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.
The well-known Darwinist and author Richard Dawkins is notorious for his emphatic views about religion. Unarguably one the most influential thinkers of the New Atheist movement, the British Biologist has inspired a fresh wave of religious skeptics that keep his various works in their repertoire. Among the ways of his thinking that has been adopted is the notion that religion encourages ignorance. This can be evidenced by his declaration “I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world.” This statement is quite bizarre seeing that it conveys an attitude towards uncertainty that is contrary to what many Atheists seem to believe, as Atheists themselves appear to be fairly comfortable with accepting their own ignorance.
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:
In the face of contemporary knowledge, it is said by many skeptics that no reasonable person can believe in the supernatural. As the world finds ways to naturally explain the things that were once an elusive mystery attributed to the divine, the believer finds it increasingly difficult to have faith in the things which are scientifically incomprehensible. Among the most contentious beliefs are divine miracles. Many are mocked for what nonbelievers deem as fanciful speculation of the things not yet known. Unbelievers argue that there is no scientific evidence for miracles so it is safe to assume that they probably do not occur. Additionally, skeptics argue that the lack of evidence for miracles invalidates the existence of God. Closer examination of the reasons they offer in favor of their position reveals that their view fails to be convincing.
Many skeptics wonder how a God could know all the things that have not yet happened if humans allegedly have free will. They argue that God being omniscient invalidates the concept that we have the ability to make free choices. A common formulation of argument is as follows:
If God is perfectly omniscient and knows beforehand what choices we are going to make, there is no possibility that there could be a different outcome. If there is only one possible outcome, then all choices have been predetermined. If our acts have been predetermined, then there is no such thing as free will.