|1. "How can something come from nothing?"||
Lawrence Krauss has written an entire book about this.
And I don't mean to get all philosophical but ... what is nothing? Show it to me. I want to study it.
I hope you're aware that if we create a perfect vacuum, there are still radio waves and gamma rays and such going through it. We don't have any "nothing" to study.
If we did have some "nothing" and it failed to produce something during the time that we observed it, that wouldn't prove that it couldn't produce something eventually.
|2. "America was founded as a Christian nation/the Founding Fathers were all devout Christians."||
Thomas Paine was an atheist. Thomas Jefferson was a theist, not a Christian. The Founding Fathers guaranteed (in the First Amendment) that the government would not establish any religion.
And remember that (a) the Founding Fathers were slave owners and (b) they believed that women shouldn't be allowed to vote. They didn't "get everything right." I'm not sure we were founded as a Christian nation, but we were damn sure founded as a slave-owning nation.
|3. "There are no atheists in foxholes."||
This is just plain false.
And if there were more atheists, there would be fewer foxholes. Religion has been the cause of many wars.
|4. "If Christianity isn't valid, why do so many people believe in it?"||
Millions of people believe in astrology. Does that make it valid?
There was a time, not too long ago, when everybody on earth - 100% of the population - thought the earth was flat.
Truth vs. falsehood isn't the result of a vote.
|5. "If Christianity isn't valid, why has it been around for thousands of years?"||
For most of human history, the human race was ignorant about everything. The sum total of human knowledge and invention was (a) the wheel, (b) the inclined plane, and (c) written language, which only 3% of the population could read. When people didn't understand phenomena such as lightning, earthquakes, stillborn children, and typhoons, they just said "God" (or "gods") - basically, "magic."
It's not 1133 CE anymore. We now have vaccines, antibiotics, cell phones, laser surgery, MRIs, Hubbell telescopes, and the Internet, and we have put a man on the moon. God was the "default answer" to fill in the blanks when we didn't know something (humans have never liked "blank spaces").
|6. "Where do your morals come from if you don't believe in God?"||
Morality comes from human brains. We are a social species, and we have empathy (well, all of us except the psychopaths). Morality is that which promotes happiness, well-being, or health. It balances harm vs. good, and acknowledges the basic human right of personal freedom.
Morality is a complex question. It involves objective and subjective considerations.
Did you have to read the Bible to figure out that murder and theft are morally wrong? Your morality comes from your brain, not from a book.
Your Bible orders you to kill witches; do you actually DO that? Would it be fair to say that YOU'RE immoral (according to your book) if you DON'T kill witches? You either obey your god's rules or you don't.
Do you really believe that everybody around you is hell-bent on raping and killing people, and is restrained only by a belief in an invisible silent deity?
If god didn't exist, would you start raping and killing and torturing people?
By the way ... it is clear that belief in god does not stop people from doing evil, as evidenced by the many scandals involving Christian clergy who sexually abuse children ... Protestants and Catholics.
And another question: If your god ordered you to do something that you know is morally wrong (murder one of your own children, for instance), would you do it? God actually gave such an order in Genesis 22:2.
Professed atheists make up 0.1% of the prison population in America. Professed Christians make up 75% of the prison population.
Morality is the way that we adapt and adjust to our natural instincts when we're living in a society of other humans. If your morality was codified 3000 years ago in an old book, you can bet your hat and ass that it needs some tweaking.
|7. "My granddaddy wasn't no monkey!"||
You'll need to explain what that has to do with the existence of a god.
You'll also need to explain why humans and chimps share 98.8% of their DNA.
|8. "You atheists just want to keep living a life of sin."||
You're saying that you've created a moral system which I reject, and then you accuse me of violating your moral system. So what? You have violated my moral system. So what?
Fortunately, neither one of us is going to hell.
|9. "I had a personal experience with God/God revealed himself to me."||
Good! Now show him to me. Show me your god. Demonstrate him to me, the same way I'd demonstrate my fountain pen. I'm ready and waiting.
If someone actually came up with a valid, irrefutable argument for the existence of God, it would be in the news - the God-believers would talk about it constantly. What we have instead is specious illogical tap-dancing arguments/claims. And there are many, many individuals and organizations that have a vested interest in proving the existence of a God.
|10. "Evolution is just a theory."||This has nothing to do with the existence of a god. If the theory of evolution were disproven tomorrow, it wouldn't have any effect on whether or not god exists.|
11. "It takes more faith to be an atheist than to be a Christian."
(Or: "Atheism is a religion too.")
(Or: "I don't have enough faith to be an atheist.")
Explain to me how one needs faith in order to not believe something.
A rational person goes where the evidence points.
If atheism is a religion, then celibacy is a sexual position.
If atheism is a religion, then an empty bowl is a type of food.
I'm going to offer you a suggestion, and it comes right out of your Bible: "Test everything; hold onto what is good." (I Thess. 5:21)
12. "If you don't believe in God, what do you believe in?"
(Variation: "Atheists don't believe in anything.")
I believe in lots of things that have demonstrated themselves to me, and are repeatable. God has not demonstrated himself to me. No evidence, no belief.
I believe that human hands can solve human problems.
And I definitely believe in the scientific method.
|13. "You were never a true Christian."||
If you mean that I "never had a relationship with the risen Christ," you're absolutely correct.
If you mean that I never actually believed, you're absolutely wrong.
What you're really saying is, "I dont want to acknowledge that a person who was once a believing Christian could stop believing in Jesus. If this could happen to you, I'm scared that it might happen to me."
|14. "You're just angry at God because something bad happened in your childhood."||
Nope. I might just as well say (conjecture) that you're clinging to an imaginary Sky Daddy because of something bad that happened in your childhood.
And I can't be angry at a god I don't believe in. Although the description of "God" that I read in the Bible does make me want to throw up.
Think about it: If I were "angry at god," I wouldn't be an atheist!
|15. "Some Christian(s) must have really hurt your feelings at some point."||
Christians have hurt my feelings, and Christians have been kind to me, and Christians have even gone to bed with me and had sex. And it was GOOD sex. But that's because Christians are just like everybody else.
But yes, occasionally a Christian has been a jerk.
|16. "You're taking that Bible verse out of context."||
Let's get out our Bibles - you pick the translation, or we can read it in Greek or Hebrew - let's look up this verse, and you can show me how the context makes any difference in what it actually means.
Christians always say that Psalm 137:8-9 is "taken out of context." They never say that about I John 4:8.
|17. "What if you're wrong?"||What if you're wrong? What if you die, and you stand before the Throne of Judgment, and sitting there is ... Ratatoskr, the squirrel of Yggdrasil? You've been worshipping the wrong deity all your life! You're fucked!|
18. "Better safe than sorry! You should believe in God, just in case there is a hell."
Take a look here.
It isn't a binary choice. It's not "either (a) Christian god, or (b) no gods at all."
And in any case, wouldn't god know that I'm faking it, if I "decided" to believe? An omniscient god would know that I don't really believe in him (Heb. 4:13).
And you don't get to choose what you believe. You either believe something, or you don't.
|19. "The eye is too complex to have evolved."||Scientists now believe that the eye evolved separately in several different animals.|
|20. "Scientist X believes in God."||So what? One scientist believes in your god. How is that more significant than 300 scientists who don't believe in your god?|
|21. "God exists because the Bible tells me so."||Iron Man exists because a book tells me so.|
|22. "All belief systems deserve respect."||
Then you should respect my sincerely-held belief in the
Flying Spaghetti Monster.
And by the way, I happen to be an ordained minister in the United Church of Bacon. And I expect you to show respect for that.
|23. "They found Noah's ark."||AGAIN????|
|24. "Would the apostles/martyrs have died for a lie?"||Would all those Nazi soldiers have died for a lie? We may need to take a closer look at the doctrine of Aryan superiority.|
|25. "That's the OLD Testament. Read the NEW Testament!"||Here, let me have your Bible so that I can tear out the 80% that you say is no longer applicable.|
|26. "Hitler was an atheist."||
No. Hitler was a professing Christian. In a speech in the early years of his rule, Hitler declared himself "Not a Catholic, but a German Christian."
Do you actually believe that atheism is a gateway drug to genocide? Seriously?
27. "Christianity is not a religion ... it's a relationship."
(A variation of this is, "You don't need religion, you need JESUS!")
|Nope. Christianity is a system that describes a Supreme Being and a system for having a relationship with him/it, and it lays down moral rules. That's what people call a religion. That is the definition of religion.|
|28. "Darwin had a deathbed conversion."||
This is just a flat-out lie. But if he did have a deathbed conversion ... so what? It doesn't prove the existence of your god.
Hey, I can make up stories too: "Billy Graham renounced Christ when he was on his deathbed. He called his friends close and he whispered, 'I can't believe you guys bought into this Jesus bullshit.' Then he died."
|29. "There are no transitional fossils."||
This has nothing to do with the existence of a god.
This is a "shell game" that Christians play: If we find a "transitional fossil," Christians will then claim that there are two more "gaps," one on either side of the transitional fossil.
|30. "Prove that God doesn't exist."||
[This is called a "misplaced burden of proof"]
I wasn't aware that anyone had proved that god does exist.
Prove that there are no vampire space penguins living in hidden caves on the moon. Prove that Bigfoot doesn't exist. Prove that the Tooth Fairy doesn't exist.
One can't prove that God doesn't exist. Not until we invent an all-universe God Detecting Machine that is 100% accurate (and yes ... I'm working on one now).
Disbelief in the God of Abraham does not require that one search the entire cosmos and find him absent; it only requires that one understand that the evidence put forward by believers is insufficient.
And we'll need a tight definition of what a "god" is. Some people's idea of god is the feeling you get when you hold a newborn baby, or when you watch a sunset from the side of a mountain.
And the usual organized-religion definitions of "god" are such that it's easy for him/her/it to evade detection and "proof." More about that here.
No, technically you can't prove that god doesn't exist. However ...
|31. "Why do you want to steal my joy?"||Why do you want to me to suck up to a non-existent celestial tyrant who doesn't let women speak in church (I Cor. 14:34), and endorses slavery (Exodus 21) and the murder of infants (Psalm 137:8-9)?|
|32. "For somebody who doesn't believe in religion, you sure do talk about it a lot."||
I talk a lot about religion for the same reason that a police detective talks a lot about crime: It's prevalent, it's pernicious, it's harmful, it's difficult to ignore, and the world would be better off without it.
You Christians don't have the exclusive right to talk about religion. I can talk about it too.
And by the way, I talk about a lot of things that I don't believe exist. Like Narnia ... Bigfoot ... Hillary Clinton's moral code ... Star Wars.
And I confess ... I'm in love with the truth.
|33. "You may not believe in God, but he believes in you."||
Then let him come tell me. I don't want "messages" from humans; let god speak for himself. I'll be waiting.
Think about it ... a god who can create the universe in six days ... but he's a deaf-mute. He loves us so much ... but he won't even talk to us!
By the way, in some states, in their divorce statutes, when a spouse refuses to talk to his wife - "the silent treatment" - it constitutes cruelty.
|34. "You don't understand the Bible."||I will match knowledge of the Bible with you any day of the week. In fact, it is my study of the Bible that led me to atheism.|
|35. "Without God, how can you have a purpose in life? How can you have love?"||
I don't know. But here I am. Fulfillment, love, happiness, all wrapped up in this wonderful "me" package ... no god necessary.
Some people have a psychological need to think of themselves as children being taken care of by an omnipotent omniscient benevolent loving Superdaddy. They want an emotional escape from all the terrors and turmoils of real life. The idea of a Heavenly Father makes everything less terrifying. But we shouldn't "believe" something just because we want it to be true.
An analogy would be when I look at a painting and I think it's beautiful. I don't have to believe in some objective standard of beauty in order to assert that the painting is beautiful; it is simply subjectively beautiful (to me).
William Lane Craig has stated that it is impossible for atheists to have meaning and purpose in their lives. This is a testable claim which has actually been refuted.
|36. "God is beyond the ability of science to detect him."||
This is called "playing the mystery card."
It is Carl Sagan's "invisible dragon."
|37. "If you pray hard enough, God will reveal himself to you. You just haven't prayed hard enough."||
Oh, so that's the problem. I'll try to pray better.
My most recent prayer to God was, "Another school shooting ... you sat up there in heaven and watched, and did nothing ... fuck you, you worthless son of a bitch."
|38. [From Kirk Cameron] "Have you ever lied? Then you're a liar!!!"||
[Nobody's sure what this has to do with the existence of a god, but Kirk Cameron has never been accused of clear thinking]
No ... I've actually done lots of good stuff. I could give you a list. I've done more good in the last six months than your imaginary god EVER did. I'm not a liar. I'm a do-gooder.
|39. "You're just going through a phase."||I'll let you know when the "phase" is over.|
|40. "You know there's a God, and you're lying about it (Romans 1:20ff)."||
Want me to take a polygraph?
I'm tempted to assert that you don't believe in a god, even though you say you do. Are you just "going along with the crowd?"
In fact, I have a sneaking suspicion that the one who's lying is you - you say you believe in God, but you really don't. When I write a book about this, I'm going to call it Romans. My book will say that "you have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed, and depravity - you are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice - you're a gossip, a slanderer, insolent, arrogant, and boastful; you invent ways of doing evil; you disobey your parents; you have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. (Rom. 1:29-31)"
|41. "If you don't believe in God, why don't you just go ahead and kill yourself?"||
Just because God means everything to you doesn't mean that he means everything to me. I am sane and emotionally mature (my mother had me tested), and I can find meaning in my life without resorting to a make-believe superfriend.
If you discovered tomorrow that your god doesn't exist, would you kill yourself?
|42. "The fool says in his heart, 'There is no god.'" (Psalm 14:1)||
This is not an argument. It is simply an ad hominem attack.
So ... you have a book that says I'm a fool. How charming. I think I'm going to go write a book about Christians. Guess what it's going to say?
And my book will be exactly as valid as your book. No, it will be more valid, because it was written less than 2000 years ago.
43. "God has fine-tuned the universe for life. The exact quantity of each physical constant and the respective ratios must all be precisely as they are in order for life to exist. The tiniest change to one of these constants would not only prohibit life as we know it - it would make most forms of matter impossible as well. Our universe is not merely fine-tuned to allow for 'some kind' of life; it is arranged in the only way that allows for any life at all."
[Alternative] "You can't have a watch without a watchmaker!"
"The orderly design of the universe" - this is the "fine tuning" argument, which has been thoroughly debunked.
The universe is NOT fine-tuned for life. As far as we know, intelligent life occurs in only one million-billion-billion-billionth of the universe around us. The universe is NOT teeming with life. If some intelligent god were going to design a universe to host life, he would have done a MUCH better job.
Pick a random cubic mile of our universe; now try making a case for theism/god given only the contents of that cube.
What if the universe were different - "tuned" differently? It wouldn't be like we know it, and wouldn't produce the sort of life forms that we know, but do you really know that it wouldn't produce just as much life as THIS universe? Do you really think you know enough about the various possible types of life (and about the consequences of fiddling with fundamental constants) to work that out? We have a hard enough time figuring out and understanding our own universe, even though it is right here under our noses available for study.
Of course the universe is "just perfect" for producing us. Douglas Adams uses the "puddle analogy:"
"This is rather as if you 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 as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, frantically hanging on to the notion that everything's going to be alright, 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. I think this may be something we need to be on the watch for."
Isn't it predictable that the things that come to be in a universe will be things that are highly characteristic of that universe? Things fitting exactly to their environment is exactly what you expect in a NON-intelligent (random) situation.
The occurrence of things for which their environment was NOT "just right" would be a far better indicator of intelligent intervention. For example, an animal being in a zoo is indicative of intelligent intervention; an animal that fits perfectly into its ecological niche is NOT an indication of intelligent design, but instead is amply explained by non-intelligent processes such as evolution. Thus, if we found ourselves in a universe that was not suited to us, then that would be far better evidence for intelligent intervention!
Even if our universe is "unique," so what? The things present in a unique universe will always be specific to that universe. In the same way, if you throw one dice 1000 times, you create a highly improbable number ... would you argue that the universe had to have been "fine-tuned" to produce the number you've just gotten? No - there could simply have been some other number. The outcome would only be remarkable if there was something special about that number.
The "creator" explanation gets you nowhere -- it explains nothing. It gives you something that's even harder to explain, even more remarkable, even more improbable - god. Where did HE come from?
|44. "What would it take to make you believe in God?"||I don't know. But your god, if he is omniscient, knows what it is ... and he hasn't done it yet.|
|45. "Why do atheists fight so hard against something they say doesn't exist?"||
Wait - are you saying that Christianity doesn't exist? I'm pretty sure it does.
(If you like, I can take you over to one of their tax-exempt buildings.)
Atheists aren't arguing with god. They're arguing with you.
And yes, atheists will sometimes seem angry.
|46. "I know because I know because I know!!!!"||
Knowledge is justified belief that can be
If gods and miracles were a part of reality, then there would be a way to know about them that woudn't require faith.
Christianity is not a mental disease. But it acts like a mental disease, because it is a delusion - a delusion caused by conditioning rather than pathology.
A delusion is defined as "a persistent false belief that does not change in spite of conflicting evidence."
What you're asking me to do is to believe, in the absence of evidence, simply because you've stated something.
|47. "Are you afraid of death?"||
Not particularly. I do my best to avoid it. I take vitamins, and I visit my doctor regularly.
A person's attitude about death doesn't say much about whether or not he's religious. If a person completely neglects his health and takes ridiculous risks, it may be an indication of his mental health (or lack thereof).
We are born with an instinct for self-preservation, just like the rabbits and rats.
|48. "What's the evidence for atheism?"||
I think you're asking me for evidence about something that I don't believe.
I don't believe in the existence of a god.
What is your evidence for not believing in Santa Claus?
What is your evidence for not believing in the tooth fairy?
Atheism is not a worldview or a viewpoint. It is the answer to one single question: "Do you believe that a god exists?"
And my answer is "No."
How does one give evidence for not believing something?
One could say that atheism is not a "thing," it is the lack of a "thing."