Why Believe The Bible
But Not (Say) A Tabloid?
Dylan S. Combs

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Cliff replies:

I am glad that we have developed methods for being able to determine truth from falsehood that are more accurate than simply counting the possible outcomes of a question, calculating the odds against "guessing" the correct one, and resigning to the notion that whatever we decide is no more or less realistic than any of the other choices!

Besides, unless some strange form of non-Aristotelean logic has taken over our experiential state of reality (as opposed to, say, Planck space, wherein, I hear, all bets are off in this regard), it seems that existence and nonexistence would be a binary, either-or choice.

Still, as Isaac Asimov stated (and you as well said, in so many words):

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I am an atheist, out and out. It took me a long time to say it. I've been an atheist for years and years, but somehow I felt it was intellectually unrespectable to say one was an atheist, because it assumed knowledge that one didn't have. Somehow it was better to say one was a humanist or an agnostic. I finally decided that I'm a creature of emotion as well as of reason. Emotionally I am an atheist. I don't have the evidence to prove that God doesn't exist, but I so strongly suspect he doesn't that I don't want to waste my time.
-- in Free Inquiry (Spring, 1982)

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In other words, to be a strong atheist is, in my opinion, a choice based in want or desire (and a valid one, to boot). I cannot remember exactly where it was but someone once paraphrased from Michael Martin's book, Atheism. A Philosophical Justification, saying that if I look and look for a pair of glasses that I think I left in a room, and after turning the room inside out, still cannot find them, there comes a point where I simply say, "There are no glasses in the room."

I could still be wrong, and one of our senior partners, Dutch physics student Victor Gijsbers once explained this to me in a personal letter, while he and I developed a portion of the FAQ centerpiece, "Introduction to Activistic Atheism": He said that those of us who have thought through the philosophical arguments for and against the existence of God (or, as I prefer to say, the truthfulness or falsehood of the various god-claims), we rightly call ourselves strong atheists. I'm not sure where he was coming from on that one, but I think Martin's argument would suffice at this point. What Victor was saying to me, though, was that being a strong atheist does not preclude our changing our tune if it should turn out that we are in error: we are in no way committed to remaining atheists should this turn of events take place. We would, like the scientist, simply say, "Oh, you're right! I was wrong about that!" and adjust our outlooks accordingly.

Cliff Walker
Positive Atheism Magazine
Eight-and-one-half years of service to
          people with no reason to believe

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