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December 13, 2004

Sorry to Disappoint, but I'm Still an Atheist!

by Feòrag

The net has recently been filled with gloating from the supersitious with the news that a well-known atheist had turned to religion. Well, according to the man himself, it's all a load of bollocks. Professor Antony Flew has been accused of turning to religion twice before, and each time he has issued the same statement.

Richard C. Carrier, current Editor in Chief of the Secular Web, tells me that the internet has now become awash with rumors that I have converted to Christianity, or am at least no longer an atheist. Perhaps because I was born too soon to be involved in the internet world I had heard nothing of this rumour. So Mr. Carrier asks me to explain myself in cyberspace. This, with the help of the Internet Infidels, I now attempt.

Those rumours speak false. I remain still what I have been now for over fifty years, a negative atheist. By this I mean that I construe the initial letter in the word 'atheist' in the way in which everyone construes the same initial letter in such words as 'atypical' and 'amoral'. For I still believe that it is impossible either to verify or to falsify - to show to be false - what David Hume in his Dialogues concerning Natural Religion happily described as the religious hypothesis. The more I contemplate the eschatological teachings of Christianity and Islam the more I wish I could demonstrate their falsity.

And the reason he's repeatedly accused of believing in God? It seems the religious have difficulty with the English language, and cannot understand it when a philosopher writes about how the religious might react to cool stuff like Big Physics:

We negative atheists are bound to see the Big Bang cosmology as requiring a physical explanation; and that one which, in the nature of the case, may nevertheless be forever inaccessible to human beings. But believers may, equally reasonably, welcome the Big Bang cosmology as tending to confirm their prior belief that "in the beginning" the Universe was created by God...

...In short, I recognize that developments in physics coming on the last twenty or thirty years can reasonably be seen as in some degree confirmatory of a previously faith-based belief in god, even though they still provide no sufficient reason for unbelievers to change their minds. They certainly have not persuaded me.

Has Antony Flew ceased to be an atheist? - Rationalist International Bulletin 137, 12th December 2004 (via Gullibility is not in the Dictionary).

Posted in Hypocrisy at 15:01. Last modified on September 28 2006 at 23:43.
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