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3 Famous Atheists & Their Best Arguments

Updated on December 19, 2016
Dawkins correcting the position of his ol' windshield
Dawkins correcting the position of his ol' windshield

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Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins is an English ethologist, evolutionary biologist, and author. He wrote the 2006 best-selling book, The God Delusion. In that book, he made some pretty compelling arguments for atheism.

We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further.

— Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion

We're All Atheists

In this argument, Dawkins is pointing out the obvious fact that we all look at historical religions with plenty of skepticism. It would be absurd to believe that Zeus and Thor really do exist, or that the gods of the ancient Egyptians are still out there wandering about. When a religious person stops to consider this, it will be a painful truth for them to realize that their religion is very much the same as those in the past. So it will logically follow that their religion is likely the same kind of desperation for supernatural control in the universe. These kinds of simple arguments are what made me seriously struggle to believe in the god of the bible. But the beauty of it is that this argument can easily be applied to all religions.

Do not indoctrinate your children. Teach them how to think for themselves, how to evaluate evidence, and how to disagree with you.

— Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion

Indoctrination

Dawkins challenges religious people to train their kids in critical thinking instead of in religious tradition. In this way, the child will choose whether or not religion is true and real, rather than being constantly told by trusted friends and family that it is. This is a challenge to religious people because religion continues almost entirely because of the indoctrination of children. Children are easy targets because they trust that the adults around them have life figured out and are vastly more intelligent than them. Dawkins is pointing out that if we train children to think critically rather than indoctrinate them, we'll have an atheist society in a single generation.

Friedrich and the famous moustache
Friedrich and the famous moustache

Friedrich Nietzsche

Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche was a German philosopher, cultural critic, poet, philologist, and Latin and Greek scholar whose work has exerted a profound influence on Western philosophy and modern intellectual history.

I have not come to know atheism as a result of logical reasoning and still less as an event in my life: in me it is a matter of instinct.

— Friedrich Nietzsche

Atheism is Instinctual

Atheism is completely natural. A primary tool of critical thought is to remember that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. When someone tells you that they saw a velociraptor in the forest, you're going to need evidence to believe them. Their claim is pretty extraordinary and so you would require some outstanding evidence for their claim. Religion is treated the exact same way. If a Muslim man tries to convert you to Islam, you're going to need some evidence for his claims about the truth of his religion. That's an important point about religion, that the burden of proof is on them to prove their fanciful ideas. The only reason people are convinced so easily about the madness of religion is that their parents or friends tell them about it, and they trust those people. I believed in Christianity for a long time, and when I had the strongest doubts, I would remember that my parents, friends, fellow church-goers, and extended family wouldn't lie to me about something so important. Atheism is instinctual, but so is trust.

Christianity was from the beginning, essentially and fundamentally, life's nausea and disgust with life, merely concealed behind, masked by, dressed up as, faith in "another" or "better" life.

— Friedrich Nietzsche

Religion is Desperation

I've also noticed this painful truth about religion. It's made up of people who are intensely afraid of reality, and of the truth of the human condition. Religion comes from our hatred for our loathsome existence and our deep desire to deny the actuality of death and future loss. However, if we can be united in our dissociation from real life, we can be happy. We can call this dissociation "faith" and together we can be free from the horror of existence. Religion allows people to forget that we are on a rock zipping through the cosmic abyss at hundreds of kilometers per second and that eventually our sun won't even exist, our planet will not even be a memory, and this truth is something that people desperately scurry away and hide from. The reality is all we have is each other, connection, and this life, anything more is hopeful delusions.

Statue of Epicurus
Statue of Epicurus

Epicurus

Epicurus was an ancient Greek philosopher as well as the founder of the school of philosophy called Epicureanism. Only a few fragments and letters of Epicurus's 300 written works remain.

β€œIs God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.

Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.

Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?

Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?”

— Epicurus

The Problem of Evil

Apologists and theologists alike have been grappling with the problem of evil for nearly a thousand years, and I'll tell you why. It's because it's a paradox that cannot be solved. Paradoxes such as the problem of evil clearly show us that the concept of god is contradictory in and of itself and therefore is impossible. Religious people will say that god is outside of space-time and doesn't have to follow the natural laws of reality and so he can deny logic. The only problem with that is logic is not a natural law of space and time, it's a law of reasoning that applies to concepts, and that's why the problem of evil remains a common source of doubt for religious people. Logic can't be pushed to the side. Religious people will have to explain why god is in contradiction with his own attributes. Because he is either impotent, malevolent, apathetic to the suffering of his creatures (evil), or he doesn't exist. Applying Occam's razor, it would be reasonable to say that he doesn't exist.

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    • Kiss andTales profile image

      Kiss andTales 4 months ago

      I will touch on your ending statement from your point and I must say limited understanding. As you would be limtied to space and what's up in the heavens as we speak. Does that mean there are no other planets or stars ? No. Do we personally own the earth in that are you responsible for its mass and size and existence, No ,you were born here but that's all. It provides you with necessities of life .

      We benifit from the sun and moon ,we don't own that either, have any human just said we own the sun an moon ! No would be madness to try.

      All we own is opinions of what we believe many times not the case at all.

      You talk about man suffering ? Why is man causing his own suffering ? Why does man make nuclear bombs to kill other humans, why do humans keep food and shelter from other humans based on greed and power. Why it may be easy to blame God for man's doings on earth the truth is ,what belongs to our owner or landlord of planet earth still belongs to him. He has allowed man to live on earth his way doing things to his demise.

      But he does not panic in that he can not stop and end all badness ,all threats to his planet earth.

      If he made it he can fix it.

      So lets be truthful there is no doubt where we live who we are, and neither should it be about who is charge of earth and heavens. Mean time all the bad things are about to end.

    • Sam Wickstrom profile image
      Author

      Sam 4 months ago from Nelson, BC, Canada

      Thank you for showcasing the standpoint or opinion which all these arguments have originated in response to.

      That's all I really have to say ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    • jonnycomelately profile image

      Alan 4 months ago from Tasmania

      K&T, you stand on the one opinion that matters to you personally: your own!

      As always. No room for any other. You have spoken like a true theist. Welcome to the real world that is open other opinions. Enjoy.

      Well done Sam. Voted up.

    • Sam Wickstrom profile image
      Author

      Sam 4 months ago from Nelson, BC, Canada

      Thanks Jonny

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