I’ve found a second atheist’s commentary on “belief” in UFOs.
Atheist: The belief in God(s) is purely and simply based in faith, no matter what religion you come from. Faith is defined simply as belief in something without evidence or proof.
MSH: This is actually an uninformed understanding of faith, but he’s at least clear. Faith is often made out to mean “irrationality” when this is not the case at all. REAL faith actually needs the rational. Faith analyzes a claim or claims, then the pros and cons for those claims in the light of data. Faith is then a judgment decision based upon a presumed likelihood — in the absence of omniscience. It’s sort of like a jury deciding X based upon something being beyond a reasonable doubt. The jury BELIEVES it is making the best decision, given what it is possible to know. Their faith fills the gap between what they know and what was literal, factual reality. Real faith is both an effort to understand correctly, and then a decision to choose one option over another (as opposed to giving up or being non-committal). It’s quite far from the absence of reason. If readers would like to be better informed on this than our atheist friend, I’d recommend a little book written by philosopher Ronald Nash (and given the evidence that philosophers are trained in rational thinking, I don’t have enough faith to conclude that philosophers can’t believe in God; a truckload of them do — precisely because belief in God IS rational).1
Atheist: Lets face it, we are not born believing in a God, those beliefs are instilled into us through religion.
MSH: Logic check. We aren’t believing in anything, so does that make everything we eventually believe in irrational? Sometimes critiquing thinking like this is just too easy.
Atheist: People just didn’t suddenly start believing in UFO’s either, however, unlike religious belief, people started believing because they believe they had tangible evidence.
MSH: Yes, there is tangible evidence that people are seeing *something*; it would be foolish to think they’re all lying or in error about seeing something. But is it rational to conclude that since they’ve seen something unidentified that thing is therefore extraterrestrial? Certainly not (if we still care about logic).
Atheist: We have all heard the stories from eye witnesses and whether they are telling the truth, or they simply think they are, a UFO is something that can at least be falsified, so I do not believe that belief in God(s) and belief in UFO’s are technically in the same category.
Atheist: Many pictures and videos have surfaced over the years and proven to be frauds. Now I cannot lie and say that I personally have researched all the pictures, stories and evidence out there, but from what I know, there is not one story that can be proven to definitively be extraterrestrial UFO’s.
Now though personally I do not believe that there is one legitimate extraterrestrial UFO story out there, that does not mean that there aren’t other people who do have legitimate reasons for believing.
MSH: Well, if they had hard evidence of ET life in connection with what they saw, you’d be right. Otherwise it *is* illegitimate to draw this conclusion.
Atheist: Who’s to really say if an eyewitness really did witness something real. I guess you could say that although I am an atheist when it comes to God(s), I am an agnostic when it comes to UFO’s, but for a good reason. The reason is not because I buy any of the stories of UFO’s, but simply because the prospect of intelligent life out in the universe is actually possible. Although this is in the realm of science fiction, it is at least possible considering that we are here and the thousands of planets in the known universe, that there is at least one other planet like ours that supports life and has life on it that our technology cannot reach yet.
MSH: Agreed; ET life is possible. I’m so glad he/she didn’t say it was “probable” or “certain” as some others do, largely on the basis of speculative (and perhaps spurious) math.
Atheist: For this reason, I do not think that belief in UFO’s is totally irrational or illogical.
MSH: What does “belief” mean here? Sure, I *believe* that people see unidentified flying objects. That is perfectly reasonable since we have piles of data for that. But if “believe” here means “belief that UFOs are extraterrestrial,” that is *not* rational, since there is no hard scientific data for ET life. This is apples and oranges thinking, but it is quite common. It just goes to show that atheism and UFO religion are compatible.
The irony is that for many, skepticism is a belief system – i.e. non-“believers” come to the issue with the pre-conceived notion that it’s bunk and that needs to be disproven. They don’t want to believe and for that reason may never.
It goes without saying that many scientific theories are based on some amount of faith, given that they’re disproven or improved upon later. What we know now is only a fraction of what we will know. But the atheist’s POV is often to say if it’s unknowable now it doesn’t exist – which flies into the face of how scientific inquiry has unfolded.
Your atheist is actually pretty reasonable. Most avid atheists and religious skeptics are so closed off to the notion, a closed circuit. Which is why skepticism for many is a belief system in itself. Believing in something without full investigation of the alternative. The same can be said for unthinking UFO believers – not letting any doubt seep in.
You might be interested in this: http://www.theamericanbookofthedead.com/2009/11/15/atheist-and-believer/
Thanks for the link; agreed, too, that our atheist isn’t unhinged but fairly thoughtful.