A reader urged me to have a look at one such website proclaiming that there are some “99 Reasons [why] Atheism is superior” to other worldviews, specifically theism. For this article, and as a we review the points, we shall argue from the vantage point of general theism, namely the belief that a transcendent God exists, that this God has intervened in his creation, and that he has left evidence for us to be able to ground reasonable belief in him.
Also note that this list will be a routinely updated the further we examine the claims. So don’t forget to come back and have a look!
1. No need to pray because there’s nothing to pray to.
This can be dismissed because it begs the question in the way that it assumes the conclusion (namely, God does not exist) that it wishes to argue for (that God does not exist). In other words, it already assumes that God does not exist (since “there’s nothing to pray to”) before it even considers evidence and arguments.
2. No eternal damnation.
This is another assumption without any evidence. It may very well be the case that hell exists.
3. Myths and fairy tales are entertaining stories, nothing more.
This is very undefined. What are the myths and fairy tales he is referring to? Is it Muhammad’s alleged journey through the seven heavens and to the very presence of Allah? Is it Jesus’ resurrection? Or Balaam’s talking donkey? The existence of all the gods in human history? We don’t know. However, if it’s an a priori rejection of all religions, gods, and the supernatural itself, then we can write it off to a decent dose of blind belief on the part of this atheist.
4. Ethical and moral behavior comes by choice, not by commandment.
This brings into the equation the notion of objective moral values and duties, something that has been a burdening thorn in the flesh for atheism for a long time. In other words, this atheist is misdirecting his challenge.
Firstly, he assumes that we ought to behave in a certain moral way. Say, for example, to avoid raping because rape is morally wrong. However, as has been pointed out, the atheist fails to ground this moral belief (that rape is wrong) in any objective sense since by dismissing a transcendent moral standard (that can only exist in a transcendent source, i.e. God) his moral beliefs are therefore rendered subjective. This is because the atheist has grounded his moral perception in a non-theistic, purely atheistic, sociobiological evolutionary process. In other words, human beings only have an illusion of what is right or wrong because this natural process merely fobbed it off onto him. We have simply evolved to know that treating fellow human beings in a certain way will enhance our own chances at survival. However, perhaps a psychopath takes much pleasure in raping women and children. The atheist may be repelled by such behaviour but since he has undermined objective morality then he cannot claim that the psychopath is doing anything objectively wrong. It is merely his subjective preference that such behaviour is wrong. But according to the psychopath such behaviour is morally commendable since he likes it. If morality is subjective then who is to say who is right between the two?
Christian theists, however, have traditionally grounded moral values in God’s existence as a reflection of his nature. Therefore, to rape someone is always morally wrong and a violation of God himself since the person being raped has been made in the image of God. In short, the Christian theist can meaningfully claim that certain acts are morally wrong or morally right.
5. No bullshit justifications for sectarian violence.
I fail to see how this makes atheism “superior” to anything else.
6. Women marry as they choose.
Entirely irrelevant to the question at hand.
7. Daughters are not the property of their fathers.
I suppose this is a reference to one of the seemingly otherworldly Old Testament laws. Again, this atheist made the claim that atheism is superior. Even if the atheist could successfully argue that his atheism is superior to Judeo-Christian traditions, laws, and beliefs, it does nothing to make atheism superior over Hinduism, Islam, Shinto, agnosticism or any other philosophical systems. Even if atheism can be shown to be superior over, say, Christian theism it does not go to show that atheism is true and that Christian theism is false.
8. Gender equality really means something.
This is a claim with moral significance. In other words, this atheist argues that it would be morally praiseworthy to support gender equality. However, since atheists undermine any objective moral standard (refer to point 4) then we must wonder why we should entertain his subjective moral claim. Muslims in Syria, for example, are quite happy to subjugate women in the name of their religion. Who, might we ask, has the final say in this matter if morality is relative?
9. Questions are not hampered by dogma.
The irony sticks out here like a sore thumb. Consider the words of William Provine, “There are no gods, no purposes, no goal-directed forces of any kind. There is no life after death… There is no ultimate foundation for ethics, no ultimate meaning to life, and no free will for humans, either.” A tad bit dogmatic there wouldn’t you think? This is a philosophy ultimately determined and influenced by Provine’s dogmatic atheistic convictions. Provine puts his faith in the very belief system he just defined, namely that life is purposeless, that God doesn’t exist, that there’s no freewill, and so forth. To say someone is dogmatic is not to say that they are incorrect in their beliefs, but it is to that they are dogmatic.
The point being is that you get all kinds of dogmas. You get religious dogmas, philosophical dogmas, atheistic dogmas, and even sports dogma. Dogma, traditionally defined, is a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true. The New York Yankees are the best baseball side in America because why? My dad says so and I place absolute trust in his judgment. Islam is true. Why? Because the local imam told me. Atheism is the most rational belief. Why? Because Richard Dawkins says so in his book The God Delusion. There are also 99 reasons why atheism is superior to other worldviews. Why? Because this atheist we are reviewing says so. Don’t you think that this atheist believes that his atheism is “incontrovertibly” true? Of course he does.
10. Proof has a better chance of changing opinion.
If this atheist really considered the proof for God’s existence then he wouldn’t be an atheist.
11 & 12 – Unrelated
13. No obligatory pilgrimages.
This hardly makes atheism superior. Perhaps many Muslims enjoy their pilgrimage to Mecca, a place alleged to be so holy that no non-Muslim is allowed to enter. This gives the Muslim identity and a longing. Therefore, to him an obligatory pilgrimage is a fantastic prospect.
And don’t have the naïve impression that atheists don’t have their own “pilgrimages” either. Just ask any one of the few who attended the 2016 “Reason Rally.” This being their little version of a pilgrimage; even if it was a deemed a let-down in many ways (it was expected that 30 000 atheists would attend but, as things turned out, less than 3000 did – I recommend this quick video analysis).
To be continued… tune back tomorrow.