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.
Very well put, and it easily applies to other religions, esp. christianity.
Islam is a difficult religion, difficult to live in and even more difficult to leave and yet there is a small stream of people turning freethinkers. The more this trend is accelerated, the more it will be for Islam in particular and the humanity in particular. Laith, I appreciate every word of yours and congratulate wholeheartedly for your courage.
Thanks mate, the kind words are much appreciated. I don't wish to make any self aggrandizing claims of hardship though. While there is always difficulty in parting with a cultural staple like Religion when you're an Arab, I live in the US and my family is rather liberal... so I did not face much difficulty in this regard.
I agree with you.
I am an Atheist because there is no god. There is sufficient evidence that the world functions naturally to place the issue beyond reasonable doubt. There is no evidence whatsoever that a supernature exists. Therefore, there is no god.
Well... there's a popular saying that states, "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." I think it's important that non-believers avoid the trap of self-assured claims like that. I prefer the phrase, "I have no reason to believe there is a God" rather than, "There is no God."
There are many reasons to be an atheist. Some are atheists out of anger at religion or religious people, but I think it is important to get beyond anger and into more positive territory. Beyond the various philosophical justifications for atheism there is the fact that it is a liberating view of what reality is and positions the individual to discover more of the truth. Religious beliefs—no matter what form they take—provide a comforting view, but a fictitious one and asks the individual to devote himself to a false view of reality.
I agree, I think believing or not believing in things like 'God' shouldn't be based on things like emotion - especially negative ones. They also should not be based on having greater faith in something else, like "Science." That beats the purpose. Atheism isn't a culture or religion it's simply a conclusion.
Glad you like it Kalliope!
I am glad you finally discovered the “nutshell” because you appear to admit to the essence, the very definition of atheism, and that is: “lack of FAITH”.
Your 22 questions are questions that you ask BECAUSE you are an atheist. Were you a theist, it probably would have never occurred to you to ask most of those questions in the first place.
Simply put: you are an atheist because you don’t have FAITH in the existence of god(s).
Your questions/reasons, are a result of an unnecessary need that you have to somehow justify your lack of faith, your atheism, when challenged by some questioner: “Why are you an atheist?”
You don’t need reasons to justify your atheism any more than we expect theists to be able to justify the reasons they have faith. Faith needs no reason, no justification, and the lack of faith doesn’t either.
Why are you an atheist?
Hell, you were born that way. It’s your default setting.
Don’t be concerned by the periphery of theological imaginings of why? or the “reasons” for your “beliefs”. Those are all completely divorced from simply not possessing faith. Belief and Faith are two different things.
When asked why you are an atheist, your answer to her should have simply been: “Because I don’t share your faith”.
@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.