My friend asked my why I'm an Atheist - she wanted a list of points. Here's what I came up with really quickly. Please note - this is geared toward ISLAM and so references within it may not relate to other religions. I tried to avoid delving into science, because at the end of the day - scientific details are not what make me an Atheist, it's simply the process of thought that I follow when considering religion. Please - feel free to comment with your own thoughts, journeys, experiences.
1) I have no reason to believe the Quran is divine other than hear-say – people telling me so. “Proof” of its truth has rung hollow – many people have given me reasons for its truth – all of which are either false/exaggerated scientific claims or contrived miracles/predictions – just like every other ‘religion.’
2) We have been around for hundreds of thousands of years, why did God show himself for a few of those and disappear again? And why did he leave us to hundreds of millennia of savagery and ‘sinful’ existence before revealing himself?
3) If Religion was given to us by God to deliver us from our insane, primitive existence - why is it a major source of a very large majority of human conflict and suffering?
4) Why is a "perfect" and "completely clear" message interpreted so differently by everyone who reads it?
5) Why do the believers of this "completely clear" and "perfect" message need experts who study the religion and its meaning their whole lives to interpret it for them?
6) Why is it that, in our age of modernity we are overcoming differences one after the other – race, language, geography, and coming together more and more… EXCEPT when it comes to our Gods? Why is God one of the last few things standing between human kind and unity/peace?
7) Why would a 'good' God allow so much evil and suffering in the world? The human existence around the world is a miserable one - hunger, war, crime, drugs, abuse, poverty, etc...
8) Why does God, a merciful creature, demand the death of those who leave the Religion, followed by an eternity of indescribable misery and pain? Why are most humans I meet kinder and more merciful than him?
9) Why does God, a being who doesn't have human weakness/desire, DEMAND worship under fear of eternal punishment? These are the tactics of a despotic king, and far more primitive than modern civil society allows - how can humans evolve beyond God?
10) Moderate Muslims tell me they don't follow the Quran to the letter because that's too extreme and we live in the 21st century - why should that matter if God's word is timeless and eternal?
11) Nothing in the Quran sounds like anything more than just a story - there is simply nothing in Islamic text or in the world that has ever made me think "It must be divine". It makes more sense that a human (or group) decided to invent it as a tool for social control (a common theme in human history).
12) Many Muslims use what science DOESN’T know as an excuse for God. For example – 'How did the Big Bang start?" is a popular one. Simply noting gaps in our knowledge isn’t proof of anything other than the fact that there is more to learn. And for that matter – these people demand I tell them how the Big Bang started, when they cannot tell me how God came into existence. I cannot believe in something that claims to have all the answers (when it doesn’t) simply because I myself don’t have all the answers.
13) Looking at the religion as an outside observer rather than a Muslim - it doesn't stand out too much from Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, and ancient pagan religions - it looks like just another story with its own twist, its own rules, etc, but still just a story. If I picked up a book describing all these religions without ever having even heard of religion, they would all read like fairy tales to me.
14) God creates everyone and everything - it is a common theme in Islam that any good deed that a person does comes from Allah, his thoughts are from Allah, the environment he grew up in comes from Allah - so why is it AGAINST Allah when people don't fit the mainstream? Why is it illegal to be gay, atheist, etc? Why does Allah make you who you are and then punish you for it? Even in the Quran it states that "Allah has blinded the unbelievers and chosen to keep them from believing."
15) Islamic "science" (and by this I mean scientific 'proof' of Islam) has always been determined to be exaggerated, false, or highly contrived when scrutinized
16) Why would God give us the ability to question and doubt, then punish us for doing so to our full ability?
17) Of the millions of other Gods in History, why Allah?
18) Every religion claims to be the true religion, but at the end of the day - your religion depends on your geography and race. Being in the right religion is a matter of luck? Even those who hear of other religions, most have NO reason to change - would you convert to Christianity? (This question targets Muslims)
19) Why did God send all his messages to the most backward, illiterate part of the world? He could have sent it to much more advanced, literate, larger civilizations like China.
20) Why not send multiple prophets around the world at the same time with the same exact message? THAT would be more effective and more convincing
21) Why is Arabic God's language??? There have been so many other languages, Arabic evolved from other languages and has since evolved further. God happens to speak a form of Arabic that was prevalent in a small part of the Arab Peninsula for a very short period of time in Human history? Why does god even have a language?
22) People tell me morality comes from God – but I have no God and I have good morals - even by Islamic standards. Ghandi did not have Islam and he is more moral than almost every Muslim I have ever met. Buddha was the same and in fact, Buddhism is a "Godless" religion. Morality and God is a contrivance of the religion itself and not a fact of life. Many pre-Islamic pagan societies had well-established moral guidelines which devised ancient legal systems – of which our modern civil codes are derived today.
In a nutshell – I don’t believe in God because there simply isn’t any reason for me to believe in a God or in a Religion. I simply need evidence, and Islam doesn’t have it, nor does any religion (hence the word FAITH). The funny thing is people don’t have faith in each other if they aren’t given a reason to. If someone tried to convince you that God was in fact some ruling body of Alien races, and asked you to take this on faith… where exactly would your faith in such a claim come from? The only reason anyone would actually believe this man is if they simply wanted to believe it. Maybe he says the aliens really like us, and if we have faith they will give us their technology, but if we don’t, they’ll wipe us out. This is Religion in a nutshell.
Religion adds nothing to the world or to life for me, claims of God’s existence all ring as false in my ears, or people grabbing for straws with “we can’t know how God thinks” arguments.
I simply have no need for God or religion – there are explanations for most natural processes without him and for the ones we don’t understand yet – well that’s all there is to it, we just don’t understand them yet. I don’t need to rectify that by believing the hear-say of other men.
One of the biggest questions I asked myself growing up that I could never shake, that really pushed me away from Religion more-so than science ever did was this, “Am I abiding by a law book that a normal human man wrote 1500 years ago to control people?” And I could never find an answer that proved to me otherwise. I was disgusted with the thought that I was the tool of some long-dead man, and that millions of people worldwide were worshipping a man-made God.
@Asa Watcher - While I see your point and can't deny the truth behind it, many people, including myself, came to be atheists after some amount of introspection. While you can answer any questions by simply stating, "Because that's how I am," that's really a bit too flat for most people. Most people like to understand the reasons for their states of mind, whether those reasons are based on rationality or emotion. Even those who were born and raised without religion may have thought on the subject and ended up simply reinforcing their lack of faith. At the end of the day, states of mind, beliefs, convictions, conclusions, etc... - they are the result of at least some amount of decision making.
Thanks for your thoughtful comments.
I am most appreciative that you point to the reasons you are an atheist, rather than falling into the trap of believing that you hold these reasons because you are an atheist.
Still, I am of the notion that too much effort is made to “explain” one’s atheism to challenges that come from theists. In any such discussion, the attention should be turned to the theist’s posession of faith, the only reason the discussion is occurring in the first place.
So, I still believe that the best answer to the question “Why are you an atheist” is the answer: “Because I do not share your faith”.
#18 is one that I bring up as often as possible. It's hard to deny the rationality of this concept. Your faith is nearly always a function of geography and race. How can one be so positive that they are practicing the one true religion if they have no exposure to all the others? How can you be exposed to the others when each one emphatically tells you that it is the truth, and that if you leave it you will suffer eternal damnation? It's a game of political mysticism. Religion has always been and will always be a tool for gathering numbers to a cause.
@Future, yep that's how I see it. It is and always has been a tool. A very cleverly designed, highly effective tool that takes advantage of peoples feelings, desires, and their natural ways of behaving and thinking in society.
Oh wow. This is some great material! You know, growing up in the culture I grew up in, most everything gets measured by the standard of Christianity. It is interesting to see a comparison to Islam.
Number 18 is one that has always spoken strongly to me. The fact that religions are so regional and cultural is a powerful argument against any so-called "universal truth".
Also, I like your aliens analogy! I have never heard that before.
@ Humble Pie - Thanks :). Yeah I realize re-reading the aliens analogy that it's pretty much Scientology, and I think someone else mentioned that in a comment as well haha. Wish I'd come up with it first :-/
You could be rich! Or in a Sea-Org labor camp, which is where I believe the previous church president is rotting. He kind of deserves it, though, so it is hard for me to feel as bad for him as I should.
"If someone tried to convince you that God was in fact some ruling body of Alien races, and asked you to take this on faith… where exactly would your faith in such a claim come from? The only reason anyone would actually believe this man is if they simply wanted to believe it. Maybe he says the aliens really like us, and if we have faith they will give us their technology, but if we don’t, they’ll wipe us out. This is Religion in a nutshell."
Yeah, this is actually Scientology in a nutshell. Great list! I can see which one's you've taken from various sources like Hitchens for example. You might want to change #17 to "thousands" for accuracy, but still terrific. My wife is a Muslim and I'm thinking about showing her your list, when she's ready. Thanks for the post!
@Jedi Wanderer - Haha yeah I wish I'd come up with an analogy that's not actually a real religion, dangit! You're right about the millions to thousands thing, I was trying to include the pre-historic, unrecorded Gods of early humanity but then again, there weren't that many humans back then so I doubt it would take it up to the millions. I suppose I didn't think that little tidbit through all the way!
And you're right I did get a number of those thoughts/questions from some of the "Four Horsemen" as they're called - I hope it doesn't seem like I was trying to rip the ideas!
Haha a Muslim who married an atheist? Dang she's already more open-minded than almost every Muslim I know in that regard.