Friday, March 5, 2010

“Atheists Have Faith”

The following comment was left anonymously on Adam’s post:
As far as I can tell you use faith as much as your parents do.  With exactly the same type of evidence.  You see everything as evidence that there is no God, but as far as I can tell you haven't proved it.  You can't, anymore then someone can prove there IS a God.  You can't know for sure that there isn't, anymore then I can no for sure that there is.  You have faith that there is no God and things just happen the way they happen, but you can't prove there is no divine being influencing things, anymore then I could prove to you that there is.  And you have little patience w/ people that do not share the same faith, which is common regardless of which faith is followed. Because everyone believes they are correct.  You have faith my man.  Your logic is as good or faulty as anyone elses. [sic]
I have a few things to say to that…but first, a comic:
logic{taken from The Godless Paladin} 
By this reasoning it would be just as valid to believe there is an invisible pink unicorn watching over us all from a rainbow castle in the sky as it would be to not believe in such a being. By this reasons it would be just as valid to believe there in Thor, or Vishnu, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster as it is to not believe in such gods.
Calling atheism, or NON-belief, “faith” is like calling NOT collecting stamps a hobby.
And it’s ridiculous.
It does not take faith to not believe in something for which there is no evidence. Would you say it takes faith to not believe in the boogey-man? Does it take faith to not believe in fairies? Does it take faith to not believe in Russell’s teapot? What’s that? I’ll let Russell explain:
If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is an intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time. {via Wikipedia}
You’re arguing that since you cannot prove nor disprove the existence of a supreme being then it must be equally reasonable to believe in such as it is to not believe and that both views require faith {nevermind the fact that specific religions and their claims can be shown to be untrue – we’ll focus merely on the abstract concept of a supernatural being called “God”}.
Richard Dawkins argued that “if agnosticism demands giving equal respect to the belief and disbelief in a supreme being, then it must also give equal respect to belief in an orbiting teapot, since the existence of an orbiting teapot is just as plausible scientifically as the existence of a supreme being.” And Peter Atkins “said that the core point of Russell's teapot is that a scientist cannot prove a negative, and therefore Occam's razor demands that the more simple theory (in which there is no supreme being) should trump the more complex theory (with a supreme being).”
But now I’d like to take a moment to address specific parts of your asinine and cliché comment. Let’s start with:
“You see everything as evidence that there is no God”
No, we see the fact that there IS NO evidence for God as a pretty damn big sign that there probably is not one. We’re 6’s leaning 7 on the spectrum of theistic probability. When we say “there is no evidence for God’s existence” it is not the same as saying “we have evidence for God’s non-existence” {again, you can’t prove a negative}. Your reasoning in twisting our statements on the matter is fallacious.
“You have faith that there is no God and things just happen the way they happen…”
I’ve already explained the error of the “atheists have faith too” argument. What I want to address here is the second half of this statement. If you are referring to evolution when you say “things just happen” please READ A DAMN BOOK on evolution. I don’t have the time nor the patience to lay out for you the science. I don’t particularly feel like banging my head against a wall trying to explain the ridiculousness of the “just happens” argument against evolution when other, much better writers, have already done so {see also The Selfish Gene and The God Delusion}. Or at least start by reading the following:
“And you have little patience w/ people that do not share the same faith, which is common regardless of which faith is followed.”
Again, non-belief is not the same as belief. I don’t think I need to spell that out a million times but who knows? Maybe I do. But ignoring that issue for a moment…you say I have little patience with people that do not think the way I do. I’m sorry? Do we know you? I didn’t realize you were an authority on how we feel about other people. I can't speak for Adam. But here’s what I don’t have patience for:
  • I don’t have patience for nonsense. I don’t have patience for illogical arguments. I don’t have patience for poorly thought-out comments and assertions that have no evidence. And, on occasion, I lack patience with the people who espouse them as truth, or as world-views on equal footing with those that are based on evidence.
  • I don’t have patience for faiths that require 10% of their adherents income, no matter how poor they may be all while wasting BILLIONS of dollars buying land, building malls, and remodeling perfectly good buildings for their Masonic rip-off rituals. I don’t have patience for faiths that treat women and gays like lesser persons than men but say it’s OK because really, it’s God that is the sexist/hetero-sexist. I don’t have patience for faiths that lie about their history. Would you like me to keep going?
But despite those strong feelings I manage to maintain relationships with people who believe in God. You don’t know me. You don’t know how much patience it takes to keep my mouth shut when my friends say things that make me want to scream. You don’t know how much patience it takes to watch my family and friends sacrifice so much for faiths that abuse their faithfulness and yet be quiet because it’s what they want from me.
You have no idea just how much patience it takes to be a secularist in a religious world without going completely postal. Aside from dealing with trite, apologetic comments like yours, I live in a world where people fight to teach children fairy tales instead of science in our public schools. 48% of Americans openly admit they they would not vote for an atheist. People legislate their bible-based morality instead of making laws that are equitable for all based on evidence and principles of acceptance and fairness. People throw hissy-fits about using the phrase “Happy Holidays” to refer to a season which, in fact, includes several different holidays {including Christmas which was appropriated from a Pagan celebration}. I live in a world in which people expect me to “respect” their beliefs because they are religious in nature, not on their merits. Adults all over the world insist on believing in fairy tales, including the Christian fairytale whose God is a sadistic bastard {read the Bible and tell me a deity who commands genocide and carries out the murder of innocent children isn’t reprehensible}. And on top of all that these same people turn around and say there’s something wrong with US for not believing in their delusion. So don’t presume to tell me about patience. This blog is the one place I don’t have to be patient.
And finally, in regards to your closing statement:
“Your logic is as good or faulty as anyone elses.” [sic]
I think I have shown that, when it comes to your logic, that is clearly not that case.
Note: Anonymous comments get treated a certain way ‘round here. If you don’t respect your opinion enough to put your name on it, then why should I respect your opinion? I point this out because I want my readers to know that should they want to leave comments I’ll try to play nicely, assuming they’re brave enough to own their words. I say that as a person who, when I was still a believer, DID put my name on my comments when I (and I’m not proud of this) defended Prop H8. I did it, but it terrified me. So I understand why you might not be willing to do the same. I would just like to say that if you’re not willing to link your name with your beliefs on the matter then please ask yourself why that is.