Why is atheism better than theism? Our readers submit their thoughts.

We asked our readers to answer that question. These were our favorite responses. The top three (as chosen by us) received a free copy of Penn Jillette’s new book, “God, No!: Signs You May Already Be an Atheist and Other Magical Tales”

I was born and raised to think for myself. I’ve never been a member of a church and can’t think of a single moment in my life where I honestly questioned if there could be even the most minuscule evidence of a ‘God.’ So in my situation your topic of ‘why you prefer atheism over theism’ suggests that I should try theism in order to make a judgement of which I prefer and why I would in fact prefer atheism over theism… Which theistic religion should I try first? I bet Scientologists have really good food at their events. - Phil Bennett, 27, Iowa

I was raised as Catholic up until I was 10 years old and my mother wanted me to do my First Communion. I told my mother I didn’t want to participate because I didn’t believe in God. At that age I already knew that what I was being taught to believe was not real and I wanted nothing to do with it. I don’t challenge others beliefs and I hold no grudge against them even though I’ve been constantly challenged on my beliefs, or lack thereof. I have been forced to go to church with friends who thought they were saving me, I’ve been told I would go to hell, and I’ve been through an exorcism to get rid of the demons that were holding me back from believing in God. This craziness and hypocrisy is something I could never be a part of. I’m proud to be an atheist.  - Andrea Landivar 24, Florida 

I once asked myself: what has substantially improved the human condition in the last, say, 2000 years? Which technical inventions and medical advancements have really helped to ease suffering, heal diseases, give shelter, prevent wars, and create enough spare time to enjoy life. Then I made two lists: one containing all the achievements that we owe to a holy book, prayer, a revelation or other godly intervention; and one containing all the achievements that we owe to the godless, rational activities of scientists. - Arno Matthias, 52, Germany 


I do not find it funny
that the God of testaments—
whose life is made more sunny
with your burnt and offered sacraments—
should tell me that my wife must die, my little sister too,
all because I sat with them as their menses did brew.

The warlords of far-off Afric’
who mutilate/rape virgin girls
have rent my heart and made me sick
as USAID throws down its pearls—
not condoms, but—monogamy and abstinence,
or God, his wroth upon their heads, will bring his recompense.

As Europe teemed with Hitler’s crews,
the Pope shone forth his Holy power
not for protection of the Jews,
but Fascism’s finest hour.
The Catholic God failed all mankind;
a useless god, he’s utterly blind.

I will instead search for the gnostic—
eschewing thoughts of gods quite caustic—
And in my search for thought’s liberty
will allow reason to set me free.

-Chory Ferguson Oregon


I am an atheist because (other than the logical problems believing in a higher power causes) everyday I personally beat God up.  Ok, actually I’m an EMT and a Mental Health Worker, and I see everyday that saving people doesn’t come from mysterious works of God, Allah, or Thor, but from hard work of dedicated individuals like myself.  It is people who put their health and safety on the line to fight the ravages of fires, criminals, and disease that make a real difference in the here and now.  People who get surprisingly little in the way of money, and even less in gratitude.  With people working hard toward the betterment of their fellow man, who needs God? -Thomas Clark, 24, Kentucky


As a child, Sunday mornings meant one thing:  Ren & Stimpy were on.  While the rest of my friends gathered their family in mass at their holy house of choice, I gathered my various stuffed animals and basked in the blue glow of my bedroom television, laughing at fart jokes and crude animation.  Such was the life of a young atheist, and such is the life of that same atheist nearly twenty years later.  My priorities may have been altered some (though trust me, not by much) but deep down is the same person that relishes his opportunity to be surrounded with a comfortable plushy mate (now a girlfriend) in front of immature, crudely represented entertainment (football).  Truly, Sunday mornings mean never having to say “I’m sorry (for I have sinned)”. -Kyle Eslinger, 26, Illinois


Atheism doesn’t obligate me to fund (monetarily and personally ideologically) institutions that inherently perpetuate the oppression of human beings: anti-homosexuality and the like, human slavery/abuse, pro-life (which only results in the increasing overpopulation of our planet), absurdly evident hypocrisy and perversion, etc
As a literature major in college, I appreciate the artistic qualities of the bible and other religious texts, but I analyze them solely as fictional stories. So you cannot believe in the magic of Harry Potter and Twilight (two modern and /bad/ examples of /non-merited/ literature that I feel everyone knows of), but you believe in the existence of a talking bush, immaculate conception, and the resurrection of a dead person? That is rather ridiculous, and worthy of questioning the sanity of the 83% of American theists. -Shelby Nathanson, 19, Florida


After spending a couple years researching my religion, and four months of that attending a Roman Catholic Church (I was raised in a small variety of Protestant denominations, including Pentecostalism, and the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints AKA the Community of Christ, currently) I became very hung up on the concept of hell.  My parents were never very fire-and-brimstone, although my father did spend a few years with Promise Keepers, and learned a lot of fundamentalism from them.  It was difficult, because it included a lot of traditional nuclear family mumbo-jumbo.  Eventually, what happened with me, is like Hitchens says: you don’t become an atheist, you simply realize you always were one.  This is me.  One day, I woke up, and (literally) the first words in my head were “I don’t believe in God”.  From there, over the next week or so, it really hit me that this means no one has ever or will ever go to hell.  That is, if my lack of belief is indicative of any truth. -Adam Carson, Edmonton, Canada


It’s not that I so much find atheism better than theism, but that I find greater peace being a full skeptic over being a theist. Theism teaches us that we should accept the unsubstantiated at some level – even those who say evolution is god-driven still rely on, ultimately, faith to explain the reasons our universe is the way it is – at some point, they stop asking why, shrug their shoulders, and say, “God dunnit.” Being an atheistic skeptic, I feel free to fully explore my curiosity and keep myself open to new explanations and ideas of how our universe is and came to be – I no longer find myself satisfied that creatures evolved the way simply because “it was all part of God’s plan”. I find atheism, when practiced with skepticism, to be far more intellectually rewarding than theism ever afforded me. -Josh Hyde, 27, Missouri


If you’d told me even 10 years ago that I’d become an atheist, I’d have told you the devil was sitting on your shoulder. But today, I finally know what it’s like to not live in fear of a devil sitting on MY shoulder. Today I finally know it’s better to search for what’s true instead of hiding behind what’s easy.  Today I finally know it’s okay to not have all the answers instead of making up something that feels good.  Today I finally understand this is my life, I’m responsible for it, it’s the only one I’ll ever have so I’d better try harder to do it right. And today I realize that, although it took me almost 55 years, I FINALLY let go of my imaginary friend! Yay me!!! -Sandra Frank, 57, Florida


Psalms 14:1 “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.” I don’t need to believe in something that enforces prejudice against differing ideas and harbors unjust hatred of others. Religion relies on instructing its followers to only think according to how the Bible wants you to think, without actually searching new ideas or exploring the world for knowledge. People learn through differing perspectives and gain knowledge through examination of other viewpoints; not through blindly accepting one word as truth. To simply follow one view without learning others fosters ignorance and distrust. Fools hate others without reason; Fools justify prejudice through faith; Fools blindly follow, but never truly learn. So go ahead and call me a fool, and tell me I know nothing. It only gives me the chance to prove you wrong. -John Andalora, 18 New York

Why do I prefer atheism? Prefer is such a… lukewarm and inappropriate verb for how theism and atheism should be compared. I cannot prefer atheism to theism just as I cannot prefer cognitive neuroscience to phrenology. They simply belong to two separate spheres of study. One is a rather dry and unavoidable conclusion or set of conclusions given in the wake of scientific evidence; the other is an extremely interesting, historically significant psychological phenomenon that has, is, and forever will be embed in the human psyche as a telltale reminder that evolution created, first and foremost, a masterpiece of survival, not rational perfection.  -David Dashoff, 20, California

Why do I prefer Atheism over Theism? Well, scientific fact and the overwhelming desire not to oppress my daughter and spouse with religious dogmatic principles. Here are a few questions I like to ask if I’m confronted by a theist, and I believe this sums up why initially I became atheist.

Q: Do you love your children?
A: Of course, what kind of question is that?

Q: No matter what?
A: No matter.

Q: Would you burn them alive for all of eternity? Condemn them to an afterlife of unrelenting torture?
A: -Silence-

Q: Why do you put your faith in a God that will?
A: Faith.

I would never hurt my children or disown them regardless of their actions, be disappointed yes, but never do harm. My love knows NO bounds, unfortunately religion teaches that Love is Fear. -Richard Lanier, 32, Texas

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  • Kevin Armes

    There is an argument I haven’t heard from fellow atheists and it is that of the horror of the food chain. If the Earth was created by an infallible, omnipotent and loving god, could he really not have thought of a better way of providing the nutritional needs of his creatures, than having them suffer the terror of being chased, hunted, ripped apart and eaten alive in searing agony, by the animal next up the chain?

    • Adam

      Posted on our facebook page… thanks, Kevin.

  • Cog

    Why atheism is better? In the end, it’s the same. Behind faith and science there is people and people suck. I’m agnostic and no one here really cares. I live in a third world country full of corruption and crime, 99% of people here is religious. Now, please explain me how thing could be better if everyone here becomes an atheist.

    You can argue all you want about who is right and maybe you are but I don’t think the world will become a better place no matter who wins.