Does the Honest Application of Skepticism and Critical Thought Lead One Inevitably to Atheism?

Over at The Barefoot Bum, Larry Hamelin chides me for saying that:

“Atheist and agnostic evangelism can be Diet Coke misleading if we pretend that atheism and agnosticism aren’t real divorces from vital sources of hope in human beings.”

Hamelin insists that what is crucial here is not how people feel about the truth, or the disappointment of hopes that the truth might lead to, but the truth itself; and he says that, as opposed to emotions, atheists:

. . . care about how people think: skepticism and critical thought are valuable in and of themselves, it just so happens that if adopted thoroughly they lead inevitably to atheism.

Hmm. Skepticism and critical thought, if adopted thoroughly, must lead inevitably to atheism?  I wonder why Mr. Hamelin is not skeptical of that assertion. His position is akin to the religious fundamentalist who says that the application of reason must inevitably lead one to the conclusion that God exists. It appears that neither the dogmatic religionist nor Mr. Hamelin have kept open the possibility that reasonable people, exercising both their “skepticism” and “critical thinking”, can sensibly disagree with them concerning their own conclusions about God and God’s existence. Aside from being presumptuous, isn’t this also just a teensy bit condescending of other people’s intelligence?

I really wish that I was as certain of anything as dogmatic religionists and Mr. Hamelin apparently are of everything.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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5 Responses to Does the Honest Application of Skepticism and Critical Thought Lead One Inevitably to Atheism?

  1. I wonder why Mr. Hamelin is not skeptical of that assertion.

    I am skeptical of that assertion: I have subjected it to empirical and theoretical tests and those test support the assertion.

    His position is akin to the religious fundamentalist who says that the application of reason must inevitably lead one to the conclusion that God exists.

    This is nothing but postmodern fucktardery: the idea that actually believing anything is necessarily dogmatic.

    [I]sn’t this also just a teensy bit condescending of other people’s intelligence?

    It’s more than a teensy bit. I’m a gigantic arrogant asshole. So what: I’m still right, and you’re still a fucktard.

  2. santitafarella says:

    Barefoot Bum:

    Thanks for sharing.

    —Santi

  3. Veronica Abbass says:

    Barefoot Bum says:

    “I’m a gigantic arrogant asshole.”

    Barefoot Bum, you also appear to have a limited vocabulary.

    PS: Don’t direct me to your blog: been there, done that.

  4. Roger Salyer says:

    I was struck by your analogy to “the religious fundamentalist who says that the application of reason must inevitably lead one to the conclusion that God exists.” I was wondering whether or not there could be an analogy made between, say, St. Anselm and St. Thomas Aquinas’ notions on the utility of proofs for God. As I understand it, the former thought that a proof was unnecessary and impossible. God is a given, going from senses to evidence to judgment. If God is the “I AM WHO AM,” the being, then how in the heck does one prove such? On the other hand, quite famously Aquinas thought it was possible and proper to prove His existence.

    I think your debate with Mr. Hamelin may be epistemelogical in essence. What counts as knowledge? What counts as disbelief? What are we talking about to which one applies all this judgment, and who is this God anyway?

    Apparently Mr. Hamelin is convinced neither by Aquinas nor DesCartes (arguably the original critical thinker who disclaimed atheism).

  5. Roger Salyer says:

    My apologies. When referring to the analogy above, I failed to finish the thought. I meant, could there be such a thing as an Anselm position on atheism? That is, atheism as a given, unamenable to proof, as well as unnecessary to prove?

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