I have covered a few of these points in my Atheist Contradictions posts, but I wanted to create a comprehensive list of what I considered to be a number of realities that emanate from atheistic belief – brutal realities that are certainly true if atheism is true. In and of themselves these do not disprove atheism, but they do detail the cost of atheist’s beliefs. Most of these truths are acknowledged by various atheists.
- Your life has no meaning or purpose
One obvious conclusion of believing that life and the universe are the result of wholly incidental material interactions is that one’s life has no inherent meaning. There is no reason why an atheist is here – and the atheist’s existence will serve no ultimate purpose. The typical rejoinder amongst atheists is that they can make or find their own meaning, which apparently means they can pretend there is meaning to their lives – but they seem to miss the fact that this is exactly what they criticize the religious of doing. In the final analysis to be an atheist is to either acknowledge that one’s existence does not ultimately matter or to live a life of pretense.
- You are an atheist by virtue of when and where you were born
Atheists like to say this about the religious (in an attempt to reduce religious belief down something we unthinkingly inherit from our parents) but the reality is while people convert to and from various religions all around the world, atheists are by in large concentrated in the more advanced industrial nations. The reason for that is simple – being an atheist really only works for the relatively wealthy and comfortable. Most of the world outside of industrialized countries must endure the harsh realities of life – hunger, disease, violence, shorter lives. This flippant atheist tagline, “There’s probably no God… now stop worrying and enjoy your life” makes absolutely no sense if one lives in a slum in Africa or India, or under one deals daily with the ravages of drug cartels in some central American city. Atheists are atheists because they have the luxury of denying the reality of that which gives human lives essential dignity, and still living comfortable lives themselves.
- You can never be certain that what you believe to be true is true
There is no basis in atheism for any confidence in one’s ability to discern what is and isn’t true about reality. The reason for this is because if one’s main instrument for deriving beliefs about reality (one’s physical brain) is the product of undirected incidental forces then there is no guarantee that this instrument is accurate in that respect. In fact, there is much reason to believe our cognitive equipment is faulty. So atheism contains its own internal defeater; if atheism is true, there is no reason for an atheist to be confident that atheism is true.
- There is no objective way to evaluate moral choices
This is another truth that invites atheists to imagine something that can’t actually exist. In a purposeless universe, there is no basis for contending that creatures who incidentally evolved there should behave in a particular manner; there is no anchor to which we can tether an idea of right or wrong moral choices. From an atheist perspective moral claims are wholly derived from our own mental faculties – and as we saw in the previous point that would make them fairly arbitrary. This is especially true considering there are competing claims about right and wrong behavior. So then while an atheist might desire to act a certain way or desire that others acted in a certain way, he or she can never say others should act in a certain way as no human behavior is actually ever ‘wrong’ in any objective sense. Atheists often argue that they are as moral as any religious believer – but such a claim requires morals to exist in the first place.
- The most brutal regimes have been atheistic
In their opposition to religion, atheists often like to point out that religious belief has historically often been a source of violence and persecution. While this neither proves nor disproves the existence of God; it certainly seems to make a belief in God undesirable. Unfortunately for atheists, they have some of their own history to deal with. In the early and mid 20th century, atheism, thanks to communism, was at its zenith historically. More than any time in history, a number of governments were overtly atheistic – there was no religious belief to motivate their leaders and armies. And it was during that time and in those places that the most horrible actions were taken – perhaps the worst in the history of man. The governments of Stalin, Mao, the various leaders of North Korea and Vietnam, as well as various regimes in Eastern Europe, Africa and South America killed tens, perhaps hundreds of millions of people all told. They imprisoned millions more merely for their religious or political beliefs. The worst forms of torture and forced labor occurred under these systems, and many places have never fully recovered from the ravages of those times. If one were to evaluate beliefs based on the degree of pain and violence those beliefs provoked, then atheism would certainly be the standard for motivating horrible behavior.
- Human rights and equality don’t exist
In the atheist scheme of reality, only that which has a physical component can exist, so claims of inherent rights or human equality are necessarily understood to be, like morals, wholly illusory. Take for example the concept of human equality. In American political philosophy our equality derives from the notion that we were created by God as equal persons of equal worth. What is equal about two humans in this view isn’t their physical qualities but intrinsic ones, a worth that can’t be diminished. On the other hand, people are inherently unequal according to any physical or biological measure. A person with substantive intelligence would certainly be more valuable than someone with a mental defect. A healthy person who can contribute to society would have more much worth than an ill or handicapped person –and so in a world where only that which was physical is real, ‘equality’ could not exist. Much the same could be said of the notions of rights or liberties – these entities can’t be found in a materialistic universe. This would explain in part why wholly atheistic regimes have such atrocious human rights records – they are under no obligation to recognize intrinsic human worth.
- You will always be a small minority
The reality is as long as there have been recognizable human communities, there have been religious beliefs. Ideas about God or gods were the foundation of musicality, art, literature, even civilization itself. Our capacity for spiritual comprehension is our most distinguishing factor – perhaps more than any other thing that is what it means to be human. Even today, religious belief persists and is growing in the world – and this is made even more the case as primarily secular societies fade due to lack of procreation. If several thousand years of human history and all current trends are any indication, atheism is in its twilight years not its infancy.
Atheists will no doubt contest one or more of these claims, or find ways to wish away or excuse the reality of these claims. All of these claims has either been demonstrated by history or certain facts, and are completely consistent with atheistic beliefs and thus easy enough to defend. One could argue whether atheism is true; one can never say that it is a idea that is inconsequential.