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......


Jake said...

Your understanding of the differences between atheism, agnosticism, and theism is poor. Here is a video that clearly explains the difference and shows that agnosticism is not a third position but a qualifier.

Anonymous said...

Samuel Skinner
For those of you who can't watch videos it basically boils down to- atheism and theism are about belief and agnosticism is about knowledge- watch it though- it really is a nice video. It might change your mind.

Ernest said...

Atheist comes from the Greek: a- "without" + theos "a god".
The A is a negator of whatever word that follows, It seems to imply that the A negates God or gods itself,
But weak atheism says its the lack of belief of God.
The word "belief" here is clearly an imported word.

Anonymous said...

Samuel Skinner
No, it means a person who is "without gods". Deicide is killing of a gods- atheism is the lack of belief. Agnosticism wasn't coined until the 19th century so atheism covered all nonbelievers for about 2 millenia. It was basically like the bright movement, but in the 1860s. So agnosticism is just relabeling due to the stigma attached to atheism.

PS 1) Semantics- although I happen to be a strong atheist.
2) For some reason your writing came out in a wacky font the second time I looked. Is the problem with this computer or at your end? Because this computer sucks, but...

Ernest said...

Problem is with its impossible to edit fonts.