Dawkins abandons atheism!

Shock news of the week: one of the world’s reputed leading apostles of atheism, Oxford professor Richard Dawkins, is no longer an atheist!

Doubts about this were first raised a few days ago in the responses by several bloggers to a story reported by the BBC: Dawkins has put £5,500 of his own money towards the costs of an advertising campaign with the slogan “There’s probably no God”. “Probably”? That doesn’t sound like the statement of the true believer atheist Dawkins that we Christians have come to know, love, and vilify. OK, the word is an allusion to the “Probably the best lager in the world” advertising campaign and so is mocking the advertising rules which allow unverifiable claims to be made if this word is added. But I think it left many people puzzled that he is prepared to endorse and support such an ambiguous campaign – one even welcomed by the Methodist Church, and indeed by myself for making people think about God.

But now Melanie Phillips, writing in The Spectator (thanks to Damian for putting a link to this on David Ker’s Bible Behemoth feed), gives confirmation that Dawkins is no longer an atheist. She quotes him as saying, in a debate in Oxford this week which she attended,

A serious case could be made for a deistic God.

She continues:

This was surely remarkable. Here was the arch-apostle of atheism, whose whole case is based on the assertion that believing in a creator of the universe is no different from believing in fairies at the bottom of the garden, saying that a serious case can be made for the idea that the universe was brought into being by some kind of purposeful force. A creator. True, he was not saying he was now a deist; on the contrary, he still didn’t believe in such a purposeful founding intelligence, and he was certainly still saying that belief in the personal God of the Bible was just like believing in fairies. Nevertheless, to acknowledge that ‘a serious case could be made for a deistic god’ is to undermine his previous categorical assertion that

…all life, all intelligence, all creativity and all ‘design’ anywhere in the universe is the direct or indirect product of Darwinian natural selection…Design cannot precede evolution and therefore cannot underlie the universe.

In Oxford on Tuesday night, however, virtually the first thing he said was that a serious case could be made for believing that it could.

In other words, Dawkins is not an atheist but an agnostic, one who is not sure whether there is a God or not. Melanie suggests that his thinking may be following the same path as that of the formerly atheistic professor Anthony Flew. Dawkins previously ridiculed Flew’s arguments for the existence of God, but now he seems to be accepting that there is a serious case for Flew’s position.

Meanwhile Dawkins is continuing his virulent attack on the divinity of Jesus. So there is some way to go before we can welcome him into the evangelical Christian camp. But he does seem to have taken the first step on that path by recognising the weakness of some of his famous atheistic arguments.

Update: David Keen, John Richardson and Mark Meynell got to this subject first, but I hadn’t seen their posts when I wrote mine.

0 thoughts on “Dawkins abandons atheism!

  1. David, thanks for the link. The Melanie Phillips article is only one day old news. Well, interesting that Dawkins prefers “there’s almost certainly no God”, but that “almost” is very significant!

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  3. Your problem is you don’t have a good definition of ‘atheist’.

    ‘Atheist’ just means “not a theist’. Dawkins is not a theist; you can’t name any gods he believes exists, because he doesn’t believe in any. He’s an atheist.

    A lot of people improperly use the term ‘agnostic’ as if it means something like ‘an atheist who is not 100% sure’, but that’s not what it means at all. Few Christians/Jews/Muslims/Hindus/etc are 100% sure of their position either; does this make them agnostics instead of Christians/Jews/Muslims/Hindus/etc?

    No, of course not. The same holds true for atheists.

  4. Dawkins has not abandoned his atheism; he has said all of this before. Your surprise, it appears, arises from just now coming to understand his views.

    Note that atheism and agnosticism are not mutually exclusive, and one can be both an atheist and an agnostic. Agnosticism concerns knowledge and means one does not know something. Here, it refers to one who does not know whether god(s) exist. Atheism concerns belief and means one lacks a belief in god(s). Nearly all atheists lack a belief in god(s) because they see no evidence of god(s). At the same time, they recognize that they cannot conclusively prove a negative, i.e., that god(s) do not exist, so they acknowledge that they do not know for sure. Thus they are both agnostics and atheists.

    Dawkins is a good example. In The God Delusion, he posits seven “milestones” in the spectrum of certainty about the existence of god(s) ranging from (1) the strong theist who is 100% convinced there is a god to (7) the strong atheist who is just as convinced there is not one. Everyone in between acknowledges some uncertainty and assigns different probabilities to the existence of god(s). Dawkins places himself in category 6, which encompasses those who recognize they do not know for certain, but think a god is very improbable. Accordingly, he stops short of making the affirmative claim that there is no god and, instead, ventures only as far as the title of Chapter 4 of his book suggests: “Why There Almost Certainly Is No God.”

  5. Brian, your definition of “atheist” is certainly wrong, as it would include all agnostics, deists and polytheists. You are making up meanings of words Humpty Dumpty style. I follow the American Heritage definition of “atheist”:

    One who disbelieves or denies the existence of God or gods.

    Similarly the definition of “atheism”:

    1a. Disbelief in or denial of the existence of God or gods. b. The doctrine that there is no God or gods. 2. Godlessness; immorality.

    Dawkins does not hold to this, in any of these senses. So he cannot be called an atheist, according to the recognised dictionary definition.

    Meanwhile here is their definition of “agnostic” (noun):

    1a. One who believes that it is impossible to know whether there is a God. b. One who is skeptical about the existence of God but does not profess true atheism. 2. One who is doubtful or noncommittal about something.

    See also the “Word History” at this link. Dawkins would appear to be an agnostic in sense 1b.

    As a Christian I am 100% sure of the existence of God. I would never ever allow this to be qualified with “almost certainly” as Dawkins does with his statement about his non-existence.

    Doug, you are also redefining words in ways which don’t fit the standard dictionary definitions. Atheism is not a lack of belief in God but a positive belief, “The doctrine that there is no God or gods”. See the dictionary definition above. But maybe you are simply following Dawkins’ redefinitions which perhaps he invented to allow himself to continue to call himself an atheist while not being one. However I accept that his position may not actually have shifted since he wrote “The God Delusion” – although it does seem to have shifted since his previous debate with John Lennox as reported by Melanie Phillips.

  6. Peter,

    With respect to the semantics, the distinction between “strong” atheists who affirmatively assert there is no god and “weak” atheists who simply lack a belief in god(s) has long been recognized. While I haven’t seen polling data or the like, I suspect (like Dawkins) that the vast majority of atheists are of the “weak” variety, since that view enjoys a sound rational basis while the “strong” view seemingly requires a leap of faith that few are inclined to take.

    To refuse to accept those lacking a belief in god(s) as “atheists” would deprive the term of much of its utility and leave quite a few people without a label. How would you have us talk about them?

  7. Even if it is all fake, it’s just a matter of time before Dawkins will be proclaiming the Lordship of Christ, either in this life or the next…. (cf., Phil 2).

  8. Well now….

    So there is some debate over whether or Richard Dawkins might have modified his beliefs from denying God to denying God.

    Last time I checked, God was (and is) still on the throne. Dawkins’ views may be influencing amany, and these adverts on London buses certainly provoke interest and discussion, but our capacity to argue the case for God will only go so far. Human reason cannot, of itself, accept the reality of God and in particular the cross itself. Note Jesus’ words that it is not by clever argument, persuasion or such that the world will know that we are His people, but by love.

    And yes, I know that as Wesley reminded us, God has less use for our ignorance than our intellectual ability, this is never the end. People argued into the kingdom can be argued out of it. Let us continue in works of love, growing together in humble service of a world which, at a unique moment in history, is in dire need of the only One who is dependable and constant.

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  10. Doug, on your terminology it would appear that Dawkins has abandoned strong atheism even if he can be described as a weak atheist, the category that the dictionary I quoted and I refer to as “agnostic”. Or if Dawkins never was a strong atheist, he has certainly allowed himself to be seriously misunderstood.

    Brian, you are of course correct. And so are you, Jamie – we can never argue people into the kingdom.

  11. I’ve always thought this ‘probably’ word was amusing. I suppose he would concede that he can’t actually prove that there is no God. The Oxford debate will be broadcast on Premier Radio next Saturday afternoon as far as I am aware. One of Premiers presenters Justin gave Dawkins a good run for his money during a short interview.

  12. Peter,

    I realize that many people and many dictionaries use the terms atheist and agnostic as you say. This view, though, oversimplifies and thus obscures much. Here is perhaps more than you care to read on the nuances:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atheism

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agnosticism

    Much debate continues in atheist, philosophical, and linguistic circles on the proper, best, or most useful meanings of these words–and, as best I can ascertain, no clear winners have yet emerged.

  13. Utterly confused by this post. As a committed humanist and soft atheist, I do at least do believers the credit of reading what they actually say rather than believing the reports of them made by their opponents.

    Dawkins has made it clear in TV interviews, on documentaries he’s made and in the God Delusion itself that he considers himself Agnostic, as no proof can be found either way and the absence of evidence means his rationalism gives him no conclusion.

    This ‘news’ is about as shocking as finding out the Pope is Catholic, and not the anti-Christ personified as some have attacked him as being.

  14. Mat, if you are right, why doesn’t the man described by Wikipedia as “an outspoken atheist” turn round and say “Hey, you’ve got me wrong, I’m not an atheist, I’m an agnostic” – or at least not do so until last week?

  15. Doug, thanks for your comment (retrieved from my spam trap). I think this sentence from the Wikipedia article on atheism explains why you disagree with me:

    Most recently, there has been a push in certain philosophical circles to redefine atheism as the “absence of belief in deities”, rather than as a belief in its own right; this definition has become popular in atheist communities, though its mainstream usage has been limited.

    You are apparently following “this definition … popular in atheist communities” whereas my understanding is the more mainstream one. On the definitions here Dawkins would appear to be an explicit weak atheist, and also probably a weak agnostic holding

    the view that the existence or nonexistence of any deity is currently unknown but is not necessarily unknowable

    For Dawkins appears to hold the same position as Bertrand Russell, as quoted in the Wikipedia agnosticism article:

    As a philosopher, if I were speaking to a purely philosophic audience I should say that I ought to describe myself as an Agnostic, because I do not think that there is a conclusive argument by which one can prove that there is not a God.

    On the other hand, if I am to convey the right impression to the ordinary man in the street I think I ought to say that I am an Atheist …

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  17. Thanks, Peter. Whether it old news or not, it is at least a start for the famous Dawkins to be wavering is his once militant atheism.

  18. I don’t think Dawkins is wavering at all in his atheism. He is not acknowledging that a serious case has been made; he is merely saying that it could; furthermore, he is saying that if this serious case were made, it would be for a deistic God. He is saying, in an indirect way, that no serious case can be made for a personal God. I don’t think he meant anything more than that.

  19. We’ve been having a similar discussion on my blog about the meanings of ‘atheist’ and ‘agnostic’. It always makes a discussion tricky when people are using different definitions for the words in question!

    I was interested to reflect that a similar issue trips people up in reading NT Greek: the etymology of a word may not be directly related to its meaning in the context (the etymology fallacy). Bill Mounce made the following comment on Koinonia recently:

    You would find a word in a certain context, and in determining its meaning people would look at the meaning of its parts and assume that was the meaning of the current word under investigation. No effort was put into determining the word’s meaning within its current context. This led to some pretty poor exegesis and unfortunately many inaccurate sermon illustrations.

    You can see how the apparent etymology of the word ‘atheist’ (from Greek a-theos)can easily lead to it being defined as ‘anti-theist’ / ‘non-theism’ (as in a-moral), but this does not reflect current, mainstream usage (as the dictionary reflects). The term agnostic carries even more problems of interpretation (‘a-gnostic’ was coined by Huxley to reflect a belief that “the problem is insoluble”) – the Wikipedia article reflects the many different definitions in common use!

    For myself, I’m happy to let atheists define their beliefs as they wish, as long as they acknowledge the mainstream understanding of some terms may differ from theirs!

    I’d argue that theists have the same issue when it comes to the word ‘God’, which we all like to think we have sole ownership of! Is ‘God’ a useful term for Christians when people define it in so many ways? Are we all talking about the same entity? 🙂 The question comes up a lot in evangelism…
    [just being controversial 😉 ]

  20. C, thanks for the helpful comment. I agree that those who call themselves atheists should acknowledge the mainstream understanding of the word. What I can’t understand is why people should want to call themselves atheists when they don’t actually fit the common understanding of the word. Perhaps it is just that they are like Bertrand Russell in pandering to popular ignorance.

  21. Its redundant for me to say it (as its been said) but I’ll say it anyways. The belief that there is no god or gods is strong atheism, week atheism is the lack of belief in a god or gods.

    Atheism and agnosticism are about different things. Atheism and theism are about belief (do you believe a god or gods exist) agnosticism is about knowledge (do you know if a god or gods exist). So agnosticism is not a middle ground as it is commonly thought to be. Atheism and agnosticism are not mutually exclusive there about different subjects.

    In fact theism and atheism are not necessarily mutually exclusive ether. It deepens on what you mean by “god” A pagan may see a god as simply a powerful supernatural bing, not necessarily the creator of the universe. A deist may see god as simply the creator of the universe not necessarily supernatural. “God” could also be seen as an omniscient omnipotent bing or even a certain god.

    What I can’t understand is why people should want to call themselves atheists when they don’t actually fit the common understanding of the word.

    Its cause the common understanding is a misunderstanding. Just cause its the common understanding does not make it the right understanding.

    One thing about dictionary’s. Dictionary’s do not define words, they define usages and they are not perfect, they get things wrong.

    Peter in one of your dictionary quotes it says

    1a. Disbelief in or denial of the existence of God or gods. b. The doctrine that there is no God or gods. 2. Godlessness; immorality.

    That supports the argument that atheism is the lack of belief in a god as “disbelief” means not believing in something or a lack of belief. 2 is just ignorant.

  22. Lone Wolf, you make interesting comments about dictionaries. They are certainly far from perfect, but they tend to describe the common understandings of words. And words mean what they actually mean in common usage, not what either the dictionary or you say they should mean. It was only Humpty Dumpty who could say that words meant what he defined them to mean – and even he said it of how he used words, not of how other people did.

    I accept that “Disbelief in … the existence of God” can mean what you call weak atheism, and I call a variety of agnosticism. But your claim that “2 is just ignorant” is ignorant, because this was in fact an original English meaning of the word: according to Wikipedia “Atheist as a label of practical godlessness was used at least as early as 1577.”

  23. It bothers me that every Christian website has taken Dawkins’ quote and has declared it to be a rejection of his “atheism” (however you want to describe it) and a “remarkable” change in his views. To be quite honest, this is ridiculous. You simply can not take ten words spoken by someone, completely out of context, and interpret it however you want.

    ‘A serious case could be made for a deistic God.’

    What came before this sentence? What came after? What was the inflection within the sentence? Was the emphasis on “serious case” or was it on “deistic”? All of these considerations dramatically affect the meaning of this line.

    And honestly, what difference does it make? In the past, I have heard Dawkins say that he would not deny the possibility of a god. To do so would be foolish and unscientific. There is no way to disprove the existence of a god, so one cannot say with 100% certainty that a god does not/can not exist.

    But is it likely? That’s another matter altogether.

    Also, I think that it’s very important that he is specifying “deistic” in the quote. Is there a god listening to our prayers every night? Is there a god bestowing miracles on us at random? Very unlikely. If you want to make the case for a god, the deistic model of a hands-off god would be a more practical option. To paraphrase something I read on another website: to say that one option of infinitesimally small probability is preferable to another options of probability indistinguishable from zero is hardly meaningful at all. Just because a deistic god is the more reasonable alternative doesn’t make it reasonable in and of itself.

    I would very much like to hear the context surrounding the quote before I speculate on the meaning of his quote. I think that it should satisfy everyone, however, that later in the article was this quote:

    “Afterwards, I asked Dawkins whether he had indeed changed his position and become more open to ideas which lay outside the scientific paradigm. He vehemently denied this and expressed horror that he might have given this impression.”

    He is not conceding anything new. Whatever your definition of ‘atheist’ or ‘agnostic’ might be, Dawkins has not changed his views, and he remains now whatever you would have called him before.

    Let’s wait until we see the context around the quote before we make any wild speculations.

  24. Zach, thank you for clarifying that Dawkins is a strong agnostic, holding that the existence or non-existence of God is unknowable. In doing so he demonstrates not only that he is not an atheist, according to the mainstream definition of the word, but also that he doesn’t believe he could ever be one. But maybe he has not changed his views, he never was an atheist and all the people claiming he was are deceived or deceiving. I agree that it would be good to have more context for the quote which would help us to decide that.

    I must say I find arguments based on probability for the existence of God to be laughable. There is no way that such a matter is one of probability. What you describe is not an objective measure of probability but a subjective one of the uncertainty in Dawkins’ mind. But if he cannot express certainty one way or the other there is no meaningful way he can specify that one option is more probable than the other.

  25. I don’t exactly know how one would classify him… because he is definitely opposed to the idea of a god, and he certainly doesn’t believe in one. However, he feels that it’s impossible to rule out the possibility that there is one (scientifically, not necessarily in his mind). So while he doesn’t believe in a god, he concedes that he could be wrong. So I don’t think the issue is that he doubts in his disbelief, I think that he’s simply a scientist at heart and it would be anathema to him to completely deny the possibility of something that can be neither proved nor disproved.

    Also, I am not necessarily saying that his argument for not believing in a god is that of simple probability. I was just making the assertion that the fact that he specified a deistic god was significant in that perhaps he is more receptive to that concept of a deistic god than a theistic god. And while he may be “more receptive”, that does not mean he believes it in the slightest (nor is one actually more probably than the other, just comparatively more reasonable than the other).

    A similar parallel is another quote from the above article:

    Even more jaw-droppingly, Dawkins told me that, rather than believing in God, he was more receptive to the theory that life on earth had indeed been created by a governing intelligence – but one which had resided on another planet.

    Does this mean that he actually thinks that that was what happened? No (at least, I don’t think so!), he is just more amenable to the idea.

    So, this isn’t an argument against a god based on probability; it is simply, like you said, Dawkins’ subjective prioritization in his mind. But I disagree that it shows any uncertainty. While he says that one cannot conclusively disprove the existence of a god, from everything that I’ve heard him say, he does not believe in one in the least…

  26. Even though expressing views that have long remained constant, Dawkins has so often found others misinterpreting his words and views that he regularly speaks of it–usually jokingly. He observes that some misunderstand him honestly and such misunderstandings can, through dialogue, readily be cleared up. He notes, though, that some appear to misinterpret him willfully for some purpose of their own, e.g., to sow confusion, obscure his message, set up strawman points to knock down, and such. While he typically treats the subject with some humor, he plainly takes pains to make his meaning clear when he writes and talks anymore. All the more frustrating for him, I think, when he learns of so much fruitless conversation over a word or sentence lifted out of context and infused with all sorts of unintended meanings. I suspect he winces first and then smiles–as that’s about all he can do.

  27. Yes, Doug, I’m sure Dawkins is often misrepresented. If I did so, it was unintentionally. But then we Christians have got used to having our faith, not just the details but its whole philosophical basis, regularly misrepresented by Dawkins.

  28. Peter: “Atheist”never meant immoral. “atheist” comes from a (woth out) and “theos (meaning gods).
    The last definition is ignorant cause its based on the ignorant and bigoted idea that atheists have no morels. That is simply not true. Morality is not dependant on a belief in a god, it comes from social necessity. Its an emergent property from social interaction.

  29. Lone Wolf, what are your qualifications for claiming to know the history of the word “atheist” better than professional lexicographers? I looked for any kind of “about me” page on your blog, but can’t find one.

  30. Interesting thing about words is that if you actually look up their meaning you can understand them.

    You can be an agnostic atheist or an agnostic theist.

    Agnostic literally means: a person who holds the view that any ultimate reality (as God) is unknown and probably unknowable

    Agnostic Theist = “I believe in god, but don’t think humans can truely know the afterlife.”

    Agnostic Atheist = “I don’t believe in god, but I don’t think humans can truely know the afterlife.”

    This whole “Agnostic as a mid-line between the two” is a recent bastardization of the word. Keep grabbing at straws children

  31. Lone Wolf said: “The belief that there is no god or gods is strong atheism, week atheism is the lack of belief in a god or gods.”

    Sorry, but you are wrong with this one. Strong atheism is a gnosis, which makes of it gnostic atheism, which is not the belief that there is no god, but the knowledge that there is no god. Weak atheism, being part of the a-gnosis, the agnostic scheme, is the belief that there is no god. It is Richard Dawkins and his contemporaries who changed the modern understanding of weak atheism where he wanted to fool people, to the ideology that everybody was an atheist: “I am only atheist to one more god than you” being his motto, which makes this weak atheistic philosophy fit nowhere in his own scale of beliefs, for to his own terms, everybody is an atheist to one god or the other, therefore everybody’s an atheist. The major problem for Dawkins is that his position he tries to defend here is the position of the strong agnostics, who do not believe in any interventionist god such as the god of the bible, Allah and so on but since there is no possibility to know anything about the existence or non existence of a non interventionist god, then they (we) take no position whatsoever. See, it looks very much as the definition of Dawkins about weak atheism, though it is the position of the middle ground strong agnosticism, and it has been ever since Huxley invented the word agnosticism. So to make sure to confuse the people about his own strong agnosticism, Dawkins go on about destroying the agnostic philosophy, but while doing it, obliterates completely the philosophy of strong agnosticism for he wants you to forget about that philosophy. Dawkins’ highjack of the definition of strong agnosticism is only plagiarism, that he pushes to the left for his own use and so he can call it atheism.

  32. Digital said: “This whole “Agnostic as a mid-line between the two” is a recent bastardization of the word.”

    That’s where you are wrong. Agnostic as a middle line is the way Thomas Henry Huxley saw his own position between theists and atheists. Go read his work on agnosticism instead of only referring yourself to dictionaries, which don’t provide information on the philosophy but a mere description of the word. That is the whole weak atheism seen by Dawkins that is a bastardisation of the atheistic value, which until this man opened his mouth was referred as the knowledge that there is no god for the strong atheists, and the belief that there is no god for the weak atheists.

  33. Agnostic Café, thanks for your comments, which seem helpful but I’m not sure I have time to look at them in detail.

    But I have problem with your definition of strong atheism as “the knowledge that there is no god”, as that definition is to me (as a theist) self-contradictory because it is knowledge a falsehood, and is indeed problematic to anyone who is not a strong atheist. That is to say, if someone claims to be a strong atheist I would have to say that they are not because their claim to know a falsehood is philosophically impossible and therefore untrue – or perhaps I would be forced to question their sanity just as I would question the sanity of someone who claims to know that 2+2=5. Moreover, someone who was neither a theist nor a strong atheist, if they were to allow that claim, would thereby be accepting the proposition that there is no god is knowably true and therefore would themselves be strong atheists. So this is an interesting self-description which can only be accepted by the in group and must be rejected by any outsiders.

  34. Peter,

    Strong atheism, just like its opposed strong theism are in the scheme of gnosis, which means the gnostics. So just like their opposed gnostic theists, who are fundamentalists who think they have the knowledge of the supernatural via their own deities (Yahweh, Allah, Krishna etc.), strong atheists are absolutely convinced they possess the knowledge that there is no supernatural at all, not even a non-interventionist one. That is why when confronted with one strong atheist, they will tell you that god doesn’t exist, just like fundamentalists will tell you that their deity does exist, and will want to impose their view upon you for they are absolutely convinced that they possess the knowledge about the subject. Of course, for people who don’t think the way they do, it makes no sense, for how can we possibly know something that is out of reach like a non-interventionist supernatural? A non-interventionist supernatural being could box your face and yould not feel it, see it, smell it. you wouldn’t be able to realize it is there, or even that it exists. But the gnosis, must they be atheists or theists are persuaded this non-interventionist deity is even possible. So they are simply persuaded that their beliefs, their faith, are absolute truths.

  35. Sorry, glitch:

    But the gnosis, must they be atheists or theists are persuaded they know. And for the atheists, this non-interventionist deity is not possible. So they are simply persuaded that their beliefs, their faith, are absolute truths.

  36. So if I go back to Dawkins’ highjack of the definition of strong agnosticism to the profit of a contemporary weak atheism, strong agnostics, ever since Huxley invented the word agnosticism, have always remained pacific in regard of theism or atheism. Since we agree that we do not know if a non-interventionist supernatural being exists or not, and that in that regard, we take no position on the matter, then we are considered as wimps, especially by the atheist community. We think that everybody is entitled to their beliefs and that these beliefs deserve the same respect that we expect from others. So this was not to please Dawkins, who wanted to get into a fight with religious dogmas, first with fundamentalists, who think they know the existence of their deities and want to impose them to the whole population (extreme right wing christians especially), but also destroy every innocent personal beliefs that are not his. So in reality, Dawkins is a strong agnostic who is aggressive, therefore is ashamed by strong agnosticism, which remains neutral and pacifist, and which only cares about its own spiritual values without trying to interfere with other spiritual beliefs. I could have been agressive too, and I am if somebody tries to forcefeed me their beliefs when it’s uncalled for. But I remain pacifist with people who apply their beliefs to their own lives. The problem with Dawkins’ plagiarism is that now, strong agnostics are becoming agressive too, but against him and the proponents of the new version of atheism, for even though we are pacifists, we do not take well to be told that we are atheists by the people who stole our definition. Because atheists is not what we are. And with his new motto “I am only atheist to one more god than you”, Dawkins tells theists that they are, too, atheists. And Dawkins will only stop when everybody will have accepted his point of view as the only valid one.

  37. Now don’t get me wrong, I have the utmost respect for his work as a scientific who works for the cause of demonstrating the darwinian evolution theory. I just believe that because of his reputation as a scientist, people are quite star struck by his imposing personality and scientific competences that they are eating whatever gets out of his mouth, when there are philosophers who are working on atheism, agnosticism, theism, gnosticism for far longer, who respect each philosophy as they really are, and who are far more credible philosophers than Dawkins will ever be. But Dawkins is a star…

  38. Agnostic Café, I will accept a definition of “strong atheist” as “someone who claims to know that there is no god”, but not as “someone who knows that there is no god” as the latter definition is meaningless to me, just as a definition of “strong theist” as “someone who knows that there is a god” would not be acceptable to consistent atheists. But there is a difference, that as far as I can tell it is philosophically impossible to know that something or someone does not exist, not least because there are parts of the space-time continuum to which we in principle have no access and so no knowledge. I think you are making the same point.

    Thanks for pointing out where Dawkins gets his credibility from – popular culture and media hype, so essentially the same source as celebrities like Paris Hilton. I see no reason to trust him more than her when it comes to matters of theology.

  39. Peter,

    Yes, it seems we understand each other very clearly on that subject. For I never pretended that the gnostics have a knowledge that we don’t have, that would means that they have access to more information than we have. Though that’s what they believe. I wouldn’t go that far and compare Dawkins with Paris Hilton though (lol). It proves here that even if two can not have the same point of view on everything (who does?) there are always some points we can all get to agree, and we can still remain in a polite and respectful conversation. Weird though that Strong agnostics like me usually have less problems having discussions with theists than atheists. Well, too bad for them. Their idea was to get us by force to their side, but we showed them that we are not the wimps they pretended we were.

    Nice blog, by the way. I might stick around and visit for a bit if you don’t mind.

    Regards.

  40. Thanks, Agnostic Café. Comparing Dawkins to Paris Hilton just might get me some Google hits! You are welcome to stick around, although there is not much activity here just at the moment.

  41. It’s better to just NOT use the term atheist or agnostic or christian or any other, because there are so many debates on definitions. It’s much better to just let a person tell you what they believe and dont believe………after all isnt THAT the whole point?………Jesus didnt ask Peter “are you a christian”…..He asked him “who do you say that I am”….

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