Monday, October 6, 2008

A Subtle (But Important) Distinction

Link to Erik Rasmussen's blog article

Agnosticism versus Atheism

Let’s examine the subtle difference in meaning between the following two sentences.
  1. An atheist believes that God does not exist.
  2. An atheist does not believe that God exists.
I suspect that all people who call themselves atheists share my complaint about the definition of atheism. I’ve looked up the word in three dictionaries, and they all say that #1 is more correct. I really hate that. When I call myself an atheist, I’m using definition #2. The second definition better represents the scientific line of thinking, specifically the null hypothesis, that leads one to atheism. The null hypothesis states that any extraordinary claim must be assumed to be false and the burden of proof is on the claimant. If sufficient reason to believe the claim is not given, one should not believe it is true. Notice that…
not believe is true != believe is false

No comments: