Thursday, December 31, 2009

“There is no God”: what we say vs. what we mean

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“Atheist”/“Godless”: Ain’t this the most wicked cool ambigram or what?

We atheists sure know how to tick off the believers and the faithful with our repeated assertions that “There is no god” and its cousin, “There is probably no god”. Now, Hemant Mehta asks: which is it? A valiant question.

I hear atheists saying both of the following statements and it would be nice to have it cleared up.

Which statement should atheists be using?

1. There is probably no god.

2. There is no god.

I should note that when I say “probably no god” in #1, I mean any amount less than 100% certainty.

I can’t answer for others, neither being in their heads nor privy to their beliefs and thought processes, but I certainly can answer for myself and for what I say, versus what I mean. Personally, when I say, “There is no God”, I’m simply using the shorter, more convenient and less tedious-to-repeat contraction of, “There is almost certainly no God or gods”. Of course, there always could be one or more god(s). But then, there could be a tooth fairy, leprechauns and unicorns as well. We certainly have never proven that they don’t exist. But, the fact that we’ve never seen one, that they don’t appear to have any effects on the world, and that their existence would defy common sense and logic, is more than good enough to lead us to believing, and proclaiming, that they simply don’t exist.

I simply use this exact same logic towards god(s), who insofar have been utterly absent in our natural world. There is no trace, not the slightest, most subtle of hints, of a divine influence or being. So, why should we believe in one? There simply isn’t any good reason to, period.

What about you, dear reader(s)? If you don’t believe in god(s), what do you say on a regular basis? How likely is it, to you, that god(s) exist at all?

(via Friendly Atheist)