Skip to main content

Christian or Atheist? Tell me What it Takes...

By Ben Love ~

“It takes just as much faith to believe there is no God as it takes to believe in the Christian God, maybe even more so.”

This was a statement spoken to me by a Christian man recently. It is an echo of a sentiment I have heard time and time and time again. Believers seem to think this is somehow a winning statement. The truth, as I have demonstrated elsewhere, is that faith, by its very nature, requires the adherent to believe in something for which there is no justifiable evidence (this is even supported in the New Testament’s own definition of “faith” as seen in Hebrews 11:1). Therefore, to refrain from believing in an object due to a lack of evidence reveals an absence of faith, not some inverted version of backward faith. Thus, it requires no faith to be an atheist, because the atheist is refraining from believing in something for which he has no proof.

At this point, the Christian usually replies by saying that the assumption of nothingness is itself a belief, that for as much as they believe in God’s existence, I believe in his non-existence. This is, once again, missing the point. A person either believes or doesn’t believe. The Christian and the atheist are not both believers occupying two ends of a spectrum. One is a believer; the other is not. To believe in something, in anything, even if the object of belief is “nothingness,” still requires an embracing leap toward that which you cannot verify. If you could verify it, belief wouldn’t be necessary anyway; we’d just be talking about straight facts. No, to “believe” must imply that some mental leap of the imagination is taking place in the face of information that should otherwise prevent you from making such a leap. The atheist is not a believer in this sense; he is an observer of information, a collector of evidence, and he adheres only to that which the evidence suggests. If there is no proof for a given thing, he refrains from embracing it. There is therefore no faith happening here. None whatsoever.

“Ah,” the Christian says. “Wrong again. There is faith happening here. Your faith is in the evidence.”

Once again, we need to differentiate between the two types of “faith.” Every time you eat food in a restaurant, you are using faith. Every time you put money in the bank, you are using faith. To live in this world demands that we take certain things for granted, like the efficacy of stoplights or the trustworthiness of the post office. But this “faith,” such as it is, is still based on evidence. If you observed a history of stoplights failing, or the post office messing up your mail, or routinely receiving bugs in your food from a certain restaurant, you would cease to take these things for granted. You drive through a green light because experience has taught you that it is safe to do so. This is patently different from faith without evidence. Therefore, if as an atheist my faith is in “evidence,” it is because the evidence suggests that evidence is trustworthy! And evidence must be trustworthy; otherwise, every human being behind bars right now is probably innocent; every historical figure you’ve heard of probably never even existed at all; all those lights in the night sky probably aren’t stars at all; all DNA tests should be tossed out the window. Evidence is trustworthy; otherwise, it wouldn’t be evidence. And that is why my faith is placed there, for the same reason I know that someone is going to come along and cart away the garbage I place in my dumpster.

However, let us say for the sake of argument, that it does require faith to be an atheist, an inverted form of the kind required to be a Christian. Assuming this is so, let us test the validity of the statement with which I opened this essay…

Again, the Christian man said this: “It takes just as much faith to believe there is no God as it takes to believe in the Christian God, maybe even more so.”

Okay, so let’s break it down:

In order to believe in the Christian God, one has to forego a certain logic that dictates two opposing forces cannot share the same space. In other words, like the proverbial married bachelor or the square-circle, this God must somehow be able to reconcile within himself two or more opposing, contradictory traits that otherwise could never exist together. And when logic meets a dead end during this reconciliation, the believer must shrug his shoulders, fall back on faith, and say, “Well, my God is mysterious. I don’t how he does it, but I believe he does.” Also, the believer must make inferences about his suspicion that the Universe had a designer. These inferences must somehow translate into a verification that this designer and the Christian God are indeed one and the same. Even in the face of staggering information that should indicate to even a marginally intelligent person that the Christian God cannot be the Creator (due to his warmongering, his crimes against humanity, his flawed personality, his jealous nature, his penchant for deceit, his thirst for blood, his selfish tendencies, and so on), the believer must turn his back on this information, or explain it away with poorly contrived statements of absurdity, and go on believing in this being. Furthermore, to believe in the Christian God must be accompanied by a belief in the Bible. A belief in the Bible must be accompanied by a certain denial of science. In other words, to believe in the Christian God is to shut one’s eyes to the contrary story being told by virtually every field of science at our disposal. To believe in the Christian God must demand that the believer accept the absurd (i.e., the existence of talking snakes, talking donkeys, ghosts, witches, reanimated corpses, winged creatures who descend from the sky, invisible beings bent on evil and mischief, and a global flood for which there is no evidence) and deny the solidarity of evidence that suggests none of these things actually happened or could be real. Thus, to believe in the Christian God, one must accept the unacceptable, shut his eyes to certain atrocities, explain away the unexplainable, develop a taste for the illogical, and deny the persistent story of the natural world around him.

And yet, all it takes to be an atheist is a commitment to follow the evidence where it would lead and make no definitive claims for that which you do not know until the information permits you to make such a claim.

Yeah, I wonder which sounds like it requires more faith?

Game. Set. Match.


Popular posts from this blog

Are You an Atheist Success Story?

By Avangelism Project ~ F acts don’t spread. Stories do. It’s how (good) marketing works, it’s how elections (unfortunately) are won and lost, and it’s how (all) religion spreads. Proselytization isn’t accomplished with better arguments. It’s accomplished with better stories and it’s time we atheists catch up. It’s not like atheists don’t love a good story. Head over to the atheist reddit and take a look if you don’t believe me. We’re all over stories painting religion in a bad light. Nothing wrong with that, but we ignore the value of a story or a testimonial when we’re dealing with Christians. We can’t be so proud to argue the semantics of whether atheism is a belief or deconversion is actually proselytization. When we become more interested in defining our terms than in affecting people, we’ve relegated ourselves to irrelevance preferring to be smug in our minority, but semantically correct, nonbelief. Results Determine Reality The thing is when we opt to bury our

Christian TV presenter reads out Star Wars plot as story of salvation

An email prankster tricked the host of a Christian TV show into reading out the plots of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Star Wars in the belief they were stories of personal salvation. The unsuspecting host read out most of the opening rap to The Fresh Prince, a 1990s US sitcom starring Will Smith , apparently unaware that it was not a genuine testimony of faith. The prankster had slightly adapted the lyrics but the references to a misspent youth playing basketball in West Philadelphia would have been instantly familiar to most viewers. The lines read out by the DJ included: "One day a couple of guys who were up to no good starting making trouble in my living area. I ended up getting into a fight, which terrified my mother." The presenter on Genesis TV , a British Christian channel, eventually realised that he was being pranked and cut the story short – only to move on to another spoof email based on the plot of the Star Wars films. It began: &quo

So Just How Dumb Were Jesus’ Disciples? The Resurrection, Part VII.

By Robert Conner ~ T he first mention of Jesus’ resurrection comes from a letter written by Paul of Tarsus. Paul appears to have had no interest whatsoever in the “historical” Jesus: “even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, we know him so no longer.” ( 2 Corinthians 5:16 ) Paul’s surviving letters never once mention any of Jesus’ many exorcisms and healings, the raising of Lazarus, or Jesus’ virgin birth, and barely allude to Jesus’ teaching. For Paul, Jesus only gets interesting after he’s dead, but even here Paul’s attention to detail is sketchy at best. For instance, Paul says Jesus “was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” ( 1 Corinthians 15:4 ), but there are no scriptures that foretell the Jewish Messiah would at long last appear only to die at the hands of Gentiles, much less that the Messiah would then be raised from the dead after three days. After his miraculous conversion on the road to Damascus—an event Paul never mentions in his lette

Morality is not a Good Argument for Christianity

By austinrohm ~ I wrote this article as I was deconverting in my own head: I never talked with anyone about it, but it was a letter I wrote as if I was writing to all the Christians in my life who constantly brought up how morality was the best argument for Christianity. No Christian has read this so far, but it is written from the point of view of a frustrated closeted atheist whose only outlet was organizing his thoughts on the keyboard. A common phrase used with non-Christians is: “Well without God, there isn’t a foundation of morality. If God is not real, then you could go around killing and raping.” There are a few things which must be addressed. 1. Show me objective morality. Define it and show me an example. Different Christians have different moral standards depending on how they interpret the Bible. Often times, they will just find what they believe, then go back into scripture and find a way to validate it. Conversely, many feel a particular action is not


By David Andrew Dugle ~   S ettle down now children, here's the story from the Book of David called The Parable of the Bent Cross. In the land Southeast of Eden –  Eden, Minnesota that is – between two rivers called the Big Miami and the Little Miami, in the name of Saint Gertrude there was once built a church. Here next to it was also built a fine parochial school. The congregation thrived and after a multitude of years, a new, bigger church was erected, well made with clean straight lines and a high steeple topped with a tall, thin cross of gold. The faithful felt proud, but now very low was their money. Their Sunday offerings and school fees did not suffice. Anon, they decided to raise money in an unclean way. One fine summer day the faithful erected tents in the chariot lot between the two buildings. In the tents they set up all manner of games – ring toss, bingo, little mechanical racing horses and roulette wheels – then all who lived in the land between the two rivers we

I can fix ignorance; I can't fix stupid!

By Bob O ~ I 'm an atheist and a 52-year veteran of public education. I need not tell anyone the problems associated with having to "duck" the "Which church do you belong to?" with my students and their parents. Once told by a parent that they would rather have a queer for their sons' teacher than an atheist! Spent HOURS going to the restroom right when prayers were performed: before assemblies, sports banquets, "Christmas Programs", awards assemblies, etc... Told everyone that I had a bladder problem. And "yes" it was a copout to many of you, but the old adage (yes, it's religious) accept what you can't change, change that which you can and accept the strength to know the difference! No need arguing that which you will never change. Enough of that. What I'd like to impart is my simple family chemistry. My wife is a Baptist - raised in a Baptist Orphanage (whole stories there) and is a believer. She did not know my religi