Atheism is Illogical, Part One: Atheism is a Belief and a Truth Claim

Immediately, I wish to counter several strawman assumptions some may make about an essay with this title. This essay is NOT an apologetic. It does NOT assert that God exists or attempt to persuade the reader to accept any religious faith or any claim made by any religion. This essay is only about the stated title, so please leave any and all other presumptions behind.

My primary interest since I have been a college professor has been why people believe what they do. After years of exploring religious belief I started to look at its companion, if not fraternal twin, atheism. I found rather quickly that the structures of religious belief are duplicated in atheist belief. But this lead to the fascinating question of why atheists try to deny this basic fact which in turn opened up the realization of how atheism is an inherently illogical belief, even more illogical than religious belief. So, this work is attempting to understand why and hopefully establish a theory with the power to explain atheist belief.

There are four parts to this paper. Though each section stands on its own, they are interconnected and meant to be understood as a whole. Part Two, Part Three, Part Four.


Part One: Demonstrating that atheism is a belief and a truth claim

Theism is the belief that the proposition God Exists (GE) is true. Theism is a truth claim for GE since, for any proposition P, to believe P is to take P to hold in the actual world. Beliefs are active assertions that a state of affairs is true in the actual world. To believe something is to believe that it is true and it is the height of irrationality to believe something yet think it is false, or to not believe something yet think it is true. The proposition GE is an existential proposition (the question of existence) and such propositions are different from propositions such as “democracy is the best political system.” All existential propositions are binary: necessarily either absolutely true or absolutely false. You can’t be a little pregnant or kind of dead, you either are or you are not. The existential proposition GE is objectively either true or false in the actual world and if it is false then its negation is necessarily true. To deny any existential proposition is to necessarily assume its negation, for example, you must say that the Loch Ness Monster either exists or does not exist, there are no other options for you to choose. The negation of GE is the proposition God Does Not Exist (Not-GE). Rational beings either believe that GE is true, believe that GE is false and thus necessarily believe Not-GE is true, or say they do not know, claiming neither. The first position is Theism, the second Atheism, the third Agnosticism. Atheism is to deny that the proposition GE is true and thus to necessarily assume Not-GE is true. To withhold assent to both GE and not-GE—assert that one does not know—is agnosticism. It is necessarily the case that unless one claims ignorance, agnosticism, then one is assenting to either GE or not-GE—logical use of language prevents other possibilities.

Atheism is clearly withholding assent to GE, which is self-evident because it is a logical contradiction to be an atheist and believe in god (GE). Similarly, it would be contradictory for someone to believe GE is true yet withhold assent to GE. So to withhold assent to GE means you believe GE is false. Again, an existential question is binary, an either-or without a middle ground. When someone says “I am an atheist” that atheist is claiming that (1) GE is objectively not true (god does not exist), (2) the atheist believes GE is not true, and (3) the atheist is in a satisfactory relationship with the truth value of GE to claim 1 and 2. (All of this is also true for the theist and their claims for the truth of GE.) Atheism is a term that encompasses these three claims that are necessary equivalents to the statement, “I am an atheist.” Atheism is the belief that GE is false, meaning the belief that Not-GE is true, which means atheism is a truth claim for the proposition Not-GE.

One objection some atheists make to this is to say that the Atheist makes no claim but simply does not believe the claim GE. That this objection is absurd is easily seen when we ask if one can disbelieve claim GE while holding that GE is still true. This would, of course, be nonsense. If someone where to say “I do not believe it is raining but it is raining” we immediately see the contradiction. If one does not believe it is raining that is only because they think the proposition “it is raining” is not true. Likewise one does not say “I do not believe the claim that Santa Claus exists” while still believing that Santa Claus does exist. You cannot be an aclausist without believing that there is no Claus. Again, existential questions are either-or and pro and anti positions to an existential question are equivalent to “yes” and “no” claims to the question. For the atheist to say that atheism makes no claim is intellectual dishonesty. The atheist is not simply living without belief in god because living without belief requires no label, it is simply living. Adopting the label “atheist” is adopting an antagonistic stance against religion and religious people.

It cannot be the case that atheists do not have a belief. It is not the case that they are simply entertaining a certain state of affairs, for example, imagining there is no god. (Though some philosophers contend, with some neuroscience findings backing them up, that imagining a proposition equates to a belief.) But if imagining is all they are doing then there would be no adoption of the label “atheist.” The adoption of a label is a commitment to a position, a judgment, not an imagining. So unless the person adopting the label is being dishonest, their use of the label expresses their adherence to a position, expressing that “I have decided that there is no god.” (Not-GE) So anyone who calls him or herself an “atheist” is either committing to a belief or being dishonest in their self portrayal. For the atheist to claim that atheism is not a belief is intellectual dishonesty.

That atheists believe that Not-GE is true is obvious in and beyond their embrace of the term atheism. The term is used by atheists to differentiate themselves from believers, a differentiation only desired if they reject what the believers believe; rejection equates to saying the believers in GE are wrong which is the assertion that the negation of the belief in GE (i.e. – Not-GE) is true. The derisive assertions of Atheists that religious believers believe in “fairy tales” or “imaginary friends” and are “irrational” are strong assertions that religious belief is wrong. No sane person asserts that a belief is wrong without believing the opposite is correct, so to criticize GE prima facie is to assert Not-GE. In addition, the atheist reaction to expressions of belief in GE show they are a believer in Not-GE. If one is neutral on the subject then one has no cause to oppose expression of a belief. That atheists are frequently openly critical of religious belief shows that they are indeed not neutral on the subject and in fact have committed to the position of Not-GE. They believe that there is no god. For the atheist to claim that they don’t believe Not-GE is intellectual dishonesty.

One evasion atheists try is to say that their atheism is a judgment not a belief or truth claim. This is just a semantic game. A judgment is a commitment to the truth of a proposition. As Merleau-Ponty wisely observed: “judgment is the taking of a position, it aims at knowing something valid for me at every moment of my life, and for other minds.” If the atheist tries to say they are not making an implicit claim to objective truth about Not-GE then they are just expressing subjective opinion, no more meaningful than “I like blue.” The atheist can only adopt that position if he/she also forfeits any basis for judging the validity of their own or others’ positions on GE, meaning being atheist is no better than being a theist. This clearly the atheist does not accept because they do make the judgment that theism is incorrect and their atheism a superior position. The atheist is making the judgment that their belief is more true than the belief of the theist. In forming the judgment “I am an atheist,” the atheist commits to the truth of the proposition that is asserted by the judgment: Not-GE.

Another evasion atheists try is to say that everyone is an atheist because everyone can say there is a religion they reject. To say that a Christian is an atheist because they reject Shiva is beyond ridiculous. Besides, if atheism is just “I don’t believe in *your* god” then atheism literally has nothing positive to offer, just egocentric nay saying. Plus, if everyone is an atheist then the term has no explanatory power and there would be no reason for anyone to claim “I am an atheist.” No, atheism is clearly something meaningful to those who adopt it and their adoption of it is as an alternative to all religious belief because atheism IS the belief that Not-GE is true where G stands for any and all meanings of “god.”

Yet another evasion used by some atheists is the neologism “agnostic atheist.” This is an inherently contradictory construction. Agnostic means “does not know.” If one does not know then to make a judgment such as Not-GE is illogical. As we have seen before, “I do not know if it is raining, but it is not raining” is absurd. But “agnostic atheist” means “I do not know if there is a god but there is no god.” One attempt to dodge this is for the atheist to claim he does indeed not know if there is a god and therefore he is justified, given an alleged lack of conclusive evidence, to hold Not-GE. This is the fallacy of appealing to epistemic luck. If one says “I do not know if it is raining, but it is not raining” and then runs outside and does not get wet, this lucky circumstance does not validate the illogic of her hypothesis. We also can see the absurdity of the “agnostic atheist” claim if we look at the atheist response to a claim to be an “agnostic theist.” This would be the claim “I do not know if there is a god but there is a god.” Atheists are extremely fond of condemning belief in god with the claim there is no evidence for god, “you do not know there is a god so you are illogical to believe there is a god.” Well, if the atheist wants to make that argument, they must also accept that the argument also refutes “agnostic atheist.” I will talk more about evidence issues in Part 3. But we can conclude that to claim the title of “agnostic atheist” is completely illogical.

Finally, we must deal with the evasion that atheism is simply non-belief not a belief. This is absurd on the face of it as shown above: to not believe GE is to believe Not-GE. However, this objection points to a corollary position of the person neutral on GE and Not-GE who we could call a non-believer, but is in fact an agnostic. Agnosticism is an honorable position and perhaps the only logical position in regard to GE and Not-GE since both beliefs are unprovable. This atheist evasion is to try to pretend that atheism is really agnosticism, a simple open-minded lack of belief. The difference between the atheist and the agnostic non-believer is that the agnostic does not feel any need to oppose the believer, he or she simply does not believe and has no need to make an issue of it. If one was truly non-religious one would have no desire for the label “atheist” and no desire to make the derisive assertions about believers that atheists do. Again, atheists reveal their belief in Not-GE every time they criticize those who believe GE is true.

This leaves the interesting question of why atheists try to pretend they haven’t made the intellectual commitment they clearly have made. Why aren’t atheists, who so loudly and proudly denounce religious beliefs, not equally loudly and proudly championing their own belief in Not-GE? What are atheists afraid of? The answer is because they seek to escape critical inquiry of their position—to be blunt, it is a coward’s way out to say “atheism isn’t a belief.” It is easier to criticize others than to defend yourself, so the atheist tries to exercise the right to criticize others while seeking to be above criticism. For the atheist to claim that atheism is not a belief is not just intellectual dishonesty it is fearfulness and an admission that they know their position of Not-GE is difficult if not impossible to defend. In my next essay in this series on why atheism is illogical I explore in more depth the intellectual dishonesty of atheists in their use of terms.

Then, in Part Three, having established that Atheism is a truth claim we come to the question of whether the Atheist assertion of Not-GE is viable. Finally, Part Four, I address the issue of evidence about the propositions GE and Not-GE and the atheist fallacies concerning the issue.

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47 Responses to Atheism is Illogical, Part One: Atheism is a Belief and a Truth Claim

  1. Pingback: Atheism is Illogical, Part Two: Words have meanings | Philosophy Out of the Box

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

  3. DarkStar says:

    Imagine a large jar of beans, Tom comes up and asserts the number of beans in the jar are Genuinely Even (proposition GE).

    I ask Tom how he know and he says he just has Faith. I ask Tom if he estimated the number of beans and Tom says no, he can’t even see the beans because he is blind, he just has Faith in the Genuinely Even (GE) proposition. Tom is an Evenist.

    I admit that I have no way to know how many beans are in the jar, much less if the number if Even or Odd. And Tom has offered me not even any bad reasons to accept his GE assertion. So I remain A-evenist, Without-Evenist beliefs.

    In being WITHOUT(a)-evenst-beliefs I am not asserting the Oddist position. IN asserting that this must be the case is to commit the fallacy of the false dichotomy. The number of beans in the jar is absolutely either Even or Odd but holding Evenist or Oddist BELIEFS is NOT the only possibility. I can reject a claim about the parity without asserting the opposite position.

    Now, look up the word ‘SET” in the dictionary… it has some 464 DIFFERENT definitions. The MEANING of a word depends on how the person using it IS using it. You don’t get to define which meaning someone else is using.

    If I said I ‘set the glass on the table’ and you accuse me of being stupid because ‘set’ means a collection of items then you are being disingenuous and are guilty of committing an equivocation. And to continue to do so after you are corrected reflects very poorly on one’s character and motives.

    This comes up repeatedly in this article including with the usage of ‘agnostic atheist’. People using this term are using agnostic in the sense of ‘without-knowledge’ and athiest in the sense of ‘without-belief’. This usage is perfectly consistent and compatible and something any ‘college professor’ should be well aware of.

  4. You conveniently ignore that GE and Not-GE are existential propositions, as clearly stated in the paper. So your first objection is a category mistake. You could argue, though you don’t, that the dispute is over whether there are beans in the jar, but then every point the paper makes applies to that, which is why you avoid that line of reasoning and attempt to divert attention to a spurious thought experiment–you might as well have offered “how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?” Your second objection makes the assumption that you are entitled to define terms as it suits you for your current purpose. That’s a fallacy made by freshmen and easily seen as absurd. Words have meanings as I write in Part Two, you can’t just ignore what is inconvenient for your beliefs.

  5. DarkStar says:

    If you want to show a category error then you need to (1) name the specific category and property in contention, (2) show that the material in contention indeed references this category, (3) show that the category has or lacks the property in contention.

    You referenced ‘existential propositions’ as the category but you didn’t state exactly which property you assert this category has or doesn’t have and you don’t show how my text commits any such error. All you’ve done is make a completely unfounded and unsupported assertion.

    Existential propositions assert or deny the truth of at least one value of a propositional function. For instance, “some men are mortal” can be broken down into “there is at least one x, such that x is a man and x is mortal”. The even/odd proposition is an existential proposition about the beans in the jar. And just as with the God-proposition (GE), we can reject claims that are about the proposition without asserting the negation of the existential proposition itself.

    A category error is a semantic or ontological error where a thing is presented of being of a category to which is does not belong, by ascribing a property to a thing that category of things do not possess (or denying one that it has). For example, if I referenced the ‘surface tension of an atom’, this would be a category error because atoms do not have ‘surface tension’ as a property. However, a collection of water molecules do have a property ‘surface tension’ even though no atom has this property; it is only the collective statistical motion of the atoms that given the collection this property (it is therefore an emergent property, which means it is a higher-level description of lower-level phenomena).

    My argument makes no category error because there is no property of ‘existential propositions’ that demands either prong be accepted.

  6. Again, the category is existential propositions and you committed an error in attempting to apply non-ontological propositions to a category to which is does not belong: an existential question. Talk all you like, but square pegs do not fit into round holes. It is interesting that you deliberately ignored the contents of the paper and instead engaged in ignoratio elenchi ad nauseam. But as I mentioned in the paper, atheists continually try to evade the basic irrationality of their hypothesis. You prove that point.

  7. oliver kellopas says:

    Excellent article. I had never thought about it in that way, but you are right, atheism is just another belief about god. I see that DarkStar verifies your point that atheists try to evade that truth. So strange really, that people would spend so much time and energy trying to pretend that the universe and they themselves are less than they are.

  8. Thank you, Oliver. I agree with you that atheism is a belief about god. If they had no belief about god they wouldn’t be adopting a label and using it. That atheists use the label, especially when they wave it as a banner or as a cudgel, shows they are engaging in active, positive belief. That they spend time and energy trying to pretend they don’t do this is a bit strange.

  9. Gervais8my says:

    Quite obvious that “Dark Star” didn’t read the paper he criticizes because his attempt to reject the paper’s argument actually proves the paper’s argument is right.

    “Dark” says: “The number of beans in the jar is absolutely either Even or Odd but holding Evenist or Oddist BELIEFS is NOT the only possibility.”

    The paper says: “The negation of GE is the proposition God Does Not Exist (Not-GE). Rational beings either believe that GE is true, believe that GE is false and thus necessarily believe Not-GE is true, or say they do not know, claiming neither. The first position is Theism, the second Atheism, the third Agnosticism.”

    So, yes, the other possibility to Evenist or Oddist BELIEFS (which confirms the main point of the paper, that atheism is a belief) is agnosticism. But an atheist is not an agnostic just like “Oddist” is not agnostic.

    So perhaps even more important that “Dark’s” category mistake is that he provides support for the paper’s arguments.

  10. Thank you, Gervais8my. Yes, Dark Star gave us a classic example of how atheists are illogical. They do not engage in the actual discourse but try to substitute their own. Their strategy consists of ignoratio elenchi, red herring, and when those fail, straight out ad homenim. He didn’t read my paper at all, he instead pasted in a canned argument that is as illogical as it is irrelevant. Atheists do not consider arguments or evidence because their mind is made up, their beliefs are dogmatically set exactly like we see in religious fundamentalism.

  11. bradman1203 says:

    In Dark Star’s example, there are two truth claims – there is an even number of beans in the jar (1), and there is an odd number of beans in the jar (2). Not having knowledge of the number of beans in the jar, I cannot accept the claim that there is an even number of beans. This does not mean that I accept the truth claim that there is an odd number either. I simply cannot accept either truth claim. I must reject both claims as unsupported by the (lack of) evidence I currently have.

    While dictionary definitions allow for a lack of belief in a god or gods to be defined as atheism, I am comfortable using this definition. This lack recognises that I cannot absolutely prove that a god or gods do not exist. To use your example of the Loch Ness monster, do you believe it absolutely exists or absolutely does not exist, and what method(s) would you use to support your position?

  12. Yes, “Not having knowledge of the number of beans in the jar” you cannot make any claims. Your only logical option is to take no position: agnosticism. Exact same is true for GE or Not-GE. Atheism is not a rational option.

    As for the Loch Ness monster, not having knowledge of whether it exists or not, I take no position – it may exist, it may not, I don’t know and cannot say. That is the only logical option.

  13. bradman1203 says:

    So is this, then, merely a semantic discussion about whether ‘agnostic’ or ‘atheist’ is the correct term for one who rejects claims for the existence of a god or gods as being unsupported by evidence (but who also acknowledges that proving the non-existence of a god or gods is impossible)?

    In my view, theism and atheism address beliefs, while gnosticsm and agnosticsm address knowledge (most commonly, but not limited to, religious matters). Since I believe no god or gods exist, but do not have absolute knowledge of this, I use the term atheist to describe my stance.

    I have a problem with your assertion that saying you don’t believe something exists is equivalent to a negation of its existence. You also don’t believe either the odd or even number of beans, but neither is a negation. Therefore, I can reject the belief, but not assert a non-belief. And if a dictionary definition is any guide, lack of belief is synonomous with atheism.

  14. Using words correctly is not “mere semantics” but the difference that makes discourse intelligent and intelligible. The correct term for one who rejects claims for the existence of a god or gods is “atheist.” See Part 2. I do address why “agnostic” cannot be combined with “atheist” in this page, Part 1, so I will direct you there rather than repeat myself.

    Saying you don’t believe something exists is equivalent to a negation of its existence because it is a logical contradiction to say “I don’t believe X exists but X exists.” The law of noncontradiction is as old as philosophy and I’m afraid your problem is with it, not with my assertion of it.

  15. bradman1203 says:

    I agree we are repeating ourselves, so I will state the following and leave it at that.

    Your first screen capture of the dictionary definition in part two includes “…disbelieves the existence of a God.” Atheism is a response to a truth claim, in the same way that your response to the existence of a Loch Ness monster is a response to a truth claim. We would both reject this claim, without accepting the contra-positive. This does not rule out accepting the claim at a later date, given more data, but again, rejecting and not accepting this claim are (to me, at least), synonomous. You say this is agnosticsm, but every dictionary definition I have seen equates gnoticism with knowledge.

    In summary, I believe you are saying Atheism is a belief that there is not a God (a positive claim of knowledge), while I say it is a lack of belief in a God (a rejection of, and in response to, a positive claim). Your responses to the ‘beans in a jar’ and ‘Loch Ness monster’ scenarios would bear out that the latter rejection is the correct one given current evidence, and not in any way a belief in itself.

  16. That’s what you aren’t getting: I am not rejecting your truth claim of the existence of a Loch Ness Monster; my saying “I don’t know” means “having no knowledge, I make no judgment–I neither believe nor disbelieve.” And yes, gnosticism is acquainted with knowledge, which is why agnosticism means no knowledge. Only a fool would make a judgment without knowledge. Atheists do make a judgment because to disbelieve is to make a judgement and is a truth claim. This is why atheism is illogical. I covered all of this in my paper. That is Logic 101 and I didn’t make it up, these truths are centuries old. Again, your objection is against basic logic.

  17. Ticonderoga says:

    Excellent paper. For years I have pointed out that atheism is on its face illogical. In fact in many instances what I deem the ‘radical fundamentalist atheist’ ala Dawkins et al. bear a striking resemblance to religious fundamentalists. Further I would point out that that simple statistical analysis is ignored by atheists. When BILLIONS of people claim to have had some sort of interaction or observation of a deity etc. it is utter hubris and arrogance to claim that so many people are delusional and disregard their testimony (regardless of religious affiliation if any). Yet, in a mildly amusing way the same atheist will point to statistical probability to say it is LIKELY that there is extraterrestrial life… yet they have no proof what-so-ever.

    As you so thoroughly detailed, atheism is illogical. Agnosticism is far more intellectually honest, and I say that as a believer in God simply through my personal experience.

  18. Thank you, Ticonderoga, for your kind comments. I agree with you that Dawkins et al are just Fundamentalists as bad as any other. Your other comments anticipate my next part of this series on evidential fallacies of atheism. I’ve been far too bust with my day job this term to get to it. Soon, I hope. But briefly, you are absolutely right: atheism is claiming that every single person who has had any spiritual experience and understanding is wrong. That atheist claim is the one without any evidence and is delusional.

  19. Pingback: Atheism is Illogical Part Four: Evidence and Fallacies – The Atheist’s Headache | Philosophy Out of the Box

  20. CosmicHominid says:

    Site Philosopher says: “As for the Loch Ness monster, not having knowledge of whether it exists or not, I take no position – it may exist, it may not, I don’t know and cannot say. That is the only logical option… I make no judgment–I neither believe nor disbelieve.”

    Are you saying that Loch Ness monster is as likely to exist as to not exist? If not, then how likely do you think is existence of Loch Ness monster? Based on the evidence, I think it it highly unlikely (close to 0% chance) that Loch Ness monsters exist. Do you disagree?

  21. Your rebuttal contains multiple logical fallacies (not to mention you ignore how I address issues of evidence in Part Four) but I will address the most important one. You try to change the subject to probability but the logical structure of your claim remains: you “think” (believe) the Loch Ness monster doesn’t exist and based on your belief you want me to agree with your belief (I dealt with that fallacy in Part Three). So, you have made the judgment of non-existence (“close to 0% chance” is a judgment, an expression of your belief in the non-existence of the Loch Ness monster) and dressing your belief in probability doesn’t alter the fact that you have made a truth claim. So prove your claim by proving that the Loch Ness monster does not exist.

  22. CosmicHominid says:

    “You try to change the subject to probability but the logical structure of your claim remains: you “think” (believe) the Loch Ness monster doesn’t exist…”

    I’m not changing the subject. My belief is based on a judgement as to the likelihood that the Loch Ness monster exists. I think that my belief is justified because the likelihood is so low.

    “…based on your belief you want me to agree with your belief (I dealt with that falalcy in Part Three).”

    I did not say anything even remotely along those lines. I just asked a simple question, which I will ask again: How likely do you think it is that the Loch Ness monster exists?

    “…dressing your belief in probability doesn’t alter the fact that you have made a truth claim. So prove your claim by proving that the Loch Ness monster does not exist.”

    You already stated in Part Two (in a comment) that 100% certainty is not possible (I agree). If I say that I am close to 100% certain that the moon exists, will you accuse me of “dressing my belief in probability”? I hope not.

    I have no problem justifying my claim that the Loch Ness monster does not exist. If the Loch Ness monster exists, then we should have seen some convincing evidence of its existence, but we have not. Thus, in this case, absence of evidence is evidence of absence (if you wish to say that absence of evidence is *not* evidence of absence in this case, then you have to say why it is unreasonable to think that we would have seen evidence for the Loch Ness monster if it exists). Additionally, I would point to better alternative explanations for Loch Ness monster claims (e.g. misidentification, folklore etc.).

    You say that, due to not having knowledge about the existence of the Loch Ness monster, the only logical option is to make no judgement and take no position. However, I think it is plain to see that we do have sufficient knowledge to take a position. You might not take the same position as me, but at the very least you should be able to answer the question: How likely do you think it is that the Loch Ness monster exists?

  23. “My belief is based on a judgement as to the likelihood…”

    That’s where you tried to change the subject from the existential question to a probability question, but as your own words state, you are still just talking about your beliefs, thus you are saying the same thing I disproved but trying different words.

    “I just asked a simple question…”

    A leading question asking if I agree with you after stating your belief so yes, my statement “you want me to agree with your belief” is spot on.

    “100% certainty is not possible.”

    Correct. We can be certain of nothing, therefore we only have beliefs, which is why your attempt to pass off changing the subject to a question of probability as a defeater to the existential question was fallacious. Your beliefs are only an expression of your beliefs, as I discussed.

    “You say that, due to not having knowledge about the existence of the Loch Ness monster, the only logical option is to make no judgement and take no position. However, I think it is plain to see that we do have sufficient knowledge to take a position.”

    Wow, so you say “to heck with critical thinking, I’ll pretend that PSR means something it doesn’t to fallaciously justify my belief.” You provide a brilliant example of the major point of my series “Atheism is Illogical” iby ignoring every point I made, plus the entirety of logic, plus the entire history of philosophy by just repeating the central atheist fallacy of “I believe there is no god, therefore, there is no god.” That’s all atheism is: the illogical assertion of a personal belief as though it was a truth claim. The flavor of the atheist fallacy you repeat was demolished by William James in his answer to W. K. Clifford over a century ago.

  24. anjunagasm says:

    I don’t think you thought this through enough.

    The reason? If someone tells me there is a unicorn in the library, am I supposed to completely ignore the claim and just say, “Apples.” instead?

    No, I’m gonna say you are dumb, there is no unicorn in the library. That DOES NOT MEAN THAT THERE IS A UNICORN IN THE LIBRARY.

    If I deny the existence of something, I’ve never accepted it. The only reason I even brought it up is because my friend brought it up. This is the lamest argument I’ve ever heard trying to tell me atheism is illogical. I’m fairly certain I know how atheism works because, oh, I don’t know… Maybe I’m an atheist.

    Maybe I should give you a better example. You are told, by a Clairvoyant, that you will die in five days. You say, “That’s ridiculous. Clairvoyants don’t exist”. Have you just accepted Clairvoyants exist, and therefore you will die in five days? I don’t think so. I think you just, I don’t know… Maybe thought that was a stupid thing to say.

    But I don’t know what I’m talking about, I’m only just an atheist.

  25. Whether you are an atheist or not, anjunagasm, you clearly do not know how logic works. If that is your defense of atheism, then you have demonstrated how completely illogical atheism is.

  26. matt0293 says:

    I have a couple questions.

    Are you saying that agnosticism is a middle ground between theism, and a-theism? If so wouldn’t that be wrong according to the law of the excluded middle ground?

    Do you believe in the existence of a quarter in my pocket? True or false. This is an existential claim. Does saying false mean you must believe there is no quarter in my pocket?

    Also in your paper you’re saying theism and atheism are both beliefs about the existence of a god. If that is the case how can one be more illogical about the other?

    “I believe there is no god, therefore, there is no god.” That’s all atheism is: the illogical assertion of a personal belief as though it was a truth claim. ” The prefix ‘a’ means ‘not’. Theism is giving the claim “I believe there is one or more god(s)” a true truth value. Anything else is not theism, or a-theism.

  27. matt0293 says:

    I have one more thing to add. Theism is a belief there is at least one god. I do not believe in a god and I also do not believe there is no god. Am I a theist? True of false? If false, does that mean I’m not a, theist? Aka “not” “theist”, i.e. “atheist”?

    Agnosticism has to do with knowledge. When you’re comparing theism, agnosticism, and theism are you claiming they are all about knowledge? That is, justified beliefs? If so how can you justify the existence of your god? How can you justify a being has the properties of the christian god?

    ” The relationship between belief and knowledge is that a belief is knowledge if the belief is true, and if the believer has a justification (reasonable and necessarily plausible assertions/evidence/guidance) for believing it is true.”

  28. matt0293 says:

    In my first comment I said “If that is the case how can one be more illogical about the other?” I meant to say “how can one be more illogical than the other.”

    I deleted some stuff in that post and didn’t reread it. My original sentence was “how can one be more illogical about the existence of god than the other.” Simple mistake on my part.

  29. “Are you saying that agnosticism is a middle ground between theism, and a-theism? If so wouldn’t that be wrong according to the law of the excluded middle ground?”

    No agnosticism is, as I say, making no truth claim and neither affirms or negates the proposition. The law of excluded middle is that either a proposition is true or its negation is true, which is why when atheists deny that the proposition GE is false, they necessarily are making the the claim that not-GE is true. I did cover this in the paper.

    “Also in your paper you’re saying theism and atheism are both beliefs about the existence of a god. If that is the case how can one be more illogical about the other?”

    As I stated throughout all four parts of the paper, atheism is de facto illogical because its claim that not-GE is true requires proof and proof of an existential negative is impossible. So while GE is arguably not empirically proven it could be proven, but not-GE can never be proven

    “The prefix ‘a’ means ‘not’.”

    Yes, and as I said in the paper, the atheist position is not-GE which because of the law of the excluded middle of existential propositions, means not a neutral position but a truth claim.

    “I do not believe in a god and I also do not believe there is no god.”

    Then you are either confused or pushing a logical fallacy to confuse others. Again, this was covered in the paper.

    Again, as I stated in the paper, gnosticism-agnosticism is about knowledge or absence of knowledge while theism-atheism are the two possible answers of the god question. The theist and atheist both claims to know, the agnostic does not claim to know. There are two types of agnosticism: weak agnosticism says “I do not know but it might be possible for someone to know,” and strong agnosticism says “I do not know and it is impossible for anyone to know.” I am a weak agnostic.

  30. matt0293 says:

    Saying you don’t believe a god exists isn’t the same thing as saying that no god exists. Anymore than saying you don’t believe there is a quarter in my pocket isn’t the same thing as saying that there is no quarter in my pocket.

  31. Yes it is. To say “I don’t believe in god” is a claim that god does not exist. Would you say the following? “I know god exists but I don’t believe in god?” No, you would be absurd to say that. Therefore, it must be the case that what you are saying is: “I think god does not exist therefore I do not believe in god.” This is still problematic logically as my paper demonstrates, but it is far less absurd that saying you don’t believe but make no claims, which is a logical contradiction.

  32. matt0293 says:

    “I do not believe in a god and I also do not believe there is no god.”

    Then you are either confused or pushing a logical fallacy to confuse others. Again, this was covered in the paper.

    I hold this position because the existence of god hasn’t been demonstrated, neither has the non existence of god. This is also about beliefs, not knowledge, there is no requirement to believe the opposite. Unless, you can demonstrate a being with the qualities of god actually exists or doesn’t exist, then I will either believe it exists or I’ll believe it doesn’t exist. Until then this is mere speculation about the reality of events before the big bang, assuming there was reality and events before the big bang.

    For example do you believe there exists a quarter in my pocket? True or false. False meaning you’re without belief of a quarter existing in my pocket.

    If false, do you believe there is no quarter in my pocket? True or false? In this case the truth value of either proposition cannot be determined, replace quarter with god and you will see why I neither believe there is a god or believe there isn’t a god. I will believe one or the other once there is sufficient evidence for either.

    Also I’m not a believer in a god, that makes me an atheist. This is because I’m not saying the proposition “do you believe in at least one god” is true. Anything besides a true, truth value means you’re not a, theist.

  33. Matt, you are not only just repeating yourself, you are repeating points that I not only addressed in my paper, but addressed in my response to your comments. You admit that the non-existence of god has not been demonstrated but you believe in the non-existence of god anyway, Perhaps what you should be questioning is your own beliefs based on a lack of proof. As you have demonstrated, atheism is illogical.

  34. arjaybee says:

    “As I stated throughout all four parts of the paper, atheism is de facto illogical because its claim that not-GE is true requires proof and proof of an existential negative is impossible.”

    So from this point, it is illogical to not believe in all gods simultaneously, in fairies, talking dogs, and Santa, because I cannot prove the non existence.

  35. ForrestHump says:

    Dear Mr. Site Philosopher,

    I am not a smart man.

    But you are telling folks they can’t use a label on account of mean old logic.

    It’s like the time in 5th grade when I was told to count the fingers on my left hand-
    1,2,3,4,5

    And then count backwards on my right hand-
    10, 9, 8, 7, 6

    and when you add ’em up 5 + 6 = 11

    You have 11 fingers Mr. Site Philosopher.

  36. arjaybee – your comment indicates you did not read all four parts of my paper.
    (Though if you can demonstrate that proof of an existential negative is possible, the whole philosophical world would love to hear it!)

    If you had actually read what I wrote, you would know that my argument is that:

    1. Atheism is a truth claim of Not-GE.
    2. Atheists can provide no proof for their claim–in fact, it is logically impossible for them to do so.
    3. Atheist arguments against GE commit logical fallacies.
    4. Therefore, atheism is an illogical and unsubstantiated position that is nothing more than an expression of personal preference with no persuasive power.

    It says something that you, like the other atheists, cannot or will not address (heck, you won’t even read) the actual argument I present but instead only mindlessly regurgitate the illogical nonsense you read in Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris. You aren’t dealing with the actual issues, only railing at strawmen. Highly illogical.

  37. Forrest –
    So you object to me using logic to evaluate arguments. Then you provide a “5th grade” (by your own admission) semantic game as some sort of proof. And atheists wonder why I say atheism is illogical.

  38. And to the person who created two accounts to try to make their point seem stronger: I was not fooled.

  39. Mike Hawk says:

    Site Philosopher,

    It is true that one definition of atheism is to positively claim that no gods exist. With this definition your paper is quite right. It is illogical to claim knowledge that gods (or a celestial teapot) do not exist.

    However, most atheists use a different definition of the word. We say atheism is a rejection of the positive claims that god(s) exist. How many gods do you believe in? If the answer is zero, then guess what you are? No need to positively claim the negative.

    This is the definition that most atheists hold to and the source of all the arguing here. We are just using different definitions. To say I know that Santa Clause does not exist is illogical too.

  40. Mike – your objection is why I wrote Part Two – Words Have Meanings. Atheists cannot invent their own definitions for words and pretend that they are authoritative. Yes, as you say, some atheists have a different definition of the word that disregards the actual definition of the word, but that’s just more illogical behavior from atheists trying to avoid the fact that their truth claim is illogical.

  41. arjaybee says:

    Hi,

    Thanks for your reply. For transparency on my having read the article, I will refer to your own summary:
    “If you had actually read what I wrote, you would know that my argument is that:

    1. Atheism is a truth claim of Not-GE.
    2. Atheists can provide no proof for their claim–in fact, it is logically impossible for them to do so.
    3. Atheist arguments against GE commit logical fallacies.
    4. Therefore, atheism is an illogical and unsubstantiated position that is nothing more than an expression of personal preference with no persuasive power.”

    I’m not making any accusations, I am asking a question regarding the logic. It seems that for the 4 statements, we can replace God with any other debated entity. We will use the example of Goblins.

    1. Agoblinism is a truth claim of Not-GE.
    2. Agoblinists can provide no proof for their claim–in fact, it is logically impossible for them to do so.
    3. Agoblinist arguments against GE commit logical fallacies.
    4. Therefore, agoblinism is an illogical and unsubstantiated position that is nothing more than an expression of personal preference with no persuasive power.”

    I am not saying the logic ins’t sound, I am pointing out how it can be used to demonstrate that disbelief in any entity can be deemed illogical. I hope you are able to address this particular point.

    Thanks

  42. Again, you did not read my paper. Again, you repeated one of the fallacies you read in Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris. Read what I wrote, especially the part about existential propositions and you will understand.

  43. Miles M. says:

    Your article is stupid and not worth reading. GE is an obviously silly proposition, and the number of logically tenable GE positions is not really that important to most atheists.

  44. Thanks, Miles, for the perfect summation of how childish atheists can be. It is also an illustration about how atheists assume their conclusion of Not-GE then say anyone who doesn’t agree with them is “silly.”

  45. Gervais8my says:

    arjaybee – you clearly have not paid attention to the argument of this paper. God Exists is an existential proposition: it is either true or not true. As the paper states, there are no other options, yet you invent a Red Herring objection and demand the author refute it. Since the author already addressed this in the paper, he was justified in saying your reply is irrelevant and a sign you did not read the paper.

  46. matt0293 says:

    I’m just wondering if you know that atheism isn’t defined as Not-GE. It’s defined as Not-BELIEVING in at least one GE.

    Whether or not a god does or doesn’t exist, has nothing to do with theism or not-theism. This dichotomy is only relevant to whether or not you believe in at least one god, or Not-believe in at least one god.

  47. Wow, matt0293, four months later and not only have you STILL not read my paper and seen that I already addressed these cliched atheist arguments, you again just repeated yourself. So I will repeat my response:

    Matt, you are not only just repeating yourself, you are repeating points that I not only addressed in my paper, but addressed in my response to your comments. You admit that the non-existence of god has not been demonstrated but you believe in the non-existence of god anyway, Perhaps what you should be questioning is your own beliefs based on a lack of proof. As you have demonstrated, atheism is illogical.

    Oh, and please study some logic. It will help you not contradict yourself in your statements.

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