Atheists and cognitive dissonance

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A popular graphic used to illustrate atheist hypocrisy. See also: Atheist hypocrisy

Cognitive dissonance is stress or discomfort caused by simultaneously holding contradictory ideas.

Due to the great abundance of evidence for theism (See: Arguments for the existence of God and Christian apologetics), the lack of evidence for atheism and the many inconsistencies of the atheist worldview, atheists often harbor doubts about the validity of atheism (See: Atheists doubting the validity of atheism and Atheism and its retention rate in individuals and Denials that atheists exist).

As a psychological compensation strategy, many atheists (especially proud atheists) become dogmatic and intolerant (See: Atheism and arrogance and Atheism and intolerance) when they experience cognitive dissonance. Research indicates that atheists tend to be more dogmatic and less open-minded (See: Atheism and dogmatism and Atheism and open-mindedness).

Atheism, cognitive dissonance and presuppositional apologetics

See also: Atheism and presuppositional apologetics

Presuppositional apologetics is "a branch of Christian apologetics that deals with presuppositions."[1]

Because atheism lacks any epistemological foundation (See: Atheism and epistemology), presuppositional apologetics often causes cognitive dissonance in atheists (See: Atheism and presuppositional apologetics).

Transcendental argument for the existence of God

See also: Transcendental argument for the existence of God and Atheism and logic

Dr. Greg Bahnsen became known as "the man atheists fear most" due to Michael Martin's cancellation of their scheduled debate.[2]

During his debate with Dr. Gordon Stein, Bahnsen pointed out that the atheist worldview cannot account for the laws of logic, but the Christian worldview can.[3][4] See also: Transcendental argument for the existence of God

Atheists, cognitive dissonance and asking atheists what proof and evidence proves that atheism is true

See also: Atheism and evidence

Logo for the Shockofgod YouTube channel

Shockofgod's challenge to atheists


Shockofgod is a popular YouTube Christian channel run by an ex-atheist Christian conservative. His YouTube videos have cumulatively received over 18 million views since his YouTube channel's inception.[5] Shockofgod won over 70 Christianity vs. atheism debates.[6]

Shockofgod says it was the lack of evidence for atheism and the compelling nature of the evidence for Christianity which caused him to become an ex-atheist.[7][8]

Shockofgod caused many atheists to be upset when he repeatedly asked YouTube atheists the question: "What proof and evidence can you provide as an atheist that atheism is accurate and correct?

Science journal and science magazine quotes related to atheists and cognitive dissonance

See also: Denials that atheists exist and Atheism quotes

“Atheism is psychologically impossible because of the way humans think... They point to studies showing, for example, that even people who claim to be committed atheists tacitly hold religious beliefs, such as the existence of an immortal soul.” - Graham Lawton in the New Scientist science magazine [9]

“A slew of cognitive traits predisposes us to faith.” - Pascal Boyer, in the British science journal Nature [9]

Quotes and statements related to atheism being difficult to believe

See also: Atheism quotes

  • "Opposition to godliness is Atheism in profession and idolatry in practice. Atheism is so senseless and odious to mankind that it never had many professors." - Sir Isaac Newton[10]
  • "The Scripture saith, The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God; it is not said, The fool hath thought in his heart; so as he rather saith it, by rote to himself, as that he would have, than that he can thoroughly believe it, or be persuaded of it....It appeareth in nothing more, that atheism is rather in the lip, than in the heart of man." - Sir Francis Bacon, his essay Of Atheism[11]

The ex-atheist Alister McGrath has repeatedly pointed out the uninspiring nature of atheism.[12][13] According to McGrath, atheism is "stale", "dull" and difficult to believe.[14]

The Christian apologist Tom Gilson, after citing cases where atheists hold to views without sufficient evidence, quotes the prominent atheist Thomas Nagel who declared; "I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that."[15]

  • “It’s important to understand that an atheist is someone who believes the scientific impossibility that nothing created everything. Some fundamental atheists will deny this by trying to redefine ‘nothing’ as being ‘something,’ because such a thought makes them look like a fool, which is precisely what the Bible says that they are (see Psalm 14:1)." - Ray Comfort[16]

Christian apologetic book related to atheism being difficult to believe

Norman Geisler was a Christian apologist and an alumnus of Loyola University where he graduated with a Ph.D in philosophy. A prolific writer as well as a debater, one of his better known works is I don't have enough faith to be an atheist, which he co-authored with Frank Turek. See: I don't have enough faith to be an atheist by Norman Geisler and Frank Turek, 2004

Atheism and psychology/sociology

According to a study performed in the United States by the researchers Wink and Scott, very religious people fear death the least.[17]

Signs of cognitive dissonance in an atheist engaged in a discussion/debate/argument

See also: Signs of cognitive dissonance in an atheist engaged in a discussion/debate/argument

An angry atheist speaking to a woman with a Bible in her hand.

The Christian philosopher James S. Spiegel says the path from Christianity to atheism among several of his friends involved moral slippage such as resentment or unforgiveness.[18] See: Atheism and anger and Atheism and unforgiveness

Below are signs of cognitive dissonance in an atheist engaged in a discussion/argument:

  • The atheist is unwilling to concede obvious factual points and arguments in favor of theism.
  • The atheist mischaracterizes the points/position of a theist - often in a dishonest way. See also: Atheism and deception
  • The atheist myopically focuses on one variable/aspect of a matter rather than looking at the whole issue. See also: Fallacy of exclusion
  • The atheist doggedly maintains superficial arguments even when shown their weaknesses.
  • Displays a complete lack of intellectual curiosity about matters that contradict his contentions.
  • The atheist engages in "mind reading" and baselessly attributes bad intentions in the other party
  • Rather than focus on the matter at hand, the person engages in personal attacks and other abusive behavior. See also: Ad hominem and Atheism and mockery

Overcoming cognitive dissonance in an atheist who has shut down rational thinking

Below are techniques to eliminate/overcome cognitive dissonance in an atheist you are having a discussion with:

  • Build trust/rapport in the other person through displaying empathy and using humor

See also

External links