I know I do it too often, but to start I feel the need to quote Tim Minchin, yet again. On the very real divide between faith and science, he has this to say:

"Science adjusts it's beliefs based on what's observed. Faith is the..."

Not only is it true, but it rhymes. Kudos to Tim.

So, because of the very nature of the two quantities - science and faith - I see no problem with asserting that Atheism (or Agnosticism) has nothing but all to do with Science's evidence-based philosophy. Put simply: Atheism (or Agnosticism) is the only scientifically supported 'belief system'*, I feel.

That's not to say, as I hear a few of you cry, that there aren't scientists who are also religious; because there are. I'm also not saying that science is reserved for (or only valid if coming from) the religiously unaffiliated, because that too would be absolute nonsense... (Read more of this post)

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Tags: Atheism, Science

Comment by Sarah Jane Hall on January 25, 2013 at 11:23pm

I am neither a scientist nor an academic.  However I do consider myself an atheist/humanist.  I agree that science and atheism are obviously different things.  However I think like me that people who admire or are interested in science have an easier time digesting atheist principals just based on the fact that they are relateable to this type of mindset.  As far as "academics" are concerned most of the people who I associate with academia are members of the free-er thinking non- fundamentalist sects of Christianity.  (Episcopalian, ELCA Luthran, Presbyterian and most modern liberal Catholics)  In other words the non- bible thumping non- preachy Christians.  The reason I say that is because most of the people that I know with advanced degrees are in some way associated with my parents, a retired school teacher with a masters degree and a retired Episcopal Priest with a PhD.  Of course their degrees are in the arts and humanities or in literature and the liberal arts and not science, (with the exception of a few MD's and the occasional physicist, business major or lawyer thrown in for good measure) However, not all of their friends or acquaintances are religious either, though some of them go to church anyway, but i suspect that is more for the fellowship then anything else. 

Comment by Reg The Fronkey Farmer on January 26, 2013 at 6:41am

People of faith have all the necessary answers supplied to them. They have little of the “big questions” in life to work out except to explain away any science based answers as being “goddidit” answers. So if as we don’t use religion and faith as tools of enquiry then we must look to Science. So Atheism in itself has nothing to do with Science. However the philosophy of life that follows on from saying “I am an Atheist” means we find our answers with the Scientific Method. So there must be a high correlation between Atheism and the scientific search for Truth. If not religion or other “woo woo” then only Science is left.

Comment by _Robert_ on January 26, 2013 at 7:42am

Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.

Proverbs 3:5

Religion is a science killer. Atheism coexists with science.

Comment by Ed on January 26, 2013 at 1:28pm

" Put simply: Atheism (or Agnosticism) is the only scientifically supported 'belief system'*, I feel. "

Atheism is NOT a belief system. Atheism does not require a willingness to accept the knowledge made available through scientific inquiry. Atheism is only the lack of belief in the supernatural world of gods and invisible beings. That is really the only common denominator of atheists. We can agree on a lot of other things about life and religion but that is incidental. 

"Atheism is a belief system to the extent that being bald is a hair color."  -Anonymous 


Comment by Carnun Marcus-Page on January 26, 2013 at 2:48pm

Ah, I've been away for a while... Time to answer your comments :)

Sarah: I understand and agree. There are certainly religious academics who enjoy both association with academia and faith. I think the point I was trying to make was that being a religious scientist requires thinking in two minds... For example: a creation-believing Christian scientist would - in their work - look at cause/effect relationships and make evidence-based conclusions; but when it comes to the resurrection of Christ (again, for example), one of the most fundamental aspects of even casual Christianity, their faith requires them to throw out their evidence-based thinking (if even for a moment) and label the whole 'event' an 'unexplainable miracle'. It's all very unscientific, as is belief without evidence.

And what's more, many religious scientists do not even attempt to deny this. They see their faith as a whole other quantity - a realm of thinking that requires no explaining (for fear of it losing profundity).

Monkey Farmer Reg: "Atheism in itself has nothing to do with Science", but there is a need for looking to science when it comes to finding answers about existence (as well as there being a "correlation between Atheism and the scientific search for truth")? I don't quite understand your position - but I think I agree with you. Science complements Atheism, just as the sceptical, doubtful Atheist thinking complements Science (and is indeed a fair reflection of science's evidence-based truth-seeking).

DickPianist: I apologise for what I did to your user name, I couldn't resist (British humour, eh?)... That aside, fair point. I've seen it translated as "... do not trust in your own intelligence" also. What a disgusting thing to teach...

Ed: To your inevitable delight, I've added this edit to the bottom of the post:

Edit: I understand fully that Atheism is NOT a 'belief system'. My use of the phrase here was simply conversational (I'd hoped 'jokey'), and I thought that the use of inverted commas would have done the job of clearing up any understandable ambiguity or misconception as to what I meant. In the future, I will be clearer.

"Atheism Is a Religion Like Abstinence Is a Sex Position" - Bill Maher


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