Atheism, Free Thinking and Common Sense

Badlands by Tianna Messier

Photo by Tianna Messier

“The late Christopher Hitchens, when asked does he believe in free will, replied, ‘I have no choice.’ It’s a question I dread, actually, because I don’t have a very well thought out view about it. I have a materialist view of the world. I think that things are determined in a rational way by antecedent events. And so, that commits me to the view that when I think that I have free will, and I think that I am exercising free choice, I am deluding myself. My brain states are determined by physical events, and yet that seems to contradict, to go against, the very powerful subjective impression that we all have that we do have free will.”

Richard Dawkins (from FREE WILL – Lawrence Krauss and Richard Dawkins)

I am reminded of the statements of atheists committed (dogmatically) to an evolutionary theory of the origins of life who admit, in moments of candor, that the world looks as if it were designed. Still, the obvious, natural explanation is discarded for complex, highly nuanced explanations of origins of the world we know. Not that the truth is always simple. It isn’t.

But, we have a tendency to subscribe to the esoteric explanations of scholars because scholars are esoteric and, well, scholarly. Not that evolution is esoteric, at least not anymore. But, we tend to take scholarly, and particularly scientific analyses, on face value as a objective findings of objective people (because we tend to think that scientists are necessarily objective).

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Atheism and Freethinking

Photo by Tim Butterfield

Photo by Tim Butterfield

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?

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