I myself am an atheist, and I applaud others for being upfront about what they believe, but I kind of bristle when I see suggested exchanges such as this:
Con: Why are you mad at God?
Pro: “Because he’s supposed to be all good but he doesn’t even have the common decency to exist.”
When I see that sort of speech, it kind of disappoints me because I hate to see otherwise free-thinking atheists 1.) engage basically only Christians and 2.) engage them on a level that supposes there IS a god.
Generally, I find the best response to ANY pro-god argument is to request empirical evidence that a god exists, and if they can’t, cease all other discussion. Until they can do that, you’re dealing in hypotheticals. When I hear atheists run off at the mouth about how “god didn’t do this”, “god did do that”, “the Bible said this”, it does manage to come across not as someone who looked at the marked lack of evidence of the existence of a god and simply said, “There is no god”, but actually IS only angry at Christians.
In response to this, I hear many atheists counter with, “Because they’re the only ones who shove their religion in my face!” Which, again, smacks completely of simple resentment against Christianity and not an actual solid disbelief in a god.
There’s nothing wrong with debating one’s point, nothing wrong with testing one’s belief (or lack thereof), but so many so-called atheists today only seem to think their atheism is genuine when they’re making it a point of contention against Christians. It becomes a political tool against the religious right, or something other than what it should be – a personal philosophy.
There really IS no reason to offer up any sort of coherent debate against overzealous Christians – or adherents to any faith – because none of those arguments listed on the relevant section of your site is a coherent argument offering any sort of evidence that a god exists. Any actual intelligent Christians or other religious people will do one of two things: accept that you’re an atheist and he’s a Christian, and let it go at that. Or, they will not offer up a single one of the ‘arguments against’ that you have listed. You’re arming atheists with what is basically just antagonistic fodder to keep a pointless argument running.
The last thing atheism needs is anyone starting up some large, militant, ardently vocal group because, true to human nature, it will turn into that which most “atheists” claim so much to hate. It’s pointless to hate Christians, to hate ‘God’, because if you don’t believe in one, then there’s nothing to hate. There’s nothing to be angry about.
So many atheists are angry. There’s absolutely nothing worth being angry over. There’s no proof of a god’s existence, therefore there is no god, we can all move on with our lives. Essentially, I’m not saying that hosting a gathering place for other atheists or offering resources to help atheists further understand and come to terms with their denial of a god – but the overall tone of this particular site is essentially that of the “He-Man God Hater’s Club.”
A creed? A list of ways to live that basically is just a mockery of Christian dogma? Come on. Building one’s atheism on the back of Christian hatred is childish. Stand on your own and be an atheist because it makes sense, not because you want to make a few Christians cry and stomp their feet.
Say it out loud: there’s nothing to be angry about.
Thank you for your note. Unfortunately, you’ve misunderstood the intent of the pages you commented on (although your misunderstanding is quite understandable).
The “Arguments” page is not intended as a “how to” guide for atheists arguing with theists. Instead, it’s sort of a “snappy answers to stupid questions” bit, poking fun at some of the questions that atheists have heard way too many times. I agree that actually using any of these items in an actual discussion would likely be unproductive.
You are right that merely gainsaying Christians is reactive, not thoughtful, and that being an atheist only to be anti-Christian is sad. You are also right that asking theists for proof of the existence of God is a good way to have a useful conversation, but I disagree that it is necessarily the best way. Many useful conversations can be had about the nature of religion within the context of religion, and I find that these, in many cases, are the conversations that are most likely to get a theist to really examine their beliefs.
When you say that there is no reason to offer coherent debate to overzealous Christians, I disagree (again pointing out that the arguments on this page is a joke). You say that an intelligent theist will either accept that I’m an atheist and let it go or will not offer one of the listed arguments. I’d say that you are incorrect on both counts. I have encountered many intelligent Christians to whom “accepting” that I am an atheist does not imply that they should not try and convince me that I am incorrect. And I have met many intelligent theists who have used arguments from my list (particularly the argument involving thermodynamics) — so unless you are defining “intelligent” theists as those who do not use these arguments, I’d say that you are in error.
You make an interesting statement that it’s pointless to hate Christians or God because if they don’t exist then there’s nothing to hate. Although I agree that being an angry atheist is generally pointless, I think half of your statement is incorrect — although God doesn’t exist and therefore should not draw our ire, Christians certainly do exist and sometimes behave in ways that will an atheist mad (for example, not letting their children play with our children). I think it’s fine for an atheist to be mad at that kind of “Christian” behavior, just as an atheist should be mad at anyone making large decisions that effect others but are not based on reason and compassion.
I would say that when you argue that god doesn’t exist because there is no proof of god, you are, unfortunately, showing yourself to be the kind of dogmatic atheist that you are otherwise so firmly against. Your argument is not logical, it is not scientific, and it is not compelling. Also, allowing this type of argument for your own cause implies that you allow it for use by others (e.g., “there is no proof of a universe before our own therefore there was no universe before ours”), which I don’t think you want.
You have also misunderstood the point of the Rights and Responsibilities page. It is not a mockery of Judeo-Christian dogma at all. Instead, it makes the point that those theists who say that atheists are evil and immoral are showing their ignorance of the fact that we all have a great deal of morality and ethics in common.
Anyway, most of your comments were based on a misunderstanding of my position, so I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts after you have read further. In particular, check out the Correspondence section.