November 21, 2012

Atheist Philosopher

What is an 'Atheist Philosopher'?

Well, it is my intent overtime to help you understand this designation as I too work to figure out this question for myself. Very generally, the atheist label is most recognized as a person who believes that no supernatural entity--a God--exists. The term philosopher can be defined as a lover of wisdom.

The Atheist

A bit more about the atheist: this distinction is not really very distinct at all. From the perspective of the individual claiming to be an atheist, this can mean only that that person lacks a belief in a god or multiple gods. This person may also define themselves as being a humanist as a result of the lack of belief in a supernatural. Additionally, an atheist is also pretty skeptical and inquisitive in that he or she is predisposed to question commonly held beliefs.

One issue I want to address straight away because it seems to come up often in conversations concerning atheism is that there is so far no way to certainly prove that supernatural beings of some sort or another do not exist, so the appropriate label should be agnostic. This agnostic label is not the same as the atheist label in that the agnostic is considered the more intellectually honest position.

This is because the agnostic commonly says something to the effect that I am 99.99% sure there is no god or gods but because I can't be certain, so I will not claim to be an atheist. I only want to establish here that a belief is very rarely if ever based on certainty.

So I am of the opinion that absolute certainty is not necessary for the atheist label to be honored as valid. This should hold until certain verification or denial of deities is discovered or the world ends. I expect the later to occur before the former.

The Philosopher

The philosopher label seems to be attached to people who say seems a lot. It seems to me...they will say with an inquisitive look on their face that something seems to be this way or that.

The philosopher as I understand him or her is the person who will not say what he or she believes without having taken the time necessary to form an opinion. This usually involves some amount of argumentation and analysis of thought and/or evidence either for or against the topic under consideration.

The philosopher, much like the atheist, come in many varieties all bound by a similar desire and appreciation for knowledge and truth. Some philosophers approach the search for knowledge and truth through rationalistic approaches while others are more inclined to favor empirical methods of inquiry. There are also absolutist positions and skeptical positions that disagree on the limits of what it is possible for a person to know.

As we move forward, and through reasonable conversation and fair consideration of the opinions and beliefs of others, we may come to discover a better understanding of what it means to be an Atheist Philosopher. It may also be the case that we come to realize that the labels are too broad to be considered meaningful in any way and have to clarify and qualify a new distinction.

I look forward to the show.