atheism, another dogma[moved from mailbag to phil./psych.]
This is a follow-up to my last post concerning atheism and certainty. In my last post I got affirmative replies that atheism does not/cannot hold certainty in their claims. I will try in this post to show how atheism is another dogma of belief similar to theism.
The last sentence of my opening paragraph is definitely going to be the most difficult to defend. Here are some starting considerations to clear up any ambiguity before I begin my defense.
First, concerning the argument that atheism contains beliefs similar to theism. I want to start off by noting that it is irrational to say that atheism is simply a lack in belief. Atheism entails many beliefs pertaining to God; Most fundamentally, the belief that he doesn't exist. If it were the case that you had no beliefs pertaining to God, then what makes you feel the urge to reply to this post? What makes you form the Rational Response Squad if you don't have any beliefs concerning the concept of Deity or God? Could you say that you reply in the name of rationality and human reason? If so, what makes you want to employ that rationality this very moment? Instinct? Habit? No. A belief renders your mind into action. To say that atheism the lacking of belief pertaining to God is just not correct. As one of my philosophy professors put it, "Well if they [atheists] say that [atheism is simply the lack of a belief] then they're cheating."
Secondly, I want to speak of theism and try to clear up some misconceptions. To start off, theism is not religion and religion is not theism. Religion is man's creation. You may argue with me whether theism is man's creation as well, I have no problems with that. In fact, I'll grant you that theism is man's creation. Yet, I will insist that you realize that religion and theism are distinct. All the shortcomings, mistakes and horrible things religion has done in the name of God are mistakes of religion, not theism or God. Now, since I have granted you theism as man's creation you may think it will be the bringer of my position's downfall. Although, what it does is allow me to compare theism and atheism both as creations of MAN.
I think I have done enough clarifying, now onto my argument that atheism is another dogma.
I would like to start off by quoting David Hume:
Our reason must be consider'd as a kind of cause, of which truth is the natural effect; but such-a-one as by the irruption of other causes, and by the inconstancy of our mental power, may frequently be prevented. By this means all knowledge degenerates into probability; and this probability greater or less according to our experience of the viracity or deceitfulness of our understanding, and according to the simplicity or intricacy of the question. (From: David Hume's Treatise of Human Nature; 1.4.1 : 121)
"All knowledge" doesn't seem to leave anything out of the equation does it? Of course, you may reject what David Hume says, but allow me to continue on before you make a rationalist positional switch. (Presuming atheists should remain empiricists in order make the existence of God seem impossible.) So to continue with my argument, I would like to argue that following Hume's line of reasoning it would follow that science, mathematics, etc. all contain laws of mere probability. Granted, the laws of physics and geometry are more probable than the existence of God, but here me out. If you have bought into Hume's argument, and granted him that all knowledge is probability, then I want to argue for the following:
1. Atheism rests on probability
2. Theism rests on probability
3. Therefore, atheism and theism rest on probability
Now, I'm sure that your reply to this argument would be: "That may be the case, but the probability of atheism is a lot higher as a result of scientific evidence." To which I would reply, "And what is it that your evidence rests upon? Truth? Fact? No. The evidence you would use also rests on probability." The point of this argument is to show that the position that is atheism is on the same rational playground as theism because both rest on probability. As a result, claiming theism is irrational loses its punch line. (Remember, theism is not religion.) I will grant that theism is mere probability, but also demand that atheism is likewise probable.
After reading this, I'm sure that the lingering shout is that atheism has more evidence and is more probable. Sure that may be the case, but does that make it more rational? If both atheism and theism are probable, how is atheism more rational? Quibbling over evidence and degrees of probability is what atheism vs. theism reduces to. The evidence in favor of theism is there as well, providing theism with a level of probability of its own. The mere fact that atheists reject the theists evidence is not enough to make it non-evidence. The evidence in favor of theism seems to be pointing to unanswerable questions of science, and positing theories to answer those questions, or as you granted R.R.S. arguments like the Painter argument. All this quibbling over evidence is great, but not my current aim. The evidence for or against either atheism or theism is perplexing and worthy of lifetimes of investigation. Putting such an aspect of investigation in the last paragraph of an already long post would not do it justice.
Once again my R.R.S. please reply criticizing my argument/reasoning/logic/stupidity. I look forward to your replies.
***Last note: Please makes discussions of evidence not the bulk of your reply. I am not an authority on theistic scientific evidence. Consider this post focusing on the argument I have presented. I would love to discuss evidence for or against atheism and theism in another posting.
The implication that we should put Darwinism on trial overlooks the fact that Darwinism has always been on trial within the scientific community. -- From Finding Darwin's God by Kenneth R. Miller
Chaos and chance don't mean the absence of law and order, but rather the presence of order so complex that it lies beyond our abilities to grasp and describe it. -- From From Certainty to Uncertainty by F. David Peat