1. Atheism lacks a moral foundation.

Atheism is silent when it comes to offering a basis for moral values and principles, leaving individuals to create their own personal standards of behavior, which can be dangerous and lead to chaos.

2. Atheism does not provide an answer for the origin of life or the universe.

Atheism cannot explain how something came from nothing or how life arose from non-living matter. They ultimately have to deny the universal axiom ex nihilo nihil fit, “out of nothing, nothing comes.” Once this is denied, all rational thought and intellectual prowess are rejected in favor of some type of magic!

3. Atheism does not provide an explanation for complexity.

The universe, which has many fine-tuned laws that make life possible, has no ultimate supernatural cause.  Because of this, atheism cannot explain why there are so many intricate physical laws and processes that must be in place for the universe to exist and function as it does. In this sense, there is an absurd situation where the effect is greater than the cause. In truth, this is the one time the effect has no cause! But it is greater to exist than not exist, is it not? The effect exists for the atheist but the cause does not? Magic?

4. Atheism fails to provide an answer for ultimate meaning.

They cannot defend any transcendent purpose in life. This leaves it up to individuals to decide what matters most in life on their own terms, inevitably leading to confusion and spiritual emptiness. But a central aspect of our visceral instincts drive is toward meaning. This evidences some sort of preprogramming by an Entity that also exists meaningfully.

5. At its core, atheism is based on faith

Atheism is a belief that there is no God/Cause or that the Cause, whatever it is, is not supernatural, personal, and willful. It is just like other belief systems that require a leap of faith in order to accept their claims as true without evidence or proof to back them up. In other words, there is no positive evidence for atheism, just the persistent denial of the mass amount of evidence for theism.

6. Atheism fails to provide any real hope.

In atheism, there is no optimism for the long-term future because it denies the possibility of an afterlife or future divine judgment. Thus, atheism is a philosophic reservoir of despair rather than one of hopeful expectation.

7. Atheism has a history of barbarity.

Atheism has been used as justification by some individuals throughout history for committing heinous acts. They engage in these acts because they felt they could do so with impunity. Of course! Why not? If there is no higher power watching or judging their actions or holding them accountable for their choices in this life or beyond it, it makes perfect sense. Thankfully, this is not a necessary component of atheism and most do not live according to their beliefs, but it is founded of their amoral philosophic starting point.

8. Atheism fails to offer any real answers about suffering and evil in the world

While this is purely a pragmatic argument, it is true. Atheism lacks any hopeful rationale for answers when it comes to questions about suffering and evil in the world. Thus, individuals often become overwhelmed by these issues rather than finding comfort or solace in the teleology (purpose) of evil.

9. The belief that science alone provides the answers is paradoxical at best.

Atheists have the impossible task of accepting that science alone can explain all aspects of reality; thus, they must inevitably look toward philosophy and/or religion. The presuppositions acquired here are used to make sense of things like consciousness, the needed tutelage of rationalism, and free will. In short, their necessary insistence that science alone can explain everything is not based on science. Maybe that should have been the heading? Nevertheless, their very beliefs (or non-beliefs) are self-referentially absurd.

10. Finally, atheists must live in a state of cognitive dissonance

Atheism is functionally limited by its own epistemology (way to come to knowledge). Their knowledge base is founded solely upon human reason (a philosophical notion) and experience (based upon a non-scientific assumption) as sources of knowledge. Thus, atheists find themselves stuck in a cycle of doubt and unrecognized cognitive dissonance (believing one thing, but habitually living differently). This produces an implicit discomfort because, ultimately, their behavior does not align with their values or beliefs. They are unable to come up with definitive answers about what is ultimately true due to the self-referentially absurd limitations imposed by their own worldviews! We can be thankful that most do not live according to their worldview


11. Atheists do not recognize or celebrate experiencing a sense of wonder about the world and its mysteries.

This is subjective, but also exposes the immense hubris of the atheistic worldview. They are closed-minded and driven by their bias. Of course, we all are to some degree. But atheism is not able to call a duck a duck. If there is a miracle, they are not open to defining it as such. Due to this closed mindedness, they awkwardly begin to explain things in ways that are the least likely.  The hoofbeats are always horses and cannot, ever, be Zebras. Man, did that make any sense at all?

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    17 replies to "10 Absurdities of Atheism"

    • […] About Everything Else: 10 Absurdities of Atheism: It’s not what they believe, but rather what they don’t believe that is a bit scary. […]

    • Josh

      A very useful list, thank you. Is cognitive dissidence the same or different as cognitive dissonance?

      • C Michael Patton

        Ha! Thank you! Has anyone ever told you you have the gift of correction in a very kind way!

    • Jason Johnston

      Great article. FYI – It’s Cognitive “dissonance”

    • Steve Rush Garrett

      What, only ten!? 😅

    • […] “Ten Absurdities of Atheism” by C. Michael Patton (CredoHouse). Love to promote this OK-based ministry and their curriculum.  […]

    • […] 10 Absurdities of Atheism – Credo House Ministries — Read on credohouse.org/blog/10-absurdities-of-atheism […]

    • James

      Minus maybe two or three points which are more convincing, this list does not engage the topics in any great detail and makes claims that can be contended strongly. And I’m not even an atheist.

      • C Michael Patton

        Thanks James. We would have to have more details to respond. I would love to consider what you say. Otherwise, we would just dispute your claim, since there is no base to it. But I understand you may be just sharing your opinion without the time to engage. I do that too.

        God bless, brother.


    • JCBradley

      The author says “Atheism lacks a moral foundation”. Since atheism is simply, mostly, at its best, the claim “no evidence shows that any gods exist”, it doesn’t matter whether Atheism has a moral foundation or not. Further, it’s unclear what it is to “offer a basis for moral values”. At its most straightforward though, an atheist would be right to say, in some cases, “the reason (basis) for X having the moral value of X (revenge, anger, kindness, etc.) is that it was treated this way as a kid…”. So, it is likely that some atheists can (and do) offer a basis for some moral values. Regardless, even if they didn’t, that lack would not thereby prove theism nor disprove atheism.
      Likewise, the author claims “Atheism does not provide an answer for the origin of life or the universe.” That’s true! And again, it is irrelevant. That atheism (the claim/fact that there are no known gods) is affected or change if no atheists no what caused the universe to exist. That is, there is nothing absurd or false about the claim “atheism is true” even while there are different questions which are not currently answered by various groups. To imply that “if atheists don’t have such answers, theists do” is an instance of the God of the Gaps fallacy.
      The author continues the nonsense, saying “Atheism cannot explain how something came from nothing or how life arose from non-living matter.” First, atheists don’t have to say that something came from nothing, nor is that likely. Additionally, as mentioned before, if atheists can’t (currently) explain something like how life arise from non-living matter, it doesn’t at all follow that atheism is thus false, nor that theism is true.
      The author says, “They ultimately have to deny the universal axiom ex nihilo nihil fit, “out of nothing, nothing comes.” That’s false. What is true, is that the wise atheist would agree that from nothing, nothing results, etc. But it doesn’t follow at all from that that atheism is false nor that theism is true. If there is something (as a cause, or effect/consequence), it doesn’t follow that god exists.
      Point 3 is the same: it implies that if atheism fails to “provide an explanation” for something, it’s thereby false and that theism is thereby true, which is false. Of course, many atheist scientists have provide some explanations for some “complexity”. But it is true, but irrelevant to the truth of atheism, that many (or all) scientists have failed to provide some explanations for other sorts of “complexity”.
      The author asserts that the universe has “many fine-tuned laws”, but nothing shows that to be true. That is, nothing shows that the “laws” (regular patterns of how the world operates) have been created and/or chosen intentionally by some supernatural (or natural) person. That is, nothing shows that gravity is “fine-tuned” (in the sense above).
      The author is right: the effect (the universe) does exist, and it probably has a cause. The author is wrong to then imply that this disproves atheism/proves theism. That something probably caused the universe doesn’t show what that cause is, nor that the cause is probably God/a god.
      The author then says “Atheism fails to provide an answer for ultimate meaning”. Apparently, this is defined as “any transcendent purpose”. Of course, “transcendent” needs to be defined, but there is a conflict between “any” such purpose, and “ultimate” meaning. The former implies that there could be many “transcendent purposes”, but the latter (“ultimate”) implies that there is only one. Regardless, 1. The atheist doesn’t need to provide “an answer for ultimate meaning” in order to be true. Additionally, there is no evidence of any known “ultimate meaning” or “transcendent purpose”.
      But the author is right: generally, it is up to individuals to decide what matters most to them, to decide what they want to do with their lives, etc. The author is right: for some, this is confusing, frustrating, stressful, etc. And the author is right: for many, they desire that their lives matter to someone in some way. But none of that shows that theism is true, nor that atheism is false. The author wrongly claims/implies that b/c people desire to do various things (“find meaning”), that shows that God probably exists. Nothing here shows that to be true.
      The author then says: “At its core, atheism is based on faith”. Presumably, the author is knocking faith, since it is here described as believing something without evidence. The author is right: doing that is prima facie irrational and foolish for truth seekers. But the author is wrong to say that the evidence shows that god exists. Atheism is (often) just the denial that we have evidence that shows that God probably exists. That is, the evidence does show that unicorns probably don’t exist (as far as we know), and the same can be said for gods. So there is actual (“positive”) evidence for atheism, and no evidence showing theism (the claim that there exists a supernatural person) to be probable.
      The author then says “Atheism fails to provide any real hope.” That’s false in several ways. Many atheists do hopeful things like offer useful, inspiring advice on how to raise children, heal the sick, reduce stress, etc. So, atheists often provide “real” hope. But the author is right: most atheists who rightly see that there is no known long-term (“eternal”) future (since in a trillion years everything will be dead, according to science) are painting a less-than ideal state, even though it is an accurate one.
      The author says that atheists “deny the possibility of an afterlife”. That’s often false. Atheists could believe in an afterlife (like those who believe in reincarnation) without believing in God/gods. Additionally, atheists often don’t deny that an afterlife is Possible. They just claim that it is improbable, given the evidence, which it is. So while the author is right that the theistic view is more optimistic about living a longer (eternal) life, the atheistic view is still more accurate and true, as people do not live eternally, according to the evidence.
      The author then says “Atheism has a history of barbarity”. It’s true that barbarous actions have been done by atheists, but 1. So too have theists, but more importantly 2. Nothing about that disproves atheism nor proves theism.
      The author is right though: for some, believing (falsely) that there is a god who will punish mean actions probably has inclined some to not do such mean actions, and believing (truly) that there is no god who will punish mean actions has probably inclined some to feel free to do mean actions.
      But the atheist is still right: no evidence shows that here really is a “higher power (supernatural person)…holding people accountable for their choices”.
      The author then says, “Atheism fails to offer any real answers about suffering and evil in the world”. That’s largely false. Atheists often offer answers about suffering and evil. There are many atheist doctors who can explain the cause of various ailments (“suffering”). Regardless, there are answers about suffering, and they don’t thereby prove theism or disprove atheism.

      The author then repeats his point about hope from before, which is that for many theists, their worldview is more hopeful, since it often describes a world of eternal life and eternal happiness (for some). It also often describes a less hopeful world, a world of eternal suffering in Hell! Regardless of which view is more hopeful, nothing about that falsifies atheism or prove theism.
      The author then says, “The belief that science alone provides the answers is paradoxical at best.” But science does generally provide the answers to what is real and true.
      The author says “Atheists have the impossible task of accepting that science alone can explain all aspects of reality.” That’s false. Even if science “alone” couldn’t or didn’t explain all aspects of reality, it doesn’t follow that atheism is false, nor that theism is true.
      The author then says “Finally, atheists must live in a state of cognitive dissonance.” This is also false (so many falsehoods asserted in this article!). While some atheists probably do live in a state of cognitive dissonance (regarding other matters), it doesn’t follow that they all do, or that they “must”.
      The author is right: some atheists have doubts about some things, but not others, just like theists! Likewise, some theists believe one thing, but live differently. Nothing about any of that disproves atheism or proves theism.
      Even if an atheist said “there is no god”, but then prayed to god (“their behavior not aligning with their values”), nothing about that would disprove atheism.
      Finally, the author says “Atheists do not recognize or celebrate experiencing a sense of wonder about the world and its mysteries.” This is often false. Many atheists “celebrate experiencing a sense of wonder about the world and its mysteries.” Regardless, even if none did, it wouldn’t falsify atheism.
      The author then says that the above (?) “exposes the immense hubris of the atheistic worldview. They are closed-minded and driven by their bias.” Of course, probably, some atheists probably are closed-minded, but so too are some theists. So nothing is learned here. That is, nothing about any of that helps prove theism or disprove atheism.
      The author then says “atheism is not able to call a duck a duck.” That’s false.
      The author says “if there is a miracle (undefined here), they are not open to defining it as such.” Nothing here helps prove theism.

      • C Michael Patton

        There. I found it! Hopefully, someday I’ll have time to read it!

      • Willie

        What ever rules our understanding is your God . It’s what rules everything . You can’t deny what doesn’t exist but if claiming you can then your God is the God of nothing so then even atheist have created there own God. The God of stupid does exist you know ! .

      • Exo

        Fun fact : anywhere in the whole article the author doesn’t say that these are argument for theism or are thing that prove that atheism is false these are mearly some absurdities of atheism so from the beginning to the end your whole reply is based on a strawman.

    • JCBradley

      Is that a definition of the word “God”? If so, then we are simply talking about different things. If not, then what shows that God (a perfect supernatural being) exists and rules (? That needs explaining) our understanding? Prima facie, nothing shows that. Likewise, nothing show that “a perfect being” “rules everything”. Likewise, nothing shows that “a perfect being” “rules my understanding”. Additionally, nothing shows that whatever rules our understanding (if anything does) is also that which rules everything. That is, you have a lot of assertions here that are prima facie false. You have a lot of work to do to show they are true.
      Right: unicorns and gods don’t exist (as far as we know). Some do deny that (and so thus possibly I “could” deny this), but right, I don’t deny those truths (that those things don’t exist).
      Atheists don’t (typically) create supernatural beings, perfect beings, etc. So, in the sense talked about originally, atheists do no “create their own God”.
      But you are right: some people are less intelligent than other people. But no supernatural being “of stupid” is known to exist.
      If you can, try to go back and read what I originally said, and address those points.

    • Andrew

      What a load of rubbish.
      1. Every species that thrives in a social group has developed patterns of behavior that reward actions that improve the social cohesion and survivability of that group and patterns of behavior that punish actions that reduce the social cohesion and survivability of the group. Only (religious) humans believe there must be some ultimate authority beyond this simple paradigm.
      2. Atheism does not claim that “something came from nothing” even Laurence Krauss’ book “A Universe from Nothing” was intentionally named so in order to expose this frequent misrepresentation of the atheist worldview. “Creation ex nihilo” i.e. god created the universe from nothing with magic is strictly a religious worldview. As for abiogenesis, we have discovered roughly 85% of the steps leading from organic compounds to self-replicating amino acids, to RNA, to DNA and any apologist claiming otherwise is lying to you.
      3. there is absolutely nothing to suggest that the natural laws as they exist could have settled into any other configuration than they arrived at. A supernatural entity fine-tuning the natural laws is simply not necessary if there could have been no other stable state for the universe to exist in. Just as the concept of “nothingness” being a purely hypothetical absence of everything that exists, any other hypothetical state of the existing natural laws is just that, speculation on how everything COULD HAVE been different but apparently isn’t. Also, the claim is made here that an effect cannot be greater than its cause, thereby shifting the goalpost back to god being a cause, while simultaneously refusing to acknowledge the fact that, by the same logic, if god is more complex than the universe, god too needs an explanatory cause.
      *this is the second time in which “magic” is inferred to be an explanation relied on by atheists, when supernatural miracles are BY DEFINITION magic. Magic is exclusively relied on in the religious worldview and no attempt at projection makes it true of the atheist worldview.
      4. Meaning is that which is externally imposed. There is no need for purpose beyond the survival and continued improvement of our species. Is it beneficial to us as human beings to survive? Is it beneficial to us as human beings to improve the quality of our lives? Then what else is needed? I was never raised in a religion and I feel absolutely NO spiritual emptiness coming from a lack of a purpose imposed by a supernatural dictator.
      5. Only those with pre-conceived preference for their unfounded religious views actually believe there to be evidence for theism. “It is just like other belief systems that require a leap of faith in order to accept their claims as true without evidence or proof to back them up.” Wow, that’s astoundingly close to an admission that there is no evidence whatsoever for religious belief. Atheism, by definition, is a failure to be convinced by this so-called “evidence” for theism. This lack of belief is subsequently strengthened when every truth claim is debunked by scientific inquiry: Divine creation vs. evolution being a perfect example.
      6. Again with the brainwashing techniques… There is absolutely no evidence that our consciousness persists after death. None whatsoever. The implication is that this life is all we get and should be cherished as a result. Meanwhile, the Abrahamic faiths are all chomping at the bit to bring about the end of the world. One worldview wants life to continue and thrive and the other worldview wishes for the apocalypse and yet you claim claim WE are the ones living without hope? A lack of divine judgement means that it’s on US to take ACTION make a more just world rather than making wishes for a intervention.
      7. Oh please. Let’s ignore the Crusades, witch trials, honor killings, genital mutilation, Biblically-endorsed slavery, the forced marriage of rape victims to their rapists, the execution of apostates, Jihads, and the genocide of the native Americans under “manifest destiny”.
      Let’s also ignore that it has only ever been secular reform, driven by Enlightenment values that has EVER tamed the barbarism of religious practices.
      Let’s go on to ignore that the lest religious societies on Earth right now are also the safest and most peaceful, while the most religious societies on Earth right now are the most violent. I could go on and on.
      Secular Humanism states that whatever improves the flourishing and reduces the suffering of human beings is moral and vice versa. And if you, as human beings, cannot comprehend why this should be beneficial to you and your society, then it’s very clear which group has an amoral philosophic starting point.
      For the record, I don’t believe in a supernatural being judging my every action and I have raped and murdered every person I have wanted to over the course of my life. I’m currently 0 for 0 on both counts. If the only thing preventing you from being a psychopath is the idea of posthumous reward or punishment, then it is you who has an amoral philosophic starting point.
      8. Epicuris debunked this nonsense hundreds of years before Christianity even existed. If god is willing to prevent evil, but not able, he is not omnipotent. If he is able, but not willing, he is malevolent. If he is both able and willing, there should be no evil. And if he is neither able nor willing, then why call him god? The existence of evil and imperfection is what we should expect to see in a universe without a benevolent god, not the other way around.
      9. What a load of circular reasoning dressed up as epistemology. Science makes no claims about the existence of anything beyond reality, and yet reality alone has presented us with enough evidence to debunk every single creation myth, and THAT’S the real sticking point for the religious, make no mistake. Everything beyond that is a feeble attempt to use logical paradoxes and metaphysics to prove that which cannot be demonstrated to exist in reality. Are we limited by our senses? Sure, but was it religion that revealed the existence of wavelengths of light beyond our visible spectrum, or was it rational experimentation and the development of technology to expand our awareness of a truer understanding of reality. Enough said.
      10. ABSOLUTE NONSENSE. Atheists accept what can be demonstrated to be true through the collation of evidence and the resulting practical application and predictive power of that apparent truth. We only doubt our knowledge only insofar as we have trained ourselves to be vigilant for new information that challenges this knowledge. And the only purpose of this doubt the the goal of ever greater understanding. Accusations of cognitive dissonance are such a shameless projection on part of religion and its failure to demonstrate the truth of any of its claims in the face of rational, scientific scrutiny.
      11. Another blatant example of religion baselessly attempting to claim monopoly on some aspect of the human experience. If atheists would label anything as “transcendent” it would be our sense of awe and wonder in the face of the vastness of existence. The previous statement claimed that atheists experience crippling cognitive dissonance, when the reality is that rather than being paralyzed by uncertainty, we thrive on it. Uncertainty emboldens us to seek greater understanding, shed light into the unknown, and revel in the challenge that the new mysteries we uncover present to us. And the more we learn, the more we learn that there is more to learn. Religion, on the other hands attempts to force us to be content in our ignorance and has more often than not stood in the way of our intellectual development.

    • Namen

      the sad part is still some atheist will deny these facts and with come up with excuses. Great list none the less 👌.

    • Ignac


      The reasons for atheism are not in the reasons that are made public, because they are only pretexts. The real motive is that the atheist wants to live without God! Belief in or denial of God cannot be separated from the fact that the atheist’s freedom depends on this choice. “I am content with the choice to be an atheist because I feel more intelligent and free because no one is guiding my choices.” So motivated by a subjective desire for freedom, but with hard moral parameters.


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