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Why is strong atheism considered such a close-minded position?

#1sextronbotPosted 6/12/2011 5:14:45 PM
I understand the reasoning behind it; it makes a positive assertion without proof. Except, in that case why do you rarely hear people talk about how close-minded theism is?
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#2avsfan33Posted 6/12/2011 8:01:07 PM
It's not considered close-minded. Rather, theists tend to argue that it is "just as bad" as theism in that both make a positive assertion without proof and so how can a strong atheist condemn a theist for that?
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Living comes much easier, once we admit, we're dying
#3Imperator420Posted 6/13/2011 10:51:48 AM
In that mythical realm called real life, those who profess to be atheist are often aggressively probed on their personal beliefs to an extent that is socially unacceptable when it comes to Christians, Jews, or even agnostics. This is further aggravated by the fact that most such probes take the form of astoundingly rude and ignorant questions. "Strong atheists" are thus more likely to be militant when it comes to cliché arguments like evolution, where really, the people they're debating shouldn't have to be schooled on basic science. This tendency to be impatient with the ignorance of others, as well as the fact that strong atheists, unlike their "weak" counterparts, do not see God as even a remote possibility, is easy to misconstrue as unwillingness to consider alternatives. They therefore make a suitable target of derision - the propagandistic equivalent of a Bible Belt xenophobe. Then there are also "strong atheists" who happen to be massive dicks, whose purpose in life is to tarnish our name in the manner of Muslim terrorists and the Westboro Baptist Church.

Many "weak atheists" believe that a positive assertion like "God does not exist" lacks evidence, and is therefore as grounded in faith as theism. This amounts to a false dichotomy. My disbelief in God has little to do with physical proof or the lack thereof, but rather my realization that the concepts of omnipotence and omniscience are both logically incompatible with each other and with the world we leave in. This improbability cannot be described in terms of unicorns and leprechauns; God in this example is more akin to a circular square.

I have other problems with God that lead me to strong atheism as well. The first is that the mind cannot exist independent of physical matter, let alone precede it chronologically. Deriving from this, a somewhat more intuitive argument is that God reeks of anthropocentrism; He was clearly invented by a primitive people who in spite of their irrelevance projected themselves onto nature. That the fundamental force responsible for all existence should resemble an organism which only evolved on a backwater planet some millions of years ago, and which will likely be extinct within far less than a tenth of an eon, is ludicrous. For me, the enormous evidence that Man created God makes it not improbable but impossible that God created Man. Weak atheism implies that one's belief in the possibility of gods, miracles and spirits is very low. I do not believe that that the probability of a Galilean carpenter transmuting water into wine is "very low", any more than I believe that the probability of me casting a spell from Dungeons and Dragons by moving my hands around is "very low". Both seem impossible to me, and I am therefore a "strong" or "positive" atheist.

But to each his own; I do not call on people to think as I do.
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It is unbecoming of young men to utter maxims. - Aristotle
#4Imperator420Posted 6/13/2011 11:16:33 AM
Weak atheists (honestly, I prefer atheist-curious agnostics) are often as belligerent or "close-minded," of course. Look at Richard Dawkins, for example; he accepts God as a possibility but he's still a total jerk.
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It is unbecoming of young men to utter maxims. - Aristotle
#5squareandrarePosted 6/13/2011 11:21:25 AM
The opposition to strong atheism is simple a righteous double-standard. We form positive beliefs about the world using inductive logic all the time. We couldn't operate as human beings without doing it.

For example, I believe that there are no alien cadavers in Area 51. I don't know this, and I don't even have very much evidence, but very few people would call me arrogant or closed-minded for this belief. My disbelief in god is must the same. I have very good reasons to not believe in particular gods, but my general disbelief in all gods is simply that the universe I can see does not require them. This world makes perfect sense without bringing gods into the picture.
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"Physics is not a religion. If it were, we'd have a much easier time raising money."
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#6squareandrarePosted 6/13/2011 11:28:45 AM
And Richard Dawkins only calls himself a weak atheist because he redefined the terms.

I wish people would stop using "weak/strong" altogether. A much better distinction is implicit atheism and explicit atheism. Implicit atheists don't believe in any particular god, but they don't explicitly state that they believe there is no god. An explicit atheist comes out and says it. Note that it is about belief, not about "knowing" or "leaving open the possibility" or anything like that. Any rational atheist should be willing to admit that he could be wrong.
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"Physics is not a religion. If it were, we'd have a much easier time raising money."
-- Leon Lederman
#7avsfan33Posted 6/13/2011 11:37:26 AM
I posted something similar a while ago, but I think a better distinction that weak/strong is active/passive atheism (similar to square's implicit/explicit). Passive atheists would include those like people without the mental awareness to believe (i.e. children/babies), those who simply don't care, those who can't or won't decide (like most agnostics) etc. Active atheists would be people who have contemplated the question of gods' existence and concluded that they do not think they exist.

Like square's distinction, it really isn't about how sure we are since a) we all should accept the possibility of being wrong and b) we don't make this distinction for other sort of beliefs. Like we don't have strong-evolutionists and weak-evolutionists (pardon my use of the term) to denote people who think it is the most likely explanation and those who are sure of it.
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Living comes much easier, once we admit, we're dying
#8RedEricPosted 6/13/2011 12:24:42 PM
Imperator420 posted...
Weak atheists (honestly, I prefer atheist-curious agnostics) are often as belligerent or "close-minded," of course. Look at Richard Dawkins, for example; he accepts God as a possibility but he's still a total jerk.

Dawkins falls into the category of "weak atheists" due to the inability to categorically prove that gods do not exist. To do otherwise would be intellectually dishonest. Thus for all intent and purpose he is about as strong an atheist as you can be.

As for him being a jerk, please read your opening paragraph on your first post.
to quote
This is further aggravated by the fact that most such probes take the form of astoundingly rude and ignorant questions. "Strong atheists" are thus more likely to be militant when it comes to cliché arguments like evolution, where really, the people they're debating shouldn't have to be schooled on basic science.

Bare in mind his field of expertise and the fact that government money (i.e. money from his pocket) is spent on superstitious nonsense. I think he has a right to be a little bent out of shape.
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#9Magyar15Posted 6/13/2011 12:41:49 PM
sextronbot posted...
I understand the reasoning behind it; it makes a positive assertion without proof. Except, in that case why do you rarely hear people talk about how close-minded theism is?

Bwahahaha
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A good man would prefer to be defeated than to defeat injustice by evil means - Sallust
#10RetrotasticPosted 6/13/2011 1:04:18 PM(edited)
If you're too open minded your brain falls out. So most people are fairly closed minded when it comes to their belief in whatever it is they believe. It's not that the belief that matter is all there is too exist is closed minded it's just an interesting belief to have. If it's true it will be interesting to see how that's meant to work, though of course I wouldn't get to see and no-one else would. It still has to work though and it would still be interesting.