This is another piece of flawed reasoning the religious have been throwing around a lot recently – “it requires more faith to be an atheist than to believe in God.” I guess there must have been a memo sent round or something. Talking points. That’s the only explanation. It’s certainly not because it’s a valid argument.
The usual rebuttal given is that atheism just means no belief in God, and it doesn’t require any more faith to have no belief in God than it does to have no belief in Russell’s Teapot. That’s obviously true but I think it misses the point the theists are trying to make.
What they’re really saying
I think what they’re trying to say is this. Atheists think matter just appeared out of nowhere, that something came out of nothing. But where did the matter come from? To think that matter appeared out of nowhere requires more faith than to think a creator made everything. The theists quite often mess up the argument further by misunderstanding the big bang, or with dodgy statistics, or with appeals to ignorance of abiogenesis. But that’s the basic argument. Why is there something rather than nothing? To think that matter just appeared by itself, requires faith.
The flaw in their argument
Atheists don’t think matter came out of nowhere. Atheists say we don’t know where matter came from; we don’t know why there is something rather than nothing. Maybe one day we’ll know, or maybe we won’t. But we don’t know now. Theists are exactly the same. They don’t know either, but the difference is they make up an explanation (God). But it’s just a made up explanation – they have no reason to suppose it’s true, other than that they just like it.
And it’s a useless explanation. Unless they know something about this “God” – how he created everything; why he created it; what he’s likely to do next - it’s a lack of an explanation. It’s just a placeholder until a real explanation comes along. Except that the theist won’t be open to the real explanation when and if science is able to provide one. The placeholder prevents investigation into the real explanation. The theist is the one with the faith – faith that “God” is the explanation and that no other is possible. The atheist is content to say “we don’t know”. For now, anyway. And it’s obvious that saying “we don’t know,” requires no faith.