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Why It Takes About 1000 Times More Faith To Be Christian Or Muslim Than Atheist

By Dan Forsman ~

I keep seeing it written or stated that it takes the same amount of faith or even less to believe in a god than it does to believe there is no god. This is typically used to demonstrate that either Christianity or Islam is a much more logical and reasonable choice than atheism. But Christianity and Islam require their followers to accept as fact a very large number of specific inflexible beliefs, many built on top of one another and all originating two thousand years ago. Each belief is separate and requires an amount of faith that is dependent on that particular beliefs’ credibility:
  • a god created the universe,
  • a personal god is actively involved in human activities, 
  • life continues after death, a god became a man,
  • god performs miracles, 
  • god is loving, 
  • god created hell, 
  • god has a plan for mankind, etc. 

The non-believer makes a relatively simple commitment to disbelieve in any god they have heard of which typically includes christian, Muslim and numerous other gods. She/he has faith that at least one necessary component of each god doesn’t exist.

I want to try and compare the amount of faith required to reject a god to the amount of faith required to accept as true the basic tenets of a belief in a particular god. I have already introduced the basic logical reason for why belief in either the Christian or Muslim religion takes a lot of faith: they both require many many individual beliefs (hundreds). Some of those individual beliefs require an enormous amount of faith because of their extraordinary nature and some would logically necessitate testable evidence that is so far lacking.

Consider that Christian beliefs encompass all those beliefs already mentioned previously plus belief in:
  • a god/man who is his own father,
  • a god/man born of a virgin, 
  • a god/ man who performed miracles including bringing humans back from death, 
  • a god/man who was killed and remained dead for 3 days then came back to life and promised to return soon and vanished into the sky for about 2,000 years to date,
  • a god/man/spirit who is one single god, 
  • a god/man/spirit that inhabits,improves and helps believers,
  • a god/man/spirit who answers prayers,
  • a god/man/spirit who oversaw the writing, numerous edits, and erratic distribution of a history/manual/guide book for all humans beginning about 2,000 years ago,
  • paradise for believers who become eternal (although still appearing to die) upon accepting the faith, etc.,etc. 
By contrast I don’t think either a Muslim or Christian would claim that it requires anything more than a cursory act of faith to dismiss a competing religion’s god because it is a basic requirement of each religion that they reject any god other than the god of their own religion. For the atheist the experience of rejecting a god is remarkably similar to that of a Christian or Muslim. She or he typically holds some very basic god attributes to be incredible, for example she/he rejects the possibility of a personal god or rejects the idea that the mind continues to function after the body dies or discounts the idea of a god having taken on the form of a human in some past time. So the typical atheist rejects a particular god categorically in much the same way as does the Muslim and Christian because of a conflict with a core belief.

Everyone faces an earthly life that is uncertain and many significant questions don't appear to have clear answers. Whether or not belief in a particular god satisfactorily answers the unanswered questions is up for debate. But it’s entirely possible to leave all the great questions unanswered and hold nothing more than the single reasonable belief that no personal god exists and build from this a meaningful fulfilling life without belief in any god. A great deal more faith is required to become a Christian or Muslim as faith in the hundreds of accompanying dogmas and historical records are required. What can and should be debated is whether the enormous investment of faith necessary to become a Christian or Muslim can truly be justified given the carnage that has so often followed in their wakes of these religions.