I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours

This is a quote that I see thrown around a lot in atheist circles and it sounds reasonable until you try some word substitution:

I contend we both believe 9/11 didn’t happen. I just believe in one fewer cause than you. When you understand why you dismiss all the 9/11 conspiracy theories, you will understand why I dismiss Arabs flying planes into the buildings

I content we both believe Shakespeare didn’t exist. I just believe in one fewer identity than you. When you understand why you dismiss the theory that Shakespeare was Francis Bacon, you will understand why I dismiss Shakespeare being William Shakespeare.

When you dismiss other Gods, you are claiming that those Gods are not adequate explanations for your religious experience, Thor and Mohammed and Thetans are not the reason why your prayers get answered. When you dismiss all Gods, you are claiming that there is no religious experience to require explanations for, the illusion that your prayers are answered are caused by a trick of the brain. Believing in zero Gods is categorically different from believing in a God and atheists should stop pretending otherwise.

  • Mike

    While on the surface your logic looks good, it is quite biased. You associate the word “atheism” with crackpot theories in your analogies. You then associate the belief in one god with the specific answers that contain the most evidence, ie Shakespeare’s identity and the cause of 9/11. The difference here is that in your analogy, the cause of 9/11, arab terrorists, would need to contain just as much evidence as UFO’s attacking NYC. That is the only way your analogy works. Hence, your analogies fail. Good try, though.

  • Mike

    While on the surface your logic looks good, it is quite biased. You associate the word “atheism” with crackpot theories in your analogies. You then associate the belief in one god with the specific answers that contain the most evidence, ie Shakespeare’s identity and the cause of 9/11. The difference here is that in your analogy, the cause of 9/11, arab terrorists, would need to contain just as much evidence as UFO’s attacking NYC. That is the only way your analogy works. Hence, your analogies fail. Good try, though.

  • Timothy Shaw-Zak

    Well it’s a different category, but not merely of the internal logic. There is a cultural and historical distinctness. A naivety and worldliness.

  • Timothy Shaw-Zak

    Well it’s a different category, but not merely of the internal logic. There is a cultural and historical distinctness. A naivety and worldliness.

  • Parrot132

    Religious people should learn to stay away from logic. If they were any good at it then they wouldn’t be religious.

  • Parrot132

    Religious people should learn to stay away from logic. If they were any good at it then they wouldn’t be religious.

  • Dark_Neo

    The 9/11 analogy really doesn’t work, it would mean that I dismiss all theories on 9/11 which would mean I believe 9/11 never happened, which we have evidence for, for example, the WTC buildings aren’t there any more. Since it definitely happened you’re left with believing the option that’s most logical to you (based on real evidence).

    Let’s then apply that to God, there’s no definite evidence that he/she/it exists (I know a lot of people cite ‘personal religious experience’, but I mean tangible evidence) therefore all theories about which of our religious deities is the correct God have the same merit, so if you dismiss all but one of these theories, then why not that last one?

  • Dark_Neo

    The 9/11 analogy really doesn’t work, it would mean that I dismiss all theories on 9/11 which would mean I believe 9/11 never happened, which we have evidence for, for example, the WTC buildings aren’t there any more. Since it definitely happened you’re left with believing the option that’s most logical to you (based on real evidence).

    Let’s then apply that to God, there’s no definite evidence that he/she/it exists (I know a lot of people cite ‘personal religious experience’, but I mean tangible evidence) therefore all theories about which of our religious deities is the correct God have the same merit, so if you dismiss all but one of these theories, then why not that last one?

  • twosticks

    Wait, prayers get answered? I prayed for twenty five years and didn’t get shit.

  • twosticks

    Wait, prayers get answered? I prayed for twenty five years and didn’t get shit.

  • BasilBasington

    In the original quote, the words “we are both atheists” means “we both don’t believe in gods”. It was a one-liner, you can’t take it at face value.

    For a 9/11 parable to make sense, you would have to say something like “I contend we are both conspiracy theorists about 9/11. I just believe in fewer conspirators than you. When you understand why you dismiss the craziest of the theories (e.g. lasers from satellites or UFOs), you will understand why I dismiss your controlled demolition theory.”

    It still doesn’t quite work, however. Unlike there being ZERO physical evidence for the existence of a god, there is evidence that controlled demolition theorists can point to, no matter how weak, flawed, or circumstantial.

  • BasilBasington

    In the original quote, the words “we are both atheists” means “we both don’t believe in gods”. It was a one-liner, you can’t take it at face value.

    For a 9/11 parable to make sense, you would have to say something like “I contend we are both conspiracy theorists about 9/11. I just believe in fewer conspirators than you. When you understand why you dismiss the craziest of the theories (e.g. lasers from satellites or UFOs), you will understand why I dismiss your controlled demolition theory.”

    It still doesn’t quite work, however. Unlike there being ZERO physical evidence for the existence of a god, there is evidence that controlled demolition theorists can point to, no matter how weak, flawed, or circumstantial.

  • BasilBasington

    And for the Shakespeare parable to work, it would have to be:

    “I contend that we both believe certain works of Shakespeare were not written by a man named William Shakespeare. I just believe in fewer works being written by a man named William Shakespeare than you. When you understand why you don’t believe [works here] was written by a man named William Shakespeare, you will understand why I don’t believe [work here] was.”

    This still doesn’t work, however, because there may be different circumstances why you don’t believe certain works were written by Shakespeare than with others (e.g. some might have a different language style/prose used indicating different authorship, and for others manuscripts may have been found with different authors indicating they had written it under the name Shakespeare). In the original quote, the circumstances for not believing in another god such as Zues or Thor are the EXACT SAME circumstances for not believing in Yahweh.

  • BasilBasington

    And for the Shakespeare parable to work, it would have to be:

    “I contend that we both believe certain works of Shakespeare were not written by a man named William Shakespeare. I just believe in fewer works being written by a man named William Shakespeare than you. When you understand why you don’t believe [works here] was written by a man named William Shakespeare, you will understand why I don’t believe [work here] was.”

    This still doesn’t work, however, because there may be different circumstances why you don’t believe certain works were written by Shakespeare than with others (e.g. some might have a different language style/prose used indicating different authorship, and for others manuscripts may have been found with different authors indicating they had written it under the name Shakespeare). In the original quote, the circumstances for not believing in another god such as Zues or Thor are the EXACT SAME circumstances for not believing in Yahweh.

  • John

    All you are doing is replacing words with other words. Doing that with anything completely changes the meaning and so your argument has no actual points.

  • John

    All you are doing is replacing words with other words. Doing that with anything completely changes the meaning and so your argument has no actual points.

  • Jarred

    Yeah, your giving into logical fallacy called straw man argument. Instead of addressing the argument (which you should) you instead try and make the argument you dislike so absurd that it seems stupid. Instead, ask yourself if you do understand why, exactly, you deny all other possible gods. It really isn’t hard.

  • Jarred

    Yeah, your giving into logical fallacy called straw man argument. Instead of addressing the argument (which you should) you instead try and make the argument you dislike so absurd that it seems stupid. Instead, ask yourself if you do understand why, exactly, you deny all other possible gods. It really isn’t hard.

  • david

    There are several discrepencies in your logic… comparing the existence of an omniscient and omnipotent being to the existence of a playwright is ignorant at best. For one thing we know shakespeare once lived, he was real, whether or not he penned all those beautiful sonnets, I do not know, however, that may be a more valid discussion. But, we know they were written by a man, and most likely an existing one. Comparing an event to a man is invalid, I suppose you could employ popular (il) logic and say, I haven’t seen it, but I feel it, or I feel the wtc towers are still there, it is a fact that they are not. Now apply that to a god… I feel there is a god, as do most people, but I cannot prove it in any %. Or, I know there is not a god because there is no evidence of one. Quit being stupid, think for
    yourself.

  • david

    There are several discrepencies in your logic… comparing the existence of an omniscient and omnipotent being to the existence of a playwright is ignorant at best. For one thing we know shakespeare once lived, he was real, whether or not he penned all those beautiful sonnets, I do not know, however, that may be a more valid discussion. But, we know they were written by a man, and most likely an existing one. Comparing an event to a man is invalid, I suppose you could employ popular (il) logic and say, I haven’t seen it, but I feel it, or I feel the wtc towers are still there, it is a fact that they are not. Now apply that to a god… I feel there is a god, as do most people, but I cannot prove it in any %. Or, I know there is not a god because there is no evidence of one. Quit being stupid, think for
    yourself.

  • Mike Parker

    Nice try, but your argument fails. When you say “When you dismiss all Gods, you are claiming that there is no religious experience to require explanations for,” you fail to understand the basic scientific facts about religious experience. Religious experience is a special, complex event in human brains. It's real and atheism doesn't entail denying it. The god experience is distinct from god concepts or explanations for that experience. You can consult Michael Persinger's book “Neuropsychological Bases of God Beliefs” for a brilliant, clear elaboration on this distinction.

    I'm an atheist but it's only a matter of semantics whether I believe that no gods exist or I believe that every god exists because the true nature of god is a concept in at least one person's brain, and concepts are real, physical processes that exist as much as photosynthesis or rainstorms. I like to say that I believe in every god that anyone has ever believed in.

  • Sokratesz

    Yeah, believing in a god is signifcantly more stupid than believing in no god, you sure got that one right.

  • Hang

    You realize I'm atheist right?

  • Stutz

    I'm afraid this quote is inadequate, but not for the reasons you're suggesting. Many believers I know don't dismiss other gods because they are clearly mythological/man-made/just-plain-silly, while maintaining that the Christian God is reasonable/logical to believe in. I'm afraid they dismiss the other gods because they often attribute their “works” to the influence of Satan or demons, and because the Christian God is the only one true God. I'm afraid they think that the claims of other religions might be just as reasonable as their own, if not for the fact that their God had warned them against worshiping false idols and other gods. It's not necessarily that other religions make less sense, it's that they're rivals to the one true path.

    A lot of believers are absolutely crippled by magical thinking. We need to more clearly make the point that rational, non-spiritual thought is a different and clearer way to look at the world.

  • http://thoughtfulfaith.wordpress.com Chucky

    Exactly! Here is my take on it:

    http://thoughtfulfaith.wordpress.com/2010/05/01

  • Hang

    Thanks Chucky! That was a great post.

  • Advocatus Atheist

    You're logic is predicated on several falacies. Atheists aren't claiming there's no gods. That's the default position. List 500 gods you believe in. Well, if you don't believing in 499 of those gods, then you're an atheist with regard to those gods.

    You believe in the ONE that some other faith would not. Well, that's what atheists are saying… step back… look… and THINK!

    The Shakespeare interpolation is faulty. Both Francis Bacon and Shakespeare were real historic figures. This is not a just analogy, since the difference between the theist and atheist argument is basically a debate over the believability of the theist claims, ones which defy historical account and most of which lie outside of the testable realm of science. Big difference. You need to be aware of the context of the information, not just manipulate the terminology via semantics for rhetorical reasons.

    Arabs flying planes is not related to whether or not conspiracy theorists believe 9/11 happened or not. The analogy falls flat. I think you need to understand atheism before you can comment on it. Try a dictionary and go from there.

  • Jim

    Some 9/11 theories are more plausible than others. All gods are equally implausible. That is the whole *point*. If the Christian god was more plausible than other gods, you’d have a point. It’s not.

  • Tony

    Absolutely not…..in fact, I don’t even give you credit for an intelligent statement. These examples you give are completely different scenarios, and you cannot relate them. It is simply stating that anyone who is religious is very wrongly biased toward their beliefs. In fact all religions can be broken down to show primitive ideas. They can be traced back in history to their origins……do you not find it interesting that the smarter someone is, the less likely they are to believe in these ridiculous stories…..anyone who actually examines all of the evidence, and who does not erroneously project their beliefs in order to rationalize their beliefs, making a circular argument, cannot still be religious. Religion should redirect its energy toward philosophy. Any philosophy that does not have a direct connection to reality, is pointless, and separates one from the natural world.

  • Shi

    you dont know how to reason out logically ^^ evidence are the way u making arguments

  • Shi

    you dont know how to reason out logically ^^ evidence are the way u making arguments

  • Buddy Lee

    Born atheist: Here’s an explanation: http://bornatheist.com/

  • Jeremy Barger

    Those examples don’t apply. I can illustrate to you how Shakespeare being William Shakespeare has many times more evidence than him being Francis Bacon. Can you illustrate to me how your particular god has many times more evidence than all other gods that have been believed in? Also, the quote you are inexplicably arguing with is in no way trying to prove the lack of existence of a god. It’s simply trying to defend atheists from childish, stupid and unfair attacks. I don’t believe in YOUR god. Boo fucking hoo. I also don’t believe in all these other gods, as you don’t. Should they be crying in their milk that we don’t believe? You don’t believe because you found a different one to believe in. I don’t believe because I haven’t found ANY to believe in. Are you suggesting to me that there is something wrong with looking at all of these thousands of gods, and not finding any of them convincing enough to believe in one? If so, then please show me the indisputable proof that your particular god exists while all these others don’t. Thank you.

  • UrMum

    There was no need to substitute the statements. This is not mathematics where you can change the variables and the end result will be the same. If you weren’t able to internalize what that quote meant, then you need some help with your comprehension. This is basically a criticism on the “One True Faith”. All Christians believe that Muslims will burn in hell for worshipping a false god and vice versa.

  • Alexhawkhead

    Oh man, people are fucking dumb.

  • http://gristleoflife.wordpress.com/ Analog Kid

    WTF?

  • http://twitter.com/BirdmanZach Zach Farrell

    You’re a dipshit is probably the only explanation I can leave here. 

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