Atheists Have a Defective “Spirit Sense”

“First off, the headlights…the headlight fluid is a little low.”

Is an atheist not accepting “because I said so” lines of evidence? Just say they don’t have the capacity to understand.


  • “Atheists have a defective/non-existent sensus divinatis” (sensus divinatis being a term coined by John Calvin)
  • ”Atheists lack spiritual discernment”



The basic claim is to say people outside of the religion have some part of them that isn’t working, which is implied to make the believer special somehow. It also is meant to imply that non-believers are defective, and thus dehumanize them. You’ll often see this with a side of straight derision or patronization. It’s standard issue “tell you you’re broken, and only we have the cure”. In extreme cases (as above), comparison to psycho- or sociopathy comes out (with apolotrash, this is not accidental).

Of course, this is the usual bald assertion, and no evidence for this mysterious woo sensor, nor explanation for how it works (other than “because feelings said so”). Of course, since it relies on the non-coherently & meaningfully defined “spirit” term, it’s really all flash and no substance, like all apolotrash. Expect users to simply repeat the assertion rather than provide any mechanism or evidence when challenged.

This tactic is also meant to subtly shift the burden of proof by claiming they have a mechanism for detecting the supernatural that others do not have access to, and thus, you need to disprove their data gathering ability. It does expose a glaring weakness, however; it admits their “god” thing creating beings that can’t detect its existence (or even believe others), but expects them to accept and obey anyway on pain of eternal torture. It not only demonstrates that this “god” thing isn’t moral in the slightest, it also demonstrates that free will isn’t something they can use as an excuse for their “god” thing not revealing itself. It directly contradicts the “you know god exists” attack.

This line of attack is fairly rare.

Typical Responses

  • “Prove it.” It’s valid, but since apolotrash will always ignore and divert away from such demands, it’s largely ineffective.
  • “Yes, I don’t have the sense to just make up things” is somewhat biting, but direct.
  • ”So your god makes people this way deliberately? Does it just enjoy torturing people?” is pretty good; much like a short form of Hitchens’ “created sick and commanded to be well” quote.


  • For a snarky answer that returns the projection with a little postage due: “Yes, you’re sorely missing the good sense to see through the lies”. Adjust the verbiage as desired.
  • Ask for a coherent & meaningful definition of “spirit”. It’s not likely you’ll get one, and thus, the concept of a “spirit sense” is bunk as well.
  • It’s easy enough to cast the “sensus divinatis” as a defect caused by a failed or non-existent “sensus logicalis” (or something similar).
  • A street epistemologist can go in many different directions with this: asking how the sense works and by what organs, asking if we can trust the sense if it turns up different results (Allah, Vishnu, etc.), how they know it works properly (especially across different people), or asking why many believers become non-believers if they had a working “spirit sense” prior to deconversion (how did it stop working?).

Related Attacks

Other Resources

Perhaps because it’s not used all that often, it doesn’t seem like many resources on this attack exist.

Dead Modem Dojo