Prof's View of Atheism
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26-01-2011, 06:40 PM
Prof's View of Atheism
I recently began a comparative world religion course. The professor is great, let me tell you. He is well liked by students and staff alike, and his friendly demeanor and sense of humor make his classes interesting. He is open and to every person and every form of belief, but he seems to be a bit condescending towards atheism. He told the class that atheism is nothing more than the dogmatic denial of a god or gods. I then asked him about scientific atheism, which is my personal preference. I explained to him that the idea is that a god or gods are irrelevant until they pop out to say hi or provide some other empirical proof of their existence, and at such time most people would be more than happy to admit they were wrong and there really was a higher power. He kind of shrugged that off as a form of agnosticism. What do the rest of you think? I don't find myself agnostic. I would change my mind given evidence, but at this point in time, with no proof to back up a deity, I think that the absence of is just as clear as the theory of gravity. Am I wrong to call myself atheist?
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26-01-2011, 06:57 PM
RE: Prof's View of Atheism
I certainly don't think so. And, what is dogmatic about the denial of a god or gods? Where is the evidence for any of these things? Is he an atheist about Thor Zeus? If not, his is non-belief dogmatic or does he just not believe that?

I would bring this back up and not let him get away with that answer.

Shackle their minds when they're bent on the cross
When ignorance reigns, life is lost
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26-01-2011, 07:06 PM
RE: Prof's View of Atheism
(26-01-2011 06:57 PM)BnW Wrote:  I certainly don't think so. And, what is dogmatic about the denial of a god or gods? Where is the evidence for any of these things? Is he an atheist about Thor Zeus? If not, his is non-belief dogmatic or does he just not believe that?

I would bring this back up and not let him get away with that answer.

He really has not given us any hints or clues as to what his personal beliefs are. He also doesn't pretend to have any proof for or against any religions or deities. And of course, the friendly neighborhood atheist will not be shushed in his classroom.
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26-01-2011, 08:09 PM
RE: Prof's View of Atheism
(26-01-2011 06:40 PM)cfhmagnet Wrote:  He told the class that atheism is nothing more than the dogmatic denial of a god or gods.

Send him here. Seriously.

Quote:I then asked him about scientific atheism, which is my personal preference. I explained to him that the idea is that a god or gods are irrelevant until they pop out to say hi or provide some other empirical proof of their existence, and at such time most people would be more than happy to admit they were wrong and there really was a higher power. He kind of shrugged that off as a form of agnosticism.

Then he's being intellectually dishonest.

Quote:What do the rest of you think?

He's wrong.

Quote:I don't find myself agnostic. I would change my mind given evidence, but at this point in time, with no proof to back up a deity, I think that the absence of is just as clear as the theory of gravity. Am I wrong to call myself atheist?

No.

Your professor doesn't understand what atheism and agnosticism are.

Atheism: lack of belief in gods.
Agnosticism: belief that the truth about something can never be known.

Agnostic atheism is actually the most common form. Your professor doesn't know what agnosticism actually means.

"Owl," said Rabbit shortly, "you and I have brains. The others have fluff. If there is any thinking to be done in this Forest - and when I say thinking I mean thinking - you and I must do it."
- A. A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner
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26-01-2011, 08:37 PM
RE: Prof's View of Atheism
(26-01-2011 06:40 PM)cfhmagnet Wrote:  I recently began a comparative world religion course. The professor is great, let me tell you. He is well liked by students and staff alike, and his friendly demeanor and sense of humor make his classes interesting. He is open and to every person and every form of belief, but he seems to be a bit condescending towards atheism. He told the class that atheism is nothing more than the dogmatic denial of a god or gods. I then asked him about scientific atheism, which is my personal preference. I explained to him that the idea is that a god or gods are irrelevant until they pop out to say hi or provide some other empirical proof of their existence, and at such time most people would be more than happy to admit they were wrong and there really was a higher power. He kind of shrugged that off as a form of agnosticism. What do the rest of you think? I don't find myself agnostic. I would change my mind given evidence, but at this point in time, with no proof to back up a deity, I think that the absence of is just as clear as the theory of gravity. Am I wrong to call myself atheist?
To Deny something, a thing must exist! Your Professor is wrong! I don't deny god! God simply does not exist! And Furthermore; Dogma is the Religions!

The Beauty of The Scientific Method , is the Anticipation of a Better Explanation.
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26-01-2011, 08:38 PM
RE: Prof's View of Atheism
I recently took an online comparative religion course, and the definition given in the textbook was similar. I think that generally speaking, people who make a living studying various religions tend to be dismissive of atheism, and therefore tend to not understand what it actually is. Funny how someone who can tell you in all earnestness why belief in Vishnu is "just as valid" as belief in Jehovah can't give the same concession to the reasonable dismissal of all faith-based belief.
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26-01-2011, 11:46 PM
RE: Prof's View of Atheism
(26-01-2011 08:09 PM)Unbeliever Wrote:  
(26-01-2011 06:40 PM)cfhmagnet Wrote:  He told the class that atheism is nothing more than the dogmatic denial of a god or gods.

Send him here. Seriously.
I had thought of that. I think it depends on how the ongoing discussion goes over the course of this semester. I think he understands agnosticism, just not atheism for some odd reason. Another funny thing about it is that his colleague and good friend (whom I have for 2 other classes) is very scientific minded and has hinted at atheism. Even funnier than that is his acceptance of other atheism/skeptic-related religions like jainism.
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27-01-2011, 12:36 AM
RE: Prof's View of Atheism
(26-01-2011 11:46 PM)cfhmagnet Wrote:  Even funnier than that is his acceptance of other atheism/skeptic-related religions like jainism.

It sounds to me like he might have the "You have to BELIEVE in something" mindset. This means that the lack of belief is what he can't get his head around. That is the impression I get from what I have read.

When I find myself in times of trouble, Richard Dawkins comes to me, speaking words of reason, now I see, now I see.
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27-01-2011, 08:02 AM
RE: Prof's View of Atheism
If you defined atheism as what he implies, a person believes there is no god(implying that they have evidence to suggest there is no god) the atheist population who drop dramatically. Most atheists don't say they know there is no god, most atheists are as you described, waiting for some reason to believe. Here are the most common definitions of atheism and agnosticism and the most functional.

Atheism - The lack of belief in any god(s).
Agnosticism - The belief that the matter of the existence of god(s) is unknowable.

Funny thing is, a lot of religious people are agnostic. Those people who say that god doesn't make himself known because he wants you to have faith? A serious argument could be made that they are agnostic(along with Christian), since they believe that matter of god's existence is unknowable(since god is a douche bag and wants to keep us guessing). If a person wants to start editing the definitions, there is nothing you can do to stop them, but point out that these are by far the most functional definitions when trying to categorize beliefs. Again, if they used the strong definition for atheism, then hardly any atheists would exist, they would be agnostics, and then the atheist-agnostics are jumbled with the agnostics that are really more apathetic. It's a mess.

Besides, word play as always seemed to annoy me. If I don't meet someone's definition of atheist, then fine, how does that invalidate my beliefs? Not that it's what happened to you, but in debates, when someone is arguing against atheism, it's like if they think they can redefine my beliefs into agnosticism, they win.

Send him here, really. I think we can put up with a little bit of ignorance while we set him straight.

I don't believe Jesus is the son of God until I see the long form birth certificate!
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27-01-2011, 10:48 AM
RE: Prof's View of Atheism
I see the same problem as NoJ - no matter what you believe , people expect you to believe something - they can't accept the default position being non-belief.
As for atheism , I can't call it scientific , not really.I can say that skeptical inquiry brought me to atheism , but I can't say I'm an atheist just because of science.
Even without the cosmological , biological and geological arguments against many religious texts , one could still not believe based on the sheer number of atrocities and contradictions in holy books.
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