The facile answer to the question of why I am an atheist is that I was born this way, and it’s true that every human being ever on earth begins life without the concept of religion. That must be externally imprinted on us, something human civilization has proven depressingly efficient at doing. In my case, despite my parents’ best efforts, including six years of Catholic middle school and high school, religion failed to find a firm purchase on my mind.
Neil DeGrasse Tyson is the avuncular face of science in our popular culture, and I am confident that virtually all of what he communicates to the world is conscientiously accurate. However, there is one instance where a statement by Dr. Tyson flew in the face of objective reality as I understand it.
He said that he is not an atheist, but he is an agnostic.
Apparently we atheists don’t exist… twitter.com/michaelshermer…
— Michael Shermer (@michaelshermer) October 12, 2012
Can you spot the logical flaw in this sign?
God, as described by Chistians, Jews, and presumably Muslims, is a non-empirical phenomenon. An atheist’s non-belief does not affect the existence/non-existence of the aforementioned deity, any more than the believer’s faith creates her/his/its existence. God is not Schrödinger’s Cat. There is no box into which we can peek to collapse the probability wave.
Atheists, on the other hand, have a physical reality that is self-evident. Ever heard of/read a book by/seen a man named Richard Dawkins? How about Frank Zappa? Janeane Garafolo? Douglas Adams? Ricky Gervais? Larry King?
Just off the top of my head, I was able to name six people who are, by their own statements (or were when they died), verifiably atheist. They indisputably exist, therefore God’s opinion on the subject is either irrelevant or Pastor Sonny Manuel’s sign is just another example of empty fundamentalist bumper-sticker reasoning.
Of course, the two scenarios are not mutually exclusive.