Why not be against Satan?

First, thanks for your very quick response. You are true to your word about responding.

Second, I’m ok with you posting our correspondence under such a condition.

Now, let me get to a short response. I don’t think the burden of proof is on the theist alone. Anyone who makes a claim, whether “there is a God” or “there is know god,” should then be able to provide support for their position. Atheism by default is incorrect. Having a website named “Iamanatheist,com” is a claim and therefore some burden of proof does lie on you.

In truth, neither of us can say “I know there is or is no god.” That would require us to be all knowing. We can only say “I believe…” Belief only requires us to be more than half convinced our argument is true. I am more than half convinced there is a Creator and you are more than half convinced there is not.

If I may, let me provide a topic upon which you may respond. We can take turns providing, once we’ve explored a topic.

Topic: Christians claim man is “fallen”. What is stance and why?

I agree that anyone who claims that God does or does not exist has the burden of proof. However, I make neither claim, so the burden of proof is not on me. My claim is that I have seen no compelling evidence that deities exists.

I agree that I bear the burden of proof for my claim “I am an atheist,” but I’d say that is either a trivial item or an unprovable one. I am an atheist in the sense that I am not convinced that deities exist and therefore have no belief in God. I can’t prove to you that I have this belief (I could be lying), so you’ll have to take my word for it in the same way that I take your word when you say you are not an atheist.

I would disagree with the statement, “Atheism by default is incorrect.” My guess is that people generally are, by default, atheists until they are introduced to the concept of religion. I don’t know if this has been studied, however.

You say that neither of us can state with certainty that God does or does not exist (which makes you a theistic agnostic — one of the few that has written to me). Many theists would disagree with this point, as they believe there is solid proof that God exists. I agree that nobody can prove that God does not exist (although certain descriptions of God may be able to be proven to be impossible).

You are right that I am more than half convinced that God does not exist. To clarify, I currently believe the odds of a creator existing to be vanishingly small. If you would like to describe me as someone who does not believe that God exists, that’s fine with me — it’s still distinct from someone who claims that God definitely does not exist.

In my opinion, you give a false impression of our positions by saying that each of us is more than half convinced. It seems to me that it would take quite a bit of evidence to even half convince someone that a supreme being exists. On the other hand, no evidence is needed to not convince someone that a supreme being exists. If you have even half a belief that God exists, you should have a very compelling argument for the existence of God to offer me.

You end by asking, “What is stance and why?”. I’m afraid I don’t understand this question. Can you explain further?

Posted on September 4, 2008 at 10:34 pm by ideclare · Permalink
In: About atheism, Discussion

5 Responses

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  1. Written by Dave
    on September 5, 2008 at 5:21 pm
    Reply · Permalink

    Hi, thanks for this blog. I really enjoy your work. I’m a nonbeliever, but I do think that atheists and theists alike should act graciously and should get to understand each other better. I like the example that you set.

    By “what is stance and why,” I think she wants to know what your stance is on the statement, “Man is fallen,” and wants to know why you hold that stance. She might need to clarify her position first. The statement in this form wrapped up in the Christian worldview (“Fallen? Fallen off of what?”) and needs to be unraveled and turned into a secular assertion before a non-Christian can expect to hold any stance on the statement at all.

    Personally, I have a vague notion of what she means. My response is that humanity on the whole has been constantly improving (arguably, even through the Dark Ages of Europe, though slowly), and that there’s no evidence that the human race has ever reversed its fortunes. That probably doesn’t address her notion of the word “fallen,” but only she can make that clear to us.

    She’s also offering you a chance to put forward a topic of your own, which is a generous and gracious offer. I hope this conversation continues.

  2. Written by Emanuel
    on September 8, 2008 at 5:48 pm
    Reply · Permalink

    You mention that the default position is atheistic, but that isn’t true. As a consequence of having social awareness humans are born with a default belief in supernatural powers (I read this in either a scientific american article or a times article). Most people begin by believing in religion and when they learn to question their beliefs they cast off their religion and become atheistic, but usually not the other way around.

  3. Written by Caitlin
    on October 1, 2008 at 6:35 pm
    Reply · Permalink

    Bertrand Russell demonstrated with the Celestial Teapot that the burden of proof is on the one making the claim. Just because theism has existed for thousands of years, doesn’t mean that the skeptic is the one that has to prove the non-existence. Besides, I’m not sure how one would go about disproving something that has never been proven…

  4. Written by Melissa
    on December 7, 2008 at 12:07 am
    Reply · Permalink

    As Caitlin said above, there is no way to disprove something that can’t be proven. And I KNOW there is no “god.” I’m not “more than half convinced there is no god.” I am totally and completely convinced. People thousands of years ago made up the idea of god. It’s an imaginary friend that supposedly gives people hope. Religion is also a greeaaaat way to keep people in line and tell them what to do. Religion disguises itself as something wonderful, but really all it does is cause wars and hate crimes.

    The only reason atheism exists is because theism exists. If there were no theism, there would just be NOTHING. There would be no need to be atheist. Life would be great.

  5. Written by Haily
    on January 2, 2009 at 9:44 pm
    Reply · Permalink

    “I agree that anyone who claims that God does or does not exist has the burden of proof. However, I make neither claim, so the burden of proof is not on me. My claim is that I have seen no compelling evidence that deities exists.”

    -original post

    This appears to me to be wrong. Here on your website, you clearly imply that you claim there is no god. Your first responsibility, from this page: http://www.iamanatheist.com/rights.html

    is listed as:

    “1. Have no gods.”

    This may imply that the responsibility is simply “do not worship any gods”, but first:

    “2. Don’t worship stuff.” seems to suggest that that’s a separate responsibility, and second:

    “Why are you mad at God?

    “Because he’s supposed to be all good but he doesn’t even have the common decency to exist.”"

    This is from the FAQ page (in fact that entire page is more against “does god exist” than “should we worship god”). It appears to imply that your belief is that god strictly does not exist.

    Much as I appreciate humour… trying to maintain a discussion on the basis of a website that appears confused as to its own stand on the very simple question of whether god does or does not exist seems to me to be doomed to ruin, and at best to foster lots of miscommunication that the topic does not need. It also makes the owner’s arguments unclear and suspect.

    I think the main website itself could use with a good scrubbing as to what position exactly it should depict.

    I am agnostic, by the way, if that’s relevant here.

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