Antitheism and Apatheism: Beyond Atheism and Agnosticism


Two groups of people most commonly come to my blog with a bone to pick. I’ve said it before: Anyone who comes out of an argument with me and is still convinced of their own opinion simply wasn’t listening. This holds especially true for antitheists and apatheists.

I think it’s clear that a group of atheists have gone beyond the position of disbelief in God. Dawkins and a host of other atheistic fundamentalists are trying to rally the troops against the “evil” of religion. In their mind, it’s an all-out war between rationalism and superstition, between science and religion.

They’re idiots if they think they can win. Aside from the fact that they’re in an elite minority, they’re also poor students of history. So many have attempted to wipe out religion in the last century, especially in the name of Nazism, Communism and Marxism, to no avail. Christianity in particular was forged in the fires of persecution and martyrdom and is only refined and tempered stronger in the face of opposition.

But that doesn’t negate the fact that antitheists [for how can we call them mere atheists if they say they don’t believe in God and yet actively oppose those who do?] are becoming more vocal in attacks on religion, especially Christianity. In fact, some are spending more time on publications which attack God and religion than they do on writing about actual science, which causes one to wonder if their science is so impartial after all! It also suggests that they have no intention of just following science where it leads. They have a vested interest in a purely naturalistic outcome and they are willing to shout down anyone who tries to voice another opinion.

Of course, my initial reaction has been: Is that all you got?

Dawkins, in particular, proves over and again that he has no grasp of the theist’s position and has a particular bias against the Christian religion. It’s like listening to a middle school student rail against God [both in quality of rhetoric and in level of maturity], yet it is Dawkins who rails that we need to grow up and give up our superstitions.

On the other hand, we have a good number of professing “agnostics,” who, far from the traditional position of skepticism [that we can never know if God exists or not, having not enough evidence] have really just shrugged their shoulders over the entire question and said, “Don’t know. Don’t care.” They won’t even consider the evidence, so contrarian is their cynicism about truth. Yet they’re certain we can never know these things for sure! They refuse to fight, except to demand that it’s pointless to discuss the matter. They demand a ceasefire in the name of ambiguity. Instead, we should just ignore questions which have vital bearing on how we live our lives, make scientific and rational inquiry and [if we Christian theists are correct] have eternal consequence!

In any case, they are there: Antitheists shouting down all opposition with cries of “There is no science but naturalism and Darwin is its prophet!” and having little of substance to say other than glib demands that there is no God, that evolution is now somehow a fact despite all evidence to the contrary and that nothing a theist or deist says is true. Apatheists who stick their head in the sand except to protest the argument itself.

What should Christendom do about these two strange and pernicious creatures? I mean, it’s tempting just to write them off as Jabberwockies and Fearsome Critters. They make a lot of noise, each for their various purposes, but they both lack substance. Their bark is pretty loud [and consistent], but they’re trying to gum us to death! In fact, the only damage they can do [like Fearsome Critters] is if we start taking their claims and arguments seriously!

If we entertain the apatheist’s argument that everyone has a right to an opinion so all opinions are more less as valid, we start spinning our wheels in a quagmire of relativity. Pretty much everyone has an opinion, just as pretty much everyone has a nose. Like noses, most of these opinions smell. Everybody has a right to their opinion, but not everybody’s opinion is right. After all, there are folks who are of the opinion that that Philadelphia Eagles will win the Superbowl, that they will win the lottery with their next ticket, that they can act, that the Holocaust never happened and that the Earth is flat: and most of them are wrong!

Right and wrong, truth and error all exist. God either exists or He doesn’t. If He might, it’s in our best interest to investigate whether it’s probable and what this God might expect of us! Complacency and apathy will be no excuse when you stand before the Throne of the One who gave you intellectual capacity and rational curiosity!

In order to entertain the antitheist’s malignant argument [that all religion is evil], we have to put on our dogmatic blinders and ignore all of the good religion has been responsible for. Some Christians, in particular, spend all of their time apologizing for past and present hypocrisies. But in order to entertain their argument, we have to paint the stained-glass window of religious doctrine and history black, ignoring the actual hue and brilliant color religion actually contains. I must a priori decide that religion is evil. A common objection to God is the existence of evil and suffering. Antitheists paint God as a cruel and selfish tyrant in light of these problems. But they fail to take into account also the existence of pleasure and good. How do they account for these and for the comprehensibility of the universe? If it is ordered by natural selection, where did this ordering mechanism come from?

In order to entertain the antitheist’s benign argument [all religions are false], we have to either investigate them all [they don’t] or a priori decide all religions are false because we now have science and religion and religious truth came about before scientific inquiry. At the least, by this definition, religion would contain spurious information in differing amounts. In these cases, religious truth would be trumped by scientific knowledge [nevermind that science is constantly changing and therefore may come to change its mind about what it differs with religious truth over]. The underlying assumption here is that no religious truth has come about by supernatural revelation, but is rather [like scientific truth] a product of man’s intellect. The argument is generally voiced that religious truth [as superstition] was man’s early, less sophisticated and less informed attempts to understand the universe and may be likened to childhood or adolescence, while scientific rationalism represents a more adult and informed view of the world. The again presumes that man has always just tried to hammer it out on his own and that God has never given him further revelation [i.e. — the Bible]. The Bible contains an improbable degree of historical, geographical, historical and prophetically accurate information, however they disregard it out-of-hand since its truth would negate their presuppositions.

In order to entertain the antitheist’s demands [that science exclude the possibility of God’s existence], we must a priori decide that the supernatural equates with superstition, especially indoctrinated superstition. This dog don’t hunt. This reasoning might fly if children raised in theism stayed theists [the power of indoctrination held] or if theistic children shook off said indoctrination in their maturity, but it does not take into account rational atheists who become theists in their middle and later years. We must also decide that there is no science outside pure naturalism, instead of following the evidence where it leads even if it points to God.

The antitheist’s argument is both bad rhetoric and even worse science. They’re trying to assign authority to bias by pure force of volume alone.

We can’t entertain their arguments.

Can we ignore them? No, unfortunately, we must answer them or else they will suppose they cannot be answered or, worse, that they are right. But we need not answer each objection individually or head down every rabbit trail.

Remember: Apatheists only argue that we shouldn’t argue, and base that on the idea that there is no absolute truth except that there is no absolute truth. They’re a contradiction of logic. Antitheists argue that we should exclude one voice from the conversation because its not true based on the presupposition that its not true. They also argue with these blinders one, which makes it easy to negate their argument by asking them about their objection’s polar complement. [Suffering: why is there pleasure? evil: why is there good? religion causes harm: religion benefits, et cetera].

Happy hunting.

–Sirius Knott

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24 Comments Add yours

  1. Christianity in particular was forged in the fires of persecution and martyrdom and is only refined and tempered stronger in the face of opposition.

    It annoys me to no end when theists try to write off criticisim as persecution. There’s a difference.

    We anti-theists don’t want to make it illegal to believe in a religion. That would be totalitarian, and to the best of my knowledge the latest wave of anti-theism is about as far from totalitarian as you can get. In fact, half the time it’s the totalitarian aspects of religion that we’re objecting to in the first place.

    What we want is to be free to point out that we have good reason to suggest that the belief in the supernatural is unfounded in physical evidence, and that religious belief should not have an influence over government than any other social group.

    That’s not persecution or oppression. It’s civic equality.

    …that evolution is now somehow a fact despite all evidence to the contrary…

    You have evidence disproving evolution? I would very much like to see it.

    While you’re at it, could you please define evolution for me? I want to check to see if you actually know what it is that you’re denying.

  2. *religious belief should not have any more of an influence over government than any other social group.

  3. Sirius says:

    Ubiquitous,

    As much as it pains me to point out the obvious: When I made my remarks about martyrdom and persecution I was make a historical reference. I was not likening modern-day criticism like the feeble mental midgitry of Dawkins to persecution.

    Having said that, I don’t think you can speak for all antitheists. Dawkins thinks religion is evil personified. Other antitheists liken teaching children religion to child abuse. Your goal of civic equality is simply not on their list. They’d like us gone. Hence the “anti-” in antitheist.

    By the way, at what level [if any] are you claiming that you poor antitheists [you appear to be a garden variety atheist to me, thus far, not an antitheist at all] are suffering from civic inequities? Sounds like sophistry to me, especially since the idea of free inquiry is NOT to a priori rule out one possibility [that the supernatural might exist] rather than to follow the evidence wherever it leads, even if it smashes your presuppositions in the process.

    Evolution defined: A biological process by which all creatures share common descent via adaptive changes over time. Good enough?

    The evidence against evolution that I usually refer to [if you’d bothered to read any of my other posts] is the fossil record, which shows species appearing suddenly being preserved according to their kind with no transitional forms evident. Those few questionable candidates for transitional forms are hardly the innumerable finds Darwin was hoping for. Modern apologists, like Darwin, blame the extreme imperfection of the fossil record for not lining up with his theory. Ironically, we see this is also the case with modern biology. We see animals and plants that reproduce with variation after their kind, but never change into another kind of species.

    Now, if you’ve read my other posts, you’ll realize that I don’t believe you can disprove evolution; I believe it’s an unfalsifiable tautology. I believe it’s wrong, but like theistic origins, I realize you can neither prove nor disprove the theory. Each theory has its arguments and weight of evidences. The evidences, the very world we live in, is malleable to either theory. We both take our positions on reasonable faith. [Yes, faith. You don’t have a time machine. Saying something could have happened a certain way is not the same thing as knowing it did in fact happen that way.] I think my position is simply more reasonable.

    Now you might object that God is somehow improbable. That would be avoiding the issue. Science has proven just how improbable we are, yet we exist. Improbability does not equate impossibility, nor does it negate actuality.

    –Sirius Knott

  4. Those few questionable candidates for transitional forms are hardly the innumerable finds Darwin was hoping for.

    Err…. Excuse me?

    All I did was type in the words ‘transitional fossils’ into google and the first link had an article detailing several hundred transitional fossils. This article is incomplete – it’s missing the standard favorites, such as Archaeopteryx and Tiktaalik.

    How many transitional fossils did you want?

    I don’t believe you can disprove evolution; I believe it’s an unfalsifiable tautology.

    Bollocks.

    Evolution predicts that two sets of fossils that are significantly out of date with one another will never be found within the same geological stratum. The moment that happens, evolution is disproved. Show me a rabbit next to a velociraptor and evolution will be disproven.

    Not only that, but it also predicts that there will never be a fossil for a more recent life form found in an earlier geological stratum than an older one. Find me some human bones that are in an older geological stratum than dinosaur bones and evolution is pretty much toast.

    Next:

    As much as it pains me to point out the obvious: When I made my remarks about martyrdom and persecution I was make a historical reference. I was not likening modern-day criticism like the feeble mental midgitry of Dawkins to persecution.

    Firstly, you take incredible relish in pointing out ‘the obvious’ that makes me serously doubt that it ‘pains you’.

    Second of all, am I then to believe that when you said:

    So many have attempted to wipe out religion in the last century, especially in the name of Nazism, Communism and Marxism, to no avail. Christianity in particular was forged in the fires of persecution and martyrdom and is only refined and tempered stronger in the face of opposition.

    You weren’t trying to set up a link between the latest round of anti-theist criticisim and the worst, most inhumane forms of religious persecution that the modern era has ever known?

    Just a reminder – I by no means advocate that kind of totalitarian persecution of people for their religious beliefs. It’s my objection to such practices that fuels my objection to being lumped in with them in the first place.

    Next:

    By the way, at what level [if any] are you claiming that you poor antitheists [you appear to be a garden variety atheist to me, thus far, not an antitheist at all] are suffering from civic inequities? Sounds like sophistry to me, especially since the idea of free inquiry is NOT to a priori rule out one possibility [that the supernatural might exist] rather than to follow the evidence wherever it leads, even if it smashes your presuppositions in the process.

    You’ve hit the nail on the head. Follow the evidence is the rule – not the desired presuppositions.

    Reason is under attack. It’s under attack in a very literal fashion from extremist religious fundamentalisim abroad, and it’s under attack from fairly moderate religious attempts to inject religious concepts and ideas into the supporting frameworks of secular society – namely, legislation, science and education.

    Now, I’m all for a religious concept being injected into legislation if it has a secular purpose. I’m all for a religious concept being injected into science if it has scientific merit. I’m all for a religious concept being injected into education if it has a secular, educational purpose.

    But trying to inject unproven (and in some cases, unproveable faith into these structures is chipping away at the very foundations of reason upon which the best parts of western civilization are built.

    So we’re not jumping up and down without due cause.

  5. * in fairness, I just looked over the article again. When I looked more closely, the number of fossils listed was actually less than a hunred – it just seemed bigger when I was scrolling through it.

    But to prove my point that there’s an abundance of transitional fossils that have been found, here’s some more for your consideration.

  6. Sirius says:

    Reason is under attack?

    I think you overstate your position, just as you misunderstand my comments on persecution. I was not equating modern-day criticism with persecution [despite your misgivings to the contrary]. I was merely pointing out that even if things got to the level [that is, beyond criticism to open persecution] they have in the past [and in the present in some countries! http://www.persecution.com ], you antitheist blokes still don’t have a chance [or a clue]. My point is that your efforts are pointless. They’re pointless at this level [mere rhetoric] and they’re equally pointless when you do your worst. I hope that’s clear enough for you.

    We here in USAmerica do not live in your so-called secular society. Our Constitution guarantees our freedom religious expression and does not demand that we keep it to ourselves and out of the public sphere entirely, as antitheists would have it. We do not [nor should we] have freedom FROM religion. Your demands that religion be kept out of an alleged secular society need to be justified on two counts: Why do you suppose we live in a secular society when we do not? Why should religion be kept out of the public forum [government, education, et cetera] at all?

    In the meantime, since the subject of transitional forms is an entirely different discussion [except where it shows that your faith in evolution aka nontheistic origins/worldview is just as unproven, unprovable and I inevitably add unfalsifiable as any religious concept, excepting Original Sin as man’s universal tendency to sin is generally observable], I’ve answered your objections here:

    https://siriusknotts.wordpress.com/2008/05/19/transitional-forms-why-the-speculative-nature-of-darwinism-makes-it-unfalsifiable/

    It should be said that the links you provided go to sites that support the darwinist view of origins. As such they presume that they are listing transitional forms because they presume evolution is true and because evolution predicts such transitional forms. They’ve shown a great deal of imagination and misplaced industry in their efforts to fill in the Darwinian blanks. You should read the post.

    –Sirius Knott

  7. I’ve replied to the evolution stuff in the other post. I’d just like to point something out:

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

    You can’t seriously read ‘congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion’ and somehow think that this doesn’t establish America as a secular society.

    We here in USAmerica do not live in your so-called secular society.

    Oh. You do think that.

    Thomas Jefferson certainly would have dissagreed with you.

    Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between church and State.

    -Thomas Jefferson, letter to Danbury Baptist Association, CT., Jan. 1, 1802

    Mr. Jefferson, build up that wall.

    America is supposed to be a secular society, according to your own constitution (no, I’m not an American myself). This doesn’t mean you can’t have religion – that’s where the ‘or prohibiting the free exercise thereof’ part comes in. The citizenry can believe whatever they want. On the other hand, the the public sphere [government, education, et cetera] cannot make law respecting (or prohibiting) an establishment of religion. Well… Should not make such laws. Your government seems bent on passing laws on these things willy-nilly anyway. Your constitution is fast becoming a constitution in name only, to be ignored when convienient. This worries me greatly.

    America is supposed to be a secular society that permits itself to contain various religious and nonreligious elements within its citizenry whilst maintaining a stance of neutral civic equality regarding various religions. You guys haven’t been living up to that – your government has been supporting unproven faith-based agendas for some time now. Since America is – whether the rest of us like it or not – the leader of the free world, it carries a heavy responsibility. So us in the free world outside of America along with nonreligious American citizens are all very strongly justified when we object to religious elements in American society attempting to encroach their views into the heart of what is supposed to be a secular society.

    Although I think that Penn Jillette said it better than I personally could:

    You know, there’s nothing wrong with religion being taught in your home or your private school. Sure it’s going to harsh your mellow, but that’s your choice. The problem we’re having is we belong to a club (called the USA) as members we pay dues (called taxes) to support public, government-run schools, and those scools get run according to a handbook (the United States constitution) – now the constitution says our club steers clear of religion. That’s the deal we made! If we pay for it with taxes, it can’t have religion in it; that’s in the pesky bylaws. So as long as we’re all paying, no religion in school.

  8. Sirius says:

    Che,

    Jefferson wasn’t the only guy talking. The establishment clause was included to keep the government from establishing one religion as the state religion, not to keep religion completely out of government. You might want to read up on Franklin and Washington a bit more [I’m being serious, not insulting – I hope] as Jefferson is generally over-quoted on the subject to the detriment of a wider reading of voices.

    In regard to Jillete’s comment. Are the public schools currently pursuing a policy of non-religion, antireligion or antagonism against a particular segment of religion? We can discuss Santy Claus and Menorahs around the holidays but we must not mention Christ as the reason for this national holiday. We can discuss Bunnies, Spring and pagan religions, but we cannot discuss the reason for the national Easter holiday. We can discuss Irish myth and nationalism without the vaguest reference to the missionary work and influence of the historical St. Patrick. Multiculturalism is in, including learning about other religions, so long as one is not mentioned. It’s not like this in all schools, of course, but it is their general policy.

    Multicultural studies in themselves [when given the surface treatment they get in textbooks] tends to give the erroneous message that everybody has a religion and that [coupled with the Marxist and Darwinist leanings of the curriculum] they’re largely irrelevant to the search for truth. They’re comfortable placebos and important cultural set pieces, but little more. Which means that our parents and grandparents were largely happy idiots or something else as insulting and that the state schools are the source of real authority.

    I don’t buy it.

    I became an independent thinker, an individual who could think outside the bleatings of public education socialism and media propoganda, by rebelling against the systsem, not by buying into it. This, to me, is the problem: a country founded on the idea of individuals bound by a social contract [the Constitution] has an educational system that teaches a herd mentality.

    –Sirius Knott

  9. The establishment clause was included to keep the government from establishing one religion as the state religion, not to keep religion completely out of government.

    Not establishing a state religion is keeping religion completely out of government.

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…

    So the government doesn’t make laws favoring an establishment of religion, and the citizens can believe what they want.

    A government that places for itself the requirement to not make laws favoring an establishment of religion is a non-religious (i.e. secular) government.

  10. Sirius says:

    You’re interpreting “an establishment of religion” to mean “any establishment of religion” or religion in general. It is more correctly interpreted with the historical context of its writing as “establishment of any ONE religion,” because a plurality of religious influence is no threat to democracy any more than a plurality of voices is, but a state religion would potentially threaten our freedoms.

    Therefore attempting to keep religion out of government [except to prevent a state religion] is counterproductive to democracy and original intent. By keeping all rleigion out of government, you are simply making a state religion out of atheism as Stalin and Marx promoted.

    –Sirius Knott

  11. It is more correctly interpreted with the historical context of its writing as “establishment of any ONE religion,”

    Yes. ‘Against the establishment of any ONE religion’ means precisely what I said; keeping any establishment of ONE religion out of government.

    This doesn’t mean having MULTIPLE established religions out of government. It means having NO establishments of religion in government whatsoever.

    By keeping all rleigion out of government, you are simply making a state religion out of atheism as Stalin and Marx promoted.

    That part is total slander. Stalin and Marx forbade their citizens from deciding for themselves what to believe. That’s an example of a totalitarian secular government – which is very much not what I’m getting at.

    By inluding the ‘or prohibiting the free exercise thereof’ part. You’re free to excercise whatever religion you want in your private life. The citizens can believe whatever they want. This is in direct contrast to Stalin and Marx.

    You’re grasping at straws again.

  12. * This doesn’t mean having MULTIPLE established religions out of government.

    should read:

    This doesn’t mean having MULTIPLE established religions in government.

  13. Sirius says:

    You’ve, intentionally or otherwise, created a straw man. Perhaps you misunderstood me. I’m not saying we should establish multiple state religions, if that’s what you’re on about.

    I’m saying that by including God and therefore religion in general in the Premable of the Constitution [Creator capitalized and assigned a personal role in created all men equal and giving them inalienable rights], our founders also safeguarded against prohibiting the general inclusion of religion in government. While they did not want a state religion [an imposed religion], they did not it disincluded entirely. They wanted to be able to govern according to their conscience, which were by and large motivated by their religious views.

    Your stance on disincluding all religion from government suggests a lack of trust in the USAmerican democracy. Representative government comes with its own set of checks and balances [for example, my voice and yours] to keep USAmerica from being either secular or a theocracy.

    My comments on Marx and Lenin are actually appropriate, whether offensive or not. Both wanted a government where children were indoctrinated in atheistic humanism and where religion was privatized. The sought to accomplish this by keeping God and religion out of the schools, the media and the government, which is exactly what you have proposed. It appears you’d like to privatize it to the point where it becomes practically irrelevant and indoctrinate our children to hold an entirely secular view.

    John Adams noted: “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion.” “Our Consitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

    –Sirius Knott

  14. My comments on Marx and Lenin are actually appropriate, whether offensive or not. Both wanted a government where children were indoctrinated in atheistic humanism and where religion was privatized. The sought to accomplish this by keeping God and religion out of the schools, the media and the government, which is exactly what you have proposed. It appears you’d like to privatize it to the point where it becomes practically irrelevant and indoctrinate our children to hold an entirely secular view.

    Once again, you’re resorting to slander.

    Stalin and Marx were totalitarian. They wanted to dictate what the citizens thought and believed. That is not my position. You’re attacking a position that is not mine. You are the one who is creating a straw-man argument, not me.

    I have never said that children should be indoctrinated in the ways of atheism. They shouldn’t be indoctrinated in anything. They should be allowed to think for themselves.

    And I’m not even saying that there should be a law against private religious schooling. I’ll openly admit that I would prefer it if there wasn’t any religious schooling at all, but I am in no way suggesting that there should be a law against it.

    The argument I am making is that the only way for the government of America to stick to the first amendment is for it to be an officially secular institution, because if it passes law on anything religious, then they have favored one religion over another. If they pass a law that relates to Deism, then they have favored Deism over polytheistic religions like Hinduism, or non-theistic religions like Buddhism and Taoism.

    I’m not saying that the government has to be overtly atheistic. That’s not what secular means. Secular just means neutral in regards to religion – neither for, nor against. It’s not anti-religion or pro-religion. It’s non-religion – outside the sphere of religion.

    Members of government can have their private religious beliefs. That’s fine. But the government itself has to remain neutral, and the only valid neutral position is the secular position.

  15. Sirius says:

    Marx and Lenin as slander… We always get the benefit of historical perspective, I suppose. I frankly do not care whether you find it slanderous or not. Is it true?

    Your objection is that your dream of a purely secular USAmerica, in which religion was kept completely out of government, education and the media isn’t totalitarian, like Marxism or Communism. Have you examined the implications of what you’re trult espousing? Mandated atheism in these three critical spheres of influence. In effect, you have said that religion may have nothing to do with the rule of this nation [government], in its future [education] or the formulation of its general consensus of opinion [media]. A position which demands that religion be excluded from government cannot be said to be neither for nor against religion, for it is certainly against religion!

    Neutrality, by the way, is a myth. No one is neutral. Everyone has a bias. Everyone has pressupositions and beliefs they carry into the conversation.

    But you have said we cannot be a part of the conversation. We must keep our religious notions to ourselves if we are to be in government. You don’t believe in democracy at all.

    And I should comment that our government is practically atheist, or atheist in all practicality. It teaches Darwinism [naturalism] in schools without teaching the problems of the theory. It teaches about religion from a multicultural approach that renders all religions equally valid and therefore equally irrelevant. In other words, it teaches religion as a matter of culture and opinion, but naturalistic nontheistic science as fact. They get the message they were intended to get. Practical atheism.

    Oh wait. You wanted to call it secularism, right?

    Atheism is a religious belief, the belief that there is no God. Our government schools have become little atheist factories purely in the name of your so-called separation of church and state.

    And you’re wrong about whether a law applying to one particular religious group would necessarily show favortism. USAmerica has countless laws on the books that simply apply to one religious belief or another. Some laws are irrelevant to other religious beliefs because not all religious beliefs are the same, if you hadn’t noticed. We’re dealing in vagarities here. perhaps if you were more specific.

    In plain speech, the Establishment Clause ONLY prevents a state-imposed religion AND prevents government interference in the free exercise of religion. This hubris you’re repeating to me here is a recent revisionary interpretation by the US Supreme Court. It is a bleeding U-Turn from the interpretation it was traditionally given.

    –Sirius Knott

  16. Dispiritedness says : I absolutely agree with this !

  17. This is a relatively old post, so I probably ought not comment,

    but I don’t quite get your portrayal of apatheism. Apatheism isn’t so much a “what” kind of belief like the others…but it’s more of a “how”. Theists believe in a distinct something. Atheists don’t believe in a distinct something. Agnostics don’t know if a distinct something exists or not (and then weak or strong agnosticism decides if 1] it is within our reach to be able to find out if that something exists or not or 2] if it is impossible to find out)

    Now…keep in mind, agnosticism is a KNOW position. Atheism and Theism are both BELIEVE positions. So you can be an agnostic atheist, agnostic theist. “I don’t know if God exists…but I like to believe it.” or “I don’t know if God exists, but I don’t believe it.”

    What about apatheism? It’s just not caring. Not caring doesn’t mean you don’t know. Not caring doesn’t mean you don’t believe. It just means you don’t care.

    So, an agnostic who doesn’t know and doesn’t care (which would actually be an apathetic agnostic, but it’s kinda the same thing) is apatheist not because he doesn’t know…but because he doesn’t care to find out more.

    However, you can be atheist or theist and be apatheist as well, and I think this is a troubling thing for theists to deal with.

    For example, if you believe in God, but this does not change your behavior…e.g., you still live life as if your eternal salvation weren’t at stake…you are apatheist. People who go to church for social reasons (or, even worse…not at all) are probably apatheist. Yes, they *believe* (not a lot of people will admit they are atheist), but they don’t really care about such a belief.

    Similarly, you can be atheist without being vocal or antitheistic or angstheist or whatever.

  18. For example, you say apatheists “ignore questions which have a vital bearing on how we live our lives” — well, the apatheist asserts that the question doesn’t impact how we live our life. Disregarding the fact that you confuse the apatheist position with the strong agnostic one (we don’t have enough information and cannot get enough information; therefore, the search is useless), the fundamental apatheist view is that the information itself doesn’t have much meaning.

    I don’t care for gravity much. My knowing that it exists or not doesn’t really change how I do things. It just happens to keep me on the ground. Similarly, if God exists of any variety, it doesn’t change how I will do things. My actions apparently wouldn’t mean much without faith, but I doubt faking that would help too much. Or maybe it would. Anyone can bend on a knee and say he believes.

    As for your final point of remembrance, I think you have some other groups lumped together with apatheism once again. Apatheism doesn’t mean moral relativist (that is a “what” that apatheism doesn’t describe). Apatheism doesn’t define what people should or shouldn’t argue about (that is a “what” that apatheism doesn’t concern itself with.)

  19. Sirius says:

    Actually, I liked most of your comments, but I haven’t confused apatheism with a strong agnostic position. As you noted, the strong agnostic position states that we don’t have enough information, can’t get enough and there isn’t any point. This is a well-considered position [though I still consider it a cop-out]. The fellow with the strong agnostic position has at least given the thing a cursory glance. The apatheist doesn’t even care enough to do that. He might parrot the strong agnostic position, because he’s heard it used as an excuse not to argue the God question and wants to avoid having to explain his banal apathy, but he hasn’t given it the slightest thought and doesn’t give a damn what the answer might be. The apatheist is the ultimate existentialist, but is also an intellectual fraud. They’re not easy to spot [hiding as they do behind a facade of agnosticism], until the converstaion gets deeper than his pat excuses can account for.

    I must disagree with your assessment of whether belief in a God will change how you do things. If you believe that God will send you to Hell for drinking a Snapple, you won’t drink the infernal concoction — and you’re likely to warn others against consumption of the dreadful beverage. You might even fight to keep it off shelves, if your conviction is strong enough. Anyone can bend a knee and say he believes, and lie. But the fellow who bends his knee because he truly believes is a catalyst whose ability to change himself and his environment is not to be under-estimated.

    And as to the last point, a rigorous apatheist [a theoretical creature at best] might not concern himself about what people should or should not argue over, but experience has taught me that most apatheists tend to demand that the conversation end in their presence; if they don’t care, they’re positively insulted that anyone else would!

    –Sirius Knott

  20. What’s to determine that a strong agnostic has given theism/atheism a “cursory glance” though? In fact, because one is apatheist does not mean they have not given theism or atheism a cursory glance — it could just mean that after giving it a glance, they realize that it’s not worth it. So, there really has to be a more meaningful distinction between the strong agnostic and the apatheist. I’d think that the the strong agnostic is an apatheist but only because he realizes that the search is futile. The apatheist, on the other hand, may or may not be a strong agnostic. After all, he just doesn’t care. So what I was trying to get at is…I think you miss the mark if you assume that apatheists will come in the clothes of a strong agnostic. You miss the ones that come in theist, atheist, etc., varieties

    I think apatheists are easy to spot and they are plentiful, and it’s because they are more than just agnostics. After all, apatheism isn’t about *what* a person believes/knows (which theism, atheism, and agnosticism are really about), but about *how* they believe it. And I think even you will recognize, once you get it, that you can REALLY see clearly the *how* of belief.

    Let’s say we have a person who believes God will send him to Hell for drinking Snapple — like your scenario. That *doesn’t* mean, as you concluded, he won’t drink Snapple. A simple belief in God doesn’t say anything about *how* you will act about that belief…and that’s where apatheism comes in. There are more than too many people who *claim* to be any religion but do not practice even the simplest traditions of that religion. This is because saying that you believe or don’t believe (theism or atheism) is entirely disconnected from how you believe (devoutly or apathetically).

    Whereas the devout person would “fight to keep Snapple off shelves,” as you point out, the apatheist simply represents the opposite end of the spectrum. He doesn’t care what a non-Antisnapple-follower does with snapple, so he doesn’t move to ban it. In fact, although this apatheist might believe drinking snapple will lead to hell, he might drink it too! So, you say “anyone can bend a knee and say he believes, and lie” that means you have the *apatheist* in your sight. They may not know it; they may not call it that, but that’s what they are.

    So, I guess the difference between a rigorous apatheist and casual apatheist is the final thing to distinguish. I think a casual apatheist is one who doesn’t call himself that…he just lives that way. I don’t think that the rigorous apatheist flies away from the conversation…but then again, I don’t have your experiences either. I think the rigorous apatheist would more likely want to clarify his position to attempt to legitimize it. After all, someone can not care…but care about not caring. It’s a delicate art.

  21. Sirius says:

    Subversive,

    You’ve made some good points about the difference between saying you believe and actual conviction. I daresy you’ve made some good points about the difference between intellectual assent and conviction.

    But I disagree with the general implication that a man who bends his knee and says he believes, but lies about it, is necessarily a true apatheist. After all, he cared enough to lie. This person may not be an apatheist at all. He’s either lying to others or, more likely, himself. If he’s lying to others, he’s a fraud and a fool. And here you might call him a closet apatheist, though he is not a public apatheist. If he’s lying to himself… that’s harder to guage. Like you said, it’s a delicate art.

    Your points about casual apatheism are well taken. I will suggest them to my pastor as the subject of his next sermon!

    –Sirius Knott

  22. very pissed says:

    People see only the facts that support their own argument. You are no different. Since when has religeon been on the scientifific side? Jesus saves all. Follow his rules and stay in his boundaries and you, my friend, can go to heaven! Sounds too good to be true. No! God will love you and all it takes is blind faith and childlike trust in authority! Be a sheep and live in the shepards flock. See if I care.

    1. Tony Breeden says:

      very pissed,

      A Biblical worldview is actually foundational to science. Most of the scientific disciplines were founded by Bible-affirming men who wanted to “think God’s thoughts after Him.” See this post for more information on that: http://kcsg.wordpress.com/2009/01/16/why-evolution-is-not-foundational-to-science/

      I should also mention that while many religions ask you to follow a bunch of rules to get to Heaven, Christianity admits that this is impossible. I mean how good would be good enough to get into a perfect Heaven with a perfect God? Only the perfect sacrifice of the God-Man Jesus Christ can get you into heaven

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