Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Atheism

I define the term 'atheist' differently that some people. To me, an 'atheist' is someone who says 'there is no god.' Such a person is, by definition, an arrogant and unreasonable person because such a bold claim cannot be made unless every avenue of investigation has been pursued and the case for theism found bankrupt. That is why the Bible says that only a fool denies the possibility of God or a god. Because of this definition, I think atheists are idiots and few and far between.

Now, there are agnostics that lean toward atheism. But I don't think such people are idiots. I just think they've been misinformed and/or taught a wrong way to evaluate truth. Then there are agnostics who lean toward theism, but remain agnostic b/c of cultural skepticism.

Of course, there are theists who are practical atheists. And there are theists who are worse idiots than atheists. That's another story.

10 comments:

Aaron said...

Francis Collins, when asked about atheism, said something like, "Imagine that all my knowledge is represented inside a circle. Now imagine that this circle is located inside the circle that is all the knowledge in the world. Obviously what I know is much less than all the knowledge in the world." Point: What you claim is not the case may have proof outside your realm of knowledge, which is the point you're making. Enjoy William Abraham!

Lindy said...

I think that many atheists have choosen to put their faith into science (an atheist having faith isn't really a contridiction when you think about it).

They just as confidantly state that there is no God has as I confidently state that Jesus was born from a virgin and later rose from the dead. I don't think either assertion automaticaly identifies an idiot.

Coady said...

I think your argument is an emotional one (though I somewhat agree with you).

To say "Such a person is, by definition, an arrogant and unreasonable person because such a bold claim cannot be made unless every avenue of investigation has been pursued and the case for theism found bankrupt", you'd have to say the same about any theist who boldly claims is there is only one god (or even many gods) since we can not explore every avenue on either side.

In the flow of your argument the only person who could not be arrogant and unreasonable is an agnostic. Although I'd like to think of myself and my belief as unarrogant and reasonable, I'd have to say I agree with Lindy and say that both atheists and theists can be both humble and reasonable- though both sides may have strong and weak points.

The only ones who are arrogant and unreasonable are the ones who know their way is the right way, who choose not to listen or understand others' point of view, who know everyone else is wrong, and think everyone who doesn't believe what they believe can go to hell.

matthew said...

Thanks commenters. I was assuming, and even hoping, for responses similar to the one's you've given.

I would like to point out a difference b/w confidence that there is NO God and confidence that there IS a God.

Pure atheism (boldly declaring there is no God) is arrogant and unreasonable in that it is speaking loudly when not all avenues have been investigated. But pure theism (boldly declaring there is a God) needn't be consider an equal and opposite error b/c it is possible that along the way of investigation, evidence was indeed found.

In other words, let's say I'm looking for a specific football card amongst my thousands. After not finding it while shuffling through the first 500 cards, I would be stupid to say the card I was looking for doesn't exist.

On the other hand, if I found it while shuffling through the first 50 (or 500, or 5000), It wouldn't be stupid for me to confidently say I found it.

So there's a difference b/w confident atheism and confident theism. It's the difference of silence vs. sound in regards to revelation.

All that being said, theists remain agnostic in many ways. This reality also limits the arrogance of theism.

Coady said...

I think your analogy is flawed. In looking through your cards- there is already evidence that your card was there in the first place, since you have held that card before.

But try looking for an invisible Elvis Presley rookie card in a random deck of cards. We're not really sure if there is one, and the only way to really even think of looking for it is through hearsay.

If we find it, then there is an invisible Elvis card, if we don't find it- is it really arrogant and unreasonable to say there isn't one (especially since I made it up)?

Would it be unreasonable and arrogant to say that there is not a little man in pink trousers holding a pig and vacuuming at the center of every black hole?

Since only a few people have ever claimed to have seen God and there is no hard empirical evidence, is it really much different?

What if someone were to tell you that the Alien Zakhod (sorry- that's the closest transliteration of his name, there are lots of clicks and gurgles in his language) was coming to earth and that everyone who didn't grow there hair to their shoulders, gouge out one eye, and bow down to him would die a slow tortuous death for 2000 years, so right now you have to do it. Would someone be arrogant and unreasonable not to believe this?
There is no evidence against this being false and one could easily provide evidence that such a creature existed since we often find what we're looking for.

Ok, so let's look at real reports.

Many people have had close encounters of the third kind, though I bet many people confidently assert that there are no aliens.

So any who confidently assert there are no aliens, ghosts, lochness monsters, and Boogie men would be amiss to say there is no such thing. I would have to say that one could be reasonably confident that there is not an alien, monsters, boogie man, or God without labeling them in a derogatory manner.

Although since God says they are fools. I mean, who's going to argue.

matthew said...

Thanks for the continued response

Whether one has held the card previously is immaterial to the analogy. Both atheists and theists admit they are looking for something they've never seen or touched (if there's an atheist who claims to have never even cared to look, that's a totally different issue).

You're little man in the black hole analogy, though, does fail on a number of points. The main issue, being, of course, the idea that this is not very different from believing in an invisible God. God is held to be responsible for things of substance. In other words, God is said to leave lots of evidence of Himself.

Now you might say, "well, I can just as easily claim that a little man in a black hole is responsible for those evidences." True. But the moment you do that you are just talking about God with a different name.

Theists don't usually define God and then go apply Him all over the map. They look at the map and then define God as a source.

Reasonably confident (leaning atheist) is exactly what I am not talking about. I'm talking about those who claim to be sure there is no God. Such a position is scientifically unreasonable and morally arrogant.

The point of my post is that atheists should be honest with themselves and others that there is a certain presence of agnosticism in their worldview. If they claim otherwise, they are claiming foolishly and arrogantly.

Coady said...

I think scientifically unreasonable means that it can't be tested, retested and/or proved.

So, saying 'there is a god' is scientifically unreasonable since we can't test the hypotheses in any logical way. Perhaps when anyone can come up with a double blind study that can prove the existence of god then we can all say, "anyone who says, 'there is no god' is arrogant and unreasonable"; otherwise, anyone who says anything about god(s) in absolute terms would have to be accused of being morally arrogant (arrogant means acting as if you and/or your own opinion are superior in an exaggerated way- aka boldly asserting something that you can't prove) and scientifically unreasonable (since we can't observe, measure, or retest god).

Now the other question should be does fool=idiot? In the passage where it says, "the fool says in his heart 'there is no God'" actually mean we can go around calling people idiots? and if it does, is it really effective to converting others to your view?

The passage itself doesn't sound like the mental recognition of God- it's not "perhaps there is, perhaps there isn't", but the actual following of God and his commands. The Bible author (possibly David) is saying that anyone who does not 100% believe in God and follow His ways is a fool. If he had the words he'd say "infidel!"

The fool is, what the fool does.

The fool reference in the Psalms is morally bankrupt, not philosophically errant.

matthew said...

I wouldn't go around calling pure atheists idiots. The point In fact, one of the points of my post is that I wouldn't dialogue with a pure atheist b/c they are being unreasonable. To reason with the unreasonable is an exercise in futility. My task in dialogue is to determine whether such a person is an unreasonable atheist or a reasonable agnostic. If the latter, the conversation can continue.

I agree that the passage is more interested in the moral bankruptcy of the atheist than the philosophical. But it's a both/and, not an either/or. This goes right along with the theory that atheism is the end of a de-evolution from monotheism to polytheism to pantheism to atheism..

Coady said...

I agree, reasoning with the unreasonable is futile.

Although, I still hold that not all atheists are unreasonable, and I believe doubt can be instilled in anyone with the right approach- although, reason isn't always the best approach- lol.

Coady said...

Just a quick note. The argument fallacy is called "the burden of proof" or "Ad Ignorantiam" when something has to be true because there isn't any evidence against it.

"There is (or are) a god(s), because you can't prove there isn't one" would be considered unreasonable or a wrong way of evaluating truth.

I know you're saying 'don't even bother debating with atheists', but I hold that atheists are no more illogical than the rest of us and are entitled to illogical belief and logical fallacies as much as the rest of us.