Real atheism

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I’ve recently read this piece of ignorant crap. I have to say, I expect this from the average person, but a tenured college professor, one whose field is theology? No, that’s really inexcusable. What am I talking about? Basically, the use of an antiquated and non-applicable definition of atheism.

Let’s face it, most definitions for atheism have been written by the religious, usually Christians. I think my favorite was one from a 19th century dictionary – “the denial of God”. That one always makes me chuckle. Today, most dictionaries have less laughable but still not fully applicable definitions. You’ll find “the doctrine that there is no God or gods” or simply “disbelief or denial of the existence of God or gods”. Notice the capital “G”, by the way. How very objective. LOL! I’ve yet to meet an atheist who claims knowledge of the non-existence of gods. Now of course atheists conclude that there aren’t any gods in light of the failures of all who’ve tried to assert that there are any, which prompts disbelief in those alleged gods, but disbelieving in light of lack of evidence and asserting actual knowledge are two very different things.

It’s this difference that theists either can’t or won’t acknowledge. Why? Because far too many theist arguments rely on the non-applicable definition, including Prof. Rauser’s in that laughable article. Yes, if atheists were as he asserts they are, and we were all claiming we knew there was no gods (including the capital “G” kind), then he’d be right to ask for evidence from us. That would certainly put a heavy burden of proof on atheists. Now it wouldn’t shift the burden of proof from theists, but rather it would mean we share a comparable burden. Were that the case, then theists could get away with such nonsense as “I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist” or “atheism is a religion.” For theists, having an apples to apples comparison is ideal, because then they simply have to present their apple as being tastier, and let’s face it, if you’re going to go with faith, isn’t the one which allows you to live forever with friends and family, and perhaps even have a perpetually virginal harem, sound tastier than the alternative?

Unfortunately for theists, it’s not apples and apples. It’s not even apples and oranges, but faith and reason. Most atheists you’ll encounter, and indeed most examples of atheism exhibited by leading atheist authors and speakers such as Dennett, Harris and Dawkins, subscribe to the definition of disbelief based on the failings of god claims so far. There’s no assertion other than that the god claims out there simply are inadequate for they all fail to demonstrate the existence of the gods they claim exist. That’s not a subjective position but rather an objective one, unless you believe requiring demonstrable evidence is subjective and closed-minded.

My suggestion to theists is simply to stop trying to engage a non-applicable definition and further, stop telling atheists they aren’t real atheists. As a theist, you’re arguably at odds with reality so asserting what’s real and what’s not is comical already, but when you have atheist after atheist telling you how they define their position and you keep insisting that there position is actually something else, I’d say you’re REALLY out of touch with reality and being deliberately obtuse. If you’d rather debate an outdated and non-applicable definition, then by all means knock yourselves out, but if you’re actually interested in discussions with real people and have any interest in listening and learning instead of fighting and pontificating, then I suggest you abandon the outmoded definition you’re relying on and everything else which is based on it. In other words grasshoppers, you can’t pour tea into a full cup. ;)

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27 Responses to “Real atheism”

  1. There are so many definitions for the word "god(s)" though, this is why theists have such a hard time agreeing on what the definition of "atheist" is. I agree that the theists should be assuming the learning position of course.

  2. Well for the layman, I'd like to think it's merely a stance of ignorance which can be easily cleared up. For the religious debaters and apologists, it's either willful ignorance or blatant disregard of what most atheists think in order to continue their straw man arguments. I tend to think the latter is true for Prof. Rauser.

    There certainly are lots of definitions for gods out there, some so amazingly abstract as to be virtually meaningless. I believe most of those definitions are deliberately fine-tuned as to avoid any means of being able to demonstrate existence. In other words, they're intelligently designed. ;)

  3. Good point and one I've been making for years. Lots of people pull out dictionaries as though they are the most unbiased sources on the planet, but dictionaries are written by people and people have biases. When most of the people writing dictionaries are theists, it's no surprise that their definition of words is going to betray their theistic worldview.

  4. What about my definition of "God"? God is an invincible supercomputer robot named Gort.

  5. stop telling atheists they aren't real atheists

    This has to be one of the most annoying theistic moves around. I've had theist friends tell me I'm an agnostic, not an atheist. I get the impression that they do it, at least in part, because it comforts them to think that, if I'm an agnostic rather than an atheist (as they define those terms), then there's a chance they can bring me back into their fold. Agnostics seem to be less offensive to theists than atheists, but I think that's mostly because theists are using their own skewed definitions of the terms, rather than the ones people themselves are using.

  6. Well we could tell Christians they aren't real Christians or Muslims they aren't real Muslims, but then I don't feel like being a prick like these people.

  7. I go by whatever identification a person assigns to himself or herself. If people self-identify as Christians, Buddhists, whatever, who am I to tell them they're not what they say they are?

  8. Who or what built Gort?

    I'd say it requires a Service Pack Update.

  9. Hahaha, Gort evolved from Cyborgs which evolved from Apes.

  10. For the purposes of these discussions, I define atheist as a person who consciously professes lack of belief in God, gods or anything spiritual or non-physical.

    I’ve yet to meet an atheist who claims knowledge of the non-existence of gods.

    Okay then, so if I don't claim knowledge of God, but believe, and you don't claim knowledge of the non-existence of God, but believe, how is your belief superior? Give me something that shows how your belief – whatever it is – is superior.

    Now of course atheists conclude that there aren’t any gods in light of the failures of all who’ve tried to assert that there are any, which prompts disbelief in those alleged gods, but disbelieving in light of lack of evidence and asserting actual knowledge are two very different things… Most atheists you’ll encounter, and indeed most examples of atheism exhibited by leading atheist authors and speakers such as Dennett, Harris and Dawkins, subscribe to the definition of disbelief based on the failings of god claims so far.

    Using Wikipedia's definition of an argument from ignorance – a logical fallacy in which it is claimed that a premise is true only because it has not been proven false – we see that atheists who disbelieve based on the [perceived] failings of God claims so far make a textbook argument from ignorance. You call the professor's argument a "piece of crap," yet you make his point for him.

    Yes, if atheists were as he asserts they are, and we were all claiming we knew there was no gods (including the capital “G” kind), then he’d be right to ask for evidence from us.

    That's just it though; while I can't speak for him, what I'd feel justified in asking, and what I believe the professor possibly meant to imply, was that unless the atheist who rejects theism on account of a lack of evidence wants to rest on an argument from ignorance, what alternative (i.e. positive) explanation do they proffer as superior given the phenomena in question, and on what evidence do they rest?

  11. What a surprise, you continue to either exhibit a failure to understand a logical fallacy or a failure to be able to properly apply it. I wish addressing that would have been one of your resolutions for the new year. Well, it's early, right?

    The atheist offers no claim, so there's no premise, therefore the use of the argument from ignorance is non-applicable. The theist brings a claim, that of existence of a deity, and thus it's the theist's burden to convince others to accept that claim. So far, the lack of any to offer demonstrable evidence for the existence of their deity (or deities) makes the claim unwarranted to accept. If belief in existence of a deity isn't warranted, then disbelief is, pending future evidence from a theist.

    Now you can argue that requiring demonstrable evidence is a premise, like I mentioned in the OP, but that's pretty silly, although that hasn't held you back before, jackass.

  12. The atheist offers no claim, so there's no premise, therefore the use of the argument from ignorance is non-applicable.

    The atheist does offer a premise, they just smuggle it in the backdoor by framing their worldview in weak language. The premise the atheist smuggles in the backdoor is that a non-agent cause better explains the universe than an agent cause. You would not deny the plausibility of an agent cause unless you thought a non-agent cause had superior explanatory power.

    As far as the argument from ignorance, you said (bold mine),

    Now of course atheists conclude that there aren’t any gods in light of the failures of all who’ve tried to assert that there are any, which prompts disbelief in those alleged gods, but disbelieving in light of lack of evidence and asserting actual knowledge are two very different things… Most atheists you’ll encounter, and indeed most examples of atheism exhibited by leading atheist authors and speakers such as Dennett, Harris and Dawkins, subscribe to the definition of disbelief based on the failings of god claims so far.

    When you say the atheist offers no claim, that's exactly the point – as of yet, you've not provided a single intellectually satisfying argument to substantiate your position. You simply claim that the theists have failed to convince you, hence you are an atheist. Hence, your atheism rests on an argument from ignorance. Now if you want to get your balls out of your purse and explain how a non-agent cause better explains things, be my guest, but don't expect me to just accept the superiority of your opinion while you sit there and throw tomatoes at me instead of supporting it.

  13. The atheist does offer a premise, they just smuggle it in the backdoor by framing their worldview in weak language. The premise the atheist smuggles in the backdoor is that a non-agent cause better explains the universe than an agent cause.

    There's no discussion of any "cause" here. Please stay OT.

    You simply claim that the theists have failed to convince you, hence you are an atheist. Hence, your atheism rests on an argument from ignorance.

    Incorrect, unless you'd like to argue that US jurisprudence is based on an argument from ignorance.

    And I know you can't help yourself, but I'd really appreciate it if you could try harder to keep your mind off my balls. That's really unsettling, and I'd like to try and get to sleep soon.

  14. Well, it's always possible that we're talking past each other. Let's try this the "yes or no" way and see how things go.

    Are you and I in agreement that we are using Wikipedia's definition of an argument from ignorance as "a logical fallacy in which it is claimed that a premise is true only because it has not been proven false?" Yes? Or no?

  15. See what happens? I ask you for clarity, and you retreat. So typical.

  16. Same thing as when I ask, "If I say food is cheap, especially meat, does that mean only meat is cheap? Or that both food and meat are cheap?"

    While Philly asks you readers to believe I'm a jackass and an idiot, ask yourselves why he won't answer simple questions.

  17. The premise the atheist smuggles in the backdoor is that a non-agent cause better explains the universe than an agent cause.

    False dichotomy. A lot of atheists simply admit that we don't know the answers to a lot of our questions – such as those about cosmic origins – yet; that's why we're still looking for them. Some other atheists posit that, even if there is an agent-cause, there's no reason to believe that the agent has been correctly identified. My atheism doesn't rest on an "argument' from ignorance, it rests on an "admission" of ignorance. If only theists would be similarly honest about their ignorance, the world be – watch out, Ex – a better place.

  18. chaplain,

    A lot of atheists simply admit that we don't know the answers to a lot of our questions – such as those about cosmic origins – yet; that's why we're still looking for them. Some other atheists posit that, even if there is an agent-cause, there's no reason to believe that the agent has been correctly identified.

    Yet, if Silverman doesn’t do atheists any service by dividing them into two camps, as you claim here, on what grounds do you make an exception for yourself to do the same?

    My atheism doesn't rest on an "argument" from ignorance, it rests on an "admission" of ignorance. If only theists would be similarly honest about their ignorance, the world be – watch out, Ex – a better place.

    Ha! The "watch out, Ex" part was actually funny. The problem is, I am honest about my ignorance. I do not know or claim to know that God exists, so what do you gain by your statement?

  19. No, it's much more likely that you're an idiot and one should know when not to cast any more pearls before swine. Anyone with reasonable intelligence should be able to follow the comments above, so I see no further need to continue this with you.

  20. Because they're made by a simpleton and they relate to things which have been sufficiently talked out, only our simpleton here is too obtuse (deliberately or by nature) to grasp what's been discussed so he asks the same questions again and again, often not realizing that either what he's asking has been already answered or that it's not relevant (ie – see "obtuse" above).

  21. Your request is either insincere or if sincere, you're too daft to grasp any answers. There's plenty here already for you. You shouldn't need anymore to work with.

  22. Oh, I see – when you declare something "sufficiently drawn out" that's all there is to it. Once again, all the evidence we need.

    As far as the argument from ignorance goes, anyone who accepts atheism on account of the theist's inability to prove theism relies on an argument from ignorance. The same goes for theists who believe on account of atheists' inability to prove God's nonexistence. If you want to man up and make some positive claim, then show how the evidence justifies your position, I'll view your position as based on something substantive.

    Call me what you want, but I'll be impressed when you man up and give direct answers to simple questions. For example, if I say food is cheap, especially meat, does that mean only meat is cheap? Or, does that mean both food and meat are cheap?

  23. Saying something incorrect enough times doesn't magically make it correct, and I'll be impressed when you either acknowledge or better yet, seem to grasp anything I say.

    Anyone else who has questions or any other issues with anything I've written so far, let me know

  24. Of course – more deflection.

    Let's call a spade a spade. I believe the reason you won't answer this question is because you know answering it will completely undermine the argument you started with me at SI's.

    You act so tough and so confident and so sure of yourself, yet, when it comes down to it, it's exactly like John Evo said: "…the difference between you and [Evo] is that [Evo finds] no shame in admitting to being wrong or adjusting an opinion in the middle of a discussion. Anyone who knows [Evo] well, will vouch for [Evo's] character in this regard. [Evo finds] it both liberating and helpful."

    And, just as he says, It appears that you don't. I believe that's why you consistently avoid clear answers to simple questions, but I've got all the patience in the world.

  25. No, no, no, the universe was created by a physicist hacker, according to Andrei Linde. This hacker set the universal constants at certain values as a message to us (well, physicists). Linde's chaotic inflation theory also predicts that it doesn't take very much to create a universe, say, in a lab, so maybe one day humans can do the same.

    Isn't theoretical physics awesome?

  26. "Now of course atheists conclude that there aren’t any gods in light of the failures of all who’ve tried to assert that there are any, which prompts disbelief in those alleged gods, but disbelieving in light of lack of evidence and asserting actual knowledge are two very different things."

    Can you specifically explain what you mean here.

  27. If you tell me it's going to rain tomorrow, I'll rightly ask you how you know. If you say you have a gut feeling or you saw it in your tea leaves, then I'm not going to believe you. That's disbelieving due to lack of evidence or warrant for your claim. By disbelieving, I'm not making any claim about the weather tomorrow. Contrast that with disbelieving because you believe, for whatever reason, it'll be sunny tomorrow.

    So it's one thing to say you're an atheist because you have yet to see anyone supply a proper warrant for their god claim, and quite another to assert that there are no gods.

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