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 Diane on April 26, 2013 at 8:02am

I get frustrated when someone tosses this statement at me.  I have been trying to figure out if I indeed have faith in anything.  I am amazed at how Christians sometimes say, "You just have to have faith," as if there's some button somewhere that can be pushed.  I don't think it's a button but, at least in my case, a conscious  Herculean effort to cajole my mind, which would go kicking and screaming, into believing something that makes no sense and for which I have no irrefutable evidence.  

And why should I do that?  Because people tell me I will be joyful if I do?  Because then my soul will live on forever?  Because it's just rude, stubborn and defiant to not do it?  This is where I get really upset.  How nice would it be to believe in an all-powerful and all-loving being who had my back 100% of the time, instead of feeling like a small, vulnerable, transient life form?  

In difficult times I can almost see a path to faith.  For me, it would most likely start with desperation and pain.  I have been known to say that I may have to go insane some day and let myself believe to survive.  I hope not.  

Comment by Joseph Martin on April 26, 2013 at 9:03am

I agree completely. Sadly, I was indoctrinated into this torturous mindset as a child. I am happy to say that I have escape from such ideologies, after getting out on my own, and not at all enjoying going to church and all of the strings that came attached to christianity.

Comment by Alan C on April 26, 2013 at 9:35am

Diane, unfortunately I think your comment does come close to the truth.  Obviously there is no 'button' as such but there is evidence to suggest that we are predisposed, or pre-programmed if you like, toward some sort of faith.

It may be hang over as a method for parents to prevent children from doing dangerous things "don't go in the forest, the troll will get you" being scarier than the possibility of getting lost in the forest.  It may be a method of practising social activities and language, playing with your imaginary friend if you have no friends your age living near.  Maybe its just a coincidence the same part of the human psyche works for both.

I think that it is a phase we grow out of; I do not know many adults who have an imaginary friend or who are afraid of the dark.  Religion, however, I think is so ingrained and consolidated by authority figures that many people accept it as true even when they are adults.

I am certain that if you told a religious person a story about someone at a party turning water into vodka he would not believe it was a miracle, just a clever trick, and they would scoff if you pleaded it was true because you saw it and there was no way that it could have been a trick, yet they are willing to believe that Jesus really did turn water into wine.  It is ingrained 'knowledge' consolidated by years of doctrine.

Comment by Daniel Rockwell on April 26, 2013 at 11:07am

I think that this is a matter of what "type" of non-belief you subscribe to.

There is the more agnostic/"soft" atheism area of the spectrum, where you simply have a lack of belief.  This, as you point out, requires no faith.  There is no feeling/belief either way.  One does not believe that there is, nor that there isn't, a God.  It's the lack of belief either way that allows this to remain a faithless viewpoint.

However, further along, toward the "strong" atheistic view (where I myself lean), one has an active belief that there is not a God.  It is not that I lack a belief in God.  I hold the belief that there is no God.

I lack belief in a lot of things, many of which might be possible, so I do not outright reject them.  I do not actively believe, but I also do not actively disbelieve.  I have no reason to strongly feel either way about these things.  They may or may not be true.  This applies to many things, mostly theoretical constructs, some of which have a firmer scientific ground to stand on than others, but still no real reason to accept nor to reject them.

God does not fall into that category.  I firmly believe that there is no God.  I have the profound lack of evidence to back that belief up, but ultimately, a lack of evidence is not proof.  I have no objective reason to believe that there is no God, yet I believe that to be the case anyway.

Thus, it is a matter of "faith".  I have no reason to believe in God, but I also have no reason not to. Yet I do not believe, regardless.

Comment by Lance Angus Miles on April 26, 2013 at 12:42pm

so true, atheism is not itself a belief but simply the lack of a belief or faith, it is to accept only what you KNOW, and to reject anything that demands you accept something as being true without the evidence to prove it. the things you know are the things you can prove, the things you dont know CAN fall into the category of being beliefs, and they fall into that category because they are things that have yet to be proven as either true or false. saying "i dont know" is a far FAR more intelligent answer than "i believe..."

Comment by Joseph Martin on April 26, 2013 at 12:48pm

Ray Gillies-Jones: I would argue that they are not reaffirming their disbelief. They simply have alternate beliefs, which do require reaffirming.

Comment by Joseph Martin on April 26, 2013 at 12:54pm

Daniel Rockwell: I hold this belief, as well, that there are no gods at all. See my previous blog post for my thoughts about that. :-)

Comment by Reg The Fronkey Farmer on April 26, 2013 at 1:18pm

My usual response to this assertion is to ask the theist how much faith it takes for them to be an Atheist when it comes to not believing in Zeus or Apollo. Ask them to explain the reasons for their “unbelief” in those gods and then use those very same arguments to explain why you don’t believe in whichever god they believe in.

Comment by Adam on April 26, 2013 at 6:15pm

This is my response to such nonsense

Comment by Unseen on April 26, 2013 at 10:49pm

A leap of faith away from WHAT? From believing that the entire universe was created by some spirit magician?

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