Unveiling Atheism

There is a mantra that is constantly recited by the new science-worshiping atheists, which comes in different versions while essentially saying the same thing. Apparently, the evidence provided by science so far suggests that the existence of God is unlikely. Hence, the sound position one must hold on God’s existence until the evidence suggests otherwise is in the negative or at the very least neutral. It is as if science is the only acceptable methodology of acquiring knowledge. Furthermore, apparently the burden of proof is on the believer. It is the believer who must provide the proof that God exists because it is the believer who proposed His existence in the first place. Until the proof is provided, we must again hold the negative position or at least stay neutral. This, according to atheism, is the rational approach.

Before tackling the evidence issue, we should first examine the proposition that the burden of proof is on the one making the claim. This indeed can be justifiably considered to be the rational position to hold under usual circumstances. But is it necessary under all circumstances? John Stewart Mill wrote an interesting essay in 1869 entitled “The Subjection of Women”, in which he was addressing the issue of the rights of women in society at the time. Before tackling the matter, he acknowledged that proposing equal rights for both genders is unorthodox given the values upheld by just about everyone in his society, including intellectuals. Even women themselves were indoctrinated in such a way that they viewed their lesser status and lack of rights in society as natural order. So before getting into the subject and addressing how his society has become that way and why it should change, he brought up the issue of the burden of proof. In circumstances in which the great majority hold a belief of any kind, what the dissenting voice must do is bring forth their case and prove it. In other words, rather than the accused being innocent until proven guilty, they become guilty until proven innocent. So rather than throwing up his hands and saying that what his society is doing is incorrect, Mill wrote a lengthy treatise to establish that the proper thing for a society is to have women enjoy equal rights as men.

Where this comes in with atheists is straightforward. The proposition that the believer must provide evidence for God, and until then we should remain either atheists or agnostic is problematic when we have had, since the beginning of history records, humans having engaged in some form of religious rituals and having acknowledged the existence of God. This is not an appeal to antiquity or to popularity. It is simply a pointing to a fact of life. It does not establish the truth of the claim that God exists, nor does it point to the fallaciousness of the claim that God does not exist. All this fact does is put the burden of proof on the atheist rather than the believer since he is the one dissenting from the great majority. The atheist must undertake the task of proving the negative, which contrary to what many atheists seem to think, is not an impossibility.

When it comes to the issue of evidence, it seems to be a word that is used in an unrestricted fashion by atheists to support their final conclusions. If anything, this reflects either a simpleton mind, or an ulterior motive driving atheists. The broad term “evidence” is defined as a body of information that points towards the validity of a claim. However, because there are several types of evidence, we cannot simply make the broad request of anyone to provide “evidence”. Depending on the matter at hand, we must define the type of evidence we need in order to be convinced. At the very least, we should qualify whether we want direct evidence, or can be persuaded by indirect evidence if it is strong enough.

But let us take this a step back further than just defining “evidence’ and identifying which types are there. The question we should address first if we want to restrict ourselves to pure logic and avoid all fallacies is: can any evidence, irrespective of type, be sufficient to prove that God exists? It would seem that from the atheist perspective the answer to this question is a simple “No”. Regardless of what type of evidence they are provided with, atheists will always have some response to it, which can be frustrating to the believer as they list all the reasons why a belief in God is actually the more rational position to hold. The problem is not with the evidence from an empirical sense. The problem is with the rationalization process that comes after being presented with the evidence, which leads us into a discussion about the nature of knowledge, which we can address elsewhere.

Hubris is the state of the science-worshipping atheists. In a sense, it can be understood why they have become this way. Being able to observe the deep universe, examine the cosmos, send all kinds of technology into outer space, while at the same time be able to manipulate genomes, alter bacteria, play around with viruses, and control diseases are all very impressive feats. Mankind has surpassed its wildest historical imaginations of what it can accomplish. But this does not necessarily mean that our intellectual capacity or ability to reason has also progressed. In fact, it can be argued that we have become more confused as a generation and many are deluded into thinking that they are rational. The vast majority of books put out and read by science-worshipping atheists are sophistical in their reasoning and embarrassing in their conclusions.

The interesting question for the science-worshipping atheist to answer is whether it is about the belief in God, or the consequences of believing in God that are a problem. In other words, is it a matter of acknowledging God’s existence, or a matter of acknowledging what it means to their life after acknowledging God’s existence? It would be interesting to see if for an atheist it is more about an attachment to a hedonistic lifestyle where the caprices and desires are fulfilled without restriction, combined with a hubristic vision of their intellectual capacities and human abilities, than it is being about the actual question of God’s existence. It is reported that in his last recorded interviews, Jean Paul Sartre said he had reflected upon his reasons for atheism and found them to be childish. Whether this is true or not is debatable. But it does reflect a type of recognition of the human condition when it comes to our desires. We become like children when we want something and don’t have a barrier stopping us. And when the parent puts the barrier we get upset. This continues until we can finally move out of the house so we can be “free”. That is what Sartre was talking about. Atheism to him was just a delusion of freedom that dissipated when he finally was being intellectually honest with himself.

It seems that science-worshipping atheists are using science and what they call “reason” as veils to cover their dissatisfaction with being told to bow to something greater than they can comprehend. More interestingly, they also seem to be using these veils to cover up their discontent with being told “do this and don’t do that”. This is not to say that some of their other problems with “religion” might be justified. But given their being taken with sophistical reasoning, they readily confuse actions, statements, and even beliefs of individuals with what their respective religions actually teach. Moreover,  what these science-worshipping atheists failed to recognize is that in their rejection of God, they have taken their own egos to be gods and became autodeists. Now they are organizing to form their own brand of religion full of moral theory and even practices, which they began to call people to so they can be “saved”. How ironic?

Mohamed Ghilan

UVic Neuroscience

23 thoughts on “Unveiling Atheism

  1. Thanks for yet another great read, Mohamed.
    Your last sentence is of particular interest for me, as I was writing something to that effect yesterday. It seems like atheists’ belief that there is no God is becoming holy to them, that they resort to their emotions when dealing with anyone who questions it, rather than to their reason.
    Your sentence allowed me to expand this notion further to something I noticed before. It seems as if the need for the belief in holiness is so deeply implanted in humans that the very thing that will eliminate their previous belief will inevitably take its place. Few examples include Lenin, who uprooted religion in the ex Soviet Union, and ended up being elevated to the level of a worshipped idol. Mao Zedong is another vivid example of this human tendency. Having fought against Chinese people’s beliefs and superstitions, his picture itself became an “item for good luck”!!
    People, as it turns out, need something holy to put deep inside their subconscious mind and wrap it with emotions. This is just the nature of humans, as a creature. We need certainty in anything so that we can build our worldview on it.
    You are absolutely right, many atheists, unfortunately, have a blind belief that there is no God, and atheism is taking more and more the shape of a blinded, close-minded religion, with its own set of “supremacists” and extremists!
    Thanks again, and keep up the great work.

    • Thanks for the comment Ahmad. These are some very interesting points. I’m interested to read your piece when you’re done with it. I’m glad you found this helpful.

  2. Oh Mr. Mohamed!! How I would love to sit and chat with you. It’s frustrating to sit behind this computer and try and respond. I’m currently writing a piece on desires and sin. I think I’ll withhold any comments until then. But in the mean time, just imagine me sitting here with my cup of coffee and fist shaking in the air with frustration, lol. I’ll be back in Victoria around July, it would be an honor to have a nice chat with you.

    • Hahaha Oh Mr. Waleed!! No need to be frustrated if your case is strong my friend 😉 Just be cool while you sip your coffee and bring forth your grievances. Let me know when you’re in town

  3. Sigh.

    First, the whole point of the New Atheist movement is to bring forth our case and “prove” it. One element of our case is that the existence of God — used to support controversial social, legal, economic, and political positions — bears the burden of proof when considered as a neutral proposition.

    Second, if you think your “evidence” has been unfairly dismissed, then you might show evidence of that proposition. As you note, we have broad standards of evidence. We dismiss your evidence because it stinks on ice.

    The atheist case really is about the existence of God, not about the implications.

    We do, however, greatly fear the implications of ceding moral authority to religious people. Funny how God can’t just speak to the people in an unambiguous, obvious way; it always has to be through a few “special” people, who always have some personal agenda that that, surprise surprise, God supports.

    We don’t fear God, we fear you.

    • While I see what you’re saying here, I still think there is more about the implications than about the existence of God. Here is a question, let’s say for a second that you accept that God exists and that he has particular expectations of you that would cause some major changes in the way you live your life right now; would you meet those expectations and make those changes? Take Islam for an example. If you’re living with a girlfriend that you love very much, but not married yet, would you end this relationship and move out? If you work as a finance manager dealing with interest bearing loans and are making a 6 figure salary, would you quite and lose it all? If you knew that you would automatically be profiled because of your religion, would you still convert in spite of social consequences? If you find yourself hesitating about these or any other matters that might cause a great deal of change to your life as you know it, then you can’t really say it’s just about the existence of God. This is not to say that you might have doubts about His existence. But it is to say that there is a great deal more to why one chooses atheism as their belief system.

      Regarding your point about “special” people and God not speaking to people in an unambiguous and obvious way, I think this has more to do with other faiths you might be acquainted with. When it comes to Islam, there is no intermediary between you and God. If you want to have a personal relationship with God you can have it. But if you’re looking to become a jurist and start issuing rulings that affect a whole community, you have to go and study and spend many years doing it. We don’t have a papacy in Islam and even if you hear a ruling issued by any scholar in Islam, you’re not bound by it. We believe God created us with the intellects that allow us to make up our own minds without religious dictatorship. The only problem comes when one doesn’t know the language, doesn’t know the context, doesn’t know the various sciences that relate to theology and jurisprudence, and then complains about why they can’t just do it on their own without any of these tools. It’s like someone reading medical text books without getting any proper training and background, and then attempting to open up a clinic – they’ll end up killing people if they’re not stopped!

      • “I still think there is more about the implications than about the existence of God.”

        Think as you like. You’re not an atheist, so you can only speculate about what and why we think as we do.

        “Here is a question, let’s say for a second that you accept that God exists and that he has particular expectations of you that would cause some major changes in the way you live your life right now; would you meet those expectations and make those changes?”

        Dunno. Much would depend on the reasons, both why a god would have those expectations, and why I would respond to those expectations.

        If you find yourself hesitating about these or any other matters that might cause a great deal of change to your life as you know it, then you can’t really say it’s just about the existence of God.

        Hesitating? I’m hesitating not about the implications, but about the premise. Remember, the situation I’m actually facing is not what any god might want me to do, but what human beings tell me they know (and I cannot know) what some god wants.

        “When it comes to Islam, there is no intermediary between you and God.”

        Yes there is: Muhammad.

        “If you want to have a personal relationship with God you can have it.”

        If a god were to exist, why would I not want one? Yet all these supposed gods remain silent, as silent as if they did not exist.

        “Believers … constantly reflect upon ourselves to find out our deepest motivations in order to ascertain what our intentions are. Atheists/agnostics … don’t practice such reflection”

        Nonsense. Of course we reflect on our motivations and intentions. We just don’t always spend as much time on it, because we don’t have to reconcile our motivations with some arbitrary scripture.

        “If God does exist, one needs to investigate the matter further to see if God created us all to just live and die as we please without regard to Him, or if He intended something for us.”

        Perhaps. But the antecedent is false: No god exists; there are no intentions to discern.

        It’s none of my business how you live your life. If you think God spoken to Muhammad and has shown you how to live your life, then that’s what you think. It’s no skin off my nose.

        But it is my business what you say about me and people like me. And you really have no clue what atheists think and why we think it.

      • “Think as you like. You’re not an atheist, so you can only speculate about what and why we think as we do.”

        Having been walked in your shoes before taking the path I’m on now, and having talked to a significant number of atheists, it’s no empty speculation on my part

        “Dunno. Much would depend on the reasons, both why a god would have those expectations, and why I would respond to those expectations.”

        So what you’re saying is that it’s an ego issue for you. God has to do things on your terms and explain Himself to you to a point of grovelling at your feet before you submit yourself. Interesting!

        “Hesitating? I’m hesitating not about the implications, but about the premise. Remember, the situation I’m actually facing is not what any god might want me to do, but what human beings tell me they know (and I cannot know) what some god wants.”

        You let human beings tell you all kinds of things all the time about matters that you have no knowledge of. Why hesitate about this one?

        “Yes there is: Muhammad.”

        This just reveals your ignorance of Islam, so I won’t really address this.

        “If a god were to exist, why would I not want one? Yet all these supposed gods remain silent, as silent as if they did not exist.”

        I simply addressed your contention about not being able to have a direct and personal relationship with God, and now you backtracked and said you don’t want one. Make up your mind!

        “Nonsense. Of course we reflect on our motivations and intentions. We just don’t always spend as much time on it, because we don’t have to reconcile our motivations with some arbitrary scripture.”

        This is nonsense. I’ve never met an atheist that didn’t disregard his upbringing to have influenced his distaste for religion and driven him to be an atheist, which has more to do with how religion was presented rather than the actual question of its truth. Case in point, when pushed on rational grounds, atheists revert empiricism, when given likely explanations that would lead one to have to accept God’s existence, atheists come up with preposterous explanations just so they can dazzle the listener enough to sneak their intensional fallacy type conclusion to say that God does not exist.

        “It’s none of my business how you live your life. If you think God spoken to Muhammad and has shown you how to live your life, then that’s what you think. It’s no skin off my nose.

        But it is my business what you say about me and people like me. And you really have no clue what atheists think and why we think it.”

        When atheists take their delusional world view and irrationally back to their private spaces and stop using their sophistical reasoning to confuse the masses, then I’ll stop talking about them. I do know how most of them think and possibly know them better than themselves. This is not empty rhetoric on my part. If you find it troubling, you should reflect upon yourself to find out what it’s bothering you rather than telling me how upset you are about it.

  4. mohamedghilan,

    You wrote:

    If you find yourself hesitating about these or any other matters that might cause a great deal of change to your life as you know it, then you can’t really say it’s just about the existence of God.

    Sure we can. It sounds like you’re worried about bias, but I doubt most atheists (or agnostics such as myself) really think much about the issues you mentioned.

    For instance, it could be that there exists a God (not Allah) who wants you to give up human contact, move to a remote part of Iceland and live on porridge for the rest of your life. Can you consider the existence of this porridge-loving God apart from your bias? That seems not too difficult.

    Just as the possibility of the existence of the porridge-loving God doesn’t bother you, neither does the possibility of the existence of Allah bother me, nor I bet does it bother Larry. To us, the idea that Allah exists is utterly arbitrary. It holds no more seriousness to us than the idea of the porridge-loving God.

    Besides, we needn’t consider the existence of particular Gods anyway. It is enough to ask if any God exists, and this has no implications such as you describe.

    Regards,
    Ben

    • This is the difference between religious people and agnostics/atheists. I can speak for myself and other believers I’ve come across when I say that we constantly reflect upon ourselves to find out our deepest motivations in order to ascertain what our intentions are. Atheists/agnostics on the other hand, at least those that I’ve come across, not only don’t practice such reflection, they don’t even have a frame of reference for it. So when I bring up these types of issues, it goes over their heads.

      I’d have to disagree with you about the arbitrariness of the existence of God. If God does exist, one needs to investigate the matter further to see if God created us all to just live and die as we please without regard to Him, or if He intended something for us. With all do respect, I find the agnostic approach a lazy one that seeks to justify its laziness by calling the whole thing “arbitrary and doesn’t matter”. Interestingly, to say that it’s “arbitrary” is an implication of what you think God is.

      Cheers
      Mohamed

  5. (By the way, in posting my previous comment I discovered that you have comment moderation enabled. But my general policy is not to comment when moderation is enabled, so this will be my last on this blog.)

    • I never realized it when I set this page up that comments were defaulted to being moderated. It turned out to be a blessing, because given the topics I deal with bring me a few trolls who use abusive language that I’m just not interested in entertaining.

  6. Brilliantly said. One of the rare pieces that does justice to this topic.
    Thank you

    “childish” i.e. tantrum e.g. you spilled my milk, therefore you don’t exist

  7. What’s most disgusting about many atheists (not all, but many) is how they make the terms ‘atheism’, ‘skepticism’, et al. interchangeable with ‘rationalism’, confine rationalism to their irreligious circle and laugh at everyone else outside that circle. They’ve literally brought down their position from a stance (a stance I at times appreciate) to a cult.

  8. I love John Stuart Mill (his book The Subjection of Women is definitely a good read, too), but he was wrong in regards to the burden of proof. The onus is on the claimant – whether the claimant holds a position that is in the minority is irrelevant.

    It makes sense: if I make a claim about something, then I have to provide proof for that claim. Likewise, a theist who asserts that some god exists must provide proof of that god’s existence. It’s quite simple.

    Also, this article is full of straw men and red herrings aimed at atheists. In particular, your point that atheists disagree with theists just because atheists are stubborn is asinine. You’re painting all atheists as necessarily arrogant for no good reason. And as a theist, I resent that. You are just as arrogant as an atheist who says that all religious people are irrational.

    Lastly, you are assuming that atheists only appeal to science to disprove the existence of God. In fact, many atheists think that science can never provide evidence for or against the existence of God, because God cannot, by definition, be apprehended in the phenomenal world. Such atheists appeal to reason in order to disprove God’s existence.

    Before you accuse atheists of hubris, get rid of your own arrogance.

    • Mill was most certainly hitting a chord that many people don’t like when he switched the onus around. In the particular circumstance that he brought up, he does acknowledge the “logically valid” position of the onus having to be on the claimant asserting any position to prove their case. However, the exception he makes goes beyond logic in that he was trying to change a society as a whole from one position to a diametrically opposing one. So he was not wrong in the big picture and real life sense, where it actually matters. Furthermore, in the particular case of atheism as it’s manifesting itself nowadays, we’re dealing with a “positive” disbelief rather than a “negative” one. The new atheists are not just shrugging their shoulders and saying “I don’t believe that God exists”. They are now making the claim that God does not exist, and therefore must provide proof for their case.

      Regarding your accusation of “straw men” and “red herrings” aimed at atheists, and your understanding that I’m only saying that atheists are disagreeing just because they’re “stubborn”, in addition to getting that I’m painting all atheists with a broad brush are all indicative of you not understanding what the article was about and who it was specifically talking about. I’m not sure if you missed the part where I qualify the brand of atheists I address with “science-worshipping”. I recognize that there are different brands of atheists out there that have many different reasons for their atheism. Although I can and will deal with every single type in future writings, I’m now focusing on a particular type that claims to have exclusive rights to rationalism, but they’re just conflating concepts and are just simply confused and irrational.

      Lastly, before you quickly make a comment on anything you read, I suggest you sit back and digest the material for a while and try to understand what the author was saying and who the intended audience was. Most of your comment here is irrelevant to this article, which makes it asinine in its entirety.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      • Ghilan,

        I apologize for having a rude tone. You replied rather politely, whereas I just hurled insults at you. I have a tendency to insult people whose arguments I find absurd, but I realize that arguing in that manner isn’t a good thing in the slightest. You may have called my comment “asinine,” but it’s not like I deserved praise instead.

        Anyway, it is true that the atheist must provide proof for his or her position. But the theist must also bring proof for the existence of the god he or she believes in. As I see it, the problem with the burden of proof in many atheism debates is that many theists, I have noticed, are so sure that God exists that they just tell the atheists to prove that God doesn’t exist, without caring about proving the existence of God themselves.

        I know you said “science-worshipping atheists,” but I didn’t get the impression that you were only talking about a certain category of atheists, because you made sweeping statements about other atheists as well. In any case, if your intention was not to hastily generalize, then I stand corrected.

        Also, I do agree that atheists who claim to have a monopoly on reason are silly. There is no reason for anyone to make such a claim, really. In fact, I know a few atheists who reject normative ethics merely because they think that a moral system means “bringing God back.”

        As for my accusation of you painting atheists as innately stubborn, I got that from this: “Regardless of what type of evidence they are provided with, atheists will always have some response to it, which can be frustrating to the believer as they list all the reasons why a belief in God is actually the more rational position to hold.”

        Unless you’re trying to say that atheists have irrefutable positions (and clearly you aren’t), I take this as saying that atheists are always stubborn. What’s worse is that you’re talking about atheists in general. You also imply that atheists have ulterior motives for rejecting the existence of God.

        Thanks for replying!

        Regards,
        Matt

      • Hey Matt,

        I do agree with you that many theists go about the debate in the way you mentioned without providing good reason for belief. But what I’m talking about here are the debates in which the theist will list off all their reasons, while the atheist will just throw their hands up and say that these reasons are not enough for them while not giving good reasons of their own to not believe. In fact, when it comes to science-worshipping atheists, they’ll just attempt giving absurd alternatives without really giving positive reasons for disbelief. I know this may not be that clear right now, but I’m working on another article that deals with this in specific.

        Regarding the “stubborn” issue, that will be dealt with in yet another article, which also touches on the ulterior motives part. My main purpose in this article and the ones to come is to just expose atheists for their innate human nature and what motivates them to hold their beliefs, which are universal and not just atheist-exclusive. The problem with the new militant atheists and the science-worshipping ones is their presentations of themselves to be solely driven by reason, almost like a computer obeying logic algorithms. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Both believers and non-believers are subject to the human condition. We’re not simply driven by reason alone – emotions and ego and desire play a huge role in how we choose to conduct our lives. Our backgrounds and the paths we take in life and what we’ve been exposed to as we grow all combine with our education to make us who we are. What we tend to do in many instances is cloak our deeper desires with various covers to make our life choices more palatable to us and to the external world we seek to change or conform to. Atheists are not immune to this and that’s my point.

        Only when one is aware of themselves and their innate motivations, which can only take place after careful and very deep reflection, can they finally be able to reason properly. That’s what I mean by atheists constantly having a response. I didn’t mean that it was a good response – it’s just a response to show their having a contention for the sake of nothing but having a contention. That’s why I always ask before engaging in any conversation with an atheist whether they’re prepared to let go of the most dear thing or person to them if God did in fact tell them to do so. If the answer is no, then there is no sense in debating any further because the main drive wouldn’t be reason. Rather, it would be their drive for maintenance of being able to do whatever they want and live however they want without having to answer to anyone for it at the end, and reason would only serve as a tool of justification to do so in order to feel comfortable about it. It’s a subtle difference, and I don’t claim that absolutely all atheists think this way. But I am asserting that the majority of them are this way based on personal interaction, reading, and observation over the past few years of a great multitude of famous and average run of the mill atheists.

        I realize that this can be turned around against the believer to say that they’re also using reason as a cloak. However, the consequences are quite different in the case of belief, especially when it’s followed into adhering to a religion. Again, I’ll seek your concession to address this in my future article.

        Cheers
        Mohamed

  9. Mohamed,

    Having read your explanation, I’m now inclined to agree with you. There’s not much else I can say.

    Regards,
    Matt

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