How to annoy an atheist

How to annoy an atheist, or, how to bring a friendly conversation between theist and non-theist to a halt (at least temporarily).

Method I

Say, “evolution is just a theory.”

A scientific theory is not a wild guess, or something that was come up with after too much to drink.

A scientific theory is supported — or if not exactly supported, it is not falsified by — all the evidence. That’s right, all the evidence. It might seem a little crazy, it might not make sense (especially to a layperson), but unless you are also ready to discard the theories of gravity and muscle contraction, as well as discoveries of modern medicine like chemotherapy and blood pressure medication, you’ll not want to be discarding evolution. At least not with a lame statement like “it’s just a theory.” The statement is not an argument; it only shows your ignorance.

Method I and a half

“There is no proof for evolution.”

That is correct. Proof is a mathematical term. When you’re talking about science, you’ll need to use terms like “evidence” and “falsified” and “objective testing.”

For example: “In the last 200 years, evolution has not been falsified by any evidence,” or, “There is no objective test that could falsify intelligent design; therefore, it is not a scientific theory.”

Method II

“Atheism is a faith.” — or “way of life” or “philosophy.”

The first response to this statement could be, “Oh really? How?” (And you could also try, “Trust me; I think I’d know what atheism is, being that I am one.”) This is good because then the other party will tell you why they believe it, and this will make it easier to offer a rebuttal. I’d wager, though, that in many cases, a theist may not be able to explain the “faith system” of atheism– because there is not one. They may try to connect atheism with certian philosophies, such as communism, or they may associate atheism with acts of certain dictators and mass murderers. But they would benefit from the gentle reminder that atheism, in and of itself, is nothing more than a lack of faith in gods.

It bears repeating: Atheism is a lack of faith in gods. Nothing more.

I believe in no Gods, therefore, I am an atheist. This may lead me to actual philosophies, but whatever follows is not atheism. Does this make sense?

Atheists may also be humanists, socialists, democrats, anarchists, nihilists, Jews… but those are in addition to atheism, and even if correlation could be found between atheism and certain philosophies, that does not mean there are causations or other stronger links. But by saying there may be “links,” you acknowledge the implication that even if atheism is linked to certain philosophies or behaviors in an individual, it is separate from them.

I can kill you and say it is because I don’t believe in God; that makes me a murderer and an atheist. But I can also treat you according to the golden rule and say I am an atheist; that makes me a good neighbor and an atheist. Now why should we link the murder and not the moral behavior to the atheist?

Because it is simpler to say that theists are moral and atheists are immoral? Christians also murder, and Christians also treat others as they would wish to be treated.

I would argue that humans behave civilly to each other because we are civil, social creatures. And we behave selfishly and hurt others because we are selfish, independent creatures. We are complicated and our brains are a big mess of conflicting thoughts and desires. We have a desire to “sin” and we have a desire to do good. It’s all there. I believe people should be celebrated and rewarded for their goodness, not for conforming to the local demands of religion.


One Response to “How to annoy an atheist”

  1. doubtingfoo Says:

    I have a co-worker who is always saying, jokingly, “you know evolution isn’t true” or “you know it’s just a theory.” He knows how much it bugs me. But he REALLY believes what he is saying…

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