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

Trance, at one point you asked two questions but answered only one:

"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."
Aside from picking that nit, I saw in your post that one or more people are wanting you to be as activist as they. If so, they need you as an ally. Will your becoming their ally be of benefit to you?

Thanks for pointing that out Tom. I thought I answered both but I guess I wasn't clear.

 

1. Yes one can be an atheist and still have superstitious beliefs (Buddhists who believe that Buddha was a man and not a god but also believe in reincarnation are one example).

 

2. No. Not all come to atheism through reason and sound logic. I didn't. I was not indoctrinated into theism and simply grew up without religion. My dad was a Mechanical Engineer and introduced Materialism, Humanism, and other such concepts to me as a child. When I asked him if there was such a thing as god (all my friends claimed there was) he simply responded No. And that was it.

 

3. Are all atheists rational? No. My friend, as much as I think she's a fantastic, kind, humane person, is not rational where her particular belief system is concerned. She has a preferred superstition. She is rational on many other things but not on this one. She isn't an atheist because she applied sound logic and reason. She's an atheist because she prefers a superstition which doesn't include gods or godesses.

 

Anti-Theism is a belief and Anti-Theists are activists who believe that religion poses a danger to our world, must be rationally argued against, exposed for it's true nature, and it's special privilege card removed.

 

I am an Anti-Theist, have been since 9/11 and will continue to be. ;-D

 

Most atheistic communities are actually based on this concept and get together on those grounds. It's just not expressed that way and should be.

 

There are atheists who aren't Anti-Theists.

 

I haven't read all the replies, but the question about having no belief in any gods versus believing there are no gods is analogous to watching the TV: you can watch a channel (ie, you believe there's a god - the channel you're watching), you can watch the snow of a channel that's tuned to nothing (ie, you believe there's no god), or you can turn off the TV (ie, you don't believe in any gods).

 

The first two options are based on belief. The last is based on no belief and is (in my opinion) the True Atheist (TM) position ;-)

I'm a-theist, a-fairies, a-leprechauns, a-sasquatches. I believe in none of them and I further don't believe in Russell's orbiting teapot. 

 

Dan Barker of FFRF: It turns out that the word atheism means much less than I had thought. It is merely the lack of theism [...] Basic atheism is not a belief. It is the lack of belief. There is a difference between believing there is no god and not believing there is a god — both are atheistic, though popular usage has ignored the latter [...].

 

I moved from Methodism to atheism beginning in 1954. At the time and for a ten year old, I believe my moving was prompted by reason.  "Under God" entered the pledge that year.  I thought, "No god worth its salt needs a bunch of guys to put it in the pledge I might not want to say."  I was precocious and snarky, but...

Great quote! And love the "Under God" story. Lol.
Great analogy! I hope you don't mind if I steal it some day.

"...it is as absurd to say that gods do not exist as it is to say that gods do exist."

 

Atheism doesn't say that gods do not exist, It says that they do not believe in gods.  Maybe you're an agnostic, not an atheist, and that's why you have issues about the definition.  You're still a Freethinker, either way.

"Atheism doesn't say that gods do not exist, It says that they do not believe in gods."

 

Okay I know I'm being picky about this... Lol. And I agree with your main point.

 

However, atheism makes no statements about belief at all.

 

It's simply a lack of belief.

 

Once we incorporate atheism as a position which states that atheists don't believe in gods we've stepped into the purview of belief and worldview.

 

And that's where some atheists go wrong.

 

That's the point that I'm hoping to get across to everyone.

 

 

The final answer: "atheism" and the many words similar to it are for people to argue about, often with much emotion and judgment.

 

Heh :-D

 

No doubt. 

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