Where is the logic in being an atheist?

It seems to me that many atheists are atheists because they don’t find religion to be logical. I can understand that point of view. If I weren’t already a Mormon I’d probably think it was downright crazy too. But it seems to me that as illogical as belief in God may seem, it actually is more illogical to not believe in God. My logic is that religion is, if nothing else, like an insurance policy. The thing is that while perhaps one can’t prove there is a God, it’s also not possible to prove there isn’t a God (please feel free to take me to task if you already disagree with that point, because I’d like to understand your point of view). If you don’t know whether there is a God or not, it seems that it would be best to err on the side of assuming there is a God. If you act as though there is a God, but it turns out there isn’t, then no harm done, right? I mean, maybe you miss out on some partying, perhaps you waste a little time, but hey, you’re going to be dead in the ground so it’s not like you’re going to have any regrets. However, if there is a God, at least you can say “Hey, I could have been partying it up but instead I was trying to keep the commandments, just in case. Shouldn’t that count for something?”

Comments

  1. Is this Pascal's Wager a honest question? Or something to reassure yourself?

    The simplest response is that satistically, atheists have a much better "insurance policy" then believers. There are untold thousands of [g]ods. Many, if not most, of them condemn worshipping other gods but do not condemn non-worship. Therefore, by choosing one [g]od, believers bet it all or nothing with these [g]ods. Whereas, atheists never receive condemnation by them. So already the atheist has better odds. Moreover, many [g]ods, including the Mormon [g]od does not condemn ignorance. Lastly, many [g]ods, including yours, condemn false worship for reward, and assuming he/she is real and can read internal thoughts and motivations, an honest atheist is held in higher regard than a dishonest follower. Of course not all [g]ods are benevolent or loving so both the believer and atheist would be on equal footing.

    Are you concerned that mini-pink unicorns will consume and torment your soul when you die because you didn't follow the commandments of the FSM?

  2. Out of curiosity, why the brackets on the word "god" everywhere?

    I guess there is some logic in what you're saying, although it depends on what you believe God, or gods, would be like if there were one or more of them (from an atheist point of view). That is, for your logic to work, you must make the following assumptions:

    1. God condemns people who don't belong to the right religion.
    2. The only two options are being a follower (honest or not) or an atheist.

    But what if God doesn't care about your religion so much as he cares about whether or not you're searching for the truth? Shouldn't you at least be trying to find out if there is a true religion, vs. writing all of it off and not even bothering to try? (for the sake of this discussion I'm defining an atheist as someone who firmly believes there is no God or superior being and isn't trying to find out if there is one) After all, if there is a God, then there may be a way to find out if he exists, but there is no way I've heard of to definitively prove there is no God.

  3. I bracketed god out of respect for you and to avoid confusion. God as a proper noun usually indicates the Judeo-Christian god. Some people are greatly disturbed by even spelling God and end up dropping the "o."

    "1. God condemns people who don’t belong to the right religion."

    Did you read my entire reply? #1 is your assumption you re-word and say is mine, which is the childish notion of Pascal's Wager.

    "2. The only two options are being a follower (honest or not) or an atheist."

    I'm not sure that there are only two options, in fact you list three. You are the one asserting that it's safer to believe in god just in case. I merely stated that choosing one god out of thousands does not improve your odds in the afterlife lottery, in fact, it tends to weaken your odds. It's up to you to say why your god gives you the better odds or which god would give you better odds and why.

    "But what if God doesn’t care about your religion so much as he cares about whether or not you’re searching for the truth?"

    In this scenerio, the atheist is in the same situation as the believer, so a believer does not have better odds.

    "Shouldn’t you at least be trying to find out if there is a true religion, vs. writing all of it off and not even bothering to try?"

    Is your hubris deliberate or unconcious? So without knowing anything about me you assert that I am lazy and indifferent? As one good turn……shouldn't you at least be trying to find out there is no true religion vs. writing all of it off and sticking with what you got?

    "for the sake of this discussion I’m defining an atheist as someone who firmly believes there is no God or superior being and isn’t trying to find out if there is one"

    Though the term is grossly overused online, you've defined a strawman arguement perfectly. As an atheist, I cannot say there is no God as you point out I cannot prove a negative. However, I can say, for me, there is no convincing evidence for an anthropomorphic diety, but I am as a skeptic constantly willing to address new data and information and update the conclusion based on that new evidence.

  4. Well said, James.

    I can't tell you how many times I'm challenged with Pascal's wager. It's a poor argument that has been refuted countless times. Though I do agree that looking at Pascal's wager critically will show the atheist view to be more logical, it is not why I feel it is more logical to be an atheist.

    There simply isn't any good evidence to believe in any god. There has never been a convincing philosophical claim concerning the existence of god that isn't easily refuted.

    (I'm going to pick on the Christians for now, as that's what Mormons are) Part of the evidence indicating that it is needed to be looked at quite critically is that the Christian god started as a tribal god. In a stone age group of illiterate persons who didn't have the knowledge of science, God revealed himself. He didn't reveal himself to the Chinese, who had a concept of science, who could read and write, and who were simply more civilized by our current standards. He revealed himself to the uneducated and superstitious.

    Since that time, this unchanging god has changed quite dramatically. Starting out vengeful, war mongering, violent, jealous, sacrificial, etc, he has changed to be a "loving", "peaceful", (but very hypocritical) god. Most of this change happened during the time of Christ. Christ, whom we have no actual credible evidence for outside of the bible, preached a doctrine about following him.

    I find it hard to believe that someone was born from a virgin woman. I find it hard to believe that someone was killed, or at least appeared to be so, and then was raised from the dead. However, I'm willing to grant it all. All the stories (though many are clearly fabricated), and it still wouldn't actually prove that his teachings were moral. The things he said and preached must have, because if you actually read and take all that is said that he said to be something that this man actually said, been a mad man, a wicked man, or a man who was commanded by divine power to warn the world that it was immediately coming to an end. "Take no thought for the morrow." No investment, no family, no striving for truth at all costs… just follow me. Just trust me. Don't investigate or be critical about what I have to say. Just follow me. And this only scratches the surface of the immorality of the Christian faith. it's an atrocious immoral system designed to control people. To scare them into trusting.

    It may be a comfortable immoral. An immorality that gives people condolence, but it is immoral non-the-less. Vicarious redemption. You are saved by the punishment of another. Follow Christ and it's like you never did wrong. You are clean. What a barbaric thing to teach children. That you can do something and then, by the suffering of someone else, it can be said that you never did that. It takes away personal responsibility. It is a scape-goat (scape goating has biblical beginnings). Also, you are required to love someone that you must also fear. You can even be convicted of thought-crime. This is the predication of totalitarianism. The wish to be a slave.

    Of course, the view of the Christian isn't this, right? It's hard to see the forest through the trees, sometimes. It is a mentality that sneaks up on you. I don't think people are dumb or unintelligent for falling for this trap, as I did too. It's easy to get sucked into it. If you are in need of divine intervention, some kind of blessing or simply reassurance that someone is there, and if you pray and receive no answer, what is the advice? Humble yourself. Give more of yourself to the church. Become lower. Feel deeper godly sorrow for your sins, which are numerous. If then your prayers are not answered? Become even more lowly. God is testing you. He wants to make sure you REALLY gave yourself completely over to him. If you STILL receive not an answer for your (let us assume unselfish or even goodly) prayer, then it's because you just need to wait. God MUST have a plan for you. You must continue to lower yourself and lower yourself and learn to hate yourself, as you are a sinner, and are not worthy to be in the presence of God. Not until you can convince yourself that you do feel some kind of spirit (even if you are confusing the spirit with chemically explainable emotion or "burning in the bosom") will you feel loved by this god who loves you unconditionally, but will also allow you to be damned. The LDS degrees of glory are no different. There is a separation from God in the lower kingdoms. This is what is meant when I say damned. A halting of progression. A separation from God.

    This God, who loves you unconditionally, but will have you damned for not obeying him, does this because he is perfectly just, right? But he is also perfectly merciful. (Two terms that are directly contradictory) Perfect justice cannot exist with perfect mercy. Mercy is a suspension of justice, and likewise justice a complete lack of mercy.

    Furthermore, this God, who is all powerful, can't seem to keep his story straight among all the different sects that preach almost the same thing. He can't even seem to coincide with scientific discovery. His words, which should be infallible and incorruptible by the weak short comings of men, are never the less confusing, and contradictory. Both science and the scriptures can't be right in their entirety, so one must be wrong.

    One of two things must be happening. Either God exists and has set up the universe in such a way that it LOOKS like science would have contradictory evidence (such as fossil records, physics, and archeological evidence) that do not match up with His word, or God simply isn't there (at least in the Christian sense).

    If the first is true, then I would want nothing to do with such a god. A god that tricks those that have the education to think critically about his word. A god that caters to the sheep of men and the gullible.

    A good example of such a god is the story of Abraham. God commanded him to kill his son. One more time for dramatic effect… God commanded him to kill his son. What's worse? Abraham listens. He goes through with it. God stops him before he finalizes the act, but what kind of test is this?

    If I were to test my children concerning their obedience and moral standing I'd ask them to do something good. Or, I'd ask them to do something bad and the test would be for them to say no. "The God I worship would not ask me to do such a thing, for that is barbaric. You must be a devil, and I will not fall for your trick." would've been a much better response from Abraham. This story teaches that you should trust god, even if he asks you to do something horrible. What a stone age barbaric thing to teach people. That god is so good that even if he asks you to do something evil, you should do it anyway.

    No no no. I will not be a slave to such a tyrannical leader. I am very glad that the evidence and logical arguments for there not being a god are as conclusive as they are. I'd be going to hell if it god was real. I would not serve under such a poor example of a hypocritical, racist, bigoted, jealous being that claims to be all powerful, but can't seem to find a way to convince people that actually wish to know whether or not their beliefs are true.

    "I do not feel obligated to believe in a god that has blessed me with logic, reason, and intellect, then asks me to forgo them for the promise of satisfying my soul." -Galileo

    I will believe in god when he makes more consistent and accurate predictions than we can using science. Until then, I'll trust science. Under the circumstances of the lack of evidence for god and the overwhelming evidence for the lack of a god, it is more logical and reasonable to be an atheist.

  5. @James, thanks for the responses. You've actually convinced me of the logic of your position.

    I salute you James, for your comment "As an atheist, I cannot say there is no God as you point out I cannot prove a negative. However, I can say, for me, there is no convincing evidence for an anthropomorphic diety, but I am as a skeptic constantly willing to address new data and information and update the conclusion based on that new evidence." That is logical, which I cannot say for others who post on this website, insisting that there is no God, or in other words claiming to have proof of a negative, but then excusing themselves from providing any proof of that which they claim.

  6. Logic is not just reason. It is a formal system, related to mathematics, whereby a premise can be tested by a set of related conditions for a binary outcome of ‘true’ or ‘false’. Thus, the logic of an atheist can be constructed upon a premise and a set of conditions. For example, it could be as simple as this: An atheist hears a person say “I know there is a God because I see His miracles” or “I know there is a God because He answers my prayers.” The premise of these statements is “There is a God” and the conditions are “If I see miracles” and “If my prayers are answered.” The logician then looks for said miracles and said answers to prayers. If the miracles are seen and prayers answered, God is. If not, God is not. That’s a simplified explanation of how it could be logical for an atheist, just as it could be for a believer.

    I am a believer, and I am frankly sick of hearing believers and atheists accuse each other of being stupid and illogical. As a believer, I feel no threat from an atheist, nor am I exempt from treating an atheist with the same degree of care, dignity and humanity that I owe to any other person. Just because my conditions are answered differently than those of the atheist doesn’t make either of us less logical. The truth is, we are all pathetically stupid and so, we should be patient with each other.

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