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On “We’re Both Atheists, I Just Go One God Further Than You”

July 25, 2013

The statement “we’re both atheists, I just go one god further than you” is a common argument heard from many atheists. Many atheists may then reference gods of mythology such as Mithras, Thor, ect. and say the Christian is an atheist in respect to all other supposed gods, just not the one God of the Bible.

Does this argument have any value in favor of atheism? Let’s use reason and critical thinking to unpack this argument.

The definition of “atheist” according to dictionary.com is “a person who denies or disbelieves the existence of a supreme being or beings”.

The definition of “atheist” according to Merriam-Webster is “one who believes that there is no deity”.

In other words, we can determine if someone is or is not an atheist with this question:

Does the person believe in a god?

If no: atheist
If yes: not an atheist

Now when arguing that a Christian is an atheist who does and does not believe in a God we apply the Principle of Bivalence, which states that any meaningful statement has exactly two truth values, “true” or “false”, because it is being stated that it is both true and false that the Christian is an atheist. Now we see that when we apply the Principle of Contravalence which states that no meaningful statement can be both true and false, we see that “we’re both atheists, I just go one God further” violates this principle regarding statements of what is true and false.

Now of course there are propositions in logic that can be both true and false. Also, the argument–which is a reasonable argument to make–can be made that the statement doesn’t imply either/or Christian or atheist but rather Christian and also atheist.

Does the argument “we’re both atheists, I just go one God further” fall under these categories?

To investigate this, let’s start with the statement “I am and am not Filipino”, or, in other words “it is both true and false that I am Filipino”. This is not a false statement because I am also Native American (I am also English, but for simplicities sake we will ignore that). So when I say “I am and am not Filipino” this is a true statement. But why is it true?

First, we notice that being Filipino is not the opposite of being Native American, and vice versa. Also, being Filipino does not cancel out being Native American and vice versa.

So now then consider the statement “we’re both atheists, I just go one God further than you”, where the atheist is saying that the Christian is and is not an atheist (or possibly also an atheist). Is being an atheist the opposite of being a Christian, and vice versa? Yes. Does being an atheist cancel out being a Christian, and vice versa? Yes. So we see that the argument “we’re both atheists, I just go one God further” violates the Law of Non-Contradiction. It is simply logically incoherent.

What we’re really dealing with here is THREE things:

1) The origination of the belief

2) The belief itself

3) The object of the belief.

Now one may show how the belief originated, but showing how a belief originated does not disprove the object of the belief; and if the object of the belief has not been disproved, the belief itself has not been invalidated.

We also see that the argument commits the Fallacy of Special Pleading, where one makes unreasonable exceptions when a claim (in this case atheism) is disputed, because it takes the universally accepted dictionary definition of “atheist” and 1) Attaches it correctly to the atheist making the statement, and 2) Attaches it incorrectly to the Christian who believes in God, making an unreasonable exception to the definition of atheist.

Next, the argument commits the Fallacy of Composition, where one assumes that because one or more things in a category is false, therefore all things in that category are false, by assuming because there is no “Thor”, “Mithras”, etc, that there is no God whatsoever, instead of taking each case individually on evidence.

So we see that the argument “we’re both atheists, I just go one god further than you” grossly violates logic and reason as well as the definition of atheist and has no value as an argument in favor of atheism.

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4 Comments
  1. “The statement “we’re both atheists, I just go one god further than you” is a common argument heard from many atheists.”

    It’s not an argument. It’s a witty saying meant to try and show that believers and non-believers aren’t all that different, hopefully.

    • In the sense that it’s a proposition it’s naturally an argument, but I see your point about how it may sometimes be utilized. We’ll have to agree to disagree on the subjective opinion on whether or not it’s “witty” 🙂

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  1. Aren’t we all atheists? William Lane Craig responds to a common objection | THINKAPOLOGETICS.COM

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