I’ve been having a conversation with a friend about whether atheism and agnosticism is a belief. First off, let’s synchronize.
If one were to claim that nowhere, anywhere in the universe, is there anything that could be construed as a god, that would be a belief. So, yes, I would agree that that form of strong atheism is a belief.
What most atheists and agnostics believe, however, is that we don’t know what happened before the big bang, and that we become atheists only when faced with specific claims by those who do believe.
So with that in mind, here’s my latest response in this ongoing discussion on whether or not my contention that Christianity is NOT true is equal to someone’s contention that it is true. I include it here because I think I succeeded in capturing the argument better than my previous attempts.
First, I didn’t say anything about there being no external influence. But it’s a leap to give that influence a sentience, a personality, and talk about what it thinks and wants and loves and hates, and what it did when.
…all based on a book written by men, just like a million other books written by men about other such Gods that you don’t believe in.
Second, if someone doesn’t have enough information about what happened pre big bang, which nobody does, and refuses to come to any conclusions about it, that’s not strange behavior. It’s logical and humble.
I’m saying I don’t have any idea what caused the big bang, and you’re calling that crazy. I say it’s 1000 times as crazy to sit on a speck of dust in a vast universe and tell me that you KNOW not only who created the universe, but also what they think, what they like, don’t like, etc.
Think about it for a second. Seriously.
So again, my stance is that your answer is not correct, and your answer is ASTOUNDINGLY SPECIFIC and personalized.
So if someone says I believe that there is a person in Guam right now standing on a couch, touching their nose, holding a newspaper, wearing a yellow shirt, with their shoes untied, who served in Vietnam, and got married on a Friday…
If I tell you that I don’t believe that, then do I have a BELIEF? No. A belief, in this context, is an active thing. It’s something you branch out on based on evidence, personal or otherwise. YOU are the one branching out here, not me. I’m simply NOT believing in your claim about this person in Guam.
It is YOUR responsibility to show EVERYONE ELSE why YOU believe this person is standing on a couch in Guam doing all these things. Why? Because it’s both HIGHLY SPECIFIC and HIGHLY UNLIKELY.
So don’t call me a non-couch-stander-believer-person. It makes no sense. Using that system I’m also a non-frogs-flier-believer and a non-moon-cheese-believer. But we don’t assign ourselves those labels because that would be silly. And assigning a label to someone who doesn’t believe in ONE SPECIFIC GOD out of all the thousands that have been created over time is just as silly.
And please don’t come with, “But mine is SPECIAL!” Of course yours is special (wink wink). Do you think that’s a unique response? Everyone thinks THEIR god is the right one. Except for atheists and agnostics. We don’t think ours is right because we’re not pretentious enough to claim we have that kind of information.