hey-cest-la-vie asked:

I think people pray because it's hard for them to accept that there are things they can't do anything about... thoughts?

As a former believer my reasons for praying were simple. I actually thought that a god would intervene positively in my life and in the life of others if i simply asked. (See Matthew 7:7, 21:22, etc..) Even on things I could do on my own. I mean, if I study for a test I will do good but if god is on my side I will do even better. Right? Or at least that is the logic… 

That being said the mind of a believer is one of contradiction, actually one of ignoring contradiction. My church would pray for healing of a sick individual, for example. If the person got healed it was divine intervention, if the person died no one blamed god or complained that he was sleeping or ignoring our prayers. (1 Kings 18:27) Convenient, right?

I used to be, at 18 years old, the director for evangelical outreach at my church (yes, i was that committed to the gospel back then.) I remember how once I was asked to lead a group to the house of an older sick man for prayer. Specifically to pray for a speedy recovery/healing (he had the flu or a cold). When I got there I realized the man had no legs as he was sitting in a wheelchair. Then it really hit me that I was there to pray for a cold… The fact of the matter is that I could not do anything for that man, and neither could god. NO matter how much we prayed. How could I in good conscience pray for the healing of a cold if I did not have the “cojones” to pray for the regeneration of the man’s legs? The inconsistency hit me square in the face. I knew at that second that prayer would not make that man whole (James 5:13-15) ever. That was the beginning of doubt for me…

As I think back on those days the words of Marian Noel Sherman ring true:

Religious people often accuse atheists of being arrogant and of placing ourselves in the position of God, but really it is the theist who has all the vanity. He can’t stand to think that he will ever cease to exist. As Freud said, Christianity is the most egotistical of the religions. It is based on the premise ‘Jesus saves me.’

Some may say that the reasons for prayer are not external (healing, miracles, rain, finding car keys) but internal (peace, humility, empathy). But such an argument misses the point (as it ignores hundreds of bible verses on the topic). If such argument is true then, what makes such a “prayer” different from meditation of positive self-talk? Why assume divinity where humanity is the one at action here?

People will pray because they have been taught to believe as much since children, because it makes them feel good to leave the future in the hands of an invisible “other”, because it is easier to see life as part of a grand plan that someone set up for them before they were born. It is easier to assume so than to actually realize that we are alone in this universe and that all that happens, or does not happen, is up to us and no one else. To me the latter is better than the former. To create my own purpose is to live. To recognize the frailty and shortness of existence is to value it even more. To know that relationships will end means that they have to be enjoyed completely because the here and the now is all we have.

Truly, hands that work do infinitely more than hands that pray…

In reason:

-FA

helvetebrann-deactivated2014092

Christopher Hitchens said that his ‘time’ is coming as he made his first public appearance in months at the weekend.

The controversial writer and fervent atheist, who is suffering from esophagus cancer, attended the Atheist Alliance of America conference in Texas where he was presented an…

:’-(

-FA

I get comments…

My responses in blockquotes..

Why are you so against other beliefs?

See point 2 and 3 of the FAQ.

It seems to me that you are very set on removing religion. Yes I agree with the fact that religion brings about some very bad things but at the same time most religious people are normal everyday people. Personally I don’t follow a belief system and I find some parts of religion really stupid and should be eradicated(such as anti-birth control for Catholicism and the burqa in Islam; but that would add a whole other paragraph to this thing) but at the same time to follow a religion is a person’s choice!

Indeed. I have never argued against anyone’s right to believe in nonsense if they so wish. The same right I have to say so.

Yes atheism is logical but humans aren’t ‘super beings’; we don’t know everything and we don’t even know if we have the brain capacity to know everything! Some things we may just not be able to grasp or we just can’t see.

True but that does not mean then that one is justified in making up the stuff we don’t know yet. It also does not mean that calling religions out on it is bad. On the contrary, if you want to eradicate the part of religion that are really stupid you need to speak out and say why it is stupid. Silence accomplishes nothing.

I guess what I’m saying is maybe you should be more tolerable of others, I grew up with extremely Catholic cousins and by the age of 14 I just gave up on trying to ‘turn them’ because they won’t budge, you just have to be tolerable of their beliefs no matter how stupid the beliefs are (such as not believing in evolution-in the end its their loss in my opinion).

What makes you think that speaking out is a manifestation of intolerance? I used to be a christian for over 25 years. That cousin of yours was me back in the day, but then again see where I am right now. I know people can reject superstition and learn new facts and come to have a deep appreciation of reality because I was able to do it. I think it is extremely condescending to think others will not get it (as opposed to you who did). If it weren’t for books, science and the words of those who spoke out, I would still be wasting my time with myth and superstition. Just because you might not want to be part of the solution does not mean the others that do are intolerant because of it.

Though saying all that, religious peoples should be more tolerable of us ‘non-believers’. It is very annoying when ‘fundies’ push their views on you. Why can’t we just quit trying to make everyone believe in one thing, you can’t make someone like something they just don’t like so why make someone believe in something they just don’t believe?

We can’t quit speaking out on these matters because the imposition of religious beliefs on others has consequences. Religious opposition to abortion, gay marriage, condoms and the constant attempts to hijack the government and the education system by the religious are more than just “annoyances”. The day believers stop imposing their silliness on others will be the day you will not hear a peep from concerned atheists like myself.

 I guess in a way, this is how I feel: http://xkcd.com/774/

Congratulations on feeling superior to everybody else.

Take care,
In reason:
-FA

listeningtovenom-deactivated201 asked:

people are really stupid. i am agnostic, so im following your blog so you can beat some sense into me. see my problem isnt that i believe in a just god, its that i believe in a bitter god, who likes to sit back on his godly couch eating cheetos while he watches us squirm like ants under a magnifying glass on his godly flat screen tv with his godly hookers bringing him beers

I wonder how your god differs from no god at all. Go check out Occam’s Razor for details.

In reason:
-FA

thosezombitches-deactivated2011 asked:

Hello Friendly Atheist.
Before I ask my question, I must say that I love your page. I am not Atheist, but I am Agnostic. Your points make complete sense and I love reading everything you write.
I have two main questions:
First, how did you go about studying everything you know? Did you learn them on your own or do anything else to study religion? I saw that you said you have studied the religions like Islam and Christianity. I myself only know a bit about Christianity because I grew up Christian.
My other question: What is your opinion on the creation of the universe? Do you believe in The Big Bang Theory, or any other theory suggested? Do you think some points that Stephen Hawking has made are valid evidence? Like that he says that the universe can create itself from the laws of physics alone. I have been looking into this topic alot lately, and would like to know your opinion.
I hope you have time to answer my questions.

Hi:

Thanks for writing. I will try to address your questions in the most succinct way I can since each one by itself could take many pages if one where to give details.

1) Like I have said elsewhere, I grew up in a Christian home and was very active in church. So active that I am only about 16 credit hours away from a bachelor’s degree in Theology. I used to preach and win souls for Christ. Still it was not the time spent at seminary or the hours of preaching that gave me the little bit of knowledge I hope I have, but the time spent reading books, articles and doing my own research on the subject. It was a thirst for truth. The same that led me to reject the superstitious beliefs I once held so dear. It was not easy, but it sure was unavoidable.

2) I see no reason why one should assume the universe was “created”. Like you just stated, current cosmological theories present a universe that gives birth to itself just based on the physics (see here)*. I am going to buy Hawking’s book tomorrow by the way. Still, even if we had no idea where all things came from that does not mean a god did it or that they were created. That is just common sense. Those that propose a creator need to show evidence for it. None has been presented so far, it is highly unlikely they will find it in the future. Or at least it is as likely as finding evidence for the existence of unicorns, elves and fairies.

3) For some thoughts on atheism and agnosticism check out point 7 on the FAQ.

Thank you so much for writing. Keep researching and learning. To me nothing could be more enjoyable, worthwhile and just plain fun.

In reason,
-FA

* Other theories propose a timeless cosmos (the word we use to describe the universe pre and post big bang), a cosmos that has always existed. The bottom line is that a god becomes superfluous and unnecessary just by having a cursory look at current cosmology. As time goes by god belief will keep running out of gaps in human knowledge to hide in.

Just like Laplace said: “Je n’avais pas besoin de cette hypothèse-là

notthehellyourwhales asked:

I call myself an atheist because I certainly don't believe that there is any sentient, supreme being that gives a flying fuck about my fleeting existence and even if there was, it certainly wouldn't care if I believe in it or not. But I can't deny the non-zero chance that there MIGHT be something out there simply because while it can't be proven, it can't be dis-proven either simply because of the lack of evidence.None the less, I can't bring myself to say "There is no god or gods" because there is that non-zero possibility. Does this still make me an atheist, or am I just an agnostic? I certainly hope this makes me an atheist, though, because agnostics always seemed too spiritual for my liking.
Sorry if this seems somewhat silly, but I figured you were probably tired of all the Christians flooding your inbox, and it is a valid question that I've had rolling over in my mind for a little while now and I figured this was as good an opportunity as any.

Do you believe in a god? Any god? If the answer is no then you are an atheist. Check out point #7 in the FAQ.

Thanks for writing.
-FA

theradioschizo-deactivated20140 asked:

Hey FriendlyAtheist. I used to consider myself an agnostic atheist for a long time, but now I'd say I'm a positive atheist because of what I've dubbed "The Problem of Action" and I'd like to know what you think. I've heard similar rants so I don't really consider it a completely original idea, I've just never heard it put forth formally.

It's basically the asking of two questions. Is God perfect and does God act. If both are true then there is a logical contradiction because actions by definition are attempts to attain a means. If one is trying to attain a means, one sees the attainment of said means as a better state of affairs than the lack thereof. If one tries to attain a "better" state of affairs then one is lacking something that would be fulfilled by the attainment of the "better" state of affairs. There can not be a "better" state of affairs for a perfect being because that would entail not being perfect. Therefore perfect beings cannot act.

I wanted to know what you thought of that. It seems a bit jumbled, I know. This is probably the first time I tried to get it out in a full concrete fashion, but you get the essential point.

Yes. It is a pretty compelling argument against the type of god that is defined as perfect. I have yet to hear a good retort to it.

What did God do during that eternity before he created everything? If God was all that existed back then, what disturbed the eternal equilibrium and compelled him to create? Was he bored? Was he lonely? God is supposed to be perfect. If something is perfect, it is complete — it needs nothing else. We humans engage in activities because we are pursuing the elusive perfection, because there is disequilibrium caused by a difference between what we are and what we want to be. If God is perfect, there can be no disequilibrium. There is nothing he needs, nothing he desires, and nothing he must or will do. A God who is perfect does nothing except exist. A perfect creator God is impossible. 
-Chad Docterman
 

abakkus asked:

As an agnostic, I have to say that I don't think there's anything lazy about saying "I don't know, and I will probably never know." I understand science, but at the same time, I don't think it's completely implausible that there's something out there that we don't comprehend. (Though the sarcastic bastard in me if pretty sure you were making fun of that demotivational, I just figured this was as a good a time as ever to throw in my two cents.)

1) The whole atheism vs agnostic argument is a semantic/definitional one. What I’m just saying is that agnosticism is a distinction that makes no real difference. Either you believe in a god or you don’t. Not knowing if you believe (whatever that means) is still not believing. Is that too hard a concept to grasp?

2) To those that have not read the FAQ, I consider myself an agnostic atheist (since I don’t know, I don’t believe).

3) Like I said before: I never said there is anything wrong with labeling oneself as an agnostic. I’m all for less religion and more uncertainty. That being said, I will openly comment on the agnosticism that tries to place atheism as an equal counterpart to theism or theist fundamentalism. Nothing could be farther from the truth. 

pasdesolee asked:

I find it ironic that you wouldn't believe in a "middle ground". What are we here, evangelists?

Why is it “ironic”?

I make no qualms in accepting that I am an evangelist for reason, science and truth. That is one of the reasons I have this blog. I don’t see anything wrong with that. On the contrary, I wish more non-believers would do the same.

Bottom line: In the same way I clearly speak about the problems with religion I will also speak about the inconsistencies of agnosticism (or any other philosophy no matter where it comes from). Just because agnosticism it is similar to atheism does not mean I will cut it any slack.

If you believe, don’t believe or even say you don’t know if you believe or not; I will still keep asking why. No exceptions.

Thanks for writing. Take care.
-FA

magowl asked:

Just read the agnostic vs. atheist question, and I thought I'd jump in as I'm an agnostic atheist and don't fully agree with what you said. Both of you that is :)
An atheist don't believe, and knows that there aren't any god(s) around, just in the same way a theist believes, and know there are.
Agnostics on the other hand can have either a belief in god(s) or not, what they do say however is that they don't know if any exits, it is unknown or unknowable. An agnostic who believe in god(s) is called an agnostic theist and one who doesnt, you guessed it, is called an agnostic atheist. Confusing? Sure a little bit, but not too bad. Are there different interpretations? Sure there are, and this is one of them. Where's the question? Good question, I guess I didn't really have one, I just wanted to say something about this :) Keep up with the good posts mate, I enjoy reading them!

1) Atheism does not mean a person KNOWS a god does not exist. How can one demonstrate that something does not exist? Such a thing is not only ridiculous but illogical. Again, atheism is about belief not knowledge.

2) Although I have no doubt that some people that label themselves agnostics also believe in god, the fact is that such people are not different from theists at all. Remember, isn’t faith belief in absence of evidence(knowledge)? An agnostic theist is just a regular run of the mill theist with another name.

3) The bottom line is that a person either believes in a god or doesn’t. There is no middle ground.

Take care. Thanks for the question.
-FA