Why Am I An Atheist, Part II

10 March, 2008

In a comment to yesterday’s post, the Spanish Inquisitor wrote:  

In my reading i find that people seem to come to atheism from two vantage points:

1) philosophy
2) science.

You and I seem to have come from #2.

And I agree wholeheartedly.  Well, almost wholeheartedly.  Because he left out the second reason I am an atheist:  history (well, I guess history is philosophy (so he is right (but its not an either/or (more of an ‘and’)))).

I started college as a computer science/computer engineering/mathematics major.  I was good at the math.  I understood the math.  I hated the math.  So I decided to switch to something I enjoy (I would worry about a career later) and switched to history.

In my study of history, I have noticed that no war has existed independent of the idea, “God is with US!!”  Never mind that both sides make the same claim.  Whether it is the “Gott mit unns!” of Gustav II Adolf, or “Jesu-Maria” of Tilly’s imperial troops at Breitenfeld, both sides professed that god had a personal interest in their victory (at least Gustav’s Finnish cavalry were honest about it:  their battle cry was “Haakaa Paalle” — Hack them Down!.  The Spanish Armada had god on their side (not to mention mediocre ships, few long range guns, no fresh water, and not enough ammunition). 

Throughout history, priests (of every religion) have blessed the troops going off to battle and asked the god(s) for aid.  The Athenians asked Athena for victory.  The Romans asked for help from Mars.  Young men going Viking got help from Odin.  The Aztecs fought the flower wars to provide food for the gods.  The list goes on, ad nauseum.

If the Spartans defeat Athens, does that mean Athena was weak?  Or does it mean that the Athenian economic colonialism was a poor economic model?  Were the German gods more powerful than the Roman ones in the forests of Germany?  Did the Aztecs defeat the Spanish because their gods were so well fed?  Or did the Spanish have the advantage because they ate their god?

Even the Communist states asked for help from their ‘god’ — the god of economic and social innevitability through the socialist dialectic.  I view communism as a religion because it asks for its adherents to believe in impossibilities — the elimination of greed and government.

The more that I studied history, the more I realized that ‘god’ was just another tool used by the politico-military structure to give heart to the ordinary soldier.  Whether the generals and kings believed that god was on their side or not is immaterial.  It was still just another bunch of propoganda shoved down the throats to make the victims more willing to kill.

 Natural philosophy (geology, palaeontology, evolution) convinced me that there is no evidence for god.  The study of history has reinforced that conviction while also making me areligious.  When I look at the religious wars of history (and even wars (such as the Hundred Years War) between peoples of the same religion becomes a religious war (you aren’t doing it right, so I kill you!)) I realize that, no matter why religion developed, it becomes yet another tool in the box to convince one set of peons to kill another set of peons.



  1. I came mostly from SI’s #1, but this included quite a lot of consideration of evolutionary theory and the philosophy of science.

  2. Well, you could make a case that his 1 and 2 are actually 1 (hmm, 1+2=1? Sounds like a dual trinitary unity (sorry, I’ve got the flu, mind not firing on all cylinders)). Science used to be refered to as natural philosophy, while logic, history, and the rest of the liberal arts were called? I can’t remember, but it makes sense. Anyway, mine is about a 50/50 split of the unitarian amalgamation.

  3. I have trouble seeing a difference between 1 and 2. Both are based on logic, and both require evidence and experience. The so-called purely philosophical arguments for or against gods cite knowledge acquired or inferred from evidence and experience in their premises. With this in mind, I see only one valid road to atheism, and that’s critical thinking predicated on esteeming empirical evidence and experience. I say valid because someone could (as the theists like to imagine) simply take the belief that there are no deities simply on faith, and such a road I would call “invalid”.

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