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faith no more

new statesman, 25 july 2011

I am an atheist because I see no need for God. Without God, it is said, we cannot explain the creation of the cosmos, anchor our moral values or infuse our lives with meaning and purpose. I disagree.

Invoking God at best highlights what we cannot yet explain about the physical universe, at worst exploits that ignorance to mystify. Moral values do not come pre-packaged from God but have to be worked out by humans through a combination of empathy, reasoning and dialogue. This is true of believers too: they, after all, have to decide for themselves which values in their Holy Books they accept and which they reject. And it is not God that gives meaning to our lives, but our relationships with fellow human beings and the goals and obligations that derive from them.

God is at best redundant, at worst an obstruction. Why do I need Him?