October 7, 2007

Atheism and Logic

Donning the mantel of Free Thinker or simply thinker or scientist bears with it with significant responsibility. An article published not long ago talks about prominent atheists Scott Atran, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and others who seem to forego long held principles of logic. See Disproving the Existence of God.


MarkT said...

Hmmm... that's a very good essay, makes you think. However, as an Atheist and Freethinker, I don't believe that I have the burden of proving or disproving anything... perhaps I do have a duty to show tangible evidence, or to show that "evidence" is intangible.

Maudie said...

Mutual exclusivity is an important concept. I became painfully aware of it way before freshman logic 101 when some guy explained to me that loving me and loving his other girlfriend were not "mutually exclusive." I thought about it and agreed with the logic and admitted that loving her and loving me were not mutually exclusive. And I dumped him.

Ever since I have found "mutual exclusivity" an important test in debate and have often applied it.

I think the logic applied in the essay is right on the mark. Atheism is a belief system as are religious belief systems. Both sides have the same "scientific evidence" available to them. The difference is in how one spins the evidence to support one's belief system.

That said, it is not currently possible with science to prove or disprove the existence of God or gods or that of some other spiritual puppetmaster. Meanwhile, people of all persuasions may have spiritual "experiences" which to them, seem quite real and relevant and significant in supporting their beliefs and I try to respect those.

But let's face it, as often as agnostics say that they will only believe in God if they die and end up in front of said being, even if that person was able to come back to life and tell their tale, it would only be hearsay. That's how I look at the notion that Jesus was the "son of God"-that was according to him, it therefore is simply heresay, neither provable or disprovable. And it could also have been a metaphor he used. We don't know.

Maybe someday scientific progress will be able to offer such proof or disproof but it won't be in the forseeable future, I don't think.

Atheists who claim science proves that God cannot exist are akin to right-wingers who claim science proves he does. There is no scientific proof either way.

I think atheists would do well to moderate lofty claims (leave that to the right-wingers so they look bad) and to simply state that after evaluating the currently available scientific facts, they have formed a belief that there is no god.

I imagine there are plenty of atheists who don't believe in gods only because they prayed to theirs and nothing happened. That doesn't mean there isn't a god. That just means if there is, the entity chose not to help them out. But since our group is interested in scientific evidence, I think we should make ourselves credible by acknowledging the limitations of the available scientific evidence-and I am just speaking for myself here.