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Atheism, Agnosticism and Religious Faith: How Do You Weigh The Arguments?

Updated on October 3, 2014

Richard Dawkins on Atheism

Give Peace A Chance: Religion Causes (Internet) Wars?

Are you a religious believer? A committed atheist? An agnostic? These days it seems that you just can’t avoid heated disputes between one faction and another, whether on relatively anonymous internet forums or chatrooms, or between high profile media figures, fighting it out in the pages of their newspaper columns and interviews. I don’t know about you, but I’m beginning to find the public spats between believers and non-believers more than a tad annoying.

Not that I don’t have a position on the matter myself:but wouldn’t we all be better off if we decided to live and let live, and better than that, keep our mouths shut if the alternative is ranting and ad hominem attacks?

On the whole, though, I find the atheists just a little more annoying than the religious fundamentalists. This is because of their ever-smugger insistence on the superiority of their position. So far, so much in common with the opposite team…

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Are Atheists Rational?

However, the atheists base their supposed superiority on the logic and rationality of their position. How can you believe in a God with no evidence, they sneer. Where is the evidence? Voices in your head or your holy leaders dictating a holy book? Why, there’s a medical diagnosis for that, my dear…

They never do seem to turn this hard-edged analysis upon themselves, though, and ask the same tough questions.

So, atheists, I ask you: where is your proof? A negative assertion needs to be proven as much as a positive. Atheists do not merely claim that the believers have not adequately made their case: that’s the agnostic position.

Proof: The Problem With Atheism

No, atheists confidently (and loudly) proclaim that there is NO GOD. And I ask you again, where is your proof? If the response is that we have never thus far had adequate, testable evidence of one, then I reply that this is no response at all. An inductive argument has insufficient logical weight to prove a case. Just because you have never seen a black swan does not mean that all swans are white!

Also, in asserting (and failing to prove) their case, atheists tend to miss out entirely one part of building a credible argument. This is the provision of an alternate explanation of the phenomena in question: so come on, atheists. Where is it?

If there is no god, then you have a rather large universe (if not multiple universi) to explain. Are you going to pretend to be physicists and airily wave your hands, explaining that “Oh, it just appeared, due to a Big Bang/bubble/when a couple of quarks collided.” (If you actually are physicists and there is some intellectual heft and real comprehension behind your assertions – including real layman-level explanations – I may allow you some latitude. But not much. Too many physicsts' explanations sound like a version of a four-year-old's answer to who emptied the cookie jar. And I don't think most of you work at CERN anyhow.)

Atheists Who Wannabe Agnostic

Anyway, where did the quarks come from? Answer me that, big boy.

The atheists, basically, have a whole heap of matter, dark matter, antimatter (!), stars, planets and who knows what to explain away in the absence of any higher power or organising force. Their response seems to be to start whistling and gradually sidle offstage, hands in pockets.

Perhaps the atheists have started to cotton on to the threadbare paucity of their arguments of late. A recent advertising campaign in London was much mocked for its assertion that there is PROBABLY no God.

Come on guys! If you're an atheist then BE an atheist! Don't call yourself an atheist then try to steal the agnostic's intellectual respectability to cover your embarrassment. It makes me lose all respect for you: you've turned into Ross out of Friends, conceding the theoretical fallibility of evolution when unable to come up with a logical rebuttal for Phoebe.

Agnosticism: The Logical Person's Choice!

This is my personal position, then: that agnosticism is in fact, the only intellectually tenable and logical position. The case for God is unproven, one way or the other, as far as hard evidence goes.

That's not to say I don't have personal opinions on the issue: I do. I lean towards belief, but maybe that's just an inclination that's hard-wired into our brains. I don't treat it as a fact just because it would be nice to think it were so. Although I suspect this covert motivation is at play as much in the atheist position as the believers. How nice to think, after all, that however badly you behave, you'll get away with it. No eternal consequences! (Maybe this is why I look askance at atheists. What have you done that is so bad you'd rather be extinguished than pay the price for it?)

Atheist Fundamentalists: Try Getting THEM Off Your Doorstep...

In the end I have no problem with someone else's belief or non-belief in God, even when they're shouting it loud enough from the rooftops for me to get spittle in my eye. My true problem with Dawkins et al and bandwagon jumpers like Christopher Hitchens is the cloak of pseudo-rationality, even hyper-rationality they assume. Guys, you're not fooling anyone (except the dumb people). There's nothing wrong with your fervent faith in the non-existence of God (or at least nothing that's anyone else's business to try to change.) All that's wrong is that you're not calling it by its true name: faith, in fact. You are passionate, fervent, anti-religious believers, without a shred of evidence or logic to back up your position. I give you atheists, people: the foremost anti-religious fundamentalists of our time.


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      AntonOfTheNorth 6 years ago

      Thanks for the hub. Based on your article, we appear to have much in common.

      I've been drifting through other hubs on this topic over the last few weeks, seeing what other people have to say and how they say it. I agree that the extremes of the argument are equally faith based. Just that one side admits to it.

      There was a definition that describes me pretty well:

      "An agnostic doesn't know the nature of god, and doesn't think you do either"

      pretty much works for me.