Do Atheists Exist?

This post is to move a discussion from Sandbox(4) at Entropy’s request.

Over on the Sandbox(4) thread, fifthmonarchyman made two statements that I disagree with:

“I’ve argued repeatedly that humans are hardwired to believe in God.”

“Everyone knows that God exists….”

As my handle indicates, I prefer to lurk.  The novelty of being told that I don’t exist overcame my good sense, so I joined the conversation.

For the record, I am what is called a weak atheist or negative atheist.  The Wikipedia page describes my position reasonably well:

Negative atheism, also called weak atheism and soft atheism, is any type of atheism where a person does not believe in the existence of any deities but does not explicitly assert that there are none. Positive atheism, also called strong atheism and hard atheism, is the form of atheism that additionally asserts that no deities exist.”

I do exist, so fifthmonarchyman’s claims are disproved.  For some reason he doesn’t agree, hence this thread.

Added In Edit by Alan Fox 16.48 CET 11th January, 2018

This thread is designated as an extension of Noyau. This means only basic rules apply. The “good faith” rule, the “accusations of dishonesty” rule do not apply in this thread.

1,409 thoughts on “Do Atheists Exist?

  1. OMagain: I’ve seen several attempts to offer such a justification.

    Me too, all the attempts that I aware of are subject to further regress.

    That is what the “how do you know?” question is all about.

    OMagain: Perhaps the fact that nobody is now bothering should tell you something?

    It tells me that every one knows that the follow up question is coming and realize that no attempted justification works unless it is sufficiently basic to do what it proposes to do.

    I certainly could be wrong in that assumption.

    peace

  2. OMagain: If a child is brought up by atheists, in a mostly atheist country and never expresses a belief that they think there is a god at any stage in their life, at what point do they secretly start to believe in a god, unbeknownst to themselves?

    I would say that they never start to believe in God. I would say they always know that God exists.

    We never start to believe that the law of non-contradiction is valid but simply always know that it is.

    peace

  3. GlenDavidson: I noted that yours is. And you just pretended that I wrote something different.

    no I’m not pretending that is what you wrote

    quote:

    fantasies like you believe are very different from personal experiences of those who prefer not to believe fantasies.

    end quote:

    if I’m not mistaken the word “prefer” is the fifth word from the end of that sentence.

    peace

  4. fifthmonarchyman: no I’m not pretending that is what you wrote

    quote:

    fantasies like you believe are very different from personal experiences of those who prefer not to believe fantasies.

    end quote:

    if I’m not mistaken the word “prefer” is the fifth word from the end of that sentence.

    peace

    I see, you’re sorely lacking in reading comprehension.

    Glen Davidson

  5. GlenDavidson: No one has any reason to care about your “personal experience,”

    I have reason to care what my personal experience is.
    Partly because that is where I learned much of what I know.

    peace

  6. fifthmonarchyman: I would say that they never start to believe in God. I would say they always know that God exists.

    We never start to believe that the law of non-contradiction is valid but simply always know that it is.

    peace

    That analogy doesn’t work. The law of non-contradiction — which, just so you know, is not universally valid and binding — is built into the structure of language, or better, of certain kinds of language. It seems authoritative to us because we have choice but to reason in language. It’s not some mystical denizen of the Platonic Heavens.

    Put more flatly: we have evolved the norm “do not commit yourself to incompatible assertions” because doing so thwarts one’s ability to participate in successful cooperation with others.

    Reasoning is a product of evolution, and logic is just a device for making our forms of reasoning explicit.

  7. GlenDavidson: I see, you’re sorely lacking in reading comprehension.

    Did you not mean to say that the personal experience of those who prefer different things than I do is different than mine?

    Because that’s sure what it looks like you meant.

    peace

  8. Kantian Naturalist: The law of non-contradiction — which, just so you know, is not universally valid and binding —

    So you are saying that there are places where contradictory statements can both be true in the same sense at the same time?

    How do you know this is not one of those places?

    peace

  9. fifth:

    Me too, all the attempts that I aware of are subject to further regress.

    They aren’t. Mine, for example, provisionally assumes the veridicality of the human senses, even though we don’t know that they are in fact veridical. (Hence the implicit asterisk after “know” that I’ve mentioned when explaining my Cartesian skepticism.)

    I don’t know that the assumption is true; it’s merely provisional. But the regress stops there.

    Your regress never terminates. That’s why you say “It’s revelation all the way down.” As I’ve shown, not only does your regress fail to terminate; it also fails as a justification.

  10. Kantian Naturalist: It seems authoritative to us because we have [no] choice but to reason in language.

    I would agree with that. We are sort of stuck in that regard.

    Reason and language and truth seem to be a package deal.

    peace

  11. Kantian Naturalist: we have evolved the norm “do not commit yourself to incompatible assertions” because doing so thwarts one’s ability to participate in successful cooperation with others.

    In a universe where the law of noncontradiction did not hold committing yourself to incompatible assertions would be of selective advantage

    😉
    peace

  12. fifthmonarchyman: Did you not mean to say that the personal experience of those who prefer different things than I do is different than mine?

    Because that’s sure what it looks like you meant.

    peace

    Look, I know the stupid games you like to play. The preference in this case is, either for an honest evaluation of the world, or a presuppositional, grossly biased point of view.

    You have to equivocate to pretend that it’s just about “preferences” when one is about preferring the truth and the other is preferring nonsense that one is taught. You could try to quit with the equivocations.

    Glen Davidson

  13. GlenDavidson: The preference in this case is, either for an honest evaluation of the world, or a presuppositional, grossly biased point of view.

    Look I’m not saying that you don’t think your preference is the better one.
    We all think that our preference is better.

    That is why it’s called a preference

    GlenDavidson: one is about preferring the truth and the other is preferring nonsense that one is taught.

    We both think we prefer the truth and we both think that what the other guy prefers is nonsense.

    Such is the nature of preference

    peace

  14. fifthmonarchyman: Look I’m not saying that you don’t think your preference is the better one. We all think that.

    That is why it’s called a preference

    It’s a different kind of preference, however much you wish to smudge it and pretend that it’s as illegitimate as your extremely biased preference.

    We both think we prefer the truth and we both think that what the other guy prefers is nonsense.

    Yes, but I can actually back up what I say, and discuss matters without your mindless drivel, your endless equivocations. I could still be wrong, but I don’t have to resort to the sordid tactics that you do.

    Such is the nature of preference

    peace

    Some preferences are built on knowledge. Yours are built on presupposition.

    To equate the two is to show up what insipidly ignorant twaddle you base your worldview on.

    Glen Davidson

  15. GlenDavidson: Some preferences are built on knowledge.

    I agree

    What is knowledge built on?

    IOW what justification do you have for claiming that you can know stuff given your worldview?

    GlenDavidson: It’s a different kind of preference

    Oh I would agree with that. I just think mine is the better kind.

    That is why it’s called a preference

    I think you prefer to deny God and I prefer to not deny what I know.

    peace

  16. GlenDavidson: but I can actually back up what I say

    here is your chance. Back up what you say
    What is your justification for knowledge?

    IOW

    How do you know stuff given your worldview?

    peace

  17. It’s funny how materialists insist on things; the existence of things that don’t exist and non-existence of things that do..
    I wonder why…have their perceptions been altered by eating too much McDonald’s, perhaps?

  18. J-Mac:
    It’s funny how materialists insist on things; the existence of things that don’t exist and non-existence of things that do..
    I wonder why…have their perceptions been altered by eating too much McDonald’s, perhaps?

    Ah, so you agree with FMM that there are no atheists.

  19. walto: Ah, so you agree with FMM that there are no atheists.

    If an atheist means a denialists, I agree with FM or AM, or both..Who wouldn’t?

  20. walto: Ah, so you agree with FMM that there are no atheists.

    Virtually no one, other than a complete psychopath lives their life as if they really believe in materialism.

  21. You don’t have to be a materialist to be an atheist (and, in fact, some might say that Spinoza was a God-obsessed materialist).

  22. J-Mac: If an atheist means a denialists, I agreewith FM or AM, or both..Who wouldn’t?

    So everybody actually is a Christian in your opinion, whether they know it or not.

  23. phoodoo: Virtually no one, other than a complete psychopath lives their life as if they really believe in materialism.

    That’s a curious claim, because I cannot do anything that’s not physical. I have never met anybody who can do anything that’s not physical either. It doesn’t look as if that incapacity has anything to do with being a psychopath either. It just seems like we’re stuck with the physical, whether we like it or not.

  24. J-Mac: If an atheist means a denialists, I agree with FM or AM, or both..Who wouldn’t?

    You should consider the possibility that you might be too much of an idiot.

  25. walto: some might say that Spinoza was a God-obsessed materialist).

    I’ll grant that materialism are not the same thing as atheism but I think it’s a little simplistic to call Spinoza a materialist.

    peace

  26. walto:
    You don’t have to be a materialist to be an atheist (and, in fact, some might say that Spinoza was a God-obsessed materialist).

    Insofar as Spinoza affirmed thought as a distinct attribute from extension, he wasn’t a materialist. But insofar as he denied teleology and thought that the mechanist (efficient causation) of ideas strictly paralleled that of bodies, he was.

  27. Kantian Naturalist,

    We can learn a lot from him. He seems to be always dancing close to the truth but not quite touching it.

    I think that if I was not a Christian I would probably be something like a Spinozaian.

    I don’t like labels in general. They often lead to more heat than light.

    peace

  28. Entropy: You think that thinking is not physical? That would indicate that’s you who cannot think very well.

    Seems like you want to hijack words meanings again.

    So you believe the whole physical/mental dichotomy is a myth huh?

  29. fifthmonarchyman: In a universe where the law of noncontradiction did not hold committing yourself to incompatible assertions would be of selective advantage

    That makes no sense. The law of noncontradiction is not like a law of physics.

  30. walto: So everybody actually is a Christian in your opinion, whether they know it or not.

    Claiming to be a Christian, and actually being a Christian, are two different things…

    Same applies to atheists…

    Just having no belief in the existence of deities may be enough for some who made up their minds to be atheists… But is it a rational belief?

    Just ignoring the many facts that point toward intelligence higher than human doesn’t make one a rational atheist. It confirms that those ‘”atheists” are actually plain denialists… They may not like it, but that doesn’t change the facts…

    The interdependence of life systems of the “simplest” of cell; ATP, proteins, DNA, cell membrane etc. that have to be present at the same time and be functional, points to only one conclusion: superior intelligence and power than human have ever encountered. Believing that sheer dumb luck was able to resolve those fundamental issue that scientists are still struggling to understand, proves that atheists are purely denialists, who couldn’t careless where the scientific facts point to…

    There many facts like that denialists choose to ignore because of their prior commitment to materialism, which proves my point even more, that atheists are actually denialists of scientific facts…

    People choose lies over truths because of the possible implications that truth presents them with. But that doesn’t make the lies right or true, does it?

  31. Kantian Naturalist: The law of noncontradiction is not like a law of physics.

    But if the law of noncontradiction does not hold it can both be and not be like a law of physics.

    Right?

    OK, I’ll go now.

  32. J-Mac,

    Except that there is no reason at all to believe that the “intelligent designer” is anything at all like the God of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Theism requires just as much a leap of faith and is just as irrational if one accepts intelligent design than if one denies it. That’s precisely why the serious ID theorists like Dembski and Behe were so careful to deny that design theory was an argument for the existence of God.

  33. Corneel: But if the law of noncontradiction does not hold it can both be and not be like a law of physics.

    Right?

    OK, I’ll go now.

    Christian apologists like to pretend the laws of logic were revealed to Aristotle on the Acropolis and written down in the Prior and Posterior Analytics, like God revealed the Ten Commandments to Moses atop Mt. Sinai.

    The actual history of logic shows this to be quite badly false, both in terms of the history of Western logic and in terms of the actual diversity of logics across the history of world philosophy. By 200 AD, the Buddhist philosopher Nagarjuna had developed a completely different logic that rejects the principle of non-contradiction. In Mahayana Buddhist logic, statements can be true, false, both true and false, and neither true nor false. In the past twenty years, logicians have developed a family of paraconsistent logics in which the principle of non-contradiction is relaxed under specific conditions.

    The laws of physics are also idealizations and abstractions from actual experimental conditions, as Nancy Cartwright argues in How the Laws of Physics Lie.

  34. J-Mac: The interdependence of life systems of the “simplest” of cell; ATP, proteins, DNA, cell membrane etc. that have to be present at the same time and be functional, points to only one conclusion: superior intelligence and power than human have ever encountered.

    Mere assertion, lacking any sort of explanation for why life is highly derivative in the manner that it must be if life has evolved. IDists like to just say that life has to be designed, without explaining anything by reference to any known intelligence or known intelligent process.

    You have never been able to make the slightest case for design, merely gawping at complexity and dully claiming that it’s “evidence” for your unthinking prior beliefs.

    Indeed, a good deal of life’s complexity is due to the fact that life can’t get away from its past, often simply building more complexity onto older complexity where intelligence would start again. This is true of many developmental pathways, such as bird wings, which fuse large single rigid wing bones out of a number of bones that once became articulated in their ‘terrestrial’ relatives. You have no explanation, just your unthinking god-of-gaps a priori beliefs (whether there’s a gap or not–you certainly don’t know).

    Glen Davidson

  35. J-Mac: Just having no belief in the existence of deities may be enough for some who made up their minds to be atheists… But is it a rational belief?

    That’s a silly question.

    Perhaps you mean “Is it a rational lack of belief”. In my book, a lack of belief is rational when there is a lack of evidence. And perhaps a lack of belief is always rational.

  36. Kantian Naturalist: In Mahayana Buddhist logic, statements can be true, false, both true and false, and neither true nor false.

    OK, that makes my head hurt. I can not imagine how you even begin to build a system of logic from that.
    Intriguing nevertheless. Thanks for that.

  37. J-Mac: Claiming to be a Christian, and actually being a Christian, are two different things…

    Same applies to atheists…

    Amen to that

    peace

  38. Corneel: OK, that makes my head hurt.

    That pain you feel is logic and reason resisting the introduction of utter irrationality.

    Sort of like when you feel ill when your immune system is battling the flu

    😉

    peace

  39. J-Mac: Claiming to be a Christian, and actually being a Christian, are two different things…

    Same applies to atheists…

    Just having no belief in the existence of deities may be enough for some who made up their minds to be atheists… But is it a rational belief?

    I know these things are difficult for you to keep straight, but the question was not whether you think atheists are correct or even ‘rational’ –whatever the hell you might mean by that term–but whether they exist at all. Fmm says there are no atheists and I asked you whether you agree with him about THAT.

    Got it this time?

  40. phoodoo: Seems like you want to hijack words meanings again.

    I’ve never done such a thing. When I explained that oxymoron to you I made the meaning explicit. If you didn’t like it you could have told me that what you meant was “with no intervention by a magical being.” But you didn’t.

    phoodoo: So you believe the whole physical/mental dichotomy is a myth huh?

    There’s plenty of reasons for thinking that thinking is physical. Have you ever observed how tired you get after studying really hard? Have you even observed the heat output from your head during those activities? Electro-encephalograms? Have you even tried to study while being terribly hungry?

    For the mind being non-physical there’s mythologies, hallucinations, poor philosophy.

    That’s an easy choice for me.

  41. walto: Fmm says there are no atheists and I asked you whether you agree with him about THAT

    Actually, I only say (usually when directly asked) that everyone knows that God exists.

    Whether there are atheists or not really depends on how you define Atheist….. and God and …….are.

    😉

    peace

  42. fifthmonarchyman: walto: Fmm says there are no atheists and I asked you whether you agree with him about THAT

    Actually, I only say (usually when directly asked) that everyone knows that God exists.

    Whether there are atheists or not really depends on how you define Atheist….. and God and …….are

    That’s actually a refinement– and slight improvement in what you’ve been saying here the past few years.

    So that’s good, but YOUR def of ‘atheist’ remains heterodoxical, making your claims about what others think not just misleading but honestly pretty wack.

  43. walto: That’s actually a refinement– and slight improvement in what you’ve been saying here the past few years.

    Perhaps it’s a refinement of what you have been hearing rather than what I’ve been saying.

    It’s possible that while dodging all the rhetorical bombs and repetitious insults I haven’t done an adequate job of articulating but my intention and meaning has not changed in the slightest.

    walto: So that’s good, but YOUR def of ‘atheist’ remains heterodoxical

    I really don’t give a lot of thought on what the term Atheist means.

    As I just said in this thread I don’t like labels and I like labeling people probably least of all.

    What I will say is what i have always said here……… Everyone knows God exists. That knowledge has nothing to do with how we choose to define the term Atheist

    It has to do with what God has revealed

    peace

  44. walto: making your claims about what others think not just misleading but honestly pretty wack.

    I make no claims about what other people think.

    1) Thinking and knowing are not the same thing
    2) That people know God exists is not my claim it’s simply a restating of what is found in Scripture.

    peace

  45. fifthmonarchyman: Everyone knows God exists.

    And that is the problem. If you said “I assert everyone knows God exists” or “I believe everyone knows God exists” you would get a pass, especially if you can support the assertion somehow. Saying, flatly, “Everyone knows God exists” in the face of denials, mine included, breaks the good-faith rule.

  46. Alan Fox: If you said “I assert everyone knows God exists” or “I believe everyone knows God exists” you would get a pass

    literally anything any human who is rational ever says contains an implicit “I believe” caveat.

    I’m not God I’m not infallible
    Just like anyone else I can be mistaken

    When I say
    two plus two equals four.
    What I mean is that
    I believe two plus two equals four

    When I say
    I exist
    What I mean is that
    I believe I exist.

    When I say

    a circular square is not possible
    What I mean is that
    I believe a circular square is not possible

    Alan Fox: Saying, flatly, “Everyone knows God exists” in the face of denials, mine included, breaks the good-faith rule.

    I disagree.

    You could be posting in good faith but simply mistaken when you say that you don’t know God exists because you are not God so you are not infallible.

    That is what I choose to believe.

    peace

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