How to Debunk the “Atheism Is a Religion” Argument

    By Ami Toben | 26 November 2019
    Debating Religion

    (Photo by Alain Abou-Atmeh on Canva)

    The Argument

    Atheism is itself a religion, and a bad one at that. It asserts that there’s no god, and tries to enshrine this assertion as dogma. It actually takes way more faith to believe there’s no god than it takes to believe in one. Agnostics at least admit they don’t know if there’s a god, but the atheistic stance—the claim that there is no god—is utterly illogical, since no one can know such a thing.

    How to Debunk It

    1. Atheism isn’t a belief. It’s a lack of belief, a disbelief—the opposite of a belief. It’s not the belief that there is no god, it’s the disbelief that one exists, which is not the same thing.

    2. A lack of belief in something isn’t really a choice. No one decides to disbelieve in each one of the thousands of deities, ghosts, demons, aliens, monsters and mythical characters that have ever been invented. Disbelief is the default position until you’re presented with, or discover, something that causes you to believe. Did you consciously decide to disbelieve in the existence of Santa Claus? How about Zeus, Vishnu, Ra and Odin? Or is it rather the case that you’re bound by your inability to convince yourself that such characters actually exist?

    3. Atheism isn’t a religion, because it’s completely open to change and reversal. Show me sound reasoning and empirical evidence to support the existence of god and I will gladly change my mind. Which religion has ever been so open to change in light of reason and new evidence?

    4. The comparison to agnosticism is misleading, since agnosticism and atheism are not mutually exclusive, they’re different answers to different questions. Agnosticism (“I don’t know”) is the answer to the question “Is there a god?” Atheism (“I don’t believe”) is the answer to the question “Do you believe god exists?” For many people, agnosticism and atheism actually work together: I don’t know whether or not god exists (agnosticism), but since there is insufficient reason and evidence to support the notion that he does, I don’t believe it (atheism). In this sense, I can be called an agnostic atheist.

    5. You yourself are an atheist when it comes to the thousands of deities you disbelieve in. You know exactly how it feels to simply not be able to believe in a made-up, mythical character.

    Reprinted with permission from the author.

    Ami Toben is a security expert and freelance writer who’s been debating and writing about religion for over a decade. His knowledge comes from years of active debates with hundreds of people from all faiths, analyzing what does and doesn’t work and synthesizing the most effective ways to debate religion. Born and raised in Israel, Toben had studied the bible in its original Hebrew for twelve years before studying and experiencing many of the worlds religions while living in Asia and in the US.

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