An apology for atheism


My theistic friends are all nice people albeit with beliefs that I think are ridiculous and have no basis other than that they have been indoctrinated to hold such beliefs as true. It is no fault of their own. Maybe some of them think I need help and worry for my soul-whether we have a soul is question of another day- and silently pray that I would come to believe in something even if it is Hare Krishna just as long as I have a belief.

The biggest problem why atheism is misunderstood is not because atheists do a poor job at apologetics, on the contrary, atheists do a very splendid job in justifying their belief but believers it appears to me listen to fellow believers who have no clue on what atheism is. Atheism is misrepresented and often times A straw man who doesn’t stand a chance in a sunny day.

It is my intention in this post to deal with some of this issues as I understand them. Any errors or misrepresentations are therefore my own. A friend of the type I have talked about in the introductory paragraph sent me a link  conservapedia.com to read through just in case am not sure why am an atheist. I want to look at some of the claims made in the page, so excuse the length of this post should it be longer than they usually are since the article is a book long.

The article starts with looking at types of atheism by postulating these questions

There are different types of atheism, based on different answers to the following questions:

What God or gods does the atheist deny?
Why does the atheist deny?
How does the atheist’s denial manifest itself?

The atheist lacks a belief in the existence of god[s] just the same way the christian lacks a belief in the existence of fairies-I hope this is true of christians- and here the atheist makes no distinction whether it is the sun-god of the Egyptians of old or Jehovah -a misnomer- of the Jews and Christians or Allah or whatever god you know of. The atheist makes the above claim since there is no evidence-verifiable evidence- of a god. Subjective experiences of believers of the said gods can’t be treated as evidence. The god of revelation, that is of the Judeo -Christian religions or rather of the three Abrahamic religions are so incoherent in their internal definitions that they/it just can’t exist. Any person who has a belief in some god, such as the God of Spinoza is referred to as a Deist. This God for all we know could have create the universe and left it to run as it so pleases and is not a personal god, doesn’t plan to burn us in hell for not believing in him and more so doesn’t interfere in human affairs. It is therefore important to make this distinction.

  • Militant atheism which continues to suppress and oppress religious believers today .
  • Philosophical atheism – Atheist philosophers assert that God does not exist.
  • Practical atheism: atheism of the life – that is, living as though God does not exist

As I had said earlier, atheism is a lack of belief in gods. If writing that belief in god is not supported by evidence is militant, by all means am a militant atheist. Here my friend writes about militant atheism, I hope you like it.  No atheist that I know of, suppress or oppress religious believers. It is simply not possible, there are more believers than atheists and most believers proselytize everywhere, why they are not called militant I don’t know. The second and third statements don’t make sense,  atheism is a lack of belief in gods, then anyone who is an atheist will live as though god does not exist and will assert there are no gods.

It is false to claim that there has been attempts to dilute the definition of atheism. There is a difference between agnosticism which deals with the question of knowledge -when applied to god is to say we can’t know the nature of god and whether one exists- while atheism is a question of belief or lack thereof in the existence of gods. Neither are atheists shifting the burden proof. This is and must remain the case, if I make a claim of a celestial tea pot aka Russells tea pot, the person making the positive claim provides the evidence not the other way round!

To call atheism a religion, which appears to be widespread among believers is not far from calling not collecting stamps a hobby and a bald head a hair colour. Enough said!

To quote two atheists as expressing doubt over their disbelief and then draw a conclusion that atheism is not true is first and foremost intellectual laziness and to be dishonest to say the least. More importantly, it assumes that atheists are some sort of supermen not subject to frivolities that beset our human existence. Would a believer expressing doubt once in a while make him less of a believer? I don’t think so.

To make anecdotal statements without proof is also poor reporting. To mention one person who became a believer though raised by an atheist parent is a poor correlation. What about the thousands raised in believing families and become atheists? This does not give evidence for anything except to show that human beings are capable of holding opinions different to those held by their parents or teachers or whatever authority you care to mention.

Unless the administrators of these page live in a cave somewhere or have a different source of statistical data on belief or lack thereof, I don’t see how they can make the claim that atheism is losing numbers.

In 2012, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary reported that globally every day there are 800 less atheists per day, 1,100 less non-religious (agnostic) people per day and 83,000 more people professing to be Christians per day

I want you to take in those numbers. Then look at this report here and tell me who are being [dis]honest in their reporting. In any case if there are so many people professing christianity, the reason can be easily explained that believers- like Catholics who follow the Vatican ban on birth control- are likely to have more children than the average atheist.

Till I read this article, it hadn’t occurred to me atheism was a business. All along I have always known Churches to be in the business of alms collection and tithe and would be concerned with market share. This is news to me!

The question of evolution is a scientific question. It has however been noted that those who deny the evidence for evolution haven’t read it and are most likely religious. What I can draw from this conclusion is believers like to take things on faith and prefer when a miracle is included in the works, well science presents evidence and excludes miracles. This to me explains the difficulty religious believers have with evidence for evolution, we are asking them to do something they aren’t accustomed to doing.

I don’t know whether there can be infighting in not having a belief in god. If the writers of these article refer to Atheism+ then all that can be said is they miss the whole point by a million miles. There is no contention between atheists on the existence of god, where there is a small disagreement or misunderstanding is whether atheism can mean more. At the very least that is how I understand it and am open for correction. Why we need a leader still baffles me. I haven’t heard of any complaints among atheists or rather there has been no vote for a pope. The atheist says, and rightly so, that every man can think for and lead himself! No pope or guide-book is required. Our collective experience as sentient beings is enough guide on this matter.

To argue against atheism using communism is again intellectual dishonesty. Russia under Stalin protected the Orthodox Church, so I don’t know where this argument holds any water against atheism.

The logical arguments for the existence of god have not been arguments against atheism but rather attempts by religious apologists to argue for the existence of god and all have been refuted by atheists to be fallacious and weak. So the theist need to spend time reading the various refutations to these arguments.

No atheist in recorded history has killed masses for believing in god. Atheism has never been the reason for the murders! The murderers like Pol Pot, Joseph Stalin could have been atheists but they never killed to promote atheism, no it was always a struggle for state power and control. There is no where I have seen where atheists condoned slave trade and for this I think evidence need to provided.

On charity, I have to wait for data that confirms this, so I will suspend judgement until this data is available then I will add it here.

There is a whole question of morals. Am shocked at what the posters claim about atheism and morality. I know of no atheist who advocates bestiality. Homosexuality is only evil in the eyes of a believer. No atheist condones rape and every other immoral act that we can agree on. To say atheists are immoral just because they don’t believe your god commanded moral laws is absurd to say the least.

Any one making a claim of a miracle has to provide evidence for the same.

I wake up, go for a run, I read during my free time, I eat well and am atheist. I know of christians who are obese. What does this prove, nothing, except that some people will take care of their health some will not and has nothing to do with religious belief or lack thereof.

I have written two articles here and here on suicide and I read a lot of assisted dying here and whereas am saying any one who wants to commit suicide has every right to do so. I don’t think there is anyone atheist who calls for mass suicide. By the way there are more suicides in Japan than in Scandinavian Europe which is mainly atheistic.

I didn’t know there was a link between religion and sportsmanship until this moment. What a discovery 🙂

The atheist has a choice to debate or not to debate whoever he chooses. If you have listened to one William Craig debate, you have listened to all of them. They don’t present anything new except trying to improve on Anselm of Canterbury circa 1056 and add in the new discoveries science has made to their god’s cv. Even I would refuse to debate such people. I think most of the atheists named refuse to debate the creationists because it is rather a waste of time to start such a debate if at the end you are not going to change your position and especially when one has shown they are not interested in considering the evidence for a certain position.

We live in a materialistic and natural world. Any one who has evidence to the contrary must provide it and have it reviewed by their peers in that field. To accuse atheists of deception is malicious. To draw such an inference from Darwin’s letters is also a failure to be honest. At no time did Darwin indicate a god was responsible for evolution, in fact evolution theory does away with the need for a god.

I have attempted to respond to some of the issues raised in that page regarding atheism, those I haven’t covered I hope you my good readers can weigh in on and where am wrong or have misrepresented atheists or theists I welcome correction and I proffer apologies in advance.

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About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

15 thoughts on “An apology for atheism

  1. john zande says:

    Epic. Great article.

    Like

  2. It’s now entered the early hours of the morning and I really should be off to bed. Interesting read here and I’m not going to come out with an all out response.
    Having said this, there are a few things I feel compelled to respond to.

    “To call atheism a religion, which appears to be widespread among believers is not far from calling not collecting stamps a hobby and a bald head a hair colour. Enough said!”

    I don’t collect stamps. I don’t read books about not collecting stamps, I don’t make a point of telling others why I chose not to collect stamps. Atheism is a world-view, much the same as Christianity. Can’t we just do away with the term religion once and for all? Jesus hated it, I dislike it, you don’t seem overly fond.

    “The question of evolution is a scientific question. It has however been noted that those who deny the evidence for evolution haven’t read it and are most likely religious. What I can draw from this conclusion is believers like to take things on faith and prefer when a miracle is included in the works, well science presents evidence and excludes miracles. This to me explains the difficulty religious believers have with evidence for evolution, we are asking them to do something they aren’t accustomed to doing.”

    I deny the evidence for certain types of evolution based on scientific principles. I certainly don’t deny that other types of evolution have offered the world, demonstrable proof to back their claims. I’m not going to deny proof. I can however weigh up evidence. I do like to see and hear of the odd miracle, keeps me on my toes and shows me God is still working amongst us. However, I think your statement regarding miracles is a little fallacious. Science doesn’t dismiss miracles off hand without even a cursory glance. Science is about testing and observing not drawing assumptive conclusions.
    And as an addendum to that: I am not only used to examining evidence, I also happen to be rather fond of it.

    “The logical arguments for the existence of god have not been arguments against atheism but rather attempts by religious apologists to argue for the existence of god and all have been refuted by atheists to be fallacious and weak. So the theist need to spend time reading the various refutations to these arguments.”

    All been refuted? All of them? Are you sure? This is news to me. Can you provide me with some recommended refutations that I, as a theist, need to spend some time reading?

    “Any one making a claim of a miracle has to provide evidence for the same.”

    Agreed. However, I am willing to take into account eyewitnesses, testimony and other anecdotal evidence as an alternative to any concrete first hand evidence.
    Not that I wouldn’t prefer the latter.

    “it is rather a waste of time to start such a debate if at the end you are not going to change your position and especially when one has shown they are not interested in considering the evidence for a certain position.”

    This works both ways.

    “in fact evolution theory does away with the need for a god.”
    I’d be inclined to argue that elements of the theory actually support and agree with a biblical account. Certainly macro evolution and Genesis agree entirely.

    Keep thinking…
    Keep blogging…
    Keep engaging others…
    Keep challenging me…

    Joe.

    Like

    • makagutu says:

      Joe,
      The day any religious adherent will keep their ridiculous beliefs in their private spaces and stop making any claims that a god has commanded this or that, on that day I will stop writing about religion. So if you and fellow believers can practice this religion is private, everyone will be the more happy.
      You say my statement on science and miracles is fallacious. If a miracle is a suspension of the natural laws, then science excludes that and asks for evidence for the miraculous. No scientist goes to the laboratory hoping for a miracle, no, he makes predictions and tests them and in all this he doesn’t expect a miracle as part of the result. So tell me at what point my statement is fallacious.
      The Kalam Cosmological argument for theism has been refuted.
      The teleological argument has been refuted
      The Pascal’s wager is lame as an argument for god
      The argument via negativa does not help the theist
      Subjective evidence for god have all been shown to be wishful thinking
      The moral argument for god which is part of the Kalam Cosmological argument has been refuted; so my friend use google.inc and search flaws in the logical arguments for god it is a good place to start.
      Well for the case of the miracles in the bible, there are no eyewitness accounts. Am not willing to take anecdotal evidence as proof for a miracle. You know what Hume says about miracles, anyone making an extra ordinary claim must provide extra ordinary evidence for the same and anecdotal evidence will not pass here, sorry!

      Like

      • Good points.
        you say:
        “The day any religious adherent will keep their ridiculous beliefs in their private spaces and stop making any claims that a god has commanded this or that, on that day I will stop writing about religion. So if you and fellow believers can practice this religion is private, everyone will be the more happy.”

        I don’t think it works that way. I think there will always be a debate.
        Why should I keep my beliefs private? Don’t you yourself have a blog post talking about what you believe?

        “So tell me at what point my statement is fallacious.”
        The sweeping generalisation: believers prefer miracles, Science excludes ALL miracles….

        “so my friend use google.inc and search flaws in the logical arguments for god it is a good place to start.”
        I do use google and I have looked at this from a number of perspectives. I know plenty of great theologians who have refuted the refutations, perhaps you should look into that?

        “Well for the case of the miracles in the bible, there are no eyewitness accounts”

        Oh really? What gives you that impression? You know there are books of the bible that are reliable historical accounts right? Read this article, it sums it up well:
        http://thinktheology.co.uk/blog/article/a-surprising-argument-for-jesus-miracles

        “You know what Hume says about miracles”
        Oh I do! Hume makes a terrible argument. Andrew Wilson’s book: If God then what? That I mentioned earlier devotes an entire chapter to miracles and several paragraphs to refuting Hume’s argument against them.
        Here’s an extract (although, for the whole argument, I’d strongly recommend his book) : http://thinktheology.co.uk/blog/article/david-hume-on-loop

        Like

  3. Great post! Unfortunately those that would benefit the most from it won’t read it.

    Like

  4. UnRelatable says:

    And this was in 2013!! Wish I’d read it sooner, 2013 I was still a believer and a half. Looking back, I get a bit embarrassed

    Like

  5. I have friends who say they are agnostic. But I think they are just edging their bets. They say that no one has proven there is no God. But they have told me that there are no fairies. I always say “why aren’t you an agnostic about fairies since that has not been proven either.

    Like

  6. Thank You so much for this. I’ve never put a single thought into learning about what I don’t believe in. Good read. I know just the person to aggressively share this with.

    Liked by 1 person

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