At university those of different cultures, religions, sexualities, races and political stances are free to discuss, debate and celebrate what makes them unique.
At university those of different cultures, religions, sexualities, races and political stances are free to discuss, debate and celebrate what makes them unique. However, after three years at university I realised that one subject is always avoided—religion.
As someone who treats the philosophy of religion as an academic subject that can be debated the same as politics or history, I increasingly find it awkward talking about the subject because of others judging the subject as taboo. I listen to debates on the radio between atheists and Christians and have the utmost respect for Christians that come out with some really quite good arguments. It is important to keep discussing it, rather than avoiding the conversation, as understanding breeds tolerance. It would subdue some frustrated atheists who only seem to be able to talk amongst themselves.
Taboo subject to be openly debated
However, there are those that rise to the challenge. I have engaged in enough debates now to have collated a list of my top ten most hated arguments/statements posed to me as an atheist. Funnily enough, these don’t include ‘you’re going to burn in hell’ style expressions, as most of the people I have talked to are not radical theists, but educated and open-minded individuals. They do however have a number of arguments that get under my skin. Many do not just come from theists, but agnostics too.
‘Well you can’t DISPROVE God!’
I don’t need to. People making a positive claim have the burden of proof; this means that they voluntarily assume an obligation to support their claim. Besides, if you can’t disprove God, that does not mean there is an equal chance of God existing or not existing. The probability of him existing is as strong as the probability of unicorns or vampires existing.
‘You behave like a religious person with your atheism.’
Said by agnostics to shut atheists up, this statement is a way of inflating their own egos by telling themselves how tolerant and humble they are, without having to put forward an opinion of value themselves. There is a difference between passion for the truth, and the fundamentalism of religion. An atheist, given the PROOF of something, would change his or her outlook depending on that evidence, unlike the religious.
‘Calling Atheism a religion is like calling bald a hair colour.’ – Don Hirschberg. ‘You should be tolerant of other people’s beliefs.’ At no point do atheists say people don’t have a right to believe what they want. However an atheist has as much right to express their disbelief of religion as a religious person has celebrating theirs. Just because one is tolerant of a religion doesn’t mean they have to respect that idea. And that’s exactly what religions are… ideas.
‘We must respect the other fellow’s religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart.’ -H. L. Mencken
‘Not all Christians hate homosexuals!’
Leviticus 18:22: ‘You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.’ I’m torn between whether I have more respect for radical Christians who take the Bible literally over those who pick and choose what they think is right in what is called ‘cafeteria Christianity’. If the Bible is not taken as gospel it’s just another work of literature. Christians are in a lose-lose situation when it comes to a tossup between political correctness and defending their religion.
‘If religion helps me be a good person, how can it be bad?’
Religion is about the truth of how we began, and why we’re here. I could not believe in something as complex and SURE as these all-knowing religions, without something more than it making me a ‘good person’. Those that cherry-pick some morals and not others from the Bible do not need it, as those people had desired morals regardless of the holy book. So what good is it doing, other than persuading a select few to behave immorally, based on its teachings, whilst using religion as an excuse?
‘Why don’t you TRY praying?’
Atheists do not believe in a God, and therefore know that praying does not work for them. Theists feel good when they pray because they can unleash all their innermost worries, hopes and dreams onto someone who has the power to change their life. As atheists don’t believe anyone is listening nor has any power, they may as well just talk to a real person who can actually respond. Click here to see why atheists have no need to pray.
‘I will pray for you.’
This is one of the most condescending statements; I feel like my principles have been compromised through someone else. If a theist sees that I need help, then announcing that they will pray for me rather than doing anything substantive and useful merely reinforces to me the fact that they aren’t interested in doing anything that could genuinely help me. And if it is just as a way of well-wishing, then just wish me well!
‘You have to believe in something!’
I regard logic too highly to fake a belief and there is no point wasting time on a religion that has no truth value. Most atheists believe in their friends, families, the good of mankind and most importantly, themselves, and need no more than that to make their lives whole. If God punishes me for that, then I wouldn’t want to be in heaven anyway.
‘You can’t see God, that’s the point in faith.’
This statement speaks for itself. Faith will always be blind faith and religious faith clearly does not depend on rational justification. There is an expectation in life that every other prejudice must be defended. Except religion, as it’s far too superior to have to be questioned…
‘Philosophy is questions that may never be answered. Religion is answers that may never be questioned.’ – Anonymous
‘God is looking out for me.’
All this statement does is embarrassingly reveal a theist’s self-absorption and grandiosity. Revealing that they think God helped them get the new car they wanted, or the job they desired, just lets everyone else know that they think God has chosen to look out for THEM, over the starving, terminally ill and poor. What makes them think they are so special?