Atheism isn’t supported by any evidence

After seeing the confused and incorrect statement that “atheism isn’t supported by evidence” for the umpteenth time, I thought I’d simply write a fairly lengthy response in hopes of allowing me to either copy/paste or merely post a link the next gazillion times I see it posted somewhere…

When one makes a claim, they have to offer a reason for someone to accept it. This is known as a warrant. Different people may accept different warrants for different reasons. For instance, someone may accept the claim that the person emailing them is really a Nigerian prince in a bit of a financial bind because their eagerness to get rich quick overrides their skepticism. Likewise, some people will consider a candidate’s campaign promises as a warrant for electing them without first checking their record.

When it comes to the issue of gods, the believer is the claimant. They are claiming that their god(s) exist. Someone else then asks for a warrant to accept this claim. Most seem willing to accept warrants for god claims that for anything else would be unacceptable (ie – emotional appeals, faith, etc), while others hold such claims to the same standard that they’d hold claims by alleged Nigerian princes and even claims that it’s safe to cross the street. That standard is requiring evidence as a necessary warrant. Those who do this have no choice but to not accept such claims since there is no evidence for any gods, and are then called atheists.

Now to be clear, there are some atheists who assert that there are no gods, but that is a claim without hard evidence, but still arguably supported in part by the lack of evidence to support the existence of a god. There are also atheists who assert there are no gods purely on faith or as a dogmatic tenet of some faith based religion (ie – sects of Buddhism, Scientology, Raellians, etc). However, the vast majority of atheists I’ve ever heard of or encountered are the type of atheists I described earlier who, due to esteeming logic and evidence, don’t accept any god claims for they all lack necessary warrants.

So what all this means is that your statement, “atheism isn’t supported by evidence” is a nonsensical statement for it’s not the atheist making a claim, it’s the theist. The atheist has no burden of proof since he or she is not making a claim, but rather examining a theist’s claim and finding it lacking a sufficient warrant for acceptance.

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14 Responses to “Atheism isn’t supported by any evidence”

  1. Succinctly and clearly written. That doesn't mean that some people won't get your point, but you can't be blamed for others' fuzzyheadedness.

  2. You're right, of course. But unfortunately, in a country where god-acceptance is the given, and atheists are considered "out of step," we're often asked for evidence to support our "beliefs." That's why debates between theists and atheists usually devolve into nonsense.

    When challenged about my so-called "beliefs," the simplest answer, I've found, is to turn that around by saying, "Well, I don't have any beliefs. I'd love to accept yours. So, could you explain why I should?" That kind of statement puts the "conversation" in its proper framework. The believer is then not arguing against my imagined -ism, but in favor of his or hers.

    The rest, obviously, is simple.

    In summary: Atheists should never argue for atheism, but only against unprovable claims.

  3. Cast not pearls before swine, eh?

  4. Yeah, that's pretty good or else we're just like Graham Chapman frustratingly yelling in the land of Spam.

    Btw, when I got home today there was a Jesus flyer on the door. Why do those people usually come around when I'm not here?

  5. Theism should be rejected on 3 grounds. Logos, that there is no real evidence for gods. Ethos, that there are far more intelligent and successful individuals whom reject religious dogmas than there are that follow them. Pathos, that the religious leaders are a bunch of conniving jerks whom abuse and exploit their followers for personal gain.

  6. Just discover Aristotle, did we? Logos is really all that's required. Pathos is for selling snake oil or charming your way into someone's pants. Ethos is largely bunk as well, except for perhaps witness testimony in court.

    If Darwin were a conniving jerk, would that somehow affect the legitimacy of evolution?

  7. Quantum:
    No offense, but using Aristotle's categories for judging your comment:
    Logos: There's no real evidence for any of the statements you've made.
    Ethos: What's your authority?
    Pathos: You didn't touch my emotions.

    Look, if you want to be a wiseguy spouting atheistic platitudes, that's your business (although a touch of wit wouldn't be bad). But if you're really interested in making an effective argument, you need to be able to navigate between all three styles. (Sorry, Philly, but I think you'll agree when you read the next paragraph.)

    Pure Logos is ineffective with most religionists because their Faith trumps your Logic. Always. That's why I love to use Pathos (poor unbelieving me; could you show me the light?) to put them in the position of wanting to provide a logical argument. Inevitably, their reasoning fails to stand up to the most "innocent" questions. So they trot out Ethos: their bible, or the huge number of people who believe in their particular brand of bullshit (so it must be true, eh?), or their own personal experience ("I've seen what God can do.") But Ethos works only if both sides agree on who is and who isn't an authority. I don't accept any of their authorities — and, chances are, they won't accept mine, even if I quote the Constitution or cite facts largely agreed upon by the scientific community or ask them to think about what they already know to be true. So eventually, it's back to Pathos for them: "I know it in my heart! You're going to hell."

    And that's the moment when the conversation's over.

  8. Because they're afraid of godless red-headed giants.

  9. I'll have to start shouting, "fe, fi, fo, fum, I smell the blood of a Chr-ist-ian!"

  10. The problem is, none of that actually works. They don't have a logical argument to present, their entire position is based on blind faith and if you cannot accept everything they have to say with the same uncritical blind faith, then *YOU* are the one at fault, not their religious beliefs. No matter how you argue, no matter how many inconsistencies you point out, no matter how bad you make their God look, it won't change a damn thing, they're still going to believe it because they are unable to conceive of the notion that they might possibly be wrong.

    The conversation is over before it begins because you're not debating with rational, intelligent people to begin with.

  11. That's just something that I remember in taking an English writing class about arguments. If humans were entirely logical then there would be no need for appeal to authority and emotion, but in that case religions wouldn't exist.

  12. [singing} Ho-Ho-Ho, Gree...err...Red Giant.

  13. Pathos is for … charming your way into someone's pants.

    I never was good at pathos.

  14. Theist: There's more to life than evidence.
    Dara O'Briain: uh huh. Get in the fucking sack

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