This one comes from Gilbrand the Mighty (name changed to keep the sender anonymous).
I attended your lecture at UNLV last night and enjoyed it. I should have asked this question but I didn’t (chalk it up to a phobia for public speaking)
As an atheist, the question I get the most the most from theists after declaring my disbelief in a deity is “Well, what DO you believe in then? You have to believe in SOMETHING.”
My response is usually something like “I believe in humanity. I believe in a wondrous universe it which I am lucky to have been born. I simply don’t believe in things that there is little or no evidence for.”
Unfortunately they don’t find this response too convincing. Any thoughts?
-Gilbrand the Mighty, Vanquisher of Evil
Thanks for the email, Gilbrand.
As for what atheists believe in, my response is usually “I’d put my stamp of approval on 90% of the things on wikipedia.” If I have to go into more detail I’ll usually say something like…
I believe that cell phones work. I believe that you’d suffocate if you spent too much time underwater. I believe that when humankind faces a problem, it has always been our own ingenuity that has gotten us out of it. When we were sick, prayer didn’t work so we invented medicine. When our prayers for food went unanswered, we learned how to farm and hunt better. When we wanted to see the stars, we conceived the schematics for a telescope that were nowhere in the bible. In short, I believe in humanity. I also believe in trees. I can touch them, see them, smell them. God gave me none of this evidence for himself, so he clearly prioritizes my belief in trees over my belief in him.
Keep on ’em, Gilbrand. Keep vanquishing evil.