What One Atheist Believes

I was having an argument with someone on the Internet, and they asked me, as an atheist, what exactly do I believe in? (It is a common misconception that atheists have no beliefs, or no moral beliefs, at all.)

So I made this video.

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Transcript is below:

Hello, my name is Al. I actively believe that supernatural gods don’t exist.

But there are a lot of other things that I also believe.

I believe a lot of people have misconceptions of atheists.
And I believe that atheism isn’t going to become more accepted if atheists stay quiet about their beliefs.
I believe a lot more people than we think are atheists, but they just quietly describe themselves as “not very religious”.
I believe a lot of people are afraid to say they’re atheists.

I believe I don’t spend enough time reading books like I used to.

I believe mopeds aren’t as cool as motorcycles and they’re barely faster than bicycles.
I believe pancakes are most overpriced thing you can order at a diner, but still the most economical.

I believe that finding out that Santa Claus wasn’t real wasn’t that big of a deal for me and my friends growing up.

I believe it’s weird that even though I’m half asian and half white, a lot people just think of me as asian.

I believe in the scientific method.

I believe we can tell when we’re just kidding ourselves by checking how convenient our beliefs are.

I believe in love.
I believe it’s really silly to believe in love.
I believe in love.

I believe our methods of courtship were at their peak when we were in the third grade, those notes that said “I like you, do you like me?” with Yes and No checkboxes were perfect.

I believe that people don’t differentiate enough between microevolution, macroevolution and abiogensis.

I believe the Internet has failed to bring us together, since we mostly read blogs and watch videos that reinforce our preconceived ideas.

I believe that surfing the web is better than watching TV because it forces you to read and interact instead of passively watch.

I believe it’s weird that most Christians don’t think reading the scriptures of Hinduism is a necessary prerequisite to not believe in the tenets of Hinduism.

I believe we spend too much time thinking whether or not we can afford something rather than whether or not we should buy it.

I believe something is seriously wrong with our country when we think that prison rape is funny.

I believe people don’t realize that videos of someone monolouging are a horrible medium compared to text because they present information in a linear format that can’t be skimmed or searched. It’s like having a dictionary written out on a scroll.

I believe you can find a transcript of this video on my website at http://coffeeghost.net

I believe no one ever thinks they’re wrong, they simply justify their behavior by saying the other person has a problem.
I believe reality TV is the same thing as day time talk shows: they let us look at weirdos to feel better about ourselves.
I believe it’s easier to hate people when they happen to eat different food then we do, or speak a different language.

I believe it’s important to be able to locate any country in the world on a map.

I believe a lot kids grow up thinking they’re stupid because their teachers and parents never expected much from them.

I believe we aren’t challenged to explicitly back up our beliefs with evidence enough.

I believe that anger, distrust, and a sense of entitlement clouds our judgment and consideration for others.

I believe that bias in American media isn’t in what the report on, but what they don’t report on.
I believe that the amount of airtime Britney Spear’s haircut got is strong evidence for this.

I believe that anyone who justifies their career or trade as “giving people what they want” is a jackass.

I believe that the overwhelming majority of software patents are frivolous.

I believe that too many atheists automatically dismiss theists as unintelligent.
I believe that a minority of atheists automatically dismiss theists as unintelligent.

I believe we believe in comforting beliefs, even to the point of kidding ourselves.

I believe that falling into the trap of working a job you hate to buy crap you don’t need to impress people you don’t like is a lot easier than we think.

I believe that people who use background music in their videos in order to evoke emotion in their audience are odious.

I believe that we should feel with our hearts and think with our heads, and that a lot of our problems come when we forget that.

I believe that cities with hills are better than cities without them.

I believe that even though we don’t kill the messenger, we won’t invite him to our next birthday party.

I believe that most people don’t realize that prayer is more about comforting the prayer than it is about petitioning God.

I believe people in industrialized countries eat far too much meat in their diet.
I believe that considering everything else I’ll say in this video, I’ll catch a surprising amount of flak for that last one.

I believe it’s silly to say that my friend Josh isn’t fit to be a parent just because he has sex with other men.

I believe you can tell when two people in a conversation aren’t listening to each other because they’ll immediately talk about themselves when it’s their turn to speak.

I believe that stoning someone to death for working on the sabbath is, for lack of a better word, overkill.
I believe that anyone who says that Old Testament laws no longer apply are tacitly saying that there could be a time when they did.

I believe that World War I was the result of overly aggressive leaders who didn’t realize how quickly the violence would escalate.
I believe that World War II was the result of the previous victors failing to hold consideration for the loser’s welfare, and how that would cause such deep, long-lasting bitterness and anger.
I believe a lot of Americans don’t think it’s happening again.

I believe that because religions are so different yet so universal across human cultures, it’s more likely that they say something about humans more than the universe.

I believe we all want our lives to be like in the movies, without realizing how truly stupid that is.

I believe we should always admit the possibility that we could be wrong, including the possibility that we’re wrong about being wrong.

I believe we become adults on the day that we’re able to forgive our parents.

I believe that after about half an hour, you’ll probably forget most of the things I’ve said in this video, except for the line I’m saying right now.

I believe we have a lot more in common than we realize.

I believe that supernatural gods, including the Christian God, do not exist.

63 Responses to “What One Atheist Believes”

  1. IASGATG Says:

    I believe I am falling in love with you.

  2. Frank Rules Says:

    “I believe it’s weird that most Christians don’t think reading the scriptures of Hinduism is a necessary prerequiste to not believe in the tenets of Hinduism.”

    This is one of the best quotes I have ever seen! Loove it!

    I am Swedish so English is not my first language… But is it not spelled “prerequisite”, or is that another word?

    Yes, it is misspelled. I copied and pasted the uncorrected version. Thanks for the heads up.

    -Al

  3. Beaker Says:

    Finally, someone who is intelligent, honest, polite, forthcoming and willing to engage in productive conversation. I am glad to say that even though I am a theist, I agree with most(wait, let me read the list again) correction, all of the items on your list(with the exception of the personal things such as being half-asian and having a website with the transcript posted on it because I cannot, of course, be you). I would just like to comment on how true I believe many of your comments are.

    “I believe that people don’t differentiate enough between microevolution, macroevolution and abiogensis.”
    I hope you will understand if I use the expression AMEN!!! I have seen both sides pro and con make the mistake of assuming that all of this can be lumped into the single word evolution. All this puts everyone on a different page so that no constructive argument can be made. Discussion of this topic would go a lot smoother, be so much more productive, and be free of a lot of ignorance if these terms were more explicitly defined and used.

    “I believe it’s weird that most Christians don’t think reading the scriptures of Hinduism is a necessary prerequisite to not believe in the tenets of Hinduism.”
    Even as a Christian, I agree with you that many Christians are blindly ignorant of any differing opinions. They assume that they have all the truth there is to be had and dismiss anything anyone else has to say. Often times, they are also very ignorant what their own religion truly believes. These are the Christians who are usually represented in the media and make up the stereotype Christian image in this country. Such Christians are hypocritical because they are unwilling to do what they ask others to do in respect to religious beliefs. I would like to apologize for any of the inane, ignorant arguments from such people you have to put up with. And this leads into the next area I would like to comment on.

    “I believe that too many atheists automatically dismiss theists as unintelligent.
    I believe that a minority of atheists automatically dismiss theists as unintelligent.”
    Thank you for being honest and noting the difference between the actual thinking Christians and those previously mentioned. These stereotypes are the reason I am usually hesitant to mention my Christianity in intellectual settings. People automatically assume I have put my brain on the shelf and suspended all reason in order to placate my beliefs. Strangely enough, there was a time when being a good Christian implied being well taught and intelligent. The times have changed and now Christianity is labeled with ignorance.
    As for only the minority of atheists dismissing Christians as brain-dead crackpots, I personally feel that such atheists are in the majority. But you would know much better than I would, so I make no claims about such things.

    “I believe our methods of courtship were at their peak when we were in the third grade, those notes that said “I like you, do you like me?” with Yes and No checkboxes were perfect.”
    Yeah, I remember doing this.

    “I believe we aren’t challenged to explicitly back up our beliefs with evidence enough.”
    There is a verse in the Bible that tells Christians to “always be ready to make a defense for the hope that is within you.” The actual word for ‘defense’ is the Greek word that implies a logical, well thought out, explanation. Such a defense is tied into the Ancient Greek concepts of rhetoric, logic, and reason. I can tell you, few Christians live up to this standard.

    “I believe no one ever thinks they’re wrong, they simply justify their behavior by saying the other person has a problem.”
    Yay for the ad hominem argument.

    “I believe that most people don’t realize that prayer is more about comforting the prayer than it is about petitioning God.”
    I don’t know if this will surprise you, but the Bible actually supports this view. I mean, if someone believes in an omniscient, immutable God, then it should follow that God would already be aware of what the person is going to say and will not be changed because of it. Prayer is in fact, as you noted, more focused on the pray-er than the pray-ee (Note: This is not a plug to convince anyone Christianity must be the right answer just because it correlates with other beliefs. I am simply commenting on how I agree with Al’s statement. Wow, an atheist and a theist finding common ground on the internet, this is refreshing.)

    “I believe it’s silly to say that my friend Josh isn’t fit to be a parent just because he has sex with other men.”
    Once again, I don’t know if there will be a collective gasp from the audience with my following comment. As a Christian, I also believe a person’s homosexuality is irrelevant to that person’s ability to be a good parent. Christians have gotten the label of being homophobic gay-bashers. While I do disagree with people who live a homosexual lifestyle, I do not believe treating them badly is the correct response. Christianity just as much disagrees with heterosexual sex outside of marriage. And guess what Jesus did when an adulteress was brought before him? He showed compassion, kindness and forgiveness. If only all Christians would follow his example.

    “I believe that stoning someone to death for working on the sabbath is, for lack of a better word, overkill.
    I believe that anyone who says that Old Testament laws no longer apply are tacitly saying that there could be a time when they did.”
    Old Testament laws are a common point of confusion to non-Christians (and many Christians). We see these punishments as harsh and unjustified. But what one needs to understand it that these laws were written in a completely different cultural and historical context. Compared to laws of other religions of that time, the laws in the Old Testament were a not harsh or ridiculous. This was a time where kings would chop off the head of anyone who looked at them funny. Some religions demanded the sacrifice of one’s children by burning them alive. But in general, the Old Testament laws were meant to separate Israel from the surrounding nations. Things that seem stupid to us like not sowing two different types of cloth onto a garment or not boiling a kid (young goat, not human child) in its mother’s milk were meant to make Israel stand out from all the nations around them. As for the harsher punishments, like stoning, keep in mind that an individual could receive forgiveness for his actions if he was truly repentant. So, yes, Old Testament law seems harsh to us in our culture and yes Christians do believe that they apply a long time ago.

    “I believe that because religions are so different yet so universal across human cultures, it’s more likely that they say something about humans more than the universe.”
    Could this be? Dare I think? Absolute truth? But then, the main disagreements about absolute truth focus on absolute moral truth. That might be applicable here; it might not, so lets not open up that can of worms.

    And finally, it has been more than half an hour since I saw/read your video and I am still thinking about what you said. This all ended up a lot longer than I inteded, but I guess I had better not let it go to waste. You sum it all up very well when you say “I believe we have a lot more in common than we realize.”

  4. God of Hellfire Says:

    I believe that you are falling love with me.
    I am going to the bathroom in my pants RIGHT NOW…just thinking of you; (I’m taking a shit…well, actually LEAVING one).
    I believe that YOU can fly…please throw yourself out a window.
    I believe that you were deprived as a child.
    I believe that you are homosexual.
    I believe that it is not my fault.
    I believe that if you don’t jiggle the handle, the toilet will usually keep running.
    I believe that all Amer-Asians enjoy eating rice more than non-Amer-Asians.
    I believe that mixed race persons have some sort of personality disorder.
    I believe that most persons hanging out in coffee shops in San Francisco are homosexuals on the prowl for other coffee-drinking homosexuals that are likewise on the prowl.

    My girlfriend and I love it when I get hate mail. We’ll take turns, one us playing me and the other person playing the crying-for-attention boob who actually takes the time to write nonspecific insults to a total stranger, and we’ll laugh hysterically and collapse into a fit of giggles.

    Then we’ll make out for twenty minutes.

    What? That’s not weird.

    -Al (5/15/07)

  5. kittywhompus Says:

    I believe that’s the first hate note I’ve seen left here.

    I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all of your videos Al and believe you present what most of the more understanding atheists feel but aren’t quite sure on the specifics to explain some of the things you’ve discussed.

    I believe that as individuals we can see and realize the truth, but as a human whole, we will not and probably destroy ourselves.

    But you never know what may lay in wait in this enormous universe of ours…it could all work out someday I hope.

    Thanks for making such great videos

  6. Yerneh Says:

    I love how I am a Catholic with an aethist hero :)

    Anywho, a question for u: I was so glad u think too many aethists think theists are unintellegent,
    but don’t you yourself usually only argue with unintellegent religious beliefs? Like evolution
    doesn’t exist and aethists will burn in hell?

    I would like to see more of you countering intellegent points made by theists, such as religion
    as a nessesity for keeping the human race together.

  7. hyrcan Says:

    Thank you for another wonderful post, truly enjoy watching (and re-watching) them. Your videos are defiantly inspiring. One of these days I’ll add my own voice to the mix.

    As always, keep up the good work.

    __

    My YouTube comment cross posted here:
    __
    I believe you’ve hit the nail on the head.

    This is something that’s bothered me quite a bit, and I see it over and over again (especially on tv… the CNN lynch mob said the same thing “Atheist don’t believe in anything”). I try to combat it when I can, but I find even though they ask, they don’t like that I have a logical and well thought out answer and usually ignore it.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    “Everybody needs to believe in something, I believe I’ll have another beer.”
    Lee Ving, 1995

  9. André Says:

    I have to say I am quite impressed Al. You are very articulate well informed individual with a strong moral character. After considerable introspection I have decided to become an atheist. Besides if there really is a God then God must be an atheist anyway. In any case I have found that your videos gave me something to think about and helped me feel better about my decision to become an atheist. Thank you very much and keep up the good work.

    Oh and by the way I love that “…people don’t discriminate enough between microevolution, macroevolution and abiogenesis.” line. I have tried to explain the distinctions and how abiogeniseis is not at all like the Aristotle concept of spontaneous generation so many times to so many people by now. People still continue to think that evoultion is synonymos with abiogenesis despite the fact Darwin wrote Origin of a Species 80 years before Aleksandr Ivanovich Oparin wrote The Origin of Life.

  10. Jolly Sapper Says:

    Hey Al, *points to Hellfire’s post* it looks like you’ve “arrived” in terms of the blogosphere.

  11. Socrates Johnson Says:

    I believe atheism is an appeal to ignorance… empirical evidence can never support a metaphysical claim such as *god does not exist*

  12. Socrates Johnson Says:

    restated… atheism which employs logical positivism or empiricism…. etc.

  13. Patrick Says:

    I liked your comments … I never really write but I liked the way you think[of course, it resembles my own presumptions of the world..for the most part(I'm a Christian ;)] I’m also a happa[half-Korean and half caucasion(irish decent, i think)] It’s weird, but to me, it is a lot “cooler” and safer to say you are beliefs are pretty much anything but being a Christian these days…especially on the Internet. That being said, I can see why, a lot of people have been hurt by it and also, a lot of the nut cases one sees on tv doesn’t help too…as personality goes…I’m about as “vanilla” as there is(bad grammar).

    I believe in the scientific method too(but not for all things…I believe in love too…it does no good there)…

    I also believe that there is a lot of good evidence for the support of the Bible but no proof though, it’s still a matter of faith.

    I also believe it’s MUCH easier to be an atheist than a Christian..unless you’re an atheist that care too much about other people’s opinion-public opinion(personally, I don’t care much(or at least I like to think I don’t :))

    I just believe in Christianity(even though it is VERY inconvenient) because I feel it is the truth(If I didn’t, I sure would pick an “easier” belief system..maybe something like…well, I’d probably make my own :)…Just as I’m sure you believe there is no supernatural God(s)…

    But anyways, I really like your writing…I also like wherethehellismatt.com a lot too(I go there all the time during work and long to get away from the computer and just pick and go somewhere..)….

  14. Val Says:

    I believe in many of the same things as you and would like to state some of my own beliefs:

    I believe supernatural gods do not exist.

    I believe that the way to stop doping in athletics is to stop paying athletes.

    I also believe that will never happen.

    I believe it is hypocritical for people to be pro-life when it comes to abortion and pro-death when it comes to capital punishment.

    I believe that if man were given the choice to do good, but not receive any reward or punishment for it, and the choice to do wrong, but not receive any reward or punishment for it, he would choose to do good.

    I believe people who would be tempted to do wrong in the above case are not good people.

    There is genocide occurring in Darfur and I believe the US should do something to stop it.

    I believe that “all men are created equal” is false. Some are born with high IQs, some with athletic talent; many are not.

    I believe that despite our unequal standings everyone should be given equal opportunity no matter their race, gender, sexual orientation, or social class.

    I believe that if everyone kept in mind that “belief” is synonymous with “opinion” and not “fact” the world would be a better place.

    I believe beliefs are important.

  15. Erin Thomson Says:

    I liked your video on many levels. It was literate and rational. Your arguments were well presented and your points were solidly proven. The humor was also excellently timed. Bravo.
    But you talked very fast. I don’t mean to disparage you, but talking quickly confuses people, especially if they are the people you are trying to reach – people who cannot assimilate information and “get things” as quickly as people with high verbal intelligence, like yourself. The problem with this is that through your machine-gun delivery you alienate all the people who really need to hear you, while those who can hear agree completely with you because, on the whole, intelligent people can talk out and explain the bullshit that is ID on their own. You’re kind of preaching to the choir.
    Again, I don’t mean to be disparaging. I simply want to point out that the breakneck joy of this video will essentially be lost on many. They’ll just think, “who is this edgy nerd?” and a shame too.
    Much love from the Capital Territory of Australia,
    Erin.

  16. Ezeepeezee Says:

    It should be noted that it is indeed difficult to understand him, the video can be rewound and that the rate of speech is not necessarily a choice Al makes but rather a constriction imposed by the limits of bandwidth. If you’ll notice, the majority of the time in the videos are taken up by speech wherein if pause were introduced the overall time would be drastically increased.

    This is not to say of course that I disagree, as I had to rewind several times to catch what he was saying.

  17. NeilMarr Says:

    Hello there, Al:

    Must admit that I would have agreed with Erion from Oz and Ezeepeezee about your machinegun delivery … had I not soon found that you’d been thoughtful enough to transcribe the tapes.

    Only discovered your work today and I’m mightily impressed by your cool and considered approach. I’ll work through everything in the next few days and hope to leave a more meaningful comment than this.

    Something else I found refreshing was a post above from Christian Beaker. With a few more theists like him/her around, we could have a reasonable discussion and possibly even reach some satisfying conclusions. Though I confess extreme bafflement that someone of such obvious intelligence still clings to what I feel is an absurd concept, I reckon this correspondent would be darned good company.

    Your videos have been a happy discovery. Many thanks and very best wishes to you and everyone else here (though I wouldn’t mind hearing that GodOfHellFire develops a particularly nasty toothache). Neil in France

  18. MovGP0 Says:

    Some of my belives. I’m trying to keep the order with Al’s list of belives:

    I belive what I don’t know.
    I belive I’m therefore agnostic.
    I belive that there is no god.
    I belive that most peoples are atheists in the rich world.
    I belive that most peoples are theists in the poor world.
    I belive that most peoples are more afraid of agnostics rather than atheists, because common peoples don’t know what agnostic means.
    I belive mopeds are far underrated, because mopeds are very economic.
    I never belived in Santa.
    I belive that most buffets are cost effective.
    I belived that Al is white. Sorry for any Prejudice.
    I belive love is silly, but has biological and economical need.
    I belive that you should check both, the Yes and the No checkbox, if there is no other way to answer a question.
    I belive that microevolution, macroevolution and abiogenesis are different.
    I belive that the Internet was built to communicate and not to bring peoples together.
    I belive that the (current) WWW forces that peoples with similar interest are communicating.
    I belive in the difference of Internet and WWW.
    I belive that TV’s should rather get plugged off.
    I belive that everyone should be able to access the WWW.
    I belive we can learn a lot studying various religions.
    I belive Agnosticism is a logical result of these studies.
    I belive that you should buy something you need.
    I belive that you should think about buying something you don’t need.
    I belive prison ripe is awful. Peoples that make this should get honored with their own little windowless cell.
    I belive to much persons are in prisons instead of getting help in managing their live.
    I belive that you are wrong, because I think I am very often wrong.
    I belive reality TV is lame.
    I belive Talk Shows are lame.
    I belive that eating unknown food can be very exciting.
    I belive that learning other languages can be helpful.
    I belive I’m to lazy for learning a new language.
    I belive that there should be rather one common language in the world.
    I belive that online translator software helps a lot.
    I belive in hating another people is mostly bad for at least both.
    I belive its important to find the most important countries on a map.
    I belive that there are hell a lot of countries on the world.
    I belive that you should simply ask if you don’t know ie. a country, because you can’t know all.
    I belive that there are to lot of peoples thinking their very intelligent but aren’t.
    I belive that I’m relative intelligent.
    I belive that I’m relative unintelligent.
    I belive all is relative.
    I belive that you never can be sure about having evidence.
    I belive that anger is bad for oneself.
    I belive that the media is overrated.
    I belive that Britney Spears haircut is not interesting, but is useful for conversations with peoples that think so.
    I belive that peoples should learn out of their mistakes.
    I belive that its better to learn from the mistakes of others rather than making own.
    I belive that software patents should rather be illegal.
    I belive that theist are intelligent.
    I belive that theist are way not as locial than Vulcans.
    I belive that beliefs to a higher intelligence is a simplification about what we not understand.
    I belive that kind of simplification is too much of simplification.
    I belive that you should quit a job you don’t like – except you need it for life or if you make it to give others a better life.
    I belive that you should sell crap you don’t want.
    I belive that you should search better friends if you don’t like yours.
    I belive background music in videos can be a good thing.
    I belive that kind of background music you use is a bit annoying.
    I belive that we should rate feelings with the emotional part of our brain.
    I belive that se should think with the logical part of our brain.
    I belive there should be Trees on top of each roof.
    I belive that you should invite the messenger, because he is trying to help you.
    I belive I should start praying if its comforting me.
    I belive that Yoga would still be better.
    I belive that in USA peoples eat to much of maize sugar and soja fat with their food.
    I belive that all countries – including development countries – have problems with improper distribution of food localy too and not only globally.
    I belive that homosexual couples should be allowed to marry and adopt childrens.
    I belive that many peoples aren’t listening to themselve enought too.
    I belive that stonig is a overkill in any case.
    I belive that the Old Testament had its purpose in acient times.
    I belive that the laws apply everywhere when there is somebody who belives in them.
    I belive that can become very bad in some cases.
    I belive that every war is based on mistakes.
    I belive that Americans were everytime involved in some War since America exist.
    I belive that most religions have in common that they think that humans are the best lifeform.
    I belive that my live is sad compared to most movies.
    I belive that doesn’t matter.
    I belive we are wrong in most cases.
    I belive we became never as adult as we should.
    I belive that remembering is overrated.
    I belive there are ways to archive what we should not forget.
    I belive that its a good thing to have differences.
    I belive that a supernatural God could exist, but with a probability that is almost zero.
    I belive that the probability for the existence of the Cristian God is equal to one in infinity.
    I belive that the best thing of atheists is, that they can’t come into hell.
    I belive that atheist have hell a lot of belives.

  19. Socrates Johnson Says:

    I also believe it is weird that people refer to Africans and African Americans as “black” and Caucasians as “white” and call those colors though obviously both terms do not refer to colors per se (though some would say both are achromatic colors most people would see how silly that name is) and the skins of those individuals are certainly colored.

    Further… as far as I can tell “Asian” is not a color (achromatic or not.) I mean really, if we can’t even come up with a coherent system maybe it is time to just stop focusing on it, and get on with being people.

  20. MovGP0 Says:

    Einstein once said that the healthy human understanding is an accumulation from prejudices till the 18. lifeyear.

  21. Nognir Says:

    A clever video; made me smile

    What’s the title of the background music?

  22. Hiltoad Says:

    I greatly enjoy your clever, informative and entertaining blogs, so keep up the good work Al.

    It occurs to me that every sentence you started “I believe . . .” could equally have started “I think . . . ” So, for instance, I don’t believe in the scientific method but I sure do think its the best method we have for . . . etc. Is this just a semantic quibble or is it important? What do you think/believe?

  23. Wee Willie Says:

    N1 Al! Really, thanks – I think that all of the balanced, lucid, articulate people must stand up and let everyone know that it’s OK to ?question? and !think! about EVERYTHING! …and… to offer that information in such a fair minded way is awesome…

    respect!

  24. JustZisGuy Says:

    I believe that making “moral” choices based on a rational evaluation of how your actions affect other people is superior to acting out of a fear of punishment by a supernatural being (as *some* theists do). The most principled, “moral” person I know is an atheist.

    I am not referring to myself, but to a friend. I am an atheist, and I usually act in a principled way, but I also recognize that I often act out of self-interest. I am willing to admit it – pragmatism trumps idealism at times.

    I believe most people are actually atheists, they simply will not admit it. They are so used to cognitive dissonance that they do not even recognize it any longer. I believe this is not a good thing.

    I believe that a large number of operations happening over a very long time can produce surprising results – there is no need for an outside actor. I am thinking in particular of math/computer science (billions of operations per second), and geology (evidence of rock layers of different ages and effects of erosion), and obviously biology (evolution). Thus I see no need for the supposition of the existence of God(s) to explain such things.

    I believe that praying to God to help your side win a war, or even just a football game, is repugnant. So, no doubt, do many theists.

    I have a friend who is a Mormon, and while I cannot fathom believing the things he believes (e.g. God-justified male dominance) and I disagree with the church’s, shall we say, expansion attempts, I do recognize the advantages of social cohesion and support that are very positive aspects of organized religion. Forcing yourself to think of things you are thankful for, every day, is a good habit. I also recognize that he is moral and thoughtful and very, very bright.

    In closing, I would like to reiterate that moral behaviour and religious belief are independent. The world needs more thoughtful, moral people, regardless of their beliefs.

  25. JustZisGuy Says:

    Oh, and you’re completely correct about the disadvantages of video, though for some reason it is a more effective way to attract attention.

    I will come to your defence and say that I thought your speaking rate was fine. I believe :-) the “normal” accent and speaking rate depend on where you live, and I think it likely those complaining you spoke too quickly live in a region where people… talk…. more… slowly.

  26. William Blake Says:

    “I believe that anyone who says that Old Testament laws no longer apply are tacitly saying that there could be a time when they did.”

    Yeah, hit it on the nail…

    Keep it up for us Atheists..

    now excuse me while I read more stuff that reinforces my preconcieved beliefs!!!

  27. Cooper Says:

    Well said, caught your debunking of young earth-ism on youtube while on a Dawkins/Hitchens/Harris hay-ride.

    I believe I wouldn’t be overstating were I to put you in the same pantheon on this subject.

  28. Hunter Says:

    i agree with you on all accounts of response to videos, comments made on radio,t.v. torso and internet video media trade. i believe that once one choses a religion or is BLessed?? with being born into one that is by chance the time and place they are by chance born,that they should reserch where these ideas come from. i think your dead on with any scientific argument
    introduced in the favor of I.D.>> So, if i could ask you.(please) think about the Fear that is introduced to people in their infancy . People feel alone and lost sometimes.. whether or not they have close loving families, girlfriends, life-mates .. whatever

    people reach out to a god as it .>for some reason

  29. Hunter Says:

    continued,,, for some reason ,, like parents.. children see mother as god ,,

  30. Joseph Wilby Says:

    So far I am still absorbing everything you have stated in these videos, and being an Atheist myself I tend to avoid whenever possible any discussions on the subject for the simple reason that what I have to say falls on deaf ears and it is a waste of time since the people I have these discussions with no matter what I have to say they will remain persistent that their beliefs are right and I am Wrong. Does that make me a loser in the end? on the contrary I simply smile and It makes my point about not believing in a god or religion stronger. I like very much the way you express yourself. most everything you say is thought provoking. I found one of your videos by accident and I knew the rest of the ones you made were to be experienced. I look forward to see/hear more from you.

  31. kenster 93 Says:

    My neighbors are homosexuals, but they’re nice people. My religion (Christianity) states that homosexuality is wrong, but I think that is rather hypocritical. I will admit that, by human nature, I feel rather uncomfortable around them but I find it best to let discrimination interfere with attitudes toward others. I enjoy your videos though I feel contradictory (I hope that is a word) towards them.

  32. ray Says:

    there is a God!!! and his name is Al.

  33. ray Says:

    where do you get your music for your videos?

  34. Delta Bravo Says:

    Thanks. That was very appreciated.

  35. MovGP0 Says:

    “My religion (Christianity) states that homosexuality is wrong”

    Christianity don’t states that homosexuality is wrong. Peoples that call themselve Cristians do that.

  36. MovGP0 Says:

    And with “Peoples that call themselve Cristians” I refer specially to the pope!

  37. Socrates Johnson Says:

    hey hey hey, the southern fundie evangelicals are FAR more fire and brimstone on homosexuality than the pope. I mean look at Westborogh baptist church *shudder* they interrupt military funerals to gay-bash…

  38. MovGP0 Says:

    The peoples in the “Westborogh Baptist Church” are anti-semit and racistic; against their own country. They are ignorant idiots – send them to guantanamo…

    “Tolerance of intolerance will lead to intolerance; intolerance of intolerance will lead to tolerance.” – Lars Gustafsson

  39. Socrates Johnson Says:

    pretty much. Westboro *I would be sorry about misspelling it earlier but frankly they are worthless anyway* are pretty much the extreme example of what fundamentalism can breed. Christianity and religion on the whole can become that, but that is hardly an accurate portrayal of the majority of theists. Frankly the bible says a lot of shit that many Christians don’t bother following. http://www.godhatesfigs.com is a perfect example (and it references the deuterocannonical code and levitical code (the same parts many homosexual-hating Christians do.)

    But I digress. My point here is simple though, blame the fundamentalist, not the religion. Science gave us the laws of physics. But men dropped the nuke. Similarly, religion gives some inconsistent messages and silly rules, but people commit atrocities. I find religion as blameworthy as science.

  40. FatherChrismas Says:

    Damn, Albert…you’ve got a really great style and delivery here, very well tailored for the keyhole you have to talk through. It’s great philosophy, and well reasoned. I’ve yet to find anything you’ve said so far that I can disagree with. It’s driving me nuts. I’ve got to go back and find something wrong. I’ll be back later.
    =FatherChrismas=

  41. Socrates Johnson Says:

    Great philosophy? I take it you have never taken a philosophy class, especially one focusing on science, or logic?

  42. B1G Dawg Says:

    In response to 35, yes, actually, in Genisis, it is stated as a sin, and was nearly the downfall of a major historic city, for the men of the city wanted to do this quote “great sin” (great here meaning major not good like, Socrates Johnson is great at being sour and insulting people by testing their own personal comments to Al instead of keeping quiet and talking to Al and not being so Headstrong) to two angels disguised as men

  43. Doodawa Says:

    Shdhdhdhdhdhdhdhdhdhdhddhdhdhdhdhdhdhdhdhdh
    Ogogogogogogogogogogogogogogogogogogogogogogg
    Cool
    Rats
    Aren’t
    That
    Evil
    So

    Just
    Over
    Hundreds
    Need
    Some
    Other
    Nourishment

    In the
    Suburbs

    And

    Jump,
    Even
    Run,
    Krazily
    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    The firsts are the words

  44. Paige Says:

    I greatly enjoyed this video and others that I’ve watched. You are very articulate and have a very important message. I’m not sure how many of the viewers are those who greatly disagree with you, but that’s the nature of this media. Your videos are very inspiring and make me, as an atheist, feel my responsibility to others to represent atheism positively and without the hate and anger that many people see in it. I generally feel, as I think do many atheists, that because I am not religious, I don’t have anything really “important” to share with people in the way of beliefs. This is not to say that I should try to “convert” theists, but I do feel very strongly about my beliefs, as you seem to as well, and I should show a greater commitment.

    I came across your video about the age of the earth on Atheist Nation, which I just recently joined. I really like the videos that you’ve posted. They are very intelligent and educated but lack the condescending tone that many people I interact with can’t get away from. I couldn’t help but feel guilty when you mentioned how so many atheists think that theists are unintelligent. I certainly realize that there are many intelligent theists, and have known a few myself, but I fight my own prejudice in this regard almost daily. I find it very difficult to accept that people can be very intelligent and still believe in a god simply because I have not been able to reconcile my own firmly held beliefs in science and reason with any type of religion. This is something that I need to work on.

    But this post is not supposed to be about my own self reflection. I wanted to thank you for putting in the time and work to make these videos. I greatly enjoyed them and feel that they are an important presence on YouTube. You are a very impressive person and I can see your dedication and sense of self in your videos. I’d love to have a conversation with you. I feel like I could learn a lot. :) Thx.

  45. Paige Says:

    wow that was long. my bad.

  46. Socrates Johnson Says:

    Puerile, though reasonably clever, and I am certain it took at least a few moments, so your dedication is appreciated. But really, name calling is so primary-school.

    All I ask is that people argue without logical fallacies, and that Al self-regulate his points to not mislead those who might not be so educated as he seems and take his shorthand arguments as proof for things like “god doesn’t exist.” But rahter something more akin to “Atheism doesn’t mean I am EVIL, or a fool” which is all I think he really wants people to understand. That and maybe that fundies are crazy, but we all know that.

    This is not a advert. This is a reference to how I feel about arguing on the internet. Feel free to axe it if you are uncomfortable Al

    http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2004/03/19

  47. nicole Says:

    So, wahts your take on the law of attraction? what about thought being a tangable thing? or thought manafesting into matter? would love to hear what you think.

  48. Brian Says:

    “My girlfriend and I love it when I get hate mail. We’ll take turns, one us playing me and the other person playing the crying-for-attention boob who actually takes the time to write nonspecific insults to a total stranger, and we’ll laugh hysterically and collapse into a fit of giggles.

    Then we’ll make out for twenty minutes.

    What? That’s not weird.

    -Al (5/15/07)”

    That is probably the best hate mail response I have ever seen.

    Well played sir.

  49. Kim Says:

    I have looked at a couple of your vids and I really enjoy them. Thanks for putting yourself out there.

    :)

    -Kim

  50. Abood Says:

    By far the best YouTuber. Keep it up!

  51. Ryan Says:

    Hey mate,

    Great little video, very well written. Your message is certainly an important one. I will show it to my girlfriend. She was recently asked if she was a muslim, and politely said she “wasn’t very religious”. I told her not to be shy about being an atheist. We need to make our presence felt.

    Keep up the good work.

    Ryan

    PS I totally agree about the meat thing – meat production is raping our environment.

  52. Stacy Says:

    “I believe it’s weird that even though I’m half asian and half white, a lot people just think of me as asian.”

    I believe it’s weird that I am half asian and half white, and a lot of people just think of me as white.

  53. Mike Says:

    Just had to comment and say that I believe you are a very intelligent person who is not afraid to speak their mind. I really enjoy watching your videos, I wish there was more people like you out there in the world. Oh, I also believe that Christian and other supernatural gods do not exist.

  54. April Says:

    You know what, I believe that people are afraid of the fact that you can think and express your often controversial thoughts in such a coherent fashion.

    And that people usually fall back on calling someone a homosexual to make themselves feel better, even though…well I don’t even need to explain how dumb that is.

    And I also believe that by doing so they are mostly insulting themselves, because it almost implies that only unintelligent, shepherd-following men with no deviating opinions are straight.

  55. April Says:

    And this Socrates guy obviously interpreted things differently from me…which is a pretty normal thing to do.

    I thought you were making these videos for people who already are fairly educated and are interested in opinions on things they already know about. Not to educate the masses, who are massively uneducated…

    It doesn’t seem fair to leave that up to one guy and his video blogs. If he *were* trying to persuade people uneducated in the subjects he’s talking about, wouldn’t the speaker be using more basic language?

    Maybe I’m totally off. It’s almost 5 in the morning. I really don’t care at this point.

  56. Socrates Johnson Says:

    Whether these are for “educated” people or “uneducated masses” Is sort of irrelevant when I raise concerns about fallacious reasoning and such. But yeah, I am just trying to keep honesty in the arguments.

    Science, despite belief to the contrary is not “true” but I outline that elsewhere, Al is making a metaphysical claim. Metaphysics is a notoriously dubious field (Read Kant’s critique of pure reason if you want a good argument for this.)

    Al posits inferences, I posit counter-inferences.

    Then invariably someone shows up with an anti-atheist agenda and pretends s/he and I are on the same side. Then I show that I don’t agree with them. Then someone tries to show that science is “capital T true.” Then I attack that position. Then someone abuses religion or philosophy. then Kevin (The Roycing Carnap) and I pipe up. Then people start calling me names.

    Then Al releases a new video, and the whole thing starts again. :P

    I think I have said it elsewhere but allow me to state it again. Al is right, CNN is silly for their portrayal of atheists as the root of all evil, etc. Creationism should NOT be taught in school because as a society we have decided that we like science, social science, and maths. Creationism is none of those (barring some particular arguments but I fall on Gould’s side here.)

    However, science should also never be treated as a “faith” and any (or at least many) claims to “truth” or metaphysics derived from science, is treating science as a faith.

  57. Brendan Says:

    Sorry to nitpick, but the following seems jarringly out of character with the rest of your stated beliefs:

    “I believe that people who use background music in their videos in order to evoke emotion in their audience are odious.”

    Why are such people odious? Music evokes emotion; this is what music does, so everyone who uses background music in his or her videos does so to evoke emotion in his or her audience. Some simply do so more artfully and, perhaps, less pretentiously than others.

    Pathos isn’t always the intention, and even when it is, bathos isn’t always the result.
    Surely you don’t mean to say simply that all people who use background music in their videos are odious, do you?

  58. John Evo-Mid Says:

    How can you say that stoning someone to death for not keeping the sabbath holy is “over-kill”?

    What will society come to without strict rules? You weren’t thinking clearly on that one!

  59. natalie Says:

    my mom is half asian and half white, and i believe it’s strange that some people assume she’s mexican.

    i don’t believe forgiving our parents makes us adults. sometimes forgiving someone is giving in to the comforting belief that forgiviness makes you a better person, when in reality, you’re just giving someone the right to be shitty.

  60. locksmyth Says:

    I often watch this video when I start to get disillusioned with society and the increasingly repugnant theocratic and anti-science movement.
    I really hope Al produces more videos.

    This is the first time I’ve read the comments and I came across this one:
    Yerneh wrote
    “I would like to see more of you countering intellegent points made by theists, such as religion as a nessesity for keeping the human race together.”
    This to me is the most ignorant and unintelligent argument theists have. Nothing is more divisive and non-religious people tend to be more moral then religious. Simply because we don’t have religion to justify, excuse or forgive anything, we ultimately are fully accountable for our actions.

  61. Selina Says:

    Do you have a transcript of your video, What One Atheist Believes? I love it. It’s smart and brave.
    Thanks

  62. longlivetheDee Says:

    Hi there,

    This is one of my favorite videos…ever.
    I just have one question, even though you explicitly state that you don’t like people using background music to get an emotional reaction…well the song at the end really got to me, what is it called???

    Thanks for all the great videos.

  63. Mad Says:

    Great vid Al!

    “sometimes forgiving someone is giving in to the comforting belief that forgiviness makes you a better person, when in reality, you’re just giving someone the right to be shitty.”

    “Simply because we don’t have religion to justify, excuse or forgive anything, we ultimately are fully accountable for our actions.”

    Yeah; that’s what I reckon too.

    “any (or at least many) claims to “truth” or metaphysics derived from science, is treating science as a faith.”

    If you’re implying the only path to truth is through faith, then I don’t see much value in it, to be honest.

    I also quite like MovGP0′s mispelling as “belive”, as people do certainly live by their be-lifes.

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