“I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist”

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This is pretty commonly heard in debates (or conversations) about religion. One person will be stating why she doesn’t believe in god(s), and someone else will say “I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist.”

This is meant to be a clever way of saying: “Atheists bug me. They’re so cock sure they’re right. I don’t have enough gall (balls) to be that sure about something as important as the existence of god. Personally I will just assume god exists until it’s proven otherwise.”

The suggestion here is that atheism involves its own sort of faith. But, sorry, this involves a fundamental misunderstanding of atheism. It is not just another “position of faith” like Islam or Christianity or Mormonism.

It is the claim that “faith” is not enough to establish the truth of one religion or another. Atheism is fundamentally a skeptical position. Its primary claim is that there is no credible evidence to support most of the beliefs put forward by virtually all religions. This is because religion thinks “faith” can be substituted for evidence. The atheist says “No way. Show me the evidence.”

Ironically, even most devoutly religious people accept the need for evidence in every other area of their lives. But when it comes to religion just about any ridiculous claim (miracles, prayer, virgin birth, transubstantiation, etc., etc.) will be believed simply because it is accepted doctrine in whatever religious group one happens to belong to.