12/02/2006                                                                                       View Comments

Common Misconceptions About Atheists and Atheism

By David Gleeson

After watching Morgan Spurlock's "30 Days" episode on FX last night, about an atheist mother who agrees to live with a wealthy Christian family for a month, it became painfully obvious to me that most people have glaring misconceptions about what it means to be an atheist, and about atheism in general. In this article, I'd like to highlight some of the most common errors and offer a level-headed response to these misunderstandings.

1. Atheism is the belief that no gods exist.

This statement's ubiquity is exceeded only by its utter falseness; not only is it misleading, but it is the complete opposite of the truth.

The word 'atheism' comes from the Greek prefix 'a', meaning without, and 'theist', meaning having a belief in a supernatural deity. Atheism, therefore, literally means "without theistic belief". Atheism does not positively assert anything; rather, it is a statement of withheld belief.

Atheists, therefore, do not positively assert that gods do not exist. Atheists simply withhold belief in said gods because the evidence is not sufficient to warrant the belief. This is not to say that there isn't sufficient reason to believe that certain gods do not exist. There is. But to categorically deny the existence of all gods would require a leap of faith that is anathema to a true atheist. Atheism requires no such leap.

2. Atheism requires just as much faith as theism.


This misconception arises because of the misunderstanding of the term 'atheism', as described above.

If atheism were indeed a positive assertion that no gods exist, then this criticism would be valid. After all, it would take just as much faith to claim that no gods exist as it would to claim that one god or many gods exist. But atheism makes no such claim.

Atheism, as noted above, is nothing but withheld belief. It does not take faith to have a non-belief. If I don't believe that Elvis is still alive, I am not practicing an anti-Elvis faith. If I withhold belief in Santa Claus, I am not a member of a Santa-less church. When an atheist says, "I don't believe in the Christian God", she is merely saying that the evidence for belief is insufficient. It is the same type of withheld belief that a Christian practices with regard to the beliefs of Muslims, Jews and other non-Christians.

3. Atheists' lives are meaningless and devoid of hope and purpose.

This is nothing but the believer projecting his own feelings onto the atheist about how his life might be different in the absence of God. It says nothing about the true feelings of atheists.

Atheists' lives are not tied up in the remote possibility of an afterlife. My life is meaningful, simply, because it is meaningful to me and to those who love me. My life has purpose every time I strive toward a worthy goal. I do not need the promise of an afterlife to find meaning and purpose in this life.

Indeed, my life is more precious and more meaningful simply because I know it is short and fleeting. Because I expect no eternal reward or damnation after death, I treat each day as a gift. Compare this to the thought processes of an Islamic fundamentalist, who is willing to give up his earthly life for the promise of eternal bliss in the arms of 72 sex-starved virgins. Whose life has more hope and meaning and purpose, I wonder?

4. Atheists have no morals because they reject belief in an eternal moral-giver (i.e. God).

When you think about it, this is a preposterous statement. Ethics and morals, after all, preceded Jesus by thousands of years. Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, while inspiring, was basically just a rehash of the same Golden Rule that had been around for three milliennia. But let's look at the issue a little more critically.

If God is the source of all morals, then God, presumably, could change the rules at any time. Since no one is writing new Bibles or talking to God behind burning bushes, how are we to know what's right now, today? What's to stop God from deciding that moral behavior now includes the option of intentionally starving millions of innocent children, and then demonstrating this new morality by inflicting famine on the world's poorest nations? How would we ever know right from wrong under such circumstances? Doesn't this lead to the same sort of moral relativism that theists accuse atheists of practicing?

If, on the other hand, moral laws are independent of God, then humans are free to discover those laws on their own. Either way, it seems God is unnecessary with regard to moral behavior. Atheists simply follow the moral agenda that has been refined by the evolution of advanced civilizations over the past few centuries. We've learned how to be nice to each other. It's not that hard, really.

5. Atheists must have had a bad childhood experience to cause them to give up on religion and hate God.


Some atheists may have had such experiences, but I can assure you this is not the case in most situations. For me and for most atheists, the journey from belief to non-belief is simply a gradual process of discovery that eventually leads to God/gods becoming unnecessary.

I don't need God to explain the origin or evolution of life on Earth; evolution provides a naturalistic and awe-inspiring explanation that's backed by mountains of evidence. I don't need God to comfort me against the fear of death and the unknown; I do not fear death. I don't need God to account for human selfishness or altruism; my understanding of human nature accomplishes that.

In short, as my knowledge has increased, the gaps that God may have filled have become progressively smaller, to the point that God is no longer necessary. I am no more angry at "God" than Christians are angry at the gods of Mount Olympus. Christians simply have no investment in the belief in said gods; they lose nothing by rejecting them. The same is true for me and "God".

In summary, then, an atheist rejects belief in God or gods because the evidence does not compel such belief. This does not lead to a lonely and terrifying universe; in fact, it gives life more meaning and more purpose. Atheists aren't angry and resentful; they are thoughtful and caring and respectful of the inherent dignity in all of us. They deserve none of the vitriol that is constantly leveled at them.

40 comments:

gshand said...

Wonderful explication! I am a recovering alcoholic that attends AA meetings. I have announced to my groups that I am an atheist and some people treat me with expressions of pity. I cringe when I hear the phrase, " I turn my life and my will over to the care of god." To me this is the most irresponsible statement I've ever heard. It amounts to becoming a slave to an invisible force that deprives the individual of any accountability for their actions or deeds.

Anonymous said...

Look, it's time to stop the mamby-pamby approach of "there is not sufficient evidence to support a belief in God."

I KNOW there is no Santa Claus the same way I KNOW there is no God. We don't have to give silly claims the credence of "there is not sufficient evidence." Let's call a spade a spade: God is an invention, like Santa Claus, demons, angels, fairies, trolls and the Easter Bunny.

This is not a statement of faith. It is a statement of reason.

aldousd said...

"Insufficient evidence to even consider the possibility of a god existing" is the way I'd put it. In the sphere of possiblity, the existence of any one particular god is a zero dimensional point, so unless I'm mistaken, reasonably we'd have to assume that no gods exist :) It's math. You can say that this is not logic, because the probability of anything else existing is just as zero dimensional. This is where I make the distiction between probability and relative frequency, the fact that we're here to ask these sorts of questions (not to mention attempt to answer them) means that we can discount MOST of the improbability that what we 'know' to exist infact exists ... Basically, we have enough evidence to support that which we do know, and everything else is just a guess unless based on some other set of known information. Imagination can often lead to a rearrangment of known evidence such that we can reasonably construct (proposed) evidence of the existence of something else, but lack of evidence (such as is used when conjuring Gods to fill voids in science's ability to explain nature at certain junctures) does NOT constitute evidence at all. This is why I can say logically speaking, "gods do not exist," and have the power of all that is known on my side. This is opposed to someone believing in gods who would say 'Well I can't explain X, so it must be attributed to the design of a deity.' There is nothing namby pamby, or even faithful about it... it's just a reasonable approach to considering the subject. The only faith I have to assert to say what I do have is faith that I do not know 'nothing' and that which is do know is reasonably founded. We have to assume that we do not know 'nothing' because there is no other thing that we can do... The universe may well be a delusion, but it is a delusion that we cannot escape, so therefore, that possibility can have no meaning for us, and that being the case, I choose to ignore that nag.


Just my two cents.

Lorena said...

What a wonderful well-written article. A couple of comments:

"I do not need the promise of an afterlife to find meaning and purpose in this life."

Most definitely. Earlier today, I was following the election of the new leader of the Canadian Liberal party, and I noticed that the partisans found fulfilment and meaning in their association with the organization, just as much meaning as Christians find in Jesus. Really, no religion is needed to have a purposeful life. Anybody who has the guts to follow their passion toward the greater good can have a fulfilled existence.

"If, on the other hand, moral laws are independent of God, then humans are free to discover those laws on their own."

Sure, there are laws in nature. And no one needs Moses to know what those are. If you hit another person, chances are you will get hit back on the spot. Natural laws are no brainers. Who needs an outdated book to know what’s good.

"Must have had a bad childhood experience to cause them to give up on religion and hate God."

Well, yeah. The bad experience of having been brainwashed by Christian non-sense.

hatepirate said...

Any chance of anyone uploading this episode of "30 Days" to youtube or rapidshare? I'd really like to see it.

.:webmaster:. said...

It looks like you can buy the episode for $1.99 from AOL: Click here.

Anonymous said...

the bit I found most amusing was the bit when the christan guy basically said he believes that supernatural things happen all the time during the "kitchen conversation", don't you just want to ask the guy "have you ever actually *seen* anyone cast a voodoo curse or whatever that ACTUALLY WORKED?" the awnser is, of course, no. Belief in an all-powerful, invisible, incompetent father figure is one thing but to actually think that spooky magical forces actually have an active role in the world despite all the evidence to the contrary is f-ing laughable.

Anonymous said...

Very nice article. Some great points.

One thing I disagree with, though, is the use of etymology to define the current meaning of "atheist." The meanings of words evolve over time, and a word's etymology is often extremely different from its current meaning.

As a couple of the comments above indicate, the language needs a term for people who assert "There is no God." The word "atheist" has come to fill that need.

The language also needs a word for people who say there is insufficient evidence to conclude that a supernatural being either exists or does not exist. The word "agnostic" serves the purpose.

That is how the words have come to be used and understood by the public today, and that is how modern dictionaries define then.

For freethinkers to use the word "atheist" in its etymological sense, rather than its commonly understood sense, is to cause the public to misunderstand what is being said.

D Laurier said...

I dont own a television,
But yes there are a few silly claims made about atheists and atheism.

The one about how we as atheists "hate" god, is realy cute. How exactly can I hate something that does not exist?

Anonymous said...

There would be no question or arguing if a God exists, if there was no God.

A statement of reason.

Tear this apart as you will.

Jim Arvo said...

Anonymous, I presume, by this reasoning, the you affirm the existence of Big Foot, Nessie, UFOs, and poltergeists. Seems like a very convenient way to end debates over postulated entities. If is not what you meant, perhaps you would like to refine your statement to better reflect what you believe.

greenie2600 said...

Anonymous, you have an interesting definition of the word "reason"...

Jim Arvo hit the nail on the head.

Anyway, whether or not a significant number of people do or do not believe a particular claim has absolutely no bearing on the truth or falsity of that claim.

Almost everyone alive thought the world was flat in the 1300s. They were all wrong.

Other things that most people believed in the 1300s, none of which are true: insects reproduce by spontaneous generation; the sun revolves around the earth; bloodletting cures disease.

If you argue with atheists often, you're probably met with a lot of hostility. Why? Is it because atheists are assholes? No. It's because you're not even freaking trying.

When you enter into debate, show enough respect for your opponent to actually present a logically consistent argument that you've actually thought through. (Yes, reason involves actual thinking, not just spouting off whatever Hallmark-card-style "arguments" pop into your head.) Otherwise, you're just wasting our time.

Piprus said...

I would disagree with Gleeson on one point. There are those atheists, referred to as "hard" or "strong" atheists, who declare "God does not exist", and do so with sincerity. I think most, myself included, take the evidence-based approach, and state simply that I have no god belief, because I've seen no evidence to support one. That's been called the "weak atheist" position, a terminology I don't really like. I see nothing weak about it.

Jim Arvo said...

I complete agree with Piprus. I see nothing "weak" about so-called "weak atheism" either. This is one reason I don't like the terminology and feel it's misleading. To say that one does not believe in god because there is no credible evidence for her existence is to place her in the same ontological category as invisible chocolate Easter bunnines orbiting Pluto. One cannot absolutely rule out the latter either, but I think we can all agree that holding a belief in such entities without evidence is absurd. In fact, I think many so-called "strong atheists" are asserting nothing more than this (thus, adding to the confusion).

In my opinion, the safest, most inclusive, and most useful definition of an atheist is one who does not affirm the existence of any deities (by which I mean invisible conscious entities with supernatural power), thus relegating them to precisely the same category as any other unsupported fantastic claim; which is to say, treating them precisely as if they definitely do not exist.

Don't get me started on the word "agnostic", which has been so corrupted by casual usage that it is now worse than useless.

Sindy Loo Who said...

I am an AGNOSTIC - and proud of it. I admit that I am sometimes "worse than useless." But at least I'm not afraid to admit that I don't know everything.

boomSLANG said...

But at least I'm not afraid to admit that I don't know everything.

Who has said, or implied, that they "know everything"?...well, except for a few bible-ghosts, here and there? The word "Atheist" has zero relevance to claims of omniscience. If someone lacks belief in munchkins, does that elevate them to omniscient status? No, it does not.

Moreover, consider the word/label "Atheist". It wouldn't even be necessary, if it weren't for people who insist that gods do exist. Think about it. I mean, consider this: We don't have, or need, a word for people who lack belief in munchkins, do we? And since it can't be shown, absolutely(at this time), that munchkins don't live inside Uranus, then what?...it's somehow less arrogant to say "I don't know" if they exist, or not, than it is to say "I don't believe" in munchkins?

Okay, have it your way---I'm an Agnostimunchkinist---and proud of it.

Jim Arvo said...

Sindy Loo Who said "I am an AGNOSTIC - and proud of it. I admit that I am sometimes 'worse than useless.' But at least I'm not afraid to admit that I don't know everything."

You seem to have taken my comment above in a way I did not intend. You are welcome to wear any label you wish, and you can mean anything by it you wish, and I'll respect your choice. I said the word "agnostic" is worse than useless, not the people who label themselves such. It would be simply a useless label if it were merely redundant in its current colloquial sense (which it is IMO). However, since people now use it as a synonym for "uncertain" (which was not its original sense), they incorrectly assume that "atheism" must therefore imply certainty. Thus, it is both useless (because it's a synonym for what people now call "weak atheism"), and it invites no end of confusion; this is why I say the label is worse than useless.

Now, if you like the sound of the word, perhaps because it carries less of a stigma, then it's you choice to wear it. I'm merely bemoaning the fact that its current popular meaning is very unfortunate; that's why I do not use it.

aldousd said...

Mr Anonymous of recent is making the same argument that SSel does in the Arena... hmmm... maybe they're BOTH trolls..

Anonymous said...

I would like to apologize for the last line of my previous post. I was being very arrogant in that I often find many people to be the same way when they post and completely tear apart what somebody has to say because it is from a differing viewpoint.

To comment on what Jim Arvo has brought to my attention.
"Anonymous, I presume, by this reasoning, the you affirm the existence of Big Foot, Nessie, UFOs, and poltergeists. Seems like a very convenient way to end debates over postulated entities. If is not what you meant, perhaps you would like to refine your statement to better reflect what you believe."

If we humans were, in fact, brought about by evolution or a random natural process, would we ever have the question of an existence of any being higher than ourselves?

Would we not be completely oblivious and live life in a world without questions of something higher?

If there is so much arguing about whether a god exists or not is there not some truth to both sides?

At least that humans argue in the first place drawing the question of why do humans argue? And further that if why they are arguing has anything to do with proving their pride than the question of pride comes in and where does pride come from? And if it comes from a chemical process through emotions in the brain than where did the brain come from to be able to do that? And so on and so on. Reasoning that there had to be a beginning somewhere. And while you may say evolution has brought the process of reason to humans and that the way our body functions is a process of random chance than I would have to disagree with you. Nobody has certain, concrete, from the beginning evidence of the world's conception. But would it not be interesting to test, not only Christianity, but other religions claim to a higher being and see if the truths they profess are true. And I do not mean simple moralistic truths but things like human nature.

You may disagree with me and that is your right.

I hope this further refines my statement Jim.

Thank you for listening.

Kyle

Jim Arvo said...

Kyle: "If we humans were, in fact, brought about by evolution or a random natural process, would we ever have the question of an existence of any being higher than ourselves?"

First, natural selection is not random. Point mutation is (essentially) random; selection is the very antithesis of randomness. Now, you ask if we would ever conceive of something "higher" than ourselves if we were in fact a product of evolution. Well, it's quite a leap from natural selection to a fairly difficult-to-characterize mental state, but the short answer is "yes". As social animals much of our mental machinery is dedicated to the perception of other humans, and to apprehending their intentions. We are fascinated by what others think, how they feel, and what they might do. So fascinated, in fact, that we often falsely attribute intentions and feelings to non-sentient objects. Add to this propensity the idea of an alpha male, and the importance of paternal protection, and you have a recipe for religion with a (typically) masculine deity. This is a huge topic, but that's the idea in a nutshell.

Kyle: "Would we not be completely oblivious and live life in a world without questions of something higher?"

No. Why would you think that?

Kyle: "If there is so much arguing about whether a god exists or not is there not some truth to both sides?"

Again, if we apply that logic to other debates, you would have to concede some "truth" to Nessie and Big Foot, not to mention alien abductions, astral projection, telekinesis, etc. Can we not agree that many people hold as true things that we reject as outright absurdity? If so, then are you not obliged to answer "no" to your question above?

Kyle: "And while you may say evolution has brought the process of reason to humans and that the way our body functions is a process of random chance than I would have to disagree with you."

Again, the claim that it is all "random chance" is a straw man. Selection is a form of feedback, and as such it is a very powerful influence that acts as a guide; one might even say as a "designer".

Kyle: "...would it not be interesting to test, not only Christianity, but other religions claim to a higher being and see if the truths they profess are true."

Yes. It certainly is interesting. That's why I've been "testing" various claims for many decades. I've been particularly interested in the claims made by Christianity, as it exerts the most influence in the USA. I've assiduously studied Christian apologetics since I was in my teens, and I can honestly say that I have never found a shred of credible evidence in support of it.

boomSLANG said...

Selection is a form of feedback, and as such it is a very powerful influence that acts as a guide; one might even say as a "designer".[bold added]

Oh fudge, Jim...look what you've gone and done......you've proved Jesus exists. lol

Peace.

Jim Arvo said...

Oh, dang, I did it again, Boomer! I tipped my hand. I confess that I'm actually an ID theory advocate. Truly, I am. (BTW, ID = "Idiot Designer")

Anonymous said...

Mr. Arvo

You stated, "As social animals much of our mental machinery is dedicated to the perception of other humans, and to apprehending their intentions. We are fascinated by what others think, how they feel, and what they might do. So fascinated, in fact, that we often falsely attribute intentions and feelings to non-sentient objects. Add to this propensity the idea of an alpha male, and the importance of paternal protection, and you have a recipe for religion with a (typically) masculine deity. This is a huge topic, but that's the idea in a nutshell."

Which I do not disagree on in terms of how we as humans do view others with fascination and wonder. That is what makes people watching so interesting and fun.

But I am not sure how you make the jump from that to creating a religion. I understand that you had to paraphrase it so maybe that attributes to it.

Also
"Again, if we apply that logic to other debates, you would have to concede some "truth" to Nessie and Big Foot, not to mention alien abductions, astral projection, telekinesis, etc. Can we not agree that many people hold as true things that we reject as outright absurdity? If so, then are you not obliged to answer "no" to your question above?"

Do you have complete and unbridled certainty that these claims are false?

And the past few lines

"Selection is a form of feedback, and as such it is a very powerful influence that acts as a guide; one might even say as a "designer".

and then your seemingly sarcastic response to BoomSlang:

"Oh, dang, I did it again, Boomer! I tipped my hand. I confess that I'm actually an ID theory advocate. Truly, I am. (BTW, ID = "Idiot Designer")"

I'm not sure what your intentions were for it but even so, you yourself said ,"one might even say as a "designer".

Designer being something or someone who " one who creates and often executes plans for a project or structure" (Merriam-Webster)

One who?( I am not implying the Christian god but a supernatural being overall)

and then:

"Yes. It certainly is interesting. That's why I've been "testing" various claims for many decades. I've been particularly interested in the claims made by Christianity, as it exerts the most influence in the USA. I've assiduously studied Christian apologetics since I was in my teens, and I can honestly say that I have never found a shred of credible evidence in support of it"

None, hmm. Okay. I am curious about these studies. Really I would. Maybe I can be further educated in the truth as well. Aside from the studies I have began.

That is all I have to say sir.

Thank you

Kyle

Jim Arvo said...

Kyle: "...I am not sure how you make the jump from that to creating a religion."

We easily perceive intentionality where there is none. One of the most common forms of "explanation" is that someone or some-thing intended it to be so. A natural explanation for lightning among the ancients was to attribute it to the volition of some unseen agent. Intentionality is part of the basic "currency" of the mind, as it is essential to predicting how those around us will act. It is well documented that our brains are far more susceptible to false positives (detecting agency where there is none) than false negatives (failing to detect agency when it is present). All god concepts hinge on the notion of an unseen agent. Moreover, this agent is intimately concerned with the minutia of human affairs, and can intervene in mysterious ways. This agent can be bargained with; it's intentions can be affected by our behaviors. All of this has been shown to resonate with basic "templates" that our brain uses for perceiving and understanding human actions. See Pascal Boyer's book Religion Explained: The evolutionary Origins of Religious Thought, or Faces in the Clouds: A New Theory of Religion, by Steward Guthrie.

Kyle: "Do you have complete and unbridled certainty that these claims are false?"

Of course not! Can you tell me with absolute certainty that the core of Pluto is not made out of chocolate? Can you prove to me that Zeus does not exist? I'll wager you can do neither. But I'll also wager that you have no desire to act as though either is a bona fide possibility. In other words, your actions are indistinguishable from those of a person for whom the above scenarios have been definitively disproved. If I'm wrong about that, please correct me.

Kyle: "I'm not sure what your intentions were for it but even so, you yourself said , 'one might even say as a "designer"'."

Yes, natural selection can be thought of as the process that imparts "purposeful" structure on organisms; that is, structure that plays a specific role in the proliferation of the organism's genes. As it has no foresight whatsoever--i.e. no view toward an "end goal," and certainly no "consciousness" of what it is doing--you could think of it as an "Idiot Designer".

I said "...I can honestly say that I have never found a shred of credible evidence in support of it [Christianity]"

Kyle: "None, hmm. Okay. I am curious about these studies...."

That's correct, none. As in nothing. Void. Zilch. Zip. Zero. Not one speck. Now, I'm open to the idea that there could be an invisible conscious entity of some sort, but nothing I've experienced, learned, or contemplated in my entire life would suggest that such an entity exists. I've studied hundreds of books/arguments by Christian apologists, including those by Paley, Augustine, Plantinga, Moreland, Zacharias, Van Till, Clark, Strobel, Craig, Lewis, Swinburne, and dozens of others. I find that not a single one can make their point without a great leap of faith and/or a blatant fallacy. (By the way, I actually have no problem with someone asserting that their belief is rooted in faith; provided, of course, they do not expect me to adopt their beliefs without some solid justification.)

Anonymous said...

"That's correct, none. As in nothing. Void. Zilch. Zip. Zero. Not one speck. Now, I'm open to the idea that there could be an invisible conscious entity of some sort, but nothing I've experienced, learned, or contemplated in my entire life would suggest that such an entity exists. I've studied hundreds of books/arguments by Christian apologists, including those by Paley, Augustine, Plantinga, Moreland, Zacharias, Van Till, Clark, Strobel, Craig, Lewis, Swinburne, and dozens of others. I find that not a single one can make their point without a great leap of faith and/or a blatant fallacy. (By the way, I actually have no problem with someone asserting that their belief is rooted in faith; provided, of course, they do not expect me to adopt their beliefs without some solid justification.)"

Okay awesome that's fair.

That sounds like alot of in depth study.

Just one last question

Have you ever read the Bible?

I assume from everything you have already told me about your studies you must have. And I honestly am not being sarcastic. I am actually curious.

Kyle

boomSLANG said...

Kyle: I'm not sure what your intentions were for it but even so, you yourself said , 'one might even say as a "designer" '

Even if A = "natural selection", and one would like to call it "Designer".....and Z = "the Christian biblegod", fine....but where in Hades are all the "letters" in between? The Anthropic principle is the closest the theist can come to a "designer", yet, when we speak of a universe being "finely tuned" specifically for humankind, it really lacks relevance if we are speaking of an omnipotent being.

Firstly, fact: We have adapted to the earth, not vice versa. Secondly, an omnipotent "Designer" could create life anywhere she damned well pleased. An "omnipotent" god wouldn't be limited to create life in a place that is conducive to that life. Hell, we could live INSIDE the frickin' sun, if that's what "god" intended. No need to "tune" anything....throw us any ol' place and we'll thrive.

boomSLANG said...

Kyle: Have you ever read the Bible?

Yeah, have you?

Jim Arvo said...

Kyle, do you suppose I would read so much Christian apologetics without reading the Bible? Yes, of course I've read the Bible, I've studied the prophecies, and read a great deal about the history of Christianity. But none of this getting us anywhere; it's merely a laundry list of my own personal religious studies. I don't expect you to take my word for it, or to reach the same conclusions I have.

But I would like for you to answer BoomSlang's question. Have you read the Bible? All of it?

Anonymous said...

Mr. Arvo and Boomslang,

No I have not read the Bible in its entirity. I have read the New Testament and only certain parts of the Old Testament.

I am on my way.

And yes sir I expect to finish. With skepticism.

My inquiry was simply because I wanted to know personally what your conclusions are on it.

Kyle

Anonymous said...

I also failed to mention that I will try to also study it from its original context and language.

Will it have completely unexplainable errors?

I guess I will have to discover for myself.

Kyle

Deamond said...

I haven't seen this "30 days" show yet but it reminds me of an episode of "Wipe Swap".

Two mothers swaped families; one a hippy, the other a religious fanatic. (I can hear what you're thinking right now, "Here we go...")
The Christian kids didn't seem to be as fanatical as their mother.

Now, the Hippie family was into "spiritualism", that is, they have decorations and rituals, but it seems to be more for the purpose of having a good time rather than pleasing any paticular deity.

The fanatic mother was constantly upset by everything that didn't fit nicely into her idea of "Holy" She even over-reacted to a clothes washer that was making a wierd noise.

The Hippie father was also a radio DJ and envited the Christian mother to the radio show to sort of co-host. The guest being interviewd was a Psychic. And as soon as she heard the word "Psychic" the woman freaked out. The Psychic said he was raised Christian and always carried a cross, made no difference.

Basically, the Hippies seemed way more sane than the Christians.

Deamond said...

1. Atheism is the belief that no gods exist.

Well, I am convinced that Jehovah in paticular does not exist. And I doubt the other gods. But I'm open-minded to the possibility of the existance of God-like beings somewhere in the universe (like the Q).

2. Atheism requires just as much faith as theism.

No, that's what "Atheism" means, NO FAITH".

3. Atheists' lives are meaningless and devoid of hope and purpose.

Well, in the same way that a free man has less purpose in his daily routine than a slave, yes. A free man has no tasks or goals given to him from above, but may have choors or goals that he has set for himself. or, should he achieve these self-imposed goals, he can sit down and watch TV. The slave cannot.

4. Atheists have no morals because they reject belief in an eternal moral-giver (i.e. God).

If you honestly believe this, than YOU are the evil one, not I. I, for one, am controlled by two things; fear of the law and my oun concience. The stronger of these is the lattere. In fact, I've noticed that, generally, the more devout a theist is, the WORSE their behaviour.

5. Atheists must have had a bad childhood experience to cause them to give up on religion and hate God.

In my case, it was quite simple. First I found out about about the contradictions between Genesis and Dinosaurs. Then I spent allot of time thinking about it. I came to the conclusion that Science is based on evidence, whereas Christianity is no different from Greek mythology.

Deamond said...

Imagine this;
some Aliens collect 100 human slaves, 50 male, 50 female.

They kill the 25 shortest female and 25 shortest males, and force the rest to mate.

As soon as the next generation are old enough to bear children, They kill the 25 shortest female and 25 shortest males, and force the rest to mate.

And so on for, say, 1,000 years.

Eventually you're gonna end up with Giants.

That's just a simplified version of how Selective breeding works. (it's more complicated than that, there was an experament with Peas I won't bore you with now.)

Natural selection is not unlike selective breeding, because in a way it's still controlled, in that both sexes choose the most atractive available members of the oposite sex.

Deamond said...

"There would be no question or arguing if a God exists, if there was no God.

A statement of reason.

Tear this apart as you will. "

Very well.

That statement is backwards. There would be no question or arguing if a God exists, if there WAS a God.

I would like to know, actually, what this logic is based on.

The fact that his existance is depatable proves that he doesn't show himself, therefore he doen't give a shit if humans believe in him or not.

There is no question that Elephants exist. They're f@#$ing big. There's plenty of debate as to weather Leprachauns exist, as there's insuficiant evidence of their existance one way or the other.

There used to be debate about the existance of Germs, then they invented Microscopes.

Deamond said...

greenie2600,

"If you argue with atheists often, you're probably met with a lot of hostility. Why? Is it because atheists are assholes? No. It's because you're not even freaking trying"

I've tried. On Youtube there's a video of Homer arguing that they shouldn't go to church. I've wasted allot of time debating with this one paticularly thick brained christian who refused to offer ANY evidence to back up his claim. When someone pointed out how pointless it was to debate over a Youtube Simpsons video, I actually felt freed, and I basically said, "quote right, screw yous all, I'm gone" (but more politely).

In my experience, debating with Christians is like playing chess with a toddler.

Deamond said...

Anonymous wrote:



If we humans were, in fact, brought about by evolution or a random natural process, would we ever have the question of an existence of any being higher than ourselves?

(Yes)

Would we not be completely oblivious and live life in a world without questions of something higher?

(no)

If there is so much arguing about whether a god exists or not is there not some truth to both sides?

(Actually, it sugests that NEITHER side actually knows for certain, and indeed they may both be wrong. Otherwise, there would be no debate at all)

At least that humans argue in the first place drawing the question of why do humans argue?

(Because they don't know for certain)

And further that if why they are arguing has anything to do with proving their pride than the question of pride comes in and where does pride come from? And if it comes from a chemical process through emotions in the brain than where did the brain come from to be able to do that?

(oh, I see, the old "pretty flower must have been designed to be pretty" ID trick. Has never impressed me yet.)

And so on and so on. Reasoning that there had to be a beginning somewhere. And while you may say evolution has brought the process of reason to humans and that the way our body functions is a process of random chance than I would have to disagree with you.

(That's what I think, yes.)

Nobody has certain, concrete, from the beginning evidence of the world's conception.

(Neither do you.)

But would it not be interesting to test, not only Christianity, but other religions claim to a higher being and see if the truths they profess are true.

(Actually, there I agree with you.)

And I do not mean simple moralistic truths but things like human nature.

(Uh, huh?)

You may disagree with me and that is your right.

I hope this further refines my statement Jim.

Thank you for listening.

Kyle

Jim said...

I think you're stretching the Greek etymology a bit. "Atheism" means "Without god." Thus, a world view that does not include god. I don't have a huge problem with the compromise you are suggesting, as really the net results is only the decisions we make regarding how to live our lives. Those results will likely be the same regardless of how you define it. But, there are some agnostics who might feel a bit like they've just been absorbed by atheism against their will.

Baker said...

Kyle: "I also failed to mention that I will try to also study it from its original context and language."

The original language on script isn't available in any form known to modern historians.

Kyle: "I guess I will have to discover for myself."

Obivously, you had better hurry, because building a time machine will likely take you the rest of your life.

Anonymous said...

someone should seriously write "common absurd responses to Atheism" here's mine:

1. those Christians who commit crime aren't "true Christians"

rriiiiiight and you wonder why Christians fight each other all the time and why there are 700 different branches of Christianity, most of them either get denied that they are Christians or say they are the "true ones" and not the other; isn't it sad that the bible is used for a division of faith? I thought it's supposed to make people believe and unit people under one faith.... guess not

2. Atheists who have read the Bible and criticize it are the ones who read with closed minds and are already critical of the Bible and/or disbelieving it before reading it

If the bible is sooooooo perfect and wonderful and such wouldn't it be true that who ever read it would be filled with the "love of God"? But most of the time the Atheists who read it (and usually the whole way through, same could not be said for a lot of Christians... unfortunately) are filled with disgust for looking at such a terrible Villain- God;

3. No Atheists can truly understand the meaning behind the Bible, because no human beings can comprehend the greatness of God

Then God is just not smart enough to make us understand him, and he definitely shouldn't be any kind of teacher 'cause he simply can't teach. period.

4. Atheists reading the Bible is like Christians reading the textbook on evolution, they do not want to love it or understand it in the first place, that's why they are disgust with it.

If a Christian is disgusted with the stuff on evolution, this is most likely because it collides with everything that is written in the Bible-basically disproving it; If an Atheists is disgusted with the Bible, it is most likely because the God in the Bible is just soooo freakin EVIL!!! 'cause I'm a big science believer and I loooooooovvve, for instance, the TV series Angel (confession :P), GOD that vampire with a soul fills me with soooo much love and goodness!!!!! And I don't even believe vampires exist!!!

5. Everything that Atheists claim that are contradicting in the Bible are just words or passages that the English language failed to translate right

Okay first off, those people who claimed this are usually those who don't know a single word in Hebrew or a thing about Linguists; Second of all: then God isn't omnipotent enough to see this comin' after all, he was the one who created those different languages(like English) in the story of Babel; And third and most laughable of all: those who claim this are usually the same people who also claim that we can't comprehend such greatness as God--then how do you know you can interpreted the words better than us, or that God MEANT this and NOT THAT?

6. There are alot of Scientific discoveries that proved God exists

Completely bullshit, none did, when you go on that websites and infos that says they do, they are usually not telling the full story, or just scientific facts that seemed to support a few very very vague words in the Bible; And the Christians of course would never say anything about what happened to rest of the 99.9% of the Bible that Science have proven dead wrong many times

7. God will love you no matter what!! (On why he would send people to hell) He loves you so much that he is willing to let you have Satan because that's what you wanted

I find this SUPER funny, an analogy: My (abusive) father loves me no matter what, he loves me so much that he would let me have the abuse because that's what I wanted in the first place

8. So you Atheists say there is no God?? Prove it, just how do you know for sure there is no God?

I think this is my favorite one, people, if you get a question from a Christian like this, please please don't hesitate to response back: Prove to me that Zeus don't exist, how do you know he doesn't? And it would be even funnier if the Christian start quoting verses from the Bible that says Zeus don't exist, because then you can say: "What do you mean??? Zeus definitely exists!!!! 'cause the Greek Myths Said so!!!!!!!"

Anonymous said...

I apologize for the grammar mistakes above, I tried to preview it before posting it but the stupid web juss won't let me do it, GRRRRRRR