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Why Debate About a God If It Doesn’t Exist?

January 1, 2009

A lot of people, mainly theists, ask me why atheists would bother debating about gods and religion if we really did think they don’t exist. They say “clearly you must think it does exist if you fight it so ferociously”.

Unfortunately for you, you’re wrong. I do not hold a belief in any god/s, whether they are a personal god or blind watchmaker. I’m not fighting your god, I’m fighting your belief in your god. There are a multitude of reasons for the debate between the godless and faithful; I will explain some of them below in bullet form.

  • First of all, I like to debate and so do many others. Debating with people helps mesh out your own ideas, strengthen your ability to defend your positions, and cast away those positions that don’t hold up to intellectual scrutiny. Discourse brings about enlightenment if it’s done in an intelligent manner.
  • I care about you and humanity in general. I don’t want you to live a life filled with irrational guilt or unreasonable fear if I can help it. I especially don’t want you wasting every Wednesday night and Sunday morning either; there’s sleep to be had! I know there are theists who do not live with guilt or fear of gods, so here’s a tip in case you want to respond this bullet: If I’m not talking about you, I’m probably not talking to you in this regard. In other words, you may not live with irrational guilt, but there are theists who do. I’m talking to them.
  • Atheism and Secular Humanism is something I feel very passionately about and I want to discuss it with people. If I like it you might too and you might never know about it unless I tell you about it.
  • I don’t want to be right, I want the truth. You might know something I don’t. How am I to change my mind if you don’t convince me I’m wrong? If you have proof I have an everlasting immortal soul that was created by your god I want you to save it! I just need proof first.
  • I want you to understand who I am and what I think. I want you to have a factual understanding of what an atheist is and believes, not some strawman your preacher or fellow blogger may create in effigy of us. I want you to see that I’m a living, breathing human who laughs, loves, and cries. I’m not some devil worshiping goat killer nor do I drink the blood of infants*. I’m a real human just like you!
  • Religious faith kills. For this point, I won’t mention the Crusades or suicide bombers beyond what I’ve just done. Instead, I will talk about the more innocuous looking forms of faith. The best example for this that I can come up with is children dying because of too much prayer and not enough penicillin. No one can disagree that these kinds of incidents are fueled by theology and a lack of education. The parents are imbeciles, of course, but they have scriptural backing. Otherwise they wouldn’t behave that way; no rational person wants to lose a child. There are plenty of instances of this subtle kind of harm being fueled by faith but the intent of this post is not to point the finger at religion, but to explain why atheists feel the need to debate the validity of religious beliefs.

Can you fellow atheists think of any other good reasons we debate theology?

*Unless it’s New Years Day..

  1. likeavalleygirl permalink
    January 1, 2009 12:31 pm

    I love the “You must be a devil worshipper” if you’re an atheist. The idea that atheists DON’T BELIEVE IN THAT CRAP totally doesn’t cross most theists’ mind. I am guessing you have seen the horror that is Jesus Camp?

  2. January 1, 2009 12:48 pm

    Actually I’ve never seen it. I’ve heard about it though. It’s some scary stuff.

    • fitsum permalink
      March 25, 2009 6:04 am

      you have to know that we can see God by his creation

      • March 25, 2009 8:08 pm

        LOL.. That’s your great input?

        • thevangelisthug permalink
          June 1, 2009 11:11 pm

          It may be short but very powerful words. Your about the first five words of your title ” Why?” Theres no need to because all you need is eyes and your brain. If you look at a building wouldn’t you think there was a builder? So if there is creation wouldn’t there be a Creator?

  3. scaryreasoner permalink
    January 1, 2009 3:32 pm

    Here is my take on the “why do atheists even care?” topic.

  4. Mythos permalink
    January 2, 2009 12:15 am

    Very good article Sisyphus, as usual everything is well balanced and well put.

    I see above that “likeavalleygirl” mentioned something about Jesus Camp. I checked out their website and also hit wikipedia but there isn’t too much information there. I don’t suppose Valley Girl could give me some specifics of what is in the film?

    The reason I ask is I would like to know what percentage of the Bible they did in fact follow, and what percentage could be attributed to those “christians” who feel it necessary to misinterpret what the Bible says. In other words, were they following God’s will or their own.

    You know me, I got to have all the details and facts before I can reach a sound conclusion on something.

    Take care,

    ~ Mythos

  5. January 2, 2009 8:07 pm

    This one does come up a surprising amount. Christian privilege effective blinds many Christians to the notion that we atheists would be nuts not to make some attempt to understand the thoroughly Christian culture in which many of us have to live.

  6. January 4, 2009 3:58 am

    I often find that the reason I am engaging in the debate is because of political reasons. Religion is becoming (always has been) an extremely powerful political tool which threatens us with their views, practices, and beliefs. Look at the ID people pushing pseudo-science in schools that threatens all of us, and our children all because of irrational and illogical belief. They push it on me, I will fight back.

  7. January 5, 2009 10:51 am

    I debate it because I’m a gay person whose human and CIVIL rights keep getting trashed around for reasons entirely based on irrational religious beliefs.

    And because I hope someday it will be politically incorrect to have any kind of God-related speech in our government and politics.

  8. Tory permalink
    January 6, 2009 1:35 am

    I have not really debated much other then my first posts here. Until recently I was of the ‘ignore it camp,’ under the mistaken impression that it doesn’t effect me. Then I had a Daughter, and that kind of changed things. I may be able to look the other way, but not when her future is in the offing.

    I started reading and actually paying attention to what was going on. I found myself woefully ignorant to just how bad things were. It doesn’t help that I was an ‘Agnostic’ until I realized that description really is a non-description.

    It also doesn’t help that my wife’s family are religious in some form, one of my sister’s in law bordering on being a Fundy.

    I was raised to think for myself and to take in all the available evidence before making a decision, and to change my mind when new evidence is presented. This is how I intend to raise my daughter, but I have the reality of Fundy Christians trying to destroy her education, I don’t have the money to send her to a secular private school, and I have my wife’s family as well.

    One of her other aunts is a teacher at a Lutheran church/school, where part of the curriculum is to teach the kids about the bible and how worthless they are were it not for Jesus dieing for them. It may seem innocent to them, but destroying a child’s self worth like that should be criminal.

    I just have to say thank you for this Blog and the knowledge and tools that you provide in the fights I see ahead of me.

    Yes I say fights, because I will be fighting against any religions action in the schools in my area. As well as within my own family to ensure that my daughter gets the chance to develop a mind of her own, and the ability to think for herself rather then leaning on a crutch.

    I liken religion to a motorized wheel chair used by someone that doesn’t need it. The longer they use it, the sooner it will be that they will have to choice but to use it. The mind like the body, will atrophy, and if left too long. It can’t completely recover.

  9. dorian9 permalink
    June 1, 2009 7:56 pm

    good question. however, when you haven’t had much sleep the night before and haven’t had your coffee, it’s hard to ignore the obtuse rant their inane rhetoric and before you know it you engage in a useless debate then kick yourself afterwards for wasting time.

    have i got a religious fanatic for you. her name is kay and she is the christian fundamentalist that unfortunately lives in our blog. here is an example:

    my compliments on a well-written and to the point blog, sisyphus. come visit us.


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