Thursday, June 26, 2008

Some assumptions about atheism... debunked

As a regular reader of atheist blogs and articles, I've come across my share of objections to atheism by theists. These are a few of the most common arguments, with my short rebuttals.

Atheism is a faith/religion

The only time theists like to engage in irony is when they want to damn atheists for having faith. Never mind theists think faith is, like, the best thing ever! It’s funny and bad when atheists have it. No, I get it: they want us to get grumpy when they turn the tables on us. We proclaim we have no faith but then the sneaky theist declares, “But you have the most faith of all!” It misunderstands the meaning of the word faith, which is believing in things for which there is no evidence. Atheists lack faith, lack belief. It’s tiresome and obvious and a weak rhetorical trick.

Atheism has priests/orthodoxy
You know, Darwin, Sagan, Dawkins, Shelley, Rand, Hume, Russell, etc. To varying degrees these people have influenced atheist thought but they in no way define atheism. No one need feel ashamed by disagreeing or arguing with any of these folks. We are not told from birth that we must heed their every word.

Atheists’ morals are personal preference/opinion
Someone whose morals are “personal preference” or “opinion” and do not stem from cooperation and empathy already has a name, and it’s not “atheist.” It's sociopath. Atheists get their morality the same place everyone else does: from deep within our mammalian, and before that, reptilian, brains. We are learning more and more about the origins of morality in which field? That’s right: neuroscience. Not theology. I guess a theist could argue that those “hard-wired” moral impulses are planted there by a god, but that just pushes the question back: where did this god get its morals?

Atheists think humans/reality “merely” atoms and chemicals
We are still atoms and chemicals even if there is a god. Notice the weasel word “merely” (other theist weasel words are “just,” “only,” “but”). Reducing everything to atoms and chemicals means, from what I gather, that there is no intrinsic worth to anything. I fail to see how this follows. Indeed, there could be a god and we could still be worth nothing. One must accept many, many tenets of faith—such as a god created us with a purpose in mind, that we somehow know this because god told us somehow, that we can trust this god when it says it is good, that this purpose is worthwhile—before one can declare that without god, there is no meaning, there are only chemicals and atoms. Well, guess what? There are only chemicals and atoms. Not merely, but wonderfully.

Don't worry, I've got more to come.

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