Superstitious Atheist

Let me preface by saying I like atheists. I have had very good friends who were atheists.

But I’ve noticed a number of trends in atheist publications that strike me as odd, even superstitious.

For example, evangelical atheists sometimes insist that people who believe in God have no good reason to do so. “You’re just sheep,” they say. This error is called the fundamental attribution error — assuming that others base their actions on some sort of personal characteristic or label, but yours are based on reaction to outside forces. If I get an F on a test, someone committing the fundamental attribution error might say “he’s stupid.” If they get an F on a test, they might say “It was too cold in the room; I didn’t study enough” and so on.

Another common hiccough in reasoning I often see atheists make in debates is the argument from assumptions. So I might say “I believe in God” and they respond “Belief in God is irrational because a being can’t be both omnipotent and benevolent, and still allow evil to exist.” To which I reply — why do you think that I accept your assumptions about (a) omnipotence, (b) benevolence, and (c) evil?

A third common error in reasoning is the circular argument. “God can’t exist because only matter exists.” I think that one speaks for itself.

To be fair, religious people make this one too — in fact, they make all of them; it’s a people thing, not just an atheist thing. That’s my real point — I’m not out to pick on atheists. Irrational thinking is one of those things we humans just do a lot of. And maybe it’s not even necessarily a bad thing. . . . but that’s a topic for another post.


4 Responses to “Superstitious Atheist”

  1. Hi. I am glad I found your blog. It is as informative and interesting as the book, which I found to be refreshing and easy to understand. One suggestion for the blog: Put your name somewhere on the front page so we know it’s you. I found the blog by searching for “Postmodern Magic Patrick Dunn” but I wasn’t sure if this was the right place until I went to the first post. Anyway, I look forward to digging through the archives.

  2. Administrator Says:

    Thanks for your kind words.

  3. “… evangelical atheists sometimes insist that people who believe in God have no good reason to do so.”

    Just so you’re aware, you haven’t offered a good reason to believe in a God in this entire post.

    The only real argument you have introduced here is one premise of the Omniscience vs. Free Will paradox ( for the full argument).
    And you defend it by arguing semantics? Nice.

    I think you incorrectly labeled the omnipotence vs. omnibenevolence argument as being an ‘argument from assumption’. The fact of the matter is we assume the meaning of all words. Arguing semantics is a very weak defense, because it *is* possible to share virtually the same idea regarding the words ‘omnipotence’, ‘benevolence’, and ‘evil’. Once you do so, you will not have an ‘argument from assumption’, but a rational argument.

    I have never met anyone who has argued that God does not exist because his believers are “just sheep”, nor have I ever heard anyone argue that God does not exist because only matter exists.

    I don’t see how saying “God cannot exist because only matter exists” is circular reasoning. I’m not defending the argument. I think that the argument is an argument from assumption. The assumption that you know only matter exists. Circular reasoning would be something like “God exists because the Bible says so, and the Bible was written by God.”

    I suggest you brush up on your logical fallacies. And while you’re doing it, make sure you pay close attention to the one called the Strawman argument.

  4. Klutch,

    Thank you for your comments. This post’s purpose was not to offer proof for God, or even reason to believe in God. It was to analyze some of the arguments that had, in fact, been used in a conversation I had with friends the week previous.

    Thank you for your suggestions. I think we can all do to brush up on formal traditional logic, as well as other ways of knowing.

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