Not easy to be an Atheist

Eight reasons

1. An atheist assigns himself to life with merely finite purposes

Like others, atheists enjoy many smaller meanings of life– things like friendship and love, pleasure and sorrow, Mozart and Plato. But to be consistent with atheism, the atheist cannot allow for transcendent meaning. If the atheist is honest, he will admit to feeling that there is something more to existence —something bigger, something that transcends his finite limitations. To maintain his position, the atheist must suppress the nagging feeling that there is more to life than what is temporal. Someone said, “The blazing evidence for immortality is our dissatisfaction with any other solution.” According to Scripture, God has, “set eternity in the hearts of men” (see: Ecclesiastes 3:11). Suppression of this reality is a survival mechanism of atheism. But the atheist encounters even more perplexing difficulties.

2. The atheist must also suppress the demands of logic

He is like the man who finds an encyclopedia lying in the woods and refuses to believe it is the product of intelligent design. Everything about the book suggests intelligent cause. But, if he accepted such a possibility, he might be forced to conclude that living creatures composed of millions of DNA-controlled cells (each cell containing the amount of information in an encyclopedia) have an intelligent cause. His controlling bias against God will not allow him to accept this.

3. Yet, ironically, the atheist has to believe in miracles without believing in God

Why? Well, one law that nature seems to obey is this: whatever begins to exist is caused to exist. The atheist knows that the universe began to exist and since the universe is, according to the atheist, all there is, the very existence of the universe seems to be a colossal violation of the laws of nature (i.e., a miracle). It’s hard to believe in miracles without God.

4. An atheist must also suppress all notions of morality

He is not able to declare any quality to be morally superior to another. To do so would logically require an absolute standard of goodness and duty. He may offer his preferences with reasons behind it, but he has no basis for claims of moral superiority– only for personal choices. For an atheist to declare peace better than war or love better than hate, he must answer the question: “Says Whom?” Unless morality is established by some transcendent source of authority to whom all people must answer, it cannot be more than alternative choices based on personal preferences. The atheist is stuck believing that morality has no real claim on you or anyone else.

5. In fact, the atheist must conclude that evil is an illusion

For there to be evil, there must also be some real, objective standard of right and wrong. But if the physical universe is all there is, there can be no such standard (How could arrangements of matter and energy make judgments about good and evil true?). So, there are no real evils, just violations of human customs or conventions. How hard it would be to think of murderers as merely having bad manners.

6. The atheist must also live with the arrogance of his position

Although he realizes that he does not possess total knowledge, his assertion that there is no God requires that he pretend such knowledge. Although he has limited experience, he must convince himself that he has total experience so that he can eliminate the possibility of God. It is not easy to hold the arrogant assertions required by atheism in a society that requires blind tolerance of every ideology.

7. The atheist must also deny the validity of historical proof

If he accepted the standard rules for testing the truth claims of historical documents, he would be forced to accept the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. The account of Jesus’ resurrection is strongly validated by standard rules for judging historical accuracy. The extensive manuscript evidence of eyewitnesses to the resurrection is presented in an unbiased, authentic manner. It is the atheist’s anti-supernatural bias that keeps him from allowing history to prove anything.

8. Finally, atheists must admit that humans are not importantly different from other animals

According to the atheist, we are simply the result of blind chance operating on the primordial ooze, and differing from animals by only a few genes. Yet, the wonders of human achievement and the moral dignity we ascribe to human beings just do not fit with the claim that we are no different than the animals. The realities of human creativity, love, reason, and moral value seem to indicate that humans are creatures uniquely made in the image of God.

The atheist’s problem with belief in God is not an absence of evidence but suppression of it. “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:20-22).

Steven W. Cornell,

About Wisdomforlife

Just another worker in God's field.
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18 Responses to Not easy to be an Atheist

  1. Steve,
    As a person who followed my own path to atheism, after exploring religion from many different angles, I feel a need to address a couple of the points in your post regarding morality. I have spent a lot of time exploring the concept of right and wrong as it applies to atheism and can only conclude the following: The atheists I know personally, including myself, feel a real sense of right and wrong. We understand and embrace the necessity of treating our fellow man with respect and kindness, and recognize that hatred and revenge only serve to bring negativity to society. We all have to live together on this planet, and it is imperative to hold ourselves to a high standard of conduct in order to facilitate the continuation of a healthy society. As atheists, we are acutely aware of the wrongs committed throughout the centuries in the name of religion. The current insurgency in Iraq is a prime example of that kind of hatred and immorality. Their society is in utter chaos because of it.

    I believe it is a mistake for you to state that “an atheist must also suppress all notions of morality.” We believe that moral behavior is simply a natural extension of our human need to perpetuate our own existence. Killing members of one’s own species is counterproductive to its existence. Because we are societal beings, negative actions that harm the fabric of our society are not logical.

    Although I disagree, I understand your belief system and respect it wholeheartedly. Thanks for the opportunity to comment!


    • Jon Ross says:

      I would agree with you that the statement, “an atheist must also suppress all notions of morality” is wrong. An atheist certainly does have a sense of right and wrong/good and evil, and he doesn’t have to suppress those notions.

      However, if there’s no God, then the only basis we have for that sense of right and wrong/good and evil is ourselves, and therefore if I believe that it’s right for me to go out and murder people, I can. There’s no authority that should stop me for doing what I feel is right.

      If, on the other hand, there is a God that we are all in submission to, then we must all abide by what He says – in this case “You shall not murder.”


      • David says:

        Yes that’s right the only basis for right and wrong is ourselves. EVEN IF YOU ARE RELIGOUS. You choose which god’s rules to follow and this choice cannot be based on anything but faith. Therefore you could say that an athiest has “Faith” that killing people arbitrarily is not the right thing to do. Don’t kid yourself that because you choose a religion that you have more of a moral compass. All you did was abdicate your own ability to think freely and objectively about each situation and ascribe to a moral code that was established by people in the stone ages.

        BTW…Lots of religous people are also able to come to the conclusion that it is “right” to go out and kill people. Some even say that god told them to do it. So what exactly is your point.


      • thinkpoint says:

        Then why do these atheist write and speak as if I am obligated to see things from their viewpoint if I don’t want to be an idiot? You really miss the point. I am saying: “If there is a God (apart from what anyone believes about God), he alone holds the right to absolute standards of morality.” Not sure what you mean by “killing people arbitrarily”? Is there ever a form of justifiable taking of life like capital punishment or war? Abuses of religion like those of atheism don’t advance informed discussion.


  2. thinkpoint says:

    I certainly appreciate the tone of your response. Perhaps more to the point, I should say Atheists must not think they can impose or ask for morality because whatever morality they hold, it is merely one human opinion not to be lifted above any other. For an atheist to treat his/her morality as necessary for others is for him/her to try to be God. As a result, I am saying the atheist must suppress his/her notion of morality –or at least keep it to him/her-self.



  3. Matthew Tenney says:

    Nicely concise statements about the difficulties faced by the atheist.

    The atheist will often say he/she feels as if he/she has a purpose or meaning in life. The same with morality, i.e. they feel as if they know right from wrong. The word “feel” replaces the word “think”. Since there is no accounting for feelings, the atheists are generally not worried about from where their feelings come.

    Certainly, they will tell you they have a conscience but as Ebenezer Scrooge said about his Christmas visitor/conscience, “You may be a bit of undigested beef, a blob of mustard, a crumb of cheese.” Just an uncomfortable feeling.



  4. Papa J says:

    Nicely put. I think the most disconscerting point about the moral values of an aetheist is that they are based upon consensus. Your professed atheist made the interesting point that he and his atheist friends FEEL a sense of right and wrong. How can you prove that with science alone. If science is all thre is to guide your beliefs, what you feel shouldn’t enter into the discussion at all.


  5. i have a few comments to your gibberish.

    Firstly all atheists have very different views we are a diverse bunch, after all we don’t accept any crap told to us especially when it is as improbable as todays major religions. Religion as preached is totally improbable, its ridiculous in the extreme.

    You are making some claims here that are totally unfounded, the usual garbage i would expect to pore from a religious mind

    “An atheist assigns himself to life without ultimate purpose”
    Yes i have to appreciate what i have in this life time because its the only one i have, thus i live my life fuller than any religious person i know.

    “The atheist must also suppress the demands of logic”
    Absolute bull, its logic that turns most people away from religion in the first place, evolution is a far more credible explanation than anything religion can produce, in fact some sky daddy deity is the least credible option of all.

    “Yet, ironically, the atheist has to believe in miracles without believing in God.”
    Again where do you get this nonsense from? most atheist i know simply states we haven’t figured out how the universe came to be yet, but god as created and described by major religions is so improbable that it cannot possibly be.

    “An atheist must also suppress all notions of morality.”
    Morality doesn’t come from religion, the religious people themselves demonstrate this every time they disregard part of the bible or re interpret it to suit their needs, ie: Morality comes from some other place not religion. If morality came from religion we would still sell family members into sexual slavery, and it would be ok as long as we didnt beat them so hard that it damaged their teeth. religion and scripture is anything but moral.

    “In fact, the atheist must conclude that evil is an illusion.”
    more nonsense we are all born emphatic, although some more than others. Most people regardless of their superstitions or lack of there of can feel for another human or animal suffering. ie we can easily determine right from wrong and it has nothing to do with religion.

    “The atheist must also live with the arrogance of his position.”
    What is more arrogant, facing life knowing that you are ultimately personally responsible for everything you do- or – there is a creature out there so powerful it created the universe itself and it gives a f… about me and has planed out my entire life in advance.

    “The atheist must also deny the validity of historical proof.”
    there is no proof that anything described in the bible is even remotely true, in fact there is ample evidence that it isnt, dont you think an all powerful would produce the hilarious collection of contradictory nonsense that is todays bible being would be able to produce a document that was consistent not a collection of self contradictory rubbish.

    “Finally, the atheist must admit that human beings are not importantly different from other animals.”
    We are an animal just like any other we are just the current creature on the top of the food chain. Other that that we are born live and die just like any other animal.

    “The atheist’s problem with belief in God is not the absence of evidence but the suppression of it.”
    There is no credible evidence that there is any sky daddy, in fact all evidence points in the complete opposite direction.
    your scripture isn’t a credible source on any scale, its madness, no indescribably idiotic to organize your life around religious nonsense.

    Dont talk about what Atheist do or want or have to do, we are not bound by superstition from the bronze age, we think independently free of religious dogma and all the other meaningless crapp you call religion.


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  8. Alien and stranger says:

    I have found that most atheists don’t WANT to believe, because they want the illusion of control over their own lives. I used to think I was in control of my life. Now Jesus Christ is and he fills me with his peace, joy and love. Escaped mental patient makes unfounded sweeping generalisations gleaned from atheist propaganda websites. If he rejects the transforming power of the good news of Jesus Christ, who brings inner healing, maybe he does need to go to a mental asylum – all that virulent anger, hatred and bitterness isn’t good for one – it’s poison to the soul….
    P.S. I’m married to an atheist, so I’ve heard all the arguments.


    • David says:

      So you prefer the illusion that something else controls your life, and that this something else is going to send your partner to burn in hell simply because he doesn’t believe…oh well, to each his own…


  9. Johnny says:

    The problem with Christian morality is that Christians dont accept the responsibility for their actions.

    As an Atheist, I dont steal and murder because I believe it is detrimental to society, it is wrong and it is injustice.

    A Christian, however, does not steal and murder because his religion states it. Morality is essentially out sourced to what religion says it to be. Should you refrain from certain actions because the Lord tells you to or because YOU believe it is wrong?

    Christianity assumes committing sins is a normal state of affair for human beings. The only thing in refraining people from sinning is religion. Hence Christians don’t take responsibility for their actions. They “are merely human” when they commit sins, and their religion forgives them if they show remorse.

    An Atheist does what he believes is right. If an Atheist makes a mistake, the only one responsible is the Atheist and there is nobody to forgive him.


  10. David says:

    Most of the points in this silly post have been rebuted but I want to point out something important that is often missed regarding point #3 in the article above.

    The mystery of the universe and why anything exists at all is one of the most perplexing and awe inspiring existential feelings we can experience. I often contemplate the mystery of the universe and wonder at the world around us. Someone with a Christian (or Muslim, Jewish etc…) mindset reduces this wonder to …”oh well God made the world”…well who the heck made God!? Whatever answer you pose for that question (he created himself, he always existed etc…) can just as easily be an athiests answer for the universe…I would rather leave it as the mystery that it truly is <—that is sprituality IMHO!


    • thinkpoint says:

      First, condescending comments like “silly” betray something superficial. Secondly, you’ve misrepresented those of faith as non-awe-inspired people. Our awe might be a little deeper. Most importantly, you’re logic about the who made God question is flawed on every level. It is a fair question on the surface: “If all things need a cause, then God must also need a cause.” If God needed a cause, God is not God. Since we all know that something does not come from nothing, if God is a “something,” He must have a cause.

      Problem: The question works off a misleading assumption that God came from somewhere and is itself is illogical.

      Someone compared it to asking, “What does blue smell like?” “Blue is not in the category of things that have a smell, so the question itself is flawed. In the same way, God is not in the category of things that are created or caused. God is uncaused and uncreated—He simply exists.”

      “If we know that nothing comes from nothing, if there were ever a time when there was absolutely nothing in existence, then nothing would have ever come into existence. But things do exist. Therefore, since there could never have been absolutely nothing, something had to have always been in existence. That ever-existing thing is what we call God. God is the uncaused Being that caused everything else to come into existence. God is the uncreated Creator who created the universe and everything in it.” (got questions)


  11. James Gray says:

    This list sounds like a “parody” of Christian thought and as such it is worth a laugh. These sound like they are supposed to be arguments against atheism, but they are not. I could easily make a list of 8 reasons that it’s hard to be a Christian that mirrors the reasons presented above:

    1. The Christian must believe that there is “ultimate purpose” without even knowing what the words “ultimate purpose” can even mean or any reason to believe in such a thing could be possible.

    2. The Christian must deny the uncontroversial scientific findings of the world’s greatest biologists because they can’t accept that evolution is possible.

    3. The Christian must be an expert at Cosmology and know how the universe was created despite the fact that we clearly know very little about such things (concerning the metaphysical philosophy behind ultimate questions of metaphysics).

    4. The Christian must believe that morality is nothing more than the likes and dislikes of a very powerful being, and we are all forced to obey that being and try to please it.

    5. The Christian must believe in evil and use that idea to demonize others in an attempt to justify harming others. They think that some criminals “deserve” to be put into miserable conditions.

    6. The Christian must arrogantly believe in God despite having insufficient reason to believe in God while simultaneously denying the existence of reincarnation and ghosts that have similar evidence.

    7. The Christian must believe that “supernatural” historical “facts” spread by “word of mouth” for 50 years is “accurate history,” but they don’t believe in the “miraculous facts” that people claim to witness or cause, even when they are documented immediately. (Are we supposed to believe that there are people who have experienced reincarnation or that people have seen ghosts? Are we supposed to believe in the powers of psychics?)

    8. The Christian must deny that we are animals despite that it’s an uncontroversial fact within biology based on the same taxonomy we use for all other animals.

    The fact that Christians don’t agree with the above is just proof that this list is full of straw man arguments and other fallacies, but the same is true of the original list.


  12. thinkpoint says:

    I’ll give you a C for effort! Again, rather than thoughtful engagement with the actual points, I get general denial and condescending superficial ridicule. There’s something very suspicious about this all too common response.


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