Sure, Atheism’s Not a Faith

Confidence atheist PZ Myers this week on how (contra Francis Collins) he reconciles his atheist faith with the curious life-friendly values of the cosmological constants:

What about chance? There’s nothing impossible about the fact that our universe was the product of a chance event: after all, I am the product of a chance event, a randomized mixture of the genes of two people equally the product of chance. You can’t simply rule out the importance of chance events in the history of individuals or the universe, but Collins does. And what about necessity? It may be that a universe can only exist if it possesses an interlocked set of constants…that, in fact, all the parameters of the universe are co-contingent and co-dependent.

Ah, chance? Or perhaps necessity? No shit those are two possiblities. But how do these answers function as anything more than question begging? Aren’t they lame?

Isn’t the best that can be said for them—they’re not impossible—a rather weak basis for the expressions of atheist confidence that Myers is known for? What makes chance or necessity any more satisfying or complete as answers than Collins’s belief in telos?  Why, in other words, is mind or purpose, a priori, an inferior and less thorough “explanation” than chance or necessity?

Why not telos?

Because atheism is a faith that exceeds the warrant of the empirical, isn’t that true?

Blank. Out.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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2 Responses to Sure, Atheism’s Not a Faith

  1. Why not telos?

    Simple. Telos requires the addition of unproven quantities. Chance does not.

  2. santitafarella says:

    Shameless Atheist:

    Telos is everywhere. It’s not an “unproven quantity.” The universe is suffused with information. How it got there is the problem in search of a reasonable inference. Neither chance, necessity, or telos seem satisfying.

    And that’s the problem, isn’t it? You are being asked to accept a very, very simple way of approaching a perplexity—to shrug the perplexity off as chance, necessity, or an undefined God or telos.

    If chance and necessity are sufficient for you, fine. But they are not answers. Nor is telos. They are simply different ways to restate the problem, and beg the question.

    However you approach the problem, to come at it with a lack of humility is the beginning of folly.

    —Santi

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