Regarding Atheism and skeptics


Do there exist non-religious or non-christian writers or philosophers that analyse Atheism from a skeptical point of view?


Posted 2014-12-17T16:37:38.257

Reputation: 319

Perhaps you might describe what you mean by "sceptical" or "analyse", unless you're happy to hear about philosophical advocates of atheism — that doesn't sound like what you're looking for, but what sort of thing are you looking for? – Niel de Beaudrap – 2014-12-17T17:03:52.073

2i think Paul is wondering if there are authors, without a religious axe to grind, that can (and do) critically analyze Atheism as a philosophical position. i've always thunk that such folk may be what we call "Agnostic". – robert bristow-johnson – 2014-12-17T21:06:47.683

It almost sounds like you are asking for theology rather than philosophy -- is there any chance I might be able to persuade you to draw this out a little further? It will help optimize the chances of getting a great answer if you explore the context and motivations of the problem you're encountering (and even just paraphrasing yourself a few times can help ensure that potential answerers can clearly understand what exactly it is you would like an explanation regarding.) – Joseph Weissman – 2014-12-17T22:31:49.463

@robert: To play Devil's Advocate (so to speak): what is "atheism as a philosophical position"? Is it similarly a philosophical position to believe, within the context of a technical education, that there are no perpetual motion machines, and that antimatter exists? Are we considering a question any more pertinent than any other application of epistemology? – Niel de Beaudrap – 2014-12-18T08:12:12.117

"Is it similarly a philosophical position to believe, within the context of a technical education, that there are no perpetual motion machines,...?" ya, sorta. i have to confess that i have too much of a religious axe to grind (nor am i a published author in such) to answer the OP's original concern. – robert bristow-johnson – 2014-12-18T13:38:49.400

"Are we considering a question any more pertinent than any other application of epistemology?" no, not really. it's just that the OP appears to be looking for an author who isn't a religious apologist who is taking on the assumptions (whether they be justified or not) that atheists make. that seems like a slightly different spin on the issue. – robert bristow-johnson – 2014-12-18T13:41:13.597

What I mean is, are there any non-religious or non-christian writers or philosophers that 'look' at Atheism and agnosticism from a critical point of view ( in light of what robert bristow-johnson said); that the 'viewpoint' of atheism and agnosticism may be wrong? – 201044 – 2014-12-20T01:37:32.187

Can skepticism be applied to any philosophical position or set of ideas even if the ideas being analysed are considered by many academics to be true or 'probably' true? Isn't a good test of the 'truth-worthiness' of a set of ideas actually trying to disprove them or skeptically analyse them in an objective way? – 201044 – 2014-12-24T07:33:06.603

Can skepticism be applied to the concept of a finite existence? If we are 'thinking' being like Descartes said (I think) in that we are ALWAYS thinking or feeling or cognitively active in some way then we are like a self-generating dynamic information management systems that is always active. Like a speeding car zooming through a 'cognitive landscape' that is HARD to stop. So maybe such an energetic system that is always active yet suddenly is stopped can be skeptically analysed? – 201044 – 2014-12-30T07:02:02.480

Is there a skeptical way of analysing atheism or agnosticism or materialism? – 201044 – 2015-02-14T06:34:06.477

Does skepticism as a philosophy ever analyse itself for possible errors or deficiencies or with regard to what can be improved? – 201044 – 2015-03-26T02:07:51.433

Why is the concept of not existing after death much more reasonable than the idea of existing after death ( for some academics)? – 201044 – 2015-03-26T02:11:13.510

Have Buddhist or Hindu philosophers ever written any non-complicated arguments against atheism for an 'average' person? – 201044 – 2015-07-14T20:23:26.647



Is it even possible to skeptically analyze something that (at it's core) is a rejection of a non-evidence based assertion?

Typically, the thing to be skeptical of is the positive assertion (i.e. "there is a god"). The rejection of an assertion due to a (perhaps perceived) lack of evidence is rationally the default position. You don't start off believing everything you're told until someone disproves it, otherwise you totally NEED to paypal me $100 right NOW or the world is going to end. I'm not even kidding! Quick, or it's all your fault!

Really, though, you can find some skeptical discussions on "hard atheism" (e.g. "there is no god"), but that's pretty light work. Being an atheist myself, I have trouble even imagining what absolute proof that there is no god would consist of. There are so many definitions of "god" that ruling them all out is effectively impossible.

immortal squish

Posted 2014-12-17T16:37:38.257

Reputation: 1 423

1Some atheists make non-evidence based assertions, e.g. that removing religion would make the world less violent (I have to admit I'm rather skeptical in that regard). So one can at least be skeptical about things that purportedly follow from atheism. Inasafar as atheism is simply the absence of belief it sounds like you're right (but then I'm afraid this comes down to semantics, i.e. how the OP defines "skeptically"). – Eike Pierstorff – 2014-12-18T20:27:22.367

Agreed, but I believe skeptical commentaries surrounding such "follow on" ideas is generally common. I'd say it naturally follows from there being evidence/statistics to parse and debate, as opposed to the evidence-lite "there is no god" assertion. Specifically concerning your example:

– immortal squish – 2014-12-18T22:46:01.637

1a "hard athiest" also makes non-evidence based assertions. string theory makes non-evidence based assertions. so is any belief in a Multiverse. if one is even-handed, it is definitely possible to skeptically analyze atheism just as it is for solipsism or theism or whatever other -ism that is out there. – robert bristow-johnson – 2014-12-18T22:55:58.307

You have to be careful there. Certainly, some individuals may hold some all sorts of incorrect/non-evidence based views, but there is a LARGE difference between the hard atheist stance of "there is no god" and a scientific hypothesis such as String Theory. String Theory is not a scientific theory (yet), is not thought to be "definitely true", and is not held to be a better model for the universe than the "Standard Model". Proponents of String Theory aren't saying "this is definitely how the universe funtions," they're saying it may be a better model for describing the universe. One day. – immortal squish – 2014-12-18T23:37:05.353

Same for any of the (many) multiverse hypothesis. You can believe your hypothesis is correct, without saying you "know" it is correct. I believe you are not some complex AI impersonating a human, but I don't KNOW it.

– immortal squish – 2014-12-18T23:41:49.250

all's i'm saying is that believers in universes that we cannot possibly ever sense the presence of with a physical device are also expressing a "faith [in] evidence of things not seen." no one will be building a Multiverse-measuring device, just as no one will be building a God-measuring device. yet the faith expressed in one belief is somehow considered more reasonable than the faith expressed in the other. an honest skeptic would not do that. and i would equate solipsism with either. – robert bristow-johnson – 2014-12-19T10:35:20.727

Also I'm not talking about any deities or the supernatural ; have any NON-religious writers or academics wrote about interesting criticisms about atheism or agnosticism? – 201044 – 2014-12-20T01:46:09.750

When someone says some statement is a non-evidence based assertion they're saying the statement has absolutely NO possible evidence in favour of it , right? Doesn't the statement 'non-evidence based assertion' practically disposes of a statement before it 'ever get's started'. – 201044 – 2014-12-20T01:52:09.210

Are there any skeptical views about there being no after-life among non-religious writers or philosophers? Or do all non-religious writers or philosophers automatically believe there is no afterlife? – 201044 – 2014-12-24T05:13:26.067

What if one applies the skeptical analysis point of view to the proposition there is no after-life? Have any skeptic-philosophers done this? – 201044 – 2014-12-24T05:17:02.403

The rejection of many or all religions is a non-evidence based assertion and many philosophers don't have a problem with promoting this. Why can't a position that rejects various ideas be skeptically analysed. ANY set of ideas can be skeptically analysed. – 201044 – 2014-12-27T04:20:23.387

Has any NON-religious writer written about how atheism or agnosticism is illogical or is a cruel philosophy. Was it Sartre or Nietzche who said something like 'Life is cruel, brutish and short'. And was it Schopenhauer ( forgive spelling) who implied life was finite and problematic yet this 'finiteness' should be embraced in order to 'live' well? I wouldn't tell these depressing viewpoints to poor and suffering people that are struggling with existence . That after all their struggles they're just going to 'disappear' (after death). – 201044 – 2015-01-19T06:04:27.503

Sorry, you seem to be overgeneralizing viewpoints that cannot be discussed without being careful with nuance. Atheism/Agnosticism are specific viewpoints about the existence of god(s). That's it. What that means in someone's day-to-day life is entirely a personal matter. As a (soft) atheist, I would tell those depressed/suffering people that they should believe whatever helps them get through the day. I know other atheists who say religion is probably why they're depressed in the first place. Neither view is more than opinion. Neither view is the "Atheist/Agnostic" position. – immortal squish – 2015-01-19T17:46:49.900

Has any NON-religious writers criticized Atheism or Agnosticism in a negative way? The question still stands. (The idea of a finite life-span is scary to many people whether they are religious or not.) – 201044 – 2015-01-25T06:04:07.217

Has any materialist philosopher criticized atheism and / or agnosticism in a negative way? – 201044 – 2015-02-14T06:32:32.473

Has any reputable materialist philosopher criticized atheism or agnosticism? – 201044 – 2015-03-24T04:55:51.177

To analyse something skeptically is to look at it's possible flaws. Does atheism have any flaws? – 201044 – 2015-12-20T23:24:52.337

No, atheism does not have any flaws. Even if there is a god, the logically correct response to (even just a perceived) lack of evidence is to not believe. Of course, atheists themselves have plenty of flaws (and so do many of their ideas/opinions). – immortal squish – 2015-12-22T16:23:37.550


Yes. A Hindu philosopher by the name of Gaudapada. He wrote a commentary on the Mandukya Upanishad called Gaudapada's Karika. It is a defense of the Hindu Advaita (non-dual) philosophy. Chapters 2, 3, and 4 specifically are arguments defending the non-dual Brahman using reasoning and logical argumentation alone, no scriptural references. In those chapters he gives opposing arguments of nihilists and materialists and defends his arguments against those opposing views.

Swami Vishwananda

Posted 2014-12-17T16:37:38.257

Reputation: 3 667


Probably the classic skeptical treatment of atheism is T.H. Huxley who coined the word 'agnostic'.

You will also find a fair number of scholarly articles critiquing certain kinds of atheism if you search for pairs of terms like "soft atheism" and "hard atheism" or "weak atheism and "strong atheism" or "negative atheism" and "positive atheism". The weak/soft/negative position is that person x lacks a positive belief in God while the strong/hard/positive position is that person x believes that God does not exist. The latter is a far more sweeping claim. Michael Martin has a number of writings discussing the difference.

Lee Malatesta

Posted 2014-12-17T16:37:38.257

Reputation: 96

Seeing that one can not prove there is no afterlife , using the word 'proof' in whatever logical or philosophical way one can use to demonstrate anything in a communicate-able and rational fashion ; then isn't atheism and agnosticism a matter of belief just like any other belief. Until someone actually proved there is no afterlife , if that's possible. – 201044 – 2015-02-15T06:39:23.527

One can be skeptical about ANYTHING , right? – 201044 – 2015-03-20T16:38:17.327

Are there any rational nonreligious reasons to be skeptical about atheism? – 201044 – 2015-08-15T12:35:13.220

Are there any rational reasons to not believe atheism is correct? – 201044 – 2015-12-20T23:25:50.670