I hear it all the time, “it takes more faith to be an atheist than it does to believe in God.” This popular Christian argument claims that in order for atheists to reject the claim that god exists, we must first know everything that there is to know. What those who use this argument are basically saying is that atheists must know the entire set of facts about the universe before we can look and that set as a whole and see that their God is not included in that set of facts. Of course this argument is just absurd.
First it claims that atheists are claiming to know with faith-based, dogmatic, absolute certainty that God does not exist. While some atheists might claim that, this is really just a false caricature or “strawman” of what most atheists think. Most atheists simply see no evidence and thus no valid reason to believe.
Second, this argument assumes that we have to know what is in order to know what isn’t. I’m not a computer expert and so if someone asked me how a computer works, I really couldn’t tell them. But if someone told me that there is a gerbil inside running on a wheel which powers the computer, I would be more than just a bit skeptical of such a claim. In truth, I would call such a claim ridiculous and so would you. Even though I don’t personally know how computers work, I am reasonably certain that gerbils are not involved. I would need to see some pretty solid evidence to convince me otherwise. I don’t need to know everything about computers to know that gerbils running in a wheel inside my computer are not in that set of facts. Common sense informs me that gerbils do not power the computer. So the claim that one must know everything that is, in order to know one thing that isn’t, is just absurd.
Third, this argument focuses on the Christian god, but we could really switch that focus to anything or even any god for that matter. What about the god Zeus? Christians would have to admit that if their argument is true and that in order to reject belief in something, we would need to know everything, than they would have to admit that they should also believe in the god Zeus because to not believe would mean that they know everything about the universe and see that Zeus is not in that set of knowledge. It is just such an absurdly ridiculous argument and yet Christians seem to use it all the time. They seem to forget that their particular god isn’t the only god ever imagined. The fact is that it still takes more faith to believe in imagined deities than it does to simply lack that belief.
Check out the rest of the Atheism 101 Series.