While at the pool last night, I was sitting around with a group of people, I wouldn't call them friends, but the discussion of my atheism came up in a round about way and I could tell people were uncomfortable. One person made a comment about relating atheism to satanism which I'm sure is a common misconception, although one that the religious would love to have everyone believe. However the comment that got me going was when someone said "everyone has to believe in something", at which point I said, well sure and I believe in human beings. The conversation pretty much ended after that. I'm sure that left the person unsatisfied and I wanted to go further but didn't. So I was hoping for some suggestions or comments how to address the comment.
How would you handle that remark? What would be your answer to this? I would love to hear thoughts.
Tonights guest on the Podcast is Richard Carrier, here is answer to the question,
So what do you believe in?
I believe in many things. I believe in the potential of humanity, in the power of reason, in the comfort of love, and in the value of truth. I also believe in the beauty and joy of human experience, and the nearly unlimited power of the human will to endure almost any hardship or solve almost any problem.
I believe that faith can mislead people into falsehood, and that we need reason and doubt as necessary checks against our capacity for error. I believe that we need to allow our fellow human beings to make choices for themselves and to live the life they wish to, in mutual peace and goodwill.
I believe that political negotiation and compromise -- fuelled by an honest measure of respect for different opinions, beliefs and lifestyles -- is the only way the world will find universal peace and goodwill, and that using the scientific method is the only way the world can arrive at an agreement on the truth about anything.
I believe that it is better to preach the gospel of "be good to your fellow man, and love each other as life itself," than to preach the gospel of "believe in our religion or be damned." For it is better to be good to each other and to build on what we all agree to be true, than to insist that we all think alike.
When someone says that to me, my reply is: I believe I'll have a beer, and go get one.
Adrienne's response reminds me of something I have said before in similar situations but forgot to mention yesterday. The person was confusing atheism with nihilism. Point out his ignorance:
"You realize that atheism is not the same thing as nihilism, don't you?"
This will then give you an opportunity to explain that atheism is not the same thing as having no values, which is what the person was really trying to imply.
And if they continue to give you flak, threaten to cut off their Chonson!