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A Defence of Atheism

I have collected these attacks against atheism from various places, but especially from an apologetics blog. The blogger didn't have comments enabled (I wonder why) so I thought I should respond to them here. The grey items are the assertions (all of which are at least partly untrue) and the comments after each one (in black) are mine.

There is no God.

There is no good evidence to indicate there is a god, but we are prepared to consider anything which might affect this interim conclusion. Just show us the evidence.

There is no supernatural: no God, no miracles, no soul, no afterlife.

All the above seems reasonable given current evidence, which provides no reasonable support for supernatural phenomena of any kind. If you can think of a better way to perform the experiments required to see whether there is a supernatural we would be very happy to reconsider the issue.

The overwhelming majority of the entire planet's population, regardless of chronology, geography, or theology, have been absolutely wrong about that which mattered to them the most: their belief in God and their relationship with Him.

That's partly true. Atheists of various types are the third biggest group in the world, and many people who include themselves in a religious group don't take that belief very seriously, so the majority might not be so overwhelming. In the past a belief in the supernatural was probably necessary to provide understanding of the world but now that we have better methods there is no reason to resort to superstition.

Anyone claiming to have an experience with God, regardless of chronology, geography, or theology, was hallucinating, insane or deceptive.

If its really possible to experience god then there should be a way to test the reality of the experience. Until some objective reality can be demonstrated in the experience we must assume that it is false in some way. And many of these experiences contradict each other. People who have different beliefs have different experiences. They can't all be right!

Anyone claiming to have experienced a miracle, regardless of chronology, geography, or theology, was hallucinating, insane, deceptive or ignorant.

Again, there is no objective evidence of the phenomenon, so we reject it until better evidence is available. When investigated closely miracles turn out to be natural phenomena, hoaxes, or delusions. Show us a miracle which stands up to scrutiny and we'll reconsider that hypothesis.

All of the world's "Holy Books" are the result of deceptions or delusions.

Not necessarily. They are myths which might have seemed reasonable when they were written but are now obviously false. There is probably a significant aspect of deception and delusion involved as well, because books like the Bible were composed of the material which suited the requirements of the early Catholic church.

All religious rituals are man made and futile, except, perhaps, in however useful they may be in making a person good.

They might not be totally futile if they make the person involved feel better, but scientific investigation of behaviour such as prayer indicates they have no real effect. There is little evidence to suggest participation in a ritual makes a person "good" in some sense. Religion, just like anything else, can be used for both good and bad purposes.

Religious people are wrong when they say atheists are denying the existence of God, even though they know he exists at a deeper level.

Yes, they are wrong. Maybe some atheists think god really exists but don't want to admit it for various reasons, but the vast majority simply don't think he exists at all. Why would anyone want to hide a belief in something so amazing as God if they genuinely believed in him?

Atheism is a perfectly reasonable belief even though the non-existence of God can't be proven absolutely.

It depends on your definition of "atheism". Many people distinguish between strong atheism which absolutely denies the existence of god, and weak atheism which simply says the best conclusion is that god doesn't exist, but that might change. Agnosticism is the statement that we don't know. Because we can never be 100% sure of anything (outside of maths and formal logic) we should be agnostic about everything. But its better to state a belief based on current evidence and accept that it could change if the evidence changes. That's what all the atheists I have encountered believe: simply that the current evidence doesn't support the existence of god.

Since there is no supernatural, everything in the universe (including the origins of the universe) can be explained by naturalistic means and if the evidence does not fit the naturalistic theory then there is something wrong with the evidence and not with the naturalistic theory.

We don't necessarily believe that everything can be explained, either naturally or supernaturally. The idea that evidence which contradicts theories is rejected is ridiculous. Science constantly fine tunes its theories to fit new evidence. But the evidence has to be compelling, and the so-called evidence presented by creationists and other religious sects has been easily proven false many times, which means there is no necessity to modify scientific theories to allow for it.

Since there is no supernatural revelation of future events all Biblical prophecies were written after the event occurred and made to seem as if it had been written beforehand (no evidence, manuscript or otherwise, needs be shown in order to prove such an assertion).

Most skeptics find prophecies rather unconvincing. Having a story in one part of a book support an event in another part of the same book isn't too difficult. Also, prophecies are often written in language which can be interpreted in whatever way is most convenient.

No one caused nothing to explode for no reason and made everything for no purpose. All life on Earth can be traced back to rain falling on rocks and mixing together in swampy pools that where struck by lightning. The universe and absolutely everything in it exists due to random chance, a mere accident, and we humans are nothing but glorified animals that are the result of an unintelligent, purposeless, undesigned mix of chemicals.

These childish explanations of the Big Bang and evolution don't do the theories justice. Also, if the evidence indicates that something happened then we should believe it, even if it doesn't fit with what we want to be true. There is absolutely no alternative scientific theory to evolution (intelligent design and creationism aren't science), so unless the evidence changes to an almost impossible degree, evolution is the theory we should accept.

Whatever evidence there is to back up the reliability of the Bible or creation science/intelligent design is faulty. This is not so on its own merits but because it is to be rejected a priori since it would conflict with a materialistic world view.

Science never rejects anything a priori. So called "creation science" and ID (neither of which are science) have clearly shown to be untrue through observation, Christians just can't accept that fact.

Regardless of what they believed and how they lived, every person who has ever lived will be annihilated at death.

Its true. Get over it.

There are no absolutes, except the absolute truth that there is no absolute truth, no God, no supernatural, etc., etc.

There are no absolutes except in logic and mathematics. So there are no absolutes relating to the real world. We can state this absolutely because that conclusion comes from logic.

Atheism is the only belief system that holds the truth, everyone else is wrong.

The statement above is correct to the extent that atheists tend to use scientific method which is the best way we have ever found of establishing the truth, but it is incorrect if it insinuates that atheists think everything they believe is absolutely true and everyone else is wrong. In fact, religion is a belief system which is more likely to rely on dogma and less likely to be amenable to change when new evidence is discovered.

Morals are relative or situational, except that which the individual atheist has concocted as a moral standard (since atheism is amoral they must borrow moral concepts from theistic world views).

Morality is often subjective but there are many moral ideas which relate back to the fact that humans are a social species. Religion tries to claim they "own" many morals but they usually originate earlier than the religion itself, so its often the religion which has done the borrowing.

Since life has no ultimate God given meaning it consists of whatever temporary pleasure may be found therein.

The word pleasure is probably not quite the right one here, but atheists generally believe we should do the right thing during our real life. What the "right thing" is will depend on the person, but social pressure, and similarities in human emotion and thought mean there is a certain amount of consistency. Pretending that there is a greater meaning to life when none really exists is just self-delusion.

There is no authority higher than the individual; the individual is qualified to judge all things by his own wit.

Humans live in social groups: companies and organisations, cities, countries, and the world as a whole. The greater group generally applies rules to its members.

There is no ultimate justice; there are only the rulings of temporal courts.

Again, the beliefs of the greater society can create "ultimate justice". Having a church create them and pretend they came from god is just dishonest.

Proof for the non-existence of God is not to be offered and yet we may believe that God does not exist.

Its difficult to prove a negative and unnecessary. Before something can be accepted it should be proved. Just show us the evidence and then we'll believe in god. All we want to do is apply the same standard of proof to religion as we do to everything else.

Conclusion

These attacks on atheism don't stand up to serious scrutiny. Most attacks of this type either deliberately, or through ignorance, use a straw man argument by accusing atheists of being something they are not (or at least the vast majority are not). The fact is that atheism is quite consistent, logical, and moral, contrary to the beliefs of many theists.


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