Are atheists JUST anti-God?

Are atheists non-believers towards ALL religions? ie are they anti-'all religions’ (not just Christianity). Is there a 'belief’ or, at least, a philosophy which an atheist may be more inclined to be impressed towards to take up as a way of life? Such as, for example, a peaceful Buddist philosophy?
Are ALL beliefs concerning a higher being and/or a God in ANY religion looked upon as something ridiculous? And does an atheist mind that people do have a belief system?

Posted: October 2nd 2008


There’s an old saying in atheism that theists are atheists concerning all gods except the one that they believe in.

I do think that pretty much by definition, atheists don’t believe in the existence of any gods.

As for philosophy, atheists have a variety of beliefs. Many are humanist, some hold other beliefs, some have no belief that is easily categorized.

I think that all theistic beliefs are unjustified. I guess I might agree with “ridiculous”, but I wouldn’t generally use that.

Do I mind that people have such beliefs? Well, I mind them only to the extent that such beliefs have an impact on my life.

Which is considerable in the US, so, yes, I mind quite a bit.

Posted: October 5th 2008

See all questions answered by Eric_PK

flagellant www

You start from the wrong position; atheists aren’t 'anti-God’ in the way that you suggest, assuming totally irrationally that there is a 'God’.

My path towards atheism began when I recognised the vast variety of 'Gods’ that people have believed in over the millennia. Why shouldn’t we believe in Thor, Odin, Ra, Zeus and all the other pre-biblical concoctions? Why shouldn’t Yahweh, Jesus, and come to think of it, L. Ron Hubbard’s brands of religion, all be taken with the same large dose of salt?

I had a school colleague who used to ask people if they were members of 'the true faith’. The question carries its own greater question: 'What is the true faith?’ Given that any one of many could be right, isn’t the likelihood much greater that they are all wrong?

You mention Buddhism as being a peaceful philosophy. Isn’t there something particularly nasty about its concept of being reborn? Here’s an example from Julia Sweeney, mentioned in Dawkins’s The God Delusion:

I went to Thailand and happened to visit a woman who was taking care of a terribly deformed boy. I said to his caretaker. 'It’s so good of you to be taking care of this poor boy.’ 'Don’t say 'poor boy’; he must have done something terrible in a past life to be born this way.’
Yes, religions are ridiculous and, with very few exceptions, actually nasty. The 'God’ of the Bible is vindictive, jealous and inconsistent. Even the New Testament message promulgates the ridiculous concepts of heaven and hell.

As a 'soft’ atheist, I cannot say with total certainty that there is no god. However, as we as a species learn more about the Universe, it seems increasingly unlikely that we will find evidence of God. Believers in a divinity are not really believers at all: they are 'hopers’; they hope that there is a god. But they have far less evidence for god’s existence than atheists’ contraindications.

I don’t actually mind that people have silly ideas; I am concerned, though, that they are silly enough to have them. I like to help others to ditch their conceptual comfort blankets. It took me a while but getting a grip on reality is so much better than any of the 'God did it’ explanations.

Posted: October 4th 2008

See all questions answered by flagellant

brian thomson www

Are ALL beliefs concerning a higher being and/or a God in ANY religion looked upon as something ridiculous?

Short answer: yes. Longer answer: responses to other questions here go into more detail about how individual atheists view Believers. There is no consensus about this among atheists, and I think personal experiences come in to it, e.g. if family members are religious.

Anecdote: a couple of years ago, I gave some IT training courses in Bangalore. One of the students left the course two days early to go to a Hindu festival and meet a Guru. As he described it to the class, this involved about 24 hours each way in a crowded bus, travelling halfway across India, for a day at a temple. I thought he was ridiculous, but didn’t say anything except “Wow!”. His fellow students, some of them Hindu too, had fewer qualms about telling him he was ridiculous. It didn’t stop him, naturally.

And does an atheist mind that people do have a belief system?”

By “belief system” I’ll assume you mean a Theistic belief system, not a general world view or philosophy, since your question is aimed at those of us who don’t have one of those. I think that I do have a “belief system” in the wider sense, which I try to base on rational principles. It’s a work in progress, and I do not claim to be 100% successful.

Personally, I don’t “mind” when others have a Theistic belief system, in the same way I don’t mind if people smoke: they’re free to do as they wish, but I don’t want any of it on me. It’s not the belief system alone, it’s what they do with it, in the public arena, that offends.

Posted: October 4th 2008

See all questions answered by brian thomson

SmartLX www

If one does not believe in Christianity but does believe in, say, Hinduism, one is not an atheist. One is a Hindu.

An atheist is free to adopt the moral or ethical systems of any religion, including Buddhism and Christianity. The only given thing is that an atheist rejects any of the supernatural connotations of the religions, like God, karma or reincarnation. Surely you don’t imagine that you have to believe in God to think that the commandment against killing is a good idea.

Beliefs concerning higher beings needn’t sound ridiculous, but an atheist thinks they are wrong. A concept can sound sensible and yet have no basis in reality.

Atheists’ attitudes towards believers vary widely. Some want everyone to shed their god beliefs. Some think certain people need them. I’m in the first group.

Posted: October 3rd 2008

See all questions answered by SmartLX


Is your atheism a problem in your religious family or school?
Talk about it at the atheist nexus forum