Monday, November 4, 2013

Against Strong Athiesm

 “I think it's much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong. I have approximate answers and possible beliefs and different degrees of uncertainty about different things, but I am not absolutely sure of anything and there are many things I don't know anything about, such as whether it means anything to ask why we're here. I don't have to know an answer. I don't feel frightened not knowing things, by being lost in a mysterious universe without any purpose, which is the way it really is as far as I can tell.”
-Richard Feynman, interview in BBC's Horizon program (1981), emphasis mine

I hear it time and time again. In the atheist community, people are very overzealous about "disproofs" of God's existence. I find it troubling to see a group of people who, with great enthusiasm for skeptical thinking, accept propositions that assert the disproof of God. One could say, as I have, that these people are absolute atheists: people who assert that God (in all possible forms) does not exist. This position is also known as strong atheism or positive atheism.

This position is dishonest in one respect. As the Richard Feynman quote suggests, how can we be certain about anything? Of course there are reasons to believe that a future event would happen due to past experience. But this is far from deeming value to a case with absolute certainty. This kind of certainty is a higher rank than trusting fallible human perceptions for a length of time. The requirements that justify absolute certainty are, quite frankly, unknown. I am disappointed to see so many people claim that they know things which they do not.


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