Scott H Young

Why Atheism?


“Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too.” - Douglas Adams

I’m an atheist. I’d like to tell you why. Most of the arguments for being an atheist point to how it is more scientific or probable. I’m sure you’ve heard those before, so I’m not going to touch them. Instead, I’d like to focus on the reasons atheism can lead to a greater quality of life.

That said, I’m not here to convert anyone, just expose people to different ideas. I’m not on a crusade against religion. I’ve read many different books on various world religions. Even if I disagree with some of the founding points, the exposure to those ideas improved my philosophy towards life.

Common Arguments Against Atheism

I’d like to start by giving my rebuttal to many of the common arguments against atheism. I’m not even going to touch the circular logic of going to Hell or blasphemy. But here are some of the supposedly sensible objections to denying the existence of a god:

Morality

Morality doesn’t need to come from the threat of divine punishment. Religion can do much good, but it can be twisted to do evil as well. I believe ethics come from society. It comes from the basic principles of respecting the rights of others, service and altruism. You don’t need a god to explain morality anymore than you need Zeus to explain lightning bolts.

Afterlife

Another common objection is that in not believing in a god, you believe death creates infinite nothingness. I don’t have space to fully explain different theories on the life and death, but this doesn’t need to be so. Atheism only suggests that death is a current unknown.

Scott Adams suggested another possibility in his book God’s Debris. Your consciousness is based on a pattern stored on neurons in your brain. If this is the case, dying would simply pause the pattern and it would resume sometime in the future. With no delay being seen from the observer this would essentially mean you couldn’t experience death.

I’m not arguing that this theory is the way reality works, just that atheism isn’t surrendering to a nihilistic view of life. Instead, it is opening yourself to many different possibilities.

Meaning

This is an argument I’ve never quite understood. It basically goes that if you don’t believe in God, isn’t life meaningless? I think this is a rather weak argument since it assumes that meaning can’t be self-determined. It also assumes that without an invisible spirit watching you, life doesn’t have a purpose.

I pick a meaning for my life and I believe it is just as satisfying without conjuring a notion of a god. I believe a god can actually become a distraction from meaning since it causes you to focus on a divine overlord instead of what really matters – the other people and beings you share the world with.

Atheism for a Greater Quality of Life

Aside from being an atheist, I’m also a vegetarian. Beyond putting myself in two self-selected minorities, many of the arguments I’ve seen against vegetarianism are similar to those against atheism. A common cited reason people I know don’t want to eat meat is because they enjoy it too much. They don’t want to sacrifice.

This is hard to explain until you’ve tried both sides, but I don’t see avoiding meat as a sacrifice. Instead I see it as an opportunity to live a healthier life, reducing my chances of many chronic diseases and giving me more energy to do what I love. I also see it as removing the environmental and ethical discomfort in supporting an industry with questionable practices.

Similarly, I think a lot of believers don’t rationally believe in a god. But they don’t want to sacrifice the comforting notion that a being greater than themselves is watching down on them and helping them out.

But in focusing on that one benefit, you miss on the potential benefits of not believing in a deity:

  • Freedom – The mental freedom to explore your world, learn and challenge your own assumptions. Instead of rejecting evidence that doesn’t fit your notion of a god, you can embrace everything with curiosity.
  • Self-Reliance – Temporarily focusing on a god may keep you happy, but what about the long-term? Instead of expecting divine intervention to let everything work out, I focus on my own abilities and reasoning to improve my experience of life.
  • Beauty – I believe beauty lies in the unknown. It lies in the things you can’t explain. That is what atheism really means. Instead of resorting to weak explanations of a deity creating the world, you see all the beautiful aspects of nature you currently don’t understand. Why tarnish evidence that the universe is larger and more magnificent than we ever realized by placing an invisible man in front of it?

Pantheism and Rational Spirituality

So far my arguments have been against the traditional notion of a god. That is an invisible, all-powerful being that not only created the universe but also, through conscious force, interrupts the rules of nature, that he himself created, to perform miracles for the benefit of one planet amidst billions of billions of stars.

The alternative to that doesn’t need to be a cold, hyper-rational, if-I-don’t-see-it-it-doesn’t-exist mindset. Pantheism (or as Richard Dawkins refers to it as “sexed up atheism”) is another choice.

Pantheism literally means “God is all.” It is the belief that the universe itself is god. That nature, humanity, science and truth are the reflection of god. In the most basic sense, this isn’t any different from atheism or science. But while atheism emphasizes what the atheist doesn’t believe in, pantheism presents the alternative.

I’m a follower of rational spirituality. Although it may sound like an oxymoron, rational spirituality means that truth, and your understanding of the world, enhance your appreciation of it. Instead of supplementing an unemotional scientific perspective with superstition, you find the emotional beauty in science and reason.

Read a book on evolutionary biology or quantum physics and it you soon realize how mind-blowingly amazing the universe actually is. The wonders of the New Testament, in my opinion, pale in comparison to how evolution works, the possibilities of string theory or quantum entanglement.

Appealing to a Higher Motive

God can serve a purpose in causing us to aspire towards something greater. But I don’t believe a theistic god is the only (or even the best) possibility here either.

Even beyond just appreciating nature and the world for beauty, you need an ideal to strive towards. A motivation that gives your life purpose and your broader actions meaning. An answer to the question, “What does it all mean?”

Finding your higher ideal is an incredibly personal task. It is a task that can’t be delegated or avoided by reading a holy book. I can’t tell you what your higher ideal should be. All I can show you is what mine is.

My higher motive is based on three separate principles:

  • Truth - Complete understanding is the first part of my higher ideal. This means that there is intrinsic purpose in seeking the truth. And that faith or any suspension of the rational mind I possess is an inherent evil towards this goal. I don’t believe a lie at the most basic level can ever be superior to what reality actually is.
  • Service – The second aspect of my higher ideal is service and morality. This means that there is intrinsic purpose in serving the greatest good and respecting the rights of others. Any act that harms the greatest good or infringes on the personal rights of another conscious being is inherently evil.
  • Challenge - The final aspect of my higher ideal is that the pursuit of both truth and service is supposed to be challenging. Pain and struggle are not goals in themselves, but moving through challenges has intrinsic meaning if it moves you to greater truth and service. This means that no matter what happens to myself, there is a meaning in it if I choose to find it.

The two elements of rational spirituality and appealing to a higher motive do a far more elegant job of fulfilling me than adopting a specific religion and worshiping a god. Better yet, my beliefs are self-correcting. By placing the highest emphasis on truth, I am always willing to change my beliefs if evidence shows them to have errors.

Should You Become an Atheist?

I didn’t write this article to convert you. I fully expect not to have converted anyone who was already set in their beliefs. But just as I read religious and spiritual books to enhance my philosophy, hopefully this could do the same for you.

Further Reading for Atheism, Rational Spirituality and Higher Motives


Atheism:

Science:

Spirituality and Philosophy:


Print Friendly
StumbleUpon It!

This website is supported, in part, by affiliate arrangements (usually Amazon). Affiliate relationships are always marked by bolded links.


361 Responses to “Why Atheism?”

  1. Lily says:

    Excellent article. I am an atheist living in a small community with daily prayer groups at the high school and churches (yes, plural) on every corner. Literally. Living a full day without someone attacking my beliefs (or lack thereof) has become a rare luxury. I tend to ignore the rude people, but occasionally someone is genuinely curious as to why I don’t believe in the Christian God. Now I can tell them I agree with you, and send them to your blog. Yay :) This article helps me put my “blasphemous” beliefs into words! Thanks!

  2. Peter says:

    Don’t you think agnosticism is more reasonable? You don’t know for sure that there is a God, and you don’t know for sure that there isn’t a God. That is agnosticism. By saying that you can be certain that there isn’t a God, you have just closed your mind to one door of possibility, which I don’t think a scientific-minded person should do. Agnosticism is better.

  3. Scott Young says:

    Peter,

    Every belief has a degree of uncertainty associated with it, and rationally, it can never be perfect. I believe the sun will rise tomorrow because of induction, but there’s also the possibility that my life here is a dream and the sun doesn’t even exist, or the universe is destroyed in an instant due to some unexpected physical phenomena. In that sense, we are all agnostic (if we are rational) about everything.

    But that’s not really what agnosticism means. Atheism doesn’t mean 100% certainty (or at least, not in the sense I’m using it), rather it means “with high probability”. There is minimal evidence for the existence of God, so while I cannot rule out the possibility, it’s unlikely enough that it’s not rational to believe in God.

    Scientific-minded people make cut-offs with certainty all the time, believing hypotheses once they reach a threshold of evidence. If they did not, science could not progress.

    -Scott

  4. Peter says:

    Not everything that is important can be measured though, Scott. And reason and rationality isn’t the end all, be all to life. I think it can take many people a lifetime just to begin to realize that.

  5. Eliza says:

    Why is there little to no evidence for the existence of God? I think science and all the areas of knowledge someway or another point to the existence of a Creator. Does acknowledging a Creator diminish the value or beauty of the created? I do not think so. I think we are capable of appreciating the beauty as well as admiring the intelligence behind it. If I understand correctly, atheism is great because it offers freedom that religion does not. I think religion has been abused and distorted to the extent that religion has become unfavorable in the eyes of many. In all areas of knowledge, including religion, faith is the basis of knowledge. In every study, there are assumptions and only through faith in those assumptions can we progress in that subject. Religion is the same, except, religion is more subjective. How can each religion be right, if each say that its’ God is THE God? In different countries, different religions predominate and thus impact the society ethics, the customs, and the traditions of the land. I’ll argue as a Christian. You claim that atheism leads to a greater quality of life because it allows freedom, self-reliance, and appreciation of beauty. What is freedom ? Freedom may mean being able to do anything without restriction. However, with freedom comes responsibility. Many people, in the name of freedom, “enslave” themselves to addictions and problems that they would never have opted for if they decided to live a good life. The Bible says that “the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord”. Fear not as in afraid, but rather fear as in respect for and thus compliance with His commands. Are God’s commandments difficult to follow? I do not think so. You as an atheist have said them yourselves – service. The Bible throughout establishes that the first and greatest commandment is that ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your soul, and with all you strength’, and the second is to ‘love your neighbor as yourself’ (Mark 12:29-31). Jesus himself says that there is no greater commandment than these. Atheism, you say, leads to self-reliance. The Bible does not say sit around and wait for God to intervene in everything. Yes, God works miracles and He intervenes . But, at the same time, the believers are expected to work as if everything depends on you and pray as if everything depends on God, because both are true. As for appreciation of beauty, the entire Bible encourages an individual to look into and study to understand and appreciate the beauty that surrounds us. Even that can lead us to an awareness of a “Creator”. In physics, for example, we learn that the constants are so precise, that if they were to change even a little bit, then the whole condition of earth, humanity, and even the universe could be impacted immensely. I encourage you to check this website out – it’s not complete in its argument yet.
    http://www.periodictable-creation-bible.com/

  6. lol says:

    Agnostics are like indecisive pussies. make up your minds goldilocks. to believe or to not motherfucking believe!

  7. Eric says:

    Good Evening Scott,

    I found your blog (and by way of your blog, also found ZenHabits) while searching for ways to stay motivated while working at home. Which you and ZenHabits had great advice for, so thank you for the insightful comments and post. I found this article at the bottom of your page under popular posts and it got my attention. I would like to say that I too am not trying to convert anyone with my comments, but did have two questions for you regarding your post on atheism.

    I am a Christian, so my perspective will be from that side, and I would like to say before we get started, to Lily and I am sure many others, that there are some Christians who genuinely love others enough to want to share what we have come to find in Christ with you, which you may find in the “genuine” ones you come across, but there are also those Christians who are simply trying to fulfill their own needs in their desire to “sell” you or others on Christianity, and that is not what Christians or Christianity is about. If you have ever had someone attack your beliefs, or lack of beliefs, you are experiencing what we all are/have, which is simply someone being human and making a mistake. People like the “God hates f@gs” movement, and the like, have as much to do with Christianity as terrorists have to do with Islam. (which is nothing at all, if you were wondering). It just paints a bad portrait with a broad brush.

    So, on to the point. Scott, as you mentioned above, one of the arguments for / against belief in God was a question of social (or personal) morality, in that one could argue morality exists because of God, you state that ethics come from society. The trouble I find with that, is that if morality is simply an effect of social consciousness (or interpretation), doesn’t that excuse acts against those whom society deemed irrelevant or unworthy (at the time and place), for example: Jews, Africans, Women, etc. as at any moment in and throughout history social morality can be changed (influenced) based on popular opinion, and as such, can never be grounded in anything, or held accountable to anyone except public opinion at the time. However, I would argue that there are absolute laws of morality, (we can call these “certain inalienable rights”), life, etc. that I believe do not exists solely by societal dictation, I have also seen enough of humanity (what we have made of it) to believe that left to our own devices, men inherently choose to harm and subjugate one another. I know that altruism is an ideal worth hoping for as a society, but do you believe, were your life on the line, your fellow man (society), accountable only to public opinion, would choose what was best for you over himself? My belief in God, and in response to His love, causes me to care for my actions, as I know I will give an account for them, in this life possibly, but guaranteedly in the next.

    Lastly, and I know this is a long comment, and though you didn’t address this topic here, I wanted to raise/ask the question on origins. No matter what you believe, evolution, big bang, alien 747’s, creation, etc. Nothing, and really think about this one, NOTHING can explain how the universe exists or came to be, that is, except for a creator. I would give you any stake in the debate you want, hundreds of billions of years, whatever you stake claim to, but everything we see around us, whether the result of evolution, single energy, or all the dust in the universe collapsing into the “Big Bang”, that dust, energy, etc. had to be created, you can’t go back far enough without reaching some sort of “creation” event. And that event needs an orchestrator. For me, and Christians, that is God, the uncaused first cause, something I cannot explain (and no-one can) it is one of those faith things. But if you can come to terms with this simple fact, there must have been a “first” cause, a creation event, that created this world, universe and all that is seen / unseen; I think you will find yourself on a path to true “enlightenment” and personal growth.

    “Admiring a masterpiece is one thing, being ignorant of the one who made it, is another.” – me

    Thank you for your time in reading and your work on this blog.

  8. Francesca says:

    Hi Scott. I found your blog after google searching “why atheism?”. Yours is the most polite and informative piece I’ve read on the subject. I have noticed something … A patern, and thought you may be able to give some insight into it. Almost all the arguments given against religion are based on an anti-Christian view. They all argue against the Christian male deity, and the Christian idea od monotheism, and God being a “guy” or person. I am Muslim, and all your counters to faith are not a part of my religion, and all the benefits of atheism you listed are part of my way of life. So what I am seeking your clarity on is if much of the western atheism movement is actually in large part a movement away from Christianity? Many of your reasons to not believe in God are actually the same reasons why I don’t believe in Christianity.

    I do not intend to offend anyone or any belief system. I am seeking an honest exchange to learn more about others ideas and beliefs. The decision if one will observe a faith, and if so, which one, is highly personal and I respect everyone’s right to navigate that path on their own. I do not aim to convert anyone to my path, but I am interested in learning about the experiences others have had in their realization processes.

    Thank you for your time and I hope to read your reply soon.

    Peace,
    Francesca

  9. Scott Young says:

    Francesca,

    Well Islam is of the Judeo-Christian tradition, so as for forming a fundamental distinction with Christianity, that simply isn’t the case (unlike Hinduism, for example, which has different origins).

    My argument here, and to the follow-up comments is to the idea of a God itself. The problem is that most theistic (or deistic) interpretations of the universe are either unjustified by the evidence, or unlikely as an explanatory mechanism for the universe. There are many things we don’t understand about the universe, and possibly will never understand, but a lack of specific knowledge doesn’t give a rational person free license to fill in those gaps with whatever they choose.

    I’m irreligious and atheistic, but I also respect a plurality of belief systems. My only problem with the Islamic faith (as with all faiths) is when a majority opinion decides their faith is the only faith, and as such inhibits free thinking and diversity of religious sentiment, either through government or social norms.

    I defend atheism here, as I do rarely on the rest of this blog, simply because aside from some patches of Western Europe, the mindset of science-based atheism is a distinct minority, often persecuted.

    -Scott

  10. Ashley says:

    Hey! First off, I have only recently stumbled upon your blog and you have recently become my new inspiration. Judging from your past successes and your current goals, you are.a naturally intelligent person. However, rather than just believing that you have a special gift, you recognize that your achievements can be gained by anybody that takes the time to learn the techniques. I’m currently taking a course in cognitive psychology and the methods and techniques you describe are exactly the techniques used in the research I’m reading about. It’s wonderful to hear from someone practicing the methods and teaching them to others. If only I had found you 2 years ago when I started grad school. However you do have me contemplating possibilities on how to advance my own studies on my own.

    Now, to the question at hand, the religious aspect of this article is not what has me commenting but rather the vegetarian comparison. You say the arguments supporting them are similar but I have to disagree. Scientifically, you cannot prove the existence of a God or creator. However, there is valid scientific evidence to support meat consumption. Anatomically speaking, our teeth support that we are built to consume meat. Also, our intestines are mid length of meat eaters (short digestive tracts) and herbivores (long digestive tracts). Also the theory that the evolution of our big fancy brains is thanks to a varied diet of meat and veggies way back in the day.

    So yes, you have the lazy “I like meat” type of people and you have very valid point about the meat industry’s shady practices, but eating meat does not equate to relying on faith.

  11. Ann says:

    As a Christian we are thought of as being delusional and hypocrites.
    We know there is a God and yet do not show him in our lives. I am
    not talking about self-righteousness, but walking by Faith not flesh.
    To us God is real not because we see him, but because we can feel
    him and know him, its what unbelievers call understanding. When a
    christian knows that we know its our understanding. You can’t know
    God the sector way (the worlds way). Not just by reading the Bible,
    that is just foolishness to man. To get the most of out the Bible you
    need the Holy Spirit to help guild you and to witness to you to have
    part of God’s Spirit in you. We are mind, soul or body, and Spirit.
    Some have a fallen spirit (the way of the world) others a Holy Spirit,
    we are flesh and we are Spirit. The Holy Spirit is sealed off from
    the flesh that is what God deals with as he is Spirit. I am not trying
    to be preachy but for you to know some of our understanding. I
    have seen angels; and heard demons talk; participated in miracles;
    and have been a recipient of miracles. I would give up being a
    Christian for anything. No amount of money, prestige, fame or any
    worldly worth. My screen says “He died for you. Now you live for him.
    I Love him! He Loves me! I know that I know. To finish, the first
    step that one should take to God is to ask him to help you know him.
    That is what really matters in life. That emptiness inside of you can only be filled by God. We will pray for all of you. Happy Easter!

  12. Tomas Mancebo says:

    Atheist? You don’t know what you are missing!
    Freedom? Try not to sleep, eat or breath; you are bound to the laws of nature (Created by God).
    Granted, the way some religions behave and talk about God creates more atheists than anything else. But because you see a child using an abacus that doesn’t mean there isn’t higher knowledge for counting.

  13. Ann says:

    How can you see if you don’t look? (GOD)

  14. […] trivial example. You’ll see the same fallacious reasoning in the abundant comments on my article on atheism. I get many critical commenters saying that I’m being irrational for rejecting the idea of a god […]

  15. Pams says:

    luv ur blog, bt I’ll lyk to knw wat ur view is about miracles? Are they real? If they’re, can u xplain how miracles happen? & on uncertainties wats ur percentage uncertainty dat God doesnt exist?

  16. Ann says:

    The question one should be concerned about is not
    ( Is there a GOD?), but (What if there is a GOD).
    Because if there is no GOD than the most one
    would have to do is live in self-righteousness.
    That seems the way of most other religions.
    But if there is a GOD than all one would have to do
    is to seek, ask GOD to help you to know him. Not
    by self-righteousness, but by sincere Humility and
    genuine Faith. As far as proof what about miracles;
    people dying going to heaven and hell than coming
    back again; the things that happen spiritually Good
    an evil; the influence of Good and evil in life. So
    seek, find the truth through Science, History,
    books, talk and listen to people, be still be quite-
    meditate. Find the truth be set free. Fill up the
    emptiness inside of you with the real thing.
    The truth is worth finding!
    PLEASE!
    Thank you for allowing freedom of comment.

  17. Alisan says:

    Where does meaning come from? How come we care about each other? How come when someone dies we grieve? Why don’t we just say “meh?” Why do we care about each other? Where do we get the ability/need to care about others? How come all of this matters to us? The only answer I can come up is since we have these strong emotions that make this world matter then we must matter to something otherwise we’d be indifferent to our world. I’ve never heard a good scientific argument for the meaning of emotions besides some explanation on neurotransmitters releasing through an action potential into a neuronal junction. But that doesn’t actually explain the meaning – merely the process.

  18. Ambulatory Whale says:

    Ann,

    Consider the following exercise: replace every occurrence of “God” in any given text with “Invisible Pink Agoraphobic Platypus”. A simple word substitution, nothing more involved than that. The text now seems utterly bizarre, doesn’t it? “Of course it does”, you might say, “because God is not an invisible, pink, agoraphobic platypus”. Alright, so you have some idea of what God is like – or at the very least, what God is not. But how do you know this? Your conception of God is primarily sourced from that of the Bible’s authors (assuming you’re Christian). Are you sure you would subscribe to the same ideas about God if you were hypothetically born in a (e.g.) Hindu family? With thousands of different religions all claiming a monopoly on Truth, how is the neutral observer to choose between them? Don’t you find it curious that the overwhelming majority of religious folk have religious beliefs almost identical with their parents’?

    Stephen Roberts once said, “I contend we’re both atheists; I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.” I think this succinctly encapsulates one of the greatest difficulties in simply believing without question.

  19. Coenraad says:

    The problem with the human condition is that we tend to think in terms of people and we can at best only rely on assumptions. Assumptions that are quite often flawed.

    My concern here, is, that by tagging yourself with the “Atheist” label, you are sending a message to the impressionable assumptionists of the world (and they ARE in the majority) that you are a bad person. Those are people who are “good” people – and who may never be more enlightened.

    The mistaken assumption being: If you don’t choose “Love” as your God, what do you choose?

    Because another word for God is simply your own being and strive. What do you strive for – and if it’s the one-ness and acceptance of your “enemies” that the Bible calls Love, Yahweh / “I am”, or God – you might as well call yourself a Christian and get it over with. Or avoid ALL religious symbolism and conversation altogether.

    I’ve recently come to two insights that made “Christianity” easier to digest for me: 1) Most of what you see around you, that is man made, existed in the form of ideas before it was made. In light of that, what is more real, really – fantasy, or reality? Sure, we’re messing with the meanings of words here – but they are just sounds representative of meaning, and there are meanings and insights for which there are no commonly accepted grunts or words yet, so my point stands. 2) The Bible can be summarised in this: Love your neighbor as yourself and God above all. The Jews cruified Jesus for preaching this, because they saw it as a lame excuse to disregard their laws. But it’s in fact brilliant: you can’t follow it blindly! You first have to figure out what love is, who you are, who God is, and then who your enemies are… and come to the realisation that everything you do echos in eternity and that you can never really truly be in control. Something a lot of people rightfully fear.

    PS Thanks for existing! What I mean is – thanks for doing the course and proving this to the world and all… I’m totally in awe.

    My University story: Wanted to study AI to remove ‘admin’ from our lives. There was no “AI” course, so I decided to marry psychology and CS. But the Faculty of Sciences said – no, I have to do it as an Arts degree. And the Faculty of Arts said – sure, just check that there are no clashes with Admin. And all the subjects clashed. Which is so self-typical – in a way. Also telling: The fact that the admin department is double the size of any other faculty.

    Bring on the brave new world!

  20. Coenraad says:

    PS Godel is super awesome. What he proved – the fact that “mathematics” and “science” will never be able to understand/prove everything: think about it’s greater implications as it pertains to religion.

    He took something he intuitively believed and expressed it in mathematical formulas to not only explain his true religion, but to prove it in a way that nobody has yet been able to refute. The “other” meaning of God – something that’s always bigger and more undefinable than anything you can ever define.

    The way I see it, is that Religion and Science are part of the same conversation. Science starts at the smallest possible concept, and Religion at the biggest. It’s inevitable that they’d meet – and ultimately compliment each other.

  21. Holly says:

    I’m a person who always likes to know the worst and then put the best face I can on it. So I won’t deny any of what you said. But there’s one more thing to be said, even so. Suppose we ( Christians and people of other religions for centuries and centuries) have only dreamed, or made up, all those things-love incarnate and resurrection and a better, peaceful kingdom for all and eternal life and miracles and God himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose the world with only materialism or just a bunch of atoms and energy is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. Even though truth and service and challenge are nice, they are only means, not an end, and there’s still terrorism and oppression and bigotry. And that’s a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We’re just babies making up a game, if you’re right. But babies playing a game can make a play-world which, forgive me if this is offensive, beats your real world hollow. That’s why I’m going to stand by the play world. I’m on Christ’s side even if there isn’t any God to lead it. I’m going to live as like a true Christian as I can even if there isn’t any true Christianity. So, though we thank you kindly for your input, I and anyone else who whole-heartedly hopes in Christ are setting out in this dark world to spend our lives looking for the kingdom of God. Not that our lives will be very long, I should think, if we’re living exactly as this possibly made-up God calls us to ( living solely by trust in Him: turning the other cheek, inviting strangers to be our friends, and giving all we have to others); but that’s a small loss if the world’s as dull a place as you say.

  22. MIKE says:

    DEAR SCOTT…

    THIS IS A TRUE THING…

    THE BIBLE IS A MAP OF REALITY DICTATED BY THE ONE WHO CREATED THE TERRAIN…

    IF YOU REJECT THAT MAP YOU’RE GOING TO HAVE TO PIECE ONE TOGETHER OF YOUR OWN… AND FROM OTHERS WHO ARE DOING THE SAME…

    WHILE THERE’S GREAT FREEDOM TO BE HAD IN DRAWING UP YOUR OWN MAP AND TAKING GREAT PRIDE IN IT BECAUSE YOU MADE IT…

    CAN YOU REALLY AFFORD TO BE WRONG AS YOU DRIVE THROUGH LIFE (WITH PEOPLE FOLLOWING YOU AROUND TRUSTING YOUR JUDGEMENT AND YOUR MAP)…

    SOONER OR LATER YOU’RE GOING TO RUN OUT OF GAS (DIE), AND THEN SOMEONE IS GOING TO COME OUT AND PICK YOU UP…

    YOUR GOING TO HAVE TO LEAVE YOUR VEHICLE (BODY) WHERE IT FAILED YOU… AND YOU’LL BE TAKEN SOMEWHERE ELSE… WHERE YOU WILL BE FOREVER…

    DID YOU LEAD A SUCCESSFUL LIFE? THE ANSWER IS DETERMINED BY WHERE YOU LIVE FOREVER… AND WHO WAS FOLLOWING YOU AND WHERE THEY LIVE FOREVER (DID YOU LEAD THEM / OR MISLEAD THEM)…

    AND THAT IS DETERMINED BY WHO’S MAP YOU WERE FOLLOWING…

    YOU CAN’T AFFORD TO BE WRONG ON THIS MAP ISSUE… IF YOU ARE WRONG… EVERYTHING YOU’RE DOING NOW TO BE A SUCCESS AND GAIN A FOLLOWING WILL BE WASTED…

    ETERNITY IS WHAT COUNTS… YOU WON’T GO TO SLEEP AFTER YOU DIE… RATHER YOU WILL WAKE UP TO BEAUTIFUL OR BURNING FOREVER…

    AND THE GOD YOU DON’T BELIEVE (OR RATHER BELIEVE IN) IS BIG ENOUGH TO LET YOU CHOOSE WHERE YOU WANT TO END UP…

    THE MAP SAYS CHRIST IS THE WAY… WHEN YOU RUN OUT OF GAS… HE WILL BE THERE FOR YOU IN DEATH… BUT ONLY IF YOU ARE HERE FOR HIM IN LIFE?

    ROMANS 10:9-10 IS WHERE YOU CAN DOWNLOAD THIS MAP

    LOOK CAREFULLY INTO YOUR MAP MY FRIEND…

    OTHERS ARE FOLLOWING YOU SOMEWHERE…

    SINCERELY… MIKE

  23. David says:

    Without faith it is impossible to please him, for he that cometh to God must believe that he is and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

    Your human religion of rationalism will fail, just like in France’s revolution. It will end in a reign of terror. I don’t want to sound harsh, but that is the truth. Your rational religion has no cure for the internal corruption in the heart of man because of his fallen state. Your “high” ideals of what is right and wrong will be powerless to keep yourself, or society.

    God issues a challenge to men like you if you really want to know the truth. It’s found in Isaiah 41.

    “Produce your cause, saith the Lord: bring forth your strong reasons, saith the King of Jacob. Let them bring them forth, and shew what shall happen: let them shew the former things, what they be, that we may consider them. and know the latter end of them; or declare us things to come. Shew the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods: yea do good , or do evil, that we may be dismayed, and behold it together.”

    God has predicted your future (and mine.) Declaring the end from the beginning. God issues the challenge that he knows the end from the beginning, and has declared it.

    If you up to the challenge here’s a book that tells us where we have been, where we are, and where we are going. http://www.y2hope.com/hope/gc.htm or you can call 1-800-THE-TRUTH and request a hard copy.

  24. Anonymous says:

    I am a born Buddhist and an Atheist. I agree on your view on god but I don’t understand your view on Buddhism so, if you please elaborate why Buddhism isn’t as bad as god? Thanks in advance.

  25. Johnny says:

    You know what I think?

    Well, let me tell you about me first. I had been an atheist for not much longer than a year, cause I soon found atheism to be “practically the same” as religion. It is a belief that something is just the way you “think” it is, even though you cannot possibly know. In fact, by being an atheist you even disregard your own principal about being open to the opposite (see your blog homepage: “Being Able to Imagine the Opposite”).

    The ONLY known SOLUTION to this (for me) was agnosticism. Agnosticism is the ONLY view on this that can be scientifically retraced – as it is custom in science, you say that you don’t know and thus must think that it is at least generally/theoretically possible. We have not yet discovered instruments that could prove 100% that there’s no “god” or other higher being flowing around in the universe. As this is so, atheism for me is just as stupid as blind faith (you believe in god cause a priest told you “there is a god”.)

    YES: Atheism is the same coin as religion – just the opposite side. Agnosticism is the answer.

  26. Vaughan says:

    No. Atheism is not the same coin as religion and while we are at it agnosticism is just philosophical laziness. Essentially agnostics have allowed the religious concept of omniscience to invade their belief system without questioning it.

    Certainty is not having 100% surety, it is simply confidence in human knowledge. 100% certainty is not possible, so why would you demand it of a human? In effect what you are asking the atheist to do is accept an omniscient standard of knowledge, without first defending that requirement. You probably do not even realise you have done it.

  27. Johnny says:

    confidence in human knowledge? Sorry, i dont have that. if you digg into the philosophy of science you will see that nothing is as certain as you might think. it’s not just people believing THEY KNOW the world is a disk/slice for centuries – that was a long time ago – it is also modern science being build on theories that are essentially approximations of reality and therefore it is only a matter of time till they are overthrown. newton’s physics for example seem perfectly right for many things. however, at some point they won’t work anymore. Einstein (and others) realized this. and today we probably still not have the right theory. It’s 2012 – so what? In a 100 years people might say that those 21. century people were completely on the wrong track concerning physics (:

    So basically, I think as an open minded person i must assume that it is theoretically possible that there is something like a god – maybe is a small, selfish, human-like, child-eating god. I don’t know. Maybe it’s just a spaghetti monster. Maybe there is no god but earth is a mad scientists lab. I don’t know. But I think we shouldnt just assume that its not the case. Cause we dont know.

  28. Josh says:

    Your “List of Common Arguments” contains none of the actual common arguments in the philosophical debates between atheism and theism all the way back to Plato. That’s a shame.

    You also don’t take on the actual philosophical implications of atheism like the negation of free will. Also a shame.

  29. Ann says:

    What is TRUTH? Does your truth make you feel like you know
    what the truth is? It’s the knowing that confirms what the
    TRUTH is. GOD has the understanding and he is trying to get
    us to know that. We first have to have a relationship with GOD
    for he alone can give out meaning, knowledge (knowing). The
    equipment to have between you and him. The Holy Spirit is the go
    between GOD and mankind. GOD is the only one who can give
    out Salvation, and the gifts of the Spirit. We at best can be
    motivational speakers. The best one is the devil and he takes
    the TRUTH and twist, and turns to manipulate, bring strife by
    reason of religion, but being a christian is about relationship
    with GOD (ABBA) the first step. Seek, Ask, Knock. Love GOD

  30. Kate says:

    Interesting and well thought out. Have you ever read The Biology of Belief by Dr. Bruce Lipton? I think you’d really like it- it’s about how we can influence and change our cells and our biology through environmental influences- including our thoughts.

    I really appreciate your willingness to use controversial words and promote debate on your site.

  31. Divesh says:

    I applaud you for being brave enough to come out with your view Scott. Religion is a touchy subject at the best of times, and a downright dangerous one at the worst of it.

    I am sure you must have deliberated long and hard before posting this, as your blog is a business as well it took guts to possibly alienate some readers.

    Kudos to you sir.

  32. Charles says:

    Dear Scott,

    Thank you for your interesting and Informative website. I came across it indirectly through Ramit Sethi’s 15 little life hacks which I found through Josh Kaufman’s Personal MBA. I know I will enjoy going through the rest of it. I especially enjoyed this section and I commend you on the pursuit of truth in this post-modernistic world.

    I do come from a Christian world view and it was great to see the comments from the other faiths and that link left by the first commenter. Thank you for allowing us to use this site to share our view points.

    I think one of the problems people have with religion is that they think they have to check their rational or scientific minds at the church door and go completely by faith. However, consider all the many men of science and other great minds who believed in God both today and in the past. People like Einstein, Beethoven, Tolstoy, And Pascal. The more scientifically advanced we get, I believe the more evidence there is for the “proof” of God.

    Please double check all the statements to follow as I am not the original source and as you know everyone makes mistakes. I do not mean to intentionally mislead anyone as these findings are not my own.

    Scientists who study the origins of life on earth have come down to basically only one explanation. That life was somehow carried here by a meteor striking the earth. Evolution is out as there is no evidence of any significant evolution in any organism that grows above 4 ft tall. They agree that the source of life could not have come from any nearby planet as the conditions were not right and think that it could not even have come from our galaxy. Thus the chances of that event occurring are infinitesimal. Even if it did occur, it still begs the question as to how that life started. The only other view point would be that life was made by a creator.

    2. The Bible is our source of truth and what we believe to be the word of God. “In the begining was the word. The word was with God, and the word was God.” John 1:1 How can we believe in the Bible? One is that the Bible is an historical document whose descriptions of past events have always been accurate. To date, there have been only archeological findings that support the history in the Bible. There has yet to be one finding that has shown otherwise. The other is that the Bible is the only book that has been able accurately tell us about the future. The Old Testament has about 18 or so prophesies about the coming of Jesus some 400 years before his actual arrival. All of them came true including the exact time Jesus would appear, to the city where he was born, and to his actions when he was charged and accused for his crucifixition. A mathematician calculated the odds that any man born at that time could fit the prophecies as Jesus did. The odds of anyone person able to hit about 7 would be like the chance that if you marked a 50 cent piece with an X and you covered the whole state of Texas with the coins three feet deep, that you would find that coin on your first grab. The odds of fufilling all 18 or so of them would be if the pile of coins covered all of Texas but then went up to the moon. In all, there are about 600 some prophecies in the Bible and a little over 300 of them have come to pass- there are more recent ones but the reformation of the country of Israel is a major one.

    Lastly, it’s too hard to deny the indescribable transformative power of faith in Jesus. I’ve seen former drug addicts, gang members be redeemed and become amazing pastors. Healings and miracles continue regularly even today.

    I hope that if you are really passionate about the search of truth that you would continue to look into these things further and go with open mind and open heart. There is a lot of good in everyone and your ideals of service and achievement for the higher good are commendable. But the truth is, we all fall short. The good news is that if we repent and turn from our own ways and follow Jesus, he promises forgiveness and a hope everlasting.

  33. Scott Young says:

    Charles,

    “Evolution is out as there is no evidence of any significant evolution in any organism that grows above 4 ft tall.” – This is absurd.

    “People like Einstein, Beethoven, Tolstoy, And Pascal.” – Beyond the fallacious reasoning that smart people believe x therefore x must be true, it’s highly unlikely Einstein believed in God, or if he did he was a deist. The religious beliefs of past intellectuals must also be understood in a cultural context of their times were atheism was extremely unusual (and punishable).

    “Scientists who study the origins of life on earth have come down to basically only one explanation.” – No they haven’t. Read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abiogenesis and see how many current theories are being debated.

    I think there are possible arguments for a deity, and perhaps even in believing in one on faith when the evidence is lacking. But if you want to have an intellectual debate about it, you can’t make claims that are disproven from a single web search.

  34. Werner says:

    Thank you for the free ebooks, Holistic Learning and Get More From Life..I have to comment on the above issue for the general sake of reasoning…

    I’m sure that we all agree that there is a big difference between the word “Black” and what we
    commonly call “The ‘N’ word.”
    One describes an ethnic group, the other has extremely negative connotations.
    In the same way, there is a big difference between the word “Christian” and the word “religious.”
    History shows that religion has been accompanied by ignorance, intolerance, and superstition.
    Religion has fought the progress of science, and has been responsible to more wars than any
    thing else in history.
    I say that because I am not here representing Roman Catholicism, or the traditional Protestant
    church.
    They would no doubt distance themselves from me and my beliefs, as quickly as you would
    distance yourself from a skunk with severe halitosis.
    “Religious” Webster’s Dictionary: “Pertaining to or connected with a monastic or religious
    order.”
    I am neither a monk, nor am I part of any religious order.
    At the risk of causing you to roll your eyes in expectation of what you may consider
    “the usual nauseating arguments for God’s existence,” I am going to give you my three point
    outline, in which I will present my case:
    • The Evidence of Creation.
    • The Evidence of The Bible.
    • The Evidence of Conscience.
    Then I will speak briefly on the subject of evolution and make known to you details of the
    $250,000 offer for anyone who can offer any scientific evidence for evolution.
    2
    1. The Evidence of Creation.
    Theory–Coke can, banana (ridges/groves, non-slip, outward indicators, tab, bio-degradable
    perforated, point at top, right shape, curved).
    Leaves.
    Car–no maker?
    Order in creation.
    Sir Isaac Newton said, “This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only
    proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being.”
    But how do you scientifically prove God’s existence?
    The English word “scientific”–from the Latin words: “to make” and “knowledge.”
    Building builder.
    Painting painter.
    Exactly same applies to the existence of God: “For the invisible things of Him…” (Romans 1:20)
    Scientist Stephen Hawking is his book, A Brief History of Time said,
    “It would be very difficult to explain why the universe should have begun in just this way, except
    as the act of a God who intended to create beings like us.”
    Albert Einstein didn’t believe in the God of the Bible, but he wasn’t a fool. He knew that there
    was a Creator.
    He said, “God does not play dice [with the universe].”
    “Everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is
    manifest in the laws of the Universe–a spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of
    which our modest powers must feel humble.” (The Quotable Einstein, p. 152).
    God’s existence is axiomatic.
    Arguing about the existence of a Creator is intellectually demeaning.
    It is like arguing with “The Sun is Not Hot Club,” about whether or not the sun is hot.
    That’s why the Bible says, “The fool has said in his heart, There is no God.”
    3
    “The Atheist Test.”
    Two questions: Hawaii, Tibetan yak. Some things we don’t know.
    Thomas Edison “We do not know one-millionth of one percent about anything.”
    The statement, “There is no God” is an absolute statement.
    Absolute knowledge “No gold in China.”
    Don’t need absolute knowledge to know that there is gold in China.
    This circle represents all the knowledge in the universe.
    It is possible, in the 99% of the knowledge you haven’t yet come across, that there is ample
    evidence to prove that God exists?
    If you are reasonable, you will be forced to say, “Yes, it is possible…so I really don’t know.”
    Therefore must say, “With the limited knowledge I have at present I’ve come to the conclusion
    that there is no God, but I really don’t know.”
    2. The Evidence of the Bible.
    If we have problems with parts of the Bible, we should listen to Mark Twain, who wisely said,
    “Most people are bothered by those passages of Scriptures they don’t understand, but for me, I
    have always noticed that the passages that bother me are those I do understand.”
    He was right. It’s not things that men can’t understand that make them hate the Bible. It’s the
    things they can understand.
    The Bible is full scientific and medical facts, written thousands of years before man discovered
    the. See “Science Confirms the Bible” tract, and Scientific Facts in the Bible book.
    The facts, plus its many 100% accurate prophecies prove that the Bible is supernatural in origin.
    4
    3. The Evidence of Conscience
    I am now going to move from addressing your intellect and speak directly to your conscience.
    This is because the word con-science means with knowledge.
    If your conscience is allowed to do its duty, it will speak to you of God’s existence.
    But if you deny that inner knowledge, according to the Bible your conscience is “seared.”
    Deadened.
    So I am going to speak directly to it, in an effort to resurrect it.
    To do this, I will use a few of the Ten Commandments–what the Bible calls the Law of God.
    God’s Law is like a mirror.
    Not a pretty sight (this isn’t pleasant, but it won’t take long).
    This is most necessary for me to present my case for the existence of God, so please bear with
    me.
    Would you consider yourself to be a “good’ person?
    Here’s the test to see if you are morally clean: Have you kept the Ten Commandments?
    Have you ever told a lie?
    Have you ever stolen something?
    Jesus said, “Whoever…lust…”
    Then, by your own admission, you are a lying, thieving, adulterer at heart
    and you have to face God on Judgment day, whether you believe in Him or not.
    If He were to judge you…Heaven or Hell?
    I don’t believe in Hell!
    If I stand on a freeway and say, “I don’t believe in trucks.”
    The good news is that God doesn’t want any of us to go to Hell.
    He provided a way for us to be forgiven: The Cross.
    5
    Finally, I would like to speak for a moment about EVOLUTION
    Let me make it clear that I do believe in variations within species. Some dogs appear to have
    evolved from large to small (or small to large), but no “evolution” has actually taken place.
    They are still dogs.
    So I do believe in something called “microevolution”–variation within a species.
    However, there is no evidence for man evolving from primates, commonly known as “the theory
    of evolution.”
    Professor Louis Bounoure, Director of Research, National Center of Scientific Research so
    rightly stated:
    “Evolution is a fairy tale for grown-ups. This theory has helped nothing in the progress of
    science. It is useless.”
    Sir Arthur Keith (Sir Arthur Keith wrote the foreword to the 100th edition of Origin of the
    Species) said, “Evolution is unproved and unprovable.”
    Malcolm Muggeridge, the famous British journalist and philosopher said,
    “I myself am convinced that the theory of evolution, especially the extent to which it’s been
    applied, will be one of the great jokes in history books of the future.” (The End of Christendom,
    Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Mich., 1980, page 59).
    Dr. T. N. Tah-misian of the Atomic Energy Commission said,
    “Scientists who go about teaching that evolution is a fact of life are great con-men, and the story
    they are telling may be the greatest hoax ever.”
    USA Today March 21, 2001
    “Paleontologists have discovered a new skeleton in the closet of human ancestry that is likely to
    force science to revise, if not scrap, current theories of human origins.”
    Reuters reported that the discovery left “scientists of human evolution…confused,” saying,
    “Lucy may not even be a direct human ancestor after all.”
    The phrase “scientists of human evolution” is an oxymoron.
    Evolution isn’t “scientific.” It’s a theory.
    6
    If you go to http://www.raycomfort.com to will see an offer of $250,000.
    Dr. Kent Hovind $250,000 “to anyone who can offer any scientific evidence that evolution is
    true.”
    Take him to court. Become famous. Make this another Scopes trial.
    But you won’t, because you can’t. All you have is faith in a theory.
    Evolution is actually a religion.
    Dictionary: “Religion”: “A set of beliefs concerned with explaining the origins and purposes of
    the universe…”
    The belief of evolution even has its own religious language:
    “We believe, perhaps, maybe, probably, could’ve, possibly.”
    The founding father of the faith is Charles Darwin.
    The god of the religion of Darwinism is referred to by the faithful as “Mother Nature.”
    She is the one who is responsible for everything we can see in creation.
    What’s more, she’s very attractive to sinful men. They gravitate to her like a moth to a flame.
    Why? Because she’s deaf, blind, and mute.
    Mother Nature doesn’t hear anything, she doesn’t see anything, and what’s most important–she
    doesn’t say anything.
    Mother Nature doesn’t have any moral dictates.
    So, if you make her your creator, YOU CAN DO ANYTHING YOU WANT
    …every sinful pleasure can be enjoyed with no qualms of conscience.
    That’s why evolution is so appealing.
    Such a belief system is called “idolatry” (making up a non-existent god to suit yourself)
    It is a transgression of the First and Second of the Ten Commandments.
    To believe in the theory of evolution takes a great leap of bind faith.
    Like little children, they believe without the need of a thread of evidence.
    The theory doesn’t disprove the existence of God.
    It just reveals that those who believe it are truly capable of faith in the invisible…
    and confirms Napoleon’s great observation:
    “Man will believe anything, as long as it’s not in the Bible.”
    Thank you for listening. Please feel free to avail yourselves of the literature on the table.

  35. Werner says:

    Atheism:

    BUILDING:
    How do you know there was a builder?

    PAINTING:
    How do you know there was a painter?

    “The fool has said in his heart There is no God” (Psalm 14:1).

    $250,000 REWARD
    Offered by Dr. Kent Hovind to:
    “Anyone who can give any
    empirical evidence (scientific proof)
    for evolution.”
    http://www.drdino.com/Articles/Article1.htm

  36. Charles says:

    Scott,

    Actually, Einstein was Jewish and had a strong belief in God. He also spoke of the New Testament as well per his close friends and colleagues.

    With regards to evolution, I did not say that there was no evolution, but no significant evolution–many of the postulates proposed by Darwin have been proven false and there is unfortunately a lot of misconception in the general public about the theory. That said, the fact of any form of evolution does not disprove the existence of God.

    Let me clarify my statement about the origins of life which you responded with the abiogenesis link. The statement was actually from a scientist who attended the last national scientific conference where the current theories were debated including those listed on your web link site. The consensus was that abiogenesis could not have occurred here due to the short time period available to produce life after the cooling period. Abiogenesis itself was discredited by the majority of the group. Of course you will always have some professor somewhere whose life depends on that research and will be a strong proponent but there also are professors who still espouse Marxism and want us to change our system. Even if we allow the possibility that abiogenesis can occur, it doesn’t explain how the formation got the information or genetic code to assemble and produce complex life.

    On your write up you ask the question “what does this all mean?” but you did not give an answer yourself?

  37. Scott Young says:

    Charles,

    It’s a side point, but Albert Einstein was almost certainly agnostic and couldn’t be described as having a “strong belief in God”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Einstein%27s_religious_views – Regarding Judaism, he was Jewish, but that describes a culture, not just a religion. Regarding the faith itself he notes: “For me the Jewish religion like all other religions is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions.” But as I mentioned previously, Einstein’s belief in a god is irrelevant. Saul Kripke is brilliant and decidedly theistic, Dawkins likely equally so and atheistic.

    Your story regarding abiogenesis may have occurred, but to say there is a scientific consensus is misleading, and any modern biology textbook would point out that different theories currently compete.

    Evolution really has nothing to do with God, unless you take a fundamentalist interpretation of biblical events, you’re right. But the idea that large animals somehow don’t evolve significantly is not consistent with the science. Age to sexual maturity would be a factor in determining evolution’s rate, but the principle doesn’t depend on an organisms size.

    As for the misconceptions about evolution, I can’t say anything because you haven’t named any, but I would argue that the public has generally been misled into believing evolution is a weak or flawed theory, when it is one of the most robustly supported in all of biological science.

    But, you correctly point out, evolution doesn’t contradict a deity existing, so that is also a non sequitur.

    My article isn’t about justifying atheism from an epistemic standpoint, although I believe the case can be made easily. It’s explaining the philosophy from a personal perspective to help others understand why it isn’t nihilistic. As such, I don’t go into the many arguments for why a god is unlikely.

  38. Scott Young says:

    Werner,

    The argument from design is flawed because, in positing a god to create the things you describe, what created the god? You might be tempted to respond that the god exists outside of time and therefore needed no creator. But if you allow yourself that exception, why invoke a god at all, if you’re already in the habit of explaining extremely complex things without designers?

    The idea of why there is something instead of nothing, or why there is this instead of something else is puzzling, and I certainly don’t have an answer.

    But the “I don’t understand it, therefore magic” chain of reasoning is something you can have as a private belief, but it’s hardly something you should expect other people to take on faith.

    -Scott

  39. Charles says:

    Scott,

    Yes, the argument of who or who doesn’t believe is irrelevant, and Judaism is more a culture than a religion for those who live here.

    As for your textbooks, my source came from one of the latest research conferences, and not that it automatically rules out what text books say but shows the limitation of the truth that comes from man. It always changes with the latest research. If that is the case, can we really use atheism to define anything with conviction?

    You do point out that your more a rational spiritualist and you can see the wonder and beauty of nature and science. To follow the quasi-atheistic like viewpoint however, you would have to believe that all the detail and amazing nature of the universe was all started by chance, but does not that complexity point to at least intelligent design? Is not the spiritual side of a person a reflection of a creator who is spirit?

    The first line of the Bible is that in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Some would say it is the greatest miracle in the Bible and its evidence is the world we live in. If you can believe that, than any of the miracles in the book are possible.

    But why is all this relevant to life today? We live in such a wealthy area of the world but did you know 90% of it lives only on two dollars a day, sleeps on the floor and has no running water? Even with our comfort, I think Thoreau got it right that we all live lives of quiet desperation, and it is because we have become separated from our source.

    You mentioned reading the New Testament in your statement so I will just write a short of summary as I can. The Bible is the story of man’s separation from him and his plan to redeem us. We were meant to live in close relationship to Him and could hear him speak to us. He gave us a purpose to fill the earth and take care of it. That changed when Adam and Eve disobeyed him and from that sin was born and the earth was cursed. We could no longer have direct contact and were banished from the garden. Sin and evil were allowed to rule over the earth. But even in punishment, God promised that Adam’s seed “would crush the serpents head” one day and redeem man, and thus is really the origin of Christianity. God let people live on but was so disgusted with man that he almost wiped out everyone with a great flood, but by grace saved one family. (Evidence of a great flood exists in Archeological findings today.) He chose a group of people to be his representative to the world and gave them laws, the Ten Commandments, to which we derive our morals. The people could not follow the laws, and thus he caused them to be dispersed, aka the Diaspora. He promised however a new way to be restored to him and that was Jesus. Jesus was not merely a good man, for a good man does not claim to be the son of God, but he was God’s gift to clothe our sinfulness in his perfection, for he was without sin and died on the cross as our sacrifice. “For as in Adam we all die, but in Christ we are all made alive.” The good news is that whoever will believe in him and follow his ways, would have not only eternal life, but a full life here on earth. The amazing thing is, despite what our past has been, he will never turn you away if you come to him.

    As I said in my very first post, there are some 600 or so prophecies in the Bible of which more than half have come true. Isn’t it likely that the remaining will come true? The other half talk about Jesus’ second coming, and the tribulation that will occur on earth–in which he will come as ruler and judge rather than Savior.

    God wants you back in his family, and he has given us a free gift if we only choose to accept it. I believe only He can help you believe, I just wanted to make sure you at least got the invitation.

  40. Scott Young says:

    Charles,

    By chance? No. My knowledge is limited, so I can only speculate on the origins and underlying fabric of the universe (my atheism is simply that I’m unconvinced of theistic interpretations, not that I claim to have a correct theory).

    But, were I to speculate, I would argue that the further we probe nature the closer we get to fundamental rules which underlie it. If I had to put money on an ultimate answer to the universe, it would be that it exists out of logical necessity, a mathematical equation that must be fulfilled.

    Now this may certainly be incorrect. It could be that there is no fundamental, and we get ever more layers of the onion to peel. It could be that we are disconnected from those fundamentals, so they are unknowable. I can’t say.

    But, if I were forced to speculate, I’d guess this interpretation of the universe as being more plausible than a religious/theistic one. That math, not story or anthropomorphized agents, underlie creation.

    I note that this speculation is of a different sort than my atheistic feelings which are that theism is a bold claim without similarly bold evidence. Especially the more specific religions which have more precise claims, and would therefore require even more evidence to be plausible.

    -Scott

  41. Chris says:

    I think much of the debate about the existence of [Some Higher consciousness] is very confused. I personally think atheism is a more advanced spiritual state than religious belief. However, my own personal experience is that almost certainly there is something beyond consciousness as we know it, and in no way is this outside the realm of proof, although for some reason my experience is that the proof most often must come as a personal (internal) rather than social (external) experience. Not sure why this is. I did have an external experience, but I think that is unusual.

    I believe it is because deep within consciousness there is a knowing, and a person on some level is [choosing] to ignore this knowing, as such it is not for anyone to prove that there is more to life than appearance suggests. A person must simply be open to whatever is true. I will say that the idea of a God as advocated by some religions is frankly laughable.

    “There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.”

    ― Søren Kierkegaard

    Doubt as a philosophy, if it is to be truly open, must extend to doubt of doubt. And I do not advocate blind belief as a valid alternative. I advocate honest questioning.

    However, I think the presumption of intellectual superiority of atheism is simply not valid, but is I admit [extremely] convincing. I am still awed by the clarity of thought arising from some avowed aethists, I just think…well.. they are wrong. Something is either true or it is not. And being concerned with what is true is not the same as taking a position of doubt [or atheism]. One of my favourite stories is the one below. I like it because it reminds me reality has no concern what I believe. Something is either true or it is not.

    An American scientist once visited the offices of the great Nobel Prize-winning physicist, Neils Bohr, in Copenhagen, and was amazed to find a horseshoe was nailed to the wall over his desk. see story below.

    The American said with a nervous laugh, “Surely you don’t believe that horseshoe will bring you good luck, do you, Professor Bohr?”

    Bohr chuckled. “I believe no such thing, my good friend. Not at all. I am scarcely likely to believe in such foolish nonsense. However, I am told that a horseshoe will bring you good luck whether you believe in it or not! How can one argue with such logic?”

    So, just to advocate that there is a third alternative to blind childish belief in God, and rational atheism. I do find it all very embarrassing that despite my ‘rationality’ I have had experiences that are pretty hard to refute as suggestive of the existence of some higher consciousness. Because I identify way more with the scientists. Such is life.

    FWIW

    http://www.amazon.com/Is-There-An-Afterlife-Comprehensive/dp/1903816904/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1351093889&sr=8-1&keywords=is+there+an+afterlife

  42. Werner says:

    Thank you for the reply Scott – we can argue till the cows come home. We ALL are sinners, we ALL fall short of the glory of God, we ALL need God’s mercy and grace..I’ll keep you in y prayers…
    ps. I’m talking about the God of the Bible, the Creator of the Universe, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords…may He have mercy on your soul

  43. […] His passion for learning as the key tool for achieving full human potential, his commitment to truth and the zeal with which he endeavors to understand the world, are the reasons why Scott sees himself as a follower of rational spirituality. […]

  44. Derek says:

    Great article Scott. I just wanted to share that I came up with a similar set of life principals a while ago. I call them: Truth, Quest and Serenity. Truth and Quest are obviously similar to your Truth and Challenge. Serenity for me represents the goal for happiness and to be a part of the overall beauty of the universe around us. Thank you for the article. It helped both to make clear my own ideas as well as made me rethink them.

  45. Sharon says:

    Hi Scott,
    On Jan 20th, 2011, my life took a complete turn-over. I experienced exactly what the Bible claims to happen to a born-again believer. And from that day to this moment, I live a life in complete peace and joy, and every verse in the Bible, is coming to pass in my life. I experience what Jesus calls ‘ABUNDANT LIFE’, which I have experienced much and is much more than, what your wonderful articles on life suggest. None can love YOU, like Jesus does.

    I humbly request you to go through these websites, many scientific intricate details were written in the Bible, long before scientists discovered them.

    http://www.pleaseconvinceme.com/index/The_Bible_Foreshadows_Scientific_Discoveries

    http://www.6000years.org/frame.php?page=home

    My life is changed forever because of what Jesus did for me on the Cross, and my heart, myself and my life changed forever,ever since the Holy Spirit entered my spirit. This same thing is happening in so many people’s lives all through the world.

    I spoke to so many people round the world, who have a very similar testimony as mine, who experienced the SAME salvation, that the Bible speaks about.

    Please give a try seeking Jesus in the Bible. Try calling out to God, and ask Him to show you Himself, if He really exists.Thanks :) The Holy Spirit transforms me day after day, by Jesus” Love and Grace. Jesus wants a Personal Intimate Relationship with YOU.

    Matthew 16:2626 What will you gain, if you own the whole world but destroy yourself? What would you give to get back your soul?

    JESUS LOVES YOU!
    Jesus died on the Cross for you, that if you give Him Lordship over your life, you will FIND COMPLETE JOY in the Abundance of LOVE AND GRACE.

    I apologize if I hurt you in anyways. I have prayed for Jesus to save you and reveal Himself to YOU. The God I serve, will SHOW YOU HIMSELF directly :)

    Thanks for reading the post, for the patience <3

  46. Laura says:

    Thank you for writing this. I have been an Atheist (and vegetarian) since I was twelve years old and am now thirty. Too often I keep quiet when discussions of an afterlife, souls, spiritual energy, etc. come up for fear of offending people with my non-belief. I just have to remember to stay kind, rational and articulate—like you.

  47. Luna says:

    I think people are still missing the point here. This is his blog and he can write whatever he likes. He’s not asking for opinions on why he shouldn’t be this way, and this is fair because he doesn’t ask you to do the same for him. If you don’t like what he writes, don’t read it. I personally don’t go on religious forums and bash those people. We can’t change others but we can be more tolerant of them.

  48. Scott Young says:

    Luna,

    I post articles for discussion, so all comments are welcome (especially ones that disagree with me). That said, as you’ll note, I’m also happy to defend my viewpoint when I feel there is some apparent substance to the counterargument.

    I’m more amused that this article still receives comments!

    -Scott

  49. Mlovgren says:

    Scott–
    I loved reading your post. It’s nice to see others who have similar outlooks as mine. I was raised Christian but do not see the Bible or any other religious texts as from God, but as literature. I am interested in what we all think about our origins but am more interested in what the world can show us, rather than human-written texts. I am also vegetarian, but am wary of telling people, only because they want to argue with me about it. Humans are so funny–we work very hard to prove we know the answers! (Although I am not immune to that, either.) Thank you for sharing your views.

Debate is fine, flaming is not. Pretend that this comment form is a discussion taking place in my house. That means I enjoy constructive criticism and polite suggestions. Personal attacks, insults and all-purpose nastiness will be removed especially if it is directed at other readers.

Leave a Reply