BuzzFeed Addresses the ’15 Questions Atheists Are Sick Of Answering’

On Friday, BuzzFeed (AKA: the website that utterly consumes my downtime) published a list of “15 Questions Atheists Are Sick Of Answering.”

I, for one, am pretty pleased with the format.  Author Sean Curry used screenshots of actual questions that actual humans asked and answered them in succinct BuzzFeed-esque fashion.

Here are a few of my favorites:

I’m of the mindset that these little quips are actually super-helpful, but I am also the kind of person who thinks well in examples and metaphors. For example, I remember the first time I heard someone use the Zeus-type analogy, it just clicked in my brain and allowed me to explain to people how it wasn’t their particular god I was picking on; it was the idea of any god in general. (If I remember correctly, it was when I was listening to the Ask An Atheist podcast, and one of the hosts said something to this extent: “You know how you, as a Christian, think about Zeus, Vishnu, or any other gods of other religions? That is how I think about your god.” I actually yelled “YES” out loud to myself in my car.)

But that’s just me.  Does anyone think this sort of thing is counter-productive in any way?

About Jessica Bluemke

Jessica Bluemke grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and graduated from Ball State University in 2008 with a BA in Literature. She currently works as a writer and resides on the North side of Chicago.

  • Baby_Raptor

    That first one sounds like it was written by an utter prick. It’s the cough, it’s like he’s gloating over thinking he knows something we don’t.

    Also, I like how “Gracie” has an American flag as her background. I’ll lay money she’s a Conservative Christian who doesn’t think twice about pushing HER religion on others. After all, it’s only bad when non-christianists do it.

    • coyotenose

      I read that “*cough*” as the writer being an atheist who is adding in a well-known trope.

      Gracie might as well have her signature be “REALPARTIOT” (sic, caps lock intended).

  • A. Nony Mouse

    Love this. Wanta a pocket card of it, laminated. Or an app for my phone!

  • Paul

    The form isn’t counter-productive but I wouldn’t answer the questions quite as he does. Atheism isn’t a theory or belief but an observation that there is no evidence of any god. An atheist is without a belief that a god exists, hence the prefix “a,” which means without.

  • Paul

    To expand on my comment, saying that atheism is the theory or belief that God does not exist accepts a burden of proof. We say all the time that we have no burden of proof, and observe that the skeptic is not required to prove a negative. We simply can’t say it that way and remain consistent. This should be atheism 101.

    • http://twitter.com/seancurry1 seancurry1

      After posting the article, I realized that I had used that definition in #1, rather than “lacking a belief in God”, and saw the problem it kind of creates. If I could go back in time and find a different way to do it, I would, but the post is already out there.

      Personally, I define my atheism as “lacking a belief in God”, not “believing God definitely does not exist”.

  • http://fractalheretic.blogspot.com/ Fractal Heretic

    Why can’t an atheist hate God? The mind is perfectly capable of experiencing anger and other emotions toward fictional characters, whether we believe they exist or not. Haven’t you ever felt anger towards an antagonist in a movie?

    I think the usual atheist response, “No, I don’t hate God, I just don’t think he exists,” is kind of a dodge. You can’t blame theists for wondering why we spend so much time talking about how evil the Biblical model of God is while claiming not to believe in him. It’s a fair question that deserves a better answer.

    Yes, I hate God, even though I’m pretty sure he’s a fictional character. I hate the idea of God, everything he stands for, and the way the fear of that god twists the minds of innocent people and causes them to do terrible things in his name. I guess I hate God the same way some people hate Jar Jar Binks. That is, if Jar Jar were also portrayed as a genocidal megalomaniac in addition to being slightly annoying. And if there were 2 billion Jar Jar fans who keep trying to sabotage society. Ok, so Jar Jar is a bad example, but I just can’t think of anyone else in fiction who invokes the same level of frustration.

    • jdm8

      I think the trope is that *all* atheists hate g-d, the thinking goes that anyone that doesn’t worship must be a hater, or something similar. But I think you make a valid point, but it might be reinterpreted as you hating the actions of those that believe in g-d.

      • murphium

        g-d???

        • jdm8

          Leaving out vowels in a deity’s name is a practice that goes back to ancient Judaism. I like the idea, so I use it once in a while. But in all fairness, “god” or “God” isn’t the name of a god.

    • Brian Scott

      It isn’t a fair question because it’s not actually asked in the context that you describe. The context it’s actually asked in is not at all in good faith and charity: it’s a mere setup to “trap” (in the minds of silly people) atheists by “admitting” (again, if you’re a silly person that can’t separate map from territory) that their god exists.

    • coyotenose

      It’s funny when you put it that way, because no one hates Darth Vader, or Palpatine, or Boba Fett, or Jabba, or Maul, or Tyrannus, or even Bib Fortuna or Salacious Crumb. Or even the Rancor handler, the guy who trained and cared for a monster that chewed up helpless slaves for entertainment. But Jar Jar…

      And now I can’t stop mixing him in my mind with that Cesar guy and calling him the Rancor Whisperer.

      • CelticWhisper

        Hey hey hey, now, –I– hate Salacious Crumb. Ugh, that laugh. Most annoying sound in the world.

        “Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, aaaaaa-hahahahahahahaaaaaaaaaa!”

        Shoulda fed HIM to the rancor…

        • Bad_homonym

          Amen!

    • Baby_Raptor

      “You can’t blame theists for wondering why we spend so much time talking about how evil the Biblical model of God is while claiming not to believe in him. It’s a fair question that deserves a better answer.”

      No, really, it’s not. The biblical god is constantly held up as the absolute standard for all good, justice, morals, ETC, and and we constantly hear about how we need this god desperately to be saved from ourselves and eternal torture. Plus, you know, the fact that they’re constantly trying to make us live by what they think are his laws.

      So it makes sense that we would discuss how he acts, what he commands, yada yada.

      • http://fractalheretic.blogspot.com/ Fractal Heretic

        “[Because] The biblical god is constantly held up as the absolute standard for all good…”
        Exactly. And isn’t that a much more reasoned response than “No, I can’t hate something that doesn’t exist”? My point is that by stubbornly denying our natural visceral response after ranting about how evil he is, I think we only feed the theists fantasy that we’re just in denial or something. The more important point we should be clearing up for them is the fact that expressing dislike of a fictional character is not at all an admission of belief.

    • Gus Snarp

      I really don’t hate God. I think he’s a nasty, evil character, certainly at least the Islamo-Judeo-Christian God, anyway, but I don’t hate him. I do hate the people who would make up such an evil character and call it good. I don’t hate God, but I absolutely hate religion. It’s just a matter of focusing your hate where it belongs.

    • eric

      I agree with Brian Scott but with a slightly different take. The question IS a set-up and its not asked in the context you describe. Theists who ask this question are really assuming the atheist they are talking to is sort of like the literary satan: knows god exists deep down, hates that he’s in charge, so claims/pretend he doesn’t exist.

      This question by theists comes from an unspoken assumption that no one can really disbelieve, so the atheist claim is really code word for hating a being they know exists. The theist is not asking why you hate a character you don’t think exists; they are asserting that you are lying about your claimed disbelief, and asserting the motivation for this lie is hatred, and then asking why you have that motive.

    • C Peterson

      I might experience a kind of hatred or antipathy towards fictional characters while I’m reading: while a skillful author is manipulating my emotions. But that feeling is transient. Once I put down the book (or leave the cinema) the emotion is gone, as well. I’d say that anybody who genuinely hates a fictional character at other times (for instance, while discussing a story) might have some psychological problems. And I’d say that an atheist who hates God (as opposed to hating religion, or hating what God represents) not only isn’t an atheist, but is somebody in need of professional help.

    • Rain

      Why can’t an atheist hate God?

      They can, but when the question is “Why do atheists hate God?”, it assumes the conclusion that atheists hate God. It usually is not the case at all that atheists hate God. So it’s probably willfully intended to annoy atheists. Self-righteous passive aggressive question-begging at its finest.

    • Octoberfurst

      I don’t hate God because he doesn’t exist. I do however, hate his followers.

  • baal

    As it was done, I can’t see a down side that’s significant. I especially like #9. If the xtians would stop plastering their religious icons all over all of our (government) property, we’d stop asking for their removal.

  • C Peterson

    Atheism: the theory or belief that God does not exist.

    The thing about English dictionaries is that they don’t necessarily reflect accurate word meanings, they describe the actual ways that words are used. So most dictionaries include this particular definition of “atheist”, although it isn’t usually the first entry. As atheists, we should know better than to use it, however, because doing so makes us appear as irrational as most theists.

    Atheism is neither a theory nor a belief, nor is it restricted to ideas about God (that is, the Abrahamic deity). The claim is often made that there are “strong” atheists, or atheists at level one on Dawkins’s scale, but I’ve never encountered one.

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      Dictionaries also trail public use. Language evolves. Dictionaries struggle to keep up.

      • C Peterson

        True. Perhaps dictionaries should start marking the strong atheism definition as archaic or obsolete.

      • Kristopher Spencer

        That’s a major reason why online dictionaries, especially free ones like Wiktionary (which is seriously underappreciated), are better than printed ones.

    • Double Dealer

      Now remember, this will help you use alternate meanings of “atheism” depending on the argument you are dealing with.
      Very handy.

    • http://twitter.com/seancurry1 seancurry1

      After posting the article, I realized that I had used that definition in #1, rather than “lacking a belief in God”, and saw the problem it kind of creates. If I could go back in time and find a different way to do it, I would, but the post is already out there.

      Personally, I define my atheism as “lacking a belief in God”, not “believing God definitely does not exist”.

      Glad you read!

  • Urbane_Gorilla

    Nicely proposed.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    I’ve never seen #2 (Why pick on God but not Satan). What I do see a lot is: “Why do you pick on Christians and ignore Islam? Scared, aren’t you!”

    Not really liking the responses to #3 and #4 either.

    #3 “No idea, but we’ve got some theories”. is a contradiction. We DO have some ideas.

    and #4
    “The more you keep putting God in the parts science doesn’t understand and yet, the smaller God will keep getting”

    What?

    The only way I can make any sense of that is because I know what they’re trying to say. But they’ve butchered it horribly, smacked it onto a graphic, and hey! I made an internet thingy!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=13709847 Bryan Johnson

      I think in #4 that “and” is not supposed to be there.

      Rephrased: If you keep putting God in the gaps, he’s gonna run out of gaps to hide in.

      • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

        But it doesn’t help to remove it. They started out with a general “The more you put God in the gaps, the more the gaps close” but morphed into something else. It’s like the train of thought changed mid-sentence. When I do that myself, but then I usually go back and fix it.

        My own version I’ve used on here a few times is: “Science has corrected many explanations that were once attributed to God(s). Religion has yet to correct an explanation of science.”

        • http://twitter.com/seancurry1 seancurry1

          …there’s no extra “and” in the original quote.

          I WAS trying to make an “internet thingy”. I wanted to make something that would prove to be more shareable than “Science has corrected many explanations that were once attributed to God(s). Religion has yet to correct an explanation of science.” That’s a bit dry. I think the two phrases accurately convey the same idea:

          God/gods used to be explanation for everything, because science understood nothing. As science understood more, God/gods became the explanation for less and less. The sun used to be a god riding fiery chariot through sky, because the science of the time didn’t understand it yet. The same for today: “God caused the Big Bang” is a place God can rest in, because science doesn’t know what came before it, but one day it may, and then God will have to retreat further.

          The more you keep putting God in the parts science doesn’t understand yet, the smaller God will keep getting.

          • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

            Ah, I’ve got your parsing now. I was reading the ‘yet’ as a conjunction between the two parts, not connected to the “science doesn’t understand yet”. And and you’re right, there ISN’T an extra ‘and’. Mea culpa. I blame the font kerning :-)

            I agree mine isn’t “internet thingy-able” but this one still seems kludgy to me. Maybe it’s that now that I’ve mis-read it, I just can’t get my brain around it.

            • Bdole

              I saw the phantom “and” too the first time I read it. Weird.

    • http://twitter.com/InMyUnbelief TCC

      I think that “no idea” in #3 is better phrased as “I’m not certain.”

  • Art_Vandelay

    #6 may as well have just asked “Why am I psychopath?”

    • WallofSleep

      I’ve heard similar rants on occasion, and my response has always been “If your faith is the only thing keeping you from doing those kinds of things, I hope you never lose it. You sick fuck.”

      • Art_Vandelay

        Exactly. I’m not sure I really want that cat to grasp reality.

  • Miss_Beara

    Haha #6. If the only reason why you aren’t killing, raping, stealing and being an all around horribly awful person is believing in a god, you have some problems you have to sort out with yourself.

  • http://twitter.com/seancurry1 seancurry1

    Glad you liked it! I wanted it to be something people could take the images from and use them elsewhere if a situation called for it. Just simple, to the point rebuttals to common questions atheists get a lot. Thanks for the promotion!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tyro-Kathar/1539781848 Tyro Kathar

    Bigfoot is much more believable than the Christian god

  • Keulan

    Did anyone else notice that all those questions were asked by people on Yahoo!Answers? Is that site a cesspool of stupidity and ignorance or something?

    Anyway, great article, and I’m pretty sure I’ve heard all of those dumb questions and more just like them from religious people many times.

  • Georgina

    While I think the “attack is the best form of defence” answer to number 5 probably works well, it still irritates me that theists ask this question so often so when the answer is so obvious.

    If you truly believe that your murder victim is likely to end up in a wonderful place with their chosen god, pushing them off the board (R.A.H.) is less heinous than if you believe this was their one and only chance of a life and happiness?


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