The following has been passed around among a few friends of mine on Facebook, in Bible study groups and the like. It was presumably written by a friend, alias Juan DeChristo. Because it is the nature of the members of the Bible study groups to attack anything posted to their groups like ravenous piranha, making proper discussion difficult to say the least, I’m posting my response here, where I can use proper block quoting.
What follows is a list of things atheists supposedly believe, whether those things are true or false, and which logical error or fallacy they commit. If you don’t feel like reading the entire response, this is what you need to know: Juan doesn’t understand atheism or science, and uses his misunderstandings to keep others in the dark about the real world such that religion seems all the more appealing.
1. False: “I can know that there is no cause for material existence which is greater than anything found in material existence.” — Category Error
What we know thus far is that there is no evidence for any “greater cause” other than that imagined in the assumptions of theists.
2. False: “I can know that there is no existence beyond the mass/energy, space/time existence to which we humans are limited.” — Category Error
Can we know it? No. But do we have any reason to believe there is? No. There is no evidence of a spiritual world which transcends our material universe. Until there is, any such spiritual world is entirely irrelevant, the subject of what can only be speculation and imagination.
3. False: “Science has no limits and is therefore the only source of knowledge.” — Failure to comprehend the material limitations of science, and to recognize the other types of knowledge commonly in use.
Scientific knowledge is the only repeatedly trustworthy way in which we can understand the world. It has led to more understanding and progress than has any religion. What benefit is there in thinking there is a spirit? How is medicine aided by belief in a “healing God”? No such benefits have other been seen, except perhaps as sentimental benefits of those who know someone is praying for them. Medicine, architecture, chemistry, biology, food production, and more all rely upon a scientific understanding of the world and would get on just as well if no one involved in them were religious. (Indeed, they may even progress more rapidly, without the all too common religious fear of scientific progress, especially in medicine.)
4. It is false to reject [P] yet claim that you have no belief concerning [P]. — Claim doesn’t match action/reality.
Atheists believe that there are no gods. We lack a belief in gods. So we reject claims of the same. I don’t see the issue. Would you prefer we say “we reject gods because we ignore the nonsense repeated by those who believe in them”?
5. It is false to reject logical claims of first cause deductions based solely on rejection of ecclesiasticism. — Fallacy of Guilt by Association, and Black and White Fallacy.
First cause deductions are an illogical proof of deity; if a god is asserted to be the first cause of anything, it must be questioned “What caused the god?” or “Where did the god come from?” To further assert that a god requires no first cause is fallacious. All “always has been” arguments that can be applied to gods can equally be applied to the universe. There is no logical reason to step into the realm of fantasy.
6. False: “Theists must show material evidence that there is non-material existence.” — Category Error.
Atheists often assert that theists must show evidence for that which they claim exists. Because they cannot provide evidence — material or non-material (not that such even exists) — their claims can be rejected.
It is pure fantasy for theists to assert the existence of something that cannot be proven and then to expect people to accept it as absolute truth.
7. False: “Atheism is based on evidence and logic but needs neither for support in order to reject the existence of non-material dimensions because Atheism need not adhere to the Burden of Rebuttal.” — Special Pleading.
Atheist does not bear the burden of proof because it does not make any positive claims about the universe. Theism, however, claims that there is a god; polytheism, many gods, etc. To make a claim is to assert the burden of proof for proving your claim.
Do Christians spend their time gathering empirical proof for the non-existence of Zeus, Ra, Thor, wood nymphs, fairies, and flying spaghetti monsters? Why do they require such proof from atheists for the non-belief in the Christian god when they themselves have no such proof for the non-existence of the gods and beings they choose to not believe in?
8. False: “Atheism is not a religion, despite having religious content, beliefs concerning deity, and the propensity to evangelize, and demand that government be limited to their worldview regarding religion.”
Atheism is very simply the disbelief in gods and goddesses. It is not a religion. In fact, atheists can practice religions of all sorts, such as Buddhism.
Atheism is not, however, a religion, as it is not a system of belief and practice; it is, by definition, a lack of belief.
Religion is not defined by the propensity to evangelize; advertising is by no means unique to religion.
9. False: Atheism has no ethic or morality attached to it, yet claim that “Atheists are good without God”. — Internally contradictory: non-coherent.
Atheists are good without gods and goddesses because morality doesn’t require either. Morality is a culturally determined thing, and while religion may influence morality, it is not required for it. Atheism in and of itself doesn’t have morality attached to it — it speaks only to the disbelief in gods and goddesses — but that doesn’t mean that atheists cannot be good, moral people.
It also does not mean that there haven’t been immoral atheists.
10. False: “Since there are demonstrable myths, then all references to non-material existence are declared to be myths by association.” –Fallacy of Guilt by Association.
Atheism doesn’t speak to the matter of all “non-material existence,” only that which pertains to gods and goddesses. That said, all references to “non-material existence” require the same proof as anything in “material” existence, otherwise they are irrelevant in discussing the natural world.