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Atheism – creation.com

by Ken Ammi

For many other articles on this topic, see Atheism, agnosticism and humanism: godless religionsQuestions and Answers

References

Some atheists apparently dont like this video, A Fool’s Heart, but you can view it here. It recaps some of the effects of anti-Christian atheistic/evolutionary thinking in recent times, beginning with Robespierre, a leader of the French Revolution.

There is confusion and debate about the term atheism and its definition.

The term atheism finds its etymology in the Greek combination of a and theos. What atheos means is, as with any term, subject to context (and perhaps personal interpretation). Note that if an atheist states, I do not believe in God, this is technically not a statement about Gods existence or lack thereof. Does atheos mean no God, without God, lack God belief or God does not exist?

Early Christians were referred to as atheists because they did not believe in the Greek or Roman gods. Yet, while they positively affirmed the non-existence of those gods they likely believed that those gods were deceptive demons whom they did believe existed (1 Corinthians 8:46).

Let us consider other Greek-derived a words:

Generally, as popularized by the New Atheist movement, atheists prefer the definition of atheism as lacking belief in god(s). Thus, by applying the term atheist to themselves, such atheists are not technically making a statement about Gods existence or lack thereof.

This definition has been popularized, at least, since Charles Bradlaugh (circa 1876). It appears to be preferred so as to escape the philosophic difficulty of proving a negativeGod does not existand in order to shift the burden of proof to the theist, since the theist is making the positive affirmation that God exists.

On a polemical note there are two things to consider:

In reference to the above mentioned term agnostic, note that Thomas Henry Huxley coined this term in 1869.1 He explained that he noted two extremes: one was the atheist who positively affirmed Gods non-existence (claiming to know that God did not exist) and the other was the theists who positively affirmed Gods existence (claiming to know that God exists). Huxley said that he did not possess enough evidence to affirm positively either position. Thus, he coined a term which he saw as a middle position, which was that of lacking knowledge to decide either way (whether such knowledge actually exists outside of his personal knowledge or may someday be discovered is another issue).

As we will see next, there are various sects of atheism. There is a vast difference between the friendly atheist next door and the activists. Generally, even the activist types who are typified by the New Atheist movement will define atheism as a mere lack of belief in God. However, it is important to note that their activism demonstrates that their atheism is anything but mere lack: it is an anti-religion, anti-faith and anti-God movement.

1.1 Variations of Atheism

Atheists may be categorized under various technical terms as well as sociopolitical and cultural ones, which may overlap depending on the individual atheists preferences:

Some atheists claim that atheism is a religion3 and others have attempted to establish secular/civic/atheistic religions which we will elucidate below.

Michael Shermer, editor of The Skeptic magazine, draws a distinction between the atheist who claims, there is no God and the non-theist who claims to have no belief in God.4

As to the sociopolitical and/or cultural terms, these abound and some are: Brights, Freethinkers, Humanists, Naturalists, Rationalists, Skeptics, Secular Humanists and Materialists.

Some atheists squabble about terminology. For example, American Atheists webmaster wrote, Atheists are NOT secular humanists, freethinkers, rationalists or ethical culturalists Often, people who are Atheists find it useful to masquerade behind such labels5 while the Freedom from Religion Foundation, claims that, Freethinkers include atheists, agnostics and rationalists.6

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By nature worship and neo-paganism I refer to the atheists tendency to replace a sense of awe of God and seeking transcendence by relating to God with seeking awe and transcendence in nature. This natural high, as it were, is not merely enjoyed but it is enjoined and said to be holier than theism.

Referring to our ability to step off the Earth and look back at ourselves, as was done in Voyager 2, Carl Sagan stated,

The very first episode of his televised series entitled Cosmos, began with Carl Sagan stating,

Presupposing a God-free reality, why atheists seek transcendent experiences remains unanswered.

Michael Shermer stated that his study of evolution was, far more enlightening and transcendent, spiritual, than anything I had experienced in seven years of being a born again Christian.8

Michael Shermer made reference to the spiritual side of science, which he referred to as sciensuality:

Michael Ruse; philosophy professor (University of Guelph), ardent evolutionist and professedly an ex-Christian who has argued for the ACLU against the balanced treatment (of creation and evolution in schools) bill in the USA, wrote:

Evolution is promoted by its practitioners as more than mere science. Evolution is promulgated as an ideology, a secular religiona full-fledged alternative to Christianity, with meaning and morality This was true of evolution in the beginning, and it is true of evolution still today

“As a social reformer therefore, Huxley, known in the papers as Pope Huxley, was determined to find a substitute for Christianity. Evolution, with its stress on unbroken lawwhich could be used to reflect messages of social progresswas the perfect candidate. Life is on an upwardly moving escalator

Indeed, recognizing that a good religion needs a moral message as well as a history and promise of future reward, Huxley increasingly turned from Darwin (who was not very good at providing these things) toward another English evolutionist. Herbert Spencerprolific writer and immensely popular philosopher to the massesshared Huxleys vision of evolution as a kind of metaphysics rather than a straight science

Evolution now has its mystical visionary, its Saint John of the Cross. Harvard entomologist and sociobiologist Edward O. Wilson tells us that we now have an alternative mythology to defeat traditional religion If people want to make a religion of evolution, that is their business The important point is that we should recognize when people are going beyond the strict science, moving into moral and social claims, thinking of their theory as an all-embracing world picture.10

Addressing fellow atheist Jonathan Miller, Richard Dawkins stated:

you and I probably do have feelings that may very well be akin to a kind of mystical wonder when we contemplate the stars, when we contemplate the galaxies, when we contemplate life, the sheer expanse of geological time. I experience, and I expect you experience, internal feelings which sound pretty much like um, what mystics feel, and they call it God. Ifand Ive been called a very religious person for that reasonif I am called a religious person, then my retort to that is, Well, youre playing with words, because what the vast majority of people mean by religious is something utterly different from this sort of transcendent, mystical experience [ ]

The transcendent sense the transcendent, mystic sense, that people who are both religious and non-religious in my usage of the term, is something very very different. In that sense, I probably am a religious person. You probably are a religious person. But that doesnt mean we think that there is a supernatural being that interferes with the world, that does anything, that manipulates anything, or by the way, that its worth praying to or asking forgiveness of sins from, etc. [ ]

I prefer to use words like religion, like God, in the way that the vast majority of people in the world would understand them, and to reserve a different kind of language for the feeling that we share with possibly your clergyman [ ] the sense of wonder that one gets as a scientist contemplating the cosmos, or contemplating mitochondria is actually much grander than anything that you will get by contemplating the traditional objects of religious mysticism.11 [the un-bracketed ellipses appear in the original transcript denoting Richard Dawkins halting way of speaking, the bracketed ones were added]

Richard Dawkins, in Is Science a Religion? said,

science does have some of religions virtues All the great religions have a place for awe, for ecstatic transport at the wonder and beauty of creation. And its exactly this feeling of spine-shivering, breath-catching awealmost worshipthis flooding of the chest with ecstatic wonder, that modern science can provide. And it does so beyond the wildest dreams of saints and mystics

Science can offer a vision of life and the universe which, as Ive already remarked, for humbling poetic inspiration far outclasses any of the mutually contradictory faiths and disappointingly recent traditions of the worlds religions

The universe at large couldnt possibly be anything other than indifferent to Christ, his birth, his passion, and his death I want to return now to the charge that science is just a faith. The more extreme version of that chargeand one that I often encounter as both a scientist and a rationalistis an accusation of zealotry and bigotry in scientists themselves as great as that found in religious people. Sometimes there may be a little bit of justice in this accusation; but as zealous bigots, we scientists are mere amateurs at the game. Were content to argue with those who disagree with us. We dont kill them.

Stephen S. Hall, in Darwins Rottweiler Sir Richard Dawkins: Evolutions Fiercest Champion, Far Too Fierce, said:

Einsteinian religion is a kind of spirituality which is nonsupernatural And that doesnt mean that its somehow less than supernatural religion. Quite the contrary .Einstein was adamant in rejecting all ideas of a personal god. It is something bigger, something grander, something that I believe any scientist can subscribe to, including those scientists whom I would call atheists. Einstein, in my terms, was an atheist, although Einstein of course was very fond of using the word God. When Einstein would use the word God, he was using it as a kind of figure of speech. When he said things like God is subtle but hes not malicious, or He does not play dice, or Did God have a choice in creating the universe? what he meant was things like randomness do not lie at the heart of all things. Could the universe have been any other way than the way it is? Einstein chose to use the word God to phrase such profound, deep questions. That, it seems to me, is the good part of religion which we can all subscribe to

What I cant understand is why we are expected to show respect for good scientists, even great scientists, who at the same time believe in a god who does things like listen to our prayers, forgive our sins, perform cheap miracles which go against, presumably, everything that the god of the physicist, the divine cosmologist, set up when he set up his great laws of nature. So I dont understand a scientist who says, I am a Roman Catholic or I am a Baptist

I suppose my hope would be that sciencethe best kind of science, the sort of science which approaches the best sort of religion, the Einsteinian spirituality that I was talking aboutis so inspiring, so exciting that it should be sellable to everybody

Such sentiments appear to be fulfillments of the Apostle Pauls reference to:

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2.1 Atheist religion

Let us consider the atheists from the 18th to the 21st centuries who express desires to establish an atheistic religion. Perhaps we should begin with Jean-Jacques Rousseau (17121778), who conceived of a civil religion:

Two other notable 18th century attempts are Claude Henri de Rouvroy, Comte de Saint-Simon (17601825) who conceived of a new Christianity which would be founded upon Humanism and scientific socialism. The secular priesthood would consist of scientists, philosophers and engineers. Lastly, Auguste Comte (17981857) conceived of a religion of humanity.

Forwarding to the 21st century we will consider Gary Wolfs interview with Sam Harris:

Gary Wolfs interview with Daniel Dennett:

Sam Harris, Selfless Consciousness without Faith:

Sam Harris, A Contemplative Science:

ABC Radio National, Stephen Crittenden interviews Sam Harris:

Sam Harris, Science Must Destroy Religion:

Sam Harris, Rational Mysticism:

Humanist Manifesto I (1933) states,

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There may be as many reasons that people choose atheism as there are individuals who make that choice. These range from philosophy or science to emotion or rebellion and various combinations of such factors.

Prominent Argentinean hyperrealism artist, Helmut Ditsch, retells part of his upbringing:

Joe Orso, writing on the origin of beliefs, interviewed atheist Ira Glass, who said:

I find that I dont seem to have a choice over whether or not I believe in God, I simply find that I do not. Either you have faith or you dont. Either you believe or you dont.

Orso: I was once talking with a Chinese friend. She asked whether I believed in God. I told her I did. I returned the question. She said no, and I asked her why not. Her father, she explained, had told her there was no God when she was a child. She hadnt really thought about it much since then.16 [emphasis added]

Note carefully the words of Thomas Nagel (B.Phil., Oxford; Ph.D., Harvard), Professor of Philosophy and Law, University Professor, and Fiorello La Guardia Professor of Law. He specializes in Political Philosophy, Ethics, Epistemology, and Philosophy of Mind. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Fellow of the British Academy, and has held fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Science Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities:

Consider the following words of Isaac Asimov, one of the most prolific scientific writers of the last century:

Gary Wolf , contributing editor to Wired magazine, includes himself in the following description: we lax agnostics, we noncommittal nonbelievers, we vague deists who would be embarrassed to defend antique absurdities like the Virgin Birth or the notion that Mary rose into heaven without dying, or any other blatant myth. He wrote:

At dinner parties or over drinks, I ask people to declare themselves. Who here is an atheist? I ask. Usually, the first response is silence, accompanied by glances all around in the hope that somebody else will speak first. Then, after a moment, somebody does, almost always a man, almost always with a defiant smile and a tone of enthusiasm. He says happily, I am!

But it is the next comment that is telling. Somebody turns to him and says: You would be.

Why? Because you enjoy [irritating] people . Well, thats true.

This type of conversation takes place not in central Ohio, where I was born, or in Utah, where I was a teenager, but on the West Coast, among technical and scientific people, possibly the social group that is least likely among all Americans to be religious.13

Thus, we find various motivating factors which lead to atheism and have absolutely nothing to do with science or intellect.

Paul Vitz, Professor of Psychology at New York University, made a fascinating study of the lives of some of the most influential atheists. In his book Faith of the Fatherless: the Psychology of Atheism he concluded that these persons rejected God because they rejected their own fathers. This was due to their poor relationships with their fathers, or due to their fathers absence, or due to their rebellion against their fathers.20 Along this line of research, it would be interesting to consider the effect that the death of friends and family has had on the rejection of God. From Charles Darwin to Ted Turner the death of friends and family has played a part.

Gary Wolf noted,

The Associated Press reported on an interview with Ted Turner published in The New Yorker: 22

CNN founder Ted Turner was suicidal after the breakup of his marriage to Jane Fonda and his loss of control of Turner Broadcasting his marriage to Fonda broke up partly because of her decision to become a practicing Christian 22

Turner is a strident non-believer, having lost his faith after his sister, Mary Jane, died of a painful disease called systemic lupus erythematosus. I was taught that God was love and God was powerful, Turner said. And I couldnt understand how someone so innocent should be made or allowed to suffer so.

Tony Snow, who was the White House Press Secretary in 2006/2007, and was a Christian, died of cancer in July 2008. He wrote an essay entitled, Cancers Unexpected Blessings.23 Consider, in contrast, how a God-centered person dealt with his own impending death:

In contrast, consider the words of atheist William Provine, professor of the history of science at Cornell University:

With regards to his own cancer, a brain tumor, Provine has stated that he would shoot himself in the head if his brain tumor returned.25 Apparently, one less bio-organism is irrelevant in an absolutely materialistic world.

3.1 Natural born Atheist

Another reason for rejecting God (choosing atheism), is a willing acceptance of satanic deception.

The angel Lucifer (luminous one) fell and became Satan (adversary) due to his desire to supplant God. This was Lucifers single-minded obsession.

He not only rejected God by attempting to supplant Him, but he urged humans to do likewise. Satan urged Eve to choose against God for her own self-fulfilment:

He said to the woman, Did God actually say, You shall not eat of any tree in the garden? And the woman said to the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die. But the serpent said to the woman, You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. (Genesis 3:1-5 ESV).

The tactic is clear: firstly, question Gods statements, then, contradict Gods statements and, finally, urge rebellion in seeking equality with God.

This manifests in atheists as

This satanic deception appeals strongly to atheists as it bolsters two of their desired delusions: 1) absolute autonomybeing free to do as they please, and 2) the lack of ultimate accountabilitythere are no eternal consequences for doing as they please.

A subset of the question of why some people choose atheism is the atheist claim that we are all natural born atheists. In part this is incumbent upon which definition of atheism we are employing. Obviously, we are not born positively asserting Gods non-existence. Thus, the claim is that we are all born lacking a belief in God. Logically, this claim is accurate only at this point and is actually not successfully applicable beyond this point.

Atheists who make this argument claim that this argument demonstrates that man is not God-made but that God is man-made. In other words, they claim that we only believe in God because someone taught us to believe in God, often during childhood before we were able to consider the claim rationally. Yet, this claim is faulty on many levels, for example:

We are born knowing nothing at all and must be taught, and later take it upon ourselves to learn, anything and everything that we will ever know or believe, including atheism.

We are natural-born bed wetters but that does not mean that we should remain that way.

This is ultimately a form of the logically fallacious ad hominem (to the man). This fallacy occurs when what is supposed to be a counterargument attacks the person, the source of the original argument, while leaving the argument unanswered. Thus, just because belief in God is something that is taught does not discredit belief in God. It would be fallacious to claim that God does not exist because human beings invented the idea of Gods existenceGod wants us to discover His existence: you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:13).

Furthermore, this claim does not consider that many people came to believe in God in adulthood and having come from a completely secular (atheistic) upbringing.

Although, perhaps we could grant the claim: if atheists want to argue that atheism requires no more intellect than that which an infant can muster, why should we argue?

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Here is a video debate between an atheist and the author of this article: Morality: natural or supernatural?

Technically, ethics refers to what should be and morals to what is or; prescription and description. Atheists differ on the issue of ethics and morality; some claim that there are absolutes and some do not. As to the question of whether atheists can make absolute moral statements, this is tantamount to the first year theology student who, when asked, Do you believe in infant baptism? responded, Sure I do; Ive seen it done. Yes, atheists can make any statements about anything at allthe question is: are the statements viable?

Atheists make epistemic statements about morality but do not provide an ontological premise for ethics.26 That is to say that they can muse upon issues of morality and come to any conclusion that they please. However, these turn out to be arbitrary personal preferences that are expressed as dogmatic assertions.

Some atheists do make attempts at providing an ontological basis for ethics. These range quite widelyfrom considering the behavior of apes to Game Theory.

In the first case, it is, of course, being presupposed that we share a common evolutionary lineage with apes and that their behavior tells us something about ours. Even when such observations successfully correlate their behaviors to ours, it is merely a description. Moreover, from such correlations it is inferred that morality is part of our overall evolution. This amounts to intuition or urges which we are free to act upon or disregard.

In the second case investigators concoct games that they claim dissect human behavior. With regards to Game Theory, Benjamin Wiker notes,

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Atheism – creation.com

American Atheists

Thanks in part to the work of American Atheists, the number of atheists in the United States continues to grow and attitudes toward atheists are shifting. However, misconceptions about atheists still exist and members of our community still face discrimination at home, work, and school. Help us continue to elevate atheists and educate the public about atheism by making a tax-deductible gift today.

Continued here:

American Atheists

Atheist Apologist: My Favorite Atheism Quotes

Here is a collection of my favorite quotes about atheism and religion. They’re in no particular order: “I would challenge anyone here to think of a question upon which we once had a scientific answer, however inadequate, but for which now the best answer is a religious one. Now, you can think of an uncountable number of questions that run the other way, where we once had a religious answer and now the authority of religion has been battered and nullified by science, and by moral progress, and by secular progress generally. And I think thats not an accident.” — Sam Harris

“Why should I allow that same God to tell me how to raise my kids, who had to drown His own?” — Robert G. Ingersoll

“If god doesn’t like the way I live, Let him tell me, not you.” — Unknown

Eskimo: “If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to hell?” Priest: “No, not if you did not know.” Eskimo: “Then why did you tell me?” — Annie Dillard, ‘Pilgrim at Tinker Creek’

“Faith does not give you the answers, it just stops you asking the questions.” — Frater Ravus

“‘I refuse to prove that I exist,’ says God, ‘for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing.'” — Douglas Adams

“A man without religon is like a fish without a bicycle” — Unknown

“Without God, life is everything.” — Rev. Ron

“When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called Religion.” — Robert M. Pirsig

“Prayer has no place in the public schools, just like facts have no place in organized religion.” — Superintendent Chalmers, The Simpsons

“Deaths in the Bible. God – 2,270,365 not including the victims of Noah’s flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, or the many plagues, famines, fiery serpents, etc because no specific numbers were given. Satan – 10” — Unknown

“The essence of Christianity is told us in the Garden of Eden history. The fruit that was forbidden was on the tree of knowledge. The subtext is, All the suffering you have is because you wanted to find out what was going on.” — Frank Zappa

“The Christian god makes man human, then burns him when he acts like one.” — HSM

“Blasphemy is a victimless crime” — Anonymous

“Why would some all powerful being create creatures capable of reason and then demand that they act in a manner contrary to their creation?” — Josh Charles

“I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world.” — Richard Dawkins

“Do I think Im going to paradise? Of course not; I wouldnt go if I was asked. I dont want to live in some fucking celestial North Korea, for one thing, where all I get to do is praise the Dear Leader from dawn till dusk. I dont want this; it would be hell for me.” — Christopher Hitchens

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God? — Epicurus

“It is, I think, an error to believe that there is any need of religion to make life seem worth living.” – Sinclair Lewis

“I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.” — Stephen Henry Roberts

“Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.” — Blaise Pascal

“Blind faith is an ironic gift to return to the Creator of human intelligence.” — Anonymous

“If God wants us to do a thing he should make his wishes sufficiently clear. Sensible people will wait till he has done this before paying much attention to him.” — Samuel Butler

“I cannot believe in a God who has neither humor nor common sense.” — W. Somerset Maugham

“Question: How do you know you’re God? Answer: Simple. When I pray to him, I find I’m talking to myself.” — Peter O’Toole

“Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other Religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other Sects?” — James Madison

“The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one.” — George Bernard Shaw

“Gullibility and credulity are considered undesireable qualities in every department of human life — except religion … Why are we praised by godly men for surrendering our ‘godly gift’ of reason when we cross their mental thresholds?” — Christopher Hitchens

“If this is your God, he’s not very impressive. He has so many psychological problems; he’s so insecure. He demands worship every seven days. He goes out and creates faulty humans and then blames them for his own mistakes. He’s a pretty poor excuse for a Supreme Being.” — Gene Roddenberry

“Perhaps the whole root of our trouble, the human trouble, is that we will sacrifice all the beauty of our lives, will imprison ourselves in totems, taboos, crosses, blood sacrifices, steeples, mosques, races, armies, flags, nation, in order to deny the fact of death, which is the only fact we have.” — James Baldwin

“I would believe any religion that could prove it had existed since the beginning of the world. But when I see Socrates, Plato, Moses, and Mohammed I do not think there is such a one. All religions owe their origin to man.” — Napoleon Bonaparte

“The existence of a world without God seems to me less absurd than the presence of a God, existing in all of his perfection, creating imperfect man in order to make him run the risk of Hell.” — Armand Salacrou

“It is an insult to God to believe in God. For on the one hand it is to suppose that he has perpetrated acts of incalculable cruelty. On the other, it is to suppose that he has perversely given his human creatures an instrument — their intellect — which must inevitably lead them, if they are dispassionate and honest, to deny his existence. It is tempting to conclude that if he exists, it is the atheists and agnostics that he loves best, among those with any pretensions to education. For they are the ones who have taken him most seriously.” — Galen Strawson

“The Way to see by Faith is to shut the Eye of Reason.” — Benjamin Franklin

“Once miracles are admitted, every scientific explanation is out of the question.” — Johannes Kepler

“None of the miracles with which ancient histories are filled, occurred under scientific conditions. Observation never once contradicted, teaches us that miracles occur only in periods and countries in which they are believed in and before persons disposed to believe in them.” — Ernest Renan

“Religion is an illusion and it derives its strength from its readiness to fit in with our instinctual wishful impulses.” — Sigmund Freud

“Only the atheist realizes how morally objectionable it is for survivors of a catastrophe to believe themselves spared by a loving God while this same God drowned infants in their cribs.” — Sam Harris

“If he is infinitely good, what reason should we have to fear him? If he is infinitely wise, why should we have doubts concerning our future? If he knows all, why warn him of our needs and fatigue him with our prayers? If he is everywhere, why erect temples to him?” — Percy Bysshe Shelley

“Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?” — Douglas Adams

“Why should I fear death? If I am, death is not. If death is, I am not. Why should I fear that which cannot exist when I do?” — Epicurus

“Philosophy is questions that may never be answered. Religion is answers that may never be questioned.” — Anonymous

“You believe in a book which has talking animals, wizards, witches, demons, sticks turning into snakes, food falling from the sky, people walking on water, and all sorts of magical, absurd, and primitive stories; and you say that I am the one who is mentally ill?” — Dan Barker

“The continually progressive change to which the meaning of words is subject, the want of a universal language which renders translation necessary, the errors to which translations are again subject, the mistakes of copyists and printers, together with the possibility of willful alteration, are themselves evidences that human language, whether in speech or print, cannot be the vehicle of the Word of God.” — Thomas Paine

“As to the book called the Bible, it is blasphemy to call it the word of God. It is a book of lies and contradictions, and a history of bad times and bad men. There are but a few good characters in the whole book.” — Thomas Paine

“One’s convictions should be proportional to one’s evidence.” — Sam Harris

“Give a man a fish, and you’ll feed him for a day; give him a religion, and he’ll starve to death while praying for a fish.” — Anonymous

“A faith which cannot survive collision with the truth is not worth many regrets.” — Arthur C. Clarke

“The religion of one age is the literary entertainment of the next.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Two hands working can do more than a thousand clasped in prayer.” — Anonymous

“Wherever morality is based on theology, wherever the right is made dependent on divine authority, the most immoral, unjust, infamous things can be justified and established.” — Ludwig Feuerbach

“I cannot see why we should expect an infinite God to do better in another world than he does in this.” — Robert G. Ingersoll

Is your favorite quote missing from here? E-mail it to atheistapologist@gmail.com and I’ll add it!

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Atheist Apologist: My Favorite Atheism Quotes

Why We Should Be Compassionate Toward Atheists – National Catholic Register (blog)

Blogs | Aug. 18, 2017

Atheism is gaining converts every day, and we have a rather daunting job of evangelizing those who would rather God did not exist.

Dr. Thomas Nagel, professor of philosophy at New York University, wrote in his 1997 book, The Last Word:

I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-formed people I know are religious believers. It isnt just that I dont believe in God and, naturally, hope that Im right in my belief. Its that I hope there is no God! I dont want there to be a God; I dont want the universe to be like that.

Whether or not Dr. Nagel intended to speak for anyone other than himself, I suspect his sentiments are shared by many atheists who not only dont believe there is a God, but dont want there to be a God.

From the standpoint of Christianity, this prompts this question: Why would anyone not want a loving God to exist? This is a question that all apologistsindeed, all Christians who seek to evangelize atheistsmust ask and attempt to answer. Because if we dont know the answer to that question, we can have all the other answers to all the other questions, and it wont matter. For instance, we can talk about the inexplicable characteristics of the Shroud of Turin, the tilma of Guadalupe, the sun dancing at Fatima, the incorruptibles, and the Eucharistic miracle in Lanciano, but we may not have addressed the real issue for those who wish atheism to be true.

There may be lots of reasons for atheisms recent prevalence, but it is clear that the rise in atheism has taken place alongside the fall of the family. Is there a connection between the two? In his book Faith of the Fatherless: The Psychology of Atheism, psychologist Dr. Paul Vitz answers in the affirmative.

Specifically, Vitz argues that a father often exerts a powerful influence on his childs concept of God. (Since his original book was published in 1999, other studies have provided support for this point.) Dr. Vitz takes a biographical tour of modern atheists and discovers a relatively consistent thread: Looking back at our thirteen major historical rejecters of a personal God, we find a weak, dead, or abusive father in every case. Of course, it is not true, nor is Vitz making the case, that every atheist had a bad fatheror that the mere absence of a father must propel one to atheism. It would also be a fallacy to claim that each atheists fundamental reason for embracing atheism is his paternal relationship. But to Vitzs point (and consistent with the findings of other studies), it is legitimate to argue that some persons may be predisposed to atheism because of their family circumstances.

In his book, Jesus of Nazareth, Pope Benedict XVI makes an interesting point along the same lines, alluding to the connection between fatherhood and faith. Pointing out that the Our Father is a great prayer of consolation, insofar as it recognizes and professes God as our Father with Whom we have a personal relationship, Pope Benedict XVI notes that consolation is not experienced by everyone:

It is true, of course, that contemporary men and women have difficulty experiencing the great consolation of the word father immediately, since the experience of the father is in many cases either completely absent or is obscured by inadequate examples of fatherhood.

As Pope Benedict suggests, the idea of God as a father can be a painful reminder that their own father did not, could not, or would not love them. Thus, the idea of spending fifteen minutes, much less eternity, with a father is remarkably unpleasant.

Where does that leave those who are sincerely and charitably trying to convey Gods love to those who are so desperate to disbelieve? Perhaps it starts by recognizing that they are hurt, and what we should do is act with compassion instead of trying to win a debate with them. If you convince someone that their best hope is to spend eternity with a Being they equate with someone who has been abusive to them, you have done them no favors. You may do well to first explain to them who God is, and what Gods love means to you. Along with true knowledge, love and mercy are the essential qualities of a Catholic apologist.

Try to explain Gods love to them, and ask the Holy Spirit for the right words. Sad though it may be, its entirely possible that no one has ever triednever talked about Gods love to them. Its entirely possible that no one has ever told them that God wants them to be happy.

Patience is also critical. Some might seem obstinate in their refusal to believe, or in their inability to admit the possibility that they might be wrong. Respond with patience, and remember that though the argument at hand might be Saint Thomas Aquinas five proofs for Gods existence or the Shroud of Turin, for instance, that may not be what they are actually arguing about. They might be really arguing about their parents, the past, and their pain. Thus, for them, the Shroud of Turin serves as a spiritual Rorschach test in which they dont see Gods pain, but their own. Explain to them that no one wants to ease their pain more than God. It sometimes helps to explain to them how God has eased your own. Dont forget that comforting the afflicted is a spiritual work of mercy not just for other Christians, and it very often must precede instructing the ignorant.

Atheism is gaining converts every day, and we have a rather daunting job of evangelizing those who would rather God did not exist. Many people have had difficult and painful family experiences, and they deserved better. We need to help people understand that God is better. Scripture does not assure us that our own parents will love us; quite the contrary, God warns us that some parents will not love their own children. Thats terribly sad, but its connected with an overwhelming promise that we need to remind people again and again and again: God will never stop loving you. This message is made many times in Scripture, but perhaps most explicitly in passage that must be in our hearts and on our lips going forward in our discussions. It is Isaiah 49:15, and it reads: Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you.

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Why We Should Be Compassionate Toward Atheists – National Catholic Register (blog)

Everyone’s suspicious of atheists even other atheists – SBS

In the U.S. and plenty of other places around the world, atheism is on the rise. In just under half of the worlds countries, according to Pew Research Center, the second-largest religious group is people who claim no religion at all. In the United States, while recent research has shown an uptick in the number of people who identify as atheist, definitive numbers are hard to come by; one survey last year put it around 10 percent, whilea more recent study argued that it was as high as 26 percent.

Whatever the true number is, though, there remains a disconnect between atheisms popularity and its reputation: According to a new study published last week in Nature, people all over the world connect immorality with atheism. In fact, the moral prejudice against atheists is so strong that it holds even in countries like the Netherlands, where most people arent religious. Even atheists themselves, according to the study, are inclined to see nonbelievers as more wicked than the faithful.

According to a new study published last week in Nature, people all over the world connect immorality with atheism.

Entrenched moral suspicion of atheists suggests that religions powerful influence on moral judgements persists, even among non-believers in secular societies, the authors wrote.

The study, led by University of Kentucky psychology professor Will Gervais, surveyed more than 3,000 people in 13 countries, including nations with Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Muslim, and non-religious majorities: Australia, China, Czech Republic, Finland, Hong Kong, India, Mauritius, Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and the United States.

Participants read a description of a man who tortured animals as a child and became even more sadistically violent as he grew up, eventually murdering five homeless people and hiding their dismembered bodies in his basement. The survey then asked some participants if they thought the man was more likely a teacher or religious teacher. Other participants were asked if they though the man was more likely a teacher or an atheist teacher. This setup meant that no one was directly asked if they thought the man was or was not an atheist, but researchers could draw conclusions by comparing how many participants said the man would be an atheist teacher versus how many said he would be a religious teacher.

Entrenched moral suspicion of atheists suggests that religions powerful influence on moral judgements persists, even among non-believers in secular societies, the authors wrote.

As they had hypothesised, the researchers found a universal suspicion of atheist morality across all 13 countries. People overall are roughly twice as likely to view extreme immorality as representative of atheists, relative to believers, they wrote. Consistent with predictions, extreme intuitive moral distrust of atheists is both globally evident and variable in its magnitude across countries.

The association was somewhat stronger in more religious countries, but even in very secular countries in the study Australia, China, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom people were more likely to associate serial killing with atheism, although the gap was narrower. The survey also asked participants to describe their religious beliefs, which allowed the research team to determine that even atheists connected immoral acts to atheism more often than to religious belief.

The authors concluded that people around the world see religion as a necessary restraint on depraved and dangerous behavior. In other words, despite the fact that we live in an increasingly secular world, people still fear those who arent God-fearing.

That finding didnt surprise Joseph Baker, author of American Secularism and a professor in the East Tennessee State University sociology department. An anti-atheist bias is really common and really well established, he said. In the United States, atheists used to be the most disliked among a number of unpopular groups, but are now tied at the top with Muslims, he said; what this new study adds is good data showing that the feeling is international.

Louise Antony, a philosophy professor at UMass Amherst who has written about atheism and morality, also found the study results unsurprising. I could predict it just from what I know about the stereotypes that people hold of atheists, she said.

It wouldnt be surprising that atheists who grow up in cultures disparaging atheists have the same associations.

But Antony also cautioned against drawing too much significance from experiments that may reveal only implicit bias, but not accurately portray peoples more holistic feelings about atheists. For example, Antony said, she has a terrible fear of spiders, the result of some deep-seated association that she wishes she didnt have, since she knows that spiders are almost entirely harmless and kill pests like mosquitoes. Likewise, people even avowed atheists may be handicapped by an implicit connection between atheism and immorality, despite a genuine belief that they themselves are as moral as believers.

The study might also be picking up on a fairly superficial response, Antony said: It wouldnt be surprising that atheists who grow up in cultures disparaging atheists have the same associations.

But even superficial biases can have very real effects, she added. Thats especially true in moments of hot cognition, when people dont have time to stop and reason out their beliefs before taking action, Baker noted.

This latest study is more evidence that atheists are still mistrusted in contemporary society, he said. It means that people who are secular still have a long way to go in terms of getting equal footing in civil discourse. Theres still a lot of prejudice they have to overcome.

This article originally appeared on Science of Us: Article 2017. All Rights reserved. Distributed by Tribune Content.

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Everyone’s suspicious of atheists even other atheists – SBS

Beware the War Against ASEAN’s Atheists | The Diplomat – The Diplomat

There is one minority that knows no borders, isnt divided by race or gender, and yet still faces persecution across the world: atheists. And in recent weeks, they have been under attack in Malaysia. The government has announced that it will hunt down atheists who, it says, could face prosecution exactly what for remains in question. This all began earlier this month, when the Kuala Lumpur branch of the Atheist Republic, a Canada-based organization, posted a photo of their annual meeting on social media.

The Hunt for Atheists Continues

In response, the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department, Malaysias religious watchdog, said it is now constantly monitoring atheists groups, presumably those also online, and its director said that they would provide treatment to those caught. Shahidan Kassim, a minister in the Prime Ministers Department, said later that: I suggest we go all-out to hunt down these groups and we ask the media to help us identify them because this is a religious country.

Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar upped the ante when he commented that the the police would scrutinize the existing laws to enable appropriate action to be taken should the atheist group cause anxiety among Muslims, as FreeMalaysiaToday, an online newspaper, put it.

One can make many things of this comment. Primarily, though, if a few dozen, mostly young people who gather once a year in private can make Malaysias Muslims anxious (note Khalid cared little about the nerves of Malaysian Christians or Buddhists) then isnt his comment an affront to their commitment to the faith itself?

But the Malaysian authorities took the issue back to a perennial one: apostasy.

According to Malaysias federal laws, apostasy is not a crime. But in practice, the countrys state-run courts, which hold the sway over religious matters, rarely allow Muslims to formally leave the faith. Instead they are punished with counseling, fines, or jail time. Similarly, atheism is not strictly illegal in Malaysia, but blasphemy is. This makes atheism a grey area, since the most fundamental point of it is the belief that there is no god.

A similar problem exists in Indonesia. In 2012, Alexander Aan was almost beaten to death by a mob and then sentenced to two and a half years in prison while his attackers were set free after he posted a message on Facebook that read: God doesnt exist. The commentary surrounding the case frequently asked whether atheism was illegal in Indonesia or not. Most pundits took the opinion that it wasnt illegal: Alexander Aan, they said, wasnt convicted for his atheism but for blasphemy. To some, that was no more than intellectual contortionism at work.

But none of this should have come as a surprise. A 2016 report by the International Humanist and Ethical Union found Malaysia to be one of the least tolerant countries in the world of atheists. The report singled out Prime Minister Najib Razak for criticism. In May of that year, he described atheism and secularism, along with liberalism and humanism, as deviant and a threat to Islam and the state. He stated clearly: We will not tolerate any demands or right to apostasy by Muslims.

Over the years I have met a number of Malaysian atheists. Many have to hide their lack of faith from their families, lest they be ostracized. Social media, here, has been a massive help. And many are forced to hide behind less-controversial monikers, like freethinker, in order to avoid the thought police. By way of a comparison, I have met Vietnamese pro-democracy activists more willing to criticize the Communist Party in public places than Malaysian atheists willing to talk about religion at coffee shops. I am worried. I have already accepted that something might happen to me that I might be killed, one Malaysian atheist recently told Channel News Asia.

No Freedom From Religion

We are often told that Malaysia and Indonesia are secular nations. That is not quite true. At best, they are secular-lite. Secularism has three main components, and that is often forgotten conveniently by some. The first is a genuine separation of the church or mosque, or pagoda and the state. The second is freedom of religion, which brings with it pluralism and religious tolerance. Put simply, all faiths have equal status within the eyes of the state.

Malaysia and Indonesia do to some extent practice these but certainly not the third, which is freedom from religion. It means that I, a non-believer, am not interfered with by the forces of religion, and am protected against this by the state. It also means that a believer is allowed, by law, to remove himself from a religion. As has been indicated above, that is not quite the case by any means.

More Than Politics

Some pundits will simply claim that politics is at hand. Malaysian elections are approaching, and Malaysias ruling party is playing the religious card, fearful that Malay-Muslims will vote for one of the opposition parties. In Indonesia, the arrest and imprisonment of Basuki Ahok Purnama for blasphemy, coming as it did during the Jakartas mayoral election, was also politicians using religion, some say. President Joko Widodo weighed in here with the opinion that the anti-Ahok protests, some of the largest Indonesia has ever witnessed, were steered by political actors who were exploiting the situation.

There is some merit in this view, but it is far from the whole picture. For starters, if they are exploiting conservative religious sentiments, then surely those sentiments themselves must have been there in the first place and must be thought by a sizeable number of people for opportunistic politicians to take notice. That itself is something that ought not to be ignored, since it is the root cause of the issue we are addressing here.

Second, if it is only politicians exploiting the situation, why havent the moderate Muslim organizations come out and defend the atheists, for instance, or, to take a more specific example, why didnt they campaign for Ahok? As some experts have already noted, Nahdlatul Ulama, the largest Indonesian Muslim organization, with more than 50 million followers, made a lot of noise against the radical protestors at the time, but was conspicuously quiet on defending Ahoks right to say what he did.

A More Radical Mainstream?

Some have argued that the extremists in Malaysia and Indonesia are becoming more open. But there is also some evidence that points to the mainstream, or even the public at large, being more conservative. For instance, in 2013, the Pew Research Center conducted a worldwide survey on the attitudes of Muslims towards different elements of faith. When Indonesian respondents were asked if they favored making Sharia the national law of the country, 72 percent said they would it is currently only the law in the semi-autonomous state of Aceh. Of Malaysian respondents, 86 percent said they would, higher than the percentages recorded in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Egypt, countries which are not typically described as moderate.

Some might argue that Muslims were merely responding in such a way because they perceived that doing so was in line with what their religion called for and what it meant to be a good, practicing Muslim. But what was striking was that, of those respondents who favored introducing Sharia, 41 percent from Malaysia and 50 percent from Indonesia thought it should apply to all citizens, not just Muslims. And 60 percent from Malaysia and 48 percent from Indonesia thought stoning to death was an appropriate penalty for adultery.

One can quibble with any single poll or statistic or development. But the point here is that there are enough of each of these out there for a level of concern to be raised. Or, at the very least, for more attention to be paid to a relatively neglected issue.

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Beware the War Against ASEAN’s Atheists | The Diplomat – The Diplomat

Atheists go after Sen. Marco Rubio with guns blazing this is why they’re dead wrong – TheBlaze.com

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) continues to facebacklashfor sharing daily Bible verses on Twitter, and this time, the largest atheist organization in America is trying to hit the Christian senator where it hurts.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, aWisconsin-based atheist group, on Tuesday attacked Rubios outpouring of love for God, Jesus, and the Bible in an open letter, and called for the senator to stop sharing his faith in a public manner. The organization has publicly condemned Rubio for sharing Bible verses on his Twitter page.

Aportion of the letter from the foundation to Rubio read:

We protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church, and educate the public on matters relating tonontheism.

We understand that you have been tweeting bible verses from @MarcoRubio to nearly three million followers. It appears that you began tweeting the bible in mid-May and have been doing so regularly ever since. This is not an errant bible verse or two, but more than 60 bible verses in three months. Thats enough verses to tweet the entire Book of Jude. Twice. One of the most recent verses, tweeted during the eclipse, appears to suggest that the eclipse is the work of god, quoting Exodus 10:21.1.

Of course, we have no issue with people reading and discussing the bible. The road to atheism is littered with bibles that have been read cover to cover. But it is not for the government in our secular republic to promote one religious book over others or to promote religion over nonreligion.

Doing so violates the Establishment Clause of the Constitution.

If the law and your oath to uphold the Constitution are not sufficient to convince you to stop, perhaps you might consider reading Matthew 6:5-6, in which Jesus condemns public prayer as hypocrisy in his Sermon on the Mount. None of Jesuss supposed words mentions Twitter perhaps he wasnt that prescient but the condemnation of public piety is reasonably clear.

To remedy Rubios infractions, the group suggested one of two options: Rubio should either stop quoting Scripture on his personal Twitter account or purge all mentions of the fact that he holds a publicly elected office as a U.S. senator on the same Twitter page.

Currently in the United States, people are fighting for their rights to express their beliefs, whether they be cultural, racial, historical, familial, sexual, or gender-related.

There is a one-size-fits-all solution to this issue, and its in practicing theconstitutionally protected inalienable right as mentioned in theFirst Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

If Rubio cant share his faith something thats clearly important to him simply because he holds a public office, thenwhats next for our society?

The bottomline is that if you dont want to publicly proclaim the word of God, thats fine but dont try to stop others from doing it themselves. Either censor all speech, or censor no speech.

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Atheists go after Sen. Marco Rubio with guns blazing this is why they’re dead wrong – TheBlaze.com

atheism | Definition, Philosophy … – Britannica.com

Atheism, in general, the critique and denial of metaphysical beliefs in God or spiritual beings. As such, it is usually distinguished from theism, which affirms the reality of the divine and often seeks to demonstrate its existence. Atheism is also distinguished from agnosticism, which leaves open the question whether there is a god or not, professing to find the questions unanswered or unanswerable.

The dialectic of the argument between forms of belief and unbelief raises questions concerning the most perspicuous delineation, or characterization, of atheism, agnosticism, and theism. It is necessary not only to probe the warrant for atheism but also carefully to consider what is the most adequate definition of atheism. This article will start with what have been some widely accepted, but still in various ways mistaken or misleading, definitions of atheism and move to more adequate formulations that better capture the full range of atheist thought and more clearly separate unbelief from belief and atheism from agnosticism. In the course of this delineation the section also will consider key arguments for and against atheism.

A central, common core of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam is the affirmation of the reality of one, and only one, God. Adherents of these faiths believe that there is a God who created the universe out of nothing and who has absolute sovereignty over all his creation; this includes, of course, human beingswho are not only utterly dependent on this creative power but also sinful and who, or so the faithful must believe, can only make adequate sense of their lives by accepting, without question, Gods ordinances for them. The varieties of atheism are numerous, but all atheists reject such a set of beliefs.

Atheism, however, casts a wider net and rejects all belief in spiritual beings, and to the extent that belief in spiritual beings is definitive of what it means for a system to be religious, atheism rejects religion. So atheism is not only a rejection of the central conceptions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam; it is, as well, a rejection of the religious beliefs of such African religions as that of the Dinka and the Nuer, of the anthropomorphic gods of classical Greece and Rome, and of the transcendental conceptions of Hinduism and Buddhism. Generally atheism is a denial of God or of the gods, and if religion is defined in terms of belief in spiritual beings, then atheism is the rejection of all religious belief.

It is necessary, however, if a tolerably adequate understanding of atheism is to be achieved, to give a reading to rejection of religious belief and to come to realize how the characterization of atheism as the denial of God or the gods is inadequate.

To say that atheism is the denial of God or the gods and that it is the opposite of theism, a system of belief that affirms the reality of God and seeks to demonstrate his existence, is inadequate in a number of ways. First, not all theologians who regard themselves as defenders of the Christian faith or of Judaism or Islam regard themselves as defenders of theism. The influential 20th-century Protestant theologian Paul Tillich, for example, regards the God of theism as an idol and refuses to construe God as a being, even a supreme being, among beings or as an infinite being above finite beings. God, for him, is being-itself, the ground of being and meaning. The particulars of Tillichs view are in certain ways idiosyncratic, as well as being obscure and problematic, but they have been influential; and his rejection of theism, while retaining a belief in God, is not eccentric in contemporary theology, though it may very well affront the plain believer.

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Second, and more important, it is not the case that all theists seek to demonstrate or even in any way rationally to establish the existence of God. Many theists regard such a demonstration as impossible, and fideistic believers (e.g., Johann Hamann and Sren Kierkegaard) regard such a demonstration, even if it were possible, as undesirable, for in their view it would undermine faith. If it could be proved, or known for certain, that God exists, people would not be in a position to accept him as their sovereign Lord humbly on faith with all the risks that entails. There are theologians who have argued that for genuine faith to be possible God must necessarily be a hidden God, the mysterious ultimate reality, whose existence and authority must be accepted simply on faith. This fideistic view has not, of course, gone without challenge from inside the major faiths, but it is of sufficient importance to make the above characterization of atheism inadequate.

Finally, and most important, not all denials of God are denials of his existence. Believers sometimes deny God while not being at all in a state of doubt that God exists. They either willfully reject what they take to be his authority by not acting in accordance with what they take to be his will, or else they simply live their lives as if God did not exist. In this important way they deny him. Such deniers are not atheists (unless we wish, misleadingly, to call them practical atheists). They are not even agnostics. They do not question that God exists; they deny him in other ways. An atheist denies the existence of God. As it is frequently said, atheists believe that it is false that God exists, or that Gods existence is a speculative hypothesis of an extremely low order of probability.

Yet it remains the case that such a characterization of atheism is inadequate in other ways. For one it is too narrow. There are atheists who believe that the very concept of God, at least in developed and less anthropomorphic forms of Judeo-Christianity and Islam, is so incoherent that certain central religious claims, such as God is my creator to whom everything is owed, are not genuine truth-claims; i.e., the claims could not be either true or false. Believers hold that such religious propositions are true, some atheists believe that they are false, and there are agnostics who cannot make up their minds whether to believe that they are true or false. (Agnostics think that the propositions are one or the other but believe that it is not possible to determine which.) But all three are mistaken, some atheists argue, for such putative truth-claims are not sufficiently intelligible to be genuine truth-claims that are either true or false. In reality there is nothing in them to be believed or disbelieved, though there is for the believer the powerful and humanly comforting illusion that there is. Such an atheism, it should be added, rooted for some conceptions of God in considerations about intelligibility and what it makes sense to say, has been strongly resisted by some pragmatists and logical empiricists.

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While the above considerations about atheism and intelligibility show the second characterization of atheism to be too narrow, it is also the case that this characterization is in a way too broad. For there are fideistic believers, who quite unequivocally believe that when looked at objectively the proposition that God exists has a very low probability weight. They believe in God not because it is probable that he existsthey think it more probable that he does notbut because belief is thought by them to be necessary to make sense of human life. The second characterization of atheism does not distinguish a fideistic believer (a Blaise Pascal or a Soren Kierkegaard) or an agnostic (a T.H. Huxley or a Sir Leslie Stephen) from an atheist such as Baron dHolbach. All believe that there is a God and God protects humankind, however emotionally important they may be, are speculative hypotheses of an extremely low order of probability. But this, since it does not distinguish believers from nonbelievers and does not distinguish agnostics from atheists, cannot be an adequate characterization of atheism.

It may be retorted that to avoid apriorism and dogmatic atheism the existence of God should be regarded as a hypothesis. There are no ontological (purely a priori) proofs or disproofs of Gods existence. It is not reasonable to rule in advance that it makes no sense to say that God exists. What the atheist can reasonably claim is that there is no evidence that there is a God, and against that background he may very well be justified in asserting that there is no God. It has been argued, however, that it is simply dogmatic for an atheist to assert that no possible evidence could ever give one grounds for believing in God. Instead, atheists should justify their unbelief by showing (if they can) how the assertion is well-taken that there is no evidence that would warrant a belief in God. If atheism is justified, the atheist will have shown that in fact there is no adequate evidence for the belief that God exists, but it should not be part of his task to try to show that there could not be any evidence for the existence of God. If the atheist could somehow survive the death of his present body (assuming that such talk makes sense) and come, much to his surprise, to stand in the presence of God, his answer should be, Oh! Lord, you didnt give me enough evidence! He would have been mistaken, and realize that he had been mistaken, in his judgment that God did not exist. Still, he would not have been unjustified, in the light of the evidence available to him during his earthly life, in believing as he did. Not having any such postmortem experiences of the presence of God (assuming that he could have them), what he should say, as things stand and in the face of the evidence he actually has and is likely to be able to get, is that it is false that God exists. (Every time one legitimately asserts that a proposition is false one need not be certain that it is false. Knowing with certainty is not a pleonasm.) The claim is that this tentative posture is the reasonable position for the atheist to take.

An atheist who argues in this manner may also make a distinctive burden-of-proof argument. Given that God (if there is one) is by definition a very recherch realitya reality that must be (for there to be such a reality) transcendent to the worldthe burden of proof is not on the atheist to give grounds for believing that there is no reality of that order. Rather, the burden of proof is on the believer to give some evidence for Gods existencei.e., that there is such a reality. Given what God must be, if there is a God, the theist needs to present the evidence, for such a very strange reality. He needs to show that there is more in the world than is disclosed by common experience. The empirical method, and the empirical method alone, such an atheist asserts, affords a reliable method for establishing what is in fact the case. To the claim of the theist that there are in addition to varieties of empirical facts spiritual facts or transcendent facts, such as it being the case that there is a supernatural, self-existent, eternal power, the atheist can assert that such facts have not been shown.

It will, however, be argued by such atheists, against what they take to be dogmatic aprioristic atheists, that the atheist should be a fallibilist and remain open-minded about what the future may bring. There may, after all, be such transcendent facts, such metaphysical realities. It is not that such a fallibilistic atheist is really an agnostic who believes that he is not justified in either asserting that God exists or denying that he exists and that what he must reasonably do is suspend belief. On the contrary, such an atheist believes that he has very good grounds indeed, as things stand, for denying the existence of God. But he will, on the second conceptualization of what it is to be an atheist, not deny that things could be otherwise and that, if they were, he would be justified in believing in God or at least would no longer be justified in asserting that it is false that there is a God. Using reliable empirical techniques, proven methods for establishing matters of fact, the fallibilistic atheist has found nothing in the universe to make a belief that God exists justifiable or even, everything considered, the most rational option of the various options. He therefore draws the atheistical conclusion (also keeping in mind his burden-of-proof argument) that God does not exist. But he does not dogmatically in a priori fashion deny the existence of God. He remains a thorough and consistent fallibilist.

Such a form of atheism (the atheism of those pragmatists who are also naturalistic humanists), though less inadequate than the first formation of atheism, is still inadequate. God in developed forms of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam is not, like Zeus or Odin, construed in a relatively plain anthropomorphic way. Nothing that could count as God in such religions could possibly be observed, literally encountered, or detected in the universe. God, in such a conception, is utterly transcendent to the world; he is conceived of as pure spirit, an infinite individual who created the universe out of nothing and who is distinct from the universe. Such a realitya reality that is taken to be an ultimate mysterycould not be identified as objects or processes in the universe can be identified. There can be no pointing at or to God, no ostensive teaching of God, to show what is meant. The word God can only be taught intralinguistically. God is taught to someone who does not understand what the word means by the use of descriptions such as the maker of the universe, the eternal, utterly independent being upon whom all other beings depend, the first cause, the sole ultimate reality, or a self-caused being. For someone who does not understand such descriptions, there can be no understanding of the concept of God. But the key terms of such descriptions are themselves no more capable of ostensive definition (of having their referents pointed out) than is God, where that term is not, like Zeus, construed anthropomorphically. (That does not mean that anyone has actually pointed to Zeus or observed Zeus but that one knows what it would be like to do so.)

In coming to understand what is meant by God in such discourses, it must be understood that God, whatever else he is, is a being that could not possibly be seen or be in any way else observed. He could not be anything material or empirical, and he is said by believers to be an intractable mystery. A nonmysterious God would not be the God of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

This, in effect, makes it a mistake to claim that the existence of God can rightly be treated as a hypothesis and makes it a mistake to claim that, by the use of the experimental method or some other determinate empirical method, the existence of God can be confirmed or disconfirmed as can the existence of an empirical reality. The retort made by some atheists, who also like pragmatists remain thoroughgoing fallibilists, is that such a proposed way of coming to know, or failing to come to know, God makes no sense for anyone who understands what kind of reality God is supposed to be. Anything whose existence could be so verified would not be the God of Judeo-Christianity. God could not be a reality whose presence is even faintly adumbrated in experience, for anything that could even count as the God of Judeo-Christianity must be transcendent to the world. Anything that could actually be encountered or experienced could not be God.

At the very heart of a religion such as Christianity there stands a metaphysical belief in a reality that is alleged to transcend the empirical world. It is the metaphysical belief that there is an eternal, ever-present creative source and sustainer of the universe. The problem is how it is possible to know or reasonably believe that such a reality exists or even to understand what such talk is about.

It is not that God is like a theoretical entity in physics such as a proton or a neutrino. They are, where they are construed as realities rather than as heuristically useful conceptual fictions, thought to be part of the actual furniture of the universe. They are not said to be transcendent to the universe, but rather are invisible entities in the universe logically on a par with specks of dust and grains of sand, only much, much smaller. They are on the same continuum; they are not a different kind of reality. It is only the case that they, as a matter of fact, cannot be seen. Indeed no one has an understanding of what it would be like to see a proton or a neutrinoin that way they are like Godand no provision is made in physical theory for seeing them. Still, there is no logical ban on seeing them as there is on seeing God. They are among the things in the universe, and thus, though they are invisible, they can be postulated as causes of things that are seen. Since this is so it becomes at least logically possible indirectly to verify by empirical methods the existence of such realities. It is also the case that there is no logical ban on establishing what is necessary to establish a causal connection, namely a constant conjunction of two discrete empirical realities. But no such constant conjunction can be established or even intelligibly asserted between God and the universe, and thus the existence of God is not even indirectly verifiable. God is not a discrete empirical thing or being, and the universe is not a gigantic thing or process over and above the things and processes in the universe of which it makes sense to say that the universe has or had a cause. But then there is no way, directly or indirectly, that even the probability that there is a God could be empirically established.

The gnostic may reply that there is a nonempirical way of establishing or making it probable that God exists. The claim is that there are truths about the nature of the cosmos neither capable of verification nor standing in need of verification. There is, gnostics claim against empiricists, knowledge of the world that transcends experience and comprehends the sorry scheme of things entire.

Since the thorough probings of such epistemological foundations by David Hume and Immanuel Kant, skepticism about how, and indeed even that, such knowledge is possible is very strong indeed. With respect to knowledge of God in particular, both Hume and Kant provide powerful critiques of the traditional attempts to prove the existence of God (notwithstanding the fact that Kant remained a Christian). While some of the details of their arguments have been rejected and refinements rooted in their argumentative procedure have been developed, there is a considerable consensus among philosophers and theologians that arguments of the general type as those developed by Hume and Kant show that no proof of Gods existence is possible. Alternatively, to speak of intuitive knowledge (an intuitive grasp of being or of an intuition of the reality of the divine being) is to make an appeal to something that is not sufficiently clear to be of any value in establishing anything.

Prior to the rise of anthropology and the scientific study of religion, an appeal to revelation and authority as a substitute for knowledge or warranted belief might have been thought to have considerable force. But with a knowledge of other religions and their associated appeals to revealed truth, such arguments are without probative force. Claimed, or alleged, revelations are many, diverse, and not infrequently conflicting; without going in a small and vicious circle, it cannot be claimed, simply by appealing to a given putative revelation, that the revelation is the true revelation or the genuine revelation and that others are mistaken or, where nonconflicting, mere approximations to the truth. Similar things need to be said for religious authority. Moreover, it is at best problematic whether faith could sanction speaking of testing the genuineness of revelation or of the acceptability of religious authority. Indeed, if something is a genuine revelation, there is no using reason to assess it. But the predicament is that plainly, as a matter of anthropological fact, there is a diverse and sometimes conflicting field of alleged revelations with no way of deciding or even having a reasonable hunch which, if any, of the candidate revelations is the genuine article. But even if the necessity for tests for the genuineness of revelation is allowed, there still is a claim that clearly will not do, for such a procedure would make an appeal to revelation and authority supererogatory. It is, where such tests are allowed, not revelation or authority that can warrant the most fundamental religious truths on which the rest depend. It is something elsethat which establishes the genuineness of the revelation or authoritythat guarantees these religious truths (if such there be), including the proposition that God exists. But the question returns, like the repressed, what that fundamental guarantee is or could be. Perhaps such a belief is nothing more than a cultural myth. There is, as has been shown, neither empirical nor a priori knowledge of God, and talk of intuitive knowledge is without logical force.

If these considerations are near to the mark, it is unclear what it means to say, as some agnostics and even atheists have, that they are skeptical God-seekers who simply have not found, after a careful examination, enough evidence to make belief in God a warranted or even a reasonable belief. It is unclear what it would be like to have, or for that matter fail to have, evidence for the existence of God. It is not that the God-seeker has to be able to give the evidence, for if that were so no search would be necessary, but that he, or at least somebody, must be able to conceive what would count as evidence if he had it so that he (and others) have some idea of what to look for. But it appears to be just that which cannot be done.

Perhaps there is room for the retort that it is enough for the God-seeker not to accept any logical ban on the possibility of there being evidence. He need not understand what it would be like to have evidence in this domain. But, in turn, when one considers what kind of transcendent reality God is said to be, there seems to be an implicit logical ban on there being empirical evidence (a pleonasm) for his existence. It would seem plausible to assert that there is such a ban, though any such assertion should, of course, be made in a tentative way.

Someone trying to give empirical anchorage to talk of God might give the following hypothetical case. (It is, however, important in considering the case to keep in mind that things even remotely like what is described do not happen.) If thousands of people were standing out under the starry skies and all sawthe thing went on before their very eyesa set of stars rearrange themselves to spell out God, they would indeed rightly be utterly astonished and think that they had gone mad. Even if they could somehow assure themselves that this was not in some way a form of mass hallucinationhow they could do this is not evidentsuch an experience would not constitute evidence for the existence of God, for they still would be without a clue as to what could be meant by speaking of an infinite individual transcendent to the world. Such an observation (the stars so rearranging themselves), no matter how well confirmed, would not ostensively fix the reference range of God. Talk of such an infinite individual is utterly incomprehensible and has every appearance of being incoherent. No one knows what he is talking about in speaking of such a transcendent reality. All they would know is that something very strange indeed had happened. The doubt arises whether believers, or indeed anyone else in terms acceptable to believers, can give an intelligible account of the concept of God or of what belief in God comes to once God is de-anthropomorphized.

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atheism | Definition, Philosophy … – Britannica.com

What is Atheism? | American Atheists

Atheism is one thing: A lack of belief in gods.

Atheism isnot an affirmative belief that there is no god nor does it answer any other question about what a person believes. It is simply a rejection of the assertion that there are gods. Atheism is too oftendefined incorrectly as a belief system. To be clear: Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods.

Older dictionaries define atheism as a belief that there is no God. Clearly, theistic influence taints these definitions. The fact that dictionaries define Atheism as there is no God betrays the (mono)theistic influence. Without the (mono)theistic influence, the definition would at least read there are no gods.

While there are some religions that are atheistic (certain sects of Buddhism, for example), that does not mean that atheism is a religion. To put it in a more humorous way: If atheism is a religion, thennot collecting stamps is a hobby.

Despite the fact that atheism is not a religion, atheism is protected by many of the same Constitutional rights that protect religion. That, however, does not mean that atheism is itself a religion, only that our sincerely held (lack of) beliefs are protected in the same way as the religious beliefs of others. Similarly, many interfaith groups will include atheists. This, again, does not mean that atheism is a religious belief.

Some groups will use words like Agnostic, Humanist, Secular, Bright, Freethinker, or any number of other terms to self identify. Those words are perfectly fine as a self-identifier, but we strongly advocate using the word that people understand: Atheist. Dont use those other terms to disguise your atheism or to shy away from a word that some think has a negative connotation. We should be using the terminology that is most accurate and that answers the question that is actually being asked. We should use the term that binds all of us together.

If you call yourself a humanist, a freethinker, a bright, or even a cultural Catholic and lack belief in a god, you are an atheist. Dont shy away from the term. Embrace it.

Agnostic isnt just a weaker version of being an atheist. It answers a different question. Atheism is about what you believe. Agnosticism is about what you know.

In recent surveys, the Pew Research Center has grouped atheists, agnostics, and the unaffiliated into one category. The so-called Nones are the fastest growing religious demographic in the United States. Pewseparates out atheists from agnostics and the non-religious, but that is primarily a function of self-identification. Only about 5% of people call themselves atheists, but if you ask about belief in gods, 11% say they do not believe in gods. Those people are atheists, whether they choose to use the word or not.

A recent survey fromUniversity of Kentucky psychologists Will Gervais and Maxine Najle found that as many as 26% of Americans may be atheists. This study was designed to overcome the stigma associated with atheism and the potential for closeted atheists to abstain from outing themselves even when speaking anonymously to pollsters. The full study is awaiting publication inSocial Psychological and Personality Sciencejournal but a pre-print version is available here.

Even more people say that their definition of god is simply a unifying force between all people. Or that they arent sure what they believe.If you lack an active belief in gods, you are an atheist.

Being an atheist doesnt mean youre sure about every theological question, have answers to the way the world was created, or how evolution works. It just means that the assertion that gods exist has left you unconvinced.

Wishing that there was an afterlife, or a creator god, or a specific god doesnt mean youre not an atheist. Being an atheist is about what you believe and dont believe, not about what you wish to be true or would find comforting.

The only common thread that ties all atheists together is a lack of belief in gods. Some of the best debates we have ever had have been with fellow atheists. This is because atheists do not have a common belief system, sacred scripture or atheist Pope. This means atheists often disagree on many issues and ideas. Atheists come in a variety of shapes, colors, beliefs, convictions, and backgrounds. We are as unique as our fingerprints.

Atheists exist across the political spectrum. We are members of every race. We are members of the LGBTQ* community. There are atheists in urban, suburban, and rural communities and in every state of the nation.

We have more than 170 affiliates and local partners nationwide. If you are looking for a community, we strongly recommend reaching out to an affiliate in your area.

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What is Atheism? | American Atheists

American Atheists

Thanks in part to the work of American Atheists, the number of atheists in the United States continues to grow and attitudes toward atheists are shifting. However, misconceptions about atheists still exist and members of our community still face discrimination at home, work, and school. Help us continue to elevate atheists and educate the public about atheism by making a tax-deductible gift today.

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American Atheists

Why We Should Be Compassionate Toward Atheists – National Catholic Register (blog)

Blogs | Aug. 18, 2017

Atheism is gaining converts every day, and we have a rather daunting job of evangelizing those who would rather God did not exist.

Dr. Thomas Nagel, professor of philosophy at New York University, wrote in his 1997 book, The Last Word:

I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-formed people I know are religious believers. It isnt just that I dont believe in God and, naturally, hope that Im right in my belief. Its that I hope there is no God! I dont want there to be a God; I dont want the universe to be like that.

Whether or not Dr. Nagel intended to speak for anyone other than himself, I suspect his sentiments are shared by many atheists who not only dont believe there is a God, but dont want there to be a God.

From the standpoint of Christianity, this prompts this question: Why would anyone not want a loving God to exist? This is a question that all apologistsindeed, all Christians who seek to evangelize atheistsmust ask and attempt to answer. Because if we dont know the answer to that question, we can have all the other answers to all the other questions, and it wont matter. For instance, we can talk about the inexplicable characteristics of the Shroud of Turin, the tilma of Guadalupe, the sun dancing at Fatima, the incorruptibles, and the Eucharistic miracle in Lanciano, but we may not have addressed the real issue for those who wish atheism to be true.

There may be lots of reasons for atheisms recent prevalence, but it is clear that the rise in atheism has taken place alongside the fall of the family. Is there a connection between the two? In his book Faith of the Fatherless: The Psychology of Atheism, psychologist Dr. Paul Vitz answers in the affirmative.

Specifically, Vitz argues that a father often exerts a powerful influence on his childs concept of God. (Since his original book was published in 1999, other studies have provided support for this point.) Dr. Vitz takes a biographical tour of modern atheists and discovers a relatively consistent thread: Looking back at our thirteen major historical rejecters of a personal God, we find a weak, dead, or abusive father in every case. Of course, it is not true, nor is Vitz making the case, that every atheist had a bad fatheror that the mere absence of a father must propel one to atheism. It would also be a fallacy to claim that each atheists fundamental reason for embracing atheism is his paternal relationship. But to Vitzs point (and consistent with the findings of other studies), it is legitimate to argue that some persons may be predisposed to atheism because of their family circumstances.

In his book, Jesus of Nazareth, Pope Benedict XVI makes an interesting point along the same lines, alluding to the connection between fatherhood and faith. Pointing out that the Our Father is a great prayer of consolation, insofar as it recognizes and professes God as our Father with Whom we have a personal relationship, Pope Benedict XVI notes that consolation is not experienced by everyone:

It is true, of course, that contemporary men and women have difficulty experiencing the great consolation of the word father immediately, since the experience of the father is in many cases either completely absent or is obscured by inadequate examples of fatherhood.

As Pope Benedict suggests, the idea of God as a father can be a painful reminder that their own father did not, could not, or would not love them. Thus, the idea of spending fifteen minutes, much less eternity, with a father is remarkably unpleasant.

Where does that leave those who are sincerely and charitably trying to convey Gods love to those who are so desperate to disbelieve? Perhaps it starts by recognizing that they are hurt, and what we should do is act with compassion instead of trying to win a debate with them. If you convince someone that their best hope is to spend eternity with a Being they equate with someone who has been abusive to them, you have done them no favors. You may do well to first explain to them who God is, and what Gods love means to you. Along with true knowledge, love and mercy are the essential qualities of a Catholic apologist.

Try to explain Gods love to them, and ask the Holy Spirit for the right words. Sad though it may be, its entirely possible that no one has ever triednever talked about Gods love to them. Its entirely possible that no one has ever told them that God wants them to be happy.

Patience is also critical. Some might seem obstinate in their refusal to believe, or in their inability to admit the possibility that they might be wrong. Respond with patience, and remember that though the argument at hand might be Saint Thomas Aquinas five proofs for Gods existence or the Shroud of Turin, for instance, that may not be what they are actually arguing about. They might be really arguing about their parents, the past, and their pain. Thus, for them, the Shroud of Turin serves as a spiritual Rorschach test in which they dont see Gods pain, but their own. Explain to them that no one wants to ease their pain more than God. It sometimes helps to explain to them how God has eased your own. Dont forget that comforting the afflicted is a spiritual work of mercy not just for other Christians, and it very often must precede instructing the ignorant.

Atheism is gaining converts every day, and we have a rather daunting job of evangelizing those who would rather God did not exist. Many people have had difficult and painful family experiences, and they deserved better. We need to help people understand that God is better. Scripture does not assure us that our own parents will love us; quite the contrary, God warns us that some parents will not love their own children. Thats terribly sad, but its connected with an overwhelming promise that we need to remind people again and again and again: God will never stop loving you. This message is made many times in Scripture, but perhaps most explicitly in passage that must be in our hearts and on our lips going forward in our discussions. It is Isaiah 49:15, and it reads: Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you.

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Why We Should Be Compassionate Toward Atheists – National Catholic Register (blog)

Everyone’s suspicious of atheists even other atheists – SBS

In the U.S. and plenty of other places around the world, atheism is on the rise. In just under half of the worlds countries, according to Pew Research Center, the second-largest religious group is people who claim no religion at all. In the United States, while recent research has shown an uptick in the number of people who identify as atheist, definitive numbers are hard to come by; one survey last year put it around 10 percent, whilea more recent study argued that it was as high as 26 percent.

Whatever the true number is, though, there remains a disconnect between atheisms popularity and its reputation: According to a new study published last week in Nature, people all over the world connect immorality with atheism. In fact, the moral prejudice against atheists is so strong that it holds even in countries like the Netherlands, where most people arent religious. Even atheists themselves, according to the study, are inclined to see nonbelievers as more wicked than the faithful.

According to a new study published last week in Nature, people all over the world connect immorality with atheism.

Entrenched moral suspicion of atheists suggests that religions powerful influence on moral judgements persists, even among non-believers in secular societies, the authors wrote.

The study, led by University of Kentucky psychology professor Will Gervais, surveyed more than 3,000 people in 13 countries, including nations with Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Muslim, and non-religious majorities: Australia, China, Czech Republic, Finland, Hong Kong, India, Mauritius, Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and the United States.

Participants read a description of a man who tortured animals as a child and became even more sadistically violent as he grew up, eventually murdering five homeless people and hiding their dismembered bodies in his basement. The survey then asked some participants if they thought the man was more likely a teacher or religious teacher. Other participants were asked if they though the man was more likely a teacher or an atheist teacher. This setup meant that no one was directly asked if they thought the man was or was not an atheist, but researchers could draw conclusions by comparing how many participants said the man would be an atheist teacher versus how many said he would be a religious teacher.

Entrenched moral suspicion of atheists suggests that religions powerful influence on moral judgements persists, even among non-believers in secular societies, the authors wrote.

As they had hypothesised, the researchers found a universal suspicion of atheist morality across all 13 countries. People overall are roughly twice as likely to view extreme immorality as representative of atheists, relative to believers, they wrote. Consistent with predictions, extreme intuitive moral distrust of atheists is both globally evident and variable in its magnitude across countries.

The association was somewhat stronger in more religious countries, but even in very secular countries in the study Australia, China, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom people were more likely to associate serial killing with atheism, although the gap was narrower. The survey also asked participants to describe their religious beliefs, which allowed the research team to determine that even atheists connected immoral acts to atheism more often than to religious belief.

The authors concluded that people around the world see religion as a necessary restraint on depraved and dangerous behavior. In other words, despite the fact that we live in an increasingly secular world, people still fear those who arent God-fearing.

That finding didnt surprise Joseph Baker, author of American Secularism and a professor in the East Tennessee State University sociology department. An anti-atheist bias is really common and really well established, he said. In the United States, atheists used to be the most disliked among a number of unpopular groups, but are now tied at the top with Muslims, he said; what this new study adds is good data showing that the feeling is international.

Louise Antony, a philosophy professor at UMass Amherst who has written about atheism and morality, also found the study results unsurprising. I could predict it just from what I know about the stereotypes that people hold of atheists, she said.

It wouldnt be surprising that atheists who grow up in cultures disparaging atheists have the same associations.

But Antony also cautioned against drawing too much significance from experiments that may reveal only implicit bias, but not accurately portray peoples more holistic feelings about atheists. For example, Antony said, she has a terrible fear of spiders, the result of some deep-seated association that she wishes she didnt have, since she knows that spiders are almost entirely harmless and kill pests like mosquitoes. Likewise, people even avowed atheists may be handicapped by an implicit connection between atheism and immorality, despite a genuine belief that they themselves are as moral as believers.

The study might also be picking up on a fairly superficial response, Antony said: It wouldnt be surprising that atheists who grow up in cultures disparaging atheists have the same associations.

But even superficial biases can have very real effects, she added. Thats especially true in moments of hot cognition, when people dont have time to stop and reason out their beliefs before taking action, Baker noted.

This latest study is more evidence that atheists are still mistrusted in contemporary society, he said. It means that people who are secular still have a long way to go in terms of getting equal footing in civil discourse. Theres still a lot of prejudice they have to overcome.

This article originally appeared on Science of Us: Article 2017. All Rights reserved. Distributed by Tribune Content.

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Everyone’s suspicious of atheists even other atheists – SBS

Intolerance rising in Malaysia, says report – Free Malaysia Today

This is believed to be largely due to the influence of Malaysians who study in Saudi Arabia and, upon their return, introduce Salafist ideas into the nations administration.

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has shifted towards a more rigid, political Islam, resulting in greater intolerance in the country, according to a report in The Diplomat.

The report quoted researchers and Muslims as saying that intolerance was becoming a part of Malaysian life.

Malaysia has become steadily more intolerant says Dr Zachary Abuza.

Dr Zachary Abuza, a professor at the National War College in the US, was quoted by The Diplomat as saying: Malaysia has become steadily more intolerant, and this has been a top down government policy.

Abuza, who focuses on Southeast Asian politics and security issues, described Malaysian Islamic religious leaders as state-sponsored and who used vetted sermons.

The people most at risk are clearly the ethnic minorities, atheists, and Christian Malays, which is actually unconstitutional.

I was just in Malaysia, and the intolerance displayed by Malays is growing. I dont know one Chinese Malaysian or Indian that is not alarmed at where this is headed.

The report quoted Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa, director of the Islamic Renaissance Front, as saying that a shift had occurred towards more rigid and political Islamic practice.

This is because of an influx of Salafist scholars returning from Saudi Arabia, with many joining the government, sometimes as members of the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim), or as preachers at mosques.

Farouk, who was summoned by Jakim over his activism two years ago and questioned about his stand on freedom of religion, was quoted as saying:

Its a trend in many states in Malaysia that every Friday, Shias are vilified [along] with liberals, gays and Christians.

Now, the next target will be the atheists, he added.

Islamic authorities have recently targeted Muslims with a bent towards atheism following the posting of a picture on social media of a group of people said to be atheists and members of the Kuala Lumpur chapter of the Atheist Republic.

Among those who called for action against this group were Minister in the Prime Ministers Department Shahidan Kassim and Deputy Minister in the Prime Ministers Department Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki, who is in charge of Islamic affairs.

Asyraf Wajdi called for an investigation to determine if any Muslims were involved in the meeting while Shahidan suggested that the government hunt them down vehemently.

A Singaporean with atheistic leanings, given the name Nurulhuda in the report, who has been living in Malaysia for 19 years, said it was obvious that Malaysian society had drifted towards more extreme forms of political Islam.

She acknowledged that atheists including Muslims with atheistic views were meeting in secret in Malaysia but that they were normally careful to stay off the radar of Islamic officials.

She said ex-Muslims or their families could be harassed and their careers damaged if they were discovered. She said Muslims with atheistic leanings lived in fear, and were concerned that what had happened in Bangladesh, where atheists had been killed by fundamentalist Muslims, might occur here.

Despite taking precautions, she was quoted as saying, death threats online and over the phone were common. Women, she added, were threatened with rape for holding atheistic views.

Malaysian criminal law does not forbid atheism nor does it criminalise it, says Dr Shad Faruqi.

The report quoted an administrator for the Atheist Republic Malaysia page, given the name Ahmad, as saying he was worried that secular aspects of law in Malaysia were fading away.

Even his moderate Muslim father one day mentioned casually to him that apostates should be killed. I dont think he would kill me, said Ahmad.

We are moving further from secularism. But at the same time there is a blooming population of atheists, he was quoted as saying.

The Diplomat quoted Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi, professor of law at the University of Malaya, as saying that Shahidans remark is popular political talk.

He added that Malaysian criminal law did not forbid atheism nor did it criminalise it.

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Intolerance rising in Malaysia, says report – Free Malaysia Today

How TV Host Ray Comfort is Confronting Atheism | CBN News – CBN News

Ray Comfort is trying to get atheists to change their minds.

The filmmaker and best-selling Christian author has joined up with Living Waters to create, “The Atheist Delusion,” a documentary that dives into the mindset of atheists.

“The Atheist Delusion” pulls back the curtain and reveals what is going on in the mind of those who deny the obvious,” says the film’s website. “It introduces you to a number of atheists who you will follow as they go where the evidence leads, find a roadblock, and enter into a place of honesty that is rarely seen on film.”

Comfort and actor Kirk Cameron hosts the show “The Way of the Master.” Comfort has authored more than 80 books.

The show involves Comfort and Cameron evangelizing to people in the streets, and sharing the gospel with them.

Cameron speaks highly of the new documentary.

“Classic Comfort mixed with high-resolution logic, breath-taking creation, topped off with quality humor and compassionate Gospel interviews,” he said. “Ray has taken his message to a new level…I’ve never been so proud of my friend Ray’s work. Show it to everyone you know, especially your teens.”

Moody Radio Host Janet Parshall calls it, “Absolutely magnificent!”

And Todd Friel, host of Wretched Radio/TV spoke praised it as well.

“No need to tune-in to the Hallmark Channel for tear-jerkers,” Friel said. “Watching the faces of atheists as Ray lovingly and truthfully witnesses to them will make you cry. Just beautiful.”

Click here to find out more about the film.

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How TV Host Ray Comfort is Confronting Atheism | CBN News – CBN News

Beware the War Against ASEAN’s Atheists | The Diplomat – The Diplomat

There is one minority that knows no borders, isnt divided by race or gender, and yet still faces persecution across the world: atheists. And in recent weeks, they have been under attack in Malaysia. The government has announced that it will hunt down atheists who, it says, could face prosecution exactly what for remains in question. This all began earlier this month, when the Kuala Lumpur branch of the Atheist Republic, a Canada-based organization, posted a photo of their annual meeting on social media.

The Hunt for Atheists Continues

In response, the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department, Malaysias religious watchdog, said it is now constantly monitoring atheists groups, presumably those also online, and its director said that they would provide treatment to those caught. Shahidan Kassim, a minister in the Prime Ministers Department, said later that: I suggest we go all-out to hunt down these groups and we ask the media to help us identify them because this is a religious country.

Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar upped the ante when he commented that the the police would scrutinize the existing laws to enable appropriate action to be taken should the atheist group cause anxiety among Muslims, as FreeMalaysiaToday, an online newspaper, put it.

One can make many things of this comment. Primarily, though, if a few dozen, mostly young people who gather once a year in private can make Malaysias Muslims anxious (note Khalid cared little about the nerves of Malaysian Christians or Buddhists) then isnt his comment an affront to their commitment to the faith itself?

But the Malaysian authorities took the issue back to a perennial one: apostasy.

According to Malaysias federal laws, apostasy is not a crime. But in practice, the countrys state-run courts, which hold the sway over religious matters, rarely allow Muslims to formally leave the faith. Instead they are punished with counseling, fines, or jail time. Similarly, atheism is not strictly illegal in Malaysia, but blasphemy is. This makes atheism a grey area, since the most fundamental point of it is the belief that there is no god.

A similar problem exists in Indonesia. In 2012, Alexander Aan was almost beaten to death by a mob and then sentenced to two and a half years in prison while his attackers were set free after he posted a message on Facebook that read: God doesnt exist. The commentary surrounding the case frequently asked whether atheism was illegal in Indonesia or not. Most pundits took the opinion that it wasnt illegal: Alexander Aan, they said, wasnt convicted for his atheism but for blasphemy. To some, that was no more than intellectual contortionism at work.

But none of this should have come as a surprise. A 2016 report by the International Humanist and Ethical Union found Malaysia to be one of the least tolerant countries in the world of atheists. The report singled out Prime Minister Najib Razak for criticism. In May of that year, he described atheism and secularism, along with liberalism and humanism, as deviant and a threat to Islam and the state. He stated clearly: We will not tolerate any demands or right to apostasy by Muslims.

Over the years I have met a number of Malaysian atheists. Many have to hide their lack of faith from their families, lest they be ostracized. Social media, here, has been a massive help. And many are forced to hide behind less-controversial monikers, like freethinker, in order to avoid the thought police. By way of a comparison, I have met Vietnamese pro-democracy activists more willing to criticize the Communist Party in public places than Malaysian atheists willing to talk about religion at coffee shops. I am worried. I have already accepted that something might happen to me that I might be killed, one Malaysian atheist recently told Channel News Asia.

No Freedom From Religion

We are often told that Malaysia and Indonesia are secular nations. That is not quite true. At best, they are secular-lite. Secularism has three main components, and that is often forgotten conveniently by some. The first is a genuine separation of the church or mosque, or pagoda and the state. The second is freedom of religion, which brings with it pluralism and religious tolerance. Put simply, all faiths have equal status within the eyes of the state.

Malaysia and Indonesia do to some extent practice these but certainly not the third, which is freedom from religion. It means that I, a non-believer, am not interfered with by the forces of religion, and am protected against this by the state. It also means that a believer is allowed, by law, to remove himself from a religion. As has been indicated above, that is not quite the case by any means.

More Than Politics

Some pundits will simply claim that politics is at hand. Malaysian elections are approaching, and Malaysias ruling party is playing the religious card, fearful that Malay-Muslims will vote for one of the opposition parties. In Indonesia, the arrest and imprisonment of Basuki Ahok Purnama for blasphemy, coming as it did during the Jakartas mayoral election, was also politicians using religion, some say. President Joko Widodo weighed in here with the opinion that the anti-Ahok protests, some of the largest Indonesia has ever witnessed, were steered by political actors who were exploiting the situation.

There is some merit in this view, but it is far from the whole picture. For starters, if they are exploiting conservative religious sentiments, then surely those sentiments themselves must have been there in the first place and must be thought by a sizeable number of people for opportunistic politicians to take notice. That itself is something that ought not to be ignored, since it is the root cause of the issue we are addressing here.

Second, if it is only politicians exploiting the situation, why havent the moderate Muslim organizations come out and defend the atheists, for instance, or, to take a more specific example, why didnt they campaign for Ahok? As some experts have already noted, Nahdlatul Ulama, the largest Indonesian Muslim organization, with more than 50 million followers, made a lot of noise against the radical protestors at the time, but was conspicuously quiet on defending Ahoks right to say what he did.

A More Radical Mainstream?

Some have argued that the extremists in Malaysia and Indonesia are becoming more open. But there is also some evidence that points to the mainstream, or even the public at large, being more conservative. For instance, in 2013, the Pew Research Center conducted a worldwide survey on the attitudes of Muslims towards different elements of faith. When Indonesian respondents were asked if they favored making Sharia the national law of the country, 72 percent said they would it is currently only the law in the semi-autonomous state of Aceh. Of Malaysian respondents, 86 percent said they would, higher than the percentages recorded in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Egypt, countries which are not typically described as moderate.

Some might argue that Muslims were merely responding in such a way because they perceived that doing so was in line with what their religion called for and what it meant to be a good, practicing Muslim. But what was striking was that, of those respondents who favored introducing Sharia, 41 percent from Malaysia and 50 percent from Indonesia thought it should apply to all citizens, not just Muslims. And 60 percent from Malaysia and 48 percent from Indonesia thought stoning to death was an appropriate penalty for adultery.

One can quibble with any single poll or statistic or development. But the point here is that there are enough of each of these out there for a level of concern to be raised. Or, at the very least, for more attention to be paid to a relatively neglected issue.

Continued here:

Beware the War Against ASEAN’s Atheists | The Diplomat – The Diplomat

Atheism – Conservapedia

Atheism, as defined by the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, and other philosophy reference works, is the denial of the existence of God.[1]Paul Edwards, who was a prominent atheist and editor of the Encyclopedia of Philosophy, defined an atheist as “a person who maintains that there is no God.”[2]

Beginning in the latter portion of the 20th century and continuing beyond, many agnostics/atheists have argued that the definition of atheism should be defined as a lack of belief in God or gods.[2][3][4][5]

Atheism has been examined by many disciplines in terms of its effects on individuals and on societies and these effects will be covered shortly.

As far as individuals adopting an atheistic worldview, atheism has a number of causal factors and these will be elaborated on below.

See also: Schools of atheist thought and Atheist factions

The history of atheism can be dated to as early as the 5th century B.C. Diagoras of Melos was a 5th century B.C. Greek atheist, poet and Sophist. Since this time, there have been many schools of atheist thought that have developed.

See also: Weak atheism and Strong atheism

Atheists claim there are two main reasons for their denial of the existence of God and/or disbelief in God: the conviction that there is positive evidence or argument that God does not exist (strong atheism, which is also sometimes called positive atheism), and their claim that theists bear the burden of proof to show that God exists, that they have failed to do so, and that belief is therefore unwarranted (weak atheism).

As alluded to above, theists and others have posited a number of causes of atheism and this matter will be further addressed in this article.

In 1876, Charles Bradlaugh proposed that atheism does not assert “there is no God,” and by doing so he endeavored to dilute the traditional definition of atheism.[3][6] As noted above, in the latter portion of the 20th century, the proposition that the definition of atheism be defined as a mere lack of belief in God or gods began to be commonly advanced by agnostics/atheists.[3][7] It is now common for atheists/agnostics and theists to debate the meaning of the word atheism.[3][8]

Critics of a broader definition of atheism to be a mere lack of belief often point out that such a definition is contrary to the traditional/historical meaning of the word and that such a definition makes atheism indistinguishable from agnosticism.[2][3][9]

For more information, please see:

Below are a few common ways that atheism manifests itself:

1. Militant atheism, which continues to suppress and oppress religious believers today.

Topics related to militant atheism:

2. Philosophical atheism – Atheist philosophers assert that God does not exist. (See also: Naturalism and Materialism)

Secular humanism is a philosophy which holds that human beings are the most important figures, and that social problems are best solved without the involvement of religious doctrine.

The philosophy of postmodernism is atheistic (see: Atheism and postmodernism).

3. Atheistic Buddhism (some schools of Buddhism are theistic)

4. Practical atheism: atheism of the life – that is, living as though God does not exist.[10]

5. Other schools of atheist thought: Schools of atheist thought

See also: Atheist factions and Western atheism, schisms and political polarization and Atheist organizations

In 2015, Dr. J. Gordon Melton said about the atheist movement (organized atheism) that atheism is not a movement which tends to create community, but in the last few years there has been some growth of organized atheism.[11] See also: Atheist factions and Atheist organizations

Jacques Rousseau wrote in the Daily Maverick: “Elevatorgate..has resulted in three weeks of infighting in the secular community. Some might observe that we indulge in these squabbles fairly frequently.”[12] An ex-atheist wrote: “As an Atheist for 40 years, I noticed that there is not just a wide variety of Atheist positions, but there exists an actual battle between certain Atheist factions.”[13]

See also: Atheist movement and Atheism and anger

Blair Scott served on the American Atheists board of directors.[14] Mr. Scott formerly served as a State Director for the American Atheists organization in the state of Alabama. On December 1, 2012, he quit his post as a director of outreach for the American Atheists due to infighting within the American atheist movement.[15]

Mr. Blair wrote:

The atheist Neil Carter wrote:

The atheist David Smalley said about the atheist movement: “We’re eating our own… Were disintegrating.”[17]

See also: Atheism and social intelligence and Atheism and emotional intelligence

The American atheist activist Eddie Tabash said in a speech to the Michigan Atheists State Convention, “Since we are a bit of a cantankerous, opinionated lot…”.[18]

See also: Atheism and anger and Atheism and unforgiveness

The Christian philosopher James S. Spiegel says that the path from Christianity to atheism among several of his friends involved moral slippage such as resentment or unforgiveness.[19] See: Atheism and unforgiveness

On January 1, 2011, CNN reported:

In studies on college students, atheists and agnostics reported more anger at God during their lifetimes than believers.[20]

Various studies found that traumatic events in people’s lives has a positive correlation with “emotional atheism”.[21]

The atheist and lesbian Greta Christina told the journalist Chris Mooney on the Point of Inquiry podcast, “there isn’t one emotion” that affects atheists “but anger is one of the emotions that many of us have …[it] drives others to participate in the movement.”[22]

Social science research indicates that anti-theists score the highest among atheists when it comes to personality traits such as narcissism, dogmatism, and anger.[23] Furthermore, they scored lowest when it comes to agreeableness and positive relations with others.[24]

For additional information, please see: Atheism and social intelligence and Atheism and emotional intelligence and Atheism and unforgiveness and Atheism and bitterness

See also: Atheism and its retention rate in individuals and Desecularization and Atheism and apathy

In 2012, a Georgetown University study was published indicating that only about 30 percent of those who grow up in an atheist household remain atheists as adults.[25]

A 2012 study by the General Social Survey of the social science research organization NORC at the University of Chicago found that belief in God rises with age, even in atheistic nations.[26] The Pew Forum reports about American atheists: “Among self-identified atheists and agnostics, the median age is 34, and roughly four-in-ten adults in these categories are between the ages of 18 and 29.”[27] See also: Atheism and immaturity.

In addition, in atheistic Communist China, Christianity is experiencing rapid growth (see: Growth of Christianity in China). Also, there was a collapse of atheism in the former Soviet Union (see: Collapse of atheism in the former Soviet Union).

See also:

See also: Atheism and loneliness and Atheism and apathy and Internet atheism and American atheists and church attendance

According to an international study done by William Bainbridge, atheism is frequent among people whose interpersonal social obligations are weak and is also linked to lower fertility rates in advanced industrial nations (See also: Atheism and fertility rates).[28] See also: Atheism and loneliness and Atheism and social skills

In comparison to many religious groups, which have many meetings/conferences in numerous places in a given day or week which are convenient to attend, atheist meetings and atheist conferences are sparse. One of the causes of this situation is the apathy of many atheists (see: Atheism and apathy).

In recent times, the number of people attending atheist conferences has grown smaller.[29] Atheist David Smalley wrote: “And we wonder why were losing elections, losing funding, and our conferences are getting smaller.”[30] In 2017, the atheist activist Lee Moore said about atheist conferences, “Most conferences are gone now. They’re either gone or in some kind of life support form.”[31]

Atheist Francois Tremblay wrote about the difficulty of motivating atheists to engage in activities related to atheism: “One last problem that undermines any propagation of atheism is inspiration. Let’s be honest here, “there is no god!” is not a very motivating call for most people.” (see also: Atheism and inspiration).[32] The atheist Jerry Coyne said about atheist meetings/conferences, “But to me the speakers and talks have often seemed repetitive: the same crew of jet-set skeptics giving the same talks.”[33]

In an essay entitled How the Atheist Movement Failed Me, an atheist woman noted that participation in the atheist community is often expensive due to the cost of attending atheist conferences and even local atheist meetings in restaurants and bars challenged her modest budget.[34] As a result of the challenges that atheists commonly have in terms of socializing in person, many atheists turn to the internet in terms of communicating with other atheists.[35] Often internet communication between atheists turns turns contentious (see: Atheist factions).

For more information, please see: Atheism and loneliness

See also: Atheism and death and Atheist funerals and Atheism and Hell

Science Daily reported that Death anxiety increases atheists’ unconscious belief in God.[37] In a Psychology Today article, Dr. Nathan A. Heflick reported similar results in other studies.[38] Under stress, the brain’s processing works in a way that prefers unconscious thinking.[39]

A United States study and a Taiwanese study indicated that the irreligious fear death more than the very religious.[40]

See also: Atheism and life after death and Atheists and supernatural beliefs

A significant percentage of atheists believe in life after death (see: Atheism and life after death).[41]

For additional information, please see:

See also: Atheism and Hell

The journalist and ex-atheist Peter Hitchens, who is the brother of the late atheist Christopher Hitchens, said upon seeing an art exhibit of Michelangelo’s painting The Last Judgment he came to the realization that he might be judged which startled him.[42] This started a train of thought within Peter Hitchens that eventually led him to become a Christian.[42]

See also: Atheists doubting the validity of atheism and There are no atheists in foxholes

Hannah More wrote: “[T]he mind, which knows not where to fly, flies to God. In agony, nature is no Atheist. The soul is drawn to God by a sort of natural impulse; not always, perhaps by an emotion of piety; but from a feeling conviction, that every other refuge is ‘a refuge of lies’.”[43]

See also: There are no atheists in foxholes and Atheists doubting the validity of atheism

Reverend William T. Cummings is famous for declaring “There are no atheists in foxholes.”[45] Chaplain F. W. Lawson of the 302d Machine Gun Battalion, who was wounded twice in wartime, stated “I doubt if there is such a thing as an atheist. At least there isn’t in a front line trench.”[46]On the other hand, the news organization NBC featured a story in which atheist veterans claimed that there are atheists in foxholes.[47]

Research indicates that heavy combat has a positive correlation to the strength of the religious faith in soldiers during the battles and subsequent to the war if they indicated their experience was a negative experience (for more information please see: There are no atheists in foxholes).

Also, due to research showing that death anxiety increases atheists’ unconscious belief in God, Dr. Nathan Heflick declared in a Psychology Today article, “But, at a less conscious (or pre-conscious) level, this research suggests that there might be less atheism in foxholes than atheists in foxholes report.”[38] Please see: Atheism and death

see also: Atheism and communism and Militant atheism and Atheism and economics and Atheism and mass murder and Atheist cults and Atheism and Karl Marx

Karl Marx said “[Religion] is the opium of the people.” Marx also stated: “Communism begins from the outset (Owen) with atheism; but atheism is at first far from being communism; indeed, that atheism is still mostly an abstraction.”[48]

Vladimir Lenin similarly wrote regarding atheism and communism: “A Marxist must be a materialist, i.e., an enemy of religion, but a dialectical materialist, i.e., one who treats the struggle against religion not in an abstract way, not on the basis of remote, purely theoretical, never varying preaching, but in a concrete way, on the basis of the class struggle which is going on in practice and is educating the masses more and better than anything else could.”[49]

In 1955, the Chinese communist leader Zhou Enlai declared, “We Communists are atheists”.[50]

In 2014, the Communist Party of China reaffirmed that members of their party must be atheists.[51]

In 2016, the International Business Times reported:

According to the University of Cambridge, historically, the “most notable spread of atheism was achieved through the success of the 1917 Russian Revolution, which brought the Marxist-Leninists to power.”[53]

Vitalij Lazarevi Ginzburg, a Soviet physicist, wrote that the “Bolshevik communists were not merely atheists but, according to Lenin’s terminology, militant atheists.”[54] However, prior to this, the Reign of Terror of the French Revolution established a state which was anti-Roman Catholicism/Christian in nature [55] (anti-clerical deism and anti-religious atheism and played a significant role in the French Revolution[56]), with the official ideology being the Cult of Reason; during this time thousands of believers were suppressed and executed by the guillotine.[57]

See also: Atheism and mass murder and Atheist atrocities

It has been estimated that in less than the past 100 years, governments under the banner of communism have caused the death of somewhere between 40,472,000 and 259,432,000 human lives.[58] Dr. R. J. Rummel, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Hawaii, is the scholar who first coined the term democide (death by government). Dr. R. J. Rummel’s mid estimate regarding the loss of life due to communism is that communism caused the death of approximately 110,286,000 people between 1917 and 1987.[59]Richard Dawkins has attempted to engage in historical revisionism concerning atheist atrocities and Dawkins was shown to be in gross error. See also: Atheism and historical revisionism

Christian apologist Gregory Koukl wrote relative to atheism and mass murder that “the assertion is that religion has caused most of the killing and bloodshed in the world. There are people who make accusations and assertions that are empirically false. This is one of them.”[60] Koukl details the number of people killed in various events involving theism and compares them to the much higher tens of millions of people killed under regimes which advocated atheism.[60] As noted earlier, Richard Dawkins has attempted to engage in historical revisionism concerning atheist atrocities and Dawkins was shown to be in gross error.

Koukl summarized by stating:

The ex-atheist Theodore Beale notes concerning atheism and mass murder:

The total body count for the ninety years between 1917 and 2007 is approximately 148 million dead at the bloody hands of fifty-two atheists, three times more than all the human beings killed by war, civil war, and individual crime in the entire twentieth century combined.

The historical record of collective atheism is thus 182,716 times worse on an annual basis than Christianitys worst and most infamous misdeed, the Spanish Inquisition. It is not only Stalin and Mao who were so murderously inclined, they were merely the worst of the whole Hell-bound lot. For every Pol Pot whose infamous name is still spoken with horror today, there was a Mengistu, a Bierut, and a Choibalsan, godless men whose names are now forgotten everywhere but in the lands they once ruled with a red hand.

Is a 58 percent chance that an atheist leader will murder a noticeable percentage of the population over which he rules sufficient evidence that atheism does, in fact, provide a systematic influence to do bad things? If that is not deemed to be conclusive, how about the fact that the average atheist crime against humanity is 18.3 million percent worse than the very worst depredation committed by Christians, even though atheists have had less than one-twentieth the number of opportunities with which to commit them. If one considers the statistically significant size of the historical atheist set and contrasts it with the fact that not one in a thousand religious leaders have committed similarly large-scale atrocities, it is impossible to conclude otherwise, even if we do not yet understand exactly why this should be the case. Once might be an accident, even twice could be coincidence, but fifty-two incidents in ninety years reeks of causation![61]

See also:

See also: Communism and religious persecution and Atheistic communism and torture and Atheism and forced labor and China and involuntary organ harvesting

The atheism in communist regimes has been and continues to be militant atheism and various acts of repression including the razing of thousands of religious buildings and the killing, imprisoning, and oppression of religious leaders and believers.[62]

See also: Soviet atheism

The persecution of Christians in the Soviet Union was the result of the violently atheist Soviet government. In the first five years after the October Revolution, 28 bishops and 1,200 priests were murdered, many on the orders of Leon Trotsky. When Joseph Stalin came to power in 1927, he ordered his secret police, under Genrikh Yagoda to intensify persecution of Christians. In the next few years, 50,000 clergy were murdered, many were tortured, including crucifixion. “Russia turned red with the blood of martyrs”, said Father Gleb Yakunin of the Russian Orthodox Church.[63] According to Orthodox Church sources, as many as fifty million Orthodox believers may have died in the twentieth century, mainly from persecution by Communists.[64]

The religious landscape of China is quickly changing, however, due to the rapid growth of Christianity. See also: China and atheism and Global atheism

In addition, in the atheistic and communist Soviet Union, 44 anti-religious museums were opened and the largest was the ‘The Museum of the History of Religion and Atheism’ in Leningrads Kazan cathedral.[66] Despite intense effort by the atheistic leaders of the Soviet Union, their efforts were not effective in converting the masses to atheism.[67]

See also: China and atheism

China has the world’s largest atheist population (see: China and atheism).[68][69] China is a communist country. In 1999, the publication Christian Century reported that “China has persecuted religious believers by means of harassment, prolonged detention, and incarceration in prison or ‘reform-through-labor’ camps and police closure of places of worship.” In 2003, owners of Bibles in China were sent to prison camps and 125 Chinese churches were closed.[70] China continues to practice religious oppression today.[71]

The efforts of China’s atheist leaders in promoting atheism, however, is increasingly losing its effectiveness and the number of Christians in China is rapidly growing (see: Growth of Christianity in China). China’s state sponsored atheism and atheistic indoctrination has been a failure and a 2007 religious survey in China indicated that only 15% of Chinese identified themselves as atheists.[72]

Researchers estimate that tens of thousands of Falun Gong prisoners in communist China have been killed to supply a financially lucrative trade in human organs and cadavers, and that these human rights abuses may be ongoing concern.[73]

North Korea is a repressive communist state and is officially atheistic.[76] The North Korean government practices brutal repression and atrocities against North Korean Christians.[77] Open Doors, an organization based in the United States, has put North Korea at the very top of its list of countries where Christians face significant persecution – for 12 years in a row.[78]

See: Atheistic communism and torture

See also: Atheism and forced labor and Atheism and slavery

In atheistic communist regimes forced labor has often played a significant role in their economies and this practice continues to this day (see: Atheism and forced labor).[79]

Historically, atheists have favored the left side of the political aisle (see: Atheism and politics).

According to the Pew Forum, in the United States: “About two-thirds of atheists (69%) identify as Democrats (or lean in that direction), and a majority (56%) call themselves political liberals (compared with just one-in-ten who say they are conservatives).”[81]

In some regions where the secular left has considerable influence, they are losing an increasing amount of their power. For example, in secular Europe right-wing, nationalist parties are growing and in China conservative Protestantism is growing rapidly (see: Growth of Christianity in China).[82]

For more information please see:

Link:

Atheism – Conservapedia

What is Atheism? | American Atheists

Atheism is one thing: A lack of belief in gods.

Atheism isnot an affirmative belief that there is no god nor does it answer any other question about what a person believes. It is simply a rejection of the assertion that there are gods. Atheism is too oftendefined incorrectly as a belief system. To be clear: Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods.

Older dictionaries define atheism as a belief that there is no God. Clearly, theistic influence taints these definitions. The fact that dictionaries define Atheism as there is no God betrays the (mono)theistic influence. Without the (mono)theistic influence, the definition would at least read there are no gods.

While there are some religions that are atheistic (certain sects of Buddhism, for example), that does not mean that atheism is a religion. To put it in a more humorous way: If atheism is a religion, thennot collecting stamps is a hobby.

Despite the fact that atheism is not a religion, atheism is protected by many of the same Constitutional rights that protect religion. That, however, does not mean that atheism is itself a religion, only that our sincerely held (lack of) beliefs are protected in the same way as the religious beliefs of others. Similarly, many interfaith groups will include atheists. This, again, does not mean that atheism is a religious belief.

Some groups will use words like Agnostic, Humanist, Secular, Bright, Freethinker, or any number of other terms to self identify. Those words are perfectly fine as a self-identifier, but we strongly advocate using the word that people understand: Atheist. Dont use those other terms to disguise your atheism or to shy away from a word that some think has a negative connotation. We should be using the terminology that is most accurate and that answers the question that is actually being asked. We should use the term that binds all of us together.

If you call yourself a humanist, a freethinker, a bright, or even a cultural Catholic and lack belief in a god, you are an atheist. Dont shy away from the term. Embrace it.

Agnostic isnt just a weaker version of being an atheist. It answers a different question. Atheism is about what you believe. Agnosticism is about what you know.

In recent surveys, the Pew Research Center has grouped atheists, agnostics, and the unaffiliated into one category. The so-called Nones are the fastest growing religious demographic in the United States. Pewseparates out atheists from agnostics and the non-religious, but that is primarily a function of self-identification. Only about 5% of people call themselves atheists, but if you ask about belief in gods, 11% say they do not believe in gods. Those people are atheists, whether they choose to use the word or not.

A recent survey fromUniversity of Kentucky psychologists Will Gervais and Maxine Najle found that as many as 26% of Americans may be atheists. This study was designed to overcome the stigma associated with atheism and the potential for closeted atheists to abstain from outing themselves even when speaking anonymously to pollsters. The full study is awaiting publication inSocial Psychological and Personality Sciencejournal but a pre-print version is available here.

Even more people say that their definition of god is simply a unifying force between all people. Or that they arent sure what they believe.If you lack an active belief in gods, you are an atheist.

Being an atheist doesnt mean youre sure about every theological question, have answers to the way the world was created, or how evolution works. It just means that the assertion that gods exist has left you unconvinced.

Wishing that there was an afterlife, or a creator god, or a specific god doesnt mean youre not an atheist. Being an atheist is about what you believe and dont believe, not about what you wish to be true or would find comforting.

The only common thread that ties all atheists together is a lack of belief in gods. Some of the best debates we have ever had have been with fellow atheists. This is because atheists do not have a common belief system, sacred scripture or atheist Pope. This means atheists often disagree on many issues and ideas. Atheists come in a variety of shapes, colors, beliefs, convictions, and backgrounds. We are as unique as our fingerprints.

Atheists exist across the political spectrum. We are members of every race. We are members of the LGBTQ* community. There are atheists in urban, suburban, and rural communities and in every state of the nation.

We have more than 170 affiliates and local partners nationwide. If you are looking for a community, we strongly recommend reaching out to an affiliate in your area.

Follow this link:

What is Atheism? | American Atheists

American Atheists

Thanks in part to the work of American Atheists, the number of atheists in the United States continues to grow and attitudes toward atheists are shifting. However, misconceptions about atheists still exist and members of our community still face discrimination at home, work, and school. Help us continue to elevate atheists and educate the public about atheism by making a tax-deductible gift today.

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American Atheists

atheism | Definition, Philosophy … – Britannica.com

Atheism, in general, the critique and denial of metaphysical beliefs in God or spiritual beings. As such, it is usually distinguished from theism, which affirms the reality of the divine and often seeks to demonstrate its existence. Atheism is also distinguished from agnosticism, which leaves open the question whether there is a god or not, professing to find the questions unanswered or unanswerable.

The dialectic of the argument between forms of belief and unbelief raises questions concerning the most perspicuous delineation, or characterization, of atheism, agnosticism, and theism. It is necessary not only to probe the warrant for atheism but also carefully to consider what is the most adequate definition of atheism. This article will start with what have been some widely accepted, but still in various ways mistaken or misleading, definitions of atheism and move to more adequate formulations that better capture the full range of atheist thought and more clearly separate unbelief from belief and atheism from agnosticism. In the course of this delineation the section also will consider key arguments for and against atheism.

A central, common core of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam is the affirmation of the reality of one, and only one, God. Adherents of these faiths believe that there is a God who created the universe out of nothing and who has absolute sovereignty over all his creation; this includes, of course, human beingswho are not only utterly dependent on this creative power but also sinful and who, or so the faithful must believe, can only make adequate sense of their lives by accepting, without question, Gods ordinances for them. The varieties of atheism are numerous, but all atheists reject such a set of beliefs.

Atheism, however, casts a wider net and rejects all belief in spiritual beings, and to the extent that belief in spiritual beings is definitive of what it means for a system to be religious, atheism rejects religion. So atheism is not only a rejection of the central conceptions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam; it is, as well, a rejection of the religious beliefs of such African religions as that of the Dinka and the Nuer, of the anthropomorphic gods of classical Greece and Rome, and of the transcendental conceptions of Hinduism and Buddhism. Generally atheism is a denial of God or of the gods, and if religion is defined in terms of belief in spiritual beings, then atheism is the rejection of all religious belief.

It is necessary, however, if a tolerably adequate understanding of atheism is to be achieved, to give a reading to rejection of religious belief and to come to realize how the characterization of atheism as the denial of God or the gods is inadequate.

To say that atheism is the denial of God or the gods and that it is the opposite of theism, a system of belief that affirms the reality of God and seeks to demonstrate his existence, is inadequate in a number of ways. First, not all theologians who regard themselves as defenders of the Christian faith or of Judaism or Islam regard themselves as defenders of theism. The influential 20th-century Protestant theologian Paul Tillich, for example, regards the God of theism as an idol and refuses to construe God as a being, even a supreme being, among beings or as an infinite being above finite beings. God, for him, is being-itself, the ground of being and meaning. The particulars of Tillichs view are in certain ways idiosyncratic, as well as being obscure and problematic, but they have been influential; and his rejection of theism, while retaining a belief in God, is not eccentric in contemporary theology, though it may very well affront the plain believer.

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Second, and more important, it is not the case that all theists seek to demonstrate or even in any way rationally to establish the existence of God. Many theists regard such a demonstration as impossible, and fideistic believers (e.g., Johann Hamann and Sren Kierkegaard) regard such a demonstration, even if it were possible, as undesirable, for in their view it would undermine faith. If it could be proved, or known for certain, that God exists, people would not be in a position to accept him as their sovereign Lord humbly on faith with all the risks that entails. There are theologians who have argued that for genuine faith to be possible God must necessarily be a hidden God, the mysterious ultimate reality, whose existence and authority must be accepted simply on faith. This fideistic view has not, of course, gone without challenge from inside the major faiths, but it is of sufficient importance to make the above characterization of atheism inadequate.

Finally, and most important, not all denials of God are denials of his existence. Believers sometimes deny God while not being at all in a state of doubt that God exists. They either willfully reject what they take to be his authority by not acting in accordance with what they take to be his will, or else they simply live their lives as if God did not exist. In this important way they deny him. Such deniers are not atheists (unless we wish, misleadingly, to call them practical atheists). They are not even agnostics. They do not question that God exists; they deny him in other ways. An atheist denies the existence of God. As it is frequently said, atheists believe that it is false that God exists, or that Gods existence is a speculative hypothesis of an extremely low order of probability.

Yet it remains the case that such a characterization of atheism is inadequate in other ways. For one it is too narrow. There are atheists who believe that the very concept of God, at least in developed and less anthropomorphic forms of Judeo-Christianity and Islam, is so incoherent that certain central religious claims, such as God is my creator to whom everything is owed, are not genuine truth-claims; i.e., the claims could not be either true or false. Believers hold that such religious propositions are true, some atheists believe that they are false, and there are agnostics who cannot make up their minds whether to believe that they are true or false. (Agnostics think that the propositions are one or the other but believe that it is not possible to determine which.) But all three are mistaken, some atheists argue, for such putative truth-claims are not sufficiently intelligible to be genuine truth-claims that are either true or false. In reality there is nothing in them to be believed or disbelieved, though there is for the believer the powerful and humanly comforting illusion that there is. Such an atheism, it should be added, rooted for some conceptions of God in considerations about intelligibility and what it makes sense to say, has been strongly resisted by some pragmatists and logical empiricists.

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While the above considerations about atheism and intelligibility show the second characterization of atheism to be too narrow, it is also the case that this characterization is in a way too broad. For there are fideistic believers, who quite unequivocally believe that when looked at objectively the proposition that God exists has a very low probability weight. They believe in God not because it is probable that he existsthey think it more probable that he does notbut because belief is thought by them to be necessary to make sense of human life. The second characterization of atheism does not distinguish a fideistic believer (a Blaise Pascal or a Soren Kierkegaard) or an agnostic (a T.H. Huxley or a Sir Leslie Stephen) from an atheist such as Baron dHolbach. All believe that there is a God and God protects humankind, however emotionally important they may be, are speculative hypotheses of an extremely low order of probability. But this, since it does not distinguish believers from nonbelievers and does not distinguish agnostics from atheists, cannot be an adequate characterization of atheism.

It may be retorted that to avoid apriorism and dogmatic atheism the existence of God should be regarded as a hypothesis. There are no ontological (purely a priori) proofs or disproofs of Gods existence. It is not reasonable to rule in advance that it makes no sense to say that God exists. What the atheist can reasonably claim is that there is no evidence that there is a God, and against that background he may very well be justified in asserting that there is no God. It has been argued, however, that it is simply dogmatic for an atheist to assert that no possible evidence could ever give one grounds for believing in God. Instead, atheists should justify their unbelief by showing (if they can) how the assertion is well-taken that there is no evidence that would warrant a belief in God. If atheism is justified, the atheist will have shown that in fact there is no adequate evidence for the belief that God exists, but it should not be part of his task to try to show that there could not be any evidence for the existence of God. If the atheist could somehow survive the death of his present body (assuming that such talk makes sense) and come, much to his surprise, to stand in the presence of God, his answer should be, Oh! Lord, you didnt give me enough evidence! He would have been mistaken, and realize that he had been mistaken, in his judgment that God did not exist. Still, he would not have been unjustified, in the light of the evidence available to him during his earthly life, in believing as he did. Not having any such postmortem experiences of the presence of God (assuming that he could have them), what he should say, as things stand and in the face of the evidence he actually has and is likely to be able to get, is that it is false that God exists. (Every time one legitimately asserts that a proposition is false one need not be certain that it is false. Knowing with certainty is not a pleonasm.) The claim is that this tentative posture is the reasonable position for the atheist to take.

An atheist who argues in this manner may also make a distinctive burden-of-proof argument. Given that God (if there is one) is by definition a very recherch realitya reality that must be (for there to be such a reality) transcendent to the worldthe burden of proof is not on the atheist to give grounds for believing that there is no reality of that order. Rather, the burden of proof is on the believer to give some evidence for Gods existencei.e., that there is such a reality. Given what God must be, if there is a God, the theist needs to present the evidence, for such a very strange reality. He needs to show that there is more in the world than is disclosed by common experience. The empirical method, and the empirical method alone, such an atheist asserts, affords a reliable method for establishing what is in fact the case. To the claim of the theist that there are in addition to varieties of empirical facts spiritual facts or transcendent facts, such as it being the case that there is a supernatural, self-existent, eternal power, the atheist can assert that such facts have not been shown.

It will, however, be argued by such atheists, against what they take to be dogmatic aprioristic atheists, that the atheist should be a fallibilist and remain open-minded about what the future may bring. There may, after all, be such transcendent facts, such metaphysical realities. It is not that such a fallibilistic atheist is really an agnostic who believes that he is not justified in either asserting that God exists or denying that he exists and that what he must reasonably do is suspend belief. On the contrary, such an atheist believes that he has very good grounds indeed, as things stand, for denying the existence of God. But he will, on the second conceptualization of what it is to be an atheist, not deny that things could be otherwise and that, if they were, he would be justified in believing in God or at least would no longer be justified in asserting that it is false that there is a God. Using reliable empirical techniques, proven methods for establishing matters of fact, the fallibilistic atheist has found nothing in the universe to make a belief that God exists justifiable or even, everything considered, the most rational option of the various options. He therefore draws the atheistical conclusion (also keeping in mind his burden-of-proof argument) that God does not exist. But he does not dogmatically in a priori fashion deny the existence of God. He remains a thorough and consistent fallibilist.

Such a form of atheism (the atheism of those pragmatists who are also naturalistic humanists), though less inadequate than the first formation of atheism, is still inadequate. God in developed forms of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam is not, like Zeus or Odin, construed in a relatively plain anthropomorphic way. Nothing that could count as God in such religions could possibly be observed, literally encountered, or detected in the universe. God, in such a conception, is utterly transcendent to the world; he is conceived of as pure spirit, an infinite individual who created the universe out of nothing and who is distinct from the universe. Such a realitya reality that is taken to be an ultimate mysterycould not be identified as objects or processes in the universe can be identified. There can be no pointing at or to God, no ostensive teaching of God, to show what is meant. The word God can only be taught intralinguistically. God is taught to someone who does not understand what the word means by the use of descriptions such as the maker of the universe, the eternal, utterly independent being upon whom all other beings depend, the first cause, the sole ultimate reality, or a self-caused being. For someone who does not understand such descriptions, there can be no understanding of the concept of God. But the key terms of such descriptions are themselves no more capable of ostensive definition (of having their referents pointed out) than is God, where that term is not, like Zeus, construed anthropomorphically. (That does not mean that anyone has actually pointed to Zeus or observed Zeus but that one knows what it would be like to do so.)

In coming to understand what is meant by God in such discourses, it must be understood that God, whatever else he is, is a being that could not possibly be seen or be in any way else observed. He could not be anything material or empirical, and he is said by believers to be an intractable mystery. A nonmysterious God would not be the God of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

This, in effect, makes it a mistake to claim that the existence of God can rightly be treated as a hypothesis and makes it a mistake to claim that, by the use of the experimental method or some other determinate empirical method, the existence of God can be confirmed or disconfirmed as can the existence of an empirical reality. The retort made by some atheists, who also like pragmatists remain thoroughgoing fallibilists, is that such a proposed way of coming to know, or failing to come to know, God makes no sense for anyone who understands what kind of reality God is supposed to be. Anything whose existence could be so verified would not be the God of Judeo-Christianity. God could not be a reality whose presence is even faintly adumbrated in experience, for anything that could even count as the God of Judeo-Christianity must be transcendent to the world. Anything that could actually be encountered or experienced could not be God.

At the very heart of a religion such as Christianity there stands a metaphysical belief in a reality that is alleged to transcend the empirical world. It is the metaphysical belief that there is an eternal, ever-present creative source and sustainer of the universe. The problem is how it is possible to know or reasonably believe that such a reality exists or even to understand what such talk is about.

It is not that God is like a theoretical entity in physics such as a proton or a neutrino. They are, where they are construed as realities rather than as heuristically useful conceptual fictions, thought to be part of the actual furniture of the universe. They are not said to be transcendent to the universe, but rather are invisible entities in the universe logically on a par with specks of dust and grains of sand, only much, much smaller. They are on the same continuum; they are not a different kind of reality. It is only the case that they, as a matter of fact, cannot be seen. Indeed no one has an understanding of what it would be like to see a proton or a neutrinoin that way they are like Godand no provision is made in physical theory for seeing them. Still, there is no logical ban on seeing them as there is on seeing God. They are among the things in the universe, and thus, though they are invisible, they can be postulated as causes of things that are seen. Since this is so it becomes at least logically possible indirectly to verify by empirical methods the existence of such realities. It is also the case that there is no logical ban on establishing what is necessary to establish a causal connection, namely a constant conjunction of two discrete empirical realities. But no such constant conjunction can be established or even intelligibly asserted between God and the universe, and thus the existence of God is not even indirectly verifiable. God is not a discrete empirical thing or being, and the universe is not a gigantic thing or process over and above the things and processes in the universe of which it makes sense to say that the universe has or had a cause. But then there is no way, directly or indirectly, that even the probability that there is a God could be empirically established.

The gnostic may reply that there is a nonempirical way of establishing or making it probable that God exists. The claim is that there are truths about the nature of the cosmos neither capable of verification nor standing in need of verification. There is, gnostics claim against empiricists, knowledge of the world that transcends experience and comprehends the sorry scheme of things entire.

Since the thorough probings of such epistemological foundations by David Hume and Immanuel Kant, skepticism about how, and indeed even that, such knowledge is possible is very strong indeed. With respect to knowledge of God in particular, both Hume and Kant provide powerful critiques of the traditional attempts to prove the existence of God (notwithstanding the fact that Kant remained a Christian). While some of the details of their arguments have been rejected and refinements rooted in their argumentative procedure have been developed, there is a considerable consensus among philosophers and theologians that arguments of the general type as those developed by Hume and Kant show that no proof of Gods existence is possible. Alternatively, to speak of intuitive knowledge (an intuitive grasp of being or of an intuition of the reality of the divine being) is to make an appeal to something that is not sufficiently clear to be of any value in establishing anything.

Prior to the rise of anthropology and the scientific study of religion, an appeal to revelation and authority as a substitute for knowledge or warranted belief might have been thought to have considerable force. But with a knowledge of other religions and their associated appeals to revealed truth, such arguments are without probative force. Claimed, or alleged, revelations are many, diverse, and not infrequently conflicting; without going in a small and vicious circle, it cannot be claimed, simply by appealing to a given putative revelation, that the revelation is the true revelation or the genuine revelation and that others are mistaken or, where nonconflicting, mere approximations to the truth. Similar things need to be said for religious authority. Moreover, it is at best problematic whether faith could sanction speaking of testing the genuineness of revelation or of the acceptability of religious authority. Indeed, if something is a genuine revelation, there is no using reason to assess it. But the predicament is that plainly, as a matter of anthropological fact, there is a diverse and sometimes conflicting field of alleged revelations with no way of deciding or even having a reasonable hunch which, if any, of the candidate revelations is the genuine article. But even if the necessity for tests for the genuineness of revelation is allowed, there still is a claim that clearly will not do, for such a procedure would make an appeal to revelation and authority supererogatory. It is, where such tests are allowed, not revelation or authority that can warrant the most fundamental religious truths on which the rest depend. It is something elsethat which establishes the genuineness of the revelation or authoritythat guarantees these religious truths (if such there be), including the proposition that God exists. But the question returns, like the repressed, what that fundamental guarantee is or could be. Perhaps such a belief is nothing more than a cultural myth. There is, as has been shown, neither empirical nor a priori knowledge of God, and talk of intuitive knowledge is without logical force.

If these considerations are near to the mark, it is unclear what it means to say, as some agnostics and even atheists have, that they are skeptical God-seekers who simply have not found, after a careful examination, enough evidence to make belief in God a warranted or even a reasonable belief. It is unclear what it would be like to have, or for that matter fail to have, evidence for the existence of God. It is not that the God-seeker has to be able to give the evidence, for if that were so no search would be necessary, but that he, or at least somebody, must be able to conceive what would count as evidence if he had it so that he (and others) have some idea of what to look for. But it appears to be just that which cannot be done.

Perhaps there is room for the retort that it is enough for the God-seeker not to accept any logical ban on the possibility of there being evidence. He need not understand what it would be like to have evidence in this domain. But, in turn, when one considers what kind of transcendent reality God is said to be, there seems to be an implicit logical ban on there being empirical evidence (a pleonasm) for his existence. It would seem plausible to assert that there is such a ban, though any such assertion should, of course, be made in a tentative way.

Someone trying to give empirical anchorage to talk of God might give the following hypothetical case. (It is, however, important in considering the case to keep in mind that things even remotely like what is described do not happen.) If thousands of people were standing out under the starry skies and all sawthe thing went on before their very eyesa set of stars rearrange themselves to spell out God, they would indeed rightly be utterly astonished and think that they had gone mad. Even if they could somehow assure themselves that this was not in some way a form of mass hallucinationhow they could do this is not evidentsuch an experience would not constitute evidence for the existence of God, for they still would be without a clue as to what could be meant by speaking of an infinite individual transcendent to the world. Such an observation (the stars so rearranging themselves), no matter how well confirmed, would not ostensively fix the reference range of God. Talk of such an infinite individual is utterly incomprehensible and has every appearance of being incoherent. No one knows what he is talking about in speaking of such a transcendent reality. All they would know is that something very strange indeed had happened. The doubt arises whether believers, or indeed anyone else in terms acceptable to believers, can give an intelligible account of the concept of God or of what belief in God comes to once God is de-anthropomorphized.

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atheism | Definition, Philosophy … – Britannica.com


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