Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Atheism and Definitions revisited

It seems i have to spend more time on definitions of Atheism. I got an e-mail from one of the readers saying that he did not quite agree to my definitions of Atheism.
And i do not blame him. Because if he had read my post clearly,then he would have noticed that i tried to show the different definitions used. Even atheists themselves disagree on the best definitions for an atheist.

A reader recommended this video to me and others who would want to see a "clearer" distinction.


I watched the video and i agreed to most of the content,though i found it a bit misleading.

Atheist comes from the Greek: a- "without" + theos "a god".

So a direct translation would be, "without a god".The "A" is a negator.

Consider the word Symmetry.A negator would be Asymmetry. Simply meaning without symmetry.If i was to say, Asymmetry means object lacking symmetry,it would be technically accepted in English grammar.But it would be obvious that i have imported a new word.The word being " object".

So saying atheism is "lacking the belief in god",is importing the word belief. The initial meaning was "without gods".

Meaning that even Babies or infants are atheists due to their undeveloped brains which are unable to comprehend matters such as gods.They lack the belief in gods.

But someone would ask,in which context can we use the words "without gods"?isn't it obvious that we are speaking of peoples beliefs?Not necessarily.

There are scientists who adhere to materialism.Matter is all that there is.So the universe in this case would be "without gods".In other words,the universe is materialistic in nature.Then We can say the universe is atheistic.or a-theos.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Atheism and The Burden Of Proof part 1

Most religious people have come across a person who does not believe that God exist or any gods exists. Kenya being a country where atheists numbers are negligible it would be hard to find a religious person who has been challenged by a skeptic.
But for Kenyans who reside outside the country especially in European countries like Germany,UK and Sweden where Atheist are a significantly high number,then a debate with an atheist starts with asserting certain positions.

The most important one being to ask, Where does the burden of Proof lie? Who should be proving to the other what?

Atheism definitions have slowly started to evolve in the hope of leaving the theist with 100% burden of proof.
A simple and most accepted definition is, The belief that God or gods do not exist.
Another definition which is called weak atheism is, The Lack of Belief that God exists.

The strong Atheism position can be defined as:
Atheism, as a philosophical view, is the position that either affirms the nonexistence of gods or rejects theism.

To know who bears the burden of proof of whether God exists or not,then we have to work with one of the definitions.

Agnosticism is also another position that should not be confused with Atheism. Most agnostics state that agnosticism is to not know whether a deity exists. Some go further and claim that agnosticism is the belief that it is impossible for any person to know whether any deity exists or not.

It seems weak atheism is a form of
agnosticism. Weak atheism says that a person simply lacks the belief that God exists.This may be because he has not seen any evidence of such a Being.Agnotism also claims that there has not been sufficient evidence to convince him a God exists or a God does not exist.

There are two positions to consider,Either God exists or God doess not exist

So weak atheism can be described as,

1.There is no convincing evidence of a God
2.So I lack the belief that God exists
3. I take the position that God does not exist.

agnosticism can be formulated as:

.There is no convincing evidence of a God
2.So I lack the belief that God exists
3.I take no position

Simply saying that "I lack the belief that God exist" does not make the weak atheist escape the ultimate conclusion that he will have to choose a position at the end of the day.

But Weak atheism commits a form of argumentum ad ignorantium or Argument from ignorance.
which is a logical fallacy where it is claimed that a premise is true only because it has not been proven false or is only false because it has not been proven true.

Something is currently unexplained or insufficiently understood or explained, so it is not (or must not be) true.

Weak atheism claims that the proposition God exists has not been proven to be true,so automatically it is false.But the atheist has not even attempted to prove that the proposition God exists is false.

A good analogy would be, "You can't prove God does exist, so God doesn't exist"

To Be continued......