July 26, 2011

Atheists Do Not Choose to Be Atheists

Non conformityMost atheists will eventually be told by a religious believer that we are choosing not to believe in their god and are somehow to blame for doing so. It is almost as if they think we could simply flip a switch and have god-belief like they do.

I have written previously about whether atheism is a choice and why this is an important question to ask ourselves. It is good to see a couple other atheist bloggers I respect asking the same question.

Poodles (Poodles Place) came up with a great way to explain the choice issue to religious believers:
I told her that it would be like trying to unlearn how to read. Once you become educated about some things, it’s impossible to go back. Knowing what I know about the bible and religions I could never go back.
I really like the unlearning to read metaphor. Like Poodles, I could no more resume god-belief than I could unlearn how to read.

And here is what Austin Cline (About.com Agnosticism/Atheism) had to say on the subject:
You may not believe me, but I didn't choose any such thing, and I can't just 'choose' to start believing. Maybe you can, but I can't. I do not believe in any gods. Evidence would make me believe in some god, but all the playacting in the world isn't going to change that.
Exactly. Bring me evidence sufficient to support god-belief, and we'll talk. Otherwise, it does not seem accurate to characterize atheism as a choice.

Update: Poodles Place is no longer active.