Atheists like to call themselves freethinkers. Many of them have thrown off the shackles of religious and cultural bondage, and escaped the herd mentality, the taboos of religion and even culture, and pride themselves in their independent thinking and daring to strike out from the shores of conventional thought. New Atheism is even religious about it, but that is a topic for another day.
It seems that atheism and freethinking go together, at least by the declarations of the atheists I have known and read. But do they go together?
Can they go together?
It turns out maybe not. The reason is that the atheist must embrace naturalism. Naturalism necessarily means that we are merely a stew of elements and physics, molecules in motion, and nothing more. We are the product of random combinations of elements influenced by the natural laws of physics, and that is the problem.
If that is true, and there is nothing else to it, we are who we happen to be, and that is determined by the product of those forces. If there is nothing else to it, our brains and the very thoughts in our heads are determined by natural laws acting on the physical elements of which we are composed – and we are nothing else but that.
There is no free thinking in that worldview, no freedom at all.
We necessarily have no choice in this matter. It was determined for us by chance – including our thoughts – including the thoughts that lead us to embrace atheism.
In fact, those thoughts that lead us to embrace atheism cannot even be said to be rational. They are just the product of random forces acting on matter that just happened to combine into the beings we are from our feet to the thoughts in our head.
There is no purpose or meaning in life. We are just are. This very article, itself, is a meaningless activity.
If atheism is true, there is no such thing as freethinking in any real sense.
Maybe atheism is not true, however.
If naturalism is not all there is, if freethinking “is a thing” after all, you have the ability to determine for yourself whether the logic of the following video makes sense: