Lack-of-Belief Atheism Has the First Burden of Proof

The Reconquista Initiative

Presents… 

Lack-of-Belief Atheism Has the First Burden of Proof

Calling oneself a lack-of-belief atheist is just a bullshit maneuver meant to either avoid the burden of proof for the positive position of atheistic-naturalism or to avoid being called an agnostic coward. This has been a main contention so far in this essay series. And because lack-of-belief atheism, for many unbelievers, is indeed little more than a shell-game used for ulterior motives, the fact is that such unbelievers, for the sake of intellectual honesty, should cease their use of this label. And yet there is little doubt that they will not do so; indeed, it is almost certain that whatever pleas are made here will not convince many unbelievers to stop using the idea of lack-of-belief atheism. So instead of pleading with unbelievers in this respect, this essay will show unbelievers that two can play at the ‘lack-of-belief’ game, for if unbelievers want to employ the ‘lack of belief’ concept in their favor, then so too can theists. After all, as the saying goes, what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander; and so, the theist can use the lack-of-belief shtick too, and he can do so in a way that is much more detrimental to unbelievers than those unbelievers might realize.

So how can God-believers use the idea of a lack-of-belief to their advantage? Namely, by lacking a belief in the existence of lack-of-belief atheists!

Now, at first glance, this idea might sound ridiculous, but it is not. In essence, how this concept arises is that after reading the beginning of the first chapter of Romans, a very plausible interpretation of that section of scripture is that all people actually believe in the existence of God, but that they suppress this belief due to immortality and unrighteousness. As such, on this view, there would be no such thing as a self-aware and self-described lack-of-belief atheist, for any self-aware properly-functioning person sufficiently old enough to describe themselves with a specific label would be old enough to know God; consequently, they would either overtly believe in God’s existence or they would be suppressing that belief, but they would all still believe in God. Thus, on this view, every cognitively-sound person of reasoning age, deep-down, believes that God exists. This does not, of course, mean that there will not be people who verbally claim not to believe in God, but rather that no one actually fails to have a belief in God in their heart. In some ways, on this view, the atheist is like the parent of an evil adult child who nevertheless overtly claims that their child is innocent of the horrible wrong-doings that the child has been accused of committing, and yet the parent knows deep-down that their son or daughter is indeed wicked, and the parent’s behavior testifies to this suppressed knowledge; it’s like the mother who categorically denies that her son is a thief even as she hides all her valuables before the son comes to visit.

So, the view is that there is no such thing as an actual self-aware and properly-functioning lack-of-belief atheist given that all people believe in God, even though some people suppress that belief and overtly deny it while others do not. Now, it is not being said that this view is true, but just that it is possible, and even plausible given humanity’s ability to deceive and delude itself (a point which the unbeliever cannot disagree with given that he thinks the vast majority of humanity is deluded by religion). In fact, there are a number of pieces of evidence which support the claim that it is plausible to hold that atheists actually do believe in God but are simply suppressing the truth, and those pieces of evidence can be found at the end of this essay.

Now, since the aforementioned view is plausible—and even if it was not, this argument could still go forward—this means that the believer can  adopt a lack-of-belief position about the actual existence of lack-of-belief atheists. This does not mean that the believer outright denies the existence of lack-of-belief atheists, nor that he believes the aforementioned Biblical claim to be true, but rather that he simply neither affirms nor denies the genuine existence of lack-of-belief atheists. And so here is the first atheist irony: because lack-of-belief atheists have routinely told believers that whoever makes the positive claim has the burden of proof, then, in this case, the lack-of-belief atheist, by the very fact that he claims to be a genuine lack-of-belief atheist, has the burden of proof for his claim. Indeed, it is the lack-of-belief atheist who is positively claiming to be a genuine lack-of-belief atheist by the very fact that he is saying that he is one, and so the burden of proof falls on him to prove his claim. And note immediately that the lack-of-belief atheist’s personal incredulity at being asked to prove the genuineness of his position does nothing to remove his burden of proof; after all, a God-believer might be personally incredulous that someone might doubt the existence of God, but the atheist would not allow that fact to thereby remove the burden of proof from the God-believer to show that God exists. So the lack-of-belief atheist cannot employ a double-standard or engage in special pleading just because the burden of proof is suddenly on him when it comes to this particular topic; therefore, the lack-of-belief atheist does indeed have the burden of proof for showing that he genuinely lacks a belief in God.

Now the unbeliever might laugh at this situation and simply retort that he is indeed a genuine lack-of-belief atheist and that his word is sufficient evidence for this claim. But here is the second atheist irony: atheists routinely tell believers that testimony, even testimony of internal states, is not sufficient to establish a specific claim, and that hard, objective, scientific evidence is required before believing an assertion. Can the believer thus be faulted for employing the atheist’s own standard against him? Thus, the believer can argue that the unbeliever’s personal assurances of his genuine lack-of-belief are insufficient to establish this claim and that more scientific evidence is needed. Yet the atheist might scoff at this request and claim that such scientific evidence is not obtainable. But here, the atheist is mistaken. After all, lie detector tests, interviews with psychologists, and psychological examinations are all different types of tests which could provide more objective evidence of the atheist’s genuine unbelief. Furthermore, research into the unbeliever’s past could be conducted to ensure that there are no underlying events which might, for example, have caused the unbeliever to overtly deny God’s existence but secretly just be mad at Him. Even hypnosis could potentially be used to investigate the unbeliever’s true state of mind. In essence, there exist a number of ways in which objective testing could be done in this matter. Now the unbeliever might complain that such testing is prohibitively expensive or hard to get, but that is not the believer’s problem. After all, he who makes the claim has the job of backing it up, or so the atheist routinely says when the claim is in his favor. And so, until and unless the atheist provides the believer with hard, objective, scientific evidence of his genuine unbelief, the believer is rational to hold a lack-of-belief concerning the actual existence of genuine lack-of-belief atheists.

And yet, an even further problem arises, and that is the problem that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Indeed, in the third great atheist irony, the fact is that the believer could claim that the existence of genuine lack-of-belief atheists is, to him, an extraordinary claim. After all, what counts as an extraordinary claim is largely subjective, and so the believer could assert that the claim that genuine lack-of-belief atheists exist is extraordinary to him, and so demand extraordinary evidence for that claim. This means that the believer could not only demand some of the aforementioned “hard” evidence before believing the atheist’s claim about being a genuine unbeliever, but actually demand all of that evidence before believing the atheist’s claim.

Note as well that this whole line of reasoning also applies to those unbelievers who actually do call themselves agnostics and atheistic-naturalists (philosophical-naturalists). Indeed, since the whole spectrum of unbelievers—atheistic-naturalists, lack-of-belief atheists, and agnostics—claim to not have a belief that God exists, and since this is the very issue under dispute, then this particular burden of proof claim applies to all these unbelievers.

Finally, note what this whole argument means for the order of the burden of proof. Because people do not debate something upon which they agree, then, if all people actually do believe in God, then there is no debate to be had about whether or not God exists. And so, what this means is that the debate over the actual existence of people who lack a belief in God needs to take place before any debate over God’s existence. Indeed, until and unless it is shown that there actually are such things as genuine lack-of-belief atheists, then there is no debate to be had over whether or not God exists, for we do not even know if anyone disagrees with that claim. And so, in the fourth great atheist irony, it is actually unbelievers of all stripes, not believers, who have the first burden of proof when it comes to the debate over God and His existence.

And so, the long and short of it is this:  unbelievers might scoff at the claim that they have a burden of proof to show the genuineness of their unbelief, but their scorn is immaterial to the fact that the above argument concerning the unbeliever’s burden of proof is not only correct, but it uses the very same principles and ideas that unbelievers do when arguing against theists. As such, unbelievers cannot escape the logic of the argument presented above without engaging in an egregious double-standard. They thus have the first burden of proof in the debate over God. And so, if unbelievers want to play the lack-of-belief game, then they should watch out, for the theist can play that game as well, and the results for the unbeliever will be much more rhetorically damaging than they ever thought they could be.

Additional Note: Evidence Supporting the Claim that it is Plausible to Contend that Atheists Might Actually Believe in God and yet Suppress that Belief.

COMING SHORTLY.

 

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Anno Domini 2017 01 31

Non nobis Domine, non nobis, sed nomini tuo da gloriam

The Motives for Lack-of-Belief Atheism

The Reconquista Initiative

Presents…

The Motives for Lack-of-Belief Atheism

Over the course of a number of previous essays, it has been pointed out that it is reasonable to believe that one of the primary motivators that leads certain unbelievers to embrace the concept of lack-of-belief atheism is that it gives a veneer to legitimacy to unbelievers who are essentially atheistic-naturalists (philosophical-naturalists) to nevertheless claim that they have no burden of proof for their position, and so such unbelievers embrace lack-of-belief atheism as a means of avoiding the burden of proof for their positive views. Indeed, such unbelievers, even though they really do not lack-a-belief in the literal sense and actually possess numerous positive burden-bearing beliefs about the God question, nevertheless want to exploit the burden-avoiding property of agnosticism and so they are motivated to disingenuously claim that their positive unbelief is nothing more than a mere lack-of-belief. And again, to see that this is the case, the words of atheist Luke Muehlhauser, the author of the website ‘commonsenseatheism.com’, can be noted. In his 23rd of February 2009 article titled “Atheism and the Burden of Proof”, which was accessed on the 8th of August 2016, Muehlhauser stated the following:

[QUOTE] But most intellectually-inclined atheists I know do not merely “lack” a belief in God – as, say, my dog lacks a belief in God. Atheists like to avoid the burden of proof during debates, so they say they merely “lack” a belief in God. But this is not what their writings usually suggest. No, most intellectual atheists positively believe that God does not exist. In fact, most of them will say – at least to other atheists – that it’s “obvious” there is no God, or that they “know” – as well as we can “know” anything – that God does not exist. Thus, if the atheist wants to defend what he really believes, then he, too, has a burden of proof. He should give reasons for why he thinks that God almost certainly doesn’t exist. [UNQUOTE, bold emphasis added, http://commonsenseatheism.com/?p=597%5D

And so, in light of Muehlhauser’s quote, and in light of other evidence that has been presented in this series, it can indeed be reasonably believed that many atheistic-naturalists conceal their true burden-bearing beliefs behind the claim that they merely “lack-a-belief” in God. Thus, such unbelievers are bullshitters—in the philosophical sense—given that their primary goal is not to describe the true state of their unbelieving point-of-view, but rather their goal is to simply say anything which augments the rhetorical strength of their position, which avoiding the burden of proof does do.

But while avoiding the burden of proof serves as a strong motive for atheistic-naturalists to embrace lack-of-belief atheism, this group is only one sub-set of the individuals who embrace this negative position. Indeed, for while atheistic-naturalists have positive beliefs concerning the non-existence of God, and are motived to embrace lack-of-belief atheism as a means of skirting the burden of proof, there are also unbelievers who are essentially straight agnostics about the issue of God’s existence—meaning that they neither positively believe nor disbelieve in God’s existence—who nevertheless also embrace the ‘lack-of-belief atheist’ label rather than calling themselves agnostics. Indeed, such individuals now often identity themselves as merely ‘atheists’ rather than as agnostics who are uncertain or unsure about whether or not God exists. And while avoiding the burden of proof is a clear and strong motive for atheistic-naturalists to disingenuously claim that they merely lack a belief in God, the question remains as to whether there is also a strong motive which could be driving agnostics to call themselves ‘atheists’? In essence, is there a reason why a person, in today’s day and age, might prefer to use the term ‘atheist’ rather than ‘agnostic’, even if, intellectually, such a person is more in line with the latter position than the former one? Indeed there is, but to understand this motive, a few quotes need to be considered.

First, consider relatively popular atheist Jason Rosenhouse and his ‘Evolution Blog’, which is located in the main ‘Science Blogs’ forum. In a post titled “Agnosticism Is For Wimps”, which was written on the 23rd of January 2013 and accessed on the 26th of January 2017, Rosenhouse writes the following:

[QUOTE] Remember that scene in A Fish Called Wanda, where Kevin Kline, talking to a British woman who has cornered him in rhetorical combat, says, with maximal sarcasm, “Oh, you British are soooooo superior.”

That’s pretty much how I feel when I read essays written by agnostics. By all means make whatever arguments it amuses you to make for not taking a stand on the God question. But please stop acting like you’re soooooo superior. You’re not the sensible middle ground between two extremes, and you’re not the clear-thinking pluralist calmly sifting the evidence. You’re just a wimp.

The title of this post is meant tongue in cheek, but only slightly. I really don’t think agnosticism has much going for it as a philosophical position, and in practice it often functions as a way for pedants to act superior. Of course, in most cases agnostics are functionally indistinguishable from atheists, and so I feel I have a lot in common with them. The fact remains, though, that at the level of abstract argument I think even theism has more going for it than agnosticism.  [UNQUOTE, bold emphasis added, http://scienceblogs.com/evolutionblog/2013/01/23/agnosticism-is-for-wimps/%5D

So Rosenhouse thinks, at least somewhat, that agnosticism is for wimps; in fact, he even thinks theism has more going for it than agnosticism does, which is shocking given that Rosenhouse does not think that theism has much going for it. And yet note that Rosenhouse is not alone in thinking that agnosticism is for wimps.

Next, consider atheist and professor of biochemistry Larry Moran, who, on his blog ‘Sandwalk’, in a 14th of November 2006 post which was titled “Agnostics Are Wimps”, and which was accessed on the 26th of January 2017, wrote the following:

[QUOTE] Jason Rosenhouse over at EVOLUTION BLOG has challenged John Wilkins’ position on agnosticism in Wilkins on Dawkins.

They are both discussing an issue raised by Richard Dawkins in The God Delusion. In his section on “The Poverty of Agnosticism” (pp. 46-54), Dawkins describes agnostics as fence-sitters, and this was not meant as a compliment.

John, with all due respect, if you walk like an atheist and talk like an atheist then, to all intents and purposes, you’re a practicing atheist, whether you want to admit it or not.

We spent a whole Sunday together and I know you didn’t go to church. You are not a theist. The word that describes that non-believer lifestyle is “atheist,” not “agnostic.” Please join Jason Rosenhouse, Richard Dawkins, and me, and come all the way out of the closet. [UNQUOTE, bold emphasis added, https://sandwalk.blogspot.co.uk/2006/11/agnostics-are-whimps.html%5D

Now, notice two critical things with Moran’s statement. First, he too thinks agnosticism is for wimps, as both the title of his post states and as he implies by suggesting that agnostics are just closeted atheists who are too afraid to fully out themselves. Second, Moran interprets that Richard Dawkins’s comment about agnostics being fence-sitters is also meant to be taken negatively, as if there is something cowardly or weak with such fence-sitting.

And also consider popular atheist and evolutionist Jerry Coyne. On his blog ‘Why Evolution is True’, in a 25th of October 2013 post titled “Bertrand Russell on why the term ‘agnostic’ is for show”—which was accessed on the 26th of January 2017—Coyne writes:

[QUOTE] …yes, you cannot give a logical demonstration that the Greek gods don’t exist. (That’s the “you can’t prove a negative” line.)  But you can give a practical demonstration that their existence is improbable, for if they interact with the world you should find some evidence of that interaction; and you find none.

…if you have no belief in gods, you should call yourself an “atheist.”  The term “agnostic” is for wimps. [UNQUOTE, bold emphasis added, https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2013/10/25/bertrand-russell-on-why-the-term-agnostic-is-for-show/%5D

So, what do all these quotes show? Well, they show that some prominent and popular unbelievers view agnosticism as a position for wimps and cowards. And could this fact serve as a motive for people to avoid being branded as an agnostic? Absolutely, for given that most people naturally wish to avoid being labeled as a weakling or a coward, then evading such a fate would be a strong motivator for many people, thereby driving them to drop the ‘agnostic’ label in favor of the ‘atheist’ one.

But also note that while the three quotes above come from modern professors and academics, the attitude that agnosticism is for wimps is not restricted to those in the ivory tower. For example, in a 30th of July 2010 blog post titled “Why is agnosticism cowardly atheism?”—which was accessed on the 26th of January 2017—an internet personality named ‘tildeb’ (whom I have interacted with before), writes the following on his blog ‘Questionable Motives’:

[QUOTE] Ron Rosenbaum tells us in this Slate article why his infantile Templeton-funded “radical skepticism” kind of agnosticism is so new and improved. It is neither. It is an intellectual embarrassment.

New Agnosticism (versus New Atheism, of course) as a practical matter is nothing more and nothing less than cowardly atheism but with a healthy dose of accomodationism [sic] built right in. [UNQUOTE, bold emphasis added, https://questionablemotives.wordpress.com/2010/07/30/why-is-agnosticism-cowardly-atheism/%5D

And in the comments to that blog post, tildeb further argues that the type of agnosticism that Dawkins describes as fence-sitting is indeed intellectual cowardice.

But again, tildeb is still not alone. Consider, for example, that a British TV comedian named Steve Coogan says that he is an atheist because agnosticism is for cowards (see a 26th of October 2013 article in ‘The Guardian’ titled “Steve Coogan: knowing me? No way”, which was accessed on the 26th of January 2017 (https://www.theguardian.com/film/2013/oct/26/steve-coogan-philomena-interview)). And magician Penn Jillette, in the 2012 paperback edition of his Simon-and-Schuster published book God, No!: Signs You May Already Be an Atheist and Other Magical Tales, in the Section titled “Agnostics: No One Can Know for Sure but I Believe They’re Full of Shit”, calls agnosticism a view for “fucking puss[ies]” and states that most agnostics are “…really just cowardly and manipulative atheists”.

Furthermore, even agnostics themselves point out that they are often viewed as intellectual cowards. For instance, in a 19th of December 2003 interview with PBS, which was published in written form in an article titled “Interview: Studs Terkel” on the PBS website—which was accessed on the 26th of January 2017—agnostic Studs Terkel made the following comment: “You happen to be talking to an agnostic. You know what an agnostic is? A cowardly atheist. (http://www.pbs.org/wnet/religionandethics /2003/12/19/december-19-2003-interview-studs-terkel/11022/)

So the point here is that the idea that agnosticism is a cowardly position is one which is wide-spread and has permeated numerous different levels of society. And what this, in turn, means, is that the concept of ‘a cowardly agnostic’ is not merely being advanced by those individuals in ivory towers but is also pushed by the common-man. In fact, it is even interesting to note that as of 9:11 am on the 25th of January 2017, the four Google search-box autocompletes for the phrase “Agnostics are…” were the following:  1) “agnostics are atheist”; 2) “agnostics are atheist without balls”; 3) “agnostics are cowards”; and 4) “agnostics are stupid”. And this search was done on a computer account that had never searched for the phrase “Agnostics are…” before, nor was the computer logged-in to a Google account, which means that the autocompletions mentioned above were based, at least in large part, on what other people have searched for in the past, thereby providing some further evidence that the idea that agnostics are cowards is not an obscure belief.

And lest it be thought that calling an agnostic a ‘cowardly atheist’ is a recent phenomenon, it should be noted that even back when the term ‘agnostic’ was first coined, certain atheists were accusing agnostics of being weak and cowardly. For example, in atheist-turned-deist Antony Flew’s 26th of July 1999 Encyclopedia Britannica article on “Agnosticism”, which was accessed on the 26th of January 2017, Flew notes that atheist Frederick Engels, of communist infamy, wrote that T.H. Huxley, the father of the term ‘agnosticism’, was just a “shame-faced atheist.” Indeed, Flew writes the following:

[QUOTE] Agnosticism in its primary reference is commonly contrasted with atheism thus: “The Atheist asserts that there is no God, whereas the Agnostic maintains only that he does not know.” This distinction, however, is in two respects misleading: first, Huxley himself certainly rejected as outright false—rather than as not known to be true or false—many widely popular views about God, his providence, and man’s posthumous destiny; and second, if this were the crucial distinction, agnosticism would for almost all practical purposes be the same as atheism. It was indeed on this misunderstanding that Huxley and his associates were attacked both by enthusiastic Christian polemicists and by Friedrich Engels, the co-worker of Karl Marx, as “shame-faced atheists,” a description that is perfectly applicable to many of those who nowadays adopt the more comfortable label. [UNQUOTE, bold emphasis added, https://www.britannica.com/topic/agnosticism%5D

Now the late Antony Flew had his own definition of agnosticism, and it is Flew’s very definition that has caused a great deal of the conflation that occurs today between agnosticism and atheism, but regardless of this point, Flew’s above statement is interesting for two reasons. First is the obvious point that Flew shows us that the idea that agnostics are considered less-than-brave atheists is one which has existed for generations. But second, note that even Flew states that the description of agnostics as “shame-faced atheists” is a description that is applicable to many people today who adopt the more comfortable and easy label of agnosticism. So even Flew, who was still an atheist at the time that he wrote this article—and who was arguably the most intellectual atheist of the past century—tacitly implies that many modern agnostics are merely cowardly atheists.

Thus, what all these quotes show is that the idea that agnosticism is just a cowardly form of atheism is a well-known belief across a wide spectrum of the unbelieving community. And yet since, as stated earlier, it is reasonable to believe that few people would wish to be known as shame-faced-in-the-closet cowards, then the fact that this is precisely how many people view agnostics would thus be a powerful motive for a person not to label himself an agnostic. Indeed, faced with the prospective of labeling oneself an agnostic and being seen by many people as a wimp or of calling oneself an atheist and being seen as brave and bold, it is quite reasonable to hold that many unbelievers, being human beings subject to the same psychological pressures and drives as the rest of humanity, would choose the latter option rather than the former one. And yet, this very fact thus provides us with a reasonable motive for why more agnostic-oriented unbelievers would choose to label themselves as atheists rather than agnostics. But at the same time, since the very same unbelievers who want to be known as atheists rather than agnostics also realize that they want the burden-avoiding argumentative benefits that agnosticism provides, then this also creates a powerful incentive to create a form of atheism, namely lack-of-belief atheism, which is agnostic-like in its content but atheist-like in terms of rhetoric.

And so, the long and short of it is this:  when it comes to negative lack-of-belief atheism, there are two motives which it is reasonable to believe drive the embrace of negative-atheism. First, for the unbeliever who is more of an atheistic-naturalist, the motive for embracing so-called lack-of-belief atheism is the desire to avoid having to bear any burden of proof for his unbelief as well as the desire to appear legitimate when doing so. Second, for the unbeliever who is more of an agnostic, the motive for embracing lack-of-belief atheism is the desire not to be labeled a ‘coward’ by other members of the unbelieving community, while still nevertheless maintaining an agnostic-like position. And so, from both ends of the unbelieving spectrum, it is possible to see that there is indeed a strong psychological incentive to embrace a position which is rhetorically ‘atheist’ but essentially ‘agnostic’, and this is precisely what we see with so-called lack-of-belief atheism. And this is, at least in part, why both outright atheists and actual agnostics embrace the label of ‘lack-of-belief atheism’ even though neither of them really lack a belief about the God-question in any literal or relevant sense.

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Anno Domini 2017 01 29

Non nobis Domine, non nobis, sed nomini tuo da gloriam

What is Alt-Christianity

The Reconquista Initiative

Presents…

What is Alt-Christianity

Note:  In the Previous Essay about Alt-Christianity, I spoke about an essay that I had written on the subject back in june 2016. This is that essay, unedited from that time.

In recent years, and especially with the arrival of Donald Trump on the political scene, a movement broadly describing itself as the ‘Alternative Right’, or ‘Alt-Right’, has risen to some prominence in the West’s social, cultural, and political arenas. This is a movement that many individuals involved in politics—both those on the left and those on the ‘retreating right’—associate with the more unsavory elements of the political right-wing. And so, the alt-right is often vilified and misrepresented both by its enemies and by its alleged political allies. Now, while exaggerated and propagandistic attacks from the left are a standard phenomenon that should shock no one, it is also by no means surprising that individuals on the right with the strongest hold on power and political influence would try to discourage, disparage, and denigrate a movement that threatens their political and cultural capital. And while there are indeed some less than pleasant elements in the alt-right, as is the case with nearly all movements, one cannot help but suspect that a great deal of the reason for the dislike and sheer vitriol directed at the alt-right is due to the fact that many of those on the alt-right are willing to speak with a clear tongue, rather than with a politically-correct one, and they are willing to pursue the truth as they see it even if that pursuit takes them to impolite places, places that too many people in the last few generations are unwilling to enter. Those labelling themselves as alt-right are unapologetic, loud, and aggressive when pressed, and unlike the retreating-right all too often does, those on the alt-right are not willing to attack their actual allies on the right with more fervor than they attack those on the left. The alt-right is not willing to bow and scrap in order to be accepted by the cultural elite and the East-Coast ‘intellectuals’. And instead of merely standing athwart the progressive’s path yelling stop, but still getting pushed down that path regardless, only at a slightly slower pace, the alt-right is not a rear-guard action but an offensive vanguard; a vanguard to return civilization, and specifically Western Civilization, to a time when the follies of the present age were seen for the follies that they truly are.

The Alt-Christian

In much the same way as with the alt-right, ‘Alternative Christianity’, and thus the Alt-Christian, is also tired of being on the defensive, as he has been for at least the last ten years. And so the Alt-Christian seeks to move to the attack to reclaim the intellectual and cultural ground that he has lost. Though not necessarily sharing all the same political or social goals as the alt-right, the Alt-Christian shares the latter’s same desire to speak forcefully and unapologetically for what he believes in. In this vein, the Alt-Christian is thus a man who does not call Christianity a faith, nor merely one faith among many, but rather, he proudly calls it the truth. The Alt-Christian does not seek emotive post-modern dialogue; instead he seeks rational argumentation, truthful rhetoric, and effective evangelism. The Alt-Christian is deeply concerned about the salvation of souls, but not at the expense of Christian truth; furthermore, the Alt-Christian realizes that it is precisely the truth, spoken boldly and forcefully rather than weakly and nicely, that will lead to a greater salvation of souls. Thus, the Alt-Christian does indeed seek the conversion of those from other religions, but he will not kiss the Koran, or white-wash history, or engage in religious equivalency for the sake of ecumenism. And while the Alt-Christian is not vile—for speaking the truth is never vile—the Alt-Christian does not give a rat’s ass to be falsely labelled as such if speaking the truth leads to such an outcome. At the same time, the Alt-Christian laughs in the face of non-Christians who try to pressure and shame him by labelling him as ‘not very Christ-like’. The Alt-Christian, furthermore, is not afraid to directly say that Christianity is indeed the most rational, and arguably the only rational, reasonable, consistent, non-ad-hoc, satisfying and reality-reflecting worldview that Man can believe in.

Spiritually, the Alt-Christian is a Christian who remembers that Christ was indeed gentle with repentant sinners, but that Christ was also the same man who was not afraid to violently clear out the money-changers with a self-made whip. The Alt-Christian knows that Christ was kind, but he also realizes that Christ was an alpha-male who spoke His mind and achieved His mission above all else. And the Alt-Christian appreciates that Christ always spoke the truth, but he also notes that Christ was more than willing to speak that truth with a harsh and biting tongue if the situation warranted it. Furthermore, the Alt-Christian accepts the beauty and complementariness of men and women, but he also accepts the headship of the man in all familial relationships and stresses the man’s acceptance of that role. The Alt-Christian accepts the existence of different denominational sects, but notes that if you are morally and socially on the right, and if you believe that God exists, that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life, and if you hold to Christianity’s foundational creeds, then you are to be counted as a Christian ally in the struggle for civilization regardless of your denominational affiliation. Relatedly, the Alt-Christian also realizes that though ‘Alternative Christianity’ thus embraces members from a wide range of different denominational affiliations, it is a fact that, in the world today, traditionalists and orthodox-believers across all denominations have more in common with each other than do liberal and orthodox members of the same denomination, and so an alliance along orthodox / traditionalist creedal lines is arguably more important than denominational ones in today’s day and age. Finally, the Alt-Christian takes seriously the danger of wolves in sheep’s clothing, and he realizes that Christianity is in as much danger from internal enemies as it is from ideologies and individuals who are exterior to it.

The Alt-Christian, furthermore, is not ashamed or embarrassed of being a Christian, nor does he feel some undue guilt at what Christian civilization has done in the world. Thus, the Alt-Christian is a Christian who does not hide his cross behind his shirt, but rather wears a shirt with a cross on it. Indeed, the Alt-Christian is proud of the fact that, though flawed in many ways, traditional Western Civilization, borne from the bosom of Christianity as one of its major forces, is the best civilization that the world has ever seen. And while the Alt-Christian knows that a return to the past is neither possible nor even desirable, he does note that a departure—whether physical or moral—from the absurdities of the present age is needed if any sort of traditionally moral civilization is to be maintained in the future. In essence, the Alt-Christian is first and foremost a Christian, but he is unapologetically and overtly Christian in ways that many Christians today are not.

Why the Prefix ‘Alt’

Now, one question that can be asked of the Alt-Christian is why choose the prefix ‘alt’? Indeed, why create a name which identities one as an ‘alternate’ Christian specifically, especially when there exist any number of other such prefixes that could have been used? In fact, why use a prefix at all? Well, there are a number of different reasons for why calling one’s self an ‘Alt-Christian’ is a solid choice of term given the current state of Christianity in the West.

First, and as mentioned earlier, the Alt-Christian shares many of the same goals as the alt-right does, and the Alt-Christian also aims to be intellectually uncompromising like many on the alt-right are, and so using this particular prefix demonstrates the loose ideological and strategic connection that exists between these two movements. Furthermore, the Alt-Christian is culturally and socially on the right of the political spectrum, and since the ‘alt’ prefix, at least today, belongs almost exclusively to the alt-right, then the Alt-Christian, in calling himself an Alt-Christian, is also demonstrating his commitment to the right side of the culture wars.

Second, the word ‘alternative’ brings to mind the idea of possibility and choice. Thus, to be an Alt-Christian is to imply that unlike many merely cultural Christians, the Alt-Christian has consciously and deliberately chosen Christianity as his alternative out of the many worldview alternatives that exist today. The Alt-Christian is not merely a Christian in the sense that some people are ‘pro-democracy’, and yet have no real knowledge of the benefits or drawbacks of democratic rule, nor do they know the arguments for or against their position; rather, the Alt-Christian is a Christian who knows what he believes and why he believes it. And in knowing what he knows, the Alt-Christian thus makes it clear that his alternative is indeed Christianity, and everything else is secondary.

Third, since the Alt-Christian is different from what many people would consider a Christian to be today, by thus calling himself an Alt-Christian, the Alt-Christian makes it clear that he is indeed different from other modern ‘Christians’. The Alt-Christian, for example, is not a progressive-Christian, nor a social justice Christian, nor a Christian-in-name-only. And while the label ‘Alt-Christian’ would be unnecessary in any other day and age—for what an Alt-Christian is, is largely what a regular Christian should be—given that today many people call themselves ‘Christians’ who are not so even in the most fundamental sense, and given the way many ‘Christian’ churches have sold their souls for the sake of worldly approval, then it is the case that something like the term ‘Alt-Christian’ is required to distinguish between the vast ‘Churchianity’ of the present age and the true Christianity that supported science, build universities, created cathedrals, developed natural law and human rights, repelled Islamic aggression, employed precise reason, and did so many of the things that have ennobled the life of Man.

The Alt-Christian’s Aims

Fundamentally, the Alt-Christian has three main aims. The first is to support the universal spread of a culturally robust, socially potent, and morally orthodox creedal Christianity both in the West and globally, as commanded by Christ Himself. Second is the resurgence of this form of Christianity in the West, which the Alt-Christian believes is the key to the renewal of Western Civilization. And finally third, the Alt-Christian aims to support ethno-ideological nationalism—essentially, ethnic groups, in their own nation-states, who are bound together not only by ethnicity but also by a common ideology, culture, and moral code—which he believes is critical to preserving orthodox Christian nations that can serve to promote Christianity worldwide.

To achieve these aims, the Alt-Christian, although unapologetically Christian, is willing to strategically ally himself with anyone on the side of traditional Western Civilization. Tactically, the Alt-Christian believes in offensive action, not defensive reaction. He seeks to take the initiative, not respond to his opponent’s manoeuvres. The Alt-Christian wants a secure base to operate from, but he also wants to then move out and take the intellectual fight to the enemy. The Alt-Christian wants a re-conquest of the cultural terrain, and he knows that the only way to do this is to actually go out and conquer the intellectual and cultural enemies that oppose him!

Conclusion

Though there are already many Christians who should be counted as Alt-Christians, and who would count themselves as such even though they have not labeled themselves in this way, Alt-Christian.com is meant to be a bastion where such individuals can congregate, converse, and learn. Furthermore, this website is meant to serve as a support for the Alt-Christian, thereby giving him the confidence to know that if speaks out about a certain Christian topic, and if he loses his job or is somehow harmed or punished for doing so, then someone will be there to assist him, support him, and back him until he can regain his footing. And if enough Alt-Christians do this, and if a large enough fund is created, then perhaps Christians in the West will feel less threatened and less reluctant to speak out in favor of Christian truth even though the very world may seem to be against them when they do so.

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Anno Domini 2017 01 27

Non nobis Domine, non nobis, sed nomini tuo da gloriam

Vox Day, the 16 Points, and Alt-Christianity

The Reconquista Initiative

Presents…

Vox Day, the 16 Points, and Alt-Christianity

Back in 2016, when the Alt-Right started to become more mainstream, but before Vox Day released his “16 Points” concerning the Alt-Right, I began to think that modern Christianity needed something like Alt-Christianity. In fact, in June of that year, I wrote an essay on “Alt-Christianity” and I had even created a website called “Alt-Christian.com” to discuss the intersection of Christianity and the Alt-Right, but, for various reasons, I put a halt on that project. Then, in August of 2016, Vox Day released his “16 Points” on the Alt-Right; since that time, I have been thinking more and more about the concept of Alt-Christianity. And so, while still in embryo form, and largely inspired by Day’s own 16 Points on the Alt-Right—often even directly paralleling some of them—I have decided to create “The 16 Points of Alt-Christianity”, thereby explaining what I take to be Alt-Christianity, and also partially explaining the reason for why something like Alt-Christianity is needed today. So, without further commentary, here are the 16 Points of Alt-Christianity:

  1. Alt-Christianity is traditionalist and “right-leaning” in both its theology and its morals, but is focused on morality and mere-Christianity more than on denominational differences in theology. However, Progressive-Christianity, Liberal-Christianity, Feminist-Christianity, and Cultural-Christianity are not Alt-Christianity.
  1. Alt-Christianity is an alternative to the mainstream Christian conservative movement in the West which has, whether wittingly or not, been largely infected with strains of progressivism, feminism, SJWism, over-ecumenism, and Churchianism. Alt-Christianity has seen the results of this infection on the Christian faith and thus actively fights against it, unlike many modern Christian movements.
  1. Alt-Christianity is not a defensive attitude and rejects the elevation of “niceness” and likeability over Christian truth. It holds an “initiative-maintaining” mindset and believes in victory through persistence, sacrifice, and remaining in harmony with objective reality, historical truths, and psychological facts. Additionally, Alt-Christianity believes in the use of reason as well as, if necessary, polemics and rhetoric to make its points.
  1. Alt-Christianity believes Western Civilization is the best civilization that Man has ever created, and also that traditional Christianity is a key pillar of that civilization; as such, the Alt-Christian supports the roots of traditionalist Christianity: namely, the traditional family, patriarchy and “red-pill” knowledge, Christian education, and apologetics in the full and broad sense. Additionally, the Alt-Christian wishes to see Western Civilization maintained, and is open to whatever political system shows itself best suited to the maintenance of that civilization.
  1. Alt-Christianity is nationalistic and anti-pacifist. It supports the right of all distinct ethno-ideological/religious groups to exist as distinct groups, and to defend their existence. Alt-Christianity is also anti-globalist in the political sense, but believes in unity amongst nations through a shared Christian faith. Ultimately, the Alt-Christian remembers the lesson of the Tower of Babel and realizes that ethno-states are a lesser threat to Christianity than a global political entity is.
  1. Alt-Christianity recognizes that all men are made in the image of God and that all men will be judged, but beyond this, Alt-Christianity rejects the idea of earthly equality for all practical purposes given the observable lack of anything like natural equality existing amongst men. For the same reason, the Alt-Christian denies human perfectibility and earthly utopianism.
  1. Alt-Christianity see no conflict between science and Christianity, but it is not naïve enough to ignore the fact that there is a difference between certain scientific claims and the interpretation of scientists—many of them actively anti-Christian—concerning those claims. Thus, the Alt-Christian takes an attitude of tentative acceptance, coupled with skepticism, concerning the findings of modern science.
  1. Alt-Christianity believes that identity—both in the ethnic and the religious sense—is the catalyst for culture, which is itself more important than politics.
  1. Alt-Christianity is opposed to the rule, domination, or excessive influence (by any means) of any ethnic and/or religious group or Christian denomination by another; as such, Alt-Christianity supports the right of de facto or de jure self-determination / segregation for ethnic and/or religious reasons.
  1. Alt-Christianity is opposed to the separation of church and secular state in an absolute sense, for the Alt-Christian understands that the absolute separation of church and secular state always leads to the state undermining the church and pushing its influence out of the state.
  1. Alt-Christianity is more interested in the approval of God than of men; it knows that the Prince of this World is its enemy and that, as Jesus warned, the world will hate it. Alt-Christianity is also more interested in the faith than in earthly charity.
  1. Alt-Christianity is pro-capitalism in terms of policy, but pro-socialist in terms of personal charity; it holds that a man who freely does not work, but can, shall not eat, but a man who wishes to work but cannot, shall not be hungry.
  1. Alt-Christianity believes that we must secure the existence of Christians in general, but that we must also specifically secure the existence of Christians in countries of European heritage and ancestry, for as Belloc said: “Europe is the Faith, and the Faith is Europe”.
  1. Alt-Christianity believes that Christianity is true, but it also sees truth and value in other religions. As such, while holding Christianity as the best and most complete faith, and boldly proclaiming it as such, Alt-Christianity does not, in principle, ignore or reject the insights and wisdom of non-Christian religious / cultural traditions.
  1. Alt-Christianity believes in evangelism. At the same time, the Alt-Christian remembers to wipe the dust off his feet from those who, in full knowledge and Godly-freedom, reject Christianity. Thus, the Alt-Christian rejects the non-evangelism of the liberal-Christian as well as any imperialist attempts at the imposition of Christianity by force or coercion.
  1. Alt-Christianity values personal strength, masculinity, and the Christ who overturned tables. Indeed, the Alt-Christian realizes that Christ was not followed because He allowed Himself to die, but rather because Christ was the ultimate alpha who conquered Man’s greatest enemy: namely, death.

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Anno Domini 2017 01 24

Non nobis Domine, non nobis, sed nomini tuo da gloriam

 

Lack-of-Belief Atheism and a Rule of Thumb

The Reconquista Initiative

Presents…

Lack-of-Belief Atheism and a Rule of Thumb

In the essay “Introducing Bullshit-Atheism”, it was argued that, for the sake of intellectual honesty, atheism needs to be divided into two new forms: namely bullshit-atheism and honest-atheism. It was also pointed out that the term bullshit-atheism is meant to be, at least in part, a rhetorical device which can undermine the atheist’s own rhetorical strategy of using so-called lack-of-belief atheism as a way to avoid the burden of proof for his disbelief. And now, in this particular essay, a rule-of-thumb concerning bullshit-atheist shall be offered to the theist, and this rule-of-thumb is one which every God-believer should consider using when dealing with a self-described lack-of-belief atheist.

In essence, given the sometimes disingenuous nature of the atheist’s self-described lack-of-belief, each and every God-believer needs to ensure that they are never hoodwinked by an unbeliever’s use of the generic term ‘atheism’. Indeed, since many modern atheists hold a multitude of God-related positive beliefs as well as a number of positive beliefs which directly oppose certain types of theism, and yet they conceal this fact behind their so-called lack-of-belief, then, in light of this fact, and as a good and reasonable rule-of-thumb, what every theist should do is assume that each and every atheist interlocutor that he interacts with is actually more of an atheistic-naturalist with positive atheistic beliefs rather than not, and then the theist needs to maintain this presupposition until and unless it is clearly demonstrated not to be the case. Indeed, upon hearing the word ‘atheist’, the God-believer should assume that who he is dealing with is actually someone akin to a philosophical-naturalist or materialist, and only after being provided good evidence to the contrary should the theist drop this assumption.

In practice, what this rule-of-thumb means is that in any potential debate-like interaction with an unbeliever, the theist should immediately seek to determine what the unbeliever’s unbelief really entails. Indeed, before any substantive engagement with an atheist occurs, and in order to prevent the atheist from shifting from honest-atheism to bullshit-atheism for rhetorical purposes, the theist should readily press the atheist to explain what he believes until it is clear just what that particular unbeliever’s beliefs about God actually are (and, of course, the atheist can and should do the same with the theist). Additionally, if the unbeliever’s atheism is exposed as honest-atheism rather than bullshit-atheism, which it most usually will be—unless the atheist just breaks-down and admits that he is really more of a straight agnostic than an atheist—then the theist should not let the atheist get away with avoiding the burden of proof that his honest-atheism requires him to meet.

Now, for the atheist’s role in this whole issue, it is proposed that each self-aware and self-described atheist seriously consider the following: 1) whether they genuinely hold an actual lack of belief about God’s existence in their day-to-day lives, and whether they should thus be labeling themselves as agnostics rather than atheists, or 2) if they really do hold to something more like atheistic-naturalism as their main point of view, and if they should thus be up-front about this positive position and not shy away from it, even when it means shouldering a share of the burden of proof. In essence, if an atheist really holds to honest-atheism rather than bullshit-atheism, then such an atheist should simply admit that his atheism is chock-full of burden-bearing positive beliefs and then defend those beliefs to the greatest extent possible rather than playing the shell-game that is bullshit-atheism.

However, in saying the above, it is realized that many self-described atheists do appreciate the difference between bullshit-atheism and honest-atheism, and these atheists, to their credit, do indeed make it clear that their atheism is not merely a lack of belief but is actually a positive point-of-view full of burden-bearing beliefs. Such atheists, furthermore, accept that they have a burden of proof for their position. And so again, such atheists are to be commended for their honesty. However, at the same time, the fact is that other atheists—as learned from experience—either do not or will not appreciate the need to make a clear and overt distinction between bullshit-atheism and honest-atheism, nor will they wish to make this distinction widely known given the burden of proof requirement which doing so will suddenly place on them. And so, regardless of what is said here, many atheists will continue claiming that their atheism is nothing more than a mere burden-less lack-of-belief concerning the existence of God even though, in reality, it is likely much more than that. Furthermore, such atheists will continue labeling themselves as atheists rather than adopting the term agnosticism for their point-of-view. And this is why, in the end, a rhetorical tool like the label ‘bullshit-atheism’ is needed, and it is precisely why that label should be used.

And so, the long and short of it is this: given that many atheists are not more upfront with the types of positive burden-bearing beliefs their point-of-view actually entails, theists, by extension, thus need to be wary of any self-described lack-of-belief atheist. Consequently, until and unless shown otherwise through robust questioning, the theist should assume that any atheistic unbeliever that the theist is speaking with, is more of an atheistic-naturalist than a mere lack-of-belief atheist; and by following this simple rule-of-thumb, the theist will ensure that he is not readily fooled by the all-too-often used con-game that is bullshit-atheism.

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Anno Domini 2017 01 22

Non nobis Domine, non nobis, sed nomini tuo da gloriam

Introducing ‘Bullshit-Atheism’

The Reconquista Initiative

Presents…

Introducing ‘Bullshit-Atheism’

Over the past number of essays, it has been contented, and arguably demonstrated, that it is reasonable to believe that many self-described and self-aware atheists who label themselves as lack-of-belief atheists are intellectual bullshitters. At the same time, having had a solid amount of experience dealing with such atheists, it is evident that they will continue to employ the idea that their atheism is just a burden-less lack-of-belief regardless of how inappropriate this self-label actually is. In fact, the strategy that they will most likely employ is rather predictable: namely, when in a discussion concerning a topic unrelated to God’s existence, or when in a discussion with other unbelievers, such lack-of-belief atheists will expose themselves as being much more like atheistic-naturalists (philosophical naturalists) than individuals who merely lack a belief in God’s existence; but then, the moment that such atheists enter into a debate with a theist, such atheists will immediately revert back to claiming that their unbelief is merely a lack-of-belief in God’s existence, and that the whole burden of proof is on the God-believer. And so, given the existence and use of this rhetorical strategy by the lack-of-belief atheist, what is the God-believer to do?

Well, the first tactic that the theist can use to counter the atheist is for the God-believer to use his own rhetorical trick against the atheist, which is precisely why it is proposed that the term ‘atheism’ once again be split; indeed, just as modern atheists split atheism into a positive and a negative lack-of-belief form because they believed that doing so was necessary to properly reflect the full scope of what atheism entailed—and because doing so gave atheists a rhetorical advantage over the theist—I too believe that the disconnect between the type of atheism that is deployed during a debate with a theist and the type of atheism that is lived in daily life by atheists themselves shows us that atheism, for the sake of intellectual honesty, and for the sake of a good rhetorical jab to the atheist’s face, needs to once again be divided into two different forms. Namely, atheism needs to be split, on the one hand, into ‘bullshit-atheism’ (or, for the less salty among us, into something like ‘debate-atheism’ or even ‘rhetorical-atheism’) and, on the other hand, into ‘honest-atheism’ (or something like ‘worldview-atheism’, or even ‘living-atheism’). And so, whereas bullshit-atheism covers the type of questionable and disingenuous atheism that many unbelievers allege that they possess whenever they are in a debate with a theist, note that honest-atheism not only entails positive-atheism but it also includes the numerous other positive beliefs which most atheists hold and which show them to be closer to atheistic-naturalists than mere atheists. Consequently, the terms ‘bullshit-atheism’ and ‘honest-atheism’ clearly allude to the fact that atheists are all-too-often insincere in how they present themselves to the outside world, which is precisely the rhetorical effect that these new terms seek to achieve.

Now, it is appreciated that honest-atheism appears to be little more than what many people would call ‘philosophical-naturalism’, or ‘materialism’, or even ‘atheistic-naturalism’, and so an objection could be raised as to why we require the creation of a term like honest-atheism when other terms already exist to describe such a position. But the answer to this objection is obvious. The term ‘honest-atheism’, while mirroring atheistic-naturalism and thus describing an actual position that many atheists hold, is also meant to have a rhetorical effect on the conversation by implying that there is such a thing as ‘dishonest-atheism’, which there indeed is, and it is called bullshit-atheism. Thus, it is immaterial that, philosophically, honest-atheism is very close in meaning to atheistic-naturalism, for the purpose of the term honest-atheism is to contain truth within a rhetorical package, which is precisely why the terms honest-atheism and bullshit-atheism need to exist and be used.

And so, the long and short of it is this: in order to reflect reality as it presently is on the ground rather than as atheists want it to be, and in order to give the God-believer a powerful rhetorical weapon, the theist can thus begin using the terms bullshit-atheism and honest-atheism as means to counter the lack-of-belief atheist’s own rhetorical BS.

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Anno Domini 2017 01 21

Non nobis Domine, non nobis, sed nomini tuo da gloriam

 

Atheism’s BS Trilemma

The Reconquista Initiative

Presents…

Atheism’s BS Trilemma

In the essay “The Positive Burden-Bearing Beliefs of Lack-of-Belief Atheists”, it was noted that many atheists, while overtly claiming to merely lack a belief about God’s existence, actually hold to a number of positive beliefs which are indirectly yet intimately related to the question of God’s existence (meaning both God and gods). For example, most atheists hold that God’s non-existence is more probable than not, that no one created the universe or sustains it in existence, that matter exists, that the universe was not designed, that life ultimately came naturally from non-life without guidance, that the evolutionary process was wholly random and without interference from divine beings, that consciousness ultimately arose from non-consciousness naturalistically, that a soul does not exist, that God-given moral commands and duties do not exist, and so on. Additionally, many atheists claim that there is no evidence for God’s existence nor any good arguments for his existence either. But if this is the case, and if the atheist does hold to such positive beliefs as the ones mentioned above, then it soon becomes clear that such an atheist is not some mere negative-atheist who lacks a belief in God’s existence in some literal or straightforward sense, but rather the atheist is an unbeliever who holds a number of beliefs which have a burden of proof and which he must thereby justify and defend.

But now note that if the unbeliever, suddenly realizing that his positive endorsement of many of the aforementioned naturalistic claims thereby puts a burden of proof on his shoulders, thus started to back-track his affirmative endorsement of those claims, then such a move would create some serious concerns for the unbeliever. Indeed, for if an unbeliever who previously affirmed the aforementioned naturalistic claims suddenly repudiated them, and thus began to state that now he neither believed nor disbelieved that anyone created and/or caused the universe, and/or he claimed to neither believe nor disbelieve that there was any evidence of God’s existence in nature, and/or that God was involved in the evolutionary process, and so on and so forth, then such a retreating move to neither believing nor disbelieving any of the aforementioned naturalistic claims would indeed generate two potential issues for such an unbeliever.

First, the aforementioned withdrawal from the various naturalistic claims mentioned above would strongly suggest that such an unbeliever was really more of an agnostic than a genuine atheist, at least when dealing with the deities that most modern theists believe in. But why this is so?

Well, as many atheists themselves admit, if a person neither positively believed nor disbelieved in the existence of God, and thus held a position of equal uncertainty and doubt about that issue, that person would be viewed as an agnostic by most people, not as an actual atheist. And both atheists and others admit that to move from the agnostic position towards atheism, the person would need to positively affirm, at least to some degree, that it is more probable than not that no God exists. For example, in his book The God Delusion, in the section titled “The Poverty of Agnosticism”, arch-unbeliever Richard Dawkins provides us with a seven-point scale for theistic belief with pure agnosticism in the middle of the scale and with an increasingly more probable belief in either God’s existence or non-existence forming opposite ends of the scale; and so Dawkins, at least, thinks that to be an atheist in a real world sense, an unbeliever would need to believe that God’s non-existence is much more probable than not. And Robert M. Martin, in his 2002 3rd Edition of The Philosopher’s Dictionary defines atheism, theism, and agnosticism as follows: “Atheists believe that God doesn’t exist. … Atheism is contrasted with its opposite, theism, the view that God does exist, and also with agnosticism, the view that there isn’t any good reason to believe either that God exists or that He doesn’t.” Thus, for Martin, like Dawkins, to move from agnosticism to either atheism or theism requires good reasons to do so, and the existence of such reasons would allow a person to claim that God’s existence is either more probable or less probable than not depending on the direction that the person moved in. So for Martin and Dawkins, and other atheists who agree with them, to be a real-world atheist is to view God’s existence as at least somewhat less probable than not.

But now, with all of the above in mind, note that if the unbeliever is a broad atheist who positively disbelieves, whether tentatively or with certainty, that no God of any type exists, then, by necessary extension, such a person would, for example, also need to positively disbelieve, whether tentatively or with certainty, that no personal being created or sustains the universe—where ‘the universe’ means all of physical reality—for any being capable of doing so would easily be classified as at least a lower-case god. Thus, to positively and broadly affirm, at least to some probable degree, that no Gods exists is to implicitly and simultaneously affirm that no personal being created or sustains the universe. And so, the point of all this is to show that it is indeed the case that if a person claims to neither believe nor disbelieve the assertion that a personal being created the universe and sustains it in existence, then this means that the person cannot be a broad atheist who believes that the non-existence of all Gods is more likely than not, for to do so he could not be agnostic about the existence of a possible creator and sustainer of the universe. Consequently, this shows that the more agnostic a person is on the God-related questions and issues mentioned earlier, then the more agnostic-like the person appears to be in general. And just think of this in a common-sense manner: if a person told you that 1) he neither believed nor disbelieved that Gods exist, and 2) he neither believed nor disbelieved that a personal being created and sustains the universe, and 3) he neither believed nor disbelieved that a personal supernatural being created life, guided evolution, created consciousness, left evidence of his existence in nature, and so on, you would rightly come to see such a person as much more agnostic-like than atheist-like. Such a person might indeed be an atheist about certain deities, but it would be reasonable to hold that such a person, generally-speaking, would best be described as an agnostic, or at least as someone who was mainly an agnostic, rather than describing the person as a tentative or certain atheist in the broad sense. And so again, if an unbeliever back-tracks into agnosticism concerning all the relevant God-related questions, then such an unbeliever, by extension, gives others good grounds to see him as more of an agnostic than an atheist.

So the above issue is the first one to note if you find that an unbeliever is back-tracking from making any kind of positive claim concerning the various God-related questions and topics that are normally and naturally associated with atheism. But now the second issue is that if the aforementioned back-tracking unbeliever does indeed appear more agnostic than atheistic concerning all the God-related questions, and yet that unbeliever refused to countenance the fact that his views, to others, would suggest agnosticism much more strongly than atheism, and if the unbeliever continued to insist that his views were nevertheless still atheistic in nature—as many lack-of-belief atheists do—then such a stance would readily and reasonably make an outside observer come to believe that such an unbeliever disingenuously wished to make use of the intellectual and burden-free benefits of an agnostic-like position while still being able to rhetorically label himself as an atheist. Indeed, such a move would make the unbeliever’s intellectual integrity and motives suspect, and quite rightly so.

And so, the long and short of it is this:  whether he wants to be or not, the self-described atheistic unbeliever is stuck in a bit of a trilemma. First, if the unbeliever waters down his views to the point where he makes no real positive or committed claims about any God-related questions, then this strongly indicates that such an unbeliever really would be more appropriately regarded as an agnostic rather than as an atheist, regardless of what the unbeliever’s self-label is. However, if the unbeliever does answer certain God-related questions positively, then his atheism is indirectly shown to not merely be a lack-of-belief, but rather it is an actual positive point-of-view which denies the existence of certain types of gods—usually the most popular ones—and this means that the atheist has a burden of proof which he must meet and cannot avoid. And finally, if the unbeliever makes no real positive claims about any God-related questions and is thus rightly seen as an agnostic rather than an atheist, but if such an unbeliever nevertheless adamantly maintains and proclaims that he is an atheist regardless of the fact that he holds to a position which everyone else sees as more agnostic than atheist, then this situation creates the grounds to make it reasonable to suspect that such an unbeliever is simply trying to bullshit the rest of us into accepting the rhetorical maneuvers which are most advantageous to him, and this is something that we need not do. And so, for the self-described atheist who wants to be called an atheist but who nevertheless wants to avoid the burden of proof, the choices are grim: either he admits he is actually best classified as an agnostic, not an atheist, or he admits he is an atheist but then shoulders his share of the burden of proof, or he gets called out as a mere rhetorical bullshitter who is trying to have his atheistic cake and eat it too.

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Anno Domini 2017 01 20

Non nobis Domine, non nobis, sed nomini tuo da gloriam

The Positive Burden-Bearing Beliefs of Lack-of-Belief Atheists

The Reconquista Initiative

Presents…

The Positive Burden-Bearing Beliefs of Lack-of-Belief Atheists

Over the past few essays devoted to the topic of negative lack-of-belief atheism being bullshit—in the philosophical sense—a number of arguments were presented in order to show that it is reasonable to believe that lack-of-belief atheism is indeed a shell-game meant to rhetorically shield atheists from bearing their share of the burden of proof for their unbelief. Yet even with those previous arguments already articulated, the truth is that this whole matter gets even worse for the lack-of-belief atheist given the fact that when pressed, most atheists, even while claiming to merely lack a belief concerning the existence of God or gods (hereafter just God), will simultaneously admit that they hold a number of other positive beliefs about the God-question which, whether they realize it or not, actually undermine their own self-proclaimed negative-atheism. In fact, in many cases, these other positive beliefs tangentially demonstrate that the unbeliever’s atheism is much more than a mere lack of belief. And to understand how this is the case, let us examine some of these other beliefs.

First, in terms of the positive beliefs that many modern atheists would endorse, we can reasonably claim—based both on personal experience interacting with atheists and from the testimony of atheists themselves—that many modern atheists would hold the affirmative belief that it is more probable than not, even if only slightly more probable than not, that no God exists. For example, arch-unbeliever Richard Dawkins, in his book The God Delusion, in the section titled “The Poverty of Agnosticism”—page 51 of the 2006 hard-copy edition—admit that he is almost certain that no God exists; so Dawkins himself holds to the positive belief that it is much more probable than not that no God exists. But, as stated, note that this is a positive claim that needs defending rather than being a mere lack of belief about the existence of God; indeed, such an atheist as Dawkins does not believe that God’s existence is essentially unknowable or that it is as likely as not, nor does such an atheist literally lack a belief about the God-question, but rather, such an atheist is making the positive claim that God’s existence is less likely than not, and as such, such an atheist owes us some reasons for why he makes this positive claim. After all, if I said that I believed that the theory of evolution, for example, was more likely false than true, every proponent of evolution would demand that I substantiate that claim with arguments and reasons for it, and they would no doubt insist that that was a positive claim which bore a burden of proof; they would not let me get away with just saying that I ‘lacked a belief’ in the theory of evolution, but rather they would rightly demand justification for my claim that evolution is more likely false than factual. But the same holds true for the claim that God’s non-existence is more probable than not, and so such a claim needs to be positively justified. Therefore, if the atheist holds to such a claim, then he is indeed an atheist who is making a positive claim and he thus has a burden of proof that he must meet. And yet note that if the atheist does not hold such a belief, and if he thus claims no positive belief concerning the probability of God’s existence or non-existence, or if he claims to believe that God’s existence and non-existence are roughly of equal probability, then such an atheist is much more of an agnostic than an outright atheist, and so he should stop calling himself an atheist to begin with.

Now, in addition to believing that God’s non-existence is more probable than not, in my experience, many modern atheists also hold other positive beliefs that are unavoidably linked to the God-question, and yet these are the very beliefs which also undermine the atheist’s claim to hold to a mere lack-of-belief style of atheism. For instance, the often repeated atheist mantra that ‘there are no good arguments for God’s existence’, or that ‘there is no evidence for God’s existence’, are cases in point of this phenomenon. Why? Because the positive claim that there is no evidence for God is directly contrary to, for example, the Christian idea that God did provide universally-visible evidence of His existence to all men and that the entire creation is itself universally manifest evidence for the existence of a Creator deity (and please see Romans 1:19-21 and Points 27 to 38 of the newest Catechism of the Catholic Church for detailed articulation of this claim). So the point to understand is that in positively asserting that there is no evidence for God’s existence, the atheist is taking a de facto positive position against certain theistic worldviews, such as certain forms of Christian theism. And this, in turn, means that the atheist, at least in some cases, does not merely lack a belief about the truth of theism, but he implicitly holds the positive belief that certain forms of theism are false.

To understand this idea more deeply, consider this analogy. Imagine, for a moment, two Detectives at the scene of a fatality. The first Detective, examining the scene, expresses his positive endorsement of the hypothesis that the fatality is a murder committed by a notorious serial killer who always and purposefully leaves ample evidence at the scene of the crime to clearly show that he was the culprit. However, upon hearing this hypothesis, the second Detective explicitly asserts that there is absolutely no evidence to show that the fatality was even a homicide. Now, in making this claim, the second Detective is not directly contradicting the first Detective’s hypothesis that the murderer is the notorious serial killer. Nevertheless, the second Detective is indirectly denying that hypothesis through his assertion that the scene shows no evidence of a homicide at all, for since such evidence would have to be there if the murderer was the notorious serial killer in question, then, by claiming that there is no such evidence, the second Detective is necessarily implying that he positively believes that the fatality was not caused by that specific serial killer. At the same time, in making his “no evidence of a homicide” claim, the second Detective is leaving open the possibility that someone else may have killed the deceased person and left no evidence of the act, but he is positively denying, through the unavoidable implication of his claim, that the evidence-leaving serial killer that the first Detective has posited as the culprit is definitely not the murderer. So while the second Detective may lack a belief about other possible murderers, he does not merely lack a belief about whether or not that specific serial killer is the murderer; rather, by saying that there is no evidence of a homicide having been committed, the second Detective is positively implying that no evidence-leaving serial killer could be responsible for the fatality under investigation. And in the same way, the atheist who positively believes that “there is no evidence for God” is simultaneously implying, whether consciously or not, that he also holds the positive belief that no evidence-providing God exists either. And so when it comes to certain deities, such as the God posited by Christian theism, the unbeliever’s other God-related beliefs, such as the belief that there is no evidence for God, unavoidably imply that his atheism is much more than just a lack-of-belief.

And for another example of the aforementioned phenomenon, consider that if an atheist was asked “Who created or caused the universe—meaning all of physical reality—to exist?” and “Who sustains the universe in existence?”, then, most often, the atheist’s answer will be that “No one created or caused the universe to exist, and no one sustains it in existence”; but such an answer is a positive claim which directly contradicts many theistic worldviews, such as Christianity. This is seen in the fact that the atheist is directly asserting that it is false that there is a being who created and sustains the universe, which is something which Christians claim their God has most definitely done and is doing right now. And so this means that if the atheist is explicitly stating that this is not the case, then the atheist is positively implying that orthodox Christian theism is false.

Thus, as such cases demonstrate, the atheist’s subtle but de facto positive rejection of the existence of certain types of gods, as implied by the unavoidable consequences of his other positive statements, appears to strongly undermine his claim to merely lack a belief about the existence of gods in general; indeed, in answering certain God-related questions in a way that unavoidably implies that specific types of theism are false, and thus that the deities posited by those types of theism do not exist, the atheist is tacitly admitting that his atheism, in such cases, is actually a type of positive atheism which thus has a burden of proof that it must bear.

Yet even more so than just the above examples, most atheists also hold to some or all of the following positive beliefs as well: that matter exists, that the universe was not designed, that life ultimately came naturally from non-life without guidance, that the evolutionary process was wholly random and without interference from divine beings, that consciousness ultimately arose from non-consciousness naturalistically, that a soul does not exist, that God-given moral commands and duties do not exist, and so on. But again, all of these are not only positive anti-theistic beliefs which require defending, but they are also beliefs which tacitly imply that certain types of theism are false. Indeed, for consider, as a final example, the issue of evolution. Most atheists would assert that evolution is a genuinely random and undirected process. However, note that since classical theism holds that there are no truly random or undirected processes in the universe, nor could there ever be such processes given God’s providential control and constant sustainment of everything that exists, then if the atheist positively claims that the evolutionary process is genuinely random and not under the control of any being in any way, then the atheist is positively implying that classical theism is false. So the atheist might lack a belief about the existence of some other deity, but his stance on evolution is positively implying that the God of classical theism does not exist. And so, once again, the fact that the atheist, in practice, holds such beliefs as the ones mentioned above implies that the atheist does not merely lack a belief about the truth or falsity of various specific theistic positions, but that he positively, albeit implicitly, holds various types of theism to be false. And thus the atheist who holds these aforementioned positions—as, in my experience, many of them admit to doing when pressed—thereby shows himself to be more of an atheistic-naturalist / philosophical naturalist than a mere lack-of-belief atheist, and yet atheistic-naturalism is a position that most definitely bears a burden of proof.

And note that you do not need to take my word for the fact that for many atheists, atheism is much more than a mere lack of belief. Indeed, to see the difference between the type of atheism used in theistic debates and the atheism that is actually believed by many atheists in their daily lives, consider this letter about atheism, which was written by an atheist to other atheists who he thought were being disingenuous and inconsistent in their unbelief. The letter was provided to a Christian apologist named J. Warner Wallace, who podcasted about the letter and published it at his website ‘coldcasechrisitanity.com’ in a January 14, 2014 article titled “The Inevitable Consequence of an Atheistic Worldview”, which was accessed on the 15th of August 2016. The letter is long, but informative, and so it is well-worth the read. It begins as follows:

[QUOTE] [To] all my Atheist friends. 

Let us stop sugar coating it. I know, it’s hard to come out and be blunt with the friendly Theists who frequent sites like this.  However in your efforts to “play nice” and “be civil” you actually do them a great disservice.                    

We are Atheists.  We believe that the Universe is a great uncaused, random accident. All life in the Universe past and future are the results of random chance acting on itself.  While we acknowledge concepts like morality, politeness, civility seem to exist, we know they do not.  Our highly evolved brains imagine that these things have a cause or a use, and they have in the past, they’ve allowed life to continue on this planet for a short blip of time.  But make no mistake: all our dreams, loves, opinions, and desires are figments of our primordial imagination. They are fleeting electrical signals that fire across our synapses for a moment in time. They served some purpose in the past.  They got us here. That’s it.  All human achievement and plans for the future are the result of some ancient, evolved brain and accompanying chemical reactions that once served a survival purpose.  Ex: I’ll marry and nurture children because my genes demand reproduction, I’ll create because creativity served a survival advantage to my ancient ape ancestors, I’ll build cities and laws because this allowed my ape grandfather time and peace to reproduce and protect his genes. My only directive is to obey my genes. Eat, sleep, reproduce, die.  That is our bible.

We deride the Theists for having created myths and holy books.  We imagine ourselves superior.  But we too imagine there are reasons to obey laws, be polite, protect the weak etc.  Rubbish. We are nurturing a new religion, one where we imagine that such conventions have any basis in reality.  Have they allowed life to exist?  Absolutely.  But who cares?  Outside of my greedy little gene’s need to reproduce, there is nothing in my world that stops me from killing you and reproducing with your wife.  Only the fear that I might be incarcerated and thus be deprived of the opportunity to do the same with the next guy’s wife stops me.  Some of my Atheist friends have fooled themselves into acting like the general population.  They live in suburban homes, drive Toyota Camrys, attend school plays.  But underneath they know the truth.  They are a bag of DNA whose only purpose is to make more of themselves. So be nice if you want. Be involved, have polite conversations, be a model citizen.  Just be aware that while technically an Atheist, you are an inferior one.  You’re just a little bit less evolved, that’s all.  When you are ready to join me, let me know, I’ll be reproducing with your wife.

I know it’s not PC [politically correct] to speak so bluntly about the ramifications of our beliefs, but in our discussions with Theists we sometimes tip toe around what we really know to be factual. Maybe it’s time we Atheists were a little more truthful and let the chips fall where they may.  At least that’s what my genes are telling me to say.” [UNQUOTE, http://coldcasechristianity.com/2014/the-inevitable-consequence-of-an-atheistic-worldview/%5D

So here we can see that an atheist quite readily admits that in terms of how he views the world, morality, meaning, and so on, his atheism is much more than a mere lack of belief. Instead, it is a vast mix of positive beliefs, all of which require defending and which need substantiation before being accepted. Therefore, in terms of how atheism makes many unbelievers perceive reality, atheism thus appears to be, for all practical purposes, much more like a comprehensive worldview than just an absence of belief.

And to support the above atheist’s claim that atheists sometimes conceal the true extent and implications of their unbelief from theists, remember as well what atheist Luke Muehlhauser said in his 23rd of February 2009 article “Atheism and the Burden of Proof”, which was accessed on the 8th of August 2016 on his website ‘commonsenseatheism.com’; namely, Muehlhauser states the following:

[QUOTE] But most intellectually-inclined atheists I know do not merely “lack” a belief in God – as, say, my dog lacks a belief in God. Atheists like to avoid the burden of proof during debates, so they say they merely “lack” a belief in God. But this is not what their writings usually suggest. No, most intellectual atheists positively believe that God does not exist. In fact, most of them will say – at least to other atheists – that it’s “obvious” there is no God, or that they “know” – as well as we can “know” anything – that God does not exist. Thus, if the atheist wants to defend what he really believes, then he, too, has a burden of proof. He should give reasons for why he thinks that God almost certainly doesn’t exist. [UNQUOTE, bold emphasis added, http://commonsenseatheism.com/?p=597%5D

So here even Muehlhauser admits that certain atheists that he knows will admit to other atheists that it is obvious that there is no God, but such atheists will nevertheless use lack-of-belief atheism as a means to avoid the burden of proof during debates on atheism.

Additionally, note that even in the political arena there is a connection between atheism and certain positive points-of-view. For example, as was reported in Point 3 of the Pew Research Center’s June 1st, 2016 web-article “10 Facts About Atheists”, which was accessed on the 1st of August 2016, only one-in-ten of self-identified US atheists count themselves as conservative while about two-thirds of atheists identify as Democrats or lean in that direction; and a majority of atheists, at 56%, call themselves political liberals (http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/06/01/10-facts-about-atheists/). And even atheists themselves, such as Austin Cline in his ‘atheism.about.com’ article “Atheists & Agnostics in America Tend to be Politically Liberal”, accessed on the 1st of August 2016, admit that there is good statistical evidence that atheists and agnostics have strong liberal tendencies (http://atheism.about.com/od/Atheist-Agnostic-Belief-Survey/a/Atheists-Agnostics-America-Politically-Liberal.htm). So even in politics and culture there seems to be a solid correlation between atheism and certain positive beliefs which are generally opposed to traditional orthodox religious morality. And such a finding again suggests that, in practice, the atheism of many atheists is more than a mere lack of belief about the truth or falsity of theism but rather that such an atheism is indeed the positive view that certain types of theism—such as any theism which claims that modern progressive ethics are incorrect—are false (or, possibly, that they are true but need to be opposed regardless of their truth).

Finally, in light of all this, also note the interesting point that since many common and daily interactions between atheists and theists involve theists who are religious followers who usually believe in the types of deities that many atheists implicitly reject through their affirmation of such positive beliefs as those noted above, then it does seem rather disingenuous for the atheist to assert that his atheism is a mere lack of belief concerning such deities; rather, in such cases, the atheist should admit that he has a positive burden-bearing view that the specific deity of the particular religious believer does not exist. And yet, since such cases form a sizable portion of the interactions that atheists deal with, then the non-believer’s atheism should very often be presented as the positive view that it is, not as a mere lack of belief.

And so, the long and short of it is this: although atheists like to hide behind so-called lack-of-belief atheism, more often than not, when you scratch an atheist, what you get is not someone who lacks a belief in God in a literal or straightforward sense, but rather you get an individual with all sorts of positive and burden-bearing beliefs concerning God that he should be defending. In fact, what you most often get is someone who is essentially an atheistic-naturalist of some type or other, but who nevertheless wishes to avoid justifying his atheistic-naturalism, thereby leading him to invoke the ‘lack a belief atheism’ move. But such a move is, in the end, just plain bullshit, and it needs to be called out as such.

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Anno Domini 2017 01 18

Non nobis Domine, non nobis, sed nomini tuo da gloriam

Atheists are Just Bullshitting Agnostics

The Reconquista Initiative

Presents…

Atheists are Just Bullshitting Agnostics

In the essay “Lack-of-Belief Atheism is Bullshit”, it was argued that, based on the experience of a number of individuals, as well as the testimony of certain atheists, it is reasonable to believe that so-called ‘lack-of-belief atheism’, or negative-atheism, is little more than a shell-game meant to give atheists cover for avoiding the burden of proof for their unbelief. And in that essay, a particular quote from atheist Luke Muehlhauser, the author of the website ‘commonsenseatheism.com’, which was very popular during New Atheism’s heyday, stood out. And that quote, which was in Muehlhauser’s 23rd of February 2009 article “Atheism and the Burden of Proof”, and which was accessed on the 8th of August 2016, was the following:

[QUOTE] But most intellectually-inclined atheists I know do not merely “lack” a belief in God – as, say, my dog lacks a belief in God. Atheists like to avoid the burden of proof during debates, so they say they merely “lack” a belief in God. But this is not what their writings usually suggest. No, most intellectual atheists positively believe that God does not exist. In fact, most of them will say – at least to other atheists – that it’s “obvious” there is no God, or that they “know” – as well as we can “know” anything – that God does not exist. Thus, if the atheist wants to defend what he really believes, then he, too, has a burden of proof. He should give reasons for why he thinks that God almost certainly doesn’t exist. [UNQUOTE, bold emphasis added, http://commonsenseatheism.com/?p=597]

Now, for this essay, the idea that shall be focused on is Muehlhauser’s interesting and salient point that, as he says, intellectually-inclined, and thus self-aware and self-described atheists do not lack a belief in God (meaning both God and gods) in the same sense that other things, like his dog, do. Indeed, there is an obvious and categorical difference between the alleged lack-of-belief about God which the self-aware and self-described negative-atheist has and the lack-of-belief that a dog has. And since such atheists are also not like molecules, or moss, or mice, or monkeys, all of which also literally lack a belief in God and yet which we would never call ‘atheistic’ in any meaningful sense, then there is a difference here as well. And so, there is obviously something less than straightforward in the type of lack-of-belief that the self-aware and self-described negative-atheist allegedly possesses given that all the aforementioned things—dogs, mice, moss, and so on—clearly and literally lack a belief in God as well, and yet it would be absurd to deem any of these things to be atheistic in any way.

At the same time, it is also interesting to note that self-aware and self-described negative-atheists are not even like infants or toddlers or utterly ignorant adults in their lack of God belief, for infants and toddlers and ignorant adults lack a belief in God’s existence because they have not yet entertained the question and are therefore genuinely and completely ignorant of it. By contrast, self-aware and self-described atheists—by virtue of being self-aware and consciously describing themselves as atheists—have obviously contemplated the question of God’s existence and thus they are not ignorant of the God concept. After all, atheists are atheists, they are not what could best be described as ignorant-theists, or ‘ignotheists’ (which would be a person, like an infant, who is truly and wholly ignorant of the idea of God and thus genuinely and literally lacks any belief about a deity given that that person has never even contemplated the God concept to begin with). And so again, there is a clear difference between the lack-of-belief concerning God that an infant or toddler or mentally handicapped person has, and the lack-of-belief that a self-aware and self-described negative-atheist alleged has.

But also note that there is even a difference between the negative-atheist’s lack of belief in God and the lack of belief in God that other non-ignorant adults in particular situations might have. For example, it would be laughable to think that we would call a sleeping Pope or a dozing clergyman a lack-of-belief atheist even though they actually do happen to literally lack a belief in God at the time of their slumbers. Indeed, for while the Pope truly does lack a belief in God while sleeping, it is absurd to think that the Pope should be labeled a lack-of-belief atheist when he naps but that he then transforms back into a Catholic God-believer upon waking. Furthermore, it is doubly-absurd to think that a fully awake and conscious religious monk, while in a mind-clearing meditation that seeks to put him in a contemplative state-of-mind, should be called a lack-of-belief atheist in that moment simply because he happens to lack a belief about God at the time of his most important religious practice.

And so, given all the above points, it begins to become evident that the alleged lack-of-belief which the negative-atheist claims he has is suspiciously dissimilar from the common-sense and literal understanding of what we normally take a ‘lack’ of something to entail; indeed, we begin to see that if so-called ‘lack-of-belief atheism’ is understood in a straightforward sense—namely, as a literal lack of belief about God’s existence—then the very idea that a self-aware and self-described atheist is simply a person who lacks a belief about God is, to put it charitably, immediately questionable both in its veracity and in its coherence. But then this raises the key question: namely, if the self-described and self-aware negative-atheist does not lack a belief about God in the literal and straight-forward sense of the term, then what kind of lack-of-belief does such an atheist actually have?

The fact is that only if a person has never thought about the God concept can he maintain a position where he lacks a belief about God’s existence in the genuine sense of literally possessing no belief one way or the other about the matter. After all, before writing this passage, I had never contemplated the issue of whether there was silver on the planet Pluto, and so I genuinely lacked a belief about that issue given that I had absolutely no belief one way or the other about that topic. But now that I have contemplated this question, I no longer literally lack a belief about the matter; rather, I now have the positive belief that I have insufficient evidence to either affirm or deny the existence of silver on the planet Pluto, and I thus hold a position of uncertainty about this question, thereby meaning that I am ultimately an agnostic about this issue. And the same holds true for the God-question, for the minute that we hear of the God-issue, and understand it, and contemplate it, we then unavoidably adopt a position along the spectrum of theistic belief, which ranges from certain-atheism on one end, to certain-theism on the other end, and with pure agnosticism in the neutral middle (and theistic non-cognitivism would be there as well). But at no point do we merely continue to lack a belief in God’s existence in the same literal way that we did before we even contemplated the concept of God. Instead, we hold a position where we either view God’s existence as more probable than not, or less probable than not, or we come to hold the purely agnostic point-of-view. But again, what we do not have is a ‘lack of belief’ in a literal sense.

But now consider that self-aware and self-described negative-atheists are individuals who have indeed already thought about God’s existence and are thus not actually ignorant about this matter. What this means is that the self-aware negative-atheist cannot lack a belief about God’s existence in the literal and straightforward sense, like an infant does, but rather he can only lack a belief in the sense that the agnostic lacks a belief: namely, by being uncertain about the issue of God’s existence and thus neither affirming God’s existence nor denying it (and see the essay ‘Atheism, Agnosticism, and Bullshit’ for support of this definition of agnosticism). Consequently, and as mentioned, the idea that a self-aware unbeliever can lack a belief in God in the literal sense is, at best, a seriously questionable concept, and it is, at worst, outright false. And yet if ‘lack-of-belief atheism’ does not describe an unbeliever who lacks a belief in God’s existence in the literal sense, but rather it merely describes an unbeliever who is uncertain and uncommitted one way or the other about God’s existence, then lack-of-belief atheism appears to be nothing more than agnosticism by another name. So either lack-of-belief atheism is an inappropriate label for most self-aware and self-described negative-atheists given that such atheists do not genuinely nor literally lack a belief in God’s existence like a wholly ignorant person does, or else lack-of-belief atheism is just another label for agnosticism about God. Either way, this whole issue of lack-of-belief atheism is problematic for the unbeliever given its appearance of intellectual dishonesty, and so it is a problem that unbelievers should address.

Now, if a self-aware and self-described atheist does not see this problem, then this points towards ignorance of the issue, which is its own concern. And yet if such an atheist does see this problem, but he continues to promote and use lack-of-belief atheism anyway even though it is an inappropriate label for him and if he simply uses it as a concealed synonym for agnosticism, then, once again, this fact serves as some evidence towards the view that intellectual bullshit is afoot, for it provides some evidence that such an atheist, through his use of the ‘lack-of-belief’ shtick, wants to gain the rhetorical benefits of calling himself an “atheist” while at the same time reaping the burden-avoiding properties of agnosticism. In essence, such an atheist want to gain the perceived prestige that comes with proudly and boldly labelling himself an ‘atheist’ rather than a wishy-washy agnostic, but he also wants to avoid any burden for justifying his unbelief, which is why what such an atheist has done is merely to repackage what most people understand as agnosticism into a new box called ‘lack-of-belief atheism’.

So either the self-described and self-aware atheist is ignorant of the problems that labeling himself as a lack-of-belief atheist poses, or else he is aware of these problems, but he disingenuously continues to label himself as a lack-of-belief atheist anyway. And since atheists are intelligent people, it is reasonable to suspect that the latter is the case, which is precisely why this point again serves as some evidence that lack-of-belief atheism, when used by self-described and self-aware negative-atheists, is indeed just a bullshit maneuver meant to give such atheists a rhetorical upper-hand against theists, even though their so-called negative-atheism is indistinguishable from agnosticism.

And so, the long and short of it is this:  it seems that the old adage that ‘an agnostic is just a cowardly atheist’, while possibly true, is not the only adage that we now need to consider, for it also appears that we can now just as readily say that ‘an atheist is actually little more than just a bullshitting agnostic’.

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Anno Domini 2017 01 17

Non nobis Domine, non nobis, sed nomini tuo da gloriam