Atheism is a position of uncertainty, not certainty

I had another look at that debate group for idiots and this time immediately saw a post that stood out. It’s a TLDR; bunch of word salad in syllogistic form, but even before the broken premises begin, the person asserts that atheism is wrong because it’s also a belief system. Excuse me if you have read something similar here before – this is one of those topics I revisit often. At least since this isn’t a blog purely about skepticism, there’s a chance my arguments might actually be read by people who disagree with me.

For me, that kind of status illustrates perfectly how wrong some people think. If you believe something with such conviction that you can assert it before your first premise, and yet it’s blatantly wrong, imagine how wrong your actual premises are. And that’s how it goes… Every premise is long and filled with assumptions, some of which depend on the conclusion being true. To be honest, I’ve never used syllogisms (Should I?) but I understand them as follows: You write two or more propositions (or premises) that are asserted or assumed to be true, and then apply deductive reasoning to reach a conclusion.

Needless to say, if every proposition implicitly assumes the conclusion to be true, your deductive reasoning is pointless. You could just as well assert it directly and avoid the circular reasoning. (And stop pretending it’s logical.) Anyway, that’s not what I intended writing about today. I’m more interested in the assertion before his syllogism, where he states that atheism is a belief. Let’s not play with semantics, OK? I know that if you categorize people by belief systems, it makes sense to group atheism as a kind of belief system when comparing populations by their beliefs. I’m using “belief system” as a synonym for an ideology.

People have also told me over the years that atheism is a belief system, and asked how I can be sure there isn’t a god, so I see these two ideas as related… Hence my title. Atheism is a position of uncertainty, not certainty.

As an atheist, I don’t claim that there is not a god, much like I don’t claim there isn’t a fart fairy that jumps from person to person, entering their mouths and exiting their anuses. I would, of course, reject the fart fairy claim if anyone made such a claim, but atheism is about me rejecting the claim that a god or gods exist. That’s what atheism is. It makes no claims at all but simply rejects the god claims. This is why we so often either talk over each other or refuse to talk in debates. Those who wish to debate atheists frequently bring up other things that are irrelevant. For example, I don’t care to debate evolution because your straw man arguments of it are irrelevant to me. I make no claims and need not defend whatever you misconstrue as the “opposite” of your belief system. I also have no interest in discussing theology when it concerns the details about your religious dogma.

Is not believing in Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster a type of belief in those things? Are people who don’t believe that aliens live among us believers in a different kind of aliens? Are people who don’t believe in conspiracy theories also conspiracy theorists?

Obviously the answer to all of those is “no”. The only difference is, you as a theist reject those other things too. (Unless you’re an idiot. If you do believe in any of those other things, I’m sorry but you aren’t my target audience here, and please tell whoever is reading this to you that they can stop.)

I think there are two things going wrong here:

  1. When you are biased into assuming god exists, you fail to see the bias. You don’t notice that your every proposition includes the assumption, because you make it without being consciously aware.
  2. You see atheism as a polar opposite view, and thus also a belief system.

When you assume your particular religion to be true, you may see atheism as a polar opposite to that religion. However, atheism can’t be a polar opposite to every such belief system. There are quite a few and theism is only one of them. It is simply a rejection of every god claim. And someone like me rejects them without knowing the details of most of those claims. I don’t need to know how every magic book states that magic works in order to disbelieve in magic. Likewise I don’t need to know what every god claim’s dogma says about its god to reject all of them.

Atheism is absolutely not a position of certainty. Rather it is a position of uncertainty. I can’t speak for others but I am happy to say “I don’t know” how the universe began, and I don’t really care. But I do know that I reject the explanation I heard in Sunday School as a child. And I reject everything else I was taught there, as well as every other religion. I see them for what they are: magical explanations for the unknown and lazy thinking. It took me years to get over the belief bias that was drummed into my head in childhood, and when somebody comes along and claims that my disbelief is just like their belief, because they have that belief bias, it is insulting.

Aaand the idiot who posted that is arguing with me, asserting over and over again that disbelief in religion is a belief. It’s a false dichotomy, for fuck’s sake. Disbelief in one thing can be a belief if you believe in something in its place, but that is not necessarily so. Disbelief in gods means one throws out belief in gods and all that the belief entails, finding life much better without them. It just so happens that this particular belief is so commonplace that disbelief in it has a name.

It really is weird to be condescended to by people with sub par IQ, and reminds me why I stopped debating in the first place. Curse you, oh random Facebook friend who added me to that group. I think I must leave for the sake of my sanity.


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