Yesterday I argued that atheism is just another religion, because it requires both faith and belief. A few atheists saw my tweet linking the article, and began tweeting objections to it. As follow up, I have an observation, and one additional point.
First, the observation:
Many atheists consider themselves “rational thinkers”. If a “rational thinker” lumps God together with Santa Claus, Yeti, or something called the “Flying Spaghetti Monster”, I’m reminded of what Admiral Kirk says to Khan in Star Trek II: “I’m laughing at the superior intellect.”
Further note: presuming that an absurd (and exquisitely incorrect) meme constitutes the final word in an argument is also patently contrary to rational thought. Just sayin’.
Second, the additional point:
“Rational thinking” atheists have it wrong when it comes to who has the burden of proof in the existence of God question.
A brief caveat emptor here: I am an attorney; a civil litigator. Because of the types of cases that I handle, I think I have a pretty good notion of the burden of proof in the context of the law, and especially in litigation.
In our legal system, if a person brings a lawsuit against someone, he, as the plaintiff, has the burden of proof. What this means, practically speaking, is that before the plaintiff can prevail (i.e., obtain a judgment), the burden is on him to establish, through clear and convincing evidence, the merits of his claim, and satisfy each element of it.
This is because at law, individual litigants are supposed to be equal to one another.
But did you know that if I, a citizen of the United States, bring a cause of action against the United States Government (i.e., the Sovereign), the law often (there are many examples) provides a different (heightened) burden of proof, sometimes shifting the burden altogether, and a different (heightened) standard of review (e.g., “abuse of discretion”, or “arbitrary and capricious” versus “manifest weight of evidence”)?
The government says of itself: citizens are equal to one another, but not equal to the Sovereign. A different standard applies, by virtue of its sovereignty. Even in our “democratic” system, with a Constitution that expressly holds that government shall not abridge certain rights of its citizens, the government nearly always has a “leg up” at law.
Likewise, if an all-powerful God exists, by virtue of His sovereignty (not to mention His infinite power), He owes us nothing. If an all-powerful God exists, it is irrelevant to the fact of His existence that we believe in Him.
While an atheist is certainly free not to believe (because God gives him that freedom), an atheist is not also right to expect God to prove Himself to anyone. An atheist who considers himself “finder of fact” — like a juror — is simply wrong; rather, he is an arm-chair quarterback; the calls issued from the La-Z-Boy are meaningless and have no impact on the game itself.
After all, if God exists, He is the Sovereign.
He does care whether you believe, but that’s a different story having nothing to do with equity.