How to tell your date that you’re an atheist.

Taylor asks….

Name: Taylor
Message: So here is my question. I’ve been an atheist now for 4 or 5 years and I’ve just got back recently on the dating scene. I live in the stereotypical southern town where most everyone here and anywhere around me are very much ultra religious. I’ve had a few dates now with some girls and one of the first things they ask is where I go to church at. I answer truthfully bu it seems every time I tell them I am an atheist they are immediately judgmental. It seems the word atheist scares them more than what it really means. AKA Voldemort scares people more so than he who must not be named to people in harry potter. ( yes it’s a terrible comparison I know.) Is there anything I can say that conveys me being atheist with out implicitly telling as such?

Hi Taylor. There are of course different words you can use other then “atheist”. You could say “non believer” or “humanist” for example. If “atheist” is such a damaging word where you live then what you have to do is show people that you’re a decent person before you drop the A bomb on them. You could also try a different response. For example when asked what church you go to, you could reply with “I don’t go to any church right now because I haven’t found one that makes sense to me yet.” She will probably ask you what it is about it that doesn’t make sense and without bashing her faith, you can turn this into an opportunity to explain why you don’t believe yet. There’s a reason I used the word “yet” there.

When I used to work in sales one of the first things I learned was the “boat strategy”. The idea is that if you can get the other person to think that you are in the same boat that they are in, that they will be more open to listen to you. By using the word “yet” it allows the other person to think that at the very least that you are open minded and are willing to discuss the topic (which you should be). This in turn gives you the ability to ask questions of them (socratic form of argumentation) in order to lead them to your way of looking at things and not having them feel like you are attacking their faith. At the worst this may encourage your potential partner to preach to you constantly (which should be a warning sign anyway) or at best it will allow the two of you to discuss theism with a mutual respect ( a keeper!).

Remember that the best way to combat the bad rap that the word “atheist” seems to have with some people isn’t by presenting good arguments as to why you’re an atheist, it’s by being a good person. So make sure that you project yourself in a way that people will look at you with affection and respect. Go the extra mile to be kind. Do things like open doors for the elderly, use your manners, give of yourself without expecting reciprocation. This way when people find out that you’re an atheist it wont be, “OH! You’re an atheist?” but instead will be “Oh, YOU’RE an atheist??”

Thanks for the question Taylor. Feel free to reply using the comment section below, and to any other atheists out there, what would be your advice to Taylor? Any personal examples out there?

No atheists?

George asks an interesting question…

Name: George Thomas
Message: Hello there. I have a teacher that always says “There are no atheists” because anytime anyone’s life is at stake, they are gunna say “oh god or god please help.”  It really annoys me that he says this. The way I see it is that it’s kind of like a common expression to say “god.”  What do you think about this?

First, how does he know what people say when their life is at stake? From what my military friends have told me the most common words used under fire are, “shit” and “fuck”. Some people run when their life is at stake. Does this mean no one is brave? Even if there are atheists who call out to a god when they are scared, how does this mean that there are no atheists? Using his logic there are no christians because they fear death when under attack and a true christian would welcome the chance to be with his lord. Your teacher is ridiculous and prejudiced. Next time challenge him. Ask him how he knows what he claims? Ask him to show you proof of his claim.

Let us know how it goes. Thanks for the question!

Where do atheists think they get rights from?

Todays question comes from Lee who asks….

Name: lee
Message: Hello,

I have a religious/political question I’ve been wondering about the atheistic point of how on. The Declaration of Independence says, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–“, so in America, our rights are not then granted to us from the government but by God.

My question is, who does an atheist feel gives them their rights? Also, if athists don’t believe people where created equally, but evolved, doesn’t evolution directly teach that  things are getting at least physically better and therefore one generation would be better than another generation. What makes people equal in the eyes of an atheist?

Ps, I’m not trying to cause an argument or disrespect, I just don’t understand and can’t find an answer on Google. I really am interest to know who do artists think gives people their rights and where does equality come from?

Wow Lee. You’ve got some great questions there. Thanks for asking them.

First things first. There is no such thing as an “atheist world view” anymore then there is a world view based upon not believing in elves. It’s kind of hard to base a world view on something that you don’t believe in. I’m sure there’s lots of things that you don’t believe in and you wouldn’t subscribe a world view to any of them. Same thing with atheism. The only thing one atheist has to have in common with another atheist is a lack of belief in a god or gods. That’s it. Anything else an atheist believes about the world is their belief alone.

Now to answer your question about the Declaration of Independence, as I understand it, the architects of the declaration were careful to leave out any reference to “god”. Hence the word “creator” which can mean whatever you want it to. It can mean a god, or it can mean the earth, or the universe, or anything else that you would consider to have created you. Austine Cline, a long time writer for said it best when he said…

what little is mentioned in the Declaration of Independence is only barely compatible with Christianity, the religion most people have in mind when making the above argument. The Declaration refers to “Nature’s God,” “Creator,” and “Divine Providence.” These are all terms used in the sort of deism which was common among many of those responsible for the American Revolution as well as the philosophers upon whom they relied for support. Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, was himself a deist who was opposed to many traditional Christian doctrines, in particular beliefs about the supernatural.

One common misuse of the Declaration of Independence is to argue that it states that our rights come from God and, therefore, there are no legitimate interpretations of the rights in the Constitution that would be contrary to God. The first problem is that the Declaration of Independence refers to a “Creator” and not the Christian “God” meant by people making the argument. The second problem is that the “rights” mentioned in the Declaration of Independence are “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” — none of which are “rights” discussed in the Constitution.

Let’s also keep in mind that the Declaration of Independence. is not a legal document which is designed to give or take away our rights. Read Austins article and you’ll get a better understanding.

So then, who, if not a god, does an atheist believe gives them rights? I obviously can’t speak for all atheists, but as for my own opinion I would say it’s the same group that gives all of us rights, namely society and by extension, the government. As I understand it’s the social contract which we use to extend our rights to each other. Hence why rights in one part of the world aren’t the same as in other parts. Society defines your rights based upon it’s culture and morality at the time. The USA was unique at the time of it’s creation because it wanted to get away from the idea of an autocracy given power by religion. So instead of rights given by religion, it focused on rights given by the people. This is the heart of democracy, that it’s the people who have the real power and that it is their right to exercise that power.

Now lastly, your question about evolution. I think you may have a misunderstanding of what evolution is. Evolution is simply about adaptation to an environment. Somethings evolve and end up becoming stagnant, somethings evolve and continue on. As Sasha said in her comment to the article “Does evolution say that it’s okay to bully“..

Science is descriptive, not prescriptive. It’s a method to tell us what the world around us is like, not to tell us how we should behave.

So to think that because some atheists believe in evolution means that they don’t think that everyone is equal, is a non sequitur, meaning one doesn’t necessarily follow the other. Besides, equality isn’t about your physical state. We all share the same rights even though some people may be smarter or stronger or weaker or dumber. These rights are given by society equally so that we all start in the same spot and so that one person can’t proclaim dominance over another.

Well I hope that helped. As always Lee, feel free to let us know what you think by replying in the comment section below. Thanks again for the great questions.

Does evolution say its okay to bully?

Scott asks….

Hello, I am from Dallas and I go to a southern baptist school. Recently I had a project in my Logic and World Views class were I had to debate with another classmate on a controversial topic in today’s society, I choose the existence of god because I am an atheist and I wanted to try to convince my classmates that there is not supernatural being. After my debate my schools head master asked me “since evolution proposes that the fittest will survive and the week will die off, is it a good thing if a bigger boy was beating up a small boy?” I responded with no and said that his question was not relevant. But what is the right answer to this question or is there one? Thought you could help, Thanks!
Sent from my iPad

Hi Scott. Thanks for the question.

Your’e teacher doesn’t understand what evolution is. Evolution isn’t about the big beating the small. Some of the smallest things in the world, viruses, kill more people and animals then all of the wars combined. Evolution is about adaptation to an environment. Those that adapt the best go on to have more offspring then those who don’t. The concept isn’t that hard to grasp. I wont go into how it works, there are already enough posts here that answer that (use the search button at the top right hand side if you need to), but I will tell you what I would have said to your teacher.

Are you suggesting that viruses are more fit then humans since viruses have killed billions of people over all of time? Evolution is about adaptation to environments through mutation. Those mutations which benefit survival go on to have more offspring then those who dont. That’s what evolution is all about.

Keep in mind though Scott, that evolution says nothing about if a god exists or not. Many theists believe in evolution. They simply believe that it was god who used evolution to create all of the animals including humans. So if you’re using that to disprove god, I’d find another tactic. Keep trying though. There are some great books out there that can help you learn the basic arguments against the existence of gods. You can check out our book store above to see the top selling books. My all time favorite is George H Smith’s “Atheism: The Case Against God” it’s a heavy reading, but it is by far one of the most comprehensive books on atheism there is. If you want something a little lighter I would suggest Carl Sagans “The Demon Haunted World” or “The God Delusion” by Richard Dawkins. Both are excellent books to start from.

Hope that answers your question Scott! As always, feel free to chime in using the comment section below.

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!