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Tuesday, September 02, 2014

10 Conflicting Beliefs of Modern Atheism

Recently, I saw an article by Ben Johnson on Life Site News listing "15 contradictions you have to believe to fit in with pop culture." The article was clever enough and it dealt mostly with the tension of conflicting beliefs of those who would hold up abortion as acceptable. I decided to take a stab at a similar list, looking at beliefs of the pop atheist community and how some of their views sit in conflict with one another. Below are ten beliefs that I've found most atheists to hold, and how they sit in conflict with other affirmations. I've provided links to articles I've written that explore each of these statements a bit more. For item #5, though, you'll have to grab a copy of True Reason and read my chapter on the argument from reason to get a fully developed argument.


  1. Apparent design in creation can usually be explained, even if the explanation appeals to transitions and development even when science has absolutely no clue as to how such development occurred. However, appealing to a designer should be immediately dismissed as a "God of the Gaps" argument.
  2. Good and evil are not objective, but simply the shared preferences of individual cultures and they can change from culture to culture – unless one is talking about the God of the Bible.  He's objectively evil.
  3. Since miracles are much more rare than our everyday experiences, it would be more reasonable to ascribe a seemingly inexplicable event to possible sources we know could account for the event. However, assuming something like the cell that shows fantastic complexity and apparent design is actually the product of design is completely unreasonable.
  4. The fact that divergent religious claims try to explain the existence of the cosmos prove that all religions are false while the fact that there are divergent scientific theories seeking to explain the existence of the cosmos is how knowledge is acquired and is necessary to eventually arrive at the right conclusion.
  5. Reason is the only reliable way to establish what is true, and we reason with brains that evolved only for survival value with no regard for the truth of a belief.
  6. Science is a field of study centered in experimentation and observation and science dictates that life came from nonliving material, even though in the entire history of mankind, no one has ever once observed life coming from non-life.
  7. It is only through planning, intelligence, and hard work that scientist have been able to extend the lives of human beings while the very life they extend is ultimately the product of no planning, no intelligence, and mere accident.
  8. The Universe came into existence from nothing – and that nothing is made up of at least two things: quantum fluctuations and time.
  9. All human beings are the product of evolutionary forces including survival of the fittest, which means that only those who hold the best attributes will advance the species, but all human beings are completely equal and no one is more valuable than another.
  10. Belief in God is a delusion, religion is a virus and it is morally wrong to push religious beliefs on other by expressing them in invocations or other community-centered meetings, which is why atheists seek to push their belief of the nonexistence of God upon all aspects of society.
Can you come up with any more? Let me know and I'll publish the best ones here.

11 comments:

  1. Many atheists don't believe in free will, but they demand Theists to willingly abandon their beliefs.

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  2. I would contend that these are conflicting beliefs of modern Secular Humanists, rather than atheists in general. Still, I think you are rather oversimplifying most of the positions, here, to the point of being Straw Men.

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  3. boxingpythagoras,

    Hopefully, you will follow the links in each of these points where I explore them in more detail to show that they really aren't straw men at all.

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  4. I think these are straw man conflicts as they aren't what atheists believe.

    1) The God of the gaps move is inappropriate within a methodological naturalism framework.
    2) The Euthyphro Dilemma
    3) Hume's argument against belief in miracles
    4) atheists don't claim divergent religions "prove" anything. They establish the arbitrary nature of religious beliefs, and that evidence is needed to compare and contrast each belief with reality.
    5) No atheist thinks that our ability to perform calculus is an evolutionary benefit that helped us survive. Our abilities to seek truths are by-products of our human evolution, not the direct result of it. This again confuses methodological naturalism with metaphysical naturalism
    6) science doesn't dictate anything. Evidence can give reason to rationally assent. The origin of life is still an open question.
    7) this one doesn't even seem to be a contradiction. Why wouldn't you want to extend lives if you thought this was the only life you had and you value your own life. (See absurdism)
    8) quantum fluctuations is the only coherent model of "nothing" we've been able to create. Time isn't even part of the definition of nothing- only that our ability to describe time breaks down classically. Theists also posit a definition of nothing that at least contains God in it.
    9) humans don't have to be identical to have equal rights. Equal rights is a human construct, that doesn't have to align with the objective world (see absurdism again)
    10) this confuses the definition of atheism with secularism. It's a false dichotomy to say that either someone is pushing atheism or theism as secularism is a middle ground where no religious belief is pushed. That's why most atheists identify as free thinkers.

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    Replies
    1. I think these aren't straw man conflicts. Though granted they aren't what *some* atheists believe.

      1) Also, adopting a methodological naturalism framework is inappropriate within a methodological naturalism framework. Methodological naturalism is severely limited as epistemology, making our quest for knowledge (scientia) stunted.

      2) Long been refuted as a false dilemma.

      3) Long been refuted as an insufficient, loade, terrible set of arguments.

      4) And so we both agree that this is how knowledge is acquired and is necessary to eventually arrive at the right conclusion - whether on scientific or religious claims.

      5) Then the confusion lies with those who argue endlessly that we do not need a god to account for logic and reasoning in humans, ask them to stop arguing like that because they are confused. In any case, "boiled down to essentials, a nervous system enables the organism to succeed in the four Fs: feeding, fleeing, fighting, and reproducing. The principle chore of nervous systems is to get the body parts where they should be in order that the organism may survive... Improvements in sensorimotor control confer an evolutionary advantage: a fancier style of representing [the world] is advantageous so long as it is geared to the organism's way of life and enhances the organism's chances of survival. Truth, whatever that is, definitely takes the hindmost." (Churchland)

      6) Sure, I'd argue that it's not science itself but methodological naturalism is committed in dictating upon us that life came from non-life, despite great odds, let's leave it an open question then. For a lot of people though, especially anti-theists, science seems to be the conversation-ender, something as rigorously normative as logic - the correct way to think.

      7) This is a question on origins (which makes it conflicting, not necessarily contradicting) not absurdism, but yeah, like (6) let's leave it at that.

      8) God is clearly not nothing, but when theists say creatio ex nihilo, they refer to material nothingness, and clearly quantum fluctuation isn't material nothingness.

      9) Yes, Darwin did say "racial" groups within the human species aren't equal I wonder what mutations and changes in alele frequencies will do to those "other groups" groups within the human species in the next millions of years.

      10) Secularism? a neutral "middle ground"? Think again, you are free to question your own thinking about this.

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    2. I’d be more than happy to demonstrate why they are strawmen.
      1) You are in an overwhelming minority here as scientific realism, naturalism, and atheism are all dominate views in philosophy: http://io9.com/what-percentage-of-philosophers-believe-in-god-485784336
      2) Either divine commands have reasons and are independent of God or do not have reasons and are arbitrary. This dilemma has been known for over 2000 years, is still taught in nearly all introductory ethics classes, and to suggest otherwise is thought to be a fallacy by Richard Swinburne: http://www.closertotruth.com/series/fallacies-arguing-god#video-4298
      3) I don’t think you’ve ever engaged this argument, otherwise you wouldn’t have called it “a terrible set of arguments.” This is probably one of the most influential arguments in philosophy and is still used as a starting point for skepticism inquiry today.
      4) Then present evidence or create testable models with predictive capability to demonstrate the truth of your religion. For example, demonstrate that Christian prayers are more successful than Muslim, Hindu, or Pagan prayers. Then I’d not only listen to you, but I’d convert.
      5) Nothing you said was even relevant to what I said and is definitely a strawman. I think that our complex nervous system allows us to perform calculus, to love, to enjoy specific activities, and appreciate beauty. No evolutionary biologist would suggest that these are the direct product of evolution nor would they suggest a deity is necessary to explain them. They would claim they are indirect products of our evolution http://rationallyspeaking.blogspot.com/2013/07/plantingas-evolutionary-argument.html
      6) Naturalism is not “dictating” to you that life comes from non life. There are several promising hypothesis, and methodological naturalism allows us to explore those possibilities. It has given us the best knowledge we have regarding our external world which is why the majority of philosophers are scientific realists and naturalists. http://io9.com/what-percentage-of-philosophers-believe-in-god-485784336
      7) If it’s an open question, then it isn’t a tension in the atheist’s worldview.
      8) How is this not begging the question or special pleading?! “material nothingness!?” So your model for “nothing” is: no material and God- then God made the material out of the state of no material. Even the most charitable formulation of this idea leaves me bewildered. How this is preferable to Hume’s argument against miracles is beyond me.
      9) And the context in which Darwin says that is related to human physical attributes. Our physical abilities are not equal. But our rights and protections within a social contract are (or should be) equal. You’re baiting people in with “equality concerning physical attributes” and then switching to “equality within human rights.” It’s a strawman because no atheist thinks that equality of rights can be equivocated with equality of ability.
      10) Secularism is the middle ground- read the enlightenment and our founding fathers. It’s why you have the freedom to practice your religion, and I have the freedom not to practice religion. Both of us would be put to death in an Islamic Theocracy that does not value secular thought.

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  5. The only thing this article accomplishes is to show how little the author knows about atheism, evolution, and even his own religion. Pathetic, really. It is an important discussion to have, but you cannot sit alone in a room stewing in your own secretions and call it debate. From the puny arguments offered here you can barely call it thought.

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    Replies
    1. Oh we don't understand Atheism or Evolution... well you obviously do not understand irreducible complexity or how DNA works, because you are an Atheist who believes in Evolution.

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  6. Atheism is a disbelief in personal gods. It doesn't entail another attitudes about the world. You should probably disabuse yourself of these misconceptions that you have. Life is pretty wonderful when you stop tying yourself in knots about things that have no basis in reality.

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  7. NUMBER 6 - "Science is a field of study centered in experimentation and observation and science dictates that life came from nonliving material, even though in the entire history of mankind, no one has ever once observed life coming from non-life."

    Yes and even though it can be demonstrated how life cannot form from non-life... Atheist will still hold to the vain hope that one day Abiogenesis will be proven, so we can believe in it as an established fact lol

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