Apparently, I Don’t Exist: Another Intellectually Dishonest Apologetic

My friend declared the other day that atheists don’t exist. I was kind of flabbergasted by this news. Here I was, thinking that I was existing, but it looks like, ever since a couple years ago when I decided that I officially didn’t believe in god, I wasn’t. After I got over the very real existential crisis this statement wrought in me, I wondered what he meant by that, since it could be a couple different things. He could be 1) abandoning reason altogether and casting his lot with the Presuppositionalists, who say that everyone knows that the god of the Bible exists; or 2) defining atheism to mean gnostic atheism, or having absolute knowledge that no gods exist. Turns out it was this one.

There are two main questions being asked here that my friend is conflating. One is, “do you believe in a god or gods?” and the other is, “can we know for sure whether or not a god or gods exist?” Here is a helpful illustration:


For me this comes down to epistemology, or how we know what we know. I only want to believe things that are demonstrably true. Religious claims such as, “There is a god.” don’t have any demonstration to support them.

You should be able to test any claim so that there are clearly defined, measurable circumstances that indicate that a claim is false. This quality is also called being falsifiable. Evolution is extremely well supported because there are clearly defined conditions that would show it to be false (e.g. rabbits in the Pre-Cambrian as J.B.S. Haldane once said) and those conditions have never been met in the century and a half and then some following Darwin’s The Origin of Species. On the other hand, Creationism doesn’t work as since there are no defined conditions that could show it to be false.

For example, I know as well as one can know anything that our planet rotates approximately every 24 hours. I also know that this planet orbits the star we call the sun, and it takes about 365.25 days to do so. I can support these claims with measurable, testable, falsifiable data.

Biblical Claims: What Do We Know?

I know that there are some ancient writings where a man named Jesus worked miracles, was crucified, and rose from the dead. I know that there are many people that believe that those things happened, and that Jesus died for them. The most that any non-biblical text ever says about this is that there were people who believed that these things happened. All of the non-biblical texts are from at least a hundred years after the crucifixion.

The above is just a nugget of the information that is available about the truth of the claims of Christianity. I have seen many Youtube videos and lectures on this, and read about it. I am but a layman when it comes to ancient writings. There’s a crapload of information out there. I recommend interacting with media from both sides.

However, if you are an expert, like my friend that I mentioned above, your faith-based opinion on the Jesus story doesn’t sell me as long as it is, at bottom, based on faith. By faith I mean belief in something without evidence, like the Jesus story. Even if the most miraculous and arguably most important event of the Gospels, the resurrection, can be shown to be true, it doesn’t mean that Jesus is the son of god, or god, or anything else.

Think about it. According to the books of the Bible, Jesus is the third person to get resurrected. Why is this one the one that must be the son of god? These are questions that you are allowed to ask.

Atheists Don’t Exist

To come back to the topic, my friend says that because I can’t know everything, I can’t make the positive claim that no gods exist. I will concede that I don’t have absolute knowledge. It would be foolish for me to claim to know something that cannot be known. Somehow, he is able to know that his god is the one true god, the creator of the universe. This reminds me of Josh Feuerstein’s $100K challenge. For those that don’t want to click the DoNotLink link, the video has the red-ballcapped one offering $100K to any atheist who can provide proof that god doesn’t exist. It is but one float in the endless parade of stupid social media that he is responsible for.

This challenge contains a presupposition that is glaring. You are correct in pointing out that I can’t have absolute knowledge. You fail to recognize, however, that that applies to everyone, yourself included. To say otherwise, that is, to say that you can have absolute knowledge that your god exists while atheists and every non-Christian person can’t is a case of special pleading.


You Don’t Get To Say What I Am

The thing that really irks me about my friend’s argument is that he is trying to tell me what I am. He says, “you can’t be atheist. You can be agnostic, but to be atheist is not possible.” This would be like me telling him, “you can’t be Christian. You can be Jewish, but Christianity is just an offshoot of Judaism and not its own thing.” You may really not agree with slap bass, or Korean cooking, or libertarianism, but that doesn’t mean you can tell people who identify with those musical, culinary, or political schools of thought that those things don’t exist. In many ways this apologetic is even worse than #atheismisbelief because it attempts to rob people of their identity. I am an atheist because I have not seen evidence that can only be explained by a divine creator. I am an atheist because I have seen explanations for myriad things in nature that did not require a god. I don’t believe in any gods, therefore I am an atheist. It’s not the whole of my identity, it’s not even a positive belief. They don’t need a word for people who don’t golf, but somehow we live in a world where we need to have a word for people who don’t believe in gods. Atheism is just one conclusion that I have come to after reviewing the available information and applying critical thinking to it. It can be revised if new information comes to light. People like my friend are contributing to the negative attitude people have toward atheists. Atheists are a misunderstood and maligned group and I would like to see that change. In the meantime, don’t tell me who I am.



The Laughable Argument by Eli Soriano and #atheismisbelief

I recently discovered Eli Soriano’s blog about atheism when I noticed that #atheismisbelief was trending on Twitter. I tweeted about it, but I feel that I need more than 140 characters to explain. In this post I want to address some of Mr. Soriano’s points and rebut them as I see fit.

Title: The Laughable Belief System Atheism Is

There are a few things wrong with this title alone. First, atheism is not a belief system. Religions, particularly those that posit a deity, make a claim. Atheists do not accept those claims. The classification of a person’s religious preference as “atheist” is like someone calling herself an avid non-stamp collector, a person whose favorite hair color is Bald and who prefers the television channel Off. Atheism is the null hypothesis, the default position that one starts from.

From the very beginning, Brother Soriano gets this wrong. This is a person whose opinions are poorly formed. He is relying on a straw man version of atheism to argue against. This is not a description of atheism that I imagine many atheists would agree with.

What If The Title Were: The Laughable Philosophy of Islam?

If Brother Eli were criticising Islam for example, saying that Islam is not a belief system because it is based on cultural traditions rather than revealed truth from a deity. He is not saying that, and neither am I, but if he or someone like him were saying such things, Muslims and non Muslims alike would be up in arms about Islam being disrespected, Soriano is spreading ignorance about Islam, he is using his media presence to spread a message of ignorance and hate against Islam. The charge of Islamophobia would likely be leveled at him, racism even.

Because he is attacking Atheism, the least trusted group in America, no one bats an eye.

More Than Mere Disagreement

This shouldn’t be a thing. The views expressed by brother Soriano do not have a place in the discourse. But he has a readership that numbers in the thousands. The people who read him and accept his arguments without question go around parroting his ignorant hatred of nonbelievers.

When you see someone who has been indoctrinated into Young Earth Creationism, they have deflections for any rational argument in favor of science. For one who is really dug in, they won’t budge from their position no matter how many books you suggest, no matter how many videos you recommend, no matter what facts you can quote them. I don’t want to make this about creationism, but I’m drawing a comparison here. People who read and are taken in by Soriano’s writing, which is probably echoed by their faith leaders, perhaps those same faith leaders recommend Brother Soriano’s work, reinforcing the nonsense. Hey you should read this guy who says the same shit that I do, making my message look more credible. It isn’t just about saying things that are wrong and ignorant. The real crime that Brother Eli Soriano commits in his media is that he is teaching ignorance. Soriano is engaging in and encouraging in-group/out-group behavior, which goes against nearly everything humans have bee striving for since the Enlightenment.

Painfully Badly Written

I would go on, but there is no need. Mr. Soriano is not interested in persuading people to his point of view. Like most other works of apologetics, it is there to reinforce people who are already bought into his fundamentalist Christian, anti-atheist viewpoint.