What is Atheism?

Over the centuries hundreds of millions of people have worshipped a god or many gods as their creators.  These gods were usually represented in a series of objects in nature and today, only Hinduism remains as a truly polytheistic religion.  Other religions have a monotheistic god that created everything and still has influence on human’s life and Earth’s life cycle.  This monotheistic God is commonly known by Christians as Yahvé or as Allah by Muslims.  Christians and Muslims are the two largest religions on Earth (3.6 billion people) and most of them refuse to acknowledge what science has to say regarding the dogma in which they faithfully (irrationally) believe in.  However, a large amount of the population of the world is not a believer, is secular or calls themselves atheists.  They amount to more than 1.1 billion people and in the last century, for the first time on history, they started to explain with scientific evidence the reasons why it was illogical to believe in any type of god or gods.

Atheism is the non belief in a personal god or gods such as those of Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism and HinduismAtheists are those who do not believe in the gods of these religions.  But also, atheists are also those who do not believe in a deist god who created the universe and afterwards left the world alone.  As such, Atheists are not theists, deists or spiritualists.

An atheist views science as the best mean for humans to understand reality.  Therefore, it should be noted that it is not Atheist who have to apply the burden of proof principle but those who advocate for the belief in a god or gods.  Atheists establish their position as truth because science demonstrates it to be so and because theist’s burden of proof fails to be proven.

Recently, many things have been written about Atheism and some controversies have been raised on the term.  As such, some philosophers have proposed a division of the term Atheism in two branches: negative atheism and positive atheism.  Michael Martin[1] writes that there’s a division between atheists.  There are those negative atheists who are non believers –including agnostics- and there are positive atheists that are those who deny the existence of a theistic God and the belief in an afterlife, in a cosmic destiny, in an immortal soul, in the Bible or Qur’an and in any religious foundation of morality.

Now, let us explore why it is on theists and deists failure at asserting the burden of proof principle that atheists are successful at supporting their claims regarding the non existence of any type of god or gods.

Why the burden of proof principle aids Atheists to establish their position regarding the existence of a god or gods?

The burden of proof principle asserts that whoever has a burden of proof is obligated to provide evidence for their claim.  Atheists claim that for God to exist it should be proved or at least, it should be supported by enough evidence to accept the possibility for anything (in this case a god or gods) to exist.  Atheists claim that the burden of proof principle applies to those who support the claim of the non existence of god or gods.  Again, it is not for atheists to offer any evidence for their statements regarding the existence of god or gods.  Therefore, atheists ask for believers in a god or gods to at least give good grounds of belief in their claims.  Their claims should be logical and rational and atheists are not obligated to prove them wrong.

What is the strongest objection regarding the existence of a god or gods given by Atheists?

The strongest objection for the existence of a god or gods comes from science.  As Victor J. Stenger has written “science is fully capable of detecting the existence of a God who acts in the lives of humans in an important way such as listening to and answering prayers”.  As such, science not only makes the assumption about reality being rational, but it applies rational methods in taking and analyzing data.  These methods and analysis have all failed to demonstrate any type of supernatural power or gods that could allow some rational explanation that supports their existence.[2]Furthermore, Victor J. Stenger explains in the book God: The Failed Hypothesis – How Science Shows that God Does Not Exist that if there is a God that plays a role in the universe there should also be objective evidence of his existence.  As such, that evidence should be sought and if such evidence is found it would demonstrate its existence.  However, no such evidence has been found and that we can conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that a God with the properties and abilities acknowledged by theists and deists cannot be demonstrated.

First, if everything is supposed to have a cause, then a god or gods do too.  Therefore, there is no first cause.  If someone asserts that God is the uncaused first cause we are to question why should not we also ask why cannot the physical world itself be taken to be the uncaused first cause?  On this subject has written a lot the mathematician John Allen Paulos in the book Irreligion:  A Mathematician Explains Why the Arguments for God Just Don’t Add Up.

What is the solution offered by believers in a god or gods against the previous argument?

Believers in a god or gods have objected to the previous claim by offering a scientific, rather than philosophical, explanation.  This explanation is called The Argument from Design and their claims are that A) It is by design that the universe is fine-tunned and as such a designer had to create it.  B) That living organisms are too complex and perfect, and as such, are the evidence of an intelligent designer.

The previous argument from design has been demonstrated to be illogical and too weak to be scientifically truth.  As such, only those who advocate for an irrational belief on their imaginary gods still try to defend this argument with illiterate masses and non science-savvy minds.

Those who defend the Argument from Design believe and support that there exists only one universe and that the universe was specially created for humans and living species on planet Earth.  However, there is not still enough scientific evidence that demonstrates that there has only existed one universe and the studies of String Theory have already suggested that there is a chance of 10500 different set of possible parameters to exist[3]

Therefore, there is no evidence or reasons to assume that there aren’t many universes; and there is a huge chance for a different universe and a huge range of parameters is possible.  As such, there could be some other forms of life different from ours and those could be even more complex than us.  This position advocated regarding a multiverse is still criticized as unobservable and there is still research undergoing regarding how to detect the presence of other universes.  The previous is the job of scientists; and scientists speculate and theorize regarding the unobservable all the time (that is how quarks and dark matter came to be scientifically proved).

Further, the notion that the universe was fine-tunned for life –human life and life on planet Earth- to exist is also nonsense and irrational.  First, it would have been illogical for an omnipotent god to design the universe and to make it including an immense list of physiological flaws and weaknesses.  If there were actually an omnipotent god he could have made it possible for humans, his most precious creation, to be living in a universe in which the constants of physics kept humans safe and not to be living on the knife-edge of extinction.

As professor Ghate explained; Agnosticism claims that atheists fail to demonstrate by the burden of proof principle that Rational Theology is mistaken.  The argument of Agnosticism elaborates that it is not because of the flaws of Rational Theology capabilities to comply with the burden of proof principle that the statements of Atheism should be known as truth or as right.    They consider that even though rational theology failed to prove their case there is still a chance for a god or gods to exist.  As such, this discourse of uncertainty and skepticism could be used to also believe in themultiverse I mentioned before.

However, it is because of scientific evidence and observations of reality that we understand what exists and what doesn’t exist.  As such, the non existence of evidence or enough proof does not allows us to not question or doubt the chance of X or Y to exist.  The lack of information just allows us, as it does with scientists and their studies, to seek for more conclusive evidence and valid proofs that will someday demonstrate their and our hypothesis.  Until there is enough evidence and valid proof there is no need for humans to believe in a god, in several gods, in fairies or in unicorns.

The best conclusion one can give comes from Dan Barker, a former believer in the Christian Abrahamic God, who said

“I did not lose my faith –I gave it up purposely.  The motivation that drove me into the ministry- to know and speak the truth- is the same that drove me out… Opening my eyes to the real world, stripped of dogma, faith and loyalty to tradition, I could finally see clearly that there was no evidence for a god, no coherent definition of a god, no agreement among believers as to the nature or moral principles of “God,” and no good answers to the positive arguments against the existence of a god, such as the problem of evil.  And beyond all that, there is no need for a god.  Millions of good people live happy, productive, moral lives without believing in a god.”[4]

[1] Martin, Michael (2007).  The New Encyclopedia of Unbelief (Amherst, NY.  Prometheus Books).  Atheism (p. 88).

[2] Victor Stenger2009).  The New Atheism (Prometheus Books). P.71.  Also, see on this subject an anthology edited by Michael Martin and Ricki Monnier titled The Impossibility of God.

[3] Susskind, Leonard (2005).  Cosmic Landscape: String Theory and the Illusion of Intelligent Design (New York). P. 186

[4] Barker, Dan (2008).  Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America’s Leading Atheists (Ulysses Press) p.40

About Luis Guillermo Pineda Rodas

Soy un defensor de la libertad individual, el libre mercado racional y la búsqueda de crear un estado de derecho en el que todos podamos desarrollarnos en igualdad, paz, fraternidad y comunidad. Creo que el trabajo duro en equipo, la autoestima y el amor por nuestra familia son la energía primaria para la generación de riqueza en nuestras comunidades. Busco la la objetividad y la razón en la epistemología y considero que el valor supremo por el que se deben medir los juicios de valor éticos es el valor de la vida humana. Considero la vida el más alto valor; pero no cualquier tipo de vida, sino la vida que se vive buscando la felicidad en ausencia de coerción o privilegios. Creo que no hay humanos, razas, culturas o pensamientos mejores o superiores. Sin embargo, sí creo que hay argumentos erróneos e irracionales que deben ser combatidos en el campo de las ideas. Así, también creo que enseñar y practicar una vida sin argumentos místicos y contradicciones filosóficas es una herramienta imprescindible para demostrar que la búsqueda de la felicidad sí es posible y no es una utopía. Creo que los fundamentos del capitalismo laissez-faire proveen de las herramientas necesarias para crear un mejor futuro. Pero también acepto que los privilegios heredados y existentes, las injusticias cometidas en el pasado, las guerras y la actual moral contradictoria e irracional de las elites son el principal enemigo para que este sistema funcione. Por eso, considero que es necesario y FUNDAMENTAL estudiar la historia de manera objetiva, global, consistente y que luego, se realicen las reparaciones necesarias y posibles con aquellas naciones, pueblos, grupos y personas que han sido afectados. Creo que solo empezando con una consciencia limpia se puede empezar a construir un futuro limpio. Finalmente, creo que solo cuando logremos hacer una revolución moral que nos enseñe las herramientas para buscar la felicidad podremos vivir en paz respetando los principios éticos y jurídicos, la libre autodeterminación de los pueblos, la verdad y la justicia, y la tolerancia cultural de un planeta con infinitas y variadas costumbres y tradiciones. Por lo tanto defiendo que: El hombre es un fin en sí mismo y que la realidad es una verdad absoluta compuesta por hechos independientes de los sentimientos humanos. Creo en la razón como el medio más importante para percibir la realidad y además creo en la razón como la fuente más valiosa del conocimiento y guía de acción para la búsqueda de la felicidad individual, de nuestras familias, de nuestras comunidades y de toda la especie humana. Creo fehacientemente en que el hombre es un fin en sí mismo y no el medio para los fines de otros. Rechazo el sacrificio de uno o de un grupo para el beneficio de otro u otros grupos. Pero afirmo la responsabilidad y necesidad de reparar y reivindicar los crímenes cometidos por la humanidad a lo largo de la historia. Me propongo buscar mi satisfaccion racional y busco alcanzar la felicidad como el valor moral más alto de mi vida. No simpatizo con los defensores del colectivismo, del altruismo irracional y de los polilogismos de raza, clase, status o cultura. Tampoco simpatizo con los defensores del gobierno benefactor que buscando políticas altruistas o colectivistas esté dispuesto a sacrificar la vida de los humanos y sus derechos individuales sin su previo consentimiento en las urnas. Reconozco la moralidad del altruismo irracional como uno de los mayores enemigos del ser humano pues el mismo establece que el hombre no tiene ningún derecho a vivir par sí mismo, sino, para la colectividad. El altruismo no es más que la proclamación del sacrificio por otros como el mayor deber moral del hombre y es una amenaza a la razón y libertad individual. Declaro ser un defensor de las ideas que defienden el derecho de los individuos a buscar su felicidad racional y pacífica. Bragging rights Soy un individualista que ama a su comunidad de la misma manera en que quiere ser amado por ella.

3 responses »

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