Friday, December 22, 2006

On Whether Atheism is Inherently More Rational and Scientific, and Less Dogmatic and Axiomatic Than Christianity


This came about when I posted notice of my recently re-posted paper, The Atheist's Boundless Faith in Deo-Atomism ("The Atom-as-God") in atheist forums. "drunkentune" (words in blue) and "beepbeepitsme" (words in green) offered responses. "soulster", a Christian (words in purple) made a "moderator-type" remark that may have been partially directed towards my arguments in this regard, and I responded in turn with a general defense of my arguments and perspective.

* * * * *

Atheist blind faith and irrationality far exceeds the supposed blind faith and irrationality of the Christian, I would contend [I then cite the Deo-Atomism paper]. So, if you atheists want to come after us, fine; just exercise the same scrutiny towards your own epistemology and cease with the double standards (hyper-examining us while ignoring your own ultimate philosophical commitments, which are ridiculous and intellectually-suicidal at worst and flimsy and unsubstantiated at best).

Why would an atheist consider the atom to be god especially as an atheist doesn't believe in god or gods.

Quarks are possibly one of the basic building blocks of matter and I don't know any scientists or atheists or consider them to be gods either.

Why do you ask questions that are already answered in the paper?

Let me repeat this because obviously it wasn't understood the first time. Atheists do not believe in the existence of gods. So to pretend that atheists consider, atoms, quarks, George Bush, Richard Dawkins, or a little fluffy kitten god, might make a nice tu quoque fallacy, but that is about all.

You believe in precisely the same things that we believe God can do, except you project these powers onto the atom, as explained in the paper. Your polytheism exceeds that of the ancient cultures who worshiped amulets and slabs of stone.

The powers that you attribute to spiritless matter far exceed anything those ancient "gods" could supposedly do. I don't see any difference at all. I say that you are much more religious and exercise almost infinitely more faith than the ancient Babylonians or even us Christians. And by the way, my argument is what is known in logic as a reductio ad absurdum. If you don't like it, overcome it by reasoned refutation. That would be a nice change.

*** CLICK ON "Tolle, lege!" immediately below to finish this article ***


Oh, I see, it is the semantic argument from the liberal interpretation of god. Where god gets to be an atom if you say so.

Tsk stk - just the usual tu quoque fallacy. You might have well said - "Yes, I know we are silly for believing in a god, but look, you are silly also for believing that atoms exist."

Really - quite a poor argument I must say. When you have to loosely define what "god" is, in order to try and make atheists look like god worshippers, you must be really embarrassed about your delusion, is all I can say.

And by the way, when I start demanding "under atom" on the moneys, or "in atom we trust" in the pledge, then I will do what most of you should have done 50 years ago - seen a psychiatrist.

That's right. We're all nuts. Then why waste time talking to us at all, pray tell? Why do you so many of you atheists spend tons of energy talking to lunatics (as if it would do any good)?

It's good to hear from you again. Four questions, after skimming your paper:

1. Are you an "atheist" in relation to the Greek gods?

2. Are you an "atheist" in relation to the Muslim god?

3. Are you an "atheist" in relation to the Mormon god?

4. Are these "irrational" atheistic notions, as you say, "ridiculous and intellectually-suicidal at
worst and flimsy and unsubstantiated at best",
that you hold, denying the existence of the Greek, Muslim, and Mormon gods?

I'm not gonna answer your question-answer to my questions!

If you want to actually interact with my paper, fine, but I don’t see the point of going down a rabbit trail.

Oh, and I would recommend actually reading it, not just skimming. :-)

*** I should add that my target in that paper is not non-belief in the Christian or theistic God, so much as it is what atheists do manage to believe, that I find essentially indistinguishable from gross polytheism, as argued in the paper.

In other words, it is your religious beliefs (the stuff you actually believe in faith) that I find intriguing and quite absurd, not your lack thereof (with regard to Christianity or some form of western theism).

Then your paper isn't really targeting atheists and atheism - only the few atheists that express polytheistic language in relation to matter (as per your argument). You generalize the worldview of atheists by including other claims under the "atheist" label besides positive or negative atheism. The lack of faith in the existence of a god is not irrational; perhaps the beliefs of the atheists you quote are.

You are (presumably) an atheist in relation to the Greek Pantheon, Allah, and the Mormon god. That is not "blind faith" or "irrational" or "ridiculous and intellectually-suicidal at worst and flimsy and unsubstantiated at best."

It's common sense.

Again, you completely miss the point. If you had actually read the paper and grasped the reductio argument I made there, it is a perfectly serious critique (incorporating provocative satirical humor) of what every atheist believes (indeed must believe - matter being all there is).

Clearly, neither you nor beepbeep have understood the very nature of the argument. You obviously think it is far less serious and ignorant than it actually is. It doesn't rest upon you stating that you are a polytheist. Of course you don't say that.

Rather, it is based on the attributes that you believe particles of matter inherently possess, that require no less faith (I would say much more faith) than the attributes we believe God possesses.

And so this is faith, and not a whit more reasonable than what we believe (again, I myself believe it is much less reasonable or plausible). You can hem and haw that you have no faith at all and that your outlook is entirely reasoned and logically airtight if you like, but it's sheer nonsense.

The sooner the atheist recognizes this, then the better off they will be, epistemologically -speaking (because self-understanding is key to all understanding). Atheist-Christian discussion would then vastly improve, too, because you will cease laboring under the condescending illusion that y'all are so eminently rational and we are fundamentally irrational and gullible, and as if we are the only ones exercising faith or accepting things we can't prove, whereas you supposedly are not.

It's the residue of the dead philosophy of positivism, I reckon. It'll take several more generations for atheists to get over that miserably failed thought-experiment.

Also, please read #36 above [indicated here by three asterisks]. You seem to have missed that, too, judging by your response, that #36 already dealt with. Tsk, tsk, tsk.

Just wanted to say that some posts on this tread are getting dangerously close to a mocking tone. In the interest of keeping our ears open, we should be careful not to push people into defensiveness at which point listening becomes difficult if not impossible. Of course, this will require walking a knife edge of sorts since we must still be honest, which includes much evaluation and saying how we feel about things.


I'm feeling that this conversation is teetering on the edge about to fall into closing each other's minds. Perhaps we can practice good listening skills by summarizing the other person's objection or position, stating politely that we understand but disagree or where we think they missed us, and moving on to the exploration of other things if the conversation is just going round in circles.

Since we have very different views of the world in some areas, we should expect disagreements about the importance of certain pieces of evidence and the force of certain arguments, so none of that should be a surprise to anyone. There will likely be no single point where anyone stands or falls in this blog, or in the larger conversation it represents, so we are more faithful to ourselves and our readers by presenting the broadest picture possible.

For my part (inasmuch as [the above] would apply to me, if at all), I am simply turning the tables. The implication that Christians are somehow logically and intellectually deficient (and often, mentally ill) is standard, humdrum atheist modus operandi.

As long as that is the case, certainly it can't be wrong for Christians to make arguments that atheist epistemology involves the same basic aspects of faith and induction that Christian epistemology entails.

Nor is it wrong for me to point out that my very argument is not being accurately portrayed in how it is described in replies.

It's "mocking", I suppose, insofar as the standard argumentative techniques of the reductio ad absurdum, analogy, or turning the tables are "mockery." Much worse happens to us Christians all the time. My replies are, I think, quite mild compared to what Christians are routinely accused of.

To cite just one example above, drunkentune wrote:

"Science does not claim to have the ultimate truth, as many holy texts do. Science is a process, and I trust the process that attempts to uncover the truth because its results have been repeatedly verified by both skeptics and individuals disinterested in furthering a dogma."

Now, the implication (subtle, but quite real and definite) is that Christians are either anti-science or irrational or dogmatic in the blind sense, or all of the above (or quantitatively much more so than atheists, at the least). This is common atheist polemic: they are the "scientific" ones, while we flounder around in gullible irrationality.

But it's simply untrue. The materialist atheist is, I would argue, more dogmatic than the Christian. To show this is very simple. Take, for instance, the evolution / creation controversy.

The Christian can adopt either position (I have held both myself, at different times, as a Christian). But the atheist cannot possibly accept a creationist outlook in any way, shape, or form (even fairly secular Intelligent Design has to be derisively dismissed), because his dogma precludes it from the outset.

How about the question of spirit and matter, that has occupied philosophers for centuries? The materialist atheist (not all atheists are materialists, but most are) cannot accept the existence of spirit, because his materialist dogma forbids it. The Christian, of course, can, so his worldview is less dogmatic and less exclusive.

The materialist has the underlying dogma that science is pretty much the only path to truth (albeit constantly capable of being revised, but even so, it can give us much reliable truth about reality). Science, in turn, rules out (by definition) explanations involving non-material elements or aspects.

But that is pure dogma, and simplistic to boot. The Christian, on the other hand, recognizes that science is but one philosophy (roughly-speaking, empiricism): one which involves unproven axioms from the outset. To claim that it is the only way to arrive at truth is philosophically naive in the extreme.

The Christian is under no such constraints. Recognizing that science is but one species of philosophy, and that it can't possibly exclude things that are beyond its purview (just as religion does not and cannot preclude science, because it is a separate inquiry), we can discuss and incorporate non-scientific avenues to truth.

But the atheist, by and large, cannot do that, because their dogma (generally-speaking, as throughout) confines them to one method, and then they labor under the illusion that this method is the be-all and end-all of reality (itself in turn reduced to materialism by most atheists).

All of that requires at least as much as, but arguably much more faith than any Christian exercises by believing in God and revelation. It entails dogma that has no shred of evidence suggesting that it is indubitably true, and that no one could possibly doubt it.

Blind faith? There is plenty in atheism. There are many faith-assumptions and axioms, just as in Christianity. The difference is that we honestly admit that we have faith and can't and don't know everything there is to know about reality.

In other words, Christianity allows a place for intellectual humility and the finiteness of human beings and our minds. But atheism tends to make out that people can figure everything out, and it is relatively simple, etc., etc., because we have the "god" of science to solve all problems and reach virtually all knowledge.

But most atheists are unwilling to admit that they accept any tenets or presuppositions that involve any leaps of faith or unproven assumptions. This is itself irrational, and philosophically naive.

And that is what I was driving at in my paper about "Deo-Atomism." Most atheists don't dare to truly interact with it because it attacks their root assumptions at such a fundamental level, and they (like anyone else) don't want to deal with that: it's too frightening in its implications. Again, we Christians have our root assumptions attacked all the time (often gleefully so, with the "gotcha" attitude quite apparent), but atheists don't like it so much when we do the same to them (minus the triumphalism and condescension and insinuations of mental and psychological abnormality).

It was that way when I first put out the paper some years ago and I see that nothing has changed: the reaction is precisely the same now (judging by drunken and beepbeep and their non-replies or non sequitur responses).

Nothing personal, I assure you. All I'm doing is responding to what Christians are constantly subjected to and making a reasoned, analogical, analytical critique of atheist presuppositions.

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