Forward: Whenever I talk to a believer, and let them know that I'm not one, they always ask me the same questions. So, to save time, I've put my "Answers to Religious Questions" in a place (these pages) that I can just direct them to. (See links above for Audio/video versions)
With a few exceptions, today's religions are belief systems that were formed thousands of years ago by very ignorant, and very superstitious people during a time when there was no scientific method, no formal schooling and very little critical thought. Those ancient, pre-literate people made up many elaborate oral traditions to address the basic questions of "where did we come from?", "why are we here?" and "what is that big bright thing in the sky, and how did it get there?". And every culture had their own unique stories to explain them.
At that point in our cultural development we needed explanations to make the world seem more understandable; to help us deal with those questions even if most of the answers centered around an invisible person who used incredible unknown processes (magic) to made it happen. We were still millennia away from even the most rudimentary scientific answers that an average person could understand.
A class of witch-doctors and shamen arose to take advantage of the willingness of people to believe in these explanations. Before long preists, oracles and other divine interpreters found that they could gain higher status, wealth and political control by perpetuating, and expounding on these myths.
Since these early priests were no longer toiling in the field, or hunting, and they had to make a living, they started demanding offerings and sacrifices, ostensibly to the gods of these stories, but actually to house and feed this clerical class.
As they grew in power, they began taking action against those who tried to challenge their supernatural explanations and replace them with natural ones. They began systematically silencing the natural philosophers and non-believers, and as time progressed, they actually began killing them in pogroms and holy wars.
These atrocities are still going on in many parts of the world today. Islamic religious teachings tell Muslims that they must kill apostates. Mormons teach church members that certain news and information outlets are off-limits and tell families to "shun" relatives who deny the teachings of Joseph Smith. Southern Baptist leaders tell families to send their children to private-parochial schools so that they will not learn about evolution.
How does it continue to be effective after all these centuries? Parents pass their beliefs on to their children generation after generation. Christian politicians and government leaders reinforce those beliefs, as do Christian school principals, teachers and coaches. The child is saturated at home, in church, and at school (especial parochial schools). It is against the constitutionally mandated separation of church and state for public school employees to do this, but many couldn't care less about that. They answer to what they consider "a higher law", and so blink at breaking earthly ones.
Author Peter Boghossian calls this Doxastic Closure, ie. the tendency for oneís entire belief system to become hardened and resistant to revision. He writes:
"Combine clustering in like-minded communities with [church imposed and internet-search] filter bubbles, then put that on top of a cognitive architecture that predisposes one to belief (Shermer, 2012) and favors confirmation bias, then throw in the fact that critical thinking and reasoning require far more intellectual labor than acceptance of simple solutions and platitudes, then liberally sprinkle the virulence of certain belief systems, then infuse with the idea that holding certain beliefs and using certain processes of reasoning are moral acts, and then lay this entire mixture upon the difficulty of just trying to make a living and get through the day with any time for reflection, and voilŗ: Doxastic closure!"*
Atheists believe that the time to leave religion behind is at hand. The human species is quite capable of dealing with the world without mysticism. We can use our rational minds to find the answers that we seek. Science is doing an excellent job of digging them out of nature.
Where answers are not to be had from nature itself, philosophy can step in. The study of ethics and morality, after all, fall under the purview of philosophy. Morality is the system through which we determine right and wrong conduct -- i.e., the guide to good or right conduct. Ethics is the philosophical study of Morality.
Together science (i.e. naturalistic reasoning) and philosophy can carry us confidently into the future, and without recourse to supernatural beliefs. Religions only divide the human race and set us against each other. Moreover, it wastes millions of man-hours and billions of dollars that otherwise could be used to improve the human condition; a waste that, at this juncture of human history, we can scarcely afford.
That said.. let's get started! :)
1. What exactly IS an atheist?
2. Don't you atheists worship SATAN?
3. Why don't you believe in God?
4. Well then, prove that God does not exist.
5. How can you say that there is no GOD? I personally feel his "power" in church!
6. But EVERYONE believes in God, why don't you?
7. You should believe, millions of believers can't be wrong!
8. Why don't you just have faith?
9. Why don't you believe in God anyway? If He's not real you haven't lost anything. But if He is real, you get to go to heaven.
10. If you don't believe in God, then what is the point of living?
11. Doesn't being an Atheist "cheapen" life?
12. Well, what DO you believe?
13. How can you not believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ?
14. Don't you believe in an immortal soul?
15. Don't you wish that you could go to Heaven?
16. But you must be forgiven for your sins!
17. What do you do if you feel that you've really wronged another person or done something bad? You can't go to Jesus for forgiveness.
18. Well then, where do you think the universe came from?
19. Don't you believe God created man in the Garden of Eden?
20. If we came from monkeys, why are there still monkeys around?
21. But surely you must concede that there are some things that science can't explain.
22. How can you trust Science since it's always changing what it says?
23. Christian morals are founded on the Bible! How can you say you're a moral person and not believe in the Bible?
24. Well SURELY you believe that America was founded on Christianity?
25. What have you got against religion?
26. So why did you write these pages?
Q. What exactly IS an atheist?
A. An atheist is a person who is without a belief in a god or gods.
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However, if you look up "Atheist" in certain dictionaries, you might encounter phrases like "one who denies the existence of God" (implying that we are in denial of reality), "infidel", "non-believer", "immoral", "evil". Good examples of this can be found in the older versions of Webster's Dictionary. Webster was a Christian and obviously had an axe to grind against atheists.
Also, be aware that Atheism, and Gnosticism address different things. Atheism speaks to belief (Theism=with belief in a god, Atheism=without belief in a god), and Gnosticism speaks to knowledge (Gnostic=Knowledge of god vs Agnostic=without Knowledge of a god). So you can be both. Personally, I'm an Agnostic Atheist. I don't KNOW that there's no god, but I don't BELIEVE in any.
So, there are:
* Hard (Gnostic) Atheists - Claim that they know that God does not exist, and can prove it through logical argument.
* Soft (Agnostic) Atheists - Claim that they don't know (and indeed CAN'T know), and can't prove it, but don't believe in God just the same.
Just as there are:
* Hard (Gnostic) Theists - Claim that they know that God does exist, and can prove it through logical argument.
* Soft (Agnostic) Theists - Claim that they don't know (and indeed CAN'T know), and can't prove it, but DO believe in God just the same.
Atheists often identify themselves as Freethinkers, secularists, realists, rationalists, and/or Secular Humanists.
They're found the world over and Globally make up about 45% of all Mankind. (And growing. :)
Q. Don't you atheists worship SATAN?
A. Short answer: No, we donít.
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First of all, SATAN is part of the Christian belief system. He, supposedly, is a supernatural being with super-powers. He is also supposedly the incarnation of evil. So, no, since atheists generally donít believe in any supernatural beings, especially those with super powers who can interact with us here in the real world. We donít believe in him, and therefore we donít worship him.
Thatís kind of like somebody asking you Ö ďYou donít believe in Santa? You mean you worship the Grinch?Ē
Try to think outside of the Christian-box here for a minute. You, and others who practice the Abrahamic faiths, have your panorama of Gods and demons. But thatís YOUR beliefs. Hindus have their multitude of gods and asuras, but they donít have a Satan. Do you think that Hindu atheists worship your ďevil oneĒ? Itís not that weíre aligned against the good forces of religious belief, were are aligned against supernatural belief in general. All of it. Weíre realists and naturalists.
Although there are eastern atheists, Buddhists for example, who donít believe in gods and therefore are technically atheists, but who still believe in souls that come back to earth in another life. However, generally speaking, atheists donít believe in ANY gods, devils, demons, angels, souls, spirits, ghosts, witches, miracles, fairies or just about anything supernatural..
Atheists believe in doing good, just as most people do, no matter what the religion, or lack of it. Weíre human and we live in societies. Successful societies rely on cooperation, mutual good works, human compassion and understanding.
You may have noticed that you donít open the paper every day to see headlines that say: ďAtheists still murdering their neighbors! Millions dead!Ē, or ďAtheist continue raping women across the country!Ē, or ďAtheist corporations are cheating millions of customers!Ē. Did you ever wonder why not? I mean, arenít you taught by your religious leaders that you canít have lead moral lives if you donít believe in god? Then how do you explain this? Really, I want to know. Leave me a comment.
Most of Atheists, are also Humanists. The American Humanist Association defines humanism thus:
Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism and other supernatural beliefs, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.
Wikipedia defines it as:
Humanism is a group of philosophies and ethical perspectives which emphasize the value and agency of human beings, individually and collectively, and generally prefers individual thought and evidence (rationalism,empiricism) over established doctrine or faith (fideism).
Humanism is in essence saying that we humans need to take ultimate responsibility for our actions. We canít fob off our guilt and responsibility onto some ďsaviorĒ, or indeed rely on any supernatural force to intervene to make things better for us. We have to come to terms with the fact that our future depends on us, and the actions we take today.
Consider this attitude as opposed to the general teachings of Christianity. When we do wrong, we just ask Jesus to forgive us, or confess to some Priest. Ding, clean slate. We can go out and do whatever we want to knowing that forgiveness is just a bent-knee away. Not only that, but every Christian church in the world tells us that weíre living in the end-times, and that Jesus will be returning next week and that God will destroy the earth shortly thereafter. What kind of message is that? What incentive do we have to take care of our planet, or anything for that matter, when God is just going to destroy it all in a fortnight?
Secular Humanism makes two statements: 1) This world is real and itís the only world that we know we have, or are ever going to have. It behooves us to respect and care for it. 2) We know that humans are real, and our best chance for a bright future is in our own hands. If we donít work toward a better future, we wonít have one. Kneeling and praying wonít get us there, it never has.
Probably the most religious time the Western world has ever known was the Dark and Middle Ages in Europe. The church ruled everything. It crowned kings, influenced public policy and every person was required to be part of that religion. The result? Inquisition, pogroms, the confiscation of property, and the burning of witches and the mentally ill.
Was there prayer going on? You bet. Was it effective in making a better world? Hardly. Was it the same God that youíre praying to today? So you tell me. Who ended this insanity? People did. People acting in defiance of the strict letter of the Biblical Texts.
Reference.com provides us with a consise overview of that:
During the Dark ages, all scientific and empirical pursuits ceased and the Church had an enormous magnitude of power, even over kings. The Great Schism also occurred during this time period. The western and eastern branches of the Church split into the Eastern Orthodox Church and Roman Catholic Church. The division propagated for a number of different reasons and stands even today. The Dark Ages ended with the Renaissance, which means ďrebirth.Ē It is during this period that classical knowledge re-emerged and people embarked upon new scientific endeavors. The Renaissance left a lasting mark upon the world, and there was incredible progress in a number of fields, such as philosophy, art, science and politics.
Itís people working together, using science and reason that ensures a brighter, more humane future.
Religion, however, is the great divider. If history has told us anything, itís that even if the world were united under a single religion, it would soon schism into warring factions which would then degenerate into new religions. Judaism split into Islam and Christianity, Catholics into protestants, and then into Mormonism, for example.
Science and reason, on the other hand, tend to find that their experiments and results, the world over, coalesce to common beliefs. Beliefs based on evidence Rather than finding that more activity leads to greater division, science brings humanity together around demonstrable, verifiable facts.
Lets get up off our knees and work with what we know we have; people, taking action to give this planet a workable, viable future.
Q. Why don't you believe in God??
Why don't you believe in Zeus, Thor or Green People on Venus? Same reason. There's no evidence.
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And before you say "What do you mean? You're evidence of God".. I'll have to point out the logical fallacy that you would be using: Presupposition
You pre-suppose the existence of a God, and assign Him the power to create me, then say "How can you say there is no God, you're standing right there!"... Then I would say "See that car there? I made that car from toothpicks.. How can you doubt it.. There it is!" I have presupposed my ability to make cars out of toothpicks before I made the argument.
Also, there is actually reason to believe that a Christian God of your description (All Loving, All Knowing, All powerful) doesn't exist in this universe. If He did, why would He allow innocent children to get cancer? Why would He send hurricanes and earthquakes kill so many people? Why would He allow people to fly planes into our skyscrapers and kill thousands of His "children"? And on and on and on.
The All Knowing, All powerful, All loving God of your description is logically impossible.
Quoting the Riddle of Epicuris:
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?
If he allows children to get cancer, and allows tsunamis and hurricanes to kill thousands. If he allows bad men to rape women. If he even allows evil to exist in the world, then:
1) he can't be all loving
or 2) he can't know about it
or 3) he's not powerful enough to stop it.
You can have 2 out of three, but not all three
When looking at the world through the eyes of a rationalist/atheist, the world makes perfect sense. Some people, good and bad, will die in natural disasters. Little children will get cancer as a certain percentage of the population. There's no malice, and no "mysterious plan".
Also, if you will re-read your bible (you're planning to anyway, right?) with critical mind, you'll notice that the God of the Bible actually is:
Extremely Violent and Cruel
Richard Dawkins calls God "the most unpleasant character in all of fiction".
And ALL of these are human traits! And every Christian apologist that I've ever heard, constantly says that "God is so far above humans, that we could never understand his motives.".. Well, reading the bible, you're supposed to understand his motives! That's where the supposed lessons come from!
Heck, the only people Satan killed was Job's kids, and that was only after God told him he could!
- Not only that, but in the Bible, God directly ordered 2,017,956 People Killed.
- Not counting 65 entire cities whose population is not given.
- Not counting those that died from the His numerous Plagues.
- And not counting the entire population of the world in the Flood.
And he's constantly surprised by the actions of Humans. How can he be all knowing, be surprised by anything we do, and get angry with us (a human emotion) when we're simply "Part of the Plan" that he laid down in the first place?!
Also, God supposedly gives us a "choice" to believe, but then doesn't supply any good evidence for believing (AND a lot of evidence to support the contrary; Evolution, DNA, Fossils, Logic, Reason, etc). The only evidence the Christian claims is the Bible, but why are there hundreds of Holy Books, all claiming to be the word of God? All he'd have to do is show himself, unambiguously, to the entire world! According to the Bible he USED to show himself, and his miracles, all the time! Why not now?
You will then say "Oh, that's why you have to have faith". All the earth's religions require faith.. are they all correct? If there is only one God, why are there over 10,000 religions in the world. Does he want all the believers of other religions to go to Hell?
About the Devil.. Well, is God all-powerful and all-knowing or not? How can ANYTHING or ANYBODY stand in the way of what God wants? And isn't God supposed to love us more than any parent ever loved their child? WHY would he allow Satan to use his awesome, magical powers to fool us into disbelieving in Him? What chance does a mere mortal have against that? Is God just playing mind-games with us; with our eternal souls at stake?
Be sure to read my pages at: http://www.digitalfreethought.com/dichotomy.html
One last thing... Why do you believe that the Bible is the actual word of God? I mean, at least think of the question. If you say "'cause it says so in the Bible", then that's circular logic, and that EVERY book would be considered true on those grounds
What this boils down to is that God was really created by men, and the bible authored by men, not the other way around. Also, do the actions of your God make sense to you? Or does he really seem to act like a spoiled 8 year old?
Q. Well then, prove that God does not exist.
A. Christians send missionaries to every corner of the world, telling people of their God and their savior. Expounding on every detail of the Old and the New Testaments. Talking of Firey Bushes that talk, Dividing Waters, Animal Filled Arcs, Virgin Birth, and people rising from the dead.
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Then when somebody says "Huh? That's stupid!". They say "Well, you can't prove it isn't so." As though that settles it. Proof has to be provided by the one making the claims. Else why should anyone in the world believe their tall-tales.
"Seems to me, Christians take their Bible, declare it an objective source for truth, and then expect the rest of us to buy into it."
- ProfMTH, YouTube Vids.
THAT's when the Christian's uses their ace-in-the-hole: FEAR ... "If you DON"T believe it, " they say, "you'll burn for an ETERNITY! You'd BETTER damn well believe it. (Besides, Jesus Loves You and would HATE it if you forced him to do that!")
Disproving God's existance, and all of their other outlandish claims, is not necessary. Carl Sagan once wrote: "Extraordinary claims, require extraordinary evidence". The Christian, The Hindu, The Moslem, etc., make the extraordinary claim that they know how the universe was created, that it was created by their personal God, that that God still exists AND is personally involved in every part of our lives.
The burden of proof is on the one making the claims. We simply say we do not believe it.
It is hardly necessary to disprove something that has never been proven in the first place.
Q. How can you say that there is no GOD? I personally feel his "power" in church!
A. Well, I don't know exactly what you felt, but from the atheist standpoint we'd say you've experienced a mass induced psychosis. It is quite a commonly accepted psychological phenomenon. People in large groups can become emotionally charged rather easily. Also, you have to realize that church services are programmed to elicit that specific response from the audience! (Do some research on group dynamics and the psychology of mobs, lynchings, witch hunts, rock concerts, etc.)
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Q. But EVERYONE believes in God, why don't you?
A. Well, actually everybody doesn't believe in God. About 7-10% of Americans (that's 30 Million people as of the 2000 census) say they don't believe in a god. There are about twice as many Atheists in America as Jews. Also, most people around the world believe in different gods. Yours in only one of 1,000+ deities that people believe in.
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Also, there are whole "religions" without a Supreme Being: Buddhism, Confucism, Taoism, etc. And many, whole countries without pervasive religions: China, Japan, and the Scandinavian countries.
Q. You should believe, millions of believers can't be wrong!
A. Sure they can. How many people believe in Astrology, Numerology, Psychics, and magic? People are easily duped, and especially so in large numbers. Also, your "believers" can't even agree on what they DO believe. The sectarian violence taking place in IRAQ is between devout Moslems. They all follow Mohammed, and Allah, but disagree on the details. Disagree so strongly, that they are willing to kill each other.
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J. H. Johnson writes: "[Some] 433,000,000 Muslims believe that the Koran was brought by an angel from heaven; 335,000,000 Hindus believe one of their gods, Siva, has six arms; 153,000,000 Buddhists believe they will be reincarnated; 904,000,000 Christians believe a god made the world in six days, Joshua stopped the sun by yelling at it, and Jesus was born of a virgin and nullified natural laws to perform miracles. "
Why should we believe any of these fantastic tales, brought to us from 2-3000 years ago by ignorant, superstitious people?
Q. Why don't you just have faith?
A. Uh Yeah. Faith is nothing more that voluntary gullibility.
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"Faith is what your preacher says you must have so that you'll believe all the other stuff he wants to tell you." - Unknown
"A faith that cannot survive collision with the truth is not worth many
regrets." - Arthur C Clarke, science fiction writer (1917- )
"Faith is believing what you know ain't so." - Mark Twain, American writer (1917- )
"A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything."
- Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche
If you insist that "everyone has faith in something", then I'll admit that my faith lies in the human ability to deal with the real world using human reason and compassion. I have faith that we are not born as flawed sinners; we are born whole, with brains capable of dealing with life's challenges unassisted by mythology and supernatural belief systems.
Dr. Charlie Web writes in his article "Think For Yourself":
"Faith" is nothing more than thought control. Blind faith is legalized slavery. Faith tells us never to question the evidence for truth. But should we care about the truth? Absolutely! Because if we don't know what reality is, how can we ever expect to know how to deal with reality? |
To find the truth we simply need to think for ourselves and examine the evidence. Evidence is everything.
All the world's evidence tells us that whoever wrote the Bible and whoever wrote the Koran knew absolutely nothing about geography, geology, astronomy, biology, or evolution. They thought their world was flat! They shared the profound ignorance of their time, and yet we are told to have "faith" that these primitive people knew more than we do. Only blind faith could swallow such a yarn. " Ask yourself, honestly, what basis do you have for believing that the Bible is the true word of a God?
Also, if faith is all that is necessary to believe in God and accept the Bible as true, doesn't that make all of the other religions true too? They also only require "faith".
Q. Why don't you believe in God anyway? If He's not real you haven't
lost anything. But if He is real, you get to go to heaven..
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You are basically talking about Pascal's wager. There are several reasons this doesn't work. The main answering points are:
1. Few, if any, atheists disbelieve in deities out of choice. It's not as if we know that a god is really there but somehow we stubbonly refuse to believe in it. We are truly convinced that He is simply.. not.. there...
2. Which God? And how do you know which God to believe in? What if you're wrong? World-wide, people believe in over 1000 Gods. And in America alone, Chrisitanity has over 1000 sects. They can't all be right. What are the chances that YOU just happened to be born into, or adopted, the RIGHT Sect/Denomiation/Religion?
3. If God really exists, He is not stupid. He would know that I don't believe, and that I'd just be trying to get a free ride into Heaven by SAYING that I believe.
4. You couldn't just "believe in God", you would also have to believe in the whole religious package. In Christianity that would mean also believing in angels, demons, Satan, heaven, hell, saints, sin, resurrection, prophets, miracles, cherubim, etc. etc. etc.
5. AND If there is no God, you have lost something by worshipping Him. You have wasted a good portion of your life performing various devotional rituals, attending church, praying, reading scripture and discussing your deity with His other followers. Not to mention giving your hard-earned money to the church, wasting your intelligence on theological endeavors and boring the hell out of people who really don't want to hear your "Good News".* (Thanks to Adrian Barnett for many of these reasons.)
Also, Saying you Believe, when you actually don't, you would have lost a great deal of self-respect by being intellectually dishonest with yourself for your whole life.
* Speaking of Good News... In order for a Christian to spread the "Good News", they must first spread the Bad News: That all of the people of the world are born sinners, bound to spend an eternity Hell. Christians conveniently forget that part.
Q. If you don't believe in God, then what is the point of living?
Why does living need to have a "point" at all? Do the "lilies of the field" need to have a point to live?
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If you must have a "point", then decide on your own meaning of life. Can you think of anything more imporant to decide? We believe that it's much better do determine our own purpose, than to have some church do it for you based on their agenda!
Not only that, but your "purpose in life" can, and does, change many times over the course of your life. From being a good student, to finding a caring, understanding, supportive mate, to raising your children, to funding their college education, or your retirement, etc.
The church would have you believe that the ONLY valid purpose in life, is to support and worship GOD (through the church, of course).
Q. Doesn't being an Atheist "cheapen" life?
A. Actually religion cheapens life. Being an Atheist makes life more precious. Value is assigned to something depending on it's rarity. If something is extremely rare, or unique, it has a much higher value than if it is abundant.
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Since there is no after-life, you must come to terms with the fact that this is the ONLY life you'll get.
If an atheist throws himself in front of a bus in order to save a child, that action is much more meaningful than if a Christian did the same thing. The Christian thinks they'll just go to heaven and live there!
Look at the 9/11/2001 massacre in New York and Washington D.C. Those religious (Muslim) people thought that their actions would hasten and ensure their entry into eternal bliss, but what they actually did was throw away the only life they had in an act of "faith".
Q. Well what DO you believe?
A. We believe in most of the things that everybody else does. We believe in life, liberty, love, family and respect for others.
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We believe in Human Dignity! We're NOT born "dirty sinners". We are born as earth's most intelligent and adaptive creatures. We have the ability to overcome adversity without help from mysticism, superstition and "invisible friends".
We believe in treating our fellow man as we would like to be treated; which is a Humanist Idea, thousands of years older than Christianity.
We believe that Humans are fully capable of deciding our own "purpose" in life.
We believe that the "comfort" that religion theoretically offers is more than off-set by the amount of pain, death and suffering it has caused throughout history.
And we believe that religion has hindered the advancement of human knowledge more than any other single cause, and is still doing so today.
We believe that HUMANISM is a much better source for ethics than bronze-age dogma. There are several versions of Humanist 10 Commandments on the internet these days, here is one set, drawn from just one athiest site. (EthicalAtheists)
1. Thou SHALT NOT believe all thee art told.
2. Thou SHALT constantly seek knowledge and truth.
3. Thou SHALT educate thy fellow man in the Laws of Science.
4. Thou SHALT NOT forget the atrocities committed in the name of god.
5. Thou SHALT leave valuable contributions for future generations.
6. Thou SHALT live in peace with thy fellow man.
7. Thou SHALT live this one life thy have to its fullest.
8. Thou SHALT follow a Personal Code of Ethics.
9. Thou SHALT maintain a strict separation between Church and State.
10. Thou SHALT support ye who follow these commandments.
And I believe in a future that allows humans to be free of the blinders superstition and religion. Free to use their minds to question the universe around them unafraid of the wrath of an invisible, omni-present Judge. (Or His even more present, and judgemental, human representatives.)
But mostly I believe that the world actually HAS a future. Unlike the Christian who envisions a very short future indeed; where the "King of Creation" is coming next week, or next year, to loose horrible demons and monsters and plagues and disease upon the world, before totally destroying it. (See Revelations)
Q. How can you not believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ?
A. Well, rationally considered, it is a pretty outlandish claim. Nobody in the history of the world has ever done it. And outside of the bible, there is no mention of Jesus' resurrection anywhere in the historical documents. NOR is there a mention of any of the other supposed "resurrections" that took place on the same day: According to Matthew chapter 27:52-53 "And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after His resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many." You would think that someone outside of the Bible would have written about that.
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Carrying this a bit further, letís look at the logic of Jesusís death.
1) God is angry at us for disobeying Him in the Garden of Eden, and condemns us all.
2) He sends His son to die on earth to appease himself.
3) Then He forgives only those who believe in His son, the rest are still condemned.
Or as Julia Sweeney puts it:
"Why would a God create people so imperfect? And then blame them for his own imperfections?
Then send his own son to be murdered by those imperfect people, to make up for how imperfect those people were?
And how imperfect they were inevitably going to be? I mean, what a crazy idea."
Why didn't He just forgive us outright? Why did he condemn His son to all that suffering and torment at the hands of the people he's planning to forgive just so He wouldn't send us all to hell!?
And if your Catholic, it gets even stranger! God and Jesus are the same person.. So in essence, He sent Himself to be tortured and crucified to appease Himself!
Look at it another way.
1) God's mad at us for eating the apple.
2) God sends His son to earth to be killed by us (He had to know it was going to happen!).
3) We kill Him.
4) God's not mad at us any more.
Does that make any sense?
Again... Why not just forgive us? What kind of father would have his son tortured and crucified, when he had the power to prevent it?
One comment on YouTube summed up the absurdity of "Salvation" nicely:
"Salvation!? If the same person is offering you salvation that is
threatening you with punishment, it's not really salvation; it's terrorism and extortion." - spanky00cheeks
Q. Don't you believe in an immortal soul?
A. No. Your personality is basically an organic and chemical structure and resides mostly in the frontal lobes of your brain. Many studies have been done to show that the application of certain chemicals and/or surgery can change the way your personality behaves. A simple surgical procedure known as a lobotomy, for example, will erase your personality altogether. How can a soul (i.e. your personality) exist when it has no physical brain to reside in?
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Q. Don't you wish that you could go to Heaven?
A. Sure.. We'd love to believe that Heaven was real and that we could live forever. But there has never been anyone who has ever come back and said it was there. There is no evidence whatsoever of life continuing after death. (The Bible doesn't count, since it was written by very superstitious people who believed that demons cause illness, the earth is flat, the sun travels around the earth, etc., etc.)
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Also, if Heaven is to be total happiness, forever, then how can you be totally happy if you know that one or more of your loved one's are in Hell? (Or if anyone is in Hell?) And if God removes your memories of those loved ones so that you can be happy, is He not altering the thing that is "You". If He alters you very much, you cease to be the "You" that you were.
Also, are babies still babies in Heaven forever? Do retarded people become smart? How smart? If Jesus says that riches are to be frowned upon, why are the streets made of Gold, and the Heavenly Gates Pearl? Every religion/sect has a different "Heaven", how do we know which is the correct heaven? Indeed, how do we know ANYTHING about heaven? Even the bible is extremely sketchy in this respect.
Doesnít it make more sense that the ancient church would just make up Heaven and Hell to keep itís followers in line? After all, Hell is the ultimate threat and Heaven the ultimate Bribe.
Anyway, according to the Bible, the prospects of you going to Heaven are pretty slim too:
Revelation 7:4 says that only 144,000 people will be going to heaven, and those will be "of the children of Israel."
Revelation 14:3-4 says that "These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins."
So unless your a Jewish man, and a Virgin, sorry.
Q. But you must be forgiven for your sins!
A. What if I told you that there is no such thing as a sin?
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"Sin" is a concept that is sold to you by your religion. Would you buy a bandage from a person who comes up to you and cuts you in order to sell you a bandage?
Paraphrasing Dan Barker in his excellent book: "Losing Faith in Faith": "Religion tries to sell you a cure for a problem of it's own making."
Q. What do you do if you feel that you've really wronged another person or done something bad? You can't go to Jesus for forgiveness.
A. That's right we can't, so we either have to get forgiveness from the person we've wronged or live with it. If you think about it, it makes us think a lot harder about doing something before we do it. The religious person can just go on and do it, knowing that he can easily be forgiven by his church, Jesus, etc. He doesn't even have to ask forgiveness from the person he's
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Did you know that Hitler was a Christian (a Catholic)? And since he probably asked for forgiveness in his last hours, he should be in heaven right now. Right? And Anne Frank's only "sin" was that she was Jewish. So to Christians, she should be in hell now, along with Albert Schweitzer (a non-believer). Right?
Q. Well then, where do you think the universe came from?
A. I don't know. Nobody does. Not even your preacher. Besides, saying that "God did it" really explains nothing. You're in essence saying that an unseen, unknowable being created it in a way that we could never understand. You might as well say it was "magic", or fairies!
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Also, when you say "God created the universe." it begs the question "Who/what created God?" and then "Who/what created that entity?"
Here's the problem... People do have questions about the universe: Where did it come from? Where did WE come from? Do we have a purpose?
These questions are very basic human questions, and it would be wonderful if the answers were easy to come by, and easy to understand. However, they are anything BUT basic or easy to answer. To arrive at any kind of respectable/defendable answer you would have to study Anthropology, Biology, Physics and/or Philosophy just to begin with! We have long since passed the point where the layman can do more than can scratch the surface of all of these diverse fields. The answers are very hard to arrive at. But religion makes it easy! Just study one book and get some help from your preacher! "God created the Universe.", "We're here because he put us here." "Our purpose is to serve Him (and the church)".
These answers are easy, but 1) they're really not answers because we don't know how He did it, or where He came from, or what His purpose was for putting us here. 2) When we follow religion, we are not following the SAME Religion/Sect/Teaching. And it's very divisive. It causes elitism, intolerance, and war. These are paths we can no longer afford to take. Humanity is too interlinked, the world is too small, and nuclear weapons too abundant, for us to continue down this path.
The difference between Scientific and Religious answers is the way they go about getting these answers.
David W. Key, director of Baptist Studies at the Candler School of Theology at Emory, put it this way: "The real underlying issue is that fundamentalism [...] is incompatible with higher education," Professor Key said. "In fundamentalism, you have all the truths. In education, you're searching for truths."
Science looks at the universe and tries to figure it out, working from the data to the answer. Religion works backwards. It teaches us that it's answers are "Revelations from God" (or at least "inspired by God"), and tries to find data in the universe that supports them; ignoring or denying evidence that contradicts it. Therein lies the problem.
In the past, Religion has denied that the world is round, that the sun is the center of the solar system, and that illness can be caused by microscopic organisms.
Religion currently is denying Evolution. This at a time when every major accredited institution of higher-education in the world accepts it.
Galileo Galilei was imprisoned, and Giordano Bruno killed, for espousing their scientific discoveries during a time when religion contridicted their findings.
By the way.. the Catholic Church is after a kinder image now I guess. They now say it wasn't Millions of heretics they killed, but only 3,000 to 5,000. Of course this does not even touch on the number of people who where maimed and tortured, and/or dispossessed of their lands/properties during the 350 years that it endured. (1481-1834). (www.reference.com)
So what do you do? Take some time and learn about the world around you! I, personally, enjoy the study of these different fields. The internet has put all of the sciences at our finger-tips. You would be surprised has how accessible, and understandable, the information is nowadays, if you will only take the time to ASK the questions, and use your brain.
"Learning is lifelong." and fun! Just open your mind and start!
Q. Don't you believe God created man in the Garden of Eden?
A. No. Anthropology, Paleontology, Biology and Genetic Research all point to evolution being the correct theory for the arrival of man on earth. They also point to the fact that man originated in Africa, and then traveled to Europe, Asia and the rest of the world.
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(For more information about Evolution and the science behind it, visit Mark I. Vuletic's pages)
The ONLY proponent of Creationism is religion. And different religions have different creation stories. You figure it out.
And it doesnít make any sense!
Let's go into this a little farther using the Judeo/Christianity creation story as an example: God tells Adam and Eve (And I'm quoting the Almighty Himself here) "thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." (Genesis 2:17)
1. They eat from it and they do not die. Doesn't that mean that God lied? Why didn't he say "for in the day that thou eatest thereof you, and every human after you, will be condemned to an life of pain and toil in this world, and an eternity in the firey furnaces of hell in the next." That would have been the truth.
2. How can they know what "to die" even means? Nothing has ever died anywhere in their experience.
3. How do they even know what "wrong" is, if it takes eating from the Tree of Knowledge to know the difference between right and wrong!?
4. If God knows everything that will ever happen, then when he made the Garden of Eden, and placed the Tree of Knowledge in the very center of it, and told them not to eat from it, and allowed Satan there to tempt them; He knew at that time that they would! (Remember they were not sinners yet, and like children.) Yet he acted surprised, he acted angry, and punished them and all of their descendents for the rest of time. It sounds to any reasonable ear like he was just laying a trap for humanity.
5. Also, God knows everything! He must have known that all this was going to happen. Why did he even go through the exercise of creating Man anyway, if he knew it was going to fail?
Q. If we came from monkeys, why are there still monkeys around?
A. Great Apes, Monkeys and Humans came from a common ancestor that lived several million years ago. Just a couple of Million years ago there were actually 4 or 5 distinct humanoid variations sharing the planet. Heck, the Neanderthals were still around only 30,000 years ago!
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If some individuals live or move to an environment that doesn't support their current biological state then, if they can survive, Evolution (thru Natural Selection) will over time change that organism into a form more suited to the environment. Those members of the group who stay in an environment that is very well suited to them (i.e. current Apes and Monkeys) might change very little over time, or not at all, as the environment reinforces the biological advantages of that organism.
Why don't you try studying a little Anthropology if you really want to learn more about it? Do you really think the people who wrote the Bible, 2000 to 5000 years ago, knew more about human origins that we do now?
(Click on the Image to visit the site.)
Q. But surely you must concede that there are some things that science can't explain.
A. Of course. It has always been that way, and probably always will be. But just because we don't know something, doesn't mean some supernatural intelligent being is responsible. Carl Sagan called this human tendency to attribute to God that which we do not know as putting "God in the gaps". Atheists are quite content to say that they simply don't know yet and rely on the scientific method to find the answers.
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Q. How can you trust Science since it's always changing what it says?
A. That is simply the way science works. You conduct tests on nature and gather results. Then you re-test the results with updated knowledge and techniques that improve over time. Sometimes we do get it wrong, but we're the first to admit it when it happens and continue on with our investigations. Are you saying we SHOULDN"T change our understanding of nature as new evidence presents itself?
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Besides, the Church also follows scientific findings, but with about a 0-500 lag! In the meantime, they persecute the scientific community as heretics.
Also, the Scientific Method (which is responsible for modern medicine, space flight, and just about every modern convenience you take for granted today) would come to a grinding halt if scientists today started saying, "Oh, God did it", and stopped searching for further answers. This actually was the thought process dominant for 1000 years of scientific stagnation and religious oppression called the Dark and Middle Ages.
And don't forget that the Church changes too. The Catholic Church just recently did away with "Limbo", which it created hundreds of years ago to explain where babies went when they died.
Q. Christian morals are founded on the Bible! How can you say you're a moral person and not believe in the Bible?
A. First of all human morals pre-date the bible by thousands of years, they weren't invented with the Ten Commandments. It has always been against human values to be dishonest, to kill or harm your fellow man or steal his possessions. All societies, ancient and modern, have been founded on these principals, they had to be, else they would not have long endured.
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Also, even strong Catholics and Christians cannot agree among themselves on specific issues of morality like abortion, birth control, homosexuality, women's rights, etc. Not too long ago the Bible was used to justify slavery and deny women's rights. And the Bible is still being used to justify killing doctors who work in women's health clinics.
Tom Paine, in his "The Age of Reason", wrote one of the most scathing attacks on the Bible to date.
To quote one passage: "Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and tortuous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we call it the word of a demon than the word of God. It is a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalize humankind; and, for my part, I sincerely detest it, as I detest everything that is cruel."
Isaac Asimov, says in the Canadian Atheists Newsletter, 1994
"Imagine the people who believe such things and who are not ashamed to ignore, totally, all the patient findings of thinking minds through all the centures since the Bible was written. And it is these ignorant people, the most uneducated, the most unimaginative, the most unthinking among us, who would make themselves the guides and leaders of us all; who would force their feeble and childish beliefs on us; who would invade our schools and libraries and homes. I personally resent it bitterly."
Even Hellen Keller felt that the bible was extremely cruel and inhumane:
Q. Well SURELY you believe that America was founded on Christianity?
A. When religious leaders portray the American Founding Fathers as universally Christian, they are being downright dishonest. There were some Christians to be sure but many, perhaps most of the Founding Fathers, were Deists. They believed that God may have created the Universe, but he either died or went away after that.
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Also, the original Pledge of Allegiance didn't contain the words "under god". The congress voted to include that in 1954 during the McCarthy era. The purpose was to distinguish the U.S. from the "godless communists", and in doing so, clearly violated the constitutionally established separation of church and state. McCarthy was later revealed as a zealous opportunist, liar, and fraud. One must ask: Why is his legacy still recited daily in our nation's schools?
- Thomas Jefferson once wrote that "All religions are alike; founded on fables and myths." He was also a staunch supporter of the separation of church and state: "History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government."
- Benjamin Franklin wrote in his "Poor Richards Almanac" that "Lighthouses ware more helpful than churches" and "The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason."
- James Madison said, "During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less, in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution."
- Even George Washington was a luke-warm supporter of religion at best, putting his support behind human reason and education: "There is nothing which can better deserve our patronage than the promotion of science and literature. Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness."
Q. What have you got against religion?
A. Well, to begin with, it's divisive. It splits all of humanity in to warring factions.
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Religious beliefs were the cause of and/or the justification for:
* ("Thinking" is frowned upon even from the beginning.. The "Original sin" itself comes from Man eating from the "Tree of Knowledge".)
- The Spanish Inquisition
- The Crusades
- The Divine Rights of Kings
- Witch Trials in Europe and America
- The perpetuation of Slavery
- The Dehumanization of other religion's believers (and non-believers)
- The Subjugation of Women
- The Refusal of some parents to give medical treatment to their children, relying instead on payers and faith-healers
- The decades of violence between Jews and Moslems in the Middle East
- The decades of violence between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland
- Capital Crimes against Women's Health Centers
- The 9-11 tragedy (a true faith-based act) and the subsequent War on Terror
- The Suppression of Science, and indeed the suppression of reason itself. *
The list goes on and on.. for more information, visit The Root Causes of Religious Atrocities.
Religion teaches us that the earth is put here for our disposal. We can use it up, or trash it, and it's Ok. Besides, Jesus in coming back shortly to put an end to it anyway, right?
Religion teaches us that we are all born tainted with sin; impure and dirty. We must spend our entire lives trying to "make up for" the sins of the first humans.
When religious leaders answer all of our questions for us, we lose our own natural curiosity. It atrophies, and we are left acting as automatons, going through our routine activities like robots.
Religion stymies the wonder of Nature. It's not nature that is wonderful when we give the Great Father all the credit for creating it in all it's wonder.
Further, religion teaches us that certain areas of Nature are off-limits. For example:
Also, it redirects hundreds of billions dollars and man-hours away from more productive pursuits.
- Stem-cell research, which has great potential for reducing human suffering and disease, has been defunded by the Federal Government.
- The Creation of the Universe. No less a personage than the Pope has told us that we should not study the Big Bang, because it should be left in the domain of God
- Evolution: The study of the descent of man, would be outlawed if we gave the religious-right half a chance. Every year sees new law suits being introduced in an attempt to get the teaching of evolution banned from our schools.
Religion is directly responsible for the bilking of billions of dollars from the old and infirm.
Religion teaches that morality is rigid and unchanging, rather than subject to changing circumstances.
It's "supernatural" foundation keeps millions, if not billions, of people in educational and cultural stagnation. If societies believe that they can find the answers to all of life's questions in their holy books, why study anything else?
People pray rather that seek legitimate medical attention for illnesses for themselves and their children. Christian Science "Practitioners", are actually paid by insurance companies to pray for the recovery of the sick and infirm under their care, as opposed to actually giving them even minimal medical treatment.
Most religions tell you that your life on earth is infinitesimally small compared to that which awaits you in heaven. So why even bother trying to do anything but praise God while here on earth?
It's can't be conducive to good mental heath to have an All-Powerful "Judge of Right and Wrong" watching your every move and reading your every thought, ready to cast you into Hell forever for the slightest infraction. You could easily see where this could lead directly to paranoia. Indeed, does this not define paranoia?
In War, religion teaches us that there is no reason to try to quickly end it. After all, God is on our side, and all the fallen soldiers are going to heaven anyway since they are fighting in a Holy cause.
And finally, if we accept Religion's version of human history, we are denying our own true history, the actual human story. Homo Sapiens have endured for a 150,000 years, not 6,000. We have survived global catastrophes (ex: The Toba Caldera Eruption, the Yellowstone Eruption, and an Ice Age), and have battled the Neanderthal for human supremacy of the planet. We have fought the mighty Mammoth, the Mastodon, and the Saber-Tooth tiger. And, in spite of this, and in spite of being constantly plagued by superstition and religion, we have managed to develop Reason and the Scientific Method to a finely honed tool for examining, and explaining, the universe around us.
Q. So why did you write these pages?
A. There a really three reasons:
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1) To give the atheist perspective. Many religious leaders are engaged in constant misinformation campaigns aimed at painting atheists as immoral, dissolute, god-haters (if not outright Satan worshippers). Most religious leaders know that it's a lie, but say it anyway. How many times have I heard Christians confide that it is OK to tell a lie as long as it brings more people to Christ. (We're talking about breaking a commandment here! But it's apparently OK as long as the end justifies the means.)
2) As a resource for people to are just beginning to doubt the veracity of their religion. I only wish there had been such a resource when I was beginning to question the church. The journey from faith to reason could have been a much quicker, less painful, one for me.
3) To get people to think just a little bit. Many people just go day-to-day believing that whatever their religious leader tells them, that whatever happens is just "God's Will" and that there is no other way to think about the world and the universe. THINK! The universe is just as gorgeous, just as wondrous! And without an all-powerful, judgmental God watching your every move and monitoring your every thought, I would say that it is even more so. :)
If this isn't enough, try reading this great piece of the |
of the fundamentalist Christian.
(Warning: Foul Language)
You can also go to Reddit r/Atheism to see even more Atheism answers: |
If you have any questions you'd like addressed on this page, please email me here!|
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