From: Different reasons for being an atheist.. http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/atheism/beliefs/reasons_1.shtml
Many people are atheists because they think there is no evidence for God’s existence - or at least no reliable evidence. They argue that a person should only believe in things for which they have good evidence.
A philosopher might say that they start from the presumption of atheism.
The presumption of Atheism
This is an argument about where to begin the discussion of whether or not God exists.
It says that we should assume that God does not exist, and put the onus on people who believe in God to to prove that God does exist.
Science explains everything
Atheists argue that because everything in the universe can be explained in a satisfactory way without using God as part of the explanation, then there is no point in saying that God exists.
The argument is based on a philosophical idea called Occam’s Razor, popularised by William of Occam in the 14th century.
In Latin it goes Pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate or in English… “Entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily”.
This is usually simplified to say that the simplest answer is the best answer.
Therefore atheists might argue that since the entire universe, and all of creation can be explained by evolution and scientific cosmology, we don’t need the existence of another entity called God.
Therefore God doesn’t exist.
Arguments for God aren’t convincing
Reasons to do with science and the history of thought
For most of human history God was the best explanation for the existence and nature of the physical universe.
But during the last few centuries, scientists have developed solutions that are much more logical, more consistent, and better supported by evidence.
Atheists say that these explain the world so much better than the existence of God.They also say that far from God being a good explanation for the world, it’s God that now requires explaining.
In olden times - and still today in some traditional societies - natural phenomena that people didn’t understand, such as the weather, sunrise and sunset, and so on, were seen as the work of gods or spirits.
The mechanical universe
The idea that God steered everything in the universe as he saw fit was demolished by the discovery that there were natural laws obeyed by objects in the universe.
Galileo, for example, discovered that the universe followed laws that could be written down mathematically.
This suggested that there was logic and engineering throughout creation. The universe behaved in a consistent manner and was not subject to gods pulling a string here and there, or some unexplained influences from astrological bodies.
This didn’t give Galileo any religious problems (although it annoyed the church greatly and they eventually made him keep quiet about some of his conclusions) because he believed that God had written the scientific rules.
And around this time scientists began to come up with new ways of assessing whether certain things were true. Things were expected to happen in a repeatable, testable way, that could be written down in equations.
God takes a back seat
God’s role as an explanation for the way things are took a serious knock from the sciences of geology and evolution.
Geologists discovered that the earth was hundreds of millions of years old, and not just 6,000 years old as was generally believed at that time.
They showed that the rocks that make up the earth had been laid down in layers at different times; a deeper layer (by and large) came from an earlier time than a shallow layer.
In each layer were fossils that showed that different species of animals had lived in different eras. Not only were many no longer in existence but some didn’t appear until relatively recent times.
This was incompatible with the idea that God completely created the world in 6 days and so scientists with a faith came up with another compromise - the 6 days of biblical creation were a poetic way of describing long periods of millions of years during which God worked on the world.
The theory of evolution
The theory of evolution explains the variety of life forms on earth without any reference to God.
It says that from very simple beginnings, processes of genetic variation and selection (i.e. new forms of life keep appearing, and some forms of life don’t survive and become extinct), working for hundreds of millions of years, generated the range of plants and animals that exist today.
These processes are not directed by any being, they are just the way the world works; God is unnecessary.
Reasons that treat God as meaningless
Some philosophers think that religious language doesn’t mean anything at all, and therefore that there’s no point in asking whether God exists.
They would say that a sentence like “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” is neither true or false, it’s meaningless; in the same way that “colourless green ideas sleep furiously” is meaningless.
Logical Positivism, or Verificationism
Logical Positivists argued that a sentence was meaningless if it wasn’t either true or false, and they said that a sentence would only be true or false if it could be tested by an experiment, or if it was true by definition.
Since you couldn’t verify the existence of God by any sort of “sense experience”, and it wasn’t true by definition (eg in the way “a triangle has 3 sides” is true), the logical positivists argued that it was pointless asking the question since it could not be answered true or false.
These particular philosophers didn’t only say that religious talk was meaningless, they thought that much of philosophical discussion, metaphysics for example, was meaningless too. This philosophical theory is no longer popular, and attention has returned to the issues of what “God” means and whether “God” exists.
Note for philosophers
Ayer actually preferred a weaker version of the theory, because since no empirical proof could be totally conclusive, almost every statement about the world would have to be regarded as meaningless.
And this led Ayer to dispose of the God question rather brusquely.
Reasons that treat God as a psychological factor
Psychological explanations of religon
Psychologists have long been fascinated by religion as something that exists in all societies.
They ask whether ‘religion’ is actually a name given to various psychological drives, rather than a response to the existence of God or gods.
Such a belief is clearly atheistic.
Religion comes from emotions
Human beings believe in God because they want:
- A father figure to protect them from this frightening world
- Someone who gives their lives meaning and purpose
- Something that stops death being the end
- To believe that they are an important part of the universe, and that some component of the universe (God) cares for and respects them
These beliefs are strongly held because they enable human beings to cope with some of their most basic fears.
Atheists argue that since religion is just a psychological fantasy, human beings should abandon it so that they can grow to respond appropriately to deal with the world as it is.
Sigmund Freud tackled religion in great detail and had several ideas about it.
One of his theories was that religion stems from the individual’s experience of having been a helpless baby totally dependent on its parents. The infant sees its parents as all-powerful beings who show it great love and satisfy all its needs. This experience is almost identical to the way human beings portray their relationship with God.
Freud also suggested that childhood experiences caused people to have very complex feelings about their parents and themselves, and religion and religious rituals provide a respectable mechanism for working these out.
Freud also described religion as a mass-delusion that reshaped reality to provide a certainty of happiness and a protection from suffering.
Reasons that treat God as a social function
Sociological explanations of religion
Some people think that religions and belief in God fulfil functions in human society, rather than being the result of God actually existing.
Ludwig Feuerbach was a 19th century German philosopher who proposed that religion was just a human being’s consciousness of the infinite.
He said that human ideas about God were no more than the projection of humanity’s ideas about man onto an imaginary supernatural being.
Emile Durkheim (1858-1917), a French sociologist, thought that religion was something produced by human society, and had nothing supernatural about it.
He believed that religion existed, but he did not agree that the reality that lay behind it was the same reality that believers thought existed.
Religion helped people to form close knit groups, in which they could find a place in society. Religious rituals created mental states in those taking part which were helpful to the group.
To put it another way; religious rituals do not do anything other than strengthen the beliefs of the group taking part and reinforce the collective consciousness.
Religion fulfilled the functions of:
- Giving a meaning and purpose to life
- Binding people together in groups
- Supporting the moral code of the group
- Supporting the social code of the group
Durkheim thought that this was enough to give people a feeling that there was something supernatural going on.
Durkheim said that religious beliefs divided experiences into the profane and the sacred - the profane were the routine experiences of everyday life, while the sacred were beyond the everyday and likely to inspire reverence.
Objects could become sacred, not because of any inherent supernatural resonance but because the group fixed certain ‘collective ideals’ on an object.
God is not apparent
God is Loving
This is one of the more unusual arguments used to show that God can’t exist:
God is perfectly loving
God knows that human beings would be happier if they were aware of the existence of a loving God
So if such a God existed, he would make sure that everyone knew it
There are lots of people who aren’t aware of the existence of a loving God. Therefore such a God does not exist
THIS is exactly the kind of shit that shows how engrained racism is in people- there is literally nothing about this picture that points to her being a bad mother. Is it because she has short shorts on? A cami? She’s just a pregnant woman in a convenience store.
You would NEVER see that caption if this were a white woman. And the worst part is that nobody sees anything wrong with this. It has a ton of likes, a ton of people commenting and laughing and making gross comments that I don’t even want to post here.
I am so fucking disgusted right now.
How many white women do you see with their flat asses wearing shorts even shorter than that like I don’t understand why people do this shit. Leave her alone
"She’ll be a great mom."
I guess when it’s 1001 degrees outside, pregnant women are suppose to cover themselves head to toe.
|Playboy:||From what you’ve said, it seems that we’ll have to learn something of what makes you tick as a man in order to understand what motivates you as an entertainer. Would it be all right with you if we attempt to do just that—by exploring a few of the fundamental beliefs which move and shape your life?|
|Sinatra:||Look, pal, is this going to be an ocean cruise or a quick sail around the harbor? Like you, I think, I feel, I wonder. I know some things, I believe in a thousand things, and I’m curious about a million more. Be more specific.|
|Playboy:||All right, let’s start with the most basic question there is: Are you a religious man? Do you believe in God?|
|Sinatra:||Well, that’ll do for openers. I think I can sum up my religious feelings in a couple of paragraphs. First: I believe in you and me. I’m like Albert Schweitzer and Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein in that I have a respect for life—in any form. I believe in nature, in the birds, the sea, the sky, in everything I can see or that there is real evidence for. If these things are what you mean by God, then I believe in God. But I don’t believe in a personal God to whom I look for comfort or for a natural on the next roll of the dice. I’m not unmindful of man’s seeming need for faith; I’m for anything that gets you through the night, be it prayer, tranquilizers or a bottle of Jack Daniel’s. But to me religion is a deeply personal thing in which man and God go it alone together, without the witch doctor in the middle. The witch doctor tries to convince us that we have to ask God for help, to spell out to him what we need, even to bribe him with prayer or cash on the line. Well, I believe that God knows what each of us wants and needs. It’s not necessary for us to make it to church on Sunday to reach Him. You can find Him anyplace. And if that sounds heretical, my source is pretty good: Matthew, Five to Seven, The Sermon on the Mount.|
|Playboy:||You haven’t found any answers for yourself in organized religion?|
|Sinatra:||There are things about organized religion which I resent. Christ is revered as the Prince of Peace, but more blood has been shed in His name than any other figure in history. You show me one step forward in the name of religion and I’ll show you a hundred retrogressions. Remember, they were men of God who destroyed the educational treasures at Alexandria, who perpetrated the Inquisition in Spain, who burned the witches at Salem. Over 25,000 organized religions flourish on this planet, but the followers of each think all the others are miserably misguided and probably evil as well. In India they worship white cows, monkeys and a dip in the Ganges. The Moslems accept slavery and prepare for Allah, who promises wine and revirginated women. And witch doctors aren’t just in Africa. If you look in the L.A. papers of a Sunday morning, you’ll see the local variety advertising their wares like suits with two pairs of pants.|
|Playboy:||Hasn’t religious faith just as often served as a civilizing influence?|
|Sinatra:||Remember that leering, cursing lynch mob in Little Rock reviling a meek, innocent little 12-year-old Negro girl as she tried to enroll in public school? Weren’t they—or most of them—devout churchgoers? I detest the two-faced who pretend liberality but are practiced bigots in their own mean little spheres. I didn’t tell my daughter whom to marry, but I’d have broken her back if she had had big eyes for a bigot. As I see it, man is a product of his conditioning, and the social forces which mold his morality and conduct—including racial prejudice—are influenced more by material things like food and economic necessities than by the fear and awe and bigotry generated by the high priests of commercialized superstition. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m for decency—period. I’m for anything and everything that bodes love and consideration for my fellow man. But when lip service to some mysterious deity permits bestiality on Wednesday and absolution on Sunday—cash me out.|
|Playboy:||But aren’t such spiritual hypocrites in a minority? Aren’t most Americans fairly consistent in their conduct within the precepts of religious doctrine?|
|Sinatra:||I’ve got no quarrel with men of decency at any level. But I can’t believe that decency stems only from religion. And I can’t help wondering how many public figures make avowals of religious faith to maintain an aura of respectability. Our civilization, such as it is, was shaped by religion, and the men who aspire to public office anyplace in the free world must make obeisance to God or risk immediate opprobrium. Our press accurately reflects the religious nature of our society, but you’ll notice that it also carries the articles and advertisements of astrology and hokey Elmer Gantry revivalists. We in America pride ourselves on freedom of the press, but every day I see, and so do you, this kind of dishonesty and distortion not only in this area but in reporting—about guys like me, for instance, which is of minor importance except to me; but also in reporting world news. How can a free people make decisions without facts? If the press reports world news as they report about me, we’re in trouble.|
|Playboy:||Are you saying that…|
|Sinatra:||No, wait, let me finish. Have you thought of the chance I’m taking by speaking out this way? Can you imagine the deluge of crank letters, curses, threats and obscenities I’ll receive after these remarks gain general circulation? Worse, the boycott of my records, my films, maybe a picket line at my opening at the Sands. Why? Because I’ve dared to say that love and decency are not necessarily concomitants of religious fervor.|
|Playboy:||If you think you’re stepping over the line, offending your public or perhaps risking economic suicide, shall we cut this off now, erase the tape and start over along more antiseptic lines?|
|Sinatra:||No, let’s let it run. I’ve thought this way for years, ached to say these things. Whom have I harmed by what I’ve said? What moral defection have I suggested? No, I don’t want to chicken out now. Come on, pal, the clock’s running.|
A few months ago, a 22-year-old black man suffered a gunshot wound in the back of a police car after being arrested by Louisiana State Police. He was pronounced dead shortly thereafter in a hospital. The police report claims he shot himself in the back, and his death was ruled a suicide. But an autopsy has found that not to be the case, catching the state police in quite the dilemma.