Why do some believers find it so hard to accept evolution?

Ras is back with another question….

I know I came here before when I asked a question about martial arts. But I have another question that has been bothering me for some time and thought I might ask.

Why is it that some people still don’t admit the fact that evolution is scientifically true? Like why do they, even christians, think that evidence for god exists but that it remains obscured from public speculation and that the scientific knowledge we know is false? Like even though Talk.Origins tells a lot, there is a site called ‘True.Origin’ talking about creationism.

Why can’t those people admit they are wrong?

Hi Ras, good to have you back.

For years I’ve had a personal motto, “The hardest thing for anyone to do is to see things as they are, and not how they wished they would be.” What this has always meant to me is that quite often we insert our own bias into our perspective of the world around us and that it takes effort to remove that bias. It’s been my experience that only through thinking skeptically and relying on objective verifiable evidence, can we begin to get a clearer perspective on how things really are.

However that’s not an easy task, and unless you understand the value of being skeptical, even about the things that you think you know are true, you might find yourself holding on to ideas because they make you feel comfortable.

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” — Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain)

So imagine for a moment you’ve been raised to believe that there’s a sky daddy up in the clouds that created everything there is in just 7 days. You’ve been told this over and over. You’ve been given cute little stories as a child that were designed to make you feel loved and cared for. You were told over and over that you were special, that this sky daddy made this entire world for you and your brothers and sisters of humanity because he loved you immensely. You are special. He breathed life into you and made you separate from all of the other living creatures on the planet. You grow up to believe this your entire life and in return you give thanks to your sky daddy by praying to him, by giving to charities, by sacrificing your own needs and desires so that you can show him how grateful you are for everything that he’s given you. You love your sky daddy, and you believe that your sky daddy loves you too.

Now imagine someone comes and tells you, even shows you, that the earth wasn’t made in just 7 days. That it took billions of years and that this planet is no more unique, no more special, than any other planet out there. Imagine then that this person tells you, even explains to you, that you are the same as every other living animal out there. That you and these animals share a common ancestry. That you weren’t created in a day but through millions of years of natural selection and random mutation. How do you think you would feel about this message? How do you think you would feel if someone told you that you weren’t special? Would you automatically accept this new truth, or would you struggle with it? Even to the point where you clung to hope so tightly, that you denied their claim in hopes that some evidence would show that they are wrong, and that you are indeed special?

For many theists, this is exactly how they see the message of evolution. They see it as an insult to the way, the reason, that they are special. They see it as being told that all of their prayers, their charity work, their sacrifices, all of it, was for nothing. For some, it’s a bitter pill that they simply can not, will not, swallow. It goes against everything that they’ve believed about themselves. It’s to much to accept. So they cling to the hope that the message is wrong. They try every trick, every argument they can to justify their belief that they are special. Even if it flies in the face of a mountain of evidence.

Seeing it from this perspective, it’s not hard to understand why some people deny evolution. It’s not an easy thing to accept. In my experience, the only way a person can let go of this way of thinking is if they love the truth more then they do the idea that they are special. For some believers, their way of thinking adopts evolution into their sky daddy mythos. They accept evolution but believe it was their sky daddy that started the whole thing. This allows them to continue to believe that they are special and at the same time accept the truth of science. For others, it becomes the straw that breaks the camels back. It becomes a gateway into the rejection of their sky daddy belief and into atheism.

So there you have it. I hope that answers your question for you, and as always, feel free to reply in the comment section below.

Something from nothing?

Got a question from Rick today who asks…

Name: Rick
Message: Do atheists believe that everything came from nothingness or do they believe that something has always been?

Great question Rick!

This is a common question that most atheists get from believers and it’s understandable why. Believers are taught that all things have a beginning and that beginning starts with their god. So when they meet an atheist one of the first things they ask is “If there is no god, how do you think everything got here?” to which the atheist will more often then not responds with “How did your god get here?” showing the inherent hypocrisy in the question. Most theists are taken aback from this question because to them, their god has always been, he has no beginning and he has no end, so the question seems as ridiculous to them as the original question does to the atheist.

To most atheists we’re happy with answering “I don’t know”. Which in my opinion is the most honest answer anyone can give from either side of the theological fence. Even if you believe that a god created everything, that doesn’t tell you how he did it. Imagine asking a waiter how your meal was prepared and he answers with “The chef made it”. That really doesn’t answer your question does it? If the waiter actually knew, he would either explain how the chef cooked everything, or would say “I don’t know, let me ask the chef.” and you would be satisfied with his answer. However since no one actually can go talk to god and find out how it was all done, believers are stuck in the same pot with atheists in their “I don’t know and neither do you” soup.

That aside, when we do find the answer it will likely come from science and not from religion. Today the best answer for how something can come from nothing comes from Lawrence M. Krauss who is an American theoretical physicist and cosmologist and who is the Foundation Professor of the School of Earth and Space Exploration and director of Arizona State University’s Origins Project. Wikipedia notes that he has been “Working mostly in theoretical physics, Krauss has published research on a great variety of topics within that field. His primary contribution is to cosmology, as he was one of the first physicists to suggest that most of the mass and energy of the universe resides in empty space, an idea now widely known as dark energy. Furthermore, Krauss has formulated a model in which the universe could have potentially come from “nothing”, as outlined in his 2012 book A Universe from Nothing. As his model agrees with experimental observation such as the shape of the universe and the energy density of the universe, it is referred to as a “plausible hypothesis

If you have the time, there’s a great video on youtube where Krauss explains in a lecture at Harvard how a universe can arise from nothing. It’s a long video, over an hour, but it’s worth the watch. (here)

Well Rick I hope that helps. Thanks for the great question and feel free to discuss it more in the comment section below.

Fear and uncertainty

Todays question is from Bishoy who asks…

Name: Bishoy
Message: Well, this will be long but please bear with me as my life is based upon this:

First off a historical background of me, I’m 20 year old guy, have been raised and baptized as Coptic orthodox Christian and I became an atheist when I was 15 because I saw one of my friends being persecuted for being a christian and I asked god why didn’t he defend him and I found no answer, and I stayed an atheist for 3 years because of this moral question, why doesn’t god protect innocent people.

But then when I became 18 years old I entered college and I read about Nick Vujicic (a motivational speaker and a preacher who was born limbless) and I thought that god doesn’t interfere in free will and then rewards or punishes people based on there deeds and I went back to church.

after about a year in church I started reading on the internet about if god exists or not and the reasons with or against that scientifically, and i found the big bang and evolution more convincing than creation (even though I find the big bang and evolution especially evolution imaginary a lot) so I was convinced with atheism mentally, but then i found a void, an emptiness, and also a fear from the christian hell which takes people who doesn’t accept Jesus, So I went back to the church just to fill the void, and to heal my fear, I also joined a course to be a deacon (a priest’s helper or something) but now I just don’t feel it’s right, I mean i just saw a movie about trains that get destroyed in poor areas, the movie showed stories for many train passengers and then the train was destroyed because some people stole the train bars, the movie bonded me with the characters and in the end they all died, and I thought, that happens in real life, those people are not numbers when you hear “100 persons were killed in a train wreck” kind of news and I thought that the world is totally random and if it’s random then there’s no creator nor a preserver for this universe.

I don’t know what to do, I mean should I stick with the church and ignore my mind to fill this emptiness (spiritual emptiness p.s. Buddhism didn’t help I studied it for about a month and was meditating but it didn’t help) and to eliminate my fear of hell, or should I stick with atheism even though I’m not sure 100% that god doesn’t exist just to stop accusing god of causing suffering (and it’s like accusing a unicorn of steeling your wallet, I mean you use invalid and imaginary excuses)

P.S. Sorry if I confused you but English is not my native language, please respond asap I’ve been looking for an answer for 5 years.

Hi Bishoy. Thanks for the question, and by the way your english is fine.

From what I understand from reading your email. your problem boils down to uncertainty and fear. On one hand you look at the injustices in the world, and as a compassionate empathetic human you ask yourself how a god who is supposed to be superior to humans, doesn’t seem to have the same compassion and empathy that you have? Then because of your relationship with christianity which teaches you to fear not believing in it’s god or spend eternity being tortured (which is neither compassionate nor empathetic) you feel a mixture of fear and guilt for not believing. In other words, your mind is telling you one thing, but your emotions are telling you another.

The first thing I want to tell you is to take a deep breath. What you’re feeling is very normal and a lot of others have felt the same way you do. The good news is that there are ways to overcome your fears and accept uncertainty.

First understand this, the reason you fear hell, is because that’s what you’ve been conditioned to fear. Do you fear traveling down the river Styxs and spending eternity at the whim and terror of the god Hades? No? Why not? Is it because you don’t believe in the Greek gods? Is it because you weren’t raised in that religion? Of course it is. Because you were never indoctrinated into it, you have no reason to fear it. Religion, and christianity especially has perfected over hundreds of years the art of motivation by fear. “You better believe or else” has been the war cry of religions since it’s inception. It’s how they keep people coming back.

The way I’ve found to overcome this is to first remember that whatever you have learned, you can unlearn. If you learned to be afraid of hell, you can learn to be unafraid of hell. For me, my fear of gods and their retributions left me when I studied the history of different religions and realized how impossible their gods were. For example when I realized that the christian god is so full of contradictions along with the obvious borrowing from other religions, I came to realize that the christian god didn’t exist. So if there’s no christian god, there’s no reason to be afraid of it is there?

Uncertainty is a good thing. I’m 99.9% sure the abrahamic god doesn’t exist, but I still leave room for error and new information. Now is there a reason to fear this god based on a 0.01% chance that it exists? You have better odds at winning the lottery then that. Do you fear losing the lottery? Of course not! Education is the answer to fear. We fear what we don’t understand and when we understand something we have no reason to fear it. There are a lot of great books and websites out there to help you educate yourself. If you think you’re smart enough, I recommend George H Smiths book, “Atheism: The case against god” as a great way to learn all of the arguments for and against gods. It’s not a light reading by any means, but it IS the closest thing to an atheist bible that you will ever find. Get it, read it, and you will find your fears and uncertainty start to fade away.

I hope that helps. If you have any further questions, feel free to ask in the comment section below. Thanks for stopping by!



Knowledge, truth, and morality.

Today we have a question from Ryan who asks…

Name: Ryan
Message: There are many problems i have with atheism but one question I have is if your going too claim their is no God that is the same as claiming there is no such being that is all knowing. Dont you have too be all knowing too claim that their is no such being that is all knowing? I mean out of all the knowledge in the world lets say you know 50% of that knowledge or even lets go higher too 99%. Is it possible that God exists in that 1%? Also if their is no such thing as truth, how do you know thats the truth? Atheism fails on many levels, i see you guys give lip service on morality but deep down in side you and I both know that it is objectivily wrong too rape a child instead of love it, no matter what anybody wants too say. I often never find arguments on WHY atheism is true because by your own philosophy their is no truth.

Hi Ryan, thank you for stopping by. The first part of your question is a common one. So common in fact that if you look at the top of every page on ATA you’ll notice a link that says “What is an atheist?”. There you will find a video that explains in basic terminology what an atheist is, and what an atheist isn’t. So because of this, I’m going to focus more on the last part of your email and ask that if you have any questions about what an atheist is, that you use the comment section below to ask and I’ll try my best to fill in the gaps for you. In short the video explains the following…

  1. What an atheist is.
  2. What a theist is.
  3. What an agnostic is.
  4. The types of different atheists.
  5. What atheists have in common.

So click on that link above and watch the video, then come back to this post, and continue reading.

Did you watch it? Good, we can continue then.

As you saw in the video, an atheist doesn’t always say that he knows that there is no god. Some atheists do, but it’s usually because they think the definition of god is either poorly defined or because they just think the whole idea is nonsense. It’s kind of like asking how you know 100% that Zeus, or Cthulhu, or any of the other gods that you don’t believe in don’t exist.  As explained in the video, we call these atheists “strong atheists” or “gnostic atheists”. Most atheists however are “agnostic atheists” meaning that they leave room for the possibility that a god may exist but still have no active belief in one. The main point is to differentiate between “belief” and “knowledge”. The question of theism isn’t “Do you know that god exists” but instead “Do you believe that a god exists”. So no, you don’t have to say that you know 100% that there is no god to be considered an atheist. You just have to lack a belief in a god or gods.

As for the next part of your question regarding truth, who told you that atheists don’t believe in truth? Of course we do! For myself, truth is that which most correlates with reality. I have what I like to call a love affair with the truth, To me, the hardest thing for anyone to do, is to see things as they are, and not just how we wished they would be. Most atheists seek a deeper understanding of the truth then most theists. Take for example how the world was made. A theist just simply says “god did it” and may stop right there. However an atheist who doesn’t believe in a god wouldn’t be satisfied with that and would seek out the truth through rational, objective, and naturalistic means. So out of the two, who do you think really wants to find the truth? The person who stops with “god did it” or the person who wants to learn more?

Now for morality. Again, you have the wrong impression of atheists. Of course atheists believe in morality. We just don’t believe morals come from a god. To get a better understanding, watch this video that explains where morality comes from and it will help you understand better. SmartLX gives a brief explanation in this post here when he explains…

Before our ancestors had the capacity to decide on “social norms”, a certain amount of what we call morality had evolved naturally. There are regular articles about apes and monkeys showing a sense of fairness, gratitude, discipline and so forth, in controlled experiments and on their own time. This stuff tends to emerge because it’s beneficial to a group for everyone to be “good” to each other. To put it simply, morality as applied by modern humans has at least a partial evolutionary basis. (Of course, explaining that to very religious people may only antagonise them further.) So that – and simple empathy – is effectively my answer to the question of where morality “came from”. The specifics might be different without our society’s religious history, but the same core principles would still be there.

I hope that answers all of your questions for you. As always, if you have questions about my answer to you, feel free to ask them in the comment section below and I along with a few others, will do our best to answer them for you. Thanks again for the great questions!

How does atheism defend “the truth”.

Wow. Today Markus has a big one for us, and since it’s so big, I’m going to break it up to answer it…

Name: Markus
Message: Dear Erick,

Here are some of my thoughts and questions I have on your recent blog posting: “God, morality, religion and evolution?” My apologies if you have already answered my question(s) below in another post, but a quick search could not find anything related.

A bit about myself to give you some context. I am a Christian, a theologian, and a pastor, but I am most certainly open to the insights of science. For example, in my post below, my questioning is not about the validity of evolution (I fully accept I am a highly evolved hominid), but related to epistemology.

You give your reason for being an atheist as follows:

“… it’s because I have a love affair with the truth. I believe that the hardest thing for anyone to do, is to see things as they are and not just how they wished they would be. This means that when faced with the truth of something, even if that something is unpleasant, I am compelled to accept it.”

It is your notion of “truth” that captured my attention. Most of us will agree that there is some form of “truth”, or the ability to acquire rational knowledge about the world, no matter how slippery that truth may be to pin down.

Hi Markus. Thanks for the intro. Lets get down to business.

But as a theist (maybe leaning towards panentheism), I would like to ask you, an atheist, is your love affair with the truth not a delusion? What truth are you speaking about? You speak about truth as if it really exists (I agree it does), but I question the epistemological grounding of your “truth”.

When I say “truth” I mean that which aligns itself the most with reality, that which is grounded in fact. For example, it is true that if you are on the earth, and you drop a ball, it will fall. It is true that if you cross the street directly in front of a car, you will get hit. It is true that the half hour before a lunch break is longer then the hour of the lunch break itself. (okay, maybe not that last one. lol )

You have faith that your atheism is true. You have faith that your ability to reason gives reliable knowledge, and is not mere epiphenomenal froth. You have faith that the world around us is rationally intelligible. Why? Why do you believe that your subjective experiences, opinions or knowledge is in any way real or reliable?

You are wrong here. I don’t have faith that atheism is true. I have a reasonable expectation that it is true. Faith is most often defined as “that which is hoped for but not seen.” It is belief without evidence. “Reasonable expectation” is based on evidence. For example I don’t have faith that my light switch in my bedroom will turn on, I have a reasonable expectation that it will based upon my understanding of how light switches work plus previous experience with them. If it doesn’t turn on I know it’s because of some type of mechanical failure. All evidential. I hold that the rejection of theism is sound because of the lack of evidence on the theists part. I do not accept faith as a reasonable way to determine existence. I believe that my experiences are reliable until such time that they are not. If you do not believe that the world around us is rationally intelligible then there is no point in having this discussion. The question of theism is based upon the assumption that both parties believe that existence has a rational explanation to it.

From a purely naturalist perspective, evolution on its own has no concern for truth, cognitive processes, or your atheism. All our mental faculties, beliefs, etc. are seen as evolutionary spandrels and exaptations, the product of blind processes or chance. But then should we not take this to its logical conclusion? I mean, the very same chance that produced our minds, certainly it should also randomly produce mental phenomena? In fact, your atheism (and my theism) is just a method of “natural selection” to propagate genes. (And research shows that religious people have more children than atheists – is this merely a sign of reproductive fitness? 😉


The point is, our cherished beliefs, opinions or knowledge appear to be a means to an end (selfish genes/evolution), and not an end in itself. It is something that can only be haphazard or random. Truth has no ontological status or inherent quality about it. Why then, should atheism (or theism) or any form of knowledge be deemed reliable and true?


If there is no God, or Ultimate Reality, that is, an objective quality about our world that is not subject to random and blind processes, then any notion of “truth” is a massive exercise in self-delusion. So is our experience of the “I”, intentionality, responsibility, and personal agency. We are puppets manipulated and deceived by the strings of physics and evolution.


My question to you is: how does atheism ground, support, or defend the existence of “truth”? Truth presupposes a universal, super-arbitrary standard that cannot be obtained from nature.

Again the question of theism starts with the assumption that existence has a rational explanation to it, and that reality is that which exists despite our observation of it and that the truth of that existence can be understood rationally. If your contention is that one can not know the true nature of reality because of subjective observation, then you have subsequently removed yourself from the discussion of theism. (this is why more often then not philosophical discussions end up going no where)

Well Markus, I’m not sure if I answered your questions to your liking, so if you have more questions on the subject feel free to ask in the comment section below. I’ll do my best to expand on my answers there. Thanks for joining us.


God, morality, religion, and evolution?

Todays question comes from Rachel who says…

Name: Rachel
Message: Hi there, I wanna start off by saying that I don’t call myself a Christian because let’s face it, people who claim to be Christians have given Christians a bad name. So, I call myself a believer in God. I just have a couple questions when it comes to what Atheists may believe. I’m not here to argue or convert anyone, I just wanna ask some questions.

If you say you don’t believe in God, what are your reasons for that? Do you believe people have a moral compass that is aligned with the Bible, even though they don’t believe in God? Do you feel religions not just Christianity, have had a positive or negative affect on humanity? Do all atheists believe in evolution?

I don’t know these are just some questions that I have been thinking about. I’m curious to hear your response!

Well Rachel those are all great questions, and most have already been answered here, so feel free to use the search box in the upper right corner if my answers aren’t enough for you.

Why each atheist doesn’t believe in a god is different from atheist to atheist. Some don’t believe because they haven’t been convinced. Some don’t believe because they’ve never been introduced to the idea. The only thing one atheist has to have in common with another is a lack of belief in a god or gods. How they get to that point is their own personal journey.

For me though, it’s because I have a love affair with the truth. I believe that the hardest thing for anyone to do, is to see things as they are and not just how they wished they would be. This means that when faced with the truth of something, even if that something is unpleasant, I am compelled to accept it. My problem with the evidence that people bring to me of their gods is that it always violates how we determine everything else exists. I think I explained it best in this post here where I said…

First of all. Before we evaluate any claim. The first thing that we need to do is define the type of claim. In the case of theism the claim is that a god exists. This is a claim of existence. The next thing we do is we look for a criteria, or in other words a method, with which we can evaluate the claim. When it comes to existence, the only valid criteria is the objective one. For a claim to be objective, it must produce the same results every time. For example if I hold out a rubber ball to you and say to you, “This is a rubber ball” and you understand that a rubber ball is a spherical object made out of rubber, you will naturally accept my claim. Then, you can turn to another and do the same, and so on, and so forth. You can do this over and over and each person will say “That is a rubber ball”. However if I were to approach you with my empty hand held out and told you that “This is a rubber ball” you would see that not only is there nothing in my hand, but that the nothing is neither rubber, nor a spherical object, and it becomes easy to dismiss my claim because it can not be objectively evaluated. We use this criteria every day to determine what exists and what doesn’t exist. It’s how we know when someone has a mental illness and claims that they see elves or pixies or tall 6 foot invisible rabbit named “Harvey”.

So when someone comes to me and says that they know their god exists, and their evidence goes against the criteria that we all use every day to determine existence, I tend to dismiss it. I believe that if there is a god, that he would want us to discover him using the criteria that he set up to discover everything else. To do otherwise would be like saying that the only way to get into heaven would be to study math your entire life but then at the end he gives you a history test. This to me would be deceitful and unless the god in question is a trickster god, I find it hard to accept.

Now as for morality, I think you have it backwards. I think the bible is a reflection of mans moral compass at that time, not the other way around. I explain it in this video…

Do I think that religion has a positive or negative effect on humanity? I believe it’s mostly negative. Whenever you have a belief system that insists that you deny facts it’s going to be bad no matter how much charity work is involved with it. Religion has set back medicine, has denied people basic rights of equality, has started wars, etc. I don’t believe that people help others because of their religion, I believe they do it despite their religion. They do it because they recognize the value of helping others and because it makes them feel good inside. We are social animals, and giving help to others is a great way of furthering the social contract that I described in the video above.

Do all atheists believe in evolution? That’s kind of like asking if all atheists believe in gravity. It’s not a requirement to be an atheist or anything so I suppose there might be a few out there who don’t. I guess those atheists who have never heard of a god or evolution would obviously not have a belief in it. Usually though it’s religious people who can’t accept facts that fly in the face of their religious beliefs that don’t accept the truth of evolution.

Well Rachel I hope that answers your questions. If you have further questions feel free to ask in the comment section below or use the search box to find similar questions and join in on the comments there. Thanks for stopping by!

Fear of loved ones dying.

Eric rolls in with this question….

Name: Eric
Message: Hi. I’ve been an atheist for about a year & couple of months now, I was just wondering if any of you fellow atheist could help me out, see…my problem is I’ve found myself worrying about the death of my love ones. I just can’t bare the thought of loosing a loved one specialy those closest to me family. Got this fear that I just can’t get rid off. Sometimes just looking at my mum or granny makes me sad, see I’m not rich & don’t have money to seek profesional help, I don’t even know what this fear is. So what would you have done if you were in my shoes, see I’m not afraid of death, the only thing keepin me from not commiting suicide is the grieve I will give em if I do so, I don’t want to be selfish. Please just need advise. Thanks.

First Eric, if you are having problems dealing with your emotions to the point where you are considering suicide, get help now. There are low cost and even free assistance that is out there. You can try asking your local college if their graduate psych classes have a program. Many do. Whatever you do, don’t let it go to long without getting help.

As for your fear of losing a loved one, that’s understandable. When one looses their faith they can also feel an emptiness that was once filled with their religious belief. It can be difficult to learn to fill that void, especially when you’re not being told what to think or do, as religion tends to do. Learning to deal with the fear of loved ones dying can be difficult. What I and others have found that helps is surrounding yourself with people who have gone through it. Try looking for an atheist meetup in your area or try joining your local Atheist Alliance group (or whatever group may be in your area). If you can’t find one, start one, you may be surprised how many people show up. Along with that, try getting some advice from atheist forums like The Rational Responders and listen to the stories that other atheists have to share.

Keep in mind that the reason we usually fear things is because we don’t understand them. A boxer who studies his opponent doesn’t fear him because he has an idea of what to expect. By trying to understand where your fear is coming from, and by facing it directly, you may find your fear slowly start to fade away and discover that you’ve replaced it with an understanding that you didn’t have before. In the truest sense, knowledge is power.

I hope that helps. If you have further questions feel free to ask them in the comment section bellow. I’m sure a few of our regulars would be happy to give you their advice as well.

Atheist church?

Today’s question is an interesting one…

Name: Cody
Message: As a fellow non-believer, how do you suggest we unify other non-religious and atheists to certain moral, societal, etc positions?

This is something I tend to think about a bit, one of the fascinating things religious groups have is the fact that they can at least relate through a core doctrine, whether it be they believe in reincarnation, salvation, etc. Although they can disagree on minor details, such as is it okay to wear mixed fabric, they end up coming back to agreed upon positions within their doctrine.

Since we are at the most common point atheists (since there are religious atheists such as Buddhists), it seems the only thing we agree on is that deities are either not real or that we don’t have good enough reason to believe they exist.

So what are some things you’d suggest to find more common ground with our fellow non-believers?


You’ve touched on a very divisive issue in the “atheist community”. There are some who believe that atheists need a replacement for the social activity provided by churches, like the one that just started in Dallas. Then there are others who believe that trying to replicate churches is a recipe for disaster.

Personally, I understand both sides. For those atheists who have just rediscovered their atheism, the desire to feel accepted, especially after being shunned by their family and friends, is understandable. We are after all social creatures. We like to be around people who will validate our ways of thinking. Birds of a feather, and so on. For these people, there may be a hole inside of them that they long to fill and because they’re so new to the game, having someone show them how to play it, can be comforting.

On the other hand, I agree with Gene Roddenberry who, in his creation of the Vulcans on Star Trek, gave them the credo, “Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations” or IDIC. The idea was that through diversity we are able to see past our own preconceptions and get a clearer picture of the world around us. There are those who believe that a church like group, even for atheists, would eventually create rules of conduct and behavior that would stifle diversity, and become more like a religion then a social group.

No matter what side you fall in the one thing that all atheists must have in common with other atheists is a lack of belief in a god or gods. Anything after that is simply what makes that person who they are through their likes and dislikes. To me, there is no one path of atheism. There are as many paths as there are people, and each person has to discover for themselves the path that they will follow.

Hope that helps. Feel free to continue the discussion using the comment section below.

Justification for punishment?

Our next question comes from Joel who asks…

Name: Joel
Message: Hi, I’m an open-minded Christian and I have a question for an atheist.

Is there any justification for punishment? For example, if a person murders a little child in cold blood, is there any just penalty for the offender? If so, what is it, and who gets to have the final say?

Hi Joel. Great question.

We learn about consequences at an early age. Touch fire, you get burned. Step on a sharp rock, you feel pain. Animals often teach their offspring lessons using consequence. A dog may nip it’s pup if it goes to far from it’s mother. An ape may bop it’s youngling on the head if it’s greedy. A father may take away tv privileges if his kid hasn’t done their homework. If you don’t support yourself, you may become homeless. Consequence is part of life.

When a society creates rules, as in, don’t steal from your neighbor, or don’t hurt another, it also includes consequences based on the severity of the rule that was broken. Steal, and you may spend a few months in jail. Murder, and you may spend your life there. The justification of consequence is that it will hopefully teach the person not to commit the crime again, or at the least be a warning to anyone who is considering doing something like it. The idea of hell is a psychological manifestation of consequence. Don’t obey god, and you might be tortured for eternity. For some, the fear of eternal damnation is enough to keep them honest. Some don’t need that fear however.

So there’s my answer Joel. If you need further discussion on the topic, feel free to use the reply link below.


If I don’t come out, am I being honest with myself?

Todays question comes from Mike who asks….

Name: Mike
Message: Out or in?  I was raised in a conservative Christian household, but can remember questioning my faith from an early age.  I played along for the sake of my family, but finally decided about five years ago that I am in fact an atheist .  Now in my 40’s, I have a wonderful fiance’ and friends who share and/or respect my beliefs, but I am wondering if I should “come out” as atheist to my parents, siblings, and childhood friends.  The prospect of this terrifies me.  My family are not just believers – they are committed Christians that feel you should be constantly in prayer, commit bible verses to memory, have a daily “walk” with Christ, etc.  I’m worried that this revelation would kill my mother.  Literally.  My father would probably react with anger and dismay.  I KNOW that they would spend the rest of their days praying for my lost soul.  I could face being ostracized by my sisters and childhood friends.

What should I do?  Do I spare my family the heartbreak of this news and continue to go through the motions?  Or am I betraying myself and lying to my family by not coming out?

Well Mike. That’s not an easy question to answer. In my own experience I was able to “come out” to most people in my family except my grandmother. I knew it would hurt her and I didn’t want to do that to her, so I avoided talking about it around her. To me, it wouldn’t have done any good.

Some people will say however that by not telling your family that you are somehow not being honest with yourself. I think the flaw in this argument is that there are things that we already keep to ourselves because we don’t consider them to be appropriate. For example most don’t share their sexual kinks with their family. Why not? It’s part of who we are isn’t it? Aren’t we lying by not telling our families that we may be into tentacle porn? (Just an example people. Keep calm.)

I think it’s a case by case basis. If you want to come out to those who you know won’t think less of you or that wont be hurt, than do so. I see nothing wrong though with keeping it to yourself if you think it will do more harm than good. That’s not being dishonest, that’s being compassionate.

One last thing, and this is something I always say to those who want to come out. Before you do, be an example. Be better then they expect you to be. Be kinder. Be more compassionate. Be more. Then when you do come out, if they judge you, they will be judging their prejudice of you, not you. Eventually with time, they may see that, and it may give them peace.

Hope that helps.