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Atheism, Religion

For Theists: Why Evidence Matters

My favorite atheist blogger, Greta Christina, recently posted an article on Alternet about the different kinds of “evidence” theists offer when they are challenged on their belief in God.  One of the comments set off my “Emotional Bullshit Alarm,” and now that I’ve had a couple of days to stew about it, I’m ready to comment.

Hey Greta-

One thing you might be discounting in your pre-conceived notions of us “God-fearing peeps” is that some of us really don’t care if you believe in God or not.

In fact, some of us (Libertarian-minded folk) are happy that you have the right and the freedom to feel the way you do in this country.

I find it humorous that your slant on religion relies heavily on the generalization that all God-believers are there to challenge you. Such arrogance!

Quite honestly, I have faith that one day, in your time of need; be it on a hospital bed when you’re dying of cancer, or on a plane that is going down or just amongst your family when they surround you on your deathbed, you will think about what lies beyond.

Only then may you truly consider what you have to lose.

See, if religious-folk are wrong about heaven, no biggie. We all end up stone-cold dead, six-feet deep; atheists and religious alike. BUT….BUT, if athiests are wrong, they have f*cked up royally. Eternal damnation. Sweet.


To begin with, let me just say that the credibility of any comment that includes Pascal’s Wager drops to near zero right out of the gate.  That’s not what has me irritated, though.

Here’s what is really bugging me:  This response misses the whole point of the demand for evidence.  Greta’s piece essentially highlights the epistemologically barren arguments that are usually given for God’s existence, and asks for — nay, demands — evidence suitable enough for us skeptics to actually falsify or validate.   Instead of evidence, we get essentially this:

Atheist:  So… where’s the evidence for your belief in God?

Theist: I don’t care if you don’t believe.  Maybe one day you will.  Have a great day!

The rest of it is emotional claptrap.  “Oh, shame on you mean old atheist boat-rockers!  Some of us theists are being much better people than you, because we’re letting you folks alone and not asking you to believe, EVEN THOUGH YOU’RE GOING TO BURN IN HELL!!!”

Let me put this plainly.  Your fellow theists are the ones who have made it our business to challenge your evidence!

If religious belief was a matter of personal, private observance of quaint little rituals, then perhaps you’d have a point.  If it wasn’t bothering us, it would be very presumptuous of us to come marching into your private homes demanding justification for things that have no bearing on our lives.

But that’s not the case.  Your religion impacts us daily.  Every dollar we spend reminds us that our beliefs are not “The Official Beliefs” of our country.  When we are sworn in for jury duty, we are reminded that if we do not swear an oath we don’t believe, we will be looked at as malcontents.  When we ask that our taxes not be used to support a religion we don’t believe in, FOX News pundits vilify and criticize us.  When we ask for science to be taught in science class instead of religion, we are called arrogant and exclusionary.  When we run for public office, we are forced by an unspoken rule to never mention our lack of belief, while Christian and Mormon politicians are given rave reviews for their faith.


It is our right to ask you for evidence because if you don’t have any evidence, then you are foisting a baseless belief system onto our government, and into our personal lives.

Having said that, let me also add that it’s a ridiculous assertion that atheists think “all theists” are anything at all.  First, that’s not what we think.  Second, it doesn’t matter that some theists are not trying to force their beliefs on us.  The inescapable fact is that enough of them are doing it — enough that their beliefs have already been forced on us.

So you know what, Mr. Pompous Libertarian Theist, I don’t care that you don’t care about my belief.  Your apathy is irrelevant to my life.  And frankly, if you’re so incredibly liberal and egalitarian, why aren’t you standing up against all your fellow theists who ARE imposing their beliefs on me?

I call bullshit.

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3 thoughts on “For Theists: Why Evidence Matters

  1. religious people always boast that… they have not lost anything in believing… for upon death, they will receive their reward…

    first… no one, greta included, has the foggiest idea what is on the other side, even if there is an other side…

    what is certain though, is having their eyes fixed on their afterlife… the believers will have missed, avoided, differed, wasted this very existence… the very gift that was given to them to live… now.

    Posted by aforcier | December 8, 2009, 10:42 pm
  2. WHAT ‘other’ side??? Then what about the ‘side’ we were presumably on before we were here? Any other ‘sides’ we should know about? A few facts would be nice.

    Posted by RouX | December 9, 2009, 10:42 am
  3. Bravo, Hamby! Another excellent and thought-provoking piece of writing. Am on my way over to read Greta’s article. Thank you and best wishes.

    Posted by Emily | December 10, 2009, 2:20 pm

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