By Timothy Fox
We at FreeThinking Ministries are dedicated to answering the biggest objections to Christianity. We respect sincere skeptics and seekers and understand that everyone has doubts. We do too at times. If there’s a certain obstacle that is keeping you from faith, we want to help remove it. Responding to objections is mandatory to the Christ-follower: “always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15). Many times, it’s that last part that makes all the difference: “do it with gentleness and respect.” We don’t ever want to come across as arrogant or disrespectful but we do what we do because we think that Christianity is true and we want you to think so also.
But this series, Stuff Atheists Say, isn’t about the good objections; it’s about the bad ones. Things that need to go away for good. Many things skeptics and atheists say aren’t really arguments; they’re meant to mock and ridicule, to smugly derail a conversation and make you feel stupid in the process. You know, the kind of thing you find on social media or hear from a certain famous British comedian.
So we’re going through the worst of the worst and ending them once and for all. But enough talk. Let’s get started:
Bad “argument” #1: You’re almost an atheist
This “argument” goes like this: “You believe in one god and deny thousands of other gods. I just go one god further and deny the existence of all of them. So you’re almost an atheist.”
Or you may hear it worded like this: “You’re an atheist towards thousands of other gods; I’m an atheist towards all of them.”
The first thing you need to notice is that this is not an argument against the existence of God. It offers no evidence and puts forth no objection. This statement is about you. What you think and believe, how you label yourself. But it is not about God and whether or not He actually exists.
Second, theist and atheist are specific terms. Regarding the second phrasing of the slogan, you can’t be theist towards some gods and atheist towards others. That’s not how the words work. It’s like saying someone who doesn’t eat chicken is a vegetarian towards chicken. Ever heard anyone say that? Me neither.
To believe in at least one god makes you some form of a theist; to believe in no gods at all makes you an atheist. By definition. There are no degrees orpercentages of theism, that if I believe in one god I’m less theist than someone who believes in two. The difference isn’t between one or many; it’s between zero and one. Let’s look at an analogy that will further show how ridiculous this statement is:
How many women do you think there are in the world? Let’s just say one billion. Out of those one billion women, I’m only married to one of them. So does that mean I’m almost single? No, that’s stupid. Married is married and single is single. Whether I’m married to one or twenty women, it doesn’t matter. I’m married. It’s binary: 1 or 0. Sure, if it’s the night before my wedding, you could say I’m almost married, if you mean that I will be married soon. But that’s in regard to time, not degrees of married-ness. And that’s not what the argument is trying to do. It’s making a fraction or a percentage of theism as if that’s meaningful in the discussion, which it isn’t. It’s ridiculous. So don’t fall for it.
Yes, I only believe in one God, but that’s because I think the God of the Bible is the one true God who exists. I’m not picking gods randomly from a hat, as if one is just as reasonable as another. I believe in a creator God, a personal First Cause who designed life, the universe and everything and is the standard of objective morals and values. I believe Jesus of Nazareth rose from the dead, vindicating His claims to be God and placing his seal of approval on the Old Testament as well as the men who would go on and write the New.
In case you haven’t gotten it yet, let me make it perfectly clear: I am not almost an atheist. I am a Christian theist.
Please understand that I’m not calling atheists stupid. I’m saying some things atheists say are stupid, such as the “almost an atheist” slogan. It needs to die. Now, if you have an honest objection to theism, feel free to raise it in the comments and we would love the opportunity to discuss it for you. But if it isn’t, I’ll add it to my list of Stuff Atheists Say.
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