I’m reading The Reason for God: belief in an age of skepticism by Timothy Keller right now. It’s fairly coherent argument for Christianity. I’m three chapters in and while the arguments so far are not particularly persuasive, it is the first apologetics book I’ve read so far that has given me some food for thought about the nature of belief.
Keller’s foundation for his arguments, however, demonstrates that he completely misunderstands the nature of disbelief. In the introduction he states, “All doubts, however skeptical and cynical they may seem, are really just a set of alternate beliefs.” I’ve found this line of thinking to be pretty common among theists. I’ve read several times that it takes more faith to be an atheist than it does to believe. This is utterly ridiculous of course. My hypothesis is that since theists hold their beliefs to be self evident, they just can’t comprehend how someone could reach a different conclusion. My basis for this hypothesis is only personal experience; I was once a Christian too.
For a meaningful dialog to exist between theists and atheists, I think it would be helpful for theists to understand that doubt is not just another belief. I can really only speak for me, but I’d be willing to bet most atheists could identify with what I’m saying when I say I have examined the arguments claiming God exists, and I find them lacking. There is no convincing evidence for the existence of God. This equates to a lack of belief in God, not a belief in a lack of God. Until a theist can truly understand this, he does not know how to argue his case with me.
Let’s try to put it in a way that most (though not all) people can relate to. I don’t believe in fairies. There is no shortage of information about the existence of fairies. There is literature going back thousands of years that profess the existence of fairies. I find the idea of fairies appealing but quaint. There is no physical evidence or tenable argument for the existence of actual fairies, therefore I conclude that fairies do not exist. If you can identify with this line of reasoning, replace “fairies” with “God” and you’ll see where I’m coming from. If you can’t identify with this line of reasoning, then a dialogue between us would be useless.