Religious people view us this way because they've grown up being told that their gods are the source of all goodness and that not following their rules is flat out evil. I think we can change this perception by simply proving it wrong.
Be an atheist in public and a good person too. This forces people who think such things as, "Atheists are free to do any evil, selfish thing they want to!" to think such eye-opening things as, "Why aren't these atheists doing any evil, selfish thing they want to?"
Why not click the link on the right to Atheist Volunteers for some examples and opportunities?
No. Atheism by strict definition is the lack of a belief in gods, but it's generally extended to the lack of a belief in any supernatural entity or substance. That includes ghosts, spirits, souls, angels, demons, vampires, elves, boogeymen, unicorns, phoenixes and the energies of karma, chi, the Holy Spirit, life-force or The Force.
Let's go through this very carefully.
- We have about 8,000 years of recorded human history. Humans are the only creatures who have ever deliberately recorded it. All time before that is referred to as PREhistory for a reason; the universe pre-dates recorded history. By about 15 billion years.
- The Big Bang was a sudden expansion of matter. It did not create any heat, because all heat was contained within it; it merely dispersed heat like it did matter. It did not necessarily create anything, since nothing stops the matter from having existed before the Bang. It did not destroy anything either, because there was probably nothing outside the Bang that it could destroy. Comparing the Big Bang to an explosive detonation is a gross oversimplification.
- Present-day black holes do contain vast amounts of matter compressed to a single point, or singularity. It happens when the gravity of an object is great enough to overcome the magnetic fields keeping the atoms apart. Current physics do allow for this.
- Even if time as we know it resulted from the Big Bang, it's not necessarily all the time there's ever been. What if another system of time and space existed, and the Big Bang spawned from this? Perhaps another universe?
An atheist doesn't know how the heck the Big Bang happened, because we haven't found enough evidence to make any theory remotely certain. I'm comfortable with that. If I adopted one hypothesis as the truth now, I'd have to fault every other theory out there without any support at all.
Finally, don't take offence but to assert beyond doubt that a God is responsible for something merely because of the absence of known alternatives is the very model of an argument from ignorance.
I won't cover abiogenesis (the origin of life) here, because neither has MrPeters.
You're absolutely right about atheism and realism. The Church of Reality is a valid religion to adopt, whereas atheism is simply a rejection of religion.
The CoR's beliefs, such as they are, are perfectly sound. Like atheists, they demand evidence before they will believe that something is real.
As for their rules for living, their "Sacred Principles" and so forth, that's for you to evaluate. Would someone who lives by these principles lead a good life? Help others? Be happy?
The CoR may be a religion, at least by its own definition, but it is at least a thoroughly rational one. However, I would be curious as to whether conventional religions regard it as a religion at all.
Abortion has very little to do with natural selection. It's a form of artificial selection, if anything.
If all foetuses should be preserved simply because one of them might be the next Einstein, so should all sperm, and that's impossible. Even if a man never wears a condom and never withdraws, ten sperm or fewer out of tens of millions ejaculated will make it in (assuming you can't do better than decaplets). Even in a man who never has sex, the sperm he generates will die in his crotch and be replaced. Any one of them could be the next Einstein.
Same goes for eggs; every month a woman isn't pregnant, another little Albert goes down the tubes into the tampon.
We are just not capable of harnessing the potential of every potential human we create, voluntarily or otherwise. We produce masses of spare eggs and sperm so that when we really do want to procreate and raise a child properly, the ingredients will always be available.
Richard Dawkins' site has links to a great many debates between atheists and apologists, and not just the ones the atheist clearly wins either.
Apart from that, I recommend searching YouTube for "debate" and the names of famous atheists and/or apologists. May I suggest Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Michael Shermer and Daniel Dennett on one side, and Dinesh D'Souza, William Lane Craig and Alister McGrath on the other. I won't comment on the relative abilities of these folks, but they've each been in a lot of debates.
Short answer: If there's no Rapture, we will all die in the end, and permanently. Saying so will not make the Rapture happen. We deal with it.
We might escape the solar system before the sun dies, and even if Earth-based life dies out it could start again somewhere else, but eventually the whole universe will be too hot or too cold to support life and anything remaining will die. There might be other universes (concurrent or subsequent) where new life emerges, but let's not get into that.
We live in a changing universe where life-friendly times and places are fleeting. Our chances of survival reduce towards zero the farther you look into the future. Sorry.
You have it right: since eternal life is the invention of religions, after death we will not exist, just like before we were born.
Does this frighten us? Sometimes, because it's difficult to even conceive of not existing. That's my best guess at why religions claim to offer eternal life: the alternative may be literally unthinkable, even if true.
Nevertheless we accept our mortality, and it drives us to make the most of the single, finite life we each have.
Have a nice day. I'm sure trying to.