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Welcome to the Atheist Community of Buffalo and Western New York Frequently Asked Questions!

This page is still under construction, and certainly still open to ideas. Soon, every question will be a hyperlink to an answer, which, we hope, will shed some light on who we are and what we are trying to do. If you have ANY input about questions or answers, email us at mail@wnyatheist.org

Atheism and Faith

What is Atheism?

What is Agnosticism?

How do you know that there is no God?

What do you think happens when you die?

How can a person be moral without God?

Isn't Atheism just another religion?

What if you are wrong?


Freethought and Skepticism

What is "Freethought?"

What is Skepticism?

What about 'keeping an open mind?

What does it mean to be a Skeptic?

Are there Skeptics that still believe in God?

 

Science, Scientism and the Scientific Method

What is Science?

Is Scientism a Belief system?

What is the Scientific Method?

What about those who say that Science is not the proper tool to evaluate the supernatural?

 

Superstition

If there is no God, then why did so many different cultures across the world develop a supernatural belief system?

What is the harm in fairy tales?

Should children be told about Santa Claus and The Easter Bunny?

 

Pseudoscience

What is Pseudoscience?

What are some examples of Pseudoscience?

How do you tell the difference between Science and Pseudoscience?

 

Critical Thinking and Logic

What is Critical Thinking?

What is Logic?

What are some examples of Logical Fallacies?


Conspiracy Theories

What is a Conspiracy Theory?

Do Conspiracy Theories exist?

What are some examples of ACTUAL Conspiracy Theories?

What about...

The 9/11 Conspiracy?

The Moon Landing Hoax?

Florinated Water?

The Kennedy Assassination?


Paranormal and Parapsychology

Do UFOs and Aliens exist?

What is Parapsychology?

How does (name you favorite psychic) talk to the dead?

 

What now?

Does it sadden you to live in a world devoid of magic?

__________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Atheism and Faith

(back)

What is Atheism?

This question is perhaps most easily answered by starting off with what Atheism is not. Atheism is NOT "I know that there is no God." Atheism does not proclaim to know whether there is a God or not. Atheism is the position that sufficient evidence has not been put forth to lend credibility to any of the religious beliefs, documents, and practices that exist in the world today. Atheism rejects the concept of faith, and states that evidence is required. Until such time as evidence is presented, it would be a fool-hearted endeavor to blindly follow the practices of one of the many thousands of religions that human beings believe in, and assume that it is the correct one.

The roots of the word Atheism lay in A-Theology, or being without a set of theological practices.  The definition has been altered somewhat over time, but what still stands is the rejection of religious claims that are unsupported by sufficient evidence.

 

What is Agnosticism?

To be Agnostic simply means 'to be without knowledge.' Agnosticism does not refer specifically to a belief, or lack thereof, in God, religion, or what have you.  In common usage, it has come to mean 'I am uncertain as to whether or not God exists,' which is fine.  The problem comes in when one considers Agnosticism to be a happy middle ground between being a believer, and Atheism. Agnosticism is not some watered down, weakened version of Atheism.

Whereas theology relies on some element of faith, and Atheism rejects that faith; Gnosticism relies on some form of knowledge, and Agnosticism is a simple statement of being absent that knowledge.  These are two completely separate and independent scales of adherence to religion.  A theist relies on the concept of faith to overcome his lack of understanding about the divine, whereas a Gnostic has knowledge, or evidence, of the existence of the divine.

The statement "I am an Agnostic because I don't presume to be certain that God does not exist, like Atheists do," is incorrect, and betrays an understanding of these concepts. It is possible to be an Agnostic theist, (one who believes in the divine through faith,) a Gnostic theist, (one who has been presented with evidence that the divine exists,) an Agnostic Atheist, (one who does not purport to have any evidence that the divine does not exist, but chooses not to rely on faith to fill in the holes of one's understanding,) and, a Gnostic Atheist. (One who knows, with evidence, and absolute certainty, that the divine does not exist.)

It is unfortunate that there are those who choose to refer to themselves as 'Agnostic' simply to avoid the stigma attached to the word 'Atheist.' We are here to try and change that.

 

How do you know that there is no God?

Simply put, we don't. It is certainly possible that there is an almighty creator who has gone out of his way to hide any shred of evidence of his or her existence. To assert that "there absolutely is no God" is foolhearty and stupid. Such bold declarations are the fodder of religions, not reason, logic, and science.

To be reasonable, to be logical, is to modify your position based upon new information. New discoveries are made all the time, in all areas of study. To refuse to incorporate new information is what's known as 'cognitive dissonance,' or holding a position, and refusing to waiver from that position in spite of new evidence that contradicts said position.

In our current understanding of the universe, we have not discovered any event or piece of information that cannot be explained, at least in broad terms, by non-supernatural means. If any event were discovered that could only have a supernatural explaination, then only a fool would refuse to modify his or her position to incorporate this new information.

For now, we must function according to the best available information. The best available information lacks any evidence of a divine intervention of any sort. If that ever changes, we will modify our positions, and act accordingly.

 

What do you think happens when you die?

All of the evidence that had ever been gathered about the nature of the mind, and consciousness, indicates that awareness, our sense of existence and self, is a product of the physical brain. Our existence appears to be nothing more than the product of electrical and chemical transmissions, and when these transmissions stop, so too does our awareness.

To put this another way: when our brain stops functioning, we stop perceiving the world around us. Our sensory organs will no longer function, and our brains will no longer recall any of the thoughts or memories which define who we are. Without thought or sensory input, our consciousness, for all intents and purposes, ceases to exist.

This sounds like a bad deal, especially when simply ascribing to the beliefs of any of the religions out there will allow you to sit comfortably with the knowledge that your existence will continue on in one form or another after you die. It is important, though, to consider that these very religions may have developed as a way to overcome this fear of death. Religion offers answers for the fear of the unknown, and holds tight to these answers in spite of whatever contradictions occur as we learn more about the nature of the universe, and our place in it.

The problem with preparing for an afterlife lay in failing to appreciate this one, this one and only life that we can be certain we have. The fact that we exist at all is a beautiful thing, and failing to appreciate this time we are given is a shame, and a waste. Take a walk, ride a bike, read a book, watch a movie, spend time with friends and family...live your life, and appreciate what you have.

 

How can a person be moral without God?

 

 

Isn't Atheism just another religion?

 

 

What if you are wrong?

Then we either Burn in Hell, or cease to exist, or are reincarnated in another form, or who knows. We certainly don’t. There are hundreds of current religions and thousands upon thousands of sects of current religions. Most, though not all, promising the big post death payoff only to those faithful to their specific sect and denomination. This question is one we should all ask ourselves. What if you are wrong?

Across the globe we can find Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, Shinto, Taoism, and Jainism, just to name a few.

In the United States alone, there almost 30 religions which were born here.  U.S. founded religious movements include Church of Christ, Scientist (Christian Science), Jehovah's Witnesses, Latter Day Saint Movement (Mormonism), Nation of Islam (Black Muslims), Seventh-day Adventist Church,  and Scientology.

Believers will often be confounded when asked to explain how their  religion is somehow more believable than these and the hundreds of others that people have spent their lives devoted to. The question of 'how is it that you happen to be raised in a family which has found the one true faith?' typically falls on the deaf ears of true believers.

__________________________________________________________________________________________

Freethought and Skepticism

(back)

What is "Freethought?"

 

What is Skepticism?

 

What about 'keeping an open mind?'

 

What does it mean to be a Skeptic?

 

Are there Skeptics that still believe in God?

 

__________________________________________________________________________________________

Science, Scientism and the Scientific Method

(back)

What is Science?

 

Is Scientism a Belief system?

 

What is the Scientific Method?

 

What about those who say that Science is not the proper tool to evaluate the supernatural?

 

__________________________________________________________________________________________

Superstition

(back)

If there is no God, then why did so many different cultures across the world develop a supernatural belief system?

 

What is the harm in fairy tales?

 

Should children be told about Santa Claus and The Easter Bunny?

 

__________________________________________________________________________________________

Pseudoscience

(back)

What is Pseudoscience?

 

What are some examples of Pseudoscience?

 

How do you tell the difference between Science and Pseudoscience?

 

__________________________________________________________________________________________

Critical Thinking and Logic

(back)

What is Critical Thinking?

 

What is Logic?

 

What are some examples of Logical Fallacies?

 

__________________________________________________________________________________________

Conspiracy Theories

(back)

What is a Conspiracy Theory?

 

Do Conspiracy Theories exist?

 

What are some examples of ACTUAL Conspiracy Theories?

 

What about...

The 9/11 Conspiracy?

The Moon Landing Hoax?

Florinated Water?

The Kennedy Assassination?

 

__________________________________________________________________________________________

Paranormal and Parapsychology

(back)

Do UFOs and Aliens exist?

 

What is Parapsychology?

 

How does (name you favorite psychic) talk to the dead?

 

__________________________________________________________________________________________

What now?

(back)

Does it sadden you to live in a world devoid of magic?

 

 

 

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