Atheist Argumentation - The 1% Argument

Atheist Argumentation – The 1% argument

Continuing with this series I’m going to focus on a couple of different objections that are brought up by Hard Atheists. The first is what I call the 1% argument. This argument is of course neutral and depending on the point being made determines whether or not the 1% is positive (in favor of) or negative (in favor against). Of course I’m talking about small percentages not only about things that are exactly 1%.

Since Atheism has no axiom or absolute objectivity when dealing with issues, subjectivity and relativity reigns supreme. The only appeal to truth needed to sustain an argument is found in an argumentum ad populum (the view of a select elite or bandwagon appeal). As Homer Simpson has said, “Everybody’s stupid but me.”

Relying on the fact that nobody will actually research what he or she has said or that Wikipedia might not say something contrary, the confidence level raises that communal ignorance will prevail. This is the fertile ground necessary for the 1% argument to grow. As we are all too aware, the Internet becomes such an environment where anybody with a keyboard instantly is awarded the title of PhD regarding any writing.

We will first look at the “positive” 1% and then at the negative. One of the most popular 1% arguments goes as follows.

“When you believe in talking snakes and a 5000 year old earth there is no excuse, you should be ashamed. And if you’re teaching children this anti-science superstition you should be really ashamed.”

I hear and read this statement from Atheists in voice chat rooms, blogs, and websites. It’s one of the most common among the followers of Atheists such as Richard Dawkins. This would be considered a positive because of the picture it paints of Jews, Christians and any other group that holds to a Genesis account of creation. Here’s the big question, what makes this a 1% argument?

The positive spin is that in fact only about 6% of Christian denominations have a young earth (6 to 10 thousand year) leaning and less than that have an official statement of a young earth view. Within the small groups that hold to a young earth it is not considered by all to be a view necessary for membership. It may be discouraged, but not as a point of division. Which puts this percentage close to the 1% range. The reason for this division is due to the fact that the bible never teaches the Earth is 6,000 to 10,000 years old. This broad generalization is being used for shock value and not as a statement of fact concerning what Christians actually believe or what churches actually teach.

The account of the talking snake (singular) is, of course, a different matter. Most generally it is a description of what Satan is and not what he looks like. Biblical illiteracy is prevalent within modern Christianity and as a result the interpretation of certain passages can be confusing. Most view it as an allegory within a narrative but it seems the majority of lay people have little to no opinion. Again, the few that hold to a young earth view would be more likely to understand this a literal snake with vocal chords that may have walked upright. Because of these facts, it’s hard to get an exact number of those who view the snake as literal. Indications seem to be very small as well.

The “negative” argument is used whenever something disagreeable is being discussed. The 1% is used here for a view of righteousness on the part of the Atheist. Examples such as wars, oppression, and prison statistics are used for comparison. With each of these examples, of course, comes a subjective view of who goes in what category.

Let me spin the “wars” view from the standpoint I’ve been outlining in these past weeks.

  1. Christianity is abused in name by those claiming to be Christians and warring in the name of Christ.
  2. This is not a Christian concept and anyone acting in this way is not acting on behalf of Christianity.
  3. Any religion that is not Christian is Atheist.
  4. Therefore all wars are in fact the result of Atheism.

By using a broad brush, I’ve painted Atheism in the same way most Atheists paint all religions as equal. I don’t think this is a very fair or respectful way of examining the evidence, which is why I refrain from it. The same graciousness is not considered from the other side. If all arguments are made this way, no progress will ever be made.

This type of argument can be used with any subject. Sometimes the 1% argument draws on reality and in fact discredits other claims. Let’s draw our attention to the prison argument. The argument is made that less than 1% of people in prison are Atheist. The most popular number is something like .01% of people who claim to be Atheists in America are incarcerated. The number of Atheists in America is said to be around 15%. Let’s take a closer look at these numbers to see if we’re not being misled.

According to the ARIS (American Religious Identification Survey) City University of New York, in 2001 reported that in the U.S. about 13.2% of the population describe themselves as nonreligious, 0.5% describe themselves as agnostic, and a smaller number describe themselves as atheist. These numbers are more consistent with the surveys done in prisons that are being paraded by Atheists for the look of apparent moral superiority but down played or falsified for the deception of apparent strength in numbers.

In 2005 Pitzer College sociologist Phil Zuckerman compiled numbers of people who don't believe in God, based primarily on polling and survey data, for every country in the world. Zuckerman states that adding the "non-religious" segment of the world population would, to his calculated maximum of 749,247,571 (about 750 million) atheists, agnostic and non-believers in God, yield a number nearly twice as large -- just under 1.5 billion. It can not be said based on Zuckerman's analysis that "1.5 billion people do not believe in God." A large proportion of the people classified as "non-religious" expressly do believe in God or a Higher Power. The 750 million figure is already an attempt to estimate the total population of people who do not believe in God. It is difficult to know what this number is worldwide when you have communist countries who force an Atheistic view on it’s people.

Regardless of the reasoning behind it, this type of information misleads people into thinking that those who confess that there is no God is in 2nd place behind Christianity when it come to the number of adherents. This type of slight of hand is used across the board by Atheists when dealing with statistics in any given area.

One third of the world believes that Jesus Christ is God (about 2.3 billion). Islam believes that Jesus is a Prophet of God (about 1.7 billion). This means that 4 out of the 6.777 billion people in the world believe Jesus was a real person who was at least favored by God in some way (59% or almost 3/5). If you take the numbers Zuckerman gives and understand conservatively that only 1% are Atheists, this leaves you with 1.35 billion people, who I would be willing to guess, would consider Jesus a good moral teacher. That brings our number to 5.3 out of 6.777 billion people who regard Jesus as someone special. That’s 78.2% of the world!

An estimated 26.2% of Americans ages 18 and older (about one in four adults) suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year. This ranges from Alzheimer’s disease to mood disorders to obsessive compulsive disorders, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

The reason I bring this up is because those who have Anxiety or OCD are generally this way because they need what’s known as absolute analytical assurance before they make a decision in life. Some would refrain from leaving the house out of fear that some microscopic organism would get in their bodies somehow and kill them. Is it possible that this could happen? Sure. But, normal people live by probability not by absolutions. People who need absolution to make a life decision we call insane or abnormal. We have entire branches of medicine dedicated to this type of mentality.

My point is this. Atheists tend to reject God, or the concept of God, because of what they claim is a lack of evidence. The evidence that is typically asked for is analytical. This assumption is made a priori or prior to examination of the arguments presented by theists. Arguments such as the Cosmological argument, Moral argument, Teleological argument, Argument from Order, Argument from the existence of Arguments, Argument from the existence of evil, the Wager Argument, ect., are never sufficiently dealt with or even referenced with regard to the non-existence of God.

The evidence given that would satisfy under the category of reasonable proof, be it empirical, moral, or logical, is the type of criteria we all live by. Once this has been satisfied the only option left is to demand a type of evidence that cannot be demonstrated because of the ridged standard that is implied. This type of proof is a mathematical proof or true by analysis. It’s not reasonable to ask for this kind of proof for anything other than mathematics. As an example, concepts such as the Big Bang or who your parents are cannot be proven using this kind of proof.

As we’ve seen this is an irrational approach to understanding issues in life. So, why is it that we consider people “insane” or “abnormal” when thinking this way about anything else, but when it comes to God, this type of reasoning is acceptable? If less than 1% of the world doesn’t believe in a God or Higher Power or supernatural reality is this not the definition of abnormal? Should we start approaching Atheists and dealing with them the same way we do with anyone else who has a social phobia or disorder?

I know I used a lot of numbers and statistics in this section so, I’ll leave you with this quote:

There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics. —Benjamin Disraeli (1804–1881) quoted by Mark Twain/Samuel L. Clemens (1835–1910)

And, yes, the irony is not lost on me.