Atheists Deny Themselves This One Question?

Atheists Deny Themselves This One Question? November 19, 2019

I read The God Delusion just a couple of years ago. Yes, much to everyone’s utter shock and awe, I had never read it before that. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “what sort of heathen makes it close to her forties without reading this cornerstone godless literature?”. What can I say? I’ve been an atheist all my life in a secular land… I’ve never needed arguments against God. One can be a raging infidel and never read a single, solitary atheist book, didn’t you know? Now that I write as Godless Mom, though, I have felt more reason to read atheist staples like this Dawkins masterpiece and I’m glad I did. You know a writer is unbelievably skilled when you find yourself in the middle of their book, at 3:30 in the morning, sitting upright in bed with your body hair standing on end, mumbling, “What… the actual flip… are we?”. There I was at some ungodly hour going full-on existential dramakaze, shimmery book in hand, staring wide-eyed out my bedroom window as though if I looked long enough, the answer might come to me.

What are we?

Why are we?

These very same questions have haunted me my entire life. As a well-travelled kid, I found myself under the stars in remote places often, straining my neck to take in the entire diamond-studded night sky. I’d feel the questions bubble up and my skin would begin to crawl. There seemed to be an electric charge in the air as the words formed in my head,

What… the hell… is this?

It took my breath away each time as though I’d just fallen a couple of storeys and landed on my back, knocking the wind out of me. I literally forgot to breathe. These words. These questions. They are unanswerable questions tattooed on my psyche that don’t go away. I want to know. I want to understand. I want to believe that one day, just maybe, we actually might.

For now, though, the answer is, “I don’t know.” I don’t know what this is. This universe of ours is a colossal mystery and the awe it inspires simply uncontainable.

This is not just something I experience from time to time. This is a core ingredient in what makes up me. The awe and wonder I find in our existence on our Earth in our universe is something that I think about and feel daily. When I look at my kids or admire my cat; when I watch my dog frolic in the icy lake; when I look out my window from my desk and see the breathtaking hills ever-so-slightly dusted with snow. Even just watching Cosmos forces me to take a break and pace the room as my thoughts catch up to my beating heart. It is my make-up. It is who I am.

So, when believers assert that atheists don’t experience awe and wonder, or that we don’t ask ourselves these very questions I ask myself daily, I just have to assume the theist has never met or listened to an actual atheist with any generosity, ever. I don’t know any heathens who don’t have similar experiences to the ones I described above, and we cannot forget, I have always been an atheist, raised by atheists who were raised by atheists who felt and wondered just as I do.

Billy Dyer says,

Atheism, as a worldview, has a common forbidden fruit and that is asking the question, “Why?”.

First of all, atheism is not a worldview. While atheists do have worldviews, they vary from atheist to atheist depending on their thoughts and feelings on myriad other issues. Atheism itself is not a worldview. What atheism is, instead, is a response to the claim that there is a god. That response being simply, “I don’t believe you. Please prove it.”

Second, atheists do indeed ask why. I have been doing it my whole life. Asking questions is the basis of science, especially how, why and what. While not all atheists have a scientific worldview, I would venture to guess the vast majority respect the scientific process, so to assert that atheists don’t ask the question, “Why?” is unfounded and absurd.

Atheist don’t like to ask that question for two reasons:
1. They’d rather state their view then have to defend it
2. There is no why

Billy says this while filling the rest of his blog post with quotes from Richard Dawkins, who has spent much of his career defending his disbelief in god, to the tune of endless speaking engagements, countless debates and around a dozen books. What about Christopher Hitchens? David Silverman? Aron Ra? I could spend my life listing names of atheists who defend their lack of belief damn near every day. In fact, I don’t think I know a single out and open atheist who does not find themselves almost daily in a situation where they need to defend their lack of faith. I simply have no idea where you’ve gotten this unless it’s just simply an unfounded attack. I’d like to give you the benefit of the doubt, though Billy. You’re not just trying to attack atheists, are you?

As far as there being no ‘why’, I think you might be confused. I think what you meant to say was that atheists cannot find an answer to the question why. That is if you’re talking about the question, “Why are we here?”. The truthful answer to this question is simply that we don’t know. And we do not. You believe we have a god-given purpose, but you do not know that this is the case with 100% certainty. If you did, it wouldn’t require faith, would it? The only honest answer to the question, “why?”, as it stands today, is we don’t know. That doesn’t mean we stop asking the question. If we stopped asking questions because there was no immediate answer, we wouldn’t have electricity, Google, skiing, medicine or pulled pork sandwiches. Lacking an immediate answer to our questions simply means look harder.

The believer’s approach, on the other hand, is to make up an answer. So much discomfort is felt in not having an answer to our most burning questions about the universe, that literally anything is better than saying we don’t know to some theists, including believing a lie.

there is no rhyme or reason to atheism

You’re wrong, Billy. There is reason. I assume, now that I have explained it to you, that you understand what atheism is, Just in case you didn’t quite grasp it above though, I’ll let my good friend Mr. Oz Atheist explain it:

That is it. That is all atheism is. This is the only consensus among atheists (perhaps a few exceptions exist) and this is being explained to you by a third-generation atheist of 42 years. You have a choice here. You can accept what atheists themselves tell you it means to be an atheist, or you can make up your own definition and apply it to us as though we do not know ourselves well enough to understand what we do and do not believe. Either way, this is what atheism is to me and all the atheists I know.

Once we accept that definition of atheism, I can tell you that the reason I do not believe the claim that there is a god is that I have no good reason to. A good reason, to me, would be demonstrable evidence.

So you see, there is reason to atheism. I just gave you a reason for it.

What I think you’re trying to say is that there are no rules, no dogma, and there is no guidance for life within atheism. That is correct. Atheism is not prescriptive. It’s not a belief system by which we judge behaviour or make life decisions. There is no moral framework to be found within atheism. It is not something we “live by”. That’s why many atheists are humanists. Humanism is prescriptive. Humanism is a philosophy with which we can judge our actions. You cannot look to atheism for any rules at all to live by, as they simply do not exist. As I explained, it is the response to one question: Do you believe in god?

Your answer to this question is, of course, yes. That makes you a theist. Theism on its own, like atheism, also lacks prescriptive rules to live by. It is not until you divulge which god you believe in, that we know anything about your worldview and can take a guess at how you live your life. Like atheists can be humanists or nihilists or LaVeyan Satanists, theists can be Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Jews. Theism is the affirmative response to “Do you believe in god?” and atheism is the negative response. Theism does not offer a moral framework, nor does atheism. You need to seek those elsewhere, from religions or philosophies or evidenced reason.

Knowing this, Billy’s entire post seems to be one of two things: either he honestly misunderstood what atheism is, or he was just looking to cut us down using lies and misinformation. Either way, it’s nothing new.

How would you respond to Billy? Let me know in the comments!

Here, Billy, is one of my favourite quotes from Richard Dawkins:

“One of the things that is wrong with religion is that it teaches us to be satisfied with answers which are not really answers at all.” – Richard Dawkins

Book of the day:

Buy Me A Coffee
I’m writing a book addressing the many reasons believers distrust atheists. I’m around 40,000 words in! If you want to help me get it done, you can support me by donating here or becoming a patron here.

Image: Copyright/Courtney Heard


Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!


TRENDING AT PATHEOS Nonreligious
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Jim Jones

    > Atheism, as a worldview, has a common forbidden fruit and that is asking the question, “Why?”.

    Far from it. However when engaging theists, the question we want answered isn’t ‘why’, it’s “how do you know?”

    I ask “Why” when I’m studying quantum mechanics, not religion.

  • I don’t care at all about “Why”. If I did not exist I’d not have to worry about it.

  • swbarnes2

    To the authoritarian, everything is about making the authority’s opinion law and truth, and making sure everyone else knows their thoughts and feelings are worthless.

    So the authoritarian happily says that what makes things important is that an all-powerful God values them. God made a plan for you, and that has to be right! The authoritarian does not want anyone suspecting that there is no God deciding our fates, and they do not want people thinking “I know what’s best for me” or “I am valuable because I think I am valuable”.

    (Of course, the pithy answer to “Why” is “Why not?”)

  • Raging Bee

    “[W]hat sort of heathen makes it close to her forties without reading this cornerstone godless literature?”

    The sort who became an atheist before the book was written, and never really needed it?

  • Carstonio

    “Why are we here?” is not the same as “how did we get here?” Dyer is gaming the question so it presumes a deliberately created purpose. But meaning and purpose are not issued to humans like Social Security numbers. Each of us creates our own meaning and purpose for our individual lives.

  • Rocianante

    So the author here, proves in one of her quotes above, that she is not an atheist but an agnostic, which if your founding your position in logic and reason, is the only position you can take. I think Bertrand Russell captures the confusion quite well in one of his more famous quotes on his atheism. I’ve read an Article where he expounds on the quote provided below, in that he says the atheist is committing the same logical heresy as the devout believer. Neither has un-deniable proof for either position so the only position one can take, if lead by reason, is agnosticism.

    As a philosopher, if I were speaking to a purely philosophic audience I should say that I ought to describe myself as an Agnostic, because I do not think that there is a conclusive argument by which one can prove that there is not a God. On the other hand, if I am to convey the right impression to the ordinary man in the street I think that I ought to say that I am an Atheist, because, when I say that I cannot prove that there is not a God, I ought to add equally that I cannot prove that there are not the Homeric gods.

    — Bertrand Russell, Collected Papers, vol. 11, p. 91

  • Milo C

    Atheism is about not believing in a god or gods. Agnosticism is about not knowing if there’s a god or gods. They aren’t mutually exclusive; the author above states they don’t know and don’t believe. Bertrand Russell was kind enough to admit that he, also, doesn’t know for certain, which is a wise position to hold, but when giving his position in direct terms he is an Atheist.

  • Jezebel’sOlderSister

    Hey Billy, when one asks WHY (as in the mechanism, as opposed to any metaphysical reason) sincerely, which means to track the answer as far as possible, the scientific answers prove to be much more exciting, thought-provoking, confusing, entertaining, and awe inspiring than “God did it” ever could be. Additionally, the scientific method also allows us to see how we fit into the grand matrix of things — that although we are not the center, or the reason for the world’s existence, we still have an invitation to offer our fellow humans, and the other inhabitants of our particular corner of the world, to make our presence as unobtrusive as possible in order to provide a space for those who come after.

    My favorite quote is “We are made of star stuff” — Carl Sagan.

    I’m a secular humanist — i don’t really care about the god question at all. If there is a god, then s/he/it is a pretty pi$$y god and not worth my time or effort.

  • Jezebel’sOlderSister

    That would be me, too.

  • Rocianante

    Again, since the point of atheism is that your taking a position that you don’t believe and most atheists or non- believers like myself put the foundation of their non-belief in reason and logic, anyone who puts a line in the sand that there is no God cannot do that and say it’s founded in reason without being as un-reasoned and illogical as the devout believer who leaves no room for doubt. So the only, scientifically valid position founded in logic would be agnostic. Unless of course they have some irrefutable evidence that there is no god which as far a I know has never been produced. I believe there is no god as described by any of the worlds religions but I don’t have any evidence other than circumstantial and intuition to support that belief, so I will always have to describe by position as agnostic, otherwise I’m being as un-reasoned a# the devout believer.

  • William

    I’ve never read The God Delusion and, seeing what Dawkins has turned into, I’m not sure I’ll ever bother. But I’m with you on Cosmos.

  • ColdFusion8

    Fun thought experiment: The next time you go outside and look at the stars, don’t think of it as looking up into the great expanse of the Cosmos, rather, think of it as looking down into the vast void of space…and the only thing keeping you “tethered” is a tiny bit of gravity.
    Sorry, I do love me some nihilistic humor occasionally.

  • ephemerol

    I’m sure there are lots of good respectable heathens out there who haven’t read it. I, too, haven’t read it, though it was out before I deconverted.

    As a christian I didn’t see a reason to read it. I had heard Dawkins speak and I got the gist of his contention. I never thought about it during my deconversion either, but I in retrospect, it could have changed my narrative in ways that could have been confusing, as though somewhere in my subconscious I was trying to push myself into becoming an atheist, and that wouldn’t have been helpful at the time. I was engaged in a struggle that led to my atheism, but it wasn’t a struggle that, at least initially, had anything to do with atheism.

    The issue I was pushing was instead a religious one: “working out my salvation,” and figuring out why God ignored me all the time. Was I the only one who had such a bad relationship with God? A certain ways in, I began to sense how this process of trying to introduce some rigor and begin managing religion like you would manage any other project, which I initially expected would lead to establishing it, might instead lead to its collapse. But I experienced it as though I had begun to see atheism on the horizon, and if didn’t discontinue, I was afraid it was going to overtake me. I say afraid, because I didn’t relish the thought of losing my religion. If that happened, it was going to cause a lot of other problems in my life. But “having put my hand to the plow,” what kind of a coward would I be if I chickened out just because I was afraid the outcome of trying to do the right thing might not be desirable? What kind of conclusion could I draw about christianity if I had terminated a principled investigation because it seemed to be leading somewhere I didn’t expect and didn’t really want to go?

    So, yeah, it did overtake me, just as I had feared, and I became an atheist, but it happened organically, from interacting with the religion itself, not from filling my head full of someone else’s ideas and arguments that, no matter how true or how valid, weren’t authentic to me, or to my process. But now that I’ve been a principled and respectable godless heathen for some time, maybe now is finally the time for me to read it?

    Now my advice to other christians from my former fellowship is, if you want to stay a christian, just sit in your pew, keep your head down, don’t think too much or ask too many questions. Don’t do what I did. That way be dragons. Be a coward. Be incurious. Be satisfied with being a fair-weather, shallow, and in every way mediocre christian. There might be other ways to be a christian, but all of those are even worse.

  • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

    I left this over on Bill’s site…let’s see if it shows up:

    As an atheist, I can ask “Why?” as much as I like, and I do, very often.

    What *theists* (xtians in particular) aren’t allowed to do is answer that question honestly with

    “I don’t know”

    when it’s the honest truth, despite how much we might *want* to believe something despite a lack of evidence or actual counter evidence.

  • Anri

    An atheist is merely and only someone who lacks belief in god.
    This does not mean I believe god’s existence cannot be proven, just that it has not been, at least not to my satisfaction.
    Accepting that I do not believe god exists while accepting that this could change in the face of sufficient evidence are not at odds with one another at all.
    I am not agnostic as to the existence of leprechauns. I am entirely willing to say I do not believe in them. The fact that I am not willing to say they could never be demonstrated to me has no bearing on my current state of belief.

  • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

    Dawkins now isn’t Dawkins then.

    “Accept the genius, 69hate the son-of-a-69bitch if necessary”

  • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

    You’re not real bright, are you? (Bless your heart)

    https://nargaque.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/agnostic_chart.png?w=600&h=580

  • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

    I’m sure it was ironic and light-hearted, but you’re right, too

    🙂

  • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

    The pithy answer, per a collegiate legend, is also the only way to get a 100 on a philosophy test that consists of the single word “Why?”

  • Milo C

    I think we’re all on board here and just confusing terms. Yes, it would be illogical to say something can’t exist because one has never seen it. But no one here is using the term ‘atheist’ to mean that.

  • That’s an excellent point.

  • Yeah, why does there have to be a why to begin with? What if there is no answer?

  • Why not. Love it. I’m going to respond with that from now on.

  • Yeah, I didn’t even know who Richard Dawkins was for 35 years and I was an atheist that whole time.

  • Very much agreed.

  • Yes, I’m an agnostic atheist. I have made this pretty clear on numerous occasions.

  • Exactly.

  • Raging Bee

    …I do not think that there is a conclusive argument by which one can prove that there is not a God.

    There doesn’t have to be. The claim that there IS a god fails due to lack of supporting evidence (among other things); therefore there is no god. Same goes for vampires, werewolves, fairies, ghosts, monsters under your bed, and all the other gods ever imagined by any people anywhere.

  • Raging Bee

    Neither [atheist nor believer] has un-deniable proof for either position so the only position one can take, if lead by reason, is agnosticism.

    This is the logic used by big kids to scare the crap out of little kids: tell the little kid there’s a monster under his bed, then say he can’t conclusively prove there isn’t one, even though he’s looked under the bed countless times and seen nothing.

    The fact that you want to bring us grownups back to that level of gullibility, just to keep your religion afloat, really says a lot about your “values.” Go the f#ck to bed — or are you still scared of the monster under it?

  • Lord Backwater

    Yes, and then there’s the sort of atheist who was well into his 40s when the book was published in 2006…

  • Lord Backwater

    Congratulations on your self-refuting comment. First you state that the author is agnostic, not atheist. Then you provide a quote noting that the formal definition used within philosophy differs from that used by every day people. I don’t need to do a lick of work because you have shot your own argument down.

    https://images.daznservices.com/di/library/GOAL/a8/c6/own-goal_1xwzjnqig1v3x1l1k1nojv1mop.jpg

  • Lord Backwater

    So long as you own up to being agnostic about Santa Claus.

  • Lord Backwater

    BTW I do not consider The God Delusion to be one of the best books on atheism. For example, how do you write about the topic of religion and morality and not mention the Euthyphro dilemma?

  • Rocianante

    in Finance, we call that a hedge. In logic thats an impossible idea, because your stating a clear position that there is no god or creator of the universe and admitting you have no logical reason for that position, thus your agnosticism. It’s an oxymoron. Atheism requires a hard line of zero possibility of a creator, you can’t take a position of an absolute, no there isn’t and then say, I have no proof either way. It’s a non-sensical position. Lastly, that’s not a science based position but a philosophical one, a poorly constructed one. Nothing wrong with that but it’s not founded in logic.

  • Rocianante

    Actually he just was providing one definition, the first, for people with a brain and the other for the idiot masses, since, like you, they are mostly incapable of following logic instead of their feelings and beliefs. Basically, you just proved why he stated it the way he did, people like you are too dumb or uneducated to understand the first point. I believe he buried a bit of sarcasm in there. You did notice in his qualification where he describes himself as an atheist for the common man(uneducated), he admits he doesn’t know if Zeus, Apollo, Hades and the rest of the family sit on top of mount Olympus. So much for a hard position as an atheist in that statement. This is so much fun, to get to use some of this stuff from college I never thought would ever be discussed again. Even weirder is I’m arguing with people that I agree 99% with, just don’t like the imprecise use of words.

  • Same here. The closest thing I read to that was one giving a lot of flak to the RCC and remember to disliked it, as it was too vitriolic and full of ramblings. Until I began to visit RationalWiki did not even know of Dawkins.

  • There’s a paper somewhere in the archive of preprints arXiv that tackles the question of why there’s something than nothing and ends suggesting maybe the Universe simply exists by matter of brute force, as there’re no alternative.

  • WayneMan

    I’m always amused that many theist demonstrate that they do not have even the slightest grasp on the definition of an atheist. Or they do know and purposely twist it to support some bogus point. Atheism is a conclusion, not a decision. Faith is not part of that process, no more than reaching a concluding that claims of leprechauns are not believable. There is no atheist doctrine, no atheist rules of conduct, no atheist secret hand shake. After evaluating god claims, the conclusion is that there is simply not enough verifiable evidence to believe the claim; period. Poof, that defines an atheist. But theists like to add in various attributes that fit their agenda. We like everyone else may have our own ideas about biology, the cosmos, and global warming, but that has nothing to do with the definition of an atheist. We simply don’t buy the god claims.

  • TheBookOfDavid

    Asking “why” often contains implied assumption of active agency and intent. Asking “how” in its place merely expands the range of possible conclusions. Billy Drew’s straw atheist avoids the first one, not out of fear of the truth or any taboo, but simply to keep a more open mind, and reduce exposure to inherent logical fallacies like this one.

  • Raging Bee

    PS: re: your ‘nym: are you an Expanse fan or a Don Quixote fan?

  • Raging Bee

    …your stating a clear position that there is no god or creator of the universe and admitting you have no logical reason for that position, thus your agnosticism.

    That is a blatantly ridiculous and inexcusable misrepresentation of what atheists claim. And if you really were an atheist, as you so vehemently claim, you would not be misrepresenting, gaslighting, and talking down to other atheists the way you do.

  • abb3w

    As far as there being no ‘why’, I think you might be confused. I think what you meant to say was that atheists cannot find an answer to the question why.

    Alternatively, the problem may be that they do not find AN answer; and the multiplicity of answers leads to an objection not from there being no “why”, but from there being no UNIQUE “why”.

  • abb3w

    There’s also some who took philosophical roads less traveled to the destination.

  • abb3w

    Here’s what we CAN claim:
    a) there is no evidence for any of the gods ever imagined or worshipped by any humans anywhere;

    It seems roughly not so much that “there is no evidence for”, as that “there are better explanations for evidence purportedly for”.

    Less roughly, the colloquial notion of “evidence for” seems imprecise.

  • abb3w

    Atheism requires a hard line of zero possibility of a creator

    That’s one way to assign a meaning to this term. More widely, it seems intended to signify assigning the probability of existence as less than the probability of nonexistence.

    Cue Humpty Dumpty in chapter 6 of “Through the Looking Glass”.

  • Raging Bee

    Seems like roughly both to me. Thanx for the addition.

  • Raging Bee

    Atheism requires a hard line of zero possibility of a creator…

    No, it doesn’t. We can accept it’s POSSIBLE that there MIGHT be a god or two somewhere out there in this ginormous universe of ours, in a place we haven’t explored yet, while also knowing that none of the claims we’ve heard so far about the existence of gods have any substance or supporting evidence to make them worth our time.

  • abb3w

    Well, for a particular example, the Bible is in some sense evidence for the Ressurrection. (As Lionel Hutz noted, hearsay is a kind of evidence; and the Bible would even seem to fall into one of the FRE 803 exceptions to inadmissibility.) However, there seem better explanations for that evidence than the actuality of the Ressurection.

  • Ruth Lafler

    I don’t deny myself the question “Why?” I just don’t really care. It’s irrelevant to me. They universe is what it is, and it’s beyond comprehension. I am who I am and I live in the world that I live in. I don’t need to know why. On a more existential level, I don’t think there is an answer to the question: the purpose of my existence comes from within me — it is what I make it. And that’s true for each person. So there is no “why” — there are 7 billion “whys.”

  • swbarnes2

    If we could prove that the universe was the result of a dishonest pan-dimensional grad student sabotaging the work of a fellow student’s research project, it would still not help Christianity or any religion to be true.

  • Note also how all the arguments put forward by the apologists of the former at the very least rest on what it’s stated on their sourcebook, and removing it you can use them to pretty much prove the existence of any deity you can think of.

  • Brian Curtis

    Dyer’s routine–confidently asserting what atheists “really” think and believe, and then explaining why they’re so dysfunctional/afraid/angry, etc.–is nothing new. It’s the typical condescending B.S. we always see from religious nuts who think they understand everything when they don’t even understand their own arguments. It’s odd that Jesus never promised his followers mind-reading powers, considering how many claim to have them.

  • Terry

    My philosophy, don’t argue with religious nuts, life’s to short!

  • Robert Baden

    The demi-urge was a grad student?

  • Robert Baden

    Scientific proof? Well, until something shows up that makes you adjust your theory.

  • Carl Wiggins

    I really enjoyed that article.

  • rationalobservations?

    Rather than “argue” why not simply confound and contradict through evidence supported facts..?
    The entrenched religiot will usually respond with blanket denial – but they cannot unlearn that which confounds their childish superstitions and indoctrinated bunkum.

  • Rocianante

    I am a frustrated fighter of noble yet un-winnable issues. My bosses and father nicknamed me it due to my constant attempt at righting things which are just not reasonable battles to fight. One of my favorite short stories on the duty of every citizen to fix small wrongs along our journey is, Mark Twain’s( who integrated Quixotic characters in his books), “ Traveling with a Reformer”. It’s only about 35 pages and should be required reading for everyone. One scene has the Colonel whom Twain is traveling with notice the conductor asking a group of fellows playing poker to stop, it was against the rules. The Colonel asks the men to begin again and deal him in, the conductor stops again to stop them, the colonel asks by what authority, he knows they are traveling through a state or territory where gambling is legal, the conductor says its company policy, colonel asks what punishment or recourse does he have should theY not stop, conductor says none. Tells the men to continue but be quiet, the Colonel says he will report the conductor if he doesn’t do his job and stop them. Of course the conductor doesn’t know what to do, he’s got this crazy Colonel insisting to break the rules yet threatening to report him if he doesn’t, the Colonel‘s issue is what organization makes a rule, a dumb one at that, require an employee to enforce it without any way to enforce it. There are several other interesting anecdotes. Worth a read.

  • sneaker2015

    Surely claims like I see no evidence for…. or statements like I don’t know if ……are mutually exclusive,
    Materialists say there’s no evidence for the supernatural so they don’t believe in the existence of God which is pretty clear cut. .
    Why can’t atheists settle their own case in their minds one way or another without asking for proof from theists which seems something of a cop-out,
    Perhaps if they framed their arguments better they would be less confused.
    Was under the impression Russell was a hard core atheist going by a biography of a close family member.

  • Jim Jones

    > Why can’t atheists settle their own case in their minds one way or another

    We have. We just try to turn on the pilot light in theistic brains and see if they can get above room temperature.

  • Jim Jones

    > Unless of course they have some irrefutable evidence that there is no god which as far a I know has never been produced.

    God can’t exist because of Eric, the God-Eating magic penguin. Since Eric is god-eating by definition, he has no choice but to eat god. So, if god exists, he automatically ceases to exist as a result of being eaten.
    So unless you can prove that Eric doesn’t exist, god doesn’t exist. Even if you can prove Eric doesn’t exist, that same proof will also be applicable to god.
    There are only two possibilities. Either you can prove that Eric doesn’t exist or you can’t. In both cases it logically follows that god doesn’t exist.

    Further, imagine the greatest possible god-eating penguin. A penguin that existed and had eaten a god would be greater than a non-existent one that had eaten no gods, therefore a god-eating penguin that has eaten a god must exist.

    That said, a god-eating penguin who has eaten entire pantheons of gods would be even greater, therefore all gods have existed and Eric has eaten them all.

  • Jim Jones

    You might want to go away and learn English. At least until you’re a hell of a lot more educated in English than we are or maybe about the same.

  • Jim Jones

    (Looks like a 13 year old has had to stay home from school.)

  • sneaker2015

    Concentrate on yourselves, theist brains are doing just fine.

  • Jim Jones

    Every one of them is damaged, by definition.

  • Freodin

    Long story short: I would say there is no reason in atheism. At least, not necessarily.

    Well… linguistics and different languages and different usage of different terms… I know this might be an answer to a different question.

    The defining moment in my “athistic career” happened when I realized that some questions might be the wrong questions. That the question might not be “why?”, but simply “how?”. That it is a question about causes, not reasons. That, if there are no (ultimate/divine) reasons, the whole question of “why?” is just meaningless.

    That moment happened over a decade before “The God Delusion” was published. I read it anyway. It’s a good book.

  • rationalobservations?

    The thing that defeats all theological non-arguments that are generally based upon Pascal’s Wager is that Pascal’s nonsense is based upon the false binary concept of one “single” god or no “single” god.
    There are many millions of gods, goddesses and god-men among which the previously Canaanite god “Yahweh” and 4th century Roman god-man “Yeshua/Jesus” are nothing unique or original.

    Religionists Deny Themselves This One Question: What evidence is there of the existence of any of the gods?

    The odds are far from 50/50 (or yes vs no). The chances of any one of the gods or goddesses existence are millions to one and the chance of any of the gods and goddesses invented by men being anything but fictional are so remote as to make belief in one (or some) of them appear ridiculous to the third largest and fastest growing human demographic of the godless/nonreligious.

    Christians are often baffled how atheists could deny the existence of their god, “Yahweh” and their god-man “Jesus” but they shouldn’t be. Christians (and all other brands of religionists) deny almost endless thousands of the same gods and goddesses that atheists deny. Atheists just deny one more god than Christians do – (or is that three gods more?).

    Christians deny the existence of Brahma, Odin, Zeus and Quetzalcoatl. They deny millions of others including Pratibhanapratisamvit (Buddhist goddess of context analysis), Acat, (Mayan god of tattoo artists) and Tsa’qamae, (North american god of salmon migration). They also deny the 30,000,000 gods and goddesses said to inhabit the “sacred” cows of India along with countless gods and goddesses who inhabit other locations.

    Religionists of all cults, sects and brands and atheists are not so different, after all. Let us celebrate our vast agreement on the non-existence of so many thousands of thousands of gods, goddesses, god-men and other figments of human imagination!

    http://commonsenseatheism.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/gods.png
    https://external-preview.redd.it/KOR8lvX9Y6PmImGQxt5MDSKx8NPkVpQPCXZ8ZYAmpQI.jpg?auto=webp&s=a95d0284e01c903a7698f3c28db62a1b59518fa5
    https://pics.me.me/in-the-entire-first-christian-century-jesus-is-not-mentioned-17397524.png

  • Sporkfighter

    I have enjoyed all of Dr. Dawkins’ books, but for real punch, I find Atheism: The Case Against God by Gordon H. Smith to pack the most power.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7ef76d0e2380fb70377e476a4e6bc1ff16e7db1735f279d33ad3d5a9e462261d.png

  • rationalobservations?

    In many of the most advanced and best educated free, secular democracies of the developed world – religionism is the “minority viewpoint”.

    Even in the USA, only 18% of citizens of all ages can be found within a church in any given week according to the actual published attendance figures of the American Church Leaders organisation.

    By any measure, religionism is rapidly becoming an exotic and eccentric minority pastime but the democratic secular/non-religious majority have yet to be relieved of the undue and anti-democratic influence and intrusion of religionism into our secular lives and the lives and education of our secular children.

  • GW: Thoughtful essay. I liked it and mostly agreed with it.

    “That is if you’re talking about the question, “Why are we here?”. The truthful answer to this question is simply that we don’t know. And we do not. You believe we have a god-given purpose, but you do not know that this is the case with 100% certainty. If you did, it wouldn’t require faith, would it? The only honest answer to the question, “why?”, as it stands today, is we don’t know.”

    GW: Another truthful or honest answer to the question “Why are we here?” is “We believe we are the result of evolution over millions of years.” The theist should have much less than 100% certainty that there exists a god had a purpose in creating us.

  • ThatGuy

    For me “Why” is mostly irrelevant.
    At least until the point where we have EVIDENCE of the “why” along with the “how”. Until then it’s just speculation. And speculation was what I left when I became an atheist.

    Am I curious? Yes, but in the way a 40 year old who makes enough money to buy himself most things he wants/needs wonders what he’s getting for Christmas from people who make less or the same as him. No one has the cash to get me anything super impressive, and if they did I would be concerned they were spending money unwisely on my behalf. So whatever they get me will be fine enough, I’m sure. But I don’t have a desperate need to know it.
    Just like I don’t have a desperate need to know “why” we’re here.

  • David Miller

    At age 5 my parents enrolled me in kindergarten at a catholic parochial school. One day our science teacher was absent ill & the priest filled in for her. He told us the standard Genesis creation story of god creating the universe in 6 days & resting the 7th. I raised my hand & asked the obvious question of where did god come from, how did god come into being? The priest made me hold my hands out in front of the class as he hit them hard with a steel ruler as he said over & over “do not question dogma”. Angrily, the priest then growled that god has always existed, with no beginning nor end. I had no idea at that age what the hell dogma was. But I quickly understood churchlings can be savage when asked questions they don’t like & that it behooved my safety to keep my mouth shut when surrounded with churchlings. I also realized at that moment that the priest’s “answers” really answered nothing. If the universe needed creation, maybe god needed a creator god, who would need another, & another, & another, & another . . . ad infinitum. And if god didn’t need a creator, maybe neither does the universe. Maybe the universe has always existed, with no beginning nor end. These obvious thoughts I had at age 5 are as good now at age 57. No one has presented me a better counterargument to overcome mine. The worst thing is that if a 5yr ol could figure this, WHY do the adults dither in face of the blatantly obvious? The priest made me a little atheist.

  • TFCC

    “What atheism is, instead, is a response to the claim that there is a god. That response being simply, “I don’t believe you. Please prove it.””

    Atheism is not really a response, it’s not saying “I don’t believe YOU” as much as “I don’t have belief in God” (as the word is defined now days) and it certainly, by definition, does not include any statement of waiting for proof. Atheism is merely a state of being, and it can be wandered into as well as out of.

    Interestingly, technically, nowadays by current definitions, one could KNOW God exists and still be an atheist “lacking BELIEF”, because you know and don’t need to believe.

  • Raging Bee

    It’s so generous of you to come here and tell us atheists what we really believe! Now if only you could start getting it right…

  • Raging Bee

    Maybe the other adults didn’t get to see an uppity kid like you stand up to the bullies?