Conversation with a Nonbeliever

Why don’t you believe in God anymore? Why aren’t you a Christian?

Upon examining my religious beliefs, I found that they were not as well founded as I initially thought they were. Put simply, the reasons given in support of theism are insufficient to warrant its acceptance. Religious apologists have tried to remedy this by presenting various arguments for the existence of God. Yet the most common arguments they use would only lend support to a vague form of deism at best. Most apologists are not deists. They are Christians, Muslims, and Jews — people who subscribe to elaborate theologies that encompass claims about the nature, identity, and will of God, as well as claims about sin, salvation, miracles, and even the origins and ultimate fate of the universe.

In arguing the case for a particular religion, such as Christianity, providing a compelling reason for belief in God is therefore only the first step. Apologists still have a long road ahead if they are to establish the truth of their various other claims about the supernatural.

The truth of my theology is confirmed by my sensus divinitatis, the inner witness of the Holy Spirit in my heart.

What of those whose sensus divinitatis leads them to theological commitments that differ to your own? Why lend so much epistemic weight to your personal sensus divinitatis? What makes you think that your own sensus divinitatis is more reliable than that of someone of a different religion who feels just as strongly about his theological commitments as you do about yours?

Without belief in God, life is meaningless. There is no wonder or joy, only despair.

Some people believe that everything must be imbued with theological significance or else it has no significance at all; it’s meaningless. I don’t subscribe to this nihilistic worldview. When I gaze upward into stelliferous skies, I don’t feel as though life is devoid of meaning. The cosmos is awe-inspiring on its own; one need not view it through a theological lens to be enthused with wonder.

There are many questions that science cannot answer, but which religion can. Religion makes sense of things that science fails to.

If science cannot make sense of some deep and difficult question, it doesn’t necessarily follow that religion can. That something is beyond our current understanding doesn’t imply that some supernatural force must be at play; it just means that we are ignorant. The only way to remedy that situation is to continue inquiring. Invoking the supernatural as an explanation doesn’t seem to advance our knowledge any further than “We don’t know.” It merely masks our ignorance, while also engendering intellectual laziness.

Is atheism a religious dogma?

Atheism is an outcome of my assessment of religious claims, not a dogma I must unquestioningly uphold regardless of what further inquiry may reveal.

Why do you care? Why can’t you just let people believe whatever it is they want to believe?

Why should we challenge religious dogmas and superstitions? Because ideas matter; they are not without consequence. Policy decisions need to made, and ideally they should be made in light of well-reasoned arguments and evidence, not what the religious claim their God demands.

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