A Brief Primer on Atheism

In order to help the reader naviagte my views (which, I understand, are in the minority in my community), I have decided to construct a brief primer on the subjects of atheism and agnosticism.

Agnosticism is the belief that knowledge of God is impossible. This seems to me to be a rather logical view. The way I rationalize it is as follows:

  1. God created the natural world.
  2. Therefore, God would have to exist outside the natural world.
  3. We can only have knowledge of the natural world.
  4. Therefore, we cannot have knowledge of God.

Seems rather straightforward.

Atheism is the lack of belief in God or gods. It is sometimes split into “strong” atheism and “weak” atheism. So-called “strong” atheism rejects the possibility of any god at all. “Weak” atheism admits that the existence of a god is not logically impossible, but rejects the existence of all known gods for various reasons. I prefer to call “strong” atheism faith-based atheism, because it requires a leap of faith to reject the logical possibility of an unknown god. I also like to call “weak” atheism logical atheism, because it is based in logic. In case you’re wondering which one I am, I am a logical atheist. I also sometimes call myself an agnostic atheist, since I believe that even if a god did exist we wouldn’t be able to claim knowledge of it for the reasons outlined above. I used to be an ignostic, which is the belief that the existence of a god is irrelevant to our existence and therefore we shouldn’t waste time or effort on issues of theology; I gave up those beliefs simply because it was too hard to remain silent in a world of superstitious mumbo-jumbologists.

There are plenty of good reasons to reject the existence of all known gods, and anyone who has read my brief primer on skepticism should see them. Let’s take the Abrahamic God as an example (I choose him since I live in the U.S., where most of the population believes in him). Which is more likely, that there is a bipolar, vengeful/loving entity obsessed with being worshipped who sits up in the sky keeping a running tally of who’s naughty and who’s nice, who created the universe in six days and who made humans out of clay and a rib, or that the universe evolved based on a set of more or less understandable law-like generalizations and that humanity (and all life on this planet for that matter) evolved over millions of years of trial and error? Which is more likely, that magic exists, or that our understanding of the universe is accurate enough to theorize about its nature? In order for the Bible to be accurate, we would need to rewrite everything we know about science. Remember, extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. Short of an empirically verifiable miracle occuring in such a manner that it could be tested and proved to be a miracle, there is no way to prove the existence of the Abrahamic God.

Another reason to reject the existence of the Abrahamic God is to apply Occam’s razor. God is not needed to explain anything, therefore he is an unnecessary plurality. Don’t posit pluralities unnecessarily. What’s the point of believe in something useless?

Also, there’s the problem of evil and free will issue. If God is omniscient, he will know everything that is ever going to happen. He knew exactly how everything was going to turn out when he created the universe. That makes him the cause of all evil, because he went ahead and created the universe knowing full well what would happen. If he were omnipotent, he could have easily created a universe without evil. Therefore, God cannot be all-good. Since most people think that being all-good is essential to God, this means that he probably doesn’t exist.

In a nutshell, I see no difference between believing in any known god and believing that one can trap part of one’s soul in an object which will then become indestructible and enable one to live indefinitely. (Sorry, I just got the last Harry Potter movie on Blu-ray.) Both require magic, and there is no empirical evidence that magic exists. If science hasn’t discovered magic by now, I doubt that it ever will.

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4 thoughts on “A Brief Primer on Atheism

  1. Pingback: Some changes to the site « Spook-o-Rama

  2. Pingback: Descartes and God: Some meditations on the Meditations | Spook-o-Rama

  3. Pingback: A chat with some Mormon missionaries | Spook-o-Rama

  4. Pingback: More on Descartes and God | Spook-o-Rama

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