Apology for atheism

Hoyt wants to insist there is a standard definition of atheism, which he defines as

atheism entails a belief about the existence of deity

and any other definition incongruent wth his definition is incoherent or absurd. And one wishes he was right, but it does seem that is not the case. If one were to read Stephen Bullivant’s The Oxford Handbook of Atheism, they would discover, quoting Stephen, that

THE precise definition of ‘atheism’ is both a vexed and vexatious issue.

In fact, he (Stephen) goes so far as to give 5 definitions of atheism from scholarly works that show no consensus in the definition of the term.


Theists are interesting people. And Lyle Duell is no exception. In his recent post he is defending an absurd position that atheism involves three basic assumptions. But he doesn’t just stop there, no, he tells us atheism is a faith. How is it a faith?

it is a faith because it is an ideal that exists in the human mind and is supported by other human beliefs. The idea that it is a non-belief is nothing but atheistic sophistry. Call it a non-belief is like calling it a non-idea.

I have no idea what that means.

Over to the assumptions.

1. The first is that there is no God.

And he says this is absurd. To prove there is no god, one would have to be omniscient. In his words

No one can prove that there is no God for in order to do so they would have to be everywhere in the universe at the same time and also outside of the universe at the same time for the very place that they were not, might be the very place that the Uncreated one is present.

which if you ask me is such an absurd demand. The theist says god is everywhere. One need only to point one place where they don’t see god to show the argument of the theist is false or incompatible with reality. This argument against the first assumption, assuming there is such an assumption, is easily defeated.

2. The second assumption that I have found in most atheists is the belief that they are smarter than those that believe in God.

Against this 2nd assumption, he tells us William James had a higher IQ than Einstein and also

The most intelligent living person is Christopher Langan. He is considered by many to be the world’s smartest living person with an IQ of over 200 and he is a believer.

Assuming for a moment that the second assumption is held by many atheists is true, listing two individuals believed by the author to be intelligent is no evidence for god. In fact he admits as much. Anyone who believes donkeys can talk, snakes walk and zombies have roamed the earth can not claim honestly that he is smart when it comes to religious questions. This is not say the said individual cannot replace a flat tyre, far from it, it only means that in one area of their lives, they have opted to abandon their reason. I would think that is what is meant in that second assumption.

3. The third assumption is that science has proven that there is no God

I would ask for citation for this. From what I have read, it is argued science has reduced the sphere of operation for god[s]. No scientist has gone to the labs to prove the [non]existence of god. What would be the variables to be tested?


I know many of the atheists who land on this spot have been wondering whether or not they have faith. Worry no more. I finally have the answer to this question.

What is faith? Do you put your trust in someone? Something? Then you have faith. We are told

Faith is the result of placing our trust in something (e.g. an idea, a person, in God, etc), and that “something” reassuring us that our selection (or placement of trust) was correct.

He continues to say

For example, the atheist who places their trust in a scientific theory feels good about their decision, and many times will encourage others to feel the same way. In the end, I believe that that feeling of “reassurance” is, in essence, faith.

Then we come to the critical question of whether the faith of the atheist and theist are similar? The answer, dear friends, is a resounding no. It is only in appearance. ANd why is this so? The bible has answers

The reason these types of faith are not the same is because there are in fact different degrees of faith. The Bible speaks of “. . . a measure of faith,” that is given to all men (Romans 12:3). However, the Bible also speaks of great faith (Matthew 15:21-28), unwavering faith (Romans 4:20-21), and also faith without works (James 2:18). Although there are other types of faith, these are the main ones reference in the Bible, some on multiple places.

In conclusion, the atheist just has a measure of faith. You need to believe in god to have great faith. What are you waiting for?

Mencken on religion

“For men become civilized, not in proportion to their willingness to believe, but in proportion to their readiness to doubt. The more stupid the man, the larger his stock of adamantine assurances, the heavier his load of faith.”
― H.L. Mencken,

doubt, faith, awe

I don’t know about you, but I don’t think the book of Job as Sasot claims, teaches us about what faith entails, but about vanity of the gods. Why does Job suffer? Because god has placed a bet with Satan. Let’s pause for a moment and just think about this. Religious people of all persuasions insist Satan is the source of their problems always tempting them. In the story of Job, we learn they, Satan and god, are work colleagues, each granting the other a favour when need be.

Sasot, taking Job 38:4 out of context, uses it to castigate Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar for advising Job to repent. In actual fact, that particular verse is god refusing to answer Job’s query on why he suffers, instead he goes on a rant.

I find it strange, coming from an atheist, when she writes

What this implies is that nothing and no one can tell us what exactly God wants but God himself. Anyone or anything who weren’t there when He laid the foundations of the earth are all ignorant of how the Divine would unravel.

Which god?

In this next paragraph, she makes a virtue out of faith. She tells us

Fundamentalism is based on absolute certainty, while faith is based on uncertainty. Fundamentalism claims, faith trusts. Fundamentalism is unreceptive, faith is welcoming. Fundamentalism is the negation of doubt and the annihilation of the doubtful, while faith is the presence of doubt and the refuge of the doubtful. Fundamentalism arrests, faith surrenders.

And I am yet to meet a religious person who has faith and doubts they are destined for heaven or even entertains the possibility there are no gods and that they are wrong about religion and all that comes with it.

I agree with her when she says

Inspire your children to find their unique path to self-realization.

and only add that encourage children to doubt, to ask questions and to be open to new knowledge.

blind faith of ….

atheism.

The author of this post has committed herself to convincing their audience that atheists, not Christians, have blind faith.

She claims

[..]indeed, for consider that while the Christian may have an ‘unknown but justified faith’ where he (the Christian) might not know how God, say, created life or consciousness, he (the Christian) is justified in believing that God could do so given His omnipotence

which makes several assumptions atheists doesn’t make. In the part quoted, she claims to know the universe was created, except how it was done, claims to know god is omnipotent and so on. I, as an atheist, readily admit that I don’t know how life began, that is, if it had one, or even if the universe came to be or always was.

The apologist who conceived of god as having omni-powers made this god an impossibility. Can an omnipotent god create a mountain without a valley? Or to put it differently, can an omnipotent god make 1+1 not equal 2? Or are its powers constrained by laws of logic? Can omnipotence make a triangle where the sum of all its angles are >180deg? I digress.

Back to the post, she continues on the attack

and yet the atheistic-naturalist, by contrast, has an utterly blind and unjustified faith for not only does the atheistic-naturalist not know how, on his worldview, life came from non-life, or rationality from irrationality, or consciousness from unconsciousness, the atheistic-naturalist does not even know if they could arise on naturalism

and one wonders how it would be construed as blind faith to admit ignorance? I am confused when she argues life could not arise naturally and so on. I don’t think the naturalist makes any claim other than that, all we know are natural events. It is possible there could be other causes, but we have no way of knowing them.

When she writes

for he has no idea if natural forces have the causal power to make these things come about, and thus the naturalist

I am sure she doesn’t understand naturalism. I don’t know what she has been critiquing all along. For what else is naturalism, if not that Nature is an efficient cause. That no other forces operate in the world. How nature does all this may be forever locked to us, but while it is good to speculate some other being or alien could be responsible, it is always prudent to remember this is speculation and not fact.

On a related point, where do these apologists learn writing skills?

it takes great faith to be an atheist

where an apologists wastes so many words to show his ignorance.

Atheism is a lack of belief in gods [deities]. It says nothing about why we think pink is pink or why cows are yellow. Nothing at all.

The OP is numbered and so my response will follow the same numbering

1. what is faith? atheists certainly have it.

I believe this is true. I believe strongly that if there is any truth, the only way to arrive at it is through reason. We have no other way to arrive at judgments except through reason. It is not an issue of faith to say when I die, am dead. I have no reason to suspect otherwise.

2. from evolution

The religious person who believes Adam and Eve were created as adult beings cannot believe in any form of evolution. It would be an absurd position to believe in a god guided evolution and god’s perfect creation.

3. from the big bang

There is no evidence from the BB cosmology of an agent, divine, intelligent or what have you starting it. Besides if the theists spent more time reading than praying he would know the BB theory talks about Planck time after the beginning of inflation. We have no way of knowing what was before that, if there was ever a before.

I may hasten to add here that I don’t know how the universe came to be, if it did come to be.

4. From incomprehensible chance on a biological level:

this is the argument from design in a new formulation. It doesn’t hold.

5. From natural order:

Let’s pause a moment. Is order a property of a thing or is it our way of looking at things? Any argument from order is misguided. The same way any argument from beauty would be.

and if the theist did read more than pray, he would know that this claim

It therefore taken on blind faith by the atheist that tomorrow nature will operate in the same uniform manner that it did today, he cannot simply assume that it will.

had been covered ages ago by D. Hume when he challenged the inferences from causation. We however have no reason to suspect that nature would act differently than it did yesterday. However, if we believe in a miracle-working god, he might just stop the sun to help some christian win a war or bomb an abortion clinic or he could be helping the IS somewhere. We can never know, for the universe depends on his caprice.

6. That one-day science will explain everything:

Accuse me of scientism if you wish, but unless you can show your other ways of knowing, fuck off! No matter how many days we fast or how long our prayers, we will never know the answer to 1+1

7. That life comes from non-life:

The theist believes his god created everything ex nihilo. Why would they find it difficult to accept that life could come from non life if it can come from nothing?

8. That their thoughts have value:

My lack of belief in gods says nothing about the value of my thoughts. This is a silly argument.

9. From miracles:

What are miracles?

10. From fine tuning

Of all silly arguments, this strikes me as the one most beloved by lunatics. What would the scientists have compared the present universe to arrive at the conclusion that life wouldn’t be possible if the values were different?

In conclusion, this theist could have spent more time reading his bible than fiddling with things beyond his pay grade.

Dear atheist, your faith is greater than mine

in which I become an apologist for atheism or have I always been [ I thought I would call truce].

Atheism makes no judgement on how the universe came to be, if it did. I see the point though, because an atheist lacks a belief in deities, any attempt at explaining the beginning of the universe that begins by positing a god falls before it can walk or crawl. Too bad for the theist.

This theist writes

Your belief system requires a LOT more faith than mine. Why is that? Let’s see…

  • You believe the universe simply came to be from “nothing” yet you cannot really explain the event. It just happened
  • You believe we were all very lucky that everything randomly worked out just right to create conditions for life on this planet

I don’t know the origins of the universe, I wasn’t there. It really doesn’t matter. I would love to know but as things stand, it has little to do with my atheism.

I haven’t heard that before, but then again, we are here. Whether it is by lack or lack of it, we are here.

When a believer creates a strawman like the one above, then

Those things seem a lot harder to swallow than to acknowledge that a master design and a creator brought it all into existence.

would begin to make sense.

The theist then writes

Sure there is science to demonstrate that a single event we call the Big Bang occurred but I believe it was orchestrated by God. If not, then how did it happen? What was before it? Once it took place, is it really logical or easy to accept that everything just happened to fall into place? How often does order arise from an explosion anyway?

which tells me this particular fellow isn’t up to date with their science, if they have any. Since, to this person nothing happens naturally, is god involved in earthquakes? No one that I know of, and that is a lot of people, has claimed to know what was before the big bang.

What is order apart from our way of seeing the world? I, however, like the Boeing 737 analogy disguised as a big question.

I know I don’t have answers to anything and at least I know this.

It is however wrong to suggest

it seems like a much bigger leap of faith to deny the existence of God in favor of random chance than to humbly accept that a Creator put this all together.

a being for which you have no idea what it does, how it does and to what end. It is in my view more honest to accept not knowing than offer answers that have no explanatory value.

So no, I don’t have faith as you would wish. I don’t know many things and I could list a number of them but it is stupid to say because you don’t know, so god.