The Soft Underbelly of Atheism Ep 1: We are all people of faith

Abhishek Paul
4 min readDec 3, 2023

The questions around atheism and faith started as a personal quest for from my early 20s as I tried to find meaning/purpose in life after leaving the protected, responsibility free confines of academia and home. I guess this is common to most people at that age — “finding oneself” is what the kids call it (I threw up a little in my mouth). I found that contrary to my assumptions, there was a lot of intellectual depth behind theism and equal amount of shallowness of thought on the other side. That it wasn’t all about blind faith, anti science or most interestingly that fundamental assumptions of their positions were accepted by faith even by atheists.

I realized that all belief systems (and that is atheism ultimately — not just a lack of belief in God but also a belief that the material world is all that exists) is taken on faith. While there is a lot of evidence (data), there is no clinching proof, you arrive at the best possible explanation and the “best” in the final analysis is a subjective interpretation. Peter Hitchens put it best when he said that all evidence irrespective of the worldview ultimately leads you to a bridge with a large gap in the middle — one has to take a “leap of faith” and then land on the worldview one chooses, ie the evidence only leads you upto a certain point and the final decision is a choice that is influenced but not decided by the evidence.

I am free

This was a kind of intellectual liberation that told me that I could plumb the depths of any aspect of the universe through any discipline (natural sciences, maths, history, art, psychology, etc) using logic and find not just specific truth and beauty, but also a beautiful underlying foundational logic, design and goodness across all aspects of life in this universe(living and non living). One did not have to be afraid of going down rabbit holes, deny the evidence of one’s eyes or the interpretations of one’s intellect in order to live life according to a theistic worldview.

Taking it Easy

I also realized that this meant there is little chance of arguing to convince someone to change their position because one believes what one wants to believe and chooses evidence to confirm the same. Now I understand that this can be turned around on anyone’s position including mine as well, but keep in mind that if what one chooses to believe also happens to be true, then both the data chosen and conclusion arrived at are true as well. So I am not saying that there is no such thing as truth nor that everyone can have their own truth and that they ultimately point to the same thing.

Instead my proposition is that if one does genuinely possess the truth, then there is no need to be insecure in any dialogue or feel pressured to have an answer to every question thrown at you — you welcome the question in this case with the confidence that while you don’t know the answer at the moment, the search for it and the answer when found, it will not undermine one’s position, rather it will add to one’s understanding of the truth.

Partners vs Opponents

This has also changed my view / approach to discussing with people of other worldviews — I now see it as more of an opportunity understanding their answers to the ultimate questions of life (origin, meaning, morality, destiny) with the belief that we are both trying to find the truth. This makes us partners in finding answers to life’s ultimate questions and not antagonists in a TV debate trying to score a quick win. Truth is not a team sport. The answers that have been debated by people for 1000s of years and which individuals have held dearly for most of their lifetime is not something that can be turned around in a single conversation normally.

I’ve realized that while none of the above is evidence in the traditional sense, it is meant to offer an alternate perspective to the one that is popular among culture — what one wants to do with it, is upto the individual. As for me, I will continue to share these contrary POVs that hopefully show that the confidence with which people dismiss God is not warranted and more importantly that we can all be on the same side in the pursuit of truth.