One thing I read a lot, is the assertion that atheists are just as religious as the religious, but their faith is in science, not God. This also takes the form of “I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist” and “Atheists believe nothing created everything” as well as other neat little roadside placards which at first seem rather more intellectually considered than further scrutiny would reveal.
Twitter user @my_level observed: “EVERY belief system has some supporting text. Theists=religions w/ deities, atheists=religions w/o deities, agnostic=beliefs based in logic & reason. Agnosticism says that due to lack of evidence some features of our systems can’t be disproved hence it can’t be dismissed.”
If you want to play semantics with words like belief and faith you can show that many atheists arrived at an irreligious world-view, through reason and logic and that, therefore, the supporting text @my_level references would be books like ‘On the origin of species’.
Of course there is also the work of Steven Pinker, who shows that there is a link between physical and therefore subjective brain activity and the belief that religious experiences come from outside of the mind and are not subject to personal influences and experiences as, in fact, he has proven they are.
If this is a kind of ‘faith’ that atheists have in everyone from Darwin to Pinker, then so be it. But I don’t think faith in the methodological process of scientific enquiry can be equated to the same kind of faith Christians place in a book plagiarised from Egyptian folklore and Pagan astrology.
I think these are two very different kinds of demands upon our trust. One claims authority through an assertion that without faith you are offering your physical self and your spiritual soul up for a whole slew of moral, social and psychological pronouncements, based upon the diktat of scriptural literalism.
The other asserts its authority based upon mutually supportive, but nonetheless independently acquired evidence, that descriptions of natural phenomena are as factually accurate as it is possible to be, until a better description of those processes becomes available through repeated observance, hypothesise, testing, and theorised reasoning.
The immediate demand from within certain apologetics, at this point, is that scientific methodology itself is in some way flawed precisely for the reasons given above because the procedural mechanism excludes observations which can’t be described by natural means, i.e., supernatural causation.
I’ve written extensively on why this is the ultimate appeal to special treatment and to be dismissed for some very sound reasons, but as I’ve said before, the ability of the believer to believe without a reasonable basis upon which to build their reasons to believe is not in question.
So I disagree that you need the same kind of faith to be a believer in falsifiable evidence as you do to be a Judeo-Christian follower of Yahweh—or indeed any of the proof of concept gods who preceded Him in ancient allegory and oral tradition. Nor do I garner any useful philosophy from the albeit cleverly self-contained word games with definitions of ‘belief’, which Christian apologists will play to score some moot point on the gaps which do exist in our scientific knowledge at the bleeding edge of neuroscience, cosmology, genetics and every other methodological pursuit of the truth.
Therefore atheism is no more my religion than not being a stamp collector is my hobby. I am not defined by a concept of that which I reject.