In the war between atheists and theists, I am not interested in “burden of proof” discussions. Most atheists do not claim to know for a fact that god doesn’t exist, but many of them do enjoy arguing it with absolute certainty. They present their case as if they are participating in an evidence-based debate that someone could actually win. And I’ll admit, this is confusing. But in the end their doubt of god rather than their knowledge of him is what defines their atheism. That doubt just happens to take up 99.9% of their thoughts on the matter.
Christians, on the other hand, actually do claim to know god exists as a fact. And in a world without concrete proof of god? That’s a tricky position to hold. I agree that it is easier to say, “There are more of us than you, so you prove it.” I’d go with that, too. But what do I stand to lose if I can’t prove it? Nothing. I have no incentive to win souls. And unless a theist is trying to win my soul, I have no reason to request proof from a theist, either.
We are both in the same boat. Neither of us can prove or disprove the existence of god. We simply came to opposite conclusions based on our experience.
I used to be a Christian. Christianity required me to form a very specific opinion on god, and eventually I discovered that I could not do it. Wouldn’t it be silly to ask me for proof of uncertainty? It’s all uncertainty. Atheism has evidence, but it thrives on doubt. Christianity thrives on faith- or, at least the occasion of being born into a family of believers.
I had plenty of faith. So where does Christianity go wrong with believers like me? It was not because of evidence that I lost faith, but rather a lack of evidence. And not so much in god at first, but in Christianity itself. Eventually this extended to all religion, but Christianity was the specific source of my doubt.
Could Christians really have all the answers about god? It seems impossible. Christians ask for an unreasonable amount of faith in man. They have equated belief in god with belief in Christianity and the bible; unwittingly making god more vulnerable to mistrust when their human belief system shows evidence of error. Their best evidence for the existence of god only points toward the possibility of a god. Not their god. But they make no distinction. One equals the other.
One also unravels the other.
A quick journey through history (or even an afternoon of doubtful reflection) will easily reveal cracks in the concept that Christian men figured out all of life’s mysteries correctly, and in spite of god’s obvious silence. Once I arrived at this conclusion, I also stopped believing in the bible as the inspired word of god. This meant that I no longer knew god, because the bible had defined him for me. I needed to find god again from scratch.
I am still open to new evidence but there doesn’t seem to be any. As a believer the best evidence for god was discovering that Christians do not know as much as they claim to know. I had hoped god might be revealed under a new definition, but that puzzle is also missing too many pieces. I suppose this means that in my case atheism only needed to prove reasonable doubt of Christianity. Christianity did the rest.
Once we strip away all the clutter that separates the different religions, we are left with very little clarity about the origins of us or the universe. This is as close as we get to truth. But if even the brightest among us find this “stripping away” to be a difficult task, what hope is there for those with little to no reasoning skills at all? It isn’t polite to mention that we are not all equal when it comes to intelligence, but the fact remains. We use our instincts and reason to decide what evidence is most compelling, and we come to different conclusions for a variety of reasons.
All this “burden of proof” talk is nonsense. There is always just enough evidence to believe what you want to believe. The evidence is irrelevant to truth because there is currently no available path between the two. The burden of proof should fall upon those who wish to change another person’s belief, but the demand only seems to come up when the attempt is futile. Proof is not necessary for atheists or theists. People will continue to completely accept or reject god every day without any proof at all.