Plan to compile a database of theist questions for atheists and our responses



Several of us from a number of atheist organizations are planning to put together a database containing the most frequent and most difficult questions or challenges that theists put to atheists along with our most cogent responses.  To collect as many of these questions as possible, I am asking the members of various freethinker organizations to forward to me the most frequent or challenging questions or accusations that theists have confronted you with. Please also send your responses to these along with some key words to the subjects so that they will be searchable by fellow atheists. Also, if you have suggestions as to how we can restrict access of the planned database to only freethinkers, please include your strategy for that. 

This is one way that we atheists, scattered as we are, can use our internet resources to significantly help each other.  When we keep illuminating the absurd logic and farfetched arguments of theists, we strengthen our position and make them start thinking like the rational and ethical people they really are.  Thanks for all your help!

Eric Stone, PhD
Westchester Atheists

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I've often heard, "Atheism, not beleiving, that takes more faith than believing".

People can obfuscate by quibbling about the meanings of words such as faith and believe. Roughly, belief simply means to accept as true, whereas 'faith' means to accept as true without reasonable evidence. For many a religious person, though not all, if the evidence contradicts their religious belief, they will opt for their religious belief, over the conclusion one might come to based on evidence, (eg. 'creationism' versus 'evolution' - by random mutation & natural selection).

 

As an atheist, I would rather say "I don't know", about something, rather than the religious option of "Goddidit", without reasonable evidence.  But then I find no good evidence for a god in the first place. I also find that the claim that 'Goddidit', must tend to stifle the process of enquiry - why figure out how evolution really works if 'Goddidit'?

 

I know that I cannot prove the non-existence of "God", but as the cliche goes: "Extraordinary claims should require extraordinary evidence".

Well put.  I would add that another response is that atheism requires more thinking and effort than believing.  Believing is more simplistic, lazy and a cop-out when faced with an intellectual challenge.
Good one!  Thanks for your submission.

Thanks for your submission.  If you want to include a response please do.

 

ES

Anyone else who has a good response to this theist challenge, please post and it will be considered in database.

I think that to make a really effective reply to this challenge we have to make up a list of both the good and bad things created by religion and the good and bad created by reason.  In my highly subjective opinion it would go something like this:

 

Religion - the good:

cooperation, calming fears of death, joy, caring for fellow humans, civil society, mystical experiences, music, art, togetherness, extreme performance, happiness (?), economics (?)

 

Religion - the bad:

war, genocide, ethnic cleansing, racism, hatred, xenophobia, violence toward nonbelievers, discrimination, inquisitions, crusades, autocracy, support of slavery, poverty, suppression of women, suicide bombings, jihad, manipulation of fear and loneliness, subversion of secular democracies, diversion of billions of tax dollars away from public good to the advancement of sectarian religions, overpopulation, denial of science (evolution), denial of history, denial of facts, suppression of civil rights, suppression of sexuality, suppression of reproductive rights, manipulation of guilt and shame, racial purity, impedance of medical science, support of dictators and fascism, humiliation and enforced obedience to authority, abuse of young, pedophilia, impairment of critical thinking and rationality, blockade of response to global warming, support of class status quo, support of gap between rich and poor

 

Reason: the good:

scientific, technological and medical progress (such as the discovery of anesthesia, the relief of suffering and pain, reduction of infant mortality and increasing our life span, the discoveries of evolution, of nuclear winter (potentially preventing nuclear holocaust), of global warming (potentially saving our species from disaster), of pollution and mass extinctions, public health, prevention of disease and famine, the enlightenment and the creation of democracy, the development of birth control and effort to prevent overpopulation, space travel, happiness, music (see The Good Atheist, by Dan Barker), art, economic development, education, literacy, reduction of poverty, women's rights, ending slavery, ending discrimination.....

 

Reason - the bad:

 

creation of nuclear weapons, eugenics, existential loneliness, fear (?) and anxiety (?)

Any 'good' done by any religious institution can be and is done on a purely secular means. Albeit with out holding a cup of soup hostage.
To be fair, so can any bad. But it does help insanity to believe in imaginary things.

Details will vary from country to country, so I won't be specific, I'll just give you an idea of my responses to this question - and I am assuming the questioner is referring to charity work done by religious groups:

 

The questioner is probably implying that atheists are not involved in charities, so get a list of all the secular charities - Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, Bill Gates Foundation, etc. I have about thirty on my list.

 

Most of the major religions have a charity wing that remains completely separate from the Church. The tithes and other money collected by the church stays in the church and none of it is used in charitable works like feeding the poor. They probably use some creative book-keeping to make it look as if the money is used for charity - but it isn't.

 

I have a copy of the St Vincent de Paul Society (Australia) mission statement where it is clearly stated that "The society does not receive any direct funding from the Catholic church"

http://www.flickr.com/photos/37262307@N03/4034488724/in/photostream...

 

Here's how most (not all) religious charities work:

The volunteer workers get out on the street rattling the collection tins - that's the public face that we all see and it convinces us that the charity is doing what we expect it to be doing - but most of that money is used to pay staff salaries, office rent, etcetera. Those expenses have to be paid, so there's nothing shonky about it, but the point is that most of the cash from the collection tins is NOT used to help the poor and needy.

 

Almost every dollar handed out by a religious charity comes directly from the Government. The Government knows it has to help those in need, but it cannot be bothered with the fine details, so it hands over tens of millions of dollars each year to the recognised (usually religious) charities and charges them with the task of doling it out to those who need it.

 

Naturally, with so much unearned money floating about, the Churches will sometimes get greedy and instead of "doing good" with it, they will try to steal it for their own use. In my hometown, for example, the Anglican Church tried to use charitable funds from Anglicare, to pay compensation to victims of priestly child abuse (see link).

http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/adelaides-anglic...

[Remember that Anglicare is completely seperated from the Anglican Church. It was not found guilty of any crime and it was not ordered to pay compensation to anyone. The Church was merely trying to protect its own funds and use Government cash to meet its obligations.]

 

Things will vary from place to place, but you get my drift...Charities do a lot of good, but "religion" not quite so much.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Thanks for the information. My interest is provide a site that is only for us atheists.  I will review this site and see what we can learn from it.

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