Since I don’t have a means in which to get a video on the net at the present time, I guess me writing a small book will suffice.
Let me first say that only recently did I even think about something like this. I am 30, and started a new job about a year ago. Shortly after starting the new job, I was approached by a young lady who was interested in me. After a few uncomfortable conversations of getting to know one another, she stopped talking to me. I asked her co-workers about it and was told that, she knew that I was an atheist, somehow this was gossip for the pipeline, and did not want to be associated with that. I later found out that she was heavily involved in the church and basically looked down upon me for my beliefs, or lack thereof. I had never really thought about this before happening. I never thought once in my life that someone would look down upon me, and think that I was less of a person or beneath them somehow, because my views and belief on God.
Do I feel there is a conflict of interest, yes, but the conflict is not coming from me it is coming from the other party, of course that is the not the case for everyone. My boss would say that I am wrong, and I would say my boss is wrong. However I do not think any less of him because he chose to believe in Christ, but he chooses to do so with me because he feels that I am denying absoluteness and a book 1500 years in the making.
My boss, who is also very close friend of mine, is a devout Christian. Not only does he attend a church that his father ministers, but he preaches himself. He and I have built a very strong relationship that has come completely out of our conversations about religions, God, Richard Dawkins, Jesus Christ, Greek Gods, etc. Through these conversations we argued, we butted heads, we agreed and disagreed, and we somehow built a friendship which exists to this day.
Let me go back and correct myself on something that I said earlier. I said he looks down on me, I am not sure if that is the correct statement to make here. He does think that I am confused and uneducated when it comes to Jesus Christ and he feels that it is bold of me to pretty much call him a wrong for his beliefs. I can understand why as I get upset when people would rather not listen to me and just call me an idiot for my views.
Having said that though, I have never once looked down upon someone, or even thought of them as being stupid or become angered, because they chose to believe in Christ, God, or whatever deity they so chose. I don’t even consider them uneducated. (however if someone tells me they believe in God and tell me I am wrong and do not have an argument ready to back up their claims other than “because the bible” I would have a few choice words for them and ‘ignorance’ comes to mind)
Choosing God over science to some people is ignorant and absent minded, likewise when someone chooses science over God. But that is free will and we cannot do anything to change that, we can only offer our words and our arguments as a reason to sway from one side to the other and see what happens.
I do not present my beliefs to people, unless they ask. I am not hiding it, nor am I ashamed, quite the contrary, I am very proud to speak my mind and love debating and talking about religions with all walks of life. I think the reason I do not tell people outright is the same reason someone would not tell another person, whom they voted for. It is just a bomb waiting to be dropped so that someone can argue with you for no other reason than to try and prove you wrong or call you stupid. I take this with me into every new relationship and every new person I encounter. What is the point of getting off into a heated debate, right off the bat, when there is probably no need for it?
When dealing with Theists, I find that it is only difficult to maintain a relationship with them if they are oblivious and blinded with ignorance and just hide behind it. I have NO problems with someone that believes in God. I personally feel it takes more faith to believe in a nonexistent being of “it”, and how “it” created us, than it is to believe in evolution, the Big Bang, and the primordial sludge. But I do have a problem if a person believes in God and doesn’t know why they believe in God, or do so because they know nothing else. To hide behind “Because the bible tells us so..” is my least favorite argument period, and I will immediately walk away from a person that even tries to invoke it as it is not even worth my time and my energy. The lack of knowledge or maybe it’s the resentment of knowledge, will sour me on trying to deal with, or maintain a relationship with someone that believes in God, or whomever. Ignorance may be bliss, but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t piss me off sometimes.
I took a long way to answer it but I guess to answer it short and sweet:
No, me being an Atheist does not affect my relationship with a person of different faith. However, the same cannot be said for someone trying to maintain one with me, in regards to my Atheism. I guess there are some conflicts, as I am prone to walk away from someone that I feel is not educated enough to argue their own beliefs.
Looking back over what I wrote I am not even sure I answered your question correctly, but I tried. :)
Short answer: how can you dismiss every other religion so quickly and flatly? That's a LOT to dismiss.
You're assuming two separate things: atheists are wrong, and you are right. By "every other religion" you're referring to about 20,000 different deities humanity has invented, not only from the dozen or so religions the average person can name. Let's not even talk about the infinite number of gods we haven't even thought of yet.
You're not just flipping a loaded coin when you throw in with the God of Abraham. You're throwing a twenty-thousand-sided die and assuming it will come up 16,742 and only 16,742. If Christianity is wrong, atheism is not the only alternative. And the vast majority of those other gods are far less forgiving. Supposing the die comes up 16,731 and it's Baal? We're both screwed.
The sheer number of gods that people have believed in throughout history as strongly as you believe in yours tells us two things. One, if there is a god, any given god is most likely the wrong god. Two, widespread belief in a god doesn't make it the true god or all major gods would be true.
Based largely on this, we acknowledge the non-zero probability of there being some god, and we then dismiss that chance just as you dismiss the chance of being killed by a meteorite today. Not impossible, but just not gonna happen.
Besides, if there is a deity, I'd rather present myself to it with no gods in hand than with a rival god. So in a way, I am willing to be wrong and I've prepared for it as best I can.
Finally, I don't know about you but I can't just believe something because it's good to believe in it. I could pretend, but what would that achieve? I need something to go on.
"Weak atheist" is someone who is of the opinion or has reached the conclusion that there are no gods. It's not a positive belief.
"Strong atheist" is someone who believes that there is no god or equivalent. There are few of these.
I think the modern atheist position is not "There is no god" or even "There is no EVIDENCE for any god". It's "There is no AVAILABLE evidence for any god, and based on this (and other factors) I disregard the small probability that one exists." We acknowledge that we can't prove non-existence, but we assume it anyway.
The short answer is no, because "theism is false" is actually further than most atheists are willing to go.
Even Richard Dawkins would not unequivocally say there are no gods, which must be true in order to conclude that theism is false. The chapter of The God Delusion directly concerned with God's existence is titled, "Why there *almost* certainly is no God".
Would you say that because Dawkins felt he needed the "almost", Richard Dawkins is not an atheist? Of course not. Atheism is not a stone cold denial, it's not a positive belief that there are no gods (that's "strong atheism"). It's a lack of belief in any god or equivalent and the associated conclusion that there probably aren't any. To invite atheists to argue that theism is definitely false is like inviting an astronomer to argue that aliens are impossible.
Here it is from the standpoint of statistics. It's impossible to disprove a null hypothesis; you can only find sufficient evidence to reject it and accept an alternate hypothesis. The absence of any gods is the null hypothesis, because it requires no evidence to even suggest.
This is proven by the existence of "implicit atheists", those few with no exposure to religion and no self-taught religious beliefs. Many young children and some remote tribespeople are examples. Atheism is the default position for a human being, at least to begin with. Any god is therefore an alternate hypothesis which you may accept on the basis of whatever you regard as evidence. You can never deny the possibility outright. I don't try.
Moving from the disputed truth of theism to the pros and cons of professed theism: With the possibility of a god intact in my mind, this atheist is ostensibly at risk of paying dearly in hell while believers are rewarded. This is only likely to be the case if there is only one possible god. There are 20,000 or so invented gods and an infinite number of other possible gods. Whatever the probability of SOME god existing, the probability of a particular god is one in infinity, or near to zero as darn it. Live as though only your god or gods exist and, infinity to one, you're backing the wrong horse. The vast majority of invented gods are very unforgiving of that. Better to approach the worst-case scenario of a foreign god with no other gods in hand, I say. Besides, wouldn't any god see through a fake self-serving belief professed only to escape punishment?
As you can see, theism invites criticism even when you admit it is not definitely false.
The following is an attempt to reason against theism as strongly as an honest atheist should dare.
Premise 1: There is no apparent empirical evidence for the existence of any god or equivalent supernatural being.
(Break this premise if you like by presenting some. The value and definition of "apparent empirical evidence" will need hammering out first of course, and I won't do that here.)
Premise 2: For the truth of theism to be at all likely, some empirical evidence for the existence of a god or equivalent supernatural being would need to be apparent.
(You'd need a very good reason why some other type of evidence is acceptable, or even evidence at all.)
Conclusion: Theism is likely false.
I invite readers to try writing their own step-by-step logical arguments in a similar vein. Have fun.
(As a sidenote, Penn Jillette once wrote an article called "There is no God." You might like it. - Brian Sapient)
Refer to The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, or directly to the source: American Heart Journal vol. 151:4, "Study of the Therapeutic Effects of Intercessory Prayer (STEP) in cardiac bypass patients: A multicenter randomized trial of uncertainty and certainty of receiving intercessory prayer". Here's the abstract.
The results were roughly as follows:
- Those who didn't know whether they were receiving prayers showed no difference between the sub-group which really was receiving prayers and the sub-group which wasn't.
- Those who knew they were NOT receiving prayers did better than those who were receiving prayers and knew it.
The second point doesn't suggest that prayers are harmful in and of themselves. The going hypothesis is that the knowledge of prayers was a kind of social pressure which tended to result in complications.
View this excellent video for the leading chemical theory of abiogenesis, or the origin of life:
If you prefer not to get into the details, simply consider that
1. it's a 4.5 billion year old planet with a surface area of about half a billion square kilometres, and
2. it's a fact of evolution that all living things have a single common ancestor. (The ubiquity of DNA is the most obvious evidence of this.)
This means that the process of abiogenesis, however it happened and however unlikely, only had to happen once, and there was a vast amount of time and space to do it in. However small the chances of the particular process occurring in any given time and place, it had a practically infinite number of opportunities.
A similar situation is a lottery. The chances of winning it might be one in 50 million, but imagine if 50 million people each buy a ticket. There's still a chance that nobody will win (with these numbers, 36.79%), but the number of EXPECTED winners is exactly one. So if someone in another city wins it, nobody is surprised.
Don't underestimate random chance if the chances are good. It's only by random chance that you weren't hit by a meteorite today, or any other day.
The thing to remember is that someone having a near death experience is, obviously, near death. The brain is in a panicked state. It hallucinates, or dreams, of happy or fantastical things to get away from reality and pain. Since the person knows on some level that death is nearby, thoughts are likely to turn to the afterlife and whatever concepts of it the person has been exposed to. Of course Heaven and Hell are going to figure heavily in these hallucinations. Contrary to what you suggest, I think people simply have Heaven and Hell in mind when they have their NDEs.