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u/BlunderLikeARicochet · 33 pointsr/atheism

Trying to talk to believers about their belief is often frustrating and unproductive. Based on a great deal of practice and a deep interest in the best techniques to approach these difficult conversations, I think I can offer some constructive tips. I've written the following to help skeptics have productive conversations about religion. These techniques are heavily based on Peter Boghossian's "Street Epistemology" concept, and Anthony Magnabosco's work. (Anthony's videos are highly recommended to see these strategies in action)

HOW TO TALK TO RELIGIOUS PEOPLE ABOUT THEIR RELIGION


  • You cannot convince someone else of anything — You can only provide new information, and if they accept it, they convince themselves. Sounds simple enough, but the problem is the backfire effect. This is the defensive tendency, upon hearing something contradictory, to reflexively reject it in order to preserve a belief. The result is an even stronger belief. Simply put, people like to be right, and they dislike being wrong, especially about something they consider important. So we are faced with the difficult task of getting someone to question their cherished beliefs, while we avoid being contradictory. Sounds impossible, but it's just tricky. The key is to ask questions and inspire empathy.

  • Establish at the outset that you are open to new evidence, that you are willing to change your mind. Religious people like to define atheism as a religion because it's easier to dismiss dogma than an honestly curious person. But atheism has no dogma, and as an atheist, you are unattached to anything except a commitment to finding the truth, whatever it may be. You are not certain or closed-minded. You are agnostic, open, and honest, and it is this attitude that you want to inspire within the believer as much as possible. The best way to do that is to lead by example.

  • Your entire discussion (and every future discussion) should primarily concern the investigation of one subject: "Why do you believe, and is it a good reason?" Instead of engaging in an argument, establish a teacher-student dynamic, with you as the student.

  • How do we determine what is most likely true? Does your proposed method work consistently for everyone, or only when you use it? It's so easy to get entangled with irrelevant details, but stay on point. We want to help the believer discover that their epistemological method is unreliable, because this is the foundation of belief.

  • Socratic method. Ask questions often and make assertions as sparingly as possible. I cannot overstate how important this is. Ask "why" enough, and you'll soon realize how comfortable the faithful are at describing "what" they believe, and how unprepared they are to explain the "why". And the "why" is what matters.

  • Frequently summarize, in your own words, what you've heard. Ask if your summary is accurate. This assures them that you are listening and sincerely want to understand, and helps them to consider their own ideas, which can sound much less convincing when expressed with different verbiage and coming from outside one's own head. (No, I don't mean to summarize Christian doctrine as ancient blood magic. Be charitable.)

  • When you hear the word, "faith", ask for a definition and don't continue until you get something reasonably coherent. Explore the reliability of faith. Ask about scenarios where faith leads to false conclusions. Listen carefully for when they use "faith" to mean something else, then return to asking what faith means. Believers often use "faith", "trust", "hope", and "belief" interchangeably. This is symptomatic of a circular belief structure — If all those words mean the same thing, then, "I have trust in my belief because I have faith" is really saying, "I have faith in my faith because I have faith".

  • Avoid counter-apologetics. There are logical answers to every theistic argument, but they always fall on deaf ears. Why is this? The backfire effect plays a role, but also important to note: Apologetics are typically post facto rationalizations, and not the core reason for belief. Nobody ever converted to theism upon hearing the cosmological argument. Trying to rebut these kinds of excuses is not only argumentative, but irrelevant. If forced to engage apologetics, a good question is, "Were you a believer before you learned about these arguments?" The honest answer is always yes, so try to explore those foundational reasons for belief.

  • The example of other religions should always be at the ready. When a spiritual revelation is mentioned, ask how the authenticity of one revelation can be established over another. When they talk about their holy book, ask how we can determine which holy book is most correct. When they appeal to faith, ask about people who have faith in a false god.

  • "If the Muslim / Hindu / Mormon is mistaken about their revelation / book / evidence / faith... how can they discover their mistake?" You won't believe how effective and incisive this question is until you try it. It's a simple question about falsifiability, and believers, though well experienced with confirmation, don't think much about falsifiability. Whatever the answer, explore the reliability of the method.

  • These kinds of questions tend to make believers uncomfortable because they rarely (if ever) consider their foundational reasoning. Expect responses of rhetorical tap-dancing which don't really answer the questions posed. Expect elaborations on "what" they believe, and not "why". Be patient and try not to interrupt. But...

  • Don't get sidetracked. If you're asking good questions, you'll often get answers to questions you didn't ask. These answers will often contain fallacies or absurdities you'll want to counter, but resist that urge! Stay on topic, but don't be argumentative. If your question isn't answered, listen respectfully, then ask again, as gently as possible. I mean, avoid saying, "You didn't answer the question!" This is an accusation of evasion, and adversarial. Repeat what you just heard, ask if that's a fair summary, say, "Hmm" thoughtfully and then say, "But I don't understand how that explains..." Do you see the difference? The first response is an accusation. The second establishes that you are listening, and accuses yourself of a failure to understand. This humble attitude is important. Lead by example.

  • Where appropriate, instead of saying, "I" or "You", say, "We". For example, "How can we tell the difference between something non-physical (supernatural) and something that doesn't exist?" This is a subtle but effective way to inspire empathy. You are inviting them to be your partner in an honest search for truth.

  • You want to follow the beliefs of the person who is most correct. There are many competing religions and the reasons for belief offered by members of most religions are strikingly similar. Illustrate these similarities in your questions. Can the believer demonstrate that their reasons are superior to what other religions can provide? The object is to inspire empathy and get them thinking about the issue from your open perspective, faced with a variety of god claims, rather than from a position of closed certainty. If you are successful, you won't need to ask why their god hides from an honest seeker of truth — If they trust your sincerity, they'll ask themselves.

    I cannot guarantee that these strategies will make atheists out of everyone you encounter. But I can assure with some confidence that your conversations will be more productive, and will better provoke honest self-reflection in the believer. And that's the first step.
u/TooManyInLitter · 2 pointsr/atheism

> How did you come to the conclusion that God doesn't exist?

The person making a positive claim assumes the burden of proof. Your Christian friend rejected the null hypothesis that {supernatural deities exist} and accepted the alternate hypothesis that {supernatural deities exists}. What evidence is there to support/justification of the null hypothesis and accept the alternate?

Ask your friend to please present the reasons they believe in the God Horus. If you have evidence to support Horus as your God, evidence that is verifiable and falsifiable, or a philosophical argument that can actually be shown to be linked to a natural physicalistic causality-limited universe, evidence that is not an emotional or feeling based subjective experience based upon confirmation bias from prior knowledge of what your "God" image may be, please feel free to present it.

How is that justification for belief in Horus coming along?

I don't think the Christian believes in Horus. And this is the basis for the atheism worldview.

It's not so much the evidence that one can provide (unless you will accept the 'lack of evidence' as evidence) for atheism. Rather it is such an overwhelming lack of any credible evidence that one can identify, or is put forth by others, to support a belief in supernatural deities. One cannot justify rejection of the null hypothesis that {supernatural deities do not exist} and accept/justify/support the alternative hypothesis that {supernatural deities do exist}.

It is possible to argue that this same position can be used for a theist to justify their belief structure over other differing theistic positions, as many theists claim that they believe based upon a feeling or emotion and/or have Religious Faith (i.e., religious belief without evidence) that supernatural deities are real and that their religious belief in supernatural deities is correct.

However, this position of Religious Faith for their own religious worldview is often the same reason they do not subscribe or believe in many other theistic worldviews - there is no evidence to support belief in the supernatural deities of other religious worldviews; they do not have Faith in other supernatural deities. For example, do adherents to any of the following example supernatural deity triads accept or propose belief in the existence of the other triads listed to which they do not have Religious Faith (or belief without evidence)?

  • Egyptian: Osiris, Isis, Horus<br />
  • Canaanite – Early Israelite: El the Father God, Asherah the Wife/Consort (depicted as a Serpent), Baal-Hadad
  • Hindu Trimurti: Brahma - the Creator, Vishnu - the Maintainer, Shiva - the Destroyer
  • Olympian Greek Religion: Zeus, Athena, Apollo
  • Roman Capitoline Triad: Jupiter, Juno, Minerva
  • Sumerian: Anu, Ea, Enlil
  • Babylonian: Shamash, Ishtar, Tammuz
  • Christianity: Yahweh, Holy Spirit, Jesus

    Related statement concerning the belief in "God": We are all functionally atheists, there just is no evidence to justify support of one, or more, (depending on mono- vs. poly-theistic beliefs) supernatural deity(ies) than a Christian, a theist does.

    &gt; Return and repent before its too late. Death may be around the corner...

    Pascal's Wager? But let's take that self-serving piece of shit statement at face value - What is the purpose of an infinite eternity in Heaven?

    Why? Or better, why strive for Heaven?

    What is Heaven? According to Christianity, heaven is the purpose of all things. Heaven is the reason we live. Heaven is the reason Christ came and the reason he died for our sins. Heaven is the motivator of all of the apostles. Nothing is more important than heaven. Family, love, money, all of these things come second to heaven. [Source]

    Then;

    What is the purpose of Heaven? Heaven is life in its perfected state. We, as creatures of God, are not designed to live in an imperfect world. We are designed to live in a world free from the corruption of sin. We are designed to live in the presence of God where we are free to worship, socialize, and discuss. This life is only a temporary existence. Heaven is where we can exist forever. The day heaven’s gates are opened is the day we begin our lives, not here on earth. The purpose of heaven is to provide a place for us to live. [Source]

    Then;

    What is the purpose of living for eternity in a perfected state with God? In a perfected state with God to provide all it would be Eternally Perfect (and ultimately, Undifferentiated) Bliss, all there is to be known would become known; eternal life in Heaven would quickly become static, unchanging, unremarkable and boring spent in worship of God. Eternal life is ultimately pointless and without merit.

    The real question is: Ultimately, what is the difference between heaven and hell?

    Nothing. Against an infinite eternity, Heaven and Hell are interchangeable.

    ----

    Here are some suggestions for Christian debate topics:

  • The actions attributed to God in the bible are all of a positive morality
  • Yahweh is and always been the one and only true God
  • The purpose of an infinite eternity in heaven and why that purpose is good for those in heaven
  • Evidence to support the mind-body dualism of a soul
  • Evidence to support that the Christian God is the creator of the universe and still intervenes within the universe in a meaningful way
  • Present a coherent definition of God and show how free will is possible (or impossible) under that construct
  • Evidence to support the resurrection of Christ that is non-Biblical
  • Why has prayer never resulted in the healing of an amputee to include at least one healed and fully finctional bone joint?
  • How the conclusion of the parable of the Ten Minas concludes with a positive morality:

    Luke 19:27 But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them — bring them here and kill them in front of me.

  • Genesis 3 (if you are a Genesis literalist) - Justify Christian morality against the Serpent (or Adversary) giving humankind morality (knowledge of good and evil) when God/Yahweh had decreed that humankind was not to have morality (forbid humans to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil).
  • Why the divine or inspired word of God and Christ and the Spirit was so directed and appropriate for a small low-population tribe of desert dwellers with it's late bronze age/early iron age society applies to today's society.
  • Why the overwhelming majority of Christians, in the one true religion for the one true and only God, seem to be only located in geo-political-socio-groups that they were born, and indoctrinated, into rather than distributed throughout other regions where other religions are prominent.
  • Does God have free will?
  • Why worship a God, Yahweh/YHWH, as the one true and only mono-theistic God when all historical documentation shows that Yahweh did not start out as anything more than a subordinate desert rain/fertility/warrior god to the Canaanite/Ugarit people that would later become known as Israelites (and hence to Jews and from there Christians and Muslims). During the period that Genesis and Exodus (1450-1410 BCE'ish) were (supposedly) being written, represented a time when the religion of the region was still in convergence, differentiation and displacement (synthesis and syncretism) of the polytheistic triad of the most prominent Canaanite and Ugarit Gods: El (the father God), Asherah (goddess, wife or companion to El), and Baal (storm/rain God, son of El) [though there is reference in Ugarit documents to Yahweh also being one of the sons of El] to the monolatry of the storm/rain God Yahweh and from there to monotheistic worship where Yahweh took the supreme position. References to Gods that predate, and are contemporary to, Yahweh can be found throughout the old testament.

    More online references with discussion the origin of the monotheistic God of Israel:

  • Israelite Religion to Judaism: the Evolution of the Religion of Israel
  • The Origins and Gradual Adoption of Monotheism Amongst the Ancient Israelites
  • The evolution of God
  • Ugarit and the Bible

    Other:

  • The Early History of God: Yahweh and the Other Deities in Ancient Israel by Mark Smith
  • The Origins of Biblical Monotheism: Israel's Polytheistic Background and the Ugaritic Texts by Mark S. Smith
  • A History of God: The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam by Karen Armstrong
  • The Religion of Ancient Israel (Library of Ancient Israel) by Patrick D. Miller
  • Religions of Ancient Israel: A Synthesis of Parallactic Approaches by Ziony Zevit

u/lanemik · 1 pointr/atheism

&gt; Interestingly, if you look at the history, literalism/fundamentalism didn't arise until well after the Enlightenment. Literalism is best understood as an over-exaggerated response to the challenge posed to "easy" Christianity by the advancement of science.

I refuse to accept the idea that, say, 9th century monks or 15th century inquisitors did not believe the bible to be literally true. I accept, of course, that much of today's literalism is unthinking, childish backlash against scientific knowledge. However, literalism has always been around and was simply assumed prior to the enlightenment.

&gt;Also, I was not stating my own beliefs, I was merely arguing that the OP presented few arguments which would be challenging to a Christian.

God's devil's advocate. Gotcha. What are your beliefs and why do you not find the arguments you present to be compelling?

&gt; Christians don't believe that all beliefs require evidence.

Of course they don't, they'd have to believe something else if they did. They might have to be gasp agnostic or atheist.

&gt; Telling them that faith-based beliefs "ought" to require evidence is merely an assertion of your own evidentialism;

That isn't what I'm doing. What I'm doing is suggesting that beliefs that are based on evidence are much more likely to be true than those that aren't. The Christian response which you are echoing here is, "I don't care what is more likely to be true, I care about believing in Christianity no matter how unlikely it may be."

&gt; Responsible Christians, of which I know many, would not dispute that your hypothetical is plausible; they would simply say it isnot what they believe. Their belief is not based on plausibility, it is based on faith.

And it is this belief based on nothing but faith that is of absolutely no value. One can have faith in anything. There are an infinite number of things one can believe in. There is only one method for us to determine what we ought to believe in, via evidence. The only other way for us to know what we ought to believe is from supernatural inspiration of some kind. Of course, all the mutually incompatible religions that have ever existed have laid claim on divine inspiration. What to do???

&gt; That number is higher than I would have thought. I guess the great majority of wackadoodle evangelicals happen to live in America. Even in America, something like 80% identify as Christian, so there are still quite a lot of non-YEC Christians.

Something just occurred to me. What right do you have of calling anyone a wackadoodle evangelical? Their faith is just as valid (or invalid) as any "responsible" Christian.

&gt; I'm not sure what you mean here. I don't recall claiming that Christianity should get any credit for discovering natural selection.

I'm suggesting that Christians do not get any credit for accepting evolution. The power of evidence has shaken the foundations of the Christian faith. This was pushed onto Christianity from the outside.

&gt;The point is that you can only justify this with an appeal to evidentialism, just as the Christian can only justify their belief with an appeal to God. You've only gotten back to where you started.

I reject your assertion that evidence is no better than faith as simply false.

&gt; People who believe in miracles would dispute the assertion that they have never been shown to happen. The Catholic Church believes itself to hold a vast library of evidence of miracles. This is how they decide who gets to be a saint.

&gt;Again, you and I think this is bunk, but it is not logically inconsistent for a Christian to believe it.

I disagree. Given that every mutually incompatible religion lays claims to miraculous events and given that all supposedly miraculous events that have ever been put forward have failed to maintain their divine luster in the hard light of rational examination, it is absolutely illogical for a Christian (or a person of any other religion) to believe in miracles. The best we can say is that there are unproven claims of miracles.

What's more, the entire subject of miracles completely belies your notion that the religious accept their religion on faith. Miracles, if they exist, must necessarily be the work of God (which God depends largely on which religion you were brought up to believe in). Miracles, as you pointed out, are used by various religions as evidence of God's existence. The only reason faith comes into play when discussing miracles is because there is not one single miracle that we know for a fact has happened and that cannot be denied. If there were even one miracle that was undeniably the work of the Christian God, then what choice would anyone have but to accept Christianity? People would be foolish not to.

&gt;I'm not sure. If he is omnipotent then he can tell a lie. If he is omnibenevolent then he would tell a lie if circumstances were such that telling the lie did more good than telling the truth. I'm not sure if this situation could ever actually occur. I'm not sure if it's logically inconsistent with Christian beliefs for God to tell a lie. However, their faith is that he doesn't.

You evaded the point I was making and I think you realize that. My question what if the Christian God exists but is lying about the entire story. What if there is a pantheon of Gods competing for man's attention and the Christian God made a power play to gain dominance over the other gods?

The problem with faith is that this scenario is exactly as plausible as the entirety of the Christian religion. There is no good reason to believe Christianity over this bizarre pantheon of backstabbing deities. There's no good reason to believe Christianity over Islam or Hinduism. The only thing the religious have is a desire to believe and a desire to believe has clearly shown an ability to convince people that they should believe. Only those who value evidence and are open to any possibility have any shot at determining the truth about the world.

&gt; They believe in him without a reason, as previously discussed.

Exactly. What other claim is there that people believe without reason? If someone came to us and declared that they believed the world was flat, we'd (rightly) think they were being irrational and may attempt to correct them by providing them the evidence that suggests otherwise. You're suggesting that religious belief (which is a truth claim about the universe) should not be held to this same standard. Why?

&gt; Christians believe Jesus to be eternal. Only his physical form was temporal.

&gt;This is not about what I personally believe. It is about whether the OP's points are strong arguments. Christians believe that "The Word" is eternal, so it existed prior to the Abrahamic religions. Again, this is a faith.

You dodged the question. It doesn't matter if Jesus (or "the word" whatever that means) always existed, what matters is that Christians haven't always existed. During this pre-abrahamic religion state of the world, when people had absolutely no concept of the tyrannical warrior god of Judea, where did they get their morals? Surely not from other Gods since the Abrahamic religions are clearly monotheistic religions and would preclude other gods from existing in the first place.

My point is that your rebuttals to the OP's points are weak and this is but one example of that. If Christians suggest that morality comes only from God, then morality could not have existed prior to human knowledge of God's existence. So how is it that humans survived these brutal, amoral millennia when there could not have been a single act of kindness?

&gt; What I meant here is that evolutionary biology can tell us how humans behave and why they behave that way, but it is inherently incapable of telling us how they ought to behave. There is, and can be, no reasoning from biology to "ought."

I submit that this statement is simply false. I'll simply point you to The Moral Landscape by Sam Harris as this is exactly what he spends three hundred or so pages arguing against.

&gt;No. I'm saying that you can tell an evolution-story to support any position. People frequently do. But without some sort of testable prediction and reproducible experiment, a consistent evidentialist would reject many of these stories.

Not having the answer to a question does not mean that any answer is of equal value.

&gt;If Gaussian field theory is a product of natural selection, then everything is.

That's a non-answer.

&gt; All I'm saying is that this doesn't strike me as a productive argument for his non-existence.

It's a productive argument against part of His existence.

u/NukeThePope · 35 pointsr/atheism

Hi there, and thank you for your trust!

It sounds like your boyfriend is going about this a bit insensitively. Logical arguments are OK for debates, when both sides do it for the intellectual challenge. It's not humane to tear a person's world view out from under them when they're unprepared for it and a captive audience. I'm sure he means well and wants you to be closer to him, but he's being a bit of a caveman about it. Don't be mad at him, but tell him you think you'll be better off if you do your own information seeking, at your own pace. Ask him to have the patience and the trust to let you educate yourself. If he really cares for you, he should be fine with this: It may even be taking a burden off his shoulders.

I think there are some things you can consider and think about that will put things into focus and make this mess seem less of a problem.

Do you remember that song by Elton John Sting? "I hope the Russians love their children too."

Consider, first, some family in Tibet. Mom and dad live in a simple hut, doing some farming or whatever Tibetans do, and they have a bunch of children. They work hard to feed the family, and in the evening when they get together for supper they talk and smile and laugh a lot. They hug their children, they care for them when they're sick. They observe some kind of religious rituals, though they've probably never heard of Jesus. When a neighbor has a problem, they help them out. When someone dies, they mourn their passing and wish them a happy afterlife. Apart from the fact that they look Asian, they're people just like you, and they're good people. They have similar hopes and fears, they have stories to share and comfort them, and so forth. Two thirds of the world's people don't believe in Jesus, yet they're humans just like you and mostly decent people, just like your neighbors. Do you think they're all going to hell? Do you think they're paralyzed by their distance from your god, from their fear of death? No. Forget what religion these folks are, they're human.

Atheists are just a special case of those "other" humans. They believe in even less "other-worldly" stuff than the folks in Tibet do. Yet you probably meet atheists on the street every day. Some of them greet you and smile, most of them would help you if you had a problem and they were around. Atheists are not like vampires: They're not evil, they don't have to stay out of God's sunlight, and they don't burn up in churches and from contact with holy water ;)

Atheists have stories too, about the creation of the universe, which is really awesomely huge and inspiring. About the struggle of life to evolve to the fine humans we are today. About the many important achievements humans have made in their short time of being intelligent and basically masters of the world.

Rather than wrenching at your faith, I suggest you take a look at other cultures and religions for a bit. Consider that there humans out there who think other things than you, yet manage to be good people and lead happy lives. I'm almost embarrassed enough to delete my sappy paragraph about the Tibetan family, but I'll leave it in there to let you know what I'm getting at.

Then, inhale a bit of science. Go to church if you feel you need to, but also listen to videos by Carl Sagan. Get an appreciation for the wonders of the universe and of nature here on our planet. It's a rich and wonderful world out there. There is so much to see, to learn! Some people are in awe of God for producing all this; but you can just as easily be in awe of nature, of the intricate mechanisms that brought all this about without anyone taking a hand in it.

More stuff on nature and evolution can be learned, more or less gently, from Richard Dawkins' The Greatest Show on Earth. Get your boyfriend to buy it for you! But stay away from The God Delusion. While Dawkins is thoughtful and sensible, you don't want him telling you about how bad your god is - at least not right away.

A thought from me about a metaphor for God. Training wheels! You know how you have those wheels on your bike to keep it from tipping over as you're starting out? And how, once you've learned to keep your cycle straight, those training wheels are no longer really doing anything any more? That's God. It's comforting to feel that God is behind you in everything you do, it gives you strength and confidence. But everything you've achieved... that was you! You're standing up straight and doing fine, God is the training wheels you don't really need. On the other hand, I'm not going to say he really, truly absolutely isn't there. If you want him to be there, let him be there. Your BF will just have to put up with him for a while longer as you outgrow your training wheels.

Finally, about death: The good news is, it's not nearly the problem you think it is. There's a statistic that says, devout Christians are more than three times as likely, in their final week, to demand aggressive life-extending treatment than atheists. In English: Christians are more scared of dying than atheists are. You'd think that with heaven waiting, they'd be anxious to go! Actually, their religion -your religion- is telling them a comforting lie, letting them stick their heads in the sand all their lives. At the end, they panic because they're not sure what they believe is true. And they struggle for every minute of life.

I was religious once, and I had the "fear of death" phase, as many other atheists here report. You know what? I got over it. I confronted the idea, wrapped my head around it, got over it... and I've been completely unworried about death ever since. You'll get other people quoting Mark Twain for you here: About death being the same as the state you were in before you were born, and that didn't inconvenience you either, did it? Seriously, while I worry that my death may be painful or unpleasant, being dead is something I almost look forward to. It's like the long vacation I've always been meaning to take.

Well, I don't know if that will convince you, but... other people have been there too, and it turns out not to be the horrible problem you think it is. Things will be fine! Just allow yourself some time, and remind your BF to not be pushy about things. You can keep a spare room for when God comes to visit, but don't be surprised if that room turns out to fill up with other junk you're throwing out ;)

u/porscheguy19 · 4 pointsr/atheism

On science and evolution:

Genetics is where it's at. There is a ton of good fossil evidence, but genetics actually proves it on paper. Most books you can get through your local library (even by interlibrary loan) so you don't have to shell out for them just to read them.

Books:

The Making of the Fittest outlines many new forensic proofs of evolution. Fossil genes are an important aspect... they prove common ancestry. Did you know that humans have the gene for Vitamin C synthesis? (which would allow us to synthesize Vitamin C from our food instead of having to ingest it directly from fruit?) Many mammals have the same gene, but through a mutation, we lost the functionality, but it still hangs around.

Deep Ancestry proves the "out of Africa" hypothesis of human origins. It's no longer even a debate. MtDNA and Y-Chromosome DNA can be traced back directly to where our species began.

To give more rounded arguments, Hitchens can't be beat: God Is Not Great and The Portable Atheist (which is an overview of the best atheist writings in history, and one which I cannot recommend highly enough). Also, Dawkin's book The Greatest Show on Earth is a good overview of evolution.

General science: Stephen Hawking's books The Grand Design and A Briefer History of Time are excellent for laying the groundwork from Newtonian physics to Einstein's relativity through to the modern discovery of Quantum Mechanics.

Bertrand Russell and Thomas Paine are also excellent sources for philosophical, humanist, atheist thought; but they are included in the aforementioned Portable Atheist... but I have read much of their writings otherwise, and they are very good.

Also a subscription to a good peer-reviewed journal such as Nature is awesome, but can be expensive and very in depth.

Steven Pinker's The Blank Slate is also an excellent look at the human mind and genetics. To understand how the mind works, is almost your most important tool. If you know why people say the horrible things they do, you can see their words for what they are... you can see past what they say and see the mechanisms behind the words.

I've also been studying Zen for about a year. It's non-theistic and classed as "eastern philosophy". The Way of Zen kept me from losing my mind after deconverting and then struggling with the thought of a purposeless life and no future. I found it absolutely necessary to root out the remainder of the harmful indoctrination that still existed in my mind; and finally allowed me to see reality as it is instead of overlaying an ideology or worldview on everything.

Also, learn about the universe. Astronomy has been a useful tool for me. I can point my telescope at a galaxy that is more than 20 million light years away and say to someone, "See that galaxy? It took over 20 million years for the light from that galaxy to reach your eye." Creationists scoff at millions of years and say that it's a fantasy; but the universe provides real proof of "deep time" you can see with your own eyes.

Videos:

I recommend books first, because they are the best way to learn, but there are also very good video series out there.

BestofScience has an amazing series on evolution.

AronRa's Foundational Falsehoods of Creationism is awesome.

Thunderfoot's Why do people laugh at creationists is good.

Atheistcoffee's Why I am no longer a creationist is also good.

Also check out TheraminTrees for more on the psychology of religion; Potholer54 on The Big Bang to Us Made Easy; and Evid3nc3's series on deconversion.

Also check out the Evolution Documentary Youtube Channel for some of the world's best documentary series on evolution and science.

I'm sure I've overlooked something here... but that's some stuff off the top of my head. If you have any questions about anything, or just need to talk, send me a message!

u/Valendr0s · 8 pointsr/atheism

Here's my subscription list in YouTube in alphabetical order:

  • C0nc0rdance - dedicated to cutting through scientific hype and helping the laymen understand the real science behind the hype. Not so much anti-religion as pro science.

  • cdk007 - Evolution explanations. General creationist lie busting. Try his "Logic of Religion" Series.

  • DarkMatter2525 - sort of a humorous site, he pokes fun more than most, but he exposes some fallacies.

  • DonExodus - His older stuff is better IMO, but still a very solid channel.

  • dprjones - some good stuff here, he's more up on the YouTube drama than some of the others.

  • Evid3nc3 - Some interesting, "how I became an atheist" stories. But the real gem of this collection has to be: A History of God part 1. Which is essentially a book report on the book "A History of God: The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam"

  • GreatBigBore - His newer stuff is way off base of his older stuff... He used to do critiques of creationist/atheist debates, creationist papers, and religious propaganda, pointing out every logical fallacy he can find. Try the "God's Quality Control 2.0" series.

  • Jon LaJoie - not religiously related, but HILARIOUS nevertheless, you needed a break anyway - start with everyday normal guy and keep the laughs coming.

  • National Center for Science Education - The group trying very hard to keep Evolution in schools and Religion out of them. Dr Eugenie Scott is probably one of my personal heroes.

  • NonStampCollector - very funny, has lots of biblical contradictions in here. He loves em. Funny guy. But if there is a hell this guy's goin there unless god's got an infinite sense of humor too...

  • Philhellenes - If there was an atheist church, this would be the pastor. Warning, it can be a tear jerker... Science Saved My Soul. Deliberately uses religious tactics to invoke emotions in scientific minds to great effect.

  • potholer54 - Another personal hero. Former science news correspondent, destroys creationist arguments with his huge hammer of justice. Also has Potholer54debunks.

  • ProfMTH - again, older stuff is amazing. His "Brief Bible Blunders" series was really good.

  • QualiaSoup - Now we're cooking with fire. This guy is who you're looking for. He destroys religion's base arguments. He decimates every argument with his soft accented voice. Putting faith in its place is where I'd start.

  • A single video by smsavage32 - Was Jesus a Myth? - very enlightening.

  • TheraminTrees - Here's the brother of QualiaSoup. Deals with the psychological effects of religion. Amazing two guys here, can't go wrong with them. I'd suggest Atheism as congruence and Transition to Atheism for his personal story.


    To recap, almost everything in TheraminTrees and QualiaSoup's channels are just amazing.

    I'd also suggest the "Why people laugh at creationists" series by Thunderf00t. A lot of his older stuff is great (he's a bit too much into the YouTube politics and drama now though).
u/Darth_Face2021 · 2 pointsr/atheism

I find from reading the comments you seem to be getting a lot of flak for various things. I think part of it may be your insistence on labeling positions as worldviews. I don't think it is necessarily wrong, but the word carries some baggage that may be implying more than you intent, or more than others would wish to be labeled with. While labels can be useful for quickly describing a position you or someone else may hold, be certain to know of the variations and try to attach specific answers to specific questions that underly labels, and to make sure you have specific definitions as well (i.e. Q: Do you believe in God? A: Generally no, but it would help if you could define God, as I can't say if I believe in something that I can't define or describe).

First:
&gt;Atheism is not a stance, not really. Atheists do not believe in anything

I think I can see what you mean here but be really careful with -ists and -isms. Atheism being a stance or not a stance is very much in how someone views themselves. One can be a "strong atheist", as it has been put, and actively believe and assert that there is no God, god, gods, godesses or supernatural beings (which is the term I will stick with), or one can be a looser form of agnostic atheist. There are many who would even say that, regardless of what agnostics say, they are in fact atheists because atheism, being not the opposite but the negaitve of theism (a- theism) is the lack of belief in supreme supernatural beings (this includes Penn Jillette, as he mentions this view in his book "God No!). So I think the error you made here is saying Athiest do not believe in anything, as that is not true. I call myself an Atheist (or Real Big Atheist; mild or moderate anti-theist; Ignostic Agnostic Atheist; etc) but I believe in lots of things. I believe I am sitting in a chair while I write this. What I think you meant to say was Atheism does not imply a belief in something. Under any definition it is either the lack of belief or belief that another belief is false, it is not a statement on the existence of a thing.

Second:
&gt;Anti-Theism, on the other hand, IS a worldview.

Again, worldview is a risky word to use as it suggests that there is larger over-arching position to it. I would call secular humanism a worldview, but I don't know if I would call anti-theism a worldview (and there are secular humanists who would see themselves as anti-theist and some who wouldn't). I would be more tempted to call it a position. Regardless of semantics, I think anti-theism is easier to define. Anti-theism is the opposition to theism. Simple. Theism being the belief in one or more gods (Theos), and thus being anti that.

On anti-theism, I agree with you, but I find anti-theism is subservient to a larger desire for truth. As has been argued below, theism can be used for good or bad. People could be motivated to work harder for Dear Leader, and improve life for us all. If theism is not true though, then can we truly consider that an appropriate course of action? In doing so we would subvert informed consent, and undermine the freedom of a person live their own lives and to choose their own beliefs. However, I have never been shown a case where theism was used where a non-supernatural alternative could be used. The teaching of philosophy to elementary students has shown be very useful for improving not just academic outcomes, but also social outcomes 1. Here is the group that published that document, there are many more on their resources page.

The above paragraph completely ignores any harm that may come from religion, and I do that intentionally. If a given religion is true, then extreme measures can be justifiable if you are preventing someone from enduring annihilation or eternal torture. Utilitarian defenses of religion can only be relevant if they are false. However, if they are false, then any harm that comes along is thus completely unjustifiable unless the benefits outweigh them AND you are willing to admit that truth is not intrinsically valuable. The first constraint is difficult to measure, and does not seem to add up, especially when considering that magical thinking can overlap into other areas, and thus a firm belief in the supernatural (as opposed to an allowance of the possibility, or a thought experiment) could be a hindrance to honest political or philosophical discourse, and technological progress. I prefer discussing religion and supernatural beliefs in an epistemological framework, epistemology being the philosophical study of knowledge, or how we know what we know. While I have enjoyed Hitchens, I find his arguments to fall short of compelling in terms of convincing me of the accuracy of atheism or value of anti-theism; his moral arguments work for a current common moral standard which I happen to agree to a fair degree, but they do not do much to convince me of any implicit truth, nor that the moral standard being used is necessarily correct and thus failing to adhere to it is truly as abhorrent as would naturally appear.

A book I recently listened to on audiobook (from audible.com) was "A Manual for Creating Atheists" by Peter Boghossian. I would strongly recommend this book, especially if you want to actively act as an anti-theist and atheist activist.

I would love to discuss any other aspects of atheism or anti-theism, especially if you disagree with any points I have made. I would also suggest looking into ignosticism (as it is a good additional label for getting people into discussion), the /r/philosophy subreddit and the /r/antitheism subreddit.

u/[deleted] · 1 pointr/atheism

Yes, it was posted already, but not in this way. I want to post THIS to them making them think they are going to that article.

Well for starters, there will never be "one Christian nation". It is as big of a war in the country (on a much smaller scale of course) than what other religions around the world are fighting about.

That's the first thing that got me on my way to where I stand now after growing up a Christain. I lost my faith when I couldn't fathom all the religions all over the world. I read today in Sagans Pale Blue Dot there is something like 1000 religions world wide (1996 standards too). I am not sure if this includes tribes as well. Any religious person that is questing their faith too, should at least try Sam Harris: Letter to a Christain Nation. Its a very short read, I had the audio book and it was less than 2 hours. And if that intrigued you enough, then try one of the many other great books on the subject. Or about astrology. Carl Sagan is always great to start with. That is unless of course--if you ever had doubts. We are not here to convert, but to send the peaceful message of letting us be free spirits without ridicule or persecution. And remember this, more Atheists are made from reading the Bible (and not making sense of the fallacies). Knowing what science has taught us about the Universe and our small existence in it. And what is now known no longer a theory--Natural Selection. You can keep changing the ideals for what religion now allows compared to beginning of it's origin. Or you can give in. It is the wave of the future, the free mind thinkers.

Question Everything!

Free thinkers are intelligent enough to question what we feel in our heart is NOT the answer. We learned our morals from our upbringings and treating others as you wished to be treated, and that includes not just judging without knowing the facts. We are not afraid to conform to what we know is right. Like agreeing with what 93% of all scientist now agree on...or 67 of the known Nobel Prize winners. That will admit of course. They all agree that not knowing enough to know the answer does not require conforming to religion, because it's not the answer. Even if you were to say you are a Secular Diest, you're not renouncing God, you're just seeking the answer to attest your final faith if that is you don't eventually move to the dark side...I mean free side.

Read another book. Be open minded and realize

Signed

ATHEIST!

u/ethertrace · 1 pointr/atheism

I would go with Demon Haunted World over the God Delusion. Dawkins may be the polemicist du jour, but I think Sagan's approach is way more effective for situations like this. He's far more subtle about making you think, whereas Dawkins' brash rhetoric can just make people instinctively defensive and shut down honest introspection.

Also, might I suggest Godless by Dan Barker? He was an Evangelical preacher for almost two decades before becoming an atheist, so he knows all about Christianity and may have an approach to which your friend might be more sympathetic.

Do the lectures have to be in person? Where do you live? Skepticon 5 is coming up in Springfield, Missouri and there will be plenty of amazing talks there (though they will be primarily aimed at people who are already skeptics). They have many, many fantastic lectures already posted online from past conferences, so I highly suggest perusing them at your leisure.

If you do choose a lecture on evolution, make sure it's a good one. You can't debate science the same way you can debate philosophical or theological ideas that rest upon logic alone. Everything depends on the data. Make sure it explores what would need to be true if evolution were not true.

For example, if all species on Earth nearly perished in a global flood, they would all have an extreme population bottleneck at the exact same period which would show up very obviously in their genetic diversity. However, this is not true for the vast majority of species on Earth. Cheetahs, however, are so genetically similar due to a population bottleneck during the last ice age that they can accept skin transplants from any other cheetah without an immune response. But, they are still diverse enough that the mutation rate required to gain this diversity in the span of four thousand years would be so great that the species would have gone extinct simply from birth defects.

Anyway, Ken Miller might be a good place to start. He's a Christian as well, but is basically responsible for destroying Intelligent Design.

Also, just because I think so highly of this talk, you should check this out (and here's an updated version more oriented towards effective strategy that goes over some of the same material but expands on other areas). It has tons of valuable suggestions for how to be effective in getting people to question their beliefs and avoiding common pitfalls and red herrings.

u/multirachael · 8 pointsr/atheism

I went through a very similar experience in losing my faith; it was rough, and it was rocky. I had a lot of the same feelings--wanting to believe, just in case my doubts were wrong, feeling sad at losing what had been a huge part of my identity, but feeling relieved also...and then feeling really guilty about it. It's a real roller-coaster of emotions, and it's hard to go through; I sympathize!

I feel much better, having lost my belief entirely and let go of religion; those feelings of self-loathing, self-doubt, and fear that are given to those of us who grow up in religious settings are hard to let go of, but we are better off without them. They are not healthy, psychologically or emotionally. Someone else pointed out that the kind of relationship we're taught to have with god is very similar to the relationship you'd have with an abusive spouse; it's a connection I've made before, too, and making it gave me a lot of courage and strength, which is what it takes to walk away from an abusive relationship of any kind.

My advice? Give yourself some time to relax and breathe. It's not the devil making you have these thoughts; it's the exercise of your reason, and you should feel proud that you are intelligent and perceptive enough to see through the bullshit given to you by people whose real motive (whether they know it or not) is to control you.

Also, now is a great time to gather some information. If you've got $10, I recommend picking up Godless, by Dan Barker. It's a great book, and it made me feel a lot more comfortable with my own growing atheism; it addressed a lot of the concerns I had, and talked about some very similar experiences, and gave me a place to start looking for other information.

As for how to get to a place of being comfortable and not feeling guilty...that just takes time, as do all major adjustments. For me, it mostly consisted of examining what it was I was feeling guilty about, and then realizing that there was no objective reason to feel guilty--that I hadn't done anything wrong, and that the things I had been taught to hate about myself (doubt, questioning, curiosity, sexuality, etc.) weren't bad; all of those things are natural, and beneficial as well.

If you're having a really difficult time, I'd recommend spending some time with a support group or spending a few sessions with a counselor. There are lots of sites on the web that offer support and services for those going through the de-conversion process; do a search for "ex-Christian support group" or something along those lines and spend some time exploring, or try a place like Ex-Christian.net or Losing My Religion.

Above all, don't stop exercising your curiosity and your reason! I wish you good luck, support, and a good journey. :)

u/MJtheProphet · 4 pointsr/atheism

There's a lot to answer in this simple question. Here's something I've written before that might help, as it gets to the roots of the Abrahamic religions.
_
Which Bible are you reading? If its one of the millions of Bibles in the US, then its likely an English translation, and it isn't actually describing the god worshiped by Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. For that, we have to go back to the Canaanite religion, which we've learned about from clay tablets found at the Ras Shamra site. The Canaanites were polytheists who worshiped a great number of gods. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were primarily followers of El Shaddai, "God of the Mountains", another name for El Elyon, or "God Most High". El Elyon appears to Abraham in human form at one point. Jacob is described as asking El Elyon to become his elohim, or primary god, in order that he might receive special protection. He also climbs a ladder to heaven and speaks with El Elyon in person, and later even wrestles with El Elyon.

Its also not the god of Moses. Moses was a follower of Yahweh, the war god of the ancient Israelites. Yahweh wasn't a Canaanite god, but he also wasn't a monotheistic god. In the (likely mythical) story of Exodus, the Israelites even note after gaining their freedom "Who among the gods
is like you, Yahweh?
Who is like you—
majestic in holiness,
awesome in glory,
working wonders?." (Exodus 15:11) It helps the verses make more sense to get the full context; upon reaching the promised land, the Israelites stray and worship other gods. That seems silly in today's version; why worship Baal or Asherah when you know that there is only THE LORD? But when you realize that Yahweh was just the war god, as Ares was to the Greeks, it makes more sense. Once you're no longer in a time of trouble, why not worship Baal (god of fertility and storms) or Asherah (the mother goddess) instead of Yahweh (god of the armies)? And its a lot more obvious why the Old Testament god was so obsessed with blood and death; he was the war god, like Ares.

Yahweh didn't become the primary god of Israel until the reign of King Josaih, a strict Yahwist, in about 640 BCE. This was the period of the Deuteronomic reforms; it was at this time that the book of Deuteronomy was "found" in the temple, supposedly a new book of law written by Moses that placed Yahweh above all other gods. However, its rather convenient timing and the linguistic signature indicate that it was actually a forgery, created for political expediency. Even here, though, there is still evidence of polytheism, in the Ten Commandments themselves. "6 I am Yahweh your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 7 You shall have no other gods before me." (Deuteronomy 5:6-7)

Only in about 600 BCE, when the Israelites were exiled into Babylon, did the monotheistic god appear. An author known as Second Isaiah had his words appended on to the original Isaiah, the book of Leviticus was authored, and the history of Israel was rewritten to say that El Elyon and Yahweh were the same god, and that this god was the only god. The other books extant at the time were rewritten to make it look like there had only ever been one god of Israel. So despite the story saying that this god has always existed, he only appears in the archaeological record 2600 years ago.

A very different picture appears when you know where all the stories came from, and put them in their proper historical context. The Old Testament just screams polytheism, even through the multiple rewrites and translations. I recommend A History of God by Karen Armstrong for more details. Or, you can find a good summary on YouTube from Evid3nc3.

_


You can find obvious parallels to the biblical creation story in the Enuma Elish, the Babylonian creation myth. It probably dates back to the 18th to 16th centuries BCE. The myths of the ancient Near East have their oldest expressions in the Mesopotamian and Egyptian beliefs, which date back to around 2500 BCE. So there were about 2000 years of religious traditions before the monotheistic god appeared.

Christianity first showed up around 51 CE, with its earliest known writings being the Pauline Epistles. You might note that this is 20 years after the supposed events related in the Gospels, and that Paul didn't say when Jesus had lived; we have no writings that mention Jesus that were authored during his supposed lifetime, or by anyone who ever claims to have met him during his life. This is rather suspicious, considering he was supposed to be perhaps the most famous person around at the time, based on the Gospel accounts.

I'm not as well versed in Islamic history, but the basic facts are these. Muhammad, who is considered by Muslims to be the final messenger of god's word, lived from around 570 – June 8, 632 CE. He began receiving visions that he thought were from god in 610 CE, and wrote them down as the Quran. He then transitioned from trader to religious, political, and military leader, and began the history of conquest that Islam is known for.

u/astroNerf · 40 pointsr/atheism

A few pointers:

  • Get yourself a copy of Peter Boghossian's A Manual for Creating Atheists and read it yourself. It's a good manual for teaching people how to talk to people of faith about their faith in a non-confrontational way using the socratic method. I liked the audiobook version. Gently challenge him on things he learns at church. Try to get him to explain what he's learned in his own words. Ask him if that makes sense, and so on.
  • Science: get your kid interested in science, whether it be dinosaurs, astronomy, chemistry, electricity - something. If there's something he's already into, encourage it.
  • Supplement his church with other mythologies. Take him to a mosque or synagogue. Talk about how different people have different beliefs. Read him Norse and Greek mythology before bedtime. Get him a book like C. Scott Littleton's Anthology of Mythology. It's got lots of pictures.
  • Cosmos. If you have not seen it with him, you need to see it with him. Prepare to pause each episode when he has a question. Do your best to answer them and if you encounter something you don't know, be honest but follow up afterwards with a visit to wikipedia. You can get it on DVD as well as stream it on Hulu and Netflix, I think. If he likes science shows like that, there are plenty others folks here could recommend.

    One common theme here is this: teach him that it's important to value having as many true beliefs as possible. Instruct him on the importance of wanting to have good reasons or evidence for the things we believe. Part of this is the scientific method, but also a general desire for intellectual honesty comes into play here as well.

    You might also get some good suggestions are /r/atheistparents.


u/efrique · 8 pointsr/atheism

&gt; as I have no proof that we evolved from other animals/etc.

Such proof abounds. If you're going to debate these people, you need to know some of it.

I don't mean enough to ask a couple of questions, I mean enough to carry both sides of the conversation, because he'll make you do all the heavy lifting.

Start with talkorigins.org.

First, the FAQ
Maybe the 29+ Evidences for Macroevolution next,
then the pieces on observed instances of speciation

See the extensive FAQs index

Here are their questions for creationsists - see both links there

and then read the index to creationist claims

That's just to start. Take a look at the Outline (which starts with an outline of the outline!)

If you're going to talk with a creationist, you either need to get some idea of the topography or you'll end up chasing in circles around the same tree again and again.

Yes, it looks like a major time investment, but once you start to become familiar with it, it gets easier quickly. Don't aim to learn it all by heart - but you should know when there is an answer to a question, and where to find it.

read books like Your Inner Fish and Why Evolution Is True and The Greatest Show on Earth

I list Your Inner Fish first because it tells a great story about how Shubin and his colleagues used evolutionary theory and geology to predict where they should look for an intermediate fossil linking ancient fish and amphibians (a "transitional form") - and they went to that location, and found just such a fossil. This makes a great question for your creationist - given fossils are kind of rare, how the heck did he manage that? If evolution by natural selection is false, why does that kind of scientific prediction WORK? Is God a deceiver, trying to make it look exactly like evolution happens?? Or maybe, just maybe, the simpler explanation is true - that evolution actually occurs. (Then point out that many major Christian churches officially endorse evolution. They understand that the evidence is clear)

It's a good idea to read blogs like Panda's Thumb, Why Evolution Is True, Pharyngula, erv (old posts here) and so on, which regularly blog on new research that relates to evolution.

Make sure you know about the experiments by Lenski et al on evolution of new genes

Don't take "no proof" as an argument. The evidence is overwhelming.

u/pretzelzetzel · 2 pointsr/atheism

Don't trust everything you read online, either. Books are still generally your best bet, because people who might not know what they're talking about can't edit them while you're reading them.

Obviously I'm not saying all books are better than all internets, but find some credible ones and you're much better off.

I'm not a scientist by training, but I can suggest a few books that will provide a pretty good counterbalance to what your mom will be teaching you. (A few of them have quasi-religious-sounding titles, too, so if she happened to find them lying around she might not get too angry.)

The Chosen Species: The Long March of Human Evolution

The Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence

The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

A Brief History of Time

I can recommend more if you'd like. These ones are pretty broad surveys of the topics of (in order) evolution, more evolution, the role of science in society, and the physical nature of the universe. If you're homeschooled, I'm assuming high school-level? None of these books is technical - they're all 'popular science', intended to explain broad concepts to non-scientists. They're very, highly interesting, though, and it's easy to find recommended reading lists once you discover some specific topics that interest you. The Chosen Species itself has a lengthy and detailed bibliography and recommended reading section at the end.

I hope I've been able to help! Good luck!

u/ABTechie · 2 pointsr/atheism

Define God. What is God to a Christian? What is it that they truly believe in? Love? Kindness? Slow to anger? Show your wife a list of things that you believe in and that she believes in. Show her that you still share belief in many things.

I have not read these books but they are from former Christians. Their logic and perspective maybe helpful.
Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America's Leading Atheists
Christian No More: On Leaving Christianity, Debunking Christianity, And Embracing Atheism And Freethinking

Give her time to adjust. And, if you truly love and want to be with your wife, PROVE IT. Be romantic. Tell her you love her. Tell her you want her to be your wife. Tell her you want to grow old with her. Tell her what a great friend she is. Love notes. Flowers. Phone messages. Text messages. Facebook messages. Do whatever it takes. Even give her control of the TV remote.

I don't know of the consequences but if you have to, you can bring up the Bible verses which say that it is good not to leave a non-believing spouse, not bring up the unforgivable sin of blasphemy against God.

Good luck to you. Be patient with her.

u/jebei · 3 pointsr/atheism

I've had a similar obsession with the bible over the years. It made no sense to me when I was part of a church but everything opened up once I realized it's one of the best insights we have into the ancient mind and I find it fun to read now.

The top response to this post says the god of the Old Testament is the same as the god of the New but that's because they are looking at it only as a religious text. Looking at it as a historical document you can clearly see a progression over time from a Polytheistic War god at the beginning who demands blood sacrifices to a Monotheistic vengeful god of a chosen few. The New Testament is clearly written with Greek/Roman influences and a kinder god that was changed in ways to better fit and grow in that society.

If you haven't read it already, a good first book on the subject is Who Wrote the Bible by Friedman. I like The Bible Unearthed by Finklestein and Ehrmann's books are good too. There are dozens of other good overviews that show the Bible's progression from ancient campfire stories to the form we see today. After reading a few, I don't see how anyone can seriously believe the Bible is the unerring word of god.

I know I'll never convince my family members that Christianity is wrong so I've focused my efforts to get them to understand the bible was written by man. Even if we grant them that a god actually spoke to Moses and Jesus is his literal son neither man wrote the words in the book. Later men took the stories and wrote them down. The books of the Torah were finalized 600+ years after Moses is supposed to have lived. The Gospels were written 50 years after Jesus is said to have died. These writers were not gods and to say they were divinely inspired is a cop-out. They interpreted what they heard but these men were also products of their times. They practiced blood sacrifice and accepted slavery nor did they have a fraction of our understanding of the world. It's why you can't take the book literally.

There may be truths in the Bible but you have to look behind the words to find them.

u/alanX · 3 pointsr/atheism

Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why is a wonderful and much more complete picture of where we stand in textual criticism of the Bible.

And what the author fails to point out is that if you take the best translations of the best texts (many not available when the King James Version was written) and compare them, you just don't get that many differences.

The King James is often more poetically written, even with some slight inaccuracies in the process.

As a theist, I find the process of textual criticism fascinating, and it reinforces my belief that the very heart of Christianity isn't in its theology, but in the First and Second Commandments (as reportedly taught by Christ):

  • Love God with all your heart
  • Love your neighbor as yourself

    Nothing there about making my neighbor conform to my morals and ethics. Everything there about me treating my neighbor with respect and honor, as I would want to be treated myself. Coupled with other teachings of Jesus, and clearly the idea that we are supposed to police the behavior of others is not Christian, despite any issues of textual criticism. We are instead to police ourselves.

    Edit tl;dr: Anyone who invests heavily into theological concepts that hinge on just a word or two in these texts is already playing with fire. On the other hand, committing to the core ethical and moral teachings in these texts is pretty safe.
u/tikael · 3 pointsr/atheism

Overviews of the evidence:

The greatest show on earth

Why evolution is true

Books on advanced evolution:

The selfish gene

The extended phenotype

Climbing mount improbable

The ancestors tale

It is hard to find a better author than Dawkins to explain evolutionary biology. Many other popular science books either don't cover the details or don't focus entirely on evolution.

I will hit one point though.

&gt;I have a hard time simply jumping from natural adaption or mutation or addition of information to the genome, etc. to an entirely different species.

For this you should understand two very important concepts in evolution. The first is a reproductive barrier. Basically as two populations of a species remain apart from each other (in technical terms we say there is no gene flow between them) then repoductive barriers becomes established. These range in type. There are behavioral barriers, such as certain species of insects mating at different times of the day from other closely related species. If they both still mated at the same time then they could still produce viable offspring. Other examples of behavior would be songs in birds (females will only mate with males who sing a certain way). There can also be physical barriers to reproduction, such as producing infertile offspring (like a donkey and a horse do) or simply being unable to mate (many bees or flies have different arrangements of their genitalia which makes it difficult or impossible to mate with other closely related species. Once these barriers exist then the two populations are considered two different species. These two species can now further diverge from each other.

The second thing to understand is the locking in of important genes. Evolution does not really take place on the level of the individual as most first year biology courses will tell you. It makes far more sense to say that it takes place on the level of the gene (read the selfish gene and the extended phenotype for a better overview of this). Any given gene can have a mutation that is either positive, negative, of neutral. Most mutations are neutral or negative. Let's say that a certain gene has a 85% chance of having a negative mutation, a 10% chance of a neutral mutation, and a 5% chance of a positive mutation. This gene is doing pretty good, from it's viewpoint it has an 85% chance of 'surviving' a mutation. What is meant by this is that even though one of it's offspring may have mutated there is an 85% chance that the mutated gene will perform worse than it and so the mutation will not replace it in the gene pool. If a neutral mutation happens then this is trouble for the original gene, because now there is a gene that does just as good a job as it in the gene pool. At this point random fluctuations of gene frequency called genetic drift take over the fate of the mutated gene (I won't go into genetic drift here but you should understand it if you want to understand evolution).

The last type of mutation, a positive mutation is what natural selection acts on. This type of mutation would also change the negative/neutral/positive mutation possibilities. so the newly positively mutated gene might have frequencies of 90/7/3 Already it has much better odds than the original gene. OK, one more point before I explain how this all ties together. Once a gene has reached the 100/0/0 point it does not mean that gene wins forever, there can still be mutations in other genes that affect it. A gene making an ant really good at flying doesn't matter much when the ant lives in tunnels and bites off its own wings, so that gene now has altered percentages in ants. It is this very complex web that makes up the very basics of mutations and how they impact evolution (if you are wondering how common mutations are I believe they happen about once every billion base pairs, so every human at conception has on average 4 mutations that were not present in either parent)

This all ties back together by understanding that body plan genes (called hox genes) lock species into their current body plans, by reducing the number of possible positive or neutral mutations they become crucial to the organisms survival. As evolutionary time progresses these genes become more and more locked in, meaning that the body plans of individuals become more and more locked in. So it is no wonder that coming in so late to the game as we are we see such diversity in life and we never see large scale form mutations. Those type of mutations became less likely as the hox genes became locked in their comfy spots on the unimpeachable end of the mutation probability pool. That is why it is hard to imagine one species evolving into another, and why a creationist saying that they will believe evolution when a monkey gives birth to a human is so wrong.

Hopefully I explained that well, it is kind of a dense subject and I had to skip some things I would rather have covered.

u/ethicsengine · 1 pointr/atheism

Oh man, you've hit on a really hard topic.

First off, before I get into any of the juicy topics, let me say this: Consider where your parents are coming from based on their views. An analogy: If you were evacuating a building on fire and saw someone who didn't know they are in danger, would you try to notify them? For the sake of argument, let's say yes (I expect so). They see this world as a building burning down and they view themselves as trying to warn us of the danger we are supposedly in. Expand this to the fact that they are your parents and as their kid, you told them you are walking back into a burning building. They are literally scared for you. Irrationally scared, but still scared non the less. I am not sure if your short term situation or plans, but in the long term you need to accept that they are not going to share your views and may not accept you. Don't let them abuse you! They have to independently accept you for who you are or you need to distance yourself if they don't. Take care of yourself, maintain your dignity and self respect, and make decisions that make you happy and lead you towards living a happy and fulfilled life.

Some information on their reaction:

&gt; I tried to be gentle about it and not criticize her but she kept telling me to defend why I didn't believe in God, and then when I answered she was like "you're trying to disprove God and attack my beliefs" . she later said I was being rude, (I was being as respectful as possible) when I explained that she said I was being "politely rude"???? But because of my beliefs I obviously thought she was a moron and I reject her values. (I never called her a moron and I said that I respected her faith and I didn't want this to be a source of contention for us)

Let's step back and parse this. Typically, strongly religious people follow a form of ethics called "Theological Ethics." The theological ethics system may incorporate other forms of ethics such as utilitarian, kant or phenomenological, but it is ultimately rooted in theology. Do [Action] because god demands it in or through [insert religious book, prophet, etc...]. In their view, all ethics and morality flow only from god. If god says give to the poor, you give to the poor. If god says kill that tribe, you kill that tribe. All ethics and morals are literally rooted in their version of god.

So, when you say "I don't believe in god," many people will imply "therefore I am not a moral person" OR "you think I am an idiot because I need god to work out what is right or wrong." In some cases, a person "without god" is seen as downright evil. However, we know that people can be moral and develop an ethics system without attributing it to or believing in god. We often follow heuristics such as the golden rule, informed consent or "no person is a means to an end."

Some theologians argue that this is only by the grace of god that he has allowed us to be a tool for good despite disbelieving, never mind that in many religions we are still considered doomed to eternal torment no matter how much good we do in the world and that an immoral or amoral person who believes in god has a higher chance into being accepted into paradise over an atheist who genuinely wanted to help others.

A few things you can do is work out why you can continue being a good person without needing to believe in a god. I personally see value in both society and individuals. I want the world to be a better place so that I can enjoy less violence, longer healthier lives. I want to see people individually succeed because it betters our society. Society is made up of individuals. Because life is precious, and this is our one life, we must make the most of it but not at the expense of others because their life is precious too. Informed consent is incredibly important. A society following informed consent reduces or prevents rape, murder, irresponsible or malicious human testing, robberies, etc...

Anyways, if you are interested in ethics and morality in the context of atheism and why reason will likely lead to a more just society, you should pick up a copy of The Moral Arc by Michael Shermer. http://www.amazon.com/Moral-Arc-Science-Better-People/dp/0805096914

If you're interested in why atheism and why you don't need religion to be moral, you should pick up a copy of The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins (who is giving an AMA this may 27). https://www.amazon.com/God-Delusion-Richard-Dawkins-ebook/dp/B003JTHWJQ

I personally think you will have a hard time converting your family to atheism, but if you want to shore up some of your arguments about why atheism, you should pick up a copy of A Manual for Creating Atheists by Peter Boghassian. I don't recommend you actively seek out these conversations with your family at this point, but they can help give you a better grounding about your belief system (yes, atheism is a belief system). http://www.amazon.com/Manual-Creating-Atheists-Peter-Boghossian/dp/1939578094

To conclude, don't stop loving your parents but don't let them abuse you either.

[edits for minor typos and formatting]

u/Seekin · 1 pointr/atheism

One great place to start is the Talk Origins Archive. Their "Guide to Creationist Claims" is also very good.

Also, the /r/atheism Wiki has a pretty good section on Creationism that's worth checking out.

There is plenty of evidence of large scale changes over geological time in the fossil record of many lineages. I'll let you research the sites I've linked (and hopefully many others you find yourself from credible sources) rather than linking to any specific ones.

I'm not sure what /u/OldWolf2642 has a specific problem with, but judging by his "humans &lt;&gt; apes" statement I think he's simply trying to point out that modern H. sap. did not evolve from other modern apes. We all (H. sap. are simply one example among several species of modern ape) evolved together from a common ancestor. He's right about that but his phrasing might make it seem as though macro evolution isn't part of modern evolutionary theory - IT IS. It's just that some of us feel that the the terms "micro-" and "macro-" evolution are used as an excuse for creationists to acknowledge the easily demonstrable (on a human timescale) case of natural selection within a species and still be able to dismiss larger scale changes over larger time frames. But, in fact, the terms are often used to distinguish research in some fields from research in others. The phrases are perfectly acceptable. But, as many have pointed out, "macro-" is just an unavoidable consequence of "micro-" happening over long periods of time. The creationists' ploy, here, is comparable to saying "I accept the existence of this glass of water, but refuse to acknowledge the "oceans" you people keep going on about". It's all the same thing, just on different scales.

My personal favorite books laying out the case for all sorts of evolution are:

Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne

and

The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins

But the /r/atheism Wiki has a great list of Recommended Reading and videos. Many of these are about atheism generally, but they include good stuff on evolutionary theory as well.

Keep studying and have a blast!

u/shadowboxer47 · 67 pointsr/atheism

This is a rather long story, but I will try to make it short and sweet.

It started when I was, without warning and explanation, kicked out of my Church. I received a call the day after my first child was born telling me I was no longer welcome. To this day I do not know the reason, but I suspect personal vendettas. I found myself without a job and entered a crises of faith. This emotional blow started my path on what I would consider an intellectual journey.

After a few months, my wife and new child eventually found a few new churches to attend. I was looking for a new preaching job. I eventually moved several states away and decided to take a break for a bit and get a job in the "real" world. I still taught classes, preached occasionally, and even door-knocked, but it was the last time I was on church payroll. (God, you should hear the audio of my teachings. Talk about FUBAR.)

Eventually, my views became more and more "liberal' as I did more reading on scriptural interpretation. I began looking into Messianic Judaism and eventually came to realize that Jesus' supposed purpose was redundant. The forgiveness of sins were possible to the Jews even without sacrifice, and to Gentiles by living noble lives. What, then, was the purpose of the Christ? It seemed to me to make salvation infinitely more difficult... doesn't sound like something a loving god would do.

I started to search the Old Testament much closer and discovered several things. There are actually very, very few prophesies that can be ascribed to Jesus, and most of these are clear forgeries. For instance, the death of Jesus is never actually prophesied in the Old Testament. Something was amiss, and I started deep studies in textual criticism. I began to suspect the New Testament wasn't inspired and starting studying actual Judaism.

Around this time, I started reading the book, Misquoting Jesus and my eyes were opened. I was dumbfounded and started doing much deeper study. I concluded that the New Testament (and later the whole Bible) was simply a set of old documents. Certainly not inspired and certainly not perfect.

What was even more confusing is that many Christian professors/scholars knew this, but were still believers. This was completely nonsensical to me. In my mind, the inspiration of the scriptures were a critical corner stone of Christianity. If the witness wasn't infallible, than the entire religion fell apart like a house of cards. If god could raise Jesus from the dead, how much easier would it be to protect the evidence? If god couldn't perform that simple feat, then... well... FAIL.

At this point, I still believed in a god, and was very, very confused. I started studying other religions in depth. I bought dozens and dozens of books. The more I read, the more I realized a very profound, albeit simple, truth: virtually all religious people, deep in their heart, really believe they're right. How was I supposed to know which god to follow?

I then decided to go even further out of my box, and study evolution, from an "insiders" perspective. I probably have every single creationist / anti-evolutionist book in existence, but I figured if I had gotten Christianity wrong, and I was deceived, it could very well be possible that I didn't know jack shit about evolution--which turned out to be the case.

As soon as I understood the "miracle" of evolution, I instantly realized god was a fabrication; a lie. Reading The God Delusion put the final nail on the coffin. (Dawkins is my hero. I wish I could shake that man's hand. I felt he has saved my life. This man truly does great work. Whereas before I had a complete disdain for science, mathematics, etc., I now became eager to learn everything I could. Whole new worlds were opened up, and I wanted to know how everything worked. I mean, who knew nature was so cool?!)

TL;DR Damn, nature; you're awesome.




u/LadyAtheist · 5 pointsr/atheism

What the heck, I'm in the mood to toy with a troll on a Saturday night.

"People assume evolution is true because they say it's the most logical thing to believe, but I believe that intelligent design is more logical if you examine the evidence with no presuppositions."

First, scientists don't assume anything, and people who have gone to actual schools rather than Christian schools have learned the scientific method and possibly even proven evolution to themselves in a laboratory experiment (yes, it happens in the lab)

If you examine THE evidence? ... with no presuppositions? Funny. Because the Intelligent Design lie was invented by the Discovery Institute, whose mission is to prove that God is behind it all -- i.e. they are starting with a presupposition.

". Evolution has no proof. They have fossils and dating methods that they say is proof, but subjectively they must not truly be proof because if they were truly proof then there would be no intelligent people who believed in creation left"

hahahahhahaa that's a good one! They have thousands of fossils, and dating methods that have been proven... and when they dig where they expect to find certain kinds of fossils based on the theory of evolution, they find them! They have found fish that were able to walk on land, the transitional fossils between the hippo ancestor and the whale, etc.

The fallacy of appeal to authority is no kind of proof especially in this case because you're not appealing to biologists of the modern era, 99% of whom see evolution as the central defining theory of their life's work.

"Evolution has never, in human history, been observed. Their have been many cases of micro-evolution"

Caw! Caw! Caw! You, my friend, are a parrot. You are parroting Ken Ham, which is pretty funny. You obviously don't know that ALL evolution takes place with tiny steps -- i.e., there's no such thing as "macro evolution," so you and the people you parrot are demanding to see something that wouldn't fit the theory of evolution, then claiming that the theory is bunk because the experts haven't provided it. Guess what? That's a dishonest and shameful tactic. You should be ashamed of yourself for mindlessly parroting something so intellectually dishonest.

"3. Evolution goes against the law of entropy." That's just nonsense, again parroting Ken Ham and his ilk. Read this instead: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Introduction_to_entropy Meanwhile, consider these points: A. How can crystals form if entropy governs everything and B. The sun sends radiation energy to the Earth, so the Earth is not a closed system - additional energy is added every day.

" it's more logical to believe that an all powerful God created everything than things evolving"

No, it's not more logical. Consider: A perfect God wouldn't have given us the appendix, the tailbone (and in some people actual tails), goosebumps, and other vestigial traits. These things are only logical in light of evolution.

So.. show me the proof? You have a computer. You can use google. You are literate. You can read a book. Why should random redditors be challenged to prove what you are too lazy and ignorant to discover for yourself? The evidence is not that hard to find. Try reading Jerry Coyne's book Why Evolution is True. http://www.amazon.com/Why-Evolution-True-Jerry-Coyne/dp/0143116649

Read up on fossils -- and not in Answers in Genesis or whatever source you parroted in your OP. Read up on how it's been true over and over and over that fossils are found in layers, in exactly the same order everywhere, and that you can predict which fossils you might find in a layer of ground based on evolutionary theory. Note, nobody has EVER found a fossil in a layer where it doesn't belong. A find like that would at the very least shake up one portion of the story that other fossils have told.

Evidence that points to evolution IS proof.

Look up "equivocation." This is a favorite trick of Ken Ham and his ilk. Don't do it! Stop it! Grow up and accept reality! You don't have to equivocate on words like that to learn science - you only have to do it to cling to the creator-god. The bronze age people who made up that story can't be faulted for believing it because they didn't have the scientific method, the technology to study the world like we do, or centuries of scientific findings that have told a much more interesting story.

But you are not a bronze age person, so let go of that fairy tale and embrace the real world.

u/Regina_Phalange26 · 2 pointsr/atheism

I'm a little late to the party, but I just thought I'd add my voice.

There are a couple things I would like to say. I'm sure none of it hasn't already been said somewhere here, but I'll just repeat for emphasis.

First of all, hi! And welcome. I'm sure you are feeling so confused and overwhelmed right now. That's okay. There's a lot to take in and consider. Take your time, go at your own pace, and make sure that wherever you end up is a place that is right for you. It's important to always consider what others have to say but that doesn't mean you have to follow what they say. You make your decisions and you determine your path.

If this road you are taking brings you to atheism (or anything unacceptable to your family and/or friends) you do not have to come out before you are ready. Depending on your situation it could be very detrimental to do so before the time is right. If someone will do wrong by you if they know the truth, then you are by no means obligated to give them the truth. And when the right time is, only you can say. Others may be able to help you with it, but when it comes down to it, it is your life and your decision.

And, again, if you eventually begin to identify as an atheist it is possible, and maybe even probable that you will feel angry. Many of us have been through it, or still are going through it. Angry about things that are happening around the world today and angry about things from your upbringing. That is okay too. There are many things we should be angry about. Just don't let that anger consume you. And be sure to still be reasonable. Anger can be a good thing when placed appropriately and if it's kept in perspective. It's a hard field to navigate but you'll figure it out with time and experience.

Don't get so caught up in one worldview that you are stuck in an echo chamber, never exposed to differing thoughts and opinions. Keep an open mind and don't shut things out simply because you don't want to change your opinion or are so convinced of something that you think there's no chance you could ever be wrong. This really applies to everything in life...not just religious beliefs or lack thereof.

I wanted to address you personally, rather than discuss the beliefs because I'm sure you have been given so much to consider and read already. It is likely that everything I have to suggest has already been mentioned, but:

  • There are so many good videos at The Atheist Experience

  • Greta Christina's blog has many wonderful and thought provoking writings

  • "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins is incredible (as is most of his work)

  • Just about any Christopher Hitchens debate on YouTube is fascinating. I also loved his book "God Is Not Great" but if you aren't a reader it may be tiresome and difficult to get through.

  • PZ Myers blog, Pharyngula is excellent as well.

    I could go on, but this post is already so much longer than I intended. So I'll just end on this note: things might look pretty frightening and overwhelming right now, but don't let it scare you off. There is no better feeling than learning and coming to your own conclusions about who you are and what you believe. Especially if you've had those things decided for you your entire life. If you ever need help or have questions, come here. There are many of us who are more than willing to do what we can to help.

    Good luck! :)
u/Jim-Jones · 7 pointsr/atheism

Some help:

Maybe Yes, Maybe No (LINK)

by Dan Barker

In today's media-flooded world, there is no way to control all of the information, claims, and enticements that reach young people. The best thing to do is arm them with the sword of critical thinking.

Maybe Yes, Maybe No is a charming introduction to self-confidence and self-reliance. The book's ten-year-old heroine, Andrea, is always asking questions because she knows "you should prove the truth of a strange story before you believe it."

"Check it out. Repeat the experiment. Try to prove it wrong. It has to make sense." writes Barker, as he assures young readers that they are fully capable of figuring out what to believe, and of knowing when there just isn't enough information to decide. "You can do it your own way. If you are a good skeptic you will know how to think for yourself."

Another book is "Me &amp; Dog" by Gene Weingarten.

And Born With a Bang: The Universe Tells Our Cosmic Story : Books 1, 2, 3

Here Comes Science CD + DVD

The Magic of Reality by Richard Dawkins

Bang! How We Came to Be by Michael Rubino.

Grandmother Fish: A Child's First Book of Evolution
Grandmother Fish, free in PDF form online

Also:

Greek Myths – by Marcia Williams

Ancient Egypt: Tales of Gods and Pharaohs – by Marcia Williams

God and His Creations – by Marcia Williams

"I Wonder" by Annaka Harris

"From Stardust to You: An Illustrated Guide to The Big Bang" by Luciano Reni

"Meet Bacteria!" by Rebecca Bielawski

See also Highlights for Children - this has materials for younger children.

Atheism books for children by Courtney Lynn

"It Is Ok To Be A Godless Me", "I'm An Atheist and That's Ok", "I'm a Freethinker", "Please Don't Bully Me" and "I'm a Little Thinker" etc.

Courtney Lynn has a couple more for grown ups as well.

Grandmother Fish, free in PDF form online

A child's first book of evolution.

15 Holiday Gift Ideas for Secular Families

Bedtime Bible Stories by Joey Lee Kirkman - for mature teens only

Coming up: TINY THINKERS is a series of books introducing popular scientists to children, by telling their stories as if the scientists themselves were kids!

u/HunterIV4 · 1 pointr/atheism

I glanced at the thread, and it seems like you were very unprepared for this sort of discussion. If you just wanted to dispel myths about a secular lifestyle, I would have made that clear from the outset. Frankly, you were unprepared to make arguments supporting atheism as a philosophical position.

Part of the reason you got trolled so hard is that you made assumptions about theists and they noticed. Your own prejudices got in the way. Theists are not stupid; I personally was a theist until late into college, and I learned Christian apologetics in detail. I don't consider myself stupid, and I still believed the Christian side of things. It's not like I've suddenly become smarter as an atheist...I've just abandoned some unjustified beliefs based on new evidence that convinced me those arguments were false.

Unfortunately for you, it seems you aren't familiar with these arguments...you've either only had to deal with the most straightforward of religious beliefs ("I believe because it's so!") or you never really examined your own beliefs. This is OK...you don't need a master's degree in philosophy or natural sciences to be an atheist. If you're going to argue those positions, though, it helps to be prepared for what the opposition is going to bring. You weren't. You naively assumed they wouldn't have good reasons for believing what they believe, and they wielded it against you.

Some general things that could have helped you:

  1. Asking you random questions that are unrelated to the subject is common and acceptable in an AMA. This is not (necessarily) trolling, and if your original goal was to dispel myths that you are some sort of strange person, answering these in a straightforward manner would have helped, not hurt, your position. Also, people are going to assume when you do an AMA that you have a good understanding of the subject (frankly, and I'm not trying to offend...you don't).
  2. It's always risky to assume what other people believe. If you aren't sure, ask. There were many "gotcha" moments where people pointed out your own straw-men regarding the Christian worldview. There are many Christians who are highly educated and have a deep understanding of their beliefs, and these beliefs may not conform to the Bible-belt anti-science faith healing shenanigans (stereotypes intended). You confronted their beliefs with an assumption that they lacked reason yet showed an incredible lack of interest and knowledge in science and philosophy. Again, you don't need these things, but if you're going to argue they support your position you should damn well know what they are.
  3. I found it odd that you came from a position of doxatic closure (in plain terms, close-mindedness). Several times you mentioned that nothing would change your mind. This is a terrible place to begin a debate from, and isn't a very intellectually honest one. You invite comparisons to religion by doing so, because such closure is usually associated with strong dogmatic belief. I recommend saying coming from a position of doxatic openness, as you are more likely to get honest responses and discussions, not to mention it's generally a good idea. One of the key differences between most atheists and theists is around this axis...as an atheist, I am willing and able to adjust my beliefs based on evidence, and theists generally are not. If God were proved by solid, scientific data that could not be explained any other way, I would change my mind. If you're going to have a rational position, you need to be able to accept "Reason 101"...all hypothesis must be falsifiable (in other words, all your beliefs must have criteria that would disprove them, or they cannot be justified beliefs as there would be no way to discern truth from fiction). At one point you tell someone they weren't "devoted" enough to atheism, which is an extremely strange statement, and negates other statements you made about how atheism isn't a religion.
  4. Finally, you really need to learn some philosophy. I know, I know, for some reason many atheists (especially young atheists) have this thing against philosophy, thinking it's some anti-scientific nonsense about mystical caves and pretending that nothing can be true or known. This couldn't be further from the truth. Philosophy is all about logic and conclusions, and science is heavily based on philosophy. In fact, physics used to be called "natural philosophy", and you could argue that science is a specific form of philosophy in regards to reality. Is there bad philosophy? Absolutely. Is there practically meaningless philosophy? Oh, definitely. The same is true of virtually any area of human knowledge, but if you really want to get involved in learning about atheism you can't really do it without a basis in philosophical thought. The fact is you're using philosophy whether you think you are or not, but without a solid base you were running into issues when people brought up common arguments against your philosophical position. While learning general philosophy will be useful, if you want something specific, I recommend A Manual for Creating Atheists by Peter Boghossian. It really gets to the essence of epistemology and would have greatly helped you in your discussion. It appears you came to the conclusion of atheism because you experienced a situation where you had to deal with a lot of asshole Christians. While this may be your reason, it's not going to be something that will convince anyone of anything. I highly recommend finding out why you believe the way you believe.

    Hope that helps. Good luck on your journey.
u/parasoja · 2 pointsr/atheism

&gt;How do you propose the universe came about?

What you're doing here is engaging in what's called the "god of the gaps" argument, in which gaps in our current understanding of the universe are filled with "god". There are two problems with this. The first is that "god" does not follow from "we don't know". The second is that the realm of things which are assigned to god is continually shrinking. It used to be that god caused everything from weather to disease to the changing seasons, but now we know better. The only two things which used to be assigned to god and which we haven't yet come up with a definitive explanation for are abiogenesis and the origin of the universe.

Since we're working on those, and have several good ideas, this position is not tenable.

&gt;Gonna tell me that Jesus/God is not real? Prove it.

Yes. The "one true god" of judaism, which later became the god of christianity, was invented in babylon around 600 BCE, during the babylonian exile. It was built from a combination of yahweh sabaoth, the polytheistic hebrew god of the armies, and el elyon, the god abraham worshiped and the chief god of the polytheistic cannanites.

I recommend reading A History of God. You may also wish to read up on the documentary hypothesis.

&gt;Don't judge us.

We judge you because religion causes large amounts of harm in the real world.

&gt;The Bible helps me. Try reading it.

Many atheists became atheists because they read the bible. Have you read it cover to cover?

u/trailrider · 1 pointr/atheism

There's more to chrisitinty than just the resurrection. What about Adam/Eve? Moses and the Exodus? Pretty much the rest of the OT? I mean, if Adam/Eve never existed, then why the need for Jesus? Basically there's no reason to think they did exist. There's no evidence for them. Same for Moses and the Exodus. No evidence of ~2M people wandering around for 40 yrs. To put that into perspective, that would be like everyone in modern day Austin, Tx picking up and roaming the mid-west without leaving a trace. Can you imagine that? And I don't even need to talk about Noah's flood, do I?

As for your other specifics, #1: There is no contemporary accounts backing up the bible's claim of a resurrection. Nothing about about the temple curtain ripping, an earthquake, the sky going black for 3 hrs, or (and this is one of my fav's) not a PEEP about dead saints coming out of their graves and were "seen by many". All of these were certainly note-worthy events but yet...*crickets*. The historians who do mention are people who lived after Jesus's time and were not eyewitness's. They're just relaying what was told to them and even that can't be considered reliable. The one that Christians like to point out is Josephus where he talks about people worshiping a guy named Jesus. Aside from just saying there were christians, which means nothing because it's like pointing out we have scientologist today, most historians consider that passage a later addition because it doesn't fit within that particular works. Kinda like seeing Darth Vader appear in a Star Trek film.

#2: What were their names? Where do they live? Where's their accounts? 10 million people saw me fly around in the air by me flapping my arms! Must be true because soooo many people saw it. Oh, who are they? Just ... people. No, I don't know any of their names but trust me, they saw it!

See how that works?

#3 &amp; #4: Whether he was even buried by no less than a member of the Jewish high council who was calling for his death just the night before is a matter to cause one to raise their eyebrows but let's go with it. Let's assume he was. Which do you think it more likely: That someone removed the body? Or that he rose from the dead?

#5: Read up on the Heaven's Gate cult. All died for their beliefs but I'm gonna go out on a limb here and declare that there was no UFO waiting for them behind the Hale-Bopp comet. Seriously....if you never heard of it, this was back in '97 so may be before your time, read about it. Then I can point out the 9/11 hijackers. They obviously died for their belief's yet I don't see christians rushing to convert to Islam. I don't doubt the sincerity of their beliefs but that doesn't make it true. I can believe that I can fly if I flap my arms hard enough but something tells me that if I jump off a cliff, gravity is gonna prove that belief off.

There's a lot more to this than what I've written here. Books have been written. I would recommend that, if you're interested, start with anything from Dr. Bart Ehrman. He's the chair of the Theology Dept. at the Univ. of N. Carolina. He's a proper authority on this issue. I've read/listened to pretty much every book he has. Might want to start with "Misquoting Jesus". It's the first book I read from him and the stuff I read in there blew my mind. Stuff that you're not likely gonna hear at your school. There's other accounts of Jesus outside the bible and most christians would certainly clutch their pearls over the "Greater Questions Of Mary" account. There's also numerous Youtube vids of his lectures, talks, and debates. He runs a blog as well that you can access for $25/yr which he's pretty good at updating regularly. Money goes to charity.

Might also want to look up Candida Moss who wrote " The Myth of Persecution: How Early Christians Invented a Story of Martyrdom" She's a NT scholar as well and I learned a lot by reading her book. Like, did you know there were ISIS like groups of christians roaming the area back then? That groups of christians demanded to be killed?

One last book I'd like to recommend is "The Dark Side of Christian History" by Hellen Ellerbe. While I've not found much on her, she does a great job in citing her sources. What will you learn? Know where the phrase "Kill them all, let God sort them out" came from? While I can't recall the specifics, there was basically two groups of christians fighting and the leader of one, when asked how will we know our own from them, proclaimed to kill them all, God will know his own! This book helps to disabuse people of the notion that christianity has been nothing but loving and caring, not to mention persecuted, through the centuries.

Hope this helps and good luck!

u/cynicalabode · 1 pointr/atheism

Warning: Wall of Text

I'd watch the video again. It took me a few times to fully grasp what he is saying - he covered quite a bit! If you have the time, though, I highly suggest reading "A History of God" by Karen Armstrong. Evid3nc3 pulls his material for the video I linked from Armstrong's book.

Simply put, the Judeo-Christian deity, called "God", is not and has never been the one and only god. He is a combination of a few gods from the polytheistic religions of the time and area.

[Please excuse this tangent; it's necessary. Armstrong talks about the evolution of polytheism (the worship of many gods) into monotheism (the worship one god, believed to be the only god) through two intermediate stages, Henotheism (worshiping a single god while accepting the existence or possible existence of other deities) and monolatrism (the recognition of the existence of many gods, but with the consistent worship of only one deity).]

So, there were a few polytheistic religions in the region, with a few dozen deities apiece. Certain areas began to pick "favorites". After a while, they began to worship that deity more than the others. Then, people acted as if the deity they worshipped was the only one that ever existed. They then rewrote their books to say exactly that.

Armstrong studied the ancient texts scrupulously, and realized that textual evidence supports this. The Genesis creation story is a plagiarism of the Canaanite creation story. The multiple names for "God" used in the Bible (Yahweh, El Elyon meaning "Most High") are actual Canaan deities! Hell, they even demonized other Canaan gods like Ba'al because he was the "favorite God" of a rival area.

What probably got to me the most was when Evid3nc3 mentioned the first biblical commandment. "Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me." For everyone born into a Christian household, this is a bit weird. Isn't God the only god? Why is he forbidding us from worshipping other gods? Wait, hold up - there are other gods?? Seems a bit unnecessary for a universe that has only one god.

---

I'm sure I butchered the arguments and left some important things out, but that's what I found striking (at least, striking enough for me to remember from the last time I watched it!). His whole series is excellent! Basically, it is very difficult for someone to lose their faith because it has so many factors that all support one another. Watch this video, if anything. It explains why it is so difficult to shed one's religion.

Sorry for the wall of text, I hope you can take something away from it!

u/pixeldrift · 1 pointr/atheism

No, you don't have to. That's something you really need to put your foot down. Explain that it's unethical and morally wrong to deceive kids about the nature of reality. I don't lie to my kids about Santa or the Tooth Fairy. Fairytales are fine in the context of it being a fun story that we know isn't real. If being presented with evidence and reality is enough to shake your faith, were those beliefs worth having in the first place? Truth withstands scrutiny.


Gravity is just a theory, but that seems to work pretty well. It's not just a "guess". You can tell her you're happy to tell them that "some people like to believe a story about a magic man in the sky that made everything. Other people believe the world is carried on the back of a giant turtle." It can be a good teachable moment that leads into asking them how we can figure out what stories are true and what ones are just for fun.


This is a really great book:
https://www.amazon.com/Magic-Reality-Know-Whats-Really/dp/1451675046

u/hedgeson119 · 3 pointsr/atheism

Check out the Foundational Falsehoods of Creationism.

Check out a copy of the books The Greatest Show on Earth or Why Evolution is True from a library. You can also get one of them for free on Audible, but you will miss out on the citations and diagrams.

See if you can watch or read The Grand Design by Stephen Hawking. I watched the miniseries, it's pretty good. It used to be on Netflix but no longer is.

Cosmos is great, and is on Netflix. If you want to watch videos about Cosmology just type in one of the popular physicist's names, Brian Greene, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Lawrence Krauss (his Universe from Nothing book is really great, so are his lectures about it), Sean Carroll etc.

Let me know if you want to talk, I'm always up for it.

u/aedelias · 1 pointr/atheism

First of all, it is not up to you to 'disprove' the bible, though it would be child's work to find numerous contradictions and many many flaws. HE is the one that is saying the bible is true. How does he know that it is true? Because the bible says so? This is clearly circular reasoning. You could as easily say the Qu'ran is true because the Qu'ran say it is true. The only reason he isn't saying that is because (presumably) he was brought up on Christianity and not Islam. Had he grown up in Saudi Arabia, there's a pretty damn good chance he would be a Muslim.

Now, as for disproving the bible, you could point out numerous contradictions between the bible itself, point out claims the bible makes about how the world works that are clearly flawed, or point out the great many immoral actions god takes in the bible. Now, depending on his brand of Christianity, he might come back with different arguments.

Examples: That's supposed to be interpreted differently. That verse is anecdotal. This is not meant to be taken literally. The Old Testament is to be ignored(if he does this, you can point out Matthew 5:17-20). God is mysterious and the paragon of morality, therefore everything he does is automatically moral.

It is amazing the different ways people can dismiss the gaping holes in their beliefs.

I think the most efficient way to 'disprove' the bible is to simply point out how it has changed throughout history. Remember, we didn't always have the printing press, it is a relatively new technology. The bible was copied through through humans copying it by hand... humans who of course, made a mistake here and there... and this has happened since the conception of the bible. HUNDREDS of generations, each one hand-copying the bible, making mistakes... adding things that were originally not there, or taking away some things. Not to mention translations, which created a slew of new flaws. If you want to go into detail on the history of the bible and how it has changed throughout history, read Misquoting Jesus: The story of who changed the bible and why.

In the end though, the strongest argument is that there is no reason to believe there is a god, MUCH LESS a personal god who is interested in what we do, answers prayers, sent a 'son' to sacrifice himself for humanity and demands worship.

u/Neo955 · 1 pointr/atheism

I would recommend "The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True" by Richard Dawkins. It isn't overtly atheist, but is certainly written with that viewpoint. Dawkins wrote it specifically for kids around that age, but the illustrations are so beautiful and the message is so clean and straight-forward that I bought a copy for myself. It is an awesome book, I hope you'll check it out!

Also, I'd like to add: any books which addresses philosophy can also greatly expand her mind. Learning about Descartes "I think therefore I am" had a role in my choice in religious belief (or lack of).

Lastly, kudos on letting her have her own choice in the matter. Truly rare.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Magic-Reality-Whats-Really/dp/1451675046/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&amp;amp;qid=1398130139&amp;amp;sr=8-1&amp;amp;keywords=the+magic+of+reality

u/swordstool · 2 pointsr/atheism

Hinduism was just an example. Maybe I should have been a bit more to the point. Sorry.

Wikipedia list well over 100 "religions and spiritual traditions". Please list which ones you investigated and justify your claim that each lacks 'evidence'.

Just because someone was an atheist, or a Hindu, or a Jew, or a Muslim, and then 'found evidence' leading them to believe a different religion was "correct', or had more 'evidence (however you'd like to term it), doesn't really mean anything for anyone aside from themselves. I assume you realize that just as many people who 'found evidence' for Christianity have also 'found evidence' for Islam, etc, whether you personally did or not?

I'm sorry, but you do seem to be going Da Vinci Code here. Why would the majority of the planet not know about "very specific, measurable prophecies" in the Bible. I don't think what you're terming evidence is what a scientist terms evidence. Full disclosure, I'm a scientist. If you're talking about a phrase in the Bible saying something like "great powerful nations will go to war" being prophecy of WWII or something like that, well I don't know if that's worth my time to discuss quite frankly.

On a final note, you may find this book interesting Nailed: Ten Christian Myths That Show Jesus Never Existed at All . I have read the Christian Bible, the Quran, the Torah, and a few other religious books, so I implore you to look at something more critical of what you're terming 'evidence'. To be honest, in the spirit of the Holidays, if you promise to read it, I will literally buy it for you. Paperback, audiobook, whatever you like. That's not a joke.

u/shiekhgray · 2 pointsr/atheism

If you're leaning towards trying to talk him out of it and want some resources, I'd highly recommend reading Peter Boghossian's "A Manual For Creating Atheists" I just finished reading it a few days ago, and it talks you through using the Socratic Method. The main idea is that you just ask pointed questions until the arguments fall apart and look silly. You never ever state what you want them to believe, you only ever offer alternate possibilities, and even these you just ask if they are reasonable possibilities or not.

Obviously, he's his own man and might be too tied up with this girl to react to reason, hormones are strong, strong things. But approaching life with reason instead of faith is the best we can do, and it follows that helping others to do so is the best for humanity. Good luck with whatever choice you make!

u/TheSpaceWhale · 0 pointsr/atheism

I'd like to put out a counterpoint to a lot of the comments about "finding holes in the books" etc. You don't need to convince her that there is no God, Bible is mythology, etc. You don't want to come off as attacking her beliefs or from a side of negativity. You need to convince her that you're an adult, a good person, and that you've found another "belief system" that fits better for you and deserves her respect. You want to approach her as Carl Sagan, not Richard Dawkins.

I would highly encourage you to read Karen Armstrong (A History of God, or The Case for God). They're both not only fascinating books on the evolution of religion in general, but they show a non-theistic side of religion/spirituality within Christianity. She'll likely feel more comfortable with your lack of belief in a literal personal God if you approach from an angle of something WITHIN Christian theology. Another good view of this is When God Is Gone, Everything Is Holy, which describes the positive side of atheism and science. Maybe give her one of these books rather than The God Delusion--it's something she's more likely to read.

Ultimately, most religious people having their own different religious beliefs than they are with people rejecting their beliefs. Present atheism as something positive, inspiring, and fulfilling for you.

u/Kemilio · 2 pointsr/atheism

&gt;maybe higher iq correlates to being right

You have the right idea. Having a solid foundation in logic correlates to "being right", and thankfully using logic is a learnable skill.

When it comes to understanding the world, you have two practical choices. You can rely on emotion and follow only what "feels good" (like you said, wanting to feel special and having the world make sense to you exclusively rather than learning how to make sense of the world, big difference). Here you risk being manipulated and fooled by emotionally controlling groups or individuals. You also risk being very wrong about how things in the world work.

Or, you can rely on reason and follow the path that corresponds logically with what you already know. It's not easy or fun at times, but if you really want to be able to understand how the world works then it's the only option. The best thing is that, once you establish a good system of logical checks, you develop a sense of true pride and confidence knowing that you can see past bullshit and even anticipate how things will happen. You become a better informed person, and that in itself is special.

If you're serious about this, I would recommend reading this book. It's a great introduction into analysing the world from a logical perspective.

u/uncletravellingmatt · 1 pointr/atheism

&gt;I'm hoping to hear from others, especially Liberty grads, who have had similar experiences of losing/leaving faith while or shortly after receiving an evangelical Christian education.

Not exactly what you asked, but I really enjoyed the book The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University by Kevin Roose -- Roose was actually just a college junior at Brown when he decided, instead of doing a semester abroad like many other students, to instead transfer to Liberty university for a semester, even though he wasn't a fundamentalist, as a kind of cultural exchange that he could write about. This wasn't really a de-conversion story, like Dan Barker's Godless, but it still provided an interesting perspective and I won't spoil the last chapter for you but there were some surprises based on what happened while he was there.

u/Murrabbit · 1 pointr/atheism

&gt;good sources on Darwinism?

So far as I know "Darwinism" isn't actually a thing. I know this is mostly semantics, but really the only people who say "Darwinism" are creationists who wish to portray evolution as an ideology, and of course over-inflate Darwin's relevance in the contemporary theory of biological evolution. Hes he was the first to lay out the idea of evolution by natural selection, but we know oh so much more about it now than what his observations revealed, so painting Darwin as the final word in evolutionary theory is also just as misguided as trying to portray it as an ideology.

As for where to start, though, as a few others in this thread have suggested I'd say take a look at Richard Dawkins' The Greatest Show On Earth. He does a wonderful job of explaining many of the major points in what is currently known about evolution and how we know it all in language that regular laypersons like most of us here are quite capable of understanding.

u/SecretAgentX9 · 2 pointsr/atheism

I was a Jehovah's Witness for the first 24 years of my life. Very devout.

It's hard for me to know what these particular folks' motivation for being in the JWs is.

Here is what helped me:

Problems With a Global Flood, 2nd Edition: Witnesses are very literal about their interpretation of the bible. If they actually read this page it will go a long way toward dislodging the cornerstones of their faith.

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-noahs-ark.html

Finding Darwin's God by Ken Miller: A book about evolution that is not directly threatening to religion. It's written by the head of biology at Brown University. The science is solid. The theology is unsurprisingly weak. This book changed my life.

http://www.amazon.com/Finding-Darwins-God-Scientists-Evolution/dp/0060930497

If they make it that far, give them this one: Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris. Not all of it applies to witnesses directly (they're not young-earth creationists, for example), but a lot of it still applies. This will supply many final nails for the coffin.

http://www.amazon.com/Letter-Christian-Nation-Vintage-Harris/dp/0307278778/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&amp;amp;ie=UTF8&amp;amp;qid=1291101892&amp;amp;sr=1-1

One thing to keep in mind is that they're very unlikely to seek any of this out on their own. They'll view it as a sin. Your best bet is to print these texts out or buy them. Both books can be purchased on Amazon in used condition for almost nothing. Tell them you'll read their books if they read yours and hold them to it. That culture has a very strong intellectual conscience. Most witnesses are really decent people. They're just stuck in a totally stupid mind-trap.

Good luck! You're doing a great thing by trying to help these people.

u/thesunmustdie · 4 pointsr/atheism

Peter Boghossian's socratic questioning approach is very in vogue for this sort of thing — a great way you can engage with theists and get them to question their own faith without risk of them feeling affronted. I highly recommend you read this book: A Manual for Creating Atheists.

If you find the book useful (which I have a great deal of confidence you will), there's complementary resources like the Street Epistemology Youtube channel and the Atheos iPhone/Android app.

u/jbrassow · 2 pointsr/atheism

Had the same problem (although, I went to Christian boarding school, not home schooled).

Learning about evolution and why we know it is true taught me a lot about the scientific method and epistemology - that there are things we can /really/ know and not just believe them because of our "gut" or because someone told us.

A couple videos that helped on my journey:

Our Origins Made Easy : The scientific method and the need for evidence is especially well presented.

Foundational Falsehoods of Creation

There are many good books on the subject also ("The greatest show on earth" by Richard Dawkins).

You will be amazed.

&amp;#x200B;

Edit: Start with the videos. As you get the basics, move on to talkorigins, books, and other things - your interest will fuel the search. The biggest thing you will gain is that 'how to think' is more important than 'what to think'. It's one thing to take someone's word for it that evolution is true. It is completely different to learn why it is true. This will change the way you think about many things.

u/HermesTheMessenger · 5 pointsr/atheism

[related repost from a different thread]

&gt;&gt; So you sound like you began to explain how to make someone have solid seeds of doubt about God and then didn't go any further than the first question. Could you perhaps elaborate on what further questions should be asked and good explanations should they ask something in return?

The question and the follow up steps are there to understand what someone else means. If you try and use what you learn to convince them that they are mistaken, they will start to spout propaganda as a defense mechanism. I covered that a bit when I wrote;

&gt; Why are they convinced? Almost always, they are convinced because they felt something or experienced something. That's it. Yet, if you criticize them or mock them or simply point out why a personal feeling or experience is not very good evidence, they will just switch back to telling you some of the BS about scripture, or the wonders of nature, or some philosophical puzzle; they will stop talking about what they think and they will only focus on the BS.

If you want to get them to change their minds, you have to use an entirely different set of questions and comments but the basis is still on understanding the individual even if their ideas are not (ever?) unique.

&gt; Could you perhaps elaborate on what further questions should be asked and good explanations should they ask something in return?

While there are only a few things that I usually do, I assume that I will not have enough time to deconvert someone. To be honest, if I can get them to stop giving money and time to organizations that do bad deeds, I'm happy. I have no personal interest in deconverting them and it would take a few weeks to do it even if I found it a compelling goal to reach. The time needed is mainly because people tend to take a while to absorb these ideas, and if you are over aggressive they will just reject them and double down on their personal biases out of comfort or to have a sense of certainty.

The primary goal in any conversation is to have the conversation. You don't want to have them drop into a propaganda loop where they just repeat the words and/or ideas they have been indoctrinated with. So, you have to keep them off of their script.

You also have to keep in mind that very few thoughts are constructed in the moment. Our brains don't work that way. Instead, we piece together bits over time and our nerves are biased towards keeping the old structures in place. To change someone's mind over a deeply held socially taught construct takes time and if you rush it they will just re-write the old structures and make them stronger. You want cognitive dissonance. You want them to think things through on their own time for their own reasons, not to robotically reprogram them even if that is exactly how they were trained before to adopt those bad ideas.

So, what are the few things that I discuss with them?

  • The moral value of facts; that all moral decisions by humans require facts and that obedience/subservience is not morality.

  • How do they know what they say is true (when they pop back into the BS; I do not challenge the intuitive felt experience ... at least initially).

  • I listen and I show that I understand exactly what they mean and why they say what they say.

    To tie those three things together, I point out that while we are in agreement on these points -- that I am not debating the facts nor am I challenging their personal conclusions -- I have reached a different conclusion. With that in mind, I ask why can I understand all that they think, agree with the details, and yet not come to the same conclusion? What is the difference?

    The difference is their intuitive felt personal experience that they attribute to some deity or proxy for a deity. **Yet, wait ...* that's the exact same thing that they said in the last wall of text, so what has changed? Nothing, actually, except for the time you have spent talking with them.

    As an experiment, go and ask other atheists that used to be firmly theistic (religious or not) if they have had some similar personal felt experience when they were theists. Many will say yes or that they attempted to have that and failed. Of the atheists that had that experience, many of them did not realize that it was possible not to think any gods existed. They thought that everyone must think that gods exist since that is what they have been told.

    So, by showing that you have the same facts, and understand the same ideas, yet you are not personally convinced that any gods exist, you demonstrate to them that what they have thought about what others think is not entirely true. That opens up the possibility that they themselves can also change their minds. So, do they? It depends on many factors, and while emotions are a factor so is the need to be honest about what can be known and how conclusions should be reached.

    I don't know if this method is similar to Peter Boghossian's book, but it is likely to be complementary. I've listened to his interviews and his emphasis on epistemology overlaps with some of my 3 points, but I have not read his book yet so I can't say how much of an overlap there is.

    ========

    source;**

  • http://www.reddit.com/r/atheism/comments/2bpzri/talked_theology_with_a_catholic_priest_over/cj7rc2g

    [Tag: waterfall 1 &amp; 2.]
u/MoonPoint · 2 pointsr/atheism

Because the book mentioned relates to the topic being discussed by technothrasher and ojfrown. It is not uncommon for one person on Reddit to recommend a book he himself, or herself, has found relevant to a topic being discussed and feels the other person might find interesting as well.

Since you appear to think Sam Harris is just "some random guy", I'll add a little biographical material:

&gt;Sam Harris is the author of the New York Times bestsellers, The End of Faith, Letter to a Christian Nation, and The Moral Landscape. The End of Faith won the 2005 PEN Award for Nonfiction.
&gt;
&gt;Mr. Harris' writing has been published in over fifteen languages. He and his work have been discussed in Newsweek, TIME, The New York Times, Scientific American, Nature, Rolling Stone, and many other journals. His writing has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Economist, The Times (London), The Boston Globe, The Atlantic, The Annals of Neurology, and elsewhere.
&gt;
&gt;Mr. Harris is a Co-Founder and CEO of Project Reason, a nonprofit foundation devoted to spreading scientific knowledge and secular values in society. He received a degree in philosophy from Stanford University and a Ph.D. in neuroscience from UCLA.

Should you wish to learn more about the book, see The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values.

Some people are willing to read the works of authors who might have opinions that differ from their own.

u/kzsummers · 1 pointr/atheism

On evolution:

I urge you to read some books on the issue that aren't written with a fundamentalist Christian slant. The science is decisive, and the distinction between "macro" and "micro" is itself a religious confusion. (as others have already pointed out).

On the Big Bang: The biggest problem with the Big Bang is that we don't know how it happened. That is a problem, and scientists are working obsessively to solve it. But saying "God did it" buys you a whole host of new problems. How did God happen? Who created God? Why did he create the universe? You haven't answered anything by saying "God did it": you've just kicked the can down the road and added an additional unfalsifiable and unsupported assumption.

Also, the evidence for the Big Bang is all around you: look up background microwave radiation,distribution and evolution of galaxies, the abundance of light elements, and the expansion of space.

On the supernatural:

Any thinking that starts with "Do you think it's possible that..." is a HUGE RED FLAG. Almost anything is possible, but usually the sort of logic that must be defended with a "Well, it's possible..." is absurdly improbable. This is a good example. Yeah, it's possible that an entire other world could be layered on our own - but it's more improbable than winning the lottery, and I don't buy lottery tickets.

If I had to explain the fundamental difference between the way I think about the spiritual and the way you think about the spiritual, it would be this. You ask "Is it possible that..." and "Do you think that maybe..."

I ask "Is there empirical support for..." and "Does the evidence support the assertion that..."

As for the hope that human consciousness continues on....

Nope. This is it. That sucks, and I'm sorry. It's among the hardest pills to swallow about being an atheist - but it's true whether you believe it or not.

u/appletonoutcast · 2 pointsr/atheism

If you want a good book that will help her feel she's not alone in her search of things other than a god, I HIGHLY recommend "Godless" by Dan Barker

http://www.amazon.com/Godless-Evangelical-Preacher-Americas-Atheists/dp/1569756775/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&amp;amp;s=books&amp;amp;qid=1252981216&amp;amp;sr=1-1

Dan was a former Evangelical minister, grew up with believer parents, and was as steeped in evangelical, fanatical thinking as you can get. Then one day, he started to think for himself. After a divorce from his then wife, and many other things that ruined his life at that time, he is happier than he was ever during his time in the church. He is happily remarried and is now a co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

http://ffrf.org/

The book tells the story of his early life in the church, his fall from grace as it were, the reasons he believes Christianity is faulty, and what he as an athiest has to look forward to in life. One o fthe best books I've read in a long time.

u/extispicy · 1 pointr/atheism

I agree with you that it is sometimes difficult to wade through the devotional (and mythicist!) to find proper historical materials!

My absolute favorite beginner resource are these Yale Religious Studies courses, the Old Testament series in particular. The professor has done an amazing job of putting the Bible in its historical context. Grab a Bible and do the assigned readings as "homework" - she does let you skip the boring bits, I promise!

My favorite text is this How to Read the Bible: A Guide to Scripture Then and Now, which compares how modern believers interpret the Bible compared to how it would have been received by its original audience.

If you are particularly interested in archaeology, 'The Bible Unearthed' might be a good option, though I think it does presume a fair amount of familiarity with biblical history.

Here's a list of more online resources, though they are not so much for the beginner.

If there is a particular topic you are interested in, I can try to point you towards something more specific.

u/ChemicalSerenity · 1 pointr/atheism

Of the top of my head, I'd recommend two sources:

TalkOrigins is a great resource to learn the basics.

... and Richard Dawkins' book The Greatest Show on Earth is a detailed and voluminous look at the science of evolutionary biology and the apple evidence in support of it. It's on sale for less than $12 at amazon right now too (... by Grabthar's Hammer, what a savings!)

Strongly recommend both. Also, there's people here and on /r/askscience willing to help you understand any points you might not be clear on. Just ask. :)

u/GodEmperor · 1 pointr/atheism

I think an excellent book for any questioning christian to read is Godless by Dan Barker. He used to be a fundamentalist evangelical christian, and he clearly articulates and lays out his reasons for his eventual deconversion. He has some excellent youtube debates as well. He's a great guy.

The reason I often enjoy some of his talks more than other big name atheists is because he knows the bible and christianity backward and forward. He has a strong understanding and knowledge of the bible, and is therefore quite easily able to dismantle its credibility and legitimacy.

u/panamafloyd · 2 pointsr/atheism

Read/watch more Sagan. He really wanted to talk more about science than superstition. Even the social/political situation about it.

https://www.amazon.com/Demon-Haunted-World-Science-Candle-Dark/dp/0345409469

Also, have you read any of Dawkins' books about biology, rather than superstition? He really didn't start directly attacking religion until he realized that anti-reality stuff was so prevalent in society.

I have to admit, first time I read this one..I had to have a dictionary open alongside it. :D

https://www.amazon.com/Selfish-Gene-Anniversary-Landmark-Science-ebook/dp/B01GI5F2FS/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=richard+dawkins&amp;amp;qid=1554875427&amp;amp;s=books&amp;amp;sr=1-2

&gt; Although, I'm struggling with the point to existence

I have to be honest. I really don't understand why so many people have this concern. I do understand that they feel it's legitimate, I just don't understand why.

I suspect my personal experience is behind that..I grew up Southern Baptist, and my first realization was full-tilt "I'M FREE!"

I don't care if there's no 'greater celestial reason' for my existence. I exist. I might as well do the most I can with it.

I love good food. I love sportscars. I love a woman's company. I love my daughter. I love soccer.

&gt; and why the universe is the way it is.

I really don't know..but only the religious people in my life act as if that's some great crime. Personally..I'll just read the works of the people who are actually looking for it, instead of performing mental fellatio upon the pack of lying shamans who claim they actually know.

&gt; I simply don't want to believe that I'm just an accident

Well, you're not! Go study more biology. That old Christian whine about "..the Earth is perfectly tuned for life!!" is pathetic.

The Earth came first. We're here because we come from it. Of course it's 'perfect' for us. It's our mommy.

&gt; I'm done being force-fed information. I want to find out for myself.

And you can, if you just get past the fear. And I know that the fear can really blow around your mind for awhile. Wishing you well with it.

u/Super_Sagan · 1 pointr/atheism

If you're interested in evolution, I would recommend Richard Dawkins as a favorite author of mine. He writes in a very understandable and accessible manner. I myself just finished The Greatest Show On Earth which covers the evidence for evolution. It was very informative and entertaining, and would be a great starting point if you can find it in a local library.

Edit: Just thought I'd add, Youtube can also be a great source. Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Matt Dillahunty, Sam Harris, all have videos online.

u/Diabolico · 3 pointsr/atheism

Many instances in which Jesus is referred to as actually being God or of divine origin in the bible were antiadoptionistic changes made to the texts by theologians in order to discredit a group best described as messianic Jews (the Ebionites). They believed that he was born via the natural union of Joseph and Mary, and that he was given a special calling by God that invested him with divinity only after his birth.

By this theology Jesus did not preexist creation and was truly a normal human being until after his crucifixion. The prevailing Christian groups who opposed this wen to extreme measures to wipe the group out, especially because they demanded that all Christians would also have to be Jews, as Jesus was, and this required circumcision and kosher eating practices: two things not very popular in the classical Roman empire.

See these excellent books for extensive details about Biblical alterations and pre-orthodox Christianity:

Misquoting Jesus

Lost Christianities

u/roontish12 · 2 pointsr/atheism

If he is interested in actually learning about evolution, as opposed to just hearing a a gist of it, which probably won't convince him, there are some excellent books which very clearly state 1) what evolution is 2) the evidence that we have for it 3) why this evidence points to evolution being true.

Your Inner Fish, my favorite.

Why Evolution Is True

The Greatest Show On Earth

Snarky edit: "Show me the evidence"... well, he can always just go to a museum. The evidence is freely available for anyone to look at.

u/CalvinLawson · 6 pointsr/atheism

Oh yeah; I was brainwashed hardcore. Ever heard of A Beka? I'll bet you have...

It's like any grieving process; it takes about a year, so you're getting close. Not that there's a sudden change but it does get easier.

There are some things you can do to help the process along.

Before you do anything, order this book. It's a short read and it will set your soul free.

Stay involved in your Christian friend's lives. Hang out with them; talk to them about religion. You'll quickly figure out what friends are worth keeping around. Also meet some new friends! Start building a community that isn't based on faith.

Stay in touch with your family. Don't cut them out of your life. You need family, even if they're kinda fucked up. You're going to have to deal with religion again, but make sure they understand you aren't hanging out with them to be preached at. And remember, family is more than just blood relations, especially just the immediate ones.

Lastly, but of utmost importance, educate yourself on religion. Learn more about Christianity than Christians do. Focus on religious history and learn to interpret the bible using higher criticism. Karen Armstrong is a good start for a lot of people, her book A History of God is a bit of an informal "Religion 101" textbook.

Hang in there!

u/the_tortfeasor · 1 pointr/atheism

If you are at a university with a good engineering program, you probably have access to other science courses that will really open up your eyes on these topics. I was already an atheist, but after taking a biology course, I really understood evolution. Similarly, taking an astronomy course would teach you about the big bang and the formation of the universe. Keep up the work on your own, but enroll in a couple extra classes outside your major that will expand your view. Any science classes will strengthen your critical thinking skills and you will be able to explore so much more on your own.

I also recommend Demon Haunted World by Carl Sagan as being one of the most influential books to me in shaping how I think and view the world. It's a very easy to read book and it's beautifully written.

Keep your eyes open and enjoy exploring science on your own!

u/holyschmidt · 10 pointsr/atheism

If you value your relationship (long term), i would suggest taking a different approach.

I went through a similar situation with my GF (now wife). We were both pretty confident YEC's (then i took a Critical Thinking class and boom). The method i used was explaining my thought process and asking her what she thought about it. It's important not to make the issue adversarial, but to make it a conversation. No debate will make her change her mind (or better yet see where you come from).

The problem is not god/religion/church (not directly anyway), but faith. Faith is what causes logic/critical thinking not to work. It allows for magic. Faith is a bad epistemology (how you know what you know). My old CT professor wrote a book about it: A Manual For Creating Atheists. (foreward by Michael Shermer)

The edgy title is a little misleading, the book is about critical thinking and about how you know what you know. It tackles the issue of faith. The method advocated (honest, non-adversarial conversation etc) is pretty well demonstrated by this guy on youtube.

My relationship was very important to me and i almost lost it because of difference of belief. She was also reasonable and agreed to hear me out. Now we both still share utter incredulity that we could have ever held those views. Don't listen to the "just dump her" comments. Relationships with people are too important to just discard.

*full disclosure Amazon link is Smile link to support the skeptic society.

u/iHaveAgency · 3 pointsr/atheism

Your best bet is just to tell him to shut up about religion, and make it clear you're serious about it. That's something that might work better than trying to alter his views, which is rarely easy.

If you are really interested in trying to change his mind, use a method that is known to actually work once in a while: it's called Street Epistemology. SE was started by a guy who read Peter Boghossian's book, *A Manual for Creating Atheists. Boghossian is professor of Philosophy at Portland State U. Boghossian has also created a mobile app called Atheos. The first module is free and I would recommend it. Its purpose is to help you through the process of changing someone's mind by preventing you from being sidetracked by the person you're working on (sidetracking is one of the very few tactics they have at their disposal, so they tend to use it a lot).

u/bmgoau · 1 pointr/atheism

A History of God - Karen Armstrong

In this stunningly intelligent book, Karen Armstrong, one of Britain's foremost commentators on religious affairs, traces the history of how men and women have perceived and experienced God, from the time of Abraham to the present. From classical philsophy and medieval mysticism to the Reformation, the Enlightenment, and the modern age of skepticism, Karen Armstrong performs the near miracle of distilling the intellectual history of monotheism into one superbly readable volume, destined to take its place as a classic.

Excellent video based on the book.

Also: BBC The Story of God

The Story of God is an epic journey across continents, cultures and eras exploring religious beliefs from their earliest incarnations, through the development of today's major world faiths and the status of religious faith in a scientific age. The series examines the roots of religious beliefs in prehistoric societies and the different ways in which humanity's sense of the divine developed. It looks at the divergence between religions that worship a range of deities and those that represent strict monotheism.

u/penguinland · 1 pointr/atheism

I was raised Jewish, but both my parents are scientists and I was taught to question and investigate the world and figure out how things work. The more I learned about the world, the less sense Judaism made (indeed, the less sense any form of supernatural thinking made). Eventually, I had to admit that to the best of my knowledge, the world appeared to function without anything supernatural, there was no evidence that any miracle had ever happened, and indeed there was mounting evidence that my religion was untrue. I stopped being Jewish, and found that the phrase agnostic atheism fit my (lack of) beliefs perfectly: I have never seen decent evidence that a god exists, and I don't believe in anything without evidence.

If you've got some time to spend, I suggest watching the Why I am No Longer a Christian series. It's very long, but the audio is much more important than the video, so feel free to listen to it while you're folding laundry or something.

If you want a book, I highly recommend The Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan. Rather than being about atheism, it's about critical thinking. However, most atheists arrive at their conclusions because of critical thinking. Rather than explaining what to think, focus on how to think. The rest will follow.

u/MWrathDev · 1 pointr/atheism

&gt; For the past 2-3 years, I've grown uneasy with the things I've heard and have been taught over the years.

From our perspective this is a good sign! Throw another baby on the BBQ lads, one of us, one of us /s ;)

&gt; I'm feeling pretty lost and a little scared since pretty much all of my family is religious (they would never abandon me or disown me if they knew but the thought of disappointing them hurts...a lot).

Be careful! When it comes to religion you don't know what people are capable of and this sub is littered with tragic stories of people who thought they knew their families, but didn't expect what happened when they let on they were doubting, came out, or were outed.

To sum up if you don't have some kind of independence (namely financial) be discreet in your movements to keep the peace. That doesn't necessarily mean lie (though you can if you want), it means don't reveal all at the drop of a hat, gotta look out for #1.

&gt; Which leads me here. Both sides of this religious debate hold biases

Unfortunately that's not really true, we don't hold bias when attempting to ascertain the truth regarding gods existentialism.

In fact most atheists (being skeptics) hold religion to the same standards of evidence as everything else, and try to remove as much bias as possible i.e. you'll hear the scientific method (methodological naturalism) bandied about a fair bit in atheism, because that's the best method we have for reliably producing results.

Oh yeah that's one other thing you gotta reconcile. Absolute truth (or falsity), doesn't exist. You can only say what is true with X amount of certainty based on how good the evidence is (i.e. how much there is, quality/standards, etc).

&gt; So I'm looking into maybe some books, documentaries, research papers...anything really addressing the validity of the bible, the historical evidence, the contradictions, etc.

Be my guest : http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/

That's notes regarding what's contradictory in the bible when read literally, can't remember if they included the "poetic" bits in it. The thing is though most of the bible is supposed to be read literally, there are a few poetic bits yes, but just like any book the author sets the context for reading.

So whenever you hear a Christian saying : no it's supposed to be "interpreted" like this... that's generally code for

"oh shit bible says something wrong, better try and make excuses by putting it in a different context (than the author intended) that makes sense for the modern day".

Which is completely wrong, you don't get to read Harry Potter and put him in the star wars universe (although that would be kinda fun), nope JK determines the context.

Sorry got a bit ranty there, but it's one of my pet peeves.

&gt; I'm trying to find sources that are mostly impartial, so nothing that goes into the subject that actively tries to prove or disprove.

Self-contradictory? You just said you're looking for resources addressing the validity of the bible... that's literally asking to prove / disprove things in it.

No one's forcing you, and it can be scary / frustrating. But you should know that even if you don't accept the bible as true anymore it doesn't make you an immoral monster i.e. morals are independent of religion...

But you gotta make up your mind, you either care about "the truth" or not, you're either going down the rabbit hole or not. Pandora's box once opened is not so easily closed and once you see, it's difficult to unsee.

If you want some "softer" titles, i'd recommend:

https://www.amazon.com/Letter-Christian-Nation-Sam-Harris/dp/0307278778/

Or any of Bart Ehrmans books:

https://www.reddit.com/r/atheism/wiki/recommended/reading#wiki_bart_ehrman

To save you some time, most of the bible is either:

  • Made up e.g. story of moses/egypt, genesis, etc.

  • Stolen... "appropriated" from other religions, mainly zoroastrianism which influenced all the messianic religions of the time : judaism, islam, christianity e.g. Ahura Mazda = God, Angra Mainyu = Satan (responsible for demons), Zarathustra = Jesus.

  • The result of "chinese whispers" i.e. where there could be a story that was based on some truth (e.g. Noah's Ark / epic of gilgamesh / Atrahasis / King Ziusudra), but it was retold over and over again so many times by word of mouth before it was recorded in writing that it only faintly resembles the original story.

    All the best, feel free to ask questions here.
u/Phantasmal · 1 pointr/atheism

You may also want to read The History of God and Why We Believe What We Believe.

I have found some of my best reading by checking the bibliography of books with ideas that I really enjoyed and then reading the books that were referenced there.

The hardest thing for many people is replacing a feeling of certainty with a feeling of uncertainty. You may want to read Steven Hawking's Brief History of Time.

Some basic introductions to philosophy would not go amiss either. People have been tackling the "big questions" in much the same way, throughout all of history. There are not as many new ideas as there are old ideas, rehashed. Learn something about the history of human thought, it is pretty fascinating and will help you figure out what you think.

u/deirdredurandal · 2 pointsr/atheism
  1. Have I always been an atheist? No, I was raised in protestant christianity.
  2. If you have not always been an atheist, what were you before and what changed your mind? First? Learning science and realizing that I could prove that the Bible is fallible through independent analysis of reality, rather than depending on what other fallible people told me was true in contradiction to what I can prove to be true. Second? Realizing that not only is the Bible fallible, but that it is massively self-contradictory ... which led to: Third? Discovering conclusively that the Bible is a hodge-podge of mythological tales that have been edited, redacted, and cobbled together numerous times over the last ~28-2900 years to serve the agenda of men ... which led to: Fourth? Discovering that christianity as it is known today didn't exist some 19-2000 years ago, and that what you currently practice has very little in common to what christians in the first century CE practiced and/or believed ... which led to: Fifth? Discovering with an almost perfect certainty that Jesus never existed as a human being, and that the people that lived in the early to middle of the first century CE never believed that he did ... Paul certainly didn't, and he wrote the first books that were later included in the new testament.
  3. If today, Jesus Christ appeared to you directly and showed you that He exists, would you be willing to follow Him and His teachings for the duration of your life? Why or why not? Why say "Jesus Christ"? This is as likely as saying that the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or Xenu might appear in front of me to demand the same thing, and just as ridiculous a hypothetical. So, let me ask you a much more pertinent question:
  4. What would it take for you to reconsider your faith in christianity? I can reasonably prove that Jesus never existed and is a historicized mythological construct based upon first century mystery religions syncretized with messianic Judaism (read me). I can absolutely prove that the old testament was redacted multiple times based upon the political and religious views of the time of the redaction/edit (read me). I can absolutely prove that the creation myth of Judaism was based in Canaanite mythology and later was syncretized during the Babylonian captivity (i.e., it's bullshit) and that life evolved through natural processes (read me). I can point to thousands of contradictions, impossibilities, and outright lies in your "holy book" which undermine any claims made by any of the Abrahamic religions (which is a funny title, given the absolute certainty that Abraham never existed ... nor did Moses, or any number of other prominent figures in Judeo-Christian historical mythology). I can point to the faith of members of any other religion, note that it's no weaker than the faith you have in your own, and point out that faith alone in the face of reason proves nothing. I mean ... I could go on forever on this subject, but honestly: you're asking us what it would take for us to believe, when in reality the more important question is what it would take for you to stop believing a tall tale simply because someone told you it was true in the face of actual, verifiable reality.

    For my part, I'd believe that Santa Claus was real if I could objectively, scientifically, and reliably demonstrate such a claim. I'd believe that Vishnu, Horus, Odin, or Zeus were real for the same reasons. In fact, I can conjure up any number of fanciful scenarios in which strange, supernatural claims could be verified and "believed" by atheists, because that's how we operate: we believe in reality, however strange it may be. Just because such a fanciful scenario can be imagined, however, doesn't give that scenario any sort of validity. Your claims are as baseless as someone that wants me to believe they have an invisible and undetectable dragon in their garage that will burn my invisible and undetectable spirit FOR ETERNITY if I don't fork over 10% of my income and obey their every incomprehensible and often immoral edict. So put yourself in the position that you so "cleverly" thought you'd put us in: what would change your mind?

    Oh, wait ... you don't even want to question your "faith"? That's what I thought.

    edit: Watch this, pause, and reflect on your beliefs.
u/jello_aka_aron · 1 pointr/atheism

If you want to understand all the evidence that points to evolution, than go grab a copy of The greatest Show on Earth by Dawkins, it lays it out pretty well. If you don't want to spend cash on it, and don't mind a presentation that's a little less structured http://www.talkorigins.org/ has all the info as well.

Otherwise... "I don't understand how this could happen so.... GOD!" isn't really a valid argument logically, and naturally leaves you simply with a god of the gaps. We used to not understand lightening, thunder, the sun, the rain, tides, diseases, and millions of other things that were once attributed to the fickle will of some supernatural being or another. Now they are all considered so simple that children have a pretty good grasp of their basic physical causes.

u/Muzak__Fan · 2 pointsr/atheism

Atheist here, but I study the Bible from a cultural/historical perspective. You are correct, but you could expand on the reasoning a little more. In Abraham's time, people were polytheistic (i.e, pagan). Monotheism as a concept had not been developed yet.

Human sacrifice to gods was a common practice then, and families would usually sacrifice their firstborn son because it was believed that the fertility god would use up much of his power on the first child specifically. The sacrifice was thus thought to restore the god's power.

When Abraham was asked to sacrifice Isaac to god (specifically, the god El), he did so without question because this would not be against the norm. At the last minute, El stops the ritual, not just because Abraham had shown his faithfulness, but also to demonstrate that El was more powerful than the other gods at the time and such human sacrifices were unnecessary.

Of course, the basic story itself makes no sense to us now because we project our own sense of morality onto the past, even if we do not understand the context of the time it was written. Still, just because someone is an atheist does not mean he is more educated than the theists who actually believe this stuff. Educate yourself.


Source: A History of God by Karen Armstrong

u/geophagus · 3 pointsr/atheism

Thanks for the reply. I've read your responses here and in the other AMA you did. I think it's safe to leave it go.

I will say that I don't find your reasons sufficient to believe Yahweh exists. You are assuming the bible contains more factual information than it does. You are entitled to believe whatever you wish, but if you want to feel fully justified in your beliefs, you may want to consider looking into the authorship of the books of both the old and new testaments.

A History of God, by Karen Armstrong is a great start. She is a believer, but her research into the actual history of the bible will either change your mind or give you a much more accurate history of what you have chosen to believe.

u/DeusExCochina · 5 pointsr/atheism

No answers yet?

Many of the atheists here agree on Bart Ehrman as a good source. He's a Bible scholar who used to be Christian but whose studies have left him an atheist. He's written a whole series of books about how the Bible was cobbled together and, self-plagiarized, forged and fiddled, and so on. There's a field or method of study called critical analysis that makes the Bible's authenticity problems apparent, and Ehrman writes that stuff into popular books.

Two of his hits have been Misquoting Jesus, Jesus, Interrupted and Forged. The latter is perhaps his most explicit indictment of the intellectual crimes behind the Bible. Lost Christianities and other books talk about the many gospels and other writings that never made it into or were excised from what's known as the Bible today.

Ehrman also has a bunch of talks on YouTube where he engagingly presents those same ideas.

There are alternatives, of course, and it could be argued whether Ehrman is "the best." But he certainly knows what he's talking about (mostly), is a recognized authority on this kind of stuff, and presents it well. Best of all (from our point of view) he doesn't Lie For Jesus.

u/AlSweigart · 2 pointsr/atheism

"The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins. Dawkins doesn't really go into anything new or original, but the strength of the book is that is a great, concise summary of all the beginning arguments for atheism.

http://www.amazon.com/God-Delusion-Richard-Dawkins/dp/0618680004

I'd follow it with Daniel Dennett's "Breaking the Spell", also a good recommendation. Same goes for Carl Sagan's "A Demon Haunted World"

http://www.amazon.com/Breaking-Spell-Religion-Natural-Phenomenon/dp/0143038338

http://www.amazon.com/Demon-Haunted-World-Science-Candle-Dark/dp/0345409469/

Christopher Hitchens is a bit vitriolic for some, but "God is not Great" has some nuggets in it.

http://www.amazon.com/God-Not-Great-Religion-Everything/dp/0446579807/

I personally didn't like Sam Harris' "End of Faith" but I did like his "Letter to a Christian Nation".

http://www.amazon.com/Letter-Christian-Nation-Vintage-Harris/dp/0307278778/

For the topic of evolution, Talk Origins is great (and free) http://toarchive.org/
Dawkin's "The Selfish Gene" is also a good read (and short). Not so short but also good are Dawkins' "Blind Watchmaker", "Climbing Mount Improbable" and "Unweaving the Rainbow"

http://www.amazon.com/Selfish-Gene-Anniversary-Introduction/dp/0199291152/

http://www.amazon.com/Blind-Watchmaker-Evidence-Evolution-Universe/dp/0393315703/

http://www.amazon.com/Climbing-Mount-Improbable-Richard-Dawkins/dp/0393316823/

http://www.amazon.com/Unweaving-Rainbow-Science-Delusion-Appetite/dp/0618056734/

u/wayndom · 9 pointsr/atheism

frenchy612, do you have any science education at all? And if so, what kind of education, and to what extent (grade school, high school, college)? Do you live in the bible belt of the United States?

I'm really interested in knowing this, because the only "debate" over evolution is between educated people and willfully ignorant people.

Allow me to broaden your education a little.

First, it's important to understand that in science, "theory" does NOT mean "unproved idea." It doesn't mean, "guess" or "hypothesis," either. It means an idea that explains a wide variety of phenomena. Newton's theory of gravity, for example not only explains why things fall toward the earth, it also explains how and why the moon orbits the earth, the earth orbits the sun, etc.

When a scientific theory is validated (as many hundreds have been) it does NOT stop being a theory, and does not become a fact. The reason is because "fact" means a single piece of information that doesn't relate to anything else. For example, "chickens have three-toed feet," is a fact. It doesn't tell you anything else about chickens, feet, toes or any other birds. That's what a fact is, and that's why no theory is ever called a fact.

Lastly, the theory of evolution is the most confirmed, most well-documented theory with the most evidence demonstrating its correctness, in the history of science. ALL modern biology is based on it, and ALL medical research is centered on it. It has led to virtually all modern biological knowledge.

If you would like to further your education, I invite you to read The Greatest Show on Earth. But please, don't tell people you're not sure where you stand on the debate. You're only embarrassing yourself, whether you realize it or not.

"Of course, like every other man of intelligence and education I do believe in organic evolution. It surprises me that at this late date such questions should be raised."

  • Letter from Woodrow Wilson to Winterton C. Curtis (29 August 1922)
u/crypto_kthulhu · 1 pointr/atheism

I recommend reading the A Manual for Creating Atheists by Peter Boghossian. According to the author, your dad suffers from "Doxastic closure": a person who is resistant to belief revision.

Peter Boghossian borrows techniques from his experience teaching prison inmates and university students in how to convince people out of faith. He emphasizes the importance of not targeting religious concepts (e.g. God) but the base of religious thinking: faith. Once the subject realizes that faith-based reasoning is a flawed way of thinking, religious concepts will just fall apart. He recommends using the Socratic method to engage a person to use critical thinking to realize that faith is an incorrect belief formation mechanism. It is worth the read. Good luck.

u/Golda1689 · 2 pointsr/atheism

I would recommend getting a copy of Richard Dawkin's The Magic Of Reality out of the library for your mom and going through the chapter explaining evolution with her. There should be some great illustrations and it's written very clearly for people who have no prior science knowledge. The explanation given there makes total sense even if you've never taken a science class before!


Also, it's not necessarily a children's book, so it won't insult your mother's intelligence. It's just a very easy read with illustrations for people who are just starting to explore basic science.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Magic-Reality-Whats-Really/dp/1451675046

If you're willing to spend money on the book, I heard the Kindle version is really cool and well-illustrated.

If you're not willing to spend money and your local library doesn't have a copy, they should be able to have it sent in from another branch, or you can try visiting a local university to see if the university system has a copy you can borrow.

u/jmsr7 · 1 pointr/atheism

I would suggest George A. Smith's Atheism: The case against God which is, while thick, a quick read. Each chapter deals with one aspect and therefore is an easy read. (i read it years ago and found it clear if a bit dry)

For something more emotional, i suggest a "testimony" type book: Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America's Leading Atheists by Dan Barker. I quite enjoyed it.

As with everyone else here though, i suggest you read them first to see if they suit "where you are coming from," but more importantly because Evangelical Christians cannot be trusted so you need to check if she kept her end of the bargain.

I am only recommending books to read because you mentioned that she actually kept her mouth shut and was respectful at your wedding. This is not typical evangelical christian behaviour and indicates that you may not be wasting your time in even having these discussions.

Speaking of behaviour, has she tried crying like a petulant child in a passive-agressive attempt to change your mind yet?

jmsr

PS yes, i'm cynical. what gave it away? &gt;:P

PPS speaking of which, remember to check if she kept her end of the bargain. Personally, i bet she doesn't even get past the jacket blurb.

u/KyOatey · 2 pointsr/atheism

If they force you to keep going to the same therapist (even if they don't), here's a book you might find useful: http://www.amazon.com/Manual-Creating-Atheists-Peter-Boghossian/dp/1939578094

It talks about "street epistemology" which is basically asking questions of believers (such as your therapist) to get at why they believe there is a god. You can also find some good videos on YouTube that demonstrate how others do it.

If your therapist is giving answers like "it's hard to wrap your head around," perhaps her belief is not as strong as she thinks it is. Show her you're truly "exploring both sides" and make her answer why you should believe god exists - because you want to believe what's true. It may rattle her faith just a bit. She may even get uncomfortable and suggest you change therapists.

u/elbruce · 4 pointsr/atheism

If you get the chance, I really want to recommend the book Godless by Dan Barker. It's an in-depth look back at his journey from being a fundamentalist pastor to one of the co-chairs of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. He's gone about as far as it's possible to go from one end to the other.

Another similar story is the YouTube series "Why I Am No Longer A Christian" by Evi3nce. He uses a lot of professional-level graphics to present a detailed philosophical analysis of exactly why and how his born-again faith fell apart. It's both intellectual and moving.

I'm looking forward to hearing a more polished version of your story too. Congrats on being where you are.

u/mzial · 3 pointsr/atheism

I'm sorry to say it, but your arguments are based on ignorance. Please take physics/biology/chemistry classes. Anyway (I'm going to quote you, because there are multiple questions per point):


&gt; the big bang theory. as it states, it is a theory, yet people take it as truth.

Yes, and with reason. There is scientific evidence for the big-bang theory. Please note that 'theory' and 'theory' are two completely different words.


&gt; In no way has it explained how, from "nothingness" became everything.

No it hasn't. Does your god explain it? I don't think so. And although science can't explain what exactly causes nothing to be something, we do observe it. Remember: the total energy of the universe is zero.


&gt; if a big bang really did occurr, why is the matter in the universe clumpy, not evenly distributed?

Matter pulls matter together. Please take a physics class or read this.


&gt;why haven't the laws kept on evolving?

Why should it?


&gt; no-one has ever been able to produce heavier elements,

Of course we have. Please see the periodic table.


&gt; to make the heavier elements you need incredible heat and pressure(stars) but to make the stars you need heavier elements.

No, stars are made up of Hydrogen which fuses into Helium. You don't need heavy elements to form stars. As a matter of fact, stars only form when light elements gather. When stars die, heavier elements form. These explosions are called supernovas.


&gt; nobody has any idea how you would create a star, not even the slightest.

Again, ignorance. See this page.


&gt; if it were any older, it would have been so close to almost touch the earth.

Sunday school fairy tales. The moon moves away from us with a speed of 3.8 cm a year and is positioned 363,345 km (minimum) from us. Thus, it could be 10 billion years old. And no, we're not sure how the moon formed, current theories seem very unlikely. Anyway, this isn't a reason to believe in a genocidal deity.


&gt; jupiter has moons that rotate both ways, right-hand and left-hand. nobody has any idea why is it like that.

Evidence, please.


&gt; life started from nonorganic materials and somehow became living. no-one has ever observed this happen, neither have they ever been able to reproduce the aminoacids(building blocks of life) needed to build life in a laboratory.

That has nothing to do with evolution. Next.


&gt; species start having offspring that are not like the parents. have you ever seen a dog produce a non-dog? sure there are different dogs, but in the end they are dogs. it has never been observed that birds start suddenly hatching lizards.

You're trolling, right? Please, read The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins.

Oh, and btw; I'm sorry for my fellow-atheists are calling you names. Please, not all of us are like that.

u/im_buhwheat · 3 pointsr/atheism

I believe we need to focus on epistemology.

&gt; It questions what knowledge is and how it can be acquired, and the extent to which knowledge pertinent to any given subject or entity can be acquired. Much of the debate in this field has focused on the philosophical analysis of the nature of knowledge and how it relates to connected notions such as truth, belief, and justification.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epistemology

A series of comics will just be ignored as atheistic propaganda. Any cosmology presented will just be further reason for them to believe god made such an amazing universe through whatever means science discovers.

If you focus on what they believe and how they justify it, getting them to think critically you are setting them on the right track.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epistemology#Belief

Modern society values critical thinking and rationality, 2 things their religion has prevented them from developing skills in. So, yes, I agree it is an inability and not a disability, and they are quite capable of shaking their irrational beliefs if they are not constantly referred to as stupid.

There is a great book on amazon called "A Manual for Creating Atheists" which I believe focusses on this, although I am yet to read it but I have heard good things. Not a fan of the title but it is not aimed at theists, it is aimed at atheists who want to engage believers in thoughtful conversation.

u/scarydinosaur · 2 pointsr/atheism

Many things can be explained better with evolution. Evolution is a theory, in the scientific sense, and that means it's veracity is tested by current and emerging evidence. If it didn't have the explanatory power for most of the evidence then it wouldn't be so popular. So it certainly doesn't explain everything, it just explains the data we have so far. There are countless things we simply don't know yet.

If you're open to understanding the core aspects of Evolution, please read:

Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters

The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution

Why Evolution Is True

As for freewill, it depends on the atheist. Some believe in free will, while others don't think we actually posses it.



u/ScottyDelicious · 3 pointsr/atheism

I have read all of Professor Dawkins' books, and The Greatest Show on Earth is, without question, his finest masterpiece and quite possibly the best explanation of evolution that any jackoff like myself can understand.

u/spaceghoti · 1 pointr/atheism

&gt; This past week was busy and my yard was starting to get away from me a bit, so I got up and went out to weed/trim/mow/etc before it became prohibitively hot. My wife asked if I wouldn't mind going with her and the kids to church, and I declined as I was neck deep in work already.

I don't think this is unreasonable.

&gt; When she came home she was upset because the kids had been difficult. She wanted me to commit to going with her every week again just to help with the kids, and I said I might be willing to if she'd sit with me for an hour every week and listen to/watch/read something of my choosing. She agreed instantly.

I don't think that's reasonable, but if it's a compromise you can both live with then sure. More power to you.

&gt; So, I'm looking for some suggestions for material. I'd prefer something less abrasive (at least to start) but that doesn't shy away from questioning the existence of god and arriving at the conclusion that there isn't enough evidence to suggest he exists.

https://www.amazon.com/Demon-Haunted-World-Science-Candle-Dark/dp/0345409469

I can't recommend this enough. It doesn't attack religion much at all but it explains the necessity of skepticism and critical thinking. It's an excellent primer on the topic, one of the best I've ever read. From there you can extend to other books in our recommended reading and recommended viewing list from our sidebar to dig a little deeper into why we're skeptical about religious claims.

&gt; Is there anything in the middle that might work? Any YouTube channels, podcasts, authors, documentaries, etc that you can think of?

After that I would also strongly recommend Evid3nc3's YouTube series Why I Am No Longer A Christian. Even as an atheist I learned a lot of things from this series.

u/loganallenwolf · 1 pointr/atheism

Do you still believe in God? I'm honestly not sure from what you've wrote. If you just have doubts / differences in opinion with those in your congregation, you can always find one that better suits you. If you now truly don't believe there is a God (or you're agnostic, or an agnostic atheist), then start working now towards a new life. And begin mentally preparing yourself for the hardship of having your parents and many of your friends judge you, try to talk you out of it or "come back to God," ask why you hate God now or want to pray for you / with you. It will not be easy. Whatever you do, don't let yourself be pressured into a life (ministry, etc.) that you don't want. You only get to live this life once - and the clock is ticking. Life is too short to live it under the heavy blanket that now envelops you; live it on your own terms and not someone else's. I wish you all the best.

Edit: "Godless" by Dan Barker might be helpful for you. He was a former (quite well known preacher) who became an atheist and is now the co-head of the FFRF. http://www.amazon.com/Godless-Evangelical-Preacher-Americas-Atheists/dp/1569756775

u/atheistcoffee · 3 pointsr/atheism

Congratulations! I know what a big step that is, as I've been in the same boat. Books are the best way to become informed. Check out books by:

u/5amsung · 2 pointsr/atheism

"Makes more sense to me than a man in space" is not a very compelling argument. You claim that you're "one of the very, very few serious and educated atheists within 100 miles" - that a great aspiration, but you need to follow through on it. Buy yourself a copy of The Greatest Show on Earth and learn to engage him more deeply. It's the equivalent of doing karate to be able to deal with school bullies, but for your mind. It'll be good experience.

u/MarcoVincenzo · 2 pointsr/atheism

Coyne's book is fine for a quick read, but I think the best recent overview is Dawkins' The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution. If you're looking more for philosophy than biology, Dennett's Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meaning of Life is an excellent read even if it is 15 years old now.

u/AnanymousGamer · 1 pointr/atheism

Glad to help. He references a book of his, maybe you could check that out as well. Enjoy your day!
Book: http://www.amazon.com/Universe-Nothing-There-Something-Rather/dp/1451624468
P.S. - Good to know you are interested in science. The world needs more rational thinkers and discovering enraptures within it.

u/roadkill6 · 1 pointr/atheism

I recall reading something once about a census that was taken around 6 AD but it was an informal headcount of all of the people under the control of Augustus with the sole purpose of telling him how many people he ruled over in honor of his birthday. No taxes, no traveling, no Bethlehem. Anybody know of a source for that?

EDIT:
6 BC during the reign of Herod not AD during Quirinus (although the first official Roman tax census of the area was held under Quirinus) Herod did his own taxes of the Judean people and paid a tribute out of his profits to Rome. So, until Quirinus took over, the Romans had never done a tax census in Judea. There was, however, a head-count census of the whole Roman Empire conducted around 6 BC (or so I recall). It was in honor of the Emperor Augustus' birthday and had the sole purpose of showing Augustus how many people were in his empire and, therefore, how awesome he was.

I think I remembered the source. I believe that it was mentioned in the book "Misquoting Jesus". I'll have to look it up later to be sure.

u/zyle · 1 pointr/atheism

&gt; I want to be more educated myself of the bible and it's testaments and chapters

I would very very strongly recommend you check out "Misquoting Jesus" from your local lib and quickly get up to speed with the blatant holes in the development of the bible. Succinct talking points like:

  • The original scribes and copiers of the NT were uneducated; they could copy and write, but did not really know how to read; hence, a whole bunch of copy errors and inconsistencies arose.

  • The original text copies of the NT were in Greek, in all caps with no punctuation or even spaces between the words! So later scribes often got confused with words like "GODISNOWHERE." Does that read "God is now here," or "God is nowhere?"

  • The "let he without sin cast the first stone" parable in John? Not there in the oldest surviving manuscripts; it was added in by scribes later on.

  • The last 12 verses in Mark where Jesus is resurrected and pays a visit to Mary and the disciples? Not there in the oldest surviving manuscripts; it was added in by scribes later on.

  • A whole bunch of errors/translations quips when translating from Greek-&gt;Latin-&gt;English over the centuries.

    The book has a lot more details. I only read the first half actually; it started to get a little too pedantic later on.
u/StacysMomHasTheClap · 1 pointr/atheism

You should pick up a copy of The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution, by Richard Dawkins. The chapter where Dawkins talks about dogs should help you understand better so that you can easily explain to your friend in terms he can understand.

u/quicksilversnail · 1 pointr/atheism

I would highly recommend Sam Harris. He can be quite verbose at times, but his logic is impeccable. You might want to try Letter to a Christian Nation to start. It's directed to a Christian audience and was a real eye opener for me. Plus, it's pretty short (144 pages).

Edit: His YouTube videos are excellent as well.

u/pckizer · 1 pointr/atheism

Strongly agreed on reading Richard Carrier, though his works are of a significant size and you might not have the time to finish them prior to the due date of your paper (though I definitely encourage you to read through them at some point).

A shorter debate between Richard Carrier and Zeba Crook is available on youtube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BgmHqjblsPw


And you might also want to check into some of the works of David Fitzgerald:

u/StapleGun · 1 pointr/atheism

Yes, I don't believe however that moral-good is any sort of divine or supernatural concept, but merely a set of constructs by which we can minimize human suffering and maximize happiness.

What do you think?

Edit: The Moral Landscape by Sam Harris describes pretty much what I am describing but in much greater detail and clarity.