen in our life, or any insolvable desire arises, we revert back to god for help and our wish fulfilment. Also some of my friends say people are atheist because it a fad now, now they might be right but a real atheist will be very biased on this subject not like a trendy atheist who will use it just for T-shirt slogans. To some extend same is the case with pessimism, we cannot mistake pessimism with indifference, again a pessimist will be biased. But I think that pessimism will never became a fad, given the selp-help tsunami erupting everywhere. Sometimes I have seem people talk of positive-atheism, anyway I didn't get the concept much. The few things that I get of it show that it is not sufficiently logical and hence ruled out. Although the creative minds of people can make a concept like Spritual-pessimism that may join the broken link between God and everything going wrong, but as of now I don't want to be that imaginative, but sure god will be in a big soup if that kind of thing ever comes up.

At this point of time it looks like atheism and pessimism are not exactly same but they do share lot of common space and I think they come close ideologically. Again my views on this need to taken with a spoonful of salt, but putting in a very simplistic way, an atheist is cynically pessimistic about existence of god and a pessimist may be considered as an atheist who lost his memory of god long ago. I will save the introduction of an additional variable of morality for some other day, it will sure mess up things all the more.


Alok said...

It is strange that you relate atheism and pessimism. Pessimism is just a matter of temperament while atheim is a scientific concept. There is no God just because there is no evidence for his existence. Give an atheist one evidence and he will change his opinion...

it looks like atheism does believe in a faith that there is no god,

by this definition Newton's and Darwin's theory will also be faiths!!

I am not sure what prompted your post or what you wanted to conclude but I think there is no meaningful relation between atheism and pessimism. I have seen optimistic, romantic and happy-go-lucky people who are sworn enemies of God and religion and then there are miserable, cynical, pessimists who believe the same.

To me more than pessimism and optimism, atheism is related to a maturity and independence of spirit. It is just like that stage in your growing up when you feel you don't need the constant guidance of your parents...same is true for the fictional father who sits in the fictional heaven too...I dont need him that's why I don't believe in him against evidence!!

Anonymous said...

Actually, atheism is the absence of theism - just like agnosticism is the absence of "gnosis," or knowledge. Atheism isn't a faith that there is no god.

Rushikesh said...

I won't like to comment if you are right or wrong, but I did like the way you put your views at the end of the blog -
"an atheist is cynically pessimistic about existence of god and a pessimist may be considered as an atheist who lost his memory of god long ago"

Keep the good work going :) .

Anonymous said...

What about Nihilism and Skepticism ??? It might add up well with these two ovwr Morality.

Alok said...

Anonymous #1: I think the term atheism is little misleading. It is not an absence of something. Rather it is a "positive" framework through which you look at the world, a positive worldview. People also call it Secular Humanism, Naturalism or more crudely "positive atheism"!!
For example a theist would like to believe that we derive our sense of morality from some set of divine commandments whereas an atheist will try to find out sources of morality in our human nature..in our brains!

there were some attempts to change the terminology to something more positive but it didn't succeed I think.

about "brights"!!

Anonymous #2: Let's not bring in more isms now. I think Anurag is a little confused about the isms that he already has in his hand :)

Alok said...

Brights have a website of their own. Hurray!


anurag said...

Actually I didn't see atheism as a scientific concept. For me, an atheist is by now sure about the non-existence of god and will not be looking to reasons/evidence to prove/disprove it. and in a way he/she has lost any hope, what so ever, for god being there, and since my definition of pessimist says that they too have lost hope or rather any false hope of anything good happening just because there is someone above to make this happen, they two seemed to be linked, although loosely. I felt that an atheist is more likely to be a pessimist, and vice versa.

Alok said...

The Burden of proof lies with those claim that God is there not with the atheist who doesn't see any evidence for his existence.

Atheism/non existence of god is a scientific truth and like any other scientific truth is provisional and subject to falsification by evidence. Show an evidence of God's existence to any hard-core atheist and he will change his opinion.

Who am i? said...

I would not completely deny the relationship between Atheism is related to Pessimsm. I would rather say Atheism is what happens when you conquer pessimism. Atheism is a hopeful thought. Hope of finding the reasons as well as purpose of our existence, our life and our world in reasonable facts and logic which are controllable for us humans. Its this hope which would motuivate a man to strive to discover and tame every thing that tries to control him. Atheism dies when a person becomes helpless .. gives in to pessimsm...

Rajesh said...

Nice thoghts on Atheism and Pessimism.
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