I decided on a whim to look in at the
Dilbertblog, where the top
at the moment has Scott Adams calling all atheists that discuss on the
net irrational, using a rather neat strawman carbon copy of most
discussions of faith between believers (i.e. mostly Christians) and
atheists he has seen on the web.
At the end of it comes a question: supposing it could be established
that there's a truly infinitesimal (in the physical sense, not the
mathematical) chance of a God existing - he quotes "one in a trillion"
as a model probability; would it then be fair of an atheist to claim the
non-existence to be proven?
Somehow, this illustrates clearly the thesis I occasionally pronounce
(when I'm feeling belligerent) that mathematics and theology have a lot
more in common than mathematics and physics. For a physicist, the quoted
probability of failure is a dream: most physical 'truths' are much
looser than that. However, for very many people, the choice between
self-identifying as an atheist and as an agnostic falls in the agnostic
camp, since Absolute Certainty can never be reached in such a question.
For many more, the Lack of Absolute Certainty takes on a handy
argumentative baseball bat shape for Believers, who use it to cast doubt
on their supposedly wholly rational argumentative opponents.
I'm a mathematician. I acknowledge that things may not be what I
perceive them to be. I realize that this may make me into an agnostic -
HOWEVER, selflabeling myself as agnostic doesn't change anything. I
still view the existence of a God, or several, of descriptions known to
man or unknown, as mainly irrelevant.
If you get something out of it - fine, that's great. I, however, don't,
and therefore view the hypothesis as irrelevant. I don't believe in a
God, and very much not in the (sorry, a) Christian God, since I find the
hypothesis preposterous, and of very little impact on my own life.
I was once held up on my way from somewhere to somewhere else by a
Mormon missionary, who in the cause of our discussion put forth the
thesis that humans are incapable of acting morally without the
presence of a Watchful and Vengeful God.
I, on the other hand, think that most people will want to live in a
society where most if not preferably all act according to some set of
common morals, and therefore will help impose morals on their
community. This regardless of whether a God is used as impositional
tool or not. It's a useful social construct for getting it your way,
but in no way a necessary thesis.
That would be my answer to Scott Adams - too long to fit in the already
too long answer thread.