Right of reply

The good news is am back and will be sharing photos of my holiday with you in a bit.

In the past two weeks, atheism or rather talk about atheism has dominated the airwaves and has got its way to the print media. One journalist responding to the atheist[s] commits a few errors in his attempt to tell the atheists to shut up. I am not responding on behalf of the person to whom his ire is directed but as a non believer.

It seems to me that the author is irked that atheists have an association. Why dehumanize us just because of our lack of belief? I can’t speak for Harry whether he knows the difference between a charlatan and an atheist. But one thing I know is an atheist is one who lacks a belief in the existence of god[s].

I don’t know what he means when he tells us

Atheism happens to be very serious business. Not believing in the Bible – or the Koran – does not qualify one as an atheist.

for I guess we all know or rather we know atheism is a lack of belief in gods. And that books so called sacred or divinely inspired/ authored are but works of men.

It is true

The average Class Five child has the capacity to doubt that life and the universe were created within six days through a series of daily omnipotent commands. 

but am not sure how many do this given the extent of religiosity in this country. I guess because this author doubts the genesis story he assumes many do too which unfortunately is not the case.

Whereas I agree with him that

The implausibility of the Genesis story is a pedestrian base to ground one’s atheism on.

it is a good place to start. And so I wonder why our reviewer commits the No True Scotsman fallacy in the next line when he writes

 

It so happens that true atheists tend to be exceptionally brainy minds.

Could he qualify what he means by true atheists, maybe giving us a few examples.

His next statement betrays an ignorance about the group he seems to vilify by repeating the same line we read everywhere that

atheism is a highly developed belief system in itself

he goes on to tell us

It is a belief system that rejects a humanised and whimsical god

which anyone who knows what atheism is would know to be fallacious. Atheism is a lack of belief in the existence of any god[s]. The atheist contends that the evidence so far adduced, if any, in favour of the god hypothesis is deficient. So no, it is not a rejection of any gods, for that would mean acceding the existence of gods but rejecting them for whatever grounds a person may have.

I will not comment on his summary on Hawking’s book which I have somewhere in my to read list.

When he tells us further

An agnostic is a guy who doesn’t buy the idea of a biblical god, nor is he ready to get into atheistic cynicism. He is happy being somewhere in the middle. Actually, it is a very ordinary place to be and does not require extreme mental exertion.

we are convinced he hasn’t spent as much time to study what he chose to address. An agnostic holds that you can neither prove the existence nor non existence of god, whatever you define god to be. I will contend as regards the question of belief, that agnosticism is an untenable position.

Atheists are accused of calling religious people daft. The author writes, with derision

Incidentally, it is a mistake for wannabe atheists to imagine all religious believers are, by definition, daft.

This statement ignores a very important distinction that must be made. There are thousands of believers who are top in their respective fields. The question of their religious beliefs is the one area of their lives they haven’t examined as well as they have other areas of study. I wouldn’t call a religious person daft but it we must agree that is is unreasonable to belief there is an age where donkeys talked, snakes walked  and virgins became pregnant from ghosts. It can be safely said such a person who believes these has abandoned reason. It has nothing to do with other areas of their lives.

The fact that there are religious believers with great minds as we are told here

Some of the best minds that go head-to-head against articulate atheists like Oxford biologist Richard Dawkins or the late Vanity Fair columnist Christopher Hitchens are scholars who believe in a religious, moral god.

fails to deal with the question of whether theism is true.

It is interesting that most critics of atheists always ask us to read a book. This charge, George Jacob Holyoake responded to in 1871 in a speech when he said

The right of private judgment, always in set terms conceded to us, means nothing, unless it leads to a new understanding as to the terms in which we are to be addressed, in the bible and the people, it is described as insolence to ignore Christianity. We do not understand this language. It would be insolence to a deity to ignore a message which we can recognize as coming from him, but it may rather imply reverence for god to reject the reports of many who speak in his name.  Were we to require Christians read our books or think as we think, they would resent the requirement as impertinence and we have yet to learn that it is less impertinence when Christians make these demands of us. If Christians are under no obligation to hold our opinions, neither are we under obligation to hold theirs.

In concluding this response, I will quote d’Holdbach on theology. He wrote

There is a science which has for its object only incomprehensible things. Unlike all others, it occupies itself but with things unseen. Hobbes calls it “the kingdom of darkness.” In this land all obey laws opposed to those which men acknowledge in the world they inhabit. In this marvelous region light is but darkness, evidence becomes doubtful or false, the impossible becomes credible, reason is an unfaithful guide, and common sense changed into delirium. This science is named Theology, and this Theology is a continual insult to human reason.

Atheism is more than just not believing in religious teachings and a bonus article

Atheists do not worry me as much as ‘believers’