Don't tell me you never had this question asked to you, subsequently to your, usually politely, explaining to whoever asks about your religion, that you're an atheist and do not believe in any god; you're an atheist and do not believe that a god exists; or whatever combination of words you choose.
That's pretty much how it goes.
Even people who know that atheists do not believe in a god will sometimes still assume they share a common set of beliefs or principles, and have common political tendencies.
"So, what do atheists believe?", is their question.
If you ask me, I've had a wide variety of comebacks, depending on my mood at the moment, most of them facetious, but most likely, after explaining that atheists (as a group) do not have a common set of beliefs, I say that *I* believe in love, in humanity and our good faith... just to keep it simple... because, quite frankly, we don't "believe" in science - we find it verifiable. We don't "believe" in the universe and its wonders, we have seen them through amazing telescopes. I guess you get my point.
So what do you, fellow atheist, believe in, or what do you think is the best answer to this question?
Side note: This discussion is focused rather on the best comeback to the question in it, which in this specific context, is always asked as "opposed to your non-belief in god, what do atheists believe?"
"Faith and belief have roles in the scientific process".
No. You need to better understand the scientific method, which includes peer-review process itself and the reality that other scientists will nevertheless verify/confirm your peer-reviewed, published results.
These have nothing to do with belief or faith.
It is all about skepticism. It is all about demonstrated (observational, experimental, tested and falsifiable) data and facts.
From there, the rest of your rationalization falls short.
"I don't think deprecating others with abusive terminology like "asinine" contributes much to the discussion"
An "is" is an "is", period. Like calling out someone that he/she is wrong or ignorant. They may be offended, but that doesn't nullify a demonstrated ignorance on the part of that someone.
Besides, there is nothing depreciating in calling out the vapid nature of a nonsensical, question. The premise behind "do you believe in evolution?" implies that evolution is a matter of belief, i.e. faith. This is false. Period.
Furthermore, there is nothing to discuss when those that would project their own, non-factual evidenced-based belief system of viewing the world onto others by claiming that science and evolution are "likewise" a matter of belief and/or faith.
This is a fallacy and actually represents nothing more than specious argumentation, which allows he/she who has faith to equate the validity of his/her faith with any other "belief" - thus, if science is a matter of belief, then it has as much worth as any type of belief.
Not true - thus the argument fails again.
That science is not, never has been, and should never be a matter of belief (or faith) draws the clear line and constitutes the actual definition of what science and the scientific method are all about - in contrast to belief, faith or religious dogma.
No splitting hairs whatsoever here. Just calling an "is" is, for what it actually and factually "is".
And that's too bad for those who usually like to use the fallacious arguing tactic of equating science with belief. It is asinine to debate this. Might as well argue that a bat is a bird, or debate on the gender of angels.
Thank ye, good sir, for your encouragement! Perhaps I should disclose here that science and the scientific method constitute the very essence of my, ah, profession ... ;-)
You have created a straw man argument in which I supposedly am (your words) "equating science with belief". I am referring simply to how most people understand terms like atheists (people who don't believe God exists, people who disbelieve God, people who deny the existence of God, and so on, all of them meaning much the same thing in everyday language). If you want to barricade off and defend one little corner of the broad landscape of usages of the term atheist, go ahead.
To say that "science is not, never has been...a matter of belief" would be a very hard proposition to prove, but go ahead and BELIEVE it if you must. But if you don't believe it, then don't bother defending it.
You seem to think I'm trying to inject belief into the scientific method (beyond the most fundamental and unavoidable ones, such as that there is a reality out there to be studied). I'm not. My discussion of belief comes after the experimenting is done and the knowledge gained. Once the scientist has determined that substances A and B become unstable and explode time after time after time, if you want to say that he still doesn't believe that it will happen the next time, go ahead. I think you're being absurdly precise to a degree that is beyond how language functions in everyday parlance.
As a matter of fact, I'm not unacquainted with scientific method. I studied it on a graduate level, and in fact it was pretty much all we talked about for an entire term in my Philosophy of Science class. I take it most scientists simply pick up scientific method along the way and never actually sit down to look at how science is done, not just in their sciences, but in other sciences, too. We did that.
I get the impression you think I'm one of the Christians who comes here to try to salvage the theistic point of view. I'm not. I'm an atheistic agnostic.
"To say that "science is not, never has been...a matter of belief" would be a very hard proposition to prove, but go ahead and BELIEVE it if you must. But if you don't believe it, then don't bother defending it."
Now, there's a strawman argument. I won't even dignify this nonsensical, non-argumentation with a response.
"As a matter of fact, I'm not unacquainted with scientific method. I studied it on a graduate level, and in fact it was pretty much all we talked about for an entire term in my Philosophy of Science class. I take it most scientists simply pick up scientific method along the way and never actually sit down to look at how science is done, not just in their sciences, but in other sciences, too. We did that."
Wait - you are "not unacquainted" with the scientific method? Might as well say that you are somewhat aware that a dolphins may, or may not, be a fish.
I live the scientific method, by the way. So not only you fail with your vain attempt at arguing from authority, you fail doubly at trying to assert authority on the scientific method with ... an actual scientist. How's that for authority?
In any case - thank you for admitting that you know next-to-nothing of the scientific method, especially what it is, how it is done, how it is conducted, etc.
Philosophers did what, again? Funny - I've never seen a philosopher in any research lab of mine, let alone in any labs of other scientists out there ...
And what pretentious, ignorance on your part to claim that "I take it most scientists simply pick up scientific method along the way and never actually sit down to look at how science is done". Once again, thank you for demonstrating your utter ignorance of science and scientists.
No, really - thank you for demonstrating all my points, all by yourself!
This discussion is definitely done.
I'm moving on, now. And good luck with you and your ignorance-based pretentious arrogance.
I believe that in making decisions in life, my odds are far better going with science and reason than with the ignorant musings of bronze age sheepherders.
I believe that humanity's potential for building a better tomorrow will in the end overcome its potential for self-destruction. Unfortunately, we seem to be taking a very roundabout path to our destination.
I see that many here have a problem with the word "belief", and don't want to associate that word with their own opinions, 'acceptances', or 'knowledge'. It's as if you all think that saying you believe in something implies that your stand is not based on anything sound, or that might not be true. It is a defensive position.
I think that it is unnecessary to feel that about the action of believing.
I personally have no problem with the word belief, or the action of believing, as long as the reasons for that belief are logical and reasonable.
Believing in a god because you were raised to believe so, indoctrinated not to question that belief, and that some book written close to 2,000 years ago by humans , with their own biases and cultural traditions, is in fact the written word of that god, is not logical or reasonable.
Believing that the world is 6,000 years old despite verifyable evidence to the contrary, is not logical or reasonable.
The belief that some god cursed man to labour in order to survive, and woman to the pain of childbirth, because they both ate an apple they were told not touch, even though this god deliberately put the apple tree there, and supposedly knows everything, presumedly including that his 'creations' would eat from it, is not only illogical, but sick as well.
But, believing that men have visited the moon is reasonable, despite what the conspiracy theorists say. And believing in the validity of science and the scientific method is reasonable, considering that it questions and corrects itself by its very nature. It tries to prove itself wrong.
Science has given us knowledge about everything we can experience, how it works, and how things came to be where they are now. It provides logical, reasonable, and verifyable explanations for things, that make so much more sense than the explanation that some 'magic being designed it and created it all out of nothing'.
Science has made gods unnecessary. Hence believing that there are no gods is logical and reasonable.
I know that last sentence will annoy some of you. My point is, belief based on reason is so much better than belief based on doctrine.
Belief is rarely based on evidence, but rather on rationalizations and logical reasoning (if any). However, rationalizations and logical conclusions that are not based on evidence will more often than not be plainly wrong (i.e. "garbage in, garbage out").
Definition of belief: mental acceptance of a claim as truth regardless of supporting or contrary empirical evidence; Something believed; The quality or state of believing; Religious faith; One's religious or moral convictions.
Hence, belief in something does not require actual evidence, although a belief might be reinforced by said demonstrated/verified evidence. Furthermore, belief is often prone to suffer from bias (perception, etc.) - in fact, belief is more often than not arrived through personal bias.
That is why science remains something that is never a matter of belief, but a matter of acceptance of non-biased, demonstrated facts.
The stark operational distinctions between belief and acceptance of non-biased, demonstrated facts should be too obvious to conveniently ignore, no?
Hence, because of the utter lack of demonstrated, verified/tested, non-biased evidence that god, gods, spirits, etc. exist, I therefore accept that such things do not exist - and hence, I am a "strict" atheist.
Still, I do not believe this to be so.
Different dynamic than believing or faith, yet all the more germaine.
I'm sure scientists, doing what they do, believe that what they are doing is a worthwhile endeavour. They believe that their efforts will bring them closer to the 'truth' about whatever it is they study or test.
I think that anyone who takes anything seriously has to have an element of belief.
Would a sane person experiment on animals to find a cure for a disease, if they didn't believe they had a chance of doing so through such actions?
Would you invest billions in a high energy particle accelerator, if you didn't believe that smashing particles together may bring a scientific benefit?
No .. (well maybe the second, if you are very very wealthy, as smashing things together is simply fun!)
All i am saying that belief and science do go together. Belief isn't always about hocus pocus and superstition. It is also about confidence and determination.
I think that belief stops the on going process to find the truths. Beliefs limit what we can know.