Why Atheism is not a Matter of Faith


Many argue that a rational, non-theist worldview requires the same kind of faith as a theist worldview. Since the theories and evidence of the scientific method are inconclusive, they say, and therefore don’t rule out the possibility that everything around us is the design and creation of a divine being, then atheists and agnostics rely as much on faith in the scientific method as theists do on faith in god.

But this argument rests on an insurmountable flaw: Since reason operates according to predictable, verifiable principles, faith is not required. Logic tells me that if I measure the time it takes for a ball to fall to the ground, then the next time I drop the same ball from the same height, the time taken will be the same. I don’t have faith that this will happen, I have a rational theory and evidence to support it. I can repeat the experiment as many times as I wish with ultimate confidence in the result.

Uncertainty of Prayers

I won’t belabor the point that faith doesn’t have the same level of predictability or verifiability: We pray with no certainty of the result. When something happens that was untoward, it is God’s will. When something happens in our favor, it is God’s will.

I will, however, point out that whereas an atheist, by definition, doesn’t rely on faith in God, a theist does rely on reason in his or her everyday life. Whether they see it or not, everyone goes through life relying on reasoned analysis, on the predictability and verifiability of a rational worldview. When driving a car, for instance, a theist trusts that by applying pressure to the brake they will slow the car. This is not a matter of faith, it is a matter of the theists reasoned approach to life and staying alive.

We all draw logical conclusions from facts.

We all make a presumption that the world will continue to operate in the way that it has operated in our experience. We rely on the fundamental processes of space, time, and causality. When we flick a light switch, we expect the light to come on because we understand that electricity operates according to the laws of physics.

Those who believe in God live their lives to a great extent by the same reasoned principles as those who don’t believe in God. And when a believer uses reason and logic, they use it because it is sensible and predictable, just as a non-believer does. The difference is that the theist, at some point, turns away from reason and logic and chooses to resort to faith, despite logical evidence to the contrary.

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