10 Questions You Need To Stop Asking Atheists
It’s been 7 years, folks. Seven wild years filled with religious trolls. You better believe I’ve heard it all. I mean, we’ve covered the entire spectrum from threats of being slapped with a thousand devil cocks to warnings that if I don’t accept Jesus immediately, I’ll cause all of Canada to enter a financial depression. I’ve been asked questions that make no sense, like, “How do you think you were able to feed your kids today if not for the love of Jesus?” and I’ve been asked questions that are poorly disguised low blows, “What are you going to do when your kids end up hating you for landing them in Hell?” and I’ve been asked questions that are none of anyone else’s business, “Are you an atheist because you like gay sex?”
There are so many asinine and nonsensical questions that come hurdling my way on a daily basis. They’re more absurd than Rudy Giuliani’s choice of press conference locations, but like a clown show in front of a dildo shop, I find I struggle to ignore them. Partly because it’s morbidly fascinating, and partly because the public conversation can be beneficial to the audience.
In and amongst all these whacky questions, though, there are, of course, the usual suspects. You know these questions because you’ve probably had to field them before, too. These are common questions but what some religious people don’t seem to understand, is that these questions are very revealing. They certainly don't make the asker look very good.
If theists really want to find out more about atheists and what makes us tick, these 10 questions need to be scrubbed from their repertoire.
1. What happened to you that made you stop believing?
What did Santa do to you that made you stop believing in him? Did something traumatic happen to you at a Star Wars showing to make you cease believing in literal Ewoks? I’m almost scared to ask how a leprechaun hurt you, triggering your disbelief in the little foul-mouthed rainbow chasers.
Yes, honey, you do sound this silly.
To assume that all atheists experienced some kind of trauma that triggered their apostasy is to dismiss our own explanations for our disbelief. You are poo-pooing the lived experiences of people, telling them all that they’re wrong about themselves, despite the fact that 9 times out of 10 you don’t know them and then you wonder why they get their back up? Really?
Here’s how to go about it instead, buttercup. You simply ask the atheist, “Why are you an atheist?” and then you accept the answer they give you. You know, being as they are right there, in their own head and you are not. You’ll find that some of us, like me, never even believed in the first place. Most of us can’t believe because we’ve yet to see any convincing evidence.
2. Why are you so angry?
If it were possible for you to take a step back and see this question objectively, you’ll see it says a lot more about you than it does about me. The sheer arrogance required to assume one must be filled with anger just because they exist without your precise worldview is astounding. I saw less hubris oozing from the oval office when it was infested with the Donald. Stop asking atheists this question. It only makes you look like an asshole and we all know how important it is for the religious to hang on to the morality argument.
3. What is the basis of your morality if you don’t believe in god?
Hey hun, if you don’t live with your mom anymore, where do you get your sandwiches?
It is especially important for you to stop asking atheists this question, pew warmers, because here’s the thing. Embedded in this question is the clear and unmistakable admission that you are lost, morally, without your guidebook and your god. That you would be out there slaughtering babies and stealing cars the moment you discover there isn’t a god. You’re saying that your morality, your decency, your ability to be a good person is entirely wrapped up in your god belief.
In other words, ya scary, dude. Best not be advertising that.
4. Why do you hate god?
Why do you hate the gold-shitting alpaca singing Watermelon Sugar in my closet?
I don’t hate god. And you don’t hate my alpaca. We just don’t believe in each other’s delusions is all. Just don’t come to me for any gold. It’s mine.
5. Why do you talk about something so much if you don’t believe in it?
I find it really interesting that this question is only ever posed to atheists talking about religion. You wouldn’t ask a Jew in mid-conversation about Ganesh why he’s talking so much about something he didn’t believe in. You wouldn’t interrupt a Teletubbies fan deconstructing their favourite episode and ask them why they’re spending so much time discussing things they don’t believe in. You think this is some kinda gotcha question that will expose what you feel is the truth: that somewhere deep in the recesses of my mind, I must believe there actually is a Dwight Schrute because my family and I talk about him beyond any measure considered healthy. But I don’t believe in a literal Dwight, because that’s fucking goofy. Just as goofy as commenting on a movie critic’s review of Toy Story asking them why they’re yammering on about something they don’t believe in. Clearly, the critic doesn’t believe toys are sentient, and you can trust me when I tell you, I do not believe in a god, no matter how many times I mention him.
6. Why are you so miserable?
I don’t even think I could be miserable if I tried. I just like life too much. Even the little things. I actually get excited about getting up in the morning. I am as flabbergasted as you probably are because there was a time when I would give you the Vulcan death grip if you woke me up before noon. I get excited about dinner. I get pumped for walks with my dog and trips to the Dollar Store. Sometimes I make myself gag at how absolutely not miserable I am. Considering I just bought slip-ons with skeletons on them, the whole “happy-go-lucky” persona doesn’t exactly match my aesthetic, but whatevs.
Here’s what I think: I think your religion just barely keeps you away from the cusp of misery. I think that you feel you would be miserable without it because it’s the only thing that gives your life any value. We nonbelievers, conversely, have learned to find joy in reality.
7. How can you live without purpose?
I don’t. I’m pretty sure you know I don’t, too. You’re just being an asshole. And a big one at that, because despite us being strangers, you do know I’m a mom. You know I have babies. Asking me this question is the equivalent of asserting that children can’t give us purpose. Dude, even people who never plan on having kids wouldn’t say something so heinous. I genuinely hope you never have kids one day. The poor things.
8. How can you live without hope?
I don’t. How do you live knowing the only hope you have is in the afterlife? #SupesSad
9. How can you live without meaning?
I’m raising two children, one of whom we fought anxiety & depression for and won. Like in the most magnificent way. I run a non-profit that funds orphanages in the developing world as well as rescues people in danger because they left their religion. I am an anti-death penalty activist and I try to raise awareness about wrongful convictions. I have worked in addictions recovery, I volunteer to bring education to people who don’t have access to it, I volunteered for animal rights organizations in Mexico. I had visited 16 countries before I was sixteen, lived in the Mayan Riviera and Australia, maintained communication with at least a dozen inmates in the US prison system who had very little support otherwise. I am paid full-time doing my dream job. I write a blog and I have managed to collect a family online of hundreds of thousands of people across platforms and I use my platform to provide a safe space for atheists who experience discrimination, to raise awareness for the many issues I mentioned above and to fill seats at the first-ever Conference on Religious Trauma that aims to provide mental health professionals with the tools they need to treat RTS.
Sorry, how much more meaning should I have in my life, exactly?
10. What if you’re wrong?
Ahh, see this is Pascal’s Wager in disguise. An apologetics argument so weak the Detroit Lions could take it down. It’s a false dichotomy because the choices aren’t limited to belief in your god or nonbelief in your god. In reality, there are thousands of choices. Belief in Yaweh. Belief in Anansi. Belief in Ra. Belief in Aphrodite.
So, my faithful friend, how do you know you’re not wrong? What if you’ve chosen the wrong god? What if the one true God is Kahless the Unforgettable and you’ve doomed yourself to a trip on the Barge of the Dead to Gre'Thor to be tortured for eternity by Fek'lhr?
This question also assumes the atheist is making a claim. “What if you’re wrong?” Wrong about what, exactly? I don’t make the claim there are no gods. I never have. I simply don’t believe in any. This can change. I can accept the existence of a god if I am provided with demonstrable evidence of one. But we know you don’t have any, otherwise, you would have no use for faith.
Listen, I’m not telling you to stop asking these questions just because they get tiresome for me. I’m giving you a heads up here. These questions make you look more foolish than all those suckers who thought Pope Franky was “different” and would bring “change”. These questions reveal your complete lack of morality, your inability to think things through before you say them and most importantly, they’ve been answered a million times before.
Instead of these gotcha questions that never work, what if, instead, you treated the atheist as an equal who has a right to their feelings and opinions? What if—and I know this is nuts, but hear me out—you treated the atheist like you would anyone else? What if you asked them honest questions about their beliefs, looking for open and honest answers rather than a win? This is how moral people behave. People who have hope and meaning, people with purpose and contentedness don’t go around trying to rope perfect strangers into conversations just to trap them. Be a normal human and I promise, the atheist will return the favour.
What are your most hated questions from believers? Let me know in the comments!