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.

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Your approach is great, Jonathan.

The arguments we make against faith fall flat on their ears just as their arguments fall flat with us.  It's like we are not speaking the same language.

If we listen politely, ask questions (politely), then we give them the opportunity to notice that their arguments are not airtight.  

A double "amen" to your Christian friendships!!

Believers absolutely need atheist friends.

Let's be gentle, folks!

I agree with your comments Mark and Jonathan.

A gentle approach - sow the seeds of Freethought.

Jonathon, I agree that personal attacks and judgmental language is no way to win people's hearts and minds. I do think discussing with reasoned understanding is a good way to continue conversations with believers, even if (most likely) you won't change their mind.

I read a great book by Greta Christina about how best to approach the process of engaging believers in questioning their own beliefs. It helped me solidify my resolve. Check out "Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things that Piss Off the Godless:

Most of my friends are believers.


You are right that anti-theism is needed.  Each person has their own role.  There is a place for the militant, and for the gentle persuasion.  

As for myself, there aren't a lot of venues where I have freedom of speech.   Most people who I interact with are in a professional and corporate setting.  The only approach that I can take is to quietly be who I am.  I don't nod and agree when people express their religion.  If someone asks, I tell them the truth.

Thank you for taking the high road and and standing up for truth.

How can Atheism become Anti-Theism?

There is another way atheism can become anti-Theism. I am an open athiest for last 13ys or so in Pakistani society. You perhaps have an idea about the nature of society I live in. We feel almost alienated. Even the look in the people eyes make you feel agitated. When one experiences this for so long, its natural for him to become an  anti-thiest as a reaction.

As for as argumentation is concerned, usually you are talking to deaf ears. Brains instead of weighing the argument thinking of counter arguments.

Amer, I admire your courage! I have no idea what you face daily and wish you the best in changing the hearts and minds of your fellow Pakistanis. Yours is a difficult fight and with consequences far more severe than in our mainly, Judeo-Christian society. I hope you can keep chipping away at the intransigence and ignorance, even violence that pervades many Islamic societies.
Sentient Biped, thanks for your reply. I don't consider myself militant, yet I try to engage people civilly in conversations about their religion or belief whenever it arises. And it arises often when people find out that I'm an atheist.

I like that you are being you. I would encourage to you to speak up or speak out when religious topics are brought up in your place of work. There may be others who do not yet have the courage to admit their non-belief in public and could use words of rationality from someone they work with. These small actions may show others that it is safe and acceptable to NOT believe in the supernatural and help them in a big way!
Booklover, I find it most frustrating too. I try to keep these conversations succinct to let them know that there are many of us non-believers who don't agree with their ideals. I keep a realistic view that I probably won't reach this person, but at least I let them know that there are many people who believe like I do and that there is a place for them if they choose to give up their belief in the supernatural.

I talk to new people everyday in their homes as I'm a carpet cleaner.  Most are religious... but when I find out what brand of religion they are, I start pointing out all the crazy stuff the OTHERS believe.

  1. Catholics actually BELIEVE in "transubstantiation" -that the wine and crackers ARE REALLY the blood and body of Christ.  The Pope can reward you with DAYS OFF your sentence in Purgatory.  The Pope just recently dissolved the idea of Limbo -where the souls of un-baptized children go. That hundreds of Jews were killed when they thought they could re-injure Jesus when he was in cracker form.

  2. Mormons BELIEVE God lives on a planet and sent his sons Jesus and Lucifer to Earth.  That the Native Americans are actually the lost tribe of Isreal, punished and burnt brown.  That if you attain the highest ranks, you will be given your own planet to rule. Magic Underwear.  And the story of how Joseph Smith made the whole thing up.

  3. The Jehova's Witness believe the time of the Apocalypse is upon us. Only 144k will go to heaven and the rest of the good people will remain on Earth -which will be made a heaven. That it was started back in the 1940's (I have to check that) by a bible study group that knew better. It's their personal job to go door-to-door to save us.  OH, and and they can't celebrate holidays. -poor kids

  4. The FreeMassons and the Knights Templar believe that Jesus was just 'A' messiah, and not the one and only.  That any man can become a Christ ('cristo' is only greek for 'anointed one') and be a savior.

  5. And of course the Muslims who are just fucking crazy.

I'm really trying as hard as I can to show them how STUPID the religions all are by comparison and not saying a word about theirs -sort of fill-in-the-blank.  Hopefully I've planted a seed.  These people LOSE something significant though -It's like they've been investing all their effort for years in fool's gold.  And I try not to chide the old and infirm.  They're set in their ways and would only suffer by tearing it away.

I'm convinced however that the Monkeys wont let go of the religious-branch until they have a better branch to grab; The ground is just to scary for them, and all their friends are holding on for dear life. I'm writting my own book on Orderism

John, what a great reply! I especially like the subtle way you point out other religions as having faults and letting people wonder what you think of their own religion. I wonder if you had any of your customers as your opinion about their religion; just curious

A great quote: "..the Monkeys won't let go of the religious branch until they have a better branch to grab". Love that!

I hope that by more and more of us engaging in conversations like yours we will allow people to feel safe on atheist ground. We are here holding out our hand to guide them down from the dying religion tree.

I would enjoy reading some of your writings.
John, what a great reply! I especially like the subtle way you point out other religions as having faults and letting people wonder what you think of their own religion. I wonder if you had any of your customers ask your opinion about their religion; just curious

A great quote: "..the Monkeys won't let go of the religious branch until they have a better branch to grab". Love that!

I hope that by more and more of us engaging in conversations like yours we will allow people to feel safe on atheist ground. We are here ,holding out our hand to guide them down from the dying religion tree.

Good luck on your book. I would enjoy reading some of your writings.

Ohhhh, I think I would lose business if they knew I take the Strong Atheist position.  Word of mouth is the best advertising in carpet cleaning.

When asked what religion I am, I say "my family was protestant".  I also let them know I have both Origin of Species AND The New Testament on my smart phone as audio books -gotta be educated ya'know.  And I let them know I'm not 100% sold on this afterlife deal.

ALSO!... mentioning I have Darwin's Origin of Species, then BACKTRACKING by saying "oops, i guess that's a no-no in some houses??" -They will sometimes reveal their own level of belief, even Atheist sometimes.

Thanks for the words of encouragement!




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