Atheism: an implausible and problematic position

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Atheism implausible

 Atheism is implausible!

This post is not about ridiculing atheism, it is simple a call to think.  As there are no doubt proponents of theism who don’t think, there are also proponents of atheism who don not think.  I personally find it stimulating to share with my fellow “atheistic” human beings thoughts about our origins and human nature.  Just as I welcome anyone how holds to atheism as a respected friend, I also expect to be received as a “respected” friend to anyone who claims that there is no God.
Thomas Edison, once said, “We do not know a millionth of one percent about anything.”  Suppose that a person claiming to be an atheist has an incredible 1 percent of all the knowledge in the universe.  Would it be possible, in the 99 percent of the knowledge that he has not yet come across, that there might be ample evidence to prove the existence of God?   Any reasonable person will be forced to admit that it is possible.  Somewhere, in the vast knowledge that he has not yet discovered, there could be enough proof that God does exist.  It is really quite arrogant to imply that ones experience includes the great majority of reality in the universe.

Let’s say that I were to make an absolute statement such as, “There is no more unclaimed gold in California.” If there is one speck of gold in California, then my statement is false and I have no basis for it.  I need absolute knowledge of every square inch of California before I can make such an absolute statement.  On the other hand for me to say, “There is unclaimed gold in California,” I don’t need to have all knowledge.  If there is even one speck of gold in the state, the statement is true.

To categorically say, “there is no God”, is to make an absolute statement.  For the statement to be true, a person must know for certain that there is no God in the entire universe.  No human being has all knowledge.  Therefore none of us is able to truthfully make this assertion.

Anyone who insists upon disbelief in God must say, “having the limited knowledge that I have at present, I believe that there is no God.”  Owing to a lack of knowledge on his part, he doesn’t know if God exists.  So, in the strict sense of the word, nobody can be an atheist.  The only true qualifier for the title is the One who has absolute knowledge and atheism claims that “He” does not exist.”

Those professing atheism are actually what is called “agnostics” those who claim they “do not know” if God exists, or those who profess ignorance.  I believe that this ignorance is willful.  It is not that a person can’t find God, but that he chooses not to.  It is said that the Italian dictator Mussolini once stood on a pinnacle and cried, “God, if You are there, strike me dead!  “When God didn’t immediately bow to his dictates, Mussolini concluded that there was no God.  However, his prayer was answered sometime later, he was shot to death several times in the chest, hung upside down on a meat hook and reportedly stoned by an angry mob.  I suppose that since then, he has concluded that he jumped to the wrong conclusion.

15 Responses to “Atheism: an implausible and problematic position”

  1. You’re really selling agnostics short to call them willfully ignorant. Most of the agnostics I know have really skipped the question of “is there a god” in favor of “can we know if there is a god”. They’ve spent the time to answer what would constitute real evidence for god, how could it be detected, etc., and most of those would discard offhand things like a dictator being killed by an enraged mob of his citizens an example of divine action. They have resonably determined there is no way to detect through natural or scientific means something that by definition exists outside of nature. From that point they can opt to be theistic or atheistic, but they understand it to be a choice, and one generally not arrived at by ignorance.

    The rest of your argument really is circular and would apply equally well to Santa Claus and bigfoot. Given a choice of things I can’t disprove to believe in, I’ll go with bigfoot. There’s at least a finite area in which to attempt to prove or disprove him.

  2. Ok I think there is something of misunderstanding of the Atheist position here. When I say I am an Atheist what I mean is that based on the available evidence, I don’t believe God is real. Could there be evidence unknown to me? Technically, yes. However, this is not the ace you think it is. You can use this argument against anything. You may believe in God, but you cannot rule out the possibility that there is some evidence, somewhere that disproves God.

    Saying there is no god is no more implausible than saying there is one. Both are based on the available evidence and could be contradicted by new evidence. However, this can be said for anything. Our theories of evolution, gravity, economics, history etc. all can be contradicted by new evidence.

  3. Nick says:

    I chatted with you a few years ago Richard, not sure if you’ll remember. You’ve popped up on my news feed ever since. I’ve got a few days off, so I thought I’d reply. While I respect your life in a humanistic way, as a natural birth right, I don’t respect your belief, nor your right not to be offended. I still believe that your positions and arguments about atheism are simply ridiculous. I’ll address each one in turn:

    QUOTE: “…there might be ample evidence to prove the existence of God? Any reasonable person will be forced to admit that it is possible.”
    RESPONSE: I don’t know a single atheist who claims that deism is not possible. Most atheists don’t argue for absolute positions, but instead wish to dismiss the idea that faith is a virtue. Believing without evidence is the worst kind of belief.

    Secondly, claims of a theistic God can be disproved: If I claimed that God exists and he gave me the ability to fly, that can be quantifiably tested. If I can fly, it supports the statement. If not, science can call ‘bull’ on that. Equally, claims to an omnibenevolent, omniscient, omnipresent being can be dismissed both logically and when looking at the lack of supporting evidence: Unnecessary suffering appears to exist, and therefore any author of it cannot be all three. Theists must contend that all suffering is necessary, which is a disgusting idea.

    Furthermore, it must have occurred to you that theists offer the more outrageous claim: Most theists argue that they know with 100% certainty that God exists, while most atheists claim that they do not believe there is a God. If there was believable evidence, I’m sure most would change their position, myself included. To quote Tim Minchin: “Science adjusts its views, based on what’s being observed. Faith is the denial of evidence so that belief can be preserved.” If there was evidence, a reasonable atheist would become a theist.
    Also, a little disclaimer: Most of us have studied what theists call ‘evidence’, but we dismiss it because its rubbish.

    QUOTE: “It is really quite arrogant to imply that one’s experience includes the great majority of reality in the universe.”
    RESPONSE: Equally, theists must stop trying to assert faith as fact. The next paragraph that you wrote supports my argument just as much as yours.

    QUOTE: “So, in the strict sense of the word, nobody can be an atheist.”
    RESPONSE: Semantics. Some people define atheism as a lacking a belief in God out of ignorance, others claim it is the dismissal of the idea of God based on lack of evidence, and some claim it is the affirmation that God does not exist. Soft/hard atheism, agnosticism and even gnostic/agnostic atheism are terms coined to mean one of the three.

    Arguably, under your definition, nobody can be a theist. Also, arguably, everyone must believe in unicorns and fairies. To prove my point that atheism is a reasonable position, is it fair for me to claim that I don’t believe that unicorns are actually living somewhere? Is that wilful ignorance, or the appropriate position based on the evidence (or rather, lack there-of)?

    QUOTE: “The professing atheist is actually what is called an “agnostic” one who claims he “doesn’t know” if God exists, or one who professes ignorance. I believe that this ignorance is willful.”
    RESPONSE: You are basically calling ‘professing atheists’ bigots. It’s absurd. A lot of people on both sides of the God debate are bigoted, but being an agnostic atheist (or agnostic theist) is not.

    QUOTE: “However, his prayer was answered sometime later…”
    RESPONSE: Or, you are misinterpreting a horrific event – the fact that he was murdered by a group of angry theists – as being Gods will. Furthermore, did that angry mob have free will, or did God force them to fulfil this apparent prophecy?

    I suppose that since then, he hasn’t had an opinion, because having an opinion requires being alive.

    • vinebrancher says:

      Hi Nick, yes I remember you. And I remember you dissagree with most everything I say. I’ll take your comments one at a time (might take a few days though) I don’t know what you mean by not respecting my right not to be offended.

      • NickWalker12 says:

        Thanks for responding; there really isn’t any rush. Just to clear up that statement (I did word it terribly); I was implying that my respect for you does not prohibit my freedom to ridicule your belief, regardless of what it means to you. I think that replying with honesty is the most respectful approach.

  4. vinebrancher says:

    You could be right, but since I don’t personally know all atheists nor have I heard from even a fraction of a percent of all atheists, the ones I have come across seem determined to convince me that they really believe there is no god, anywhere.
    I therefore conclude that a lot of them mean what they say.

    • It might be a matter of semantics.

      I don’t believe a god exists. I could be wrong, in the same way I could be wrong about anything, but I’m pretty certain one doesn’t exist.

  5. “Therefore none of us is able to truthfully make this assertion.”

    I, as an atheist, agree with you. Which is why I don’t make that assertion. At least not with absolute certainty.

    I say “I do not believe a god exists” or “I don’t believe those who claim a god have succeeded in meeting their burden of proof”.

    I am both atheist and agnostic, because the first is a reference to my believe (or lack thereof) and the second is a reference to knowledge. Knowledge and belief are not the same thing.

    “I suppose that since then, he has concluded that he jumped to the wrong conclusion.”

    That’s your opinion. I see no reason that he has been able to conclude anything, being dead and all.

    • vinebrancher says:

      N.A.S. – Not all atheists speak as candidly as you have. Even though nobody can truthfully make that assertion, plenty of people do and quite adamantly. I feel that their attitude greatly weakens their position.
      My last comment was my feeble attempt at being tongue in cheek. However since I believe in God and eternity, I also believe that Mussolini “died” to regret his words.

      • “Even though nobody can truthfully make that assertion, plenty of people do and quite adamantly.”

        I feel like, and I could be completely wrong, the majority of people who say “there is no god” are saying it casually. Because sometimes it’s a pain to be precise every time you speak. So I might say “there is no god” in the same way I will say “there is no bigfoot” or “there are no aliens abducting people”.

        Yes, the more precise thing to say is “given all the currently available evidence, I see no good reason to believe a god exists”, sometimes it’s just easier to say the somewhat inaccurate thing.

        And some people say things without thinking. It doesn’t particularly bother me, as those people aren’t me. 🙂

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