I see your point. I was referring to the idea that with the meaning originally intended by Gleiser, the statement made no sense. Nevertheless, without that defining context provided by that outspoken physicist, the statement in isolation can certainly be valid as an observation that atheism doesn’t have any inherent association with scientific considerations.
This topic is often subject to linguistic/lexicographic confusions which depends upon the particular language and the varying semantic domain of the word involved. In English and many other European languages, atheist has experienced major changes and ambiguities over the centuries, as well as differences among various demographic groups of a society even when they speak the same native language.
During the Reformation era, atheist basically meant a heretic and thereby someone actively opposed to God in the opinion of those who judged such people. (That is, if their beliefs and teachings were contrary to those acceptable to the civil authorities with significant power over them, they were deemed to be atheists and potentially subject to severe consequences.)
With this history in mind, it comes as no great surprise that some assume that an atheist is (1) one who asserts that no deity exists, while others assume (2) one who lacks belief in the existence of any deities. Accordingly, some acknowledge this ambiguity in the word atheist by applying the labels strong atheism and weak atheism accordingly. Others apply the labels hard and soft or negative and positive atheism. Personally, I’m partial to gnostic atheism versus agnostic atheism—even while acknowledging that those terms have their shortcomings as well.
Of course, some English speakers conflate atheist with anti-theist and automatically associate people like Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion.
A useful graphic appears at:
I’ve heard William Lane Craig chide agnostic atheists for defining atheism as a lack of belief in God. I don’t understand his adamance. A word in a given language is defined according to how native speakers choose to define it. Arguing against such a definition is like trying to nail Jello® to a wall. Indeed, if one looks up most any noun in the Oxford English Dictionary, you will find many numbered definitions. Sometimes those definitions can even be contradictory. That’s how vocabularies tend to operate.
POSTSCRIPT: If anyone is looking for something to do on a quiet Saturday morning, I’d recommend researching the related terms Ignosticism and theological noncognitivism.
You and i agree that there are three camps. But the problem with how you word the distinctions, you are disguising (intentionally?) how science relates to at least one of the positions!
Most of us are familiar with the agnostic position.
The affirmative position can be sustained by non-scientific evidence… or by evidence believed to be scientific.
The tricky category is the atheist position where an atheist thinks that there is enough science to disprove God’s existence. This is generally considered to be a flawed deduction; mostly because science is not equipped to affirm such a deduction.
However, various levels of justification can be argued using NON-scientific assessments like the perceived paucity in “justice”, “truth”, “beauty” or the hunch or subjective evaluation of the Cosmos or the human condition.
This discussion would benefit from some kind of probabilistic language, whether frequentist or Bayesian. Science doesn’t “disprove”; it only shows a hypothesis to be more or less likely. You can’t disprove anything, but you can be pretty sure that it isn’t true. The latter is my position on God. And I think science is equipped to affirm such a claim (not a deduction, which is also not a great word in science).
A claim, or a belief? A claim is definitely different.
I agree with you that a lack of belief in God’s existence and a belief that God doesn’t exist are essentially identical in the real world. Notice that “a lack of a claim” and “a claim to the contrary” are totally different.
You are correct…I should have used belief instead of “claim”…
I guess it’s entirely possible to believe God doesn’t exist while not voicing any claims.
Can you state this hypothesis that can be supported by Science?
Yes. The omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent god hypothesized by many Christians does not exist. This being would be expected to be detectable by his actions in the world, but he is not.
I have no problem detecting his presence and benefitting from his actions, esp with respect to redemption in Jesus Christ… and neither do many Christians.
You claim is false.
How do you detect his presence? What actions do you benefit from, and how do you know that he did them and that you benefit? How do you know you have been redeemed?
All good questions… but you didn’t answer my question about how you think God is detectable.
He used to be much more detectable, actually talking to people in person, causing all sorts of public, major miracles, all conveniently gone long before anyone started keeping real historical records. So that’s one; he should be detectable in the same way he was detectable during the Exodus.
Then there’s the problem of evil. Much that happens in the world is not compatible with the three-omni god, and at least one of those characteristics must be jettisoned if one is to save the hypothesis.
There’s also the size of the universe in space and time, incompatible with the notion that humans are his special preoccupation.
(The concept is itself incoherent, particularly in its contact with original sin, eternal damnation, and such. But that isn’t science.)
If you read the bible, you will find large scale miracles like in the book of exodus happen over larger timescales .i.e periods of miraculous activity followed by not much change. (For example the events of the exodus were preceded by centuries with no recorded miracles?
As to God’s action in today’s world, there are still several claims to God healing people and doing other miracles. You would need to investigate them with an open mind to see if some of them are true.
This might be problematic for the scientific method as it only considers natural causes. A true miracle would only register as an unsolved mystery if MN is used.
How do you create probability based or Bayesian calculations based on this idea. You cannot estimate the probability of your priors if you want to do Bayesian estimate.
This is a good point in philosophical terms and there is a strong debate on this. However, what’s scientific about such a claim… how can this idea be used to “detect” God?
This is just nonsense.
It all depends on God’s POV and value systems.
In your opinion, what has more value, one human life or a some uninhabited dead planet far away in the Galaxy?
None of the reasons cited by you are Scientific or show any way to do probability based analysis of God’s existence.
What you have is a philosophical and worldview based rationale for athiesm.
I don’t think that’s true. Jacob wrestled an angel and climbed a ladder to heaven. Is that a miracle? I’m sure there are others.
Nothing that can’t be more easily explained by natural processes, unlike the miracles of the bible.
Simple. If there’s a God (of this particular sort) we expect certain events not to happen. If they happen, that God doesn’t exist.
True. We have to make a hypothesis of God’s nature if we want to test God scientifically. There are of course infinitely many possible hypotheses. I concentrate on the typical Christian hypothesis.
Not relevant. If God values us above all the uninhabitated dead planets, why did he make so many uninhabited dead planets? He seems to have an inordinate fondness for vacuum.
I disagree. They all follow the essential scientific method: what are the consequences of hypothesis X? Do we find those consequences? If not, so much the worse for hypothesis X.
How would you respond if someone came to you today and made the same claims Jacob did? Would you acknowledge it as a miracle done by God?
It seems to me that your purposes would be served only by large scale events like the plagues in Egypt, the separation of the red sea etc. These events only happen once in several centuries when God wants to affirm his selected Prophet/leader to a large number of people.
Miracles like what Jacob reports, or Abraham’s case of having children against impossible odds etc happen even today. Except they are dismissed out of hand like what you have done below-
What events are you talking about… how about describing what the world would look like with an omnibenevolent God in your opinion.
No Christian view of God considers the immensity of the cosmos as a problem Vis a Vis his love/purpose for human beings.
This love is based on his nature and the purpose is based on his plans.
To show us how immense He is. To show that we can’t ever fully grasp or comprehend the fullness of God.
And you are failing to o do this in any coherent manner. You need to establish what the consequences of your hypothesis are.
You are not doing this in any coherent logical manner. As to probability calculations and Bayesian analysis, you are nowhere near demonstrating any of this.
No, of course not. Neither, one suspects, would you. But that’s not the question. Do you think these sorts of things do happen in the modern world?
Those would be best, but there’s a spectrum here. Water to wine, feeding a multitude with loaves and fishes, raising the dead, completely impossible cures such as re-growing the leg of an amputee, all those would be acceptable too.
What miracles like what Jacob reports are you thinking of? And the odds of such children are not necessarily impossible, unless you’re talking about pregnancy after menopause. Do you have examples of that? So, what are the modern miracles? How do you know they’re miracles?
To pick a common one, the holocaust would not happen in a world governed by a three-omni god.
Perhaps it should.
Do you really think that’s the reason for the size of the universe? It seems both trivial and petty, not the sort of thing one expects in a deity. I’m not sure you’ve thought that out.
Probability calculations are not the sine qua non of science.
It is possible because I accept my own fallibility and realize that I could be wrong. I simply haven’t been convinced that gods exist, but can be convinced if compelling evidence is brought forward. It’s a bit like a jury in a trial. They start out with the assumption that the defendant is innocent, but are open to evidence that could convince them that the defendant is guilty. In the case of deities, the jury is still hearing evidence.
It’s worth noting that even Richard Dawkins is in the “weak” atheist camp.
We have Joseph Smith’s claims about his interactions with an angel as part of the Mormon religion. Do you believe him?
As the old atheist trope states, we are both atheists. The only difference between you and I is that I lack beliefe in one more deity than you do. When you understand why you don’t believe in all those thousands of other gods humans have believed in over the millennia, you will understand why I don’t believe in your god.
And as more than one professor of logic has said in face-palming this “old atheist trope”, both single men and married men are thereby bachelors. The single man has simply decided to reject one more potential spouse than the married man.
Lexicons and definitions matter. Words have meanings. For example, a theist who asserts a belief in one particular description of a creator deity (e.g. YHWH) as opposed to other descriptions (e.g. Allah) is not an atheist by any definition of the word. An atheist lacks a belief in any god. Moreover, an Arminian Methodist may lack belief in an Orthodox Presbyterian’s very Calvinist definition of God but that doesn’t make that Methodist even a tiny bit atheist. Furthermore, there are massive apples and oranges confusions when misunderstanding the linguistic challenges in translating concepts like Greek and Hindu gods, for example, into English, where angels can have comparable definitions. Even in the Hebrew language of the Old Testament, ELOHIM (God) can also be applied to angels, judges, and kings. In English I can deny that angels, judges, and kings are gods but that doesn’t change the fact that a Jewish rabbi recognizes ELOHIM of the Old Testament as the Creator and yet may also recognize angels as ELOHIM.
I often critique poor arguments promoted by theists. I also critique poor arguments promoted by atheists. Richard Dawkins’ much used “I just lack belief in one more deity than you do” and “We are both atheists” is one of my personal favorites of his many illogical non sequiturs.