Sunday, September 24, 2017

Objective vs. Relative Morality

[The following is something I came up with after being told for the umpteenth time that atheists can't be moral or can't have a basis for judging "right" from "wrong" because they can only rely on "relative" moral standards.  Unlike theists, of course, who get their "objective" moral standards straight from God.]

Morality — the system or method by which we determine whether actions are “good” or “bad” — can either be “relative” or “objective” (a.k.a. “absolute”). Objective morality is morality based on universal principles that everybody agrees on, whereas relative morality is determined differently by different groups and is subject to change over time and in different places and cultures. Now, theists and atheists alike claim to be be able to determine right from wrong, good from bad, but what type of morality can each group actually claim to have? Objective or relative?

Let’s start with atheists. Now most atheists get their sense of “right” and “wrong” from the realization that other people are human beings the same as they are, and are therefore deserving of the exact same rights and respect as themselves. “People are people” may sound like a simple tautology, but it’s objectively true and it’s the core principle that provides atheists with the objective morality that lets them condemn slavery, murder, robbery, lying, etc. Now, this isn’t to say that all atheists are good people, since we all have free will and can decide whether to be good or bad, but at least atheists have something objective by which they can make value judgments in the first place.

What about theists? Well, they tend to rely more on wholly relative morality to make value judgments for the following reasons:
  • Different theists believe in different Gods, each of which is said to have given different moral laws for us to follow. So, right there, theistic morality is wholly relative according to which God you believe in.

  • Even within a single God belief (Christianity, say), there are tons and tons of different denominations and sects who all interpret the supposed “word of God” in different ways from a purely doctrinal standpoint. So, once again, even within the Christian faith, theistic morality is wholly relative according to which particular sect or denomination you belong to.

  • Even within a single sect or denomination, it’s pretty much guaranteed that different preachers or even individual members will have their own specific interpretations as to just what their God wants them to do. Should you shun homosexuals or welcome them? Should you donate money to homeless people or is that just encouraging bad habits? Do women really need to be subject to their husbands’ will or not? Is it enough to just accept Jesus into your heart, or do you actually need to do good deeds and repent for your sins? Is it really harder for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven than it is for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, or is that just a metaphor? Does “turn the other cheek” mean you can’t own a gun for self-defense? Did God really just promise to “answer prayers” (and sometimes the answer is “no”) or did he actually promise to give “whatsoever we ask for in faith”? Is lusting after a woman in your heart really the same as committing adultery, or was Jesus just being metaphorical again? What’s the best way to “love thy neighbor as thyself” while still preventing transgender people from using the bathroom they feel most comfortable in? Is it OK to vote for somebody who claims to share your values if he talks about sexually assaulting women, mocks disabled people and lies all the time? What, actually, would Jesus do? And so on and so forth. Thus, theistic morality is wholly relative according to the individual beliefs of each particular theist.

  • For theists that claim to get their morality from holy scriptures written thousands of years ago, many of the oldest commandments and moral codes from those books no longer apply today. The explanation for this is usually that those commandments were given for a specific group of people, that the culture and socio-economic conditions back then were different than they are today and/or that some sort of “new covenant” made those old commandments obsolete. It was OK to own slaves back then, but not today. It was commanded that disobedient children should be stoned to death back then, but we don’t need to follow that commandment today. Jews were required to keep kosher, but later Christians didn’t need to. All of which is to say that theistic morality can actually change over time and is wholly relative to the particular people to whom the moral commandments were given.
Now, keep in mind what I said earlier about atheists basing their morality on objective principles. Because these principles are objective, theists are capable of perceiving them as well. In fact, this is what allows, say, Christians to decide which parts of the Bible to follow in the first place and which parts should be ignored or reinterpreted away. The problem is, though, that many theists allow these objective moral principles to be overwhelmed by the teachings of their particular religion to the point where they are willing to discriminate against other people simply because this is what they have been taught is correct. Without the teachings of their religion they may never feel it right to, say, kill an infidel, or deny homosexuals the right to marry or treat other people as property. But because they have been indoctrinated to accept the relative morality provided by their religion, they end up chucking objective morality right out the window.

Now this isn’t to say that all theists are bad people or incapable of making moral judgments. After all, just because a moral principle is relative doesn’t mean it is wrong. But it does mean that their sense of right and wrong is at the whim of their religious indoctrination and this is why a lot of otherwise good people can be convinced to do some very bad things (or, as Steven Weinberg once put it, “With or without [religion] you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.” In other words, without a source of truly objective morals to rely on, theists can only do what they are told is right, regardless of whether it actually is right.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

What Constitutes “Evidence” of God

A common refrain from atheists, especially when asked to explain why they don’t believe in God, is that there is just no evidence to support a rational belief in God. Not that there’s no proof, mind you, but no evidence. And this seems to cause quite a lot of consternation for many theists who like to think of themselves as rational and who are quite convinced that there is, in fact, plenty of evidence to support their quite rational belief in God.

[Now, granted, there are some theists who are perfectly willing to admit there is actually no evidence for the existence of God, but they don’t care since for them it’s all about faith. But that’s a topic for another day.]

So, how do we reconcile this conflict between the claims of evidence vs. the claims of no evidence? Surely it’s a binary proposition and there either is or there isn’t evidence for God’s existence, right? And therefore, one side must be right and the other side must be wrong, right?

Well, not quite. It all comes down to what somebody actually accepts as evidence in the first place, and this includes how one defines the term as well as how high or low you set the bar with your standard of evidence. It's probably better to say that atheists lack belief due to an absence of good evidence rather than an absence of any evidence, despite the fact that some atheists refuse to even concede this much and claim that any evidence that doesn't meet their standards doesn't even count as evidence in the first place.

Regardless of whether the issue is what constitutes “good” evidence or what can even be considered evidence in the first place, though, the underlying requirements are the same:
  • Good evidence is objective in the sense that it is or can be experienced by anybody equally, given the same circumstances. As such, personal spiritual experiences do not constitute good evidence since, by their very nature, they are personal and cannot be directly experienced by others.

  • Good evidence can be independently verified and replicated. As such, so-called “anecdotal evidence” such as stories of miraculous occurrences and third-hand accounts does not constitute good evidence since they can't be verified.

  • Good evidence provides affirmative support for a proposition and doesn't just attack supposed counter propositions. As such, any of the many supposedly logical arguments for the existence of God do not actually constitute good evidence for the existence of God insofar as they take the form of “Science doesn't have a comprehensive explanation for some phenomena (the origin of the universe, the origin of life on earth, the apparent design in nature, etc.) and therefore it's more likely that God did it.” For more on this point, see Lack of a Better Explanation Is Not Evidence for Your Explanation.
Again, some atheists will claim that any evidence that doesn't meet these criteria isn't “really” evidence at all. And some theists will claim that these criteria are arbitrary or unimportant and their “evidence” is just as valid. But the point of this post is to point out that when theists and atheists argue about evidence they may not actually be talking about the same thing.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Lack of a Better Explanation Is Not Evidence for Your Explanation

I have touched upon this in previous posts (see God of the Gaps and The Argument from Design, for example), but time and again we see theists offering as evidence (or even as “proof”) for the existence of a god of some sort the supposed fact that science is unable to explain something. Whether it be the origin of the universe itself, the origin of life on this planet, the apparent complexity of life, the existence of consciousness, or what have you, the argument is made over and over (and over) again that this supposed inability of science to explain something somehow “moves the needle toward,” “provides evidence of” or even “proves the existence of” some sort of creator or designer.

Now, aside from the fact that most people who make these sorts of assertions are typically ignorant as regard to what science actually says about the supposedly inexplicable mysteries and are instead just parroting talking points they have heard from other theists, the crucial point that gets ignored by these people is that the simple fact (if true) that science cannot currently explain something, whether it be the origin of the universe, the origin of life on earth, how consciousness works, or what have you, does not, by itself, in any way whatsoever “point to the existence of a creator,” since we have absolutely zero independent evidence whatsoever that a “creator” actually exists or even could exist.
Claiming that our inability to explain something is somehow evidence of some other explanation for which there is no independent evidence is the very definition of the Argument from ignorance fallacy. For example:
  • “I saw a shadowy figure out of the corner of my eye that science can’t explain — it must be a Ghost!” Wrong, unless you can first show that ghosts do, or at the very least possible can, exist. If you have no independent evidence for ghosts, there’s no way that ghosts can be the best (or even a possible) explanation.

  • “I saw a light in the sky moving in a manner that science can’t explain — it must be an alien spacecraft from another star system!” Wrong again, unless you can first show that aliens from other star systems are, or at the very least possible could be, visiting are planet. If you have no independent evidence that aliens from other star systems are visiting us, then there’s no way that aliens can be the best (or even a possible) explanation.

  • “Life originated on earth some 3.5 billion years ago and science can’t explain how it happened — it must be the result of God who created the universe!” Wrong, wrong, wrong, unless you can first show that such a creator does, or even possible could, exist in the first place. If you have no independent evidence for such a creator, there’s no way that a creator can be the best (or even a possible) explanation.

  • Etc., etc., etc.
To reiterate, lack of an explanation cannot, by itself, be evidence for some other explanation if that other explanation has no other evidence to support it.




On a related note, those who assert a god of some sort as the best explanation for something fail to understand that they are actually just offering a proposed answer to the problem and not actually an explanation. If “God did it,” how did He do it? Where did God come from? What is God made of, if not matter or energy? What does it actually mean to exist “outside of space and time”? What is it, exactly, about God that lets Him be the “Uncaused Cause” or “Prime Mover”?

No explanation. Just an assertion that leads to lots of additional unanswered questions.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Sorry, Deists — Your God Doesn’t Exist Either

In most of my discussions about God and whether or not there is any good reason to believe God exists I have focused on the various concepts of God that people actually worship, since those concepts of God are described as having specific characteristics and as having done and promised to do specific things. As such, those concepts of God make testable claims that we should be able to verify and for which there should be an abundance of reliable and objective evidence, so the complete lack of reliable and objective evidence and the fact that the various claims can and have been proven to be false is, in itself, compelling evidence that those concepts of God do not, in fact, exist. See, for example, Absence of Evidence IS Evidence of Absence. 

With such a focus on evidence and counter-evidence, however, I have often more or less given a pass to the concept of the so-called “Deist” God. The Deist God is described as the Creator of the Universe (as with most theistic concepts of God), but with the qualification that this Creator simply set the universe in motion and then let it run on its own ever since with absolutely no further interference whatsoever. This means that the Deist God has never revealed itself to humanity in any way, does not perform miracles, does not provide moral guidance, does not promise salvation, etc. And the reason I have more or less given a pass to this concept of God is basically because it seems to be a wholly irrelevant concept. I have even gone so far as to say that, while I am an atheist with regard to standard concepts of God, I would consider myself to be agnostic with regard to the Deist God, since there’s neither evidence for nor evidence against a God who, by its very nature, does not interact with the universe in any way.

Well, that was then and this is now. After giving the matter a lot of thought, I’m finally ready to assert that I know that the Deist God does not exist to the same extent that I know that all other concepts of God do not exist (which is to say, as much as I can claim to know anything in life, including that I am a conscious being, that I only have one head on my shoulders, that the earth is round and rotates, etc.). Some of the reasons for why I know this are included in another recent post (No, I Don’t Need to Explore the Entire Universe to Be an Atheist), but I thought it would be helpful to put them all into a post of their own and expand a bit on my reasoning. And please keep in mind that the following is not offered as any sort of “proof” that the Deist God does not exist, but simply to explain why I can now feel confident that I know that it does not exist, to the same level of confidence that I claim to be able to know anything.

First of all, many modern Deists like to claim that Deism is wholly separate from the ancient superstitions that produced every other concept of God, whether it be the Sumerian gods, the ancient Greek and Roman gods, the Egyptian gods, the Norse gods, or even the God of the Bible. “Those gods are all based on ignorant superstition,” they like to say, “but our concept of God is derived from wholly logical and rational considerations of the universe.” Except, this claim is not actually supported by the history of modern Deism:
Deism gained prominence among intellectuals during the Age of Enlightenment, especially in Britain, France, Germany, and the United States. Typically, these had been raised as Christians and believed in one God, but they had become disenchanted with organized religion and orthodox teachings such as the Trinity, Biblical inerrancy, and the supernatural interpretation of events, such as miracles.
In other words, Deism was clearly a response to the prevailing concepts of God that were rooted in ancient superstitions and not some sort of de novo theology that came up with the idea of God from first principles and careful consideration of the universe. Or, to put it yet another way, when Deists realized how untenable it was to assert belief in something for which there was no good evidence (and for which there was plenty of counter evidence), they decided to argue for an impersonal and undetectable creator God rather than abandoning their faith all together. As a result, if we can dismiss all the mainstream theist concepts of God as the product of ignorant superstitions, we can also dismiss the Deist God for exactly the same reason, despite all the pseudo-intellectual gloss that has been applied to the underlying concept over the years.

Second of all, since the Deist God — by definition — does not interact with the universe in any detectable way whatsoever, the only way in which Deists can claim to know that such a God exists in the first place is through various logical and philosophical arguments. And every single one of those arguments is flawed. Every single argument in favor of there being a Deist God is based in an Argument from Ignorance (or “God of the Gaps”) fallacy. Whether it be the so-called Teleological Argument (a.k.a. the Argument from Design), the Cosmological Argument, the Fine-Tuned Universe Argument, or what have you, they all basically claim that since we [supposedly] cannot explain some facet of the universe, the only possible explanation is a supernatural creator who exists outside of time and space and is somehow able to interact with matter and energy despite not being composed of either. Aside from the fact that we actually can now explain many of the things that used to be inexplicable (the theory of Evolution by Natural Selection, for example, now perfectly explains the apparent design in the natural world), the lack of an explanation cannot, in itself, be evidence of some other explanation for which there is no independent evidence.

There have been many, many refutations of the various Deist arguments for the existence of God over the years, but here are some of my own personal attempts:
To quote the late, great Christopher Hitchens, “That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.” Deists acknowledge that there neither is nor can there be any direct observable evidence for the existence of their God, and all of their philosophical arguments are based on flawed premises that by necessity lead to incorrect conclusions.

Finally, even if the Deist God weren’t rooted in the same ignorant superstitions as mainstream theist concepts of God, and even if the various Deist arguments weren’t fatally flawed, the Deist God requires a belief in a logically impossible “supernatural” being of some sort that somehow exists “outside of space and time” and that is made made of neither matter nor energy (yet is somehow able to interact with matter and energy at least with regard to creating both). Can I “prove” that nothing supernatural exists? No, but I assert that the term itself is meaningless (a “one word oxymoron” as some have been known to say) and therefore I know (again, to the same degree that I claim to know anything) that the Deist God does not and cannot possibly exist. For more on this, see:
Of course, your mileage may vary, but this is what I know to be true and why I feel confident saying that I know it to be true.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

No, I Don’t Need to Explore the Entire Universe to Be an Atheist

One odd question that occasionally gets asked by theists is how one can possibly be an atheist when science hasn’t yet (or can’t possibly have) explored the entire universe. The presumption being, apparently, that atheists shouldn’t be so confident that God doesn’t exist when there are distant parts of the universe where, what, God could be hiding? Well, let me just say this about that:

First of all, the majority of atheists don’t actually claim to know that God doesn’t exist, only that they don’t believe God exists. This lack of belief could be the result of never being exposed to or raised with a belief in the whole God concept in the first place, it could be a rejection of claims made by theists due to a lack of convincing evidence, or what have you. To be an atheist you don’t need to know or claim to know that God doesn’t exist, just not believe that God exists. But, hey — there are certainly some atheists who are confident enough to say that they have considered the evidence for God’s existence, as well as the evidence against his existence, and are as sure that God doesn’t exist as they are sure about anything else in life (e.g., that they are conscious, that the earth rotates and revolves around the sun, that they only have one head, etc.). I should know, since I am one of these atheists.

Second of all, even if you are only talking about atheists like me who claim to “know” that God doesn’t exist, the God we are talking about is the exact same God that all the various world religions talk about. You know, the God that actually is described in various holy scriptures, the God that supposedly performs miracles, the God that supposedly provides objective morality, the God that answers prayers, the God that rewards us for following his word and punishes us for not doing so, etc. In other words, the God that — regardless of your religion — actually manifests itself right here where we all happen to live in this incredibly vast, vast universe. Whether or not there is some being that could somehow be described as a “God” in some distant corner of the universe, perhaps even wholly outside the observable universe, that “God” could not possibly be the God that we are talking about here.

But what about the so-called “Deist” God that merely created the universe and then left it (and, by extension, us) to its own devices? Shouldn’t we hard-core atheists withhold judgment on that God since it actually might be hiding somewhere out there? And the answer is a resounding “no” for a number of reasons:
  • The “Deist” God has it’s origin in the same holy books and religious traditions as all the theist Gods. It’s just that, when Deists realized how untenable it was to assert belief in something for which there was no good evidence (and for which there was plenty of counter evidence), they decided to argue for an impersonal and undetectable creator God rather than abandoning their faith all together [“Deism gained prominence among intellectuals during the Age of Enlightenment, especially in Britain, France, Germany, and the United States. Typically, these had been raised as Christians and believed in one God, but they had become disenchanted with organized religion and orthodox teachings such as the Trinity, Biblical inerrancy, and the supernatural interpretation of events, such as miracles.”].[1] Which is to say that if we can dismiss all the theist concepts of God as the product of ignorant superstitions, we can dismiss the Deist God for exactly the same reason, despite all the pseudo-intellectual gloss that has been applied to the underlying concept over the years.

  • Speaking of pseudo-intellectual gloss, every single argument in favor of there being a Deist God is based in an Argument from Ignorance (or “God of the Gaps”) fallacy. Whether it be the so-called Teleological Argument (a.k.a. the Argument from Design) argument, the Cosmological Argument, the Fine-Tuned Universe Argument, or what have you, they all basically claim that since we [supposedly] cannot explain some facet of the universe, the only possible explanation is a supernatural creator who exists outside of time and space and is somehow able to interact with matter and energy despite not being composed of either. Aside from the fact that we actually can now explain many of the things that used to be inexplicable (the theory of Evolution by Natural Selection, for example, now perfectly explains the apparent design in the natural world), the lack of an explanation cannot, in itself, be evidence of some other explanation for which there is no evidence.

  • Aside from being wholly irrelevant and unnecessary, the Deist God is also, by definition, wholly incapable of being detected. Which is to say that, even if there were such a being, it wouldn’t matter if we did explore the entire universe since such a God would not be able to be found.


[1] Deism - Wikipedia

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Atheism and Evolution

As evidenced by probably half of the questions posed to atheists in various public forums, many theists seem to think that atheism and the theory of evolution (or “Darwinism” for those who want to imply that evolution is just some sort of cult of personality that atheists belong to based solely on faith) are inextricably linked. Apparently, either all atheists believe in evolution as their religion instead of believing in God, or else a belief in evolution is what caused people to become atheists in the first place.

In this post I want to try and unpack this a bit. First, to explain what atheism really means and what the real relationship between atheism and evolution is. And second, to try and understand why theists keep insisting on a relationship that isn’t there.

First, the facts:
  • Atheism is neither a belief system nor a community of like-minded individuals. There is no official atheist doctrine, there are no appointed atheist leaders, and there are no requirements to be an atheist other than simply not believing in God. Or gods.

  • Yes, many atheists accept the Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection, but not all do and you can certainly be an atheist and not accept it. Just like you can be an atheist and think the world is flat or that aliens are regularly abducting people or that world leaders are being replaced with lizard people. Being an atheist is not the same as being a scientist or a rationalist or a materialist — it simply means that you do not believe in God. Or gods.

  • And, while many atheists do accept the Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection, they do so for the same reason they accept, say, the theory of gravity. It’s a coherent, well-established theory that explains observed phenomena that has been supported by observable evidence and is backed up by numerous other fields of study. And, keep in mind, the “theory” of evolution is the current best explanation for the observed fact of evolution, just like the “theory” of gravity is the current best explanation for the the observed fact of gravity.

  • It’s important to note that many theists also accept the theory of evolution for the same reasons many atheists do. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that most theists accept it (although some still want to include God as the ultimate driving force behind it). The whole denial of evolution thing is really just limited to a very small number of Christians and Muslims world-wide who take their scriptures extremely literally and feel threatened by anything that could be seen to contradict those scriptures in any way (more on this later).

  • Finally, while it’s certainly possible that some atheists lost their faith after learning the details of the theory of evolution (e.g., because their faith was based on an assumption that God was required as an explanation for why life on earth is the way it is), the vast majority of atheists were not looking for an explanation regarding the diversity of life on earth in the first place and didn’t choose to replace their religious beliefs with the “religion” of evolution. They simply lack a belief in God, whether because they were not raised to believe in God in the first place, because they were taught about God and found the notion to be rather silly, because they carefully considered the evidence for God’s existence and found it lacking, or any of a thousand other reasons.
Second, the theories:
  • As stated above, many (if not most) theists in the world have no trouble accepting the fact that all species — including man — have evolved over long periods of time to reach their current state. They do not take their scriptures to be 100% literally true and are fine with that, focusing instead on the principles and promises made in those scriptures. A small subset of theists, however, acknowledge the hypocrisy involved in only believing in part of holy scriptures and therefore take an “all or nothing” approach. And, since the holy scriptures clearly state that God created man in His own image and gave him dominion over all other creatures on earth, acknowledging the fact of evolution (and accepting the validity of the current theory of evolution by natural selection) would be to deny the validity of the scriptures and the very foundation of their faith.

  • These theists who take their scriptures literally know full well that most of what is written in those scriptures either cannot be verified by modern science or is directly contradicted by modern science, whether it be archaeology, geology, cosmology, anthropology, physics, chemistry, biology, or what have you. But the whole concept of evolution in particular bothers them, since it undermines the whole idea of humans being uniquely special creatures in God’s eyes. OK, so maybe the world wasn’t really created 6000 years ago and maybe Noah didn’t really have an ark full of animals and maybe Moses didn’t really part the Red Sea, but we sure as heck didn’t come from monkeys!

  • As a result, for those theists who take their scriptures literally and whose world view revolves around the notion that humans are special, it is only natural to assume that everybody else’s world view revolves around the fundamental question of how humanity got here and what is humanity’s relationship with the rest of the universe. Thus, since their worldview revolves around “God did it,” atheists must have a worldview that revolves around “God didn’t do it.” And, since a belief that “god didn’t do it” requires some alternate explanation, that explanation must be “Evolution”.

  • So, in the eyes of these theists, it is incomprehensible that somebody could simply not believe in God (especially their God) without having an alternative belief system in place. And, since these theists acknowledge (whether explicitly or implicitly) that their belief system is fundamentally based on faith (belief without evidence or in spite of evidence to the contrary) and a reliance on the testimony (anecdotal stories) of others, they assume that atheist must also base their belief system on faith and testimony.

  • This false equivalence leads to two separate phenomena. First, there is an ongoing attempt to argue that atheism is no better than theism since both “isms” are equally reliant on “faith” and “testimony” and therefore atheists have no right to feel at all superior to theists (and theists are perfectly justified for not feeling at all inferior). Second, there is an ongoing attempt to undermine the theory of evolution in the mistaken belief that doing so will somehow convince atheists that the explanation for how humanity got here must actually be “God did it” after all.

For more of my musings on the subject of evolution and religion, please see the following:

Accepting Evolution
The “Theory” of Evolution
Evolution and Why Labels Don’t Matter
Another Evolution Analogy
 
For more discussion of what, exactly, it means to be an atheist, please see the following:

What is an Atheist?
No, Atheism Is Not a Belief System
Why “I Don’t Believe God Exists” Really Is the Same as “I Believe God Doesn’t Exist”

No, Atheism Is Not a Belief System

One common claim that some theists like to make is that atheism is some sort of “belief system,” presumably to compare it to their own belief system and to imply that both systems are therefore equally valid. Atheists usually respond by saying this is ridiculous since atheism is a lack of belief and therefore cannot possibly be a belief anything, let alone a belief system. Now, it’s certainly true that calling atheism a belief system is ridiculous, but the reason is slightly more nuanced than simply “a lack of belief can’t be a belief system.”

As mentioned above, most atheists like to claim that atheism is nothing more than a lack of belief in God, while many theists like to claim that it’s actually an affirmative belief that God doesn’t exist. And, depending on the atheist, there’s actually some truth to both views, as I discuss here:


and here:


Which is to say that, no matter how much some atheists want to deny it, there are atheists who strongly believe that God doesn’t exist to the point where they are willing to claim that they know — as surely as they know anything — that God doesn’t exist.

However.

HOWEVER!

Whether an atheist lacks a belief in God or whether they believe God does not exist, there is no way at all that this represents any sort of “belief system” whatsoever. There is simply no system involved, and it does not make up any sort of worldview.

Theists tend to have a belief in God as their foundational worldview, the lens through which they view all of life. Where did we come from? From God. Why are we here? God put us here to worship Him. Where are we going after this life? It depends on whether we obey God’s will or not. Where did the universe come from? God did it. Why is there suffering in the world? God has His reasons. Why is nature so amazingly beautiful? Thank God (“How Great Thou Art”)!

As a result, theists naturally assume that atheists must also have some sort of foundational worldview, some sort of lens through which we view all of life. And, since their worldview is based on a belief that God exists, our worldview must be based on a belief that God does not exist.

Except, this just is not the case.

If you ask atheists where did humans come from, they may have an answer based in current scientific theories or they may have no answer at all, but they won’t just say, “We didn’t come from God” as if that explained anything.

If you ask an atheist why we are here on earth, they may or may not have an answer, but they won’t just say, “we weren’t put here by God” as if that explained anything.

If you ask atheists what happens after death, they may or may not have an answer, but they won’t just say, “it depends on whether we disbelieved in God” as if that explained anything.

If you ask atheists where the universe came from, they may or may not have an answer, but they won’t just say, “God didn’t do it” as if that explained anything.

If you ask atheists why there is suffering in the world, they may or may not have an answer, but they won’t just say, “because God doesn’t exist” as if that explained anything.

And if you ask atheists why nature is so amazingly beautiful, once again they may or may not have an answer, but they won’t just say “God didn’t do it” as if that explained anything.