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Published: Tuesday, March 19 2013 3:00 p.m. MDT

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samhill
Salt Lake City, UT

"...older atheists who see religion as inherently evil..."

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Does the phrase above, Atheists claiming something to be "inherently evil", strike anyone else as fundamentally goofy?

One of the problems I have with Atheism as a philosophy is that it is, at its core, about the least logical and most faith-based philosophy I can think of. Particularly since the basic thesis, that there is no "God", is so completely antithetical to the rational, objective, empirically-based, **scientific** basis on which most Atheists I know insist their philosophical reasoning rests.

Anytime someone positively asserts a negative, i.e., that something does **not** exist, they make a claim for which there can be no logical proof. For which, in fact, there can be no **logical**, and certainly no scientific (for which **all** claims must be subject to skepticism) reasoning

Consequently, I have concluded that Atheism is one of the most faith-based (lacking scientific proof) of all philosophies.

So, I suppose I should cut some slack for those who speak oxymoronically of the "inherent evil" of religion.

The Skeptical Chymist
SALT LAKE CITY, UT

@samhill

The way I understand things, an "agnostic" is someone who does not know whether god exists or not. An "atheist" is a person who does not believe that god exists (a-theism would literally mean "without belief in god").

The categories that these distinctions allow are then:
1. Agnostic theists - people who don't know whether god exists or not, but believe that he/she does.
2. Agnostic atheists - people who don't know whether god exists or not, but don't believe that he/she does.
3. Gnostic theists - people who claim to know that god exists
4. Gnostic atheists - people who claim to know that god does not exist.

Personally, I am in category 2, an agnostic atheist. I am not certain whether god exists or not, but I believe that he/she does not.

In my opinion, both the gnostic theists and the gnostic atheists are fooling themselves. There is no absolute proof either way. In my opinion, however, the evidence for the existence of a god is about as convincing as the evidence for giant pterodactyls inhabiting Mount Everest. You can't prove that they're not there, but there is no convincing evidence that they are.

Tyler D
Meridian, ID

Samhill – “Does the phrase above, Atheists claiming something to be "inherently evil", strike anyone else as fundamentally goofy?”

No, why would it? I guess it depends on how you define “evil” but personally I can think of a whole slew of examples that could rightly be called evil without requiring someone to believe in a theistic god (i.e., personal, intervenes in our world, takes an interest in me, etc…).

How about a Taliban member throwing acid in the face of a young girl because she either wants to go to school or doesn’t want to be forced to marry a 40 year old… I’ll call that evil.

As to the rest, Skeptical Chymist’s answer was excellent. Most atheists I know fall into the #2 category. And that by definition, atheism is not a philosophy… it is simply a word used to describe a non-believer.

Think about it this way – do we have words for “non-astrologer” or “non-Alchemist?” Does being a non-astrologer mean you subscribe to a philosophy? Of course not… you simply don’t believe in astrology.

JoeBlow
Far East USA, SC

Claiming to know beyond all doubt that there is no higher being makes no sense.

Claiming to know beyond all doubt that there is a higher being makes no sense either.

I believe that deep down, we are all agnostic. It's just easier for some to admit.

als Atheist
Provo, UT

Sam Hill,

Let's make a deal. I won't define your religious belief for you if you will refrain from defining my non-belief for me.

Agreed?

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