This page presents concise rebuttals to the most common arguments and claims made by theists. It also includes relevant links to additional resources. A small number of points deal specifically with Christianity, however the vast majority are applicable to all forms of theism. Links marked with (must watch) or (must read) are considered particularly good at expanding on a topic.
Be sure to view the Additional Links and Quotes pages. If you have any comments or suggestions please leave them at the bottom of the page.
As author I hereby forfeit copyright and declare the content of this page, excluding images and quotes, part of the public domain.
For a similar list see: Iron Chariots – 50 reasons to believe in God.
A religious person might say:
The Biblical God is real.
There is no evidence to support any of the claims made in the Bible concerning the existence of a god. Any ‘evidence’ proposed by theists to support the Bible’s various historical and supernatural claims is non-existent at best, manufactured at worst.
The Bible is not self-authenticating; it is simply one of many religious texts. Like those other texts, it itself constitutes no evidence for the existence of a god. Its florid prose and fanciful content do not legitimise it nor distinguish it from other ancient works of literature.
The Bible is historically inaccurate , factually incorrect, inconsistent  and contradictory. It was artificially constructed by a group of men in antiquity and is poorly translated, heavily altered and selectively interpreted. Entire sections of the text have been redacted over time.
See also: Visualisation of Bible Contradictions (must read), Argument from the Bible, Criticisms of the Bible, Consistency of the Bible, A Compendium of Disbelief, Deconversion: The Bible and A History of God (both must watch), BBC The History of God.
Origins of the Bible: PBS Buried Secrets, CH4 Who wrote the Bible? (a must watch).
“Properly read, the bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived.” – Isaac Asimov
Biblical Jesus was real.
There is no contemporary evidence for Jesus’ existence or the Bible’s account of his life; no artefacts, dwellings, works of carpentry, self-written manuscripts, court records, eyewitness testimony, official diaries, birth records, reﬂections on his significance or written disputes about his teachings. Nothing survives from the time in which he is said to have lived.
All historical references to Jesus derive from hearsay accounts written decades or centuries after his supposed death. These historical references generally refer to early Christians rather than a historical Jesus and, in some cases, directly contradict the Gospels or were deliberately manufactured.
The Gospels themselves contradict one-another  on many key events and were constructed by unknown authors up to a century after the events they describe are said to have occurred. They are not eyewitness accounts. The New Testament, as a whole, contains many internal inconsistencies as a result of its piecemeal construction and is factually incorrect on several historical claims, such as the early existence of Nazareth, the reign of Herod and the Roman census. Like the Old Testament, it too has had entire books and sections redacted.
The Biblical account of Jesus has striking similarities with other mythologies and texts and many of his supposed teachings existed prior to his time. It is likely the character was either partly or entirely invented  by competing first century messianic cults from an amalgamation of Greco-Roman, Egyptian and Judeo-Apocalyptic myths and prophecies.
Even if Jesus’ existence could be established, this would in no way validate Christian theology or any element of the story portrayed in the Bible, such as the performance of miracles or the resurrection. Simply because it is conceivable a heretical Jewish preacher named Yeshua lived circa 30 AD, had followers and was executed, does not imply the son of a god walked the Earth at that time.
The motivation for belief in a divine, salvational Jesus breaks down when you accept evolution:
“Now, if the book of Genesis is an allegory, then sin is an allegory, the Fall is an allegory and the need for a Savior is an allegory – but if we are all descendants of an allegory, where does that leave us? It destroys the foundation of all Christian doctrine—it destroys the foundation of the gospel.” – Ken Ham
See also: Evidence for Jesus, Did Jesus Exist? , Why I am not a Christian (a must read), the Christological Argument, Hitchens – Core of the Jesus myth and Christianity is Immoral (both must watch).
“Christianity: The belief that a cosmic Jewish zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree.” – Anonymous
Miracles prove god exists.
Miracles have not been demonstrated to occur. The existence of a miracle would pose logical problems for belief in a god which can supposedly see the future and began the universe with a set of predefined laws. Even if a ‘miracle’ could be demonstrated it would not immediately imply the existence of a god, much less any particular one, as unknown natural processes or agents could still be at work.
Most alleged miracles can be explained as statistically unlikely occurrences. For example, one child surviving a plane crash that kills two hundred others is not a miracle, just as one person winning the lottery is not. In the absence of any empirical evidence, all other claims can be dismissed as the result of magical thinking, misattribution, credulity, hearsay and anecdote. Eye-witness testimony and anecdotal accounts are, by themselves, not reliable or definitive forms of proof for such extraordinary claims.
Divine intervention claims most often concern systems and events for which we have poor predictive capabilities, for example, weather, sports, health and social/economic interactions. Such claims are rarely made in relation to those things we can accurately predict and test e.g. the motion of celestial bodies, boiling point of water and pull of gravity. If a god is constantly intervening in the universe it supposedly created, then it is with such ambiguity as to appear completely indistinguishable from normal background chance.
Note: Theists often fail to adequately apportion blame when claims of their particular god’s ‘infinite mercy’ or ‘omnibenevolence’ involve sparing a few lives in a disaster, or recovery from a debilitating disease – all of which their god would ultimately be responsible for inflicting if it existed. See also: Euthyphro dilemma, Confirmation bias, Cherry Picking.
See also: Argument from Miracles, Why won’t god heal amputees? [Video], Spontaneous Remission of Disease, The problem with anecdotes (a must watch).
“Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” – Carl Sagan
“Elite athletes make first place, strange shapes appear on toast and some people narrowly escape death, but amputated limbs never regrow, mountains never move and food never spontaneously appears in front of the hundreds of children that starve to death each hour.” – Anonymous
God is the source of morality.
Morality is a cultural concept with a basis in evolutionary psychology  and game theory . Species whose members were predisposed to cooperate were more likely to survive and pass on their genes. Reciprocacy, altruism and other so-called ‘moral’ characteristics are evident in many species . The neurochemical thought to regulate morality and empathy is oxytocin .
Religious texts are simply part of many early attempts to codify moral precepts. Secular law, flexible with the shifting moral zeitgeist, has long since superseded religion as a source of moral directives for the majority of developed societies. Secular ethics offers a number of competing moral frameworks which do not derive from a purported supernatural source.
See also: Dawkins – Source of Morality, Babies can tell right from wrong, Moral behaviour in animals, Altruism in Chimps and Toddlers, Trust, Morality and Oxytocin (a must watch), Evolution of Cooperation, Science of Morality. Animals Cooperating: Monkeys, Birds, Chimps.
The god character of the Bible is a misogynistic tyrant that condones and even orders the practice of slavery, rape of women and murder of children. The moment you disagree with a single instruction of the Bible, such as the command to kill any bride who is not a virgin or any child who disrespects their parents, then you acknowledge that there exists a superior standard by which to judge moral action and thus no need to rely on an ancient, primitive and barbaric fantasy.
See also: the Euthyphro dilemma, Epicurus Trilemma, Problem of Evil, Morality – Good without Gods (a must watch), Dawkins on Absolute Morality (a must watch), The West Wing (a must watch), Deconversion: Morality (a must watch).
“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?” – Epicurus
People need to believe in god / Without god people will do bad things.
Argument from adverse consequences .
Just because something is perceived as having good consequences if it is true, does not actually make it true.
The fact that religiously free societies with a proportionally large number of atheists are generally more peaceful  than otherwise is evidence this perception is incorrect.
See also: Atheism, Secularity, and Well-Being (a must read).
“With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.” – Steven Weinberg
Atheists can’t know the difference between right and wrong.
Note: The following answer is a generalisation. Atheists are not a homogeneous group. There is no formal moral code resulting from a lack of belief. Atheists can and do subscribe to any number of ethical systems, or may simply decide such things for themselves.
Atheists generally derive their sense of right and wrong from an innate  and reasoned  understanding of which actions contribute towards a society most hospitable to continual well-being and personal fulfilment. They are accountable to their own conscience and to society at large. They do not require an absolute standard in order to make distinctions between the possible effects of their actions.
Atheists are attuned to the here and now. Their ethics are not derived from some reward or punishment after death, but from a rational consideration of the consequences in this life. Impulsive desires are compassionately, empathetically and intelligently  weighed against long term personal and social goals.
As social animals that have evolved to want and give love, to have freedom and security, we have learned that we are safer, stronger and more prosperous in a successful group. Crimes are inherently anti-social behaviours that introduce needless risk and are antithetical to the long-term needs and goals of a happy, stable society.
Note: Essentially all theists unknowingly exercise their innate ‘morality’ or conscience by picking and choosing which parts of their religion to follow.
See also: Enlightened Self-Interest, Secular Ethics, Secular Humanism, Secular Morality, Compassion, Empathy, Sympathy, Conscience, Morality – Good without Gods (a must watch) Sam Harris – Science and Morality (a must watch), Trust, Morality and Oxytocin (a must watch), Christopher Hitchens on Atheist morality.
“I have no need for religion, I have a conscience.” – Anonymous
Lots of people believe in a god.
Argumentum ad populum. The popularity of an idea says nothing of its veracity.
Geocentrism, a flat earth, creationism, astrology, alchemy and the occult were all once pervasive beliefs.
Furthermore, religions are culturally relative and, for the most part, are inconsistent and mutually exclusive.
“I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.” – Stephen F Roberts
“A lie is a lie even if everyone believes it. The truth is the truth even if nobody believes it.” – David Stevens
God created/caused the universe.
The First Cause Argument, or Cosmological Argument , is internally contradictory and raises the following questions: Who or what created god?, Why should a hypothetical ‘cause’ have any of the common attributes of a god?, Why is the ‘cause’ a specific god?, Why can’t the universe be causeless too? and, most importantly, Why rule out all other possible explanations?
It is fundamentally a ‘god of the gaps’ approach. Our current lack of understanding concerning the Universe’s origins does not automatically mean ‘god’ holds any explanatory value. Metaphysical and theistic speculation are not immediately justified or correct simply because we lack a comprehensive scientific model. Uncertainty is the most valid position and one can honestly say “We just don’t know yet”.
The argument ignores the fact that our everyday understanding of causality has been arrived at via a posteriori inductive reasoning – which means it might not apply to everything. Time, for instance, appears to have begun with the Big Bang, so there might not have been any ’cause’ for the Universe to be an ‘effect’ of since there was probably no time for a ’cause’ to exist in. Applying concepts like time and causality to the Big Bang might be comparable to asking “What is north of the North Pole?” – ultimately nonsensical and incoherent. Furthermore, even if causality could be established it would not immediately imply the existence of a god, much less any particular one, as the properties and nature of the ’cause’ could forever remain a mystery or be naturalistic.
In fact, something can come from nothing and we are able to observe it in the form of virtual particles and quantum vacuum fluctuations. They explain why the early universe lacked uniformity and provided the seeds for the emergence of structure . These quantum phenomena are also causeless in the sense that they are objectively and irreducibly random, a fact confirmed by tests of non-local realism and Bell’s Theorem.
Note 1: Theists often state “God is outside of time”. This claim does not actually make their speculation correct. Instead, it brings with it a whole host of problems and may be immediately dismissed as being without basis and a type fallacy known as special pleading.
Note 2: Cosmogony is the scientific study of the origins of the universe.
See also: Carl Sagan on the topic (a must watch), Hitchens, Hawking – Did God Create the Universe? (a must watch), BBC Horizon – What happened before the big bang?, BBC Nothing (a must watch) and ‘A Universe From Nothing’ by Lawrence Krauss (a must watch).
“Some would ask, how could a perfect God create a universe filled with so much that is evil. They have missed a greater conundrum: why would a perfect God create a universe at all?” – Sister Miriam Godwinson
God answers prayers.
So does a milk jug. The only thing worse than sitting idle as someone suffers is to do absolutely nothing yet think you’re actually helping; in other words, praying.
Belief in the efficacy of prayer is a form of confirmation bias. Information and coincidences which, by chance, appear to support the belief are favoured and remembered while those that do not are discarded or rationalised. See also: Cherry Picking.
By incorrectly attributing supernatural causal relationships to otherwise minor correlations, prayer becomes a form of self-deception known as magical thinking. See also: Wishful thinking.
For the conceivably large number of prayers that occur over time there are relatively few ‘answers’ acknowledged by churches and none that are actually demonstrable, such as the healing of amputees or moving of mountains.
Studies have failed to find any evidence for benefits from prayer that cannot be ruled out as either the placebo effect or a form of cognitive behavioural therapy. In fact, the most comprehensive study performed thus far found that hospital patients who were prayed for suffered more complications than otherwise.
See also: Prayer as a superstition, The MANTRA Study, Deconversion: Prayer (a must watch), The superstitious pigeon (a must watch).
“If god is the alpha and the omega. The beginning and the end, knows what has passed and what is to come, why do people pray and think it will make any difference?” – Mark Fairclough
“Prayer: To ask the laws of the universe to be annulled on behalf of a single petitioner, confessedly unworthy.” – Ambrose Bierce
“Two hands working can do more than a thousand clasped in prayer.” – Unknown
I feel a personal relationship with god OR I experienced god.
Argument from personal experience .
A result of our naturally evolved neurology, made hypersensitive to purpose (an ‘unseen actor’) because of the large social groups humans have and the way the brain associates pattern with intent.
Humans have evolved a variety of cognitive shortcuts to deal with the mass of information provided by our senses. In particular, we tend to filter sensory input according to a set of expectations built on prior beliefs and past experiences, impart meaning to ambiguous input even when there is no real meaning behind it and infer causal relationships where none exist.
Personal revelation cannot be independently verified. So-called ‘revelations’ never include information a recipient could not have known beforehand, such as the time and location of a rare event or answers to any number of unsolved problems in science. They are usually emotional or perceptual in content and therefore unremarkable among the many cognitive processes brains exhibit, including dreams and hallucinations. These experiences may even be artificially induced by narcotics or magnetic fields. Extreme cases may be diagnosed as a form of schizophrenia or psychosis.
Spiritual and religious experiences are not only inconsistent among individuals but are variably attributed to different gods, aliens, spirits, rituals, hallucinations, meditation etc. The fact that medical conditions and other natural processes  can induce these experiences is evidence they are produced by our brain.
See also: NPR Your brain on god?, Hardwired for religion?, Searching for God in the Brain, The Economist, BBC Doco, PBS Doco and Dawkins on the topic, Deconversion: Personal Relationship (a must watch), TED – How it feels to have a stroke (a must watch) and TED – Ramachandran on your mind.
Papers: Religion and Hippocampal Atrophy.
“You can tell you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.” – Anne Lamott
People who believe in god are happier.
The claim that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one. The happiness of credulity is a cheap and dangerous quality.
Atheism is correlated with better scientific literacy , lower poverty rates, higher literacy rates, higher average incomes, less violence, lower divorce rates, lower teen pregnancy rates, lower STD infection rates, lower crime rates and lower homicide rates. It correlates highly with the well-being of individuals and societies by almost every possible measure.
Atheists can be spiritual (a must watch).
Studies on happiness outside of predominantly religious countries (eg. the United States) find little to no correlation between happiness and religious belief. This corresponds with evidence which shows social and community bonding, rather than spiritual engagement, explains why religious people report greater satisfaction with life. Atheists, by comparison, may also simply be unhappy with the level of distrust and persecution they receive from their compatriots.
“Where ignorance is bliss, ’tis folly to be wise.” – Thomas Gray
“Being an atheist is like being the only sober person in the car – and no one will let you drive.” – Anonymous
The world is beautiful.
The Argument from Beauty fails to explain why some things are beautiful to some people and not to others, and also fails to establish beauty as something immaterial instead of being a subjective neurological response to stimuli.
Human beauty is physical and psychological attractiveness, it helps us choose a healthy partner with whom to reproduce. Abstract beauty, like art, landscapes and music, are an artefact of culture and the way our brain interprets color, shapes and sound.
The world is not always beautiful: decay/entropy in physical systems and disease/death among living creatures are natural functions of physics and biology. For example, there exists a species of worm known as Loa Loa Filariasis. This parasite lives underneath the skin and inside the eyes of human beings. Children and the elderly in tropical regions (usually the poorest) are the most widely affected. A slow, painful death is virtually certain. A ‘god’, if one exists, would have had to create such an organism purposefully – along with all the other diseases, afflictions and parasites.
See also: TED – A Darwinian theory of beauty (a must watch), David Attenborough on Beauty and Creation (a must watch), Activation of the prefrontal cortex in human visual aesthetic percption (a must read).
“Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?” – Douglas Adams
“The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute that it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive, many others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear, others are slowly being devoured from within by rasping parasites, thousands of all species are dying of starvation, thirst, and disease. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.” – Richard Dawkins
Smart person X believes in god or ‘You are not qualified’.
Ad hominem + Argument from Authority.
Invisible pink unicorns exist. You’re not an expert in them, so you can’t say they don’t.
The validity of a claim, such as the existence of god, is not governed by the intelligence of the minds which hold it. Evidence and reason are the deciding factors.
Sir Isaac Newton, one of history’s greatest scientists, was not only intensely religious but also believed in alchemical transmutation. Alchemy is, however, fully incorrect given our modern understanding of chemistry, the atom and nucleosynthysis.
The fact that an intelligent person holds an irrational belief is simply evidence that our brains are able to compartmentalise world-views and models from one another, usually in order to maintain a state of ‘ignorant bliss’ and escape the discomfort of cognitive dissonance.
The universe is fine-tuned for life.
The Fine-Tuning Argument .
The universe is extremely hostile to life. Extinction level events have nearly eliminated complex life on Earth on five separate occasions. Of all the species that have ever lived 99.9% are now extinct. Furthermore, normal matter like stars and planets occupy less than 0.0000000000000000000042 percent of the observable universe. Life constitutes an even smaller fraction of that matter again. If the universe is fine-tuned for anything it is for the creation of black holes  and empty space.
There is nothing to suggest that human life, our planet or our universe are uniquely privileged nor intended. On the contrary, the sheer scale of the universe in both space and time and our understanding of its development indicate we are non-central to the scheme of things; mere products of chance, physical laws and evolution. To believe otherwise amounts to an argument from incredulity and a hubris mix of anthropocentrism and god of the gaps thinking.
The conditions that we observe, namely, those around our Sun and on Earth, simply seem fine-tuned to us because we evolved to suit them. We cannot prove that all other possible forms of life would be infeasible with a different set of conditions or constants because the only universe that we can observe is the one we occupy. Indeed, modelling  suggests star formation (a necessary precursor to our form of biology) may be viable under a number of different universal conditions.
Without actual proof of creation, naturalistic explanations  for the properties of this universe cannot be wholly ruled out. It is possible an infinity of universes  exist, all with different conditions and forms of life. The fact that our particular universe has the physical constants we observe may be no more to the point than the fact a hand of cards, dealt from a shuffled deck, is the one a hypothetical player holds. Though the chances of any one universe being hospitable to life might be low, the conditional probability of a form of life observing a set of constants suitable to it is exactly unity. That is to say, every possible universe would ‘appear’ fine-tuned to the form of life it harbours, while all those inhospitable universes would never be observed by life at all.
See also: Brian Greene – Why is our universe fine-tuned? (a must watch), Is the Universe Fine Tuned for Life? (a must watch), The Copernican Principle, Cosmic Voyage (a must watch), Dawkins on Fine-tuning (a must watch) and the Anthropic Principle, Michio Kaku on Multiverse Theory.
Additionally: The Great Demotions and A Universe Not Made for Us by Carl Sagan (both must watch).
“The universe is not fine-tuned to life; life is fine-tuned to the universe.” – Victor Stenger
“Imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, ‘This is an interesting world I find myself in, an interesting hole I find myself in, fits me rather neatly, doesn’t it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!’ This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and the puddle gets smaller and smaller, it’s still frantically hanging on to the notion that everything’s going to be all right, because this world was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise.” – Douglas Adams
Complexity/Order proves god exists.
The Teleological argument , or Argument from Design, is a non sequitur. Complexity does not imply design and does not prove the existence of a god. Even if design could be established we cannot conclude anything about the nature of the designer (Aliens?). Furthermore, many biological systems have obvious defects consistent with the predictions of evolution by means of natural selection.
The appearance of complexity and order in the universe is the result of spontaneous self-organisation and pattern formation, caused by chaotic feedback between simple physical laws and rules. All the complexity of the universe, all its apparent richness, even life itself, arises from simple, mindless rules repeated over and over again for billions of years. Current scientific theories are able to clearly explain how complexity and order arise in physical systems. Any lack of understanding does not immediately imply ‘god’.
Big Bang > Cosmic Inflation > Big Bang Nucleosynthesis > Stellar Formation > Galaxy Formation > Stellar Nucleosynthesis > Solar System Formation > Earth Formation > Abiogenesis > Evolution
Note: Crystallisation is one example of how matter can readily self-organise into complex, ordered shapes and structures eg. Bismuth.
See also: The Story of Everything by Carl Sagan (a must watch), BBC – The Secret Life of Chaos (a must watch), BBC – The Cell: Spark of Life (a must watch), Self-Organisation, Evolution , The Watchmaker Analogy, Ultimate 747 gambit, Junkyard Tornado  (Hoyle’s fallacy).
Additionally: The laryngeal nerve of the giraffe, Evolution of the Eye, Chromosome 2, Bacterial Flagellum, TalkOrigins Index to Creationist Claims.
“The universe is huge and old and rare things happen all the time, including life.” – Lawrence Krauss
“There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.” – Charles Darwin
Spiral patterns in Galaxies, Cyclones, Whirlpools, Broccoli, Shells, BZ Reactions, Subatomic Particles, Fractals and Archimedes Diagram. All explainable by natural processes.
Oxytocin, Serotonin and Dopamine.
Affection, empathy and peer bonding increase social cohesion and lead to higher survival chances for offspring.
See also: Trust, Morality and Oxytocin (a must watch), Pair Bonding in animals, Chemical Basis for Love, How Love Works.
“You do not need the Bible to justify love, but no better tool has been invented to justify hate.” – Richard Weatherwax
God is the universe/love/laws of physics.
We already have names for these things. Redefining something as ‘god’ tells us nothing. To use the word ‘god’ implies a host of other attributes and if you don’t intend to apply those attributes, using the word is intentionally misleading.
“To call the world God is not to explain it; it is only to enrich our language with a superfluous synonym for the word ‘world’.” – Arthur Schopenhauer
Science can’t explain X, therefore god/theism.
God of the gaps . Argument from Ignorance.
Simply because you or the scientific community lack a complete understanding of something does not imply a theistic explanation carries any value. Even if there exists some topic on which science can never speak, any understanding could potentially evade us forever – supernatural or metaphysical speculation would not automatically be correct. Uncertainty is the most legitimate position.
Lightning, earthquakes, volcanos, disease, mental illness, speciation, planetary orbits and numerous other phenomena have been historically labelled ‘supernatural’ only to later be more thoroughly and elegantly explained by science. In fact, every mystery ever demonstrably solved has had a non-supernatural explanation. To suggest that science cannot or will not explain a phenomena, and that only theism can, is hubris of the highest order.
Using ‘god’ to explain something explains nothing. God’s supposed powers and how they work are a mystery. An explanation is intended to clarify and extend knowledge. Attributing a phenomenon to the magical powers of a supernatural being does neither. Worse still, this presumption acts to prevent any deeper investigation, being little more than a form of blissful ignorance.
Note: By using ‘god’ to fill gaps in their knowledge theists inadvertently provide a shrinking role for their god as science advances. They also predicate god’s existence on a lack of knowledge, not on any positive argument or evidence.
See also: The God of the Gaps – Neil deGrasse Tyson (a must watch), Open-Mindedness (a must watch), Skewed views of science, The faith cake (a must watch), Richard Feynman on Doubt and Uncertainty (a must watch), Critical Thinking, Magical Thinking, Self-Deception Open-Mindedness (a must watch).
“I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world.” – Richard Dawkins
“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.” – Charles Darwin
Phenomenon X has a non-physical component.
Baseless assertion. Unfalsifiable. How can you prove it?
There have been numerous claims of the supernatural, none of which have ever been demonstrated to be true. Furthermore, these claims are often mutually contradictory, and people who believe in one form of supernatural or paranormal activity will usually not believe in others due to cognitive bias and wishful thinking.
Proposing a non-physical explanation for an observed or imagined/fabricated phenomena is not a testable hypothesis and is therefore unworthy of serious consideration. It precludes any deeper insight or understanding and offers no means of distinction from any other possible supernatural claim.
There are many as yet unexplained phenomena and anomalies in nature. The scientific approach to these is to say “I don’t know yet” and keep on looking, not to presume an answer which makes us comfortable.
Note: This claim often represents a deep discomfort with uncertainty or ambiguity, demonstrating a lack of critical thinking or poor understanding of a topic. It usually coincides with credulity, which is the tendency to believe in propositions unsupported by evidence. See also: gullibility.
See also: Critical Thinking (a must watch), Open-Mindedness (a must watch), Nobel Laureate Richard Feynman on Doubt and Uncertainty (a must watch), Delusion, Magical Thinking, Superstition, Self-Deception.
“What can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof.” – Christopher Hitchens
“I don’t feel frightened by not knowing things, I think it’s much more interesting that way … I have approximate answers, and possible beliefs, and different degrees of certainty about different things, but I’m not absolutely sure of anything. I might think about it a little, but if I can’t figure it out, then I go to something else. It doesn’t frighten me.” – Richard Feynman
Materialism/Evidentialism/Science cannot recognise supernatural phenomena.
Distortion of reality. Lack of Critical thinking. The Dragon in my Garage by Carl Sagan. What is real? What constitutes knowledge? Are all supernatural claims implicitly true? Why/Why not?
A person who disbelieves for poor reasons is no better off than someone who believes for poor reasons. Disbelieving in astrology because a priest tells you to is no better than believing in a god because the same priest tells you to do so.
Science observes the physical universe, makes models of how it works and then refines those models through further observation. When something interacts with the physical universe, such as through light, motion, sound, heat, mass or gravity, it becomes a natural phenomena and thus open to scientific inquiry. If it does not interact with the physical universe then it cannot be said to exist in any meaningful or perceivable way. Furthermore, when supernatural claims become sufficiently nebulous one may ask if there is any substantive difference between them being true and nothing existing at all.
Proposing the existence of an entity or phenomena that can never be investigated via empirical, experimental or reproducible means moves it from the realm of reality and into the realm of unfalsifiable speculation. The inability of science to investigate or disprove such a hypothesis is not the same as proving it true and neither does it automatically lend credence to any metaphysical or theological argument. If such reasoning were actually permissible then one could claim anything imaginable to be real or true if only because it could not be proven false.
Relying on supernatural explanations is a cop-out or a dead-end to deepening our understanding of reality. If a natural cause for something is not known, the scientific approach is to say “I don’t know yet” and keep on looking, not to presume an answer which makes us comfortable.
See also: Skewed views of science (a must watch), Open-Mindedness (a must watch), The Dragon in my Garage by Carl Sagan (a must read), Delusion, Magical Thinking, Superstition, Self-Deception.
“Science adjusts it’s understanding based on what’s observed. Faith is the denial of observation so that belief can be preserved.” – Tim Minchin
I can’t believe/understand a world without God OR No god is too unlikely.
Argument from incredulity / Lack of imagination and Argumentum ad Ignorantiam. Ignores and does not eliminate the fact that something can seem incredible or unlikely and still be true, or appear to be obvious or likely and yet still be false.
The world is the way it is. Reality does not bend to our personal whim and facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. Our personal belief in something does not automatically make it real or true and, conversely, our lack of understanding of a topic does not make it false.
Until we understand something we “do not know”. Positing a ‘god’ in place of admitting personal ignorance is an unfounded leap which demonstrates a fundamental lack of humility.
The existence and non-existence of a god are not equally probable outcomes. The majority of things we can possibly imagine do not exist. Thus, belief is not as valid a position as skepticism when dealing with unsupported or unfalsifiable claims. Agnostic atheism is the most rational position.
See also: Critical thinking (a must watch), Richard Feynman on Doubt and Uncertainty (a must watch).
“It is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.” – Carl Sagan
“God is an ever-receding pocket of ignorance that’s getting smaller and smaller as time goes on.”– Neil deGrasse Tyson
There is no evidence god doesn’t exist, so belief is as justified or as valid as non-belief.
A common attempt to shift the burden of proof or ‘make room’ for a god. Represents a type of false dichotomy that excludes the fact that there is insufficient investigation and the proposition has not yet been proven either true or false.
The failure to disprove the existence of something does not constitute proof of its existence.
Belief is not as valid a position as skepticism when dealing with unsupported or unfalsifiable claims because all such claims would need to be believed implicitly. Agnostic atheism is the most rational position.
Note: It is possible to gather evidence of absence and disprove specific claims about and definitions of a god. [Video]
See also: Putting faith in its place (a must watch), A Lack of Belief in Gods, Critical Thinking.
Atheists should prove god doesn’t exist.
The burden of proof is on the person or party asserting the claim; in this case, the theist.
See also: The Dragon in my Garage by Carl Sagan, Invisible Pink Unicorn and Flying Spaghetti Monster.
Atheism takes faith / is a religion.
Calling atheism a religion is like calling bald a hair color, or not collecting stamps a hobby.
Atheism is simply a lack of belief in a god or gods, nothing more. If we deconstruct the term ‘atheism’ we find ‘a – theism’ which means ‘without – theism’ which, in turn, means ‘without – belief in god(s)’. It is, therefore, not a positive belief or a claim to knowledge. Instead, it is the default position of doubt, uncertainty and skepticism one may have regarding claims made by theists. Just as it takes no faith to lack belief or remain uncertain concerning any other imaginable claim, it takes none to doubt the existence of a god or gods. See also: Atheism is based on faith, Russell’s Teapot.
Every human-being ever born begins life as an implicit atheist and must be taught the concept of theism or, more commonly, indoctrinated with it.
Atheism has no sacred texts, objects, places or times, no rituals or creation stories, no positive beliefs, central tenants, modes of worship or supernatural claims, no implicit or derived moral codes, philosophies or world views and no central organisation or church. It fulfills none of the criteria that define a religion. See also: Atheism is a religion.
Atheists may subscribe to any additional ideologies, philosophies and belief systems they choose, eg. Buddhism, Jainism, Universalism, Environmentalism, Pragmatism, Liberalism, Socialism, Libertarianism, Conservatism, etc. They may even appreciate components of traditional religion and spiritualism, including any supernatural elements unrelated to a god. Common among many atheists, however, is an appreciation for secularism, rationalism, humanism, skepticism, naturalism, materialism and freethinking – none of which are implicit or derived from atheism, nor necessary in order to lack belief.
See also: A Lack of Belief in Gods for a short introduction to atheism (a must watch), Sam Harris – Misconceptions about Atheism (a must watch), Putting faith in it’s place (a must watch).
“To say that atheism requires faith is as dim-witted as saying that disbelief in pixies or leprechauns takes faith. Even if Einstein himself told me there was an elf on my shoulder, I would still ask for proof and I wouldn’t be wrong to ask.” – Geoff Mather
What about agnosticism?
Agnosticism is the view that the truth value of certain claims is unknown or unknowable. It is a philosophical position not necessarily tied to god’s existence or non-existence. One can be agnostic about any claim. The word originates from the Ancient Greek ἀ- (a-), meaning “without”, and γνῶσις (gnōsis), meaning “knowledge” – “without knowledge”.
Most atheists, including famous ones such as Richard Dawkins, fall into the category of ‘Agnostic Atheism’ – they don’t claim to know with certainty that god does not exist. Conversely, most theists are ‘Gnostic Theists’ – they claim to know with certainty that their particular god exists.
When most atheists say “God does not exist” they are generally speaking in the same manner as when people say “Leprechauns/Santa Claus/Fairies/Unicorns don’t exist” – those things do not appear exist within contextual reality in which we find ourselves but, importantly, the statement is not necessarily an absolute one.
There are, however, gnostic atheists who are certain no god exists and they generally point to logical problems that would arise from said god’s existence or evidence this universe is inconsistent with a god, for example:
- Infinite Regression
- Argument from Poor Design
- The Atheist’s Wager
- Non-belief Paradox
- Omnipotence Paradox
- Free Will Paradox
- Argument from locality
- Argument from Non-reason
- Argument from incompatible properties
- Fate of the Unlearned
- Problem of Evil and Problem of Hell
See also: The Dragon in my Garage by Carl Sagan.
What would convince an atheist of a god’s existence?
A particular standard of evidence is required to prove any claim. This ‘standard’ is adjusted depending upon the nature of the claim. Since god’s existence is an extraordinary claim, perhaps the most extraordinary claim, proving it requires equally extraordinary evidence.
The standard of evidence required to prove a god’s existence is immediately more than any personal anecdote, witness testimony, ancient book or reported miracle – none of which can be considered extraordinarily reliable. The human mind is also highly susceptible to being fooled and even fooling itself. One could be suffering from an hallucination or a form of undiagnosed schizophrenia, hysteria or psychosis, ruling out even our own senses as reliable evidence gathering mechanisms in this case. As strange as it sounds, misunderstood aliens might even be attempting to interact with us using extremely advanced technology. In fact, reality itself could be a computer simulation which we unknowingly inhabit.
Every conceivable argument, every imaginable piece of evidence for god is not without some fatal flaw or more likely explanation which precludes it from being used as definitive proof. Note: This is not the same as being close-minded.
There is, however, a simple answer to this question: God is what it would take to convince an atheist. An omniscient god would know the exact standard of evidence required to convince any atheist of its existence and, being omnipotent, it would also be able to immediately produce this evidence. If it wanted to, a god could conceivably change the brain chemistry of any individual in order to compel them to believe. It could even restructure the entire universe in such a way as to make non-belief impossible.
In short, a god actually proving its own existence is what would convince any atheist of said god’s existence.
See also: Sunset (a must read), The Dragon in my Garage by Carl Sagan, The Argument from nonbelief (a must read), Open-Mindedness (a must watch).
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” – Arthur C. Clark
“Because if the only way the supreme creator of the entire universe can demonstrate his existence to me is to create images of Mary or Jesus on food items, I’m not impressed.” – Anonymous
I don’t want to go to hell/You will go to hell.
Pascal’s Wager does not actually argue in support of the existence of a god, rather, it simply attempts to coerce insincere worship. There are several issues with this approach:
- Multiple inconsistent and contradictory revelations (Which god/hell?)
- Hell is incompatible with an omnibenevolent god.
- A god could reward reasoning/skepticism.
- An omniscient god would see through feigned belief as a result of coercion.
- If a god wanted everyone to believe and knew exactly what was needed to convince people, then why are there atheists at all? Is god unable to prevent transgression of his will?
- Infallible foreknowledge is incompatible with free will (Are atheists predestined for hell?)
- Most people adhere to the religion they were born into, they have not examined all other religions.
- What is the fate of the unlearned? What happens to people who have not encountered the specific religion in which hell is an issue.
See also: Dawkins – What if you’re wrong? (a must watch), The Problem of Hell, Hell: An excessive punishment, The Atheist’s Wager.
“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.” — Anonymous
“We must question the story logic of having an all-knowing all-powerful God, who creates faulty Humans, and then blames them for his own mistakes.” – Gene Roddenberry
I want to go to heaven.
Argument from wishful thinking. The primary psychological role of traditional religion is deathist rationalisation, that is, rationalising the tragedy of death as a good thing to alleviate the anxiety of mortality.
See also: Nobody can get into heaven, Hitchens on Life and Death (a must watch) Dawkins – We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones (a must watch).
“I would love to believe that when I die I will live again, that some thinking, feeling, remembering part of me will continue. But much as I want to believe that, and despite the ancient and worldwide cultural traditions that assert an afterlife, I know of nothing to suggest that it is more than wishful thinking. The world is so exquisite with so much love and moral depth, that there is no reason to deceive ourselves with pretty stories for which there’s little good evidence. Far better it seems to me, in our vulnerability, is to look death in the eye and to be grateful every day for the brief but magnificent opportunity that life provides.” – Carl Sagan
“I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.” – Mark Twain
I want to believe in God OR I just have faith.
There is a truth and reality independent of our desires. Faith simply reinforces your belief in what you would like to be true, rather than what really is.
In order to better under understand this reality and discover the truth we must look for evidence outside ourselves.
Faith isn’t a virtue; it is the glorification of voluntary ignorance.
See also: Putting faith in it’s place (a must watch), The faith cake (a must watch).
“Every atom in your body came from a star that exploded. And, the atoms in your left hand probably came from a different star than your right hand. It really is the most poetic thing I know about physics: You are stardust. You couldn’t be here if stars hadn’t exploded, because the elements – the carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, iron, all the things that matter for evolution and for life – weren’t created at the beginning of time. They were created in the nuclear furnaces of stars, and the only way for them to get into your body is if those stars were kind enough to explode. So, forget Jesus. The stars died so that you could be today.” – Lawrence Krauss
Believers are persecuted by atheists.
Blue Laws. Anti-atheist laws. Discrimination against atheists. The written penalty for apostasy (leaving a religion) in most religions is death.
Believers claim the victim and imply that non-theists gang up on them, or rally against them. No, atheists just look at believers the same way they might look at someone who claims the Earth is flat, or that the Earth is the centre of the universe: delusional.
The bar theists set for perceived atheist hostility appears to be anyone simply voicing a dissenting opinion or mentioning an inclination towards non-belief. Claiming ‘persecution’ is simply a deflection for theists who are unwilling or unable to deal with open criticism.
When Atheists aren’t considered the least trustworthy [PDF] group and comprise more than 70% of the population, then we’ll talk about persecution.
Why can’t atheists just leave theists alone?
- Because religion has been, and continues to be, responsible for countless horrors throughout human history. See also: Religiously motivated animosity, violence and oppression and discrimination.
- For all the problems we face as a society, many theists choose not only to do nothing to help, but actually engage in sabotage by actively preventing solutions from being instigated, usually by supporting irrational political positions e.g. stem-cell research, contraception, women’s rights, sexual equality and even global warming.
- Because belief in a god taps into mankind’s natural tendency to defer moral decision making to authority figures (including priests, prophets, holy books, popes, ayatollahs and imams). Acting out ‘God’s plan’ or ‘God’s will’ is a sure-fire way to absolve one’s-self of responsibility for one’s actions. See also: Cituke.
- Because as a functional member of society it benefits everyone if your decision making process is founded on evidence and reason, not on superstition. Faith isn’t a virtue; it is the glorification of voluntary ignorance.
- Because religious superstition erects an absolute monarchy in a person’s mind. It teaches them to be satisfied with with not understanding the world and represents a surrendering to ignorance under the pretension of ‘devine knowledge’. Many of the greatest thinkers in human history have been repressed, sometimes forcefully, by those with faith. It is not skeptics or explorers but fanatics and ideologues who menace decency and progress. See also: Hypatia, Galileo Galilei, Giordano Bruno, The relationship between science and religion.
Note: The common theist response “Those people aren’t really [insert religion]” is an example of the No True Scotsman fallacy. If all the Christians who have called other Christians ‘not really a Christian’ were to vanish, there’d be no Christians left.
See also: The Ethics of Belief (a must read).
“Men never commit evil so fully and joyfully as when they do it for religious convictions.” – Blaise Pascal
“No belief held by one man, however seemingly trivial the belief, and however obscure the believer, is ever actually insignificant or without its effect on the fate of mankind” – William Clifford
Militant atheists are just as bad as religious ones.
No, they’re not. There are no calls for slavery, rape or murder in the atheist holy book.
Atheists are most often called ‘militant’ when they passionately defend reason and advocate critical thinking. The bar theists set for perceived hostility appears to be any atheist simply voicing an opinion in dissent of religious belief. In contrast, the bar atheists set for perceived theistic hostility is any form of religiously motivated violence or oppression.
Atheism does not preclude someone from being argumentative or insensitive; those things are simply seen as being preferable to killing one another over an imaginary friend.
A ‘militant’ atheist will debate in a University theatre or appeal for the separation of religion and government. A militant theist will kill doctors, stone women to death, incite religious war, restrict sexual and gender equality and convince children they are flawed and worthless – all under the instruction of their imagined ‘god’ or holy book.
It can be argued that there is no such thing as a ‘militant’ atheist, that the term is itself a misnomer, because there is simply no ideology or philosophy in atheism to be militant about. If an atheist is someone who lacks belief in gods, then a ‘militant’ atheist is apparently someone who passionately lacks a belief in gods. All other possible beliefs and ideologies – including any desire to oppress theism – come from outside atheism. This is in contrast to religious belief, which often includes a set of laws and commandments purportedly derived from a supernatural source about which one can be ‘militant’.
Note: ‘Militant’ atheism is most often confused with gosateizm (state atheism), which was based on the ideology of Marxism-Leninism. It was this ideology which was responsible for the oppression and murder of theists under several 20th century communist regimes. Atheism is simply a lack of belief in gods with no inherit moral, political or philosophical baggage.
See also: The Ethics of Belief (a must read), Richard Dawkins on Militant Atheism, Christian Terrorism, Islamic Terrorism, Atheist Terrorism (no link found).
“I’m sorry if my insensitivity towards your beliefs offends you. But guess what – your religious wars, jihads, crusades, inquisitions, censoring of free speech, brainwashing of children, forcing girls into underage marriages, female genital mutilation, stoning, pederasty, homophobia and rejection of science and reason offend me. So I guess we’re even.” – Anonymous
Where is god? (Interjection)
Why is it now that we have developed rational inquiry we hear only a deafening silence from a god who once supposedly engaged regularly in human affairs? Why does god not simply speak to us or appear before us as he supposedly used to? Why are we the losers in the dice roll of time? If a god places such a high value on us worshipping and believing then why not simply make its existence obvious to us?
If one accepts the prevailing scientific understanding of the development of the universe, yet also believes in one of the major religions, then presumably a god sat idle for 13.7 billion years – waiting as the stars, galaxies and planets formed. Then it watched with complete and utter indifference as modern Homo Sapians evolved, struggled and died for a further 150,000 years. Finally, a few thousand years ago, this god suddenly decided to reveal itself to several people in the most primitive, illiterate and remote portions of humanity in a completely unverifiable way – and then simply disappeared.
See also: Hitchens on God (a must watch).
“If God had wanted us to believe in him, he would have existed.” – Linda Smith
The logical problem of Jesus. (Interjection)
If Jesus is God then presumably he is omniscient. If this is true, then when he allowed himself to be sacrificed, didn’t he do this with the knowledge that he was immortal? If so, then how exactly was it a sacrifice for him? What did he sacrifice?
“If Jesus is the son of god, but also god himself, then he supposedly sacrificed himself to himself to save what he created from himself. He also, therefore, prayed to himself and begged himself not to require himself be crucified in order to appease himself and save the world from the wrath of himself.” – Anonymous
Jesus was wholly good and moral.
Assuming the figure even existed, this position is incorrect.
“There’s no hell mentioned in the Old Testament. The punishment of the dead is not specified there. It’s only with gentle Jesus, meek and mild, that the idea of eternal torture for minor transgressions is introduced.” – Christopher Hitchens
Atheists are close-minded.
Being open-minded does not mean accepting claims outright, it means demonstrating the willingness to consider new ones. An open-minded person is receptive to new ideas, opinions and arguments and wants to discover their real truth-value before accepting them. Atheists are generally very open-minded.
Unjustified belief in the supernatural does not automatically make someone open-minded and, conversely, disbelief – pending further evidence – does not automatically make someone close-minded.
Athiests simply do not usually exhibit gullibility or credulity. They maintain a standard of evidence proportional to the extraordinary nature of certain claims. They are usually open to the idea of god, but so far unconvinced by any evidence or argument put forward to support it.
See also: Open-mindedness (a must watch), Sam Harris – Misconceptions about Atheism (a must watch), The Dragon in my Garage by Carl Sagan.
“A wise man, therefore, proportions his belief to the evidence” – David Hume
Atheism leads to a worse society.
Atheism and secularism correlate highly with the well-being of individuals and societies by almost every possible measure.
Atheism is correlated with better scientific literacy , lower poverty rates, higher literacy rates, higher average incomes, less violence, lower divorce rates, lower teen pregnancy rates, lower STD infection rates, lower crime rates and lower homicide rates.
Irreligion by Country, Democracy Index, Education Index, Economic freedom, Overall Human Development.
Atheism is correlated with higher intelligence: Source 1 Source 2 Source 3 Source 4 Source 5 Source 6 Source 7 Source 8 Source 9.
See also: Epiphenom – The Science of Religion and Non-Belief
“I know of no society in human history that ever suffered because its people became too desirous of evidence in support of their core beliefs.” – Sam Harris
Atheism inspired Nazism/Communism/Social Darwinism.
An ad hominem deflection which demonstrates a failure to understand that atheism is simply a lack of belief in god(s), with no inherit moral, political or philosophical baggage, and thus no line can be drawn from it to the aforementioned ideologies. In the same vein, democracy could be called atheistic. See also: Association fallacy, appeal to emotion and irrelevant thesis.
Hitler was religious and publicly decried atheism. See also: Nazism and Religion, Reductio ad Hitlerum.
Stalinism and Communism exercised gosateizm (state atheism) based on the ideology of Marxism-Leninism. Atheism was a means to an end, not a cause. See also: Soviet Union and Religion.
Social Darwinism and Eugenics supplant actual natural selection with an unobjective personal perception of ‘fitness’. They are based on bad biology (genetic variability is actually very important for a species) and are completely independent of atheism.
Darwin observed and described evolution the same way Newton did for gravity. It was simply a discovery of a fact about the world – not an engineered philosophy on how to behave. Just as we do not blame Newton for the fact that gravity is used as a tool in the deployment of bombs, we cannot blame Darwin for individually misguided applications of ‘natural selection’.
Note: Religion inspires theocracy.
Note: ‘Survival of the Fittest‘ does not simply mean fastest, strongest, or most violent. It is a measure of an individual’s adaptation to the local environment, which can often mean demonstrating cooperation, intelligence and compassion . Humans are outmatched in many ways by animals, but are successful because of their social skills and tool use.
See also: Early Critics of Eugenics were biologists, Natualistic Fallacy, Evolution and Philosophy, Talkorigins: Hitler, Stalin, Social Darwinism.
“We were convinced that the people need and require this faith. We have therefore undertaken the fight against the atheistic movement, and that not merely with a few theoretical declarations: we have stamped it out.” – Adolf Hitler
Catholic priests performing a Nazi salute.
Belief gives life meaning/purpose OR Atheism is nihilistic.
The question of life’s meaning and purpose is made no less important to an individual by not believing in a god. However, instead of asking “What is the meaning of life?” (which is begging the question) an atheist might ask “What meaning, if any, can I give to my life?”.
Most things in life are worth doing for their own sake, they do not require an existential reason. Satisfying curiosity, experiencing love and friendship, acting charitably, delighting our senses and achieving personal goals all provide an inherit sense of gratification and purpose. Conversely, religion deprives life of any personal meaning by turning it into a form of serfdom, in which our only goal is to appease the whims of a supposed creator and follow its ‘plan’. Any impetus to seek knowledge and explore is removed because all the supposed ‘answers’ are provided.
Beyond simple biological imperatives life’s purpose is what we make it and nihilism is just one of many possible approaches. For example, Naturalism would suggest that one’s purpose is to ‘foster an environment in which the species can survive, either by passing on genes or memes’. Humanism suggests it is to ‘promote human flourishing’. Post-modernism suggests it is to ‘create complex structures and interactions for the purpose of joy and understanding’. Buddhism, which is fully compatible with atheism, suggests it is to “focus on the human potential to overcome suffering and achieve peacefulness”.
Perspective is important, within each of our trillion cells we carry a genetic heritage, unbroken, stretching back over 4 billion years.
The Universe, in it’s silent dwarfing beauty, may not care about human life – but we do. So our brief and improbable time here may best be spent experiencing its wonders together, not in indentured servitude to an imaginary celestial dictator.
See also: Richard Feynman on science and purpose [shorter] (a must watch), Dawkins – We are going to die… and we are the lucky ones (a must watch), A Reassuring Fable by Carl Sagan.
“If nothing we do matters, then all that matters is what we do.” – Joss Whedon
“The significance of our lives and our fragile planet is determined only by our own wisdom and courage. We are the custodians of life’s meaning. We long for a Parent to care for us, to forgive us our errors, to save us from our childish mistakes. But knowledge is preferable to ignorance. Better by far to embrace the hard truth than a reassuring fable. If we crave some cosmic purpose, then let us find ourselves a worthy goal.” – Carl Sagan
Science keeps changing, it isn’t reliable.
The suggestion that science is unreliable because it changes is akin to believing new maps are unreliable because cartography is improving.
Science has demonstrably produced the most accurate and reliable models of the universe that mankind has ever known and it is upon these models that all modern technology, medicine and industry are based. Science only appears to be erratic because of sensationalist reporting in the popular media.
Science keeps changing because the tools used to perform science keep improving. When the universe of available evidence changes, scientific theories must be re-evaluated. There are no absolute truths in science; all laws, theories and conclusions can become obsolete if they are found in contradiction with new evidence. However, a scientific theory is the highest honour any scientific principle can obtain, for they comprise all the evidence, laws and models relevant to an observed phenomena. Theories are rarely proven incorrect and are usually refined on a time-scale measured in centuries.
The scientific method is not a single recipe: it requires intelligence, intuition, and creativity. It is an ongoing cycle, constantly developing more useful, accurate and comprehensive models and methods, but not necessarily discarding old ones. For example, when Einstein developed the General and Special Theories of Relativity, he did not in any way refute or discount Newton’s Principia. On the contrary, if the astronomically large, vanishingly small and extremely fast are removed from Einstein’s theories — phenomena Newton could not have observed — Newton’s equations are what remain. Einstein’s theories are simply expansions and refinements of Newton’s theories and thus increase our confidence in Newton’s work while providing a deeper understanding. The very same relationship applies to Classical Mechanics and Quantum Mechanics, and to Evolution and Genetics.
Science is an exercise in falsifiability. Unlike religious dogma, which presumes the truth, the scientific method is a self correcting process, an ever sharpening blade. The models used by science to explain observations and make predictions are simply the ‘most correct’ at the time. The greatest skepticism should always be reserved for inflexible positions whose proponents insist that they and their assertions are above question and examination.
See also: The nature of science (Chess analogy) by Richard Feynman (a must watch), You can’t trust science! (a must watch), Science Keeps Changing – Iron Chariots, The Relativity of Wrong – Isaac Asimov (a must read).
“Gods are fragile things; they may be killed by a whiff of science or a dose of common sense.” – Chapman Cohen
Science takes faith / Science is a religion.
Science is an enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions. The main role of observation and experimentation in science is to criticize and refute existing theories. Scientific knowledge is created by asking questions and testing conjectures/hypotheses against reality.
Faith is absolute trust or confidence in a belief. Conversely, scientific theories are inherently falsifiable – meaning they can be proven wrong. No claims of absolute truth are believed or need to be taken ‘on faith’ in science because none are made. True scientists say, “We are aware that our theories and conclusions are not perfect, just the best fit for the available evidence”.
Scientific knowledge is a form of justified belief grounded in empirical evidence and the demonstrable reliability of the scientific method. Faith is an unjustified belief based on fantasy, superstition and wishful thinking.
Science converges on the truth via questioning. Its solutions and explanations do not differ between nations or cultures because they can be tested by anyone, anywhere, anytime. Whatever knowledge science produces is valid everywhere. Religion, on the other hand, diverges into a myriad of forms and beliefs based on individual experiences and interpretations which cannot be tested against reality.
If all knowledge of science was lost, someone could potentially figure it out again. What is true remains true, and anyone could discover that truth again using the same method that revealed it in the first place. Conversely, if every trace of religion were wiped out and nothing were passed on, it would never be created in exactly the same way again.
Science is the pursuit of truth, not the presumption of it.
See also: The faith cake (a must watch), Is Science a Religion?, Skewed views of science, If science worked like religion – Dawkins (a must watch).
“Faith does not give you the answers, it just stops you asking the questions.”– Frater Ravus
Science is cold/heartless/joyless. It removes beauty and wonder from the world.
On the beauty of a flower by Nobel Laureate Richard Feynman
A Reassuring Fable by Carl Sagan
The most astounding fact by Neil DeGrasse Tyson
The Story of Everything by Carl Sagan
The Ultimate Rube Goldberg Machine + Reverse Engineering the Universe.
Earth – The Pale Blue Dot, Another Interpretation by Carl Sagan
Unweaving the Rainbow by Richard Dawkins
A Universe Not Made For Us by Carl Sagan
What’s the big idea? by Brian Greene
“Hydrogen is a light, odorless gas, which, given enough time, turns into people.” – Edward R. Harrison
If God is the Potter, who are we to say what he does with his clay?
Why would a perfect potter create an imperfect mold, order it to be perfect and then judge it based on the imperfections he gave it?
Theistic arguments which assume god’s existence are logically valid.
Simply because a logically valid argument can be constructed does not imply a true premise or true conclusion.
All cups are green.
Socrates is a cup.
Therefore, Socrates is green.
Although the above argument is logically valid, neither its premise nor conclusion are actually true. An argument is only sound if it is valid and its premise and conclusions are true.
See also: False Premise.
Assuming god exists, arguments against theist claims are illogical/fallacious.
Things can exist in different contexts: God exists, in the sense that God is an idea that people have. Atheists can comment perfectly fine on the implications of belief and on god as a character without being required to believe in god.
When atheists agree with the premise of a god’s existence for the purpose of showing the absurdity of a theistic argument, they may still question conclusions about god’s nature by debating the correctness of the inference. For example:
Therefore, you should worship god.
Simply because a god may exist, does imply said god requires worship. In fact, a perfect god should, by definition, require nothing. This is known as a non sequitur.
“There is nothing more telling of a person’s fundamental lack of perspective and humility than an insistence that if they cannot reconcile their beliefs with reality, then reality itself must be wrong.” – Anonymous
Atheists presuppose god’s non-existence when making counter arguments.
Atheists do not presuppose god’s non-existence, atheists are simply unconvinced of god’s existence. Arguments made by theists can be refuted without appealing to a god’s potential non-existence.
Arguments made by atheists against god’s existence, be they a priori or a posteriori, are not invalid due to the fact that proponents of presuppositionalism have failed to establish reason and logic as being dependant upon the existence of god.
See also: The Transcendental argument, Formal Refutations.
One last thing…
When I became convinced that the universe was natural, that all the ghosts and gods were myths, there entered into my brain, into my soul, into every drop of my blood, the sense, the feeling, the joy of freedom. The walls of my prison crumbled and fell. The dungeon was flooded with light and all the bolts and bars and manacles turned to dust. I was no longer a servant, a serf, or a slave. There was for me no master in all the wide world, not even in infinite space.
I was free to think. Free to express my thoughts, free to live in my own ideal. Free to live for myself and those I loved. Free to use all my faculties, all my senses. Free to spread imagination’s wings, free to investigate, to guess, and dream and hope. Free to judge and determine for myself. Free to reject all ignorant and cruel creeds, all the inspired books that savages have produced, and the barbarous legends of the past. Free from sanctified mistakes and “holy” lies. Free from the fear of eternal pain, free from the winged monsters of the night. Free from devils, ghosts and gods. For the first time I was free.
There were no prohibited places in all of the realm of thought. No error, no space where fancy could not spread her painted wings. No chains for my limbs. No lashes for my back. No flames for my flesh. No Master’s frown or threat, no following in another’s steps. No need to bow or cringe or crawl, or utter lying words. I was free; I stood erect and fearlessly, joyously faced all worlds.
My heart was filled with gratitude, with thankfulness, and went out in love to all the heros, the thinkers who gave their lives for liberty of hand and brain, for the freedom of labor and thought to those who fell on the fierce fields of war. To those who died in dungeons, bound in chains, to those by fire consumed, to all the wise, the good, the brave of every land whose thoughts and deeds have given freedom to the sons of men. And then, I vowed to grasp the torch that they held, and hold it high, That light might conquer darkness still.
-Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899)
Continue to Additional Links.
Begin watching the Christian Deconversion Series, Carl Sagan’s ‘A Universe Not Made For Us’ or The Sagan Series.
Skeptics say nobody can demonstrate the presence of God yet I say nobody can negate that God exists I see God in all that I feel his presence wherever to me I realize that he exists.
All Christians SUCKS!
What was not listed was a question I have. Our eco system survival is on animals preying on each other for survival. Why would anyone want to believe just cruelty was invented, and admire the one for doing so..
I pray you all get saved
BUT… that’s enough idiotic trolling, of course, that’s just mumbo-jumbo splat of verbosity that equates to nought, just like realign. Of no consequence. Be free of the lie and add a V: live.
No God = 5 letters of information = proves an intelligent spiritual author.
Our entire gene pool, that is, our genome, if you like: our digital DNA fingerprint hides 6 billion letters, 6 gigabytes of information in digital language. That many letters are in one directory volume. The total length of DNA in the human body is 20 billion kilometers, and the Sun is 148.8 million kilometers from Earth, so the DNA strand would travel back and forth 67 times.
The intelligent order of 5 letters proves a meaningful author,
but the intelligent sequence of 6 billion letters proves an unintelligent random origin that arose on its own! This is what the mentally ill atheist society claims.
It is the scientific sucking of Darwinism that atheist society voluntarily sucks.
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Of course, I am only joking. There’s no such thing as atheism — in fact because that would suggest there was something not to believe in — where in fact there is nothing to believe in as there are no gods. I am with those others who are DECIDED. There are: No gods.
In a perfect world, people would be saved from atheism in general, given the fact that atheism is a fictional story that has led to more death, wars, destruction, and pseudoscience then any other belief system for thousands of years. However, I believe in freedom of religion, so if atheists want to keep deluding themselves with the fictitious nonsense known as atheism, they have every right to do so.
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Many of us, and more of us, are DECIDED. There ARE no gods. None.
All reasonable points – still, if I had a choice of following Chris Hitchens or Christ, I would still choose Christ.
I am adherent to no religion, but I pray for two things:
1) that people would stop thinking these arguments are actually “reasonable”
2) that the author would stop deleting posts like mine which legitimately challenge such a naive atheism.
The base fact is this:modern science does not support the objective refutation of atheism supported by so many so-called “free thinkers.” As to whether or not the author has the cojones to admit this post, well, we’ll see. My other, longer refutation of several of his points was deleted.
Thank You for that marvellously and thoroughly researched article. I am half way through and the many links and sources you offer to support your claims are helping me separating wheat from chaff. English is not my native tongue, I hope you understand what I mean.
Common objections to theist claims and the response to these
If it were just a matter of us arguing whether the colour blue is better than red, that would be fine. But it’s not. People use religion as an excuse to discriminate, to spread hate, to destroy and control the lives of others. It has oonsequences.
The good thing is we are all going to die and discover if there is no God or not.No need to argue
In nearly all respects, as you have outlined, theism is not logical, often irrational, and denies reality. What do we call a mindset that denies reality? It’s an inescapable conclusion that the mindset of theism always exists somewhere between ignorance and insanity.
Kevin, I’m not a theist but your agrument is not only non-rational, but unscientific. In order to prove what you say about religion, you must provide universally valid criteria for “reality” that can feasibly discount everything else as “insanity.” No scientist worthy of the name will ever say that science or any other paradigm can do that. Therefore, your argument is baseless.