Why he’s an Atheist

Hemant Mehta, author of the blog Friendly Atheist responded to a writing prompt asking for an explanation for why one is an Atheist in 200 words or less.  I found his response interesting — unimpressive, but interesting.

I’m an atheist because I appreciate honesty and questioning, something religions discourage.

I hear this often from Atheists.  Religions, they say, discourage free thinking and asking questions.  My experience tells me otherwise.  I have regularly attended at least half a dozen churches spanning different denominations and none have ever discouraged asking what many would consider tough questions — and I ask a lot.  The last church I attended I would ask/challenge regularly because I didn’t assent to many of their stances on theological issues.  They welcomed the questions and even indulged my persistent challenges.  Do Atheists have some inside knowledge of churches that I don’t?  How would they know, not being church goers and all?  Not even the Bible demands a blind unquestioning faith.

I’m an atheist because I like to follow the evidence where it leads, which is away from any notion of God.

Here’s the thing about evidence.  It doesn’t lead anywhere.  Evidence requires interpretation.  What I have found is that Atheists tend to equivocate evidence and strength of evidence.  Evidence is the facts of a matter, but the strength or degree of evidence is a subjective assessment which may or may not lead someone to concede their position. People tend to think of evidence in concrete terms as though if something is evidence will force a particular conclusion.  Like finger prints on a murder weapon forces the conclusion that a specific individual touched the weapon at some point.  But not everyone will place the same value on the same evidence.  The evaluation of any particular evidence depends upon who interprets it.

The Atheist often arbitrarily limits what qualifies as evidence and gives the false impression there is no evidence for God.  Requiring naturalistic evidence for a supernatural being or event seems counterintuitive, especially if the event occurred in the distant past where a relatively sparse amount written documentation has survived.  Only with the presumption of naturalism can we require purely naturalistic boundaries.  Often when the skeptic claims there isn’t a shred of evidence for God, what they mean is there are no physical artifacts to examine.  But on what grounds must we accept that the only kinds of valid evidence is physical in nature?  Many events are only evidenced by eye-witness testimony.  Testimony is evidence.  Take for example sports records from times before video or audio recordings.  Winners and losers, scores and stats; testimony and written records are the only evidence we have of the events.  There is no physical evidence of who won the first professional baseball game, we cannot examine the ball and determine who played; or dig up the ground and conclude the score.  It is not the case that because there is no physical evidence, that there is no evidence whatsoever.

So while the evidence for God may not force you to abandon your view, it is not the same as no evidence.  No one can force you to change your opinions.  Arbitrarily defining what qualifies as considerable evidence is unreasonable and intellectually dishonest.

I’m an atheist because, if you imagined a world without a God, it would look remarkably similar to the world in which we live.

I don’t know how he can know this to be true.  It’s kind of like imagining what the world would look like if your parents didn’t exist.  Presuming God exists for a moment, how would you know what the world would look like if He didn’t?  There are far too many counter-factuals which are impossible to imagine to make this claim with any degree of certainty.

I’m an atheist because I’m an equal-opportunity denier when it comes to gods. I treat the Christian God no different from the Hindu Gods, the Muslim God, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Treating the Biblical God no different from other gods is to admit one hasn’t researched further than other Atheist blogs for information.  The FSM was an intentional parody invented to mock religion — an admitted farce.  But the other world’s major religions do not have the same philosophically defendable origins as does Christianity.  In other words, other religions’ claims for their veracity are either historically or philosophically flawed to the point where they are rendered false — impossible to be true.

I’m an atheist because I’ve seen what religious people are capable of doing with their faith, and it frightens me.

I have two words and a punctuation mark: so what?  There are religious people who do immoral and evil things and there are non-religious people who do immoral and evil things.

I’m an atheist because there’s nothing a person of faith can do that a person without faith cannot.

I have two words and a punctuation mark: so what?  For all the people of faith who have abused others, would we really say they so out number those who have acted to benefit their fellow man that we should doubt God exists?  How are we judging this?

I’m an atheist because I don’t need false hope to get me through the day.

I would agree with this, who wouldn’t?  But this is rather presumptuous isn’t it?  Does Mehta think the religious use the hope of their religious convictions to “get them through the day”?  I mean, as thoroughly convinced as I am that my religious convictions are true, I wouldn’t say they “get me through the day”.  Is there the perception that if the religious weren’t believers they would just melt down and lose the ability to function?  C’mon now.

I’m an atheist because it’s the only rational position to take.

Now this one I’m interested in.  I would love to hear the rational arguments for why atheism is true.  As of yet, every Atheist I beg to provide evidences which lead to the conclusion that no gods exist tells me they don’t have to prove their view is true.  They say it’s logical, rational, obvious and true, but refuse to argue for it.  Go figure.

Did anyone else notice none of these “reasons” are actually reasons to believe God doesn’t exist?  If this isn’t obvious just read each reason out loud and add “therefore, God doesn’t exist”.  Go ahead, it will sound funny.  You know why?  Because they aren’t reasons to believe God doesn’t exist.  They are rhetorical slogans.  The only people who will find these to be clear and convincing reasons to believe God doesn’t exist are other Atheists, and that’s saying something.

Comments

  1. Atheism moves the reference point from objective to subjective. This fellow thinks he is making moral sense simply because he is using himself as a reference point. With that thinking anything could be moral to any one… and who would he be to question it, or worse to impose his own internal reference point on someone else? He, like all human beings on this unhappy planet, is a hypocrite. He just doesn’t realize it.

  2. I’m glad for Hemant that he doesn’t need belief in God to get him through the day. Some people on both sides don’t, but some of us are not that lucky. Still, unless he’s suggesting that people believe in God because they need him, the point is moot. I might as well say Hemant doesn’t believe in God because he doesn’t need him.
    I need water to get through the day. It also exists. Even if I only believed in it because I need it, that would be no reason to deny its existence.

    In the case of God’s existence, all that need does is force people to think about the issue. I’ve heard it said that it’s okay to be an atheist as long as you’re young, healthy and relatively well to do. That way you have no reason to think about God, much less believe in him. He doesn’t feature in your life. But if you need him, or at least if you are forced to go through hardships, you have ample reason to wonder why the world is the way it is and if there is a God.

    That said, I have a piece of advice for him. When you want to talk about why you don’t believe in God, use arguments that lead to the conclusion ‘God does not exist’, rather than statements about your psychological state.

Any Thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: