As I stated in my first article, this blog is not meant to be centered around atheism, though articles on the subject will arise. I say this not to say I am ashamed of being an atheist. I’m not. but I don’t want folks to see the title and think this blog has a solitary focus. That said however I know for a fact that theists will be asking me, for justifications for my atheism. and to that end I will now post an essay I have already written on the subject.
Atheism is the lack of belief in deities. Theism is the belief in deities. Agnosticism is a claim of lack of knowledge of deities. You can actually be both theistic and agnostic, as well as atheistic and agnostic. The terms are not exclusive. If you believe in a god, but also accept that you cannot know that there is a god, then you are an agnostic theist. (as opposed to being a gnostic theist, one that claims to know god exists). Similarly you can be an agnostic atheist, in that you do not know if a god exists or not, but do not believe he does. Few atheists would claim to know for 100% that god doesn’t exist. They simply find it highly unlikely and thus do not believe he does. (Smith, 3-28)
Atheism is the default position. Things are not true merely because you claim that they are. If mere claims made things true until proven otherwise, then I could assert that I can jump over the moon, and it would be your job to prove me wrong. Obviously this is silly. If I claim I can jump over the moon, you are not obliged to believe me, unless I can give you a demonstration. When a believer tells me there is an invisible man who lives in the sky, and that I better obey a certain holy book, or else, I find this absurd. If this invisible, all-powerful man exists, then prove it. Otherwise I am not obliged to believe you. Faith does not cut it. Things don’t become true just because you believe it to be true. People have faith in all kinds of things that are not true. Faith is an invalid epistemology; that is unless you are prepared to claim that all religions no matter how much they oppose each other, are all true merely because of faith. (Johnson, 11-25)
Theists upon realizing that we atheists will not accept faith as a valid proof for their god, will try to offer “proof” that god exists, all of which are nonsense. I shall now explain a few theist “proofs” and why I think they are mistaken and misguided.
Theists claim that something cannot come from nothing and that thus obviously since this universe is here, something must have put it here and that something is god. First of all they are assuming that the universe hasn’t always existed. Nobody knows this. Of course some might try to bring up the big bang, but then nobody knows what was before the big bang. Maybe the universe came from another universe, or maybe it existed already and the big bang as just a transformation from an earlier form. Who knows how the universe got here? Next we atheists want to know, who or what created your god, and if he needs no explanation, or has already existed for all eternity, then why can’t this be true for the universe itself? Lastly just because you don’t have an explanation for something does not default to god. Before we knew what lightning was, was the “Zeus hypothesis” a valid one? Sometimes the best answer is “I don’t know.” How did we get here? The truth is I have no idea, and neither do you. You can say your god did it, and I can just as easily say a fairy did it, or we can just admit we have no idea and move on. Placing god in the gaps of our knowledge (god of the gaps) won’t work. (Dawkins 111-159)
Theists like to point out that life is complex and thus like a finely tuned watch, must have had a designer, to say otherwise, they claim is equivalent to saying a tornado could accidentally assemble a jet by running through a junk yard. First of all this is a gross misunderstanding of the theory of evolution. You may as well say that snowflakes forming and fetuses forming are as unlikely as the tornado built jet. Evolution does not say that things just pop into existence as they are today, or that monkeys had human babies. Evolution says that things change very gradually and over time and with the guide of natural selection, things evolve with better reproducing and survival abilities. A rabbit with bigger ears is more likely to hear danger and thus have more babies, as she will be alive to do so as opposed to being eaten. This is how evolution works. Now that said, this ID argument does not hold water for other reasons as well. First of all who or what designed god? He must surly be more complex than his creation. If we are a watch, then god must be a time machine. Did he just pop into existence? Also back to the “god of the gaps” you can’t just assert, “god did it” to explain things we don’t know. Lastly why did god give human males, nipples, if we are intelligently designed? (Dawkins 111-159)
Look at all the beauty in the world, and look at all the miracles that happen everyday! This is yet another misguided and mistaken claim given by theists to prove their god. First of all they are only looking at half the picture when it comes to beauty. What about ugliness? Sure sunsets are pretty, but gangrene is not. Babies and puppies are cute, but stillborns are very depressing. They are counting the hits while ignoring the misses. Pretty things prove god, and we will ignore the ugly things. Well I won’t. (Dawkins 86)
Moving on to miracles, it’s the same thing. They count the hits and ignore the misses. They are glad to have been lucky enough to survive a wreck, and thank their god, while forgetting that dozens of other people die in wrecks. Secondly many so-called miracles are not miracles at all, but are things like getting over a headache. Lets see somebody instantly sprout a missing arm. That would be a miracle. Maybe. Or perhaps it could be aliens with fancy technology. Miracles are another example of the “God of the gaps” in that when you can’t explain something you default to “god did it.” As I showed earlier this does not hold water. Lastly some so-called miracles conflicts with other beliefs theists have. They try to explain bad things like rape by saying god cannot interfere with peoples freewill. Then they will say god protected them from a burglar. Wait a minute! Sorry Charlie, you cannot have your cake and eat it too. (Johnson 77-84)
How can we have morality without a gods command? Surely we must have a holy book to guide us, right? Wrong. We are social animals. If he hadn’t evolved a sense of empathy and cooperation, we would have killed ourselves off by now. Being moral is evolutionary beneficial. Secondly I must ask of folks are only good to others because they are scared of god, than is that truly moral. Do you only help others to keep out of hell, and not because you care? Is the only reason you don’t murder people, because you don’t want to burn in hell? Surely you help others and do no harm, simply because it is not in your nature to do so, and thankfully this holds true for most people. Lastly all one has to do is read the various holy books to see that civilized people most certainly do not get their morals from those books. (Dawkins 209-278)
I would like to end this essay with a quote from one of our founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson.
“Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear.” (Jefferson)
Dawkins, Richard. The God Delusion. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2006
Jefferson, Thomas “Thomas Jefferson Quotes.” Brainy Quote. 05 March, 2007
Johnson, B.C. The Atheist Debaters Handbook. New York: Prometheus Books, 1981
Smith, George H. Atheism the Case Against God. New York: Prometheus Books, 1989