I have heard the “there is more than one type of atheist” argument before from people who appear desperate to get me into their demographic, but I have yet to hear a compelling argument for it. You are guilty of parsing on a bushian level when you characterize me as an “I see no reason to believe there is a god” atheist. There is another side to that coin, and if we’re going to be honest we must also accept simultaneously that I can also be described as an “I see no reason to NOT believe there is a god” theist.
That makes me a theist and and an atheist simultaneously, and in the same universe, to boot. Irreconcilable contradictions like that give me a headache. Until we can resolve that one, I will stick with “C – None of the above”.
Actually, I see lots of reasons to believe and not believe in the existence of a god, and taken as whole, both sides are equally compelling.
As Colbert would say, “moving on”.
“I don’t know” appears to be the most terrifying combination of three words in the English language. People will go to astounding lengths to avoid that little sentence. Instead, we come up with very erudite, deceptive ways of saying it. I think it may have something to do with the fact that most people don’t understand the distinction between ignorance and stupidity, between not being aware of a particular fact and not being able to understand a particular fact.
I’m not sure why I ever thought this wasn’t ready to send, sorry it took so long. I was probably going to take this into my rant about the irrelevance of the the existence/non-existence of a god. Ultimately, beneficial behavior is the same whether there is or is not a god. Of course that assumes that the god would be something like that posited by the Deists, not the small-minded, irrational god of the Old Testament who appears to like nothing more than working at cross-purposes to itself.
Behavior that is consistent with the nature of the Universe will be beneficial to the actor, regardless of the existence or non-existence of a god. Since the question is beyond the human mind to resolve and the answer is irrelevant, I can’t see wasting much energy on it. I’ll find out when I’m dead, or not.
So, I see the atheist obsession with clinging to the unprovable notion that there is not a god to be as foolish and as counter to the well being of humanity as the theist obsession to the contrary.
You’ll be happy to know that I’m not “desperate to get you into my demographic.” I don’t consider “there is more than one type of atheist” to be an argument. Rather, it’s a matter of definition. Some atheists believe there is no god essentially as a matter of faith, and some atheists don’t believe there is a god because they see no evidence for such a being. Some people call these two philosophies strong atheism and weak atheism, but I don’t care for those terms.
I don’t see how you can be a “I see no reason to believe there is a god” atheist and a “I see no reason to NOT believe there is a god” theist (if that’s what you are saying). The two modes of thought are inherently contradictory in that one cannot be simultaneously with and without religion.
“C- None of the above” is also fine for someone who finds arguments for theism and atheism equally compelling. If you are in that camp that’s fine, but it makes you a rare fish indeed.
I agree that there is nothing wrong with saying “I don’t know.” But for me, because I don’t see arguments for theism as even mildly compelling, “I don’t know” would not be an appropriate answer when it comes to the question of whether or not there are deities. If someone asks me if a witch has ever magically flown on a broom, I’m going to go ahead and say no even though it’s true that I can’t prove it’s never happened. The odds are just way, way too small.
I find your statement that beneficial behavior is the same whether there is or is not a god interesting. You’re right that it really only applies to the god of Deism (or another equally detached deity), but in that case there effectively is no god so I’d say the argument is moot (like arguing that it doesn’t matter whether you lie to Uncle Frank just so long as Uncle Frank is either imaginary or dead).
You say, “So, I see the atheist obsession with clinging to the unprovable notion that there is not a god to be as foolish and as counter to the well being of humanity as the theist obsession to the contrary.” Then you should be happy that there are atheists like me that don’t do that. In fact, I go a step further and say that atheists are much less likely to have a good reason to say that there definitely is no god than theists have of saying there definitely is one. At least that has been my experience.