Religion is the enemy of independent thought and sceptical inquiry

Arguing with Theists has got to be one of the most annoying activities of the non-religious.  It gets very repetitive and I can only tolerate it for so long these days.  They don’t have any new arguments and they’ve all been debunked countless times.  It always comes down to one point, they can’t prove their claims and we can’t disprove their claims.  At this point they usually make one of two mistakes, either they assume that a belief in a god is the default, or they assume the probability for a gods existence/non-existence is equally likely.  These are both wrong.

No one can be called upon to prove a negative.  That is a logical rule because it is impossible, especially if the claim starts with a being that is immaterial and exists outside of our space-time.  That is why the burden of proof rests solely on the people making the claim.  Rejecting a claim put forward without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.  Stating that no gods exist is justified, just as claiming leprechauns don’t exist is justified.  We are justified in making that claim because Theists have never lived up to their burden of proving his existence.  To prove something empirically exists, you must provide empirical evidence to support it.  When something does not exist, empirical evidence for its non-existence does not exist.

Logical arguments are not evidence.  A logical argument can be made to move an idea into the category of hypothesis, but no further.  If you want your idea to progress into the category of theory (by theory, I mean in the scientific sense of theory) you must provide empirical evidence.  Without empirical evidence your idea will remain a hypothesis until a better explanation comes along to replace it.

This process works because it lets in good ideas and keeps out bad ideas.  As soon as you let in gods based on logical arguments, you must let in spiritual healing, astrology, voodoo, homeopathy and all the other crap of the day.


4 responses to “Religion is the enemy of independent thought and sceptical inquiry”

  1. Random Ntrygg says :

    when proof isn’t possible, one can resort to the balance of probablity, which is what sceince and logic and reason are anyway – the best guess that explains the information we currently have.

    and there is no information to support claims for dieties, so claims that are not based on evidence or are lacking in evidence can be dismissed without consideration

    the confusion that beleivers experience is that they think we are recruiting and we are not – atheism is the moment one rejects religion and is not a replacement or alternative religion.

    much like drugs, the user can only quit when they want to

  2. Joey Hodge says :

    Your entire argument hinges on a false dichotomy of religion vs. science when it should be ignorance vs. science. Can religion be used as a veil for ignorance? Sure it can and it often is, but that does not mean than religious people on the whole are not or cannot be scientific and opposed to ignorance. Also, you are conflating scientific issues with philosophical ones. Science cannot be opposed to religion because religion is a philosophy. Atheism is also a philosophy so it too cannot be compared to science. Science assumes naturalism in order to be useful, but it does not presume atheism.
    The chart to the right accurately depicts ignorant thinking, but you might not realize that the chart on the left accurately depicts how people of faith and religion also think.
    The component that is missing from that diagram is the gathering of evidence. At some point, we must gather evidence before we can experiment on anything and then analyze the results of the data. When it comes to the fundamental nature of reality (atheistic reality or theistic reality) then literally everything is evidence on the table. Everything must be explained… all matter, energy, science, morality, mental awareness, etc. All the evidence is there, but what is it evidence for? We must use reasoning and logic to make sense of it. That’s how we test the evidence.
    It’s great to use empirical methods to test ideas to see how good or bad they are, but most good ideas that we use every day, are not empirically testable. That’s why we have philosophy and why it is so important to the betterment humanity. Propositions are not empirically testable, yet we use them every day. The existence of minds apart from our own is not empirically testable, yet you’re assuming they exist right now, as demonstrated by your reading this. Last but not least, the usefulness of empirical data is not empirically testable, yet that’s what we are all talking about. In order for science to be useful to us, it must first contradict itself and assume naturalism using an unscientific presumption. I’m all for that approach.

    • belfastatheist says :

      False dichotomy!? Of course you’d think that, being a Christian and all. And no, it’s not ignorance vs. science. Ignorance is fuel for science, “I don’t know how that works so I’ll analyse it”. Without ignorance, we wouldn’t have the scientific process. The problem comes when I have a conversation with an individual who is ignorant, but refuses to admit that they are. This is the case when an individual has a presupposition, which they cherish, such as a belief in a god. They think they know the answer, when clearly “know” is the wrong word. I can have very pleasant conversations with all kinds of believers on many different topics, such as politics, sport…really anything that doesn’t clash with their faith.
      It does happen, a believer will admit that they have nothing to support their beliefs, only an internally held feeling that (insert deity here) is with them. They acknowledge that that’s not a good reason for me to except their beliefs, which is refreshing. It’s just a shame it only comes after previous arguments.
      Philosophical issue!? For you it may be a philosophical issue, but for me it belongs firmly in the scientific camp. Are there any reliable reasons to believe that a god exists? If you believe the answer to be yes, then you can go ahead and philosophise until your hearts content, but for me the answer is no. There are no reliable reasons for me to believe that a god exists, therefore I have no god to philosophise about, however it gives me something else to ponder, why do people believe?
      When you don’t believe in a god, you’re an Atheist…that’s it! To call that a philosophy is to have a very loose definition for the label philosophy. When you apply the scientific process correctly to the question of god, the answer is: No god! You may think I’m being biased, but that would be your biased opinion.
      Science does not assume naturalism. Science assumes materialism. When science finds that something occurs without intelligent involvement, it is deemed to be natural. When an intelligent being creates something it is deemed as unnatural.
      You’re right, people of faith do think according to the chart on the left, just not when they are thinking about religion.
      You were starting to say something intelligent, but you spoiled it with “When it comes to the fundamental nature of reality (atheistic reality or theistic reality) then literally everything is evidence on the table. Everything must be explained… all matter, energy, science, morality, mental awareness, etc”. We don’t have to explain everything, or anything. We want to, and some of us are doing our best to come to the truth, but just because we don’t understand something, does not mean, “everything must be explained”. We can be honest and say, “to the best of our knowledge we consider this to be true, but are open to change if/when more evidence comes to our attention.” The example I’m about to give is a little simplistic, but I feel justified in using it as believers have thrown it at me a few times. A tree is not evidence for god! Just like it isn’t evidence for a giant invisible tree shitting rabbit.

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