I contributed last week to a debate on the Daily Telegraph forum which proposed the ending of state funding of faith schools.
In response, I pointed out that secularism or atheism is a faith position, where faith as the assent to a creed or belief which cannot be proved. The state has three options with respect to education:
- the state can fund all forms of education as people off all faiths are tax payers.
- the state can fund no eduction and allow parents to organise themselves into schools.
- the state can fund eduction according to majority faith of the state (secularism, atheism), but his would be tyrannical, discriminatory and unjust.
This generated a response from an atheist who argued that atheism is not a faith:
Atheism is not a belief that god does not exist, it is a rejection of claims that he does based on a complete and utter lack of evidence. In short it is a rejection of faith.
My response was:
You can’t reject belief in God based on a lack of evidence unless you know that you have complete knowledge and have exhausted the lines of enquiry. To reject belief in God is, therefore, to claim that you know everything. I assume you do not think you are omniscient and so for you to believe there is no God you are either acting in faith or arrogance.
If atheism is faith, then all schools or none should be state funded (options 1 and 2). If it is arrogance then atheists have no right to stop state funding of religious schools but could act in tyranny, ignorance and bigotry by doing so (option 3).
[I seem to remember this argument from apologetics 2.2 with Mike Ovey at Oak Hill].