We’re the Open-Minded Ones

One of the falsehoods some Christians love to spread is that “atheism is a religion.”

That, of course, is incredibly ignorant to say.

You show me real evidence of a miracle, you get your god to talk to me, you convince me the supernatural world exists, and I’m willing to change my mind.

On the other hand, how many times have religious people said they would stick to their beliefs regardless of what the evidence shows?

Creationists do it all the time — we show them transitional fossils and they find a way to dismiss them. It’s not limited to them, either. You show many Christians a reasonable explanation for their “miracle” and they still insist it was God’s Will. You show them a horribly misguided verse from the Bible and they insist it’s taken out of context or misinterpreted. No matter how damning the evidence is, they refuse to be swayed.

I know what it would take for my mind to change.

Ask a religious person what it would take for him to lose his faith and you’ll see who the dogmatic one really is.

Jessica Hagy‘s latest drawing explains all that in a much simpler way:



  • http://tonyryan.org.uk Tony Ryan – Coffee Loving Skeptic

    Brilliant. I will re-blog this :)

  • Nakor

    Ha! I was waiting for this one to show up here. :p I agree though, this is one of my favourite ones off of the site. The ability to change one’s mind is so vital. It’s the key to open-minded scepticism, and perhaps the single greatest reason science is able to succeed.

  • http://lovejoyfeminism.blogspot.com Libby Anne

    Thank you! I really hate it when people say atheists are actually the dogmatic ones! We’re NOT!

  • http://tonyryan.org.uk Tony Ryan – Coffee Loving Skeptic
  • http://justinvacula.com Justin Vacula

    I was debating with a pro-life person at a farmer’s market who was handing out pictures of partial birth abortions. At some point in the discussion, I was called closed-minded. I told her that I’m willing to change any and all of my beliefs provided good evidence, reason, and argument came in and asked her if she was willing to change her position on abortion. She said, “You can argue with me until the cows come home and I’ll never change my position.”

    There was much winning.

  • Steelcore1085

    I am a Christian and a Conservative, but I have never understood why some of us say that Atheism is a religion. It’s a belief, but not technically a religion. They don’t worship a god or read any holy books, they just believe that there isn’t any supernatural being or god. I agree with that part.
    What’s with all the attack on Christians though? All I can see is attack upon attack on them, yet you don’t give any reason why to attack them. If someone has their beliefs, leave it to that.

  • JenniferT

    The difference is: rationalists take the claims of mythology and test them against reality; religionists take reality and test it against mythology.

  • AxeGrrl

    Steelcore1085 wrote:

    I have never understood why some of us say that Atheism is a religion. It’s a belief, but not technically a religion…

    Actually, it’s the lack of belief (in god(s).

  • Kerri

    @Steelcore – What you see as an attack, I see as people speaking out for the first time in history. Nonbelievers of all stripes are finally saying that we are tired of being told we have to believe in what we see as a fictitious being or face ridicule, job firing, vandalism, etc. We are seen as untrustworthy, for no good reason. While there are atheists who actively voice attacks against Christians, most are just finally saying “enough already” and that collective voice is getting louder. I’ve been in your shoes… try mine on for awhile and you’ll get it.

  • jose

    “If someone has their beliefs, leave it to that.”

    The problem is those people who have those beliefs don’t keep it to themselves. Instead, they legislate to control the life of everyone else, believers or not. Hell isn’t enough: their God needs for everyone who doesn’t act the way he wants or does something he does not want (like getting married if you’re gay or having sex for fun or, some years ago, having a divorce or marrying a black person) to be fined and put in prison.

    Some people question this religious will to control everyone’s life, and the religious feel this questioning is an attack on them, because they’re not used to be questioned.

  • http://unreasonablydangerousonionrings.blogspot.com Angus

    To quote Tim Minchin,

    If you show me
    That, say, homeopathy works,
    Then I will change my mind
    I’ll spin on a fucking dime
    I’ll be embarrassed as hell,
    But I will run through the streets yelling
    It’s a miracle! Take physics and bin it!
    Water has memory!
    And while it’s memory of a long lost drop of onion juice is Infinite
    It somehow forgets all the poo it’s had in it!

    You show me that it works and how it works
    And when I’ve recovered from the shock
    I will take a compass and carve “Fancy That” on the side of my cock.

  • Richard Bass

    @Steelcore – Its hard to leave you to your beliefs when your beliefs are being shoe horned into every part of society. Kids are being taught creationism, we have to spend time, effort and money on “Religious education” and many other religious things. It is massively insulting to then be told “Leave people alone to believe what they want!!” Your religion is built on murdering people until the survivors were broken enough to believe what they were told to believe. Their children were forced into those beliefs from birth until enough generations went by that those beliefs became engrained into the family mind set. When religion stops imposing itself on the world athiests wont have to fight for the right to forgo the time/money/consideration religion essentially steals from us with sheer force.

    I hope that explains my view point towards your religion enough. I’m quoting historical fact, so if you want to read up on the Crusades and all of the events through history where religion has been pushed upon entire countries with brute force it is quite simple to and leaves no questions or “what ifs” we know these things happened, and they still happen today except this time it is more along the lines of “We’ll help you recover from this famine/war/catastrophe in return for your unquestionable faith in our group” The first aid workers into Japan after the earthquake weren’t people with food and supplies! It was christians with bibles! Leaping on the chance to convert people at their lowest time in their moment of desperation. I don’t see how anyone can be happy to remain a part of that awful “society” unless they are just unaware of how awful it all is deep down.

  • http://www.nowhere-fast.net Tom

    The thing is, it’s never an issue of belief for an atheist. If something happens that makes it clear that a god exists then atheists won’t begin believing because it will have become an issue of evidence. Faith will still have nothing to do with it.

    That means, to me, that I’ll never change my mind. If a preponderance of evidence exists that shows that god exists then I’ll accept that which has become fact. I won’t suddenly become a believer.

  • JW

    Hmm… Hypothetically you could choose to believe that there are no gods simply because it makes you feel better, and adhere to that belief despite evidence. I think most atheists feel the way they do because they simply could not assert the existence of any kind of supernatural without being intellectually dishonest with themselves, but that doesn’t mean that critical thinking is inherent in atheism itself. Maybe if we emphasized that distinction theists would have a better understanding that we’re not coming to this game in the same way they are, sticking to something simply because it makes us happy (though that might be a side-effect). Of course they could be obtuse and refuse to acknowledge that distinction, but every little bit helps.

  • Rosa

    I would actually argue that agnostics are the opn-minded ones because they’re the ones who are actually completely neutral, unlike atheists who lean more towards god not existing. I HAVE met many ignorant atheists before (and not only ignorant, incredibly rude as well)

    Just to clear this up, I am an atheist… not an agnostic. But I still believe that agnostics are more open-minded than anyone.

  • Otto

    I’m an atheist, and I’ve genuinely never been bothered by the claim that atheism is a religion. I’ll happily say that my religion is atheism. I assume that this is because I’m thinking of “religion” in different terms than people who are offended by it – and I don’t think my definition is unreasonable. I’d say religion is: “Any organized system that defines the relationship between humans and the divine/supernatural.” And, you know, atheism is a pretty organized system: it simply states that there is no relationship, because the divine and the supernatural do not exist.

    So, sure, atheism is my religion. Now, if someone wanted to argue that atheism is strictly dogmatic, or requires “as much/more” faith than other religions, sure, I’d have a problem with that. But I think it’s problematic to automatically label all religions as ultra-dogmatic. And atheism DOES a lot of the same things for me that other religions do for their practitioners: it influences the way I think about and experience the world, and interactions with other human beings, because I have a certain relationship with the supernatural – none.

    In fact, I’d say I’m slightly biased towards wanting it to be viewed as a religion (given an appropriate definition of the word), because of personal experiences that seem to demonstrate that people with beliefs in the supernatural often seem to genuinely also believe that atheists do not . . . feel. That, because atheists do not experience emotions filtered through faith, they do not know real love, or joy, or anger, or passion, or grief. I’m . . . pretty sure I feel those to the same degree as, say, Christians, and I believe our comparable emotional states are influenced by our different religious beliefs. If what it takes to explain that I’m human is an insistence that my “religious” experience is genuine, I’m . . . kind of okay with that.

    Okay, yeah, it’s semantics. But semantics can be important, too. It’s important to define terms, particularly when spouting off little triumphant one-liners like, “atheism is a religion,” or, “abortion is murder,” or “love makes a family.” Back up the truck and get the definitions out on the table, please. Because if a Christian is dismissing atheism by saying, “It’s a religion,” it seems to me that they’re automatically associating “religion” with oppression and delusion, which is, you know, kind of weird.

    I get the sense that this is an overwhelmingly unpopular view among atheists. I’m at peace with that.

  • Jamie

    A youtube user called QualiaSoup has two GREAT videos on open-mindedness and atheism. They are both about 10 minutes long but you should watch them if you have the time! Simply brilliant.

    Open-mindedness: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T69TOuqaqXI

    Lack of belief in gods: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNDZb0KtJDk

  • http://a-million-gods.blogspot.com/ Avicenna

    I do have one exception.

    There exist a lot of fairly intelligent people who support both religion and woo. Primarily because they are intelligent enough to tear apart any challengers to their own beliefs (The original assumption while faulty is sufficiently convincing to make them defend their beliefs) and at times eloquence wins over common sense.

    But yes for the most part ability to reason comes with the ability to change your mind!

  • Understand

    I find that some atheists can be just as dogmatic as some Christians. I was raised Christian (I’m atheist now) and I realize that there are some highly irrational Christians (most notably those who believe in creationism) but I think the fact that there are huge numbers of Christians who are also scientists, and who keep their faith separate from their rational beliefs is ignored too frequently. Calling all Christians irrational is itself irrational, as there are plenty of rational reasons to be Christian, and rational Christians. So just remember that no group should be defined by its extremists.

  • Rike D.

    @understand: What would you call a “rational reason” to be a Christian?

  • Bruce Johnson

    Atheists and agnostics have always been persecuted and treated with extreme prejudice.
    More so than Blacks, Hispanics, gays or any religious groups .

    As our former fearless leader one said, we are neither citizens of this country nor patriots.

    We are forced to carry money with ” In God We Trust” written on it, we are expected to include the ” One Nation Under God” McCarthism when we pledge allegiance to our country.
    (apologies to Mr. Bush)

    Running for public office? You don’t stand much of a chance if you confess to being atheist or agnostic…

    And so on Ad Nausium.

    So yes, it is time for atheists and agnostics to come out of the closet and make themselves heard.

    Imagine one thing: All the money spent on religion, the grand temples, mosques and churches. The endless manipulation of impressionable youth to believe is something just because they have been brainwashed since childhood.

    Now imagine all that money and energy spent on the eradication of disease ,hunger and the end of war.

    Screw your delicate sensitivities ye religious narrow minded bigots.

    Show me your God And I Will Believe. Otherwise STFU

  • http://hoverFrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    Not to throw a spanner in the works but atheism says nothing about how open or closed minded a person is. There are closed minded atheists and their are open minded atheists (and theists too). All that the accusation of closed mindedness does is attack the person rather than the argument. It is a simple ad hominem attack to distract the audience and the target from the real question.


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