I'm really not sure what you are getting at here. Atheism is not a philosophy. There is no atheistic answer for truth, morality or the best time for breakfast. Skepticism does have answers for some of these and Humanism has more answers still. I'm an atheist because I don't believe in any gods, a skeptic because I believe that beliefs should correspond with evidence and a humanist because I believe we are all we have and we are best when we are at our best together.
I wonder if you intended this as a response to a different point, and accidentally posted it under a block of my text. I don’t see any rhetorical connection between this paragraph and the statements in the block of text you posted above it.
I simply said there are truths that, because of their practicality, I would expect everyone to want to know. I mentioned nothing about atheism as a philosophy, nor any of the other points in your response.
This is shortsighted thinking at best. While a person might benifit from a placebo effect, medicine and that person's long term health do not. If they come to rely on a placebo they will not be getting the medical care which can actually treat their ailment. In the best case their ailment leaves and they are neutral, worst case they could significantly hamper their recovery or even die.
That depends. If the patient is suffering from a psychosomatic condition, there are no real health ramifications. Yet a placebo may bring relief. No harm done. The patient has a particular delusion, which is cured by another delusion. Would you be opposed to this practice?
The point I was making is that the Christian should want to know the truth, in principle, because of God’s intense commitment to the truth. The atheist would be expected to have a commitment to truth only when there is specific advantage attached to knowing or believing it—and that some truths do not necessarily confer such advantage. There is no need to know or believe truths that confer no advantage, unless there is a transcendental value in truth, per se.
I do not see a basis for placing such a transcendental value upon impractical “Truth” apart from the belief that God cares about it.
Natural selection is not design, or a designer. All the retention of a trait identifies is that the trait is not a significant liability to survival in the presence of others who lack that trait.
It is common for evolutionists to talk out of both sides of their mouths. When arguing against God, they say there is no design, but when explaining things in an environment where they don’t expect any creationists to challenge them, they continually use the language of design and purpose when describing certain organs and aptitudes of plants or animals. Even evolutionists cannot resist the obvious truth of design. They simply want the designer to be “blind.”
I once read the musing of a philosopher who said it would be a very strange thing for a universe without purpose to develop, as its most highly-developed product, creatures obsessed with the notion of purpose. If this does not seem peculiar to you, this may shed light on why you also think atheism is a reasonable option.
You provide (above) a statement calls to our attention the negative effects of natural selection—observing only that some seemingly-worthless traits are not eliminated.
The whole scheme of evolution, however, must account not only for the elimination of disadvantageous traits, but also for the innovation and accumulation of specifically advantageous ones. Selection accounts for preservation, but not for innovation.
True, preservation is an important factor. In order to get a radically new structure, the first 100th of a wing or an eye needs to be preserved (and we should seek explanations for why it would be preserved) long enough for the other ninety-nine 100ths of that structure to come along. But for all of these useless appendages to be preserved through a million generations (while remaining useless), without being eliminated, requires (to a skeptical man like myself) some explanation.
We do not know of animal species that instinctively pursue non-existent phantoms. It seems that a genetic predisposition to such delusions would be inconvenient and not a definer of increased viability. What natural selective process would favor an arrangement wherein the most highly-evolved and rational of creatures would, almost unanimously, reach the conclusion that some non-existent entity exists, and that it is important? Further, if natural selection has indeed produced and favored such a trait, why should anyone think it to be a good idea to eliminate it?
Ok, this is the meat of your response, and given how you described your self as logical I'm pretty surprised by what you have written here. I will agree that atheism is a minority view, for now. As the nones are the fastest growing "religious" segment that may well not be true much longer. However even if atheism were a majority opinion that would not provide evidence for or against it's truth. Your appeal to the masses is a logical fallacy if you seek to do anything other than indicate I hold a minority viewpoint.
The majority is often wrong—but so is the minority. We cannot determine truth by counting noses. However, one can reasonably assume that conclusions which most intelligent people have considered to be justly drawn from the evidence of the cosmos, and which a great many of the best minds (including former leading atheists) still believe to be the best options from evidence, should not cavalierly be dismissed as lacking in any evidential basis.
The most you can say is that you are not persuaded by the evidence that most thinking people have found persuasive. While this is every man's prerogative, it necessarily carries weight only to yourself, until you can persuade your hearer that your aptitude for weighing evidence exceeds that of the overwhelming majority of rational thinkers. You might be surprised to find few who are willing, in the absence of sufficient evidence, to make that assumption about you.
I disagree with you about the use of the classic arguments. Most believers are not familiar with any of the arguments. They were taught to believe as children. Many, myself included, were taken to weekly services where the indoctrination is formalized. I'm reminded of the words of the Apostle's Creed. Something I recited from memory at least once a week.
To say that most believers are not familiar with the arguments is to claim knowledge of what most believers do or do not know. I do not have this data, and I doubt that you have it. Speaking only for myself, as a child, I was taught Christian dogmas. However, my mind was continually contemplating the natural and philosophical evidences concerning God’s existence from at least the second grade onward. I have no reason to doubt that many other religious children have done the same. They may not be able to frame the arguments in terms that an adult would use, but this does not mean they are failing to assess evidences and to process data.
I don't need creeds for the things I believe based on evidence. I don't have a internal combustion engine creed, or a creed for evolutionary biology. Religion is unique in my own experience for employing such a device. Even in history the events are offered without ceremony. If these beliefs are so obvious, why the repetition?
The purpose of a creed is not the same as that of a philosophical argument. Arguments provide the reasons for belief or disbelief. Creeds summarize the beliefs which have been deemed credible as the result of the arguments. You certainly do have creeds concerning internal combustion engines (or, at least, all competent auto mechanics do). There are also the creeds of evolutionary biology, like the creed (unproven) of "descent from a common ancestor." The evidence for grand-scale evolution is as deficient to a true skeptic as is the evidence for God. I consider myself to be such a skeptic.
I will simply say that every argument for the existence of god I have found, and I keep looking, is flawed. Usually in some obvious way. If you know of a really compelling one I'd like to see it.
You are requiring the kind of evidence for God that you do not require for atheism. I suspect that you will say “Atheism is not a belief, so it requires no proof.” However, atheism, whether a positive belief or not, represents a tentative faith commitment. You state it as such above. You are essentially saying, “I am open to being persuaded by better evidence, but my default commitment is that there is no god.”
Atheists these days are more squeamish than in earlier generations about insisting that there is no god. They prefer to say, “I simply do not believe in god.” Fair enough. This avoids the illogicality of affirming a universal negative. However, in reality, a great number of our beliefs, values and choices proceed from the assumptions we make about whether or not there is a God or gods. There are only two possibilities:
Proposition #1 — The God taught in Christianity exists;
Proposition #2 — This God does not exist (and, possibly, no gods exist).
One of these propositions is correct and in accord with the real universe. Modern atheists claim to affirm neither, but this means that they must live in limbo, which they do not actually do. Most of our important decisions are determined by our outlook on this question, and all live as if one or the other of these propositions is true, even while professing agnosticism.
You repeatedly say that there is not sufficient evidence for proposition #1. I will take you at your word that, with reference to your tastes and aptitude for assessing evidences, this is in fact the case.
Do you uphold the same standard of proof for Proposition #2?
There are a great number of positive evidences, which some people do and others do not find compelling, that seem to indicate the presence of a Designer.
By contrast, there are no positive evidences of the non-existence of such a Designer.
While it is true that any evidence presented may be accommodated by some form of theism, weakening the argument by its being non-falsifiable, this does not prove the belief incorrect. It may mean that the theory is, on those grounds, suspect—but it says nothing about whether or not it is true.
I would suggest that a great deal of what we know and observe is reasonably explained by the existence of a Designer. Many phenomena are not as easily explained without a Designer. No phenomenon is better explained without a Designer.
Proposition #1, for all the perceived weaknesses of its evidences, has the advantage over Proposition #2 in at least having some positive evidences to evaluate.