I, as an atheist, have rejected any and all theistic and deistic concepts.

I do not believe in the existence of any god or gods. I do not believe in any supernatural phenomena at all, for that matter. But the fundamental question is this: how certain can I be in my disbelief? Just as theists believe very strongly that god(s) do exist, correspondingly, I believe that god(s) do not.

Therefore, what are the qualifiers that make me more certain of my position than a corresponding theist? Personally, I utilize elements from science, social science, and philosophy to give myself a level of certainty wherein I am comfortable that my position is the correct one. But I'm deeply interested in what you guys do to give yourselves confidence in your disbelief.

Thank you for your feedback!

Tags: Atheism, Belief, Certainty, God, Theism

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By seeking certainty you lead yourself into a trap that an experienced theist apologist will nail you in. There is no certainty - this is the biggest difference between me and a theist. My mind is not set in concrete with barricades erected everywhere to stop all those thoughts that expose my unsupportable position. I assume there is no god because there is no evidence. Not I believe god does not exist.

666th re-embed of this video. Digest it. Save it. Pass it on.

The need for "certainty" can itself take on a religious dimension. This is where I dislike self-labeled "hard" atheists - they are both annoying and counter-productive. In the opposite corner to them are the agnostics and their Socrates mantra of "all I know is that I don't know". The simple fact is you can't prove a negative. Claiming you can requires faith. The agnostic assumption of "I don't know" also requires faith, because absence of proof makes the null hypothesis stand and the only way left to discount it is with faith of one kind or another. I like the words of Robert Anton Wilson -

“Belief is the death of intelligence. As soon as one believes a doctrine of any sort, or assumes certitude, one stops thinking about that aspect of existence.”

I have no need for certainty. I view reality empirically. I assume there is no god because there's no evidence. More deeply, I don't even care if there is a god or not, because if there is, it doesn't care about us even remotely, so fair is fair.
When theists bring up certainty, I usually say something like, "I'm as certain of my position as I am certain that I won't be struck by lightning today."

According to a two minute Google search, the odds of being struck by lightning in a given year are between 1 in 750,000 and 1 in 500,000. This is a lot higher than the odds I'd put on any gods existing but it works well enough in analogy. Here's why:

If someone wanted to convince me that if I went outside I'd be struck by lightning they would have to prove that their prediction is at least somewhat likely. If they can't provide me with any convincing evidence, such as clouds or thunder, then I have no reason to let their paranoia ruin my nice day. On the other hand, if it is storming outside that person could make a very good case for me to stay indoors. All Christians have ever done is try to convince me that I'm going to be struck by lightning on a sunny day. Even though they don't have any compelling evidence what-so-ever they keep trying to convince me of their belief that lightning frequently strikes without clouds. All they have to offer is their conviction, their baseless conviction, which I have plenty of reason to doubt.
I'm actually pretty certain that there are no gods. My position is that not only are all the gods I've ever heard of irrational, but that it's impossible that gods could exist.

Victor Stenger's books are good for the science-ey sorts of arguments, and one claim that is hard for we laymen to follow is that the reason there is something rather than nothing is that nothing is unstable.

We often say that there is no evidence for gods, and of course if there were gods of any kind there should be some sort of evidence. But the more we learn about science, the more we know that no gods were necessary in the making of the physical universe and that there is nothing about us that cannot be explained in sufficient detail, whether it be consciousness or this supposed longing for some higher power. We may not yet have all the answers, but we've certainly accumulated more answers than anyone can learn in a lifetime.

The myth that you cannot prove there is a god is continually promulgated by those for whom proof is anathema. Of course you can prove there isn't a god. You cannot prove it absolutely. But then, what can you prove absolutely? Just the fact that no one can produce a god is a proof. That one cannot conclusively show evidence of a god's passing is another. That no self-respecting god could have produced a boilerplated mess like the Bible is another proof.

On the other side, proofs are no more than lame rationalizations. Such claims as 'well, where did everything come from if there is no god?' are not convincing arguments. 'Where did god come from' is the obvious retort. Why complicate a universe with a far-more-complex proposition?

Where is the god spoor? Where are the god tracks? Why can we never determine where god appeared? Why do artifacts of religions always disappear? Where are the Golden Plates, the Ten Commandment stones? Where is the Garden of Eden? And why does the Hebrew creation story so closely mimic that of the Egyptians? So many questions, but never an acceptable answer.
As I have written elsewhere (and I think there was a thread in the ORIGINS group as well):

While there are a number of points in support of the view that ‘we cannot know for certain whether there is a God or not’ (principally the avoidance of ‘certainties’ that encourages sceptical thought), some significant problems also crop up. The first is that theists often interpret it as an admission that their beliefs could be correct.

For the record: yes, there are certainties. My consciousness exists; from that I can proceed to acknowledging that my experiences/perceptions of other things, whether I classify them as concrete or abstract, also exist. Whether they exist independently of me is not my concern. The belief that they do is a reasonable one.

(This highlights the unstable position of the theist in pursuing such an argument, as his belief and faith clearly imply a lack of certainty. If the theist’s standpoint was backed by reason and evidence, we would not be discussing the phenomenon of ‘religion’, we would have accepted it as fact long ago.)

Let us consider the theist’s challenge: ‘can the atheist say with certainty that God does not exist?’ There are two answers to this question, depending on the definition of ‘God’. If it is defined as, for instance, the specifically Christian/Biblical God, then we can say with complete certainty that he does not exist. The Christian/Biblical God encompasses all the facets described in the Bible, and we can say with certainty that much of the Biblical account of God and his actions is simply false. To claim the contrary would be to abandon all reason, which would, incidentally, do nothing to support the existence of any God in particular, it would just imply that anything is possible and that there is no merit in believing anything (in other words it results in complete uncertainty).

If ‘God’ is defined as ‘a higher power of uncertain character’ (in which case it is only really relevant to an explanation of the origin of the universe), then we can only say that it does not exist to all intents and purposes. If we don’t know (due to a lack of logical and evidential foundation) how such a higher power might be constituted, it serves neither the atheist nor the theist to assume that it exists. (In fact, in the absence of logical and evidential foundation we may reasonably assume it does not exist.) It is certainly not preferable to a ‘natural’ explanation, and the specific Gods of human religions (from Christianity and Islam to the Norse and Egyptian deities) are precluded for the reasons already discussed.

This is often a difficult and pointless argument to get drawn into, and should be dismissed as quickly and clearly as possible. Religions were created by ‘ignorant men’ (in Bertrand Russell’s phrase) trying to make sense of the world. Philosophical debates about the nature of certainty are of limited relevance and usefulness.
The sun isn't going to rise tomorrow. The earth spins. Just sayin'.
Skepticism is where it's at! Nothing is certain.
I like to look at it like Richard Dawkins, in terms of probability. I say, based on my observations and studies of science and the natural world, it really does not look like there is a god who created this universe. Lets arbitrarily put some probabilities on it, just for comparative purposes. I would say there is a probability of about a .5% or .05 that a supernatural god created the universe.

Now, you might ask, what is the probability that this God in any way communicates with humans or intervenes on his/her behalf? I would say the probability of that is a probability of about .05% or .0005. What is the probability that the God that created the universe is the one who inspired the writing of the Holy Bible and is the jealous egotistical god who encouraged rape, murder, incest, sexism, homophobia, and slavery? I would say that would be a probability of .0000000000000005% or .000000000000000005.
I've been atheist so long that, to me, it's just become silly to keep pretending that some way, somehow, there could possibly be some kind of god somewhere. Reminds me of the movie Jake Speed where he's telling the love interest how he was going to help her find her kidnapped sister even if it meant climbing the highest mountains and crossing fields of poisonous snakes. She says there are no snakes in Africa and he says, "There's gotta be, if you look hard enough!"

No part of the universe needs a god to be here. Looks pretty simple to me. Your mileage may vary.
For me it is simple, the word God is like the word Unicorn or Centaur or Underwear Troll. Sure we can't see these magical underwear trolls but how are we so sure they don't exist? How can we ever be certain?
Sound ridiculous? It is just as ridiculous as believing in a god. It is all fantasy, fairy tale, myth. Are you sure these underwear trolls do not exist?
Ha! Yeah, that's pretty much where I'm at. Kind of like the supernatural clothes I *may* be wearing. And yes; I did make a video about that.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wyC10d7Bcsc
You can be QUITE CERTAIN actually.

Because of statistical anomalies... or rather, the utter absence of in relation to a deity.

You see... if there was something, anything, manipulating this world and it's occurrences that is not simply us doing it ourselves, it should have shown up as some form of statistical anomaly. Statistically, those who this deity agrees with / likes should be leading statistically abnormally good lives that those who practice otherwise do not.

Things not making mathematical or statistical sense is how we've found a great deal to study we weren't aware of before.
An intervening deity would have shown up as a blatant in-your-face "This just shouldn't be frakking possible" anomaly.

The ratio of attempted acts that this deity dislikes should be completely askew from the completion of those acts.

Something... anything.

Nothing.

Everything that is occurring to this existence is being caused by that which is here already.
There are no statistical anomalies standing out like a sore thumb pointing to some intentional external interference.

Which means : there's nothing powerful and conscious paying any attention to this little rock.


The Christians would understand these statistical anomalies as "miracles".
Show me one.
They don't exist. "Miracles" would be some form of divine intervention that defies logical explanation.
Can you think of anything like that?

Of course not. It only exists in books. Fictional books.
And that is precisely what religious scripture is.


I'd say my lack of belief in a deity is pretty damn certain.

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