Burden of proof is on the theist

By Jeremy Fejfar, December 19, 2011

In response to Rev. David Olson’s column (Dec. 11 Tribune), Olson takes umbrage with those using Stephen Roberts’ statement “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.”

Olson doesn’t feel that his god is subject to the same evidential criteria as gods from other religions. It seems that his justification is basically — my god is bigger than your god.

Because he has defined his god as the source of creation, apparently his god is more likely to exist than other proposed gods. This is a non-sequitur. If Olson finds this sort of logically fallacious argumentation compelling, perhaps his future articles could use the “evidences” — my god is older than your god, my god is nicer than your god, or more people believe in my god than your god.

Olson states that atheists build straw men of less “sophisticated forms of religious belief.” Please define which beliefs are unsophisticated? A six-day creation? A 10,000-year-old universe? Noah’s flood? Zombies (Matthew 27:52)? That Latin incantations can transmute a wafer into delectable human flesh? Or that an omnipotent deity would require blood sacrifice in order to forgive?

If Olson thinks these are all unsophisticated religious beliefs, then we agree. However, there are many millions of Christians who claim these beliefs, so I’d hardly dismiss critiques of these notions as mere straw-man pugilism.

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