Imagine yourself walking along a path to an unknown destination. Your quest is to find the answers to your most puzzling questions, the kind that creep up on you while you lie alone in bed failing to fall asleep or blindside you in an enjoyable situation on an idle Thursday.
You walk a great distance and as you do, you encounter many other travelers who claim to know where you're going, how to get there, and what experiences you'll have once you do finally arrive.
While on this path, you arrive at a chasm in the earth. Whether you look left or right, the chasm stretches beyond your vision. And the distance across seems too great to attempt a jump, But you can see that the path continues on the other side.
What do you do?
Do you accept the chasm as your answer?
Do you adopt a fellow travelers proposed answers and inform newcomers of it as they walk along their path?
Do you try to go around the chasm? Which way? Why? And how can you be sure there is indeed a way around and that your choice will lead you to that method of crossing?
Do you attempt the leap?
All of these are acts of faith. Some place their faith in "the chasm" the idea that there are no answers to be had. Some place their faith in what they are told the answers are. Some continue their search for answers in whatever way is available to them...never being certain that the answers are attainable. Some take a leap of faith into the unknown without the comfort of knowing that they're going to land on their feet rather than on their head. The point in all this is that no matter what you think the truth is....it takes a great deal of faith to hold it yourself as true when you haven't seen it yourself.
This is a concept that I find many atheists(*sorry anti-theists) miss when adamantly arguing their plethora of claims against the practice of faith. I say it takes an awful lot of faith to claim there is no "god". You can suppose there is no god, you can lean toward "maybe there isn't". But you lack sufficient evidence to back your claims, while criticising faith based thinkers of the same flaw of logic.
What a strange analogy.
It takes zero faith to claim there is no evidence for god/s. First of all, we need to establish which god/s you are referring to and then you need to define it. As an atheist I do not claim that some sort of god could not exist somewhere in the universe. However, I see no evidence of any supernatural being existing in ours.
The christian god is easy to disprove. The definition is poor, there is nothing in the bible apart from special pleading that could lead to the conclusion that it exists. An absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence, but where there is an absence of evidence where you would expect to find it, then that is a pretty good indicator that what you are looking for isn't there. If god/s act on our reality in any way, then it will be observable and measurable. If god/s does not act upon our reality in any way. then it cannot be differentiated from something that does not exist.
Theism and atheism ONLY address one proposition - that a god/s exists. The theist says "God exists" the atheist says "I don't believe you" "Show me the evidence for your claim and if it stands up to scrutiny. I will believe you"
So far, none of the evidence offered has stood up to scrutiny.
"I bet a lot of people looked at Galileo and said.... "Despite what you say, all evidence available leads us to say the world is flat"
Now look how foolish that was"
And on the evidence they had from their observations, it would not be unreasonable for them to think this. The earth is so much bigger than a person and most people had neither the equipment nor education to question what they could see. Once Galileo managed to educate the educators, his (and others' evidence was scrutinised and verified and consensus shifted to "the earth is spherical".
When theists present some verifiable evidence for their god, I will become a theist. Not until.
And I don't wander aimlessly, not knowing where I am going - and if I am and I find a chasm, I'll continue to wander aimlessly away from the chasm, because all the evidence I have tells me that trying to jump a chasm that's too far to jump is a bad idea. And that doesn't take faith either.
See it seems as though many of you have missed the intention of the post. This isn't a topic designed to draw out the arguments of either side. Its not about correctness in either direction. This is a post about humility.and the argument to hold humility as a virtue.
Humility is the sudden and often uncomfortable realization and/or reminder that one is human. And that because one is human they are quite able to be incorrect, imperfect, and fallible. Conviction of any kind can be a crutch. Shouldn't lean on that crutch too much. Because you never know when some asshole is gonna come along and kick it out from under you with their big paradigm shifting boot causing you to crash down and learn humility the hard way.
Ok. I'm just as inclined to suppose that God doesn't exist as any of you. Am am equally inclined to suppose that the existence of God is possible. The probability is irrelevant. I'm not even saying you can't be atheist, anti theist, or theist. I am simply pointing out that none of us know for fact. Were all just sitting around theorizing and making suppositions and assumptions based on what we do currently have. But we don't know everything. We still have things to discover as a species.
And keep that burden of proof crap where it belongs. In a court of law. And this most certainly isn't a court of law. Rather, this... Is a hall of debate. And in a hall of debate both sides bear the burden of proof. Now sure I will grant the lead in points to atheism and antitheism. But just because you can dismantle your opponents argument with acute precision however terse or verbose...doesn't mean you have been awarded certainty.... Or victory for that matter.
Again its not that one can't be atheist or anti theist. Its that one can't stand with head held high ever so proudly and state that in this matter they are in fact correct. So sit down and be humble.
Lots of comments here. A lot of people missed what I was implying here. So I put it too you more plainly.
A theist and and anti-theist walk into a bar. Naturally an argument ensues.
Theist: there is a God! I have all the proof here in this book.
Anti- theist: there is no God. Your proof is fallable.
The argument ensues this way for quite some time and the debate gets intense. Until the barkeep chimes in.
Bartender: obviously you two have reached an impasse... Which means there might be something out there in the world that supports either of your claims...it is just yet to be discovered. If this matters so much that you'll sit here an argue with each other until I have a headache.... Then why not search for the answer before claiming to know it.
Theists are going to be surprised if when they die they find out there isn't a god.... Just as much non believers will be if there ends up being one.
I bet a lot of people looked at Galileo and said.... "Despite what you say, all evidence available leads us to say the world is flat"
Now look how foolish that was
As long as there is a belief, either way, there is doubt. Doubt is a mental state in which the mind remains suspended between two or more contradictory ideas, unable to completely agree with either of them. In this case indecision between belief and disbelief. Even believers who are strong in their conviction wrestle with doubt. The archbishop of Canterberry once proclaimed that he doubted whether god existed after his daughter died. I've seen plenty of profiles on this website where their certainty of god not existing is somewhere between 90-99.9%. That means there is some doubt, even if you believe god does not exist. Me, I'm a 99.9% 'er.
Now for those people who 'know' god does not exist at 100%, then for them, there is no belief, it's a known fact. Incontrovertible.
For those with a belief, faith is persisting in the presence of doubt. Faith becomes then a commitment, a practice and a pact that is usually sustained by belief.
The metaphorical chasm represents to me, a full letting go of all beliefs. All those thoughts that we hold onto to define us, to make us feel safe, certain, secure as a personality. This includes, as an obvious example, the belief that there is a separate 'god' that will protect us from harm if we believe in him.I think it is also a process of unknowing or unlearning some of those things that we feel we are certain of. There's a whole lotta 'I don't know' in that chasm. One thing for sure, those that let themselves walk into the (metaphorical) chasm don't do it because thinking mind tells them it's the rational thing to do. It is an act of faith.
I think I understand your chasm. Existence as a consciously aware entity presents one huge, overwhelming mystery. You can hide from that mystery by clinging to religious dogma or to scientism, but in so doing you miss out on a breathtaking vista.
As for me, I am just standing in awe, looking. Don’t know what else to do except communicate with people like you.
It takes no faith to claim there isn’t a god. The absence of a god isn’t even a claim. It’s an apparent fact until evidence is presented to the contrary. It’s impossible to prove any negative; the burden of proof is always on the positive claim of something existing.
If I said there are no one eyed one horned flying purple people eaters it wouldn’t take faith like someone who says there is. You’d have to show evidence there was one for someone to use faith to believe the contrary.
Sorry, but you are placing the burden of proof on the side that is requiring evidence. Religious "faith" is based solely on that; faith. It requires you to accept that for which there is no proof. Nonbelievers don't believe BECAUSE there is no proof. They are not required to disprove that which cannot be proven. Any assertion by anyone of the existence of a thing carries with it the burden of proof. Not the other way around. For this reason, I believe your example/analogy above is flawed.
Unless and until there is credible, verifiable evidence of any god, it's reasonable to assert that there aren't any. I don't have to prove there is no "THERE" there. There's never been any evidence to prove there is.
I can't even tell you "nice try", because it wasn't.
I build a bridge.
Atheism isn't faith, it's actually very simple.
Theists make up an answer to a question humanity cannot answer
Atheists know that answer is bullshit
Agnostics aren't sure if that answer is bullshit
It's not open-mindedness to consider that theists could be right. It's a lack of critical thinking that won't allow you to rule out obviously incorrect answers. If I told you I invented the universe last Thursday by farting into a soda can, and then also created all the memories of everyone on the planet by slapping a walrus, then created all the evidence of our scientific history by screaming slurs at a child, you can't prove me wrong. But I am obviously lying, why is what I said different from theism?
Theism has for as long as it's been around, tried to convince humanity of exactly what you are now. Possibility equates to probability, which it does not. There are explanations inside of humanity that explain how religion came to be, and how it continues to this very day. It is not arrogance to know that what theists are selling is bullshit, it's arrogance to consider that it's possible just because we don't know it not to be. Humanity and what we believe has no bearing on reality, and it never has.
I know that theism is bullshit, and no I cannot prove it.
At the same time, you use critical thinking skills every day and rule out possibilities all the time. You can't seem to apply that same logic to religion though, which is a trick that religion has been playing since forever. Atheism and Theism are opposite sides of the same coin right?! No, they're not. They are not equally probable, and the fact that we can't prove them wrong (which by the way we have proven theism wrong repeatedly if you look at the texts) does not make them equal.
If you see a person walking towards you that came around a corner, is it equally probable that the person came into existence just before you saw them, or that they had been walking for a while and you can only see them now because something was in the way? You can't prove either, but you know the answer. Apply that same logic to religion and the answer is clear, we don't know the answer and theism is definitely bullshit.
I'm not anti-theist, but I'm really sick of agnostics acting as if I can't be an atheist because they can't consider that our belief has ZERO bearing on reality.
I don't need "faith" to know there is no god. You are entitled to your view, of course, which is one reason I love this site. But there is NO evidence there is a god/ess/s, so where is the need for faith? I'm not looking for evidence that there is NO god, there is no evidence that that there IS one.