Why do so many atheists think that other atheists "ought" to be a humanist, or at least care about animal rights, environmental protection, left-wing politics, and so on? Isn't this both a psychological cognitive dissonance and a philosophical naturalistic fallacy? I think even David Hume would consider a religious person be more inclined to support those causes since they have sacred and textual norms to follow whereas the atheist has none.

I am far from convinced that a particularly large number of atheists think that other atheists "ought" to be a humanist, or at least care about animal rights, environmental protection, left-wing politics, and so on. Do you have any evidence for this idea? I am also puzzled by the suggestion of a naturalistic fallacy. You seem to be attributing to this possibly imaginary large number of atheists some kind of argument that they are supposed to put forward. But you do not say what it is. There are many religions and many religious people and many different sacred and textual norms saying or implying completely different things about animal rights etc., many inconsistent with others. And these are followed in many different ways by different people. Atheists do not tend to follow sacred texts. But there are large numbers of texts about about animal rights, environmental protection, left-wing politics, and so on that have nothing whatever to do with religion.

As an atheist, I am often asked the question, "What is the meaning of life for an atheist?" I am myself sometime confused whether as an atheist do have a purpose in life or I am just living and waiting for an end to my life? Mirza A.

I think the meaning of life is to give life meaning. I find helpful the idea of being in the now .. the past is all gone, forever, period, it no longer matters. The future is not yet. Be here now! Here are some quotes I find helpful: “Human life is founded on kindness and concord, and is bound into an alliance for common help, not by terror, but by mutual love.” Seneca “Courtesy, kindness, justice and love are the keynotes by which we may come into harmony with practically anybody.” Bill Wilson “The first rule is to keep an untroubled spirit. The second is to look things in the face and know them for what they are.” “You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” “When you arise in the morning think of what a privilege it is to be alive, to think, to enjoy, to love ...” “Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.” Marcus Aurelius "You, yourself, as much as anybody in the...

This question is partly inspired by Question 2170. There are obviously a great many specific arguments against theistic belief, but in general, most (as far as I can tell) boil down to the claim that there is not enough, or perhaps any at all, rational evidence for the existence of God, and since a rational person should only admit to those things for which he has an adequate amount of rational evidence, a rational person should not believe in God. Specifically, the claim seems to be that we should only "believe" in something if we first have rationally convincing evidence for it to be true. But, even if I acknowledge that there is little to no rational evidence for God's existence, does it necessarily follow that to believe in a deity is irrational? Put another way, is it possible to have a logically consistent theistic belief system against which the only argument is that there is not enough evidence to prove it to be true? Does the simple act of believing in something for which you don't have...

I think that the best argument against the existence of God is the standard one: if he as great as the leading religions make out, he would not have created a world like this one. Of course it is not a demonstrative argument. But I haven't come across a plausible response to it. But accepting your premise, I'd say: in order rationally to believe in something you need some evidence or argument for it. After all, it's easy to come up with endlessly many ludicrous hypotheses that are consistent with the evidence available to us: e.g. the world is densely populated by very small, very clever, very fast little green men who take care to remain undetected. Why believe in God and not believe in them? You need a reason.

What's your take on the idea that there are "laws" of the universe? Calling something a law implies that there is an enforcer. Isn't this just another anthropocentric paradigm that uses the concept of God in order to place human beings at the center of meaning? I'm agnostic, but even if there is a God hasn't all the revision and tweaking of these so called laws over the ages been evidence that they should be considered as, at best, merely "suggestions"?

Are you talking of scientific laws? If so .... Calling something a scientific law doesn't imply that there is an enforcer. It just requires that there be some kind of regularity - constancy - in the universe. Philosophers dispute what kind of regularity. But they don't typically go for a regularity enforced by God. Nor do philosophers or scientists typically want to place humans at the center of meaning. I'd call the claims of scientists 'hypotheses' rather than 'suggestions' and add that they are hypotheses backed by arguments. The extent to which the arguments are convicing varies from case to case.

If I am an atheist, should I try (while remaining civil) to convince religious people that they are wrong?

Quite so. I think it depends in part on who the religious person is. If there is almost no chance that you will change their views then there is no reason why you should spend your time and energy on the matter. And I expect this applies to a lot of people. If there is a decent chance that you will change their views, then a good question is: would it benefit them? I expect that the answer will often be 'yes'. If I had once been religious and someone had convinced me that I was wrong, I'd be grateful. Lots of us want to know the truth.