Some people choose to believe in God, as I once did; others choose not to believe, as I do now. Both should be choices freely taken. Most believers believe because their environment and education made belief the norm; many never question their faith, some question and finally embrace it. Non-believers’ atheism may likewise stem from their environment and education; many never question their atheism, some question and finally affirm it. Thinking people, having weighed the “evidence” (and lack of it), opt for non-belief or belief. These atheists and non-atheists have at least made a personal choice to refuse to believe or to believe, unlike the ovine majority on both sides.
In the context created since the election of Donald Trump and the extravagant invention, by Kellyanne Conway, of “alternative facts”, light has involuntarily been shed on the choice to believe or not believe. The reason atheists do not believe is because they find no credible reason to do so – “not enough evidence”, as Bertrand Russell said. Thanks to Ms Conway we can now say that believers base their faith on “alternative facts”, that is to say, fictions. A fact, by definition, is backed by evidence to prove its reality. “Alternative facts”, an absurd oxymoron, contradict the evidence. To choose to believe them is as irrational as believing in conspiracy theories, UFOs and snake oil.