What’s the real difference between a theist and an atheist? A theist believes that God is in charge and an atheist believes no one is in charge. That’s it. That’s what the big argument which has gone on for centuries, is all about.
So why do Theists hold so firmly that God exists and is in charge of everything when there is no evidence to support this claim? This may or may not make sense to a lot of you but I believe there are five main reasons for this phenomenon.
1. From the time we are born to the time we die, somebody is always in charge of us, be it our parents; our teachers; our bosses; our government you name it. Besides being in charge, while we are alive these father figures are always there to provide for us and protect us from physical harm.
2. Because of the valuable role they play in our lives we have grown accustomed to paying tribute to them and thanking them for their love and attention to our needs. As a result of this, theists develop a deep subconscious belief that someone must always be in charge and are unable to conceptualize a world that is self regulating; a world without a controlling figure.
3. Having established that there is always someone in charge and looking out for us while we are alive, theists conclude that there must also be a similar benefactor to take care of us after we die. A physical being looks after us when we are alive so there must be a spiritual being to look after us after we die.
4. Compound this with the fact that indoctrination begins at such an early age. Before we can make sense of our surroundings it’s drummed into our heads that we were created by God and we must always worship and adore him.
5. Then there is the fear factor. If you fall out of favour with him or denounce him in any way you are doomed for eternity.
It’s a wonder atheists can overcome these hurdles and deduce that the conclusions drawn from these life experiences are not necessarily correct.
What drives atheists to question these long held beliefs at the risk of being ostracized by their families and society in general? There is no financial incentives to being an atheist. In fact, there is much more money to be made by espousing a belief in God. Atheists seem to be taking unnecessary risks for no real reward so one has to ask why?
Most atheists are not born this way, in fact they grow up initially believing what all of their family and friends believe; that there is a God. Why therefore do they change? Like theists, I believe they are also driven by life experiences.
At some point in their lives, children begin to realize that not everything that is told to them is true. People lie, parents lie, girlfriends and boyfriends lie, siblings lie and they are sometimes hurt by these lies. It therefore becomes important to decipher what is and is not true. By the time these children become teens, they begin to question everything, not the least of which is religion. Teens who accept the explanations given by their parents and other authority figures turn out to be theists while those who find the explanations a bit far-fetched turn out to be atheists.
And therein lies the difference between the two groups. It’s nothing personal, just a matter of logic, some rely on it more than others