I've also seen blogs turn into petty back and forth bickering about who said what and why certain comments sounded rude in tone, etc. etc. Such blog posts are boring and time-consuming. I've been guilty of such back-and-forth in the past, with Baptist apologist James White, and I simply don't want to make this a regular habit.
At the same time, I've received multiple comments on the blog and in e-mail form, telling me that I think know everything now that I'm an atheist. Instead of dignifying any one particular comment with a direct quote, I'll borrow the sentiment expressed on this goofy atheist flier:
"Atheists such as crotchety old Mr. Gruff think they've got it all figured out"
There seems to be a misconception that all atheists are little know-it-alls. They think they have all the answers and will confidently assert their beliefs and opinions while ignoring the views of others. There is a clear anti-atheist bias here, and I argue that it is not me, the atheist, who claims to have it all figured out. Rather, certain Theists want to think they have atheists figured out and/or wish to see "faith" as the default position, rather than skepticism. I've seen this bias manifest itself in presuppositional apologetics on the Protestant side and Anselmian "faith seeking understanding" on the Catholic side. Both lead to the idea that faith is the only accepted starting point for knowledge and conclude that the atheist is flawed on a fundamental level.
The Presuppositionalist apologist will psychologize the atheist, claiming that a person doesn't believe in God because he or she doesn't want to be held accountable for their actions. They will use Romans 1:18-20 to justify such a claim:
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of those who by their wickedness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse; (NRSV)
In other words, the Bible says that God has revealed himself to everyone in the natural world. Those who say that there is no evidence to support the existance of God or do not believe in God are simply surpressing their knowledge of the truth. As R.C. Sproul declares to atheists:
Your problem with the existence of God is not intellectual. It's not because there is insufficient information. It's not because God's manifestation of himself has been obscured. Your problem is not intellectual, it's moral. Your problem is not that you can't know God. Your problem is that you don't want God. (11:42)
The presuppositional apologist simply refuses to trust a skeptic, or believe her claims. "She just thinks she knows everything, but really she just doesn't want to acknowledge her sin before a holy and righteous God." The atheist thinks they have it all figured because they do not want to acknowledge God.
The experience of becoming an atheist, at least in my own life, was and is actually quite different. I followed the teachings of the Catholic Church, whether I liked them or not. In many ways, I'm the stereotypical goody-goody. Little has changed in my life since I stopped believing in God. I never sought to become an atheist, and even when I had reached that conclusion, I had difficulty letting go of the comfortable idea of an afterlife. I wanted to believe because Christian faith is a comfortable way to view the world, and it can provide quick answers. Now that I'm an atheist, I no longer have a catechism or a creed to look at for guidance. Far from believing I have everything figured out, I'm starting at square-1 and trying to put together the pieces of what I believe. I use this blog to work out these thoughts.
While presuppositional apologetics are not as popular for Catholics as they are for Protestants, Catholics do believe that faith should be the default position for gaining knowledge and understanding the world. Anselm expressed this as "Fides quaerens intellectum," or "faith seeking understanding." The idea of "faith seeking understanding" is closely connected to Anselm's ontological argument for the existence of God--an argument I find unconvincing for the simple reason that my ability to imagine the existence of something doesn't mean that it necessarily, does in fact, exist.
As a Catholic, I was told that it was okay to have doubts, but to always search for answers within the context of the faith. To deviate form the path of faith was to submit myself to spiritual blindness. Theism, and Christianity more specifically, should be the default starting position of any rational and moral person, not atheism, so I used to believe. My nagging doubts never went away, and here I am as uncertain as ever. The difference is that now I view atheism as the natural default position. I'm open to evidence regarding the existence of God, but so far I've found the arguments against the existence of God more convincing than the arguments for the existence of God. Yet again, I do not think I have all the answers, I've simply switched my default-frame of thinking as I discover more about the world