Who Are You Calling an Atheist?

Oct 17, 2016

By Thomas Larson

Are there any good reasons these days to declare yourself an atheist? Won’t the label’s tribal militancy, its prickly company, its easy derision, dishonor your family, alienate your friends, and upend your career? And if you are one—and you don’t fess up—might not that lack of honesty trouble you? After all, it is the truth, isn’t it? What’s more, if you don’t make the call (choose, instead, the less excitable “humanist” or “secularist”), someone else will mark you, a stamp that may stick, inerasable, like a Sharpie on your forehead. Whosoever’s badge you go with, how high on your chest will you wear it?

Take the astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson, host of Cosmos and director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York. When Bill Moyers asked him whether he supported “the effort” by well-meaning people “to reconcile faith and reason,” Tyson said flatly, “they’re irreconcilable.” All attempts to describe science with faith “have failed. Anyone who tried to explain the nature of the universe, based on Bible passages, got the wrong answer.” To the charge that dark matter is God, he perked up: “If that’s where you’re going to put your God in this world, then God is an ever-receding pocket of ignorance. Get ready to have that [mystery] undone.”

Because of such statements, Tyson says he’s assailed a few times a month by nonbelievers who pester him: “I thought you were an atheist.” No, he counters, he never uses that word. If he has to have one, it’s “agnostic,” but even that term has scant meaning, he admits, since he’s confident science will solve the “divine” mysteries. Recently, he told Bill Maher that only two descriptors fit him: scientist and educator. Physics has no religiosity, Tyson said. “You don’t ‘believe in’ science. It’s true whether or not you believe in it.” Not only does he sound unfailingly uninterested in religious belief, but Tyson makes no case that he’s agnostic about anything.


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38 comments on “Who Are You Calling an Atheist?

  • @OP – When Bill Moyers asked him whether he supported “the effort” by well-meaning people “to reconcile faith and reason,” Tyson said flatly, “they’re irreconcilable.”

    Nobody who is fully committed to the use of scientific methodology, is going to fudge science with faith.
    It is only the heavily indoctrinated and heavily mentally compartmentalised, who delude themselves that “faith” provides any valid scientific answers to anything.

    Tyson says he’s assailed a few times a month by nonbelievers who pester him: “I thought you were an atheist.”
    No, he counters, he never uses that word.

    Tyson is an American who works in the media where jobs depend on ratings.
    Demonised strawman images are regularly attached to the word “atheist” by preachers and politicians, for the specific purpose of slandering atheists and damaging their employment prospects – especially atheists who are prepared to challenge falsehoods asserted on the basis of “faith”! (See Richard’s hate mail)

    but Tyson makes no case that he’s agnostic about anything.

    “Agnostic”, except when used in the last tiny fraction of a number representing a scientific mind open to new evidence – (beyond 6 at the top of the Dawkin’s Scale 1 -7), is a cop-out claim, used by theists with slight doubts, and confused or intimidated people who don’t want to publicly admit to being atheists.
    NOBODY is “agnostic” about ALL of the conflicting theist claims and religious dogmas.

    Almost all of the people I have encountered who claim to be “agnostic” are only “agnostic” about the cultural religion of their childhood or recent conversion, – and have no hesitation in simply dismissing ALL the thousands of others as “false gods and false religions!
    (Often while ironically claiming atheists need to be more open-minded to the junk the evangelists are trying to pour into the heads of willing recipients!)

    That is why atheists regularly tell them, that atheists reject one more god than the theists do!



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  • I am regularly baffled by the overemphasis on semantics. Who gives a damn what word you use?
    Does calling “it” one thing or another change “it”? I do not think there is sufficient (or any) evidence for anything supernatural whatsoever. So, not only am I atheist, but not duped by much bullshit.



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  • I identify as an Atheist, I don’t believe proof of any God will ever be found.
    The words don’t really mean anything as Crooked points out however.
    I believe the title agnostic is really saying there could be proof. I’m not that optimistic.



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  • alf1200 #3
    Oct 17, 2016 at 10:47 pm

    I identify as an Atheist, I don’t believe proof of any God will ever be found.

    It’s quite funny how theists and those claiming to be agnostics, will squirm and twist at any suggestion of atheistic aspects of their nature.

    On various discussions I have pointed out that they are atheistic towards ALL gods except their own, but many will concoct all sorts of mental gymnastics to avoid using the term, or admitting this to themselves.

    When a lack of belief, based on a lack of evidence is cited, the mental shutters come down, there is a “but there IS evidence for my god” claim, there is an attempt is made to redefine the word “evidence”, or the lame claim”there are other ways of thinking/reasoning beyond objectivity and logic” is rolled out!

    The cognitive dissonance of “I can’t be atheistic because I have faith in my god“, is quite common.

    We could always ask theists, why they are atheistic about the magic tree spirits of tribal religions, when they have not personally checked out all 16,000 tree species and all the individual trees in the Amazon? 🙂



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  • This should be easy. Consider swapping the claim “there is a God” with “aliens have visited Earth”.
    I can be agnostic about whether aliens have visited Earth (they might have) and still not believe it because I have not seen sufficient evidence. Atheism relates to what you believe – agnosticism to what you know. If you do not believe there is a god you are an atheist. It is a binary proposition.



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  • mr_DNA #6
    Oct 18, 2016 at 8:56 am

    If you do not believe there is a god you are an atheist. It is a binary proposition.

    Simply stated, it sounds like a binary position, until an attempt is made to define the word “god”.
    Then it becomes a multi-thousandfold proposition, as the cascade of god assertions and definitions claimed by the followers of each god, is examined and evaluated in terms of real physical properties of existence!

    Xlpzulwump or no Xlpzulwump, is also a “binary proposition”, but without a clear unambiguous definition, is equally meaningless.



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  • Y’know, maybe the point of this piece is to marginalize the whole theist/non-theist issue. Frankly, if it is, count me in. It is past time to discard not only the labels, but the belief system(s) behind them.

    Let’s all of us just rub our eyes and step into the 21st century, without the pre-medieval baggage, and the wasted energy expended trying to explain a rational and obvious position to those who still seem to need their binkies.



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  • Mr DNA,
    Aliens have not visited the earth. There is no god. Oranges, however, exist. So do trains and water and magnetic energy. If you’d like proof of my assertions, I can provide it. If you have proof of the others, you provide it. We will go back to our closets/drawers and come out with the evidence. ready, set, go….

    Math, science, observation, logic, experiment, are all ways we know things and can verify veracity. Almost’s, might have’s, maybe’s. oughta, sorta, coulda, he said, she said, I have a girlfriend in Canada (you wouldn’t know her), shiny shit in the sky, unexplained phenomena, the holy trinity, questions you are forbidden to ask, ulterior motives, charlatans, psychics, politicians are all BULLSHIT. The only way to elevate any of my list to anything other than bullshit is to prove it.

    At the murder trial, the accused's mother stands and promises to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth. She sits on the stand and says, "not my Johnny, he wouldn't hurt anyone at all, I just know it". Ok, let's all go home, case closed. his mom said he's a nice person. Johnny may or may not be a killer, but I am not going to go on such a clearly biased person's words and when actual evidence is presented, i will decide.

    The god question is like the johnny murderer case, except there’s been no actual accusation of murder, no evidence, no proof, just idle bullshit conversation for millenia. Assert that god is _____________, define god as ______________ and then let’s go evidence hunting. Otherwise, agnostic is just another form of bullshitter, another person hedging bets and clipping language so that the idiots who’ve been duped don’t mass together and hang them. PROOF or nothing.



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  • To Vicky #8:

    Let’s all of us just rub our eyes and step into the 21st century,
    without the pre-medieval baggage,

    Yes I agree that ALL should step into the 21st century. But try and get the Pope and they entire Catholic hierarchy to do that. Did you ever watch a televised RCC mass?



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  • Vicki and cbrown

    I hope that the increasing visibility of the secular community will provide cover for those Catholics who are on the fence and decide to leave that despicable organization. But we are dealing with a number of absolutely brainwashed devout believers who will never leave and will defend that criminal organization until the day they die. So be it, “on earth as it is in heaven”. So let’s welcome their renegades into our fold and keep an assertive posture against the special privilege that they demand. They must follow secular law and pay taxes like everyone else. A policy of containment is sometimes the best we can do. This also applies to deeply indoctrinated followers of all religions.



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  • cbrown #10
    Oct 18, 2016 at 12:33 pm

    Yes I agree that ALL should step into the 21st century. But try and get the Pope and they entire Catholic hierarchy to do that.

    Indeed! While the RCC claims to “believe” in evolution, and “support science”, it has a long history of science denial, claiming “faith-trumps-science”, double-talk, denial of denial, and substituting its own pseudo-science while claiming this is THE REAL science! (See sections 4 to 10 on this link.)

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_Church_and_evolution#Pope_Pius_IX

    Catholic schools in the United States and other countries teach evolution as part of their science curriculum. They teach the fact that evolution occurs and the modern evolutionary synthesis, which is the scientific theory that explains how evolution proceeds. This is the same evolution curriculum that secular schools teach. Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo of Richmond, chair of the Committee on Science and Human Values, wrote in a letter sent to all U.S. bishops in December 2004: “Catholic schools should continue teaching evolution as a scientific theory backed by convincing evidence.
    At the same time, Catholic parents whose children are in public schools should ensure that their children are also receiving appropriate catechesis at home and in the parish on God as Creator. Students should be able to leave their biology classes, and their courses in religious instruction, with an integrated understanding of the means God chose to make us who we are.

    The suggestion of any supernatural fiddling with evolutionary processes for the purpose of creating worshipping humans, is a direct contradiction of the biological processes of natural section, the random nature of mutations, and of genetics, so is the foot-dragging, rearguard action, of centuries of faith-based pseudo-science!



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  • alf1200 #3
    Oct 17, 2016 at 10:47 pm

    I identify as an Atheist, I don’t believe proof of any God will ever be found.

    Theists and deists often hide behind their vagueness and incoherence of the “mysterious” god-claims.

    However, once any specific real-world or physical features are specified, the question of evidence arises.

    “Proof” is a difficult subject in the practical world, but it is quite reasonable to view absence of evidence, as evidence of absence!

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/victor-stenger/the-evidence-against-god_b_682169.html

    Absence of Evidence Is Evidence of Absence

    Even the most pious believer has to admit that there is no scientific evidence for God or anything else supernatural.
    If there were, it would be in the textbooks along with the evidence for electricity, gravity, neutrinos, and DNA.
    This doesn’t bother most believers because they have heard many times that “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.”

    However, just repeating a statement over and over again does not make it true.
    I can think of many cases where absence of evidence provides robust evidence of absence. The key question is whether evidence should exist but does not.
    Elephants have never been seen roaming Yellowstone National Park. If they were, they would not have escaped notice. No matter how secretive, the presence of such huge animals would have been marked by ample physical signs — droppings, crushed vegetation, bones of dead elephants. So we can safely conclude from the absence of evidence that elephants are absent from the park.




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  • @Laurie #11

    … keep an assertive posture against the special privilege that they
    demand.

    You are right, of course. My post was made in a moment of weariness (mixed with a little hopefulness). Systemic theism pervades our society, and to bear it meekly would equate to acceptance.

    But I think on a mano a mano level I shall adopt the cold shoulder approach. Ice’em out. No more wasted energy on my part. I have too many bruises on my forehead beating it against a brick wall.

    And PeacePecan, you could be right. I’ll have to do some research on that. 🙂



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  • I’ve not done this Alan4, but I wonder what would occur if you challenged a believer in jesus to disprove the existence of Allah? Then, since there can be no disproof, claim then, that Allah must be true. Then, ask about disproof of yahweh. Then when yahweh can’t be disproved, then yahweh must be true. Then ask then ask then ask, and pretty soon there is a crowd of gods, none of which can be disproved. So, there must be tons of gods.

    Or none at all.



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  • crookedshoes #16
    Oct 19, 2016 at 9:10 am

    Then, ask about disproof of yahweh. Then when Yahweh can’t be disproved, then Yahweh must be true.

    So called “biblical [folk-law] history” and archaeological history, are two different subjects, with theists generally ignorant of the latter, and of the evolution of their Christian god from the earlier polytheistic gods!

    Yahweh was just a new name for “El”, just as “Jehova” was anew name for Yahweh, – with “God”, Holy Spirit, Jesus and Allah added later in the evolution!

    Of course El and Yahweh, were not monotheistic Canaanite gods, and old El had a wife called Asherah and 70 sons! (So much for the NT “Only begotten son story!”)

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asherah#In_Israel_and_Judah

    In the Ugaritic texts (before 1200 BCE) … . . . In those texts, Athirat is the consort of the god El; there is one reference to the 70 sons of Athirat, presumably the same as the 70 sons of El.
    Among the Hittites this goddess appears as Asherdu(s) or Asertu(s), the consort of Elkunirsa (“El the Creator of Earth”) and mother of either 77 or 88 sons.

    Among the Amarna letters a King of the Amorites is named Abdi-Ashirta, “Servant of Asherah”

    Between the 10th century BC and the beginning of their exile in 586 BC, polytheism was normal throughout Israel;[10] it was only after the exile that worship of Yahweh alone became established, and possibly only as late as the time of the Maccabees (2nd century BC) that monotheism became universal among Jews.[11][12] Some biblical scholars believe that Asherah at one time was worshiped as the consort of Yahweh, the national God of Israel.[11][13][14] There are references to the worship of numerous gods throughout Kings, Solomon builds temples to many gods and Josiah is reported as cutting down the statues of Asherah in the temple Solomon built for Yahweh.

    William Dever’s book Did God Have a Wife? adduces further archaeological evidence—for instance, the many female figurines unearthed in ancient Israel, (known as Pillar-Base Figurines)—as supporting the view that in Israelite folk religion of the monarchal period, Asherah functioned as a goddess and consort of Yahweh and was worshiped as the Queen of Heaven, for whose festival the Hebrews baked small cakes

    There are various scholarly articles on this subject – along with vehement asserted denials from monotheist believers.

    The historical memetic evolution, of the Canaanite/Jewish/ Christian/Muslim god-delusion!! – fascinating!! – . . . and there is some archaeological evidence for this!



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  • crookedshoes #16
    Oct 19, 2016 at 9:10 am

    I’ve not done this Alan4, but I wonder what would occur if you challenged a believer in Jesus to disprove the existence of Allah?

    They would probably just claim this was a false interpretation or a false god, and casually dismiss it. – or pretend it was compatible with their own views.
    Apparently in the realm of “default gods”, it is only atheists and heretics who are required to provide “negative proofs!”

    https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/1194.Richard_Dawkins

    “So it is best to keep an open mind and be agnostic. At first sight that seems an unassailable position, at least in the weak sense of Pascal’s wager. But on second thoughts it seems a cop-out, because the same could be said of Father Christmas and tooth fairies. There may be fairies at the bottom of the garden. There is no evidence for it, but you can’t prove that there aren’t any, so shouldn’t we be agnostic with respect to fairies?”
    ― Richard Dawkins

    The theist assertion of a 50:50 odds Pascal’s Wager, assumes a single default god.
    With thousands of gods past and present, the chances of picking the wrong one, predominate in setting the odds for theists!

    By all means let’s be open-minded, but not so open-minded that our brains drop out.”
    ― Richard Dawkins

    “…when two opposite points of view are expressed with equal intensity, the truth does not necessarily lie exactly halfway between them. It is possible for one side to be simply wrong.”
    ― Richard Dawkins

    Quite – The fallacy of the middle-ground!



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  • Vicki

    My post was made in a moment of weariness

    And mine was made in a moment of serenity. ha! In a different mood I’ll be sputtering and ranting. Oh well, all in a days work I always say. 🙂

    I have too many bruises on my forehead beating it against a brick wall.

    Oh yes, that old brick wall. I know it too well. Serious scar tissue built up after all these years.



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  • Recently, he told Bill Maher that only two descriptors fit him: scientist and educator. Physics has no religiosity.

    I’ve heard other well-known scientists (including a prominent primatologist) making similar statements.

    When asked if they are atheist, they try to elude answering the question by waving a patronizing hand and implying that the question is not interesting, not important, or even meaningless.

    In my view, this is just a cop-out and a disservice to society at large.



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  • “Agnostic” from one perspective is a weasel-wiggle word. It is certain beyond a reasonable doubt that God does not exist. The scientist from her perspective must remain rigorously “neutral” with respect to anything that looks like a hypothesis, even if we believe there is no way to discover what would count as evidence either way toward proving/disproving the existence of “God.” The proposition cannot be examined by the scientific method and therefore stands apart from the evidence-based concerns of science. On such grounds it is possible to respect the position of Neil DeGrasse Tyson. (For the record, I love this guy and recommend all his videos on youtube. He is probably the greatest science educator of our time, certainly in his field of astrophysics.)

    Conversely, the term “atheist” carries some unfortunate connotations because we frame it largely as opposition to “The World’s Great Religions,” especially Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. Atheism is a belief that “God” does not exist, notably the Christian God, Allah and Yahweh. Believers understandably think we are out to ridicule their cherished beliefs and therefore we must hate them personally. In my view we should clarify our position that beliefs in the supernatural, whether a God who intervenes in history, or mystical spiritual forces that permeate or somehow transcend an exclusively physical cosmos are nonsense. If the believer consents to debate then take it from there. The position should be argued (ultimately) from a civil, rational intellectual perspective so that believers and their cultural sympathizers are disabused of the delusion that we are “arrogant dogmatists” out to get religious believers and denigrate their faith tradition for malicious motives.



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  • …The proposition cannot be examined by the scientific method and therefore stands apart from the evidence-based concerns of science. On such grounds it is possible to respect the position of Neil DeGrasse Tyson.

    I’m sure other well known-scientists (for example one whose last name starts with ‘D”…) would agree with all that.

    Nonetheless, they don’t use similar arguments as an easy way out when they are asked the question: ‘Are you an atheist?’.

    In a culture where religious dogma is proudly proclaimed and sponsored (letting it even exert its influence all the way up to the US House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology) we need prominent scientists, as public figures, to set the example and not cop-out with a: ‘Sorry, doesn’t apply to me!’ type of answer to questions like: ‘Are you an atheist?’.



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  • Melvin #22
    Oct 20, 2016 at 1:05 pm

    The scientist from her perspective must remain rigorously “neutral” with respect to anything that looks like a hypothesis, even if we believe there is no way to discover what would count as evidence either way toward proving/disproving the existence of “God.”

    This is simply not so when we examine the claimed properties of the Abrahamic gods as in Genesis. Even many of their “historical claims” can be refuted by substantial archaeological or geological evidence.
    The history of the of the origins of their holy books is full of forgery, mistranslations and cherry-picked versions.

    if we believe there is no way to discover what would count as evidence either way toward proving/disproving the existence of “God.” The proposition cannot be examined by the scientific method and therefore stands apart from the evidence-based concerns of science.

    It is only when the theists/deists move to the negative proof fallacies of “science cannot prove – therefore my default god-delusion has credibility”, come into play, that these transparently void arguments amount to:
    “Science cannot disprove my ill-defined vague heap of meaningless semantic waffle, as there is nothing of substance to refute, so my default god exists according to my assertions and the fallacy of negative proofs!”
    Science cannot refute a void representing the absence of unspecified properties which is asserted must exist, but to which a word label (god -usually plus a few superlative adjectives ) has been attached.

    Omniscient nothingness etc.!!



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  • …The proposition cannot be examined by the scientific method and therefore stands apart from the evidence-based concerns of science.

    Science or a scientist having no knowledge of what some incoherent unintelligible babble is talking about, is not a usual definition of “agnostic”! “Agnostic” is not knowing a clear answer to a real meaningful question!
    It certainly makes no case for credulity about gods, or for that matter it it makes no case for credulity about anything else! !

    On such grounds it is possible to respect the position of Neil DeGrasse Tyson.

    Non-sequiteur! It is no grounds for anything!

    http://www.elsewhere.org/journal/pomo/

    “Reality is fundamentally meaningless,” says Bataille. It could be said that if posttextual narrative holds, we have to choose between constructivism and Sartreist absurdity.

    Semantic capitalism suggests that society, paradoxically, has objective
    value. Therefore, Porter[1] states that we have to choose between cultural theory and Marxist capitalism.

    Bataille suggests the use of semantic capitalism to modify culture. However, if the cultural paradigm of narrative holds, we have to choose between the neodialectic paradigm of context and cultural objectivism.

    The above passage cannot be refuted, but that in no way makes it worthy of scientific analysis, or allows it to assert any claims to credibility in the absence of a scientific refutation! –
    “Too incoherent for analysis” is no argument at all!



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  • To put things in terms the religious might understand, dimly:

    I believe in Satan. This is an evil capricious insecure and jealous petty entity that meddles in human affairs, pretends to be “God”, and has religions all over the world doing his bidding, leading innocents into temptation and enticing the gullible and the corrupt into evil deeds that range from petty annoyances to mass murder, all in the name of this fake “God” created by Satan. Westboro crowd take note.

    Every religion is Satanic at the core. That’s why I don’t DO religion. Now, leave me alone and stop trying to interfere in the lives of people you don’t even know.

    See, not “atheist” but a true believer, I just believe “He” is the enemy, not the creator, not all powerful, just a very nasty insecure narcissistic con-man of a devil. If he walked the earth, he’d look and sound an awful lot like a prominent reality TV personality running for president.

    And the only way to overcome him is to stop playing his game. The game of cults, religions, scriptures, churches, sects, priests and immams, and all the trappings of pretended Divine Revelation, in whatever flavour it comes.



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  • All I’m doing is trying to clarify the historically damning word “Atheist,” with more intellectually accurate language to defuse some of the inflammatory connotations. My “atheism” is that no supernatural powers, forces, planes of being exist or operate in an impersonal exclusively physical cosmos indifferent to any organisms, including humans, that happen to have evolved from physical matter and energy and will disintegrate into impersonal components of matter and energy after death. I’m arguing as vigorously against “atheistic” forms of religion like Buddhism and assorted expressions of spiritual mysticism as I am against Christianity and Islam. I’m not out to “get” someone who believes in the “God” of Christianity or Allah and I want them to understand my position in respectful discussion and debate without assuming I’m merely insulting and denigrating them personally. Some believers will not consent to such a discussion, but at least many decent believers will be more open to it without me yelling “moron scum bags!” at them.



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  • Melvin #27
    Oct 20, 2016 at 7:12 pm

    All I’m doing is trying to clarify the historically damning word “Atheist,” with more intellectually accurate language to defuse some of the inflammatory connotations.

    There is no “more intellectually accurate language for the word atheist”, any more than there are “inflammatory connotations” attached to the word.

    There are only slanderous disparaging campaigns to denigrate atheists and atheism, by the mentally weak and deluded preachers promoting their god-delusions to their sheeples, – to try to enhance a posture of asserted “in crowd” believers’ superior morals and intellect .

    It would take no time at all for the slanderous campaign to re-target a new word, and then produce a chain of laughable semantic gymnastics by atheists, silly enough to keep changing their labels to dodge theist abuse!

    That is why the New Atheists are actively targeted while the weak easily intimidated atheist accommodationists, are praised and lauded as “superior” by preachers!

    historically damning word “Atheist,”

    We all know that atheists as “heretics” are damned to Hell! (in the indoctrinated delusional mind).
    Nothing new there, – and nothing that will be altered by semantic shuffles!

    Some believers will not consent to such a discussion, but at least many decent believers will be more open to it without me yelling “moron scum bags!” at them.

    Do atheists shout this at anyone? – or is that just a projection from ranting preachers? – or a “reinterpretation” of ANY refutation of religious claims and polite criticism of actions generated by god-delusions?



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  • 29
    bonnie2 says:

    @ #28 re: paragraph 2

    Last night, local religion channel aired a screening of Comfort’s
    ‘The Atheist Delusion’, live from inside Ham’s Ark Park, with “audience”.

    It started with the host saying “and here’s the man atheists can’t help but love, Ray Comfort!“. Went downhill from there. Bottom line: just a cluster f*ck of dudes getting off telling folks ‘get saved, lest ye be damned to eternal hell!’.

    If one enjoys eyes and ears bleeding from pain (65 min) > https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ChWiZ3iXWwM&feature=youtu.be&iv_load_policy=1&autoplay=0&rel=0



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  • bonnie2 #29
    Oct 23, 2016 at 5:59 am

    Last night, local religion channel aired a screening of Comfort’s
    ‘The Atheist Delusion’, live from inside Ham’s Ark Park, with “audience”.

    It started with the host saying “and here’s the man atheists can’t help but love, Ray Comfort!“.

    It looks like classic quote mining or “theist semantic interpretation”!
    “and here’s the man atheists can’t help but love to laugh at! Ray Comfort!“
    Bananas all the way!!



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  • Alan4discussion #14
    Oct 18, 2016 at 6:31 pm

    Absence of Evidence Is Evidence of Absence

    So we can safely conclude from the absence of evidence that elephants are absent from the park.

    That however is the limitation of the premise that absence of evidence is evidence of absence, that we can only apply it when we know we have searched everywhere. I can be certain that unicorns don’t exist in my house but I can’t be 100% certain that there isn’t still one remaining bit of unexplored Amazonian jungle where the last few might be hiding.

    However we can apply the premise in terms of probabilities when we’ve had a hell of a good look round and still found no evidence of the existence of something that many people claim exists.

    As to self identifying as an atheist and in particular N deG Tyson, it is the one thing he refuses to do which irks me somewhat. It is undoubtedly fear of the word’s negative connotations and hence possible damage to his reputation, popularity and perhaps earnings in a society that hates atheists so much that motivates this IMO. As such I see it as somewhat cowardly and a cop out. I doubt he’d have the same reservations if he was British. It’s exactly people of his reputation that need to stand up and be counted if America is ever to unburden itself of the shackles of the delusions that so many of its people still languish under.



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  • @Arkrid #31

    As to self identifying as an atheist and in particular N deG Tyson, it
    is the one thing he refuses to do which irks me somewhat.

    I see one of two reasons for this:

    His spiritual affiliation is less important to him than you would like to be. Or…
    Part of his career goal is to instill the passion of science in as many laypeople as possible (carrying on his mentor’s social focus) and doesn’t want to alienate anyone by taking a stand on what some perceive to be a hot-button issue.

    Initially, Sagan did the same thing. And even when he did “come out”, he tried to be as tactful as possible. He would urge the theists to at least examine their belief system, but he wouldn’t go quite so far as to recommend discarding it.



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  • Or maybe, to put it more succinctly Arkrid, our fight IS his fight, and he is using different tactics.

    A slower process, to be sure, but if people get better at critical thinking, the end result would be the same.



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  • Arkrid Sandwich #31
    Oct 23, 2016 at 7:03 am

    Absence of Evidence Is Evidence of Absence

    That however is the limitation of the premise that absence of evidence is evidence of absence, that we can only apply it when we know we have searched everywhere.

    Actually once we require theists to define and specify properties of their gods, and the supposed actions of their gods, (as in their holy texts and doctrines), we only need to look in the places where they assert their gods are present, or were present, and active!

    That is also why Occam would suggest, looking at the psychology of delusion and denial is a good place to look for evidence!



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  • Alan4discussion #34
    Oct 23, 2016 at 8:45 am

    That is also why Occam would suggest, looking at the psychology of delusion and denial is a good place to look for evidence!

    One of the most conclusive pieces of evidence of gods, is that god(delusions) are absolutely specific to individuals believers.

    No hint of gods or god assertions, have ever been found outside of the geographical locations, or the historical time-frames, of specific believers or groups of believers.

    When a believers group goes extinct or converts to follow new gods, those old gods go extinct! They cannot exist outside of the brains of indoctrinated followers!



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  • Vicki #32
    Oct 23, 2016 at 7:39 am

    @Arkrid #31

    Initially, Sagan did the same thing. And even when he did “come out”, he tried to be as tactful as possible.

    I don’t disagree with anything you’ve said. However I still maintain that it’s a function of being American where atheist has a negative connotation unique amongst the western democracies. So of course one tries not to piss off those one is hoping to educate in science but it’s still sad that atheist = paedophile in the USA whereas it’s barely an issue over here.



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  • Melvin #27
    Oct 20, 2016 at 7:12 pm

    I’m not out to “get” someone who believes in the “God” of Christianity or Allah and I want them to understand my position in respectful discussion and debate without assuming I’m merely insulting and denigrating them personally.

    There are those who are open to reason, but there are others in public politics, who are simply delusional, despicable, and need to be firmly told and firmly ridiculed in the eyes of those who might offer them support for their damaging and destructive stupidity!

    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2016/09/polish-mps-back-near-total-ban-on-abortion-which-could-see-women-jailed-for-up-to-five-years/#li-comment-213105



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  • I’ve not done this Alan4, but I wonder what would occur if you challenged a believer in jesus to disprove the existence of Allah? Then, since there can be no disproof, claim then, that Allah must be true. Then, ask about disproof of yahweh. Then when yahweh can’t be disproved, then yahweh must be true. Then ask then ask then ask, and pretty soon there is a crowd of gods, none of which can be disproved. So, there must be tons of gods.

    Sadly, religious beliefs are immune to this sort of logic. All it takes to believe in one supernatural entity and not in others is “sufficient evidence” (which is defined as “any evidence that supports what I choose to believe”). That includes personal revelation (“God spoke to me in my heart”), witnessed miracles (“I prayed for X to happen and it did!”), acceptance of the witness of others (“my pastor told me he had a revelation and he wouldn’t lie to me”), etc.

    All other religions and/or supernatural entities can therefore easily be disproved, since none of them have provided sufficient evidence to personally convince me of their truth. And it doesn’t matter if other people claim to have sufficient evidence to support their beliefs, since they are obviously just flat-out wrong. Or deluded. Or lying.

    Basically, once you have accepted that your own beliefs are unassailably correct and beyond challenge, it’s trivial to disprove all other beliefs since, by definition, they must be wrong in order for yours to be correct.



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