Why I Am an Atheist

#1) I am an atheist because the god-believer has the burden of proof when trying to establish the existence of a god and has not met that burden: The burden of proof is on the god-believer to prove that a god exists. It is not up to the atheist to disprove what has never been established in the first place. So often, I am told, "You cannot prove that there is no god." This is backwards reasoning. I am not obligated to disprove that a leprechaun is standing beside you. You must first prove to me that one is there. Otherwise, I am under no obligation to accept your leprechaun hypothesis. The default position would be "anti-leprechaunism," you could say.

Is it possible that a leprechaun is next to you? Sure, but I have no reason to believe such a thing, and until I do, I will keep being an "anti-leprechaunist.” The same applies to gods and goddesses of all varieties. On all counts, the theist fails to meet his burden of proof, and therefore, atheism stands by default.

#2) I am an atheist because all the world's religions have failed to demonstrate that they are ways to a god or higher power: They are all based on the ignorance of man trying to explain the world in terms he can understand. Religions (or the notions that later became religions) were built to enable man to feel that he controlled his destiny and the natural world around him, yet these religions exhibit no signs that a supernatural being is behind them, not one.

None of them have been able to demonstrate supernatural origins at all. None of them have been able to tell us what science has told us about the origin of our universe. Why don't any of them speak of the big bang as our origin? Basically, there is nothing about any of them that compels the educated mind of today to give them a second look. Every religion is just as desperate and hopeless as the next. All of them are trying to heighten man's place in a world of catastrophe and pain.

#3) I am an atheist because all I know is the natural world: All of my senses are for the natural world. My desires and longings are fleshly in nature. No deity has manifested himself in our purely physical world. One thing about these gods and goddesses is their terrible timing and planning! Their strange methodologies and tendencies to keep hiding when we need them the most is undeniable.

I am supposed to believe that a being invisible to the naked eye is lurking above the heavens, is great enough to guide my life, hear my every prayer, and direct my every step, but for some strange reason, refuses to manifest himself directly to his highest creation man. I have never talked to this being even once (at least he has never talked back). I must ask, why? I used to think this a selfish line of questioning, but now I can find not one good reason to keep guessing why a God who loves and wants so much for us would refuse to acknowledge his physical existence.

Very simply, I am weary of anyone who claims ownership of our bodies and even our very "souls," and yet I am compelled to dispute his existence! Not only that, I see no miracles, no resurrections, no signs in the heavens, no accurate revelations to man. I observe absolutely nothing that makes me to look "beyond the clouds" for a god.

The mystic and the psychic tell me there is a "third eye" I can open by meditating and using the right drugs. They tell me nonsense like the idea that I only use 10% of my brain and that the other sections are roped off for "the spiritual man to uncover."

This is a spooky world for the mystic. He accepts telekinesis, psychic surgery, UFO abductions, crop circle phenomenon, Ouija boards, and pseudo-scientific claims on every level. He believes in an immortal nature within man, a human spirit that can leave and enter the body with the right "enlightenment." Haunted houses and unexplained phenomenon are exaggerated to be ghostly encounters when these explanations grossly fail to pass the tests of critical examination.

When all of the hoopla is cleared away, I am left with nature, mundane and boring as it sometimes can be. If I am confined to live in and abide by the rules of a natural world, then I must try and explain my world on the very same principles. Again, all I can see and verify is the natural, so it makes no sense to draw crazy conclusions that there is a "non-matter" entity out there that runs the show. The law of rationality demands that I draw only those conclusions that are warranted by the evidence: I see, hear, feel, touch, and smell nature. I am obligated to find the simplest answer that accounts for my observational data and sensory perceptions of the world.

#4) I am an atheist because being so enables me to make honest decisions about things in the world around me: Not being committed to a doctrine enables me to study the world and accept what I see as a valid explanation of itself. The religious man, particularly the fundamentalist, is enslaved to a doctrine, a belief system that must be right at all costs. He must reason backwards, finding evidences that back up his preconceived ideas. His eternal soul rests on justifying what he already believes true. Therefore, his objectivity is lost in the process.

For instance, the Christian must accept all bible discrepancies and atrocities as justified and right actions from a just and right God. He must accept everything the book reveals--lock, stock, and barrel. He cannot discriminate based on reason what he will or will not accept.

One of the biggest benefits of science to man is that science is self-correcting, unlike theology! When a scientist and his work are found to be wrong, his next step is to correct it, or if he can't, to throw it out. Science rectifies itself whereas archaic theology will always remain the same.

#5) I am an atheist because faith is a flawed system to live by: "But where does faith come in?," the Christian asks. "No where at all," I reply. Faith is a flawed system to live by. Think about it for a minute; every religious American every Sunday or Saturday goes to his/her church or temple with the same belief that god is encouraging their actions. The Seventh Day Adventist feels that god has led him to accept the ten commandments as still binding today. He disagrees with his Baptist and Methodist neighbors he adores so much.

Meanwhile, the Baptist and Methodist neighbors go to their own churches and sing another worn out verse to "Amazing Grace." They listen to the charming preacher and get their "feel good" pills for the week. They've been told that their sins are forgiven. They are saved by faith alone. The Church of Christ Scientist believes that god has forbidden the use of medications. Their children can die for lack of them, but by faith, they walk their spiritual walk onward believing they are pleasing God. The Mormon arrives at his worship hour waiting to be encouraged and strengthened for taking such criticism from the rest of Christianity that he has been receiving all week for following Joseph Smith, that esteemed prophet who founded their church. He is happy to sing another verse of, "Give Me Back My Prophet," in his Mormon hymn book.

What's wrong with this picture? The problem with this picture is faith. This I-don't-know-but-I-believe-god-is-with-me idea is the very cause of the division Christianity keeps producing. Everyone in our scenario above is a victim of faith. He believes God is with him but has no way of establishing the truth of the matter. In a way, believers, especially the evangelical type, are salesman: they (a) create a need for their product in convincing people they have a problem. And (b) they show why their product is the ideal cure, and that (c) brand(s) X(other faiths and religions) are not as good as theirs! There are conversions every which way, into and out of every religion worldwide. What does god really want?

Which church is his church? Does he even desire Sunday worship at all? You will never know for sure, but you can "have faith," empty and not so reassuring as it is. This system will never work for one who must have answers. Go to your local library and educate yourself on matters of science if you long for better assurance of facts. Those who desire closure and security will never find it in Christianity. It is not there to be had. No assurance cannot be called "blessed assurance."

#6) I am an atheist because I got tired of playing the guessing game: This was probably the hardest aspect of Christianity to cope with. Christianity was a game, a guessing game where you tried with all your heart to find out what God wanted for you, but never could make sense of anything that happened around you. I grew tired of trying to guess just where and how God was involved in my life.

The same guessing game would sprout up every time a tragedy sprung up on one of God's people. Brother Bob was killed in a car wreck on the way to a gospel meeting. He was going to preach the gospel of Christ that night, but was killed, thanks to a drunk driver. Surely God would have wanted this brother alive. He was going to preach his word. Brother Bob was walking in the light and following the Lord. What happened? It was in god's power to prevent this tragedy. That puts this tragedy on God. I thought God was supposed to be there for us in times of need? Were there too many preachers and this was God's way of firing brother Bob? Was he going to preach soul-damning error and the Lord was doing us all a favor by eliminating him? Did he have some sordid sin in his life that God was tired of seeing and decided that it was time for brother Bob to cash in his chips? Was brother Bob's family being chastened by God by his death to strengthen them, or how about me maybe? A thousand other hypothetical examples could be used.

When I would pray and ask God for something and got no answer, the mind naturally begins to consider why. Maybe God did not grant my prayer request because it was not in accordance with his will for me? Maybe God will answer it, but will do in his own time? How long will that be and how do I know when I receive such an answer? When the prayer is answered, how do I know it would not have happened anyway? What if God told me no? But wait, my request was definitely in accordance with his will. Of that I am certain. So why do I see no results? Maybe I am not praying long and hard enough. Guess I'll just keep praying and waiting for something to happen.

When it comes to the will of the gods, the questions and possibilities are as endless as the grains of sand on planet earth. Too many strange things happen not to question the nature of these things. I must confess, if what some theists say is true and God has a "secret plan that we humans will just never understand," then I've got to hand it to him; he has done the best job anyone could ever do! No one could possibly make sense of all the tragedies, unexplained deaths, religious confusion, natural phenomenon, and heartache that he allows to go on every day of this life.

I never knew or could know if and what God ever did. I had to live each day with the same confusion everybody else faced with no way to identify what was and was not God's will. I decided I was finished guessing and ready to start knowing. It all got old. I couldn't take it any longer.

#7) I am an atheist because I got tired of trying to find connections where there were none: One big tendency of the human mind is to see connections where none exist. Let's look at the Christian apologist's approach to finding evidences of bible inspiration.

The Christians have long maintained that certain events in the Old Testament are foreshadowings of the New Testament, particularly in the life of Christ. For example, theists say that Joseph and Jesus are types of each other. Joseph was rejected by his brothers, and after spending time in a pit (a symbol of the grave), Joseph was exalted and his brethren revered him. Jesus was rejected by his people and after his crucifixion, was exalted, and his brothers (in faith) revered him.

In the first judgment of the earth in the days of Noah, God swore he would never again use water to vanquish evil. Instead, just the opposite of water, fire is to be God's new weapon of choice (2 Peter 3:10).

Any time a freethinker finds fault with Christ's decision to wait over two thousand years to come back to earth, theologians are excited to point out that the skeptics are "fulfilling the prophecy of Peter" in 2 Peter 3:5, "In the last time mockers shall come walking after their lusts and saying, 'where is the promise of his coming'?"

In Exodus 32, the people of Israel sinned by worshipping the golden calf. God is angry with the people for their sins and purposes to destroy Israel. Moses acts as a mediator for the people in persuading God to spare them. Theologians draw attention to how Christ does the same for us before the father (I Timothy 2:5). Not to mention, both were marked for death at birth, and both had a radiant face, etc.

These scriptural comparisons are examples of how the Christian theist reasons. In light of the cited instances, it seems to be happy hunting ground for the theist. He has so many "foreshadowing evidences" of inspiration.

Of course, to reason this way is unfounded. There are no connections between the events of the Old Testament characters and the New Testament's Son of God that are genuine. Jesus and Joseph have only as much in common as the myth-makers of the New Testament wanted Christ to have.

Even if the Christ myth was based on a real individual, the cited connections are far from remarkable. The same is obvious of Moses and Christ. There can be no "prophetic connections" because the New Testament was written after the Old. All of the Jewish qualities seen in Jesus were so created to appeal to the Jews and pagans, respectively. Peter's "prophecy" of mockers is all but indicative of a distinct saintly voice trying to slow down the inevitable decline of faith in a mythical savior who stood his disciples up and has never returned, or at best, proved to be a savior who abandoned his cult because of inevitable human mortality.

I can remember being so charmed with these and a hundred more little "examples of inspiration" I thought I found. But as stated, theists find connections where there are none. Obscure passages come to life for them because of their burning convictions that passages do, in fact, say what they so badly want to believe about them. Without this bridge-building, passage-connecting "faith," a study of the bible is only a study of an ancient text reflecting the views of the time in which it was written. Without blind and overly-optimistic faith, the "good book" is nothing more than an ancient capsule of obsolete theology from an age long gone. It will fail every critical test and offer little to a new and modern world.

#8) I am an atheist because man is an animal and not a special creation or a divinely destined creature: Animals, regardless of intelligence, are animals, and animals are beasts of nature, products of a savage world, hardly worthy of the standards of a Heaven or Hell. Perhaps the late Charles Lee Smith, President and founder of the oldest atheist organization in American, the America Association for the Advancement of Atheism, said it best in his debate with O.C. Oliphant, "The descendants of apes need no savior." [The Oliphant-Smith Debate, p. 34.1929] Nearly every other academic field will make this an almost undeniable conclusion.

A stout look at our physical make-up will reveal that we humans eat, sleep, procreate, and defecate--along with the rest of the animals. We get goose bumps when we are cold or scared to help our "fur" stand taller and thus, have a better chance of survival. Our fingers have nails on their ends, remnants of claws from a very long time ago. They are made of keratin, the same substance which composes all claws. To this day, members of our society suffer herniated disks and foot and arch problems due to our lack of adaptation to walking upright on land.

This kill-or-be-killed nature of the world shows a very cruel god, in fact, an infinitely evil god, if one exists at all. What would we do to a genius scientist who, if he had a choice in the matter, chose to set up a system of life where higher life forms eat the lower ones? We would find it unthinkably cruel, but we give god a pass on it. As I said, Infinitely evil!

Man is an animal, despite his big brain, his relatively hairless physique, his proudly upright posture, and his washed and deodorized body. DNA used to conduct paternity tests and tell us who the father and mother of a child is, will tell the story of our evolutionary descent and kinship with every other life form on earth. We share over 98% of our DNA with our closest cousins, the chimpanzees. Other forms of life, beginning with mammals, going on down through amphibians, reptiles, and bacteria show successively less genetic similarity to us. This conclusively proves our kinship to the animal kingdom.

#9) I am an atheist because Christianity (and all theism) manifests self-centered arrogance, the height of unfounded pride and pompous egotism: Often, it is the atheist who is accused of being the arrogant one in a discussion of spiritual vs. material matters, but the Christian is the guilty one.

I can imagine no more arrogant of a philosophy than one which states that intelligent man is the greatest and most prized creation in the universe. Isn't this convenient? The mighty silverback with his strength or the bull elephant is not so loved, nor is the industrious otter the #1 creation, though he works so tirelessly to build a great home and dam that is truly a work of wildlife art. In addition to being a great builder, the otter manages not to kill his own kind as humans do. It is man who is capable of so much more than every other creature. He is the greatest. On top of our many accomplishments, we have sky spirits that take special interest in us. Wow! Now our heads get even bigger!

The arrogance of Christianity is seen in the purpose of God for man. I must ask why the omnipotent creator of heaven and earth needs lowly me to do anything? The child likes to play in his backyard and pretend that the general has called him on a secret and important mission to accomplish. The same type of childish motive is found in Christianity.

I am commissioned to bring a message to those around me who do not have it in order to establish their hearts as dwelling places for God. Souls are at risk! The mission is crucial! Why didn't the almighty bother to take the time and implant his important knowledge in everyone's mind? Why does the almighty need me to do anything he could do by the slightest of thoughts? If there is humility in serving God and trusting some unknown higher power to reveal the deep mysteries of life, then where is the humility in believing in only one God? Why not a god for the trees, the animals, the different rocks, and the seas and mountains? Are polytheists more humble?

This God business is a big business and has gone through a lot of changes through the last few millennia. The seafarer of old watched the stars. The old world farmer trusted the sun and the gods of vegetation. Today, the good Bible-believing Christian trusts his three-in-one God to give him purpose, hope, and a home beyond the clouds, which brings us to the next little arrogant aspect of Christianity--eternal life.

Why I must live on after the grave is arguably the most selfish thing of all. Once I arrive, what makes me so important that I am indispensable? Why must I abide forever? Isn't it interesting how we hear so little about the "great before" and so much about the "great beyond"? The arrogance of Christianity is definitely a comforting religious notion for man, for it tells him how undeniably important he is to the universe itself. He is at the center of it and it revolves around him. Can't I live out my days here in dignity with sobriety and honesty? Arrogant theism says "no." If it were up to believers in fundamentalist Christianity, there wouldn't even be a space program!

#10) I am an atheist because the natural sciences bankrupt the bible, and theism in general: Astronomy, usually held to be one of the most awe-inspiring proofs of God, was one of my biggest hurts of faith. I did not see a hand of god declaring his glory in the heavens. I see a myriad of stars, some brighter and more glorious than our own.

I see one planet teaming with life amidst gaseous, lethal pockets of stardust and radiation, pure chaos in action! Our solar system bears the scars of its cruel evolution. The planet Mercury is so close to the sun that she scorches on one side and freezes on the other. Venus, though originally much like earth, has been consumed by heat hot enough to melt lead! A runaway greenhouse effect got started making the planet unlivable.

Earth, Mars, and the two planets we've just mentioned dwell closer to the sun because of their heavy and rocky weight, whereas the gas giants dwell further away due to their light gases of which they are composed. This suggests a natural explanation for our solar system and not a divinely created one. Planets like Saturn and Uranus have rings because of collisions of massive meteors ages ago. Moons have craters for the same reason. Moons themselves form by way of catastrophes. Our earth wobbles on its axis causing storms and natural catastrophes, not to mention ice ages.

Were it not for a decent electromagnetic field, we would cook in cosmic solar radiation. We are one planet of nine planets, orbiting a star which is only one of several hundred billion in just our galaxy. At least, 225 billion other galaxies exist rendering earth as insignificant as a speck of dust orbiting a quasar 8 billion light years away. Astronomy testifies to man's departure as the supremely important being in the universe! Earth is barely fit to our survival and it won't be forever.

Whether its astronomy, biology, cosmology, or zoology, the natural sciences forever remove god as ruler of the universe.

#11) I am an atheist because God's living room has been getting smaller and smaller each generation: As we said, the sciences, with one voice, force God out of the picture. He must find a new home in the world. Now God lives only in the gaps of our knowledge of the world. Those gaps are closing quickly.

We used to think that the earth was flat. The bible even tells us so, "The pillars of the earth tremble" (Job 9:6). Now we know better. We used to think that earth was at the center of the universe and unmoving. The bible even tells us so, "Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever" (Psalm 104:5). Now we know better. We used to believe that stars are just points of light in the sky. Indeed, the bible tells us so.

The bible mentions two creations, the creation of the sun, and the creation of the stars, "And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also" (Genesis 1:16). Notice how God created the greater light (the sun) to rule the day, and then as an afterthought, "made the stars also!" This shows that the ancient writers of Genesis had no understanding as to the nature of stars (if the bible were the product of inspiration, it should!)

Again, now we know better! We used to believe that the earth was six thousand years old. The bible implies every bit as much by adding up the ages of the patriarchs and comparing the genealogies of Jesus which go all the way back to creation (Matthew 1/Luke 3). Since Jesus said man was created, "from the beginning of the creation" (Mark 10:6), this leaves no time for additional eons to be inserted to account for the ancient (billions of years old) earth that almost all scientists in the world recognize to be the obvious truth.

These are a handful of thoughts, a short summation on why I am an atheist. To me, it seems clear that the thinking person is forced into this position.

(JH)

4 comments:

  1. Dear Joe,
    I just watched your clip on YouTube and read your blog. I have several friends who have had bad experiences in the church, and because of these experiences, have renounced Christianity. You are obviously a very bright man who has argued on both sides of whether God exists or not. I am not here to argue with you, because I will certainly be outwitted! I am here to offer a few thoughts and maybe get some conversation going. Admittedly, many of us who grew up in the church were not challenged to push ourselves intellectually. Church was all about “what we’ve always been,” be it Church of Christ, Baptist, Assembly of God or some other denomination. It is a cultural thing, not necessarily about having a personal faith that is evidenced by a changed life. I didn’t grow up in the Bible belt, but can see that dynamic. It is possible that these people are under some sort of God illusion. However, I wonder what you do with the radically changed life of a historical figure such as Paul. He considered himself to be the Jew of all Jews, who came from Tarsus, under the discipleship of an influential Pharisee. He had the linguistic and cross-cultural skills to make it in the Greco-Roman world, speaking Hebrew and Koine Greek. This is the man who hunted down and murdered Christians, including the first martyr, Stephen. What happened to this man on the road to Damascus? Why was he willing to endure the beatings, shipwrecks and imprisonment? Scholars, even the most critical, agree that 1 Corinthians was written between 53 and 57 AD, within 25 years of the crucifixion of Christ. Why would he risk his life to continue to proclaim that Jesus Christ rose from the dead, especially since he was one of the greatest persecutors of early Christians? Was he crazy or did the resurrection of Christ really happen? (1 Corinthians 15)

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  2. Hannah, many people experience a life-changing event (called a theophany) that literally changes their world. Why would things be any different with Paul?

    Tell me, do you believe in these testimonies of believers who claim to experience hell and get a "walk-through" so that they can go back and convince others of what they saw?

    I'm thinking of one man who was an atheist till 1984. Then he had surgery and was attacked by demons until he called upon the name of Jesus, who happened to be 8 feet tall. he preaches all across the country that God and Christianity are real and true.

    Do you accept such testimony? Is it not much more logical to accept that there are conversions every which way, and that there is no supernatural content to the "revelations" experienced?

    (JH)

    ReplyDelete
  3. All very interesting. One correction... otters don't build dams. Beavers do. It's a little thing, but to prevent a critic from saying, "If he can't even get a simple fact like that straight, why should I trust anything he says?" you might want to revise it. Thanks. GK

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  4. Joe,
    I just purchased your new book.
    I sent you an email concerning my order.
    I look forward to reading it.
    Dane Eidson

    ReplyDelete

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