Am I a True Atheist? Honestly? I’m beginning to wonder ….

I’ve been in a recent raging battle with an online friend and atheist on my debating group. (Yes, when the Christians and other theists go on vacation, the remaining atheists argue with each other ;-D).

Hey, what else are we going to do!

Anyway, the topic of our raging battle (and I mean that literally not metaphorically) is, are atheists inherently rational, that is, do atheists become atheists through reason, or, are atheists simply atheists by virtue of the fact that we are not theists.

At least that’s how it started ….

Then it moved to the question of can we rationally claim and argue that god does not exist or should we even bother to make statements about existence in relation to gods since the concept is irrational, absurd and/or meaningless (at best) in the first place.

Then the semantic game playing started. Is there a difference between lacking a belief and having a disbelief?

Sigh.

So … Let me explain where I stand and you can tell me whether I’m a True Atheist or not (do I smell porridge? Is there a No True Scotsman lurking in the wings somewhere? I think there might be.)

First of all, the only definition that I accept for atheism is that it is merely a descriptor of those who “lack a belief in gods”.

We are atheists if we are not theists. 

IMO, that is the one and only requirement for anyone to be an atheist. There is no other unless you believe that atheism is a belief system or doctrine and it requires reason to become an atheist.

Okay then how does one get to the point where they lack a belief in gods?

Does every single person who is an atheist become one through reason?

No. People reject theism through reason and when they reject theism, the side-effect of doing that is to become an atheist because they are no longer a theist.

Then there are some, like me, who never believed because we were never indoctrinated. We were never theists and never rejected theism. We never believed and therefore can’t disbelieve. We lack a belief in gods.

I cannot disbelieve in gods anymore than I can disbelieve in fairies. It’s a non-issue for me because I don’t and have never accepted the belief in the first place. The concept is absurd, unnecessary, and irrational. I guess I’m also an apatheist in that I don’t even care. I’ll care when there’s evidence.

One day in the near or distant future I may be proven wrong and a fairy or god might pop up in someone’s garden or the sky, but until that day I will be perfectly content with ignoring any extremely remote, potential existence of a currently absurd concept for which no evidence exists.

I’m not omniscient. I don’t know what knowledge our future will bring us and I don’t believe that the knowledge we have today is absolute truth. It isn’t. We have much to learn about our universe and I’m not about to make presumptions about anything.

So, unless one considers ancient or modern mythologies about fairies or gods evidence, or, one considers those mythologies evidence of lack of existence, no evidence exists to support such claims and it is as absurd to say that gods do not exist as it is to say that gods do exist.

If something is written in a myth or fiction is it necessarily untrue anymore than it’s necessarily true? Of course not. There are true things written in fiction and mythologies as well as untrue things. The point is that the fiction or mythology cannot be evidence of either, simply because any truth that may or may not be in fiction or mythology is unreliable. So to claim that gods do not exist because they’re only written about in mythology and fiction doesn’t wash anymore than claiming that they do exist because they’re written in an ancient fairy tale which daddy says is true.

That’s not to say that there aren’t good, solid arguments which exist to falsify the Abrahamic God. There are. Not only that but in my opinion it’s perfectly reasonable to state that the Abrahamic God does not exist based on those solid arguments which falsify that particular god quite successfully.

The claim that’s absurd is the generic, “gods do not exist” claim. This is a claim of knowledge and one that is insupportable unless one has evaluated and falsified all of the thousands of past and currently claimed gods as well as all possible future potentially claimed gods.

An impossible task.

And try falsifying the Deist God. I dare you.

The fact is that the Deist God is unfalsifiable and therefore meaningless for all intents and purposes. So why would any reasonable, rational person even try to falsify it? Why bother? I don’t even care if someone wants to believe in such an irrelevant and useless god. The Deist God doesn’t come with a doctrine that anyone is going to impose on me so they can feel free. Personally, I think such a belief is irrational but it’s really no skin off my nose if someone wants to have that particular superstition. Those who believe in the Deist God are still theists but they’re the least harmful of the bunch.

One can legitimately state, that it's highly unlikely that such a thing as gods exist and there are many rational arguments to support that claim but to make an absolute statement of knowledge regarding the existence of gods isn't legitimate and isn't applying sound reason and logic.

At one point, Dawkins was quoted and I found it necessary to point out that Dawkins doesn't say "gods do not exist". His chapter on the topic is called, Why do gods almost certainly not exist? Dawkins is a scientist and an atheist and doesn't make such an obvious error in reasoning and logic.

On the other hand, can one be an atheist and still have superstitious beliefs? Are all atheists rational and come through atheism through reason and sound logic?

Of course not. Reality strongly indicates otherwise.

There are many atheists who lack a belief in gods but hold other superstitious beliefs. One example would be those Buddhists who believe in reincarnation but believe that Buddha was a man, not a god, or my Wiccan friend who holds many traditional superstitious beliefs based on Wicca but doesn’t believe in gods or goddesses. And then there are the New Agers who have screwball beliefs coming out of their asses but don’t believe in gods. They're "spiritual". Lol.

Are any of these people, more or less atheists than those of us who do apply sound reason and logic where our belief systems are concerned.

I'm a Freethinker. Does that make me more of a True Atheist than my friend the Wiccan?

No. The fact that I'm a Freethinker makes me:
  1. less superstitious, 
  2. more rational, 
  3. means that I am more inclined to follow beliefs based on sound reason and logic, 
  4. and means that I reject dogmatic belief systems of all kinds, 
But I am no more or less an atheist than she is.

While I agree that it is inherently irrational to hold god beliefs no matter what they are, including Deist beliefs, that doesn't mean that there is anything inherently rational about being an atheist.

Some of us are rational and some of us aren’t. That is a fact.

Unless one thinks that only a True Atheist follows atheism as a belief system which requires that one actively disbelieves in gods (as per certain dictionary definitions) and includes a doctrine which requires that it’s adherents follow reason and sound logic in order to convert to atheism.

According to that definition, I am not an atheist because I think the concept of gods is too irrational to bother to disbelieve in and I never went through the process of reason and sound logic in order to convert to atheism because I was never indoctrinated into theism.

When a theist makes a claim that their god exists, I want evidence from them to support their claim. If the evidence doesn’t stand up, I have no reason to believe them or their claims and will continue to lack a belief in gods.
I apply reason to their claims not to my continued lack of belief.

I am an atheist because I’m not a theist. Even if that doesn't make me a True Atheist.

End of story.

Comments?

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Replies to This Discussion

So what is a true atheist? An atheist simply is one that does not believe in a divine being or creator. Can he/she prove this belief? No. But neither can the Deist. If god exists, it cannot be seen under a microscope nor from the strongest telescope. Yet the Psalmist proclaimed, "The heavens declare the glory of god (elohim - mighty one)." That is from a Deist. The atheist would say, the heavens declare natural law in motion - no need for a god. I'm really not sure if the problem is in the belief or non-belief in a god, or if the problem more lies in the religions that represent this god. Our religion comes from our culture. Culture is based on what a people believe at any one time. If the Psalmist knew what we knew now in science, maybe the Psalm would have read differently. We can't blame the writer - he was simply a product of his times.

 

Can science actually/positively say there is no creator who jump started everything we see in this universe? No. Can religion prove the existence of a god? No. Humans are not content unless they can find some kind of box they can climb into that identifies them for what they believe. So, should I be in the 'atheist' box, or the 'deist' box? Most people I believe walk that middle path that we call 'agnostic.' It seems the safer of the two, yet both atheist and deist would consider the agnostic a weaklink, someone who will not make a stand either way.

 

I take no pride calling myself atheist, deist, or agnostic. I am a human being whose leanings may sway from day to day. Most deists have moments of doubt. And so do atheists, if they are honest. How can one be absolutely sure that what they believe is right? We can't. We walk by the knowledge and understanding we have at any particular moment. Some moments I may want to praise something beyond myself. Other times I may want to curse this same entity or idea. History shows that a mad atheist can be just as destructive as a mad deist.

 

I say don't worry about titles, or boxes. Just follow your heart and your understanding the best you can and be true to yourself. If I were to choose a box, it would be the box called 'Freethinker.' That is a title I can feel at peace with.

It's not science that says there's no creator, but logic, James.

Can science actually/positively say there is no creator who jump started everything we see in this universe?

"Create" is a word human beings invented to apply to certain kinds of activities such as molding clay, making up a song or dance, building or sculpting. It refers to human activities which produce a product. To take that word and apply it to the entire universe is to stretch it far beyond the context in which it makes sense. Metaphors have limits. This one is illogical because it doesn't just go outside of the set (human activities that produce a product), it jumps to an "outside" of the "universe" of that set, and of all the sets of the-universe-as-we-know-it. You can put together the words "and now divide by zero and multiply by infinity," but that doesn't mean they make sense. Religious memeplexes are inherently nonsense. As soon as you apply the word "believe" to this nonsense you enter into territory of "What does it mean to say "believe in" applied to something that's nonsense?"

AN has a group for making up your own religion. How about the Great God Round-Square? Do you believe in Round-Square? The thing is, that part of our brain that distinguishes what's true and real isn't capable of logic, or even of language. It's part of the primitive brain. Fortunately, we do have a cerebral cortex that can question such gut feelings. Horray!

I have never heard the argument against god based on create being an inappropriate descriptor, nice to know i haven't seen all the different arguments.
"It's not science that says there's no creator, but logic, James."

Another excellent point. Science simply ignores gods as irrelevant and unnecessary to explain existing phenomenon. Hawkings recent book explains this well.

Most gods can be falsified through sound logic and reason with the exception of the Deist god.

Since the Deist god is unfalsifiable, it's also meaningless and irrelevant and can be ignored.
Yes I like the Freethinker box too.

But I think you're still perceiving atheism as a belief to some degree. It's a statement related to belief and only exists because theism exists. Theism believes in the existence of gods. Atheism is simply those who don't have those beliefs for any number of different reasons but all are related to a rejection of theism, not a "belief" in atheism.

Agnosticism isn't a third way. It's a statement of knowledge not belief.

One can be an agnostic atheist or an agnostic theist.

An agnostic atheist is one who lacks a belief in gods and also doesn't believe that one can know whether or not they exist.

An agnostic theist (rare but they exist) is one who believes in one or more gods and also doesn't believe that one can know whether or not they exist.

I've just seen this on another forum (jref, someone has a friend who claims to be an atheist, but who believes in a LOT of conspiracy theories. It seems this person rejects ALL popular/common explanations for things, eliminating both religion and common sense). Being an atheist does not necessarily mean being more logical or reasonable than others.

 

It's hard to know how many do what, but my guess is MOST atheists come to this position (or remain in this position) through reason and the lack of evidence for any deity despite innumerable claims of such existence. Others might not have given it much thought, if any at all.

the last part is fine, but most atheists don't turn to it from reason. reason is the afterthought to justify the choice, or not choice if you were raised that way.
Most atheists are turning away from religion. They are not turning to atheism. They are atheists simply because they are rejecting theism.
do you know every atheist in the world? i think not. so you can't really claim what most atheists are doing. semantics though. i was responding to the language used by the poster. he said come to this position, rather than away from the theist position, so i responded with the same construction.
I said "most" not all. And since the majority of the world's population is religious and was indoctrinated, unlike me and a minority of others, it's perfectly legitimate for me to say "most atheists".

"...reason is the afterthought to justify the choice...."

 

Are you speaking for yourself, or for all humankind?

Another excellent example of irrational atheists.

Today, there's a younger, under-30s group of atheists that is increasing exponentially.

This group, in large part, is using reason and logic to reject theism and therefore the atheist numbers are increasing rapidly.

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