This is a frequent and slight cliché claim by many anti-theistic atheists- that atheists are somehow intellectually or logically superior to Christians, and other theists. Now, I know that not all atheists think this, but a large percentage of many atheists who are disrespectful and anti-theist, do claim that they are better at logic than theists, even before knowing the individual theist they are talking with. This article is addressed at those type of atheists, not the rational and respectful ones.
First of all, let's start with analysing their belief that they have the authority or right to claim logic, as if they invented it, over the theist. Anybody can make a claim, but exactly how meaningful is it? For example, I am not a historian, and I will admit I do not have too much historical knowledge (which is something I need to brush up on, I'll admit). If I were to claim that Christians are better at history than Muslims, how meaningful exactly is this? Let's say I had never ever read a history book in my life, and never had a history lesson, and then met a Muslim college history graduate- how would I be able to claim I know more about history than them? Unfortunately, for many atheists, I believe this is the case. Some of them seem to genuinely be under the delusion that not believing in God automatically grants you the authority to claim rational and logical superiority over somebody who does believe in God. I have had many atheists say or imply (e.g. through insults) that I am a failure at logic, or that they are better than me, even though they do not know me or have any evidence to back up this claim. I may occasionally challenge them by asking them if they have ever actually studied logic- how many lessons in logic have they taken? Have they ever read a book on logic? If not, then why tell me, a philosophy student, who has passed advanced philosophy and ethics at A-level, that I am not good at logic? It doesn't seem
to make sense.
So let's analyse many of their claims: "I'm an atheist and you're a theist, so you must fail at logic." Even though many atheists do not say this word for word, they say it either through insults or imply it. They believe that being an atheist makes you better at logic than a Christian, or any other theist. But let's logically analyse what they are saying:
1. Atheists are better at logic than theists.
2. I am an atheist, and you are a theist.
3. Therefore, I am superior at logic to you.
Now, at first glance, this is a valid argument- it works within itself. However, how sound is the argument? The answer is- not very. And here's why:
First of all, it commits a logical fallacy known as argument ad hominem. They are assuming that they are more logical than you, based on who you are, rather than the logical content of any argument they may give. If you were to admit that atheists are better at logic than theists, it logically follows that ALL atheists are better at logic than ALL theists. If they only meant MOST atheists are better at logic than MOST theists, then they should have specified this in their statement. As it happens, they didn't specify, so you can assume they meant ALL.
However, some atheists would say that babies are atheists (note how I said "some" here- I personally do not believe babies are atheists, because I believe atheism is a conscious choice that one makes). For those atheists who believe this, yet at the same time believe that atheists are logically superior to theists, then it follows from their statement that they believe a baby is more logical than C.S. Lewis- a famous Northern Irish writer and theologian. Now, for me personally, and I believe for most rational people, this seems like a pretty irrational belief. Unless you can provide any evidence that a baby is better at logic than C.S. Lewis, then I can guarantee your statement will be rejected by most rational people.
Not only is this belief guilty of an ad hominem attack, I personally believe it to be guilty of a non-sequitur fallacy- it does not necessarily follow that a person who believes in God is not good at logic. Any more than to say somebody who likes soap operas is bad at drama.
When I ask for an anti-theist atheist to give reason for why they believe they are better at logic than me, they often give a reply that commits circular reasoning. Their reason for why they believe this, is because atheists are smarter than Christians, therefore they are smarter than me. What this guilty of (besides a non-sequitur and an ad hominem attack, and also an argument from personal opinion) is circular reasoning, because the conclusion is only true if the premise is true, which, as analysed previously, has faulty logic. And the premise is only true if the conclusion is, which is why it's circular.
Often, when asked to give reason for why they believe theists are illogical, an anti-theist will reply with "because there is no evidence for God, and faith is believing in something with no evidence, and that's stupid". Now, they have tried to force their definition of faith, as believing in something, with no evidence on your worldview. Not only do I disagree with the belief that there is no evidence for God (*ahem* INTELLIGENT DESIGN), but I also disagree with their definition of faith. I would say that believing in something without any evidence whatsoever, is the definition of blind faith. Faith, I would say, is believing in something without ABSOLUTE evidence beyond reasonable doubt. Nonetheless, an anti-theist atheist will insist that there is no evidence for God and that a theist has blind faith. If they believe all theists to be stupid, based on the belief that people who believe things without evidence are stupid, then it logically follows that they believe me to be stupid, as I am a theist. However, if they met me in real life, I might be able to show them certificates of me passing school and sixth-form college, to prove to them that I am not stupid. They would then not be able to provide any evidence that I am stupid, except for emphasising their original statement that faith is stupid and that automatically makes me stupid. But let's analyse what they would have just said:
1. "People who believe things without evidence are stupid."
2. "There is no evidence for God" (according to them).
3. "Therefore theists are stupid."
4. "P.J. Craddock" (me) "is a theist."
5. "Therefore I believe that Craddock is stupid, even though I have no evidence that he is stupid, but he is because he believes things without evidence."
I do not think I need to point out any logical contradiction here.
Also, another reason that atheists give as to why theism is so irrational, according to them, is that apparently belief in God is like belief in pink unicorns, flying teapots or flying spaghetti monsters. This straw man argument (another logical fallacy) is known as "Russell's teapot". A straw man argument is a logical fallacy whereas something is compared to something else, and then that other thing is attacked, rather than the original thing. Russell's teapot is an example of a straw man argument that many anti-theists use to try to discredit theism. By comparing belief in God to belief in fairies, pink unicorns, etc, they can knock down those beliefs and then make theism look irrational. What they don't realize is that are attacking belief in pink unicorns, not belief in God. Simply put, the two are not comparable at all. For more information on this, see my deviation entitled "God vs flying spaghetti monster". Link in description.