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