Atheism is based on faith

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Apologists often claim that atheism is based on faith — that is, not believing in a god requires just as much faith as belief does, if not more. Norman Geisler expressed this argument in the title of his book, I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist.



Let Us Reason Ministries offers this expression of the argument:[1]

"To be an Atheist one would have to be omniscient knowing all things having a perfect knowledge of the universe, to say they absolutely know God does not exist. For one to do this they would have to personally inspected all places in the present known universe and in all time, having explored everywhere seen and unseen."

Theists treat belief in God as a default belief, and they will often back this up with some variation of the argument from design.

Moreover, while a person would need perfect knowledge of the universe to know 100% for certain that no god exists, he doesn't need said knowledge to disbelieve in a specific god's existence. For example, if the god is defined well enough that one can examine the definition for logical fallacies, one may do so. If the god is not logically consistent then one is justified in their disbelief, even if they don't know 100% for sure that the god doesn't exist.


  • The use of the word "faith" is an attempt to mislead based on the equivocation fallacy. As the article on faith mentions, the two primary meanings of the word are:
  1. Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing.
  2. Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.
  • One can reasonably claim that atheism is based on "faith" using the first definition. However, the way this claim is often made implies that the second definition is being used, which is incorrect.
  • Since theists make a positive claim which is extraordinary in nature, the burden of proof is on the theist to prove that there is a God. Most theists do not "believe in" leprechauns, yet they would not consider a request to prove the non-existence of leprechauns to be reasonable. There is no reason why anyone should believe in leprechauns or God without positive evidence.
  • Theists commonly consider faith to be a virtue. It seems odd, then, that they would criticize atheism for being based on faith. Moreover, the argument implies that the more faith a proposition needs the less likely it is to be true, a claim many counter-apologists welcome considering the evidence.
  • In addition, asserting that atheists claim to "know" that there is no God is based on a misunderstanding of the word atheist. See the article on atheist vs. agnostic.
  • Further, no legal system on earth requires absolute certainty for the determination of cases. In England, for example, a criminal case must be proved 'beyond reasonable doubt' - or in the modern formulation, "so that you (the juror) are sure"; civil cases need only be proved 'on balance of probabilities'. If the level of proof required by Let Us Reason Ministries in the quote above were required, hardly a judge or jury could reach a decision in a legal dispute.
  • Theists often backslide and have trouble maintaining faith in their religion. Atheists occasionally convert to theism, but do not tend to slip into various god-beliefs due to the strain required to maintain a no belief in any god. If atheist were a faith group they should share the difficulties the religious have in maintaining their faith.
  • Tu quoque! This argument exists to defend religious faith claims by claiming that atheists fall into the same category. This serves to derail the argument and prevents focusing on the lack of evidence for religious faith. Beyond shifting the burden of proof the argument serves as a non-sequitur

See also

External link

v · d Common objections to atheism and counter-apologetics
Personal   Why are you trying to tear down other people's faith? · Why can't everyone just have their own beliefs? · What are your qualifications? · Atheists believe in nothing · You are a communist · Why do atheists inspire such hatred? · That's not my God
Religious   That's not in my Bible · They're not true Christians · You just want to sin · Atheists know there is a God · It takes more faith to disbelieve than it does to believe · God doesn't believe in atheists · Science is a faith · Atheism is a religion · Atheists worship materialism · Hypocrisy of celebrating religious holidays · Atheism is based on faith · Religious belief is beneficial
Science and logic   You can't prove God doesn't exist · Science can't touch god · God can't be defined · So you think we came from nothing / pondsoup / monkeys? · If God didn't create everything, who did? · That might be true for you, but its not true for me · Religion is another way of knowing · Apologetics and dinosaurs
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