Is Atheism A Faith?


No. Atheism is not a faith.

Faith means claiming something to be TRUE without any evidence
and despite evidence to the contrary.

If one claims that God exists, the burden of proof is on the person who makes a claim.

Atheism is a lack of belief in gods; as in, “I do not believe.”
But Atheism does not to claim certainty that there are no gods.
The Atheist does not claim gods are impossible, only that there is no reason to believe in a god.

So Atheism is a reaction to the claim that God exists.

Most Atheists are open to evidence of gods if it can be presented.
In contrast, how many Theists would open themselves to the possibility they are wrong? Rejecting evidence is one of the qualities of ‘faith.’


Is HARD ATHEISM a Faith?

Yes. Hard Atheism or Gnostic Atheism is the rare claim that all gods are impossible.
Most Atheists do not fit this category (Pew Research).
The burden of proof is on the person making such a claim of certainty.

If an Atheist makes a claim that all gods are impossible that would be a faith claim. Because faith is to claim truth without evidence. It is impossible to know for certain there isn’t a god hiding somewhere in the universe. So the claim fits the description of a faith.

Again, most Atheists do not claim anything of the sort.
They say, “I don’t believe in a god”, “Gods seem unlikely” or “Gods appear to be impossible” – these are not absolute claims of certainty. So Atheism by itself is not faith.  Similarly, when a Christian says, “I’m not certain about Jesus” they are expressing doubt, the opposite of faith; sounding exactly like an Atheist.

When there is no supporting demonstration of a claim,
it is no different from pretending (faith).

The vast majority of Atheists are not Hard Atheists (Pew Research).
Most Atheists simply do not believe in a god.
Most are open to any evidence demonstrating god exists.



RELIGIOUS FREEDOM FOR ALL
REQUIRES A ROBUST SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE

I would be just as concerned about an attempt by a government to enforce HARD Atheism as I would be about any other enforced religion.

If you are worried about Hard Atheism such as happened briefly in the French Revolution, or Sharia Law or any other enforced religious rule, the best defense is a robust separation of church and state.

Without Separation of Church and State all faiths can be equally dangerous.

When laws favor one faith over others freedom is in danger.
Countless dictators have enforced a ‘right’ faith and outlawed ‘wrong’ faiths.

The USA has a law to keep us safe from faith-based initiatives. There is no way for a faith (even Hard Atheism) to seize control in America as long as we have separation of church and state.

The Establishment Clause in the Constitution prohibits the government from establishing any religion or allowing enforcement of any religion over any other. America is still the only country on earth with such a law of separation:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

In other words, no religion gets favored status
to use the power of the state against the ‘wrong’ faiths. Separation keeps everyone free.

Historically, when any religion has been forced on a society under the power of law the results have been terrifying. During the French Revolution in 1794 as one example, a effort was made to enforce Hard Atheism in response to the power of the Catholic Church. A statue was erected in Notre Dame Cathedral of a Supreme Being to the Cult of Reason. It is remembered as the “Reign of Terror” and thousands were killed.

Cult of Reason is an oxymoron, which should have been a clue that it was just another faith claim. Again, putting one faith in front of others is how bad things happen.
Again, the separation of church and state is our best prevention.

Claims unsupported by evidence are a continuing problem in the world.
Such Faith-based Government programs, coupled with a generally credulous or superstitious population weened on religion, has been a dangerous combination for centuries.

The USA has figured out how to do religion safely.
May it stay that way.



But Atheists have faith in other areas of life, don’t they?
Why not just have faith in god?

No. We Atheists don’t have faith.
Instead of faith, I have confidence certain things will happen based on past results.

For example:
I don’t have faith in my wife, I have confidence in her based on our history.
I don’t have faith in gravity, I have confidence based on past experience that gravity exists.
I don’t have faith the earth will rotate to let the sun rise, I have confidence based on past experience.
I don’t have faith the traffic light will turn green, I have confidence based on past experience that red lights eventually turn green.

But God offers no past evidences to inspire any confidence.

What does it mean to say, “Have faith in God?”
I cannot point with confidence to anything a god has done (or not done) anywhere in any situation I have ever experienced in my life – nor has anyone else as far as they can demonstrate.

So far, God’s evidence is undetectable. And faith in something so undetectable looks exactly like pretending. Seems foolish to have confidence in something which has never been detectable.

I don’t mind speculating whether a god might exist.
And someday a god may be discovered. But I can’t claim “there is a god”
if I have no way to demonstrate it.

I hope it is clear. There is no faith in non-belief.
Atheism is not a faith.



If Atheism were a ‘faith’…

If Atheism were a ‘faith’, Christians would have to explain
how they actively disbelieve in all the other Gods of history.

Do Christians consider their lack of belief in Thor to be a faith?
Do they consider their lack of belief in Aphrodite to be a faith?
Do they consider their lack of belief in Genesha to be a faith?

You see what I mean? It takes no faith to disbelieve in things.
If it takes no effort at all. It should be clear
that Atheism is not a faith.



Do Atheists have faith in a NON GOD Universe?

No. It doesn’t work that way.
Again, a God of some kind might exist – I can’t claim it doesn’t.

And I don’t have a reason to believe one God, or two Gods, or 305 Gods started the universe.
And I also don’t have reason to believe a Mermaid didn’t start it.
Or a little magic leprechaun on the planet Zotar.

Without any evidence for how it all started
I simply say “I don’t know.”
The Cosmos, and our place in it, remains an interesting mystery.



Getting Comfortable Saying, ‘I Don’t Know.’

The truth is “I don’t know.”
I don’t know how the Universe started or even IF it started.
Perhaps the basic ingredients of the universe were always there.

If a god could have always existed, why not say the universe always existed?
Who knows? How could anyone be certain without more data?
There are so many possibilities, I cannot pretend to imagine them all.

Seems ridiculous to say, “I KNOW” when it is so far impossible to know.
And if one does not know, one cannot then add, “Now I KNOW…. it had to be a God.”
How would you arrive at that? It doesn’t follow. Why not two gods? or 400? Or a non-god we can’t even understand?

I await any evidence and look forward
with great curiosity to any discoveries about gods.
Until then, I avoid claims which are not supported by any evidence.


 

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2 Responses to Is Atheism A Faith?

  1. yancywsmith says:

    Reading your blog. I’m curious, where did you come up with the hard distinction between confidence and faith? I don’t have any confidence, or faith for that matter in your distinction. I’m a language person, so I am quite skeptical about language games. Once you’ve learned a language, it is difficult to unlearn one. But if you have not learned one, you cannot make up for the lack, you have to trust what someone who had learned one can tell you. So “confidence” is simply another word for “faith” (despite your protestations). This is true both in normal usage as well as in etymology, two lines of evidence that together are considered quite strong. Both words are from Latin fides “trust, faith, confidence, reliance, credence, belief,” from root of fidere “to trust,” from PIE root *bheidh- “to trust” (source also of Greek pistis “faith, confidence, honesty;” see bid). For sense evolution, see belief. I would like to believe your statement that atheists do not have faith, but find your assertions simply vacuous. So, do you have any evidence supporting your claim that faith and confidence are so distinct?

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    • Atheist Max says:

      Yancywsmith,
      The difference between Faith and Confidence:

      CONFIDENCE:
      If I apply the brakes on my car and they work very well I can have confidence, based on the evidence of my experience, the brakes will work again.

      My brakes on my car are LIKELY to work based on my experience of having seen them work very well.
      Confidence in my brakes is based on my experience in actually applying them and witnessing how well they work.

      FAITH
      is just a word for pretending something will function even though there is no reason to believe it will function.

      Dead people do not rise up and live after being dead for 3 days.
      So there is no reason to believe this really happened to Jesus.

      Faith is not the same as confidence.
      Faith is claiming something to be TRUE even though there is NO EVIDENCE for this ever having happened before – and against all evidence which says it is impossible.

      I do not have faith in my car’s brakes – I have confidence based on past experience. I have REASONS to believe my car brakes will work.

      Faith would be like getting in a car which has no brakes and pretending
      the brakes will work when there is no reason to think they will. A car with no brakes will crash – whether you have faith in them or not.

      Confidence is based on real experience.
      Confidence based on past results is exactly why we know Water will freeze at 32 degrees.
      I do not have “Faith” that water will freeze at 32 degrees. I have CONFIDENCE based on past experience the water will always freeze at 32 degrees unless the water is moving, in which case it will not freeze – and I know that based on past experience.

      Confidence is knowledge based reliability.

      Faith is nonsense – it is explicitly reserved for things for which there is no evidence and it is therefor an irresponsible approach whenever it is applied.

      Like

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