A reminder: Atheism makes no claim–it doesn’t involve a theory for where the universe came from

The idiots in this Facebook group provide endless examples of how badly theists understand atheism.

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What I love about engaging with idiot Christians like this twit is, as pathetic as his argument may seem, it is the same argument used by other, less moronic Christians. It’s stripped of all attempts at the pseudo-complexity you’ll get from clever theists, a bare-bones vacuous argument without the pretensions of wit, intellect or complexity because the poor intellectually challenged fellow isn’t capable of dressing it up.

We don’t know where the fucking universe came from. And I’m not speaking merely for atheists. None of us know. That’s the trick.

It is in our nature to make up an explanation when we don’t know. At its simplest, that’s what god is. The most obvious, direct answer to where everything came from when we don’t know, is something beyond our understanding created it all. Something we call god. But we could just as well call it magic. Same difference, fuckers.

That’s what we do. It’s how the human brain works. But for thousands of years, we’ve taken our hypotheses, tested them, and proven them wrong or less wrong, where less wrong gets closer to being right over time. That’s how science was born, and it is a fascinating process where knowledge accumulates and is corrected gradually, over many years and generations, a process that reflects evolution itself.

Religion, on the other hand, is comprised of claims brought to us from primitive people, claims that are never tested because there is nothing to test. And there’s nothing to test because those things, magic, gods, myths, call them what you want, are man made concepts. They do not exist outside of our imagination. To expect atheists, who reject your magical thinking, to then have some equal and opposite magical claim, is a common error that theists make. I’ve seen it over and over again, not only from idiots like poor J Alden Twat, but other smarter theists.

It’s almost sad, that with his question, he is so close yet so far from actually getting it.

Magical thinking is dangerous, especially now

I guess on some level I’ve always been aware of magical thinking. What I didn’t know was how widespread it is. I first noticed someone whose beliefs were unusually aggressive when I was in school, standard 4 (grade 6 as they call it now), with a teacher, Mr Barnett, who would somehow include the words “Lord Jesus” at least twice in every sentence. I thought he was whacked in the head, and he no doubt was a little off-kilter, but no more so than many others whose extreme beliefs are less in-your-face.

It was a few years before when I’d learned the Bible stories from the Old Testament, and I realized then that people used to ascribe natural disasters to an angry god, a god who would punish the people for their wrongdoings unless they repented. I grew up being taught those things as if they were true, but never believed them, and assumed (incorrectly) that everybody else also didn’t believe them. (Because obvious nonsense is obvious.)

Then, years later, having messed up quite seriously and become addicted to crystal meth, I entered into “recovery” with unfortunate naivete, expecting addiction treatment to be evidence based. (It isn’t.) There I found that addiction treatment is in fact based entirely on a religious foundation, filled with platitudes and magical thinking. It took me four years altogether to find my own way of staying clean and sober, one that works for me and does not involve those ridiculous 12 steps of woo.

But now, we are facing COVID-19, a virus still mutating, one for which there is no cure, where we are infectious but asymptomatic for 14 days, a virus that is killing people and potentially on par in terms of fatalities with the Biblical plagues. This is a time when we all need to take the necessary precautions, but instead of that happening, we have religious people fucking it all up for the rest of us.

There are people sharing misinformation and conspiracy theories about the disease; people sharing prayers and claiming that their faith will protect them – it doesn’t work like that, for fuck’s sake! Inhaling the contaminated air that an infected person exhaled is all you need, and the easiest way for that to happen, the most effective way of spreading the virus, is large gatherings, crowds, in confined spaces. This is a problem particularly because you can have massive viral loads and be highly infectious while asymptomatic. Yet many religious leaders are refusing to back down and encouraging their believers to carry on as usual. This is, of course, a reckless and irresponsible abuse of their authority (for a change?), considering that believers trust them.

Meanwhile, we also have people who blame every disaster, including this virus, on minority groups who make easy victims for them, such as same sex couples or transgender people, claiming that their god is angry with those people. It seems we have not moved on at all since the OT, and collectively we remain driven by this dangerous magical thinking.

Why, oh why… would you believe that this god created the entire universe, but has a problem with what members of one particular species of great ape do with their gonads? It is absurd that people believe this. But they do. We are a race of fucking idiots.

 

 

 

 

 

OK then theists, let’s consider why you shouldn’t shift the burden of proof onto atheists.

In my last post, I mentioned that theists often ask us atheists to prove there is no god. I also mentioned I wasn’t interested in writing about that. But I do think it adds value to consider that now.

In my research for this post, I found this article which asserts that sometimes theists have the burden of proof, and sometimes atheists do. The gist of it seems to be that whoever makes the claim has the burden, so when atheists claim there is no god, the burden lies with us. Except that isn’t what atheism is about, so the article is wrong because atheists don’t make such a claim. Theists will say that we do, but the thing is, that opens up a can of worms that they certainly don’t really want opened… but since most don’t even seem to know what atheism is, they don’t realize this either. So let’s open up that can of worms, shall we?

First I’ll jot down a couple of notes that demonstrate why shifting the burden of proof onto atheists also introduces some worms into your clever little plan.

  1. Atheism makes no claim but rejects all claims that gods exist.
  2. Theism, in most cases, not only claims that a specific god exists, but also implicitly rejects all claims that other gods exist, just like atheism.
  3. Theists always forget about point two because when they say “Prove that god doesn’t exist”, they imagine their specific god.

I have dealt with many Christians who think it clever to shift the burden of proof with, “Prove god doesn’t exist”. And I always answer the same: Which god? (Crickets…) Seriously folks, Jesus/Yahweh/Allah is no more notable a claim than Odin/Zeus, or some older god you never even heard of.

So by all means, feel free to insist that we atheists must prove god doesn’t exist, as long as you are then willing to prove that every other god doesn’t exist, because if me being an atheist means that I claim your god doesn’t exist, then by your own poor logic that means you claim all gods but your own do not exist, and the burden of proof lies on you to prove that. Good luck!

Of course there’s a bigger issue at stake here, an issue that theist debaters do not want to face… In religious apologetics, their arguments are often interchangeable. For example, a Muslim or a Christian might argue variations of Pascal’s Wager or the Argument from First Cause. This is common, and inexperienced debaters bring them up without even knowing they are common arguments. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It implies they came to those arguments by themselves. One should not fault anyone for that any more than one would fault somebody for not knowing how to pronounce a word they learned by reading.)

But their arguments are generic arguments for a “creator”, often filled with flawed logic. That logic aside, none of their arguments ever lead to a logical conclusion that their specific god exists. Debating theists is thus always an extended visit to Non Sequitur Land, a place where theists of different religions all make the same nonsensical arguments and all of them come to different conclusions. (This is an expected side-effect of starting with your conclusion and then fabricating pseudo-logic that you think leads to it.) Of course the lazy way to avoid this problem is not make an argument at all, and instead shift the burden of proof onto your opponent, which in this case makes no claim at all. (Sigh.) And you wonder why so many of us just end up calling them idiots?


Edit… I was looking for a post I saw on Facebook this morning, where a theist posted to a debate group that atheism is a “proposition that no god exists” in his attempt to shift the burden of proof. Can’t find it, but I do see that I have shared on this subject before…

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Another edit… Not the original one I was thinking of, but check out this bullshit. It’s from that guy again, and this time he posts his oddball false dichotomy and successfully suckers people into answering with the second option. (It’s a trick. Answer with option 2 and he will use it to mean something else.) Obviously the correct answer is “I identify as an atheist and thus I lack the belief there is a god.” I’m still on my ban so I had to save this to a collection to reply if I get the chance.

Other than the obvious errors in his logic with trying to turn a rejection of claims into a claim itself, asking a question that can have many answers and limiting those you accept to a simple binary is not terribly smart. But then John is not a smart man. See? This is why you shouldn’t debate.

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By the way, even if you do believe there is no god, that means something different to what he thinks it does. In his mind it means you reject his god because his one is the one true god.

I’m kind of surprised nobody has commented to this post with “But Christianity is the only true religion because Jesus [insert did something specific to the claims of Christianity here]”, which essentially comes down to “my magical thinking is correct because the magic I believe in is real”. But hey… it’s still early.


OK, last edit… I promise. Here, from the same group by another Johnny, is another fine example of pseudo-logic that jumps through some hoops to arrive at the predetermined conclusion that doesn’t follow.

This isn’t relevant to the burden of proof, but is relevant to my last point about arguments that “lead” to a creator being more than a little flawed and all of them being non sequiturs.

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Why I don’t believe in god

Every so often in theists vs atheists debate groups, theists ask us to “prove there is no god”. Well, I can’t do that. That’s not how it works as I make no claim, and the burden of proof lies on the ones making the claim that their god is real. But I don’t want to write about that today. How about instead of that, I present my thoughts on why I don’t believe?

When I first heard of god, I was a child. My parents taught me about God and Jesus, and like every child, I believed what they said. But I never saw this god. I just accepted what I was taught, up to a point. And then, when I grew older, I had my doubts. I had my questions and there were no answers for them.

The first time I realized something wasn’t quite right was at the age of six. I went to Sunday school in our local Roman Catholic church, and everybody there was singing a song about Jesus that I didn’t know. “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so…” And right off the bat, I didn’t fit in. I looked for Jesus in the church. I looked for god and the holy spirit, but they were nowhere to be found. But then I realized something, something important, that perhaps those of us who aren’t as socially awkward never stumble upon . It was never about Jesus, or god, or the holy spirit. It was about the participation. Fitting in, everybody together singing their little song about Jesus. Everybody singing together. It’s social; it’s a sense of belonging, a fellowship. It doesn’t matter that the subject is Jesus. It could be the Holy Hamster or the Pious Potato of Power (Cheese and bacon be upon Him). As long as you believe, as long as they suck you in when you’re young and you get indoctrinated, it doesn’t matter at all what the subject of your belief is, because you’re conditioned to accept it without question.

Once you reach that point, you impose meaning on the subject of your belief, meaning that doesn’t belong there. You accept without question that this thing you believe in is the source of your morals and values, even though you picked them up from those around you socially. You also accept that this thing created the world and everything in it, and you put this belief somewhere in the back of your mind, somewhere locked away as a child, such that you think you know it to be true, while in reality you know no such thing.

God is a placeholder for “I don’t know”. How did the world come to be? I don’t know. Therefore God. And if you assume this to be true, if it is set in stone in the deepest recess of your mind, set in your early childhood and you don’t even recognize that you don’t really know it, that is what makes you a Christian. Or a Jew or Muslim or whatever. You never notice that this placeholder, this little black box is empty, because you are conditioned not to open the box, not to look inside. You are conditioned to accept dogma without question, which brings me to the next point, the way our minds work, and the difference between the scientific method and dogma, and why we are so easily fooled by our false knowledge…

The brain is a strange organ. It drives us. We depend on it, but it is prone to certain biases and problems. We love a narrative. A story. We need a cohesive narrative for the world to make sense. So much so that our very memories are faulty. We remember only fragments, and then, when we recollect those fragments, we put them back together into a cohesive story. A story however that’s changed over time. This is why false memory is an issue. That’s just on a personal level, but then expand on that… people make up societies, and societies evolve shared rules and regional beliefs. And religions. Every culture has a creation myth, a god or gods. I see no reason to believe in any of them. Some people seem to assume that since there are certain things in common between all such religions, there must be some sort of universal truth. But again, this just comes down to the frailty of the human mind. It’s easier to continue to believe what you already believe than to realize the common thread between all religions is that the human brain created them, created a convenient placeholder to answer “I don’t know” with a simple and universal narrative, and one that conveniently takes away our fear of death, but that can’t be proven until after we’re dead.

And that brings us to the difference between science and dogma. Both have at their root the same source: the same human brain that likes a story. And guess what happens if we don’t have an explanation? We make it up. That’s what we do. That’s how science works. Don’t know how something works… then just make it up. And then, other scientists try to reproduce the hypothesis. Prove it wrong outright, or find that the hypothesis seems to be true. Then it becomes a theory. The theory represents our most detailed understanding of something, and is usually mostly right… or at least it’s not wrong. It gets refined, improved over time, and as the years go by, it gets better and better. (I’m not a scientist and I’m simply trying to convey what the scientific method achieves in the most broad sense. Any scientists reading, please excuse me.) Religious doctrine started out the same, but it doesn’t work the same way. It is dogmatic, meaning that by definition we are not allowed to question it.

In the case of Christianity, we have beliefs that were cast in stone about two thousand years ago. But instead of two thousand years of questioning and refining the doctrines, we have two thousand years of them being handed down unchanged, with the rule that one is not allowed to question them. Instead of a search for truth, we have fields like theology which is nothing more than made up reasons to continue believing what is already believed. Theology is, among other things, a system where we look at the things we assume god created and see signs of god in those things. In other words, all of theology is nothing more than extended circular reasoning.

If I were to draw a straight line across the page, assuming the starting point on the left is the beginning of time of the entire universe as far as we can trace back, and the rightmost point is this very moment, on that scale, a dot to indicate when our gods showed up for the first time would be pretty much on the right had side. Now. And yet we are told to believe that this god was there from the beginning. He is a little black box on the far left that explains everything. I’m sorry. I don’t buy it. It’s absolute bullshit.

While I do understand how indoctrination works, and know all too well how tough it is to change my mind when something I think I know is proven false, I struggle to understand why everybody doesn’t grow up and grow out of religious belief exactly as I did. To me that seems the most natural thing to do and why most people don’t do so will always be a mystery to me, a mystery that drives me to write about this subject over and over again.

Anyway, that’s the short version of why I don’t believe in any god. There’s a lot more to it, but that’s the nicest narrative I can shape it into that hopefully even people who disagree with me can follow.

Another example of debating theists

Note that when you as a theist think of debating with atheists, you assume I refer to your religion. Of course. Because when you think of god, you imagine your one, whatever one that is. But yours is not the only one I don’t believe in.

Thus I’m sharing this for Christian debaters. When you share a message claiming that atheists will go to hell because they don’t accept Jesus, or you claim “every knee will bend” (every kite will fly? every arse will shit?) nonsense, it makes as much sense as this:

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In other words, it makes no sense at all.

Other readers might wonder why I call this a debate, when obviously the above image is not an argument, it’s just garbage. Well, go join a Facebook debate group, and see. Most posts from theists are nothing more than proselytization, or the repeating of religious claims, and each one will repeat a claim from their “one true” religion.

Debating theists is an exercise in futility and will lead to your frustration and possibly loss of sanity. Mocking them however can be entertaining, fun, and a fine way of relieving boredom.

Atheists who believe in ghosts? Another idiotic argument from someone who misses the point.

This idiot again:

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I’m still waiting for the kitchen floor to dry, and I saw this nonsense.

Atheists can believe in ghosts. If they really want to. I don’t, and I don’t know any atheists who do believe in ghosts. But whatever, the point is that atheism is the disbelief in god claims, because… you know? That’s what atheism is.

Most atheists, like me, probably don’t believe in ghosts, goblins, fairies, zombies, vampires, or religious apologists who aren’t complete nincompoops.