Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Reasons for Disbelief

Over at Secular News Daily there is an article by Gordon Douglas called "Reasons for disbelief: The top ten reasons I am an atheist." I always find those sorts of discussions or essays interesting, so I thought I'd comment on his reasons and see if they correlated with my own.

Other Religions Exist. That one's not convincing. You can believe your own religion is the only true one. That idea had little influence on my atheism.

Faith is Rewarded to the Same Degree as Disbelief. True, but not something I really thought about until after I had already lost faith.

God Can't Be Proven. I would put that instead as, there is no convincing evidence of God/gods. This is obviously a key influence on most atheists being atheists.

The God of the Bible Can be Disproved. Not true. Even though the God of the Bible appears purely fictional as Douglas notes, it is theoretically possible that he could exist.

Religion is, By Nature, Deluding. Absolutely. But again, that's something you see much more clearly after you leave it.

Science is Obviously Better. Except that there are plenty of people who seem to have no problem being scientists, or pro-science while still being religious. This had no real impact on me becoming an atheist.

The Origins of All Religions are Clear. Yes. Once you really start thinking about it and questioning it, the idea that religion is just man-made starts to creep in -- unless you beat it back with irrational faith.

There's No Difference. Between religion and a so-called "relationship with God." Yes, this false assertion grated on my nerves even when I was a child. Why was it that my nominally religious friends saw our family as very religious, yet I was told we weren't following a religion, and that "true" Christianity wasn't about being religious?

Religion is Destructive. This was never a reason for me, and I think it can be overstated. Religion also has positive effects.

Christians Don't Really Get Persecuted. This isn't as stupid as it appears, just a bad summary line. What he means is that Christians in America are not persecuted as some claim to be. That's true, but had nothing to do with me becoming an atheist.

Evil Exist in the World. Yes, the problem of evil has probably made many atheists, along with all related questions regarding the supposed nature of God. From a philosophical standpoint, I'd put that whole category as the number one reason I rejected Christianity. Outright atheism came later though.


  1. The reasons why people become atheists are fairly consistent, but it's their personal stories that really interest me.

  2. Yes, I find those stories very interesting too.

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  4. It has for a long time been my belief that the so-called "problem of evil" is a problem for atheism, not religion. To make the claim that there is a "problem of evil" is to make two critical admissions: there is such a thing as objective evil, and we are the sort of beings that should strive to avoid it. These are highly non-empirical claims that presuppose a transcendental, normative layer of reality that can only be explained by something like God.

  5. Meh - the problem of evil is not a problem for theists as soon as they agree that God is evil. Look at His record. It speaks for itself.

    Ultmately, atheism boils down to the rejection of the God hypothesis. The extraordinary claims of theists are not supported with extraordinary evidence.

  6. "It has for a long time been my belief that the so-called "problem of evil" is a problem for atheism, not religion. "

    It's not a problem for religion since religion ultimately relies on faith over reason.

    "To make the claim that there is a "problem of evil" is to make two critical admissions"

    That's a gross oversimplification of what all the problem of evil entails. See here for example.

  7. A major factor for me becoming an atheist was belief in the supernatural. Once I realized everything can be explained by natural means (including human perception of events like bodily resurrection), what's the point of believing in a supernatural god?

  8. Yes, that influenced me as well.

  9. I don't personally understand how someone can believe in evil, but not in its opposite. I personally think that evil existing is proof of some sort of higher power, be it a "god" or not, but something higher than ourselves.