Atheism is Illogical, Part Two: Words Have Meanings

One of the things I loathe about the irrational behavior of Christian Fundamentalists is when I show them what their Bible says and they refuse to acknowledge it. It is hypocritical to see in writing words that prove you are wrong and then not accept that clear evidence. As I mentioned in Part One, the structures of religious belief are the same in theism and atheism, so it is not surprising that some atheists have the same ideological denial that Fundamentalist theists do.

Language is a wonderfully flexible and fluid thing. Wittgenstein observed that language evolves and changes and the meaning of a word lies in its use. However, this does not mean that words can mean whatever you want them to mean. To have meaningful discourse with other people you can’t just make up your own definitions. As Wittgenstein said, to claim a private meaning, even within a group, for a word is absurd and meaningless–a word must have shared social meaning for communication to be possible. Some words for abstract concepts like “freedom” are hard to define and we can have long debates over what freedom means. Other words are more clear cut because they are descriptions of tangible objects or logical constructs. Atheism is such a word, a logical construct that just plain cannot mean whatever you want it to mean.

As I mentioned in Part One of Atheism is Illogical, one of the most curious phenomena in atheists is their attempts to deny that they have beliefs. There is good reason for this as we shall see in Part Three and to avoid the illogic inherent to the atheist position, atheists try to deny reality by creating a new private meaning for “atheist.” But such intellectual dishonesty is self-defeating because words do have meanings and meanings have logical consequences.

Let us look at the Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of the word “atheist”:

The meaning of “atheist” is to deny the existence of a God. This is not a lack of interest, or a being unconvinced, it is taking the position that there is no God, what I described before as committing to the proposition “God does not exist.” The atheist, trying to avoid the logical consequences of this commitment, tries to pretend that they do not have a belief, they simple disbelieve. But let’s look at the Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of disbelieve:
OEDdisbelieveWe see several interesting things here: one, that disbelieve is a transitive verb, meaning it must take an object. One disbelieves something tangible. We also see that to disbelieve is an active verb, one is actively refusing and rejecting the truth of something; in the case of the atheist, they actively disbelieve the proposition “God exists” necessarily committing themselves to the active belief in its negation, “God does not exist.” And as we see from the Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of disbelief:

it is a positive unbelief. The atheist is not sitting on the sidelines unengaged with the question of God–the atheist makes a positive assertion by actively refusing the proposition “God exists” which means they are just as actively committing to the proposition “God does not exist.” Their active unbelief logically and necessarily entails an active belief. If they claim the title “atheist” then they have no choice but to accept what that word means. They are taking a position and positions must be defended with reason and evidence. The burden of proof is on the one who makes an assertion, and the atheist does make an assertion in their active denial and disbelief. Denying such clear logic and evidence is the very definition of irrationality.

Any atheist who tries to avoid the fact that they are engaging in the active, positive belief in the proposition “God does not exist” should have to explain why they are running away from their own beliefs.

See Part One: Atheism is a Belief and a Truth Claim and Part Three: The Illogical Proposition that is Atheism.

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24 Responses to Atheism is Illogical, Part Two: Words Have Meanings

  1. I’m forced to respectfully disagree with your thesis that atheism is illogical.

    I agree that atheism implies a positive belief in the nonexistence of God. Not so much because the OED says so, but because that’s how people use the word “atheist.” As you and Wittgenstein correctly pointed out, the meaning of a word is implied by its usage.

    So how do people use the word “believe?” Does it mean “I assert so-and-so with 100% certainty,” as you seem to suggest?

    If I say “I believe Simon is not a criminal,” I am not claiming to know 100%. I’m well aware that Simon does things I never hear about. Maybe Simon is secretly a mass murderer; I can’t prove otherwise. But when I say “I believe Simon is not a criminal,” I’m not talking about proof or logical certainty. I’m saying that, based on what I know, it seems to me that he has not committed any crimes.

    This meaning of “believe” is, I think, a more reasonable interpretation of the statement “I believe that God does not exist.” Indeed, I think that belief (and most assertions in everyday language) imply a minimal, reasonable degree of doubt. When someone asks me if my car is silver, I’m justified in saying “yes,” even if I don’t happen to be looking at it right then. It’s understood that I don’t know 100%, that 100% definite knowledge is often impossible anyway, and that I’m merely stating what I reasonably believe to be true.

    This is the way people ordinarily use language, and it does not seem fair to hold atheists to a higher standard of language than the rest of us.

    Because belief does not imply certainty, it follows that agnosticism and atheism can overlap. They are conceptually distinct, but it is possible for a single person to be both an agnostic and an atheist. I can say “I believe God does not exist (thus I’m an atheist), but I’m not certain (thus I’m an agnostic).” That is not a contradiction.

    Whew! I wrote you a short book there. As usual, thanks for the thought-provoking post. Writing this response helped me clarify my own thinking, as I went through several drafts to shore up my arguments. But you’re welcome to shoot holes in my thinking anyway. :-)

  2. Hi, Brian. First off, thanks for a civil and constructive reply. Atheists usually don’t do that, they just shout “you’re stupid.” :p

    I think you are quite right to make an issue of the word “belief” and to ground its meaning in its use in ordinary language. It is a word many people misuse and misunderstand, especially in creating a false dichotomy between “belief” and “knowledge.” It is exactly that confabulation that both theists and atheists exploit to advance their assertions. And that word there, “assertion” is key to understanding how “belief” is used. More on that soon enough.

    I think you are right that many people use “belief” to mean something along the lines of what you said: “based on what I know, it seems to me that…” and would connect that with the thought “I am not 100% certain.” But as you quite rightly point out, 100% definite knowledge is often impossible (I would say “always impossible”). Even a statement such as “I have a body” is, though it seems stupid to deny, is still not something we can be absolutely 100% certain of (see Wittgenstein’s book On Certainty). The point being that there is no statement we can make of which we have definite knowledge so we should just take that consideration off the table–certainty is not the issue.

    This allows us to see more clearly what is undeniable: all that we call “knowledge” is really just belief. That this is so can be easily seen by trying to think if we would ever disbelieve anything we know. If someone said “I know P but do not believe P” we would think them quite odd. Knowledge is always belief. And as Karl Jaspers said, “to believe something is to believe that it is true.” When we say “I know P” we are saying “I believe P is true.” Many philosophers would agree that that is what “knowledge” is – “I believe P is true,” nothing more.

    This leads to the core of all belief: that belief is an assertion. “I believe P” is the assertion “I believe P is true.” Unless someone is lying or insane they don’t say “”I believe P” and think it is false. We believe what we think is true and we disbelieve what we think is false. Not only that, we think “P is true not just in my mind but for other minds.” So, “I believe God does not exist” is an assertion that “God does not exist” (Not-GE) is true not just for me but for all people. As one of my old philosophy professors said: “if you aren’t willing to stand by your statement of belief as being true, you should just keep that frog in your pocket” – yes, he was a little odd. :) I talked about the relation of belief, assertion, and truth claims in Part One. I also showed there how atheism and agnosticism are logical contradictions and mutually exclusive so will refer you there on that issue.

    I appreciate your thoughtful reply and if I stirred you to clarify your own thinking, that is a great compliment 😀

  3. Pingback: Atheism is Illogical, Part Three: The Illogical Proposition that is Atheism | Philosophy Out of the Box

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  5. oliver kellopas says:

    Again, great article. I am puzzled though by what seems a contradiction: you give us the OED definition, the primary source of meaning in the English language that codifies a norm, but then you quote Wittgenstein that a word means how it is used. How can we reconcile the two ideas here: that there are norms established by authority and there are pragmatic norms established by use?

  6. Hi, Oliver. That is the interesting contradiction of language. On the one hand, words are arbitrary human inventions. They weren’t handed down to us on gold tablets, we didn’t discover them, we created them. And we keep on creating words, changing words, even letting words die. On the other hand, words can’t be entirely arbitrary or communication would be difficult if not impossible. The meanings of words have to be shared by all parties concerned for communication to be successful. There must be norms for meaning and those norms become authoritative for society out of necessity. The first English dictionary was Samuel Johnson’s, but his mistake was he decided himself what a word should mean. The Oxford English Dictionary was a very important historical event because it tried to find a balance between this seeming contradiction of arbitrariness versus the need for authority. What the editors did was determine the meanings of words based upon their actual use over the long-term. So the meanings listed in the OED are based on the norms that have become standard usage over time as established in the literature. OED definitions are authoritative but don’t pretend that word meanings were transcendental realities. Word meanings do change but only over time and only after a critical weight of people are using the new meaning in common discourse. People can’t just make up their own definitions and still remain within the linguistic community. To pretend, as the atheists do, that a word means other than it does within the linguistic community is at best disingenuous; but since their purpose for their subterfuge is avoidance of the consequences of their beliefs, they are just plain being dishonest. It is like someone stealing property claiming that the word “steal” means something else and thus they aren’t breaking the law against stealing.

  7. wittyludwig says:

    I urge any people who stumble across this blog not to be taken in by these writings. There is academic decency behind the scenes, I’m sure, and the author, Site Philosopher, you do write well albeit with a flair for the verbose.

    One strong irony, however, is that, presuming you have undertaken philosophical studies at some half-reputable establishment, it seems that the studies halted circa Frege, Whitehead, Russell, and don’t seem to progress past the ideas found in the Tractatus.

    “As Wittgenstein said, to claim a private meaning, even within a group, for a word is absurd and meaningless.”

    I want to add, for your own interest, that this is not at all what the private language argument concerns. Especially NOT ‘within a group'; you misunderstand. The basis of it is entirely hypothesised on the foundation that no other people are involved, hence the focus on private sensations for the absolute avoidance of any doubt.

    I laboured to read your three posts and, although you don’t owe me the decency, I’d invite you to read my thoughts contained within http://www.wittyludwig.wordpress.com. Particularly the first post and the links to so.andso.co provided within it, which addresses many of the misconceptions you find yourself trapped within.

  8. Wittgenstein’s private language argument was from his Philosophical Investigations, material he wrote decades after he wrote the Tractatus. However, the real problem is that you equivocate what I said–“private meaning”– with his private language argument, to which I did not refer. My comment referred to his discussion on the need of following rules of language. They are related but separate points in Philosophical Investigations. I perhaps could have been clearer but your objection is off the mark and your “don’t be taken in by his site, read mine” an odd and blatantly self-serving response.

  9. wittyludwig says:

    I would love to just dismiss your first paragraph as non sequitur but I do, again, feel the need to make some slight adjustments: Philosophical Investigations was not written decades after; it is the compilation of post-humous notes consisting of the Blue and Brown books, Remarks on the Foundations of Mathematics, etc., which commence within a decade of the publication of the Tractatus. It was in fact published by his executors in 1953, which is quite different. It’s fine not knowing something but a seemingly pompous tone when the area isn’t perhaps your forte runs the risk of misleading the stumbling passer-by.

    This ties me into your second paragraph in that I refuse to believe anyone who has even a superficial knowledge of the Philosophical Investigations could be so careless when discussing Wittgensteinian writing to use a term such as ‘private meaning’, which has no bearing on the rule following paragraphs nor indeed what follows 202.

    As to the accusation of being self-serving: this was intended for your interest. You’re perfectly entitled to, and I would have not the slightest objection, to your censoring the links and/or deleting the post.

  10. Wow. Where to begin… First off, Wittgenstein completed Tractatus in 1918 and he submitted Philosophical Investigations to the publisher in 1946, though he pulled it back. That is a space of 28 years, nearly three decades. That you think Philosophical Investigations consists of the Blue and Brown books is completely incorrect. PI was Wittgenstein’s book, while the Blue and Brown books were notes by his students that they took at his lectures 1933-1935 (15-17 years after the Tractatus and if Monk is correct, several years before he started writing PI). They contain similar ideas but any Wittgenstein scholar knows they are separate books. You also are apparently ignorant about the discussion of normative meaning in Philosophical Investigations, and if you were familiar, you would know that his argument (for example PI 261: “the use of [a] word stands in need of a justification which everybody understands.”) precludes private meaning because, he said, of the requirement of rule following to establish a standard of correctness in language, something that has been discussed by such scholars as S. Kripke, A.C. Grayling, C. McGinn, and W. Child, among others.

  11. wittyludwig says:

    I’m glad to hear you’ve read Monk but, where to begin, as you say: The brown book in particular was dictated to Ambrose and Skinner, specifically from his own notes. I find it bizarre that you don’t recognise that chunks are copied verbatim into the Philosophical Investigations draft; similarly with the Blue Book. As with all his notes on psychology and mathematics, which also recur in PI. The majority of PI is the collaborative and selective collection of his notes from 1931/33 onwards.

    It’s also bizarre that you deliberately, it seems, choose to neglect that the Tractatus was published in ’21/’22 and focus instead on when he submitted it; you then great take pains to focus on the publication date of PI to emphasise your point. It’s quite dishonest, to be fair. Especially since, as I say, the bulk of the material is compiled and refined over the course of twenty years.

    And yes, thank you for listing those authors, I am quite familiar with them as I’m sure you’ve gathered. Anthony is in fact a personal friend of mine and we differ quite strongly on many of his essays on Wittgenstein and you should bear in mind, as he would grudgingly concede, he is hardly an authority on Wittgenstein any more. And, to be fair, Kripke’s On Rules and Private Language focuses far more on 201 than any other section of that which deals with the ‘PL argument’, controversial as it may be.

    This could turn into a wonderful flogging affair where for all the other knows and, in this case, suspects, details could in fact just be being cut from wikipedia. The simple fact is that if you did understand and appreciate Wittgenstein’s later writing, there is not a chance you could advocate as you do in your post above. It flies in the face of his work and spirit, despite the attempt to cite his name a sa source of support.

    I’m sure we could slog this out until the cows come home but I feel we should leave it here and I would only encourage you to engage with the links of mine I provided you with earlier. It would save covering the same ground; but I suspect that your opinion of yourself combined with your opinion of me / others will make this unlikely unless it were purely for the purpose of being vituperative.

    Out of curiosity, and it would be completely understandable if you did not want to share publicly, but of which college are you a lecturer? My guess would be that it is an American one?

  12. In philosophy, we are used to debates over interpretations of difficult questions, but you come to me ignorant of who wrote books and when, and even what is in those books. Since your statements are based on these errors, which you merely repeat despite their falsity being pointed out, makes any discourse with you difficult. But your diversionary argument does not relate to any of the issues addressed on this site and I am reminded that not engaging in the actual topic but trying to distract with irrelevancies and falsities (red herring fallacy) is a common tactic of atheists. And yes, I am on faculty at an American university and yes, I know you Brits look down on US schools, but not all of us are analytical hacks in this country, and we do all pride ourselves on getting basic facts right–which is the difference between an academic and a pseudo-academic. So I wish you luck publicizing your blog…elsewhere.

  13. Gervais8my says:

    Hey, “witty” – really tacky to spam another person’s blog with “don’t listen to him/her” especially when you then say “read my blog instead.”

    Your suggestion that Wittgenstein did not say that meaning must be public within a group is just plain wrong. Words have meaning from their public use, you and a buddy can’t get together and say “the word X will now mean this.” That’s why we have dictionaries.

    Site Philosopher: one omission to this article is the word “skepticism,” because isn’t doubt or skepticism different than disbelief?

  14. I get a number of atheists spamming the “Atheism is Illogical” pages trying to promote their blog, usually just posting “you’re stupid, here’s the truth, dummy,” with a link to their blog page. The spam filter catches them and deletes them. “Witty” at least tried to offer an argument, albeit a fallacious one and I thought, let it stand as a good learning opportunity. Still, I agree that his condescension was bad form.

    As for “skepticism,” you are right, that is an omission. The OED defines skepticism as “Sceptical attitude in relation to some particular branch of science; doubt or incredulity as to the truth of some assertion or supposed fact,” and most revealingly, “Doubt or unbelief with regard to the Christian religion.” Skeptic it defines as “One who doubts the validity of what claims to be knowledge in some particular department of inquiry.” I am leaving out the other definitions related to the school of ancient Greek philosophers. So, as you can see, skepticism and doubt are just synonyms for disbelief and all of the points in this paper apply.

  15. johnsandel79 says:

    Yeah, witty, not the right way to go about it. Having just leafed through your blog I see your point that a lot of your ideas address the ideas on Site Philosopher’s blog directly but you should have at least taken the time to write some of those ideas in here rather than just lazily direct people. Especially if you’re coming in guns blazing. Are you an atheist yourself? Your blog is ambiguous.

    That said, he / she (it?) is right on one account.

    “Your suggestion that Wittgenstein did not say that meaning must be public within a group is just plain wrong.”

    I don’t think that’s what they were suggesting at all. I think they were pointing out that the private language argument is dealt with quite separately (rule following is only one of around the 7 arguments identified as being attributable to the PLA, per Chon Tejedor in any case). Correct me if I’m wrong, witty, but I think he/she’s pointing out that Wittgenstein certainly wouldn’t have advocated this method of thinking— think of all the effort he put into those early paragraphs of Philosophical Investigations on how there is no underlying common essence to something like a ‘game’. He went through paragraphs demonstrating how it would be absurd to try to pinpoint one meaning and be content with it. I mean, by Site Philosopher’s logic, we’d have to take a dictionary definition of something like a table and be happy with it. Eg:
    ta•ble
    [tey-buh l] Show IPA noun, verb, ta•bled, ta•bling, adjective
    noun
    1.
    an article of furniture consisting of a flat, slablike top supported on one or more legs or other supports: a kitchen table; an operating table; a pool table.

    Which would be absurd (this could account for stools, fails to account for tables that don’t have flat surfaces, etc).

    Also, the idea of belief having to be ‘active’ doesn’t accord with his writings in On Certainty.
    In any case, I really enjoyed reading through the three posts– I think these ideas have been covered before mostly but I really like your writing style and you also attached your own flair to the ideas.

    I think many people would also claim, IMHO rightly, that pinpointing meanings aside, atheism for many means non-religious. Especially in Europe. If someone were to respond with ‘the meaning of atheism is fixed in stone, you can’t choose another meaning’ it would seem a bit silly because the concept of atheos / atheism has evolved constantly since its conception (“without the gods”, literally. The romans / greeks observing heathen cultures). There might be a time in Christian prevalent countries where that OED definition would have been apt but, from my experience of travelling around the more secular European countries, to their culture, it means ‘non-religious’. As if they observe it as a queer cultural habit of other countries.

    Cheers,
    John

  16. Thank you, John, for your kind comments.

    To clarify – I did not say that words have only one meaning, I said that “you can’t just make up your own definitions.” Word meaning has to be set and shared for communication to occur. If we have different meanings for “table” then you saying “table” to me does not communicate what you mean. Your example of table is a good one, but I would reply that what you illustrate is more the discussion of whether an object in front of us qualifies to be labeled a table. If it does not have a flat surface, is it a table? Does every object we encounter call for us to reexamine our definition of table? Some, perhaps, but certainly not the majority–we can’t be constantly reassessing our definitions. I also said that atheism is “a logical construct that just plain cannot mean whatever you want it to mean.” The dictionaries are quite clear about what the word means. Some atheists want the word to mean a new definition and even if we ignore the irrationality of their definition we still have the question of whether their use actually calls for us to reexamine our definition of atheism. Atheists would have to make a compelling case and since, as is plainly obvious, that their proposed redefinition moves the word into a logical absurdity, there seems to be no case to alter our definition.

    You are right that some Europeans do incorrectly use the term atheist to mean non-religious though I think of pressed they would respond how a British colleague of mind did: he mentioned that he was non-religious and a student innocently said “oh, so you’re an atheist,” and my colleague replied, “oh, good heavens, no, I would not be so bold as to say I know the answer to such mysteries.” The other aspect is that being religious or non-religious is a separate issue from whether one believes in a deity or not. I know Buddhists who are very religious but believe in no deity, I know Christians who devoutly believe in God but are not religious at all. Finally, right or wrong, my papers here reflect that I happen to live in America where the issue tends to be pretty black and white, a fight between religious fundamentalists and atheist fundamentalists that is more of a playground brawl than reasoned debate. Here, the atheist fundamentalist screams “you are an idiot to believe in god, there is no god!” and seldom advances beyond that. To be fair, they are reacting against similar attitude from the religious fundamentalists. People in other countries are relatively free of such nonsense.

  17. johnsandel79 says:

    Thanks for taking the time to respond, SP. You have kind of hit on the issue I was raising. When you say this:
    ‘I did not say that words have only one meaning, I said that “you can’t just make up your own definitions” Word meaning has to be set and shared for communication to occur. If we have different meanings for “table” then you saying “table” to me does not communicate what you mean.’
    And
    “You are right that some Europeans do incorrectly use the term atheist to mean non-religious though I think of pressed they would respond how a British colleague of mind did: he mentioned that he was non-religious and a student innocently said “oh, so you’re an atheist,” and my colleague replied, “oh, good heavens, no, I would not be so bold as to say I know the answer to such mysteries.”

    I do think you’re right to draw the distinction you did between being a-deistic and a-religious but I’d suggest the majority of people in secular Europe use it in the non-religious sense to the extent that it’s like saying to many of them: ‘Do you believe in the tooth fairy / Zeus / Ah Uuc Ticab / the Judeo-Christian God’, to which their reaction is one of bewilderment and amusement as if all belong in the same category and they are literally ‘without-gods’ (i.e. atheist). They don’t deny anything, they don’t address any of those issues in their lives at any point; rather, they live their lives and have other cultures come to them and say ‘so you don’t believe in this?’ ‘you deny this?’ and their reaction is: I have no idea what you’re talking about so how can I deny what you’re claiming!?

    I myself attended Trinity College Cambridge and found that although there were professors that spoke like your colleague did, there were also very many fellows and Profs who were more in line with atheism being ‘without gods’. The debate rages on but the latter are the majority now. I think they all communicate effectively enough and I’m not sure what the criterion of correctness would be anyway— I don’t think it can be a dictionary. Words evolve with use too rapidly. I think it has to be based on cultures’ use of the word.

    I think you hit on something here, too:

    “I happen to live in America where the issue tends to be pretty black and white, a fight between religious fundamentalists and atheist fundamentalists that is more of a playground brawl than reasoned debate.”

    I think you’re exactly right. You live in a predominantly Christian nation still where the minority (atheists) are still in the rebellious stage, denying the established claims. I think it’s quite different here. You and Witty cited a good guy above, A. C. Grayling, who’s a good example of the stage the UK has reached. We’re rapidly becoming ‘non-stamp-collectors’ more than anything else! He amusingly compares someone calling someone a militant atheist: ‘How can you be a militant atheist? It’s like sleeping furiously’ Which I can imagine is very different from attitudes in the US!

  18. You raise some excellent points, John, and quite insightfully you get to the heart of my critique. My target in these papers are those who wave the label “atheists” with militancy, carry it as a cudgel, use it as a basis for hostile discrimination. My target is not the non-religious, in fact, I would have to be considered as non-religious. But I am not an atheist because I make no claim about any deity and have no animosity against believers. We know that those who cling to the label atheist do have a belief that there is no god because they act on that belief. The non-religious, as you describe so well, just reacts a little puzzled. The atheist, reacts angrily. Also, I know, because I have talked with many non-religious on this, that they feel no need to adopt the label “atheist” because they don’t see religion as a conflict of beliefs as atheists do.

    You are right about America, but I point out that the homeland of hostile fundamentalist atheism, which calls itself “New Atheism” is in the UK (Dawkins, Hitchens, etc.). These people are just plain bigots not much different than the EDL or KKK.

    One other point I want to address: though I am non-religious, I do NOT think religious belief is stupid or wrong. Some of the most amazing, intelligent, wonderful people I have known are religious believers, and I think their beliefs have a lot to do with their positive attributes. I respect those good people who believe in deities (I do not mean Fundamentalist zealots who only believe in their hatreds); I do not respect those who hate and denigrate believers.

  19. Ticonderoga says:

    @ wittyludwig, I find it very interesting that your first post/reply contained a personal attack on the author re: “half-reputable institution” etc. Then proceed to miss quote and equivocate. Also you seem to very much bury the conversation in what I shall loosely deem a mountain of nit-picking. When a certain book was published or submited or heck, contemplated is completely irrelavant to the argument at hand. Sort of an intellectual smoke screen if you ask me.

  20. FanaticMan says:

    @Ticonderoga

    To be fair, his knowledge of Wittgenstein was pretty spot on. Just nasty way of expressing it. I feel SP hasn’t quite grasped Wittgenstein’s material (no mean feat!) and don’t mean that disrespectfully at all!

    Interesting site here, SP. Have to say, I very much disagree with this: ““New Atheism” is in the UK (Dawkins, Hitchens, etc.). These people are just plain bigots not much different than the EDL or KKK.” Although I appreciate where you’re coming from.

    But I very much agree with this: “I do NOT think religious belief is stupid or wrong. Some of the most amazing, intelligent, wonderful people I have known are religious believers, and I think their beliefs have a lot to do with their positive attributes.”

  21. @FanaticMan

    Appreciate the comments. I am well aware some Wittgenstein scholars disagree with my interpretation of Wittgenstein just as I am aware that others agree with it. That’s the beauty of scholarship. I doubt the debate will end anytime soon. :)

    On Dawkins, I bet if you ever had the chance to sit at the same table as him and saw that look in the man’s eyes as he shared his feelings about religion, you’d come to agree completely with my statement.

  22. FanaticMan says:

    @SP

    Actually, I’ve met him on many occasions, which is what led me to disagree! He was one of the fellows at my College in Oxford. Also met Anthony Grayling on one occasion, who is, quite simply, one of the most kind-hearted men I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. Hence why I felt the need to post something on the matter!

  23. Well, Mr, Dawkins knew of my position on certain issues so he showed a different side of himself to me. :)

    I have never had the pleasure of meeting Anthony Grayling but have long respected his work.

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