“What Atheists Wish Christians Knew”

Neil Carter provides a pretty accurate and pleasant primer on what bothers a lot of atheists, from a non-antitheist perspective:

For more, read my Top 10 Tips For Reaching Out To Atheists.

Your Thoughts?

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About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.

  • http://wateringgoodseeds.tumblr.com/ Shira Coffee

    It’s fabulous to see someone speaking kindly and nonjudgmentally across this divide.

  • Kodie

    I agree. I think 1, 2, and 3 work together. Theists seem to reconcile that we do have morals with our secret acknowledgment that god does exist. Of course we just want to do a few things we’re not allowed to do, and find it easier to suppress guilt by denying god exists. What theists seem to think about atheists seems to be dependent on fear tactics meant to keep them from leaving, and they don’t merely respect an atheist’s different way of seeing the same things, agree to disagree, so to speak, because if they believed everything was ok out here, they could otherwise choose to consider a different thing than what they believe is actually true. This brings together a few misapprehensions about what atheists are and what atheists do, where morals come from, and how horrible we must be because we have no objective source for having them.

    No matter how long and articulately we argue that morals come from evolution, that it serves us all better, notwithstanding actual laws, to cooperate, it doesn’t sink in. I’ve also observed that morality means a couple few things and not much more. Morality means withholding one’s desires from killing a person, from being gay, from having sex before marriage our outside of marriage, and from swearing, but it does not seem to preclude behaving naturally upon the impulse of the stimulus provided by a drunk girl in a short skirt. It doesn’t seem to mean that people are actually kind and never take advantage of an opportunity that doesn’t belong to them, or seizing on the weak or the minority or just the slow, by which I refer to things like parking spaces or the last Tickle Me Elmo on the shelf. Morality doesn’t seem to inform religious people in ways that matter every day. “If you snooze, you lose,” quite a lot of everything is a game of who learned the opposite (how not to be a chump) of what they teach in kindergarten (how to be a chump). This actually bothers me a lot more than the suggestion that atheists have no morals, is that theists suggest they have more while engaging in social competition (like most animals seem to). Evolution taught us a lot of tricks to get by – killing is a bad example of “winning,” while cutting in front of someone in traffic does carry risk of an accident, mostly it just makes you successful at being on time and other people a little late and a little angry at the world – playing on little instances of domination and submission as long as nobody dies seems like it’s on the table, morality-wise.

    But they are driven by fear of thirsting for actual blood, fearing no hell. Their beliefs about atheists are a part of their religious beliefs. They know what atheists are like more than an atheist does because their authorities tell them so. Everything they are fed is to disagree with whatever an atheist says about anything, even ourselves. Perhaps such a video is for us, but it may also change minds. I can hope. At first, it exposes things to theists they might not agree with, and will probably refute. Believing whatever they want about atheists is connected to whatever they believe about everything else. This isn’t just about being comfortable and compatible in society being an out atheist. If atheists can keep refuting what theists believe about us, they might come around to not only accepting us and what we say about ourselves, but realize that they are being fed misinformation entirely.

    As it is, they are still inclined to believe we are bad people luring them away from god and that we are incapable of speaking truthfully about ourselves because they are still inclined to believe we are immoral, and their pastors are moral, so who is lying and who is telling the truth? They are driven by fear of becoming one of us and suspicious of any tactic meant to inform them of anything that contradicts what they already believe – they are not meant to understand that atheists are ok people. I am certain it will reach some anyway, as we know many atheists are former believers.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Douglas-Mckeever/1353597146 Douglas Mckeever

      I don’t lack belief in gods in order to suppress guilt… so that I can do forbidden things. I’m pretty sure that the vast majority of atheists don’t either. Are you really an atheist???

    • Kodie

      Yeah I am, plus, that’s not what I said.

  • http://tellmewhytheworldisweird.blogspot.com/ perfectnumber628

    I am a Christian and I really really like this video! I think that way too often Christians act like we have all the answers, and we want to give our interpretation of other people’s experiences, rather than just listening.

    And especially the point about when Christians say “well deep down you really do believe in God, you’re just selfish and stubborn so you’re ignoring that”… umm… I think a person would KNOW whether they themselves “deep down” believe or not. That whole argument is pointless.

  • http://twitter.com/KateShansky Kate Shansky

    As an atheist, my simple moral guideline is that I am free to do what I
    want as long as my actions hurt no one. This axiom allows me to enjoy
    doing things that if I were religious, would probably trigger some
    internal guilt. Also, I basically direct this axiom onto society, which has made me a longtime advocate of such things as gay rights.