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What are the different types of atheism?
How does one become an atheist?
Is atheism more logically defensible
What’s wrong with atheism? Nothing at all. It is a belief like any belief, and thank yotzer, here and now, there are no laws against believing anything you want. Once there were laws against believing in atheism aloud or in print, but in North America and most of the “free” world, you can now do so quite freely.
People who believe in atheism range from very simple to very brilliant, with intensity of belief that ranges from minimal to overwhelming. People who call themselves atheists fall into two major groups:
God they were brought up with or taught about (generally the Scriptural God). When these atheists say: “I don’t believe in God,” they mean they don’t believe in the omnipotent, omniscient, and benevolent God that they learned about in the Bible or Religious School, prayed to in their house of worship and may have hoped forgave them their sins. These individuals have not considered other possible ways of defining “God.”
2 - Those who believe that the Universe is without cause, without purpose and without direction, and that its existence and evolution is simply the laws of chance at work over a very long period of time, within some sort of self-ordering principle, itself just an accidental.
Only the second group are truly atheists. The first group I call pseudo-atheists. The pseudo-atheist has little to contribute in a theism-atheism debate because disproving one’s God does not in any way affect the truth or falsity of all other possibilities of a deity.
There are several ways that people get to atheism or pseudo-atheism.
Scientific atheism is arrived at and promoted by people who believe that scientific knowledge leaves no room for a god. Included in this group are those who have read the well-written prose of, for example, Dawkins, and those who have become convinced that there is no god by a science teacher.
Philosophical atheism is arrived at through observation and logic that is not subject to the stringent rules of science. Statements in philosophic atheism often take a form similar to “If there were a god, then…” [e.g.] “If there were a god, then terrorists wouldn’t exist, but that is not so, therefore there is no god.”
Religious atheism is arrived at most normally through the disappointment of expectations. “The God I used to believe in wouldn’t have let the Holocaust happen.” It happened. Therefore, there is no God. The atheists in this class are denying the particular God they grew up with, as opposed to true atheism, which denies the possibility of any god. For most of those who started within one of the Abrahamic faiths, the God they deny is omnipotent, omniscient and good, as well as immanent (and therefore willing to interfere in human affairs). For most, consideration isn’t given to the possibility of other gods with other traits, such as a god constrained in its level of intervention in human affairs. Religious atheists are amongst the most intense; a child who learns that he or she has been duped concerning Santa Claus can become very hostile to that dear old gentleman, and perhaps even to his reindeer. Likewise, people who are convinced they have been duped by or about God well may become truly hostile to God and to the religion that promoted Him.
King-of-the-Castle atheism is often arrived at through admiration of, and wish to identify with, those currently advocating atheism. The New Atheists are strutting their stuff. Scientists are the new superheroes and the New Atheists — and some media — make it appear that all scientists are atheists (certainly not true). This makes an atheist (or agnostic or anti-church etc.) stance seem ever so much more sophisticated than any sort of belief. For many who do not think for themselves, no further reason is required to be atheist. “Only nerds believe in that superstitious stuff.” Add to thais the fact that while ever-fewer children are receiving any kind of religious education, those who have received such education are often required to defend their belief to themselves and others, and you have a situation for youth that is often inimical to religious belief.
[Read more about atheism in Postings #3 and #6]
So if there is nothing wrong with atheism, and we can believe what we want, then what’s the problem? The issue arises only when an atheist is selling or defending atheism as logically more defensible than theism of any type.
Let’s assume that the Big Bang Theory (not the TV program) is valid (something that I personally believe, but against which there is an increasing amount of resistance among scientists. Note 1 ) The atheist must believe the Big Bang happened as an accidental explosion of an incredibly dense singularity that occupied no space, that “ballooned” into our universe, complete with an accidentally consistent set of rules of physics, chemistry and evolution.
From nothing, the atheist must further believe, an incredibly number of chance happenings must have happened, each at just the right time, to allow for the development of life, some of which evolved to the point where it was intelligent enough to observe the universe, and be reading this blog. The odds against this are estimated by one scientist as 10144 to 1 [See Post #10].
There are few scientists, atheist or not, who do not sense something larger than our current collection of traditional gods and blind chance in the creation of the universe and of life. Note 2