Strong Atheism Vs Weak Atheism


new atheists

It isn’t uncommon to hear the terms strong atheism and weak atheism. Generally, they are used by the religious, namely conservative Christians, to refer to “militant” atheists and agnostics. In many cases, the “strong” atheists are considered the not-good atheists and the “weak” atheists are considered the good atheists. This is a problem. For one, it suggests that the only good atheists are weak ones. Basically, atheists are best when we allow ourselves to be shoved in a corner and ignored. Another problem is that it ignores all the atheists in the middle.
So where did the idea of strong and weak atheism come from? As far as I can tell, it came from the idea of New Atheism. New Atheists are those atheists that are most open to speak out against religion. It is called New Atheism based on the belief that no atheists, or skeptics, have ever been so brash and out spoken about religion before. This is a false belief. While it was more dangerous to speak out against religion in the past, it was done. And it was done as, or more, harshly as it is today. However, throughout much of history, atheism was used differently than we use it today. It was generally used to refer to anyone who didn’t believe in your god. And later on it was used to refer to anyone who was critical of certain accepted beliefs and those who accepted heresies. It wasn’t until the 19th Century when we begin to see atheism used as we use it today. As such, it can be difficult to determine whether or not many of those who were critical of religion in the past were truly atheists. But we do know that the arguments used by the New Atheists are anything but new.

lord byron

I wouldn’t say that Lord Byron was an atheist. However, this quote is very much critical of religion. It is the type of quote you’d hear from a New Atheist. Think “Religion poisons everything.”

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We know for a fact that Benjamin Franklin was a deist. He again is being critical of religion, in this case Christianity, to the same degree that you would hear a modern day New Atheist being critical.

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Thomas Huxley was referred to as Darwin’s Bulldog in his day. He’s actually the man who coined the term “agnostic.” He considered himself an agnostic as opposed to an atheist. And yet, he was as critical of religion as any New Atheist today.

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Huxley’s grandson, Aldous, was also quite critical of religion. In many ways, he was more critical than his grandfather.
New Atheists are often seen as dogmatic. They are seen as holding the position that there are no gods. They are the strong atheists. However, this is often an issue of tone. Many New Atheists believe that it is important for atheists to make ourselves known. They want atheists to label ourselves as such. David Silverman is one such New Atheist. Silverman has said that atheists need to call ourselves atheists because of the discrimination against atheists. His arguments come across very much as “atheism is the only way,” but that doesn’t mean that he believes there is no possibility for a god to exist. He is more interested in how society views atheists than he is with arguing that there are no gods.

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Richard Dawkins is another New Atheist that comes across as very hard-lined where atheism is concerned. But Dawkins has openly said that he accepts that there is a possibility that there is a god, he just believes that it is unlikely.

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These types of atheists are often talked about by religious people as bad atheists. They are called dogmatic, angry, and harmful. But they are, to my mind, activists like any other. They have a cause to fight for and they will fight for it in the way that they think is best. I do not believe that everything they do is useful or good, but I do believe that they fill a necessary role. These atheists are not bad atheists, they are atheist activists.
The opposite of the New atheists, generally agnostics, are considered weak atheists. They are thought to be more the “free to be you and me” types. Chris Stedman is one such weak atheist. He has a different approach to religion from the New Atheists. He works with the religious. But he is also an atheist activist. He is also concerned with how atheists are viewed in society. But he is viewed more positively by the religious. Personally, I like Stedman. I like his approach. But I don’t like how he is viewed as a pushover by both sides. Stedman’s approach is different from the New Atheist’s approach, which means that he reaches a different audience. But it also means that he is viewed as a tool of the religious by atheists and he is viewed as usable by the religious.

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Weak atheists are not weak in their atheism. They are as convicted to their atheism as the rest of us are. They also aren’t weak in the sense that they are pushovers. They can be as loud and boisterous as any New Atheist. They just see a different way of achieving the same goal.
But then there are the rest of us. We are neither weak atheists nor strong atheists. We are just as likely to be atheists activists. Honestly, I don’t see how we are all that different from the weak or the strong atheists, nor do I see how the weak and strong atheists are all that different from each other. Except, of course, for the fact that many so called weak atheists don’t actually call themselves atheists.

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44 responses to “Strong Atheism Vs Weak Atheism

  • Chan Hearron

    I have seriously considered the atheist worldview and find it lacking in many areas: 1) Inability to explain the origin of the universe. 2) Inability to explain objective moral values and duties. 3) Inability to explain consciousness 4) Inability to explain objective meaning, value and purpose, just to name a few.

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    • Paul's Letters

      Chan, strictly speaking there is no “atheist” worldview other than non-belief in a deity. Certainly there are atheists who try and explanations and answers in science and philosophy, so what you’re really saying is that you find science and philosophy lacking. I wonder, do you accept the premise that science and philosophy might some day provide satisfactory explanations to these questions? If not, why not? I’m assuming, and please correct me if I’m mistaken, that you find religious explanations to these questions satisfactory? If so, why?

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      • kevinosborne99

        The trouble with “science” is there is no absolute science, there is YOUR science, meaning what you know and understand out of the welter of information available. Everyone cherry picks their position because we do not have the capability to see the entire picture. One can ride a camel thinking it is a horse. Which is what I see the “science” advocates largely do. There is no “true” viewpoint, there is your viewpoint. What is your personal experience, what have you chosen to see, what are true definitions of reality, consciousness, awareness, God, that fit the system we view?

        Liked by 1 person

        • hessianwithteeth

          Science is not some completely relativistic build your own theory frame work. There is a system of peer reveiw, and organization who whole purpose is to make sense of and clarify the deluge of scientific data. This orgnization have collectively the relevant skills, experience, knowledge, and people power to make sense of the data. And we have been doing this and coming to clear conclusions for centuries. The picture keeps getting more complete, but the resolution also keeps going up. so while the blank part keep geting filled in we also become aware of more questions as we relize there the picture is fuzzy. So we hvae to clear that up too.

          This take time and effort, and yes no single person can know everything. This is why we have organizations of experts who to the hard work for us. Defer to the over all scientific consensus and you won’t run into many problems. It isn’t perfect, but it also isn’t all up in the air. We know many things for certain, like that things evolve, that large portions of your DNA is used to translate into proteins, that we need oxygen to survive, that objects are attracted to massive bodies by gravity. Some thing remain uncertain but as we move on we truly stand on the shoulder of giants letting the success of the past help guide us is solving ever more complex problems.

          Science isn’t some willy nilly set of view points that tossed around ad hoc. Science is a system which generate knowledge and reduces it’s own bias. Which tests it’s own hypotheses and will toss them out if they stop working. To use the picture metaphor again. It’s not a new picture every day or the picture we like it’s a grand tapestry which get clearer and gets more informative every day. Science as a body, works to uncover reality not make up clever definitions and fit popular opinion. IT may happen from time to time, but that’s what peer review and further research is for.

          If you think it’s just some game of semantics when then you just can’t know anything, and every claim is useless your mine every bodies. I however don’t think that’s likely.

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          • brmckay

            hessianwithteeth – “Some thing(s) remain uncertain but as we move on we truly stand on the shoulder of giants letting the success of the past help guide us is solving ever more complex problems.”

            I’m sure that you have considered the beauty of simplification as well.

            That “solving ever more complex problems” is just one of countless pastimes.

            Is it science that we apply when learning not to lie and steal, to love and empathize?

            Jesus, Buddha, Gandhi, Martin Luther King. Countless saints and earnest shamans. They all have shoulders too.

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          • hessianwithteeth

            I’m not dismissing other type of thinking our right, I’m saying it’s folly to dismiss science and nothing more an an opinion.

            Also simplification in my opniion is useful to teaching and learning, but truth is not found in simplicity. I
            m certain you’ll disagree, but things are always more complex then we first think, and this realization of complexity is bound to have several times.

            If you want to make the best decisions you need to be able to account for as many of the consequence good and bad as you can. The closer to understanding the whole you can those you work with can achieve the best results. And it does take more then just one person it take many different view points.

            Science is in my understanding a highly successful branch of philosophy, and is derived from logical induction and analytical thinking. It is not always best used use for teaching small children morality as there mind do not yet truly comprehend consequences. At such ages it’s better to focus on patterns and rewards.

            And yes there are many pass times, not everyone is going to be a professional scientist, but I’d still argue it is in everyone benefit to be scientifically literate.

            “Jesus, Buddha, Gandhi, Martin Luther King. Countless saints and earnest shamans. They all have shoulders too.” Yes and those people, those ideas and works are build on the shoulders of others, and have since been built on by more. They are but links in the chain of humanity not foundations. They are part of our shared history.

            Remember I’m not saying science is the best and only thing “evar.” I’m defending it saying it is not relative in the extreme sense of that work. I talk a far amount about feminism, and philosophy, while science might colour how I think, I’m a scientist it is unavoidable, I do not have some unshakeable superiority complex.
            In fact my argument against the relativity of science is not born from my science education but my knowledge of ethics, logic, and metaphysics. Those are things outside, though often related to, science.

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          • brmckay

            Let us consider that the simplicity I refer to, is more akin to the simplicity of “Right” hemisphere processing.

            At least consider the complementary nature of the “linear/holistic” dyad.

            While we are at it. Consider the simplicity of “Singularity” as the foundation of the above mentioned dyad and all others.

            The knowledge gained by insight into this, in my assessment, is a deeper and vastly superior knowledge than the piece meal, slice and dice learnings we gain from science. (at least as we know it so far).

            I am not a scientist. So, don’t have a horse in that race. Except, that I live in a world with “simpleminded creationists” on one side and “recombinant geneticists” on the other. Nuclear weapons specialists and deranged Jihadists.

            What I like about science is it’s storytelling potential. But without wiser people implementing it’s discoveries we just get more of the same-old-same-old.

            Sound familiar?

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          • hessianwithteeth

            To be honest it sound like a IDTWMWYTM moment. You speak a lot about a singularity, but I have no idea what your really on about. What is so simplistic about a singularity? We don’t really understand what they are beyond the event horizonn. Or perhaps to mean singularity is the sense of some singleness.

            What you call deeper and more significant I am forced to call vapid. Why because you talk about deepness while never progressing beyond a surface layer a few few phrase you keep repeating with out better defining. If you want to define this is the form of a story or analogy, you can, it will lead to a discussion of interpretation, but that’s more useful to what we are doing now. I really can’t tell what your going on about because your not giving me anything to go on.

            As to your last two paragraphs It sound much like what the first guy said, but a little better thought through, though you statement don’t actually address my response or deepen his argument.

            Yes wisdom, which I often define it the knowledge of how to use and think about knowledge, is something we need, and yes story telling is an important tool because of how humanity thinks and learns.

            However should you want truth you can not look at this in the sense that you have creationists and geneticists. There are many step in between and really, the creations don’t fight the geneticists the fight the teachers and our political systems. The scientist occasionally step in to make a statement or to dismantle are terrible argument.

            I think the better question is not who is fighting who though, it is who anologaies they biases, and works to get past them. These a people whom are interested in learning. Though who acknowledge there biases but wish not to change arrogantly thinking they they must have the right answer, and those who are unaware of their own biases are ignorant to the very nature of their own thinking. We as people are in varying degrees in all three states in different subjects. The goal is to move from the second state of arrogance into the third or first state. Where we either acknowledgment our ignorance, or acknowledge our imperfections and strive towards betterment. Perhaps that is some simplicity you can appreciate but we will see.

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          • brmckay

            My guess is that your problem with my use of “Singularity”, is that you are thinking in terms of “singularities”.

            I have no control over your habits of thought.

            With a little triangulation, the above two statements should suffice as a definition.

            As for my comparision to “simpleminded creationists”, I was not referencing geneticists in general, but specifically pointed at those who imagine that it is OK to mix and match DNA between species.

            Just because we can do it; Regardless of consideration for the experience of the entity they have manipulated into existence. It’s sense of self awareness lacking in any integrated context. The definition of suffering.

            It’s like teaching Chimpanzees language so that they can have our experience of “self concept”. Like this is some sort of “holy grail”, rather than a shackled soul.

            Again, a little triangulation, translation and speculation may be required. But this should help you understand my emphasis on “Singularity”. Which I call God.

            Think of it as returning to the beginning with knowledge of the mistakes that can be made.

            This is an ancient theme. And bears repeating.

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          • hessianwithteeth

            From what I can tell from what your saying is that your singularity is some ineffable personal conceptions of something, probably a oneness or wholeness of things, something primal and serrate from current human conception.

            “Again, a little triangulation, translation and speculation may be required.” Well I could say a little I’d say a lot, and I also say your insisting on it. However your issues seem to be with the very fundamental biases of human conception, or at least popular conception.

            Also I’m pretty sure your idea of this infinitude of the singularity is some predicable of oneness that you’ve made your own name for.

            Okay you also say this in relation to genetic modification:

            “Just because we can do it; Regardless of consideration for the experience of the entity they have manipulated into existence. It’s sense of self awareness lacking in any integrated context. The definition of suffering.”

            One you probably shouldn’t talk about genetics you don’t seem to know the first thing about it. I’m saying you should know, but it’s complicated and genes are constantly mucked with in nature to no ill effect. Us taking genes and moving them about is little more then artificial selection in a lab. It’s faster and eminently more controllable that’s about it. Putting a fugus gene in rice doesn’t fundemtaly change the rice genome it just add one little trait, which can have large effects, but it’s still rice it can’t suddenly change into fungus. There is no some fundamental essence of rice because rice has all kind of other things in it, bits of virus genomes, mutations. Genomes are always changing, some times those changes are massive as whole chucks of chromosomes are moved around or lost or added. Adding or altering a gene happens naturally, we’ve just learned how to harness these process.

            Now I define suffering as a state of undergoing pain, distress, or hardship. Not some existential crises by something which problem couldn’t even think. Like plant which make up the vast majority of what we genetically alter have no meaningful system of cognition. Like they react to environmental stimuli, but all life has to in order to survivable. That’s not the same thing as being about to consider and preemptively act to something, or avoid a novel effect that has just harmed them. These traits are limited, to us chordates, and those which higher order brains. Otherwise there is just no point in being able to have cognitive abilities.

            That said this integrated context your talking about, like in many ways that meaningless because again for most of what we grow (not the animals factory farming and the like is a whole different ball park) are plants and they are “happy” and healthy when you apply the right amount of light, water, and nutrients. You put in a couple genes your probably either redirecting some of there natural processes or making it easier for them to grow. Plants are actually amazing mass replicating there own genes and allowing them to change of evolutionary time in a whole array of chemicals, most of which do absolutely nothing, or are completely broken.

            Again the point of all this is that Genetic modification isn’t really any different then what nature does, most of the processes we do now are based of natural processes we can take advantage of. The only thing different is we can direct it. But if you have a problem with that, then to stay constant you’ll basically have to have a problem with everything humanity eats.

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          • brmckay

            Your first 3 paragraphs were a fair assessment. Though quite sterile. As though a seed had fallen on stone.

            The genetics part got pretty far from my points especially once you got rolling. But, I do appreciate your efforts at editing this time.

            I’m not going to go back over my viewpoint, just assume that it was an attempt to articulate from a monistic world-view.

            I will address some assumptions that I find to be lingering within your own.

            hessianwithteeth – “…you probably shouldn’t talk about genetics you don’t seem to know the first thing about it.”

            Gee. How do genes work then? Where is instinct located in the genome? Monarch’s one-way trips to and from Mexico etc.?

            hessianwithteeth – “Us taking genes and moving them about is little more then artificial selection in a lab.”

            Nothing artificial about it. We are as a species “horsing” around with blinders specific to our own kind.

            hessianwithteeth – “…we’ve just learned how to harness these process.[sic]”

            Just because we can. Like thinking we are worthy of playing around with nuclear fission.

            hessianwithteeth – “Now I define suffering as a state of undergoing pain, distress, or hardship. Not some existential crises by something which problem ([sic] probably?) couldn’t even think.”

            For some reason you assumed I was talking about plants. (Though, I for one, do not assume lack of sentience even there.)

            hessianwithteeth – “These traits are limited, to us chordates, and those which higher order brains. Otherwise there is just no point in being able to have cognitive abilities.”

            “just no point”? Based on what degree of cognitive ability?

            hessianwithteeth – “Again the point of all this is that Genetic modification isn’t really any different then what nature does,…”

            At least with nature, the agent of change is playing-with-a-full-deck.

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      • Chan Hearron

        I wonder, do you accept the premise that science and philosophy might some day provide satisfactory explanations to these questions?

        Sure, I am open that science might find an answer but I am skeptical because science only deals with how things are not how they ought to be, that is a philosophical question and one cannot do science without philosophy.

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    • D.T. Nova

      “Atheism” is not supposed to explain any of those things; it’s simply a lack of a belief in god and generally atheists include anyone who thinks that religion fails to explain those things.
      1 and 3 are both scientific questions, 4 is something I’m fine with not having an answer to, and you have 3 completely backwards: secular morality tends to be more objective than religious morality.
      (“God defines morality” is subjective morality, not objective. Objective morality means morality that’s the same no matter what any authority figure says.)

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  • Your Moderate Mama

    Again… thanks for the insight!!

    I’m realizing I live a bubble of loving Christians. We know and welcome people of all thoughts and, for the most part… we are all human ;-), have open, calm discussions with one another. We also talk about other aspects of life besides faith. (music, food, travel, family etc)

    I was talking with Arch at Ark’s place and he educated me on ways Atheist are discriminated. I am so sorry for the example of fear that some Christians have given… especially in government (there are so many power hungry people!!). I strongly believe that faith(or lack of) should not come into account when someone wants to run for office or be hired for a job (this is a tricky one though because I also don’t like the government telling any private business owner how they have to run their business but… if I was a business owner I would hire an Atheist! All I care about is the job getting done well!!)

    Y’all’s voices should be heard and hopefully we can all find a way to life peacefully with one another… to act like adults… to get our messages out maturely and to encourage the questioning that arises in anyone’s mind about, well, anything!

    Some Christians live in fear instead of freedom. If one is a Christians you believe that God knows what is going on… that you can trust Him no matter how “wrong” (in ones opinion) the world… government is moving. I don’t fear the events of history during this time that I live nor do I feel the need to fight against such things (Atheist in the work place, homosexual marriage etc.) God is in control and I am called to love… only love so to all the Atheist and others who view and live life differently than me… you are welcomed in my home and life

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  • N. E. White

    I call myself a militant atheist. Not in the sense that I am going to go out and physically fight for my right to non-belief (well, er, maybe), but in the sense that I’m serious about my non-belief. So many people I know, when they find out I am an atheist (I don’t hide it), they don’t believe me. They think someone as nice and pleasant as me can’t possibly be an atheist. They make excuses and dismiss it as if I really just did not say that. So, now, I tell them I am a militant atheist. It’s harder for them to dismiss *that*.

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    • hessianwithteeth

      I’ve never actually had anybody try to excuse away my atheism before, but I can imagine that would get really annoying. I’ve been told that I’m a militant atheist before, but I really don’t like the idea of being militant.

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  • paidiske

    I haven’t really encountered the vocabulary of “strong” and “weak” atheism. I guess I think of what is being described here as “strong” atheism as “militant” – by which I mean that it is out to attack people who are different. I have the same problem with that, that I have with anyone who is out to attack those who are different.

    I’m not sure what word I would use to describe “non-militant” atheists. Irenic? Would that work? Would that we were all more irenic in our dealings with each other!

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    • hessianwithteeth

      It’s funny though, militant atheists aren’t generally out to attack anyone. They may say stupid things, but the “militant” atheists that I know are concerned with ideas, not people. And they are only concerned with ideas that they see as harmful. I think the biggest problem is people hear militant and they get ready for an attack. I just think it’s a bad word to use. That’s why I just prefer to say “X is an atheist activist” or “X is an atheist.” I think that getting rid of the ideas of militancy and strength would make conversations go a lot smoother (though it would held if certain big name atheists stopped saying stupid things).

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      • paidiske

        There is indeed a certain big name atheist who epitomises the sort of thing I’m thinking about. “Brights” indeed!

        If there’s one atheist attack I’d like to see disappear from the discourse it’s the commonly raised idea that raising a child in a religious tradition is a form of abuse.

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  • equippedcat

    I agree that “strong” and “weak” are not the best choice to differentiate between those that believe there are not gods, and those who do not have any beliefs about gods. But there needs to be some differentiating term, because they ARE different.

    It still seems to me that using atheist for those who believe there are no gods and nontheist for those who don’t have any god beliefs would make things much clearer for everyone.

    The problem with “activists” is the term DOES imply that any means of achieving their goals is acceptable. Often the goals are worthwhile, but the attitude that “any means is acceptable” sometimes results in the goals morphing into things which are NOT worthwhile, at least not to society at large.

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    • hessianwithteeth

      We have terms. People seem to think that there is a significant difference between atheists saying that they don’t believe in gods and they believe that no gods exist. But that isn’t a true difference among atheists. It’s really just a word order thing. Sometimes I say I believe there are no gods, other times I say that I don’t believe in gods. In both cases I’m saying the same thing. I believe that the focus on the different word orders was just made up by theists to try and delegitimize certain atheists.
      As for activists, of course there are certain things done by activists that aren’t acceptable. But it’s not a certain side that leads to those actions. Sometimes people just say and do stupid things for their cause. If they refuse to rectify their behaviour, then something needs to be done. Unfortunately it’s difficult to separate a cause from the better known trouble-makers, even if they’re denounced.

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      • equippedcat

        How is there NOT a difference between believing NOT X and not believing X? One involves a belief and the other involves the lack of any X related belief.

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        • hessianwithteeth

          Is saying “I don’t believe in Santa” really that different than saying “I believe there is no Santa” to you? Do you put any more effort into one than you do into the other? I’d assume both claims are probably equally true to anyone over the age of 12.

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          • equippedcat

            I don’t believe in Santa indicates a lack of belief. I believe there is no Santa indicates belief is involved. Similar, but by no means the same.

            If belief is involved, then the majority of available evidence seems to point to that conclusion, and once obtained, the belief tends to feed on itself, making it less common to change points of view. If there is no acceptable evidence, or the evidence is balanced so that belief is not encouraged, moving to one position or the other if the evidence shifts significantly is more likely.

            Furthermore, people with beliefs have a tendency to want to share them; if a person does not have a belief, there is less of a tendency to share.

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    • brmckay

      —->
      equippedcat – “It still seems to me that using atheist for those who believe there are no gods and nontheist for those who don’t have any god beliefs would make things much clearer for everyone.”
      <—-

      Yes! I've also started using the term non-theist as counterpoint to theist. It reflects the underlying structural context of thought and habit.

      The term atheist for me, is someone who holds a "belief" that there is no God. This would actually represent someone who "believes in God enough to resist the idea. (Usually thinking that it would mean they were stupid, like those crazy …ians, or …ists.)

      They are basically conflicted but not sufficiently curious enough, to sort out the relative from the universal aspects of reality.

      I'm saying that God is Reality, NOT our moment by moment conception of what is real.

      As for belief or non belief in "gods", this is a primitive variation on the same condition. It highlights even more, the issue of mistaking conception for fact.

      People are inclined to buy into ideas whole hog, or build up walls to keep them out. Neither habit represents the Freedom of direct experience.

      As for religion; Like all human endeavors, it's a mixed bag. I find it foolish to write off it's potential. There have been countless examples of successful transcendence and authentic Good arising from it's womb.

      It makes me happy though, when it doesn't inspire, worship or require armageddon.

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      • equippedcat

        I’m not sure how someone who has any belief in God at all could really think they have no belief in God. Most people who truly believe there is no God have assembled enough evidence to not only support their belief, but argue that belief.

        Unless they were “mad at God” and claimed atheism to “get back at Him” or “get away from Him”. I’m not sure how well such a person would be at arguing the atheistic viewpoint, though.

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        • hessianwithteeth

          A person who is “mad at god” or is trying to get back at god can’t really be an atheist, since they believe in said god enough to be trying to spit it. Like unless of course they are really directing said anger at the institutions and people that support that god rather. Then there not really anger at a god so much as they are angry at the idea of such a god.

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        • brmckay

          equippedcat – “Most people who truly believe there is no God have assembled enough evidence to not only support their belief, but argue that belief.”

          I would be interested in an example what that proof might actually consist of.

          But, my point would be, that whatever they feel they have disproved or simply don’t believe in, is a conceptualization.

          The most they could hope for, is to prove that there is a more satisfying conceptualization.

          This is a process that both the theist and non-theist engages in all the time. It is the foundation of evolution.

          Being relative to time, place and purpose, the proof it’self cannot be absolute. Only God is proof of God. This is why we pursue direct experience, whether we call it science, prayer or meditation.

          Liked by 1 person

          • equippedcat

            There has to be some evidence they accept, otherwise they could not hold the belief. Note that often the evidence is directed against the Christian God, since that is the one some find most obnoxious.

            I’m not able to argue the “no God” or even the “no Christian God” viewpoint, since I don’t hold those views. However, “evidence” which I’ve been exposed to includes:

            1) Nothing beyond the natural can be detected, therefore there is no reason to accept that it exists (the problem with this is if it is beyond the natural, of course it cannot be detected by natural means). Also, everything in the natural can be explained by natural means (perhaps, but that is not proof that there cannot be a supernatural influence)
            2) Those who believe in God cannot prove He exists or even provide “acceptable” evidence. (generally true, particularly if personal experience is not “acceptable”, but lack of evidence is not evidence of the opposite view)
            3) If God was as described (omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, benevolent, loving) then He would not cause or allow all the evil which does occur, much less require the horrors He commanded in the old Testament. Basically, God seems to be a “bad” example of humanity. (God is NOT human, and does not live in the natural realm, thus He is not bound by natural laws, and human definitions – our opinion of Him does not have the concepts needed to accurately evaluate Him).
            4) The Bible is not accurate or is outright lies. There is no evidence of some of the pivotal events described, and some archaeologists push an alternate view of Biblical history. (As far as I can tell, they base their claims on lack of supporting evidence as opposed to actual contradictory evidence). The Bible contradicts what science knows or theorizes (it can indeed be interpreted literally that way. If one interprets the Bible figuratively, the discrepancies are not as obvious, not to mention that science sometimes eventually proves itself mistaken)
            5) People who believe in God do not always follow the instructions which God gives them (no they don’t; this does not cast doubt on God, it just shows that we are not perfect).

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          • brmckay

            equippedcat – “There has to be some evidence they accept, otherwise they could not hold the belief. Note that often the evidence is directed against the Christian God, since that is the one some find most obnoxious.”

            All of which generally points, more to attitude and rationalization than to reason.

            One thing that would help expand the conversation, is for all parties to weed out the term “supernatural” from their vocabulary.

            That word, is really just a flat-landian hack. We get confused by the unexpected. Our latent hubris thinks it knows how things are supposed to be.

            But…

            The body of God is Nature. Expressed to the nth degree. “Supernatural” implies something outside of that. An absurdity.

            Also, so we don’t find ourselves bogged down in another common disconnect; Consciousness of Self is absolutely inherent in nature.

            The origin and the manifestation ever present. Here and Now. Seamless. It’s essence is Infinitude.

            As humans, we get to choose how we relate to this. We can petition for better understanding; both of the whole and of the parts.

            Liked by 1 person

          • equippedcat

            It is true that the word and nature of the Supernatural causes friction between those who believe it and those who don’t. I fear that removing the word and concept would be more of a problem. If God inhabits the same realm that is home to Science, then the argument that Science cannot detect God, and can explain “everything” without resorting to Him gains a lot more weight. Plus that argument that the description of God is “impossible” because it violate the physical laws of this realm.

            Liked by 1 person

          • brmckay

            Thank you for your reply. Though you have articulated the status quo that my premise would dissolve.

            I’ll leave these two views for others to ponder.

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          • hessianwithteeth

            “The body of God is Nature. Expressed to the nth degree. “Supernatural” implies something outside of that. An absurdity.

            Also, so we don’t find ourselves bogged down in another common disconnect; Consciousness of Self is absolutely inherent in nature.

            The origin and the manifestation ever present. Here and Now. Seamless. It’s essence is Infinitude.”

            Ya no, you don’t get to say these thing are fact and wash away the responsibility of explaining how and why you think these things. Like self consciousness is a skill not an inherent trait for example. If it was inherent you expect people to be able to think clearly about themselves ad what they need and want, this is not the case for most, and it isn’t something unlearned as I know children completely lacking in this ability.

            Also how do you know things are infinite, like they could be, but if you know this it would be great if you could tell us how.

            Finally you talk about rationality, and rationalization, but if you sincerely understand the difference they why do you continue to make these assertions with out evidence or clear reasons? There is no argument here they are only statements.

            Well other then supernatural you basically pointed out the basic naturalist argument the supernatural make no sense (assuming only natural this exist. However, you still are claiming this with out defining nature, and why only nature can exist.

            Withteeth

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      • hessianwithteeth

        So brmckay,

        So you said this.

        “The term atheist for me, is someone who holds a “belief” that there is no God. This would actually represent someone who “believes in God enough to resist the idea.”

        So how I have to respond is you can belief in an idea with out actually believing that thing is real. Like I can admit that a character in a book is a real idea, something that was written down, but I in know way have to believe that this is real. “God” which ever one(s) we are talking about is no more then a character in a story to me than Harry Potter.

        You then call Atheists conflicted but not curious enough. Well firstly you must remember that Athiest is nor a defining term for a person, it define a simple belief. Atheists always other beliefs such as skepticism, empiricism, naturalism or the like which lead to their Atheism but are more also more central to that person. This is not necessarily all that they believe either, but atheists don’t come in one easy to define type. All we share in common is that we don’t believe in gods.

        Also you seem to have a new age conception of god(s), so when you say God is reality. I have to ask why bother calling reality god?

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        • brmckay

          hessianwithteeth – ““God” which ever one(s) we are talking about is no more then a character in a story to me than Harry Potter.”

          This common refrain “which ever one(s) we are talking about” illustrates the point I’m hoping to make.

          Most people including most atheists, are limited by the familiar orbit of prevailing concepts. Both their own, and those of their times.

          I often remind people of the Zen adage “the finger pointing at the moon is not the moon”.

          The “god(s)” that atheists choose not to believe in, are no more or less “real” than the Baptist’s “God”.

          None of this negates God. By assuming that my views are “new age” you are attempting to catalog them. Yes, they are views, but they are purposefully open ended. They are also quite old school.

          I call “Reality” God because this is what it is. But be careful how you catalog “Reality”. It is a life time of work just to learn not to do that.

          For instance: Is there an assumption that your imagining of Harry Potter, is somehow other than “Reality”?

          I would say that a “reality” that excludes imagination is not absolute “Reality”. This is the way to contemplate God. Anything else is just political fussiness.

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          • hessianwithteeth

            Ah I had suspect you may have been influenced at least somewhat by Zen. I won’t pretend to have a full grasp on any particular Zen teaching other than the living the moment one, by doing what is needed as is needed (it’s more complicated than that I know, but Zen is hard to communicate). I think is excellent for making rhetorical refrains. Like if you do it well I think you end up coming to some alright conclusions as you become very inquisitive and critical of the claims made by others, and yourself. However, I feel Zen does not ultimately end up doing a much because it’s so hard to explain and understand that it can take a very long time just to break down the basics to a person so that they can begin to understand the more complex teachings. Also it certainly doesn’t fit within the “knowledge” camp, but the “wisdom” camp. Zen does not teach you what is true it helps give you a frame work for using knowledge and questioning. I think it is interesting and teaches some valuable concepts, but ultimately I think there are better systems for questioning, and better rhetoric’s to use to teach, convey, and most importantly learn.

            Well first I’m not saying imagination is separate from reality, I’m saying that imagination has little to say about what is possible within or universe, with in space and time. Imagination is mental state (I’d argue brain states, but that not really relevant) in which you apply proprieties to objects, and put those objects into situations all of which have no bearing on what is actually possible in our universe. It’s possible to imagine this things, and that can be worth something, but there is no guarantee that these thing could ever come about. It’s the difference between understanding that Happy Potter exists as a character in a book, but that you’re not going to run into him on the street. Imagination is the figure pointing, not the moon.
            Other that what’s above all I see when I read your statement are assertions. I’m not convinced by assertions. If you want to explain why reality is God, how all conceptions of gods and beliefs in those god negative or positive are beyond being right and wrong, and how you know these thing please do. I feel a though you’ve been glossing over things and I’d rather respond to the full thoughts.

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          • brmckay

            If you assume Zen is complex, there is already a breakdown in our communication.

            Perhaps consider, that what your are calling ‘assertions’, are lenses that I’m offering for you to try on.

            If the initial statement is not accepted, at least as hypothesis, then every following statement will be seen as garbage.

            Do you want me to try again? Or are your rules written in stone?

            (Note: Just so we don’t confuse ourselves, I am not advocating Zen particularly. Just it’s effect. The thread of Gold that runs through mature religion and philosophy. Also, in my opinion, the ripened potential of science.)

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          • hessianwithteeth

            My rules are not set in stone, it may seem that way, but I demand justification to change my view. What that justification is depends on what is being argued or discussed.

            From what you’ve said across this blog so far I have some inkling to what you think, but your speaking a diffrent language (so to speak) so I can’t pick what your saying out from your words. There are under lying assumptions which I am unaware of and without some insight into those it would be hubris for me to go any further then I have.

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          • brmckay

            An “inkling” is good. My style requires it. Like flint and steel.

            And since we don’t know what we don’t know, I’ll just say that I have appreciated the opportunity to lay down a few riffs.

            And may check in later, down the road.

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  • christjahnbeck

    Generally “strong atheism” and “weak atheism actually refer to the expressed position regarding the proposition “a god or gods exist”, not the outspokenness of the person. Strong atheism is the rejection of one, many, or all gods. Weak atheism is another name for the more common “Agnostic atheism” where one simply maintains the skeptics position or null hypothesis regarding claims of deities. The outspoken nature of a particular Atheist, usually at least, is discussed using the “anti-theist” label… Effing semantics drive me crazy haha… Good article though

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    • hessianwithteeth

      I mentioned the idea of strong atheism as gnostic atheism. But I was talking about how people use the terms. Many of the people who have been accused of being strong atheists (which tends to be used in a derogatory sense) have made it known that they are agnostic atheists (aka weak atheists).
      Personally, I really despise the terms strong and weak atheist because they don’t have much in the way of meaning. When I was doing research for this post I found about three different definitions. And, for the most part there are better terms to use to describe what is being talked about. And the way they are defined is not generally how they are used. They are generally used as accusatory. At least, that is the trend that I’ve noticed, and that others have mentioned too.

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  • leonardkaplan

    Interesting subject. The secret is that everyone keeps quiet. Religion is personal sort of like the intimate relationship you have with your wife.

    Like

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