Why Worry About a God That Isn’t There?

You don’t call yourself an a-unicornist.  Or an a-Santaist.  Why call yourself an a-theist?

I get this a lot.  “Why do you worry about something you don’t even think exists?  Why call yourself an atheist?”

That’s a reasonable question.  People with no God belief may not call themselves atheists for lots of reasons.  Maybe they prefer another name like freethinker or agnostic.  Maybe they want to focus on what they do believe in and so think of themselves as humanists or naturalists.  Maybe, as the cartoon suggests, not believing in God is as irrelevant to their lives as not believing in unicorns or Santa Claus.

But I do call myself an atheist.  God belief impacts society in ways that unicorn belief or Santa belief could never do.  In the list of Christian excesses below, see if you agree that only religion—and not mere belief in mythical creatures—could provoke these actions.

  • The Pope says that condoms shouldn’t be used in Africa to stop the spread of HIV
  • U.S. preachers provoke anti-gay legislation in Uganda
  • Some churches forbid birth control
  • Stem cell research is held up
  • Young women are urged not to get the HPV vaccine that protects against cervical cancer
  • In-vitro fertilization, which has brought four million children to parents unable to conceive, is attacked by the Catholic church
  • Some Christians push for Creationism to be taught in science class, for Christian prayers to be said in public schools, and for the Ten Commandments to be displayed in courthouses
  • Christian belief seems to increasingly be a requirement for public office, despite the fact that the Constitution makes clear that no religious test shall ever be required
  • … and other excesses that come to mind for you.

If Christianity could work and play well with others, that would be great, and I’d find other activities to occupy my time.  But it doesn’t.

If you’re a Christian reading this, you may respond that your church doesn’t do this.  In that case, agree with me!  Agree that Christianity—in some versions, anyway—crosses the line and must be kept in check.

Artwork credit: Mike Stanfill

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  • Tony Davies

    Please add to your list, Christian opposition to abortion and euthanasia. It’s ironic you list the church’s opposition to IVF as an obstacle to childless couples having children whilst supporting abortion, an act which terminates potential human life at its very inception.
    The churches opposition to IVF is an opposition to science treating life as expendable. As in the creation of life in test tubes and then how does one decide which life to keep and which to toss. The sort of scenario that has been the subject of science fiction, life in test tubes bred for energy production or as worker bees The Matrix style.
    The point of atheism is that it has no moral philosophy, and it fails to see these moral positions that the church takes. That’s why you don’t understand why the church has a position on IVF and abortion and euthanasia.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      The opposite of free access to abortion is forced pregnancy, so I’m pro-choice.

      The churches opposition to IVF is an opposition to science treating life as expendable.

      I’ve heard this objection said about embryonic stem cell research (without merit, IMO), but I’m surprised to hear it about IVF.

      As in the creation of life in test tubes and then how does one decide which life to keep and which to toss.

      They’re cells. Who cares?

      The sort of scenario that has been the subject of science fiction, life in test tubes bred for energy production or as worker bees The Matrix style.

      You don’t like it, I don’t like it. Yay! Why bring it up? Seems like a tangent to me.

      The point of atheism is that it has no moral philosophy, and it fails to see these moral positions that the church takes.

      It disagrees with the church’s position. So what do we conclude? That the church must be right?

      And are you saying that atheists don’t have morals? That atheists can’t be consistently moral? What?


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