How can Atheism become Anti-Theism?

Because my conviction that religion and the belief in a god predispose people to do bad things, I now think that I should take my atheism into an "evangelical" role. I have become an Anti-theist and I'm here to convert you to my non-belief.

I have begun challenging people who proffer religion as an 'liniment' to mans' woes. I may ask what god has done for them and then explain why god seems to me, so evil. I will cite examples like the Boxing Day Tsunami or the anthrax virus or cancer and ask the religious follower why they choose to follow a god that would wantonly kill or allow the death of innocent people (yes innocent, since many people who died from these natural occurrences were/are children).

Usually people will cherry-pick their responses, and select the good incidents in their life and ignore any bad that has happened to them or in the world. Additionally, I hear two very common responses: "god is punishing us for bad behavior " or “god works in mysterious ways.” I usually ask why would you believe in something so evil that he (since most gods are male) would punish you for my bad behavior? Why would god kill so many tens of thousands of people because America tolerates homosexuality?.

Then of course, I always have the omniscient v. omnipotent v, omnipresent argument that goes something like: If god is "all-knowing" then why didn't he warn someone, especially a government, of the impending flood, earthquake, tsunami, tornado or send scientists the cure for Downs Syndrome? If god is "all powerful" then why didn't he stop the cancer, small-pox, volcano? If god is everywhere, then he is also in these natural disasters too, right? How can a good god create or allow such nasty events and why? Therefore he is not all knowing, or all-powerful or everywhere. If a god could be omniscient/omnipotent/omnipresent and chose NOT to act to help or indeed created the disaster or affliction, isn't that the definition of evil?

If their response is "god works in mysterious ways", I usually respond stating that there is no mystery to hurricanes, earthquakes, botulism, dysentery. These are natural events that wreak havoc on humankind and we understand them very well, thanks to scientific endeavors. So, again, why would god do such evil?

I will then parry my religious friends' argument, if they're still talking to me, with:

Religion sets us humans up to accept what would otherwise be unacceptable. Why would surrendering common sense and thwarting in-depth questions be a good thing? Religion does just that. Religion teaches people to follow without question; to falsely believe that their particular religion is the one and only, or more commonly, that we are all children of the same god, regardless to what branch of belief we belong. Religion allows complacence. In extreme cases of fundamentalism, religious leaders reward believers, and sometimes families, for abhorrent behavior. I suppose it could be argued that the person is crazy, but religious teaching enables, even accepts, recruitment and creates an environment that fosters radicalism. Complacency among the 'flock' then sublimely encourages this type of extremism. And, it is proliferating. Religion creates weak minds, and weak minds with weapons is a very dangerous combination. Why encourage and support such a bad institution, such misguided acceptance and tolerance??

At some point in our conversation my religious opponent usually realizes that I have lost all my marbles and finds some reason to disengage from our conversation. Occasionally I disengage first because the conversation becomes a never ending circular argument and I realize this person cannot hear my words or analyze my ideas. I may try debating them again in the future.

I am beginning to create a 'soul saved' count. So far I haven't converted any religious person to my completely obvious understanding about how dangerous it is to believe in a god or follow a religion, but I will keep trying, keep planting seeds of doubt. I realize no single discussion or argument/debate will change anyone's mind. Hopefully over time, my conversation, along with others may convert those people in whom the seed is implanted and encourage the tree of knowledge to grow within them.

If you have taken atheism to the level of anti-theism, then share with me your experience.

Tags: anti-god, anti-religion, antitheism, antitheist, atheism, atheist, complacency, religious, tolerance

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atheist groups.. humanist.. freethinker groups are usually non-prophet.. get it? ; )
got that from 120 apparel...
the about us is cool.. intelligence barometer.. ha!
http://www.compass120.com

"god works in mysterious ways",
ha, yer brains do more-so.. i.e. wishing to the point of hallucination? were u beat about the head as a kid and got stuck with feelings of afterlife!? megh~ kagh~ go! ; )

When engaged with a theist in any religious discussion, the most anti-theist comment you can make, the most devastating statement, the most accurate shot at the very essence of the theist’s world, is a simple, and irrefutable statement you make about yourself, and that is:  “I’m sorry, (insert name here), but I do not share your faith in the existence of a supreme being”.

It is not necessary to challenge the “existence” or “non existence” of the object of their faith.

That you confess to your lack of faith, focuses their attention on the affirmation of their own faith.  It is effectively anti theistic because it turns their attention toward the very foundation of their view of a god-centered world  by forcing them to justify the existence, not of god, but of their faith.  Introspection is an enemy of ignorance.  Introspection sparks inquiry.

Attacking what they have faith in is never effective.

But, making them think about the nature of that faith is the first step in removing the cornerstone that will ultimately bring down the entire structure.  A most satisfactory conclusion, I would presume, for the most anti-theistic among us.

Quote, from Steph S.:

"I could not agree with your statement more Ruth. Sweeping generalizations are never factual."

***

That generalities do not extend to all individuals Steph, does not invalidate those generalities.

Especially when there are so many who are doing their best to fit INTO those generalities.

That's why I always take pains to avoid groupthink.

I'm real careful about the people I allow myself to be pigeon-holed with...
Yes, I'm anti-theistic, as well as atheistic.

Though I'm not necessarily always anti-theist.

Depends on the Individual.
Asa, great suggestion. I have used this in conversations, but it often invokes a "why not?" or "oh really? I'm feel sorry for you.." Which is so very condescending and disrespectful. The arrogance of believers like this is what usually causes me to engage in further debate about why they believe like they do. To ask them why they feel they are blessed and that a 9 year old girl can die of leukemia, for example. Or why god never warned all those people in several countries about the ensuing tsunami. (I have used several other examples of god's unfairness).

The idiocy of their statements and therefore, belief is not easily justified. I try to point out how arrogant it is to think that god has a special place for them, but not for the 9 year old girl. They then will come up with the default statement "god works in mysterious ways."

I cannot say that I believe religion to be wholly evil, but I do believe it to be unhealthy from a psychological and mental viewpoint. I can't comment on whether gods are evil or not, because I do not believe that they even exist to be so. So I doubt I will be any help, but I do hope you save some minds from the crumbling outhouse of religion.

Travis, I like your statement about crumbling outhouses. This is how I feel about religion and I agree that religion does some good. In my mind the good religion does cannot outweigh all the evil it has done and continues to do throughout the world.

Religion does charitable work and helps people in need. But, I contend that all the good that religion does or portends, (more to the point: the people of a religious belief) can be done without the pretext of religion.

Good can and should be done cleanly, without the religious drapery adorning these actions of good deeds. Religion therefore gains undeserved credit, when the good could have or should have been done with out it.

"It" hasn't done anything, it is not something that can act. Religion is just like a gun, knife, or other tool. People use it to justify all sorts of idiotic and vacuous things, but that is more a reflection on the human race than religion itself. It is, after all, a reflection of humanity.

I agree that good can and should be done for its own sake, but a lot of people just will not do it unless there is some kind of perceived reward(however imaginary). Again, more a reflection on mankind than anything else. It is appalling but also true. In fact, any good deed done in the name of reward isn't really a good deed, but simply a perceived transaction. Ergo, no credit or respect can or should really be given to anyone or anything for it. I simply do not believe that concepts(like religion) are capable of enacting "evil". People can, and regularly do, enact these things without the pretext or even the justification of religion.

It is unhealthy, though. Any system that relies solely on delusion cannot be healthy, in any form, ever. It poisons the mind, essentially corrupting a persons ability to distinguish between good judgements, ideas, and actions from bad ones. It promotes the idea that a person should continue deluding themselves long after they are shown to be absolutely mistaken, misinformed, or just plain dishonest.

My argument against religion relies far more heavily around what it is(a self-enforced and inflicted illness) that what it does(nothing by itself).

Eric, I have taken my atheism to the level of anti-theism. However, I am not trying to be "evangelical". I only engage in arguments with religious people if they make the first attempt to debate; to me, this is an opening to say what I think of their beliefs and to provide good reasonable arguments to pin point the "holes" in their faith.

However, the funny thing is that the people that I have had arguments with have never changed their mind, or even considered examining the evidence I present. Usually the ones who have, in my experience, embraced some level of doubt, are the "bi-standers" that happen to be present during those arguments. But I cannot say for sure that I have changed somebody else's mind.

In my not-so-humble opinion, I applaud what you do. I think we need more people who are willing and able to take the position you take, after all, why not do that since the religious are almost always doing it. Perhaps I don't completely do what you do because I might not be equipped to do so.

Great post Eric, thank you.

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