Last night, just before going to bed, I read this. So I saved it… although not to respond there but here, and it does seem to go a bit against the grain of my fellow atheists. For some reason I can’t comment on the group post… might be my internet connection, but I have sent a friend request to the guy and can hopefully discuss this with him some other time. Facebook tells me the guy is a “Catholic Universalist, philosopher, and mystic”… whatever that means.
The full text goes as follows:
If atheists define atheism as the denial of religious claims while simultaneously denying that they are affirming the falsehood of those claims, they seem to be in a logical contradiction. To deny a claim is expressly to affirm its falsehood, so atheists, if that definition is accurate, are trying to occupy a region within claim denial that does not overlap with affirming the falsehood of that claim, an undistributed middle that does not exist. Atheists, why not simply own your implied assertion of the non-reality of deities and face the onus probandi you are desperately trying to avoid?
Are you scared?
Now note this does not apply much to me because I regard myself as a gnostic atheist. Not gnostic as in “there is no god” but gnostic in the sense that I am certain all god claims are made up, hence the notion of a creator is an invalid claim. God is a man made thing. Without any evidence supplied, I believe in treating all god claims as myth and nothing more.
He kind of goes off the rails a bit when he writes “To deny a claim is expressly to affirm its falsehood”… because he seems to see it as a simple binary – a false dichotomy. But otherwise he is spot on and this is one of those few times I find myself agreeing almost completely with a creationist. In reality, to accept one claim also means to deny all other claims, meaning he has the same problem. On some level, he does understand though… He understands that he doesn’t take other god claims seriously, claims such as Zeus, Odin, Allah, and many thousands of others… So they don’t count. Only his one counts because he assumes it to be true.
Yet his point stands. (If one ignores the last sentence about fear because that’s just a non sequitur and I don’t get why he thinks that). Of course he does, and this is exactly why I am a gnostic atheist. Deities are a man made thing. To ignore that all older deities are presumed to be made up while simultaneously assuming that your one is real, just because you have believed so since before you were old enough to think for yourself, is surely the opposite of a genetic fallacy. Unlike a genetic fallacy which looks only at the origin of a thing, this involves ignoring the origin. So I don’t know if this fallacy has a name, excuse me for that but I can’t find one online.
So sure, we have to be wary of the reversal of the burden of proof (which is where he will logically go next probably), but that’s only because he probably considers one claim true and ignores all similar ones, but perceives atheism as the opposite of his (one) claim. But it is a perfectly reasonable position to say that all gods are made up, all of them throughout history – so throw out the claims people make currently because the god concept itself has not been shown to be anything other than myth. We know that newer ones, like Scientology, were made up. Mormonism too… We even know who made them up. So why treat older ones differently? They’re just as made up. Why not own the assertion that gods are not real? I’m all for that because that is exactly how I feel.