As acknowledged from numerous free thinkers, atheism is one of the most misunderstood terms in society today. Of course, when one admits that they are an atheist, it is often the case that some kind of blasphemy has been spoken. “If you’re an atheist, what do you believe in?”, we so often hear. In this brief summary I wish to outline several distinctive features that fall under the atheistic perspective, if at least one wishes to properly be designated as an “atheist.” To start, one of the most important of these features would be:
Christians say many things, so hence many other Christians say those things. This is to provide a clear understanding in conversation when we are debating with Christians. If they bring up the moral argument? This is an easy cliché, and it is too often that we have to remind Christians that atheists can live perfectly moral lives apart from belief in God.
If they bring this philosophical nonsense regarding ontology and moral law, then remind them of the evolutionary upbringings of morality (just say “read Frans de Waal’s book on the subject” to sound intelligent if they call you out on it). Furthermore, some Christians believe in pretty absurd things, so be sure to express your finest rebuttals to any other Christian you come into dialogue with to let them know that you’ve thought about these things. Faith healing, anti-reason, hating homosexuals and so forth are all good examples of this.
2. Use Skepticism as a Methodology.
As David G. McAfee nicely put it, we should use skepticism and rational thinking to all claims and not just religious ones. This point is crucial. Critical thinking is a huge problem in America, and so atheism has the tools necessary for the general public to consider applying skepticism to all areas of their life – whether be firmly held beliefs or the average conversation with a friend or co-worker. Furthermore, use phrases like “Do you have evidence to support that?” and be ambiguous with what you mean by ‘evidence’. The reason for this is that the standards you set for them to convince you are just where you want them to be. This is perfect.
3. Use “Religion” and “Christianity” Interchangeably.
While Christianity is a religion, it should be known that when we say “religion doesn’t contribute to the global good” (as some argue) we particularly mean Christianity. When we say religion doesn’t cultivate critical thinking but hinders it, we also mean Christianity. Some of us come from religious backgrounds, and so it is important for us deconverts to strike a chord of bitterness towards all religions when we really mean the religions we either (1) came from ourselves or (2) have the most antithesis with. Although this issue may have to do with prior moral commitments we have to opposing religion, we should always remember point #2.
4. Acknowledge that Religion Hinders Critical Thought.
Christians want to salvage their faith by stamping it as reasonable by offering lame and often clever arguments for their specific Deity. The fact is, Christianity nor the faith that drives it is reasonable. All questions stop once conversion comes along and faith partakes in all kinds of magical superstitions. The world is an open and free place once you acknowledge the autonomy of thought; that science can discover truth at a deeper level more than religion ever could, and this truth is fundamentally human. Religion deprives you of this humanity.
Christians will bring up this distinction between faith and reason, various philosophers and scientists who were believers and so on, but really it diverts from the crucial issue – qualifications and particular examples don’t rebut the fact that religion negates critical thought. Sure we could discuss Alister McGrath, but what about Alexander Jones? Sure there’s John Polkinghorne, but what about Ken Ham, who says the earth isn’t billions of years old?
5. Debunk Theistic Arguments with Ease.
This is really the most easily learned of the points. The supposed Cosmological Argument? We all know that William Lane Craig is a fraud and clearly ignores the fact of quantum mechanics – need I say more? Virtual particles come in and out of being all the time, and there is no cause of their existence. Therefore, not everything that begins to exist has a cause (and therefore the arguments dies!) What about this troubling ‘moral argument’? I already dealt with it in the first point, but it’s worth repeating because so many atheists know that the argument fails and we all use the same objection numerous times.
God is the cause of morality? OK, I am living a perfectly moral life and so are millions of other atheists around the world, so therefore God is not the cause of why I am moral. Plus, the Old Testament shows us a God who is far from moral, so I suggest the Christian stops there before he keeps digging downward. What about the design argument? Evolution. There really is no need to repeat it. Nor define it.
That’s pretty much all the arguments, except for a couple smaller, ineffective ones like Pascal’s Wager or even the ontological argument (which is a joke). For one, you don’t even need to read Pascal’s Penseés to criticize the argument, just refer to #2 and use reason against them (something the argument nor the believer uses). With the ontological argument, just move on.
Well that settles it! With these simple and easy to follow tips you’ll be on the road to free thought in no time. It’s troubling at first to live the life of autonomous thought (as most deconverts have a trouble getting used to), but some practice will do you good. The fundamental criterion is this: reason, reason, and more reason. You really can’t get enough of it, and neither can the people who see you debate believers. It gets the idea across even if you aren’t vocal about your perspective. But of course, be very, very vocal.