Friday, May 29, 2015

17. Refutation of Explicit Atheism (for completeness sake)

A refutation of explicit atheism

(for completeness sake)

I searched the internet for an explicit affirmation that There Is No God.  I only found two people who were willing to say the words, "There is no God": Penn Jillette and Stephen Hawking.  And even the two of them were largely speaking as if their belief were the conclusion of an argument.

Nevertheless, even though this strong and explicit atheism may turn out to be technically a straw man, it is the actual folk religion of many people who deny the folk theism they know.  So for completeness' sake, I will deal with it here.  

I Don't See God Anywhere

Assume as a fact, a premise: There is no God.

My response: To deny that God exists is to make the same kind of logical statement as to deny that Santa Claus exists, or the flying spaghetti monster exists, or the invisible pink unicorn exists.  These statements are universal negative propositions of the form:

No [ subject ] is [predicate]

where the subject is God, or fsm or ipu.  We are denying some attribute to [subject].  The attribute we are denying is [that which exists].  In order to deny that [subject] has the property of [predicate], one must have exhaustive knowledge of [predicate] to affirm that there's no place in all of [predicate] where [subject] might be.

An equivalent statement is, "of all that the God is, or fsm is, or ipu is, there is nothing in the realm of all that exists that is God or fsm or ipu."

"My keys are not in my pocket" is such a statement, and it makes sense to say that I do completely know, and can affirm the truth of, that of everything key-sized in my pocket, none of them are my keys.

This logical matter being obvious to logicians and perceptive logically minded arguers, thoughtful atheists do not declare explicit atheism as a deductively knowable fact.  Rather they, including most of my readers, will argue that they are 99+% sure that there is no God.  Fair enough, for starters.

A side note, BTW.  I find the arguments for atheism that I find as seriously deficient as most common arguments for theism or religion.   These were some promising sources that I searched, looking for decent refutations of God's existence, and I found a lot of fallacies with a few sound reasons scattered here and there.  The good reasons have to be answered, of course--I know that.

“I hope there is no God!”
Thomas Nagel
“I speak from experience, being strongly subject to this fear myself: I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that. My guess is that this cosmic authority problem is not a rare condition and that it is responsible for much of the scientism and reductionism of our time. One of the tendencies it supports is the ludicrous overuse of evolutionary biology to explain everything about human life, including everything about the human mind …. This is a somewhat ridiculous situation …. [I]t is just as irrational to be influenced in one’s beliefs by the hope that God does not exist as by the hope that God does exist.” 1

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  1. Nagel, Thomas, The Last Word, pp. 130–131, Oxford University Press, 1997. Dr Nagel (1937– ) is Professor of Philosophy and Law at New York University. Return to text.

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