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 Tom Sarbeck on April 27, 2013 at 5:14am

Joseph Martin:

"Some people believe that it requires some leap of faith to disbelieve god's existence."

You clearly won't find such a leap necessary.

When I took that metaphorical leap, I did so with faith that I would survive.

Evidence wasn't available.

Comment by Tim Hopwood on April 27, 2013 at 9:32am
I don't believe in Zeus or Apollo, but nobody will tell me that this lack of belief requires tremendous faith. It's really just an absurd argument that gets directed at atheists by the faithful who don't have the balls to admit to themselves that there is no invisible man reading their thoughts and understanding their petty needs. And when we die we may well all end up as dirt in the ground.
Comment by Unseen on April 27, 2013 at 10:20am

@Belle Rose  I believe this was a leap of faith because it took being willing to see and hear a lot of uncomfortable things for a while and allow myself to actually THINK about them.

What you describe isn't a leap of faith, but simply a willingness to consider that you might be wrong. If you still think it was a leap of faith, in what?

Comment by Unseen on April 27, 2013 at 10:22am

If becoming atheist involves simply following the facts, as I'm sure it was for almost all of us, then what sort of "leap" is being referred to? A leap to faith in the scientific method and/or an open mind? If so, then some such leaps are good!

Comment by Unseen on April 27, 2013 at 10:41am

@Belle Rose  Maybe it's just a disagreement over vocabulary, but it seems to me what it took was a leap of unfaith giving you the ability to question your most deeply held beliefs.

Comment by Jason Woolsey on April 27, 2013 at 4:48pm

I think I would have to completely disagree with you Joseph.

You are basically stating that you cannot have an active belief in a negative.  "Nonbelief is not an active conscious process."

I think you are confusing a negative position with having no position at all.  The fact that we are all on an Atheist board tells me we have all considered the question and taken a negative stance, not that we don't know what an Atheist or a Theist is because we have never considered the possibility.

Have you ever been scared of the dark, maybe as a kid or even as an adult in a creepy situation?  Then have you calmed yourself knowing that the likelihood of a monster/ bear/ criminal being in your immediate area is really very low?  Or maybe been afraid of a roller coaster or a flight or anything that we all know is basically safe and that statistically speaking the injury record is below 1%...that to make decisions logically one cannot base their decisions on remote possibilities?

This is a pretty basic process that I think we have all been through.  If you have been through it then you have had to convince yourself NOT to believe in something that you were pretty sure was NOT real to begin with.  You end up having a conversation with yourself: telling yourself over and over again that your fear is irrational and there is nothing to be afraid of.  In this situation you absolutely DO have to convince yourself of nonbelief.  That something is not real when your emotions and brain are screaming at you to get the hell away from the cliff edge because some freak gust of wind could blow you off.  

So really either way you slice it you had a spontaneous fear in fiction, or you had to maintain an active belief that something was not real to begin with.  

You have to have "Faith" that reality didn't suddenly flip itself.  Granted you have quite a bit of evidence to support the status quo so you might take issue with the use of the word faith with so much evidence...but just as you can never prove a negative there have been times when you witnessed an impossible feat and your belief in it's impossibility didn't matter at all...part of your primitive brain knows this and continues to plan for crazy situations as a survival instinct.

That is exactly what some of these theists are up against...irrational fear of being faithless.  For some it can actually be a very real fear of losing all family and friends they have ever known because the whole community is connected through religion.  For others it can be a fear of lost  time and energy.  For both I think it absolutely is a leap of faith because they can't remember a time when they weren't religious and embracing a new unknown (Atheism) is scary.  They will have to convince themselves that their fear is irrational and baseless.  They will have to believe that being an Atheist will be okay and they won't feel more lost than they already feel...they will actually feel empowered and life will make more sense and not less.

Let's define faith as a belief in the unknown with little to no evidence.  Having never led that lifestyle themselves they will need a certain amount of "faith" that it's okay and that the system of rationality not only works but is somehow better.

I'm reminded of the people who have been faced with a choice between 2 crappy options and have elected to make no choice...but isn't making no choice a choice in itself? 

All that to say there is a world of difference between never having been asked the question...and having been asked the question and taking a negative stance.

I do get where you are coming from though, I don't want you to think I don't...I just think it could be phrased or defined in a more accurate way.

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.


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