Last Updated on 2018-06-04 by Joop Beris
- Why are you an atheist?
Because I see no evidence of there being a deity, also no convincing arguments for the existence of one.
- Have you ever believed in a Higher Power?
Yes, I had a momentary lapse of reason and became a Christian for while. It got better though.
- If so, Did something traumatic happen to make you stop believing?
The catalyst for my rejection of the Christian faith was Gods’ failure to deliver. Even though we read in John 14, 13 -14: “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.” Except that he didn’t and a loved one died. This got me to critically examine my faith and when the only answers I got were “mysterious ways” and “we can’t know the plan”, I drew the conclusion that I was allowing myself to be deluded.
- If not, why did you stop believing?
As I explained above, I could not reconcile my beliefs with reality so I did what any rational person would do: I concluded my beliefs were false. More on that if you check out this tag.
- What do you think happens to us when we die?
We’re buried or cremated according to our preference. And that’s that. More specifically, I think “I” is a construct of our physical brain, a sort of internal narrator that our brain uses to talk to itself. So when the physical brain dies, the narration stops and “I” simply goes away. We do not survive the death of our brain.
- Without believing in a Higher Power, where do you think we get our morals from?
It seems all too obvious that our morality comes from us, from humanity. That’s why there’s so many opinions about what is moral and what is not. It could not possibly come from a deity, as Plato already establishes in his Euthyphro when he asks the question whether good is loved by the gods because it is good, or love of the gods makes a thing good. If the first, good exists separate from god and thus god is not needed for something to be good or if the second, what is good is nothing more than divine whim.
- Where do you think the universe came from?
I really have no idea. There’s a lot of possible explanations. Maybe it was always here, maybe it arose out of the “Big Bang” or maybe something completely different.
- What’s your views on Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens?
Ah yes, the “poster boys” of atheism. Don’t get me wrong, I think all three possess a formidable intellect, are impressive in a debate and brave to point out the flaws in religion. That being said, I was an atheist before I heard of Sam Harris or Christopher Hitchens. I had read some of Richard Dawkins before. But as I wrote in an earlier post:
- If Richard Dawkins decided to go teach seminary school, I’d still be an atheist.
- If Sam Harris opened an ashram with Deepak Chopra, I’d still be an atheist.
- If Daniel Dennett decided to make calvados for the rest of his life, I’d still be an atheist.
- If Christopher Hitchens had devoted his life to stand up comedy, I’d still be an atheist.
- If Hemant Mehta would give up his blog and start giving the tour at the Creation Museum, I’d still be an atheist.
- If Ayaan Hirsi Ali became a nun, I’d still be an atheist.
- If Stephen Fry became a Catholic priest, I’d still be an atheist.
I admire these people for various reasons but they are not a big influence on my position on faith.
- Do you consider yourself a weak atheist or a strong atheist?
If you are asking if I am an agnostic atheist or gnostic atheist, I’d say that I was agnostic but leaning strongly to gnostic. I’d also classify myself as an anti-theistic atheist, meaning that I think the belief in a deity is potentially harmful.
- How can you prove that God doesn’t exist?
You can’t, in the sense that you can’t prove a negative. How would you find evidence for the non-existence of something? I don’t think we should be trying to disprove the existence of a deity because it’s not relevant. Let the other side come up with some evidence for existence first and then we’ll talk.
- Do you believe in miracles?
I believe that there are people who are convinced they have witnessed a miracle. However, I think that has more to do with a willingness to believe and/or a lack of understanding about what actually happened. If God really worked miracles, I’d like to see an amputee grow back a limb after prayer. Surely that wouldn’t be beyond his power, would it? It’s not happening, though.
- Do you have a support group/system?
No, not really.
- Do you try to get others not to believe?
No, but I do try to encourage other to think for themselves, to use their own reasoning potential, to trust in logical conclusions, etc. If I can plant a seed of doubt, my work is done.
- Do others tend to view you differently when they discover you’re an atheist?
While the Netherlands is largely a secular country, there are still some people taken aback by the word “atheist”. After all, if there’s a proper word for something, it must be serious, right?
- Do people tend to try to convince you that your views are wrong?
There are those in my old church who feel sorry I lost faith. They haven’t confronted me directly but they have offered the rather offensive “I’ll pray for you”, making me bite my tongue so I wouldn’t reply: “Thanks, I’ll think for you.”
The truth of the matter is that I haven’t lost my faith, I rejected it. It was a conscious decision and not one that I regret so the word “loss” is not appropriate.
- How does your family view your beliefs? Are they supportive?
My family is mostly full of unbelievers, agnostics and Catholics-on-paper. They don’t care one way or the other, nor do they see my atheism as special. Some are Christian though and I’m sure they pray for me.
- What are your views on Madalyn O’Hair?
Not being from the US, I don’t have any strong opinion about her one way or the other, except that I think she was a brave woman who dared to stand for her conviction and wasn’t afraid to speak out against “Christian America”.
These are my answers and I hope they are helpful to the student who contacted Godless Mom. I see from my feed that there are plenty of other atheists out there answering her questions, so she’ll probably have all the answers she needs. Aren’t we atheists a helpful bunch? 🙂
And not to forget the somewhat less than serious but funny: https://attaleuntold.wordpress.com/2015/10/15/questions-for-theists/