Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day

Atheism Does Not Require Certainty

Posted in Atheist Revolution by Skepdude on August 7, 2009


For a variety of reasons, some Christians erroneously insist that atheism entails absolute certainty that no gods exist. This reflects either a misconception about the meaning of atheism or another less innocent motive. In fact, atheism does not require any particular level of certainty. All it requires is the failure to affirm belief in some sort of god(s).

Consider each of the following two questions for a moment, and notice the important difference between them?

  1. Do you believe in some sort of god or gods?
  2. Are you absolutely certain of your answer to question #1 to the degree that you have no doubt whatsoever that your answer is correct?

Only one of these questions is relevant to atheism. I’ll give you a hint: it isn’t the second one. Okay, that is not really fair. Both are relevant, but only the first is necessary to classify someone into the mutually exclusive categories of theist and atheist.


If Prayer Worked…

Posted in Atheist Revolution by Skepdude on February 20, 2009

The question can be phrased a variety of ways:

  • If you believe in prayer, why do you have insurance?
  • If you believe in prayer, why do you invest?
  • If you believe in prayer, why do you have a burglar alarm?
  • If you believe in prayer, why do you see a doctor?

The crux of the question is simple: If you truly believe that prayer works – works in the sense that your god intervenes in your life – why do you not behave as if you believed it?

If “prayer works” means nothing other than the act of praying makes me feel better, I do not disagree. But if it means anything more than that, then those advocating the wonders of prayer should have no need for the reality-based alternatives to which they cling. And if it does not always work, work completely, or only works on the small matters, then what does this say about your god?


War on Christmas Over, Christians Victorious

Posted in Atheist Revolution by Skepdude on December 23, 2008

Now that Washington State has approved the addition of a Festivus pole to the holiday display at the state capitol, I think we can properly hang a “Mission Accomplished” banner on our metaphorical air craft carriers. Yes, combat operations have ended in the so-called “Christmas wars.” Of course, atheists can only join the celebration as observers since we were never actually involved in the conflict. In fact, it turns out that the only combatant in this bitter dispute, a handful of dimwitted Christians, have finally achieved victory over themselves. They have made a thorough mockery of the very holiday they were allegedly defending from imagined threats.

At first, nobody objected to the “holiday tree” erected in the Washington State Capitol. However, a handful of thin-skinned Christians soon decided that using the more inclusive term “holiday” was a blow to their preferred religion. They requested the addition of a nativity scene, and with the help of a lawsuit filed last year by the Alliance Defense Fund, their request was granted this year.

The thing is, Washington State recognized that the only legal way to permit a nativity display in a public building would be to permit all other groups to add their own displays. So, in getting their nativity scene, the Christians opened the door to virtually any other sort of display. Washington State deserves credit for understanding the implications of the Establishment Clause.


The Limits of Tolerance

Posted in Atheist Revolution by Skepdude on December 11, 2008

With Christmas approaching, some atheists are starting to call on other atheists to be more tolerant of religious belief, nicer to believers, and the like. There may be some real merit in doing just that. But before we all hop on the tolerance bandwagon and convince ourselves that we should shelve our quest for equality this time of year and withhold criticism of an irrational and dangerous belief system, I’d like to offer a few words of restraint.

Do you know what a rape myth is? Briefly, psychological research has demonstrated that male rapists and other men predisposed to sexual violence against women are more likely than the average man to hold erroneous beliefs about male-female interactions, female sexuality, and the like. In non-offender samples (e.g., male college students), the tendency to agree with rape myths has been associated with negative attitudes toward women and more positive attitudes toward violence against women.

If we consider just a few examples of rape myths, these findings will not surprise you.

  • “Women secretly enjoy being raped.”
  • “Women ‘ask for it’ by their dress or actions.”
  • “If I spend a lot of money on our date, she owes me sex.”


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