Why taking a step beyond atheism would be wrong by Norman Bacrac

Matthew P. Turner submitted an essay about ‘Ignosticism’ to Atheism UK in May 2017. Norman Bacrac (an Atheism UK Council member) responds:

“Matthew begins by asking if it’s time for non-believers to go ‘beyond atheism’. He regards ‘god’ as the ‘emptiest, most meaningless word in the language’ because we are unlikely ever to get a satisfactory description of it. Atheists should cease calling themselves such and presumably cease campaigning for atheism.

He falsely states that atheism commits a logical error by ‘denying’ god’s existence, but that is not the true meaning of atheism. If theism is belief in god’s existence, then atheism is simply the lack of such belief. Atheists don’t have to claim to have certain knowledge that god doesn’t exist. Atheist Richard Dawkins, for example, in his God Delusion, assesses the improbability of god’s existence to be six out of seven stages of improbability, ie not zero probability, although of course Dawkins has absolutely no belief in god’s existence.

Matthew blames atheists for the failure of theology. That he finds both the OED’s and the theologians’ definitions of god meaningless or contradictory is of course one reason why atheists do not believe such an entity exists. He quotes the OED: “God is the creator and ruler of the universe and source of all moral authority; the supreme being.” The three monotheisms all agree that “god is all-powerful, all-knowing and all-good”.

The sad fact is that currently at least four thousand million humans claim to find the above descriptions quite meaningful and so make them significant factors shaping their lives. Everyone has to accept this sociological fact about humans today. Our job as atheists is to point to the lack of evidence for, and contradictory nature of, the above god and the harm that comes from believing in ‘him’. Atheism is gaining ground amongst thoughtful people in many parts of the world. Its case must be put forward.”