Why Defend Atheism?

The main reason I think that atheism is worth defending stems from my conviction that truth and rational belief are very important goods that are worth defending. In fact, they are both intrinsically and instrumentally valuable goods; ones that people in general have a fundamental drive to assert and defend. Whether this drive amounts to a personal preference or an epistemic duty, either provides a good reason to defend truth and rational belief.
- Ryan Stringer (from The Value of Atheism on The Secular Web)

http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/ryan_stringer/value-of-atheism.html

This seems a bit weak to me.

First, the “conviction that truth and rational belief are very important goods” should rest on something more than just the fact that “people in general have a fundamental drive to assert and defend” these things. A natural tendency to “assert and defend” something does not mean that the something in question is truly worthy of being asserted and defended.

Thus, even if there were a natural tendency to “assert and defend” belief in God, that would not imply that doing so is a worthwhile activity. A “fundamental drive” or natural inclination might be one that is irrelevant to human well being or even harmful to human well being. Not all drives or inclinations should be blindly followed. My natural inclination to consume a half-gallon of ice cream every day is one that I must resist, or at least exercise some degree of rational constraint over, if I want to be a happy and healthy person.

Second, although I agree that truth and rational belief are “very important goods”, it does not follow that any and every belief that I hold to be true is worthy of spending my time defending and arguing over. Some matters are just too trivial and insignificant to fuss over.

So, the crucial issue, it seems to me, is whether the question “Does God exist?” is an important and significant question. If this is an important and significant question, then it would be worth investing some time and energy in coming to a correct conclusion on this issue, and to help others to do the same. If it is not, then perhaps there are other issues that are more deserving of our attention.

What is Faith? - Part 7
Some Thoughts on Naturalism and Morality
What is Faith? - Part 3
What is Faith - Part 6
About Stephen Law

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