An answer to an email by John Craig

Mr. Craig,

First, I wonder why you are wring to me personally, since I'm not the author of this article. I'm merely a non-believer living in Fresno California. It is true that I am the current president of a local atheist organization, but other than that I'm not noteworthy.

I will, however, turn your last sentence around. Have you given any thought to these issues?

Shall I address the bulleted points that you have made in the link you provided?

  1. "Atheism" is defined by many to be an "absence of belief", and by some to be an active disbelief in a deity. These points are not necessarily mutually exclusive, and often depend on the deity being described. For example, I lack a belief in deities because I see no evidence for any deities. In the case of the God of the Bible,as popularly defined and described by Christians, I do deny its existence for many reasons. The Euthyphro dilemma is an excellent example of one of those reasons. Also, atheism is insufficient as a single label for many non-believers. I also consider myself Ignostic and Agnostic. Note that none of these labels exclude any other.
  2. You are quite correct that critical thinking and reason (and logic) are not infallible. The scientific method takes this into consideration, and attempts to correct for it. Of course science is applied by fallible humans, so it may take a while for truth to be shaken out of the morass of human thinking. I will point out that a well-reasoned, logical explanation can be simple, internally consistent, easy to understand, and completely wrong. The best logical reasoning can be overturned by evidence. Evidence is the "holy grail" (so to speak) of the scientific method, and hypothesis without evidence remain hypothesis, never to advance to being a theory. Christianity, for example, is merely a hypothesis due to it's lack of evidence.
  3. The belief that Richard Dawkins is some sort of atheistic "high priest" is often preached by the religious in an attempt to equate atheism with religion. First, any reading online will show that atheists are divided in opinion about Dawkins, and that none praise him as infallible - quite the contrary! Second, I am frequently bemused by religious people who use religion as a sort of "insult" when applied toward atheists. Do the religious hold religion in such low regard that they must use the word "religion" to attack their opponents? I see this as a sort of religious "crab mentality".
  4. Atheism is not a "matter of faith". Screaming that atheists have "faith" is a sign that no serious thought has been given to this subject. Atheism is not a philosophy. 
  5. Richard Dawkins has a "strange resistance" of debating anyone. This is because, (a) he's not very good at debate. (b) Debate is not the same as science. The person who 'wins' a debate hasn't proven that something is true or false, they have merely won over the audience with their reasoning, which may be specious. And (c) Dr. Dawkins has been burned in the past by religious people who have interviewed him under false pretenses, then taken his words out of context and twisted them to mean the opposite of what he has said. I'm sure that you are as shocked as am I that religious paragons of Christianity would lie about Dr. Dawkins! 

Thank you for your entertaining letter Mr. Craig. I do hope you have the inclination to give more thought to this issue, instead of attempting to reinforce that which you already believe.

Mark Boyd

Also posted to my blog

On Mon, Dec 17, 2012 at 7:24 AM, John Craig j-redacted-com wrote:
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Billy Hallowell
The Blaze

Re: Atheists Post Anti-Christmas Billboard in Times Square, Featuring Jesus Being Crucified: ‘Dump the Myth!’, The Blaze, December 11, 2012

My attention was drawn to your article as evidence of increasing ‘evangelism’ of some Atheists. This seems to be a global phenomenon (see Celebrating a New Evangelical 'Religion': Atheism). One must wonder if those involved have really thought rationally about the issues involved.


John Craig

Centre for Policy and Development Systems
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