Thursday, July 19, 2007

A Challenge for Atheists and Other Nonbelievers

It's well known that theists, especially Christians, are fond of stating categorically that there are no real atheists. Or telling atheists and other nonbelievers that they are too moral, nice, ethical, etc. not to believe in God. Atheists just don't know that they believe in God.

Here's the challenge:

Is it possible to rephrase and rework some of the presentations of Christian conviction(s) to imply that believers are "really" atheists or better yet "quasi-atheist"?

My thinking is to present an attack and series of arguments that would put apologists for Christianity on the defensive.

I freely admit that this is more likely to be a rhetorical/debater's trick than an honest and down-to-earth criticism.


  1. Any suggestions on how to word such a rebuke?

  2. My challenge would revolve around an idea I first articulated sometime back when dealing with a particular fetish of mine-- creationism. It runs like this: "Now, as a six year old I invoked an unseen entity– the thing under the bed– and refused to go to sleep. I was told, by my devout parents, to look under the bed. I looked. They looked. They told me, apparently not realizing the implications for their faith, that if I couldn’t see it or hear it or touch it, then it isn’t there and can’t hurt me."

    The idea is that in most aspects of life people realize just how silly it is to believe in unseen, unverifiable things. You could argue then, that by applying the rules across the board 'believers' don't 'really' believe in unseen, unverifiable entities either.

    Really though people believe-- in a lot of things, not just religion-- irrationally and inconsistently so the best you can get with this is a kind of conditional 'if you want to be consistent' argument. And if I may be snarky, most believers have long since abandoned that condition.

  3. Part of the motivation for this challenge is to come up with something new.

    I wouldn't expect to persuade very many Christians that they are crypto-atheists, any more than atheists are persuaded that they are crypto-believers.

    It's also possible that nothing will come of this challenge. I am not all sure of what I'm after.


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