I. Introduction and Definition of Skepticism
Skepticism, by the general philosophical definition, is the point of view that confronts every philosophical thesis (many times, even the non-philosophical) with rational thought and doubtful criticism. “It may be otherwise!” The word derives from the Greek verb «σκέπτομαι (sképtomè) = to think or to think about» whose action causes thinking and thought (based on logic, at least at the advanced level) which, in the context of skepticism is aimed toward criticism and dispute. Finally, skepticism concludes with the acceptance or rejection of a position and also leads to the classification and separation of different positions. The process of thinking, logic, comprehension and consciousness represents the greatest difference between human beings and animals and it is the greatest power for creating civilization. We could even contend that animals possess, to some degree and depending on their species, consciousness. However, they do not have the ability to reflect on their thinking which is “the consciousness of the consciousness” and which only humans possess. All these processes make up the more general system of logic, written or unwritten, without the common acceptance of which no communication, collaboration, science, technology, progress or criticism of our acts is possible.
II. Religious Skepticism
Here we do not write a philosophical paper. After all, there are plenty of philosophical papers on skepticism that anyone interested can find and study. Here, we examine skepticism under the following commonly accepted, but (much) narrower definition of religious skepticism (to which some simple dictionaries refer). We consider religious skepticism as the point of view that confronts every organized religion and / or worldview in order to rationally dispute and / or put into doubt its rightness; its value; the ethics that it imposes; the role that it plays in life, society, happiness of mankind and the general development of civilization.
However, the elucidation and the correct understanding of these concepts are of utmost importance. This is especially important today, when many people speak about many things, but only a few know them along with the method they use in their conversations well. We hope to achieve this elucidation and correct understanding and thus add to people’s understanding of the dialogue when they get involved in such topics. In this way, we believe that we will positively contribute to establishing some order in the current intellectual quagmire and the depressing intellectual poverty of modern life. Furthermore, our aim is to help the interested readers to correctly understand the concepts analyzed here and then make the appropriate choices.
III. The Three Stages
More concretely, we will make a conceptual analysis of this kind of skepticism at its final three stages or categories, which are: theism (or deism), agnosticism and atheism. We are not going to spend any time with various intermediate or primitive stages of skepticism with which all humans, more or less, come into contact or experience during various periods of their lives. These three stages of skepticism conclude, at least for most thinkers, with the immediate rejection of every organized religion and the three stages adopt world-views that are strongly opposed to the religious convictions and world-views of the religious people, fundamentalists or pietists.
A skeptic may be anybody regardless of race, ethnicity, social class, political point of view, culture etc. A skeptic may also be rich or poor, educated or uneducated, ethical or unethical etc. Even though we may contend that everybody has been skeptic, at least for a while in their lives, this is not enough for including them in the skeptical stream, however. The real skeptic is the one who thinks continually, most of the times critically, interprets results and conclusions and terminates in one of the three stages referred to above.
IV. Religious and Religious-like or Religious-wise
In order to understand these three concepts of religious skepticism we must examine, in brief, the concept of the religious person. The religious people believe (as they ought to) in a religious way in one out of the abundance of so many existing religions and / or their heresies. It is quite evident that religious way means that the religious person never thinks to criticize or doubt whatever he / she believes in. Such a thought would be a sacrilege, a great sin and contradiction to their faith. That is, as soon as the religious dogma has been decided upon, then there is no room for doubt and dispute. The theologian’s debates do not constitute criticisms of the dogmas, but expositions, elucidations and analysis of them; never their dispute.
Therefore the religious person accepts all things that their religions profess without any doubt, and so they blindly believe in them and have adopted them as the supreme and inviolable truth. Regardless of the fact that the things they might believe in are the most paradoxical and unnatural, antiscientific and catastrophic, if their god or gods communicate(s) with them in the most irrational ways, if the ethics of their religions are dogmatic and contradictory within themselves, against civilization, nature and / or happiness of human beings, they are ready however, to sacrifice their lives for their causes, whenever the circumstances demand. With their martyrdom, they believe that they will be rewarded hundredfold in the extraterrestrial heavens. Therefore, our thesis is that the religious and faithful in such a manner are tantamount with “fundamentalists”, “pietists”, “fanatics” and so on.
Here, let us add that there were and there are persons or groups of persons that have religious inklings to one degree or another. That is, to some degree they are religious-like or religious-wise people. This means that they believe in their own way in non-organized religions or have some religious convictions, which, by contrast with the organized religions, are net affairs of the persons or groups that accept them. Their religious convictions usually do not instigate: intolerance, antagonism, fear, pathetic or disastrous trends, and they tolerate other analogous religions or convictions and world-views. They are not afraid of heresy, whereas the organized religions are terrified by it. They take into consideration the cultures, the traditions and idiosyncrasies of different peoples and societies, whereas the organized religions dismiss or destroy partially or totally all these elements. They have essentially adopted fluid philosophical and / or scientific approaches to life and a world without fanaticism. However, for the dark, unanswerable questions and metaphysical pseudo-questions, that always show up in one way or another, they give answers based on religious beliefs and theories in accordance with the notions and biases of their members, because either they do not possess the knowledge of how to answer and understand them or because they lie outside rationales and beyond the world. That is, they create a mixture of scientific knowledge, philosophical tendencies and world-views with amicable religious beliefs, convictions and perceptions. They accept, however, logic the power of criticism and of philosophy and the scientific knowledge. Therefore these people are always ready or willing to change or modify their credos whenever they deem this necessary.
V. Religious Belief vs. Scientific Belief
We must, at this point, make clear the difference between religious belief and scientific belief. This is necessary, because the religious people always present the argument that even science is based on belief. We have got to deal with two totally different but confused concepts, for both of which language unfortunately uses the word “belief”. Thus, this confusion has arisen and persisted as a result. Because of this confusion, the religious people find convenient a pseudo-argument to substantiate their dogmatic faith with science or to bring dogmatic faith into science. The religious belief is not amenable to criticism. It cannot be examined in the laboratory or in the physician’s office. It cannot be calculated mathematically or tested experimentally. It cannot be observed, denied, corroborated or altered. Nobody tries to prove it or disprove it, and if somebody tries, there are no methods of examination and no criteria for the verification of its truthfulness or falsehood. If anybody wagers anything whatsoever, even his / her own head, over the truth or falsehood of a religious dogma, he / she may do this absolutely without fear, for this wager will never be resolved. “For the resolution of such a wager someone needs to wait infinite time and then what…?” I cannot imagine, however, anyone that would, with clear mind, wager his / her whole estate, let his / her head aside, for the accuracy of the next day’s weather forecast. When the next day comes and goes this wager will be resolved and woe to him / her if he /she has lost. He or she will find himself or herself homeless in the streets. Such a risky move is not worthy for such an issue. If today, I say that: “I believe tomorrow it is going to rain”, this belief is not of the same order and at the same level with a Christian’s belief in the dogma of the “holy trinity”. The former belief is always subject to criticism, if the forecast was done correctly, with the right means and under the correct conditions. A probability for its verification is also attached along with it. Finally, within a certain time-interval we will have the answer about its correctness or not correctness.
The scientific belief is essentially a likelihood-forecast based on certain well-defined and known criteria. Consequently, it would have been accurate to substitute the word “belief” by the word “likelihood” or “probabilistic foreseeing”. In contrast, the religious belief in the dogma of the “holy trinity” is not subject to any criticism. Either you accept it as it is, or you do not. No mater what you may wager over it, you are not going to win or lose. Wager fearlessly the whole world! There are no ways for such a wager to be resolved no matter how long you may wait. (“Unless God himself comes down to Earth and reveals its resolution!”) When you believe religiously in this dogma, or any other dogma for the same sake, it has no meaning to claim that the dogma of your faith is true with probability 60%, but with probability 40% may not be true. Even if you claim such a thing (inappropriately of course, for this would represent a scientific likelihood and would be contradictory to your faith), you have no, and you can never provide any, justification of these probabilities. You have thrown them out of the blue, arbitrarily and without yourself being able to defend them. In conclusion, we see that the religious belief is not scientific and vice-versa. They are two totally different concepts that are badly confused, because of the vacuums and pitfalls that language creates; by for instance, using the same words for mutually disjoint things and concepts. Various religious conspirators and propagandists use this kind of slips in order to cover their own inadequacies. That is why, society needs to learn how to speak accurately and avoid talking nonsense.
We now turn to the development of the three stages
or categories of religious skepticism.
VI. Theist or Deist
Let us now examine the first category of skepticism out of the three final ones, that is theism. A theist (or deist) is the person who believes in some indefinite superior power that he / she calls God, or in a God that he / she calls superior power. Most of the times the theist confuses these two terms. We do not understand why he / she needs and / or desires to keep them both. Although the theist has no experience whatsoever of, and knows nothing about this indefinite god and also the definitions that he / she puts forward are very arbitrary, however, the theist accepts such a god axiomatically. In this way the theist finds some teleological meaning in the world, has psychological support, reposes himself / herelf in his / her world-view, in something untouchable and without experience that he / she calls “superior”. Moreover, the theist gives answers, according to his / her liking, to the general metaphysical questions as well as some legitimate questions that cannot be yet answered scientifically. There is some small room for heresy in theism. E.g. a theist may believe that God intervenes in the affairs of the human beings and the universe (theist / theist) , whereas another theist may believe that God does not intervene (deism / deist). This is the limit of a theist’s religious dogma and faith. Therefore, any theist cannot belong to any organized religion. That is, within real or imaginary ignorance, the theist introduces a concept that helps himself / herself psychologically, but without being able to definitively define it. Neither this concept can be taken as an original, initial one, for, the theist knows nothing about it based on any initial, primitive knowledge and on impressions that experience puts forward, i.e., empirically. This concept is then a pseudo-concept as a result. In other words, the theist makes an inconsequential, transcendental leap and thus considers legitimate and meaningful to speak about a “God” in whom he / she believes.
When someone asks a theist or a believer of a religion to give the definition of god, then he / she hears many and different strange things. God is a “superior existence”, or god is a “superior power”, etc., but without explaining what the essence and the meaning of these new words and phrases in this issue. He / she tries to define god with equally indefinite phrases and or their synonyms. As to say that a car is a vehicle or a ship is floating boat, even though these examples do not represent completely the plight of the previous situation because they are phrased with known and well defined concepts. At the end the asking person stays with the same initial question, since he / she is not offered something explanatory and touchable. A skeptic, of course, cannot be satisfied with such kinds of answers and cannot be duped by these indefinite phrases and concepts.
At times the theist entangles this god with nature itself. That is, he / she asserts that: “God=nature, nature=god” or claims that he / she gets some experience of this god when he / she looks at a beautiful sunset or in various other experiences of nature and / or romanticism and love. Now, why this whole entanglement of all these concepts and experiences satisfies him /her, instead of separating and classifying them accordingly, it seems to be due on the one hand, to his / her own idiosyncrasy and on the other hand, to his / her up-bringing and acquired education. We also hear many different stretched out syllogisms. For example: “Since I exist, then god exists” or “God exists because universe, nature etc. do exist”. These kinds of syllogisms remind us the ancient Greek one: “If altars exist, then gods exist”. Also the no-sense colloquial one: “If there is back jack, then there is castor oil”.
In front of a dead-end a theist or the believer of a religion cries out: “God exists either you like it or not.” But this again does not make up a definition. This is a capricious reference to an undefined concept. The concrete and known concepts of cancer, germs, earth-quakes, etc., satisfy this reference beautifully. These do exist either we like it or not. But, if the god of a theist or a believer “exists”, it is something that he / she has to prove and not just to allege it. Also, since he / she is the one who introduces the word “god” the whole burden of proof falls onto him / her. He / she should not ask the others who have never referred to or thought this word for this nova and indefinite concept, a-posteriori to prove that it does not exist. However, all the times he / she gets involved in such a discussion, he /she systematically avoids to give a definition or a proof and only when he / she is challenged to offer such credentials to his/ hers interlocutors, then he / she starts to present all these words, phrases and their resounding synonyms which are deprived of any essence.
The leaps of these syllogisms are so conspicuously transcendental, immense, inconsequential and lie out of rationales that we are not going to comment any further. We offer these syllogisms as gifts to all those who do see the inconsequential nature of them. When, for example, a chemist claims that if he bonds two atoms of hydrogen and one atom of oxygen, he can produce a molecule of water, he did not come up, a priori and out of his imagination, with this assertion. He did not proclaim that, since there are hydrogen and oxygen then there is water. Instead, firstly, he knew all the concepts that he has used in his claim very well and secondly, he has interpreted this as conclusion of a sufficiently satisfactory series of experiments.
Hence, against theism we have the following objections:
- What good does it do to believe in something that we know absolutely nothing about and which we cannot determine empirically, but we have presumed it axiomatically?
- If we do not know something, why should we proceed to have faith in it, instead of stopping at “we simply do not know”? (Do we have a problem with that?)
- Should we religiously believe in whatever we have introduced axiomatically simply because we do not know it? Axiomatically, we can harmlessly introduce infinitely many things and pseudo-concepts, since we are not in danger of being scoffed at. Consequently, what is the thing that we do, gain or achieve by doing so? It is the easiest thing to give an answer to something that we do not know by introducing axiomatically a new indefinite concept as the cause. We could very well justify everything and give causality thereof with all sorts of pseudo-beings from the cosmic space. In other words, we can claim that there are divers pseudo-beings which cause all things that take place, but we ourselves do not know these pseudo-beings, do not see them, do not hear them, do not smell them, do not touch them and all those “do not …” In all things we could offer painless explanations of this type, and then, if you or anybody can… prove that these explanations are not valid!
We now continue with the second category of religious skepticism the agnosticism. The agnostic discusses and examines all questions about God, with logical and meaningful way, as he / she thinks and / or imagines. But, the agnostic utterly admits that he / she is not in any position to know their answers. Agnostic means “without knowledge of…”, and it is derived from the Greek privative “a” plus “gnosis”. The term was firstly coined by Sir Thomas Huxley, in 1869, to indicate his opposition to Gnosticism that he happened to study at that time and be disgusted by it. But later on, the term was abused and pushed into the context that we develop here. We easily predict that discussions on these topics with an agnostic are bound to be very brief. If, for instance, you ask an agnostic: “Does God exist?”, then he / she answers immediately: “I do not know.” But, if you ask the same person: “Does Xod exist?”, then he / she immediately and before any thinking returns the question back and very rightly so: “Who or what is that?” Why this person did not do the same thing in the former question about God? This is because he / she thinks that the concept “god”, in the former question, is unambiguously known to him / her and to anyone else. He / she has been accustomed to this “word-concept” from childhood, by hearing everybody talking about it unequivocally, and therefore it must be taken as given. We clearly see, in this instance, a linguistic trap and the effect of psychology and brainwashing. In any case, it is clear that an agnostic cannot belong to any organized religion and he / she is faithless.
Our objections against agnosticism are:
- We can always generate questions without answers. But then, what do we gain?
- Agnostics have the illusion that it is legitimate to examine and discuss, logically as they think, pseudo-concepts, like that of “god”, which on the one hand, they consider meaningful concepts with well defined content, whereas as they themselves admit on the other hand, they have got absolutely no empirical knowledge of them and they cannot answer anything about them.
- Also, they cannot discern that, besides the fact that the concepts they examine and discuss are pseudo-concepts and the fact that they cannot answer anything about them, no matter how long or how hard they try, they will never be able to find the answers. (This is also one of reasons why these questions are pseudo-questions.)
Finally, we come to atheism. A commonly acknowledged definition of atheism is the acceptance that there is no cogent, scientific or matter of fact evidence for the existence of god, gods or supernatural entities. But, in the 20th century, with the monumental works of Bertrand Russell (May 18, 1872 – February 2, 1970) and then much more significantly of Ludwig Wittgenstein (April 26, 1889 – April 29, 1951) in Analytical Philosophy and Lingual Analysis, the definition of atheism took the shape of the stance that the rational man ought to reserve in front of concepts and their analysis.
The concept of “god” and all the concepts derived from it are pseudo-concepts and therefore any discussion about them is deprived of meaning and does not lead to any conclusion. Consequently we have to do with a senseless discussion. The concepts that came as comets outside our logical systems are precisely the pseudo-concepts and analyzing or examining them using the logical systems that do include them is mindless, let alone hoping to draw any conclusions about them. E.g. It is impossible to take apart a modern engine into its constituent pieces in order to understand how it works with the tools of the Paleolithic epoch, without destroying it.
The author of this paper not only owns up this new definition of atheism, as the above stance that Lingual Analysis offers, but he also contends that this approach to atheism is the sole invulnerable. The earlier definition, accepted by many who do not know the progress of Analytical Philosophy, has the problem that it a-priori considers the concept of “god” etc., even in an suggestive way, as legitimate and full of meaning, but we cannot put it under consideration because we do not have any scientific or empirical evidence about it. That is, it tacitly does not exclude the possibility that in the future we may be able to acquire such evidence and then we can discuss the matter over again. It is a definition reminiscent to and mingled with agnosticism. But, Wittgenstein made the monumental step ahead to prove that, within the frameworks and logical systems of language, the concepts we have referred above, are pseudo-concepts and consequently it is nonsense to discuss them as well as it is a chimera to hope to draw any conclusions about them either now or in the future. Therefore even the quest for any scientific or empirical evidence is doomed from preamble either now or in the future. There is no hope when you hope in pseudo-concepts. It is a chimera!
In any case, atheism is the final stage of (religious) skepticism and it is the denial of theism from its foundations, and consequently the denial of agnosticism and every religious faith. This word is of Greek origin and it is a compound one of the “privative = giving negative sense” “a” and the word “theism”. It is, in other words, the “non-theism” or the freeing from any theism. The verb “believe” (in religious way), finds no application in atheism. The atheist neither believes nor does not believe. The atheist wants to know. For legitimate questions that the atheist does not know their answers he / she stops with the phrase “I do not know” without any harm caused. He / she does not say: “Since I do not know, then I believe or I like to believe that…” The verb “believe” in the scientific context is more accurately substituted by: “think”, “think so”, “consider plausible”, “consider probable” etc. For using such an expression, the atheist can offer a list of good reasons.
For the atheist, the concept of “god” (as well as many other related concepts) is a made up, artificial one or a pseudo-concept and therefore all related questions are pseudo-questions. Any discussion about such things is futile, devoid of meaning and / or content and it cannot be carried out on the basis of any experience and / or the rules of any logic. Consequently, this discussion is without any sense, that is, it is nonsense. This is so for the following reasons:
- We do not know what we talk about at all, neither as a defined concept nor as an initial / original one, since there is no pertinent experience along with it. Then, what can we say…? We speak without a base, that is, we speak in the vacuum.
- Even if we presume or imagine that we gave some answer to any of the pertinent questions, yet, there is absolutely no means, way, method etc. to verify the truthfulness or the falsity of our proposed answer. If anyone knows any such means, way, criterion, method etc., we invite him / her to announce it (them) all over the world, so that all of us benefit from his / her supreme knowledge! We conclude that, in all such cases, we speak “up in the air”. The solution for all of these pseudo-concepts and pseudo-questions is just the complete dismissal of them. What is there to be said even with some relative assurance…? Nothing! Only what, the ancient Greek poet of tragedies, Sophokles has said, for a different reason and purpose in the unrelated context of his tragedy “Oedipus”, fits perfectly here:
«Αλλά ταύτ’ ότω παρ’ ουδέν εστι, ράστα τόν βίον φέρει»!
= “But to whomever these are for nothing, he / she lives life most easily”!
Many times, people who believe in god, one way or another, challenge the atheists to prove that god does not exist. They do not want to understand and cannot see that, at the beginning, they themselves bear the burden of proving that god exists, for they are the ones who introduce this concept to begin with and not the atheists. It is quite ridiculous when someone introduces all sorts of unknown concepts or words and then imposes the task of proving or disproving their existence onto other…!
We have heard many more pseudo-arguments against the atheists. Here, we refer two most frequently heard.
- We hear many propose as undisputable truth the assertion: “Atheists do not exist, no matter what!” We then answer: “Have you asked all human beings of the planet and have found no atheist among them or the concept ‘atheist’ is a logical impossibility?” In both alternatives they cannot offer a sincere answer. If we also say to them: “But we, for instance, are atheists!”, then they counterattack: “No, you are not!” That is, they claim that they know ourselves better than we do! … In order to help them think we also give them an example of a simple logical impossibility. “The rooster lays eggs!” This is a logical impossibility, for otherwise, by definition, the rooster would be a hen. Something like this cannot happen with the concept “atheist”.
- We hear the very strange assertion that: “The statement ‘I do not believe in any religion’ is by itself a religion.” “In this way even the atheists believe in a religion.” There is nothing more paradoxical and contradictory than this pseudo-argument. If we consider to be a religion the thing that dismisses all religions, then we dismiss the logical distinction between “destroy” and “be integral”, as a result. The statement “I do not believe in any religion” cannot be a religion itself, by dint of the following logical syllogism. Let us temporarily assume that it is a religion (our religion as they claim). Then we will lead ourselves to a contradiction in the following way. For convenience, let us call by R this statement. Since R is our religion then, by the temporary assumption, we have that R is a religion that does not belong to the set of the religions that we have dismissed, since according to our initial statement we have clearly declared that we do not believe in them. The statement R is then a concept of religion that belongs to a different set (or level) of concepts, since we accept this one, whereas we have dismissed all the others. Consequently we deal with a totally different concept and draw the simple conclusion that: R ≠ religion. This is contradiction to our temporary assumption. Hence our temporary assumption is not valid which exactly means that our initial statement (R) cannot be a religion.
If atheism, as we have explained it, is a religion, then this is as to say that “being healthy belongs to the category that I am ill.”
Many confuse atheism with many people’s belief that “god does not exist”. This is a very serious mistake. This belief represents the antitheism. Its followers could properly be called antitheists. These make the error that the concept “god” is a right and an unambiguous one. Then, they are very sure that it does not exist as “there is no cheese in the refrigerator” or «black bears do not exist in the south pole”. Hence, they fall into a religious belief, since this belief is not subject to any criticism and / or logical analysis and examination; it is arbitrary and there are no criteria to check its truthfulness or its denial, since it is based on a pseudo-concept. In this way, they attack a religious belief by introducing another new one. In atheism the point is to distinguish if you deal with a pseudo-concept or pseudo-question in order to simply dismiss it and ignore it for the reasons explained above.
By confusing atheism with antitheism, because either of ignorance, poor education and misunderstanding of these concepts or by doing it on purpose in order to portray a false argument, various religious people attack atheism, their great demon, by insisting that atheism is also based on belief, which in fact is a religious one just like their own. This is a cunning and preposterous mistake because atheism is the denial of every religious belief from its foundation; of theism, which is also based on some religious belief and of agnosticism, which deems legitimate and logical the examination of pseudo-concepts and pseudo-questions. As we have just written above, the verb “believe” has no place in atheism. This distorted argument of the religious people and at times of some theists very unfortunately, has a few more reasons. Because they themselves are faithful, everybody with absolutely no exception must be faithful too. This is an inferiority complex that pushes them to make all other be just like themselves, by Coup d’ état. Other reasons are: lack of courage for their own opinion, their split personality, the disordered, acrimonious and precarious nature of their belief, the numerous contradictions involved in their faith that most of the times they are too many for anyone to be at ease with such a faith etc. We furthermore continue with: their weakness in clearing out the concepts, their refusal to acknowledge the role that psychology plays, their inability to think scientifically, and their cowardliness to stand up against certain establishments that they have brain-washed them and have put them into these channels from their infancy, without having ever been offered any knowledge or option of other choices. That is why all these negative elements come up to the surface as an inferiority complex that demands everybody else to be just like them.
X. Comparisons and Clarifications
The “verifiability principle of meaning”, as proposed in Analytical Philosophy and lingual Analysis, demonstrates that the inability of a theist or a believer to define his / hers god, lays his / hers statements and assertions about god in the category of the pseudo-sentences or the sentences that scientifically and philosophically are without meaning. For a sentence (proposition, statement) to have scientific and or philosophical meaning it must, at least, someone who examines it, be able to at least imagine a way to test its verification. For instance, if someone proposed to the French author Julius Verne (February 8, 1828 – March 24, 1905) that “the moon is a big ball of excellent cheese”, Verne was able, even in his time, to imagine a way in order to check if this statement was valid or not. Consequently, this proposition been stated in terms of known concepts and fulfilling the verifiability principle had meaning. About a hundred years after Verve, when the space travels took place regularly, the astronauts discovered that the rocks and dust of the moon were not cheese or even cake. This proposition even though had meaning was proven to be false.
In contract, the statement “undetectable hobgoblins dwell in the rings of Saturn is scientifically without meaning, it is a pseudo-statement. First of all it is totally arbitrary, since it is a statement about something always undetectable and therefore completely unknown, not seen, and not testable. Since it is impossible to detect something undetectable, no mater what device we send to Saturn it is not going to detect the undetectable hobgoblins. Statements of this type are devoid of meaning and cannot be proven even false. Similarly the statements that contain the term “god”, as long as this concept is not functionally defined (that is, to state what we can do to detect it) are rendered without meaning and cannot be proven even false (or true).
The modern atheist assumes a position much more radical than the one of his predecessor in the years of Charles Darwin (February 18, 1809 – April 19, 1882) and Sir Thomas Henry Huxley (May 4 1825 – June 29, 1895). In those older times the theist said “god exists”. The agnostic said “maybe god exists, maybe god does not exist. We do not have sufficient evidence to conclude.” The atheist of those times said “god does not exist”, which is the position of the antitheists we expounded above. The modern atheist annuls all these three positions as wrong, because they tacitly presumed that the pseudo-sentence “god exists” had meaning. Here, putting the undefined and unverifiable concept “god” before the verb “exist” is preposterous (figure in reverse order, hysteron-proteron), since the use of “exist” presumes the right definition of the concept on which it is applied. Therefore, since the statements on god cannot be tested, the modern atheist says that all these three positions are devoid of meaning and cannot be proven even false (or true) – they simply are combinations of vocal sounds. How can someone insist that “god” exists, or does not exist, or maybe exists, in the event the he / she does not yet know what thing that might be?
Eventually, by religious belief anyone can believe and allege anything he / she enjoys or whatever they have thought him / her. As a clock-worked orange, he / she never demands definition, verification, proof, etc. The sole adducing of evidence or credentials is fanaticism, sophisms, stubbornness and the cliché “when you believe you do not ask for proofs.” Very edifying phrase! For this reason alone (besides any other one), religious belief becomes dangerous for the human as an individual, for the society as a whole and it is a drag to knowledge, evolution and betterment of civilization, facts that History corroborates continually!
XXI. Skepticism contrasted with Fundamentalism
Ultimately, they have to dismiss such views. For this reason, the followers of organized religions have fought these three stages with tooth and nail throughout history. These stages admit and / or create a new and a different approach to life and they promote a new philosophical and creative stance for society and civilization. They also create a new confrontation of the metaphysical questions, beliefs and doctrines that have tortured people for ages and continue to torture them. That is, they introduce a worldview and attitude that promote creativity in life and the liberation from all sorts of pitfalls that make the spirit and the intellect suffer. By contrast, the religious people’s mold, that is, the set of their religious beliefs and fundamentalism, promotes passivity and blind submission to the organization / church and submission to a terrifying god or gods.
Although there are various gradations of fundamentalism and of the fanaticism and zeal that it produces, let us consider a few more arguments in support of this thesis. Some say that: “We are religious but not fundamentalists”. In our opinion, this cannot be so, for those who knowingly believe in an organized religion. This is a pseudo-excuse, due to either ignorance of the teachings of their religions, or lack of courage for their own opinion. The faithful of an organized religion can never find themselves in a position to admit that another religion or world-view is scientifically more correct or better (based on some criteria) than the one they believe in, even if it is. Also, they never open a discussion on the matters of their faith with others who have different opinions than them. Even before a skeptic begins to critique their beliefs, they cut him / her off, stop any discussion and exclude the skeptic from their surroundings. So, it is a matter of fact that religious faith of this kind creates odious intolerance, fanaticism, war and extermination. It also exhibits uninhibited proselytizing. The faithful of this sort can never be at peace, unless they see all the inhabitants of the planet under the cloak of their faith. Nevertheless, most of them do not abide by the rules and tenets of their religion, but they continually violate them and therefore they continually sin. These rules and tenets are usually very unnatural, irrational and schizoid so that they are not conducive to the happiness and the intellectual development of humans and therefore it is naturally expected that they not be observed. Also, most of the times the followers of organized religion know very little about the doctrines of their faith and about the rules of their catechism, which actually constitute their religion. This happens because organized religions demand sheep-like followers that should not know, think and / or doubt, but believe only those things dictated to them. Organized religions nurse their flocks from infancy until death with certain, purposely chosen maxims and tenets, meanwhile silencing all else. They inspire continuous fear and threaten with eternal punishment if their followers renege, change faith or they do not apply the ethics that they impose, however catastrophic these ethics may be. They promise eternal bliss of metaphysical type (after death) in the presence of their god or gods only to the good followers. For social progress and civilization, the organized religions show no genuine interest and most of the times they create horrific abhorrence, demerit and / or catastrophic rage. This happens because, on the one hand, they consider progress and civilization harmful, and on the other hand, their only essential interest is metaphysical, which is the post mortem bestowal of justice, of eternal punishment or blissful reward according to their own notions and caveats. As a result of this mentality, we often see the abandonment of worldly matters and a full apathy with regard to the problems of life and / or the betterment of society. Science has no value for the religious, unless, if, and when it serves their purposes. The unexplainable or too difficult to comprehend phenomena, that most of the times the faithful call miracles, are mysterious appearances or irrational communications of their god or gods with them. If things happen as they wish, that means that god loves and rewards them and / or listens to their prayers. If they do not, then god is tempting them or testing their faith. All questions find a more or less tautological answer. The most common, very immediate, painless and simplistic one is: “God wanted to do it this way…” and so forth! The most illogical contradiction, even that, is a business of God. You see, as God, he can do whatever he pleases as omnipotent, omniscient, omni-benevolent and all those “omni…” We now challenge a religious person to tell us what else is missing in order to be characterized as a fundamentalist etc.
The organized religions also exhibit the following characteristics: They are based on some collections of holy books that contain their inviolable “truths about everything” and use these books exclusively. They have very restrictive and unchangeable forms and ways of worship. Any different opinion, notion, proposition, examination is cast out as heresy, punished by death whenever possible or the epochs allow. They try to devour the whole societies in which they live and to control all social or political activities. They produce their own styles, forms of expression, arts etc.
We summarize with the most striking traits of the faithful and fanatic. First of all logic does not play an important role in the thought or the discussion of the fanatic and faithful. Even though he / she desires to show that he / she uses and applies logic, most of the times he / she pushes it to the limits of non-existence. The use of arguments is, for the faithful and fanatic, minimal to null. He / she uses arguments only when they are expedient. Otherwise faith and fanaticism blinds him / her so that no argument convinces him / her about anything. He / she must rather distort an argument to make it fit his / her a priori determined points of view. The same thing is true for the uses of data that we attract from experience and all sciences offer to us. In the course of his / her speech he / she continually relapses into various contradictions that he / she sometimes senses and sometimes cannot even sense. Finally his / her way of living and actions do not go along with whatever he / she fanatically contends and supports. The faithful and fanatic says usually one thing and does another. He / she wants “have the cake and eat it too”. We have surely an abundance of examples about faith and fanaticism that lead their faithful and fanatic partisans to complete wretchedness and extinction. The following distich expresses laconically
For a faith fanatic faith, when wedded fast
To a nice falsehood, hugs it to the last
The faithful and fanatic prefers to die (bears martyrdom) for his / her faith and convictions, instead of admitting and disavowing their mistakes and start his / her life anew. Historically, we have plenty of examples that faith and fanaticism have led whole nations completely or nearly into extinction.
The overwhelming majority of people, even of those who hold diplomas, have not clarified these topics and they are not concerned with their elucidation. They lay in a morass of: ignorance, confusion, nonproductive thinking, inability of critique, anti-philosophy, unwillingness of learning and advancing, sanctimonious faith, hypocrisy, convenience, expediency, many contradictory ethical theories and world-views etc… All the time, this “moral” majority, apart from gaining a good living, is consumed with all sorts of meaningless things and senseless preoccupations. Very unfortunately, this mode of living and thinking is promoted and perpetuated by the existing world-social-economic-political system.
Today, with the method of Lingual Analysis, as it was enhanced, developed and given to us by the great thinker-philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, we could safely achieve the elucidation of the ambiguous concepts and safely escape from the unnoticed traps that language sets before us all the time. It is left up to us to desire to use and apply this method. Very unfortunately however, Wittgenstein’s disciples, with very few exceptions, instead of concentrating their efforts to applying this method to the improvement of thought and the betterment society, they spend their time in rehashing what the great thinker has already preached. Also, the people who have the inclination to think in a serious way and decide upon their stance against all these extremely important issues of life itself and of their own world-view, and they deem the improvement of society and the advancement of civilization as the moral duty of every responsible citizen, those people must think, interpret and write clearly, lucidly and unequivocally. The concepts must be well known to all parts and elucidated, the terms unambiguously interpreted and the rules of engagement logically and well understood. Eventually we must know what the things we discuss in our examination are and what are the rules we engage ourselves in this discussion. (You cannot play chess with someone who plays backgammon. Neither can you play football in a natatorium.)
Moreover, about the topics we have developed and presented in this work, which quite frequently become issues of protracted discussions, the serious thinkers must stop being wishy-washy and make a choice responsibly from the groups presented and analyzed here, which are: Religious-sanctimonious, religious-wise, theists, agnostics, antitheists and finally atheists.
With the wish:
«καί επί γής ειρήνη εν ανθρώποις ευδοκία»
= “and on earth peace, to humans good will”.
Dr. Ioannis, Neoklis Philadelphos, Markos Roussos
Professor of Mathematics
To avoid using any reference to “belief”, The Atheist Foundation of Australia Inc defined Atheism as: “The acceptance that there is no credible, scientific or factually reliable evidence for the existence of a God, gods or the supernatural.”
By Dr. Ioannis Neoklis Philadelphos M. Roussos