February 2007

Now that I have this blog, I’m going to try and publish little items once and a while that aren’t correspondence. I thought I’d start by going through all of the “arguments against atheism” on IAmAnAtheist.com and giving examples of why I really might respond to them (as opposed to the silly responses currently listed).

For atheists, most of this will be old hat, but if you have examples of how you responded to some of these, I’d like to hear them (and about the theist’s response). I’m not necessarily looking for incidents in which you “blew someone away” with your great response (although that’s fine), but am instead interested in whether you got an honest response, whether the theist had an interesting counter, etc.

For theists, if you have heard an atheist respond to one of these arguments, I’d like to hear about it. I’d particularly be entertained if you heard an atheist respond badly to a pro-theist argument, but anything interesting or thought provoking is fair game.

So, with that in mind, here we go!

The Bible says that atheism is wrong.

Does it say why atheism is wrong?

(or)

I don’t agree with the Bible about whether many things are right or wrong. For example, I’d say that some of King David’s behavior was wrong, but the Bible doesn’t seem to disapprove of it.

If you believe in God and are wrong, then it’s no big deal, but if you don’t believe in God and are wrong, you’ll be punished eternally, so it’s not a good idea to be an atheist.

You talk as if the only choices were to believe or disbelieve in the God of your religion. Really, there are many other choices, including the Gods of other religions and the possibility that there is a God but that he isn’t what you think he is at all. For example, maybe God loves intellectual honesty more than he loves worship based on fear?

Deep down you really believe in God.

That’s pretty insulting. How would you feel if I said that deep down inside you really didn’t believe in God? Arguing in this way isn’t going to get us anywhere.

You’re only saying you’re an atheist to rebel against authority.

I don’t consider myself a rebel. Whose authority do you think I’m rebelling against?

(or)

I don’t feel like I’m rebelling against anything. And it’s odd that you would speak out against rebelling against authority, since it seems to me that is what Jesus’ followers were doing.

You probably are an atheist because you had a bad experience as a child.

I can’t think of any bad experiences I had as a child that had anything to do with religion. Are you religious because of something that happened to you as a child?

There are no atheists in foxholes.

Are you implying that everyone gets religion when under stress? And do you think that people who think they’re going to die are thinking clearly?

(or)

I doubt that’s true, and in any case I wouldn’t go by what people say when they think they’re going to die. I’m sure that there are many religious people who, facing death, have doubts. “My God, why have you forsaken me,” comes to mind.

If you don’t believe in God, you’ll go to Hell!

I doubt that. In any case, I think it’s just as possible that I’d go to hell by saying that I believe in Jesus just to avoid punishment for sins.

Why are you mad at God?

I’m not. What makes you think I am?

Atheists are Satanic.

Atheists don’t believe in Satan, so it makes no sense to say that we are Satanic.

(or)

That’s like saying anarchists are friends of big government.

Without God there is no morality.

How do you know what is right or wrong?

(or)

It is perfectly possible to be moral without God, unless you are defining atheism as immorality.

God is perfect, and He couldn’t be perfect if He didn’t exist, which proves that He exists.

You can’t prove that something exists or does not exist with word games.

(or)

That’s not a coherent argument. Arguing along those same lines, I could say that Athena is the most beautiful woman, and she wouldn’t be the most beautiful if she didn’t exist, therefore she exists.

People who follow Jesus are good, so you should follow Jesus.

There are plenty of people who don’t follow Jesus and are good, just as there are plenty of people who say they follow Jesus and are bad.

(or)

I can be good without following your religion.

(or)

If I said that Mormons were good, would you become a Mormon?

Jesus was either a liar, a crazy person, or the son of God. He spoke against liars, and his behavior wasn’t crazy, so the only remaining possibility is that he was the son of God.

There are other possibilities. For example, he could have been a perfectly nice guy that a lot of stories grew up around, or he might not have existed in the first place.

(or)

Descriptions of Jesus’ life are so hard for me to accept at face value, that I wouldn’t want to make definite statements about his mental state or behavior.

There were eye witnesses that Jesus worked miracles.

Eye witnesses are sometimes terrible evidence. There are many eye witnesses of UFOs, for example.

(or)

I think that the evidence for those eye witnesses is a bit dubious.

Most people who know about Jesus believe in Him.

That depends on what you mean by “believe.” Muslems believe that Jesus was holy but don’t worship him.

I know from personal experience that God exists.

That might be a good reason for you to believe in God, but it isn’t very compelling to me.

God wants you to believe in him without rational proof.

Why?

(or)

Wouldn’t God prefer that I use the brain he gave me?

You say you don’t believe that God exists, but the word “God” is meaningless if there is no such thing, so you are admitting that God exists even as you deny his existence.

What do you mean when you say the word “God”?

(or)

You can’t prove that something exists with a semantic trick. Speaking about dragons doesn’t cause them to exist.

Hitler was an atheist.

I don’t worry too much about the philosophical beliefs of crazy people.

(or)

That’s irrelevant. If a serial killer said he was a Christian, would you change your religion?

Einstein believed in God. Do you think you’re smarter than Einstein?

I’m not sure that’s a true statement about Einstein. Even if it is, I don’t consider Einstein an authority on religious matters.

The founding fathers intended the United States to be a Christian nation. Atheists aren’t welcome.

The founding fathers were mainly deists. They wouldn’t agree with your religion, either.

(or)

Actually, I think that if the founding fathers had today’s scientific knowledge, they’d probably be atheists.

(or)

Thomas Jefferson didn’t even think that Jesus worked miracles. How was he a Christian?

The universe is so complex that someone must have designed it.

I think that a natural explanation is much more likely.

Atheists believe in evolution, but if we teach our children evolution in public school they will believe that they are no better than animals and will grow up immoral.

Even if that were true, it wouldn’t prove anything about atheism. Saying that the truth has bad consequences doesn’t make it not the truth.

Evolution violates the second law of thermodynamics.

How would you define the second law or thermodynamics?

(or)

Do you agree that the second law of thermodynamics is true?

Well, evolution’s only a theory.

Everything in science is a theory. That’s just part of scientific vocabulary.

(or)

It’s also one of the most heavily validated theories in science.

How can you not believe in Jesus Christ when the evidence is overwhelming?

What evidence do you mean?

There’s proof that God exists, like the Bible and miracles.

I don’t think the Bible is reliable as proof of the existence of God. There are too many mundane ways it could have come into existence.

(or)

What miracles do you mean?

My parents raised me to believe in God. Are you calling my parents liars?

Your parents can be wrong without being liars.

There are so many wonderful things in the world, how can you say there is no God?

I don’t say that there is no God, and in any case I think it’s pretty wonderful that all of these things came about without divine intervention.

There is so much beauty in the world that only God could have created it.

Would you say the same about ugliness?

(or)

I think we know enough about where things come from that it’s not necessary to assume everything was designed by God.

If there is no Heaven, then where do you go when you die?

The same place you were before you were born.

You can’t prove God doesn’t exist.

That’s true, and I don’t try to.

You don’t know everything.

That’s true, and I don’t pretend to.

You can’t see air, but you believe in it.

I can feel air and I can perform scientific tests to detect it.

You can’t see love, but you believe in it.

I believe in an emotion called love. I also think that some beliefs in God are similarly real — that is, they’re just emotions.

God made His image appear in this tortilla!

Random shapes look like faces to us all the time. This doesn’t prove anything.

(or)

How do you know that’s what God looks like?

You call yourself an atheist but you have faith. Everyone has faith in something.

That’s true, but I try and have faith in as few things as possible.

Posted on February 3, 2007 at 1:05 am by ideclare · Permalink
In: Essay

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