Archive for the ‘Atheist’ Category

A journey.

August 14, 2007

Check out this powerful piece by the religious correspondent of the LA Times.  It chronicles how he lost his faith.  Definitely worth reading.

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A journey out of the darkness

June 4, 2007

I just noticed  an interesting post about one man’s experiences with becoming atheistic after being raised devoutly Mormon.

It’s certainly worth checking out.

If Dinesh D’Souza is what religion produces, I’m proud to be an atheist

April 20, 2007

I rarely use the ad hominem attack because it doesn’t achieve anything. The only exception is when I think it will make me feel better. Dinesh D’Souza is a completely fucking disgusting human piece of shit. Well now, that does feel better.

What an utter fucking asshole this clown is.

Just days after the horrifying events at Virginia Tech, D’Souza decides to unleash a rant against … wait for it … atheists! What a vile little turd of a man. He starts with a post that invokes the tired old canard about atheists and morality (note to self: finish and publish “Religion and Morality”).

Let’s wade into the sewer and see what this morally impaired ass clown is ranting about:

Notice something interesting about the aftermath of the Virginia Tech shootings? Atheists are nowhere to be found.

(emphasis his).

Now, just out of curiosity, what the fuck does that even mean? Atheists are nowhere to be found? Where the fuck would you expect to be find them? Giving interviews? D’Souza is unable to spot atheists in a crowd and so he assumes that there are none around? Is this guy actually just a slightly challenged 5 year old rather than a conservative mouth piece? His logic would be laughable and pathetic if it wasn’t so damn offensive to the suffering that so many are going through (and will continue to go through for a long time). While dipshit D’Souza is trying to cash in (drive traffic to his little brainfucked shithole of a blog) on this tragedy, there are families and a community who have been shattered beyond anything that stupid little fucker could imagine.

To no one’s surprise, Dawkins has not been invited to speak to the grieving Virginia Tech community.

Again, dude, what the fuck are you talking about? Seriously. D’Souza later claimed that this was a sarcastic comment. Brilliant job fuck-knuckle, just what the victims and their community need: functionally retarded right-wing sarcasm.

Then, D’Souza whips out this little gem:

What this tells me is that if it’s difficult to know where God is when bad things happen, it is even more difficult for atheism to deal with the problem of evil.

I actually laughed out loud at this crude attempt at the Jedi mind trick. Evil is, and will always be, the Achilles heel of religion. It presents no problem at all for atheists (other than our disappointment that it exists at all). Answer me this, fuckwad: If your god is so powerful, good and pure, why would he let 32 innocent students and teachers be slaughtered in this way? How is that a problem for atheism? If you want to probe the atheists’ understanding of why people do evil deeds, look to the field of evolutionary psychology. If you want the religious explanation, look to a fabricated sky god who is either an ass-clown who can’t stop this shit happening, an asshole who won’t stop this shit happening or completely made up by human asshats and has no impact whatsoever on this shit happening. Any way you cut it, it’s hardly a problem that can’t be explained in an atheistic world view. D’Souza you stupid fucker, you make me laugh.

He begins to wrap up with another tired old religofreak bullshit trick:

The reason is that in a purely materialist universe, immaterial things like good and evil and souls simply do not exist.

Fuck I get sick of this ridiculous line of reasoning. It’s just so stupidly, obviously, blatantly, pathetically wrong. The Egnorant one ran with a different version of the same horseshit recently in his rantings:

Materialism is nonsense, because if matter and energy are all that exist, then truth doesn’t exist (it’s neither matter nor energy). If truth doesn’t exist, then materialism can’t be true.

The only real question I have about these two fuckchops is whether they actually believe the shit they write or whether they write it to fool their superficial readers. The fundamental thing that Egnore and D’Souza are lying about is that no matter how we categorize things or label them, whatever is true about the universe will be true regardless of how we describe it. They’re both claiming that “materialism” precludes the existence of truth. The refutation is trivially simple; if matter and energy really are all that exist and we currently have the concept of truth, then obviously materialism doesn’t preclude the existence of truth (yeah, I know, but they started it).

The thing that’s never (or rarely) explicitly stated in the type of rant common to religious nutbaggery is that they’re trying to find a refuge for the soul. They want an explanation of the world that doesn’t preclude the existence of souls. When a mind arises (emerges) from the amazingly complex interactions of purely physical parts of our anatomy, the soul has nowhere to hide. This scares the D’Souza’s and Egnor’s of the world.

I’m stopping now because I feel much better. Maybe I’ll come back to it later, maybe I won’t. Either way, god damn that felt good.

Lies, damned lies and Christians

April 19, 2007

There’s been a feeling building in me over the last few months that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. I figured it out recently; a whole bunch of Christians are completely, utterly full of shit. They lie. They lie like it’s their fucking job. Maybe it is.

The first stage of me figuring this out was to realize that I reacted in a very strong negative way to certain writings and speeches by Christians. At first I really thought that maybe I was just reacting negatively because I disagreed with them. At first I thought that maybe they were just honestly mistaken. Then I saw the video by Ken Miller about the ID movement and its collapse. Ken is a devout Roman Catholic which would seem to put him squarely among the class of people that I disagree with most often. Then, however, I realized that I loved listening to him speak and respected his opinions.

How could this be? I thought about it for a while but couldn’t quite nail it down. Possibly I just liked him because he understands evolution and explains it well (he’s a fantastic speaker, I highly recommend checking out his work). That didn’t quite seem to explain it completely, but I moved on. I started reading a book called Misquoting Jesus, given to me by a friend. In it, the author, Bart D. Ehrman starts out as a fundamentalist evangelical “crazy” Christian. I mean, he goes to the Moody Bible Institute at one point. The MBI might be the place where you’ll find more religious nutbaggery than anywhere else on Earth. If it’s not, it’s certainly a contender. His book chronicles his quest to discover the text in the original versions of the Christian gospels.

Anyway, so I’m reading Mr. Ehrman’s words and they’re not grating on me like religious tripe normally does and I couldn’t figure out why. The writing was light, quick and humorous which is rare in such a scholarly work. It was just a good read and I was having no bad reactions. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks; Ehrman cares about what’s true! He knows that the current form of the bible isn’t what was originally written down. He wants to know what was originally written down. I find this quest admirable. Ehrman says at one point that knowing the inspired word of god was written down is wonderful, but given that those words have changed over time, how inspired are they now? Doesn’t it actually matter what god originally said rather than what fallible humans have written in the intervening 2,000 years? Of course it does.

He highlights a couple of very interesting places that scholars know that large tracts were added. They can wait for a more detailed review of his book. I’ll do that at some stage. Regardless, the godless and faithheads alike should read it, it’s a simply wonderful analysis. You’ll learn things.

Anyway, back to me for a second 😉 I have this dawning realization that I seem to not object to Christian claims when the claims are made by people who care about what’s true. This leads me back to the video of Ken Miller and the discussion about the Kitzmiller trial.

Miller recounts how, during the trial, it was exposed that as a result of a ruling in 1989, Creationism “textbooks” were altered to be Intelligent Design “textbooks”. In some cases this was done using search and replace. I’ve come to understand that this bothers me for a number of reasons:

1) It’s dishonest

2) It borders on illegal

3) It involves denying (or at least hiding) god

I did a little more investigation into the people involved with the ID case and found the Discovery Institue. I won’t link to it. Their articles just instantly started making me angry, although now I know why; it’s because they do not care about the truth.

Even the names of their websites and organizations are dishonest: Evolution News and the Discovery Institute. Evolution News is a bunch of people making ridiculous claims about evolution being wrong. The Discovery Institute is basically a religious organization promoting the teaching of creationism. The dishonesty is in how these people portray themselves. It sickens me. For fuck’s sake, be up front about it. They want to teach creationism but they hide behind this disgraceful veneer of ID.

The first article I came across while trawling Evolution News was by Michael Egnor. It is entitled “What if Darwinism were true”. The title sounds promising until you realize the nuanced meaning contained in the term Darwinism. Darwinism is a manifestation of yet another dirty trick used by ID proponents. I call it the “you’re just as silly as us maneuver”. I think that deep down (some deeper than others 😉 ) most religious people know that they’re on shaky logical ground. They know that they can’t coherently explain the things they believe because the things they believe don’t cohere all that well. So, with varying degrees of subtlety they imply that Darwinism is like a religion. “See you believe a bunch of crazy shit, just like us!” It’s transparent and tacky, but it’s used all the time. A great example is the debate between McGrath and Atkins recently where McGrath continually insisted that atheism is a “faith”. Or this recent article by David Klinghoffer. Do these people not understand that they’re denigrating their own faith by doing this? Sheesh.

Believe what you want, just make sure you care what’s true. And to the ID clowns out there; when you talk about an intelligent designer but deny that you mean god, you’re actually denying god his due. Don’t sweat that too much though, it’s been done before.

Life, the universe and everything

March 24, 2007

Welcome back to the ongoing discussion between Rob Vitaro (a devout Christian) and little old atheistic me. You can read Rob’s latest response here. As the exchange has gone on, I’ve come to like Rob. I no longer think he’s a nutball (even though I think he liked the term). It seems, however, that we might have covered all the ground that’s worth covering. So this could be the last post in the thread. Who knows? If there’s things left that need saying, I’m sure they’ll be said.

Anyway, on with the show.

Rob starts out by honoring my request to take another shot at answering a question I’d posed. I asked him to think about the role that the accident of his birth played in determining the faith he grew up in.

Does John Doe in Iran have a greater chance of being a Muslim than a Christian? Absolutely. Does John Doe believe he follows the truth? Absolutely. But is it the TRUTH? NO. And I also say that had I been raised Muslim (not only would I not be me), I’d also believe that I was following the truth, but I’d be wrong. How can I say that? Because only one religion (or atheism) can be right, and I (back to Rob the Christian) believe I found the right one. The right One found me, actually.

This is a much more satisfying response. While I’m certainly glad he came closer to answering the question, I find the answer he gave simply astonishing. He can very clearly picture how “Rob the Muslim” would be just as devout in his beliefs as Rob the Christian. He can understand that Rob the Muslim would claim to be in possession of divine truth. He can understand that RTM would claim RTC was mistaken. Rob the Christian can understand that his religion is an accident of his birth (with some caveats about divine plans and what-not). Rob can understand all these things but to him they reinforce rather than weaken his faith. I figure this is because Rob believes he’s blessed to have landed in the “one true religion”. To me that just seems like arrogance (of which I’ve been accused many times myself, generally with good reason). I basically interpret Rob’s claims to be some version of: “I understand that everyone else’s beliefs are just as deep and sacred to them as mine are to me. I understand that most other religions disagree with the core claims of my faith. The bit you’re not understanding, darwinator, is that they’re all wrong and I’m right“. Kudos to Rob for engaging in the mental exercise this time. It was obviously unlikely that he would acknowledge my points (and that’s fair enough) but he challenged himself intellectually and that’s to be admired.

Now Rob gets me all riled up by comparing my concept of evolution to some sort of religious faith. Grrrr.

I’m not trying to be a jerk here, but I find it incredibly interesting that the parts I emphasized in the quote above were words chosen by darwinator himself. The only time I’ve ever heard creative (root word create) being used to describe evolution was in describing theistic evolution. Whether darwinator intends this or not, or whether he realizes it or not, he is attributing god-like qualities, or at the very least intelligence, to evolution – which is supposed to be a process. You’d think otherwise from his own words.

This is almost guaranteed to get a reaction from someone who understands evolution. Implying that my position on evolution takes the form of a religious belief is very easy to interpret as an insult. Rob expressly states that he’s not trying to be a jerk. He’s an honest guy, I’ll take him at his word. That being said, it’s hard to know how respond given that Rob avowedly “doesn’t care” about the evolutionary history of mankind on Earth. He knows that god did it and that’s enough for him.

I stand by everything I wrote about evolution and, to clarify, I’ll rephrase a little. Evolution created every form of life we see (and many we can’t see) on this planet. If that’s not creativity, I don’t know what is. I could certainly say “as a result of the process of evolution taking place every form …”, however, it’s easier just to say “Evolution created”. As for intelligence, I don’t personally describe evolution as intelligent, but it’s not hard to formulate definitions of intelligence that do encompass evolution (anything involving problem solving usually does the trick).

Whether darwinator intends this or not, or whether he realizes it or not, he is attributing god-like qualities, or at the very least intelligence, to evolution

I disagree. I can see what Rob’s saying here but I think he’s projecting. The process of evolution has, as its output, many varied forms of life. To me, that’s creativity. The generation of countless novel, beautiful and functional organisms is creativity in its purest form. If I believed that god did the creating then I don’t think Rob would have a problem with my use of “creativity”. Is it somehow different for a process? Just because the process wasn’t directed by an intelligence doesn’t (to me) mean the process wasn’t a creative force. As for the emphasis Rob put on my statement that “everything has a purpose”, he’s once again implying beliefs that I don’t hold. The “everything has a purpose” comment is true and simply explained; Traits that aren’t under selection pressure will atrophy. When humanity’s ancestors gained trichromatic vision (to give one example), their sense of smell deteriorated. This phenomenon is usually summarized “use it or lose it”. The net result is that any biological attribute without a purpose will, over time, be lost. The only things you’re left with have a purpose. No higher power. No ghost in the machine. A simple process with amazingly complex and elegant outcomes.

darwinator may be surprised to know that I’m not a young-earth creationist, an old-earth creationist, or an evolutionist – I’m an “I really don’t care-ist!” That’s right, I really don’t care! All I know is that God did it; how He did it doesn’t matter at all to me.

This quote saddened me. I’ll come back to it later with an offer to Rob. For now I’ll just say that if I did believe in god, evolution would be almost the first thing I’d point to as evidence of his greatness. Sure the scale of the universe impresses me but the power of evolution might impress me even more. That’s one of the reasons I get angry at creationists (I work with a guy who literally believes the talking snake / Garden of Eden story. Yes, literally), they miss out on crediting god with creating the most amazing, flexible, creative and adaptable system that we’re ever likely to discover. If god did want to fill the Earth with life, DNA would an awesome way to do it. The Bishop of Oxford, Richard Harries, says it better than I ever could:

God has given creation a real independence and the miraculous fact is that working in relation to this independent life God has, as it were, woven creation from the bottom upwards: with matter giving rise to life and life giving rise to conscious reflective existence in the likes of you and me. The fact that the universe probably began about 12 billion years ago with life beginning to evolve about 3 billion years ago simply underlines the extraordinary detailed, persistent, patience of the divine creator spirit.

Then Rob’s post heats up a little as we enter “meaning of life” territory.

Well, what is the meaning of life for you, darwinator; what’s the purpose?

To be brutally honest Rob, I don’t have any answers that would be satisfying to you. I’ve taken my best shot at explaining my thoughts on it, but rehashing those reasons won’t help. I will point out to the logician in you that asking what the meaning of life is implies that life has some hidden meaning that we could figure out if only we’d squint at it in just the right way. The only “meaning” I care about is the stuff I outlined to you earlier. Family and friends. I’d really love to get into a deeper discussion of this with you, but this exchange probably isn’t the place. I had some interesting personal revelations on meaning very recently and I’m still sorting through them. I’ll write about them when I sort them out.

If we simply cease to exist when we die, why would it matter if we lived our 80+ years or even 10 years for that matter? If we don’t exist anymore, it’s not like we can remember “living the only life we had.” What does it matter if I have relationships if they end when I’m gone?

In the terms you’re talking about Rob, you’re right. None of those things “matter”. I don’t know how to respond here other than to quietly indicate a twinge of sadness. It just seems a little depressing to me that the only way your life gains meaning is through the supernatural.

The other thing to keep in mind is that religious beliefs (throughout human history) have all evolved to include an afterlife. There’s a reason that’s true. It’s because people are afraid to stop existing. That makes it pretty easy to sell eternal life to people. In fact, it might be the perfect product; you never have to actually produce it.

How about this one: Why do we (and other animals) have a self-preservation instinct?

This one’s easy. When you stack up a bunch of different lifeforms and set them competing against each other, the ones with well developed self-preservation instincts preserve themselves. The more successfully they do that, the more offspring (on average) they’ll have. Self preservation instincts are the rule throughout nature, not the exception.

You seem to like to think about mind-blowing things like the vast universe, so try this one: imagine NOT existing. I find it impossible to do. I’m willing to bet you can’t do it either. Even if you think of it like sleep, your imagination starts to think about waking up.

Aw, c’mon Rob. Give me a little credit here. You really think I’ve done all this reading and thinking and never once tried imagining what will happen when I die? Shame on you 😉 Yes, I can imagine it (to my own satisfaction) but that’s not interesting. Even if I couldn’t imagine it that wouldn’t tell us anything useful about the existence of an afterlife. People can’t properly imagine the scale of the universe, that doesn’t lead me to doubt its existence. People have problems with the concept that light is simultaneously both particles and waves. That doesn’t make it any less true.

I’m not saying this is proof, but I submit to you the reason why we can’t imagine not existing is because we were never meant to cease existing

You’re right, it’s nothing like proof of an afterlife. It’s not proof of anything other than the fact that humans find it hard to conceptualize a state of non-existence. Your logic is equivalent to observing that it’s impossible to imagine your non-existence in the time before your birth and thus concluding that you must have always existed. Sure, it’s possible to make that claim. It’s still nonsense though.

It’s why every religion believes that something happens after death. There is an awareness in the human spirit that knows that this isn’t all there is. THAT is what gives me hope, to know that I will be able to continue my relationships with my loved ones. Life doesn’t end!

Every religion believes that something happens after death because people don’t like the idea of dying. Most people are pretty much against death. Especially their own. The reason all religions have the idea of an afterlife is because an afterlife is a very attractive concept. Religions that incorporate that meme are inherently more successful than ones that don’t. That’s actually pretty easy to prove to yourself. Picture Christianity without the benefits of eternal life and observe how much less appealing it is. I’ve probably mentioned Dennett before in our exchanges, but his book “Breaking the Spell” covers this sort of thing in great detail. A tiring read, but worth the effort. There is no more powerful way to control people than claim you have some influence over their access to an afterlife.

Then we head off into some uncharted territory and I’d like to slow down a little. Some of Rob’s statements bear discussion in a little more detail than usual. Rob, you invoked the “jerk protection card” a little earlier. I’ll do the same here. I’m not trying to be a jerk in the following discussion . I implore you to consider this discussion as openly as you can, because it is at the heart of our incompatible outlooks.

darwinator, I’m inclined to believe that no amount of “evidence” will convince you, because you will never get the kind of evidence you seek. God doesn’t need to prove to you that He exists.

Sure. That’s one possible explanation; god doesn’t provide miracles upon request. I understand that. It is certainly easy to come up with convincing reasons why god won’t clearly reveal his presence. That being said, the simplest, most obvious explanation is that god just doesn’t exist. There’s a short story by Carl Sagan called The Dragon In My Garage that explains how our discussion of “evidence” looks to me. It looks exactly like the dragon in Sagan’s garage.

Who are you to say to God that what He has deemed adequate isn’t sufficient for your standard?

Who are you Rob, to doubt the existence of the Flying Spaghetti Monster? His noodly appendage has touched more people in the last few years than the holy spirit has in centuries. The point is that it’s easy to suppose imaginary entities and then claim that there’s evidence to support the supposition. It’s just fairly obviously not convincing. To highlight such thinking is the purpose of the FSM. It’s also exactly what Sagan is talking about in the dragon story.

He has already given plenty of proof for thousands of years; it’s your own fault (and dare I say arrogance) if that’s not enough for you.

I’m entitled to set my own standards for evidence. Plenty of proof for thousands of years? Give me a single example. Just one convincing example of “proof” over the last two thousand years and I’ll let your comment slide. There isn’t a single claim you’ll present that, if presented by an adherent of another religion, you wouldn’t dismiss with a condescending snort. I’m not saying you don’t believe the things you see as proof. Of course you do. They just aren’t proof. Maybe you’ve heard of Sathya Sai Baba? He has been involved in many verified miracles as you can see from the link. Sai Baba has millions of believers. I’m sure once you’ve read about the miracles and seen the photographic evidence, you’ll be convinced too.

And then we cross a line.

the blind are seeing for the first time, actual limbs are growing back on people who lost them, the dead are living again. Just because it’s not happening to you or in your backyard doesn’t mean it’s not happening, that it’s not real, or that HE isn’t real.

Actual limbs are growing back on people who lost them? Rob, you don’t actually believe this do you? Now, out of respect for our discussion, just pause for a minute. I understand that you want this to be true. I get that. Really I do. I just need to know that you’re able to separate the things you’d like to be true from the things that actually are true. You’re smart enough to see through this. I have to believe that this is just wishful thinking. Rob, no limbs have regenerated. Hasn’t happened. Won’t ever happen through prayer. Medical research might get there eventually, but that’s the only way it’s going to happen. These miracles you speak of are in the same realm as psychics and ESP. Sure, people can claim all sorts of weird and wonderful stuff. However, if there was a psychic out there worth their salt, you don’t think they’d have claimed the million dollar prize? When claims of miraculous occurrences are investigated rigorously, they will always, without exception, be shown to be without basis. Or have a natural explanation. Always.

The West sees these kind of miracles too, but only occasionally. Many have tried to figure out why this is. My own theory is that we don’t need to believe for these miracles. We have our science and medicine, but the 3rd world does not; faith is all they have, so they get the miracles. That’s just a theory, though.

I think you must know that’s not true. In most third world nations, education isn’t easy to come by. Throughout history, when people don’t have scientific explanations for observed phenomena, they attribute it to the supernatural. I think the imbalance between miracle rates in third and first world nations is a lot simpler than divine preference. It’s education.

And then it ends.

I actually found writing this sad. Two intelligent people unable to reach common ground because of very strong convictions, each thinking the other to be totally wrong (or crazy).

I’m also a little sad. I certainly understand Rob’s sentiments here. I no longer think he’s crazy. I think he has (probably not consciously) allowed what he wants to be true to affect what he believes is true. It’s hard for me to begrudge him a little wishful thinking. Death is a scary concept. Ceasing to exist is an even scarier concept. Rob’s certainly not the only who has ever sought solace in belief.

As we near the end of our exchange, Rob’s reflections prompt me to consider what I’d hoped to achieve. This blog of mine is really what I claim it to be. It’s my Cathartic Relief. It’s me yelling into (what I thought) was a void. I didn’t expect to hear echoes, let alone someone shouting back. Once the exchange was underway, I honestly would have liked to have had an impact on Rob. I’m not sure I did, but I would have liked to.

I mentioned earlier that I’d like to make an offer to Rob. Think of it as a peace offering. Or maybe a way to keep the conversation going a little longer. Or a chance for each of us to affect the other in some small way. I’ve come to accept that I won’t be able to change Rob’s views of religion. I understand that. However, I might be able to open his eyes to an aspect of our world that he hasn’t seen much of. So here’s my offer. I’ll read any book Rob recommends and write about it here. I’d like him to choose one that he thinks might open my eyes to the world of faith that I’m missing out on. I’d like him to read Sean B. Carroll’s Making of the Fittest and write about his reactions. I honestly don’t care if he attributes everything to god, I’d just count this whole exchange a success if I was able to both teach and learn something. So how about it Rob? Is it worth your time to read a couple hundred pages about DNA in return for me reading a book that might save my soul?

If this is the last post in this exchange, I wish you well Rob. It’s been … interesting 😉

Holy Crap

March 19, 2007

I was watching one of Ricky Gervais’ stand up bits on YouTube earlier. It’s hilarious. Do yourself a favor and check it out.

Anyway, this particular piece was based on the Bible. Rick runs through some of the creation story in his inimitable style. It got me to thinking about the creation story and some questions starting kicking around in my head. So I headed on over to check out Genesis from the King James Bible at bartleby.com.

Holy crap. What a complete and utter load of rubbish. I couldn’t even get through Genesis before my head started to hurt with the inconsistencies.

The first one concerns god lying through his teeth to Adam and Eve. I’d reckon most people would consider lying a sin. In fact, a religious friend of mine once told me that it is impossible for god to lie. My friend should, perhaps, read the bible.

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

Keep this in mind; God has explicitly said to man “do not eat the fruit from the tree in the middle. If you do, you will die”.

God goes on to create Eve from Adam’s rib (unnecessarily complicated but I guess that’s his prerogative). Eve winds up bumping into a talking snake (yes, you read that right, the snake talks). The snake convinces Eve to eat from the forbidden tree. Eve does so. She also gets Adam in on the action and he eats from the tree too. Now, having foolishly trusted god, I expected Adam and Eve to begin having convulsions from the deadly poison coursing through their veins. My trust in god was apparently misplaced. Adam and Eve are fine. They don’t die. That leaves us with the inescapable fact that god lied to them. It was the snake that told them the truth. So god’s first interaction with humanity is to create them and then start lying to them. So much for god not being able to lie, eh? A little bit of sinning from the big man. Nice 🙂

Okay, so god’s a liar.

The next thing I realized was that if you’re a devout Christian, you should be naked right now. That’s right, get your gear off. God created Adam and Eve naked. They only became embarrassed about their nakedness when they ate the forbidden fruit. Let’s spend a little time considering this situation and see where it leads us, shall we?

It is either immoral to run around naked or it’s not. If it is immoral to be naked in public, then god committed an immoral act by creating naked people. It does, however, seem pretty unlikely that god is immoral. For the sake of the discussion, let’s assume that god is morally sound. This lets us conclude that there’s nothing inherently immoral about public nakedness. God wouldn’t have created naked humans if hanging around without clothes is immoral. We can further conclude that the knowledge garnered from gobbling forbidden fruit is flawed in a major way. Eating the fruit made us embarrassed by nudity. The truly devout Christian will understand that god intended for us to be naked. We insult god every day we cover the beauty of his creation. That’s right ladies, unfurl god’s creations. Guys, don’t sweat it so much. If you want to remain covered, I won’t complain.

So god’s a liar and everyone needs to get their clothes off.

Then we come to the brilliant story of Cain and Abel. I’d heard these names before. I knew the basics of the story and lacked the details. Apparently the Bible also lacks the details. The story just isn’t all that detailed. Let me summarize for you.

  • Adam and Eve have two boys Cain and Abel
  • The boys attempt to curry god’s favor with offerings; Cain brings produce, Abel brings lamb cutlets
  • God loves Abel’s lamb and doesn’t like Cain’s potatoes
  • Cain is really, really pissed off at this
  • Cain kills Abel
  • God gets pretty pissed at Cain

That’s the story in a nutshell. At this point however, something weird jumped out at me:

And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden. And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch.

Okay … do you see the problem? God created Adam and Eve who, together, had two sons: Cain and Abel. So where did Cain’s wife come from? I googled this terribly confusing situation and found this crazy ass explanation. The summary of that article is that Cain’s wife must have been a daughter of Adam and Eve. Yes. That’s right. We hit the incest jackpot in the first few pages of the bible. Sweet.

So, to recap; god’s a liar, Christians need to be naked and Adam & Eve had a bunch of kids who all ran around fucking each other.

At this point I gave up. Four chapters of this rubbish is enough. I’m sitting here shaking my head, incredulous that anyone could believe this crap. How can people actually believe that this crap, this holy crap, is a good explanation for anything?

Is God omniscient?

February 20, 2007

So here’s the thing; god drowned everyone on Earth for being a big ol’ bunch of sinners. He saved Noah and a few animals but laid waste to every other lifeform on the planet. What a complete and total dick. Regardless of the dickishness of this maneuver, there’s something that just doesn’t make sense to me about all this (and it’s more than “how the hell do people believe this rubbish?”). The following comes from Genesis (emphasis mine, not god’s).

And Yahweh said, “I will wipe man from the face of the earth, man, my own creation and also the animals of the field, and the creatures that crawl on the ground, and the birds of the air; for I regret having made them.”

Before I start ranting, what’s the deal with killing all the animals? I didn’t know animals could sin. What a dick.

Anyway …

God is supposed to be omniscient. God allegedly knows everything. If god knows everything, couldn’t he have foreseen that mankind would sin? How can an omniscient being regret taking an action? If he was going to regret it so much that he had to kill everybody, why create man in the first place? If god knew what mankind would do and created mankind anyway are the sins really man’s responsibility? If you create man, giving him free will but you know what he’s going to do with that free will is it really free will at all? The only exercise of true free will was the act of creation. Once god created man and had foreseen the future, man was placed on the path foreseen by god. Unless of course, god is fallible and not omniscient. Maybe god just doesn’t know everything?

The same question applies to the Adam and Eve myth. If god knows everything, then wouldn’t he have known that the sins in the Garden of Eden were destined to happen? Wouldn’t he have known, at the time of creation, that his creation was not perfect and was destined to sin? So why am I reading about regrets and mistakes?

Someone tried the argument that god is omniscient exclusively about the present state of affairs but not about the future. This can’t be true. If god wasn’t omniscient about the future then he couldn’t have predicted that Jesus would be sacrificed for our sins on the cross. If god couldn’t predict that, then Jesus just got randomly killed and his death wasn’t foretold by god.

So something doesn’t make sense. Either god knew, at the time man was created, that man would sin (heinously) in the future or he couldn’t have known that Jesus would be crucified to atone for our sins. Either he knows what man will do or he doesn’t.

Now, obviously, I don’t expect any sensible answers to this. I expect weird new caveats that I’ve never head before. The hoops people will jump through to try and maintain a coherent belief system are amazing.

I’m still trying to deal with the shock I felt when I realized that bible stories just don’t make any sense.

Madness dropped?

February 17, 2007

I’ve been involved in an exchange of ideas with Rob Vitaro for some time now. Rob’s most recent post is worth reading. He makes some very good points, which is about par for the course. As I told Rob in a comment; I audibly guffawed in a couple of places while reading it. He even got a “golf clap” at one stage in acknowledgement of a point well made.

Rob publicly pondered his reasons for continuing the discussion and ultimately decided to carry on because

it is probably the most civil discourse I’ve had with a non-Christian (nut-ball term aside), and for the sake of reason and logic it shall continue.

Wow. I can’t imagine what types of discourse you’ve had with atheists if I qualify as civil. Anyway, this led me to ponder my own reasons for continuing and I realized they’re not that deep; it’s fun, challenging and I learn stuff. So, on with the show.

First of all, I’d like to highlight the “golf clap” point that Rob made. Rob originally said that he was on solid psychological ground because there are a lot of people who believe the same things he does. I argued that “weight of numbers does not a solid position make”. The problem arose when, later in the same post, I wrote that Rob was on shaky ground because there were four and half billion people alive today who think he’s wrong. According to my own argument, weight of numbers does not make the four and a half billion people right. I could claim that I was trying further address his original weight of numbers point, but in rereading my post, I don’t think I was. So Rob, I acknowledge that point. You’re right; you can’t claim sanity because a bunch of people believe the same thing you do and I can’t claim insanity because a bunch of people don’t believe what you do. I think I made that too easy for you, but you handled it skillfully nonetheless.

While we’re on the topic of insanity, I’d like to conditionally retract my claim of madness. One of the conditions is that I’d like Rob to clarify exactly what form of communication he has with Jesus. Rob’s communication might be something completely different than I got from his writings. If, for example, Rob clears his mind and thinks about a decision he has to make and the answer “pops into his head” then I’ll drop the crazy thing and acknowledge my mistake. I obviously won’t acknowledge that Rob is receiving messages from Jesus, but I will cede that the “crazy” label might not fit.

I will point out that I think Rob didn’t do a wonderful job of rebutting the crazy claim. He acknowledged that if the other party in his communication was anyone other than Jesus, things would look pretty grim:

I agree in part, though: replace Jesus with Abe Lincoln in that paragraph and yes, I’d look crazy!

He follows this right up with:

A psychological condition is almost always accompanied with impaired functioning so much so that a lower quality of life is the result. This is not the case for most Christians

I think the flaw here is pretty obvious; if the only thing that changed was that he claimed Abe Lincoln was communicating with him instead of Jesus then seemingly Rob would still be able to function in society. If he acted the same way, did the same good deeds and was the same guy in general, wouldn’t he be just fine? I’ll give Rob some leeway here and I’m really trying to let the crazy thing go, but that logic just didn’t cut it for me.

Then after some reasonably tame responses, Rob whips out a comment that just about floored me.

Well, this may blow darwinator away, but I already know this all too well: I’m well aware that he could be completely right, that everything I believe is in my mind and not real.

Blown away didn’t quite cover it. I hadn’t expected this at all. Rob writes with such confidence and conviction that I was certain there was no room for doubt in his mind. I admire his strength in admitting this and would probably just like to see it acknowledged a little more in his writing. However, that’s not really my call. Can’t hurt to ask though, can it?

Rob quickly moves in to strike after throwing me off balance:

But here is where being “smart and deluded” bites darwinator in the butt. Christians are always the ones who are asked, “what if everything you believe in is wrong? Can you even admit that?” Ok, I just did. Now it’s your turn, darwinator. What if everything you believe in is wrong? Can you admit that you could be wrong? What if you are smart and deluded?

I direct Rob’s attention to my Reasonable Atheism post. I can (and, the post shows, did) admit doubt. Certainly everything I believe could be wrong. The atheist position and, more generally, the rational position requires that evidence be evaluated before coming to conclusions. If evidence were presented for the God hypothesis, I’d certainly believe in God. I imagine the religious among those reading this will respond that they too require evidence. I guess the difference then becomes one of standards. A fatally flawed document authored 1950 years ago does not constitute evidence. If we’re honest, we’ll acknowledge that it doesn’t even come close.

You see, I firmly believe atheism takes faith to adhere to. It’s just as much a gamble as believing in any other religion. In the end, only one of us can be right.

I understand Rob’s point about faith here and disagree with it. I hope the Reasonable Atheism post explains why. I do see what Rob’s getting at here, but the word “faith” is inappropriate. It’s a trick commonly used to make atheists seem just like religious folk. Being an atheist takes courage (for reasons Rob points out later), strength of character and above all being an atheist requires you to be honest with yourself. You don’t get to believe things that you want to be true. You have to believe the things that you actually think are true. Whenever a loved one dies, it would certainly be nice to think that they’ve gone to a better place. Wanting something don’t necessarily make it so. It doesn’t even make it likely.

I also asked Rob to consider the fact that his beliefs are an accident of his upbringing which, in turn, is an accident of the lottery determining when and where he was born. I was very disappointed in Rob’s response. It’s actually the first thing he’s written that I’ve been disappointed in. I feel like he dodged the intent of the question.

Ah, but darwinator hasn’t thought this through. If I had been born at any other point in time or location, I wouldn’t be me, Rob, I’d be someone else! Even if my parents conceived a day later, I’d be someone else. That’s undeniable, sorry.

I’ll try to rephrase to get an honest answer. I’m looking for a scenario where Rob was raised in a different faith. Say his parents or guardians converted to Islam when Rob was a child. There are other scenarios but the point is that I’d like Rob to think about the impact of the ideas he was exposed to in his formative years. It might not be a question he will answer, but if he’s honest, it’s pretty obvious that without the exposure to Christianity there’s no way he could be a Christian. He could be a Buddhist, a Hindu, a Muslim, a Scientologist or any one of literally thousands of other religions. He believes the things he does simply because of the “luck of the draw”. How can he explain that?

The following quote highlighted for me the deep, fundamental differences in the way that Rob and I look at things.

You see, when darwinator looks at the universe, he finds it awe-inspiring, but also an accident. Huh? How can an accident give you wonder? When I slip and fall, the only thing I wonder about is how clumsy can one person be? I find that the only things that seem to give us wonder are the things that are created.

The wonder and awe I feel come from understanding how things work. To truly understand how evolution produced the biodiversity we see around us … well, it’s very hard to describe the feeling. Something so simple and elegant is attractive to the engineer in me. Something so powerful and creative appeals to my artistic side. The whole process of evolution is simply beautiful to me. It’s amazing. The idea that everything has a purpose in an evolved system, sometimes obvious, sometimes not, is satisfying to me in a way that the stories about divine creation aren’t.

Side notes:

  • The hardest thing for me about the current religious debates in the US (intelligent design, etc) is that they’re missing out on the beauty and elegance that is evolution. In many cases, they’re missing out on it willfully.
  • I also bristle at the use of “accident” and “random chance” when talking about evolution, because evolution is the opposite of random chance. However, that’s a topic for another rant on another day.

To truly understand (if the tenous grasp I have can be called understanding) the scale of the universe is mind blowing. Humanity has always had a tendency to find God in the gaps of human knowledge. It isn’t honest. It’s also not a sensible position to take in the face of the inexorable march of knowledge. Those gaps will shrink and disappear. Where will God hide then?

Now this next section got me a little riled up, so I might be letting off some steam. Apologies in advance.

But insignificant? How does that make my existence beautiful? How does that give me hope? How would that encourage me to go on? What’s the point of living? It’s all an accident anyway, right?! But that’s “darwinator’s paradoxical answer to the meaning of life:” You’re tiny, insignificant, and a product of random chance: you’re beautiful! And when you die, NOTHING! Hooray for the Great Accident!

Our cosmic (in)significance should have no impact at all on how beautiful your life is, Rob. Your life is beautiful because you have a wife, family and friends that love you. Why do you need to get “hope” or “reasons to go on” from a creator of the universe? Live your life because it’s the only one you have! How can your life only be worth living if you get everlasting paradise at the end of it? Your life is beautiful for the many reasons you list in your blog posts. Why on Earth would you need more than the reasons you already have?

Here’s what it comes down to, darwinator. If you’re right, if this is all an accident, and everything I believe is in my head, then we both lose in the biggest joke ever.

No we don’t. We don’t lose at all. You had the chance to have a wonderful life, filled with the love of wife, family and friends. I’m pretty sure you don’t consider that a losing proposition.

But if I’m right, I will inherit an eternity of peace and an end to suffering, living with the Creator of the universe. You lose there, too.

The fallacy of “belief as virtue” would require a whole separate thread to deal with. Suffice it to say that if God exists and conforms to your conception of him, then I certainly lose. You’ve provided an abridged version of Pascal’s wager which is as compelling as it is logically sound; that is to say, neither. I’ll deal with the logical failures below.

I’m not a gambling man, but I think I’ve made the smarter choice. With your stance, either way you’re screwed.

You’re right (as discussed above), I can never get access to paradise after death but your “smarter choice” intrigues me. It seems to imply that you weighed the situation (as per Pascal’s wager) and figured that there was no real downside to believing. That if you’re wrong, well, there’s no real cost (maybe some small opportunity cost) and if you’re right, jackpot! However, the problem with this is that it brings mercenary economic considerations to bear on a problem that is, ultimately, about what is true. A cost benefit analysis isn’t a convincing argument to accept religious doctrine and a “choice” based on such won’t convince the big guy upstairs.

You believe something because you’re convinced it’s true.  You don’t believe something because you’ll punished if it turns out you’re wrong.  Otherwise, the obvious extension to Pascal’s wager is to simply believe in whichever God has the most heinous version of hell (to minimize your downside).  I think it’s easy to see where this leads.

I look forward to reading Rob’s thoughts but must admit that my intensity is flagging. Rob has made some wonderful points and I do think I’ve learned some things. I feel like we’re getting very close to the limits of where discussion can take us and look forward to returning to my usual laziness rather than all this typing.

Madness discussed

February 10, 2007

Young Rob read the post where I called him a nutball and seemed to get a kick out of the label. He has posted a lengthy response. It’s very well written and Rob makes some points that I think are worth addressing.

Before I get to that, let me make one thing perfectly clear; I think Rob is intelligent. It’s impossible to write the way he does and argue as persuasively as he does and not be smart. Suffice it to say that his IQ is significantly above average. That being said, it’s possible to be smart and deluded. I’m claiming that’s the situation here.

However, Rob’s delusion presents something of a dilemma. In any reasonable discussion one would certainly hope that the other parties involved would consider all the points raised. Rob is convinced that Jesus has literally saved his life, so I’m a little ambivalent about how deeply I’d like Rob to think about all this. Ideally, he’d use his intellect to see through the superstitious nonsense he believes and appreciate his existence for how beautiful it really is. Failing that, I’d rather he cling to his beliefs and remain safe.

Let me address some of the points Rob makes.

Well, if I was the only one who believed and did this, you would be correct with the nut-ball analysis. However, I am in the company of billions of people over the last 2000 years. We can’t call that nut-ballish with that many people involved.

I disagree with this. Strongly. Weight of numbers does not a solid position make. In a world of (roughly) six and a half billion people, there are (again roughly) two billion Christians. This means there are four and a half billion people who think that the Christians are wrong. For every other religion the numbers are worse. If you’re a Hindu, for example, about five and a half billion people think your deeply held religious beliefs are … well … wrong.

So how can there be so much confusion? Isn’t it vastly more likely that religion fills a deep, human need? That people generally have a yearning to believe the types of things that religions claim? That makes much more sense to me than a world where the simplest point of agreement among the religious adherents of Earth is that they will be saved and everyone else is in trouble.

Daniel C. Dennett’s book “Breaking the Spell” addresses the evolution of religion in more detail than is appropriate here. I’d be extremely interested to hear Rob’s thoughts on the book.

The only answer to this: Jesus has to be a real live person who interacts with us.

Again, I disagree. The fact that billions of people are gullible enough to be convinced of something doesn’t make it true. As a future psychotherapist, I’d wager that Rob could come up with many more explanations than I could to explain his “interactive Jesus” claims. My first guess would be wishful thinking.

And so then what makes me any different from people who seek a guru to give them guidance? (Well, *I* say the difference is that Jesus has the answers while the guru is grasping at straws, but for the sake of argument I’m comparing “life coaches.”)

I’d say the major difference here is that for the majority of people, the person they choose as a life coach is someone they could get hold of by phone. Or have lunch with. Or exchange emails with. You know, an actual person. Now, if Rob was prepared to drop the “living Jesus” strand of his belief system, he’d be on more solid ground. Then the teachings of Jesus can be obtained from the written word, much like “How to win friends and influence people” or any other self help text.

I don’t want to imply that I’m being controlled by Jesus, as opposed to Him guiding me. I have used the phrase “I gave Jesus control of my life,” but what that means is I trust in Him so much that He tells me where to go and what to do, and I do it – by choice.

Okay, this is fair. I obviously wasn’t clear. My concern isn’t whether Jesus is explicitly at the wheel or whether he’s riding shotgun. I’m more interested in the claims that Rob is in communication with a being who, if he lived at all, died over 2,000 years ago. I claim that Rob’s insistence that this communication is real should qualify him as crazy. What if Jesus communicated to Rob through the TV? Would that be crazy? What if Jesus communicated with Rob via Morse code in the patterns of falling rain drops? Would that be crazy? Obviously, I think all of those should qualify someone as being crazy. Apparently there are bounds within which it’s possible to claim that you have correspondence with supernatural entities and not qualify as insane.

Speaking as someone who plans to be a psychotherapist, you do make a good point, but only from the starting premise that Jesus does not exist. If He does, and interacts with us (albeit differently from other people), then it is perfectly normal and not nut-ballish.

I think we agree 100% here. I think it would benefit Rob to read “Influence – The Psychology of Persuasion”. There are a couple of relevant pieces in the book. The first talks about how much more certain we become when we publicly declare our position on something. The second deals with a cult in California and the events that drove them to evangelize. I see some of Rob’s posting in light of the second piece and I think it would benefit him to better understand his motivations.

Now we get to the section where Rob’s buttons were tweaked by some things I said:

Anyone who claims Jesus told them to hurt or kill has been greatly deceived by Satan.

It’s hard to know how to respond to this statement because, to an atheist, it reads: Anyone who claims an imaginary person told them to hurt or kill has been greatly deceived by another imaginary person. I thought the original punishment for violating (at least six of) the ten commandments was being put to death. The instruction to put people to death would seem to be hurtful. At least it qualifies as something I consider hurtful. Then again maybe it was god issuing the edict which would get Jesus off the hook (unless we adhere to the proclamation that the triune deity is indivisibly one being). Or maybe Old Testament stuff isn’t considered doctrine any more. Regardless, we’ve established that Rob does not believe in a hurtful Jesus. This is a good thing.

And if you knew the person that I am (which I try to make evident on my site) you would realize how utterly ridiculous that statement was.

Maybe Rob is a really wonderful person. Even if he’s not, he sounds like he does try to live a good life. However, I have to defend the statements I made. Rob is in communication with entities that fully four and half billion people on this planet do not think exist. It’s not out of the realms of possibility that when his mind is making stuff up, it could make up stuff that doesn’t bode all that well for others. Rob claims he’s pacifistic, I’m happy enough to take him at his word.

Your cutting remark reeks of condescension (and because I doubt you’d say it to my face, cowardice)

Condescension maybe. Cowardice, sure, if you like. It’s not intended to be condescending although there is some small amount of pity in there that’s hard to keep out. That’s why I don’t outright dismiss the charges of condescension. I honestly hope that if Rob is hearing voices, they continue to tell him things in the vein of peace, love and understanding. Given that I believe that what Rob is hearing or seeing is a construct of his own mind, I have no real guarantees that the communications will remain benign. Now, if the communication were coming from Jesus and Jesus is as loving as Rob says, then there’d be no problem. It just ain’t so, hence the concern. Perhaps Rob’s saying that if Jesus were to issue instructions of hurtful nature, Rob would know it was Satan attempting to deceive him. I’m not sure. All I do know is that there’s a lot of imaginary people being considered here. Gets a bit confusing really.

I certainly don’t think Rob’s stupid. I think he’s constructed his own reality based on dogma he’s received. It would benefit Rob to spend some time thinking about just how much of an accident it is that he’s received the dogma he has. If he’d been born at any other point in time or even at the same time but in a different location, he’d be very unlikely to believe the things he does. If he was born in a country where the prevailing dogma is that of Islam, he’d be a Muslim. If he claims otherwise, he hasn’t thought it through.

As for the cowardice claim, I think that’s just Rob letting off steam. I’ve just spent the last week being “witnessed” to by a born again Christian so I don’t think I shrink from these types of discussions. I’m certainly not scared of very many people physically, so I’m not sure what the cowardice thing meant. Let’s not rule it out though, maybe within whatever context Rob’s using, he’s right.

I resent that you and other bloggers continually imply that Christians such as myself are in the same league as other religious extremists, namely militant Islamists.

Rob is religiously extreme by any definition I can imagine. That, however, isn’t the point I’d like to deal with here. He mentions extremists and points out, specifically, the adherents of Islam. Let’s give Rob the benefit of the doubt and allow that he’s not an extremist. At least for the sake of this point. The problem with religious moderates is one that’s frequently addressed by Sam Harris. When the beliefs of religious moderates have to be respected, it provides cover for the fundamentalists of that religion. Rob enables religious extremists by claiming conversational sanctity for his own beliefs. Check out Sam Harris‘ writings on this topic, it’s really worth thinking about.

Religious belief is a cop out. It’s a crutch to avoid dealing with certain harsh realities in the world. It also blurs one’s vision so the truly amazing and awe inspiring universe can never be truly appreciated. It can all be explained with “god did it”. In comparison to the beauty of true knowledge and understanding, the veil of religious delusion is uninspiring. How arrogant it is to believe we are the children of the supreme being. In contrast, considering the scale of the universe, it’s humbling to acknowledge just how insignificant and tiny we really are.

Reasonable Atheism

February 9, 2007

Until now, most atheists have been caught in a dilemma. The dilemma revolves around how to assert one’s atheism without falling into the trap of relying on “belief”. For example, atheists are told that their failure to provide evidence that god doesn’t exist means that they are just as irrational as they claim the religious to be. The conversation often runs something like this:

“I believe in in god.”

“You’re not rational, there’s no hard evidence for god’s existence.”

“So you are an atheist?”

“That’s right, I don’t believe in god.”

“Do you have hard evidence that god doesn’t exist?”

“Ummmmmm”

“Ahhhh HA! You’re just the same as me!”

The dilemma comes about, at least in part, because of the misunderstanding of the words describing belief and nonbelief. This article is a suggestion on how to deal with this dilemma, so let’s start by clarifying some terms.

Most people believe the word agnostic means that someone isn’t sure about whether there’s a god or not. This is not strictly true. The word agnostic describes someone who thinks that the question of god’s existence is beyond the realm of things that humanity can know. Admittedly, an agnostic is saying that we don’t know but they are also saying that we can never know whether god exists.

The reason this clarification is important is because it gives the atheist label a little more leeway which we’ll see used below.

Atheism is a fairly controversial word. Some claim the term derives from the greek word “atheos” (roughly meaning godless or without god). Others liken it to amoral and asexual where atheism would mean the absence of theism. Regardless of the origins of the word, there are two main flavors to atheism; Strong and Weak atheism.

Strong atheism involves denying the existence of god. A Strong atheist claims that there is no god. The problem with this position is that it’s too easy to lampoon. There can’t be proof that god doesn’t exist, because a negative can’t be proven. Bertrand Russell‘s Celestial Teapot deals with this far more elegantly than I ever could. The problem with claiming to be a Strong atheist is that the position can be easily equated to belief in god without proof; Strong atheism appears to be just as irrational as religious belief. A Strong atheist appears to be saying that “I believe there is no god but I don’t have evidence for this belief.” Most atheists are proud of their commitment to requiring evidence for things they believe. The Strong atheist position runs counter to that commitment.

That brings us to Weak atheism; a position that many atheists “fall back on” because Strong atheism is dogmatic and ignores evidentiary requirements. Weak atheists claim that while they don’t believe in god, they aren’t required to believe god doesn’t exist. A Weak atheist lacks a belief in god. Weak Atheists aren’t asserting anything about the existence of god, they’re not “taking sides”. They simply don’t have a positive belief in god.

Having discussed the Weak & Strong flavors of atheism, we can now deal with my major complaint about them; They just don’t seem to actually exist. Strong atheists might exist but Weak atheists almost certainly don’t. It’s not a reasonable human position to be asked the question of god’s existence, consider it for enough time to label yourself an atheist and then simply lack belief in the premise you were asked to consider. Weak atheists adopt the label simply because they want to be considered reasonable and not dogmatic. It’s a point of pride to a lot of atheists that evidence matters to them. They believe god does not exist because they’ve considered the evidence for the god hypothesis and found it sadly and obviously lacking. Being a Strong atheist would require them to assert things without evidence of their own and it goes against their commitment to intellectual honesty. Weak & Strong atheism are caricatures of what atheists really believe and they’re the only widely used labels I’ve seen to describe atheism.

Until now. 🙂

My dear atheists, there has to be a third option, “Reasonable” Atheism. Reasonable Atheists believe that there is no god and they’re not irrational about it. They are basing their beliefs on the available evidence (and the lack thereof) and as with all reasonable beliefs, they’ll reevaluate in light of new evidence. In my opinion, Reaonable Atheism is the most common position held by atheists. I think it’s a position you’ll come to recognize frequently now that you have a label for it. I feel it more accurately describes the position of real atheists in the real world.

I deny god’s existence. I do so based on the complete lack of real evidence and the shoddy construction of claimed evidence. If, however, real evidence were to be provided at some time in the future, I’d certainly considered it and reevaluate my position. I am a reasonable atheist.