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:


  • Ernest Dempsey

    This is an intriguing discussion. I myself am a believer in a God, though what he/she is remains unseen for me. I choose to accept most of Christian theology for my belief system. I say most because some of my ideas are vastly different than most Christians.
    It is a shame that people have tried to convince you to take up religion based on the things you mentioned in the article. Afterlife and a life of meaning? Those things are silly to discuss. I don’t believe in hell. What kind of deity would create such a place? And how can someone preach God is love and from the same book teach that he somehow created a scientific breakthrough where a human could be burned and tortured for trillions of years? That makes no sense.
    And to try to attain a life of meaning goes blatantly against the ministry of Christ Himself. Do people really think he was trying to live a life of meaning? Trying to find meaning is a prideful and pointless task. Your deeds that come from your heart are all that is what you will be known by. Can you not have a good heart without believing in a deity? Of course you can! I believe Christ was trying to show a better way, much like Buddha and others did. Those guys focused on living a life of balance, self-reliance, and service to others (sounds like a blogger or two I know). They didn’t do it for any reward. They did it because they wanted to show others how to have a more fulfilling, more gratifying life. Do I think there’s an afterlife? Sure. In a universe where the math allows for things to have been created from nothing, it also allows for there to be an alien life form we call God that created us and has our memories on a backup drive. Maybe he just builds a new body and inserts the memory into that. I don’t know. But the math allows for all of it, and dangerously, none of it.
    I don’t say any of this to try to convert anyone or change anyone’s mind. Christians lost sight of the true message a long time ago, as did many religions. They look at the verse in the Bible that says “I am the way, the truth, and the light” and only focus on the “I”, completely ignoring the meaning of that sentence which was, “let me show you the way, the truth, and the light.” Some people think they have to convert everyone based on that verse alone. I don’t think that’s the case.
    I enjoy reading your blog and appreciate the things you share here. So, thanks. Keep up the great work.

  • Daniel

    I am God.

  • leon wilhelm

    I see your point of view veeeery interesting. I’ve always admired people who can imagine something and fight for it. That’s something amazing. But there IS a problem here.

    The thing is, reading some writers (specially Nietzsche) about language itself and the logical facts I learnt with Math(specially advanced topics in Logics and Set theory) and Computer Science made me realize that all words are just pure imagination, pure abstraction – like an axiom. They mean nothing, they’re a good trick to live better. It’s hard to explain it with a language, paradoxically…

    So, all of that has taken me to a nihilistic point of view/no-point-of-view-at-all in which I don’t even believe in truth itself.

    I can’t live in uncertainty because I neither believe in lies nor in truths. Therefore, if you ask me if I’m an atheist I would say ‘yes’ just for simplicity, but what I really think is, “Why should I say that any god is a ‘lie’ when I don’t even believe in the definition of a lie, when I believe words are like logical axioms? Do I really have to believe in axioms when they are just…nothing?”. In fact, for me, science and religion are very similar – the difference between them is just that ‘temporary believing’ in science makes my life WAY MORE rich(hey, look at how funny are videogames, they’re made by scientists!) that ‘temporary believing’ in religion. From a practical point of view, I sometimes view the world similarly as you do, Scott: I live in uncertainties. But I can’t talk about morality and greatest good as you do: my limits are simply where the power of the other people is.

    It’s hard to explain all of this stuff in a tongue that isn’t mine, so excuse my telegraphic writing and please enjoy the meaning of the words rather than the style. I’ve been few days in the blog searching the archives and I learnt so many things(the Feynman technique did help me A LOT), so congratulations for the blog! I’ll be around for a while!

    By the way… post resurrection happens. We have to live with it haha.

  • Martin

    Hi Scott.

    I was reading your blog for quite some times. But I never stumble into this post. Until today.

    Well, your life philosophy is understandable. But I just want to reminds you that if one of your higher motive is to seek the truth, then I believe eventually sooner or later, you will stumble upon this entity called “God”. By that time, I will challenge you, if you found the truth by yourself, that there IS God, stop clinging onto your freedom life philosophy, and accept that there is God who control everything.

    Because, if you want to seek the truth, frankly you won’t be satisfied with the quote you quote at the beginning of your post:

    “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.”

    How if I asked the opposite: why don’t you get curious and try to really find and examine whether there ARE fairies at the bottom of it too? Why there are something in this world that you categorize as fact, and the other things as fairy tale? Of course, I understand, research about them won’t increase you in productivity. But, well, if you truly want to find about the “truth”, then you shall have an urge to find about the truth about all of those as well, or your mind won’t be at rest.

    To only look at a beautiful picture, and not believing that there are any painter which paints it, I believe it’s an incomplete step. To look at a lovely beach under the sunlight painting sure is refreshing. But if we learn that the painter is a small children which paints it within a jail in the middle of a war, I’m sure we will never see that beach painting the same way anymore.

    Or, we can see two similar refrigerator. But when we open the door, we see manual books that state what’s the difference between this refrigerator, and the other refrigerators. The same thing applied to you and me.

    To see that you and me just both human with different capabilities is, well, okay, fair enough. But to be able to fully operated within the capability and specification each of us designed specifically for, you have to ask not just on the “higher motives”, but from the “higher being”. Maybe today you feel you’re very productive by leaning on yourself, making out the most of your time. That’s great. But someday, I hope, you found out that working along with “higher being” can multiply your humanly work which is already great, into awesomeness.

  • ksed

    There are good reasons for believing that God exists.

    Theism has more explanatory power than atheism. It explains better more facts about our universe, things like:

    1.the mere existence of something rather than nothing (which can be accounted for by a personal creator)
    2.the design in the universe, in particular the presence of information and the fine-tuning of various cosmological constants and parameters, as well as the initial conditions for the universe.
    3.the existence of moral and aesthetic value.
    4. the existence of human consciousness and rationality.
    5. the possession by humans of reliable faculties aimed at truth.

    Other things could be named. None of these are surprising or even unexpected under theism. (And Christian theism in particular has good historical evidence backing it up.) But these items are more surprising and unexpected given atheism. Atheists will have responses to all of these of course. But there is nothing that atheism claims is true that cannot be just as equally (or ever better) explained by theism.

  • Joseph

    ksed,

    You’re right, atheism doesn’t explain anything. It doesn’t explain anything because it has no ideology, no historical inertia, and no motive. It simply states: There is no god. Moreover, there is no known divine that we can appreciably comprehend. Hardly satisfactory.

    How theism has explained anything, it has not explained anything well. A universe that looks designed does not mean it is, and we cannot presuppose that a creator is behind it. Further, the “fine-tuning” of our universe, the Earth, etc., does not mean there is a grand design. It simply means that creatures like you and me currently exist at a time on a planet in a universe that allows us to.

    Theism does not give us meaningful tools to probe the universe. In itself, neither does atheism. However, in a worldview in which we retain our skepticism for the superstitious and unfounded, we do find satisfaction—we use science to harness real explanatory power. The same kitchen experiments you perform—hypothesis, experiment, conclusion, repeat—is the same procedure we use to explore the heavens and the microscopic. Those experiments are done in wavelengths we can’t see, at scales we don’t recognize. Aided, we can still explore them.

    The explanatory power of theism holds little water. Nowadays, we hold an idea on how the Earth was formed, and it is impossible to accept six days as a valid answer. Likewise, we cannot pre-decide that a divine being gave us our moral and aesthetic senses and our ability to reason. The best explanations we have for our consciousness—indeed, our humanity—is found in books being written now. Even the fact that something came from nothing does not require the invocation of the deity. Our universe works perfectly well without one.

  • Mohd Aisha Nuddin

    Atheist cannot answer questions such as “who created the very very sophisticated world?” I think you should read more about religions, especially the relation between christianity, judaism and islam. Tq

  • Michael

    “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.” – well said this sums up my thinking on the subject, i don’t beleive in a traditional god, but do still beleive in god, sp like Neil Degrasse Tyson, i’m not an atheist yet, and will settle for agnostic for now. But i dod beleive that the universe is God more than i beleive in a godlike being. Just found your site and subscribed lots of good stuff to consume.

    = )

  • Frances

    Hi Scott, I have been reading your blog for a long time and share the same drive that you have for learning, self-improvement, and getting the most out of life. By no means do I agree with religious extrimism and blindly accepting doctrine without examining for myself whether it sounds rational or is backed up by any proof, especially when the religious doctrine in question is propagated by our fellow humans who are into it for their own political, financial, or popularity campaign agendas. I am not for religion and the way people has used God’s name to further themselves, but I am for God. I have determined for myself that God exists. Not only that. I believe that he created everything, he loves us all, and he wants to connect with us in a very personal way. The God I believe in is the god of the Bible, who had his son Jesus physically die for our sins more than 2000 years ago so that we can be made right with him again just before sin corrupted mankind.

    In your search for truth, I like it that you say you are open to possibilities, and so am I. If we were to argue the existence of God, we can probably spend our entire lifetimes doing so and still not change each other’s minds. But this is not to say that the creation theory is any less scientific and has no evidence to back it up, because if you look at the argument for God’s existence, it equally has enough proof than the most favoured Darwinian and Big Bang theories, if not more. The Bible was originally written in 3 other languages, and it is possible our reading and interpretation of it is also limited, that’s why we cannot seem to reconcile it with our current level of scientific discovery. And with all our scientific advancements and gazillion discoveries, our science has barely scratched the surface. Even you will admit that with all our science, we still have more questions than answers, and there is a whole lot more that we do not know. It’s out of the scope of my short message, but if you find it in yourself one day to look at how Christians relate the Bible with science, you will see some points, insights, and proof that it is our science trying to catch up with the Bible and not the other way around.

    Clearly the arguments for and against the existence of a divine being both have valid points. But to this day, both arguments remain just that– scientific and philosophical arguments. Because at the end of the day, no matter what we say, the God we are talking about here is spirit. And it is only through our spirit that we can really get to know him and receive a revelation from him. I think that is how people like me (meaning who personally believe in God) know that he exists– by having experienced it for ourselves. I have felt his love, grace, and mercy upon me, and so have millions of others. Miracles happen through prayers, damaged lives are restored, diseases beyond cure by our medicine disappear to the amazement of our best doctors. For me and for the others who have experienced and seen this with our own eyes, there is no way our minds can explain this, but we can’t deny that God exists.

    And just because our intelligence might feel insulted by the fact that there is someone above us who knows what’s better for us than we do for ourselves, doesn’t change that Being’s sovereignty in any way. God is still God whether we believe in him or not, and he’s got nothing to lose. It’s our loss not to experience this loving relationship with this God of the entire universe if we choose not to. The Bible says God is offering this relationship to anyone of us who will accept it. All I can say is that religion and man may disappoint us, but God will not. My relationship with God is one exhilarating ride. And should you seek God with your spirit, you’ll find God. And I’m sure you’ll like him too. Blessings.

  • Carol

    What a thoughtful presentation of your beliefs. As a recovering fundamentalist (raised Baptist), I was delighted to read your words and felt them tripping over my heart and mind with delight. You have written so well what was going on in my mind all those years the Bible was being thumped before me. Not many people realize how painful that is.

    Is it not the final irony to have others proclaim their beliefs “more” truthful? If their god were all powerful, I suspect he/she would need anyone’s help no?

  • ahmed

    hey Scott,

    with my all respect to all ashiest people, i just have simple question ?
    how do you interpret the surrounding things in your environment around you. do you actually believe all of this is just a coincidence !
    you want to explore !! okay explore what ? explore what exists by haphazard ?!!
    the world is structured in a terrific precise manner that the whole universe is still holding together.
    simple thing. you can’t actually prove how this world exists and you deny to accept the supernatural power(god) just because you don’t see him, but you see his traces. okay, but what if you were wrong?

    i mean your causes are based on a possibility according to a certain
    perspective of looking at things, i respect that. but it could be wrong,right.

    what if you were wrong Scott ? what are you going to do then.

    the theories you stated are not making sense, just a decorated
    statements to make you feel comfortable.

    just look at how complex your body is. look at how the cosmos works, it’s really huge and yet science still knows less than 0.04% of the truth of the world.

    I’m a Muslim too, and i advice you study Quran with open minded. just read it with the intention of seeking the truth. don’t care about what people will think about you.

    the reason we Muslims in this terrible, miserable way is because we forsake our ethics and teachings from prophet Mohammad. just read the history and see how Islam changed us at first when people actually worked by the guidance of Quran.

    all this number of religions is just a distraction. people read the bible and find it confusing contradicting itself. so they think that’s religion, but that’s not true.

    you probably read my comment without being interested very much. regardless to that, just think deeply about my question.

    what if you were wrong ? . h hope you answer my question.

    thanks for your great blog, and sharing all these information and knowledge.

  • Will Farnaby

    Your arguments for atheism are well-stated.

    Science, with its enormous explanatory power, plays the role of Occam’s razor. The fairy tales of religion – nonsensical compositions possessing zero explanatory power – are irrelevant (except that though they are purely worthless they are harmful in application).

    Organized religions depend upon the perverse exaltation of blind faith, and servile obedience to the cults’ manipulators. Of course, faith is usually the provenance of the sheep, while power and money flow to the “shepherds”. It was ever thus.

    Organized religions are characterized by perennial aggression against evidence and critical thinking.

  • Dylan

    After reading several of your blog entries, I have decided that we are the same person. That is all. LOL

  • Tyler

    From reading the way that some people view these whole arguements its is a giant circle. I think the reason for that could possibly be that its beingg looked at in the wrong way, with the idea being us and them. Essentially yes, this is correct but at the core of it, what defines our differing ideoligies is the experiences that have inspired and influenced us individually in our own lives. I myself believe that whatever it may be, there is some form of creator whether that be an energy, a force, a substance or even the universe itself but I don’t believe in following a specific religion or spiritual ideology simply because I believe humans are too unique for there to be a straight forward correct way of living your life. Hence why even in religions the way one christian will view the teachings may be radiccally different from one, the only thing in common in some cases being their belief in jesus christ and their god.

    As it has been repeated many times, there is no right or wrong when it comes to science and religion, in fact i entirely agree with the fact that they go hand in hand, even if that is hard to see at this stage as himan beings. My point is that there is no right and wrong and all that matters is what works for you. Because the things that inspire one person may disgust you and thats okay, but noone has the right to express this to that person in a way to make them feel that they arent living there life wrong. Who’s to say that the religous beliefs you have are wrong? The only thig that is true is that you should follow whatever you truly feel will fulfill you and make the most out of your life as a human being.

    The oppression of someones ideas and beliefs is what is wrong and the way i’ve seen a couple of people talking, they seem rather closed minded regardless of them saying otherwise. Its whatever works for you, as long as you generally have a good moral standard why is it wrong to live however you choose to if it makes you feel happy since the blessing of life (whether given by god or from sheer nothingness) only comes round once as far as we know, why get caught up in the way other people live there lives? I understand you’re trying to spread your messages, but theres a difference between suggesting and making someone feel like their way of life is wrong.

  • arman

    very fine reading and i think that there are 7 billion religions in the world today. we got different approaches to everything even if we got the same tribe,religion,gender,family etc. we are all from the same root but different all the way we live. so even if i say hey scott read quran, and he read n admit it true, so what? hes already a good person n trying to make better life with whole heart n brain. so this is the point of being devout person whatever religion he belong. everyone of us gonna die but not much really live, we gotta live first and make the world better place if we can.

  • James

    The issue with the argument that there must have been a creator because this universe and this planet are so perfectly suited for life is flawed: if this universe and this planet were not so perfectly suited for life, there would be no life to argue that there must have been a creator because this universe and this planet are so perfectly suited for life!

  • Joy

    i respect everyone’s opinion, i only wish you could give religion a chance..there is power in believing in a higher power called God…just my way of looking at it

  • Daniel

    Dear Scott,

    Thank you for sharing your beliefs with us.

    I’d like to invite you to try sensing your feet as you walk for ten minutes each day, for a week. Then let us all know whether the fairies at the bottom of the garden are really religion, or something much, much closer to home.

    Will you try?

    Best wishes,

    Daniel

  • Caleb Warg

    Hey Scott,

    You seem like a busy guy so I understand if you don’t have time to watch these seminars, but they are very educational.

    http://www.creationtoday.org/s

    Besides this bit on atheism I love your material….Keep up the good work!!

  • Benp

    I have a question for someone who follows a religion, I have been curious about this for a while now.
    If it is seen as an argument against atheism that we cannot explain how the universe was created, why is not knowing how god began not an argument against religion? From my time in church, I was taught that god has always been and will always be, and that throws me for a loop. Like it was said earlier, how if you saw a tesla on a beach it couldn’t just be a coincidence and there has to be a creator, then wouldn’t that same logic apply to God?

  • zakariae

    hy scott, i think you are great person but conserning god i disagre with you.I would like to give you some advice, buy the Koran and tried to seeking miracles it holds, because the god said that the Qur’an is a proof of its existence and nobody can write like this book, and you’ll never find eror in this book.

  • Caleb Warg

    Hey Benp,

    I just wanted to address your post.

    Christians that say God always has been, and always will be, are right to a point (but there is more to it). I think most Christians are not to good at defending the faith, and are unable to articulate valid arguments against atheism.

    If there is a God (I believe there is) then he is a supernatural being. If he was not supernatural, he would not be God (not a god worth worshiping anyways). Time permeates our existence, therefore it is natural for us to think that time permeates God’s existence. To us, all things have a beginning and an end, but God who created all things (including time) exists outside of the time he created (thus he is without beginning or end). Hard to fathom, and it does require faith. I find that God makes more sense. I respect your opinions and beliefs, but educate yourself and study both sides as I have done. These seminars are very informational if you’re interested… http://www.creationtoday.org/c

  • Rosario

    Hi Scott,

    I lack any eloquence of words, so instead I would like to appeal to you to please watch this youtube video. I am sure you get numerous daily request from people to watch videos and read this or that, but my hope is that you you do watch this. In the spirit of seeking more from life this video is
    revelatory.http://http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sMsgAp...

  • Maddie Blevins

    Hey Scott,
    I am a Christian, however I respect any thoughts of other religions but refuse to be talked into other them. This is why I can understand why people do not like giving into any religion, from being unsure or having a set mind on what you think is right. I am only 15 and I am proud to say that God has done so much for me in my life, I don’t believe that my life has worked out so amazingly from pure luck or consequence. Sadly I already know how hard it is to find what is real and what is fake, fortunately for me I am growing up in a church where I have have plenty of guidance and support. I hope someday you can find the same.

  • bilal shafiq

    The Atheist Manifesto[4]

    Firstly, not all my reasons are purely logical but some are merely subjective evaluations. For the purposes of this article Atheist is defined as “one who does not believe in the existence of God or Gods and operationally believes that there is no God”. Note the use of the word operationally: meaning that I believe such a thing for the purposes of decision making within my life, but I am not 100% certain. (I particularly like point 19).

    1. I have received no IMO trustworthy accounts of any interaction of any God or Gods with any humans. All accounts of such encounters that I have encountered thus far have been clouded by ulterior motive, need for self-convincing, drugs or hoax. Basically because these reports are of a supernatural, immeasurable or unbelievable kind, it is easier to doubt the source than credit the information.

    The authenticity of the Qur’an is well established. It claims to be the essential record of the revelation from God to mankind through the last prophet and messenger Muhammad (Peace be upon him). You must judge for yourself if you agree with this claim, but it is certainly a trustworthy record. See :

    The writing of the Qur’an

    2. There are thousands of differing religious belief structures which are mutually exclusive and equally believable. Some of these belief structures do not involve deities. The major point being which one? And if one, why one? Why any, isn’t it just as likely that all of them got it wrong?

    See:

    Islam Is The Only Truly Universal Religion

    3. As history has progressed, the role of Gods has decreased as understanding has replaced supernatural explanations for natural events. If there were no God, then one would think it likely that in our stage of development, the hypothetical God would only be responsible for those things which we do not currently understand. In other words the remaining God or Gods in our modern society will only be necessary for the “possibly” supernatural parts of existence. However because 500 years ago God/s were necessary to explain the perfection of the heavens, where as now we know it’s to do with the 4 forces of nature and the 3 families of matter, then I do not see why this trend will not continue, as it has for thousands of years now, until understanding will eventually replace all of the hypothetical God’s reasons for existence.

    See:

    The world is governed by mathematical laws – Not God!

    4. If there is a God, how did such a being come into existence? The Big Bang Theory is, on the surface, a remarkably simple idea. However I have heard no such ideas contemplating the creation of God.

    The problem you run into here is the notion that anyone knows God. Since you can never fully comprehend what God is, it is meaningless to ask ‘how did such a being come into existence?’; to ask such a question puts limits on what ‘such a being’ is. These limits would be invalid and arbitrary. For further arguments connected with this one see:

    Ultimate explanations

    5. People who seem to have a broad knowledge about the workings of the universe as we know it so far do not think that a God is necessary to obtain a working hypotheses of the world around them. E.g Albert Einstein. Carl Sagan, Isaac Asimov, David Suzuki, Arthur C. Clarke etc. Here I am talking people who know a lot about a large number of fields of science and philosophy. I believe that belief in an all-powerful being is intellectual weakness as is the requirement for an afterlife to avoid the fear of death.

    It is one of the clearest signs of intellectual weakness to base your convictions on imitating someone else’s opinions and beliefs. It is simply the attitude of a child copying daddy. The main reason many academics in the sciences are not believers in God is because of the long history of doing battle with the Christian church from Galileo onwards. Science and religion are seen as incompatible for this reason. Islam has never had such a battle with science indeed the cradle of modern science was in the Islamic world.

    6. Much of the work of religion seems to be based on guesswork or pure creativity. The age of the Earth, the age of homo sapiens, history as it happened over the thousands of years seem to differ from religion to religion and, most importantly, differ from the objective findings of archaeologists, geologists, biologists etc.

    See:

    Scientific facts have proven religious arguments and understandings of existence quite wrong!

    7. I could not enjoy Monty Python half as much, were I a theist. But on a more serious note. I have read that some high percentage of New York Catholic Priests were diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic by the MMPI (I think it was around 60%, well over 1000 times the national average maybe someone could supply me with a reference), and also the systems of temporal lobe syndrome (or epilepsy) correlate highly with religiosity. In other words sick people become devout religious types. I do not have any symptoms of schizophrenia or temporal lobe epilepsy.

    What you are describing here is the phenomenon of people who try to be Christians despite the mass of evidence showing that huge and fundamental contradictions exist in the doctrines. Particularly the life of priests (which don’t exist in Islam) is quite unnatural and bound to make people a bit strange.

    8. I have never seen the distinction between Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, God, the Googy Monster, or distinctly pink invisible unicorns. All of these things seemed to be stories told to you by your parents that you eventually grew out of.

    Well then, you never understood what God is. Not an unusual problem given the distorted explanations present in the (Post?) Christian West. For a clear explanation see

    OK then, Convince me – why accept Islam?

    From now on I’ll deal distinctly with why I am not a Christian.

    9. I have discussed religion with many theists (3 of which I have converted to atheism) and most of them cannot answer the most simple inconsistencies in their belief systems. Most of them make great sacrifice for their belief systems and therefore undergo dissonance when confronted with ideological impasses. This leads therefore to not think about the inconsistency, it’s better to bury the dissonance (avoidance behaviours) rather than confront the dissonance and move your belief system accordingly, which may cause much extra dissonance. This is why I believe we should set up Zealots Anonymous all over the world to help Christians and other cultists come down from their mind bending cults.

    I presume when you say theist you actually mean Christian. If so, I really cannot complain about your point here. It is quite accurate for Christian zealots. I recall having a discussion with some Christians about the contradictions in their doctrines. Every contradiction turns for them into a ‘divine mystery’ which our ‘mere human reason’ cannot fathom. I asked whether this meant that I cannot reason with them about their faith. They said “Yes – exactly!”. My reply was “Then you are unreasonable, your beliefs are unreasonable and there is really no point in talking to you – Good Bye”.

    10. Having done psychology I have come across the Gazzanigga split brain studies and numerous studies involving personality alteration via neurotransmitter infusion. These operations and drugs which affect the synaptic gap in neurones can and do radically alter peoples personality profiles. Their basic awareness, their memories, their mores, their reactions, their processing capacity, their motor functions: every function of the brain which has been hypothesised as part of the mind or soul can be and is affected by these treatments. Why would the soul alter due to physical changes in the brain? Isn’t it much simpler to believe that these personality functions are the direct result of the brain and not of some intermediary supernatural soul which accomplishes nothing?

    This is not really an important theme in Islam. God endowed man with a soul and this is defined in the Qur’an as “God breathing into man of His spirit”. What is this spirit? Well, Muhammad (saws) was asked this question and the answer is recorded in the Qur’an: “They ask you about the spirit Say: “The spirit is from a command of my Lord” and I have only given you (people) a small amount of the knowledge.” Surah 17 verse 85

    11. History has shown that those viewpoints or ideologies with the most aggressive doctrine are more likely to survive the centuries. Throughout the history of Christianity and Islam is numerous examples of this aggressive viewpoint. This is why they are the dominant views today. So why, in particular, should the most aggressive ideologies necessarily be the right ones?

    Islam is not aggressive. Assertive maybe, but not aggressive. Aggression is a sin in Islam and in particular, whereas in Christianity from the time of Augustine forcing conversion to Christianity was allowed, in Islam it has always been forbidden to force people into Islam due to a direct command in the Qur’an:

    Let there be no compulsion in religion. Truth stands out clear from error; whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold that never breaks. And Allah heareth and knoweth all things.

    Qur’an Surah 2 verse 256

    12. A lot of testimony about the existence of a supreme rightness or God comes from Xtians and Moslems who claim to have felt God due to this spiritual ecstasy they had felt during a “religious experience”. However I also have felt similar feelings to what they described as I sit upon a country hill at night underneath a cloudless sky and can “feel” Earth as a giant spaceship speeding through the Galaxy. I become so overwhelmed by the immensity and beauty of it all that I stare for hours. However I still understand the basic principles behind how the whole of the universe exists, and none of it requires a God.

    You may understand some basic principles behind how the universe came into existence but if you had an inquiring mind you would wonder at where these principles came from. To an inquiring mind there always ought to be a deeper explanation to what we see. It is not adequate to say that the universe is as it is without searching for deeper explanations any more than saying that grass is green because ‘it just is’. A good mind searches for ever better explanations and these explanations must end in the existence of God. To understand why see the page:

    OK then, convince me – why accept Islam?

    13. Believing anything with a conviction that it precludes questioning is merely beyond my capacity. I simply can’t do it. I have an enquiring mind and I have found my beliefs to be wrong before so why not again in the future. To believe beyond question in a supreme, all-loving deity seems absurd to me for the mere reason that it asks you to suspend reason.

    This may have been your unfortunate experience in experiencing Christianity but you will not find the same attitude in Islam. If you read the Qur’an you will find it full of praise for people who use their reason (the wallpaper on this website is a verse repeated in several places in the Qur’an and means for the people who think) and failure to use reason is cited condemned. Here is an example verse:

    The analogy of those who disbelieve is like when someone calls out to something that hears nothing except a shout and cry, (they are) deaf dumb and blind (for) they don’t use their reason.

    Qur’an Surah 2 verse 171

    14. Too often in the past has religion been used as an excuse for the great evils of human beings. Kings have promised the subjects that they rule by divine right or that they themselves are descendant from Gods and are therefore Gods themselves. Torture, genocide, racism, slavery, invasions, mass rape, and war have all been justified under the auspices of divine authorisation. This represents to me that religion is a powerful tool used by those smitten with power for unscrupulous ends (was that poetic or what). I do not want to be associated with such vile acts any more than being human already implicates me.

    It is interesting to note that you chose to put this under the reasons why you reject Christianity and yet you generalise to all religion. This generalisation is not justified. From an Islamic perspective any organised church hierarchy or notion of divine right of kings is a form of placing a rival authority to the command of God himself and is a forbidden sin. Each individual is responsible for their own salvation if necessary through defying any earthly authority.

    See also:

    So much wrong has been done in the name of God.

    15. Too often the church does back flips and makes errors. If the church hierarchy were truly led by a divinity (as most claim) they would not make such glaring errors. It is because of this desire to maintain a divine public image that the church is loathe to admit to mistakes until the mistake is shown to be ludicrously obvious (e.g. Galileo).

    There is no church in Islam. All human beings stand as equals before God directly responsible for themselves and equally capable of making mistakes.

    See also:

    There is no church hierarchy in Islam

    16. As I point out the problems with each individual denomination under the Christian umbrella, Christians will often defend by saying “Oh well, THEY’RE not real Christians, but my church or I AM”. This is so common that for each claim of true Christianity there is probably over a hundred other denominations chastising them as not real Christians.

    This sort of excuse doesn’t exist for Muslims. It is considered a terrible sin to accuse another person who has declared themselves a Muslim not to be one. Anyone who declares their faith (‘takes shahada’) must be considered a Muslim by all other Muslims.

    17. Church teachings are sexist, judgmental, arrogant, inconsistent, filled with authoritative explanation rather than rational explanation and are therefore not conducive to learning a good life philosophy.

    Since there is no church in Islam you have no obstacle to learning how to live a good life. See above response to your point 15.

    18. The Bible has literally hundreds of ambiguities, inconsistencies, falsehoods, and ascriptions to God of horrific, puerile behaviour. Anyone who does not acknowledge that this is true really is not reading the Bible seriously or has a major mental block in the way of them seeing it. The Bible is bunk, there is NO denying that. Besides there is multiple versions of this book. It is constantly being updated (read “rewritten”) to suit the leaders of the church responsible for the particular version that produce it. The is no such thing as “The Bible” it is like saying “The Apple is better than the IBM”. Which Apple? Which IBM? Which Bible? The excuses that Xtians offer for Bible inconsistencies are extremely weak and remind one of the sort of things that die-hard scientists, clinging to an old dogma, produce in order to protect an old dogma.

    Contrast this with the Qur’an. The Qur’an does not suffer any of these problems. See:

    The Amazing Qur’an

    19. The anthropocentric view is a dangerous view for humans to have at this point of time. Humans, even non-theists, believe for some reason that the universe is here for them and that we will not be destroyed because there is some purpose. This abrogates responsibility. In order for our species to survive, and personally I think that this would be a good eventuality, we must realise that the universe is as ignorant of us as any other piece of space dust and cares nought whether we propagate and fill the universe or extinguish in a nuclear blaze. We are responsible for our own survival. We cannot look to some all powerful Daddy to come in, when we have sufficiently stuffed it up for us to learn our lesson, and make it all right again. Once we stuff it up, it’s stuffed up. Religions promote an anthropocentric view, to the detriment of our species. It is for this reason that I actively oppose Christianity and any other anthropocentric religion.

    Fortunately Islam is not anthropocentric:

    Assuredly the creation of the heavens and the earth is a greater matter than the the creation of humanity, yet most people don’t know it.

    Qur’an Surah 40 Verse 57

    20. Religions have played their role in history. They were one of the major cultural influences in uniting peoples into close-knit communities. It enabled the survival of the species through some of it’s toughest tests. But we have reached adolescence now and we must give up our childhood fantasies. We must quickly reach maturity before we become another teenage drink/driving or drug overdose or suicide statistic in the Universe’s intelligent race survival book. I’d like to be part of the maturing process not the part that holds on to childhood days.

    Here your argument is again generalised to all religion based on your perception of Christian beliefs. In Islam the concept of belief is qualitatively different to that of Christianity and so your analogy cannot work.

    See in particular

    The Sin of Disbelief

    21. No-one has given me a good explanation of why humans are any more deserving of a soul and an after-life than other animals. When did we acquire a soul (at birth, at conception, at baptism, never)? Why don’t dolphins get souls? There are many unanswered questions in Christianity: Should we use contraception, pop-up toasters, refrigerators? None of these things are mentioned in the so called God’s word. If God had written the holy word, why did He write some of it allegorically and other parts literally without marking the allegorical parts clearly to distinguish them from the literal sections. Basically, if the Bibles are meant to be manuals for life, they are extremely poorly written and are highly confusing and are unclear on the most basic points. I am sure a God could do a much better job. It makes much more sense that they are not the works of a God but are the works of people attempting to keep control of their flock.

    God HAS provided mankind with a much better book than the Bible as a manual for life – it is the Qur’an:

    This is the book without doubt in it; a guidance for all the God conscious.

    Qur’an Surah 2 Verse 2

    22. Since the beginning, religions have attempted to make predictions about the future and have been invariably wrong. Despite this appalling track-record, religious leaders continually predict the date of some Armageddon or future mundane event (such as resurrections of exorcised wives: we saw this in Australia recently). Some of the evangelical types have told their flock the “God has told me to raise 3 million by next week”. This kind of blatant fleecing of the sheep-like video sotted tele-Christian flock only clings to vestiges of morality via the fact that those who are ripped off by it are so bloody thick.

    Again you generalise to all religion in this argument against what you see in Christianity. This experience is quite alien to Muslims.

    23. Any one of these reasons may be refuted, but in collaboration they shore up their strength in order to make only one option available to me in my choice between theism and atheism. Since this was last posted a number of people have contributed to it and hope that more people will continue to point out errors, suggest additions, demand an improved explanation of points. Anyone may use this in any way they see fit, except to get me in trouble. Jeff.

    I my humble opinion all your 22 reasons have been refuted.

  • Taylor

    I’ve noticed religious people typically are more extroverted and have higher confidence due to the socialization with local community.Which Im sure varies between religion and location. So I choose to take advantage of my own gullibility when I am in a time of need. I grew up in poverty, and although I have a much more analytical view of life and deathu, growing up with something that gave me confidence and the push to keep going when times were tough

  • Mahmud

    Hello Scott

    I’m absolutely glad to have come across your website. For some reason I clicked on the Feynman technique video and loved it and found the rest of your website. I actually am planning to go through and master Linear Algebra and Differential Equations and Multivariable Calculus within the next few days, June and a week afterwards to do a lot of reviewing. I hope your methods help! I really appreciate it. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate what you are doing.

    Now on to the subject,

    “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.”

    Do you really think your Lord is asking you to believe in him based on the gaps in your knowledge? No! What you already know should bring you to faith! The miraculous signs everywhere are more than enough of an indication of Allah aza wa jal.

    قُلْ سِيرُوا فِي الْأَرْضِ فَانظُرُوا كَيْفَ بَدَأَ الْخَلْقَ ۚ ثُمَّ اللَّهُ يُنشِئُ النَّشْأَةَ الْآخِرَةَ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ

    Say: “Travel through the earth and see how Allah did originate creation; so will Allah produce a later creation: for Allah has power over all things.

    Travel through the earth and stare in amazement at how you Lord originated all the moving creatures on earth. Darwin beat you to it, but do it anyways. Travel through the earth and investigate the earliest rocks to have existed. Learn how the creation of the earth was formed.

    Travel to Antarctica and with the materials that were perfectly made for you in the earth, make a telescope to check the heavens. By Allah’s mercy the universe was created in such a way that you can actually see back in time and detect the traces of the beginning!

    It’s not the gaps in your knowledge that should bring you to faith-the gap in your knowledge is the King, the Truth. Did you think you were put here purposelessly?

    أَفَحَسِبْتُمْ أَنَّمَا خَلَقْنَاكُمْ عَبَثًا وَأَنَّكُمْ إِلَيْنَا لَا تُرْجَعُونَ
    Then did you think that We created you uselessly and that to Us you would not be returned?”

    فَتَعَالَى اللَّهُ الْمَلِكُ الْحَقُّ ۖ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ رَبُّ الْعَرْشِ الْكَرِيمِ
    So exalted is Allah , the Sovereign, the Truth; there is no deity except Him, Lord of the Noble Throne.

    If you turn away, I fear that the highest accumulation of your knowledge will be this worldly life. I fear that your deeds will be wasted and on the day of standing you will have nothing weighed for you on your scales.

    فَأَعْرِضْ عَن مَّن تَوَلَّىٰ عَن ذِكْرِنَا وَلَمْ يُرِدْ إِلَّا الْحَيَاةَ الدُّنْيَا

    Therefore withdraw (O Muhammad SAW) from him who turns away from Our Reminder (this Quran) and desires nothing but the life of this world.

    ذَٰلِكَ مَبْلَغُهُم مِّنَ الْعِلْمِ ۚ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ هُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِمَن ضَلَّ عَن سَبِيلِهِ وَهُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِمَنِ اهْتَدَىٰ

    That is what they could reach of knowledge. Verily, your Lord it is He Who knows best him who goes astray from His Path, and He knows best him who receives guidance.

    Peace on whoever follows the guidance

  • Jeff

    Well said Scott…well said.

  • Jeremy

    Scott,

    Great post, I can tell you spent a lot of time thinking this through.

    Could you help explain what evil is? I’d like to better understand evil and why there seems to be so much of it.

    Thanks.

  • Mohammadreza

    Your way of thinking about this issue is very similar to mine!

  • Mohammadreza

    I forgot to say that I live in Iran and I used to be Muslim!

  • Brent

    I found the “Let My People Think” podcasts to be very informative at addressing many of the comments posted here. We should not attack each other on this topic but rather honestly seek truth.

    http://www.rzim.org/let-my-peo

  • Asif

    Because u hv mentioned that u r open to new ideas and u hv a willingness to seek truth and accept it, I would strongly suggest u to study Islam. Especially the Quran. Pls don’t think of Islam as another monotheistic religion like christiniaty and Judaism. I know u are a fast learner, go through the basic principles of Islam and u will soon start to see the clear picture if Allah wills.

    I am not trying to convert u either. Just conveying what I found to be absolute truth.

  • Sebastian Aiden Daniels

    I now have a list of the books I can read next. I’m very interested in the Scott Adams book.

    I agree with your reasons. I am against organized religion especially fundamentalism. Plus, if there is a hell, I am okay going to it because I’m sure it is a lot more fun and interesting than having to be at the whims of a psychopathic god that kills other people who doesn’t listen to him (old testament).

    I am agnostic though because since it is unknown I can’t close my mind off to that it could be possibility I guess. I am not willing to 100% there isn’t a god because I don’t know if there is or isn’t.

  • LaurenLL

    I loved your well-thought out presentation on why you’re an atheist and your being a follower of rational spirituality. My journey began with being raised in a Christian household, though we could not participate fully in the denomination we followed due to my father being divorced. Why he continued following their set of beliefs is another story. Anyway, I’ve always been a voracious reader with an equally voracious curiosity. When I was 13, I read my first science fiction novel, “War of the Worlds.” My mind expanded as I realized that there was more to this Universe than what the bible presented. I accepted evolution in 7th grade, and by the time I graduated, I was an agnostic. I’ve read the Tao Te Ching and like the idea of their being no entity. The one thing my father, whom I believe would have come to agnosticism if he had lived long enough, did was, instead of claiming “god hasn’t told us yet”, when I asked a question about god or the bible was saying, “I don’t know.” It was the most precious gift he gave me. There is no One Truth about anything because truth is open to interpretation. I find this to be the most disturbing part of religion and, especially, fundamentalist/evangelical religion. Thanks for the great article.

  • oswald

    Religion has its place, because it can help a person, but it can cause harm as well. We all should find to seek a balance. Personally I know there is a God, but I also realize, that without goals we do not have a life. Truth is different for everyone, that may be due to karma. Im also a member of Bahai and Mahikari. my karma.

  • Zahid

    All those benefits you mentioned are in Islam. When you study the Quran, you will see that Allah encourages people to use their mind and reflect and see the beauty in the creation. Freedom, that is the way to get freedom, true freedom is to be able to let go of your ego and move towards your higher ideal which in Islam, we focus more than 17 times a day by asking God for Guidance in the different rakah’s of the five times prayer. All those benefits you mentioned, those ideals…. the practical and balanced way to reach them have been shown to us. It is only the if God guides one to the straight way.. the way to happiness, then one will find it and spend his life more towards going towards his higher ideal in a more focused and efficient way to help him in this life and after death God willing.

  • Alin-Al-Kasiyani

    I think its funny how the Muslims speak of their Religion when in Public, and when in their Mosques and Homes.
    Apparently,
    Hypocrisy is Halal in Islam!!
    I think we ought to replace the “of” from the “Freedom of Religion” and replace it with a “From”, especially when Muslims are involved.

  • J Jackson

    Dear Mr. Young,

    Thank you for writing such an informative article which presented a new, non-standard view of atheism.

    I have a question regarding this paragraph:

    “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.”

    How do you decide what is moral and what is not? I know you said ethics come from society, but societies, like religions, have done a lot of wrong things over the centuries.

    For example, just look at American history. Before our Civil War, society overwhelmingly declared that slavery was morally right and legal. Was it? Did the morality and ethics of slavery change after the Civil War, when society had changed its mind?

    Also, where do other people get their rights from? Why do people have rights, while insects don’t? Is it just because we’re bigger and smarter?

    I’m curious, and would appreciate any answer you’d like to give.

    Thank you.

  • Scott Young

    J Jackson,

    There’s a lot of possible answers to that question, so I’ll just give mine.

    I believe in a looser form of utilitarianism, which suggests that morality is, to a certain extent, maximizing some kind of value (such as total happiness, or average happiness or some mix of the two or a reasonable alternative to happiness).

    Specific moral precepts are algorithms to try to maximize this amount under some kind of context.

    I believe we have an intuitive sense for this broad kind of utilitarianism, just as we have an ability to reason about number and kind. That is, it’s a built-in mental function that at least approximates the “true” function. We also have the ability to learn moral heuristics in the form of social norms and these guide most of our behavior. But, we can also access this intuition to question those norms.

    Think of it this way: the Bible allows for slavery, something most of us would currently condemn. If morality *only* has a divine root and there is no such thing as a moral intuition that is distinct from it, why would people see the idea of slavery as being any more problematic than “Thou shalt not kill” or any similarly uncontroversial suggestion in the Bible.

    In short:

    1. Morality is a maximization problem, although the exact quantity being maximized is a little unclear.
    2. We have a built-in intuition that approximates this function, although it breaks down in the usual ways that our intuitions about abstract concepts break down. That is, it’s possible for something that intuitively feels evil to many be good and vice versa. The map is not the territory.
    3. We also develop concrete social norms and rituals as heuristics for managing the complexity of this function and to coordinate behavior. These become laws and more informal sources of morality, although we retain the original intuition to question them.

    -Scott

  • Daniel

    The fool in his heart says there is no God.

  • Mohammed

    Hi Scott .. your work is brilliant although I disagree with the atheism aspect of it. I just needed to correct the poster who mentioned “hypocrisy is halal in Islam” It is an unfortunate reality that many Muslims nowadays are hypocrites in that their behaviour is not consistent with what they say but true Islam as taught by the Prophet(peace be upon him) and followed by the first four rightly guided caliphs after him label hypocrisy as the worst evil. There is the deviant Shia sect though who claim hypocrisy as permissible .. thus they are a deviant sect like the fundamentalists, fanatics and terrorists. Also a note to be careful of individuals who take things from Islam that are totally out of context and use it to further their own un-Islamic cause. Thanks

  • Anthony

    I’d like to list a few books that are good and are less antagonistic (i.e. “religion is for morons”)

    Good without God by Greg Epstein
    The Atheist Primer by Malcolm Murray

  • Ismael

    Hi Scott, I’ve a question: You see dog footsteps on the ground. What does it mean? Logically a dog or wolf has walked by this way. But have you seen it? No however you’re sure. So the entire universe including me and you are the steps of God, the Creator of what you know and ignore. So that’s for God existence (I wonder you believe it deeply inside you).
    For the best religion because everyone claims himself, I confirm you ISLAM(the true!) is the real religion from GOD because it’s based on rationality (Yes!) and teaches equilibrium in everything, no extremism (Yes!) (proved in QURAN). But unfortunately, some people act following their own desires and saying this is ISLAM.
    So I think if you’re exposed to the true ISLAM correctly, you’re likely to adopt it because it’ll answer your questions simply and elegantly and if you use your intellect (as I notice) it’ll satisfy you. Can’t tell to much here but you can email me if you have questions.

  • Jake

    Scott I consider myself a non-denominational christian. Granted, I am only sixteen years old, I truly believe in Christianity. I am not one of those radical Christians that screams and insults you and says “Your going to hell.” Although I do believe you, even Gandhi… is going to Hell. My conversion was a slow process. I read the bible every night along with the side notes and eventually I just chose to believe. Just to be clear… I am against organized religion, but I am for a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. There are many benefits to Christianity that you be unaware of. Every rebellious atheist I know says “Why should I believe in Jesus/God?” My answer is usually “Why not?
    What are the benefits of not believing in God/Jesus. The most important fact that figured out about life is that it is not fair. The Bible has taught me, not a pastor… acceptance. Yesterday I was crossing a street in my car, and their was a glare on the side of my window. I crossed the street and almost got hit by a car going 45mph… I was in a golf cart. I would surely have died. I didn’t panic afterwards. I thanked God but I accepted it. This was a miracle. The first big miracle that happened in my life. Small miracles happen all the time, if you look out for them. I accept that my life is going to be long, painful, and I am going to suffer prolonged pain, but in it I will strive to be a better person, help others, and accept that whatever God decides is best.
    My first impression of how Christians should act was to play it cool; suggest the idea and if they decline I accept it. All the benefits that you listed of Atheism lie in Christianity.

    I am not advocating Churches!!! But, a personal relationship with your savior. You seem like a person with an open mind, so at least think this through.

  • Awasom Cornelius

    Being spiritual means you believe in a higher force outside yourself.Call it God or whaever ,it shows you adhere to something higher than yourself..

  • Steven

    I have to also disagree with you on the morality issue. If you believe in evolution, then it’s survival of the fittest, right? So your biological imperative is to attempt to procreate with as many women as possible, even if you are married. If you think that’s not moral, then what is your argument against it? Moral standards have to come from somewhere, and saying ‘basic principles of respecting the rights of others, service and altruism’ is pretty weak considering how these notions have changed.

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