If you tell me that you have an invisible baby fire breathing dragon in your hand, I will likely reject that claim based on bad evidence. I will not believe you until you could provide adequate proof. Would you then be tempted to say that it's my FAITH that I'm anti invisible baby fire breathing dragon because I rejected your claim?
No, because you do have pretty solid proof that I don't have a fire-eating dragon in my hand, viz., my hand hasn't been incinerated and you can't hear anything flapping around. Besides, while atheism does involve the rejection of a claim of God, it almost always involves the substitution of other beliefs - say, other explanations for observations about the existence of the universe and its properties. I don't know why you're having so much trouble with this.
Here's a more realistic example: dogs exhibit all the appearances of emotions - joy, pain, fear, etc - and I might tell you that, on the basis of my observations, I believe they experience emotions which are qualitatively similar to human ones. A fashionable atheist explanation is: oh, that's nothing but [instinctive reactions/conditioning/neurosomethingsomething].
Well, my hypothesis explains the observations just fine. In fact it explains them much better than the "nothing buttery" hypothesis, and is more theoretically sound (there isn't a huge difference between a dog's brain and genome, and a human's, so we would expect their biochemistry to be very similar). However, some people have a personal preference for the latter explanation. They often justify it as more 'rational' but it isn't, because its an inferior explanation for empirical facts and doesn't generate useful predictions. Their preference basically boils down to belief, or prejudice, or a need to justify some behaviour.
Note: I'm not suggesting all atheists are horrible to animals.
finley wrote:On the specific subject of God, absolutely they are less rational. A belief in God requires rationality to be set aside. It requires a person to suspend all normal levels of acceptance of evidence that they use in all other walks of life.
Of course it doesn't. You probably disagree with me on this, but the word 'rational' only applies to a chain of logic, not to the selection of predicates. If your conclusions - say, your personal moral rules - follow logically from your personal conception of God, then you are rational.
Of course you could create a nightmarish morality from it. All that's required for that is to read the book as it's written and follow it. Read it, absorb it, follow it. In the case of Christianity and Islam, that would necessarily lead to human misery and suffering which I would think qualifies as nightmarish morality. You make it sound like there was no scriptural basis for the inquisition.
Well, this is where it gets complicated, and why I try to maintain a distinction between 'belief in God' and 'religion'.
If you take any scriptural text, you can probably fish around and find justifications for bad behaviour. Or failing that, you can invent some. The theocrats who gave birth to the Inquisition got around the relative lack of violent exhortations in the New Testament by keeping the bible in a dead language, threatening people death and torture if they tried to read it for themselves or translated it, and kept the population in a state of fear, poverty and ignorance. This, I suggest, falls under the category of "ignoring your axioms" or "deploying faulty logic", since nowhere does Jesus suggest it's a good idea to burn people at the stake.
A personal belief in God need not have that outcome, although, as I said earlier, it depends who and what you conceive God to be. There absolutely are societies that believe God wants misery and suffering, and they set out - quite rationally - to make "his" wish come true.
So bashing someones head in with a bat is "bad." It is not subjective to say that it's immoral to smash someones brain to pieces with a bat, and it doesn't require people to share my views on that. If they don't share them, they are immoral, objectively.
Sez you, I'm afraid. Show me something about the universe - some evidence - that supports your view that smashing somebody's brain with a baseball bat is bad. Just because it results in a smashed brain doesn't make it bad, since that (one would assume) is the desired outcome, at least from the point of view of the bat-wielder.