Peter wrote us this week and he has a few questions about atheists…
Dear Ask the Atheist,
1. What is the most common reason for atheists being so, and saying that God can’t exist? I’m not trying to sound ignorant, but coming from a Catholic school and having a friend who is struggling with whether he is atheist or not, I don’t really know.
2. Why do so many atheists take the opportunity to rip on Christianity? Not to evangelize, but as a Catholic I believe that God loves the sinner, even atheists. But it appears from the ones I’ve talked to that they are surprised that I’m a creationist, am not actively fighting homosexuality (I am against it, but more personal than religious), and in short not a bigot.
3. Going from 2. They’re also fond of ripping on Christianity, and say there’s no point in following anything in the Bible. Even if there is no Heaven or Hell, it doesn’t hurt for the Bible to have guiding factors. The Golden Rule is cited even secularly in public school systems, and almost all of the laws of civilized societies can be traced back somehow to the Bible. If this is so, then why do they say that everything as a whole is flawed?
I’m not trying to generalize atheists; I just would like to get a better understanding of this out of curiosity and to be a better friend to mine. If it is possible, I also would like to email a writer questions from my theology class as a sort of social experiment.
Thank you in advance,
Hi Peter, thanks for the questions. These questions have been answered here before, so if my answer doesn’t help you enough, feel free to use the search function. You’ll find more thoughts there.
First, an atheist is just a person without a belief in a god. Some atheists may make the claim that a god can’t exist, some may not, either way the only thing one atheist has to have in common with another is a lack of belief in a god or gods. That’s it. Anything else is just that persons opinion.
Whats the most common reason people become atheists? Simple. The lack of objective evidence for a god. It’s been my experience that most people who become atheist start with an inconsistency in their religious belief. For some it may be a historical claim or philosophical claim or a supernatural claim, whichever it is they usually find a problem that they realize can’t be dismissed off hand. For myself it was learning to be more objective and realizing that religion was highly subjective. Whichever way a person leaves their faith is their own journey. Each one is different.
Why do so many atheists take the opportunity to rip on Christianity? Well I can’t speak for all atheists, but I think it’s the same reason people rip on any belief system that harms others. To you, your religious belief probably centers around your personal salvation and the love of your god. You probably tend to dismiss all of the ugly parts of your religion like slavery, racism, women and children as property, sexual repression, child abuse, and worst of all, the concept that another can pay for the things that you have done wrong. Have you given up everything to follow Jesus? Do you still eat shrimp? Do you cut your hair? Do you wear clothes of different fibers? These are all things that your bible says are bad, yet you probably don’t follow them do you? I don’t point this out to say that you’re a hypocrite or anything like that. I point it out because you also see where you don’t agree with your religion, and yet you and millions of other believers ignore all of the bad things about it. The difference is between you and others is that some people no longer wish to ignore the bad things. These people most often become atheists. Sometimes these atheists speak out against what they consider to be harmful to others. They don’t want others to be hurt they way they were or fall into the same illogical ways of thinking that they fell into. Some are hurt so bad that they become angry with their past belief system and lash out against those who perpetuate it. Some atheists get past that stage, some do not.
Keep in mind, the difference between a militant atheist and a militant theists is broad. The worst a militant atheist will do is write a post in a forum or make a video. The worst a militant theist does is take away your rights or kill you.
Lastly, yes the bible does teach some good things. However none of it is unique to the bible. The golden rule you talk about is better known as the “social contract” and exists in any society with more then one person in it. Just because a religion has some good points to it doesn’t make it okay to tell someone who they can or can not love, or who they should kill, or how other people should live their lives. If the KKK did charity work would you consider them a good organization or would you still judge them on the merits of their teachings? If a group of child molesters taught that everyone should love each other would you praise them? Just because your religion may have some good things to teach in it says nothing to the truth of their claims.
I hope that answers your questions. Feel free to continue the discussion in the comment section below, and as always, thanks for asking.