15 Things You Should Never Say to an Atheist

The video below, part of The Atheist Voice series, discusses the 15 things you should never say to an atheist:

If you have additional items to add to the list, please leave them in the comments!

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the project — more videos will be posted soon — and we’d also appreciate your suggestions as to which questions we ought to tackle next!

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Bruce Scott

    I think that the title here is wrong.

    These are things (for the most part) that believers SHOULD ask atheists. Some (many? most?) believers haven’t thought these things through. They are normal questions that get asked by believers to nonbelievers all the time. A well-reasoned response to these questions will go a long way to encouraging the believer to re-evaluate their own beliefs, as well as to help the believer understand more about the nonbeliever.

    Those of us who are willing to discuss our beliefs should relish these questions. They are our chance to explain and educate. We should have both a soundbite short answer and also the ability to have a more thorough discussion about many of these.

    • http://www.twitter.com/alansimpson jediofpool

      Great point, Bruce. It’s all about perception. I’ve been asked all of these questions and on almost every occasion I found the person asking came away with a much better understanding of atheists.

      • Phalacrocoracidae™

        I get asked these questions by people who immediately block me on twitter — i.e. before I get a chance to tell them I think they’re a jackass.

        BEFORE

    • Aggie L

      The lopsided interest in atheists says so much. As a recovering Catholic, I have found my answers outside of the religious box. I’m not a believer; I’m a knower. Thanks, Hemant; that was a breath of fresh air!

    • rhodent

      It depends on the way it’s asked. Some people ask you questions in order to gain knowledge from you; others ask purely as an opening to impart their “knowledge” to you. Many of the questions on this list can be asked in either of these ways. If it’s the former, then yes, a patient and intelligent response can be a good thing. When it’s the latter, the only answer they deserve is only two words long. ;-)

      • The Other Weirdo

        “Have you heard about Jesus?” or “Have you heard the Good News™?” are both euphemisms for “Let me tell you the only truth about Jesus and the Good News™.”

      • 3lemenope

        Yeah, but it’s a question just begging for a snarky answer. That’s why I don’t mind the ones in the form of a question. if it’s being asked in good faith, that’s good, but if it’s a prelude to a Jesusing, the snark guns can come out a-blazing.

        [EDIT: Intended as a reply to The Other Weirdo, but still works.]

        • viaten

          I sometimes wonder about the effectiveness of snarky responses with some believers. It’s almost like they expect and are ready for taking the ridicule. It might give them a bit of a “faith high” and a story to tell their fellow believers, especially when they come on strong with the “witnessing”.

          • 3lemenope

            It’s important to go subtle with the snark. I try to pick answers that don’t seem problematic at first but will become so inevitably as the conversation proceeds. To avoid what you’re talking about it needs to seem to them that they made a mistake, rather than you tripping them up intentionally.

            • Phalacrocoracidae™

              wow. wow.
              That’s cool, if you can pull it off, but why?
              In fact, if you CAN pull it off, write a thinly veiled atheist book that somehow manages to sell itself to Christians.
              Please. Please do this book thing.
              I BEG YOU.

              • 3lemenope

                That’s cool, if you can pull it off, but why?

                Because turnabout is fair play. If a person declares their solemn intention to change my most basic metaphysical opinions, then I don’t feel the least bit bad futzing with theirs in the process.

                In fact, if you CAN pull it off, write a thinly veiled atheist book that somehow manages to sell itself to Christians.Please. Please do this book thing.
                I BEG YOU.

                This actually sounds like a really fun challenge. Write a book that seems orthodox and proper but actually undermines everything it seems to argue for. The instant snark reflex goes for “but that book already exists, it’s called the Bible!”, but I think one can do better.

          • Phalacrocoracidae™

            So why waste your time on them?

            You can’t tell me you have so much time on your hands that you want to talk to a wall.
            Ok, you CAN tell me that. But really you have about a hundred years.
            I am not sure I’d waste it like that.
            I can play Skip-Bo on my little Nintendo device.

      • Phalacrocoracidae™

        4, 3 if you use contractions:
        You’re a jackass

    • Phalacrocoracidae™

      You’d be surprised that they are being willfully ignorant in the face of 21st century technology, like, for example, google searching.
      I know you would be, because you’re kind of new or really really naive.

  • http://www.twitter.com/alansimpson jediofpool

    Great job, Hemant! Interestingly, when people ask me if I’ve read the bible, most of them have not read any of it. Rather, they only know what their preacher tells them is in the bible.

    • GubbaBumpkin

      The requirements are not symmetrical. If someone claims the Bible is God’s word and without error, they need to defend the whole thing. If I claim the Bible is imperfect, I only need to be able to point out one error.

  • cipher

    On the other side of the island the atheist baby is saved by a pack of wolves. They name him Paul (rhymes with growl).

    You can’t make up this shit.

  • cipher

    Here’s a question to ask an atheist – shouldn’t you be on your honeymoon?

    • GubbaBumpkin

      What could be more honeymoony than making atheist videos?

      • http://www.twitter.com/alansimpson jediofpool

        Fucking.

    • 3lemenope

      I imagine these were set for time-delayed posting.

      That way Hemant can be here, and on Youtube, and on his honeymoon.

      OH NOES, a Hemant TRINITY!!!

      • Tainda

        I just crossed myself!

        • Phalacrocoracidae™

          I peed myself.
          -r
          oops.
          I did it again.
          -=-

  • Bruce Scott

    Here is the list, via quick transcription:

    1) Where do you get your morality from?

    2) Your life must be so empty.

    3) Why are you mad at God?

    4) You can’t disprove God.

    5) What if you’re wrong?

    6) You just have to have faith.

    7) Just open your heart to God.

    8) You were never REALLY religious to
    begin with.

    9) What happened in your childhood?

    10) Have you read the Bible?

    11) I will pray for you.

    12) Do you worship the devil?

    13) You must really be an agnostic.

    14) Isn’t atheism a religion?

    15) Why are you so angry?

    • 3lemenope

      Thanks for the transcript; couldn’t watch at work.
      —————–

      Honestly, the only ones on that list that I find truly annoying are the ones that are statements instead of questions (and #15; #15 makes me angry).

      • islandbrewer

        (and #15; #15 makes me angry)

        Why are you so angry at #15?

        • The Other Weirdo

          Because 15 is a retarded asshole. We hate 15. It says so in the Atheist Manual™, so it must be true.

          • Michael W Busch

            Please find non-ableist jokes.

            • The Other Weirdo

              I was going to call 15 a motherfucker, but then I realized that it might be insensitive to those with unnatural attachments to their mothers.

            • 3lemenope

              Please furnish a list of words and phrases we are no longer allowed to use.

            • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

              Please. The people I’ve known who are actually retarded really don’t deserve to be insulted by being compared to some jerkass on the internet.

        • 3lemenope

          *QUINED RAGE*

      • Green_Sapphire
        • 3lemenope

          See? A famous atheist agrees with me. I’m stuck at work and still winning the day! ;-)

    • Bitter Lizard

      Re: #15–see questions #1-14.

    • Michael W Busch
    • Lurker111

      #12 always gets me. If I don’t believe in God, why the hell should I believe in the Devil? Logic is not these folks’ long suit.

      #11 The answer to this one is, of course, “Very good. And I’ll _think_ for you.”

      • randomfactor

        I like to say “Great! Prayers work much better when you say them while on a couch at the blood bank.”

    • Anna

      10) Have you read the Bible?

      What’s mind-boggling is that they don’t seem to understand how irrelevant this question is. The Bible has absolutely nothing to do with atheism. One can be an atheist without reading (or even hearing about) the Bible. It’s no more relevant to the question of gods than are the Vedas and Upanishads.

      • Phalacrocoracidae™

        So… have you READ the Upanishads?
        -r
        PS: no reason, some of that stuff is pretty cool.
        -=-

        • http://abb3w.livejournal.com/ abb3w

          Have you READ the Principia Discordia?

          • Phalacrocoracidae™

            Have you READ Harry Potter?

      • DaiCadno

        You don’t need to read the Bible to be an atheist but it helps.

        • Anna

          I’m not so sure about that. The Bible only talks about one particular god. True, it’s the god that happens to be popular in our culture, but if someone has a penchant for supernaturalism, reading the Bible won’t help them interpret the world in a more natural way. At best, it will make them realize that the biblical deity is cruel and vengeful and thus unworthy of worship, but lots of those people just create a warm-fuzzy god to take its place. And if someone has been indoctrinated to believe the supernatural is a real thing, I don’t see how reading an ancient scripture will disabuse them of that notion.

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

      Thanks for the rough transcript.

    • Intelligent Donkey

      11) I will pray for you.

      Pray for what, exactly? That I will start to believe in your god? Even when that is against my wishes, and would force me to abandon skepticism and rational thought?

      You’re not praying for me, you’re praying against me.

    • http://abb3w.livejournal.com/ abb3w

      1) Mail order. You send $10, a 3×5 card with “moral principle” written on it, and a self-addressed stamped envelope to

      2229 N Amherst Hwy
      Amherst, VA 24521

      and they send you back a moral principle for you to use. There’s also a bulk rate of a dozen principles for $100, if you’re really in short supply.

      2) If only it were; the cornucopia of folly that usually surrounds me can be irritating.

      3) Because a fictional character can be irritating without even having to exist, particularly if he has a rabid fan base.

      4) You can’t disprove that you’re a cabbage.

      5) Then it should be possible for you to show the error; shall we start with the Commutativity of Logical Inclusive Disjunction, and proceed from there?

      6) The Münchhausen trilemma leaves it unavoidable; but most non-mathematicians are surprised by how small the bare minimum is.

      7) Opening my heart to my fellow humans seemed to work better.

      8) Proverbs 22:6.

      9) I learned to ask questions, and that not every answer I received in return was necessarily correct.

      10) Twice through; plus selected passages associated with the classic Catholic liturgical cycle for a few decades, those from several years in a Christian school religious ed class, and regularly looking up passages for on-line arguments with people less familiar.

      11) I’ll think about that.

      12) Not unless you’re going to use a non-standard definition of “worship” worthy of Humpty-Dumpty’s conversation with Alice.

      13) You’d probably benefit from typing “agnostic atheist” into Google Image search.

      14) The word is used ambigously to refer to a religious proposition (that God does not exist) and to the proper class of religions that include that proposition. As such, it’s not properly a religion, any more than theism is.

      15) It’s a standard job hazard of IT work.

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

        3) Because a fictional character can be irritating without even having to exist, particularly if he has a rabid fan base.

        *cough*Twilight fangirls*cough*

  • JT Rager

    I’m about 1/3 through reading the Bible cover-to-cover, and it’s shocking! The first six books or so are either exceedingly boring lineages or descriptions of rituals, or they’re just story after story of kings leading violent tribes to kill one another. I’m not even exaggerating or cherry-picking. It’s by far the most violent book I’ve read, and I definitely think more Christians should read the Bible

    • GubbaBumpkin

      You forgot the parts about talking animals.

      • 3lemenope

        Just an ass, and just the one time. And the thing with the snake. This isn’t Narnia!

        • The Other Weirdo

          The snake talked, too, so technically, animals is correct.

    • The Other Weirdo

      I take it you haven’t read the Deathstalker series of books by Simon R. Green.

      • Fred

        The Deathstalker series seems to be an excuse to write a story containing every single fantasy and scifi critter in existence. Still its pretty cool, at least the first series.

        It has cybertech, ray guns, swordplay, tanks, AI’s, clones, psi powers, super powers, alien intelligences, alien infiltrators, ghosts, spacemarines, werewolves, vampires, robot people, world destroyers, ancient tech, lost tech, pirates, supertech flying space castles, juicers, dragons, hive minds, other dimensional versions of people, 4th column spies, personality implants, time travel, all that and much much more.

        • The Other Weirdo

          It’s also an excuse to write lovingly about brutal and gory sword violence in a setting with high-tech energy weapons. :)

        • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

          Does it have the kitchen sink?

        • Phalacrocoracidae™

          I think they cover most of this list in Doctor Who …

          • Fred

            Somehow a TV series spanning over 20+ years fitting all of that in doesn’t impress me. Do it in 5 books and get back to me.

    • Michael W Busch

      Just wait until you get to the 23rd chapter of Ezekiel.

      • C.L. Honeycutt

        23 makes it allll worth it!

        Wait, no. No, it does not.

        It’s still a better romance story than Twilight. though.

        • Phalacrocoracidae™

          “It’s still a better romance story than Twilight. though.”

          oh fuck… hahaha… lol. no, really.
          ps: it won’t let me hit the up arrow more than once.. wth?

    • Rosie

      Tim Minchin wrote a humorous song about it.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kr1I3mBojc0

      ETA: If you’re not familiar with Tim Minchin, you should be warned that all of his music and humor are NSFW.

      • Pofarmer

        Holy shit. The Pope song is great, and cuts right to the point.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rTIorwtJbhE

      • allein

        Not all of it…then again, most of the ones that aren’t are actually covers of other people’s songs*. So, um, carry on, then.

        *His cover of Crowded House’s “Better Be Home Soon” is probably my favorite. Also, “Not Perfect” is one of my favorites of his songs and only has one bad word (which he changes in at least one version of the 3 I have on my ipod).

  • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

    In the US at least- Have you heard about Jesus?

    Yes. Yes I have. I live in the freaking Bible belt. I could be blind and deaf and someone would have figured out how to tell me about Jesus. If you’re starting this conversation assuming I’ve just never heard about the most popular religion in the country, it’s going to go nowhere fast. Just … don’t.

    • islandbrewer

      But … maybe… you haven’t heard about Jesus in just the right way! Or maybe you need to hear about him just one more time! That’ll do the trick!

      • Artor

        Let me convince you with these Bible quotes I’m sure you’ve NEVER heard before!!!1!

    • Bitter Lizard

      It would be fun to respond with “no” and then act really grossed out when they try and explain how Jesus is his own dad.

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

        It would.

      • Phalacrocoracidae™

        …thinking of trying this one…

    • Ida Know

      I’m tempted to look at them all wide-eyed and go “Nooooo! What’s a Jesus? And what are all these big fancy buildings with lower case t’s on them, that I’ve only seen on every freaking street corner for my entire life?”

  • Robin

    My good friend asked, “who did this to you?” as if I had been attacked or something. She is a sweet heart and wants to be a preacher. I told her go for it if that is what you truely want. I think I confussed her. Not believing in a god and yet encouraging her to follow her dream. I think we all confuse most theist.

    • Tak

      Umm… she must need to re-read her NT because it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in church.

      • The Other Weirdo

        Even more so if she intends to presume to teach men.

        • Robin

          I know, but lucky for her it is a more liberal church. I will keep talking and maybe someday she will stop wasting her time.

          • The Other Weirdo

            How do they justify ignoring those clear-cut verses?

            • Phalacrocoracidae™

              yes! exactly

          • Phalacrocoracidae™

            Moderate religionists just lack faith of their convictions or they lack the convictions altogether. Maybe they just haven’t read their bible.

        • Phalacrocoracidae™

          (but it’s true)

      • Phalacrocoracidae™

        I’m so ashamed: lol

  • Rhiar

    I love it when someone asks me if I’ve read the bible. “Yes”, I say. “I’ve read the Jerusalem Bible cover to cover and I studied religions in college”. There’s usually silence from them. One comment – I find the music somewhat distracting. Perhaps lower its volume or eliminate it?

    • Michael W Busch

      I agree re. the music. I kept thinking that the adblocker had missed an auto-play ad somewhere.

    • GubbaBumpkin

      Oh the Jerusalem Bible? So you didn’t read the original King James Version to get God’s word directly?

      • Phalacrocoracidae™

        Did an ‘experiment’ using an online Bible search tool (use their own tool to make a point, yes, yes I did) — look up usages of ‘unicorn’ (or anything) in KJV copy/paste into a text editor, leave a space under each instance.
        Then do the same for the NIV
        Notice the changes.
        Ask any religious person to explain why they were embarrassed about the unicorns (or if it’s ‘just symbolism’ why it had to be revised)

    • Phalacrocoracidae™

      ((I remember actually thinking about the music early in the video; but then managed to forgive or just ignore it later. hm.))

  • ColinConnaughton

    Thanks to Bruce Scott for the transcription. I prefer to read. Re the one, ‘Have you read the bible?’:- It seems to me that most believers have not. Also, if one reads it one is much more likely to be a non-believer after reading it than before. I’ve read it twice and it confirmed me as a non-believer.

    • Robin

      The biggest problem with asking them if they have read the bible they always say “yes” but them you find out it was only during “bible study” and we all know how real that is.

      • Phalacrocoracidae™

        Like the points on Whose Line?

  • Cyanmoon1

    My personal least favourite: “But… what are you going to teach your children?!”

    • GubbaBumpkin

      Math and logic.

    • Bitter Lizard

      That if a religious leader wants to meet them for a “private chat”, run.

    • Phalacrocoracidae™

      …but they /do/ sincerely believe they /need/ some kind of religion. It’s why people can ‘convert’ from Catholicism to Judaism or anything else, it likely explains Scientologists and Mormons.

      Plus that community thing.

    • http://nomadwarriormonk.blogspot.com/ Cyrus Palmer

      The truth.

  • Kay Lorraine Sharp

    My cousin just said 3 or 4 of these things to me recently.

  • Naomi Lazarus

    And my crush on you grows apace…

  • Michaela Samuels

    In a slightly contentious, but mostly civil debate between a well-meaning Christian and me, an ex-Christian agnostic, I was told I was super sensitive to Christian observations that “99% of people are fine with” because I had a rough childhood with Christianity.

    Thanks for removing my ability to be contemplative and introspective on Christian ideals because I purposefully chose to leave the religion. Thanks for discounting the validity of my questions and observations because I’m apparently simply reacting bitterly to parts of my past.

    I left the discussion feeling rather depressed and upset that a friend of mine, a good and intelligent person, refused to acknowledge my response because decisively left Christianity. The only reason someone ever does that is because of poor emotional coping mechanisms, irresponsibility, radical skepticism, or logical fallacy, right?

    • Bitter Lizard

      Yes, it’s pretty common for religious people to make an argument along the lines of, “Religion hurt you in the past, so your views are biased and invalid.” By their reasoning, all they need to do is hurt everybody and religion will be immune from criticism.

      • busterggi

        No, they need to kill everybody who believes differently – that’s what blasphemy laws are for.

    • Pofarmer

      Or, maybe you just realized it’s all a myth?

    • Phalacrocoracidae™

      Alcoholic father who beats them and doesn’t attend church (may be what they’re thinking) — they need to read Mark Twain, too; I mean, that is, after they read their own godddamned bible.

  • Tim Marten

    Great video, Hemant; thanks for making it. I would like to respectfully suggest you mix the music up a little in the next video; the cycling of those same two chords underneath the dialogue got pretty distracting for me. No issues with the substance, though; well done.

  • Scott_F

    Here is a Pew survey showing that, indeed, atheists know the bible better than any of the christian groups: http://www.pewforum.org/2010/09/28/u-s-religious-knowledge-survey-who-knows-what-about-religion/

    • Bruce Scott

      I got 15/15! But I had a 50/50 guess on one. These seem way too easy. I’m surprised that the results weren’t higher. I have a hard time believing that I wouldn’t have scored pretty well on this even when I was a (teenaged) believer.

    • http://abb3w.livejournal.com/ abb3w

      Check the Pew report more closely. While atheists/agnostics did better on religion overall, on the subset of questions about the Bible, White Evangelicals and Mormons tended to do marginally better than Atheists.

  • viaten

    Another good, similar video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tU7TdZSRcpo

    • Makoto

      “But you seem so nice!” – yep
      “More faith not to believe” – yeeeep
      “Not meant to be taken literally” – yeeeeeeep

      • viaten

        “But you seem so nice!” Of course. What would you expect Satan’s elite to seem like? (And of course you wouldn’t say that.)

  • viaten

    I wouldn’t mind these questions if believers are willing to take the time to discuss them. I’ve had Christians say such things to me just before they make an exit, and sometimes I think they intentionally time it that way, so you don’t have much chance to respond.

    • Phalacrocoracidae™

      (Was thinking something along that line above when someone was talking like they think religious people act this way, say these things, as if they really ARE questions. They aren’t. At best they’re meant to be rhetorical challenges that are supposed to stump us evil stupid atheists.
      Irony …

      • viaten

        So they would like to think. Either that, or they expect you to play the atheist role and respond with the typical atheist responses so they appear all the better a Christian and can say they did battle with the enemy.

  • viaten

    “Where do you get your morality from?”, translation: “How do you scare each other into being good on the assumption you have no inherent reason to be good?”

    • Phalacrocoracidae™

      Recently I and a few other ‘twitter atheists’ are telling those ‘morality from the bible’ ppl we don’t want them to ‘deconvert’ or become atheists–

      “Because we don’t want you to kill us all”

      • viaten

        I suspect many Christians might think “If I didn’t believe, I’d still be a good person. But I can’t be sure about many other Christians if it weren’t for their believing.”

    • baal

      I usually reply with, “I don’t need a threat of hell to keep myself from harming you.” And if they are being obnoxious I add, “nor would the threat of hell stop me if I was going to.”

  • viaten

    One that I find odd is “But it’s in the BIBLE!!”, like even atheists are assumed to at least accept the Bible as some kind of authority, and expected to say, “Oh, well in that case…”.

    • The Other Weirdo

      The usual question to ask at that point is, “Where, can you show me?”

      • viaten

        And the usual answer is, “I’ll get back to you on that, but trust me for now.”

        But even better would be for an atheist to have a searchable, indexed, Bible on hand (there are such Bible apps available), perhaps with their own attached notes for just such occasions, and say, “Oh, you mean this verse, or is it this one, or this one, and what about these contradictory verses?”

        • The Other Weirdo

          My response would be, “I eagerly await your response, but I trust you’ll forgive me if I don’t take your word for it without evidence.”

          • Phalacrocoracidae™

            When you ask for evidence — even textual evidence that is so easily at hand — they start to get a little stupid, no really, after they give you all their song-and-dance about what is or is not in the bible, they’ll fall back on the ‘trust’ and ‘faith’ crap. It’s just such a sad thing to see a mind so completely over-run by mind-virus particles.

  • Michael W Busch

    Also, Hemant, re. your last point:

    Religious people aren’t doing “crazy things” in the name of religion. They are doing wrong things and sometimes bad things or evil things. Don’t make the mistake of conflating them.

    • The Other Weirdo

      Some things religious people do are bad, that’s true. Others are downright crazy, and also bad. These things are crazy and bad. Bad and crazy. Badazy. Some things religious people do are badazy. There. Problem solved.

      • Michael W Busch

        No. Stop using “crazy” as a punchline.

        • The Other Weirdo

          No. I won’t. I will not allow you to dictate to me appropriate language in your black-and-white terms. Words have meaning beyond your narrow definitions, and I refuse to bow to your These Words Are Bad For My Reasons And Thou Shalt Not Use Them Gestapo. We are not living in the world of 1984 where words were leeched of meaning, allowing for only the narrowest of expressions of thought.

          • 3lemenope

            It’s clear that to bend to such a campaign of language-scrubbing and political correctness would be crazy.

            • Phalacrocoracidae™

              I find it crazy-obvious

          • Phalacrocoracidae™

            amen, brother.

        • Artor

          “Crazy” has many meanings. If you can only equate “crazy” with “mentally ill,” even when that is obviously not the actual usage, then that’s your problem. It seems that this has been your problem for quite a while, and it’s really tiresome. Seriously, give it a rest. We’re not insulting or degrading people with legitimate health problems, only those who are willfully irrational.

          • Phalacrocoracidae™

            Gee. I wonder who’s the ONE person voting all these comments down.

            **Jeopardy theme plays quietly in background**

            • Bitter Lizard

              Yeah…it’s cool, Michael, I still like you and agree with a lot of things you say, but I’ve got to side with basically everybody else on this one. “Crazy” isn’t even a term with any real medical meaning.

        • busterggi

          How do you describe someone talking to people who aren’t there?

          • Phalacrocoracidae™

            Depends on if they’ve been prescribed meds or if they’re clutching a large book they’ve likely never read.

        • Bitter Lizard

          If I’m crazy, I can use it though, right?

          • Phalacrocoracidae™

            oh yeah, that’s allowed.

    • Phalacrocoracidae™

      But they ARE crazy.

      If the belief is irrational, then the activity to perpetuate it is irrational.
      It’s crazy.

      but not in a ‘take your meds, it’ll be alright’ kind of way. Crazy in a ‘why do you have bombs strapped to your abdomen’ kind of way

      • Michael W Busch

        No, believing something that is irrational and doing things to perpetuate those beliefs is not “crazy”. It is irrational. Not the same thing.

        And your attempted analogy is incredibly inappropriate.

        • Artor

          Dude, that’s exactly what “crazy” MEANS! I think it’s offensive that you are trying to misappropriate the word to apply to the mentally ill.

          • baal

            The attempt to change word usage to narrower than usual meanings should be done transparently rather than via arguing your usage is the right one.

        • Phalacrocoracidae™

          You have a lot of time on your hands, jackass.

  • K. Meiners

    Another one I hear a lot is why do you hate Christianity. Why don’t you pick on insert other world religion here. Why must you have a war against Christians.

    • Phalacrocoracidae™

      I once was suspended from Twitter for almost a week after a ‘discussion’ w a Muslim woman — how you can defend a religion that REALLY REALLY hates you is a shock to me EVERY TIME — and almost immediately was pulled into (ok, I volunteered) a conversation w a Christian and they said that; and that ‘atheists give Muslims a free pass’ — it was bizarre.

      “Oh the hell I do” my reply, “had I never heard of the religion of peace that causes grown men to suicide themselves in planes crashing into buildings, maybe, but not after 9/11″ — and anyway, deconstructing ANY religion hurts all religion; same as alt-med — that’s why those quacks sit at tables together and nod along w each-other’s foolishness.

      EDIT: (sorry) — and why religious people have embraced the whole ‘tolerance’ crap and calling atheists ‘intolerant’.
      Like it’s bad to be intolerant of people believing w/o evidence and murdering on behalf of a supposedly all-powerful being.

  • Jamie

    This post is great. It’s everything that I have wanted to say but could not find the right words. I grew up in a very religious southern KY family. These were all questions I asked MYSELF when I started to question what I was being taught. I can say it has been a enlightening process to go from close-minded southern Baptist to Atheist. These questions are still asked of me now when I visit my KY family.

  • Ida Know

    How about “There are no atheists in foxholes”, or “when you’re suffering/in trouble/at death’s door, then you’ll be sorry and call out to Jesus”, or whatever?

    Or how about reciting tired stories like “footprints on the beach” or “atheist professor gets pwned”, etc., like they’re some kind of gotcha?

    • Phalacrocoracidae™

      I’m rather baffled by the ‘no atheists in foxholes’ … if they have so much faith why even DIG the foxholes, why have armor, guns, etc. Shouldn’t their gods fix the fight for them, relieve their suffering, etc?

      No theists in foxholes. Not real ones anyway. Faith of a grain of gunpowder

    • allein

      Heh, I was going through some stuff and found my old planner from college (I was in school in the dark ages before smart phones and tablets and the like) and in the little business card pocket there was a credit-card sized “Footprints”…I wasn’t even particularly religious by the time I got to college. It’s funny to me now that I even had it at all.

  • Nick Wride

    What I get a lot is the horrified look and the “YOU DON’T BELIEVE IN GOD?????” type of response. Then, I’ll say “Wait, let me be a little more clear. I don’t believe in ANY of the MANY gods worshipped in this world”. The standard response; “But there’s only one god.” My response; “Of course, the one YOU believe in. Unfortunatly for you, the majority of the population of the world doesn’t believe in your god”.

    • Jamie

      I get the horrified look as well. A lesser person would immediately recant. I had a religious discussion with my mother who is Christian. We reached a point where what I was saying to her was really making her think and question what she had been taught all her life about God. The conversation ended there with her telling me I was going to Hell.

      • The Other Weirdo

        Reason is the enemy of faith. So said Martin Luther.

      • Nick Wride

        I get the “You’re going to hell” shit all the time. Well, fortunatly, I don’t believe in a hell or a heaven.

    • Intelligent Donkey

      I’m 100% atheist.

      Christians are 99.965% atheist.

      • Phalacrocoracidae™

        and Lysol kills 99.99% of ‘germs’

  • flyb

    I respectfully disagree with Hemant that, in some cases, these statements and questions are offensive and disrespectful (for me, anyway. I’m trying to think of something a person could say to me that would actually offend me.).

    These may be ignorant comments to make sometimes, but they make great discussion starters and excellent opportunities to explain and educate, as others here have said already.

    • baal

      I think the hope here is to help educate them so that they can get on with better questions and learn the easy stuff on their own. Also, it’s really good for atheists if think about the question of what is offensive and why.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      The problem isn’t the questions so much as the fact that the sort of people who ask them are incurious and not interested in hearing and absorbing answers. This one newbie idiot theist on FA has pulled the “atheists just deny God so they can sin” filth at least four times in a short period whenever stymied, despite being set straight by each person. He doesn’t want to learn; he just wants to cover for his cognitive dissonance by libeling… which, ironically, is him making denials in order to sin.

  • Tak

    Surprised I didn’t hear, “so you think everything exploded out of nothing!?” I hear that one All. The. Time.

    • Phalacrocoracidae™

      It’s true; but the weird thing is when they’re saying that, they’re making AN EVEN BIGGER burden for themselves.
      Instead of explaining ALL OF THIS, they have to explain this all powerful ‘first mover’ creature that they can’t even adequately describe.

      Headache inducing.

  • cary_w

    Very well said, Hemant! Except that I did actually tell someone once that “off” is my favorite TV channel.

  • GubbaBumpkin

    I hate unicorns.

    Aluminum and tin foil hats are out. Velostat is in.

  • C.L. Honeycutt

    Sometimes thinking about #15 makes me want to always talk to theists in character as the Hulk.

    Puny god…

  • momtarkle

    Will you come with me to a service at my church?

    • Makoto

      I used to not mind that one, personally, as long as it wasn’t frequent.. but most of the time I’m invited, it’s to one of the music sessions (to ease me into church by making it look hip, I guess?) which are always too noisy.

      I’d walk away with a headache and no desire to ever return even if they had no sermon at all…

      • allein

        “Contemporary Christian music” will make me want to run so fast from a church service. I went to my friends daughter’s baptism a couple months ago, and that was the part that made me want to tear my hair out…or at one point, start giggling (“You down with G-O-D? Yeah you know me!”). I should have thought to have a coughing fit (I had a cold so it wouldn’t even have looked fake) as an excuse to leave the room. If I have to sit through it, I much prefer traditional music. At least it’s pretty.

  • Jim Wheeler

    A very good production as usual. Please drop the background music; it’s an annoying, unnecessary distraction.

  • Mike De Fleuriot

    Anyone know of a theist version of this list of questions? What are the types of things theists say we should not ask them?

    • Phalacrocoracidae™

      Oh, they would LOVE to edumakate us.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      “Can you provide evidence for any of that?”

      “Have you ever read a book?”

      “Why does your argument rely on lying about my beliefs, deanforgod?”

      “Why don’t you remember and process things I tell you that you asked about?”

      “Did you know that before you were born, you had gills, a tail, and fur?”

      “Lot and his daughters: Missionary or Cowgirl? Because, y’know, he was pretty wasted at the time. I could see an argument for each.”

  • ufo42

    You just had to blaspheme against His Noodly Goodness, didntcha? :)

  • GirlfromGallifrey

    I’ve been told that I’m a terrible mother because I didn’t “let” my kid believe in Santa Claus.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      My first instinct was to say you should reply with, “Wait, what? No, I’m the father.” Then I realized that would be horribly unfair to you, because there’s no way you’d have a camera ready to capture the confused look on their face for posterity.

      • GirlfromGallifrey

        My mother-in-law hates me enough already; I don’t need to make jokes at her expense that she won’t get! ;)

        • Phalacrocoracidae™

          The person hates you anyway? Then you have a lot more freedom, let me tell you…

          “Not caring makes me free.”

          • C.L. Honeycutt

            It’s different when they’re family. Then they can make trouble for the loved ones you have in common.

    • Phalacrocoracidae™

      If you were a doctor, would you be a bad one if you ‘let’ your patient believe in homeopathy because ‘it worked’ for them?

  • JD5DAD

    LOL I’ll pray for you Yea ok and I’ll talk to myself about you to

  • Jericho

    But Christianity is not a religion! It’s a “Philosophy”! GREAT! Now we can tax you.

  • Jen

    “Religion” or being “Religious” is a mystery to me. It’s an unveiling and something you know to be True. Look at your eyes in the mirror-they are blank-no spark of “life”. I’ll be praying for you. And yes, prayer works. And reexamine the questions you proposed because they may be something you might want to put thought into and not give generalized answers to.

    • baal

      Been there did that. There isn’t a point to wasting the time to do it again. Have you considered that spending your religious time in either self reflection (looking for the harms you might be doing to others and then not doing them?) or doing actual good works (mow a neighbor’s yard or shovel a walk in the winter)?

    • Dez

      Yup tried prayer. I came to the conclusion I was just talking to myself. Anything useful like actual evidence?

  • Onetime

    I don’t even get angry with some of the things on that list. I try to be really tolerant. If people come up to me on the street trying to get me to go to church I’m usually suckered into listening to their story and then politely decline. If they’re well-meaning…I can usually deal with that.
    But.
    I was at the gym the other day. A woman started speaking to me. Super friendly. Then she asked me if I go to church. Ugh. But I politely explained that I don’t. I don’t follow a particular religion. She started to tell me about her story. She’s such a better person now, and her life is so much better (I’m still not angry). So I smiled and said “Well, my life is pretty great already”. She told me God had blessed me (still not angry). I smiled and said “Well, I do think I’m very lucky”.
    She responds with “Why don’t you repay God for everything he’s done for you!?!”
    Woah!! I’m now some ungrateful scum all of a sudden? That made me angry.

  • Verna

    What a great list that confirms just how insecure atheists are.

    • Dez

      Unlike theists that need an imaginary friend to get through the day. Right….

    • Matt D

      How sad for you.

    • momtarkle

      Fe, fi, fo, fum; I smell the blood of a kristy-un!

  • rogelio

    i am a bead-counting, wine-drinking, fishy-eating motherflipper, and i love your entries.

    you were just brilliant in this one!

  • Andrée-Anne Mercier

    Great video! Something i noticed lately about religious people as opposed to atheists: they are intellectually lazy! They go for what they like, and quit looking. Confirmation bias. Atheists do indeed often know more about religion(s) then they do! We (yes, of course, I am an atheist) dig until we are satisfied we found the truth, and then we keep digging just in case! No wonder smarter people (rigorous minds) are less likely to believe in a god. Religion is the easy way, the security blanket, the lullaby that sings about truth but never tells it.

  • Danielle @More Than Four Walls

    I stumbled across your video/site doing a good search on “never” but I was intrigued by your post and watched the vid

    I’m a Christian (I’ll hope I’m not blasted just for saying that…) anyway….. Your #11 – I must say, you are spot on

    If you’re sick, hurting or have a need….as a Christian I should be asking you what I can do (tangibly) for you to help you out. I can pray for you in my own time but meeting your needs should be my first concern outwardly for you. Meeting your need will mean more to you than praying. Most Christian, sadly, get this all wrong. We’d rather sound religious than actually do what Jesus commanded us to do – Love, and love is actionable, not just a nice thoughts.

    So I won’t pray for you but hey, maybe we can do pizza! ;-)

    • DavidMHart

      Well, it depends on which Jesus you listen to. The gospels are sufficiently contradictory that it’s not at all difficult to draw from them the idea that praying and believing in Jesus are more important than actually doing good stuff and making a positive difference in the world. If you have been led to the conclusion that doing good is more important than believing in Jesus and saying prayers, then that’s great; you are ethically a better person than those other Christians, but you are not theologically any better grounded than they are, unfortunately.

  • Hayley Howell

    i watched this and i would never say those things to an atheist! i am a christian, not your traditional christian as i dont believe in organized religion… and i’m extremely liberal. i know that sounds strange but the whole point i’m trying to make is, it’s not ok to say those things to an atheist it’s just as offensive as an atheist saying that i only believe in god because i don’t know any better because what someone believes is so personal. my fiance is an agnostic which is not only his religious point of view but it’s also a ‘lifestyle’ for lack of a better word. it’s not just lean to one side or another, being agnostic doesnt work like that. there are books on agnosticism he has that i’ve read, you should look into reading one sometime. it’s interesting stuff, not that i think it would change your mind about being atheist (it didn’t change my mind from my beliefs) but just so you have a better understanding of agnostics and what it really is and why they don’t ‘pick a side’, because the people who just don’t know if therer is or isn’t a god just claim to be agnostic, not knowing what it really is and that is what i think really bastardizes that word. anyway, sorry for the rant and i hope that christians and religious persons who need to see this stumble upon it and stick it through to the end. the key to living in peace is understanding one another. :]

  • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com/ Q. Quine

    Terrific video, Hemant!

    On the “agnostic” thing, I like to reply: “Agnostics are folks who don’t know what they believe.”

    As for adding to the list, I advise the religious not to bring up “Pascal’s Wager” which is an offensive arms race among religions to make up the very best ‘Heaven’ and the very worst ‘Hell.’

    For every implied assertion on the list I, simply look at them and ask:

    “Got evidence?”

    • http://star-www.st-and.ac.uk/~pr33/ Paul Rimmer

      As an agnostic, I would agree with your reply. If it’s about God, I don’t know what I believe.

  • amanda

    I got, “Well, you should hear MY testimony.” Ummmm, why? Is it full of all the evidence that no one else has?


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