“They don’t WANT to believe.” And?

We’ve often heard theists say things like, “Atheists don’t believe because they don’t want to believe,” or “They just want to feel free so they can indulge their animalistic desires.”

One method of reply is calmly to list off all the evidence against the existence of an invisible being who appeared on a mountain in the desert and gave commandments to a group of freed slaves, listens when we ask Him for things, and cares what we do in our bedrooms.  Another is to go right for the intellectual 2 by 4, like so:

But still another approach I thought of is actually to agree with these believers in a way.  Here’s how:

“Do you think it’s OK to find ways to lower your taxes legally?”

(“Sure.  Why?”)

“That’s just because you don’t want to pay taxes!”

(“Well, I mean, we all have to pay taxes, or else we would have no police, no army, no government services.  But why pay more than I’m really required to?”)

“Exactly!  If I’m really required by the “government on high” not to use toothpaste or take a shower on the Sabbath and the holidays, or to pray at least 3 times a day, or to find kosher food when I’m traveling to New Zealand, then fine.  But if I’m not really required to – if there’s no one up there who has commanded me to do these things, why would I pay more taxes than I’m required to?”

There’s no shame in not wanting to pay taxes that aren’t required.

More to the point, there’s no shame in wanting to have a choice in how to live one’s life, if that choice is there to be had.


2 thoughts on ““They don’t WANT to believe.” And?

  1. sarabressler

    I remember fasting once for Yom Kippur, being the caffeine addict that I am (drinking about 5 cups of coffee at a minimum), I had a pounding headache on top of hunger, and was feeling rather crabby and miserable, with my lack of makeup. Then the thought hit, that all over the world, people were doing better things than I was. People were volunteering with hospices, people were climbing into burning buildings to save a stranger. If there is something at the end of the universe, something all knowing, and beyond our pettiness, wouldn’t he think higher of someone doing one of those things rather than refraining from makeup and coffee? Made it all seem rather pointless really…

    1. Freethinking Jew Post author

      Good for you, Sara! As my 9th grade rebbi taught us, “The live fish go against the current.”
      So did you go volunteer at a hospice or climb into a burning building to save a stranger? (You don’t have to answer that. 🙂 )
      I’m still concerned about the 5+ cups of coffee though.
      Thanks for reading and commenting!


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