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On faith

Faith is a term that, by and large, is accepted to be a positive thing. I vehemently reject that claim. Faith is never used for anything in our daily lives except those things for which there are no evidence. At any point when there is evidence, faith is not used. In the most basic of examples, if you are buying a used car and the salesman tells you that this car has had no accidents whatsoever, would you still want to see the Carfax or other history? Moreover, if there was a Carfax and he said don’t look at that, listen to me instead, how would you feel? Faith would clearly not be the better path to knowledge in this case. Faith is, by definition, NOT a path to reliable knowledge. That is what science is for. I do not take anything on faith. Ever. Nor do I believe, to a certain extent (depending on nuance of definitions) in anything.

Here is where a critical distinction comes in that most theists, especially apologetics, fail to understand or outright reject because it compromises their position. ‘Believing’ in science is not the same as believing in anything that requires faith. There is demonstrable evidence of scientific phenomena. The pathway of the scientific method produces predictions which can be verified to be true. Drop a pencil and you will demonstrate gravity. Nothing supernatural has ever been demonstrated. The lack of demonstration goes so far as to the point that it is nearly impossible to actually define something that is supernatural. As far as the supernatural goes, I do not accept the claim of its existence in any form, ghost, spirit, soul, voodoo, magic, god, whatever.

Faith is a useless construct. The famous saying goes: What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence. Furthermore, god is often claimed to exist based on nothing but faith. By those same merits, you could claim anything exists. Yoda is real because I saw him in a movie and I have faith that he exists. Prove it? I don’t need to, I have faith. No religion has any more going for it than that right there.

A quick side note hat ties into the previous post. Burden of Proof. Anyone making a claim has the burden of proof. No atheist ever has to defend what proof is there that god doesn’t exist because the burden of proof is on the person making the claim. If I said bigfoot is real and you say you don’t believe me, fine. But then it is ridiculous for me to assert that you need to prove to me why bigfoot isn’t  real. That isn’t how logic works. If you make the claim or assertion, you must provide the evidence. It is the default position to not believe any claim that has not met the burden of proof. This is the fundamental logic behind rejecting a god claim, or any other claim, and people adhere to it for nearly everything else in their lives. Do you believe in Thor, Bigfoot, that I am actually invisible, a teacup orbiting Saturn? Why? Truly think about why you don’t accept those claims and you will know why your claim cannot be accepted.

Next time: I will take a look at the cosmological argument and tell you why it is flawed and fundamentally fails, as well as discuss a few of the basics of logical thought and fallacies. As Smoky the Bear said, Only you can prevent logical fallacies.

Return! and definitions.

At long last I have returned to attempt this blog again. I had decided to forego writing my musings on (a)theism as my thoughts can mostly be found in other resources, and explained better as well. I have decided to try again, exceptionalism be damned. To begin a discussion on atheism, theism, and philosophy (or about anything, really) terms need to be decided.

Firstly, atheism. There seems to be a great deal of misunderstanding on this topic. Regardless of how a particular atheist may define it or a theist may misrepresent it, I define it, for my purposes and use of the term here, as one who rejects god claims. This is distinct from the position of claiming god doesn’t exist, a gnostic claim, and a rather untenable position. An atheist simply rejects the god claim. As an analogy, if you are on a jury you must decide whether or not there is enough evidence to claim someone is guilty. If there is not enough evidence you must vote not guilty. This does not mean you believe they are innocent, just that there is not enough evidence to prove they are guilty. This is the same as atheism. There is not enough evidence to claim god exists.

Secondly, god. I will not define this here but I will mention that before anyone can discuss theism or god they must define exactly what they mean by god. You cannot have a discussion on god without specifying what you mean, something most theists fail to do. I generally find the descriptions that are given to be vague and nebulous as well, something to get into in another post.

Lastly, for today, agnostic. Agnostic on its own is essentially nothing. One is not an agnostic. One is an agnostic atheist or an agnostic theist. This is in contrast to the other options of being a gnostic atheist or a gnostic theist. This is because (a)gnostic refers to knowledge, while (a)theism refers to belief, or more accurately, acceptance of a claim. They are two different spectrums. Theist and atheist are not on the same spectrum as gnostic and agnostic. To fully define it, an agnostic atheist does not accept a god claim and does not claim to know they are correct. A gnostic atheist does not accept a god claim and also claims that they know for sure a god does not exist (in which case they are wrong, as you cannot know, by definition of what it is to be supernatural). On the other side, an agnostic theist accepts a god claim but doesn’t claim to know for sure they are correct. A gnostic theist accepts a god claim and claims to know for sure they are correct ( again, a logically flawed position that is by definition wrong). To sum up, you can be both an atheist and an agnostic (as I am), they are not mutually exclusive in any way, in fact, it is necessary to have one of each category (knowledge and belief) because they answer different questions.

beginnings

For my incipient post, I suppose I should start at the beginning, how my atheism developed. Firstly, atheism is something we are all born with. No one is born religious, it has to be taught to you. Unfortunately it is taught to most people at such an age that their ability to reason and distinguish fact from fiction is not fully developed, and furthermore they have a person of authority telling them it is true. For the record, I find this practice to be morally bankrupt and indicative of a lack of conviction on behalf of the people pushing their faith. If you *really* believe, like actually, truly, believe you are correct, then why would you be so scared of questioning it, or having your children question it. Wouldn’t you want to see them come to discover the truth for themsleves? Isn’t that a far more meaningful and heartfelt belief if the look around and, without any prodding, come to a conclusion on their own that matches yours? But no, of course it isn’t done this way because that generally wouldn’t happen. Almost no child who is brought up without indoctrination of religion, free to develop their ability to reason would read the Quran or the Bible or the Torah critically, looking at each as an option of faith, not a mandate, and think, yea that makes sense, thats probably what happened. Furthermore, none of them would read it and think that is sounds good or holy, or divine, or holding any special beyond-human-comprehension sort of moral revelation. Because they don’t. I was party to all of this washing of the brains of the young, brought up as a Roman Catholic. Luckily, I listened to it and thought, this is a load of crap- at the age of 7 (I remember because it was during after school bible study in 2nd grade). Even at that tender age, something smelled funky, and as soon as I had the first thought that it didn’t make sense, I started to think critically about everything they were telling me, questioning it all, and my first apprehensions that it might not be true turned to full fledged unbelief in the matter of a few weeks. It wasn’t until high school though, that I would give much thought to the negative effects of it, or even use the qualifier atheist. Instead I spent the intervening time doing the sacraments while silently rebelling, and was forced to attend church until I was 18, at which point I immediately stopped. My siblings had it easier, they too felt the seeds of reason and quickly stopped believing and with much exasperation my parents stopped forcing them to go to church when they were about 12 (they are about 10 years younger than me). The story does continue, however any more and this would begin to become wordy. . .

Until next time fearless readers

Hello World

First installment of my blog. The primary purpose of which is to serve as a bit of a running dialog of my inner thoughts and questions about the nature of the universe, things that make me geek out, and things that ‘grind my gears’ as it were, namely religion. If I reach any of you out there as well, that’s awesome, I would love feedback and to just connect with people. If not, well then at least I got my thoughts out.