Who’s the Real Atheist?


“I contend we are both atheists, I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”   – Stephen F Roberts


For atheists, this is a very valid point of view. However, I asked around and couldn’t find a single atheist who had dismissed the gods of other religions – only the Christian god. In order not to have missed the boat, I endeavored to do a survey to find out what god(s) atheists were actually rejecting.

Well, the results are in, although some might argue perhaps that the sample size (124) was a bit small. In any case, here are the results. Out of 124 atheists that were in the survey, only three had rejected a god of a religion other than Christianity (or in addition to Christianity). However, those three had not rejected the gods of all religions. The only conclusion that I can draw from the survey is that the vast majority of atheists reject the Christian god without rejecting the gods of all religions, or even considering them for that matter.

An atheist website offered this explanation for the rejection of God: “I do not reject God, because I have no proof he exists or does not exist. Reason says there is no need for a God, but can’t utterly rule His existence out.” However, in my survey almost every respondent (atheist) said that they rejected only the Christian god. Why only the Christian god?  Do they have a monopoly on God?

Back to Stephen Roberts and his quote (see above).  Roberts posed the question to deists  that they should first examine why they are rejecting the gods of other religions. Therefore, I  think that it is only fair to ask atheists to do the same. After all, why do atheists seemingly reject God without examining the gods of religions other than Christianity?  Can you truly be an atheist if you have only rejected the Christian god?

Therefore, I pose this question. Who is the real atheist?

“I do not believe in God and I am not an atheist.”

   –  Albert Camus

43 Responses to “Who’s the Real Atheist?”

  1. Arkenaten said

    For atheists, this is a very valid point of view. However, I asked around and couldn’t find a single atheist who had dismissed the gods of other religions – only the Christian god.

    Perhaps you need to get out more? Or are you perhaps asking the wrong kind of ”atheist”?

    I flatly reject all gods, as evidence shows they are all man-made.

    • chicagoja said

      You asked the question that I was asking, namely what is an atheist. You simply labeled some atheists as the wrong kind of atheists. However, that doesn’t surprise me the least since anyone who disagrees with you is wrong. See Shawn MacKenzie’s comment. According to you, he must be the wrong kind of atheist and he may feel the same way about you, for all I know. By the way, you may reject the gods of all religions, but you apparently don’t know anything about them as you have previously told me. So, for you, the question remains, how can you consider yourself to be an atheist if you don’t anything about other gods. I wrote the post to answer that question. Perhaps, you can enlighten me.

      • Arkenaten said

        Maybe you should actually begin by understanding the meaning of the word atheist?
        Also I did drop the inverted commas in on purpose, as maybe those calling themselves atheist might not be quite au fait with the correct definition?
        As there are a great many ‘Cultural Christians’, who are not regarded as the real thing by most evangelical christians perhaps you can see my point?
        I think the average dictionary will have the definition.
        Also I would suggest that if you were to ask this question of the circle of atheists that currently interact with religious blogs here on WP on a regular basis your results would be markedly different.
        As I have repeatedly stated, based on the evidence presented, all gods can be rejected as all gods are man made.

        However, I am open to the possibility that you may have information that this is not the case. So, please, feel free to present these non man-made gods and we can evaluate them together.

      • chicagoja said

        Actually, perhaps you might want to understand that in certain parts of the world (outside of your little bubble) atheists seem to come in all stripes and flavors. I would never ask atheists on WP because they live in the same bubble that you do. This still leaves open the question of how an atheist can reject God when the only religion that they have any experience with is Christianity. Apparently, you do not want to answer that question in which case there’s not much else to talk about since that is the objective of my inquiry.

  2. I think you hit it in pointing out that other Gods are seldom even considered. They are pushed off into the realm of mythology or folklore and so don’t “count.” A very western-Judeo-Christian-centric POV. For myself, I find it far easier to imbue the great forces of the natural Universe with supernal qualities than to embrace some omnipotent, judgmental deity sitting on high, creating and destroying, rewarding some, punishing others. But that is the sort of atheist I am.

    • chicagoja said

      You can see from the comments coming from Arkenaten that I have hit the nail on the head (as you said). That still leaves open the question of why. Any thoughts? I assume that you know other atheists and, if so, it would be interesting to get their take as well.

      • My, what a lively conversation you have ignited! I think one of the ‘why’ influences may well be the Judeo-Christian-Islamic insistence on deific supremacy. “You shall have to god before me,” etc. Which leads to a cultural/religious arrogance that, even for western atheists, sees Yahweh/Jehovah/Allah as the true god of enlightened humans and all others as figments of barbaric imaginations. [Small ‘g’ v. Big ‘G’.] Hence, in the west, we have people who are convinced the Bible or Koran are the literal word of god and the Mahabharata, Popol Vuh, et al. are no more than fairy tales.
        If one starts from that position, then being anything other than a Big G atheist becomes almost anachronistic. Not to mention, in terms of certain eastern faiths, the whole idea of God is very different from in the west. It is closer to a mystical/metaphysical approach which often finds god in all rather than as a distinct, singular entity.

        Of course, if one sees religion as an evolutionary continuum, linked to human understanding and cultural/social development, then we get a slightly different picture. We are a species of story tellers. And we went from having little scientific knowledge – certainly compared to modern humans – and a strong desire to want to understand how we got here, how the natural world works. If we don’t know that the earth moves around the sun and the moon around the earth, then why explain cosmic wonders with dragons and giants. Then we move on to religion as cultural tenets – guides to better, more healthful living, a way to solidify the power of kings and control the masses. Fundamentalists are still stuck there – believing humans will turn into brutes without the threat of divine retribution. Humbug! The agnostics and atheists of my acquaintance live lives as ethical as any of the believers I know. And certainly more so than people trumpeting their religiosity from the rooftops or political daises.

        I like to think we are evolving to a place where we can trust ourselves to be decent beings without the threat of damnation hanging over our heads – where, while we may not understand everything in the Universe (a little mystery is always essential), we trust modern science and erudition over ancient texts written for ancient societies. In other words, that the idea of god is moving out of the archaic certainty of fact and into the realm of literature and fantasy. Which, as a writer, is great to me – opens up all sorts of possibilities.

        But, hey, all gods are man-made. A mirror of the remarkable, the unexplainable, in us all. Perhaps when we accept that, we’ll begin to accept each other.

        (Sorry, didn’t mean ot ramble on so. 🙂 Oh, and I’m a she, not a he. 😉 )

      • chicagoja said

        Wonderful commentary, Shawn.

      • Hey, thanks – it’s an inspiring subject, for sure. 🙂

  3. Arkenaten said

    Apparently, you do not want to answer that question in which case there’s not much else to talk about since that is the objective of my inquiry.

    How can the question be approached at all if you continue to delete my comments when you don’t like the response?
    Surely you have evidence to support your claims, otherwise you would not write such a post.
    Well, would you?

    • chicagoja said

      I don’t have a claim, I have an inquiry; and you have shown that you don’t want to answer the question. What more is there to say?

      • Arkenaten said

        Okay,let’s start again.
        What inquiry are you making of me?
        Please be specific.

      • chicagoja said

        At 5:31 AM, I commented, “So, for you, the question remains, how can you consider yourself to be an atheist if you don’t know(sic)anything about other gods.”

        At 5:49 AM I commented,”This still leaves open the question of how an atheist can reject God when the only religion that they have any experience with is Christianity.”

      • Arkenaten said

        Okay, now I understand what you are trying to looking for. No problem.

        As you don’t actually specify which gods you are referring to this makes it very difficult to answer the question honestly.
        However, the gods I did list; the ones including, Quetzalcoatl, Vishnu, Hanaman etc I am familiar (enough) with and as such, these can be dismissed as man-made.
        Mithra is another one.

        Therefore, if you have other gods in mind, please specify so I can offer a more appropriate answer.

        Is this fair?

      • chicagoja said

        Check out Wikipedia. They say that there are over 4,200 religions and they give a list of the major ones.

  4. Arkenaten said

    I think it is only fair to point out here, that any claims of veracity ought to be supported by evidence, so on the face of it, it might seem unreasonable for you to expect me to go through all 4200, don’t you think!

    • chicagoja said

      The point of the exercise is that some atheists have rejected the gods of many religions without ever knowing anything about them. I think you just proved my point.

      • Arkenaten said

        But these gods are all man-made, so why should one accept them?
        Are you implying that they may be real?

      • chicagoja said

        I agree with you conceptually that all gods are man-made. However, unless we were to check them all out and reject each and every one, there would be no way for us to know for sure. The point is that most atheists reject any god concept despite the fact that they know, in depth, only about the Christian god. The result is that most atheists have only rejected the Christian god.

      • Arkenaten said

        In effect, your assertion is correct. However, if we are going to be really honest,it is fair to say that most, if not all cultures have at least one supreme Creator Deity and most of these follow similar patterns regarding creation.
        On this basis alone it would be fair to say that the evidence for these creator gods is the same for Yahweh – namely, nil.

        If this were not so then it would be a fair bet that such a claim would have been brought to the attention of the world in general, especially since Christian Missionaries have been going back and forth exporting their god since the days of the Roman Empire.
        But, as with the Middle-Eastern Judaeo/Christian/Muslim god it never manifested anywhere else, and had to be introduced, often by force.

        So, while your conclusion may be accurate your tacit implication is fallacious.
        But I will retract this sweeping statement immediately if you have a particular god in mind that you consider real.
        Over to you …

      • chicagoja said

        Well you, personally, don’t know for a fact that the various cultures have similar patterns of creation. Some, of course, do and many others don’t. So, your assumption that the evidence for their creator gods is nil (the same as for Yahweh)is patently incorrect. Your assumption that the truth will always be made known is also incorrect. You, of all people, should know better based upon your conversations with Christian deists. My tacit implication is absolutely true and I’m still waiting for the first atheist to claim that they reject the gods of all religions because of their knowledge of those religions. There’s probably one out there somewhere and hopefully they will yet surface. However, it doesn’t change the fact that almost all atheists reject only the Christian god.

      • Arkenaten said

        I used terms such terms as a ”fair bet”.
        Creator deities have this in common: they create and most cultures that believe in such an entity will regard this entity having been responsible for the creation of the universe etc and humans. That’s a pretty safe bet, wouldn’t you say?
        Or are you suggesting that such creator deities would create something else other than the earth, humans and life as we know it?

        So, your assumption that the evidence for their creator gods is nil (the same as for Yahweh)is patently incorrect.

        There was a fairly straightforward link between creator deities and evidence, drawing parallels from the Middle Eastern deity and the way it was exported.
        I am fairly sure that there is likely a compendium somewhere where someone has taken the trouble to actually outline every god’s characteristics and thus this would likely have included how much stock is placed in each god’s veracity.
        Have you heard of any evidence for the veracity of these other gods?
        Me neither.

        You implication is like suggesting I cannot know that there isn’t an insect that can’t whistle ”Gimme Shelter” until I have encountered every insect.

        However, it doesn’t change the fact that almost all atheists reject only the Christian god.

        No. What it doesn’t change is the fact that of the 100 or so you asked, these few reject only the Christian god.
        You have now asked me and I have informed you I reject all gods ( that I have so far encountered) based on the same criteria that I reject the Christian god – no verifiable evidence.

        And once more, if you have a god you wish me to consider, present it. How difficult is that to do?

      • chicagoja said

        So, again you prove my point. Reject all the gods that you want or only one or two if that’s the limit of your knowledge. Just don’t draw the conclusion, that a creator doesn’t exist because of what a religion (any religion ) says. That’s flawed logic.

      • Arkenaten said

        You appear to be making allusions that there may be more than one creator deity among all these gods that is responsible for creation.A sort of group effort?

        Again, which god/s had you in mind?
        All I am asking is that you present him/her/ it/them.

      • chicagoja said

        Not sure what you’re referring to. I was using the term gods to reflect that each religion has their own creator god(s). Some of those religions might be monotheistic and some may be polytheistic.

      • Arkenaten said

        What I am asking is for you to submit any gods you believe have a legitimate claim of veracity.
        That’s all.
        Then we can look at each claim and check it out.
        Fair enough?

      • chicagoja said

        That wasn’t the point of the exercise. It’s for you, and all other atheists, to check out to make sure that there is no evidence for a creator BEFORE they decide to become an atheist. How else can one become an atheist unless he, or she, has FIRST rejected all gods? Fair enough?

      • Arkenaten said

        We are all born atheists, we become theists, usually with no choice because of cultural restraints, and maybe later reconvert to agnostic/atheism.
        So, based on your re-evalued criteria, I will say I am an agnostic/atheist.

        So far, based on evidence I can confidently assert I have examined and rejected at least 100 gods, including those have already listed.
        That still leaves an awful lot of gods. But I am content that with my current status.

        As you are most definitely not an atheist, which god/ what is the name of – do you believe/consider is the ”Real Deal”?
        ( I am at this stage, going to assume you only recognise a single creator Deity, yes? )

      • chicagoja said

        I’m curious how it is that a person can be born an atheist since atheism is a belief (that a god doesn’t exist) and beliefs are learned behavior. Just asking. By the way, you only have another 4,100 gods, or so, to reject so you might want to reconsider your stance on atheism notwithstanding your comment that you are content defining yourself as an atheist. It doesn’t quite seem logical under the circumstances.

      • Arkenaten said

        I said, agnostic/atheist. This is an accurate description.
        Please reread the comment.
        We donlt earn t be atheist, we are born not having god belief, though studies do show children assign agency to some of the things they do not understand. This is perfectly natural, but should not be confused with theism, which is a learned belief and is generally inculcated at a young age .
        I can provide links if you like , but I’m sure you can Google also, yes?

        As for such learned beliefs, an excellent example would be the Amazonian Tribe that former Christian Missionary, Danial Everett, spent .
        time with.

        Truly an excellent story, and I highly recommend it.

        Still interested in the name of the god you consider is the Creator Deity.
        Are you going to tell me who/what you believe in? ( Name of)

        Also, what is your view personal regarding the 4100 gods you mentioned?

      • chicagoja said

        Well, we aren’t born with any beliefs and we aren’t even aware of any concept called god when we are born. Atheism doesn’t even exist until after a god concept is first introduced. Then, and only then, we might say that we don’t agree with the god concept. So, guess what, atheist is truly a learned behavior. By the way, if you haven’t observed by now, I don’t do questions. I simply write posts and let people ponder them. Better that people don’t know what I believe in, anyway. Wouldn’t want to confuse them with the truth.

      • Arkenaten said

        And a snark to round off with? Why?

        Why is it better to couch your beleifs?
        You don’t proselytize, as far as I am aware, and therefore you are perfectly entitled to your beliefs.
        Doesn’t hurt anyone, right?

        But your post has a slight anti-atheist tone ( maybe I am feeling over sensitive today).
        Be this as it may, you are asserting that I cannot possibly be an atheist as I have not considered evidence of the other 4000 gods and I have already conceded this point and I shall in future adopt the title agnostic/atheist.

        But you do believe in a Creator Deity and based on this, one must assume that you have considered these other gods you drew my attention to .
        And thus, having done so have reached a conclusion that most, some all, are not the Creator Deity you believe/follow.

        I have given your argument due consideration and accepted the bulk of your premise.

        All I am asking is for you to be equally as honest and at least tell me about the god / Creator Deity you consider there is adequate evidence for.

      • chicagoja said

        I know little to nothing about the creator gods of other religions (and could care less). It’s for you to know (if you care to know)because you have staked out a belief system and seem willing to defend it against all reason. Again, I don’t do questions. Anyway, I try my best to not have belief systems. They just mess with one’s thinking. Sorry for the anti-atheist tone, if there was one, as I’m pretty much anti-evertything. Something to do, I suppose, with the world that we live in.

      • Arkenaten said

        Anyway, I try my best to not have belief systems.

        And yet you expound the virtue of a Creator Deity, an the possibility of Alien Creators, and Intelligent design.
        And you consider this not to be a belief system? Oh well ..

        Ah .. so if you are not prepared at least demonstrate even a modicum of integrity about your own beliefs, yet you feel comfortable pissing on the god belief, or in my case, non-belief of others’, then I suppose it is only fair that your readers return the favour.
        Duly noted, and I shall bear this in mind.

      • chicagoja said

        Consider my comments to be somewhat similar to straw men. My posts are designed to create controversy and to get people to think (critically) – a real rarity these days. Props to you as I can see that your wheels are churning. Unfortunately, the car may still be going in the wrong direction. That’s fine, as I don’t feel compelled to have to change people’s belief systems but simply to challenge them.

      • Arkenaten said

        I certainly consider such posts as ”straw man” and this one does not raise your integrity level one iota.

        That you are unwilling to discuss and be open about your own interpretation of the creator deity you mentally genuflect to suggests a level of arrogance that is, quite frankly, simply crass ignorance masquerading as intelligence, but steeped in hubris.

        Based on other comments here, you don’t appear to be challenging anyone.

      • chicagoja said

        I’m not interested in your opinion of my integrity. I don’t validate myself through other people’s opinions however those that know me consider me to be a person of high integrity. I’m also not interested in your continual cheap shots which really have no value; certainly not to me anyway. As for my readers, they do not like commenting directly on my post because of people like you so I communicate with them by private email. As for challenging others, all you do is denigrate them. It’s a tactic often used by those with nothing to say. So, please apologize for your rude and unprofessional conduct on your way out.

  5. Nan said

    The point is that most atheists reject any god concept despite the fact that they know, in depth, only about the Christian god. The result is that most atheists have only rejected the Christian god.

    IMO, if you stopped at “reject any god concept” you would have a more realistic definition of an atheist. The fact that some seem to only reject the Christian god is an assumption that, I think, would be difficult to prove.

    As you know, I don’t really call myself an atheist, but I cannot accept or visualize the existence of any supernatural being … whatever it is called or whatever religion it rules.

    • chicagoja said

      Thanks for commenting Nan. I don’t know if it’s provable or not. That’s why I did the survey and that’s why I wrote the post. Statistically, however, it just keeps piling up. That is, most atheists argue that a creator does not exist because the god of Christianity has clay feet. That’s hardly a reason, though, to be an atheist is it? Hell, I even agree that the Christian god has clay feet and I’m not even an atheist. As you are probably well aware, I have written many posts on the topic of the flawed Christian concept of God. However, logic dictates that a creator may possibly`exist regardless of what Christianity has to say on the matter. It’s far more reasonable, therefore, for an atheist to say that that they don’t believe in a creator for almost any reason other than what Christianity says or doesn’t say.

  6. Howie said

    Hey chicagoja. I’m a little confused by your post. In some respects it looks like a semantics game but I’m sure there is something important to glean from it.

    Is the issue the definition of “gods”? I agree that can be tricky. In some ways I think everyone’s conception of the definition of that is different so there may be some 7 billion versions. Investigating all of them would be pretty tough. Let’s say there is a small remote tribe in Australia that believes in a god that I’m not aware of. Does the fact that I know nothing about it mean that I am unable to claim that I am an atheist? And does that then mean I am a theist?

    I’m either a theist or I am not a theist. That seems fair. My understanding is that the current most popular philosophical definition of atheist is “not a theist”. Are you saying that if I have not investigated all gods then that means I am actually a theist? I’m guessing you would say no (but not sure). So it looks like you may be just trying to create your own definition of atheist that includes within it the requirement that one must have investigated all gods in order to be one.

    And as for myself I actually have some knowledge about quite a few gods. I’m familiar with Allah, Krishna, some Greek gods, some Norse gods, the god concept of the Bahai, Quetzalcoatl, and others that different people have described to me over time. My knowledge of each is in differing amounts but they seem to have the common flavor of being “invisible” thinking agents that are acting somehow in our natural world. I have some reasons why I am doubtful of that type of god (which I think is a fair definition of a large variety of gods), so in that way I think I am rejecting the veracity of the existence of more than just the Christian god (I grew up Jewish and while it has commonalities to the Christian god, I could also add that to the list because it’s really different in some ways).

    • chicagoja said

      Actually, it has nothing to do with the definition of god(s). The question I was posing is that almost all atheists that I know of and those in my survey have only rejected the Christian god. I was trying to figure out why that should be so and why someone would consider themselves to be an atheist if they have rejected only one god. The thought process seems to work like this: the Christian god is not believable as a creator god and therefore I totally reject the possibility that there may be a creator god out there somewhere. Most atheists that I know are very logical and, therefore, it’s hard to fathom a belief system that, at least for me, lacks logic. Do you have an opinion on that?

      • Howie said

        I think I’d have to know what the exact wording of your survey was to really offer a useful opinion. I can’t help but wonder if the wording was a bit leading even though you probably didn’t intentionally make it that way. I’m also pretty impressed that you found 124 atheists outside of the internet! 🙂 Did you set up a survey table at a college or something? How did you do it?

      • chicagoja said

        Friends and friends of friends.

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