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Atheist Contradictions: Cline’s Elementary Scholarship
As I was doing research for an article on agnostic atheism, I came across a curious article: “Agnosticism and Thomas Henry Huxley” written by Austin Cline, one of ThoughtCo’s atheism and agnosticism experts (previously about.com). His bio featured on the site states that he’s been educating people through the Internet about atheism, agnosticism, skepticism, and secular humanism for over 15 years. Additionally, he studied at a number of noteworthy institutions such as University of Pennsylvania where he received his BA in Germanic Languages and Literature, and later completed his Masters at Princeton University. In all, Cline is a well studied scholar to say the least. Perhaps then you are wondering “what exactly is so elementary about his scholarship?” Continue Reading
Original sin, the Christian doctrine regarding the moral corruption of mankind as a result of Adam and Chavah (Eve) eating the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil. As consequence of their disobedience, all of humanity is imparted with an ancestral fault; that is, a hereditary state of sin which can only be remitted by the will of god. Continue Reading
Across many subjects of debate, an argument that is sometimes used to rebut the claims made by ones opponent is to point out that it contradicts some aspect of their personal identity. In other words, they find a contradiction between the way in which they characterize themselves and the proposition claimed by an individual. For this reason they argue that the implications drawn from their statements must be a false in some respect.
Yet, there is a grave flaw in this kind of deduction. A contradiction between two propositions is an indication of falsity only in circumstances where the propositions are mutually exclusive. In contrast, the nature of the contradiction pointed out in this argument is hypocrisy; that is, if the charge were true, one would be acting in a fashion that does not conform to their character. Continue Reading
Atheism and Agnosticism
Atheism can be generally understood as the negation or denial of theism. There is therefore no necessity for the atheist to believe no gods exist—only to have reasons for denying their existence. Agnosticism on the other hand, neither asserts or denies the existence of divine beings. More precisely, it can be described as indecision or the suspension of judgment concerning the existence of gods. How then can agnostic atheism be understood?
Scottish philosopher Robert Flint (1838–1910) provides one of the earliest references to the increasingly popular concept in his 1887–1888 Croall Lecture on Agnosticism. Flint, though he dismisses the idea agnosticism is inherently atheistic, acknowledges it may be and often is combined with atheism. An agnostic, believing proof of gods existence to be an impossibility, is consequently also an atheist who does not believe in any gods. Flint draws the following distinction between dogmatic, critical and agnostic atheism: Continue Reading
Defining Faith: Is Faith Believing Without Evidence?
According to mainstream Atheists, when one professes their faith in a god or religion they are making two acknowledgements: firstly, that there is insufficient evidence to justify belief in the theological propositions they hold (that is, propositions that relate to the subject of theology e.g. that a god exists, that he is benevolent, etc.). Secondly, despite this uncertainty have continued to believe them to be true. Thus, it is concluded that faith is inherently irrational, as belief in a proposition can only be rationally justified if there is sufficient evidence to support its truth. While it can be recognized that some religious adherents might describe their faith in such a fashion, it would be disingenuous to assert that all those who subscribe to some form of faith do so while holding that there is insufficient evidential justification for their beliefs. Non-believers who subscribe to such an outlook on faith also should consider whether such stipulations can be met on their part when taking into account other beliefs they typically hold to be true – namely the presumption of atheism and empiricism. Continue Reading
Evidentialism And The Burden of Proof
Faith is commonly defined by nonbelievers as belief without evildence. In the words of the late Christopher Hitchens, “That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.” (God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, 2007). According to some atheists, the lack of evidence in favor of the existence of gods indicate belief in such an entity is irrational. This argument is representative of evidentialism: the idea that conclusions are only rational (or justified) if supported by evidence. Understood, it is a theory which applies to all doxastic attitudes including belief, disbelief and suspension of judgment. With this point in mind, the question arises: if belief in gods can be deemed irrational on the ground of evidentialism, can atheism also be dismissed if it is not based on evidence? A number of atheists who reject theism on the basis of evidentialism argue their atheism does not need to be supported by evidence. Although they offer arguments in support of this position, the reasons provided ultimately fail to justify this double standard. Continue Reading
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