Strong atheism

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==Arguments for strong atheism==
 
==Arguments for strong atheism==
  
'''The following is an unedited emailThis article is a work in progress and will be cleaned up soon.'''
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It is often said that one cannot [[You can't prove a negative|prove a negative]].  However, this is not really correct, and understanding this hinges on understanding the difference between two kinds of [[truth]]: contingent and logicalA contingent truth is one whose validity is contingent on other facts which may or may not be true or known.  [[Scientific]] truth falls in this category.  A logical truth is one whose validity depends only on logic, on the definitions and properties of concepts we ourselves define. An example is whether 2 + 2 can equal 5. It follows from the definitions of 2, 4, 5, +, and = that 2 + 2 can only equal 4, not 5. It is not necessary for a reasonable, fair, and open-minded person to remain agnostic on that question. There is nothing contingent or unknown about it.
  
I call myself an atheist. I reject the very concept of a western-style god, an omniscient, omnipotent, intelligent, aware being which created and was responsible for the universe. I do not call myself an agnostic, one who believes that we do not and cannot know whether there is (or was) such a god. Here's why.
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A strong atheist would argue that the idea of a god is logically contradictory and therefore cannot exist as most [[theist]]s define the word.  The [[Christian]] god is defined as an [[omniscient]], [[omnipotent]], [[intelligent]], aware being which created and was responsible for the [[universe]]. The [[problem of evil]] is one example of a logical impossibility that comes from believing that the god is also [[omnibenevolent]], this can be avoided by relaxing the requirements on God's qualities.
  
There are two kinds of truth: contingent and logical.
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Since its inception, science has followed an empirical method, a combination of theory and observation.  We construct our understanding by working from the simple to the complex. We understand atoms in terms of elementary particles and their forces, such as quarks, leptons, gluons, and photons. We understand molecules and chemistry in terms of atoms and their interactions. We understand biology in terms of the underlying chemistry and its emergent properties. We understand intelligence in terms of the complex interactions of the underlying neurological or electronic substrate.
  
A contingent truth is one whose validity is contingent on other facts which may or may not be true or known. An example is whether there exists intelligent life in a distant galaxy. Since we know, as a proof of principle, that intelligent life exists in our galaxy, and we don't yet understand the conditions that gave rise to it, we may accept the possibility that it could exist in another galaxy. Since we have very little information about conditions in distant galaxies, and we will probably never have sufficient information to answer such a question, the only reasonable answer to that question is that we don't know, and probably never will. A reasonable, fair, and open-minded person must be agnostic on that question.
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Of all the things we know of in the universe, the most complex is intelligence. To posit an intelligence as the creator and driving force of everything else makes no sense, since it would itself require explanation in terms of simpler underlying entities. It makes no more sense than 2 + 2 = 5. It is not incumbent upon a reasonable, fair, open-minded person to remain [[agnostic]] on that point.
  
A logical truth is one whose validity depends only on logic, on the definitions and properties of concepts we ourselves define. An example is whether 2 + 2 can equal 5. It follows from the definitions of 2, 4, 5, +, and = that 2 + 2 can only equal 4, not 5. It is not necessary for a reasonable, fair, and open-minded person to remain agnostic on that question. There is nothing contingent or unknown about it.
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If there were in fact a deity delivering the divinely inspired word of the one true religion to the human race then it would be expected that all religions would converge on the same answers, yet that is not what we see. There are so many different religions with vastly different beliefs that one should question whether there really is an intelligence behind it all. Since religions diverge rather than converge, this should count as evidence against the proposition of a Theistic deity.
  
As a scientist, I have devoted my career to mastering the only reliable way we have of knowing the universe: the empirical method, the combination of theory and observation propounded by 17th and 18th Century philosophers like Galileo, Locke, Newton, Berkeley, Hume, Kant, and their successors. We construct our understanding by working from the simple to the complex. We understand atoms in terms of elementary particles and their forces, such as quarks, leptons, gluons, and photons. We understand molecules and chemistry in terms of atoms and their interactions. We understand biology in terms of the underlying chemistry and its emergent properties. We understand intelligence in terms of the complex interactions of the underlying neurological or electronic substrate.
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== Arguments against strong atheism ==
  
Of all the things we know of in the universe, the most complex is intelligence. To posit an intelligence as the creator and driving force of everything else makes no sense, since it would itself require explanation in terms of simpler underlying entities. It makes no more sense than 2 + 2 = 5. It is not incombent upon a reasonable, fair, open-minded person to remain agnostic on that point.
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See [[Weak atheism#Arguments_for_weak_atheism|arguments for weak atheism]].
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{{Atheism}}
  
 
[[Category: Atheism]]
 
[[Category: Atheism]]
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[[Category: Epistemology]]

Latest revision as of 23:31, 4 February 2011

Strong atheism is the positive belief that no god exists.

Arguments for strong atheism

It is often said that one cannot prove a negative. However, this is not really correct, and understanding this hinges on understanding the difference between two kinds of truth: contingent and logical. A contingent truth is one whose validity is contingent on other facts which may or may not be true or known. Scientific truth falls in this category. A logical truth is one whose validity depends only on logic, on the definitions and properties of concepts we ourselves define. An example is whether 2 + 2 can equal 5. It follows from the definitions of 2, 4, 5, +, and = that 2 + 2 can only equal 4, not 5. It is not necessary for a reasonable, fair, and open-minded person to remain agnostic on that question. There is nothing contingent or unknown about it.

A strong atheist would argue that the idea of a god is logically contradictory and therefore cannot exist as most theists define the word. The Christian god is defined as an omniscient, omnipotent, intelligent, aware being which created and was responsible for the universe. The problem of evil is one example of a logical impossibility that comes from believing that the god is also omnibenevolent, this can be avoided by relaxing the requirements on God's qualities.

Since its inception, science has followed an empirical method, a combination of theory and observation. We construct our understanding by working from the simple to the complex. We understand atoms in terms of elementary particles and their forces, such as quarks, leptons, gluons, and photons. We understand molecules and chemistry in terms of atoms and their interactions. We understand biology in terms of the underlying chemistry and its emergent properties. We understand intelligence in terms of the complex interactions of the underlying neurological or electronic substrate.

Of all the things we know of in the universe, the most complex is intelligence. To posit an intelligence as the creator and driving force of everything else makes no sense, since it would itself require explanation in terms of simpler underlying entities. It makes no more sense than 2 + 2 = 5. It is not incumbent upon a reasonable, fair, open-minded person to remain agnostic on that point.

If there were in fact a deity delivering the divinely inspired word of the one true religion to the human race then it would be expected that all religions would converge on the same answers, yet that is not what we see. There are so many different religions with vastly different beliefs that one should question whether there really is an intelligence behind it all. Since religions diverge rather than converge, this should count as evidence against the proposition of a Theistic deity.

Arguments against strong atheism

See arguments for weak atheism.


v · d Atheism
Terminology   Etymology of the word atheist · Weak atheism · Strong atheism · Agnosticism · Atheist vs. agnostic · Tenets and dogma
Contemporary literature   The End of Faith · The God Delusion · God: The Failed Hypothesis · Letter to a Christian Nation · God Is Not Great · Irreligion · 50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God
Classic literature   Why I Am Not a Christian
Atheist and secular groups   Atheist groups · Secular charities · How American Non-Atheists view Atheists
Contemporary authors   Richard Dawkins · Daniel Dennett · A. C. Grayling · Sam Harris · Guy P. Harrison · John Allen Paulos · James Randi · Victor Stenger
Internet non-believers   Reginald Vaughn Finley · PZ Myers
Writers and philosophers   David Hume · Robert Ingersoll · Friedrich Nietzsche · Bertrand Russell · Carl Sagan
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