Monday, June 06, 2005

Skeptical Agnostic

In the last few years I’ve become the black sheep of my family. Mainly because, in contrast to my very religious parents and brothers, I am not a big believer and quickly trending towards non-belief. This often gets me into some heated arguments but I’ve learned that I won’t shake the faith of others and have become content to be left alone. Hoping every Friday that this subject doesn’t come up.

Recently, in another attempt to steer me towards salvation I was handed a book to read. The name of the book is “Permission to Believe” by Lawrence Kelemen. The author attempts to use a rational scientific argument to prove the existence of god. Too bad he uses the standard creationist arguments and incorporates truths in science with half-truths, sometimes even outright lies. A non-scientist would be non-the-wiser and would easily accept his version of scientific “evidence”.

I did, however, find his first argument interesting and I thought that the Skeptics Circle would be a good place to share it:

There are three attitudes one can have towards god. First, one can be sure god exists; such people are called ‘believers’. Second, one can be unsure of the existence of god, such people are called ‘Agnostics’. Finally, those who believe god does not exist are called ‘Atheists’. The author contends that only the first two positions make sense and that the third does not.

Can one be rational and believe in god? Certain events may have indirectly convinced him/her of god’s existence or that person has direct evidence of god. This is therefore a reasonable and an acceptable position.

Is it rational that one would be uncertain of god’s existence? Until one has direct or indirect evidence of the existence of god it is reasonable to remain unsure.

The author then contends that it is unreasonable to be an ‘Atheist’. Follow me:

He contends that there are three types of ‘Atheists’.1. A small group of ‘Atheists’ grew up in a home devoid of religion. Religion was a non-issue for them and therefore remains a non-issue.

2. Another smaller group of ‘Atheists’ were raised in a religious home and became atheists as a form of rebellion. They do not believe in god for emotional, rather than, intellectual reasons.

3. The largest group of atheists are those who examined the idea of god and could find no rational evidence for the existence of such a power. Most Atheists fall into this category.

Here’s the catch, since this third class of Atheist has never found any evidence to the absolute evidence that there is NO GOD (Since that is impossible) they must admit their position to be irrational and therefore must retreat to EXTREMELY SKEPTICAL AGNOSTICISM.

I thought the argument was interesting and so I thought I’d throw it out there for my second Skeptics Circle. I’m sure I’m setting myself up for an Orac rant, or another one of the writers I love to read, but I would enjoy reading their counter-arguments.