Why Atheists Are NOT Wasting Their Time

Why Atheists Are NOT Wasting Their Time

By Thomas Keane

AKA DoubtingThomas

 ***NOTE: This article was originally published by the people at www.PathofReason.com and is reprinted here with their permission.

One of the most common criticisms Atheists are confronted with is the question of why we waste so much time discussing religion, god worship, the bible, etc.? Why do we focus so much time on something we don’t believe in? Don’t we have anything better to do with our time? The reason why these questions are always so frustrating has less to do with how often we are confronted with them and more to do with how obvious the answers should be. When your child tells you they believe there is a monster in their closet or under their bed, do you ignore them or tell them the truth? If she told you that the reason she believed there was a monster under her bed was because she had read a story that told her about these monsters, wouldn’t you be curious to read this story in order to better understand how your child came to her erroneous conclusion? Now what if your daughter is 21 and has a 3 year old daughter of her own. Her boyfriend, the father of her child, is involved with a group that believes their founder (Avalon) is the second coming of Christ and is in direct communication with God. If you discovered that your daughter had also become a follower of Avalon and was teaching/raising your 3yo granddaughter to believe in the same things, would you be wasting your time if you decided to speak up and express your belief that Avalon was a fraud and even offer proof to support your opinion?

What if your daughter refused to listen and instead ran away with her boyfriend, your granddaughter and Avalon to an isolated compound somewhere and you didn’t see them again for another fifteen years? What do you think the likelihood is, that once you are finally allowed to see your, now 18yo, granddaughter, that anything you say will convince her that what she has been raised to believe isn’t true? The odds are that your words would fall on deaf ears; however, that doesn’t make your efforts meaningless. Nor does it mean you should give up. The more you learn about this cult that swallowed up your daughter and granddaughter the greater your ability will be to address the issues you have with it. After all, even the strongest barrier of misinformation can’t withstand a constant barrage of truth.

There is a reason why the majority of god worshipers are devoted to the same god that the people who raised them worshiped. It isn’t because their god is any more legitimate than any of the other 2,000+ gods mankind has invented over the years. It is simply because once myth has been established as fact in a child’s innocent, naïve mind, it is very difficult, even as an adult, for that person to shake that belief. Faith is not a synonym for fact, it is a synonym for hope and it is the definition of foolishness to devote one’s every life decision around the hope that a thing is true.

Once upon a time, people believed that the earth was the center of the universe and everything (including the sun) revolved around it. Once upon a time people believed that tossing a virgin into a volcano or carving out their still beating hearts was the only way to appease their god(s). Once upon a time people believed Zeus’ wrath resulted in thunder and lightning and Poseidon’s resulted in tidal waves. Once upon a time people believed that you could take ‘it’ with you and as a result they built elaborate tombs and filled them with treasures and even servants so that in the afterlife they would continue to enjoy the lifestyle to which they were accustomed. Once upon a time people believed in a great many things that we now know to be erroneous.

If we discovered that there were people in the world who still believed in established myth, would we be wasting our time to confront them with evidence that reveals the fallacy of their beliefs? And when a Christian or Mormon missionary travels deep into the Amazonian jungles to tell the native people there that the gods they worship are false and that they should instead believe in this or that god, aren’t they doing the same thing that an Atheist does when they contradict Christian beliefs? The only difference here seems to be that an Atheist supports his beliefs with evidence while a believer relies only on hope, AKA – faith.

What could possibly be more admirable than knowing the truth of something and, when encountering someone who only knows the lie, taking the time to share with them what you have learned. How could this ever be considered a waste of time? How many people ‘wasted their time’ trying to talk reason with a follower of Jim Jones (900 dead, 300 of whom were children). How many people ‘wasted their time’ pleading with family and/or friends who were members of the Heaven’s Gate cult? How many of the 80+ followers of David Koresh, 21 of whom were children, who died in the Waco, Texas catastrophe might have been spared if more people had ‘wasted their time’? If an Atheist had encountered a member of any of these groups you can bet that they would have spoken up. Are we to believe that a Christian would have tucked their bible away and bit their tongue?

It is in all of our best interests that we resist the tendency to dismiss the opinion of another simply because it differs from our own. If someone is willing to take the time to challenge something you believe in, the least you can do is take the time to listen and consider. Christians like to act all mystified as to why Atheists spend so much time discussing something they don’t believe in but the fact that they never protest when an Atheist wastes his or her time playing Guitar Hero or watching an American Idol marathon reveals that what they are really expressing is anxiety, not confusion. No one likes to be confronted with the prospect that what they accept as truth could possibly be a lie. But such a revelation can only benefit us, individually and as a society.

If anything it is the religious who are wasting their time. Just consider how much further along we would be as a society, not to mention as a species, if it weren’t for religion. The endless struggle for religious supremacy has led to innumerable wars and countless lost lives. Consider the incomprehensible amount of literature that was hunted down, confiscated and/or destroyed by the church. How much knowledge have we lost because of the fears of the religious? How many of our greatest minds were persecuted and imprisoned because they dared to disagree with someone’s concept of one god or another? How many dreams, ideas and inventions were snuffed out by worshipers of gods? How many more men like Aristotle, Galileo, Voltaire and Socrates would we have if not for religion? Consider all the trials, the imprisonments, the banishments, the riots, the persecutions, the genocides, the repression, the bigotry, the sexism, the mutilation and the division, so much division. Has anything in history ever divided one man from another more than religion? But it’s the Atheist who is wasting his time? Could anything be more laughable? Just imagine where we would be now as a people if we had focused on peace, coexisting, civilization, progress and philosophy instead of saving souls and deciding whose god was better than another’s. No one has wasted more of their own time, and worse, humanity’s time than the religious.

If the human race has any hope for a bright future it certainly doesn’t rest with the religious or whatever god they may worship. Their god will not create peace on earth. Your god will not protect our children from the evils of the world. His god will not reward us with eternal life. Her god will not assure our armies of success in battle. We can only rely on ourselves and on each other. There simply is no one else. And it’s not a waste of time to say so.

 

Thomas Keane (DoubtingThomas)

 

Please visit my main page (https://doubtingthomas426.wordpress.com/) to gain a better understanding of where I am coming from. There you will find all my observations regarding religion and the bible categorized on the Right hand side of the page. Please feel free to read through them and leave a comment or two if you like.

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12 Responses to “Why Atheists Are NOT Wasting Their Time”

  1. lucienlachance Says:

    What makes me angry about both Christianity and Atheism is the idea of “changing” or converting people. Everyone focuses so much time and energy trying to convince others that their point of view is the “right” choice. It’s as though people are scared of being alone in believing their philosophies.

    People like answers, plain and simple. There are obviously a lot of people, and consequently, a lot of different answers. The main problem however, is NOT the answers or their logic. It’s the fact that people believe themselves, without a doubt, to be right. That’s the true problem with any sort of religious dogma. The inability to accept that your idea might be incorrect, or that other people don’t believe in it alongside you. The best of every world is to accept—regardless of what you believe—that you may not be “right”, and accept other viewpoints as legitimate to the person who believes in them.

    One thing in particular about Atheists that makes me laugh is the idea that all people could live without religion. In this article in particular I see only the negatives of religion. Perhaps you talked of this somewhere else, if so, I apologize for wasting your time with the following paragraph:

    Although I have long been Christianity’s biggest critic (surprise, surprise…), there is something about it that I’ve noticed. Religion is nearly inherent. No matter where you go, you find it in some form or another. There are people in the world who NEED the backing of their religion. They need to believe that there is always someone there watching over them, protecting them, listening to their prayers, etc. They need the supposed “unconditional” love. They have to hope that there is an afterlife, because the idea of never living again is the most frightening thing possible to them. The fact that they’ll never see family members or friends ever again…is something they couldn’t live with.

    Religion serves as a pacifier in some respects. And for that, I thank it. I’m grateful that religion calms people and gives them something to believe, because I know there are plenty of people out there who would literally go crazy if they didn’t have something to fall back on when the world turns on them. They need its comfort. Psychologically, Atheism is obviously not the answer for a lot of people. Maybe I think it’s all ridiculous and pointless believing someone watches over you, but if it helps, then why not?

    I completely understand that it’s easier to say to a kid, “Fluffy’s going to heaven”, rather then “Fluffy’s dead and you’re never going to see him again”. I may not agree, but I understand WHY it is done.

    On the other hand I agree that religion is a destructive thing. I hate it for that. But I also know that it is an inescapable thing. And yes, there are most certainly cases where people need intervention before they do something stupid (i.e. mass suicide). But for the rest of them…they don’t want to argue and they don’t want to hear what I have to say. Neither do the Atheists half the time. So what? It’s no problem to me. If someone comes to me and says “teach me”, then I will, or if they want to debate, sure, why not. Otherwise, I’m not going to try to force my ideas on anyone.

    Believe what you want, what makes the most sense to you. It’s the only way to be. Outside of that, nothing else matters.

    • I find your assertion that religion is inherent is misguided, It may appear that dispite huge geographical displacements, people have come to believe in a reigion, but that is a consequence of the lack of scientific method in the past, no society ever developed where they went straight to the enlightened stage of reason, god or gods were the only system by which the primatives could rationalise their world.As the article clearly states, once a system of belief is established it is handed down through generations, and in the nature of religious explanation, develops itself to blur over the credibility gaps .
      There is no such thing as “a catholic child”, “a bhudist child”etc, a child is born with the ability to learn,and will learn whatever the adults in its life steer it towards.
      Your assertion that people should believe what they want is unseasoned, There are a large number of religious fanatics who believe they have the right to kill people.Any religion can breed these fanatics, even christianity, it has often in the past, and even america many has areas where ,as an atheist, you keep your head down.There is only one religious stance which is actualy safe, realism, there are no atheist suicide bombers.

    • Turns out that there are human societies that have no religeon. So it can’t be that inherent.

      http://freethinker.co.uk/2008/11/08/how-an-amazonian-tribe-turned-a-missionary-into-an-atheist/

  2. Jesus Christ commanded his adherents to preach the Gospel to all the world. We’re just trying to do as He commanded.

    • Kurt Kish Says:

      who cares what jesus christ purportedly “commanded” anyone to do?
      anyone that thinks he/she was chosen by a magical being that created everything is obviously insane- don’t you get that?

    • He also commanded them to keep prayer a private thing. but some how that bit gets ignored.

  3. Enjoyed your post. It has been my experience that the reason one maintains an open mind is so that when one is exposed to the truth, one is willing to accept it. Do you have an open mind?

    • Kurt Kish Says:

      An open mind is ALWAYS open- therefor there is no “truth” that could ever make an open minded person decide he/she is going to close their mind to other or new evidence, What you think is “the truth” is man made religious texts written by either insane men or men that wanted to control portions of society.

  4. Really, I think the most pervasive part of the judeo-christian religion is the authority that’s about “holiness” rather than you know, actual knowledge. Or it’s about having a penis.
    But the anti-intellectualism that seeps into every nook and cranny of the US is completely from religion, and it’s completely why we’re falling behind compare to other countries in math, science, etc–It’s not seen as GOOD to love the periodic table, it’s not seen as ‘cool’ to like your teachers and discuss various subjects with them. I was ALWAYS the target of every bully in school because I loved learning, books, knowledge, science–People honestly HATED me for doing well on tests, and enjoying the learning process. I always got the feeling that they wanted to say “How dare you be intellectual! How dare you think about things! Your only focus on life should be GOD and THE BIBUL, and anything else is FROM SATAN!”
    And that is why I hated high school, and why I loathed church(well that and the sermon I was forced to be on the front row of the church at 12 for–about homosexuality and thinking about how attractive the same sex was, was the same thing as buttsex and that I would go to hell for it. Thanks religion.)
    But no, we’re not wasting our time–we’re attempting to be kind to them, breaking them from the cycle of sex and guilt, or thought and fear, hoping that they’ll question why a god would invent so many things, then forbid the most enjoyable ones, and what kind of god would eternally torture any of his creations?
    And yes, it is about conversion—I know it upsets people but it’s not so much conversion as bringing to mind the questions that people are told NEVER to ask, like “Why is god so cruel to people who believe in him?” and “Why would he let the devil torture people?”–The reality is that we’re using concrete answers, and concrete results–that people are suffering today, in this world, and they’re more concerned about a vague promise of the next world–which today is described as a sort of neverending visit to epcot, but is detailed in their bible as “you sit on your knees and worship forever and ever”–today’s religion ignores that, and is picking and choosing what it wants to keep–heaven, yes, but the original idea of heaven? NOPE. Sin–yes–but whatever things THEY decide are a sin? yes, rather than exactly what the bible actually says. It’s like going through the constitution, and picking out the bits and pieces they do like, but disregarding what they don’t–freedom to bear arms–yes! freedom of speech–not for the people they don’t like.
    That’s not how anything works, and the “wibbly” people, as I call them, the ones who claim to be christian but say stupid shit to me like “you’re a christian because god says you are, you just don’t know it yet”–and completely ignore whatever religion they claim to be–they’re getting more and more common.
    Religion is becoming a highly personal mental support system–the idea that the creator of the universe cares about your math tests and bad hair days, and will help make them better is already something that they’ve proved to be false.

  5. Wonderful article. Thank you. I find that the religious have established a new meaning for the word ‘faith’. It is as if they think faith = fact. We must find some way of de-brainwashing the masses. I am just not sure how this can be done as they are completely convinced of their delusional belief. I of course speak up –> Always. Living on the bible belt brings about this topic quite often. I have often thought about the idea of de-conversion centers on each corner. Whatever it takes to get each of these individuals to actually come to terms with reality.

  6. It’s a bit like trying to rescue people from what is so obviously a fraudulent belief. Believers need gentle assistance from regular atheistic people, so the futility and silliness of what they believe in can be pointed out. The religiouisly deluded seem to spend their lives trying to convince others (and themselves) that their belief system offers some sort of value. Non-believers really have a duty, whenever possible to try and reason with people stripped of the ability to reason (by their religious belief) to consider the childish nonsense they subscribe to is, without doubt an evil fraud, designed to confuse and scare people with the heaven/hell rot for what it is, vacuous horse sh*t.

  7. Awesome piece! I got goosebumps reading the 8th paragraph (If anything it is…) Outstanding!

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