Tom Pittman's WebLog

2014 August 25 -- Atheist Folly

My friend pointed me at somebody's blog, where the blogger offered five things atheists could do to be more credible, which were mostly variations on the theme of "be humble/honest" (they being essentially the same thing in his analysis). Of course he's a Christian, so the atheists won't pay him much attention, except a few of them prattled on nonsensically in his comments section, thereby proving correct his analysis (and mine, here to follow).

The most interesting of his five was the last:

5. Stop Trying to Position Atheism as Merely a Lack of Belief
This one requires some careful analysis. The word "atheist" is artificially constructed from the Greek prefix "a-" meaning negation and the the Greek word "theos" meaning god. A theist is a person who affirms the existence of one or more deities. Traditionally, the negation applied to the content of that affirmation, namely the existence of deities. A classical (let's call him a "dogmatic") atheist denied that existence. It's an illogical and self-contradictory position to take, because to make the claim, you must first search the entire universe -- and all possible supernatural domains outside the physical universe -- all at once (because shy deities might jump around, so to be in whatever place you are not looking at that moment; if you were able to do that, you would be a god, thereby disproving your claim.

I guess the logic of this syllogism is too obvious for even atheists to ignore, so they responded by staking out a position traditionally called "agnostic" but differing from the dogmatic version of their faith only in name. You can tell they are still dogmatics, because they really do care about the question: otherwise they wouldn't be there on a Christian's weblog trying to argue against him. Essentially they insist that the negation implied by the Greek prefix "a-" refers to the act of affirmation, not the content. They claim that they neither affirm nor deny the existence of deities, but have no belief with respect to them. True agnosticism is an unstable ground to stand on. If you really don't know if there is a God or not, then you have a moral obligation to find out, because the consequences of being on the wrong side of whatever deity might exist are unspeakably horrible. At least the dogmatic atheist can claim (however foolishly) to have answered that question in the negative, but the agnostic "atheist" who is not diligently searching for an answer is just plain stupid.

But nobody (except the atheists themselves) ever accused an atheist of being smart. Perhaps they are smart enough to realize that if they ever actually set out honestly to discover whether there is a God or not, they probably will be forced to admit that the evidence for the Christian God is pretty strong. And there is nothing quite so stupid as shaking your fist in the face of a God infinitely more powerful than you are and saying "I won't!"

I'm not sure I believe it, but rumor is that ostriches bury their head in the sand so they won't see pending danger. It's not the sort of thing that contributes to the survival of large birds like ostriches, so I doubt they really do that. Meet the new ostriches: they call themselves "atheists." It's not the sort of thing that contributes to the survival of their kind, any more than it helps the birds of that reputation, but like I said, atheists are not the brightest birds on the planet.


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