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The Problem With Atheism

Straight off the bat I feel the need to qualify the title for this entry. I think there are, perhaps, some atheists who don't fall into the category that I'm about to describe. Some just don't believe in religion, perhaps they don't have the answers, and I think that's fine. A lot of us are just trying to figure things out.

The problem I have is with the brand of atheism that actively says religion is wrong. That's a whole different ballgame. The usual response to religious positions is that "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence", and that's true. There's no denying that someone who says "There is a God" has the burden of proof. But being skeptical of an extraordinary claim due to lack of evidence does not give one grounds to actively call the claim wrong. It's at that point that one becomes, well, a bit hypocritical.

The counter claims to religion, such as "There is no God" or "The natural world is all we get", are themselves extraordinary claims with a heavy burden of proof, yet some atheists seem oblivious to this. How is it fair to require evidence for claims when it suits one situation (as in responding to religious claims), but make extraordinary claims at other times?

I just don't like being called wrong or mocked by people who themselves don't really have the answers. We're all in the same boat, trying to figure life out, and these deepest questions about life remain elusive to the level of proof desired by the rational mind. That's why we have faith. I'm fine with an atheist having faith that religion is wrong, or that the natural world is all there is, or that seeing is believing, etc. I just don't feel they should require evidence of religion or mock faith at that point.
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11 Comments On This Entry

I understand where you are coming from Bob, however once having been in the atheist camp myself, I can also sympathize with their view of religion (which is often over simplified, or completely ignorant). I feel the best way to counter such arguments is to direct them back upon their own arguments. The central issue to all atheism is the absolute fact that naturalistically speaking, there is no correct state of matter. In all honestly, if we are to assume the naturalistic point of view, then we have to take it all and not just the parts we fancy. Considering there is no preferred state of matter, despite its various forms, then there can be no better way of thinking – there is no freedom or higher achievement for not believing in a God. Arguing over what one pile of carbon believes over another then become pointless and while it is tempting to say they are both right that would be incorrect; the simply both are. Ironically, the atheist by choosing atheism has lost all ability to critique any belief system! To say that mankind needs to shed his mythical beliefs becomes a fallacy – it literally does not matter (and yes, there’s a pun in there somewhere).

Furthermore, as I have mentioned before, Haldane (himself an atheist) once quipped; “If I know that the thoughts in my head are wholly composed by the interaction of atoms in my head, then I have no reason to believe any of my thoughts are true – and hence no reason to believe in such things as atoms.” This is the root laid bare of all atheistic belief and it can by no means be overcome in naturalistic philosophy. You cannot win an argument with an atheist by using Christian thought, but you can end their argument by laying bare the truth of their own belief system and thus their own hypocrisy over arguing why it matters.
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Faith is very important to many folks and there is nothing necessarily wrong with that.



Faith is also inherently irrational; “belief in that which cannot be proven” is the antithesis of logic… and there’s nothing necessarily wrong with that either.



I prefer to avoid the whole topic; especially since it cannot be rationally discussed… but hey, maybe that’s just me.

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MADGestic, on 25 November 2011 - 07:35 PM, said:

Faith is very important to many folks and there is nothing necessarily wrong with that. Faith is also inherently irrational; “belief in that which cannot be proven” is the antithesis of logic… and there’s nothing necessarily wrong with that either. I prefer to avoid the whole topic; especially since it cannot be rationally discussed… but hey, maybe that’s just me.



The faith you describe is a useless faith; “the belief in things unseen” is often meant as “the belief in things unfounded” by those who use that definition. While I freely admit that many religions contain a great deal of the unfounded, Christianity is not one of them. Faith, real faith is nothing more or less than trust. I may believe a chair will hold my weight, but I don’t have faith in it until I park my aft-end on it. That’s the difference between faith and belief.

As you are probably aware there is really almost nothing in the world which can be absolutely proven, which is why most people operate on the “beyond a reasonable doubt” principle. We send people to jail and some to their graves using “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard of judgment all the time, yet when it comes to God most people want to use the standard of “absolute proof.” It’s no wonder then that most people just end up trying to party the time away before the grave, which we all have a date with.
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wisefool, on 24 November 2011 - 04:28 PM, said:

I understand where you are coming from Bob, however once having been in the atheist camp myself, I can also sympathize with their view of religion (which is often over simplified, or completely ignorant). I feel the best way to counter such arguments is to direct them back upon their own arguments. The central issue to all atheism is the absolute fact that naturalistically speaking, there is no correct state of matter. In all honestly, if we are to assume the naturalistic point of view, then we have to take it all and not just the parts we fancy. Considering there is no preferred state of matter, despite its various forms, then there can be no better way of thinking – there is no freedom or higher achievement for not believing in a God. Arguing over what one pile of carbon believes over another then become pointless and while it is tempting to say they are both right that would be incorrect; the simply both are. Ironically, the atheist by choosing atheism has lost all ability to critique any belief system! To say that mankind needs to shed his mythical beliefs becomes a fallacy – it literally does not matter (and yes, there’s a pun in there somewhere). Furthermore, as I have mentioned before, Haldane (himself an atheist) once quipped; “If I know that the thoughts in my head are wholly composed by the interaction of atoms in my head, then I have no reason to believe any of my thoughts are true – and hence no reason to believe in such things as atoms.” This is the root laid bare of all atheistic belief and it can by no means be overcome in naturalistic philosophy. You cannot win an argument with an atheist by using Christian thought, but you can end their argument by laying bare the truth of their own belief system and thus their own hypocrisy over arguing why it matters.


I think all such arguments can only be played to a stalemate. Christians can't convince an atheist they're wrong using the atheist's own standards, and atheists have nothing to argue beyond "prove your claims right!"
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quote]I think all such arguments can only be played to a stalemate. Christians can't convince an atheist they're wrong using the atheist's own standards, and atheists have nothing to argue beyond "prove your claims right!"
[/quote]

What you have said is true and I believe the frustration that comes from arguing arises when the atheist refuses to acknowledge that they themselves are sitting atop a pile of claims that need to be “proved right!” They often believe that the empirical data favors their worldview and it simply doesn’t. Alas, in the end, it all truly does boil down to “wisdom is justified by her children.”
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MADGestic, on 25 November 2011 - 07:35 PM, said:

Faith is very important to many folks and there is nothing necessarily wrong with that. Faith is also inherently irrational; “belief in that which cannot be proven” is the antithesis of logic… and there’s nothing necessarily wrong with that either. I prefer to avoid the whole topic; especially since it cannot be rationally discussed… but hey, maybe that’s just me.



And this is how you avoid the whole topic: by commenting about it?

:lol:
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With each day that passes, I grow more and more confident that the whole question of the existence of God will soon be settled, and in such a way that no one alive at the time will be able to deny the answer.
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It might be helpful if you were more precise about exactly which types of atheism you are talking about. See, e.g., here (discussing the difference between positive and negative atheism).

Also, you should distinguish between atheism per se (no belief in a god) versus disbelief of organized religion. I, for example, consider myself an agnostic atheist (aka, a negative atheist) with respect to belief in a god.

However, I am a positive atheist with respect to the Judaic organized religions (which strike me as self-contradictory and wholly implausible).


Also, I know it is hard, but try not to take offense when atheists poke fun at your religious beliefs. I mean, how would you react to someone who insisted (with no evidence whatsoever) that there was a little green man in a teapot on the dark side of the moon?
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Copernicus, on 15 December 2011 - 03:00 AM, said:

It might be helpful if you were more precise about exactly which types of atheism you are talking about. See, e.g., here (discussing the difference between positive and negative atheism).Also, you should distinguish between atheism per se (no belief in a god) versus disbelief of organized religion. I, for example, consider myself an agnostic atheist (aka, a negative atheist) with respect to belief in a god. However, I am a positive atheist with respect to the Judaic organized religions (which strike me as self-contradictory and wholly implausible).Also, I know it is hard, but try not to take offense when atheists poke fun at your religious beliefs. I mean, how would you react to someone who insisted (with no evidence whatsoever) that there was a little green man in a teapot on the dark side of the moon?



Hey Derpernicus – why bother? I mean what’s the point of one pile of matter poking fun at another pile of matter for its beliefs, when neither can be proven (and in the atheists case, literally does not matter)????
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Copernicus, on 15 December 2011 - 03:00 AM, said:

It might be helpful if you were more precise about exactly which types of atheism you are talking about. See, e.g., here (discussing the difference between positive and negative atheism).Also, you should distinguish between atheism per se (no belief in a god) versus disbelief of organized religion. I, for example, consider myself an agnostic atheist (aka, a negative atheist) with respect to belief in a god. However, I am a positive atheist with respect to the Judaic organized religions (which strike me as self-contradictory and wholly implausible).


Ok, I was talking positive atheists then. Any claim, whether it's to say "this is true" or "this is not true" require evidence to back up the claim. So, if you were to tell me Christianity is wrong out of nowhere then I'd expect some strong evidence to support the idea. On the other hand, if I started telling you Christianity is the truth then it'd be fair to expect me to back it up.

Of course, Christianity requires faith first, reason second, so we'd probably never convince each other of anything :)

Quote

Also, I know it is hard, but try not to take offense when atheists poke fun at your religious beliefs. I mean, how would you react to someone who insisted (with no evidence whatsoever) that there was a little green man in a teapot on the dark side of the moon?


Why on earth would I care if someone believed in a little green man in a teapot on the dark side of the moon? How do you not see the difference between not believing someone and actively telling someone else they're wrong? If an atheist tells me I'm wrong, that's far different than someone saying they believe something I don't.
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I don't see how the claim "This life and this nature is all we get" is extraordinary.

To the contrary, it is the only reasonable assumption. We can see this world and this nature. We can touch it. We can smell it. We can hear it. We can feel it. It is undeniably real.

We can also see life, and we can see death. We mourn our friends and family when they die, because then they are no longer part of ours lives. The lives we live and know we live.

To introduce God or any other super natural being is a big jump, without any foundation whatsoever. Even less now with all the science and knowledge available to us.

So the assumption of no God is the default position, it requires no proof. All the burden of proof is on the people who stray from this default position.
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