In article <18582@ut-emx.UUCP> paidraig@ut-emx.UUCP (Paidrag Houlahan):
>In article <firstname.lastname@example.org> jmunro@wyse.UUCP (Jim Munro) writes:
>-In article <18520@ut-emx.UUCP> padraig@emx.UUCP (Padraig John Houlahan):
>->I disagree. One cannot disprove the existence of the tooth fairy,santa
>->claus,or god. However one can certainly examine the evidence and reach
>->the tentative conclusion the none of these exist. I do agree that one
>->cannot argue absolute truth here, and for this reason I would disagree
>->with extremists like Madelyn Murray O'Hare.
>-Padraig, I guess the above make you an agnostic, right?
>No, I consider myself an atheist since I see no reason to accept the
>hypothesis that god exists. This conclusion is of course tentative, and
>not absolute. I differ from the agnostics in that I am willing to reject
>the hypothesis, whereas the agnostic will argue there is insufficient
>evidence. I also reject most paranormal claims, astrology etc. whereas
>the agnostic can't (as far as I can see).
From what I've read of Madelyn O'Hair, her position with respect to how she
"knows there is no god" isn't substantively different from this. I agree
with her in that the claim "god exists" isn't true or false-- it is
meaningless, and it is how one treats unverifiable claims that separates the
atheist and the agnostic. She does go a step further, however, in showing
that many doctrines and beliefs in many cases are outright misrepresentations
or frauds, hence we can have some idea of whether specific claims are true or
false. Because of this, her "certainty" may be stronger, or "extremist" as
you put it. Another point she makes is that 100% of the burden of proof
of a claim rests upon the person making the claim, and not upon the person
who scoffs at it. Thus, for the person who says "there is a god" yet fails
to prove it, a skeptic may validly retort "no there isn't" until such time as
that proof is produced. From what I can glean from her writings, this is her
rationale for any "certainty" as opposed to a positive disproof of the general
idea of theism.
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