I was working in a salmon processing plant, in the middle of a sixteen hour shift when it struck me. Atheism is an act of faith. Many of the more conceited atheists seem content to point and laugh at theists for their faith, that they believe in things that cannot be proven and for which there is no evidence (at least, no scientific evidence – and yes there is a difference; there is a great deal of philosophical evidence not to mention millennia of human experience) without ever thinking about how they may be guilty of the same charge. For atheists believe in a claim that is equally impossible to prove: that God does not exist.
After all, the atheist’s belief that God does not exist is just that: a belief. Its not a fact or a scientific law. In truth, there is nothing at all in nature that contradicts the existence of God or truly even suggests His absence. The atheist does not believe in God because he chooses not to believe in God – just as the theist chooses to positively believe. The core at both ends is a leap of faith. Now, some may argue, as many atheists have, that we are born atheists and therefore it is not some act of faith (eww, that’s spiritual, gross!) but simply our nature. We are genetically programmed to be atheists.
To which I reply, atheists: don’t make this argument! It will blow up in your face. According to a new, 3 million pound, Oxford study human beings are, in fact, fundamentally religious from their very earliest days (but, seriously, millennia of religious beliefs, all with many of the same, universally held underpinnings, spanning every region of the world: no surprise there).
The basic difference between the theist and the atheist is that, while the theist believes in Something the atheist believes in the absence of something, that is, he believes in Nothing. While the theist belongs to a religion centered on some Thing, the atheist belongs to a religion which, at its center revolves around a void. The theist embraces God, but the atheist can’t even make an embrace. At its roots, atheism is a religion, but it is a dead man’s religion. Nietzsche famously stated that God is dead but it was not God that was dead: it was atheism, a religion that served to remove everything worthwhile in religion, rendering it sterile and lifeless.
The only belief regarding God that is truly faith-less is agnosticism which, really, boils down to an absence of belief. The agnostic, who claims that the truth about God is unknown and unknowable, is the only one who does not take a leap of faith. Such a take on God, however, is entirely useless because it is perpetual skepticism. Agnosticism, in its full definition, is not a cross-roads between two beliefs, between theism and atheism, but the intellectually lazy claim that we can never know anything about God one way or the other so why even try. G.K. Chesterton had the following to say in response to this kind of impartiality: “The man who took the trouble to deduce from the police reports would probably be the man who would take the trouble to deduce further and different things from the evidence. The man who had the sense to form an opinion would be the man who would have the sense to alter it.” Ultimately, the absolute impartiality of the agnostic leads to the same conclusion as atheism: belief in nothing. The only difference is that this particular brand of nihilism lacks the religious aspect of the atheist and his stoic faith in the absence of some Thing.
Either God exists or he does not. Human experiences suggesting His existence abound but never can it be proved one way or the other. All we can do is take a leap of faith. I for one choose to leap in the direction of belief in something. I cannot bear to believe in nothing, not because I’m too weak, but because to do so contradicts everything in my heart. So, instead, I choose to follow the words of Jesus Christ to be “like a child” and believe.