Some people believe that it requires some leap of faith to disbelieve god's existence. This is absolutely idiotic. Atheism is a lack of a belief in god. If you are religious, ask yourself: "Why do I believe in god?" Whether or not you claim to have evidence for your faith, the correct answer is because someone taught you about god. You did not know what god was until someone told you. Either you were taught, or you invented your own version of god, deluded yourself, and poisoned other minds with your falsehoods.

One cannot make the argument that atheism requires a leap of faith. Nonbelief is not an active conscious process. One would not continue throughout their day repeating "I don't believe. I don't believe. I don't believe." Justification of disbelief is a different process entirely. Rejecting belief is an active conscious process but maintaining disbelief is not because there is nothing to maintain. Belief is always an active conscious process. Belief requires constant reaffirmation e.g. "I believe because of this, that, and the other." Disbelief does not require this. Faith can only exist in the presence of a conscious appeal to the mind. If the conscious appeal is gone (or never existed in the first place) then one cannot believe. Arguing for the case of the opposite simply does not make sense. There is no conscious appeal to disbelief. The truth is, god is a concept invented by man.

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Comment by max stirner on April 27, 2013 at 5:30pm

** An inversion of values -- a case of hearsay and knowledge

Focus on 'faith' -- the word, the xian concept behind the word, the history of the word.
'Faith' is not a very good translation from the Greek used to write all the books of the so-called new testament.

In the eastern Mediterranean area in the first century CE, this simplified Greek got used much like English today is employed worldwide -- as a business language. Widely spoken and understood -- the writers of the NT wrote it badly thus betraying their native tongues -- Syriac (Revelation) and Aramaic (letters of Paul).

'Faith' in English translates the Latin 'fides' which in turn translates the koine' Greek 'pistis'. The ordinary direct Greek to English translation is 'pistis' = 'trust'. A taste of a religious aspect to 'trust' occurs in the notorious "In God we trust" -- basically we have faith in God.

As part of the great inversion of the values of antiquity which Nietzsche explores, the xians exalted 'trust' and subordinated 'knowledge' (episteme') to it -- a complete inversion of the values of Greek philosophy, medicine, astronomy, cosmology and mathematics.

'Trust' means to rely on hearsay -- to be prepared to believe that some event took place or that some statement is true on a (shaky) ground of being told that the event happened or the claim is true. Of course doing this requires someone who speaks for God -- a god-proxy, an authority figure or an authoritative text -- and xianity has always been an authoritarian institution.

As late as 178 CE, the Roman critic Celsus -- writing in Greek -- lambasted the xians for saying to potential converts: ask no questions, just have faith. (See Hoffman (trans) Celsus, The True Doctrine, Oxford 1987

Fundamentalist xianity has not altered its approach in 2,000 years despite long-running attempts to dress itself up as Plato, Aristotle, the dead core of xianity are a set of metaphysical lies designed to separate out heretics -- it took 300 years to get an orthodox creed of non-negotiable demands of the one true faith --

And much more important, a coup d'etat by a not-quite emperor Constantine to solidify his conquest of a rapidly declining and fractured Roman Empire.Church and State -- a xian theocracy full-blown and able to destroy the "pagans" and all their works really got going only after the fall of the Western empire in 410 CE.

And we are the unfortunate heirs of a xianized culture which must be replaced concept by idea, by act by reason by humor by affirming life.

Atheists break with nihilism --  which infects xian and non-xian in the US -- we're a long way from Nietzsche's Revaluation of All Values -- reestablishing a culture based on knowledge not on hearsay, on empirical fact not wishful thinking, on reproducible science not on propagandistic myth.

Comment by Gary Clouse on April 27, 2013 at 7:15pm

As one of the "agnostic/soft atheists", I feel I should respond.

I describe myself as agnostic because I consider it a more honest description. "Agnostic" implies that I can distinguish between what I believe and what I know. Do I believe in the possibility that god or gods exist? No

  Some may find this hard to follow, but it is not possible to prove non-existence. Believing without proof is still belief, and it is through belief without proof that people are manipulated to extreme action.

Comment by Joseph Martin on April 27, 2013 at 11:03pm

Jason Woolsey: Nonbelief is not an active conscious process because I do not see atheists constantly reminding themselves of reasons why they do not believe throughout their whole day. Faith absolutely requires reaffirmation. The religious must constantly remind themselves of why they believe the things that they do.

Comment by john brierley on April 27, 2013 at 11:15pm

I believe that if earthworms had shotguns, BIRDS wouldn't eat them!  I usually go for some laughable analogy because that is all they deserve in response. Faith is to believe in something with absolutely no proof whatsoever. I don't do that because I'm not an idiot.

Comment by Jason Woolsey on April 27, 2013 at 11:39pm

Joseph Martin:  We may have to agree to disagree.  

Every time I see someone do something crazy for religious reasons rather than logical ones it serves to reaffirm me.  It may not be a mantra but I remind myself where I stand in those moments and it is active and conscious.  Every time I choose reason over some other option that is not a direct (I'm an Atheist) moment but they are connected through logic and reason.  

Because most religious beliefs and scientific ones are mutually exclusive when you stop being a theist you replace that with science like the big bang and this requires the theist to "try these ideas on for size" because they are not used to seeing the world in that way, that is the leap.  Maybe faith is the wrong choice but a leap all the same.

Either way, if we disagree I'm happy it is through the same process of thinking and that makes it more than okay to come up with different viewpoints.

Comment by Joseph Martin on April 28, 2013 at 12:16am

Jason: This is why I love atheists. Christians will beat you upside the head with religion-inspired bigotry until you either agree with them or give up on trying to talk reason into them. Agreeing to disagree is the most rational offering I have ever heard come from anyone.

Comment by Tom Sarbeck on April 28, 2013 at 1:01am

Unseen, it might not be "just a disagreement over vocabulary".

I've read and agree with much of what you've posted, but my leaping into a post-Catholic unknown did require faith in my ability to find the answers I needed.

Here, it might be that others' accounts of their experiences don't get past the wall you've built to protect your belief.

Comment by Tom Sarbeck on April 28, 2013 at 2:22am

I'm reading Nietzsche's The Antichrist again (after about 25 years) and understanding more.

In his usually minimalist style, he said faith rejects knowledge.

Comment by Unseen on April 28, 2013 at 8:00am

Nonbelief is not an active conscious process because I do not see atheists constantly reminding themselves of reasons why they do not believe throughout their whole day.

Technically, nonbelief is a state of being, not a process.

Comment by Unseen on April 28, 2013 at 8:10am

@Tom Sarbeck  I've read and agree with much of what you've posted, but my leaping into a post-Catholic unknown did require faith in my ability to find the answers I needed.

And that "faith" was not based on any experience where trusting your faculties allowed you to arrive at knowledge? If so, then it isn't faith, at least not by the same definition by which we characterize religious faith (believing in something despite evidence to the contrary and not allowing anything to challenge it...and in fact, thinking that by believing in something despite contrary evidence, one is showing the strength of one's faith). The one kind of faith is closed, the other open. And to me, the open kind isn't really faith.


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