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 Joseph Martin on April 28, 2013 at 10:23am

Unseen: I think that's exactly what I said. "Nonbelief is NOT an active conscious PROCESS."

Belief is an active conscious process because it requires pondering your faith for reaffirmation.

You would be correct that nonbelief is also a state of being, where the state is OFF. :-)

Comment by Tom Sarbeck on April 28, 2013 at 10:28am

Rick Povero: I agree with you on trust. While running for public office against serious competition some years ago, I saw that to struggle for political power is to struggle for a position in which I need not trust anyone. It is a futile struggle; even tyrants have to trust those who protect them from assassination.

Gary Clouse: I too describe myself as an agnostic atheist. The first atheists I met (in a university atheists club) claimed to know gods do not exist. I was studying math and distinguished what I believed from what I knew.

I'm a more complete skeptic than even atheists; I doubt even the dogma that it's impossible to prove a negative. So many dogmas have fallen: three in our own time. Heisenberg gave uncertainty to physics, Godel gave undecidability to mathematics, Derrida gave deconstruction to language. I believe someone will someday give unknowability to logic.

Comment by Unseen on April 28, 2013 at 10:41am

I doubt even the dogma that it's impossible to prove a negative.

It's plainly possible to prove some negatives, but not all. I don't know where this myth about the impossibility of proving negatives started, but simply consider that if you claim you don't have antlers growing out of your head, anyone can look to verify that fact, and if looking isn't proof enough, what would be?

Comment by Tom Sarbeck on April 28, 2013 at 10:42am

Unseen: you weren't there when I took the leap from Catholicism. I had no knowledge of where my leap would take me.

You express more certainty than I want to trust.

Comment by archaeopteryx on April 28, 2013 at 1:24pm

Comment by archaeopteryx on April 28, 2013 at 1:29pm

@Tom Sarbeck - RE: "Heisenberg gave uncertainty to physics" --

Comment by Gary Clouse on April 29, 2013 at 1:54am

Tom Sarbeck: Logically, and by definition, Non existence is not negative. It is simply nothing. A negative can be proven through the existence of a complement, which cancels it out.

 Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle , is the idea that, in quantum physics, the energy used to observe the quantum state of a particle changes the quantum state of the particle. So you can't be certain what the particle is currently doing, only what it was doing. when  last observed.

    But the question is: Does atheism require a leap of faith?

  Years ago, Dr Isaac Asimov used the term "judo argument" for the flawed mental exercises of Christians that attempt to leverage science to support the presumed existence of god. Judo is a field of oriental fighting skill that uses an opponent's strength against him.

   Thr judo argument in question claims it requires a leap of faith to be an atheist. I disagree. A "Leap of faith" is an action based on a belief, where no evidence supports the belief. It is a real example of pretzel logic. They are basically claiming atheism is a religion

Comment by Tom Sarbeck on April 29, 2013 at 4:50am

Gary, are you remarking on someone else's words?

I spoke of a leap from Catholicism with no knowledge of where my leap would take me.

Because atheists at the university claimed knowledge, I leaped to agnosticism.

The knowledge they claimed is still lacking.

Comment by Tom Sarbeck on April 29, 2013 at 5:18am

Also, Gary, your "So you can't be certain what the particle is currently doing, only what it was doing. when  last observed." lacks precision. The instruments now being used also lack precision.

The moment the particle being measured was "last observed" follows by a short time the moment the measuring particle struck the particle being measured. The uncertainty is greater than you say.

And for fun, bouncing a particle off a moving bowling ball changes the bowling ball's momentun by an amount smaller than current instruments can measure.

Comment by Daniel Rockwell on April 29, 2013 at 9:03am

Here's why I am an "atheist" vs. "agnostic" (and why it is relevant to this topic).

The stance of an agnostic is that one doesn't/can't know. ("agnostic" means "no knowledge")

This is the default state.  This is the truly neutral position.  It is neither On nor Off.  The switch is stuck in the middle.  And it is obviously the most rational and logical state (well, at least in terms of things that really are unknowable)

So when it comes to the existence of God (any of them; my default focus of non-belief, and discussions thereof, is the Christian God, but I hold all of the others in the same boat), it is a thing that ultimately can't be known (while we're alive, anyway).  Sure, most non-believers find the idea to be so ridiculously preposterous that it feels like it can be known to be false, but it truly can't.  Even with no tangible evidence, it still cannot be said with absolute certainty that God does not exist.

I can entertain that thought.  I can entertain the thought that God may actually exist.  I can entertain that I may be wrong in my non-belief.

But only intellectually.  My mind can accept those things through logic.  But when my mind is being honest with itself, I flip the switch fully Off.  I can entertain those thought, but I can never accept them.

KNOW that God does not exist, even though it is impossible to know that.

That is the "leap of faith" of which they speak.

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