What is the Most Reasonable “Default Position”?
by Patrick Collins
Many atheists argue that they are being neutral by not believing in any deity. This neutrality is then turned into the basis for atheism being a “default position.” Is this really a neutral position?
I have experienced this line of argument on many occasions. Personally, I find it unreasonable.
Let’s say you want to be neutral as possible when it comes to looking at religions. How do we know what the “default position” is? What is the most reasonable “starting position” to start the journey of evaluating religions, or faith systems? What can we know by mere intuition in regards to a faith system? (I say “faith system” because I think it’s a stretch to call atheism and agnosticism religions, but I think it is reasonable to call them a type of faith.)
The first is basic reason and logic. It is a simple truth that not all religions or faith systems can be true. They contradict each other in many ways. While there are generic similarities between most of them, such as believing in a higher power, being good, and affirming an after life, that does not make them compatible. In fact, the differences between them are often the most important aspects of the given religion. The higher powers are different in their attributes, way to be worshipped, and interaction with mankind. Many of the morals are different. The way of salvation/going to heaven is different. These are the important details that have “life or death” consequences.
All faith systems could be false, but they cannot all be true.
The second line of evidence is the emerging field within sociology that gives strong indication that children have a natural tendency to believe God exists. This affirms that the inherent default position is theism. We don’t have to know about these studies to recognize this. People by default want to worship and believe in a higher power. It’s a universal human experience. Though, some cultures have been known to influence children against this basic belief. Of course, opponents of religion would take the opposite position. Since this is an emerging field, there’s not decades of research on the topic. Those who are curious for more information can check of the sources quoted in the link above.
The third line of evidence is that it is perfectly reasonable to look at creation and think that everything was designed. In fact, it’s intuitive.
The atheist or agnostic who states that there is no evidence for the existence of God is excluding the material world by mere question begging. They are assuming the thing they are trying to prove. While one interpretation of how the world came to be is completely materialistic, there are others that involve a creator. An honest and open person would say that it is perfectly reasonable to look at the world and say that there is a Creator who made this. In fact, even atheist Richard Dawkins has said as much…
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