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An Atheist View

Kylyssa is an American atheist with high-functioning autism trying to navigate a mostly religious world with no well-beaten path to follow

atheist-issues

On Being an Atheist in America

According to a study performed by the University of Minnesota no other race, religion, ethnic group or affiliation is more hated by the American people than atheists. Their findings confirmed what many American nonbelievers already suspected, that atheists are the most distrusted minority in America.

In American politics, calling someone an atheist, or even calling someone a person who associates with atheists is such a slur that it is considered slander. In fact, many Americans Would Rather Vote For A Philandering, Pot-Smoking President Than An Atheist.

In this day and age people in America are still afraid to be identified as nonreligious. They have good reasons to be afraid.In some areas atheists and their families still suffer job discrimination, harassment, and other social difficulties. Six state's constitutions actually still forbid an atheist to hold public office or testify in court.

Some people have a puzzling hatred of those who don't share their particular belief in God and they feel it is fine to express that hatred, no matter who is hurt. I don't think there are all that many of them but they sure are mighty loud and active. I believe their hatred comes from a misunderstanding of who and what atheists actually are.

I think if all people (who don't already) came see that people who don't think God is real are thinking, feeling human beings, they wouldn't feel so free to make bigoted remarks about them or act in ways harmful to them without regard to their rights.

This page is meant to bring understanding about atheists and perhaps, through understanding, acceptance of them by those of faith. Please join me in exploring my views as a non-believing person living in America.

original image created by Iva Villi and generously shared on freeimages.com

Interesting Reading for Non-Believers

photo of a beautiful sunset by Kylyssa Shay

photo of a beautiful sunset by Kylyssa Shay

I Don't Believe in Life After Death - I Believe in Life Before Death

For a Limited Time Only - Life!



I am an atheist. I don't believe in God or an afterlife. I may not believe in life after death but I wholeheartedly believe in life before death.

Life is truly amazing. Making it a good life is all the reward I need. It's a shame so many people think that this life is just some kind of dress rehearsal or test for what comes next. But I do understand why people want to believe in life after death.

I understand how the yearning for justice can make people desire an afterlife. So many people live good lives, full of kindness and compassion, full of giving and love but they suffer, often worse than those who lead lives of cruelty. So many people lead cruel lives, preying on others and reap rich rewards in this life, never seeing worldly punishment for their evils.

It seems like it would be fair that those who do good and avoid harming others would ultimately be rewarded. It seems like it would be fair that those who do harm and prey on others would ultimately be punished.

Sadly, life just isn't fair. Good people suffer and bad people get ahead in the world. A lot of that is our fault.

Much of this problem comes about because our society as a whole believes that justice will be meted out by a higher power so we spend far too little time righting wrongs and making life good for good people. We also spend far too little time intervening in the lives of people to save them from taking cruel roads and turning to evil means.

Poverty, suffering, and ignorance create a breeding ground for more of the same. Most people turn to good when treated with kindness and when their needs, physical and emotional are met. We can apply kindness and compassion to the problem of evil and achieve goodness and a modicum of justice in this life.

We can't make all life good. Chance is capricious. Bad things happen. All we can do is make the best of what we have, especially when we believe that it is all that we have.

I can understand how living in conditions that seem to hold no real world chance of hope could make a person desire something more. But there is hope in this world, and there is help in this world we just need to turn to each other to find it.

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More Atheist Views - Atheist Views on God, Equal Rights for Gays, Abortion, and Many Other Topics

image of the Crab Nebula by NASA and ESA

image of the Crab Nebula by NASA and ESA

If You Can't Explain the Origin of Life and the Universe Then Why Don't You Just Believe in God?

Science Doesn't Explain Everything So The Answer to All Questions Must Be God, Right?

A question thrown out often in debate between Christians and atheists is "If you can't explain the origin of the universe and the origin of life then why don't you just believe in God?" It is often followed up with, "Doesn't it make more sense to believe in God because all those questions are answered in the Bible. All science has is theories but the Bible has the Truth."

I have answered this question so frequently that I decided to write an article about why the lack of complete and perfect explanations of the origin of life and the universe do not make it seem logical for me to just believe in God instead of seeking answers.

I accept the fact that I don't know the answers to the questions of how exactly the universe came about and how exactly, life came to be. There are many good, scientific theories supported by tangible evidence. It seems likely that eventually, scientists will come closer to answering such big questions as the origin of life and the universe with a great degree of accuracy and certainty.

Demanding an absolute answer right now is much like asking a child to explain exactly how a rocket flies to the moon with complete technical details. The child does not know the answer but it doesn't mean he never will or never can. Nor does it mean that if the child said, "God makes the rocket go to the moon" he'd be correct. As a race, we are still children; your question is just a little too far beyond us as yet. So my answer is that I accept that I am not all-knowing.

Only through reason will we find the beautiful truth. Imagination is great but it doesn't compare to reality.

The wonder and power of reality is so great I am a little saddened by those who think they already have the explanations for everything in a tidy package called God. Life isn't tidy and easily understood. It's messy and strange and mysterious. One tiny shred at a time we're figuring it out; tiny bits of reality are stacking up.

I don't think you need to know what caused the universe to exist to say "I don't believe the universe was created by magic." Historically, everything people have claimed to be caused by magic has turned out to have a logical explanation. People used to think that maggots just came out of raw meat and turned into flies by magic. Later we learned that flies laid eggs in the meat which hatched into maggots that turned into flies; no magic involved, just flies laying eggs. People once believed that illness came from demons inhabiting the body or as punishment from God for their sins. We learned that illnesses are caused by germs, exposure to harmful elements, parasites, genetic problems and various other things unrelated to demons or gods. People used to think that lightning and thunder had something to do with Gods throwing temper tantrums; they blamed them on magic. We now know that there are rational explanations (involving no angry Gods) that explain thunder and lightning.

We have yet to reach the pinnacle of knowledge and I doubt there even is such a thing. We don't know everything, we probably won't ever know everything but we are learning. Just because we don't have all the answers it doesn't mean we have to accept an illogical answer like "it's magic" or "God did it." Just because there is a question there is not always a ready answer and even if there is an answer it may never be found in our lifetimes. It's OK to admit ignorance, especially when every human that ever lived shares that ignorance.

Most folks require something more than, "I can't answer all the questions in the universe" to convince them God is real. Of course we can't answer all the questions in the universe, we're only human.

Even The Word Alone Is Enough To Create Controversy

  • The Most Inoffensive Atheist Bus Ad Ever... Rejected!
    A public bus system in PA rejected an ad that simply said "Atheists." with links to two atheist websites on the grounds that it was too controversial despite having buses with "God Bless" driving around town and despite selling ads to a Holocaust den

Atheist Teen Ostracized by Community, Threatened with Death and Violence, and Kicked Out by Christian Parents

What did Damon Fowler do to deserve all of this? The young nontheist objected to an unconstitutional prayer at his public school's graduation ceremony.

A Young Atheist Girl's Experiences With Discrimination

Nicole Smalkowski was kicked off the local school's girl's basketball team after refusing to pray with teammates. That is only the beginning of the abuse and discrimination she and her family experienced in one small town in Oklahoma once she and they were outed as non-religious.

cast of Rodin's Thinker, Cleveland Museum of Art, photo by Daderot

cast of Rodin's Thinker, Cleveland Museum of Art, photo by Daderot

Does The Life of an Atheist Have Meaning?

Does Life Have Meaning Without God and an Afterlife?

I believe that life has meaning even if it doesn't last forever and did not come a gift or burden from a God or Goddess. I believe we decide what meaning our lives have and that it's rather odd to think that something must last forever and have a specific maker to have any value or meaning. Everything in our personal experiences has a beginning and an end but there is so much of value, so many wonderful things to experience and to do that it seems petty to consider absolutely everything meaningless if it doesn't come from God.

I wrote rather more about the issue in the editorial linked below.

Read more about what gives an atheist's life meaning.

  • Are Atheists as Bad as Rapists?
    Readers have been interpreting a study from the University of British Columbia exploring distaste for atheists to mean atheists are distrusted to roughly the same degree as rapists. Learn why this is not the case.
photo by Jhon Casso, freeimages.com

photo by Jhon Casso, freeimages.com

Aren't Humans Born Believing in God? An Atheist's Response

Some Believe that Everyone Believes in God, Even People Who Don't Think He Is Real


Is belief in God automatic? Or is it something you achieve once you've discovered it and examined and decided that you want it?

There seems to be a disturbing yet strangely common belief. It seems some people believe that everyone is born believing in God, in particular, the Christian God.

At first I thought I was mistaken until someone asked this bizarre question yet again - "When did you stop believing in God and become an atheist?"

Huh? Did he mean to imply I was born believing in God and at some point decided to stop? I never recall believing in God. I mean it's a nice story but I've never thought of it as reality.

Human beings are born believing in the almighty milky teat and the glory of body heat, beyond that everything else it taught to us or learned in the course of our lives. Surely, we have some inborn instincts and desires such as hunger, thirst, and the need for comfort. As far as religious beliefs go I think it's tabula rasa - blank slate. Until someone writes God on it the slate doesn't have a religion printed on it. There's no stamp on a baby's bottom proclaiming "product of Heaven" or "made by God tm". There's no pre-programmed belief in God that falls out of the womb with each baby.

Maybe people believe this because they were fed Jesus with their baby cereal and strained peas? Perhaps they were indoctrinated so young they have no memory of first exposure? They can't really be blamed for thinking they were born with the belief if it was instilled in them before the age of reason and before the dawn of memory.

It seems to me that a belief held simply because your parents told you it was so does not represent an exercise of free will. It is not a choice if you've never known anything else.

I don't think I heard, or more accurately, paid attention to the word "God" until I was four and required an clarification of something I'd read in a book. After listening to my Mom's explanation, I recall asking her, "They don't really think that, right? It's just make-believe like story books, isn't it?" She diplomatically told me that some people thought God was real and some people didn't. She was allowing me to develop my own beliefs without imprinting hers on my psyche before I was capable of such a judgment.

Why do people feel the need to mix up God in babies' formula instead of waiting to teach them about it when they are old enough to remember? More importantly why not wait until children are mentally developed enough to examine a belief?

Illinois Representative Monique Davis Yells About Atheists - "It's dangerous for our children to even know that your philosophy exists!"

On 2 April 2008, Illinois Representative Monique Davis lit into atheists because a donation of a million dollars of public funding to be used in the renovation of a Baptist church was being questioned as an appropriate use of tax dollars.

Fill in the word "Jew" or "Muslim" or any other religious designation for her words on atheism and ask yourself if she would have kept her job.

Is It OK to Make Discriminatory Remarks Toward Atheists?

image created by vsbooklady for the Out Campaign

image created by vsbooklady for the Out Campaign

Some State's Constitutions Forbid Atheists to Hold Public Office

This may sound like an outdated law that no one enforces anymore because it is unconstitutional but it is still relevant. Atheists applying for government offices or accepted into public office can go through years of legal battles just to be able to fulfill the duty they were either elected or appointed to.

One such case in 2009 involved a North Carolina man, Asheville City Councilman Cecil Bothwell. Area conservatives threatened to sue the city because they swore in an atheist as a councilman.

A similar action taken against atheist notary Herb Silverman of South Carolina took eight years of legal battles to finally be settled.

Should Atheists Be Allowed to Hold Public Office or Testify in Court?

Pope Francis Claims The Blood of Christ Has Redeemed Everyone, Including Atheists, Vatican Backpedals

In May of 2013, Pope Francis made a speech in which he claimed that the sacrifice of Jesus Christ redeemed all of humanity, even the atheists. He went on to imply that if a person does good works, he (the Pope) will meet up with him in Heaven.

Shortly thereafter, Thomas Rosica, a spokesman for the Vatican released a statement backpedaling on the Pope's earlier words.

Vatican: Whatever Pope Francis meant, atheists still burn in hell.

image created by the Out Campaign

image created by the Out Campaign

Doesn't it Take a Lot of Faith to Be an Atheist?

An Atheist View on Atheism

People often say, "It takes a lot of faith to be an atheist." This is usually followed with a statement like, "After all, you can't be 100% certain there is no God."

As an atheist, I can say that it has never taken me any faith at all to be one. Saying that being an atheist requires faith requires one to accept the idea that everyone thinks God is real, when in fact many people (called atheists) do not. It is the very definition of atheism. Atheists are people who don't think God is real.

The average person doesn't think the Chupacabra is real. How much faith does that take? It's an unlikely creature which can't be seen, heard, smelled, tasted or touched by those who look for it. It hasn't been caught on film. All information about it comes from legend; all reports of its doings come from speculation and lack of real explanations. The things people attribute to its actions can generally be traced to natural phenomena. The modern-day accounts of it come second hand from people who deeply wish or fear that it exists.

Does that indicate something that you need to have faith to not believe in?

That is how I, as an atheist, see God. To me, it's not 100% impossible that some kind of superior being or universe creator exists, it's just extremely unlikely. In my opinion, it is even less likely that God exists than that the Chupacabra does. After all, we've actually seen an amazing variety of life forms, speculating that another might exist isn't going quite out as far out on a limb as speculating that a being, the likes of which we've never seen anything even remotely similar, may exist.

So, no, I'm not one hundred percent certain that God doesn't exist or one hundred percent certain that the Chupacabra doesn't exist but I'm not going to take that lack of certainty to mean that either God or the Chupacabra must exist.

To me, both concepts are just colorful stories from ancient cultures which persist today; thousands of years after the original storytellers have turned to dust. Simply because these myths have lasted so long and because so many believe in them it does not indicate that they are realities. It only means that humans are similar to each other in thought as well as in form. Myths and legends are fascinating insights into the human mind, to those things we have in common. They don't represent literal reality but the nearly boundless creativity and sense of wonder shared by members of the human race.

So while I recognize that the concept of God is part of our rich cultural heritage, I don't think that God is something real, and that takes no faith at all.

Things You Might Not Have Known About Atheists

There are a lot of strange misconceptions out there about what atheists are and what they believe and don't believe. Facts are almost always a good antidote to myths and confusion.

Statue entitled Darwin's Ape, photo by Okedem

Statue entitled Darwin's Ape, photo by Okedem

Without Heavenly Decree, Threat of Hell or Promise of Heaven - Where Might Morality Come From?

An Atheist View of Where Morality Comes From

I believe that morality in its most basic sense, empathy, is not just a social construct but a product of evolution as well. In extended families or tribal clusters as our ancestors must have lived co-operation would have been paramount to survival. Feeling a desire for your tribal members' survival and well-being was a survival trait in and of itself.

Millions of years ago our ancestors started walking upright at first moving a bit more slowly than other primates until the Achilles tendon came into the picture. Imagine you are a slow-moving, four foot tall person with very little defensive equipment in the way of sharp teeth, strong jaws or razor sharp claws. You aren't even strong enough to kneecap a lion even if you were large enough to pick up a big enough club. Your children are born quite helpless, unable to cling to their mothers' upright backs. While standing tall allows you to see predators from great distances away you really aren't as great at climbing trees as your distant ancestors may have been. You could probably yank loose a prickly branch from a thorn bush and wave it in a big cat's face but she or her family could easily circle behind you and your mama's contribution to the gene pool would end up as a light meal.

So how did something this frail and dare I say paw lickin' good survive or even evolve in the first place? Team work. The little fellows learned to look out for each other both from a budding advancement in empathy and blatant self-interest. A lone pre-human ( even a sturdy and healthy male massing perhaps as much as a young German shepherd dog ) would not do so well on the African plains amidst large predators. Every man for himself just doesn't work when every man is three feet tall and delicious.

Those little mothers also had to be very delicate with their large-headed, weak infants. Big brains made early hominids feeble, floppy fetuses even after birth. Those proto-human women had to coddle and cuddle their immature infants or they would have lost them soon after giving birth.

Everybody knows dead babies don't pass on their genes. Even early hominids likely had a long childhood requiring extra protection and help acquiring food long after most animals would have been self-sufficient. Thus empathy and even love were survival traits. As we evolved, so did our society. Survival, enlightened self interest, and love of family - even distant family - these are the roots of morality, conscience and civilization. They are part of our evolutionary makeup both from a social and biological sense (as empathy appears to be inborn). I believe evolutionary psychology explains the origin of morality quite well.

Love really is all you need.

Call for a National Atheist Registry

Some conservative Christians hate nonbelievers so much that they are calling for a National Atheist Registry to register every atheist in America the same way convicted pedophiles are registered. One blogger calling for such a registry list asks why atheists would object to such a registry but limits comments to members of his blog.

Well, clearly, nonreligious people don't want to be treated like criminals but there's more to it than that. The United States claims to have freedom of religion and such a registry would be an infringement on that liberty. Also, such a list of non-theists would make us prey for deranged individuals, exactly as the national sex offender registry makes convicted sex offenders prey for vigilantes. Although most bloggers supporting the idea claim it's only to be used to find people to evangelize to or businesses to boycott or atheists to discriminate against in the workplace there's no guarantee that such a list would stay out of the hands of sociopaths, schizophrenics, or others with mental illness and a hatred of people who don't believe in God.

Elizabeth Dole Called Opponent an Atheist, Kay Hagan Responded

Elizabeth Dole ran a smear ad in the Senate election by accusing her opponent, Kay Hagan of being an atheist. Kay Hagan came out with a response to the ad, not condemning Dole for discriminatory behavior towards atheists but denying the allegation that Hagan is a non-believer. She is also suing the Dole campaign for defamation of character.

This situation sends the clear message - it's OK to be horrified about someone being an atheist, in fact, it's a slur to suggest that a person is one. Not only that, it sends the message that no non-religious person could ever be fit to hold office.

Michigan Man Murdered for Being an Atheist

  • Christian Kills Roommate for Being an Atheist
    A self-described Christian shot to death his roommate for being an atheist. In the courtroom his Christian family cheered him on, unambiguously supporting his murder of an innocent man. From the page: "Their tears dried, they surrounded us shouting
photo by Bhutti

photo by Bhutti

My religious or spiritual background

I Was Given The Gift of Freedom to Choose


My parents raised me free to choose my own beliefs. I was allowed to investigate whatever religious options I chose. My non-religious parents (mom was an agnostic theist and dad an atheist) assisted me in getting to Bible school and in finding religion and philosophy texts to read. They also set up opportunities for me to speak with pastors and ministers when I wanted to know more about what religious people actually believed, in one case after I was freaked out by reading the Bible. The pastor explained that most Christians don't follow the Bible literally so there is no danger of them stoning their children to death for being disrespectful, burning their children as offerings, or sacrificing them in exchange for victories in war.

However, repeated religion based attacks both physical and emotional by peers, teachers, and other adults in my community gave me a cynical view of religion early on. The irony is that if they had displayed basic human decency I might have come to my conclusion that religious people can be decent people a whole lot sooner. Something about getting beaten up, emotionally abused, harassed, and discriminated against is a big turn off for most people, no matter what lofty purpose or faith inspires that behavior.

As an adult I am aware that religion can inspire great works of good as well as the everyday abuse and bigotry it fosters. I am also aware that the majority of religious people are kind and decent, just as the majority of all humans are.

drawing by Hans Weiditz

drawing by Hans Weiditz

Do People Become Atheists so They Can Act Immorally?

Atheism in No Way Precludes Moral Behavior

Many Christians and other theists will insist that atheists are immoral people who have decided to become nonbelievers so they can behave immorally without guilt. I don't believe this to be true but I have a few ideas as to why some Christians and other theists believe it to be so.