Monday, January 18, 2010

The Reason for Atheism

I find a lot of theists discuss what they feel are the “reasons” for being an atheist. I’d like to go over a few of the common ones, and I’ll end by discussing the true reason [no peeking…].

Even I wield these arguments from time to time, but the fact is that they will never work on the believer. They will roll right off the back of any theist because every single one of these arguments is directly addressed by religion with an explanation which is satisfactory (i.e. “logical” and “reasonable”) to the believer. Frankly, none of this has anything to do with why I lack belief.

1. Logic/Reason – Many atheists use terms like “logic” and “reason” to discuss the lack of gods. The problem is that logic and reason are largely meaningless. They are mystical words which simply mean “This is what I think.” The idea of gods is perfectly “logical” and “reasonable,” as the human mind is perfectly capable of imagining it working.

2. Lack of Evidence – A lack of evidence is proof of nothing, and may be the result of our current ignorance. Tomorrow, someone could invent a machine that actually talked to gods, the way the first radio transmitters utilized formerly unknown capabilities that were merely unnoticed by human beings in nature.

3. Faulty Ethics – The morality of the Bible is called into question quite often, by both Christians and non-Christians. However, this provides no proof against the existence of gods. It is completely within the realm of possibility that the Biblical God was/is pissed off at the poor interpretation of His will, nor are human beings in a position to even question any command of a god (if it all turns out to be “accurate”).

4. One God in a Million – Exposing the fact that countless other gods have been imagined does not disprove the existence of YHWH anymore than imagining several theories for disease (demons, miasma, etc.) discounts germ theory. Each individual god must technically be assessed in order to determine its validity.

5. Prayer Fails – Not much to say here, besides the old cliché of believers: “All prayers are answered, but sometimes the answer is ‘No.’”

However... do the gods truly “answer?”

* The true reason:
I don’t feel it - God is described with such vivid closeness by believers who describe a “personal relationship.” Something so deep and meaningful is clearly tangible to the believer, but it is something I completely lack. I looked in all the right places, did all the right things, said all the right prayers… and at the end of the day it was only me rummaging around in my own head.

Atheists will never believe in something they are meant to feel, but do not. An atheist cannot be convinced through argument that s/he feels God anymore than a theist can be convinced through argument that s/he does not feel God. Arguing over feelings... utter futility.


  1. Maybe you just affirmed Calvinism? You just aren't chosen to feel Her.

  2. Oh I feel Her, just not Him. Maybe I just don't swing that way.

  3. I wish I had read this before my grandfather verbally attacked my atheism yesterday. Good support for the usual arguments, which all failed yesterday. Now it makes sense as to why. Thanks!

  4. The problem is, Christians don't actually care that we feel nothing. They would still want us to go through the motions, like they want gay people to "avoid their impulses."

  5. The problem is, Christians don't actually care that we feel nothing. They would still want us to go through the motions, like they want gay people to "avoid their impulses."
    Should Christians be told to "avoid their impulses" then? lol

    Do you think it is a coincidence that Makarios wrote a blog post that starts with "Atheists say they have good reason to be atheists" today? does he actually read your blog but only comment on his not to give you too much attention...?

  6. Ayn Rand would not like number 1. She opposed mysticism and held reason as our only reliable guide, and yet you equate reason with mumbo jumbo?

    "Reason is man’s only means of grasping reality and of acquiring knowledge—and, therefore, the rejection of reason means that men should act regardless of and/or in contradiction to the facts of reality." -Ayn Rand

    As usual, Ginx, you are seriously confused!

  7. Hugo: I doubt Mak reads the whole thing, which is why he never gets down to the point of commenting. I would urge theists who "feel" god(s) to research the matter and see if perhaps what they are actually noticing are other intangible concepts like love, beauty, awe, empathy, or compassion. None of these have anything to do with gods.

    SE: What Rand thinks is completely irrelevant to me. The existence of gods clearly can be reasoned as logical. Both Plato and Aristotle agree with me, and I hold that as far more prestigious company than Rand (whose entire ideology is nothing but glorified selfishness). Rather than being "illogical," the gods are simply not noticed by me or any atheist. If we noticed god, we would be theists, as our reality would include gods.

  8. Dear Ginx,

    This is a very honest, interesting piece. I really appreciate it. Thank you.

    May I enter the discussion, albeit a bit late?

    RE: #1.

    I don't think you can get away with saying "logic" is "largely meaningless." What does that even mean? Just say it: Logic IS meaningless. OK. Fine. Done. Logic is now pronounced meaningless.

    Question: How do you KNOW this? Haven't you used logic to show its meaninglessness, its futility?

    RE: What you said to HUGO

    You said: I would urge theists who "feel" god(s) to research the matter and see if perhaps what they are actually noticing are other intangible concepts like love, beauty, awe, empathy, or compassion. None of these have anything to do with gods.

    Interesting. But how do I research an intangible, especially when you refer to these intangibles as "other intangibles," like gods? And doesn't research require logic, the principles of reason?

    Also, how do you know that compassion, empathy or awe have nothing to do with gods, as you say? And how do you KNOW, really know, that the experience of love, beauty, awe, and empathy are not experiences of a god or gods? Perhaps beauty IS a god. Perhaps beauty is a characteristic of a god. How do you know?

    And, more aptly, how do you FEEL the difference?

  9. Logic "exists" in the sense that every individual has their own method of figuring out reality. I just believe that every person uses differing methods of logic, so there is no tangible thing called "logic" which has consistent properties we can all agree on. Logic and reason to me may be foolhardy assumptions by another person (as you may feel with my conclusions). I don't know this to be true, but I have observed this to be accurate in my experience.

    I believe there are several ways of testing intangibles within one's own mind. The simplest is to cease believing in a thing. If that thing goes away competely, it did not exist in the first place. Intangibles like love and beauty will creep back into the life of the most ardent denier. I have not experienced this with gods, demons, angels, the tooth fairy or various other mythical creatures (though I once was sure I saw a leprechaun, I am content to believe it was just a midget in green fucking with me).

    There is a common call among believers to attach very real emotions and feelings to gods, in an effort to place some concrete notion of the divine within our framework of existence. If God is Love, if God is Empathy... why do I feel them? I reject the gods, finding them to be petty and ridiculous, and yet here I am filled with love for so many things and people. I feel nothing for the divine, and yet I feel inexpressable pain for people I have never even met (for example, I think anyone who read any first-hand accounts of the Haiti disaster would have to be made of stone to not imagine the agony of those affected).

    The gods are gods, emotions are emotions, and the two are vastly different. God is not an intangible, and anyone who has read the Bible would know that God and angels (and demons, for that matter) are supposed to be all over the place, described in breath-taking scenes of fire and light, or presenting themselves through miraculous visions.


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