Agnostic! Are you sure? (The atheist delusion)

by dhw, Sunday, February 01, 2009, 08:11 (4139 days ago) @ George Jelliss

George writes: [David Attenborough] has clearly expressed his view that he does not believe in a benevolent creator, else why the worms that bore into the eyes and blind people in Africa? I think this is sufficient to call oneself an atheist, since this is the sort of god that most theists believe in. Though of course I go further, maintaining that there is no evidence for any creator, benevolent, malevolent or indifferent, and that our mental abilities are up to the task of deciding this.

Thank you for reopening this thread. We're constantly coming up against the problem of definitions, and I did try to address it again under "Common Ground", but no-one followed that up.

Let's have another go. Theism, as I understand it, means the belief that the world was created and is ruled by a god or gods, though a narrower form is the belief in one supreme god whom we call God. Atheism is the belief that there is/are/ no gods/god/God. Agnosticism takes two possible forms: 1) the impossibility of knowing whether or not there is/are gods/a god/God; 2) the inability to decide whether there is/are...etc.

Not believing in a benevolent god does not, in my view, constitute atheism, since it's possible to believe in a god without insisting on its having personal qualities. In any case, you said "most theists", which means that other theists are atheists! It's the last sentence of your statement that makes you an atheist. I can't disagree when you say that "our mental abilities are up to the task of deciding this", but of course some mental abilities decide that there is a benevolent god, others decide that there is some kind of god, and others decide that there isn't a god, so that doesn't help us much. My own agnostic view has been formed through a series of negatives, and that's why it's so difficult for people like "ima sceptic" and also, in an earlier discussion, John Clinch to understand that one can oppose a belief without espousing its opposite, so once again I will try to explain.

Continued in Part Two


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