An interesting question was posed to me, one that I feel every atheist should consider and take the time to respond to - If God is nothing more than a human fabrication then what is there to disprove? Why do atheists spend time arguing about something they don't believe exists?

My personal response is as follows, and though I know for a fact that my response isn't the same as the response others might put forth, I felt it was beneficial to myself to be reminded exactly why I concern myself with what other people believe.

I don't think of myself as wanting to disprove god, I think of myself as wanting to communicate with people of faith to the point where they have to accept that my position has validity. I don't want to change anyone's mind because I honestly don't care - pray to a popple and worship cinnamon toast crunch, it's all the same to me. The issue I see is that there are people in positions of power and influence who use religion to convince the masses of certain ideas which then are put forth as laws with lots of support from said masses. I don't have a lot of money so beyond making phone calls and voting, I can't take an active stand against the people of power, so I do what I can and reach out to people who follow the people of power and try to explain to them why it's wrong to legislate their religion.

I would love to not feel the compulsion to do this and to simply live my happy atheist life, but I can't do that unless other people wake up and realize that belief, even in mass numbers, does not equal a free license to start dictating how others live. I don't go out of my way looking for confrontations or arguments, but I don't back down if I come across them and I rarely ignore them - even if the argument is about something as stupid as whether or not Jesus was a historical figure or if God definitely exists or not. These discussions are less about the subject for me and more about being continually active as yet another voice of atheism. I think, this is stupid to argue about, but maybe if I make enough good points, it'll add to all the other good points this person has heard and they will at least THINK about why they're supporting what they're supporting. Maybe if enough people say they disagree, religious people might stop blindly following that random religious person in a position of influence and start thinking for themselves a little more, and things will get better.

Another reason I willingly engage in conversations and arguments with theists is because I feel like science needs a voice in the everyday world.  I am by no means a scientist and I don't have a degree in a scientific field.  Most of what I know about science is self taught, and that self taught knowledge is constantly changing with every bit of new evidence which I come into contact with.  My point in making this distinction about myself is that I feel like I'm on a level playing field with any random person who is approaching scientific data.  I'm not trained in how to read studies and I have trouble at times understanding complex scientific ideas, but the awesome thing about science is that you don't have to be an expert in a field of study to learn more about a particular subject. 

You do, however, have to learn to tell science from pseudoscience and I feel like that is an area where a lot of people go astray.  It would seem that there is a stigma about science that a lot of my fellow laymen fall into where they feel that if someone has a PhD or a degree in a certain subject that they must know what they're talking about.  However, from my experience, it doesn't take an academically trained scientist to distinguish good science from bad.  It does take a little bit of effort and skepticism toward what you are reading, especially if you're exposed to an idea which you would like to be true, even though it has been proven false by countless other sources.  The argument of whether evolution is real is just as ridiculous to me as the argument of whether god is real, but I still participate in these arguments because though I know the argument against evolution has little to no scientific validity, there are still those people in positions of power and influence telling their supportive masses that evolution is a lie and that preposterous pseudoscientific ideas such as Intelligent Design should not only be taught in schools, but should be taught as science.

This might seem like a huge deviation from the initial question, but it's not.  One thing most theists agree on is that for them, god is important in every aspect of their lives.  It was, and sometimes still is difficult for me to understand the scope of this kind of thinking as I was never personally religious and didn't grow up with religious parents, but once I understood how truly intrinsic the concept of god is to people, I realized how equally important it was for someone like me, someone who doesn't believe in god, to have their voice be heard.

Misinformation in the name of  god is still misinformation, and I feel a personal responsibility to speak out against it wherever it's found.  Maybe it's a naive waste of time or delusions of grandeur on my part, I don't know, but at least I'm doing SOMETHING to help spread the word that atheists exist, we're rational people who deserve the same rights as everyone else, and even though people may not agree with us that doesn't give anyone the right to treat us like we count less or don't count at all.

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Sweetness! :D
Last year, the Irish government released two separate reports documenting a massive amount of child abuse in schools and orphanages run by the catholic church. These reports estimate that something like 30 thousand children were the victims of sexual, physical, and verbal abuse. One reason why the abuse in Ireland was so much worse is because of the power that the church held in that country. When religion rules, people suffer. The amount of suffering is directly proportional to the amount of power held by religion.

During an election year, people tend to grow tired of the mudslinging that occurs as each candidate tries to discredit the others. Sure, personal attacks seem somewhat vulgar, and many people wish that politicians would raise the level of discourse. However, all of this mudslinging is actually a good thing because it means that politicians are not above criticism. Politicians attack one another, political organizations attack politicians with which they disagree, and comedians make fun of them all. In the political arena, ideas are subject to debate, rhetoric, and ridicule, and that is a very good thing.

Religions, on the other hand, hide behind a wall of piety. Religions are "sacred" and above criticism. At least, they are supposed to be according to the religious. If a secular organization had conspired to cover up the abuse of thirty thousand children, the leaders of that organization would all be in prison. In Ireland, however, neither the abusers nor the bishops who obstructed justice will see the inside of a jail cell thanks to the power of the catholic church.

I don't think that you are naive, nor do I think that you are wasting your time. Atheists, sceptics, and free thinkers have much to offer society: reason, sceptical inquiry, and the idea that religions and religious ideas are not above criticism. We offer freedom from the demands of ancient barbaric dogmas and the burden of irrational beliefs.

God does not exist, but religion does. Religion is not a harmless pastime. Many people have suffered and died because of it, so please continue to speak out. It is a worthy cause, and every little bit helps. I am amazed on a regular basis at the number of people who are willing to speak up, and I am grateful for each of them. I long for the day when religions feel too insecure to ever commit an atrocity like the Irish abuse scandal. All it would take is for enough non-believers to speak up and be counted.
Todd, I love the sentence, "God does not exist, but religion does." Pretty much summarizes why we have to argue with believers.
Nice job, Pinko.

I have heard that argument from both theists and atheists alike, although phrased a bit differently from theist to atheist. Propagation of world views that ignore or defy reality are dangerous to us all.
I haven't heard or read the term Pinko Commie for at least 15 years- bravo for that. Also this was a great post for any atheist to read, especially those who vacillate when posed the question, "if it's all fake, why do you care?" Thank you PC.
Great article, keep it up!

After becoming an atheist the concept of god becomes irrelevant only at a personal level. But at the larger scale it remains as menacing as before. If we take away religion from every possible thing the world would definitely become a lot better place. Lot of unjust suffering, cruelty and violence may halt. And this is why it is important to be vocal and argue against the non-existent something!
"Why do atheists spend time arguing about something they don't believe exists?"

Because people like to voice their opinions on matters they feel strongly about. Religion is unavoidable so it tends to come up in conversation a lot.
Besides, people enjoy winning arguments and religion is an easy target. Your opponent may not agree, but... meh.
well said!
Here are some good videos that answer this question. My favorite is the first one 'a rational thought production' that covers a lot of the bases. The other two are good but some may find the last one a little distracting.
This was a well thought out essay. Nice job!


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