This post is in response to AE 536. In particular Tracy's comment about wondering what other beliefs she might have that she doesn't (yet) realize are unfounded.
When I deconverted from Catholicism, I felt a similar need to examine many of my beliefs in a more critical light. Over the same course of 5 years that I shed my belief in God (bit by bit - I held on to aspects of theism until finally succumbing to complete atheism), I also stopped believing in (among other things): ghosts, ESP, herbal medicine, and most significantly the legitimacy of government.
After becoming an anarchist (in the peaceful, non-bomb-throwing sense of the term), many of the arguments for government (eg. public school, welfare, universal health care, etc.) strike me very much the same as the apologetics for religion. When analyzed critically, the government is just an organization that society allows to kill and steal, or more generally, to aggress against the people they purport to protect.
It is not too surprising that there are even fewer anarchists than there are atheists, since there is more indoctrination in favor of the government than there is in favor of religion. A child might go to church every week, but they (typically) go to government school 5 days a week. And while it is common to meet other children with different religious views, everyone is ruled by the same government.
Anyway, I'm not looking to have a big debate about government vs. anarchy here. There are plenty of other places on the web to do that. Rather, I just want to extend the invitation to atheists who are ready for a significant examination of your remaining beliefs to look into your belief that government is good and necessary.
Rothbard, "The Ethics of Liberty"
Thoreau, "Civil Disobedience"
Tannehill, "The Market for Liberty"
Spooner, "No Treason"
All of these are available free on the web (easy to find via Google or Wikipedia). Both text and audio versions for all of them exist, so you don't even have to buy anything to accept my challenge. Just have an open mind and some time to read or listen.
Actually, my utopia would be small agrarian groups of independent communities that govern themselves--much like indiginous populations currently in places like Guatemala. I have also told my husband twice this week I'd love to see the U.S. population show up at the nation's capitol with pitchforks and torches in hand to "get them up against the wall." I no longer believe our government represents the population, and I guess I'd fall into "anarchist" in many ways. The only reason I can think of to not support dissolution of government is that other societies exist on the globe who _have_ governments. And I'm not sure how effectively we could disolve our own without leaving ourselves completely vulnerable to external forces that might want what we've got. If there is a plan for keeping up national security while eliminating the bureaucrats, I'd be open-minded enough to hear it and consider it.
(Sorry for misspelling your name in my previous message.)
I'm glad to hear you've managed to throw off most of your government indoctrination. :) National defense is of course a sticking point for many people. I think the Tannehills have the best articulation of how this would work without the need for monopolistic government. So I would recommend reading the Market for Liberty when you get a chance.
But the short version is that insurance companies have an interest in preventing invasions and the subsequent destruction of their insurees' property. So without a government to rely on, they would likely respond to any threat of invasion with appropriate diplomacy and, if necessary, defensive force. They are incentivized not to attack preemptively, since it is very costly and invites retaliation, both of which would certainly lose them customers. Furthermore, they are incentivized to cooperate with each other to deter the invasion, since they all have the same interest in maintaining peace. Peace is better for business, after all. But again, the Market for Liberty is much more articulate and complete in addressing this issue. It is available free at: http://www.mises.org/books/marketforliberty.pdf
Hope this helps you complete the last step on the road of radical non-aggression. :)