Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What Is An Atheist? Common Misconceptions Explained

Because I've recently started coming out of the closet so-to-speak about my atheism IRL, I thought I'd better prepare myself to answer questions and comments from people. So I'll practice here. This is meant to be informative, so please read it that way. It's not meant to try to convince anyone to become atheist.

An atheist is simply a person who does not believe in things that cannot be proven. It's that simple but, of course, I will expound. The term itself is composed of two parts: a, meaning not, and theist, meaning religious. Therefore, not religious. Simple.

Atheists are the least trusted minority group in the world. Wow! That means that Americans are more leary of an atheist than they are of a terrorist! If a politician professes a disbelief in god, he will never be elected. How sad. We actually want our leaders to publically profess that they believe myths and fairy tales as being literally true. No wonder we can't find an honest politician. Maybe we should elect an atheist. He might actually be half decent!

Now a theist will argue right away that there is plenty of evidence for god. Or they might say, "You've never seen Australia, yet you know it's there." I won't expound on why that is an extremely pathetic argument. Or they might say, "Studies have shown that people with faith tend to live longer." This is actually true. HOWEVER, it only shows that people with faith live longer. It does nothing to prove that the faith you exercised was in a real thing. Maybe god is rewarding those with faith by giving them a longer life. Could be. Or maybe the feeling that some invisible dude loves you is what makes you live longer. Maybe it only proves that you are insecure and need an outside source to feel better about yourself, even if that something is a fairy tale.

To an atheist, god is just an imaginary friend for grown ups.

To an atheist, there is no difference between Superman and Jesus. They both fly around, wear a cape, love the color red, and save people. An atheist prides himself in seeing the world for what it is and letting evidence determine the belief and not the other way around. For example, the Bible tells a story of Jesus walking on water. Since that is obviously not really possible, it must be a made up story. Since a virgin can't be pregnant (at least not back in Jesus' time) then it must be a made up story.

Most Christians believe the earth to be about 6,000 years old. However, science has used proven techniques to date the earth to about 4.5 billion years old. Atheists tend to agree with the 4.5 billion year old theory because there is evidence to support it. The only evidence, so called, to support the 6,000 year old theory is a persons personal belief and the Bible, which, let's face it, is less than reliable.

For example: The book of Genesis gives an account of the creation of the world. One verse says that Adam came first, while another verse says that the animals came first. Similarly, one verse says god was pleased with his work while another says he was displeased. This is just one of many, many contradictory statements in the Bible. If it is god's perfect word, why does it contradict itself right from the very get go?

Not only that, but people are taught that the "good book" is god's word and that god himself is good. But those who have actually read it know that it is full of genocide, rape, murder, war, sex, etc., that is commanded by and executed by the very god who damns you to hell for those very things. For example, god gave Moses the Ten Commandments, one of which is, "Thou shalt not kill." But just a few chapters later, this very same god practices violent genocide and drowns all of mankind except for Noah and his family. The book of Deuteronomy gives explicit details of how to stone your child to death if he won't listen to his parents.

So, every time your child doesn't listen, you are supposed to hit him on the head with big rocks until he dies. If you don't, then you're disobeying the Bible. But if you do, you're disobeying the commandment to "not kill". So no matter what, you're disobeying the Bible and god will be mad at you.

A critical thinking analysis of Biblical stories, such as the forbidden fruit, the global flood, and even the birth and death of Jesus, reveals that they are really no different than any other myth or fairy tale that one might hear. Why are myths and legends accepted as such UNLESS it's from the Bible?

An atheist sees the world as it is, and not as he wants it to be. If you find $5 on the street, you just found $5. To a believer, it's a gift from god. To an atheist, it's finders keepers. Someone dropped it, and you're the lucky SOB who found it.

A common misunderstanding about atheists is that since they don't believe in god, they must have no morals. This couldn't be more false. In fact, an atheist would argue that the opposite is true. It was religious fanatics that destroyed the twin towers. It was religious fanatics that drove the crusades. Religion has been responsible for many wars and bloodshed. As seen on a bumper sticker: "The good thing about atheists is that they won't knock on your door and they won't blow you up."

Being an atheist does not require that you convince everyone else to become one. My beliefs do not require you to believe. In fact, you can believe any silly nonsense you want as long as it doesn't interfere with my basic rights to life, liberty, and happiness. I really don't care what you believe, although it would thrill me to see more people start thinking critically.

An atheist simply doesn't see any evidence of god. You pray for world peace, but there is still turmoil. You bless your food and I don't, but it still gets digested the same way by both of us. You ask god to heal the sick, and some get better and some die. I don't ask god to heal the sick, and I get exactly the same result as you do. What you see as 'god', I see as just life taking its course.

Another common misconception about atheists is that they are close-minded. Now I will definitely argue against that. Most atheists were believers at one point who were reared in religious homes. That means that they were willing to evaluate their own belief system, were open minded enough to admit that their previous beliefs were false, and form new ones based upon evidence. So, actually, it is believers who are, for the most part, close minded. An atheist is willing to change his views on life and religion IF you give him good reason to do so. (Hint: "faith" is not a good reason). An atheist wants you to prove him wrong, but since you can't, he remains an unbeliever.

Atheists just laugh when uninformed people try to claim that "evolution is old school" and "science actually supports the creation theory" and "scientists everywhere are accepting the theory of intelligent design" and other very silly claims.

No. Evolution by natural selection is a scientific fact and is universally accepted by the scientific community. No amount of wishful thinking is going to change that. But I have actually encountered people who have actually made these claims. Sorry. This is only wishful thinking by completely ignorant and uninformed people who heard it from their pastor, who is equally ignorant and uninformed.

A common argument against atheism is this: "It takes faith to not believe in god, so atheism is actually a religion." That is a really weak and pathetic argument. The claim that atheism is a faith is like the claim that bald is a hair color. Or that NOT collecting stamps is a hobby. Or that NOT smoking is a habit.

"You just wanted to sin." Yep, that's it. You got me.

With the discovery that religion is not real, also comes the discovery that there is no such thing as "sin". Actually, most atheists have morals and continue to be productive members of society. Why? Because most people, religious or not, have an inner sense of right and wrong. Atheists give service, do not steal, etc... not because they are afraid of the wrath of god, but because they are genuinely good people.

Imagine that! An atheist is nice to you because he genuinely wants to be! Now tell me what is so bad about that? Religious people usually have an agenda when they're nice... they're trying to convert you.

To all the people who write to me and wish that I could feel the god they feel and know the god they know, I have this to say: I am genuinely touched and grateful for your concern. I know that you find happiness in religion and I am happy that you do. However, the way you feel about the presence of god in your life is the way I feel about his absence: thrilled! It was a huge relief to discover that there is no invisible sky dude. I can now live my life without wondering every second if something I do is going to offend him.

God is not real. I have put a quote on my side bar: Santa Claus is to children as Jesus Christ is to adults. In other words, Santa Claus is the imaginary figure for children, and Jesus Christ is the imaginary figure for adults. Let's compare Santa and Jesus:
  • Both associated with Christmas
  • Both wear red and white
  • Both have a beard
  • Both give gifts
  • Both only help you if you've been good
  • Both are always watching you to see if you've been naughty or nice
  • Both have never been seen
  • Both are strongly believed in by their respective audiences
  • Both can visit every single house in the world in one night
  • Both can perform feats that would be impossible for a regular person to do
  • Santa can produce a crap-load of toys. Jesus can produce a crap-load of fish

Can you think of anything else that these two have in common?

How are they different?

  • Even if you've been naughty, Santa still gives you stuff
  • Faith in Santa pays off in real ways that can be proven (toys that suddenly appear under your Christmas tree)
  • Santa doesn't care about your money

I hope I've covered at least the basics of atheism. Because atheism is a personal thing (there really is no "atheist organization") it is different for each one. But you will find that most are very open minded, sharp thinkers, and willing to evaluate your "evidence". I have covered common misconceptions about atheists, why the Bible is not reliable, why the god of the Bible is a violent and insecure jerk, and how Jesus and Santa are really just the same thing with different names.

For quite a long time, I've wanted to sit down and write a good post about the Bible and share dozens of examples of why it should not be the moral guideline for our lives.

I hope that before you judge and condemn an atheist to hell, that you would stop and consider the reasons why he or she does not believe. Do the Christian thing and be nice to them. They are not your enemy. They simply don't believe in your god and that is no reason to hate them.



Dean said...

Nice job, covered lots of things. I see you have found the thinking atheist, he has some great stuff. Another good resource is http://usu-shaft.com/

Mormon411 said...

Thanks for the referral. I spent several hours on the SHAFT site. Looked pretty good. If I ever attend USU, I'll look them up and join them.

dp in ia said...

Congrats on starting to "come out" IRL. It was scary for me at first, but now I feel... wait for it... more peaceful. I feel more at peace in general after dumping Mormonism, Jesus and the whole she-bang.

Seems like you do too. :)

Mormon411 said...

It is scary but at the same time liberating. When I changed my religious views to atheist on FB, I expected a huge outcry. But only one person commented. I was expecting emails and phone calls, but got nothing.

Maybe they are afraid of me! Maybe they think they will get infected with the atheist virus if they get too close! LOL

Mrs Namibia said...

I would call myself an atheist, and live my life as well as any christians I know, without trying to make anyone else believe my own beliefs. You have made some good points.
Also, I quite like santa.