Dave Rubin is an atheist who does one of those internet talk shows. In a recent show about atheism, he spends the first five minutes telling his atheist viewers what atheism is using the same set of atheist talking points you have heard of before, including the one where “Atheism is just a lack of belief.” For some reason, atheists seem to need continued reminders of what it means to the be an atheist.
Anyway, after the sermon, Rubin turns to his two atheist guests. One is David Silverman, the New Atheist who is president of the American Atheists. Silverman immediately goes off script at 5:50 (video below the fold):
Everybody is godless, there are no gods, so everybody is godless, I’m just aware of it, there are NO gods, everybody is godless, every single person.
There are no gods, eh? But Rubin just got done preaching that atheism is simply a lack of belief in any gods. To insist (twice) there are no gods goes beyond the “lack of belief” claim and makes a knowledge claim – claiming to know there is no God and thus claiming that atheism is objectively true.
Of course, atheist activists and evangelists can’t defend such a knowledge claim, which is why they retreat into the “i just lack a god belief” stance.
Paul Provenza, the other atheist guest, immediately tries to get back on message and gives us the standard talking point at 7:10:
Reason tells me there is no God…if there was evidence or a reason to believe, then certainly I would consider it.
Realizing he has just contradicted Silverman, Provenza engages in some damage control at 7:50:
When atheists say there is no God, it’s shorthand for saying I don’t believe there is a God.
Yeah, right. When a New Atheist says “There is no God,” that’s called a Freudian slip where they blurted out their true beliefs, probably because they felt too comfortable at the moment. But that belief is counterproductive to atheist activism, because a) it is easily neutralized with one question – How do you know? and b) it makes the atheist come across as a closed-minded know-it-all. The movement is built around the “no reason to believe” posture because a) it creates the impression the atheist is just a open-minded skeptic and b) allows the activist to frame the debate such that the activist is the judge and jury.
Look, I am sure there are many atheists who are quite sincere about their atheism amounting to a lack of belief in God because of a lack of perceived evidence. But when it comes to the New Atheists and atheist activists, I don’t think it wise to take such posturing at face value. The chances are very high they are doing exactly as David Silverman – pretending they merely lack god belief when in reality, they believe, “Everybody is godless, there are no gods, so everybody is godless, I’m just aware of it, there are NO gods, everybody is godless, every single person.”