The Subjective Essence of Atheism

It is common for atheists to proclaim that “there is no evidence for God’s existence” as if this was some objective truth about our reality.  Yet when someone says, “There is no evidence for God,” all they are really saying is “I don’t see any evidence for God.”  This follows from understanding that evidence is interpreted data and as such ultimately relies on subjectivity.   Our senses detect data (objectivity) and our minds convert and translate the data as evidence for or against some belief (subjectivity).  And because of this necessary subjective step, it is often the case that one person’s evidence is another person’s anomaly.

 

This subjective element is also on clear display when the atheist is asked to clarify his requests for evidence by spelling out what type of data would qualify as evidence for God’s existence. I have found that most of the time, atheists will ignore or brush off this request.  But in the cases where they try to clarify their position, they will invariably adopt the god-of-the-gaps approach to reality. For example, scientist Jerry Coyne explained what he needs:

if a nine-hundred-foot-tall Jesus appeared to the residents of New York City, as he supposedly did to the evangelist Oral Roberts in Oklahoma, and this apparition were convincingly documented, most scientists would fall on their knees with hosannas.

Coyne needs a Sign.

Yet there are many more atheists who would not consider such a demonstration of divine power as evidence for God’s existence.  Both PZ Myers (the internet’s most famous atheist) and Richard Dawkins (the real world’s most famous atheist) have said that they would not change their mind even if a 15 foot Jesus appeared before them and boomed, “I exist.”

Over at Richard Dawkin’s page, Steve Zara makes the point very clear:

There can be no evidence for God

[…]

More stridency? Like this – we should challenge the very concept of gods, we should not let believers set the rules of the game with flim-flam about the possible truth of Biblical miracles, or other ways of knowing reality, or necessary beings. We should make it clear that all arguments that lead to gods are wrong because they lead to gods! God is a singular mistake, a philosophical division by zero, a point at which the respectability of arguments break down. God is out of the question, the ultimate wrong answer.

PZ Myers applauds Zara

So yes, I agree. There is no valid god hypothesis, so there can be no god evidence, so let’s stop pretending the believers have a shot at persuading us.

So we have two schools of atheism: 1) The God-of-the-Gap school that demands signs and miracles and 2) The Closed-Minded school that spins elaborate rationalizations for their inability/unwillingness to change their minds. That there is such disagreement among the atheists is very significant.  Why?

We’re supposed to take people like Dawlins, Myers and Coyne seriously because they are scientists. How so? Because they, as scientists, are supposed to be experts at handling evidence. That’s their entire claim to authority. Take away that simple factor and suddenly there is no reason why anyone would have reason to elevate their opinions beyond those of anyone else.

Yet here we have two “experts” on evidence who cannot even agree on the most fundamental question about evidence – what would count as evidence. So what good is their expertise?

Ask yourself why in the world can’t scientists like Dawkins, Myers, and Coyne reach a basic consensus on this fundamental issue of evidence?  I can only think of one viable answer.  These scientists are incapable of reaching consensus about what would count as evidence precisely because the answer to that question is so deeply subjective.  And that takes us back to the third sentence of this post: evidence is interpreted data and as such ultimately relies on subjectivity.  By morphing the actual position (I personally don’t see any evidence for God) into the rhetorical stance (There is no evidence for God), the atheist is masquerading subjectivity as objectivity to serve their culture war objectives.  And the New Atheist leaders nurture and encourage this error through their constant misuse of science as an authority on this issue.

Look, the atheist is entitled to his opinion about God’s nonexistence.

But that’s all it is.

Advertisements
This entry was posted in atheism, evidence and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

44 Responses to The Subjective Essence of Atheism

  1. thesauros says:

    That’s a good post. Thank you.
    I don’t see any evidence > There isn’t any evidence.

    That’s the process alright.

    God Bless
    See you there!

  2. cl says:

    Hi there, Michael. I’m working on a side project that I’m not quite ready to announce, but would like to talk to you about. At your convenience, would you mind dropping me an email at the address I use to comment?

    Thanks.

  3. Alan Fox says:

    Ask yourself why in the world can’t scientists like Dawkins, Myers, and Coyne reach a basic consensus on this fundamental issue of evidence?

    Simple! Because there is only hypothetical evidence to consider. I think Coyne is being too accommodating and Myers has it right. How can anyone judge what might cause them to have an epiphany without any notion of what that evidence might be,

    What evidence there might be for, say, Mike Gene’s particular brand of Christianity is a question you seem reluctant to answer, Mike. But, as I am sure Coyne and Myers would concur, nobody is trying to force you to change your particular beliefs. Just don’t expect to be entitled to enforce them on others, then you, me , Dawkins etc can all coexist peacefully.

  4. Pingback: 20,000 Sects Of Christianity | TheWarfareIsMental

  5. Andy Stout says:

    Look, asking a juror to describe what evidence s/he would require, in order to convict the accused, disregards the fundamental concept of evidence. When a detective looks for evidence, an open mind is required, not a preconceived notion of what the evidence should be. Moreover, whatever evidence is found, is subject to the scrutiny of experts in order to determine its validity. For example, if I were asked what evidence would convince me that your god exists, I might say he must bring Abraham Lincoln back to life. But providing such “evidence” is not beyond the wherewithal of a good magician. How would I actually verify such an apparition? It it smoke and mirrors? An actor? Hypnotism?

    Establishing the authenticity of any evidence that purports to establish the existence of a supernatural being would require the objectivity and expertise of the scientific community. That is how man’s knowledge of reality is determined. Neither one’s belief in the existence of a god, nor one’s educated opinion on the matter is of any consequence in terms of our knowledge of reality.

    Atheism, therefore, is not an opinion, or a belief, or an assertion. On the contrary, atheism is a rejection of an opinion, belief, or assertion that assigns reality to a god. Wishful thinking has no place in the company of truth, facts, and knowledge.

  6. Kevin says:

    What would be the criteria for something being evidence for God?

  7. TFBW says:

    Andy Stout said:

    For example, if I were asked what evidence would convince me that your god exists, I might say he must bring Abraham Lincoln back to life.

    This is an example of what, exactly? You seem to be posturing as though you are offering a refutation to this post, but you’re actually supporting it. Even if you had a scientifically-certified resurrection as hard data, you see, it would still be an entirely subjective position that this counts as evidence for God. That God raise Abraham Lincoln from the dead is the Sign you demand, whereas Coyne is satisfied with an enormous apparition of Jesus, and Dawkins rejects all the above as quite insufficient.

    It’s this essential disagreement on what would count as evidence (among people who posture as relevant experts) which is the problem. For all of their alleged scientific expertise, atheists like Coyne and Dawkins can not agree (even remotely) on what would count as evidence for God. Everything you’ve said misses that point.

  8. Andy Stout says:

    This is such a tedious exercise in equivocation. It wouldn’t even have been attempted if superstitious beliefs were put to bed. Such endeavours to relegate empirical evidence to the domain of subjectivity are just plain stupid. Such desperate arguments only throw the baby out with the bathwater, leaving us with NO evidence in the first place.

    Clearly, there are indisputable facts. These are supported by rock solid evidence. Such evidence leads to scientific laws and ultimately to scientific theories such as the theory of gravity and evolution.

    Feeble word games that attempt to dismiss the validity of evidence—evidence that has so greatly advanced mankind’s knowledge—is an insult to man’s achievement and intelligence. Put plainly, evidence based facts are irrefutable. They can be tested ad nauseam and hold true. In contrast, assertions proposing the existence of unicorns are conspicuously devoid of any compelling reason to be deemed true. There is simply no test or evidence to support such claims. They are little more than guttural grunts.

    If you wish to argue that ALL evidence is the same, I agree. At the very least, all evidence must be testable and re-testable (if in principle only) and it must produce the same observable result(s) time after time. To conflate the rigid demand of objectivity with subjectivity is absurd. The two are polar opposites. Subjectivity is private, inaccessible, unobservable. To say all evidence is the same, that it is SUBJECTIVE is an equivocation of monumental proportions.

    Worse, to argue for the subjectivity of all evidence, is to (unwittingly) argue for an existential point of view worse than solipsism. It is the death cry of mankind’s quest for knowledge. This is not a viable alternative! Denying the distinction between subjectivity and objectivity is, in one fell swoop, to dismiss both the existence and the possibility of empirical, factual knowledge. And that is stupid.

  9. Doug says:

    @Andy,
    For all your bluster, I’m afraid you provide very little evidence that you actually understand what “evidence” is. You do understand (we hope) that in order for something to become “evidence” there needs to be an expectation of a causal link between the “facts” and the “theory” that those “facts” are to be “evidence” for, right? If you agree, we can proceed. If not, perhaps you can explain (with as little insult as you can manage, please) where I’ve gone wrong.

  10. Kevin says:

    Andy, how would we know if a particular fact was evidence for God? What qualifies something to be evidence for God?

  11. Andy Stout says:

    Hi Kevin,
    My answer is simple: I haven’t a clue what would constitute evidence for the existence of a god. Neither am I qualified to posit an answer. This is for scientists to answer. But I’ll wager a guess that in order to determine the existence of X, one must already know what properties or features of X to look for before any serious search can begin. Makes sense to me, anyway.

    That begs the question as to what makes a god a god? I’m the last person to answer that question, since I’m a strong atheist. Regardless, the people to ask are the ones making the assertion that a god exists. And if they can’t answer the question, maybe they can explain what prompted them to make such an curious assertion in the first place.

    I won’t hold me breath.

  12. Kevin says:

    Why would scientists have to be the ones that answer, when by definition God is beyond their domain?

    At any rate, do you agree with the following definition of evidence: a fact that supports a claim

  13. TFBW says:

    It seems like Andy doesn’t have a lot to contribute to this discussion. He says, “I haven’t a clue what would constitute evidence for the existence of a god,” but also, “I’m a strong atheist,” so he’s committed to a position without regard to or interest in the possible evidence relating to that position (i.e. he has a prior, closed-minded commitment to atheism).

    His personal dogma aside, however, he asserts (without justification beyond an implicit appeal to scientism) that scientists are the appropriate authority to judge whether something is evidence for the existence of God, and yet he still manages to ignore the primary point of the article: that prominent atheist scientists are in complete disagreement as to whether anything in particular would count as evidence for God, or whether evidence for God is even a logical possibility. All the ranting about radical subjectivism is just a smokescreen for his failure to address the key issue — or proof that his worldview contains a major blind spot.

    So, Andy, if you’re going to say anything further, can you please address the problem of radical disagreement among New Atheist scientists as to what constitutes evidence for God? If evidence is such an obvious and objective matter as you suggest, particularly for scientists, then what’s with one camp of atheists demanding arbitrary miracles, and the other camp saying that no miracle would be sufficient to count as evidence? Should we surmise that one camp or the other are wildly incompetent at evaluating evidence? If so, do you have any suggestions as to which is which? Or should we simply conclude that your beliefs are at stark odds with reality?

  14. SteveK says:

    Andy,
    “But I’ll wager a guess that in order to determine the existence of X, one must already know what properties or features of X to look for before any serious search can begin. Makes sense to me, anyway.”

    You should be able to do that with X= ‘natural things’ since naturalists tell us about natural things and natural explanations all the time. Knowing what X is, we might be able to determine if non-natural things like God exist.

  15. SteveK says:

    Andy,
    Might I suggest that we define X based on simple observations. We observe things that didn’t exist a second ago, and now exist because something outside/beyond it is responsible for that happening. Happens all the time — chemical reactions, babies, buildings, planets, etc. etc. So…

    X = the kind of thing that exists now because something outside/beyond it got involved.
    Because X’s do not explain their own existence, a not-X is necessary to explain all existing X’s

    If a person is inclined to label X as a ‘natural thing’ then a not-X would be labeled a not-natural thing. God fits into the not-X category.

    If a person is inclined to label everything a ‘natural thing’ then that would make God a natural thing because God, according to Christianity, fits into the not-X category. A natural explanation would include God.

  16. dognillo says:

    SteveK, how do you know that a not-X is necessary to explain all existing X’s?

  17. SteveK says:

    I know, because I observe Xs to be the kind of thing that is explained by something other than itself. That applies to all existing X’s.

  18. dognillo says:

    Do you observe not-natural things causing natural things?

  19. Andy Stout says:

    It is so amusing to read all of the desperate, contrived points of view which are motivated out of sheer superstition. Such silly attempts to discredit the veracity and authority of science would never be conceived if there were no fairy tales being advanced by “believers”. Beliefs, by their own nature and definition are sensations of certainty, lacking evidence to support them. Beliefs aren’t sins, they’re part of being human; we all have them. But to confuse a belief, say in unicorns, with scientific knowledge of gravity, is both comical and dangerously false.

    In most cases, silly beliefs vanish in time as rationality improves with age and experience. However, when a belief provides considerable comfort and security, it can become a seductive, desirable companion. We have all known someone who truly believes they are God’s gift to the opposite sex. This self congratulatory misconception is soon outgrown and for the most part, harmless. But it is quite another matter to truly believe in a fictitious being and to assert that this entity exists. Now the belief is subject to rational scrutiny.

    How such assertions are scrutinized is what is under attack in this curious debate.

    Human beings have developed a highly sophisticated, highly successful method of discerning fact from fiction—a method so reliable it furnishes mankind with factual knowledge of the world we live in—we call it science.

    Science has provided man with technological wonders beyond imagination, advances in medicine that mimic miracles, and answers to unlock the origin of the universe. Unquestionably, science is the greatest success story of the human race.

    But let’s attack it. Let’s relegate it to a level equal to dreams and fiction. Let’s find a way to rip it down and discredit it. So say a special interest group with a self serving agenda: To raise superstition to the level of respectability enjoyed by science. In so doing, fact and fiction will be on the same playing field.

    These maniacal pirates invent this snappy slogan hoping it will fool the masses:
    “Evidence is interpreted data and as such ultimately relies on subjectivity”.
    So much for science. It’s all purely subjective. Facts are just beliefs. Facts are fiction.

    To anyone versed in philosophy, recognizes this is an old, tired argument. Back as far as the 13th century, Thomas Aquinas attempted to prove there was no contradiction between faith and secular reason. The only glitche is that this equivocation leads inevitably to “solipsism” and to Rene Descartes’ failed attempt to escape it, “cogito ergo sum”. No knowledge is possible.

    Clever arguments are precisely that, clever. Sometimes you just have to smell the coffee. Ask yourself; If you were a juror in a murder trial which provided no evidence to support the assertion “this man is a murderer”, what would you do? Convict him?

    Now let’s put the same man on trial again. In this case, the assertion is “this man is a god”. Once again, there is no evidence to support this assertion. What would you do now?

    In both cases you would say these charges were trumped up. Because there is NO EVIDENCE. (Good for you,That is being rational!)

    Ah, but what if the defence lawyer has a trick up his sleeve. Suppose he tries to convince you that objective evidence is overrated? Suppose he pulled this argument out of his hat:
    “Evidence is interpreted data, and as such it ultimately relies on subjectivity”! Would you smell a rat? Well I sure do.

  20. Kevin says:

    Andy,

    Do you agree that a fact that supports a proposition is evidence for that proposition? If not, what would it take for a fact to be evidence for God?

    Simple questions that should be easy for you to answer.

  21. SteveK says:

    dognillo,
    I have not observed this. The reason I think is you can never know if something was a not-X just by observation. How do observe that a thing *isn’t* dependent on something outside/beyond it for its existence?

  22. Andy Stout says:

    Kevin,
    Of course a can be fact evidence to support an assertion or hypothesis. That’s how science works.

  23. Andy Stout says:

    Kevin,
    Disregard my previous muddled reply to you! Here’s what I meant to say…
    Of course a fact can be evidence to support an assertion or hypothesis. That’s how science works.

  24. Andy Stout says:

    Dognillo,
    You asked me “Do you observe not-natural things causing natural things?”
    What does this mean?

  25. TFBW says:

    Andy has once again chosen to continue beating straw men rather than address the question which has been simply and plainly put to him. One can reasonably conclude that this is because he has no answer, and must instead invent opponents which he can defeat more easily. He can not tell us why scientific atheists like Jerry Coyne and P. Z. Myers flatly contradict each other regarding what counts as evidence for God, because there is no answer he can give which won’t completely undermine his worshipful deference to science. Instead, he rails at great length against points that nobody has made in an attempt to look like he’s responding to someone, and hide the fact that he’s desperately avoiding the key question.

    By all means, Andy, keep digging yourself further into that hole. I’m quite happy to draw attention to it for as long as you keep it up.

  26. Andy Stout says:

    TFBW,
    You say that I “can not tell us why scientific atheists like Jerry Coyne and P. Z. Myers flatly contradict each other regarding what counts as evidence for God”. My reply is ASK THEM. Who am I—or you—to speak on their behalf?

    Any other deep questions on your mind?

  27. TFBW says:

    We don’t need to ask them. They’ve made their respective cases and the incompatible reasoning behind them sufficiently clear. But you tell us that we should defer to scientists in questions of God’s existence. How can we do that when they contradict each other like this? Can I just pick a scientist, any scientist? How about Newton, or any of the other great scientists who were theists? And given that scientists are so wildly incompatible among themselves, why should we accept that they have any special insight to the truth on this subject?

  28. Andy Stout says:

    Poor TFBW,
    There is no need for you to fret over two or more scientists who have a disagreement. That’s healthy and to be expected when answers to questions haven’t been found. What you fail to appreciate is that it doesn’t matter a whit what scientists think—only what they can prove. Science is conducted by an entire scientific community, many of whom disagree—until empirical evidence reveals what is fact from fiction. Then, and only then unanimous agreement is reached. Hence the objectivity and reliability of science.

  29. Doug says:

    @Andy,
    You clearly have never actually done any science. Thanks for the laugh.

  30. Andy Stout says:

    Another meaningless grunt. If you can muster a constructive thought, pray, do share it.

  31. Doug says:

    @Andy,
    Keep us laughing: tell us what science you’ve had experience with?

  32. Andy Stout says:

    Let’s all have a real laugh. Tell us about your sex life.

  33. Kevin says:

    Andy,

    I want to make sure we understand each other’s position.

    First, you agreed with my definition of evidence – a fact that supports a proposition. Though you did say “can be” instead of “is”, so that may segue nicely into my point.

    Second, you say that disagreement is not a bad thing when it comes to separating “fact from fiction” during the quest for truth. We also agree here.

    Now then, I happen to think that the facts about reality that scientists have discovered are best explained in a theistic reality, rather than an atheistic one. There are numerous facts that I can use as evidence for God, while you might disagree and say that no, those facts are better understood under an atheistic reality and not a theistic one. We disagree on the implications of those facts – in other words, we disagree what conclusion those facts are truly evidence for. Unless we know whether atheism or theism is true, a given fact can be evidence for either.

    To name just one example, the explosion of Christianity 2000 years ago could be evidence that Jesus was the son of God, unless God does not exist, then it would obviously not be evidence for that. The only way to know for sure would be if we already knew the truth – which none of us KNOWS – but the next best way to determine how to interpret that one fact would be in light of all the other facts we know. I happen to believe the body of evidence supports God more than it supports atheism, and you no doubt disagree.

    Point being, since neither of us knows for a fact whether atheism or theism is true, all we can do is determine what the evidence indicates to the best of our abilities. And if we examine the same body of evidence and come to opposite conclusions regarding a topic in which the answer is not known, then for all practical purposes that evidence is subjective. It is only when the truth is proven that the evidence becomes objective for the correct answer, and stops being evidence for the other. That’s how science works when there are competing hypotheses, and that’s how criminal cases work as well to a lesser extent.

    Since God is not provable or disprovable by science, then the evidence is currently subjective for all practical purposes regarding scientific inquiry

    Do you disagree?.

  34. Andy Stout says:

    I have company arriving soon. I’ll have to be quick. Ah too late….
    Get back asap.

  35. Andy Stout says:

    Kevin
    I wouldn’t say that “a fact that supports a proposition” is the definition of evidence, but it’s in the ball park. But I have no clue as to what you mean by “the facts about reality that scientists have discovered are best explained in a theistic reality, rather than an atheistic one.” FYI, atheism does not espouse any form of reality. It is theism which does and which atheism rejects.

    Next you claim “There are numerous facts that I can use as evidence for God”. Well don’t be shy. I beg you to share even one with us. You will be on the cover of Time magazine if you can.

    Here you indicate a fundamental misunderstanding of atheism: “Unless we know whether atheism or theism is true, a given fact can be evidence for either.” Atheism is not an assertion of anything, therefore it cannot be deemed true or false. Theism, on the other hand, does make an assertion, one which is either true or false. Which, thus far, must be judged not true, since there is no empirical evidence to support this assertion. I must point out that any popularity that Christianity may enjoy, does not constitute evidence that Jesus or any other god actually exists—only that Christians happen to believe in a god whose existence is not demonstrated.

    Here is where you get it nearly right: “Since God is not provable or disprovable by science, then the evidence is currently subjective for all practical purposes regarding scientific inquiry.” The only correction I might make is to strike “Since God is not provable or disprovable” and insert “proven or unproven”. This serves to bypass the messy metaphysical question of whether or not scientific knowledge of god is possible.

    Now, if you would kindly grace the world with one or more of your facts for a god’s existence, I assure you, the scientific community would be most interested.

  36. Doug says:

    Let’s start with a fun one: “other minds exist”.

    Unfortunately for Andy, it is a fact which is famously impossible to prove! And yet our existence is immeasurably poorer if we behave as if it were not a fact. But how does Mr. Scientism deal with a fact for which there is no (known) scientific evidence? Well, he has two options:
    1) he can deny it is a fact and either live in self-imposed intellectual poverty or continual cognitive dissonance.
    – or –
    2) he can acknowledge that there are indeed facts for which there is no (known) scientific evidence.

  37. Michael says:

    Andy portrays my position/arguments as follows:

    1. Supposedly, I want to “relegate empirical evidence to the domain of subjectivity.”

    Andy needs to quote from the blog entry where I actually do this.

    2. Supposedly, I ” dismisses the validity of evidence.”

    Andy needs to quote from the blog entry where I actually do this.

    3. Supposedly, I am trying “to discredit the veracity and authority of science.”

    Andy needs to quote from the blog entry where I actually do this.

    4. Andy portrays my position in regard to science as: “But let’s attack it. Let’s relegate it to a level equal to dreams and fiction. Let’s find a way to rip it down and discredit it.”

    Andy needs to quote from the blog entry where I actually advocate for this.

    5. Andy portrays my position as follows: “So much for science. It’s all purely subjective. Facts are just beliefs. Facts are fiction.”

    Andy needs to quote from the blog entry where I actually claim this.

    The quotes contained in #1-5 are the ways in which Andy’s mind has decided to describe reality. Yet he does not support his portrayal/description with any evidence. Such evidence would come in the form of words that I have actually written. I’m sure this was an oversight on Andy’s part and he will now provide the evidence to support his beliefs.

    However, keep in mind that, according to Andy, evidence is something we all objectively detect (akin to determining that bricks sink when placed in a lake). Thus, his evidence, if it is truly evidence, will convince all of us, including me, that his portrayal is true.

  38. TFBW says:

    Andy, your initial post said, “the objectivity and expertise of the scientific community … is how man’s knowledge of reality is determined.” This seems to be the foundation of much of what you say, but you do not seem to be applying it consistently.

    Most problematically, it is an assertion that you accept without the objective and expert backing of the scientific community. There is no widespread agreement among scientists that science is how man’s knowledge of reality is determined. Many scientists believe that science as a whole has a rather more limited domain of authority than “reality”, and many concede that near-unanimous agreement among scientists is no guarantee of truth.

    You’ve also said that such disagreement isn’t a problem: you said, “that’s healthy and to be expected when answers to questions haven’t been found.” But from that, I conclude that the scientific community has most certainly not yet determined that “the objectivity and expertise of the scientific community … is how man’s knowledge of reality is determined.” In other words, you accept this position despite the fact that it demonstrably lacks the very support it demands.

    The inconsistency is multiplied by the fact that you are using exactly the same criteria to actively reject the proposition that God exists. After all, it is the lack of scientific consensus that God exists which you feel justifies your rejection of that proposition, right?

    On this analysis, your position simply does not stand up to its own criteria: you should be rejecting the idea that man’s knowledge of reality is determined by science for the exact same reason that you reject theism — a self-defeating position. Do you make a special exception for your initial position? If so, why should anyone else grant that special exception, rather than rejecting the whole edifice as inconsistent nonsense?

    One other thing: you said, “I’m a strong atheist,” but also, “atheism is not an assertion of anything.” If atheism is not an assertion of anything, then what distinction are you making with “strong” as a qualifier? I can’t picture what a strong non-assertion might be, relative to a weak one. Also, what is the distinction between atheism and agnosticism, strong or weak? It seems to me that you are actually a weak agnostic, since you deny that knowledge of God’s existence is possible without appropriate support from the scientific community, but you’re not going so far as to say that such support is impossible in principle; only that it doesn’t exist in practice yet. So why identify as “strong atheist” rather than “weak agnostic” — what distinction are you trying to make?

  39. Michael says:

    Andy’s thinking is incoherent on many levels.

    First, his position appears to boil down to this – “I have no clue as to what evidence for God might even look like, I just know there is NO evidence for God.”

    Then, after being gently prodded several time, he finally responds to TFBW’s question, “If evidence is such an obvious and objective matter as you suggest, particularly for scientists, then what’s with one camp of atheists demanding arbitrary miracles, and the other camp saying that no miracle would be sufficient to count as evidence?” with “ASK THEM. Who am I—or you—to speak on their behalf? Any other deep questions on your mind?”

    The reason we can’t “speak on their behalf” is because each one has a personal, subjective opinion as to what would constitute evidence. That’s why we have to ask ASK THEM. Like TFBW noted early on, Andy unwittingly keeps supporting my point.

  40. andy stout says:

    There are just too many of you to deal with all at once. What is especially frustrating is that 99% of all your “arguments” are reduced to a mistaken understanding or ignorance of the meaning of common terms we are using in this debate. I ask respectfully, that you please familiarizing yourselves with the meaning of the following words: “fact”, “belief”, “theory”, “atheism”, “theism”, “scientific community”. This will sound insulting, but the need to educate you on their meaning is not my purpose or intention here.

    I hope you will consider my advice and I wish you well.

    -Andy Stout

  41. Doug says:

    “When I use a word,” [Andy Stout] said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

    The hilarious thing is that Andy doesn’t supply any evidence (let alone specification) for his preferred definitions, while simultaneously supplying plenty of disdain for any or all who would not immediately adopt them!

  42. Kevin says:

    FYI, atheism does not espouse any form of reality. It is theism which does and which atheism rejects.

    Atheism may not “espouse” anything, but it implies certain things, most notably philosophical naturalism as an explanation for existence and the features thereof. Atheistic religions are not of much concern to me.

    Well don’t be shy. I beg you to share even one with us. You will be on the cover of Time magazine if you can…Which, thus far, must be judged not true, since there is no empirical evidence to support this assertion.

    It’s interesting that when it comes to science, disagreements as to what the evidence indicates are normal and healthy, but if God is the subject, then suddenly evidence must be ironclad proof that convinces everyone, rather than facts that support the assertion.

    Atheism is not an assertion of anything, therefore it cannot be deemed true or false.

    Atheism is an assertion that nature is all there is, which is naturalism. If you reject the supernatural, you claim naturalism, just like if you reject all hairstyles, you are bald. Bald is not a hairstyle, but it is a necessary consequence of rejecting all hair.

    And, if you sit in the atheist camp without actually trying to figure out how naturalism explains existence and the features thereof – and, thus, espousing those explanations – then that’s nothing but intellectual cowardice.

    Now, if you would kindly grace the world with one or more of your facts for a god’s existence, I assure you, the scientific community would be most interested.

    Well I could let the innumerable Christians within the scientific community, past and present, answer for themselves, but here’s one.

    The universe had a beginning. That fact supports the assertion that there is a creator god. And, since you say that disagreement on the implications of facts is normal and healthy until a matter is settled, then the existence of alternative explanations on a matter that is not settled doesn’t disqualify that fact as evidence for a god.

    Unless, of course, we go back to the double standard to where any evidence for God must be ironclad proof that cannot possibly support any other explanation.

  43. TFBW says:

    Tendentiousness is one thing, but it’s pretty rich when someone (Andy Stout) doubles down and declares that their opponents are all ignorant of what words mean. My dictionary (the Macquarie, 2nd ed.) pre-dates New Atheism by at least a decade (first published 1991), and its #1 definition for “atheism” is “the doctrine that there is no God”. It also has “disbelief in the existence of a God (or gods)” at #2. I don’t know whether newer editions have purged definition #1, bringing it into line with New Atheist newspeak.

    So, unable to defend his actual position with actual reason, Andy resorts to the outstandingly arrogant, “you are all idiots” gambit. No great loss if that’s the last we hear of him, then.

  44. Dhay says:

    andy stout > Human beings have developed a highly sophisticated, highly successful method of discerning fact from fiction—a method so reliable it furnishes mankind with factual knowledge of the world we live in—we call it science.

    Far from “discerning fact from fiction” being peculiar to science, it is a central concern of every discipline — as WM Briggs has pointed out in his response to similar-looking claims by Neil deGrasse Tyson.

    However, this “method” is also the one that applies in literature, philosophy, mathematics, theology, and so forth. Science has no special case to make in the pursuit of truth. Yet Scientist Tyson intimates that because science does a superior job at discovering scientific truths, scientific truths are superior to other truths. This is obviously false…

    http://wmbriggs.com/post/17842/

    Yes, even theology, whatever Jerry Coyne and Peter Boghossian might say; even theology seeks to discern fact from fiction.

    > Science has provided man with … answers to unlock the origin of the universe.

    Discerning fact from fiction is evidently not your personal strong point. Last I knew, the “answers to unlock the origin of the universe” were either the magical ‘universe from nothing’ non-answer or one of those several multiverse-based non-answers which have in common that ours is ‘descended from a parent universe’, the origin of which parent universe is in turn non-explained.

    > But let’s attack it [science]. Let’s relegate it to a level equal to dreams and fiction. Let’s find a way to rip it down and discredit it.

    Science most certainly has its place and its achievements. My personal beef is with people like yourself, people who seem to claim it as the only valid form of investigation of reality, people who would say of each and every other form of investigation: “let’s attack it. Let’s relegate it to a level equal to dreams and fiction. Let’s find a way to rip it down and discredit it.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s