Atheists Think They’re The Most Powerful Thing In The Universe
Please don’t be disturbed by this common claim which usually sounds like this:
Oh, you don’t believe in god? So that means that you think you’re the most powerful thing in the universe. That means that you think there’s nothing higher than you.
What an absurd and insulting claim this is! It takes all sorts of liberties with your beliefs. It presumes that you have insane beliefs completely unrelated to your beliefs about god. There is no reason to believe that because somebody doesn’t believe in god, then they must believe that they themselves have supernatural powers. This statement says more about the person who utters it than it does about you. It shows that they believe so strongly in the supernatural that they can’t even conceive of a person who doesn’t believe in it. I’m an atheist, and I certainly don’t believe I’m the most powerful thing in the universe. I believe I have a reasonable degree of power over my own life, but I certainly can’t move the sun and the stars! I believe there are laws to the universe which I cannot change, and I don’t need to believe in god to hold this belief. There is no rational reason for any atheist to believe they are the highest power in the universe, and there is no rational reason for god-believers to ascribe this view to us.
This statement also has a hidden agenda which must be decoded. It’s all about “humility”. “Can’t you just be humble and admit that you have no control over this”. The recovery culture clammers for us to embrace humility, and their motives for doing so are based only on their own feelings of mediocrity and helplessness. The people who tell substance users (atheists or otherwise) to embrace humility, have a desire to feel better about themselves by seeing all people as being helpless, sinful, useless, powerless, irrational, flawed, etc. They are basically advising that you feel better about yourself by expecting less from yourself, that if you were surrounded by failure then your own failure wouldn’t seem so bad. They want you to be a part of the club – each person that they convince to be “humble” and accept and embrace a negative self-image – makes them feel less alone in their failures. Rather than lifting themselves up, they unknowingly drag others down to wallow in the mud with them.
There is probably a true sense of humility one can practice, but that’s not what these people are offering. They are offering a view of human beings as helpless savages driven by animal desires and irrationality. They use trumped up genetic claims and wrongly interpreted sociological data to give fake scientific credibility to their view of humanity, but you should not succumb to it. Believe in yourself, you can change, you’re responsible for your own behavior, and you’re responsible for changing it. Humbling yourself, and believing yourself to be powerless will not help you in this quest.
What’s more humble, absolving yourself of bad choice by believing that you’re powerless and that a disease is to blame, then expecting a prayer to solve your problem – or accepting your bad choices as your own responsibility, believing that you can do better, and proceeding to do all you can to change your behavior?
Hopefully this knowledge will help you to cope with the psychological abuse you may have suffered from those in the recovery culture.
Note: The essays in this series are in no way meant as an attack on religious, spiritual, or god-believing people in general, nor are they meant in any way to dissuade anyone from believing in god. They are however meant as a defense of atheists seeking “recovery”, and a direct attack on all those who in any way suggest, imply, or proclaim that an atheist cannot solve their substance use problem unless they believe in god.