“Do you have proof atheism is ‘true’?”

by Witty Ludwig

This is a challenge often made by the author of the posts on that dreaded creationist website.  Of course, anyone who now knows my thoughts on ‘glorb’ from my first post will have an inkling of what my starting premise is on this issue.

In any case, the question is nonsensical.  Is feminism true?  There are simply people who categorise themselves as such as a reaction to their society’s stance on certain issues.  People who choose to label themselves atheists do so since this label conceptualises their stance:  they don’t share the cultural tradition, or the active belief, that the theist does. 

Of course, this isn’t what the author means.  What the author is trying to express is:  What makes you believe that your absence of belief in a god, or [more controversially in my opinion but how some categorise their stance] active disbelief in a god, is the correct position?  That it is true that there isn’t a god?

To this, I could respond, simply:  can you prove that ‘glorb’ doesn’t exist?  Or molarb? etc. etc..  It’s very much in line with Carl Sagan’s dragon that lived in his garage;  a treat for those who have not come across it before:  http://www.godlessgeeks.com/LINKS/Dragon.htm*  How can you defeat an irrefutable concept, if you engage it head on?

To engage with the question ‘Does god exist or not?’  is already to have lost since the moment you take the first step towards answering it you are already entering a specific language game;  granting certain facts as given; legitimising the rationality of such a question being posed.  The problem of bi-valency:  either something is the case or it is not the case;  something is either true or not true.  There are various types of nonsense and this question should be recognised as one type.  What distinguishes this word from any other that language is capable of creating?  Its use throughout history.  Is there anything more than that?

I am ever so appreciative of Bertrand Russell’s efforts;  especially his famous essay:  http://www.users.drew.edu/~jlenz/whynot.html,* which for so long gave me so much satisfaction and reassurance.  Years later, though, I can’t help but feel that he’s just another example of someone who shouldn’t have engaged with the game, despite his ambitions being in the right place.

*Links chosen at random following a google search.