Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Premise of Atheism: Rejecting the Positive Assertion

Atheism is a lack of belief, or disbelief, in god(s). Belief and disbelief are two disparate choices that are not equal since the latter can only be a reaction to the former. Disbelief is only available as a description until after the subject is aware of the assertion (the belief). Once the subject is aware of the belief—poof!—the choice is unavoidable one way or the other. This choice is inherently a reaction to a positive assertion of belief and any rejection of belief in a god is a secondary, reactive choice. One either agrees and believes or does not agree and does not believe. The mere introduction of the concept forces the choice of belief or non-belief. Knowledge (gnosticism vs. agnosticism) is irrelevant here.

I make this distinction to counter the typical false equivalency that is employed to discredit atheists. Atheists are not just as irrational, unreasonable, arrogant, fundamentalist, etc. as theists. That is a fallacy. The rejection of belief in god(s) is based on the lack of evidence to support the positive assertion made by others that such a being or beings exist. This empirical and logical conclusion is making no claims to knowledge in regards to god(s). Atheism rejects the “Truths” of religion, but atheism is itself not an assertion of truth. It rejects the “Truths” of religion because it rejects the positive assertions of belief in god(s).

This dichotomous choice between belief and disbelief is unbalanced. Religion and theology can be completely logical, but that logic is based on an improbable and unsupported premise. It is non-empirical. Atheism does not employ a positive assertion to claim God does not exist. That would be a waste of time since it is likely impossible to do so. Atheism’s premise is that there is no reason to make that claim in the first place.

For example:
  • Religion asserts that 1+1=3 and this represents the existence of a god outside of nature (since it bends the known laws of nature, the wonky math represents this supernatural state).
  • Atheism is not asserting that 1+1 does not equal 3 therefore this god does not exist.
  • Atheism asserts 1+1=2. That’s it.
  • Atheism asserts that 1+1=2 and asks ‘Why are we talking about god?

      *see comments for strikethrough explanation 


My honest opinion said...

I like your post but to me your analogy is false.
I agree, atheism is not asserting that 1+1 does not equal 3. I would say atheism is merely asserting that there is no evidence suggesting 1+1 does equal 3, and therefore currently no reason to believe it to be or accept it as true. But atheism is ONLY a response to the answer 3.
You say atheism asserts that 1+1=2 and this is where we disagree. Because atheism, itself, provides no answer to the question 1+1 (a.k.a. how did existence come to be?). Atheism isn't asserting anything in replace of 3. Now science, on the other hand, is looking for that answer. But science and atheism are not one and the same. So to me your analogy comes across as saying atheism doesn't accept 3 as a true answer and asserts 2 as the answer instead. Which I think would be wrong.

Steve Barry said...

/thinks about it

You are absolutely correct. Thank you for pointing that out. I appreciate it.

I have previously pointed out that science and atheism should not be conflated. I just missed that.

Randell said...

This is great!