Friday, October 13, 2006

Speaking of Atheism

As I mentioned recently, I'm fairly sympathetic to religious people. I can appreciate that people want some comfort in what is, at a fundamental level, a very cold universe. For me it's really no comfort once you realize it's just a constructed fairyland...I am much more comforted in the thought that I may be the only thing which actually exists. Of course, people having faith is one thing, and organized religion is quite another.

Anyway, I was reading this Salon article (free if you view their ad), and liked this quote by Richard Dawkins:

Why do you call yourself an atheist? Why not an agnostic?

Well, technically, you cannot be any more than an agnostic. But I am as agnostic about God as I am about fairies and the Flying Spaghetti Monster. You cannot actually disprove the existence of God. Therefore, to be a positive atheist is not technically possible. But you can be as atheist about God as you can be atheist about Thor or Apollo. Everybody nowadays is an atheist about Thor and Apollo. Some of us just go one god further.

Oh, and for the record I am literally surrounded by quite religious people (well a significant number of them, anyway)...yes, in physics and in academia. It would seem I am not typical.


Uncle Al said...

(physical reality) - (empirical reality) = faith

Vote the straight ticket: causality, Euler's equation, thermodynamics (added Beckenstein bound, too). Identify a religion wherein priests toss money to the crowd rather than demand it, and Uncle Al will reconsider. It's always jam yesterday and marmalade tomorrow but dry toast today. If post-mortem escrow pays off, one perceives a remarkable absence of priests who wish to die young.

wolfgang said...

I would think the main ingredient of religion is not a specific picture or 'theory' about God, but the more basic believe that the world as a whole 'has a reason'; The idea that 'it all makes sense'.

This is not too different from the believe system of a scientist by the way.

I would think that an agnostic person shares this basic believe that 'the world makes sense', but refuses to come up with pictures and detailed stories about God.

However, an atheist rejects even such a basic believe.