Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Myths About Atheism

Tim Kenyon, a philosophy professor at the University of Waterloo, gave an enjoyable talk Monday entitled "Myths About Atheism". Prof. Kenyon is a clear and entertaining speaker. The talk was reasonably well-attended, and there was time for an hour's worth of Q & A at the conclusion.

Here are the 10 myths that Prof. Kenyon discussed:

  1. Atheists are angry at [insert favorite god here].

  2. Atheists are faking being atheists.

  3. Atheists are immoral.

  4. Atheism is Darwinism.

  5. Atheists think they can explain everything.

  6. Atheists hold that life has no meaning.

  7. Atheism = communism/fascism/etc.

  8. Atheism is faith-based.

  9. Atheism is a religion.

  10. Atheism dominates the media.

I think this is just the beginning of a much longer list. Here are a few that come to mind:

11. Atheists are dogmatic.

12. Atheists are militant.

13. Atheists choose atheism to avoid moral responsibility for their actions.

Can you think of any other common myths?


Pseudonym said...

Atheists want to destroy your religion.

This, BTW, is a piece of thinking that's common to a lot of cranks. I'm sure it's related to "homosexuals destroy marriage".

Pseudonym said...

Oh, and a couple more:

Atheists cannot appreciate anything even vaguely religious (e.g. music, art, architecture).

Atheists want to destroy your heritage.

Anonymous said...

Was this recorded by any chance. I'd love to see it.

Colin said...

14. There are no atheists in foxholes.
15. Atheists can kick the crap out of Chuck Norris.

Ok, I made that last one up.

Alan said...

16 Athiests Need Saving.

Tim Kenyon said...

Thanks for the kind words about the talk, Jeff.

13 was sort of in there already, as the transition between 2 and 3. I discussed 14 as a sub-species of 2.

Erdos56 said...

But, Dr. Kenyon, could you please add in Colin's 15? I think it might be true...we just need to find the right atheist.

Tim Kenyon said...

Erdos56, since 15 is true, it's not a myth. Sorry. Can't add it.

Mind you, I suspect that theists too can kick the crap out of Chuck Norris. In fact, anyone who bought The Justice Riders or had to watch Walker, Texas Ranger from a dentist's chair is likely inclined to do so.

The myth I'd add from above is pseudonym's: Atheists want to destroy your religion. I suppose that some do, but in my experience most just want, like Marlene Dietrich, to be left alone (on the religion front, at least).

For my part, I have no problem with religion per se, and it's all the same to me whether someone wishes to believe in a deity. Plenty of people better and smarter than me have done so; I just think they're mistaken on that particular score.

But then, I'm surely mistaken about lots of things too.

mike said...

17. Atheists thinks they have the answers to everything.

My experience has been that atheists have enough self-honesty to say "I don't know". Meanwhile theists attribute everything they don't understand to the god of their choice, and with 100% certainty.

Anonymous said...

18. Atheists often confuse Marlene Dietrich with Greta Garbo.

Les said...

Actually, according to one study of atheists I read recently, atheists are dogmatic. Though to a lesser degree than most Theists.

It's an interesting read, by the way.

40 Year Old Atheist said...

The one I hate is "atheism/atheists offer no hope". It seems to be totally dominated with the idea that atheism shuts out the prospect of immortality.

Nicole said...

14. Atheists should not have children, as they are terrible parents...

... we have a 4 year old little girl, and have raised her with the truth. whatever santa and easter bunny bring her, she knows are from us. she appreciates the figures as mascots, not real people. as opposed to the crushing moment you realize:
A. santa and easter bunny are fake
B. your parents lie to you. a lot.

Sabio Lantz said...

@ Les

Epiphenom has some great reviews about articles that try to show Atheists as being more dogmatic or more honest ...
Take a look.

Taner Edis said...

Thanks for the list (and I guess to Kenyon, indirectly)! Just the sort of thing I was hoping to steal for a talk of my own.