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Sunday, July 22, 2001

Aren't Atheists Closed-Minded?

"Aren't atheists just as closed-minded as the religions they reject?" is a question I see in one form or another rather frequently. Here's a quick reply I just emailed to one such:

Atheists do look for answers to existence itself. They just don't make them up.--Teller

[...] Leaving open as arbitrary propositions the possibilities that do not conflict with observation is very different than granting noteworthy likelihood to those same propositions, and even more at odds with accepting "possibilities" which do conflict with observation. The "theisms" which atheism rejects fall entirely into the latter two categories (which is an observable fact, not a philosophical necessity -- certainly from an uninformed child's perspective there is no philosophically-mandated rejection of god, although one could still contest that the only way in which 'god' ever exceeds the realm of arbitrary proposition is in as much as the claims of adults do tend to have positive correlation with reality and hence there is some justification for a child to believe them).

Hence, an Atheist is, and has been through most of history, simply someone who does not believe in any gods, simply because observations neither necessitate nor even warrant them -- as opposed to theists who adopt beliefs which extend beyond that which is warranted by observation alone (i.e., they have "faith", which is simply another term for trusting what other people tell you).

But really, I think this is all nicely summed up in that [Teller] quote [above]. :)

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Simon Funk / simonfunk@gmail.com