Reimagined and Revamped. Fighting the spread of nonsense often feels like a Sisyphean task. However, the joy is in making the information available, not the hope of conversion.

Atheists Perspective

As many of you know, I have no belief in God, or any god or gods. I spent many years, not struggling with this, but instead becoming comfortable in my realization that I am part of a very small minority of the American (and the Worlds!) population. For me, it was truly strange to see that theists can sway a vote in America, not based on someones ideas or experience, but instead, simply due to what he believes in without evidence, whether it is the god of one religion or another. Frankly, I found this situation appalling and am truly glad that recently, the atheists have decided to start making a stand.

There are two great books that I have read that really let me define and be able to explain my view better. These are End of Faith by Sam Harris and The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. further, in my quest to truly understand how it is that people can read a book and think it was written by an almighty being, I also read Misquoting Jesus, by Bart D. Ehrman, which is a primer on textual criticism and truly a good read.

In my blogosphere wanderings I came across this set of questions from the friendly atheist. If you read through the answers I think they capture an atheists perspective pretty well. Hurrah to
Hemant Mehta for compiling the list. I followed Berlezebub's lead and posted my answers at my own blog. Here goes:

  • Why do you not believe in God?
I cant find evidence of any god. The hypothesis is that an all knowing being out there who is capable of manipulating every single electron in the universe, but is not part of the universe and is in fact outside of space and time, is so complex, so outrageous, so huge, that it requires REALLY big evidence to support. I would take a giant hand coming out of the sky (with the correct Gods name on it) that comes down and crushes a mountain. If I saw that I would change my mind (and if there is a god, and he REALLY needs me to believe in him, now he knows how to get my faith).
  • Where do your morals come from?
Morals are generally innate. We have developed as a species and as a society because our base morals are part of our genetics (where else could they be?) Or if not ingrained in us biologically, then tendencies to create morals are ingrained in us genetically, for example, the will to listen to our parents. We do the things we do to survive and grow as a species. We know this because tests of moral dilemmas have been given to people of various religions, backgrounds and atheists.... we all score the same (statistically). So it really doesn't matter which book you read, you have the morals first.
  • What is the meaning of life?
What meaning? This question implies that there is a goal defined by someone.
  • Is atheism a religion?
Is NOT playing baseball a sport?
Is NOT collecting stamps a hobby?
Not believing in a god is not a religion.
  • If you don’t pray, what do you do during troubling times?
Try to figure out how to fix my problem. Talk with people, in particular my wife, about it. If there is nothing to be done about it (i.e. someone died), then I mourn and move on.
  • Should atheists be trying to convince others to stop believing in God?
No, however critical thinking and actual data collection should be taught far more than it is. Believing in god delineates a distinct lack of critical thinking skills. The debate is old, if theists actually had critical thinking skills they could make a better case, besides "God did it".
  • Weren’t some of the worst atrocities in the 20th century committed by atheists?
Actually, they were committed by people who didn't believe in the tooth fairy. These atrocities were not done in the name of atheism, they were done in the name of national pride or personal zeal for power. Shall I list the details of various of abortion clinic atrocities, or world wide suicide bombings, or a particular incident in New York on 9/11 that WERE, in fact, done in the name of religion?
  • How could billions of people be wrong when it comes to belief in God?
Yeah, its hard being in the minority. I think Copernicus, Galileo, Einstein, Bohr, Snow and a variety of others can feel my pain.
  • Why does the universe exist?
'Why' is irrelevant. 'How' is far more interesting and pertinent.
  • How did life originate?
I wish I were there for the first complex organic molecule to describe it. But alas, I was not, However we sure see a lot of complex organic molecules around. They all came from somewhere. A billion years is truly a long time for them to come together for the first time. 3.5 billion is certainly long enough to get where we are.
  • Is all religion harmful?
To whom? The people in the majority religion certainly benefit from being there. But ask the jews in the south (of America) how things go for them. Ask the Muslims in America how things are going? Or the Christians in Iraq. Plus all religions teach to have faith without evidence. This is totally different than prediction based on evidence (like the sun will rise tomorrow). This fundamental lack of critical thinking education simply puts religious people at a distinct disadvantage to those that employ these skills.
  • What’s so bad about religious moderates?
They validate the extremists. They can say trite things like "Well he isn't a REAL Christian", but that abortion clinic bomber thinks he is a Christian, even a better one than the moderate.
  • Is there anything redeeming about religion?
Religion has one significant trait that I admire. Sense of community. If I were catholic (for example) I could go virtually anywhere in the world, find a church and have a sense of community immediately. Clubs and so forth dont do this in the same way since there isnt a common set of beliefs that are common to say, all hikers or poker players. Other than that, I dont really see a need for it, it just takes rational conversation off to never never land.
  • What if you’re wrong about God (and He does exist)?
Im not worried about this at all. If he is a just God, then he will know that my belief arose from the lack of data he provided to me and he will know that I am a good person and that go out of my way to help others and so forth. If he is a petty and unjust god, then he wouldn't have been my god and either way I would be condemned to hell regardless. Besides how good can a heaven made by an unjust god really be?
  • Shouldn’t all religious beliefs be respected?
Oh yeah? We should respect the Raelians? Branch Davidians? Fundamentalist Islam? No, all religions base their foundation in the gullibility of most people and the pursuit of power. This is not a respectable endeavor.
  • Are atheists smarter than theists?
We are less gullible because we require proof before we believe things. That does not make us smarter, per se, we just have a smarter method of going through life.
  • How do you deal with the historical Jesus if you don’t believe in his divinity?
What is there to deal with? He is dead. He had a few laughs, hung out with the guys, told some good stories. So did Ghandi, MLK, and all of the Dalai Lamas.
  • Would the world be better off without any religion?
Only if we were able to teach critical thinking better. Otherwise most of the population will simply replace religion with other nonsense like The Secret, space aliens, or anything Deepak Chopra has to offer.
  • What happens when we die?
Worm Food! Enjoy your life, you have only 70 years to do everything and make your mark!

There are many other answers at the friendly atheists site. I think taken together you may get a good feeling of the general mindset of many atheists.

4 comments:

On 7/27/07, 6:46 AM , Berlzebub said...

Yeah yeah yeah... There's no evidence for God. (blah blah blah)

Now, deal with something really contraversial. What's your stance on cilantro?

 
On 7/28/07, 8:08 AM , Techskeptic said...

LOL, I told you, you are missing an enzyme that allows you to enjoy a nice salsa!

I believe its called cilantronaze.

you may hate cilantro and think it isnt food.....

But jazz is not music
http://www.rodneyanonymous.com/archives/00000010.htm

 
On 9/6/07, 4:51 PM , tina said...

Was it okay to borrow a question and answer that you gave? I posted my source and credited it to you. I loved your answers to all those questions.

 
On 9/6/07, 6:55 PM , Techskeptic said...

OF COURSE tina! I'm glad you found some of my blathering useful. I dont post often, but its nice to see a couple of people read this.