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  • Writer's picture Peter Kupisz

Can Atheists be Biased When it Comes to God?

Many atheists insist that theists are biased when it comes to believing in God. Theists, they allege, simply want God to exist because they take comfort in the idea that an all-powerful being loves them, protects them, gives meaning to their lives, etc. In contrast, many atheists claim they are not influenced by such subjective preferences and are simply following the evidence to its logical conclusion. Perhaps they are right. But maybe not.

Other atheists take a more balanced view and recognize that both theists and atheists can be biased. For example, Dr. Sean Carroll, a respected physicist and atheist, states this in his book The Big Picture.

Atheists sometimes accuse religious believers of being victims of wishful thinking – believing in a force beyond the physical world, a higher purpose to existence, and especially a reward after death, simply because that’s what they want to be true. This is a perfectly understandable bias, one we would be wise to recognize and try to take into consideration.
But there are biases on both sides. Many people may be comforted by the idea of a powerful being who cares about their lives, and who determines ultimate standards of right and wrong behavior. Personally, I am not comforted by that at all – I find the idea extremely off-putting. I would rather live in a universe where I am responsible for creating my own values and living up to them the best I can, than in a universe in which God hands them down, and does so in an infuriatingly vague way. This preference might unconsciously bias me against theism.

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Sean M. Carroll, The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself, Reprint ed. (New York: Dutton, 2017), 149.



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