Atheists Only Please: How do You Know There Is No God?

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asked Aug 18, 2016 in Living by admin (21,700 points)
This is not--repeat NOT--an attack post/poll. I sincerely want to know what makes an atheist so sure of his/her convictions. I understand agnosticism. I understand theism. . .but atheism remains elusive. How does/can anyone 'know' what cannot be proven?

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40 Answers

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answered Aug 18, 2016 by Anonymous (2,291,900 points)
I used to be an atheist and my reasoning was that if it can't be proven nor disproven i have no reason to believe in it until i have proof. Plus to me religion seemed like a man made thing to keep people divided and under control
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answered Aug 18, 2016 by Anonymous (2,291,900 points)
No problem. In fact, now that I understand this aspect of your personality, I won't be as quick to assign sentiments to you which you may not possess.
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answered Aug 18, 2016 by Anonymous (2,291,900 points)
I don't know if you are being obtuse on purpose or are just trying to provoke me by using semantics to make your point. Faith is NOT required to have a lack of belief in anything. I don't need faith to know that the Easter Bunny is not real since the idea is patently ridiculous. I did not need faith to conclude that God isn't real. Just a lack of proof. Belief is does not always require faith. This is an idea that most Christians seem to be unable to wrap their head around.

No cop out required.

The only reason it becomes necessary for us to think about him at all is because of the exposure we receive from his faithful. It is true that many of us were believers in the past, but that is how we were raised. It was unavoidable. When we reached an age where we had usable critical thinking skills we realized that the idea of a Christian God was ridiculous. None of the doctrine made sense in the world as we know it.

I suppose that you are also taking it on faith that the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy don't exist as well. Not because the idea is ridiculous and there are no facts to support their existence. If this is a philosophical discussion, then IMHO Christianity is not so much a philosophy, as it is a religion with some of the trappings of philosophy. By itself, philosophy does not require faith, it just requires a certain way to view the world, much like Buddhism.
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answered Aug 18, 2016 by Anonymous (2,291,900 points)
I think we're done here. You seem to be getting angry, and pissing you off was NOT my intent. I've enjoyed our conversation--up to now.

We'll talk later, though--hopefully. You're interesting.
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answered Aug 18, 2016 by Anonymous (2,291,900 points)
I'm not getting angry. That is nearly impossible to do with me in any argument, never fear. The one thing I never do is to allow emotion inform my behavior. It's part of a typical INTJs profile. But I will argue my point aggressively, it is in my nature.
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answered Aug 18, 2016 by Anonymous (2,291,900 points)
Some of your responses after this post would seem to indicate otherwise.
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answered Aug 18, 2016 by Anonymous (2,291,900 points)
That is because I argue in a forceful manner. I rarely ever get angry about anything. Drives my family nuts in an argument when I refuse to stop being rational and get mad.
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answered Aug 18, 2016 by Anonymous (2,291,900 points)
LOLOLOL!

And I bet you're fun at parties, too, Mr. Spock. :-D
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answered Aug 18, 2016 by Anonymous (2,291,900 points)
I can be. I tend to be a clown at parties when not arguing a point. But you are right. I can be frustrating like that to others on occasion.
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answered Aug 18, 2016 by Anonymous (2,291,900 points)
Indeed we won't. Atheism is not a "belief system" in the same way as not being a Scuba diver is a career.

Atheism means one thing and one thing only; the lack of belief in god(s). It is a rejection of a proposition, ie that there IS a god or gods. It is NOT the proposition that there are none.

Think of it this way:

In a court case, the jury are required to make a judgement on the proposition that the defendant is guilty.

Now, while it is certainly true that the defendant is either guilty or innocent (in much the same way that it is certainly true that any particular god either exists or does not), the jury is NOT asked to rule on whether or not the defendant is innocent, but ONLY on the proposition that he is guilty, and they base this on the evidence brought forward by the prosecution. If the prosecution are unable to convince the jury of their proposition, the defendant is found not guilty, but is NOT found innocent.

Indeed, it is quite possible for someone to be found not guilty through lack of evidence, but still to actually be guilty.

I have yet to be convinced by any evidence for the proposition, so I remain unconvinced.
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answered Aug 18, 2016 by Anonymous (2,291,900 points)
Faith is not required to believe in facts that can be verified. We do not accept anything on faith. Only what can be proven scientifically. Science does not lend itself well to faith, it requires facts. We have no "faith" that God does not exist because we don't think of him at all until theists bring him up.
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answered Aug 18, 2016 by Anonymous (2,291,900 points)
Atheism means one thing and one thing only; the lack of belief in god(s). It is a rejection of a proposition, ie that there IS a god or gods. It is NOT the proposition that there are none.

For about eighty percent of the respondents, that is true. Another ten percent (of self-described 'hard' atheists) differ with this position. They insist they 'KNOW' there is no God. In any case, you responded correctly/truthfully with the first three words of your post. I've no quarrel with you whatsoever. :-)
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answered Aug 18, 2016 by Anonymous (2,291,900 points)
Why does it bother you so much if they say the know? Even if what you said is true, it shouldn't effect you in the least.
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answered Aug 18, 2016 by Anonymous (2,291,900 points)
Why does it bother you so much if they say the know?

I would appreciate it if you wouldn't attempt to make the topic about me, but I'll entertain the question nevertheless.

It only 'bothers' me that roughly ten percent of ('hard') atheists are not honest with themselves/others, and that they use a BELIEF system predicated on denial to beat theists over the head--to belittle them, to berate them, etc.
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answered Aug 18, 2016 by Anonymous (2,291,900 points)
The only time they we feel the need to attack a theist, especially lately, is because we ourselves feel that we are being attacked. Please keep in mind that opinion polls show that we are viewed as negatively than rapists.

http://www.scientificamerican...
http://reason.com/archives/20...
http://www.christianpost.com/...
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answered Aug 18, 2016 by Anonymous (2,291,900 points)
Loading the links now. . .

In the interim lemme just say that I've NEVER mistaken an atheist for a rapist. A psycho killer perhaps, but NEVER a rapist. :-)

Edit: Oh, wow! Here's a paragraph which might help to explain the disdain (other) believers have for atheists/atheism:

" 'We’re here! We’re godless! Get used to it!,” chanted the crowd of 20,000 or so atheists at this past weekend’s Rally for Reason in Washington, D.C. As the chant suggests, the protesters styled their event on the National Mall (which was not affiliated with Reason magazine in any way) as a “coming out” party for atheists. One participant even carried a sign ripped off from the heyday of *** rights demonstrations: “Hi Mom. I’m an Atheist!' "

PREFACE what I'm about to say with the understanding that none of it may be true, but it is how atheists are perceived. Atheists are perceived as attacking and undermining the founding values of our nation and culture. They are perceived as attacking the very glue which holds our society together. Your 'coming out' is perceived as the opening salvo in a battle for the very survival of everything they hold most dear, and it doesn't help that atheists themselves are so eager to play the role of villain as indicated above.
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answered Aug 18, 2016 by Anonymous (2,291,900 points)
I understand that. But what many people don't understand is that we have had to put up with this attitude most of our lives. That is part of the impetus to the rally you described. We're tired of being stigmatized and looked down upon.

The irony of what you said above is exactly how many Atheists feel in relation to theists. We have seen how historically religion acts as more of a dividing influence rather than cohesive. Religion has a long and mostly negative history of intolerance, murder, war and controlling people in a way contrary to their well-being.

It was not lost upon the ruling classes in the past what an excellent form of social engineering it was. They found that you could control large groups of otherwise unruly people with religious doctrine that taught them how to think, what to think and to not question authority. It's been demonstrated that even many of the higher members in the church did not believe what they were peddling, but found it useful. How else do you explain the excesses the church engaged in during the Dark Ages?It is also why they crushed any opposition to them so mercilessly.

As Atheists we can still see this mindset today. We see theists trying to turn our country into the Christian States of America and destroying the foundations of tole...

I understand that. But what many people don't understand is that we have had to put up with this attitude most of our lives. That is part of the impetus to the rally you described. We're tired of being stigmatized and looked down upon.

The irony of what you said above is exactly how many Atheists feel in relation to theists. We have seen how historically religion acts as more of a dividing influence rather than cohesive. Religion has a long and mostly negative history of intolerance, murder, war and controlling people in a way contrary to their well-being.

It was not lost upon the ruling classes in the past what an excellent form of social engineering it was. They found that you could control large groups of otherwise unruly people with religious doctrine that taught them how to think, what to think and to not question authority. It's been demonstrated that even many of the higher members in the church did not believe what they were peddling, but found it useful. How else do you explain the excesses the church engaged in during the Dark Ages?It is also why they crushed any opposition to them so mercilessly.

As Atheists we can still see this mindset today. We see theists trying to turn our country into the Christian States of America and destroying the foundations of tolerance it was built upon. Most of the core founding fathers were not Christian, they were Deists. Read their private writings and essays if you don't believe me.

Part of the reason they did not want religion in politics is because they knew from what had already happened in Europe that religion and political freedom did not mix well. They knew that sooner or later the theists would force their views upon everyone else the way they had ALWAYS done before.
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0 votes
answered Aug 18, 2016 by Anonymous (2,291,900 points)
Please do tell how our denying his existence is arrogant, but your assumption that he is real and you are his chosen people out of the billions that exist is not. Your assumptions are fallacious. In any debate is not incumbent upon the person denying your claim to provide proof to the contrary. It is impossible to prove a negative. It is YOUR responsibility to prove that he does, much as it would be mine if I claimed the Tooth Fairy was real. You couldn't prove that she wasn't, but if I made such an extraordinary claim, it would be my responsibility to prove it.

I won't deny that you have the right to believe what you will, but don't tell me we're arrogant because we deny it. I see quite a bit of circumstantial evidence in the world that proves to ME that his existence is highly improbable.

In any case, why does it matter to you folks so much that we don't believe in your God. We only become a problem for you when you try to ram him down our throats. Most of us have experienced this being done TO us a countless number of times.
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answered Aug 18, 2016 by Anonymous (2,291,900 points)
Faith is not required to believe in facts that can be verified.

Correct. Faith is the BELIEF (in X) in the absence of evidence or proof. The problem, though, is in your use of the word 'facts.' We have no such facts. The moment we do, faith becomes knowledge.

We do not accept anything on faith.

Incorrect. You've concluded that God/gods does/do not exist on faith. You had no other option. ('You' used generically.)

Science does not lend itself well to faith, it requires facts.

True--but this isn't a scientific inquiry. It's a philosophical/ontological one.

We have no "faith" that God does not exist because we don't think of him at all until theists bring him up.

With all due respect (and I mean that), this is a cop-out. Every atheist I know--every one!--has pondered the issue and has concluded X to be true completely independent of any encounter with theists.
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answered Aug 18, 2016 by Anonymous (2,291,900 points)
No matter how logical the conclusion may be, in the absence of evidence 'you (meaning atheists as a gestalt)' had to reach that conclusion by accepting certain things to be true on faith. In the absence of evidence, you had no other choice.

And hey, as I've said from the beginning of this poll, I'm perfectly OK with that--as if. :-)

And thanks for your concern, but this isn't about what I've been "made to feel." It's an attitude manifested by (yes, SOME) atheists when they encounter (other) believers. They predicate their sense of superiority on the premise that THEIR belief system (while denying it exists) is superior to all others. Don't believe me? Read some of the responses below.
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answered Aug 18, 2016 by Anonymous (2,291,900 points)
I don't care if a God exists. I have no interest in proving if one exists or not.
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answered Aug 18, 2016 by Anonymous (2,291,900 points)
Theism and Atheism are both extremes. And I don't know how EITHER one of them KNOWS.

But I don't understand atheism, because something like GOD could never be proven. So just exactly what proof, are they waiting for?
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answered Aug 18, 2016 by Anonymous (2,291,900 points)
That would make you an apatheist, no? :-)

Now, why would you respond to this poll if you didn't care? A real puzzler, that.
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answered Aug 18, 2016 by Anonymous (2,291,900 points)
The same can really be said for theists, though. How do you know there is a god?

For me, it's not so much that I know there is no god, I just have a hard time believing that one exists, without their being an evidence for it. If there is ever tangible evidence of a divine being, I would believe it.
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answered Aug 18, 2016 by Anonymous (2,291,900 points)
1) Correct! The same COULD be said of theists. . .except that theists don't usually affirm the existence of God as a matter of fact. They typically say "I BELIEVE there is a God or I BELIEVE a God exists." They differ with some ten to fifteen percent of 'hard' atheists in this respect.

2) If there were what you would accept as "tangible evidence" of God, we wouldn't be talking about belief. We'd be talking about knowledge. (FWIW, I BELIEVE that's deliberate--that God deliberately withholds proof of His existence such that one must decide the issue on faith. Faith, it would seem, is the whole point of the exercise.)
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answered Aug 18, 2016 by Anonymous (2,291,900 points)
1) I disagree with you here, to some extent. Theists tend to get rather irate when someone says that the object of their belief doesn't exist, which to me indicates that they are certain that God *does* exist. Otherwise, they wouldn't have a problem with people believing in other deities, or not believing at all.

2) Can't argue anything here without repeating what I said in response to 1. :3
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answered Aug 18, 2016 by Anonymous (2,291,900 points)
In that regard there are two kinds of believer; the one who 'knows' to his/her own satisfaction that God exists but wouldn't dare claim such 'knowledge' publicly (I'd be in this group); and the ones who, like 'hard' atheists, makes claims of fact they cannot support with mutually-acceptable evidence.

Obviously, no one can KNOW there is or is not a God/gods. One can only state (as an article of faith) what one BELIEVES to be the case.
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answered Aug 18, 2016 by Anonymous (2,291,900 points)
This, I can agree with. I make no claim for or against a divine being or divine beings. I simply work with what I know.
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answered Aug 18, 2016 by Anonymous (2,291,900 points)
One minor tweak: You simply work with what you believe (same as me). Neither one of us knows. Neither one of us CAN know. We can be certain to a degree approaching 100 percent, but we can never be 100 percent certain.

Think of it this way. You're walking the length of a vast canyon which will take about seventy years to traverse. You THINK or BELIEVE there is a world beyond the canyon, but you cannot know it because the walls of the canyon are way too steep to ever surmount. The only way you can KNOW of the world beyond the canyon is to be on top looking down.

That is where human beings find themselves in regard to the subject of God/the existence of God. We can never see beyond our perceptual limits. We can devise instruments to see, hear and measure what we cannot, but we have to suspect something exists before we go to the bother of looking.
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answered Aug 18, 2016 by Anonymous (2,291,900 points)
being raised christian / masonic/ catholic married now to a jew my answer is i dont know but i doubt the validity of there being so many sects claiming god that only go by what they were inculcated with as kids with absolutely no proof ..then getting enlightened by histoy and the power of myth i was pretty sure that what we "say" is god today is simply a holdover from ancient ignorant times and now has morphd into a money making GOD BUSINESS >>> I can be good an not pay to attend "services" and all that are at best amaturish new
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answered Aug 18, 2016 by Anonymous (2,291,900 points)
It is not a belief system in the sense that you understand one. It is a process whereby we process factual and verifiable information and arrive at a logical conclusion. No need of feeling superior is necessary. I'm sorry you have been made to feel inferior before, but that is not the goal of the people I know.
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answered Aug 18, 2016 by Anonymous (2,291,900 points)
The Sufi Muslims have a saying: "Whatever you conceive as being God cannot be God by definition. God is beyond conception." I agree with that assessment. I am a Christian because I BELIEVE that is the way God has chosen to manifest Himself to me--as a loving Being who was/is willing to sacrifice a part of Himself for my redemption. It is that part of God to which I am the most attracted.

It should go without saying, then, that God manifests Himself (or not) in different ways to different people. I'm OK with that. That's 'twixt 'other people' and God.
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answered Aug 18, 2016 by Anonymous (2,291,900 points)
SOMETHING is a power greater than puny little man.. My objection is they having made a business out of religious ritual and charge for it. Perhaps it IS "the opiate of the masses"
Me I just want to be as good and ethical here while I live and understand that asking a myth for help is a waste of time.
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answered Aug 18, 2016 by Anonymous (2,291,900 points)
1) Religions are man-made institutions and easily distinguishable from their parent ontological models. There is Christ, the Founder and Leader of the church; there is the Christian community or body of believers, and then there is the Christian church as an institution. 'Religion' refers mostly to the latter (in specific reference to Christianity).

2) As far as I could know, that's as good a philosophy as any.
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answered Aug 18, 2016 by Anonymous (2,291,900 points)
We don't. Most of us, at least the ones I know, would probably say that they are pretty sure there isn't one, but I like to be scrupulous, and so all I can say is that I'm an atheist, that is, I reject the proposition that there is/are god(s) as being insufficiently demonstrated thus far. If someone would like to provide convincing evidence (i.e. not hearsay), I'd be happy to reconsider. Until then I remain unconvinced, therefore I do not believe, therefore I'm an atheist.

People who "know there is no god" are very few and far between and, I would contend, are not being intellectually honest.

You would have to label them gnostic antitheists.

I tend to get a little annoyed by this problem with labels and definitions.
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answered Aug 18, 2016 by Anonymous (2,291,900 points)
People who "know there is no god" are very few and far between and, I would contend, are not being intellectually honest.

Agreed! So much so, in fact, that I'm having to reexamine my own stance in regard to atheism in general. It would seem as if the overwhelming majority of respondents (about eighty percent) are of the 'soft' or 'agnostic' variety whereas a relatively scant ten or fifteen percent are of the 'hard' variety. (The remainder are somewhere in between.) What I've concluded from this is that only ten or fifteen percent of atheists are believers such as myself and other theists/Christians--having arrived at their conclusions largely if not wholly on faith. And you're also right in that they're not honest about it with themselves let alone with others.

You would have to label them gnostic antitheists.

If, as you suggest, we simply MUST have labels, that is an extremely good one. :-)
0 votes
answered Aug 18, 2016 by Anonymous (2,291,900 points)
To say that you "know" anything to be absolutely true without possibility of error, revision or argument, is the very definition of arrogance. All you can do is examine the available facts and arrive at the most likely conclusion based on those facts. One way to do this is through the scientific process. Unfortunately, most of use can't use it in our everyday lives, but we can use an abbreviated version of it.

The scientific process is one that entails repeated experimentation to prove an idea. This idea starts as a hypothesis on how you believe something may work. This idea is then subjected to the most rigorous testing to prove the idea. This must be done by repeated experimentation by many different groups to arrive at a dependable result. Then the results are submitted to the community at large to arrive at a consensus of the facts. That changes the hypothesis into a working theory that can be applied to other inquiries as well. The reason it is called a theory, and not a law, is because it is mutable. The theory is always subject to change if a new idea comes along that is better at explaining the facts at hand. But this new idea must first undergo the same rigorous process before IT can be accepted over the old one.

What does this have to do with the subject at ...

To say that you "know" anything to be absolutely true without possibility of error, revision or argument, is the very definition of arrogance. All you can do is examine the available facts and arrive at the most likely conclusion based on those facts. One way to do this is through the scientific process. Unfortunately, most of use can't use it in our everyday lives, but we can use an abbreviated version of it.

The scientific process is one that entails repeated experimentation to prove an idea. This idea starts as a hypothesis on how you believe something may work. This idea is then subjected to the most rigorous testing to prove the idea. This must be done by repeated experimentation by many different groups to arrive at a dependable result. Then the results are submitted to the community at large to arrive at a consensus of the facts. That changes the hypothesis into a working theory that can be applied to other inquiries as well. The reason it is called a theory, and not a law, is because it is mutable. The theory is always subject to change if a new idea comes along that is better at explaining the facts at hand. But this new idea must first undergo the same rigorous process before IT can be accepted over the old one.

What does this have to do with the subject at hand you may ask? Just this. Even science admits that nothing is known with absolute certainty, just with an overwhelmingly probability OF certainty. But it does allow for what is known to be altered when new facts present themselves. What it doesn't mean is that just because science can't provide a satisfactory answer to a problem or mystery today doesn't mean it never will. Science claims that everything is knowable given enough time and research and I believe that to be true. It also holds that some things are highly unlikely, but usually stops short of saying it is impossible, just very improbable. Theists often use this uncertainty as a wedge with which to insert God, but it never works. Their ideas are eventually replaced with a satisfactory scientific explanation of the phenomena at hand.

Use semantics to call me what you will. I will still deny the existence of any God as described in the Bible, Qur'an or Torah.
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0 votes
answered Aug 18, 2016 by Anonymous (2,291,900 points)
Many Atheists (not all) are simply arrogant with their beliefs. They literally have no proof God doesn't exist... HOWEVER, I think the same about many of those who DO believe in God as well. They certainly can't prove God does exist either.

You can't prove it either way. Beliefs are beliefs and everyone has a right to have them (no matter what they are). I'm not gonna go around telling people what they can or can't believe in... but don't expect me to believe the same way you do. I follow my own mind and thoughts.
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answered Aug 18, 2016 by Anonymous (2,291,900 points)
Exactly. Difference is, atheists will never admit that theirs is just another belief system. They need that denial to feel superior. :-)
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answered Aug 18, 2016 by Anonymous (2,291,900 points)
Oh, I don't know. Spreading the word at my door, injecting him into our politics, adding him to conversations he doesn't belong in, ranting at us on Atheist boards you have no business being in, putting him into our entertainment, attacking people who don't agree with you, damaging our property to "show us", mailing your unwanted literature to my door, getting in my face at the mall to tell me "the good news", putting your ridiculous pamphlets on my windshield, harassing us because we need to be "saved". I could go on for some length here, but you should have gotten the idea by now. These are things that Atheists experience on a regular basis if they are "out". Not many like to admit they are because it can, and has before, had a negative effect on them at work.

All of this behavior is unwelcomed by us. We already know about your God and have decided to reject the idea of him thank you very much. Annoying us and going on pointless tirades of how we're damned is not likely to change our minds. Furthermore, it is the intrusive behavior by some Christians that has began to make Atheists more aggressive and activist than they used to be. I know that I am more likely than I was in the past to go on the attack towards any Christian that I feel is intruding on my life. We've had enough of the hate, intrusions and personal attacks we've all had to put up with and are beginning to fight back!
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