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Posts tagged ‘religion’

Poll of Twitter Atheists on Definition of Atheism

I am running a poll to establish the most common definition of atheism from twitter atheists. I consider that twitter represents the common layperson view in contrast to the more philosophical specialist view and want to have some sort of idea of how that relates to atheism. Initially my goal is to do this from a sample of 100 responses to asking atheists to define what atheism mean to them but I might well extend it beyond that number. Here are the results so far that I will continue to update. I have not identified the people who have responded but given only their response. Please feel free to contribute to this poll if you have not already.

Here are the results which I have categorised into:

 Definite Weak Atheism (lack of belief in gods)

Suggestive of Weak Atheism (lack of belief in gods)

Definite Strong Atheism (denial or assertion no gods exist)

Suggestive of Strong Atheism (denial of or assertion no gods exist)

*Disbelief in gods

Other

*I have put this in a section of itself for two reasons. Firstly, some atheists are reflecting there is both an active and passive ‘disbelief’, one which would be supportive of weak atheism (passive disbelief) and the other of strong atheism (active disbelief). Given this it is unclear in what sense the word is being used. Secondly, I believe that atheists using this are equating it with weak atheism not realising it could well speak of strong atheism.

Definite Weak Atheism (lack of belief in gods:

  1. “Atheism: lack of a belief in the existence of a God or gods”

  2. “Atheism means a lack of belief in god”

  3. “atheism is, all by itself, nothing more than the lack of belief in god(s)”.

  4. “lack of belief in gods”.

  5. “The lack of belief in God or gods”.

  6. “Lack of belief in God or gods.. nothing more, nothing less!”.

  7. “Odd, it was a single definition for me: a lack of belief in gods”.

  8. “..atheism isn’t a knowledge claim. Atheism is simply the absence of belief in god(s)”

  9. “Lack of belief gods. I consider that the definition because it applies to all variations of #atheists”.

  10. “A lack of belief in gods or other superstitions.”.

  11. “an absence of belief in the idea that there are gods, or any other form of being, responsible for our creation + existence”.

  12. “The lack of belief in a god, of course”

  13. ” A lack of belief in god”.

  14. “The lack of belief in the existence of a god or gods”.

  15. “A- means without and theism means belief in god/s > “without a belief in gods”

  16. ” Absence of belief in god”.

  17. “Simply a disbelief or an absence of belief in the existence of a god or gods”

  18. “Absence of belief in gods”.

  19. “Lacks belief in God(s)

  20. “lacks belief in any gods”.

Suggestive of Weak Atheism (lack of belief in gods)

  1. “Yes, atheism is the default position when you are born… Just like the lack of belief that America exists”.

  2. “I guess it’s the disbelief in gods due to the fact that the proof for gods hasn’t actually been demonstrated. I’m not denying gods existence. I just don’t think there’s adequate grounds for belief in them. I think that’s within the bounds of the dictionary term for atheism, maybe creeping into agnosticism definition”

  3. “Atheism=The opposite of theism or not a theist.”.

  4. “non-belief in an unprovable invisible non-entity. Also belief in the reality of our brief existence on Earth”.

  5. “Atheist – one who does not believe in a god.”

  6. “A word for ‘not believing in gods’ that theists try to limit to suit their agenda”

  7. “For me it’s not believing in any deity, whether that be the christian god, Allah, buddah, I simply don’t believe any exist”.

  8. “Not believing in God or Gods”.

Definite Strong Atheism (denial or assertion no gods exist)

  1. “no god no devil no church…..religion is an alternative lifestyle not the “truth”

  2. “the absolute denial of the existence of God or any other gods”.

  3. “as an atheist,I simply define it as believing there is no god,no higher power. Anything beyond that is unique to each atheist”.

Suggestive of Strong Atheism (denial or assertion no gods exist)

  1. “a state of mind that is not defined by a divine that does not exist”.

  2. “n rejection of belief in God or gods”.

  3. “fairly consistent theme here isn’t there? We have examined theistic claims and rejected them due to lack of evidence”.

  4. “rejection of a person/creator”.

  5. “rejection of theistic faith is #atheism”.

  6. ” the rejection of the claim of god or gods existence (usually through lack of evidence & evidence to the contrary)”

Disbelief in God or Gods

  1. “Disbelief in the existence of God or Gods. But I wouldn’t go as far as that. I want to know what “God” is first.”

  2. “Simply a disbelief or an absence of belief in the existence of a god or gods”

  3. atheism = nontheism … the idea that “god exists” is unevidenced and therefore unwarranted (disbelief)”.

  4. I define atheism as disbelief in gods”.

Other

  1. “Assigning the same reality test to the idea of religion & the supernatural that I do to everything else in life”.

  2. A lack of acceptance of theistic claims as truth”.

  3. the complete absence of falsifiable evidence that supports any claim for the existence of God (or gods)”.

  4. “No proof or reason to believe a god or gods exist”.

Conclusion: 

On the evidence gleaned from this very limited poll I think it’s reasonable to conclude that a lack of belief in gods (or some variation of the same idea) is the most common definition of atheism for layperson atheists.

Is Atheism a Tenable Position to Hold?

In answering the question asked in the subject of this thread it’s important firstly to define, ‘Atheism’. It’s most common definition seems to be similar to the following:

Atheism – a lack of belief in god(s)

Whilst I’m aware of other (and in my view better definitions of atheism) I want to restrict this thread to atheism as so defined and to give my answer to the question as being in the negative, i.e. it is not a tenable position to hold.

The reasoning behind my answer is as follows:

Whilst ‘a lack of belief in god(s)’ is the commonly given definition of atheism, it’s just as common, if not always the case, that upon being asked the basis of this lack of belief atheists will reply that it is based on the absence of evidence to warrant belief. It is on that basis that I consider atheism to fail for there is no such absence of evidence but many lines of evidence that a god or gods exist. But what are those lines of evidence? I present them as being every rational argument presented that tends to prove a god or gods exist. Such arguments are commonly known, but usually just as commonly dismissed by the very same atheists proclaiming an absence of evidence and are:

1. Cosmological Arguments
2. Teleological Arguments
3. Ontological Arguments
4. Arguments from Objective Morality
5. Arguments from the Bible
6. Arguments from Miracles
7. Arguments from Personal Experience

Now it can be immediately granted that of these arguments some are far from convincing on their own (3, 6 and 7), but as part of a cumulative argument with those following from previously established conclusions they also can be valid (e.g. the argument from the Bible is stronger when based upon the establishment that a god (generic) exists than it would do without such a basis).

Where that leaves us with various presented rational arguments for the existence of god(s), any one of which is true or probably true or, taken together as one cumulative argument were true, would falsify the claim from the atheist of an absence of evidence for god that justifies their lack of belief.

On this it seems to me that the only way an atheist could justifiably hold to this atheism would be to counter each and every argument (line of evidence) that is proposed in those arguments, either individualistically or as a cumulative argument. If that were done then of course the atheist view is justified because lines of evidences presented to them have been countered and shown as false trails to evidence but, in my experience, few atheists have taken on this task, or are prepared to take on this task when the evidence is presented.

On that basis I propose that this atheism is not a tenable position to hold for any atheist presented with those arguments who refuses to consider them or fails to rebut/refute them. 

Comments welcomed

Statements from Atheists on Morality

This section of my blog will record statements made by atheists on what they view morality to be and what they regard as moral actions or not. Atheists talk a lot about the immorality of Christianity, the harm it does, the Bible and it’s immorality but when you dig deeper into the moral basis of many atheists you find them approving the self-same things they condemn and indeed,  more things than what you’ll find taught in Christianity as ‘moral’. Given that few of them adhere to any objective source of morality what it normally reduces itself to is moral relativism or subjectivism or situational ethics but their words can speak louder than my commentary here.

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Atheist Scientists and the Statements they Make!

This section of my blog will contain statements made by atheist scientists and especially those who are most outspoken on their atheism. Many atheists who consider these individuals some sort of modern day heroes for atheism are unaware of most of what they have actually say and some of the positions they take based on their understanding of or application of science to some of the biggest questions in life which arguably lie outside of the scope of science. It will further record false statements made by these atheist scientists and possibly will go on to provide a transcript with detailed commentary of the debates they have engaged upon and lost badly.

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Richard Dawkins on Infanticide (Excerpted from Peter Singer – The Genius of Darwin: The Uncut Interviews – Richard Dawkins 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ti-WcnqUwLM&feature=youtu.be

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYYNY2oKVWU

This is the transcript of the relevant section from the above link which begins at around 23:12  into the video:

Dawkins: “I can think of no moral objection to eating human road kills except for the ones that you mentioned like ‘what would the relatives think about it?’ and ‘would the person themselves have wanted it to happen?’, but I do worry a bit about slippery slopes; possibly a little bit more than you do.

There are barriers that we have set up in our minds and certainly the barrier between Homo sapiens and any other species is an artificial barrier in the sense that its a kind of ‘accident’ that the evolutionary intermediates happen to be extinct. Never the less it exists and natural barriers that are there can be useful for preventing slippery slopes and therefore I think I can see an objection to breaching such a barrier because you are then in a weaker position to stop people going further.

Another example might be suppose you take the argument in favour of abortion up until the baby was one year old,  say two years old. If a baby was one year old and turned out to have some horrible incurable disease that meant it was going to die in agony in later life, what about infanticide? Strictly morally I can see no objection to that at all, I would be in favour of infanticide but I think i would worry about,  I think I would wish at least to give consideration to the person who says ‘where does it end?’ ” 

Singer: Yes, I can see there is a problem with say, young children, partly because we’re bonded to them very closely in a way we’re not really bonded with the fetus or the new-born infant but I think when people make slippery slope arguments in this area you have to appreciate that it does go the other way, that precisely because we do draw this boundary between us and animals we turn a blind eye to all of that animal suffering as you are more or less acknowledging I think. That of course has disastrous consequences for animals…. 

Dawkins:  I agree. 

Singer: … so that’s why I want to reduce  the sharpness of that difference and one of my objections to a religious viewpoint is it does reinforce that boundary, I mean it says only we were made in the image of God and so on. Obviously neither of us share that view but I think that on the one hand perhaps it has given some protection to humans but on the other hand it’s put the whole of these other sentient beings into this state where we can just use them and abuse them for our ends. 

Dawkins: Yes, yes.

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A Record of Religious Persecution and Oppression

This section of my blog will record religious persecution and oppression from both the offending side, i.e. religions persecuting other persons or groups and persons or groups persecuting religions.  It will mainly consists of links to stories and event relevant to that subject but might also contain more detailed articles with commentary.

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1000 Pakistan women and girls honour killing victims (The Telegraph 07/08/12) 

“Almost 1,000 Pakistani women and girls were murdered last year in honour killings, according to a new report by the country’s leading human rights group”

Full article at:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/pakistan/9160515/1000-Pakistani-women-and-girls-honour-killing-victims.html

 

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Irrational Quotes from Famous People on Atheism, Theism and Religion

The purpose of this section of my blog is to expose many of the irrational quotes from famous people on the  subjects of atheist, theism and religion (primarily Christianity). Too many times your layperson  atheist cites these quotes as if they have some deep, devastating-to-theism-relevance when in fact they are irrational or shallow. The quotes are generally cited below as posted on twitter without confirmation or analysis of context. The onus is upon the presenter of them to provide any context to what they cite and not upon the hearer to go do their research for them.

“Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived.” ― Isaac Asimov

This is shallow thinking indeed. The obvious question is to ask of it is what constitutes ‘properly read’ and why ought we to think that Asimov’s reading of the Bible was an example of a proper reading of the Bible? What if his reading wasn’t proper and a proper reading was the opposite of his conclusion. That would then make it the case that, ‘Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for theism ever conceived’? Perhaps Asimov provided in more detail what this proper reading consisted of but if so, the atheists who cite it have never provided that context for examination. As it stands as a quote, it is but a demonstration of shallow thinking of a nice soundbite from Asimov and those who repeat his folly.

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“”If Christ were here now there is one thing he would not be – a Christian.” – Mark Twain

Why would Christ, if he were here be a follower of himself? How many religious gurus leaders are followers of themselves? Isn’t the whole idea that they are the person to be followed? Of course if Christ were here now he wouldn’t be a Christian because a Christian is a follower of Christ, he is the object of their following and devotion.

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Interesting and Revealing Media Links on Atheism

This section of my blog with list interesting and revealing media links on atheism. Each article is prefaced with a summary of its contents

Praying for Rain: Atheist critics show how petty and small-minded they have become (Washington Post Article July 26th 2012 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/on-faith/praying-for-rain-atheist-critics-show-how-petty-and-small-minded-theyve-become/2012/07/26/gJQAB9BeBX_story.html

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Jeremy Paxman religious comments were offensive, rules BBC trust (The Guardian July 31st 2012)

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2012/jul/31/jeremy-paxman-religious-comments-offensive-bbc-trust 

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“Parents who believe in miracles ‘torturing’ dying children, doctors warn”. (The Telegraph 13th August 2012)

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/9473093/Parents-who-believe-in-miracles-torturing-dying-children-doctors-warn.html

Comment: This is an extremely worrying situation showing where the medical profession are in effect trying to overturn the decision of parents as to the timing and circumstances of the death of their child. 

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“A controversial scientist hits back after attempts to ban him from book festival”. (Deadline News 14th August 2912) 

http://www.deadlinenews.co.uk/2012/08/14/a-controversial-scientist-hits-back-after-been-banned-from-book-festival/

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“Petition fails in support of Indonesian atheist” (Washington Post 16th August 2012) 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/on-faith/petition-fails-in-support-of-indonesian-atheist/2012/08/16/a1308046-e7e2-11e1-9739-eef99c5fb285_story.html

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“The Saturday Interview: Harvard Biologist Edward Wilson”. (The Guardian 18th August 2012) 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/aug/18/edward-wilson-harvard-biologist-interview?newsfeed=true

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