Being an Affirmed Atheist is not Scientific

Says the affirmed atheist?

Yes. And?

That is certainly a reasonable reaction to Gleiser’s statement. The physicist’s claim is downright bizarre and jarring. It suggests that he doesn’t understand the differences between science and philosophy. Thus, “Being an affirmed atheist is not scientific.” strikes me as almost as jolting as “Being an affirmed atheist is not athletic.”— to which my response would be: “Uhhhh… well… OK. I suppose you could say that.” (But why would anybody say that???)

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@AllenWitmerMiller

I dont agree. It is the same kind of distinction that we ask ID folks to make… who refuse to do so.

I’m not sure I follow what you are saying, George. In any case, I would certainly agree that many ID folks do confuse and conflate science and philosophy in equally jarring ways.

This is an interesting and worthwhile thread topic.

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Yet another person who forgets that many atheists lack belief but don’t go further and make the claim that gods definitely don’t exist. Atheism only requires a lack of belief, not a belief that gods don’t exist.

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It’s one possible atheist position. What if I tried to criticize all religion based on the activity of the crassest televangelists? Or tried to define all religious thought as equivalent to Buddhist philosophy (no offense intended to it!)?

He’s not clear about it at all. That’s the point of my criticism.

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@John_Dalton,

You don’t think the statement in the quotes above is clear enough?

What would you add to it?

I would add a “Tu quoque!” to it. (hoping this passes @swamidass meme filter since it is more explanatory and historical than memetic).

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@T_aquaticus

I think it is pretty clear that the Highlander is hoping she will not notice (or at least won’t comment) on his rather sizable tumor…

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Can you please help me to understand this?

If “to lack belief” is “be without or deficient in belief,” then am I correct that you would favor this as an operational definition:

Atheism is a deficiency in belief that gods exist.

If one is “without belief that gods exist” then it would be the same as “possessing a belief that gods don’t exist,” which you disavow.

I’m not trying to be smart, but if there’s an important distinction between lacking belief they exist and possessing a belief that they don’t exist, I would like to understand that. (We can break this out if need be. I don’t mean for it to disrupt the thread.)

No, it’s not the same thing. To use another example, I don’t believe the house down the street is on fire right now, but I also accept the possibility that it is on fire. I don’t believe there is a tall, anthropomorphic ape that wanders the wonderful Pacific Northwest where I live, but I also admit that there is a very slim possibility that Bigfoot is real. Lacking belief that something exists does not require the additional belief that this something does not exist.

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Perfect. Thanks and now I understand.

I don’t think that’s quite right.

A person (a child, for example) can lack a belief in gods because the whole idea has never occurred to them. Or a person may have been introduced to the idea of gods, but has chosen not to adopt that idea for now. I would say that “atheist” applies only to the second of those, not to the first.

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If that was all he said, I would not object at all. But the quote in its entirety is:

“I see atheism as being inconsistent with the scientific method as it is, essentially, belief in nonbelief ,” Gleiser said in a 2018 interview in Scientific American. “You may not believe in God, but to affirm its nonexistence with certainty is not scientifically consistent.”

In the article he says:

I see atheism as being inconsistent with the scientific method, as it is, essentially, belief in nonbelief. It does not offer any proof of nonexistence as that would be literally impossible through science. Atheism elevates belief to a rational argument that is very ill-founded epistemologically. You may not believe in God, but to affirm its nonexistence with certainty is not scientifically consistent. If you are nonbeliever, the only position consistent with science is agnosticism.

The title of another Scientific American article is “Atheism Is Inconsistent with the Scientific Method, Prizewinning Physicist Says”. He did not write that I’m sure, but it clearly reflects his error. From there:

I honestly think atheism is inconsistent with the scientific method. What I mean by that is, what is atheism? It’s a statement, a categorical statement that expresses belief in nonbelief. “I don’t believe even though I have no evidence for or against, simply I don’t believe.” Period. It’s a declaration. But in science we don’t really do declarations. We say, “Okay, you can have a hypothesis, you have to have some evidence against or for that.” And so an agnostic would say, look, I have no evidence for God or any kind of god (What god, first of all? The Maori gods, or the Jewish or Christian or Muslim God? Which god is that?) But on the other hand, an agnostic would acknowledge no right to make a final statement about something he or she doesn’t know about. “The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence,” and all that.

I admire his commitment to agnosticism, but he doesn’t understand what “atheism” means. Look at this sentence:

“I don’t believe even though I have no evidence for or against, simply I don’t believe.” Period. It’s a declaration.

What? No. Let’s just say I’ve examined the evidence concerning some proposition and I don’t think the evidence supports it. A lot of other people accept the evidence. They really do, and this proposition is really important to them in fact. They regard it in many important aspects of their lives, and it even can affect how they deal with other people. But I don’t accept it, so I don’t believe the proposition. I’m not simply saying “I don’t know”. I don’t believe it. A real situation has been created with regards to me and the other people. In what sense is “having no evidence against” the proposition even relevant? How precisely am I expected to disprove it? If I told you an invisible asteroid was going to strike your town tonight, would you sleep well in your lack of belief, or would that only be justified if you absolutely disproved the possibility?

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Athletic is a concrete object in reach of Science. God is not. Everything related to God, like atheism or theism is not scientific. Your comparison makes no sense, sorry.

“Marcelo Gleiser was born in Rio de Janeiro to an influential family in Rio’s Jewish community and received a conservative Hebrew school education. He began college majoring in chemical engineering but soon shifted to physics, receiving a Bachelor of Science from the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro in 1981.” - Templeton Foundation

I think this explains everything. Marcelo had his psiche formed under indoctrination to believe in God. Science must have fight the indoctrination, so, while he try to be naturally rational by the scientific world view, he can not destroy his subconscious program. This is bad for a scientist, because he will unconsciously choose his issues for research trying to understanding the mind of God.
Geiser says to himself that he is an agnostic, he believe in that, but he can’t to be real agnostic. A real scientist must be impersonal, neither theist, neither atheist, a real agnostic. We have this big problem of modern Science not working for the good of all mankind and being limited to our sensorial dimension because it is a feedback process between natural phenomena and ideology. The scope of research is chosen by ideology instead pure natural rationality and honest wish for knowledge. And the scientists aligned with theism goes in the same wrong opposite way.
Why is this my opinion? Against the two “team” in control of human sciences? Because I have a different experience with Nature, living almost seven years in the jungle when I was reduced almost as a half-monkey, perceiving Nature in a different way humans do. As result was born a third world view, where each natural phenomena is interpreted in a new way, and this world view is suggesting that the scientific world view is very incomplete and its theories are very wrong.
The atomic system model is incomplete, the most important fact in an atom - its vital properties principles - is being ignored. The astronomic system model is totally wrong. The meaning of biological systems - aka, life - is totally wrong. The darwinian theory is merely half of the real cosmological evolution process. And so on…
Ok, but… opinions from wild salvage half-monkeys does not account, I know that. Even that half-monkeys are indoctrinated only by pristine pure mother Nature…

John, only the total world - beyond this Universe, and beyond what can be grasped by our limited and few sensors plus our limited and few technological tools - could say that there is no God. After searching at each smallest and biggest space/time of its own body and not finding any God. And… still, such world could not be authority when saying that there is no God, because still can be dimensions beyond and outside it, where God could be hidden. I think is not rational to believe in humans’ ideas of God, I myself think that all these humans gods are wrong, but… let’s wait humans sciences reaching this total world for having a rational opinion about. Are you agnostic- atheist?! Agnostic is “I don’t know…” and atheism is “I know…”. You can not be the two things at sametime…

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Y’all’s so universe-centric in your thinking. I think God’s hiddenness is His way of showing us that he’s not from around here. We’re not either. “When you die, you become Alive” – the words of a Near-Death-Experiencer.

Sure, I agree with you there! More below.

Well, we’ll be waiting for a long time for that I imagine :slight_smile: Things being what they are, we may need to come to some intermediary opinion in the meantime.

Actually you can! I like the way you’ve laid this out because it will make it easy to explain my way of thinking about it. Agnosticism is “I don’t know” and atheism is “I don’t believe”. Many people identify as agnostic atheists. The basic idea is that we don’t believe in gods, and don’t claim to know the ultimate truths of reality. Some atheists do feel that they “know”, but that isn’t necessary to be an atheist, as I explained a bit in my last post.

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