Richard Dawkins, one of the world’s most prominent atheists, speaks in Porto Alegre, Brazil, on May 25, 2015. Photo by Luiz Munhoz/Creative Commons

Why atheists are not as rational as some like to think

Many atheists think that their atheism is the product of rational thinking. They use arguments such as “I don’t believe in God, I believe in science” to explain that evidence and logic, rather than supernatural belief and dogma, underpin their thinking. But just because you believe in evidence-based, scientific research – which is subject to strict checks and procedures – doesn’t mean that your mind works in the same way.

When you ask atheists about why they became atheists (as I do for a living), they often point to eureka moments when they came to realise that religion simply doesn’t make sense.

Oddly perhaps, many religious people actually take a similar view of atheism. This comes out when theologians and other theists speculate that it must be rather sad to be an atheist, lacking (as they think atheists do) so much of the philosophical, ethical, mythical and aesthetic fulfilments that religious people have access to – stuck in a cold world of rationality only.

The science of atheism

The problem that any rational thinker needs to tackle, though, is that the science increasingly shows that atheists are no more rational than theists. Indeed, atheists are just as susceptible as the next person to “group-think” and other non-rational forms of cognition. For example, religious and nonreligious people alike can end up following charismatic individuals without questioning them. And our minds often prefer righteousness over truth, as the social psychologist Jonathan Haidt has explored.

Even atheist beliefs themselves have much less to do with rational inquiry than atheists often think. We now know, for example, that nonreligious children of religious parents cast off their beliefs for reasons that have little to do with intellectual reasoning. The latest cognitive research shows that the decisive factor is learning from what parents do rather than from what they say. So if a parent says that they’re Christian, but they’ve fallen out of the habit of doing the things they say should matter – such as praying or going to church – their kids simply don’t buy the idea that religion makes sense.

This is perfectly rational in a sense, but children aren’t processing this on a cognitive level. Throughout our evolutionary history, humans have often lacked the time to scrutinise and weigh up the evidence – needing to make quick assessments. That means that children to some extent just absorb the crucial information, which in this case is that religious belief doesn’t appear to matter in the way that parents are saying it does.

Children’s choices often aren’t based on rational thinking. Photo by Anna Nahabed/Shutterstock

Even older children and adolescents who actually ponder the topic of religion may not be approaching it as independently as they think. Emerging research is demonstrating that atheist parents (and others) pass on their beliefs to their children in a similar way to religious parents – through sharing their culture as much as their arguments.

Some parents take the view that their children should choose their beliefs for themselves, but what they then do is pass on certain ways of thinking about religion, like the idea that religion is a matter of choice rather than divine truth. It’s not surprising that almost all of these children – 95% – end up “choosing” to be atheist.

Science versus beliefs

But are atheists more likely to embrace science than religious people?

Many belief systems can be more or less closely integrated with scientific knowledge. Some belief systems are openly critical of science, and think it has far too much sway over our lives, while other belief systems are hugely concerned to learn about and respond to scientific knowledge.

But this difference doesn’t neatly map onto whether you are religious or not. Some Protestant traditions, for example, see rationality or scientific thinking as central to their religious lives. Meanwhile, a new generation of postmodern atheists highlight the limits of human knowledge, and see scientific knowledge as hugely limited, problematic even, especially when it comes to existential and ethical questions. These atheists might, for example, follow thinkers like Charles Baudelaire in the view that true knowledge is only found in artistic expression.

Science can give us existential fulfillment, too. Photo by Vladimir Pustovit/Creative Commons

 This image is available for web publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

And while many atheists do like to think of themselves as pro science, science and technology itself can sometimes be the basis of religious thinking or beliefs, or something very much like it. For example, the rise of the transhumanist movement, which centres on the belief that humans can and should transcend their current natural state and limitations through the use of technology, is an example of how technological innovation is driving the emergence of new movements that have much in common with religiosity.

Even for those atheists sceptical of transhumanism, the role of science isn’t only about rationality – it can provide the philosophical, ethical, mythical and aesthetic fulfilments that religious beliefs do for others. The science of the biological world, for example, is much more than a topic of intellectual curiosity – for some atheists, it provides meaning and comfort in much the same way that belief in God can for theists. Psychologists show that belief in science increases in the face of stress and existential anxiety, just as religious beliefs intensify for theists in these situations.

Clearly, the idea that being atheist is down to rationality alone is starting to look distinctly irrational. But the good news for all concerned is that rationality is overrated. Human ingenuity rests on a lot more than rational thinking. As Haidt says of “the righteous mind”, we are actually “designed to ‘do’ morality” – even if we’re not doing it in the rational way we think we are. The ability to make quick decisions, follow our passions and act on intuition are also important human qualities and crucial for our success.

It is helpful that we have invented something that, unlike our minds, is rational and evidence-based: science. When we need proper evidence, science can very often provide it – as long as the topic is testable. Importantly, the scientific evidence does not tend to support the view that atheism is about rational thought and theism is about existential fulfilments. The truth is that humans are not like science – none of us get by without irrational action, nor without sources of existential meaning and comfort. Fortunately, though, nobody has to.The Conversation

Lois Lee is a research fellow in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Kent. The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily represent those of Religion News Service.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


  1. In The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins offers a scathing critique of the Judeo-Christian religion and argues that the universe is better explained by evolutionary biology precisely because its findings are empirically verifiable. But in an earlier work, The Selfish Gene, he argued that the human person is not a primary actor, but a mere shell used by genes to reproduce themselves into the next generation, which is a conclusion not subject to verification.
    I read both books with great interest and think he makes an important contribution in each, but as this essay suggests, his arguments are not always verifiable and many people reject the notion that genes, not people, are the primary agents of life.

  2. Science and rationality are wonderful things, and I wouldn’t want to live in a world without them, but both can only take you so far. Even the great scientific genius Albert Einstein, who was a believer, admitted that. There are wide gaps that exist within the field of scientific inquiry that still cannot be explained, a great deal of which never will be. Does that mean that science is a sham? I don’t think so. But when contemplating Infinity, things like scientific formulae and logical syllogisms seem wholly inadequate to the task of responding to that reality. After a certain point, only music, art, and poetry suffice to lift the human spirit and help it to grasp the reality that is the Divine. At least, that’s what I think.

  3. “Being atheist is … irrational.”
    – Lois Lee, University of Kent.

    AW SNAP I mean, Tell us something we don’t already know.

  4. Okay, atheists. You see what writer Lois Lee said on ya. And she didn’t even preach no Bible. So y’all better post good and hearty on this one!!!

  5. Science is an incredibly useful tool, so long as you recognize its limitations. Scientism, on the other hand, is a flawed and dangerous philosophy.

    Definitions of rational: 1) based on or in accordance with reason or logic, 2) having reason or understanding, 3) relating to, based on, or agreeable to reason. That is why one of the best colloquial definitions of the often demonized word “atheist” is, the “lack of belief in a god or gods” which talks about a belief, but not how the person got to that belief. It is easy for a person to be an atheist for bad reasons and bad logic, but will the religious say this of their position as well? or might they personally consider themselves unquestionably superior to those other humans with a different belief? That is one reason why the scientific method is so important, because the easiest person to fool is ourselves. Yet, now after gleefully pointing out atheists (point to comments), generally, as not being necessarily reasonable or rational, are these religious adherents willing to say the same for themselves and that they are prone to mistakes, or biological heuristics, or the susceptibility towards fake news, just as the non believers are? The answer for many, of course is yes. Yet, when will Lois Lee write an article that warrants the title “Humans are not as rational as some like to think” to be inclusive to both the religious and the non religious? and to point out that all humans, both religious and non religious, have to be very careful in their thinking and be aware that it is easy to have beliefs not based upon rationality, and that critical thinking in all things, including normally unquestioned strong beliefs about religion and faith, are important? or this a one-way admonishment? Is such a one-way admonishment a best practice and the best way for both sides to converge towards what is true or a way to diverge from truth?

  7. To sum up the above post: Some self-styled atheists believe goofy things for no good reason, and some Christians claim to value science and rationality. Therefore, things seem to be all muddled.

    If you want to clear up some of the muddle, it might help to set down a clear definition of atheism that you plan to use consistently. Is someone atheist just because they call themselves that? Or what?

    I suggest that atheism means rejecting the grand narratives that traditional authorities push on you, and then crucially, atheism means _not_ grabbing onto some other grand narrative as a replacement. Atheism means not dedicating yourself to authoritative explanations. Atheism means saying “I don’t know.”

    Interestingly, this is the same definition I use for science. Science means scepticism and testing. Science means rejecting authoritative explanations. There’s no such thing as authoritative science. Even the most firmly established theory is open to question and ongoing testing.

    Does this mean atheists and scientists believe nothing at all? Certainly not. Due to inductive reasoning and a sense of probability, we believe all sorts of things will happen in the future. If I drop my pencil, I believe it will most likely fall. It’s inductive reasoning.

    The problem with many religious beliefs is that they’re about the past. Did God create the world? Did Jesus walk on water? It’s impossible to have a scientific belief about such things, because they are in the past. Scientific beliefs are just about the future. Scientific beliefs are predictions.

    Oh sure, we have lots of scientific stories about things that probably happened in the past. Those are called theories, and the point of a theory is to predict something will happen in the future. It’s inductive reasoning. You see a pattern and you bet that pattern will continue into the future. That kind of thing.

    The key prediction of Christianity seems to be life after death. So the scientific question should be: Do we see a pattern of deaths being followed by resurrections? Can we see this pattern continuing into the future? Unfortunately, I have never seen signs of a person alive again after dying. I just can’t see any pattern there. So I can’t really predict that I myself will resurrect.

    But if you guys see such a pattern, go ahead and point it out for me!

  8. We don’t (in America) insist on permanently limiting science, technology, business or culture to only that defined by, or aligned with, ancient holy writings which no one can verify, question, edit or change. But most of religion actually is limited in such a manner. A lot of people have to rely on the word “atheist” to express that they merely are unwilling to embrace the entirety of “God information” offered to them from the scriptures of Jews, Christians and Muslims. This is very unfortunate.

    I have heard a Western Thought professor (lecturing on what we got from Hebrews, Greeks and Romans) point out that “atheists” don’t even bother declaring that they don’t believe in Zeus and the other Greek gods. Why not? Well, because no one does anymore. There is no call for people to have to decide or state a position as to whether Greek mythology actually contains MYTHS. Everyone, including real Greeks, agrees today that what was once believed about Zeus and the others is simply not factual. But in the churches, synagogues and mosques we have large numbers of religious people running around telling the rest of us that you can’t pick and choose what you accept from their old scriptures. You MUST take everything in the Bible as literal truth about natural history or you are a Jesus hater. You MUST respect all of the sayings of Muhammad equally or you are “insulting Islam”. If you don’t claim to believe in Noah’s world-wide flood and Noah’s Ark (at about 2300 BCE, featuring a then 600-year-old Noah with all species saved on a boat) then YOU have been a VERY bad boy or girl. No faith, no forgiveness, no spiritual hope, no acceptance, no blessings for you. It’s really hard to overstate how just plain mean these positions are.

    Ever wonder if many of the hard religionists are actually the real atheists? In the age of Trumpism, it’s getting easier to make that case. The scripture believers are following a nut and going increasingly crazy in what they justify and rationalize from and for their nut. The scripture skeptics are the main people left saying…….hey, wait, where did the goodness and the kindness go that was supposed to be in that “old time religion”?

  9. The last paragraph is an excellent summary of the current situation.

  10. Thanks. We should be testing theories to explain the current mess. One of those might be that people who most claim to BELIEVE actually don’t. In my prior church life I met a number of churchy individuals who did not know either a savior or a Holy Spirit from a hole in the ground. I thought they were anomalies. I now know they weren’t.

  11. “one-way admonishment” at its best

    it’s about time

  12. Nah, this is The Definitive Atheism Definition By atheists themselves. Read & weep I mean enjoy.

    “In a move as useful as it was overdue (a few people have tried this, but to my knowledge none nearly as successfully), [Stephen LeDrew in The Evolution of Atheism] demolishes one of the most widely held myths that atheists have about themselves, namely, the belief that atheism is simply a matter of not believing in any gods. Atheism is in fact ‘a complex term with an even more complex history’ and ‘cannot be reduced to one single all-encompassing definition.’ [CJ Werleman in The New Atheist Threat: The Dangerous Rise of Secular Extremists] remarks that ‘on its own,’ atheism ‘is a non-positive assertion.’ Unbelief, however, is rarely ‘on its own.’ As LeDrew points out, with the rise of evolutionary theory, atheism ‘moved from simple negation of religious beliefs to an affirmation of liberalism, scientific rationality, and the legitimacy of the institutions and methodology of modern science—and thus from religious criticism to a complete ideological system.’ Atheism, then, is ‘a form of belief—rather than a lack of belief—shaped by its socio-historical context’ and ‘inextricably bound up with’ a plethora of principles that emerged from the Enlightenment.”

    Source: David Hoelscher, “New Atheism, Worse Than You Think”, CounterPunch, January 29, 2016.

  13. “They justify and rationalize from and for their Nut”, is “an excellent summary”? As “excellent” as your English?

    According to Oxford University, “excellent [means] extremely good”! Wanna know what “extremely” means?

  14. Atheism has become amazingly easy to defeat. I’m not joking, it’s three shades past Roadkill. Romans 1:20 explains why this is happening. Modern biology is killing atheism. You ask, “How many ways can atheism be rationally dissected and destroyed?” Well, how many insects live in your backyard?
    You get the picture. Which brings up a little ditty from .

    Atheist: What’s this fly doing in my soup?
    Waiter: Praying.
    Atheist: Very funny. I can’t eat this. Take it back.
    Waiter: You see? The fly’s prayers were answered!

  15. Christianity is stupid. #VirginsDontGiveBirth

  16. Christians are so stupid. Stop whining about racial oppression all day, just so you can turn around and oppress gay and trans people. Disgusting.

  17. The resurrection of Jesus Christ from death is the ultimate! Jesus took each of our sins onto himself to pay the death penalty punishment for sins. Each of us is saved from our sins when we repent of our sins and receive Jesus Christ into our lives, becoming born from above, born from God’s Spirit. What an awesome opportunity for each of us. Sadly, too many of us say “NO!” to the opportunity of a lifetime! Those of us who say “YES!” to this greatest of life’s opportunities, Experience the incredible sin-cleansing power of Jesus! Matthew 28 & Romans 6:3-4! Jesus is incredibly awesome!

  18. You might want to research Einstein’s ” beliefs ” a bit further. Too many believers took his observation about God and rolling dice quite incorrectly.

  19. Albert Einstein “was a believer” all his life in an example of fake news, produced by religion by taking some statements out of context and ignoring statements to the contrary by Albert Einstein himself (religion utilizes poor methods of determining the truth). Inserting a god because science, the study of the nature, does not know all things and most likely won’t ever know all things is a “god of the gaps” fallacy, inserting god where a god does not belong. There is no verifiable evidence for anything Divine and the god hypothesis fails when examined with close unbiased scrutiny, as many fundamental religious believers find out when they learn to use critical thinking skills on their deeply held religious beliefs and countermeasures against their human biases.

  20. “The scripture believers are following a nut and going increasingly crazy
    in what they justify and rationalize from and for their nut.” — yes, it seems like their “bad-guy” radar is turned off. Maybe as Trump said: “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.” is true to some degree. It seems that rape and abuse and general lack of higher order principles is easily ignored by the dogmatic as long as it someone ostensibly believes in the same silly myths and fairy-tales.

  21. 90% of the universe is dark matter and dark energy. The wave collapses because (or so that) I can see it.

    Religion fills in the gaps with ‘god’. Science fills in the gaps with fudge. Does reason tell us that fudge provides a better explanation than ‘god’?

  22. Science tells us there is no evidence for ‘god’. Religion has claimed where evidence could be found many times in the past, and science has found no evidence. Sometimes this is called “divine hiddenness” the way god leaves no fingerprints upon reality which exactly matches a god that is not there in the first place. One partial better explanation for god is that humans have naturally evolved “overactive agency detection” where humans may errantly believe a tiger, an agent, is in the grass about to pounce, when it is only the wind blowing in the grass. Those that are more prone to not investigate to see if it is the grass or a tiger then to leave more progeny and pass on their DNA. Sometimes those errors, those mistakes, include god as the ‘agent’, which also isn’t investigated fully, and which also isn’t there.

  23. Good morning: I think both science and religion would do well to recognize that each discipline uses models to arrive at their insights. Physics, the field I studied for many years, uses models by developing hypotheses, conducting experiments, then evaluating and verifying the results. These same results are constantly being revised with new information, new hypotheses, new experiments, etc.

    Religion also creates hypotheses, using story and symbol, which are tested against the experience of people over time. But many (not all) religions make absolute claims for their ideas, and cloak those ideas with what Clifford Geertz called “an aura of factuality” that makes them seem infallible, thereby impeding the process of revision.

    If religion were to understand itself, not as a divinely-revealed set of truths, but as a model through which humans gain and share insights that are consistently being reevaluated, a real dialogue might be possible.

  24. Monica,
    Not all religions claim to possess a “divinely-revealed set of truths”.
    Are you speaking of one in particular or generalizing?
    Would you say the same thing for non-theist’s?
    What do you believe should be the end-game of “real dialogue”?
    From my world-view, the synopsis of such “constant reevaluation” is less mooring and more insecurities. Exactly what atheism sustains. (hypotheses also includes several liters of atheistic anger tested against time)

  25. If religion were to understand itself not as divinely revealed truth but as a mode through which humans gain and share insights that are constantly be reevaluated, it would be science.

    The belief that science provides answers to questions which it is incompetent to answer actually has a name: scientism.

    Science cannot examine what it cannot measure and all its conclusions are tentative.

  26. 90% of the universe is theoretically or tentatively dark matter and dark energy in the most commonly accepted theory pending revision with new data.


    A deity outside the universe who created the universe would not “fill in the gaps”.

  27. Science tells us that it cannot measure religious truths, souls, or anything of the kind.

    A belief that this inability means there is no god represents a belief in scientism.

  28. It’s always humorous to see atheists wrestling around the pig sty trying to out do one another in all things atheist.
    They claim that God doesn’t exist because they cannot touch him nor see him. Yet with every breath they take, every sunrise they see and every love they feel is proof that the Creator exists.
    For thousands of years, man did not know that black holes existed; yet they were there. For thousands of years, man had no idea what odd creatures were at the bottom of the sea; but they were there. For thousands of years, man could not see the finest particles called quarks; yet they were there.
    God is all around the atheist; but they willingly suspend their logic and reason because they fear judgement at the moment of death. In their mind, if they suspend belief in the creator “because there is no proof”; they can live their lives in willful ignorance without fear of the afterlife.
    The only problem is, they will see Christ at their moment of death.

  29. “So the scientific question should be: Do we see a pattern of deaths being followed by resurrections?” assumes that a life after death could be measure.

    If the model that the Abrahamic religions use for life after death were to be true, there would currently be no “resurrections” to assess.

    In short, science is not competent to evaluate it.

  30. If the hole is not threaded, you need a nut to keep the bolt tight. The ungodly are loose bolts driving on a bumpy road, sooner or later they become unhitched.

  31. Thank you, Glenn – I’ll try to respond. I mentioned that “many (not all) religions make absolute claims for their ideas,” and agree that Eastern religions generally avoid this, but Abrahamic religions do so and they’re the majority in the West.
    I think the end-game of real dialogue should be a willingness to work together to pursue a higher truth than can’t be gained by either science or religion working alone. Science has helped us expand our notions of the universe. Religion has helped us discern a deeper meaning to what we can see and hear. That doesn’t mean abandoning one’s particular faith tradition. It does, I think, mean we should be willing to discover that our particular traditions don’t exhaust what can be known about the universe and ourselves. – Monica.

  32. Good morning to you too. I must say that it’s nice to hear from an advanced physics student (even though I was not one past high school). Rather, I spent a lot of time in accounting, both in college and in jobs for 25 years. There, all (all) transactions are either properly recorded on a continuous ongoing basis are they aren’t. Assets are either protected or they aren’t. Books either balance or they don’t. Financial statements either fairly present the financial position of the entity or they don’t. “Vague” is not an acceptable norm there, you know?

    Congratulations on your last sentence above. I think it is a very good one for boiling a huge problem down to an understandable bite. Something we are learning (again) these days is that bad messaging can very well win and take us all to bad places. If kindness and sense win again anywhere, it will only be via development of better messaging than the “other guys” and better messaging than we have had. So, repeating here, I like your sentence.

  33. The thing about religion in general is that some of it is not supposed to be myth. We are supposed to believe that kindness works, no? Shooting people on 5th Avenue is not kindness. How does “a” Trump (a certain type of fellow, exemplified in this particular guy) dream up this kind of a public statement and sell it to religion? But, as we can observe, he actually did sell it to his followers. It’s rather astonishing stuff, unless one begins to realize that large numbers of the “fundamental” Christians have never grasped or accepted the kindness part of Christianity and instead regard IT—–not the Genesis part——-as the myth.

  34. Not quite your best recruitment tool, now is it?

  35. Using fear as a recruitment tool drove me away from the missionary baptists who seemed to relish the power biblical patriarchy bestowed upon them. Not even their women sent to induce shame could return me to the subjugation of their church.

  36. Is this metaphor about bolts and nuts in devices driven on bumpy roads from the KJV? Does it work with other literal definitions of nut too? Walnut, pecan?

  37. So the fly drowned instead of being eaten. Brilliant.

  38. Sir, I think we can learn something from our respective affinities. When I look at a physics problem or equation, I see it clearly. It all makes sense to me. When my husband looks at it, he furrows his brow and wonders what it all means. His doctorate is in Business. When he goes on and on about algorithms that will guide global investments, I smile and sip a glass of wine.
    We’re all different. Some of us are great at math, others at science, still others at the arts or languages. Each of these disciplines is a prism through which reality, and truth, may be seen, if only in bits and pieces.
    I’m not sure accountants can be saved, however.

  39. Yet being a sailor, you were subject to the UCMJ and Code of Conduct. You were subject to the consequences of your actions and the “judgement” of your superiors when you received your performance evaluation or fitness report.
    Why is that any different than Christ’s judgement?
    While the consequences are greater than 30 days in the brig; God forgives those who accept Christ as their savior. A pretty easy out if you ask me.
    Much easier than trying to explain to some zero why you didn’t know that having booze and women in the barracks wasn’t ok.

  40. Would you like me better if I told you that I no longer have the “affinity” for accounting that I once had—–but am still moored in the background? You see, I learned that although it is impossible to spoof a good accountant on a business example as simple as those found in basic bookkeeping, it is quite possible to spoof entire universes of investors with webs of multilayered entity deception (like Enron, famously) or on valuations of intangibles (like how much is a brand really worth), or on actuarial assumptions necessary to project a pension plan out decades into the future. Some “accounting” is very much black and white. Some of it is nothing more than people making big guesses in high places. Your husband undoubtedly would appreciate these potential problems with the presentation of financial statements.

  41. Some atheists claim that god doesn’t exist. Most atheists are waiting for some actual evidence. Some of us simply don’t find the question either asked properly, interesting or useful.

    It wasn’t atheism, science, or rationality that made me into an atheist. It was religion.

  42. Yes. It’s called science. Truth that never needs to be re-evaluated is called religion.

  43. If properly made and fresh, fudge is the best.

  44. Each and each every religion Not-X tells us that Religion X is wrong about the nature of god, the nature of the gods, his/her/their/its demands on humanity and his/her/their/its message to humanity.

    Each and each every religionX tells us that Religion not- X is wrong about the nature of god, the nature of the gods, his/her/their/its demands on humanity and his/her/their/its message to humanity.

    The best evidence against the “truth” of religion is religion itself. There is rationality for you.

  45. You keep saying stuff like that about biology, floydy, but you never back it up. If you aren’t careful, people are going to catch on that you don’t have a clue what you’re talking about.

  46. It’s always humorous to see theists who consider mindless interactions of chemicals and the movement of objects in space as proof of God. It’s almost as humorous as the theists who tell atheists what’s going on in their own minds, rather than bothering to ask them or get to know anything about them.

  47. While it’s true that Einstein professed no belief in a personal God, he did say this:

    I believe in Spinoza’s God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with the fates and actions of human beings.

    That’s belief…in something.

  48. The truth is always the truth; it is an absolute. Whether or not man can understand the truth, or move toward it with his ability to reason is irrelevant.

  49. I thought this article was how irrational the rational atheists are.

  50. Since it has a hard time defining atheists, atheism, rationality, irrationality, religion, faith, god, gods, science, and logic, as well as defining the interconnections between all of them, it appears to be about many things.

  51. I’ve actually been there and am on the road back. I was a conservative and a church guy too——-once upon a time.

  52. I figured your last line above was a friendly jest , but——it’s always good to follow up, especially since accountants have been known to have reputations as single-focused bean counters.


    Okay, I believe in, and will own, the word scientism even though it is meant to be derogatory it sounds like an enlightenment value. As Steven Pinker points out, 1) Enlightenment: Use knowledge to enhance human flourishing, 2) traditional sources of beliefs are generators of delusion [such as faith and revelation], 3) Human beings on their own are not particularly reasonable, but people are capable of reason, if they adapt certain norms, such as a) free speech, b) open criticism and debate, c) logical analysis, d) fact-checking, e) empirical testing.
    4) Science [<–big scary word for some, therefore, scientism for those taught to be afraid of science]: The world is intelligible, that is we can [and do] understand the world by formulating possible explanations and testing them against reality and that science is our most reliable means of understanding the world [and reality. Scientism, yum, serve me up some of that, please].

    Meanwhile I might say, world religion, is like a set of arbitrary literature found at a comic-book convention where people talk about their made-up superheros, and even argue among themselves the true cannon and values of those comic books and about the true attributes of those superheros and the fictional lore that surrounds them. Comic-bookism.

  54. We are all ungodly, it is that some people have not figured that out yet, not because they are stupid, but because they are unfortunate, and they have missed the memo, because religion hides the memo from them, like an iron curtain. Yet I like the metaphor, that religion is there to screw those with holes in them.

  55. Some is true, some is not, but it’s all supposed to be believed without fact-checking — that sounds like the way fake news works. Some religions tend to take all sides of the argument, and are trained to use mental gymnastics to justify shooting someone as a kindness. I think some of the religious are primed to buy what Trump is selling, that is, they have been taught to unquestioningly believe their authorities, and if the evangelicals say Trump is their leader, then he can do no wrong in their eyes, because of inculcated training in the use of cognitive dissonance to turn off their “bad-guy radar”, even though to less biased outsiders he clearly does wrong.

  56. Anyone who has read Dawkins or Hitchens knows how irrational some Atheists can be. One problem is deciding what is or is not rational! Is it rational for a true believer to read something they know will upset them? In their minds absolutely NOT. For me as an Atheist it would be irrational NOT to read something that I know I won’t agree with (100%)! That is how we grow and learn and become enlightened souls!

  57. We’re in a big mess when too many people either have no bad-guy radar to begin with, willfully turned it off, or worst of all, willfully empowered it to work in reverse where all bad guys are good and all good guys are bad. I smell the latter in today’s political environment. Trump is an especially egregious case of outrageousness, but the same people who support him also supported a parade of other jerks before him. I mean, the GOP sides of both houses of Congress are a piece of work, as they say. We either tip the numbers game away from this rot or we don’t. Serious stuff.

  58. I’ll take that point on Spinoza. I think if you study the universe and are religious minded or not, awe and wonder of something immensely bigger is a natural result. Yet many of the religious do tend to conflate snippets of what he said to their particular brand of a personal god.

    At best maybe someone might claim Einstein was a pantheist, but when analyzing pantheist beliefs, the conclusion often can end in something to the effect of, “…if the natural universe is your god, why not just call it the universe.”

    Albert Einstein said lots of things about religion, many things that those with a personal god have to ignore to pretend Einstein is a card-carrying member of their religious club. Yet, many religions teach adherents to do this and to believe false things.

  59. Oxygen atoms don’t have brains, and are therefore mindless. The chemical processes responsible for the generation of oxygen have no brains, and are therefore mindless. Ditto for how celestial objects move in space. It is nothing but innate physical and chemical processes.

  60. I don’t believe in atheists. I know there are people who claim to be. There is no way for people claiming to be atheists to prove what they really think or believe. They just expect us to take their word for it. But there are millions who claim experiences with God who so-called atheists refuse to believe. Nope, can’t have it both ways. You can tell me you don’t know if there is a God, and I can accept that as a rational starting point if you have never opened your eyes and looked around. However, too often so-called atheists remind me of the child searching for the planet Pluto with his microscope in a his parent’s basement after breakfast on a cloudy day. Wrong instrument, wrong location, wrong time, and fundamentally wrong understanding about the nature of what they are looking for. Because they can’t find it, then everyone who says it exists and have observed it must be wrong because those witnesses are part of a cult known as astronomers, and we can’t believe astronomers because microbiology has never found a planet and astronomers have a vested interested in astronomy being true–and astronomers are deluded because anybody can look in the basement, or even at the sky and see that there is no Pluto.

  61. “”The word God is for me nothing but the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of venerable but still rather primitive legends,” Einstein wrote (translated into English). “No interpretation, no matter how subtle, can (for me) change anything about this.”

    “If something is in me which can be called religious, then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.”

    “It seems to me that the idea of a personal God is an anthropological concept which I cannot take seriously.”

    “It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.”

  62. Historically atheism was a complex concept during the Enlightenment.

    Current usage – someone who has no belief in god(s).

    Ignore people who make a living trying to be different – after all – that’s why Christianity has so many competing idiosyncratic varieties.

  63. Science can’t evaluate the fairies at the bottom of your garden, Valhalla or The 75 Planet Galactic Confederation – I doubt you believe in any of them.


  64. I can believe that you as a religious person have had an experience. I’ve had a few of them myself. The burden is on you, not me, to prove that what you claim they are is true.

    Want to believe, as posted below, that sunsets and planetary movements are the result of God? Great! Now prove that it is a god or gods, and not something else entirely, and then prove that it is your particular version of godthat is responsible for it, and not another particular version of god.

  65. Why should any outside force need to be involved?

  66. Why do we care what Einstein thought about these matters? If he thought God was as powerful as, say, Beyonce’, this wouldn’t change a convinced mind of the foolishness of a present god interested in the affairs of carbon units. Remember the words of the mentally deranged St. Paul, “Didn’t God show that the wisdom of this world is foolish? God was wise and decided not to let the people of this world use their wisdom to learn about him”? I Corinthians 1:20-21

  67. “There is no way for people claiming to be atheists to prove what they really think or believe. They just expect us to take their word for it. But there are millions who claim experiences with God who so-called atheists refuse to believe.”

    The two situations aren’t equivalent. The case of the theist experiencing a god involves the presence of an outside entity somehow interacting with the material world, or has consequences regarding the material world. No atheist doubts that the theist believes they experienced something. Atheists doubt that there was anything that ever happened outside the person’s own head. No atheist is saying that theists don’t believe in a god, or that they don’t believe theists don’t exist. When a theist says they believe something, atheists believe it. Not what they believe in, but the fact that the theist believes in something. It is therefore a completely false parallel.

    Theists have made a lot of specific predictions about the physical world over the years. Your child in the basement analogy would be more apt if the child went to the astronomers and said “where is pluto?”. When the astronomers say where, the child says “I can’t see it” and the astronomers point to a telescope. When the child still can’t see it, the astronomers say “if you really believe in pluto, you can see it”. Scientists looked for signs of a global flood and found none. We looked for signs of a mass exodus of Jews from Egypt and never found any evidence of that. We orbited the Earth and found it was not resting on a turtle’s back. We landed on the moon and found it was not some old woman’s head. We climbed Mount Olympus and did not find gods and goddesses there. We probed the bottom of the oceans and have yet to find a giant serpent wrapped around the Earth. Theists have said time and time again “this is how the world works” or “this really happened in the past”. Whenever scientist have taken their word for it and checked, they have not found what religion said they would.

  68. In other words, the article made you THINK about many things; the article itself is ABOUT the relationship between atheists and rationality.

  69. That’s not an outside force. Try again.

  70. Atoms don’t have a mind, but the way they behave and interact is governed by a pattern that is mindful to its core.

  71. Case in point. You are telling ME what I think.

    This is what I said below.

    Ben in Oakland Parker12 • 7 hours ago

    Some atheists claim that god doesn’t exist. Most atheists are waiting for some actual evidence. Some of us simply don’t find the question either asked properly, interesting or useful.

    It wasn’t atheism, science, or rationality that made me into an atheist. It was religion.

  72. What empirical evidence leads you to conclude that these interactions are governed mindfully? How did you rule out the interactions being random?

  73. That is simply untrue. At least, it’s untrue about science. Oh, well. It isn’t true about religion either. Witness the One true Church, aka Catholicism, followed by the Real One true Church, aka Luther’s church, followed by the Really Only True and restored Church, the LDS.
    Up until Newton, Aristotelian mechanics was regarded as true, at least in the west. That changed with Newton, who discovered, for example, that Aristotle was wrong about states of motion in matter. Newtonian mechanics seem to be the final truth, until Einstein came along, and found that it was not so true, especially with relative velocities being taken into account. With the advent of quantum mechanics, Einstein was found to be true only as far as he went.
    and yet, all three systems of mechanics post Aristotle are true. And in quantum mechanics, it turns out the light can be a wave, light can be a particle, that something isn’t necessarily where it seems to be, and that a mass can go from point A to point B without traversing the space in between, contrary to Newton.

  74. All you are saying is that there are laws in the universe. That doesn’t prove there is a god, much less the Judaeo-Christian god. It just proves there are laws.
    If there weren’t such laws, it is highly likely that the universe couldn’t exist. That doesn’t prove there is a god, either, much less the judaeo-christian god.

  75. William James, in his Varieties of Religious Experience, said that the universal essence of religion is its recognition that there is something wrong with us as we naturally stand, a condition that is remedied by divine contact. This is how he put it:

    “The warring Gods and formulas of the various religions do appear to cancel each other, but there is a certain uniform deliverance in which all religions appear to meet. It consists of two parts”

    1) An uneasiness; and

    2) its solution.

    1) The uneasiness, reduced to its simplest terms, is a sense that there is SOMETHING WRONG ABOUT US as we naturally stand [emphasis in the original].

    2) The solution is a sense that we are saved from the wrongness by making proper connections with the higher powers.”

    The problem with your suggestion that religion should “understand itself, not as a divinely-revealed set of truths, but as a model through which humans gain and share insights that are consistently being reevaluated,” is that religion would have to quit being religion in order to do that. Which, of course, means that it’s not going to happen — although, again of course, there may be some who try to cross-breed incompatible species and then pin the “religious” label on the stillbirth.

  76. So again, truth exists even if man (at a point in time) does not have the ability to understand.

  77. Uh huh. And? Are you going to back that up at some point?

  78. We’re waiting. You going to show it or just keep pretending it exists?

  79. “You are telling ME what I think.”
    No I’m not. All I said is that you were moved to thought by the article. I didn’t delve at all into the content of your thinking — you pretty much supplied that on your own. Apparently, what you thought about was “defining atheists, atheism, rationality, irrationality, religion, faith, god, gods, science, and logic, as well as defining the interconnections between all of them.”

  80. You’re thinking to hard.
    The truth is truth whether you realize it or not; whether you accept it or not.
    Again, for thousands of years, man had no idea (insert whatever here) existed. The fact that man couldn’t see it, touch it, understand it; does not mean it didn’t exist.

  81. None of which constitutes evidence. What else you got?

  82. If that’s not evidence, I’m not sure what you want.
    Seems pretty simple to me. I can’t help it you are limited.

  83. And I can’t help it that you know nothing about chemistry or biology and this have to resort to magical thinking to event attempt understanding it. You haven’t given any evidence anything you mentioned is designed at all, but you don’t seem to remotely understand the slightest but about it or even about what constitutes evidence.

  84. bReaTHtaKing

    I read this comment to my beloved; we both go, Wow!

    Angelic music to my ears.

  85. And I can’t help that you are willfully ignorant that all is intelligently designed.
    It’s pretty simple really; but your arrogance precludes you from comprehension.

  86. So now we have 3 articles saying the same bad & embarassing thing about Atheism. Not good. AW SNAP. And I don’t care. Nor do God & Jesus, for that matter.

    (1) Lois Lee, “Why atheists are not as rational as some like to think”, The Conversation, September 27, 2018.

    (2) Dominic Johnson, Leah Green and Bruno Rinvolucri, “Atheists: you’re not as rational as you think – video”, The Guardian, January 25, 2017.

    (3) Emma Green, “The False Equation of Atheism and Intellectual Sophistication: Beyond the argument that faith in God is irrational—and therefore illegitimate”, The Atlantic, March 14, 2014.

  87. Many Hindus and Buddhists who have been reincarnated, remember their past lives. Thy didn’t see Jesus at their moment of death. There was no Judgment day.

  88. Science can only answer questions which can be subjected to scientific methods.

    That says nothing at all about whether they are true.

    I am not afraid of science.

    I AM afraid of idiots who go around spouting nonsense in the name of science.

  89. In no particular order –

    Before we can define the properties of an ” atheist ” we have to define the properties of ” god, or God. or G-d (plural if appropriate).

    There are some 3000 gods – as such we are all atheists – save the pantheists.

    I ” believe ” in everyone of the 3000 gods – except the one you believe in.

    We are all born atheists – it’s natural.

    The concept of ” belief ” is dangerous. Once accepted – what are it’s limits ?
    I believe in Russel’s Teacup. I believe there is a huge alien military base beneath the ice cap of the North pole. I believe in the Tooth Fairy.
    Don’t you dare tell me I am wrong – I read all this in a sacred infallible book. Believe me !

    The religious live in a world of perfect superstition -they possess truth.
    Atheists live in a world of imperfect knowledge – they seek truth.

    A religious couple will give their son/daughter a sacred text at the appropriate time.
    An atheist couple will give a library card.

    When man created the first God – he also created the first atheist.
    Had man never created a/the god – the word/concept atheist wouldn’t exist.

    What benefit has your god been to humankind ?


    Yes, science can’t answer questions about the mythical attribute of things that don’t exist. Idiots who spout nonsense in the name of science?, like young earth creationists, flat-earthers, non-materialistic neuroscience, numerology, spiritualism, prophecy, god (all of them)? Luckily quality science has corrective countermeasures against bad science and science converges towards the truth iteratively increasing it’s accuracy because it uses good methods. Religion based upon texts that are not updated to better reflect reality systematically, not so much. Many, most or all religions use the same poor methods that produce extremely different and incompatible results that diverge from reality. If all the books and knowledge about both science and religion were removed from the earth, given enough time scientific facts would be rediscovered that converge towards the same useful and predictive results obtained today, while no world religion would be created to match what it is now — it would be a whole new batch of myths.

  91. Yes, so Howard-Beale mad! As in:

    “All we say is: ‘Please, … just leave us [Non-Atheists] alone.’ Well, I’m not gonna leave you alone. I want you to get MAD! I don’t want you to protest. I don’t want you to riot — I don’t want you to write to your congressman, because I wouldn’t know what to tell you to write. I don’t know what to do about the [Atheists]. All I know is that first you’ve got to get mad. You’ve got to say: ‘I’m a human being, God [& Jesus have mercy]! My life has [Non-Atheistic] value!’ So, I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell: I’M AS MAD AS HADES, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!”

  92. How do you know it’s designed? What evidence do you have to support that claim? From where I’m sitting, all you’ve said so far is “I don’t understand this thing, therefore God”.

  93. Science is unable to measure non-physical phenomenon.

    It therefore has no role in measuring spiritual realities.

    Science makes errors (e.g., dinosaurs are cold-blooded) and resists correcting them.

    Attempts to use science to answer questions it cannot lead to erroneous conclusions, such as that non-physical reality is comprised of “things that don’t exist”.

    The truth of the statements “no statements are true unless they can be proven scientifically” or “no statements are true unless they can be shown empirically to be true” cannot themselves be proven scientifically, logically, or empirically.

  94. Hello Mad,

    You use “scientists” and “we” in the same paragraph. May I ask what your field of study/degree is?

  95. Right.

    The laws are just there, uncreated, necessary, magical.

    Just like a deity.

    Your faith is impressive.

  96. Your last sentence demonstrates that conflicting data and requirements are no problem for science, something you won’t allow for religion.

  97. No, it was the desire to engage in activities that all religions except blatant paganism frowned on that made you an “atheist”.

  98. But nobody wishes to prove anything to you except that you can’t touch their beliefs with a 10 foot pole.

  99. You certainly may. My PhD is in Molecular Genetics and Genomics, although I would say biochemistry and immunology are my primary areas of expertise.

  100. Ok then. You agree that when you don’t understand something, you think God did it because you can’t be bothered to learn science. Glad we established that.

  101. How interesting to be lectured about reason by magical thinkers.

  102. Greetings Reason Over Religion! I will try to answer your comments in a clear manner. God’s original creation was perfect and in perfect harmony. That perfect creation was damaged since Eden because of disobedience against God’s Laws originally intended to keep the perfect creations perfect. Since Eden, none of us have experienced a perfect environment. We live in a sin-damaged world. To restore creation back to its original perfection, sin must be destroyed, eliminated forever. God’s world, His Kingdom is absolutely perfect as He is perfect. The historically early example of this is the brutal, bloody sacrifices of Leviticus chapters 1 & 4 & 5. An unblemished animal is drained of its life-giving blood, butchered into pieces, then burned on the altar. Unblemished represents Jesus’ sinlessness declared at his courtroom trials. Draining blood represents Jesus on the cross of condemnation. Butchering into pieces represents the severe scourging of Jesus with metal or glass-embedded whips. Burning on the altar represents the final and permanent destruction of sins. The Jewish person lays his/her hand on the sacrifice, representing receiving the sacrifice (Jesus) and placing his/her sins on the unblemished sacrifice for destruction. Since no animal can adequately represent a human, it takes an unblemished human to receive the death-penalty punishment for sins. Jesus’ resurrection finally broke the power of sins over each individual who receives Jesus into his/her life.
    God is still creating an incredibly vast number of humans of awesome variety through human births. This is why He has not yet ended pain, suffering, and tragedies in the world. God is still creating humans of incredible variety. As the process of human history continues, Jesus offers salvation from sins to each individual many times throughout their lives. Jesus lived over 2000 years ago. Today he works through those people who have his Spirit, the Born from Above Spirit, in their lives, the Holy Spirit. Such as the many individuals who talk about Jesus. None of those people who belong to Jesus are perfect because there is yet the selfish sin nature that sometimes dominates the person. I hope this explanation helps. May God bless you today, Reason Over Religion!

  103. Thanks HpO. Blessings to you and your beloved! Jesus makes ME go WOW!!

  104. Great. Where does the Mad come in?
    “Maddening” could come from trying to converse with non-scientific individuals as myself. I’m still trying to figure out how placebos work and why I don’t just float up and off the earth. (my better half is interested in that one)

  105. As a citizen of Fantasyland, you obviously delude yourself into identifying “truth” and “reality” through Biblical Senselessness, Biblical Scams, Biblical Silliness, Biblical Spuriousness, Biblical Savagery, and/or Biblical Shams. It’s all BS.

  106. The Rational Atheist speaks:

    Putting the kibosh on all religion in less than ten seconds: Priceless !!!

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

    • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

    • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

    • There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

    • Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

    • Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated/reborn Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

    • A constant cycle of reincarnation until enlightenment is reached and belief that various beings (angels?, tinkerbells? etc) exist that we, as mortals, cannot comprehend makes for a no on Sikhism.

    Added details available upon written request.

    A quick search will put the kibosh on any other groups calling themselves a religion.

    e.g. Taoism

    “The origins of Taoism are unclear. Traditionally, Lao-tzu who lived in the sixth century is regarded as its founder. Its early philosophic foundations and its later beliefs and rituals are two completely different ways of life. Today (1982) Taoism claims 31,286,000 followers.

    Legend says that Lao-tzu was immaculately conceived by a shooting star; carried in his mother’s womb for eighty-two years; and born a full grown wise old man. “


    “Science makes errors (e.g., dinosaurs are cold-blooded) and resists correcting them.” … but then corrects errors when the evidence becomes overwhelming and the scientific consensus then shifts. Science follows the evidence where it leads, and makes conclusions based upon the evidence. Sometimes that evidence starts out scant or is in a period of flux, like the cold/warm-blooded dinosaurs debate, (or remains an unproven hypothesis that does not graduate to a predictive scientific theory), but as more evidence comes in science draws conclusions that converge upon was is true. Religion makes huge assertions not based upon reliable evidence, and then uses confirmation bias to prop up the conclusions it already presupposed and often rejects evidence that contradicts the unsupported presupposed assertions (sometimes, depending upon the sect, including extremely overwhelming contradictory evidence — giving these sects, and possibly parts of all religion, the attribute of an inability and/or an extreme resistance to learn). The methods employed by religion is a recipe for arriving at conclusions not concordant with reality (therefore many contradictory world religions). Science isn’t perfect and instantaneous, but has proven again, and again, ad nauseam that it is the best method humans have to obtain useful predictive verified and falsifiable knowledge concordant with reality. Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence (unless the constraints are tight), but absence of evidence (when the constraints are not tight) is not necessarily evidence of existence either, a weak-sauce point where religion tries to justify itself.

  108. Non-scientists aren’t the ones who make me mad, people who act like they understand science when they very clearly don’t make me mad. There are a lot of people out there who have no clue how science works but have no qualms lecturing to someone like me how science really works.

    The placebo effect is still pretty perplexing to scientists. We know that the brain controls a lot of the body’s autonomic functions, including heart rate, breathing, hormone expression, stress responses, and to a certain extent immune function. We also know that the power of suggestion can alter a person’s mental state. When a person thinks they are receiving treatment, that can be enough to alter the mental state and control of the autonomic functions in a beneficial way. I believe there is recent research indicating that some people are more susceptible to this effect than others, and scientists are researching what goes into triggering this effect so we can help activate it in such patients.

    The reason you don’t float off the Earth is because all objects with mass are attracted to each other. If you put two tennis balls next to each other on a table, there would be a gravitational attraction between them. It’s just miniscule. There has to be an absurd amount of mass for that gravitational force to amount to anything. That’s why only something about massive as a planet has significant gravity. There bigger and more massive a planet is, the more gravity it has. Gravitational attraction is also dependent on distance between the centers of mass between two objects. If you got closer to the center of the Earth, like by going somewhere below sea level, you would weigh more. If you were in the top of Mount Everest, you would be farther from the center of Earth’s mass and weigh less. If you get far enough away from the center of Earth’s mass, the attraction becomes negligible.

  109. The UCMJ is not an ancient manuscript of anonymous and unknown authors. It’s written in plain language, not vernacular. It’s no longer applicable to the service member once contract obligations have been met. The UCMJ is the same regardless the service branch and location of command.
    Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution provided that Congress has the power to regulate the military. Per Article 2 of the UCMJ, personal jurisdiction attaches, regardless of the physical global location of the service member, over all members of the uniformed services of the United States: the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, Navy, NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps, and Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.

    Any version, interpretation, and printing of a bible – or any religious text – is subjected to the whims and avarice of a translator, editor, and publisher.
    Hence, apples and oranges.

  110. “Seek M.E.N.T.A.L. help”?

    Mettle? But I’ve got it already, thanks.
    Earnestness? That’s my middle name.
    Nonconformance? I walk that talk, ‘yo!
    Truth? My Christ Jesus is the only Truth.
    Acumen? Higher than yours, mos def.
    Levity? Like the one I’m practising on you.

  111. Science isn’t everything, but it’s the best we have to answer questions which science can answer.

    That means the possibility of a spiritual reality, life after death in it, a moral system, the meaning of any of life, and so on are outside its competence.

    The methods employed by religion are not scientific methods as a result.

    Whatever your dislike may be of religion, it is NOT science-based.

  112. Woo woo — the woo-woo train is arriving on track seven. Pack your bags, it will take you anywhere and everywhere the imagination will allow people to go, without constraints. Life after death — the biggest boggie-man that keeps some people maintaining beliefs in comforting non-sense being the last vestige that keeps people from critically examining what they believe and why they believe it. Woo will give you any answer you seek, that’s a problem. Moral systems tend to do better for everyone, and not just for a select few card-carrying members, when they are reality based instead of fantasy based.

    One of my biggest beefs with religion is not only the unnecessary harm it causes, even from good people, but that it teaches people how to believe and maintain strong belief in “fake-news”. In the most extreme cases, someone not being generous might say that it makes people religiously-stupid and unwilling and unable to learn some simple things which is stronger than mere resistance. Reasoning is separate from science. Good critical thinking methods are better than faith-based methods, unless someone is trying to be wrong.

  113. Apparently one of your biggest beefs with religion is that it is not science.

    Beyond that you don’t seem to have much to say.

    Good critical thinking methods are not restricted to science and scientists.

    Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas come to mind.

    Some of our reality-based moral systems included the Third Reich and Josef Stalin’s reign of terror.

    Yes, you have opinions.

    No, you don’t seem to able to formulate a coherent argument to convince anyone who disagrees with you that she or he should consider your views in preference.

  114. Ah, here we are. This thread will likely disappear tomorrow, so I’m sorry I got delayed in responding.

    (But that’s okay, because this is RNS, and soon there’ll be another opportunity.)

    You have never refuted the previous biological examples, including human eyes and some other good bio-items too. (Or maybe a thread dropped off the board and you missed getting to provide refutations.) But do not worry. Your bathroom mirror refutes atheism. We’ll check the mirror quality soon.

  115. You haven’t given a biological example to refute.

  116. > “…. you don’t seem to have much to say” sometimes means, ” you don’t seem to have much I have the capability to hear — or — anything to say that tickles me where I need to be tickled”. But yes, I’m just a normal person and not an expert in any field. Maybe this impression is an indicator of the backfire-effect beginning to take hold? The brain putting up shields? Ref: “your biggest beefs with religion is that it is not science”, straw man argument? Maybe make a distinction between proven good methods versus proven bad methods rather than science and religion. There may be a need to demonize science to prop up inferior epistemology?

    > Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas: it is a common tactic to imply a unwarranted conflated value of ancient sources and thinkers with contemporary sources and thinkers who ride upon their shoulders.

    > The Third Reich and Josef Stalin had reality-based “moral” systems based upon many principles that are consistent with extreme forms of religion (unquestionable authority, for example). To try to destroy religion through force is not a humanistic value, and is more about getting rid of the competition rather than disbelief. Liberal democratic enlightenment-value societies tend to arc towards the freedom of religion and non-religion, because that is a part of freedom of thought. Hopefully through exercises in the free marketplace of ideas, the best ideas and best methods of thinking rise to the top.

    > I don’t pretend I will be able to change anyone’s opinion upon anything. At some point, people have to weigh as much as they can gather from as many sources as possible and with good reason convince themselves of best practices, methods and ideas.

  117. Science is good for what science is good for.

    That has nothing to do with religion, nor does pointing that out “demonize science”.

    Your zany ideas are not science, pointing that out has nothing to do with science, nor do your ideas .

    And you’re completely entitled to hold them dearly.

  118. If questions of molecular genetics and related disciplines come up, you’ll be in luck.

    Unfortunately for you, this article deals with none of them.

  119. Which ideas are zany? A definition of zany is: fantastically or absurdly ludicrous or amusingly unconventional and idiosyncratic [peculiar or individual to me]. Those zany ideas will need to be pointed out more specifically, instead of generally and dismissively, else I’ll never know. Maybe they are considered zany because of environmental conditions, who is in the surroundings, and limited experiences of being outside a bubble? or maybe it is just hyperbole? Disagreeing is one thing, but “zany” seems to imply these ideas have not been heard much before. I’ve heard both sides many times.

  120. Some theists have made specific predictions about the physical world over the years. So have some scientists.

    The track record for both is less then salutary.

    Your entire diatribe fails to specifically address the issue raised in the article.

  121. No, defining the properties of deity is NOT a requisite for defining “atheist”.

  122. Then, as a purveyor of BS you should be quite the fan of religion.

  123. Basically what you’re purporting is you are really smart and people who do not see it your way are not.

    Which proves the article’s point.

    Thank you.

  124. Of course the Eastern religions generally don’t improve the lives of their adherents nor bother to be even slightly reasonable,

  125. You continue to try to construct an opposition between science and religion.

    That’s zany.

    You think you know what you’re talking about.

    THAT’s zanier.

    Quit while you’re behind.

  126. There are many people that say science and religion are incompatible. So, to me that’s not a zany idea. You don’t believe that there is opposition between science and religion? You have not heard this sort of claim before? I mentioned the faith-based versus evidenced-based methods of epistemology, and would say now, if I didn’t before, that this epistemology difference is an incompatibility between science and religion. In my experiences, this is not a zany view (rare, or unheard of, or absurd) “You think you know what you’re talking about” is once again not specific, general and dismissive as well as unhelpful. This dismissiveness may be the brain trying to protect the mind from the discomfort of having deeply entrenched beliefs challenged (thus it feel like a personal attack) and therefore forces the mind to protect itself from cognitive dissonance.

  127. I took intelligence out the the equation (ie “…not because they are stupid”), and it seems there is a desire to put it back? I don’t claim high education or special intelligence for myself, or for individuals of any group. Is it important that you think that I think that I’m especially intelligent? Could this be a projection of what you need to believe as a defense mechanism? Why was this first sentence ended with a period (assertion) instead of a question mark? Is this therefore a strawman comment since I didn’t claim intelligence? I’m just a guy trying to figure out things just like everyone else. It seems, though, some people have unnecessary man-made handicaps blocking them.

  128. Instead of debating whether atheism or belief in God is right or rational, it might be more productive to try to learn from each other.

  129. You must’ve been a JAG or an admin with a response like that.
    I thought we were talking about rules, judgement and consequences; and your fear of them (as stated by Baptist’s) – and somehow you lead us to a bunch of mumbo-jumbo about the UCMJ and constitution….

  130. Be brave puppy; be brave.
    Just like there are consequences in life, so to are there consequences at death.
    You mention fear – other than being independently wealthy; why do you not rob banks or harm others?

  131. I don’t rob banks or intentionally harm others because it’s not the right thing to do. Harming others is wrong. Stealing from others is wrong. And I don’t need “God” or you to know that.

  132. Christianity is nothing but crazy BS that denies basic biology. #VirginsDontGiveBirth

  133. As part of the learning curve:

    Joe Smith had his Moroni and Satan/Perdition/Lucifer. (As does M. Romney)

    “Latter-day Saints like M. Romney also believe that Michael the Archangel was Adam (the first man) when he was mortal, and Gabriel lived on the earth as Noah.”

    Jehovah Witnesses have their Jesus /Michael the archangel, the first angelic being created by God and of course Satan and his demons.

    Mohammed had his Gabriel (this “tin-kerbell” got around) and of course the jinn.

    Jesus and his family had/has Michael, Gabriel, and Satan, the latter being a modern day demon of the demented. (As do Obama and his family)(As do Biden and Ryan) (As do the “Trumpers”)

    The Abraham-Moses myths had their Angel of Death and other “no-namers” to do their dirty work or other assorted duties.

    Contemporary biblical and religious scholars have relegated these “pretty wingie/ugly/horn-blowing thingies” to the myth pile. We should do the same to include deleting all references to them in our religious operating manuals. Doing this will eliminate the prophet/profit/prophecy status of these founders and put them where they belong as simple humans just like the rest of us.

  134. Interesting.. you “know” it’s wrong. You were born knowing this? Or this was a learned response as the consequences of your actions?

  135. I don’t know exactly how I know it. It was reinforced by my parents, and growing up with many siblings, I learned that friendship and being fair made life better.

  136. Hello Rational Conclusions,

    Perhaps I should explain in more detail how I think religion has inspired rational thought and how science can contribute to religious thinking.

    Early scientists believed that God is rational, and so they looked for rational explanations for natural phenomena. Therefore we get these words in a hymn from about the year 1820:

    Praise the Lord! for he hath spoken;
    worlds his mighty voice obeyed:
    laws, which never shall be broken,
    for their guidance he hath made.

    It was about this time that the Catholic Church finally accepted that the earth goes round the sun.

    There have been other adjustments that religion has made in response to greater scientific knowledge or advances in ideas about human rights.

    * Despite Exodus 22:18 we all suffer witches to live these days. This challenged many Biblical literalists and even John Wesley but now we’ve all got over this problem. See

    * Despite many texts urging slaves to obey their masters, our ancestors abolished slavery more than a century ago.

    * The contradictions in the creation stories of Genesis 1 and 2 and in the story of Noah have led many religious scholars to conclude that these apparent difficulties point to different scribal traditions in the texts that came together to make the present book of Genesis.

    * Traditionally, the Song of Solomon has been interpreted as a picture of the love that God has for Israel or that Christ has for his church. However, most people, including the religious, also accept that they are love poetry.

    * We also have got over the traditional suspicion of lending money on interest (unless you’re a strict Muslim.)

    In a hundred years time I am sure that there will be religious and secular people around, but I would not be surprised if the religious of all traditions have made more concessions to modernity.

  137. Added observations:

    There was no Genesis and there was no Exodus.

  138. Great non-answer. And it’s a non-answer because you know what I am saying is correct. Your parents used both punishment and positive reinforcement to instill in you the difference between right and wrong.

  139. Fk you, you ignorant superstitious SOB. What you are saying are lies. You just can’t stand the fact that other people don’t think as you do. Fk you. And what exactly are you saying? You haven’t even lined it out, you stupid freak.

  140. ROR, greetings! I hope your day is going as awesome as mine is! Thanks for your comment! Let’s take a closer look. Of course Adam and Eve were historical people! Genesis 5, 11, 25, and 46 detail an extensive historical genealogy. 1 Chronicles chaps 1-9 also detail an extensive historical genealogy. These are family trees. This is progressive social history. Take a close look at Genesis 5:1. “This is the book of the generation…” clearly there was some form of writing documentations taking place. I already answered your Jesus-sacrifice criticisms. But, I’ll repeat it again.

    Sins must be eliminated for the world and humans to be perfect. Sins must be destroyed. Leviticus 1, 4, and 5, describe that. An animal cannot represent a human being. It requires a perfect human being to substitute. Jesus did that. It was brilliant and powerful how he did that! Jesus did his part over 2000 years ago. Christians now do their part representing him. So, ROR, I encourage you to receive Jesus Christ into your life and experience his blessed transforming power in your life! I hope you have an incredibly awesome day like I’m having.

  141. No, Wayne. We’ve already been over this with you repeatedly. Read again, and take a critical view of your idiotic beliefs for a change. Your religious delusion is an embarrassment to humanity that the world is fortunately (albeit too slowly) leaving behind at last. Religious nutcases like you that are still clinging to it basically need a thorough wiping.

    The Eden story of Adam and Eve is plainly false in view of how we now know that the world was populated. Quoting from your mythbook of horrors AKA the bible, which gets science wrong repeatedly and actually contradicts itself, doesn’t help you there.

    Again, the whole Jesus-sacrifice story, the foundation of the mythology of Christianity, is utter nonsense from the get-go. How is it again that your purportedly omnipotent being, your “god” couldn’t do his saving bit without the whole silly Jesus-on-sticks hoopla? And how was Jesus’ death a “sacrifice”, when an omnipotent being could just pop up a replacement son any time with less than a snap of his fingers?

    Furthermore, 2000+ years without a peep from the sky fairy of your god myths is more than sufficient grounds to reject your Christian tall tales. For that matter, why is it that your “god” can’t respond to clear up the sincere disagreement here about his instructions, or even his own existence? Your sky fairy never made it to the digital, networked world; he can’t even produce his own website, nor even respond in a forum.

    Pretty pathetic “god” that you’ve made for yourself there.

    Religion is a disease of the mind. Inoculate against it with reason.

  142. Of course atheists don’t aren’t always decide rationally. We are human. That doesn’t mean that we should embrace irrationality and believe religion. Of course, scientific knowledge is incomplete. That doesn’t mean that religion is to be believed.

    Science, at least the natural ones and once the philosophical ones, too, are supposed to be rational. They strive to contain as few contradictions as possible. They couldn’t represent reality if it were otherwise.
    Religions are the products of the cultures that carried them, in the times when they were created. They mutually contradict each other and sometime seven themselves. They no longer serve their societal benefits of providing answers, they don’t even, since the age of enlightenment, exclusively provide rules and thus order.

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