A FAQ about Atheism on Darwin’s anniversary: “The Atheist Is Not Arrogant; The ‘Believer’ Is”

Apparently Darwin’s anniversary is giving more fuel to the Brights & co. to ignite still more flames, like the latest digged (and meneado) “Atheism Is Not Arrogant“. Here is a quick criticism of that concept of “Atheism” from a non-atheist and non-religious point of view:

  • As a statement of non-belief, ‘atheism’ is not inherently arrogant

    That is true for Atheism “as a statement of non-belief”. However, Atheism – even if defined differently in all languages -, conveys a general meaning (see Wikipedia) of either:

    1. The affirmation of the nonexistence of a god or gods;
    2. or the rejection of theism.

    It is also defined more broadly by some as an absence of belief in deities, which is actually “weak atheism“, or nontheism. Hence the atheist often asserts (i.e. believes in) the nonexistence of god and rejects theism, which is different from disbelieving, and probably an “inherently arrogant” position, like asserting any other unproven belief. The answer of believers (atheists and theists alike) that “they (not us) have to prove [X] beyond doubt, and they can’t” is untenable in questions that can be neither proven nor refuted.
    X being e.g. the (non)existence of god, afterlife, or the divine origin of universe, regarding the different concepts of ‘god’, ‘afterlife’ or ‘divine’.

  • Where atheism becomes misconstrued lies in what believers feel it asserts. Many individuals, who do not understand the terminology, (while working within the parameters of absolutism from their own worldview) inappropriately interpret the word to make an absolute claim on the existence of god.This understanding is a misnomer; merely the term states, “I do not believe”

    As we have already seen, the misconstruction of atheism as a concept is actually made by strong atheists, who try to disguise their antireligion or antitheist positions as a more neutral “nontheism”. In its origin, “a-theos” (Gk. non-god) might have meant just “non-theism”, i.e. modern weak atheism. Today, however, the anticlerical, antireligious or antitheist trend of most atheists have driven the meaning of Atheism and Atheist to its current general meaning in English and most languages.

  • Often when a disbelief in deities is attested, the faithful believer will assert that it is arrogant for anyone to claim an absence of god

    That’s true. Often, also, when a belief in deities is attested, the faithful atheist will assert that it is arrogant for anyone to claim the existence of god. See an example in the same post of that Atheist who describes Atheism as nontheism and shows a clear antitheism:

    Many times it is the faithful who are arrogant in this manner, insisting their holy book is ‘Truth’, sometimes to the extent of attempting to silence opposing views. Is it not infinitely more arrogant to declare heresy, blasphemy and apostasy on those who use evidence to shape their understanding of reality? A reaction such as this displays an uncomfortableness with having one’s beliefs challenged and thereby inferring a feeling of infallibility on part of the believer.

    About that quote, I think some people don’t really look around in their social networks (Digg, Menéame and the like) and don’t read others’ posts and comments. I live in a “normal” community (whatever that means abroad) and people around me are atheists, agnostics or religious alike, and most are scientific people (medical doctors, biologists, engineers, etc.) without professional differences between them related to personal beliefs. However, anyone of them who dares to show his faith publicly is quickly the objective (in the Net) of the Flying Spaghetti Monster joke, and his belief is enough for many to think (and assert as true) that he cannot be a man of science. That is the real contemporary feeling of “infallibility on part of the believer”; of the believer in the nonexistence of god, of course, atheists who believe that just because they reject religious beliefs they are better scientists, or that they are able to classify scientists (or their intelligence!) according to their beliefs. The modern Inquisición is a mob rule disguised as rational, heroic ‘science’ fighters.

  • Where atheism becomes misconstrued lies in what believers feel it asserts. Many individuals, who do not understand the terminology, (while working within the parameters of absolutism from their own worldview) inappropriately interpret the word to make an absolute claim on the existence of god.This understanding is a misnomer; merely the term states, “I do not believe”

    False again. Those many individuals who don’t understand the terminology are many modern atheists as the author, who disguise their faith in the evil nature of religion and theism as nontheism, and construe personal meanings different from the generally accepted ones (ahteist as nontheist, religious as fundamentalist), spreading it through the social networks in an attempt to prove their personal beliefs in the nonexistence of god and the evil nature of theism.

  • The one who says “I disbelieve” is not arrogant, it is those who postulate ownership of absolute “Truth”.

    I agree. The one who says “I disbelieve” (nontheist) or even “I can’t believe nor disbelieve” (agnostic) is not an arrogant. Only the one who asserts (and promotes) the nonexistence of god and the evil nature of theism, just like the one who asserts the existence of god and the evil nature of atheism, is an arrogant.

4 thoughts on “A FAQ about Atheism on Darwin’s anniversary: “The Atheist Is Not Arrogant; The ‘Believer’ Is”

  1. like asserting any other unproven belief.

    You don’t have to assert against positions that provide no evidence.

    “they (not us) have to prove [X] beyond doubt, and they can’t” is untenable in questions that can be neither proven nor refuted.
    X being e.g. the (non)existence of god, afterlife, or the divine origin of universe, regarding the different concepts of ‘god’, ‘afterlife’ or ‘divine’.

    The person advancing the position has to provide evidence- it is known as the burden of proof.

    That’s true. Often, also, when a belief in deities is attested, the faithful atheist will assert that it is arrogant for anyone to claim the existence of god.

    Do you know why? Because believers invaribly claim that it was revealed to them or that the Holy Spirit guided them or etc. In short that they are special and different than all non-believers on the planet.

    However, anyone of them who dares to show his faith publicly is quickly the objective (in the Net) of the Flying Spaghetti Monster joke, and his belief is enough for many to think (and assert as true) that he cannot be a man of science.

    Obviously mockery is the same thing as threats of violence, right?

    atheists who believe that just because they reject religious beliefs they are better scientists,

    Actually, this is true in trying to program AIs. Elsewhere, there isn’t really a total correlation.

    The modern Inquisición is a mob rule disguised as rational, heroic ‘science’ fighters.

    What do you take this for- South Korea? How is it mob rule if a person points out that your belief is no more rational than the FSM?

    I agree. The one who says “I disbelieve” (nontheist) or even “I can’t believe nor disbelieve” (agnostic) is not an arrogant. Only the one who asserts (and promotes) the nonexistence of god and the evil nature of theism, just like the one who asserts the existence of god and the evil nature of atheism, is an arrogant.

    Theism isn’t evil, religion is. One generally leads to the other. And I can’t disprove all Gods- Zeus could be Hugh Hefiner. I can only disprove the logically impossible.

  2. like asserting any other unproven belief.

    You don’t have to assert against positions that provide no evidence.

    “they (not us) have to prove [X] beyond doubt, and they can’t” is untenable in questions that can be neither proven nor refuted.
    X being e.g. the (non)existence of god, afterlife, or the divine origin of universe, regarding the different concepts of ‘god’, ‘afterlife’ or ‘divine’.

    The person advancing the position has to provide evidence- it is known as the burden of proof.

    That’s true. Often, also, when a belief in deities is attested, the faithful atheist will assert that it is arrogant for anyone to claim the existence of god.

    Do you know why? Because believers invaribly claim that it was revealed to them or that the Holy Spirit guided them or etc. In short that they are special and different than all non-believers on the planet.

    However, anyone of them who dares to show his faith publicly is quickly the objective (in the Net) of the Flying Spaghetti Monster joke, and his belief is enough for many to think (and assert as true) that he cannot be a man of science.

    Obviously mockery is the same thing as threats of violence, right?

    atheists who believe that just because they reject religious beliefs they are better scientists,

    Actually, this is true in trying to program AIs. Elsewhere, there isn’t really a total correlation.

    The modern Inquisición is a mob rule disguised as rational, heroic ’science’ fighters.

    What do you take this for- South Korea? How is it mob rule if a person points out that your belief is no more rational than the FSM?

    I agree. The one who says “I disbelieve” (nontheist) or even “I can’t believe nor disbelieve” (agnostic) is not an arrogant. Only the one who asserts (and promotes) the nonexistence of god and the evil nature of theism, just like the one who asserts the existence of god and the evil nature of atheism, is an arrogant.

    Theism isn’t evil, religion is. One generally leads to the other. And I can’t disprove all Gods- Zeus could be Hugh Hefiner. I can only disprove the logically impossible.

  3. @Samuel Skinner: Thank you for your comment.

    You don’t have to assert against positions that provide no evidence.
    The person advancing the position has to provide evidence- it is known as the burden of proof.

    That’s obvious. But the key is “you don’t have to assert against…”. Strong atheists, however, usually go beyond the non-belief position to the assertion (=position) against the existence of god. They don’t say “the existence of god is not proven”, which is right but “the nonexistence of god is proven”. As you say, they have to provide evidence; and they don’t. They prove same falseness of some assertions of some positions of some god-concepts of some religions, and extrapolate it to all theism, and then to the existence of everything else claimed by any form of theism. Without burden of proof on their side…

    I know it’s a very thin line, but take homeopathy or other pseudoscience as example: do you need to assert that it doesn’t work? No, you don’t. You just need to say “nobody has proven it, therefore I disbelieve, it is unscientific, a belief”. Then people can believe in it or not. But if you want to assert it doesn’t work, you have to bring proofs. As theism is impossible to prove or refute – it is usually a matter of tradition and orally transmitted beliefs -, to compare it to a modern invention like the FSM is unnecessary, illogical and irrational, because the differences are obvious and the example is not meant for comparison, but for mockery. You don’t have to be respectful with fundamentalist and dogmatic positions, because they aren’t. But you have to respect other people’s opinions if you want yours to be respected. It is called quid pro quo.

    I’ve dedicated some posts here to the supposed advantages of Esperanto (and compared it with homeopathy and religion BTW), and I have never rejected those assertions as false, just as unproven and therefore unscientific. I have always said it’s the others (Esperantists, homeopathists, religious people…) who have the burden of proof and have to prove their assertions. If not, it’s just raw belief. But I cannot (and I need not) claim their falseness. unproven != false

    believers invaribly claim that it was revealed to them or that the Holy Spirit guided them or etc. In short that they are special and different than all non-believers on the planet.

    That’s your vision of beliefs and believers, according to your experience with (or premade ideas of?) some of them, I guess. The believers I know don’t think that truth “was revealed to them”; most of them just think there must have been something before life, and there must be something after death.

    I could also say the same of many Atheists who believe they are special and different (=more intelligent, better scientists, etc.) than all believers on the planet, without having done anything more than say “there is no god” in their whole lives… It is not rational to give value to those assertions (theist or atheist beliefs) to evaluate scientists.

    Obviously mockery is the same thing as threats of violence, right?

    NO, you are right. We could wait until this generalized mob mockery trend on religious people becomes open discrimination in real life. And until it becomes state atheism somewhere again, apart from communist states. Or we can stop that mockery now as unnecessary, illogical and irrational (=stupid).

    Theism isn’t evil, religion is. One generally leads to the other.

    Religion is evil? No proofs necessary to assert that? Just Dawkins’ word? Why not put an appealing example, like “9/11“, “child sexual abuse”, or the “Inquisición”? Then we could talk about assassinations and persecutions by atheists, and have some fun counting deaths or something…

    When a lot of people agree that “religion is evil and therefore theism too” without needing any proofs to assert that, we are getting to an unnecessary polarized and dangerous society for personal opinions, akin to the “atheism is evil and thus nontheism too” of fundamentalists.

    I can’t disprove all Gods- Zeus could be Hugh Hefiner. I can only disprove the logically impossible.

    As I said, you don’t need to disprove anything about Zeus, God or Goel Ratzon. Disbelieving is enough. However, if you want to disprove them, just comparing God or Zeus to the FSM or leprechauns is not enough to say both are the same, and still less to say they are “logically impossible”.

  4. @Samuel Skinner: Thank you for your comment.

    You don’t have to assert against positions that provide no evidence.
    The person advancing the position has to provide evidence- it is known as the burden of proof.

    That’s obvious. But the key is “you don’t have to assert against…”. Strong atheists, however, usually go beyond the non-belief position to the assertion (=position) against the existence of god. They don’t say “the existence of god is not proven”, which is right but “the nonexistence of god is proven”. As you say, they have to provide evidence; and they don’t. They prove same falseness of some assertions of some positions of some god-concepts of some religions, and extrapolate it to all theism, and then to the existence of everything else claimed by any form of theism. Without burden of proof on their side…

    I know it’s a very thin line, but take homeopathy or other pseudoscience as example: do you need to assert that it doesn’t work? No, you don’t. You just need to say “nobody has proven it, therefore I disbelieve, it is unscientific, a belief”. Then people can believe in it or not. But if you want to assert it doesn’t work, you have to bring proofs. As theism is impossible to prove or refute – it is usually a matter of tradition and orally transmitted beliefs -, to compare it to a modern invention like the FSM is unnecessary, illogical and irrational, because the differences are obvious and the example is not meant for comparison, but for mockery. You don’t have to be respectful with fundamentalist and dogmatic positions, because they aren’t. But you have to respect other people’s opinions if you want yours to be respected. It is called quid pro quo.

    I’ve dedicated some posts here to the supposed advantages of Esperanto (and compared it with homeopathy and religion BTW), and I have never rejected those assertions as false, just as unproven and therefore unscientific. I have always said it’s the others (Esperantists, homeopathists, religious people…) who have the burden of proof and have to prove their assertions. If not, it’s just raw belief. But I cannot (and I need not) claim their falseness. unproven != false

    believers invaribly claim that it was revealed to them or that the Holy Spirit guided them or etc. In short that they are special and different than all non-believers on the planet.

    That’s your vision of beliefs and believers, according to your experience with (or premade ideas of?) some of them, I guess. The believers I know don’t think that truth “was revealed to them”; most of them just think there must have been something before life, and there must be something after death.

    I could also say the same of many Atheists who believe they are special and different (=more intelligent, better scientists, etc.) than all believers on the planet, without having done anything more than say “there is no god” in their whole lives… It is not rational to give value to those assertions (theist or atheist beliefs) to evaluate scientists.

    Obviously mockery is the same thing as threats of violence, right?

    NO, you are right. We could wait until this generalized mob mockery trend on religious people becomes open discrimination in real life. And until it becomes state atheism somewhere again, apart from communist states. Or we can stop that mockery now as unnecessary, illogical and irrational (=stupid).

    Theism isn’t evil, religion is. One generally leads to the other.

    Religion is evil? No proofs necessary to assert that? Just Dawkins’ word? Why not put an appealing example, like “9/11“, “child sexual abuse”, or the “Inquisición”? Then we could talk about assassinations and persecutions by atheists, and have some fun counting deaths or something…

    When a lot of people agree that “religion is evil and therefore theism too” without needing any proofs to assert that, we are getting to an unnecessary polarized and dangerous society for personal opinions, akin to the “atheism is evil and thus nontheism too” of fundamentalists.

    I can’t disprove all Gods- Zeus could be Hugh Hefiner. I can only disprove the logically impossible.

    As I said, you don’t need to disprove anything about Zeus, God or Goel Ratzon. Disbelieving is enough. However, if you want to disprove them, just comparing God or Zeus to the FSM or leprechauns is not enough to say both are the same, and still less to say they are “logically impossible”.

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