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Analyzing the 6 C’s of Atheism – Part II5 min read

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This post is part of a series

In Part I, I linked to August Berkshire’s Six C’s of Atheism interview, and discussed points 1-3.  Here’s the audio again, with my commentary on parts 4-6.

Listen to: The 6 Cs of Atheism

4. Contradiction-free

Another benefit of atheism is that it is contradiction-free. We don’t have to try to reconcile an all-loving, all-seeing, all-powerful god with the existence of evil. We don’t have to define love exactly the opposite of how we normally define it in order to make it  applicable to a god. We don’t have to claim that a poor supernatural designer is intelligent.

As if the atheist world view has no internal contradictions!  Note to ideologues – no world view is entirely contradiction free ;).  To name the most important atheist contradictions, let’s not forget:

  • the lack of foundation for objective morals (no authority outside of human reason = subjective morality) – As I and many others have argued, atheists believe in objective morality because it is real, even though their world view excludes it by definition.
  • the lack of reason to define it’s own limitations (see my short discussion of Emmanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason in Pascal’s Wager – Part II: debunking the ‘all religions are equally improbable’ ruse)
  • proposing the origin of time/space out of nothing
  • non-material minds that allow rationality that would be impossible on materialism/determinism
  • the existence of free-will, when materialism demands chemical determinism

Unfortunately, Berkshire also uses the old ruse that “all people are atheists, atheists just believe in one less God.”  I will have to go into why this is a fallacious parlor trick, but essentially, it incorrectly assumes that the reasons that atheists use for rejecting the supernatural are the same or similar to those that Christians use to reject pagan myths.  This false assumption makes their analogy false.

5. Courage

Finally, an atheist possesses courage. It is natural for people to have a healthy survival instinct. However, some people have such a fear of death that they feel compelled to believe in an afterlife to alleviate those fears. It takes intellectual and emotional courage to abandon belief in an afterlife because there is no evidence for it (and compelling evidence against it). It also takes intellectual and emotional courage to abandon one’s belief in a cosmic, supernatural ‘protector’ and realize that,  as far as we know, we are alone in our universe and must therefore help each other as best we can.

The assumption here is that theism is infantile wish fulfillment – people fear death, so they grasp for belief. The problem with this patronizing viewpoint is that some fears are warranted – there is such a thing as a healthy fear.  And while Berkshire may be right that many flock to religion in order to find comfort from their ills and fears, this does not invalidate the reality of God – this is the logical fallacy known as the Genetic Fallacy – saying that something is true or false based on someone’s motives or the origins of the idea.

While it may take courage to be an atheist in the light of death, and in a Christian culture, it also takes courage to be a Christian in a fallen culture, or even moreso in Communist and Islamic cultures.  Does that therefore make it true?  Um, no.

And if God does exist, then ‘fleeing to Him’ in times of trouble is intelligent, and not doing so is the idiotic thing!

6. Conclusion

One of the arguments of Pascal’s Wager is that a person loses nothing by believing in a god. I beg to differ. Accepting Pascal’s  Wager means saying that we are willing to abandon reason and evidence as our guides to living, and instead make a leap of faith to – where?

OMG!  I hate such superficial misrepresentations of Pascal.  Please read my series on Pascal’s Wager.

It’s true that by converting (or deconverting) from theism to atheism a person will lose his or her sense of divine specialness, cosmic meaning in life, and any hope of an afterlife. But you  can’t lose what you never really had.

The reality of atheism far outweighs the dream of religion. There is an excitement and beauty to perceiving the world as it really is, and not as an illusion.

In that point, we are agreed.  But if theism is true, than the illusion of atheism is an awful lie.

In Part III, I will discuss the Seven C’s of the Christian View of History.