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“An Atheist Has to Prove X…”

The other day I was discussing religion with a Christian and he commented that in order for me to be an atheist, I have to prove that life can come from chemicals. This is an attempt to switch the burden of proof while invoking the God of the Gaps argument.

For starters, atheists don’t have to prove anything at all. All atheism is, is the lack of belief in a deity. Why certain people lack that belief in a deeper question the answers of which vary depending on the person. It is not even a given for an atheist just to say, “I don’t believe your claims.” One could be an atheist because one never heard claims about deities or because one never considered the claim about deities. However, most atheists have heard the claims and were not convinced for whatever reason.

One need not have to have an alternative answer to the question of how life began in order to reject the claim that, “God did it.” Personally, I don’t know exactly how a computer works, but I need not have that knowledge in order to reject the claim that a gerbil is inside powering it.

If someone were to make a claim that, “God did it,” the burden of proof in on them to prove that claim. I am perfectly justified to answer whatever the question is with the answer, “I don’t know.” More accurately, I would want to say, “I don’t know yet.” This is the real problem for religious believers. As we learn more about the world around us, their God gets pushed back to the Gaps in our knowledge. As we learn more and those gaps get smaller and smaller, the need for a deity diminishes.

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