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 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.

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.


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