Unthinkable

From Why Atheism? by George Smith (Prometheus 2000) p. 17:

If most Christians (and other religious believers) dismiss atheism outright, this is not because they have examined the arguments for atheism and found them wanting, but because they do not take atheism seriously enough to examine its arguments in detail. Atheism, in their view, lacks credibility, so they have no motive to examine it further. To portray atheism as utterly lacking in credibility has long played a crucial role in religious propaganda. Atheism must be rendered unthinkable, because doubt, if left unchecked, can easily propel the believer down the path of deconversion (the process by which a religious believer becomes an atheist)…To say that atheism is credible is to suggest that the atheist may be right; to say that the atheist may be right is to suggest that the Christian may be wrong; to say that the Christian may be wrong is to suggest that faith may be an unreliable guide to knowledge; to say that faith may be an unreliable guide to knowledge is to suggest that each and every tenet of Christianity should be reexamined in the light of reason.

That would explain a lot. That would explain the way theists fail to engage with the arguments that atheists actually make, and it would explain the way they pretend atheists make silly futile claims that they don’t actually make. That would be because theists aren’t paying attention to what atheists say at all, they’re just ignoring all of it and proceeding on their own pre-ordained track, like a runaway train ignoring all signals because the engineer has stepped outside for a sandwich.

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