My wife has organized an atheist group that meets every Sunday here in Salem. Recently I noted that someone had shared a link to a book on the group's Facebook page.
It looked interesting, so I bought Why There is No God: Simple Responses to 20 Common Arguments for the Existence of God.
I'm enjoying Armin Navabi's book. Here's info about Navabi that's on the back cover and Amazon listing.
Armin Navabi is a former Muslim from Iran and the founder of Atheist Republic, a non-profit organization with over one million fans and followers worldwide that is dedicated to offering a safe community for atheists around the world to share their ideas and meet like-minded individuals.
Armin was born and raised in the Islamic Republic of Iran and was indoctrinated thoroughly in the Muslim tradition. After almost losing his life in the pursuit of God's grace, the devastation of that event motivated him to seek a better understanding of the nature and concept of God and religious belief.
Armin's journey led him to leaving Islam and becoming an atheist. Wanting to reach out to others like himself, Armin continues to examine religion as well as the notion of God and interact with others to engage in thought-provoking and educational discussion.
I liked what Navabi says in his Introduction about the burden of proof. He reminded me of me in how he argued this. Great atheist minds think alike, I guess.
One concept you'll see come up repeatedly in this book is the idea of the burden of proof. During any debate, it's the job of the person making a claim to provide support, evidence and reasoning for that claim.
It simply doesn't make sense to make an unfounded claim with no evidence to back it and demand that the other person to either agree with you or disprove your unfounded statement.
...The burden of proof is a necessary part of any debate, regardless of the topic being discussed. Its utility in facilitating discussion is so well established that it's required in legal proceedings as well; the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty.
In the case of debates about God, the burden is on the believer to offer support for her position if she wishes it to be considered seriously. In reality, the only necessary argument against believing in God is simply that there is no evidence that any gods exist.
An atheist doesn't need to justify her lack of belief any further. This keeps the burden of proof on the side of the claimant where it belongs. The person making a claim has to provide the evidence for its validity.
Would you believe in the claim that flying pineapples exist until proven wrong without any evidence? Probably not. You would withhold belief until there is evidence to support such a claim.
All the same, it's sometimes valuable to point out the fallacies in a claimant's argument. At the very least, this creates constructive discussion where all points are considered and examined. This can also introduce doubt, causing the other person to reconsider his or her position or consider searching for evidence before accepting a claim.
Atheism exists on a spectrum. Some atheists claim absolute certainty in God's nonexistence. Others simply remain unconvinced and refuse to believe in a deity without compelling evidence. However, once one has a high enough level of certainty about something, they usually treat it as certain for the sake of practicality.
After all, I cannot say with absolute certainty that my wife is not a professional assassin hired by the People's Republic of China to exterminate me. But I don't spend time worrying about the possibility because there is no evidence whatsoever to support it.
The same is true for the existence of God, although my wife being an assassin is actually more likely; that scenario, at least, would fall within the known scientific laws without contradicting the prevailing models explaining the universe.