Atheist Meme of the Day: Atheism Is Not About Absolute Certainty


Scarlet letterToday’s Atheist Meme of the Day, from my Facebook page. Pass this on; or don’t; or edit it as you see fit; or make up your own. Enjoy!

Atheism is not the absolute certainty that there is no God. It’s the willingness to move forward with the reasonable conclusion that there is almost certainly no God — even though we can never be absolutely sure about it, and even though we understand that if new evidence for God appears we’ll have to change our minds. Pass it on: if we say it enough times to enough people, it may get across.

Comments

  1. Corbin says

    The problem described by this meme is something I deal with all the time. People generally think of what Greta has described above as agnosticism rather than atheism. Even my college philosophy textbook had it that way! It leads to a lot of unintentional strawmanning.

  2. Valhar2000 says

    It is dogmatic and intolerant to be sure that there is no god, yet being sure that there is a god is all hunky-dory.
    Nice hypocrisy there!

  3. llewelly says

    Brian West | March 16, 2010 at 03:15 PM :

    That makes sense, sadly I don’t see anyone especially where I live (Utah) being REASONABLE enough to think it through….

    It is a test of faith. It will prepare you for the duties you will have in the Celestial Kingdom. These trials will make you a strong soldier in the service of Heavenly Father …

  4. Lenin Straswkim says

    @Brian: Yes it’s a test of faith, but a different one. There are those little gnomes that you can only see when you believe in them and they hate christians. And those gnomes are gonna torture you eternally when you fail to see that there is no God.

  5. Coran says

    I think, Corbin, that a lot of agnostics call themselves that because, although they don’t believe in a god (ie, they are de facto atheistic), they aren’t completely certain and choose the term ‘agnostic’ to reflect that uncertainty. I also think it’s a safer label for many people since it sounds more considered and isn’t so synonymous with terms like ‘strident’, ‘arrogant’ and even ‘immoral’.
    I thought that, formally defined, an agnostic has decided that the existence of the supernatural is intrinsically undecidable. That may not be how most people use it, however.
    I think that there are a lot of de facto atheists out there, it’s just that not all of them care enough about the topic to adopt the label for themselves. One fellow I know doesn’t believe in god, but also doesn’t like labels, so he doesn’t call himself an atheist. Richard Dawkins, when asked, said he didn’t call himself an atheist for the same reason he didn’t call himself an afairyist or an ateapotist.

  6. says

    This is one thing I’ve been asked by believers: “How can you be absolutely sure there is no god?” — at which point I have to say I never said such a thing– I am merely reasonably certain. There is no such thing as “absolute certainty”– one can ONLY be reasonably certain in all matters, and that is all that is necessary.
    The desire for absolute certainty belies insecurity, and perhaps intellectual laziness, as if the “truths” of the universe we live in should merely be handed to us (by whom?) on a metaphysical silver platter. No, you gotta use your brain!

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