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Stupid arguments Christians should avoid #42: Don’t worry about a god you don’t think exists

Stupid arguments Christians should avoid #42: Don’t worry about a god you don’t think exists September 23, 2021

It’s time once again to put on our neoprene waders and gas mask and step in, looking for the stupidest arguments by which Christians embarrass themselves.

The list begins here. We’re well past the original target of 25 and still going.

Stupid argument #42: Why do atheists worry about someone they don’t think exists?

One Christian source expressed it this way:

How can you hate someone you don’t believe in? Why the hostility? If God does not exist, shouldn’t atheists just relax and seek a good time before they become plant food? Why should it matter if people believe in God?

We don’t care about gods; we care about their followers. Gods don’t cause problems within society, but people who think they’re carrying out the will of gods do.

This argument seems to presume that Christianity is about nothing more than good works, community, mutual support, and other worthy aspects that no one would object to. It presumes that nothing bad comes from believing false things. They imagine that Christianity has no more destructive impact on society than knitting, but Christianity in America does quite a bit more than just good works. Christians (not all, of course, but many) love to meddle. They:

  • push for Creationism in public schools,
  • demand prayers at government meetings,
  • stand in the way of same-sex marriage and find other ways to make life miserable for queer people,
  • block the use of fetal stem cells used for research,
  • vote for politicians that they admit are terrible people simply because they’re against abortion,
  • make other attacks on the separation of church and state,

and more. And that’s just their attacks on society—within their own communities, people can be ostracized for thinking the wrong things or traumatized as children with talk of hell and demons.

Stepping back from this, we see a larger problem in that religion encourages people to accept things as true without sufficient evidence. They convince themselves that Jesus walks with them in adversity and that God advises them when at a crossroads, but this is just comforting self-talk.

When the mind’s drawbridge of skepticism is let down for Jesus, other ideas can come through with minimal scrutiny like QAnon and other conspiracy theories, evolution and climate change denial, vaccine phobia, and so on. Christianity is more than just a sweet old lady walking down the block to church on a warm Sunday in June or people donating to good works. It can be the gateway drug to sloppy thinking that’s much more dangerous.

Atheism makes sense as an organized movement

A variant of this argument wonders why we don’t see a parallel to atheism (an organized movement against something) with, say, stamp collecting. If it makes sense for atheists to get together under the shared belief in no gods, why aren’t there organizations, blogs, and lectures for non-stamp-collecting?

That sounds like a good question until you think about it. The comparison doesn’t work, so let’s fix it.

  • Make stamp collecting in the U. S. an industry with revenue of $100 billion per year, all of which is tax deductible, but make that revenue secret. That is, require all nonprofits in the country to open their financial records to show that they are worthy of nonprofit status, except for stamp-collecting organizations (more here).
  • Have the leadership of the stamp collecting industry meddle in public affairs (or get in bed with politicians who will do it) and have them complain when stamp collectors’ perks are attacked.
  • Have politicians allied with the industry play Chicken Little, pointing at teh Gayz or abortion or vaccines and insisting that the sky is falling. Only by electing them can society be put right.
  • Have the stamp-collecting leaders declare their organization to be supernaturally moral despite being riddled with financial and sexual scandals.
  • Amend Article VI of the U.S. Constitution to forbid any public stamp-collecting test of political candidates but make it a de facto test anyway.

Now that’s an organization that could easily have organized opposition. Perhaps now it’s clear why atheism exists as a movement.

This is related to Stupid Argument #24: You really believe in God, where we discover that atheists must believe in God because we talk about him so much.

Dear God,
Protect me from your followers.

— seen on a bumper sticker

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(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 4/12/17.)

Image from h gruber (license CC BY 2.0)
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