Thursday, March 15, 2012

Quora Question Round-Up #1

I've answered a baker's dozen blog-appropriate questions posed on Quora, here are some...

I've heard some atheists use religious expressions during times of crisis. Why do they do this? Have any atheists on Quora ever done this? If so, can they explain why? Is it really true that "there are no atheists in foxholes"?

Mostly because it's in the vernacular. Atheists wouldn't invent such a saying, but since everyone else uses it, so do they.

Also, many atheists used to be believers, so they keep this saying out of habit.

NOTE: When I refer to God in any case, I am usually being sarcastic or using God as a synonym for the universe or nature. I especially do this when I don't want to get into a discussion about faith with a believer. I suspect other atheists do this too.

How do atheists find meaning in life?

I find meaning in life that same way I find meaning in anything, by assigning a purpose to it and fullfilling that purpose.

My purpose in life comes from my career and family. I try to live up to the ideals my wife, kids and company expect from me and (at least in my case) it is reciprocated in kind. This should result in a kind of equilibrium of happiness.

I figure this method of finding meaning in life is the same for the majority of religious people as well. I know it was the same for me when I belonged to a church. Religion does a better job of finding meaning in death, but atheists believe this meaning in death is an illusion.

Why do skeptics bash religions and supernatural claims so much but not everything else that isn't provable?

For the same reason virus and malware makers target Microsoft PCs over Apple machines--there are more of them.

Fewer people believe in ghosts, UFOs and far-out conspiracies, and those that do are less vocal about it. Most of the population believes in a god, so skeptics can affect the most people with their message by turning their attention to religion.


  1. In reference to the last question: an atheist can only be atheistic toward the gods. That's implied by the title "atheist", "not a theist". When we argue against superstition, Big Foot, leprechauns or anything other than gods we are not arguing from an atheistic point of view. Disbelief in the supernatural is not synonymous with atheism. Atheism is the specific disbelief in gods.

    1. Agreed, but this question was specifically asking about skeptics and not atheists. Skeptics should shine their light on all nonsense, but religion is still a big target for them (us.)