The Atheist – Skeptic Divide


Most people understand that there are skeptics who are religious and that there are atheists who are not skeptical. I think there’s a distinct disconnect here with these two groups. Logically, skepticism and atheism should go hand in hand.

Let’s look first at the skeptics who are religious. In order for this to work, there must be a certain level of cognitive dissonance. The skeptical look at evidence, or lack of evidence, to determine fact from fiction. We look at things like ghosts, psychics, magic, alternative medicine, etc and see that there is no evidence for their claims. Because there is no evidence, it follows that their claims are false.

Why is it that many don’t apply this same reason to religion? We know that there is no evidence for god. We know the history of the bible and how it was created and many of the reasons why. We know that the only knowledge people have of the christian god stems 100% from the bible. Knowing that the bible isn’t a factual account of most anything, how does anyone who claims to be a skeptic justify that belief? When we say that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, why doesn’t it get applied to god as well?

Now, let’s look at atheists who are not skeptical. This one’s a bit more complicated. Not everyone loses their belief in god due to skepticism. Some come to it due to anger at god or disillusionment with the church. But there has to come a point where you see the rational that god likely doesn’t exist because there is no evidence. Or, at least, we can’t know whether or not a god exists for that reason.

So, how is it that atheists can live with that rational for god, yet still believe in ghosts or ancient aliens or any such nonsense? How is it that so many atheists can swear by homeopathy when science tells us that it’s claims would break the known laws of physics?

People within both of these categories need to sit back and truly evaluate their beliefs. Consider how you know what you think you know and apply logic, rationality and reason to all aspects of your life. Belief systems without evidence cause harm in the world. This has been shown time and time again. How can anyone claim to be a rational person when they perpetuate the irrational?

Contributor: Robert Sacerich

Robert is a Philosophy of Science and Bioethics student, as well as blogger and science advocate/activist. He has worked extensively within the secular community for various secular nonprofit organizations and public communication causes.

See his full bio!

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