In my experience, the number one come back that theists use to defend their beliefs is to state that atheists need just as much faith as theists because human beings know so little about the universe and to say otherwise is both inaccurate and arrogant. While I agree that most of that which is knowable is unknown to us, it is irresponsible and foolish to conclude that all truth is relative due to the staggering ignorance of the human race.

So tell me A/N, how would you refute such an argument?
Also, what are some common justifications that you have heard and what are the contradictions of these arguments?

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Everything that science considers to be true are conclusions from experience. If future evidence disproves thesse condlusions, science reaches new conclusions to accommodate the evidence. But ask a theist what evidence would persuade him to change his conclusions -- such as the conclusion that there is a supernatural god. Good luck getting an answer to that.

'Belief' in the reliious world parallels 'acceptance pending further evidence' in the world of science.
Yes, or in other words:

1.) Atheists need just as much faith as theists.
Ask them for the definition of atheism in that case. If it's any formulation that rests of, for instance, "a belief in nothing" or "a belief there is no god" correct them swiftly by pointing out that atheism is just 'the absence of belief'. Follow that up by asking if they belive in Thor Rama, Ganesh, Vishnu or Horus. Ignore any bleatings about the affirmed truth of scripture or Jesus etc focus on whether they believe in them or not. Presumably they don't so find out whether they go around all day reciting the lists of gods they positively affirm they don't believe in, rather they just have no belief in them. So really they are atheists too. Then suggets your atheism just goes one god further.


2.) Not enough faith to be an atheist. hmmmm. 'Faith..I'm sorry what is that? I can't have a sensible discussion if I don't know what you mean', say. Get them to define it and get them to be specific. Point out (shouldn't be hard) that what they just described sounds like belief in something without evidence. If the conversation then strays into how do you , for instance, knows someone loves you - you can't prove love, can you? As if this were conclusive. Point out you can prove love from letters, flowers, stolen kisses etc. but what they are asking for is unconditional faith in something without evidence.

You could even go so far as to tackle their certainty of belief through faith by discussing agnosticism.

But be clear: 'agnosticism' is not a philosophical alternative either to 'atheism' or to 'theism'

It is NOT like this:
Theist: 'God exists, I'm absolutely certain of it'
Atheist: 'No, it does not, and I'm completely sure of that'
Agnostic: 'Oh, I just cannot make up my mind whether god does or does not exist'

But is like this:
Agnostic Theist: 'I believe God exists, but I admit I cannot prove it'
Agnostic Atheist: 'I do not believe God exists, and of course I cannot prove a negative'
Agnostic anything: 'It is never possible to be absolutely certain'

A clear-thinking atheist must also be agnostic, at least with respect to undefined gods: "I don't know exactly what you mean by 'god', and I do not believe such a thing exists, so lacking a clear definition it is not logically possible to state categorically that such a thing either exists or does not exist"

A clear-thinking theist, (hey, it could happen!), must also be agnostic, especially when talking about a 'transcendental' or 'supernatural' god: "I am a mere mortal, and as such am not capable of understanding or comprehending the nature of god. So I admit I don't really know what the hell I'm talking about. Nevertheless, I believe god exists, but am unable to declare that as an unequivocal fact"

Of course your atheist may think they do know unequivocally and understand undefined transcendental and supernatural forces, in which case press them on how they know. If you are lucky enough to be told that they accept the truth of revelation - you've hit paydirt - ask how they choose between the competing claims of Christians and Muslims who each have different (and necessarily conflicting) revelations. So how's an honest guy to choose? Muslims also outnumber Christinans, so really why should I accept this revelation over that other one? Presumably if they are so certain of revelation - they've had one so what was it like? How did they know the voice was Jesus and not say Mohammed? You could even ask them to imagine that tomorrow a child will be born in a Muslim country - would they rather this person grow up believing in the revelations of Mohammed or be an atheist? Press them for their reasons. Because either revelation is acceptable as a line of evidence or it isn't. If they have some mechanism for discriminating between revelations - get them to explain it for your amusement.

You'll eventually have them hung up on the fact that atheism is not only a position that does not require faith but that they are so far adrift from any reasonable position of epistemic evidence-based reasoning that their conclusions that their god is real is wildly improbable and unlikely and this is the trap of being certain. As a antheist you are also necessarily agnostic about gods, and they should be too.

I know people use the word 'agnostic' as if it meant some kind of philosophical fence-sitting, but it is simply not possible to be undecided here. If you say, "I am an agnostic", meaning you are not sure god exists, you must have at least accepted some notion of what the word means, however vague and fuzzy. Agnostic does NOT mean ambivalent, but rather it means not amenable to, or not in possession of sure and certain knowledge.

Science, for example, is by definition agnostic, because it requires there to always be a certain percentage of possibility that some theory or principle can be proven false or incomplete -- scientific facts always come with a dash of uncertainty.

Agnosticism is implicit to atheism, and should be to theism. Faith is not.


3.)All truth is relative. Oh really? Shall we put that to the test? Some of what is considered truth is not simply a matter of opinion that can be contrasted with the opinion of any Tom Dick or Harry you happen to meet. Assuming you are now talking about science, science relies of evidence-based reasoning. You know that if you step out of the window on the fifth floor what gravity will do next and the likely consequences. If they doubt that they are welcome to try it for themselves. But the point is we can test that. Even if you only know a scientific theory on the basis of an admired authority You could if you really wanted to run the experiment for yourself, check the data for yourself and test it for yourself. Such truths are amenable to evidence, religion is not. Their assertion that a god exists ( an a specific god at that!) is not amenable to evidence checking or verification. What experiment could be devised to test for god or what evidence could possibly refute it or distiguish one god from another? (One booming voice from the sky being much like another, I imagine...)

What we can know with some (but not absolute certainty) are those things we can test. And you cannot test for god's existence. or rather all tests hitherto performs have demonstrated natural causes for natural events, not supernatural causes.

If they think it's quite reasonable to have supernatural causes have natural consequences, ask them how - but my bet is that the problem of dualism trying to reconcile two separate spheres of reality will defeat even the most nimble minds: and lets be honest, nimble mind isn't the kind of epiphet you'd apply to someone who thinks atheism requires faith. Tragically misinformed? Yes. Nimble minded? No.
Faith means belief without evidence, or despite evidence to the contrary.

Atheists have opinions based on evidence, which may change as new information becomes available. That is the opposite of faith.
Of course they will say that when it comes to the universe. When it comes to that, how many theists do you actually think do research about how it may work or look for possible theories? Maybe 5%? The universe to them is left to the mystique of God. Some add creationism. So first, yes, I'd ask how much a theist knows about the universe and find out where they got their info. If they act like an ignorant sheep then they already defeated the purpose of the argument because they want to escape it. Secondly, I'd mention that faith(or religion) is completely irreconcilable to science, which is why I hate moderate christians more. They wouldn't anymore believe in the literal translation of Genesis, so why believe in the rest of it? Plus when the gospels came out, during that time allegorical stories were extremely popular when the bible was being written. Which means that it was fake to begin with and is also considered a "glurge" story, meaning it was a fictional story at first, but spread through word of mouth and became true.
Hopefully this little bit gives some insight for when christians get a wild hair up their asses.

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