Is Any Form Of Atheism Rationally Justifiable?

Definition of God:   First cause, prime mover, objective source of human purpose (final cause) and resulting morality, source of free will; omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent inasmuch as principles of logic allow. I am not talking in particular about any specifically defined religious interpretation of god, such as the christian or islamic god.

Definition: Intellectual dishonesty occurs when (1)one deliberately mischaracterizes their position or view in order to avoid having to logically defend their actual views; and/or (2) when someone is arguing, or making statements against a position while remaining willfully ignorant about that position, and/or (3) when someone categorically and/or pejoratively dismisses all existent and/or potential evidence in favor of a conclusion they claim to be neutral about, whether they are familiar with that evidence or not.

The argument against weak atheism:

Weak, or negative atheism is the lack of any belief that a god exists, and the lack of belief that god probably exists, and is not the positive belief that gods do not exist.

The following is a brief summary of the evidence for a general finding that a god of some kind exists, even if variantly interpreted or culturally contextualized (one can generally look up these arguments and evidences using google or bing):

1) Anecdotal evidence for the apparently intelligently ordered anomalous, miraculous (defying expected natural processes and probabilities) events attributed to god, such as signs or answers to prayers to god, or the ability to manifest or positively affirm such events through free will intention;

2) Testimonial evidence (first-hand accounts) of experience of such phenomena

3) The various Cosmological Arguments for the existence of god

4) The Strong Anthropic (or Fine Tuning) argument

5) The empirical, scientific evidence assembled in the strong anthropic argument in #4;

6) The Moral Arguments for the existence of god.

7) Empirical and testimonial evidence of phenomena closely correlated to the existence of a god of some sort, such as the survival of consciousness after death, and the existence of an afterlife realm, and the apparent agreement of afterlife entities that a god and human purpose exist; the evidence for interactions with correlated entities such as angels and demons (which seem to act to influence our free will towards or away from our human purpose), etc.

While the various arguments listed (all of which, to some degree, begin with empirical evidence) have been subject to counter-arguments and rebuttals of varying strengths and weaknesses, one must not lose sight that while there is much evidence (as listed above) in favor of the existence of god; there is zero evidence (to my knowledge) or rational argument (to my knowledge) that no such god (as defined above) exists.

[Note: One may argue that the Christian god doesn’t exist because of certain contradictions contained in the expressed nature and actions of that entity (or of the Islamic god); and there are such arguments – but this thread is not about such gods, so please adhere to the stated premise.]

The rebuttals to these argument are simply attempting to show weaknesses or alternatives to the arguments themselves so that such arguments cannot be taken as convincing (that god exists); such counter-arguments do not make the case that god (as described above) in fact does not exist.

Also, the testimony of religious adherents of various specific gods can be counted as evidence of the god premised in this argument in the manner that various various cultures can vary widely in their description of certain phenomena or experiences, and come up with widely variant “explanations”; what is interesting as evidence here, though, is the widespread crediting of similar kinds of phenomena and experience to a “god” of some sort (which might be the case of blind or ignorant people touching different parts of an elephant and thus describing “what the elephant is” in various ways). Such testimonial evidence can be counted in favor of the premise here, but cannot be held against it where it varies, because it is not testimony that such a god doesn’t exist.

If a “weak atheist” claims to “lack of belief” because there is “no” evidence for god, they are necessarily being intellectually dishonest, because they certainly aren’t privy to all potential or available evidence. They cannot claim to not know of the evidence for god after having perused the above evidence.

If the “weak atheist” is not aware of any compelling evidence, then any categorical claim they make about the available evidence they are not privy to – that it is not credible or convincing – is again intellectually dishonest because they are making a categorical claim about something they have no knowledge of.

If we have a weak atheist who is aware of the existence of the above evidence and agrees that there might be more evidence they are not privy to; and who does not categorically assert problems with the evidence they have not yet seen; and who does not categorically dismiss the available evidence as “non-evidence” (such as: hypocritically accepting testimonial evidence as evidence when it supports what they already believe, but dismissing it when it supports the existence of god) but rather states that the available evidence they have seen is not compelling towards a conclusion that god exists; then one must ask the following:

In the face of such huge amounts of evidence – thousands of years of testimony and anecdotal stories; many sound arguments based on empirical evidence and apparently necessary logical premises and inferences; and the complete lack of any attempt to make a sound argument that god (as described above) in fact does not exist – one must ask: how can any intellectually honest person come to any conclusion other than that god probably exists, even if god is poorly and diversely defined, and even if the experience of god is open to interpretation and misunderstanding?

As an analogy: even if one has never personally experienced “love”; in the face of thousands of years of testimony and anecdotal stories that love exists, and empirical evidence supporting that certain physical states correspond to assertions of experiences of love, would it be intellectually honest to “lack belief” that love exists, or would it be intellectually honest to hold the view that even though one doesn’t experience love (or using the same argument, color, joy, dreams, etc.), that love probably exists – even if people are widely disparate in their explanation, description, or presentation of what love is?

That I am aware of, there is zero evidence, no argument, and no anecdotal or testimonial evidence that god does not exist (because lack of experience of a thing isn’t evidence the thing doesn’t exist), and there is a vast array of logical, anecdotal, testimonial and empirical evidence that god does exist.

Even if one doesn’t find that evidence compelling for for a final conclusion that god exists, it is at least, if one is intellectually honest, compelling to the point that when one weighs the balance of the evidence for and against, that one must admit that it is more probable that god exists that that god does not exist, which cannot be said to be an atheistic point of view at all.

The argument against strong atheism:

Strong atheism is defined as the assertion that no god or gods exist whatsoever.

First, it is obvious that strong atheism cannot be logically supported, simply because it is impossible to prove (not in the absolute sense, but in the “sufficient evidence” sense). There may be evidence that certain gods, or kinds of gods, do not exist; but there is certainly no evidence or argument (that I’m aware of, anyway) that no significant, meaningful god or gods whatsoever exist.

Instead, strong atheists usually attempt to shift the burden onto theist by essentially asking the theists to prove the atheist position wrong. However, that is not the theists’ burden.

Strong atheism is a sweeping, categorical, negative assertion that something does not exist at all, anywhere. However unlikely one fineds it, it might be true that a god of some sort exists, so the strong atheist position would be excluding a potentially true explanation from consideration unnecessarily.

What is the useful point of a metaphysical position that excludes a potentially true explanation from consideration? What does strong atheism bring to the table of debate other than the potential for intractable error and denial of potential truth for the sake of a sweeping, unsupportable, universally negative assertion?

Conclusion: atheism of any sort is an untenable position for any intellectually honest, rational, and informed person. The belief that god does not exist, or that it isn’t more likely that god exists than not, can only be a valid position based on ignorance of the available evidence and argument for god, or a pseudoskeptical, a priori dismissal of all of the evidence for god based on ideological bias.

 

(Reposted here from a post I previously made under another name, in another forum, with a few minor edits and additions.)

501 thoughts on “Is Any Form Of Atheism Rationally Justifiable?

  1. Solipsist or not, my view on WJM’s posts has greatly improved since I started imagining them with Sheldon Cooper’s voice.

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