Recently, and indeed many times before that, I’ve encountered Christians using this argument that since “everyone” has faith, then there can’t be atheists, and therefore, leap of logic, their god exists. The biggest problem with this argument is that the idea of having faith in something, in the classic “belief in things unseen” sense, still doesn’t mean that atheists have “faith” in gods or, of course, that gods exist. Though it’s not very common in my experience, some may have faith in aliens, fairies, astrology, alchemy, etc. “Faith” isn’t interchangeable, and faith in anything that seems squiffy can always be contested by requests for evidence, for gods, for fairies, for the planets controlling one’s actions, etc. Even for this Aries with Capricorn rising atheist, the facts don’t stand up, no matter how much I might wish they did. 🙂
It seems this insistence of atheist “faith” is part of the desire of theists to pretend that atheists don’t exist. The existence of atheists poses a problem for theism. If we do lack belief in these gods, then these gods are not as advertized. The claims of the “obvious” creator of the universe are severely weakened. To attempt to negate the problem, some theists feel they must claim that we are just like them so we don’t “really” disbelieve in their nonsense (just Google “atheists know god exists” for a great display of this).
To add to the above “biggest problem”, we have the claims that the theist knows that atheists “really” believe, and this does make theists seem to be claiming that they can read minds, which is a nifty trick. Unsurprisingly, atheists supposedly believe in the god that the theist does in the way that the theist does. This is despite repeatedly stating that they, the atheists, do not believe in god/s in any form, no matter a friendly god or a god of fire and destruction.
This of course depends on insisting that the atheist doesn’t know what they *actually* think. We are simply ignorant simpletons who can’t even think “correctly” and who don’t realize that the particular deity/force in question is right in front of them. Or, we are too “rebellious” to acknowledge it. It can’t be that atheists are concerned with evidence; we must be accepting what others tell us to come to the conclusions we have or we supposed ignore evidence though none has yet been found. Of course, the theist cannot show that their god is indeed the one that really exists. Out of the thousands of gods/forces that religions claim, so many theists are sure that the atheist knows, but rejects, theirs. If one goes with the “rebellious” idea, just how rebellious are each of these theists against those other religions?
The reasons that these theists assume they know atheists have to believe in their god, at least Christians and Muslims? Well, their supposed holy books say that “everyone” knows about the god in question by just looking around, that no one has any excuse not to believe in the god. We have the Christians making the claim in Romans 1. Islam makes the same silly and baseless claim, that everyone knows that Allah exists, so no excuses, eh? (before birth, in sura 7, I believe.) There is a problem with assuming these claims are true and aren’t just propaganda. These are books that are full of errors, contradictions, etc. Each theist interprets what they want their god to “really” mean, and ignores what they find as ridiculous. Also, we’ve seen competing claims of existence that no one can support. There is no more reason to accept that the Christian god is the only one than there is to accept Allah or Tezcatlipoca for that matter.
In my opinion, this set of claims is from a herd mentality that insists that everyone belongs to the herd so they may increase their appeals to popularity e.g. look everyone really believes like we do, so we *must* be right! (see logical fallacy: appeal to popularity aka ad populum)
In a similar vein, some theists claim that their god doesn’t believe in atheists. I’ve never been quite sure what they think this means or why they think atheists would care, though it strikes me as simply a childish response from someone with nothing else to say, “well I don’t like you either.” If we go by the supposed holy books of many of these religions, it seems that these gods do know that not all people will believe in them. Since people do exist, and I’m a person who doesn’t believe in the supernatural, this seems to indicate that these gods do believe in atheists.
The only other meanings seem to be from the universalist theist: one type who is sure that their god will make everyone believe, after a finite period of “punishment”, and that all will come to accept this god; and the other that this god doesn’t need belief in it but will accept anyone who is honest decent, etc when they are dead. The basic problem with all of this is that we have no evidence any god exists, so its belief in me is a moot point without that evidence.
Finally, we come to a common claim that atheists must believe in their god/force *because* we say that faith/religion is wrong. In effect, if we actually didn’t believe, we’d not argue against the idea. This makes no sense, and it doesn’t take long to show why. I can argue against an idea of a god that exists, that judges, that punishes and rewards, and no actual gods need exist. This would be similar to theists who argue that other religions are wrong. Do they need to believe in those gods/religions to argue against them? If so, then so much for the religions’ claim that their gods are unique and the sole entity.
We have a series of assumptions, all of which are baseless until any evidence is presented. All seem to be attempts at denying the reality of my, and others, existence. It also seems to miss the point that I could have faith in fairies, and that still would not mean that any gods exist. Faith in any god/s doesn’t make apples fall or uranium decay. One can trust that such things will continue to happen as long as physical laws remain in place. It’s quite a few billion years and they don’t seem likely to change anytime soon (yes, there are some hypotheses that they were different in the very very early universe. That ain’t now.)
If a theist would like to compare faith, e.g. trust in something, we can have a competition. Two altars, both the same. The theist can have faith that their god will light the altar; I’ll take gasoline and a match since the scientific method has given me reason to trust that they will go up with a highly exothermic woosh.
Or even powdered creamer and a flare:
Science tells you about dust explosions: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dust_explosion
4 thoughts on “Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – Having “faith” that atheists don’t really exist”
You cover a lot of things that keep recurring in some of the discussions we have been having, and do so very well.
I like the challenge with the alters and gasoline. Let me know if any theist takes up the challenge, they will get drunk on my account that day if their god, whichever it is, shows up!
Yep, I’ll throw a party if there’s a response 🙂
I have a belief that while I am asleep and there are no recording devices present that my shoes do not fly around the room. You might even call it I have faith in non-flying shoes.
And if you do, so what? You are really really stretching the definition of belief and faith. The belief in non-flying shoes is not the equal to the belief shoes fly around the room while I am asleep. Both may be claims, for sure. However the claim, the claim that violates what we see and can test, is the one that has the burden of proof.
Theist, until I mentioned The flying shoe thing, you had no belief about flying shoes. You were Aflyingshoeists. After the claim about flying shoes you are still an Aflyingshoeist, but now one with a belief that flying shoes are a falsehood.
Atheism is similar. The Atheism we had as a baby is very different than the atheism we have as adults. Adult Atheism is a belief that things operate as they appear without the need for gods If you belief that there is an invisible force making things operate differently, the burden of proof is on you. Many time through the ages of man has this been demonstrated, Gravity being an excellent example. The burden of proof was on the claimant, and they met that burden of proof. Similarly many other such theories have come and gone, and those that have been proven have been added to the sum knowledge of man. Many seem to gain some currency, and when proof was not forthcoming, they were dropped and mostly forgotten, Ether theory for instance.
So while some argue whether Atheism is truly a belief like theism by semantic games, it is just obfuscation.
It is obfuscation of the the fact that the burden of proof is on the person that is claiming an unseen agency. And Despite mountains of apologia, that proof has yet to be forthcoming. I seriously doubt it ever will.