If Atheists Had Faith

post by Bound_up · 2016-11-27T21:43:50.886Z · score: -6 (7 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 9 comments

This is a link post for https://atheistkit.wordpress.com/blog/


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comment by Mati_Roy (MathieuRoy) · 2020-05-11T21:59:37.156Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Link is now private

comment by RowanE · 2016-11-28T08:59:15.494Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Believer: "I say it's duck season, and I say fire!"

Yeah, I don't see any real intellectual value to this.

comment by Bound_up · 2016-12-04T20:42:08.655Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Putting aside the piece itself, I'm curious...what do you think a believer would say about faith if an atheist claimed to not believe in God because of faith?

comment by RowanE · 2016-12-06T10:23:14.525Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

"Oh, that's nice."

They wouldn't exactly be accepting the belief as equally valid; religious people already accept that people of other religions have a different faith than they do, and on at least some level they usually have to disagree with "other religions are just as valid as my own" to even call themselves believers of a particular religion, but it gets you to the point of agreeing to disagree.

comment by entirelyuseless · 2016-12-05T02:07:09.187Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

"Faith in whom?" The actual meaning of faith (in the religious sense) is believing someone who tells you something. So if an atheist said they disbelieved in God because of faith, it would have to mean they disbelieve in God because someone told them God does not exist (e.g. their parents, or intelligent people, or someone.)

comment by Bound_up · 2016-12-05T13:36:05.817Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I could see that sometimes, maybe...If you said your faith wasn't in a person, but in an idea, would you expect them to insist that you don't really have faith? I think I would see that as progress, their saying atheism isn't faith-based. You?

I wonder if it would happen much in a "not enough faith to be an atheist" context. It is very common for theists to suggest that atheists actually have faith, so...if an atheist were to agree, and then ask if that meant that the two beliefs were equally valid...what kind of response would you expect?

comment by entirelyuseless · 2016-12-07T03:24:22.499Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Faith in an idea is a different meaning. You could say that you have faith in the idea of atheism in the way some people might say they have faith in the idea of progress. And the "faith" part of that might mean that it is resistant to something that seems contrary, e.g. someone might say that he has faith in progress despite wars and wickedness that seem regressive, and someone might say he has faith in the idea of atheism despite the communist atheists who did very evil things.

But that is very different from religious faith, and anyway it is not opposite to being supported by reason -- someone who has faith in progress, or in atheism in that way, could still say that they have reasons for their belief.

I don't think many people think faith means something that is unsupported by evidence. Rather, they mean they have a commitment to it. And maybe the commitment goes beyond the evidence, but it doesn't mean there is no evidence at all.

I agree with you that when you see people calling atheism a religion or saying that atheists have faith, they usually mean to admit that religion or faith has something bad about it. The idea is that "sure, these things have something bad about them, but no one avoids that bad thing anyway, so it is better to be honest about it." And that has some truth and some falsity: it is probably true that no one completely avoids the bad things that are found in religion, but that doesn't make everything equal, because you can avoid those things to some extent.

comment by MrMind · 2016-11-28T08:07:51.717Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

What's the point of all this?
Clearly, with blind faith one can believe everything and its opposite, we don't need any proof: we already have countless religions for that.
I think that many atheist are so not because they are blindly faithful in atheism, but because they arrived at atheism through considering rationally the world around us, and this they deem superior to uncritically accepting the supernatural cultural norm of the society they were born into.

comment by Bound_up · 2016-11-29T15:06:27.866Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes, I've discovered the need to make more explicit the purpose. I was surprised it was not more intuitive.

The point is that a theist's accusation of an atheist's faith is just that, an accusation. They imply that, on some level, they KNOW that faith doesn't work.

In this dialogue, by going along with it, the atheist gets the theist to lay all the epistemological groundwork for reason, science, no "separate magisteria,"and so on, at which point, the theist's position is vulnerable to a straightforward analysis of the evidence. .

I think this is more realistic than you might think. If you told theists that your atheism was faith-based, they really would start thinking about and presenting reasons why faith shouldn't overpower reason and evidence, and then you could win based on reason and evidence (hence Dawkins stepping in to do so at the end).