The habit of some religious believers of espousing a type of “muscular Christianity” (or Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, or anything else) and attempting to bully people into believing their way has probably spawned more atheism than anything else. Nobody likes a bully, and religious people can come across as (and sometimes are) bullies attempting to force others to do their will — or God’s Will, as they imagine it to be. An atheist (or anyone else) is fully justified in thinking that any god that needs that kind of help can’t be much of a supreme being.
|Aristotle, by a ceiling painter.|
For something to be accepted as knowledge, it must be proved, either by argument (logical consistency) or by evidence (empirical validity), preferably both. If something is not proved, it remains opinion. This is why, for instance, a person must be considered innocent until he is proven guilty. No amount of innuendo, suspicion, dislike, or firm conviction that someone is guilty is sufficient for proof. Your attitude must be, “I’m from Missouri. Show me.”
Does this mean that innocent people are never convicted of anything? Everybody knows that is ridiculous. Innocent people are convicted all the time, most often in the court of public opinion, by gossip, which is an innocuous-sounding word for “calumny” and “backbiting.”
Why? Often it is because some people hold their convictions by a faith so strong that they cannot imagine those convictions are not true. They start to believe they don’t need to prove what they say — or, worse, believe that their opinions are proof, or (worst of all) manufacture “proof” because they know in their hearts that the other person must be guilty of something (or they wouldn’t dislike him so much). They’re just helping others to recognize that “fact” and are saving the world from evil.
|Alchemy: Spiritual transformation through science|
The case is similar for atheists who claim that belief in God is not rational. This claim is itself not rational. It is, in effect, the claim that the atheist can prove there is no God. You cannot, however, logically prove a negative. You can only prove a positive. You can prove that something “is” by presenting proof. There can be no proof that something “is not.”
An atheist who claims that science proves that God does not exist is therefore being illogical and non-scientific. In addition to accepting a logical fallacy as proven fact — false opinion as true knowledge — this claim also rejects science.