Friday, October 10, 2008

The Problems with Atheism

The atheists in the discussion gather together to share some of their problems, whether they be intellectual, emotional, or cultural, with atheism.


Blogger NH Baritone said...

Hi, Guys.

Interesting discussion; I have a few comments:

1. I was surprised that the Theist first brought up the social-life deficits that atheists face (when compared with the church connections available to Christians). This is perhaps the primary hardship faced by US atheists. It is extremely difficult to recreate a similar embracing community of like-minded individuals & families. I find that this represents the biggest hole left in my own life since leaving Christianity, one that I fill only with consistent, conscious effort.

2. If atheism is true, then it seems to me that there is no such thing as a "wrong" or "bad reason" for being an atheist. I contend that no one has to justify a LACK of belief. Instead, with a plethora of god-definitions & supernaturalistic dogmas, theists face many more contortions of rationality in order to cling to any belief more positivistic than simple agnosticism.

Also, if atheism is true, then further pursuit of the discussion becomes (for most people) a waste of time. Until someone has some new evidence to present, then there are more relevant matters to capture our attention. The only objective reason to remain attentive is as a bulwark against theocracy. People may have individual interests in religion's historical or psychosociological roles, but if atheism is true, further consideration of the topic of theism is simply academic and not personally relevant.

3. I'm a gay guy, a former Christian (and theology student), and the son, grandson, cousin, & nephew of Methodist ministers. I find that coming out as gay and coming out as an atheist follow parallel processes and result in similar divides within families.

Some of the resulting chasms can be bridged with time; some believers care far more about their relative (or friend) than they could ever care about a particular philosophical point of view. But for some formerly close relationships, being gay or being an atheist serves as a wedge that rules out any potential future closeness.

The believers often use the same ideas to justify their cutting off both gay folks and atheists. In those relationships, things can never be the same again. Unconditional love is not guaranteed in any family; some families can make this abundantly clear.

10/11/08, 9:18 AM  
Blogger Jean-Michel Abrassart said...


It's funny because I'm from Belgium, so I don't really have the the social-life deficits issue US atheists talk about a lot. In Europe, most people are "soft" agnostic. They don't talk about religion, and they don't really believe in it.

Well, to be fair, now that I work as a teacher in Japan, and that a lot of colleagues are americans, I understand better what you mean. But anyway, I just say to them that I'm an outspoken atheist and that's it. If they're not happy with that, that's there problem. :p


10/18/08, 9:24 AM  
Blogger Icepick said...

A couple comments about the episode (I'm a little behind on listening)

1) Like the Belgian gentleman above, I don't feel the social loss. I was raised Jewish in a family with waning devotion. Even so, my social circles were defined by family, school, work and neighbors. So far, I haven't lost any to differences of belief. Of course, I probably didn't make any of those friends in the first place.

2) I had an issue with the panels problem with lazy atheists (or apathetic atheists, whatever the label). The disdain for theists who never question their beliefs or cannot defend them shouldn't really transfer to non-theists. Shouldn't non-theism be the default position? Shouldn't one be able to NOT believe in a superstitious world view, without having to defend or define that choice?

Like the panel, I appreciate people who are introspective and thoughtful. They are just more interesting. You can still respect people who go about life without spending too much time trying to figure it all out.

Bruce Press

10/22/08, 3:32 PM  
Blogger bernie_dehler said...

That was a very insightful podcast and I appreciate the atheists for their openness and honesty. I wonder if Christian leaders could ever gather to talk about the same topic- their difficulties with Christianity. Nah... I hope to do something like that in the future, though.


11/25/08, 6:25 AM  

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