Atheism, agnosticism and flip-flopping

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Richard Dawkins
The Oxford University Professor Daniel Came wrote to the agnostic and evolutionist Richard Dawkins:: "The absence of a debate with the foremost apologist for Christian theism is a glaring omission on your CV and is of course apt to be interpreted as cowardice on your part."[1]

Some of the most prominent atheists/agnostics have flip-flopped between atheism and agnosticism/theism. Unlike Christianity, which is supported by a large body of sound evidence (see: Christian apologetics), atheism has no proof and evidence supporting its ideology.

Richard Dawkins, atheism and flip-flopping

On May 2011, the UK's The Daily Telegraph alluded to the cowardice of Richard Dawkins who flip-flops between being an agnostic and an atheist as far as his public persona (see: Richard Dawkins and agnosticism).[2][3]

Although Richard Dawkins declared himself an agnostic in the book The God Delusion, he declared that atheist evangelism is important.[4] Author Vox Day wrote concerning this matter, "While the fact that Dawkins declared himself a literal agnostic in the very book in which he declared the importance of atheist evangelism is both ironic and incoherent, it will surprise no one who has read the chapter of The Irrational Atheist entitled "Darwin's Judas".[5] Atheist philosopher Dr. Michael Ruse declared concerning Dawkins' book The God Delusion: "The God Delusion makes me embarrassed to be an atheist."[6] Also, despite being an elderly self-declared agnostic, in his book The God Delusion, Dawkins said that "permanent in agnosticism in principle" is "fence-sitting, intellectual cowardice".[7]

The Oxford University Professor Daniel Came wrote to the agnostic and evolutionist Richard Dawkins:: "The absence of a debate with the foremost apologist for Christian theism is a glaring omission on your CV and is of course apt to be interpreted as cowardice on your part."[8] See also: Atheism and cowardice

Carl Sagan's contradictory statements regarding atheism/agnosticism

See also: Richard Dawkins and agnosticism

On atheism/agnosticism, Carl Sagan commented in 1981:
An atheist is someone who is certain that God does not exist, someone who has compelling evidence against the existence of God. I know of no such compelling evidence. Because God can be relegated to remote times and places and to ultimate causes, we would have to know a great deal more about the universe than we do now to be sure that no such God exists. To be certain of the existence of God and to be certain of the nonexistence of God seem to me to be the confident extremes in a subject so riddled with doubt and uncertainty as to inspire very little confidence indeed.[9]

Creation Ministries International's article on atheism points out an atheistic statement that Sagan made:

By “nature worship” and “neo-paganism” I refer to the atheist’s tendency to replace a sense of awe of God and seeking transcendence by relating to God with seeking awe and transcendence in nature. This natural high, as it were, is not merely enjoyed but it is enjoined and said to be holier than theism.

Referring to our ability to “step off the Earth and look back at ourselves,” as was done in Voyager 2, Carl Sagan stated,

“I find that a chilling, spine-tingling, exciting, perspective-raising, consciousness-raising experience. It’s said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience.”7

The very first episode of his televised series entitled Cosmos, began with Carl Sagan stating,

“The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be. Our feeblest contemplations of the Cosmos stir us—there is a tingling in the spine, a catch in the voice, a faint sensation, as of a distant memory, of falling from a height. We know we are approaching the greatest of mysteries.”

Presupposing a God-free reality, why atheists seek transcendent experiences remains unanswered.[10]

Jean-Paul Sartre

See also: Atheists doubting the validity of atheism and Denials that atheists exist

Jean-Paul Sartre was one of the leading proponents of atheism of the 20th Century.

Yet Jean-Paul Sartre made this candid confession:

As for me, I don’t see myself as so much dust that has appeared in the world but as a being that was expected, prefigured, called forth. In short, as a being that could, it seems, come only from a creator; and this idea of a creating hand that created me refers me back to God. Naturally this is not a clear, exact idea that I set in motion every time I think of myself. It contradicts many of my other ideas; but it is there, floating vaguely. And when I think of myself I often think rather in this way, for wont of being able to think otherwise.[11]

Darwin often had overwhelming thoughts the world was designed

Charles Darwin wrote in his private notebooks that he was a materialist, which is a type of atheist. In his autobiography Charles Darwin wrote about the diminishment of his religious faith and Darwin stated that he was an agnostic.[12] Darwin's worldview is best described as agnosticism/weak atheism (see: religious views of Charles Darwin) [13][14]

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy states:

In 1885, the Duke of Argyll recounted a conversation he had had with Charles Darwin the year before Darwin's death:

In the course of that conversation I said to Mr. Darwin, with reference to some of his own remarkable works on the Fertilization of Orchids, and upon The Earthworms, and various other observations he made of the wonderful contrivances for certain purposes in nature — I said it was impossible to look at these without seeing that they were the effect and the expression of Mind. I shall never forget Mr. Darwin's answer. He looked at me very hard and said, “Well, that often comes over me with overwhelming force; but at other times,” and he shook his head vaguely, adding, “it seems to go away. ”(Argyll 1885, 244)[15]

Isaac Asimov

Isaac Asimov declared:

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.[16]

Francis Crick

Francis Crick described himself as an agnostic with "a strong inclination towards atheism."[17]

Atheists and belief in purpose

See also: Atheism and purpose

One of the most popular arguments for God's existence is the teleological argument. Derived from the Greek word telos, which refers to purpose or end, this argument hinges on the idea that the world gives evidence of being designed, and concludes that a divine designer must be posited to account for the orderly world we encounter.

On October 17, 2014, The New York Times published an article entitled Does everything happen for a reason? which declared:

But research from the Yale Mind and Development Lab, where we work, suggests that this can’t be the whole story. In one series of studies, recently published in the journal Cognition, we asked people to reflect on significant events from their own lives, such as graduations, the births of children, falling in love, the deaths of loved ones and serious illnesses. Unsurprisingly, a majority of religious believers said they thought that these events happened for a reason and that they had been purposefully designed (presumably by God). But many atheists did so as well, and a majority of atheists in a related study also said that they believed in fate — defined as the view that life events happen for a reason and that there is an underlying order to life that determines how events turn out.

These atheists’ responses weren’t just the product of living in America’s highly religious society. Research done at Queen’s University in Belfast by the psychologists Bethany Heywood and Jesse Bering found that British atheists were just as likely as American atheists to believe that their life events had underlying purposes, even though Britain is far less religious than America.

In other studies, scheduled to be published online next week in the journal Child Development, we found that even young children show a bias to believe that life events happen for a reason — to “send a sign” or “to teach a lesson.” This belief exists regardless of how much exposure the children have had to religion at home, and even if they’ve had none at all.[18]

Quotes from science journals and science magazines

See also: Atheism quotes and Atheism and death

“A slew of cognitive traits predisposes us to faith.” - Pascal Boyer, in the British science journal Nature [19]

“Atheism is psychologically impossible because of the way humans think. … They point to studies showing, for example, that even people who claim to be committed atheists tacitly hold religious beliefs, such as the existence of an immortal soul.” - Graham Lawton in the New Scientist science magazine[20]

See also

References