I suppose I’ve never really written about this before, because it seems like too obvious a point to need addressing. But people do keep making these same tired old arguments, displaying a very tedious lack of imagination or intellectual curiosity.
To paraphrase the general theme of the argument: Why do atheists bother arguing against something that doesn’t exist? If there is no God, why are they so fixated on the idea? Why would they spend so much time trying to disprove something that they supposedly don’t even believe is there?
… Dude. We’re not in an argument with God. Our main concern doesn’t actually focus on something that doesn’t exist. God’s just made up; he’s not a threat to me.
You people are the goddammn threat.
People are preventing children from getting an effective science education. People are hindering the progress of life-saving medical technologies involving stem cells. People are inflicting social ostracism, discrimination, and physical abuse on each other because of minor, irrelevant differences, such as sexual orientation. People are killing their children in attempted exorcisms. People are, occasionally, blowing each other up by the thousands.
Because of irrational religious belief. This is what atheists have a problem with. God is as fictional as Captain Hook, and about as scary – but people can be fucking terrifying.
You really shouldn’t need to keep asking “What’s the harm?” in other people’s beliefs. That’s an ample list of answers right there.
The rest of this site has so many pages of inanity, I could probably occupy myself there for the rest of my life and never need to look elsewhere to find another misconception or fallacy to blog about again. But even sticking to this one page, there’s plenty of fun. I particularly like the irony of:
After all, if God did not exist, He and His followers would be no enemy to the atheist. We’d just be deluded people.
It’s argued on the same page that, because we all know deep down that obviously God is real, atheists don’t exist. So why do religious people spend so much time trying to prove this? Surely we’re no enemy to them. We’re just deluded people. (Unsurprisingly, this much self-awareness is entirely absent.)
Then there’s all the usual yadda yadda about what the fool hath said in his heart, which provides a very handy excuse for claiming that anyone who disagrees with you already knows they’re wrong, and saves you the trouble of actually making any kind of a case. And for a stunning conclusion:
An atheist once wrote and said, “2+2 is not necessarily 4”.
I have absolutely no idea what the point is of bringing this up. Is it meant to be representative of the philosophy of atheists in general? Because… it’s really not. Disbelief in the existence of gods absolutely doesn’t rely on doubting whether 2+2=4. Seriously. A lot of people I know without any imaginary friends can still do all the maths they learnt when they were five.
(Technically the atheist who supposedly wrote this is correct, but I can forgive the author his/her ignorance of modular arithmetic. A very minor failing, all things considered.)
So in summary: theists, please try and understand that I, and many other atheists, aren’t simply in denial about the obvious truth of an unknowable deity who really doesn’t appreciate being denied. We’re part of the debate because we have as much right to speak out about our beliefs as anyone, and because actions inspired by belief can have real effects, even if the God behind them is a fantasy. (If you’re not a Muslim, ask yourself whether Islamic extremist suicide bombers pose “no threat” just because you don’t believe in Allah.) I don’t believe in your god, because I just don’t buy it. But the harm that people can do on his account – nobody’s denying that.