How to live like an atheist – v.1

This short note is meant to be an (always) incomplete list of remarks and observations on how we atheists can deal with oppressive religious situations and how we atheists may apply our atheistic stance in different contexts.


  1. Atheist attitude


  • The obvious initial remark is to come out and speak out. In a world where people believing that world is some 6000 years old are founding schools, in a world where people say an earthquake is the punishment of god to sinners; we have all the rights to speak out. As a matter of fact, we have the responsibility to come out and speak out.

  • Keep scientific. Keep critical. Do not give away your critical attitude towards religion when it comes to other social “values” such as racism, nationalism and sexism. Always look for sound reasoning and evidence – and don’t forget to question the evidence.

  • Keep skeptic. Read, write, watch, listen. Be proud of not knowing. Openly declare things you don’t know, and consult people who know about it. I used to make list of things I don’t know and am curious about. I even sent those questions to some friends for reading suggestions.


  1. Religious confrontation


  • Keep confident. Do not retreat in discussions even with fundamentalists. If your opponent uses argument-blockers, spot and highlight them. Find shortcuts to eliminate time wasting discussions.1 But never chicken out “non-theistically”. That is, never propose an intermediary agreement where everyone is supposed to be happy with whatever she/he believes in. We are correct. Almost all2 the gods do not exist.

  • Always specify which god you are referring to. And always ask for specification. Never forget that there are more than 4200 active religions in the world today, some with more than one god.

  • Do not miss the difference between the possibility of some gods, and their existence. Of course their existence is in principle possible (that is, we can imagine a situation that they sort of exist). The point is, there is simply no sound evidence for their existence.

  • Keep in mind that mild religiosity is not as unproblematic as people usually claim. It is against critical method. Untouchable zones, once granted, are out of the error-correcting mechanisms of skepticism and questioning. Mild religiosity is not only problematic because it gives way to fundamentalism, but also simply because it gives way to uncritical thinking.3

  • It must be highlighted that religious people are against atheists whereas we atheists are against religions. In that sense, radical secularists, by which I mean believers who are against the institutionalization of religion, are practically atheists. Unless for philosophical joy, do not bother about what kind of ridicule they believe in in their personal lives.

  • You might encounter criticisms arguing that atheism is not a significant political attitude (and therefore that it’s not worth to speak out). Do not let them depoliticize you. Atheism is not “just another belief”; atheism is much more than “choosing not to believe.” Always keep in mind that our struggle is not against gods in person, but against the economic, political, gender and social exploitations with reference to religious doctrines. Religion is political, so is its anti-thesis. Moreover; given the oppression and violence the nonbelievers are subjected to, atheism is indeed a very precious political attitude.* 


1 Here are more than 600 “proofs” of god’s existence, in case you needed one. And here are some of the common fallacies for you to spot them easily in debates. As a training, you can study the arguments of theists in this lovely video.
2 For a rigorous definition of “almost all” have a look at this Wikipedia entry.
3 This idea is due to a short essay of Greta Christina.

Ege M. Diren

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