I consider myself an atheist — while I’m not certain that there is no God, I think it’s pretty unlikely that there is. (Some intelligent design arguments make me less certain that there is no God than I would be had I not heard the arguments, so that’s why, even though I’m an atheist, I think intelligent design arguments are worth taking seriously.) 

But some people have questioned my claim that I’m an atheist. For example, in response to my claim that there are objective moral truths, someone weighed in with this:

When someone talks about not believing in God, but believing in some sort of objective reality like “morality existing in the universe,” it just makes me think that they are just rejecting the cartoon “God” of so many Christians, rather than the real God.  To me that objective morality or directionality of the universe IS God.  Get rid of the beard and the clouds…  Love.  Creativity.  Truth. Morality…  In my mind if you believe in an objective reality of these things, you do believe in some sort of “god”, perhaps just not a personal aspect of “it”.  

Well, I certainly don’t believe in a cartoon version of a Christian God. But I don’t believe in the Christian God either, as long as one construes the Christian God to be the God who became flesh in the form of Jesus Christ and died for our sins, or even just if one construes the Christian God to be the God that will provide at least some people with an afterlife in communion with him. 

So I don’t believe in the Christian God. Do I believe in some sort of God? Well, it depends on how people define God. I believe in love, and I believe in objective morality, and I believe in creativity — if one wants to simply define God as love, or morality, or creativity, then yes I believe in God. But normally when I think of God, I think of a being that created the physical universe, and I don’t think that love or morality or creativity created the universe. Also, normally when I think of God, I think of a being that is immensely powerful and knowledgeable, and I don’t think that love or morality or creativity is immensely powerful or knowledgeable. In fact, I don’t think it even makes sense to say that love or morality or creativity is knowledgeable — this is known in philosophical circles as a category mistake

But if it turns out that there are lots of theists who say that they believe in God simply because they believe in love or morality or creativity, then I guess I’d happy to join their side, and say that I believe in God too. I would worry, though, that I was misleading people when I said that, because there are at least some people out there (like me right now) who have a quite different conception of God than that, and that’s what leads some of us to say that we’re atheists.

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