After Atheism

by Luke Muehlhauser on December 16, 2011 in General Atheism

Congratulations. You figured out the universe runs on physics, not magic.

Given your background and normal human psychology, that may be an impressive feat. It took me more than 20 years.

Please enjoy resisting, debunking and openly mocking religion.

But don’t stop there.

Now you’re living in the real world, and there are real problems here. In the real world, there is no rule that says the good guys win in the end. We live in a world beyond the reach of God, things can go very wrong, and we need your help.

“Critical thinking” is just the start. The rabbit hole of better thinking goes deeper. There are mathematical laws of thought, a mainstream cognitive science of how we depart from them, and experiments showing us how to do better.

Aiding the slow death of religion and superstition is also just a start. We face more pressing concerns, like the fact that every few decades we invent a new technology that can destroy our entire species.

After atheism comes adulthood, with all its challenges and its opportunities. Want to be a hero? Good. We need heroes. Here’s what you do.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

MarkD December 16, 2011 at 4:33 pm

Goodbye, Christopher H. Thanks for your courage and occasional bombast–it always goes better with an English accent and a tumbler of scotch.


Saved December 17, 2011 at 2:37 am

lol…”the universe”. A cheap replacement of “Truth”.
After Atheism? starting with Nietzsche and ending with Rorty.


Mike Gantt December 17, 2011 at 7:51 am


When you left your evangelical church, you took with you all your evangelistic fervor and passion to save the world. You never really lost faith in Christ; you simply lost faith in the Christians you respected and transferred it to the atheists you now respect. That’s why your life looks so similar to what it was. Even down to the appeal for donations.

Faith in people is never well placed. Rather, faith in Christ is what truly sustains. You have thrown out the baby and kept the dirty bathwater.

What truly matters? Loving God and loving our neighbors. I would never urge you to return to the evangelical church. Just love the folks you’re with now. And recognize in the privacy of your own heart that Christ rules the world by the purest morality we can imagine. Live life for His approval and no one else’s, and you will do well. That is, you will do even better than you are doing now.


Mark December 17, 2011 at 9:45 am

Can’t we compromise? Luke can work on programming Divine Command Theory into AIs and you can accept the Singularity into your heart.


Frank December 17, 2011 at 9:51 am

Re: Mike – Haha, that’s a good one.


Luke Muehlhauser December 17, 2011 at 10:33 am


There is a chapter in the new Robot Ethics volume on computable divine command ethics. :)


Polymeron December 18, 2011 at 9:41 pm

Well that post seems like it was a long time coming.

Some people are going to be just fine living out their lives, though. And even if they do decide to pursue rationality further, I don’t know that they have a moral obligation to actively mitigate existential risks they are not personally contributing to.


Heuristics December 26, 2011 at 6:48 am

“You figured out the universe runs on physics”

This is like a fan of a mapmaker saying:
“You figured out the terrain is built up of maps”

Don’t confuse the description of the terrain with the terrain itself.


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