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Hijinks Ensue

Religion and me

I'm not going to write about religion often because frankly I don't find it a particularly interesting subject, but I thought I should put something down here that clarifies my religious position a little. I consider myself an atheist, and by this I mean that I have no religious beliefs. I do not believe there is a god, nor do I believe there is not a god - I simply do not know. It seems very unlikely to me, but I can't prove there is no god, just as I cannot prove that the tooth fairy does not exist. Some people like to use the terms "strong atheism" and "weak atheism" to divide atheists into those who are convinced that there is no god and those who merely do not believe there is a god - by their definition I am in the latter group. People have tried to tell me that if I do not know whether there is a god or not I must be an agnostic, but I am not - the distinction is that an agnostic believes it is not possible to know whether or not there is a god, whereas as a sceptic and critical thinker I could be persuaded that there was a god if I were to see conclusive proof of His existence. Until I see such evidence I will remain an atheist. I once spent half an hour arguing with some Born Again Christian evangelists who came to my door (they even tried the "evolution is only a theory" argument on me), eventually telling them to go away and come back when they could demonstrate to me a scientific proof that their beliefs were correct. I never saw them again.

Having explained my own position, I would like to make it clear that I have no problem with other people having religious beliefs (and I include strong atheism in that) as long as they don't try to force their beliefs onto others or carry out evil in the name of their religion.


I'd describe your position as weak-agnostic and weak-atheist -- "I don't know, and (for the moment, therefore) I don't believe" -- and the position you describe as agnostic, I'd describe as strong-agnostic -- "I believe it is unknowable/unprovable".

Me, I'm a strong agnostic and a Christian -- I do not know, I believe it is unprovable, and I believe. I also believe in evolution, I feel that the case there has been proved. Finally, I believe that it's posible to hold this combination of beliefs consistently, and that I'm equipped to make a case for that consistency.

It seems to me that your position is consistent too, and I could repeat your final paragraph as my own without hesitation.
Yes, I think that sums it up pretty well. Out of interest, why do you believe the existence of god is unprovable?
As a mathematician and scientist, I believe that the world runs according to physical laws which are consistent. As a Christian, I believe that God created the world. So He must have created it in such a way that there will be no evidence forthcoming that isn't consistent with those physical laws, and therefore no observations we could make which would be helpful in demonstrating his existence. Any alleged "proof" won't, therefore, be grounded in assumptions that I'm prepared to concede -- such a "proof" will either be inconsistent or circular.

In Oolon Colluphid's book "That about wraps it up for God", it's assumed that such a proof exists, and it generates a contradiction. "Oh dear, I hadn't thought of that," says God, and promptly disappears in a puff of logic.