Faith is commonly defined by nonbelievers as belief without evidence. 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 favour of the existence of gods indicates a 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 that 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.
As I was doing research for an essay on the topic of agnostic atheism, I came across a curious article written by one of Learn Religion’s atheism and agnosticism experts, Austin Cline. With a BA from the University of Pennsylvania, a Masters from Princeton University and 18 years of experience educating others on the subjects of atheism and agnosticism, one would not expect to encounter such a poorly written article concerning Agnosticism and Thomas Henry Huxley.
In his article, he attempts to provide some details about the life of Huxley and explain his understanding of agnosticism. He quotes the following statement from his 1889 essay on Agnosticism:
After reading the article, I searched for a copy of Huxley’s essay and began to read it in its entirety. When I found the statement Cline quoted in the image above, I immediately became suspicious. The quote Cline offers is not quite the same as what is seen here in the following source provided by Clark University: (more…)
Atheism Expert Austin Cline of atheism.about.com sets out to debunk an alleged myth expounded by religious apologists in his work entitledMyth: Atheists Believe in Lots of Unprovable Things, Like Love and Beauty. Cline proposes that a false claim thrown about by theists is that: “Atheists and other so-called rationalists believe in many things they cherish, but which are unprovable: love, value, beauty, etc.” He suggests this is done as an attempt to establish a false parallel between themselves and atheists when it comes to their “approach to matters of truth”; more specifically, that both Theists and Atheists believe in things that cannot be justified by logic or evidence. Despite his attempts to falsify the claim, the essay ultimately fails to make any cogent argument that would successfully refute the proposed myth.
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.
The Tanakh (more commonly referred to as the Old Testament) contains many profound tales that have perplexed the minds of those who have studied it throughout history. A well-known narrative that readers find especially striking is in the book of Exodus, where God frees the Hebrew people through the works of the prophet Moshe (Moses) from the oppression they were facing at the hands of the Egyptians. A particular area of contention in this narrative is Gods declaration that He would harden the Pharaohs heart, which is often interpreted to mean that God took over his will and made the decision to refuse Moshe’s requests on Pharaohs behalf. As an an act of punishment, the Lord devastates the Egyptians with a series of catastrophic plagues.