Tract #54: Why Do Atheists Care What I Believe?

Tract #54, Why Do Atheists Care What I Believe?, is ready for you to print and hand out. Download it, see page #3 for printing instructions, and let me know your comments! Thanks!


Why Do Atheists Care What I Believe?

Some atheists spend a lot of time arguing about religion or trying to get theists to admit that they don’t have sufficient justification for their beliefs. It’s understandable that Christians would try to convert others to Christianity — they want to save people from eternal punishment — but why would an atheist care what other people believe?

Many atheists don’t care. They have a “to each his own” attitude toward religion, don’t enjoy discussing the subject, consider religion not worth talking about, or just feel that it is a personal matter.

But some atheists are very interested in discussing religion or trying to “convert” theists to atheism. There are a number of reasons this might be.

Some atheists just like talking about religion. They enjoy the mental exercise or feel confident that they have a clever or insurmountable counter to any argument that might be brought up in religion’s favor.

Others honestly want to help people. These atheists see theists as people who are living with false beliefs or who are not reasoning correctly, and their intent is to teach good habits of thought (which, they assume, will remove religion from the picture).

Atheists may also argue against religion purely for defensive reasons. Some atheists find themselves frequently in a position where a theist is either pressuring them to participate in a religious practice, criticizing their lack of religion, or proselytizing and not taking no for an answer. It’s no surprise that an atheist might push back in such circumstances, or even become proactively critical of religion in the hope of heading off such conversation.

Taking this a step further, some atheists argue against theism for more broadly pragmatic reasons. These atheists see religion as threatening because much of the reasoning behind completely innocuous religions is also behind religions that seek to:

By attacking religion in general, an atheist might hope to eliminate the flawed thinking that leads to these threats.

Finally, there are those atheists who like to discuss religion with theists because they honestly don’t understand why a theist would believe in a deity. These atheists are sincerely searching for knowledge about a way of thinking that is alien to them, and the fact that they ask questions or have responses to arguments is not at all an indication that they are trying to dismiss or put down the theist.

Posted on November 21, 2009 at 10:11 pm by ideclare · Permalink
In: Dealing with religious folks, Tract

7 Responses

Subscribe to comments via RSS

  1. Written by Marty
    on January 19, 2010 at 6:37 pm
    Reply · Permalink

    Energy can neither be destroyed nor created. Atoms are packets of energy. We and everything including thought waves are made of atoms. Therefore Everthing was neither created nor can it be destroyed. We are One and we are Creators. We can create a paradise or a hell. Enjoy the ride.

  2. Written by CarlitX
    on August 12, 2010 at 5:39 pm
    Reply · Permalink

    Hey, I just read and enjoyed your article. And it would seem I fall into every atheistic category you have set haha. I want to learn why people believe, I want to help them into a more secure sense of reality, and I want religions that cause pain, suffering and bullying to be abolished from society.

    Anyways, I just wanted to leave my 2 cents worth haha. Later!

  3. Written by Wheat
    on August 12, 2010 at 9:00 pm
    Reply · Permalink

    Marty, none of your premises are true and your point is completely removed from anything you were talking about before, and it contradicts itself. Also it has nothing to do with the article =l

    • Written by Adam
      on August 13, 2010 at 12:38 pm
      Reply · Permalink

      None of his premises are true?
      1. Energy can not be created or destroyed-True
      2. Atoms are packets of energy-E=MC^2-True

      And due to the nature of quantum mechanics where the outcome can be determined just by mere observation, we kinda are the creators.

  4. Written by Mike V
    on August 12, 2010 at 10:30 pm
    Reply · Permalink

    Atheism is not a religion…it is a statement of non belief in deity and more generally supernatural forces involved in the universe.

    New atheists are people who assert this statement as well as feeling religion is unnecessary and even inhibiting of human progress, both on an individual and societal basis. While having no set rules or beliefs, they choose not to standby and allow irrationalities dictate public policy and be the catalyst for prejudice and human suffering (war being a prime example).

  5. Written by JFC
    on August 18, 2010 at 7:36 pm
    Reply · Permalink

    Many meme clusters rely on the proselytize behavioral for propagation.
    Some obsessively viral religion meme clusters (evangelical christianity, or conservatism, or altruism, for example) seem to be particularly well shaped to interlock closely with the proselytize behavioral. In such cases the proselytize behavioral is encapsulated by the meme package and is subsequently deployed as part of the infection.

    However, the proselytize behavioral is latent in many of us, so it is important to remember that the propensity for an infected individual to proselytize any given meme is the result of many factors (some intrinsic to the individual, some residual from other memetic infections), not all of which are necessarily carried by the proselytized meme package itself.

    Hence an ex-christian who actively promotes atheism may only be expressing residual behavioral scarring left behind by the suppressed religion infection.

    Altruism is another large meme complex that interlocks smoothly with the proselytize behavioral. An atheist who has acquired (or retained) an altruism meme structure and who actively proselytizes against religion memes may be reacting sympathetically to the cognitive dysphasia symptomatic of the majority of religious belief infections. The sympathy component of altruism has the same vector-like qualities that the proselytize behavioral has in the context of religion.

  6. Written by jenni
    on September 12, 2010 at 1:07 pm
    Reply · Permalink

    Many people tend to forget that many atheists were once theists. Maybe we just want to save people from what we know to be unhealthy for the mind. I also feel a moral duty to help others, even if it is merely a gift of inquiry and healthy skepticism. Mitigating suffering in life is a goal of many secularists. It’s surely one of mine. Plus some of us are downright obsessed with philosophical discussion. Not all of us are nihilists BTW.

Subscribe to comments via RSS

Leave a Reply