Talk:Criticism of atheism/Archive 1

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Archive 1 Archive 2

Contents

Contributors needed!

I would love to see individuals with time and knowledge to contribute to this article!

This is already covered at Atheism#Criticisms_of_atheism -- Astrokey44|talk 10:58, 22 February 2006 (UTC)
The section Atheism#Criticisms_of_atheism links back here. I would like to see more references and a little more coherent presentation as well as a little less POV perspective and an expansion of the article. That might keep it from being deleted. As it is, it's barely a coherent essay and omits many criticisms and seems somehwat intent on rebutting them. Correcting this would help the article to become more encyclopaedic. Arundhati Bakshi (talkcontribs) 18:33, 22 February 2006 (UTC)

When reading this article, I got the distinct sense it was written by an atheist, and the article it self was biased. Please correct.

Most of this article (in its current form) cames from the article on Atheism. ChaTo 15:27, 7 March 2006 (UTC)
I can't detect any particular bias. Could you be more specific? PHF 19:52, 15 June 2006 (UTC)
If you mean that theists are not alotted counter-counterpoints... well, do I even have to complete this argument? The demand for neutrality would never be satisfied. 72.200.139.248 09:07, 28 June 2006 (UTC)

Found in HTML comment

This summary of Plantinga's argument is incoherent. What, exactly, about philosophical naturalism contradicts with the belief that our systems of gaining knowledge are designed to help us survive, rather than to help us find truth? The two seem to have nothing to do with each other from what the paragraph below said, so obviously a lot of elaboration is needed. I'm also seriously considering moving this section to the "Naturalism (philosophy)", since it doesn't have anything whatsoever to do with atheism directly. Instead, it argues that a straw-man of evolution and a straw-man of naturalism can't be reconciled; numerous atheists do not believe in evolution, and an even (much) great number do not believe in naturalism. (unsigned comment)

Biased article

Does this article truly need to be here? Many points that are mentioned in this article seem to be backed up by few if any evidence. There also seem to be many weasle words in here and this article contradicts itself by criticizing atheism and then saying that true athiesm does not exist. Finally, this article is obviously biased as it is created solely by religious people who denounce anyone that does not believe in God.

It is commonly known that the PRC declares itself officially athiest, and there are reportedly many athiests in countries like North Korea. Though it may be argued that North Koreans see their leader as "god-like," it is known presently that many North Koreans do not have faith in their leader. I don't see how these "athiests" are immoral in any way and different from Christians or other people of faith.--141.213.196.250 03:13, 8 April 2006 (UTC)

I am an atheist and I support the existance of this article. The debate will help eliminate misconceptions one might have about atheist beliefs. Not only that, there is an article about criticism of every other religious sect, I would think it is biased not to have atheist beliefs recognized. PHF 19:54, 15 June 2006 (UTC)

This article is not encyclopedic. It is biased. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia not an atheism advocacy site.

What are you talking about - Wikipedia is as pro-atheist as quite a few "officially" pro-atheist websites? This article is a joke. It brings up criticisms, but invariably states something like "This criticism is incorrect and not many believe it."

Yoda921 00:46, 7 February 2007 (UTC)Yoda

You should note that because of the nature of the article (as a "criticism" article"), the points are brought up and then common rebuttals mentioned. The format seems to be standard (look at the Criticism of Judaism article for example). Because of the nature of pages like these, it is questionable whether they should exist in the first place, because NPOV is difficult to maintain in an article that discusses POVs and specific objections to them. --HassourZain 16:15, 7 February 2007 (UTC)

Not a criticism of Atheism but a defence of Atheism

This article appears to be written by an advocate of atheism which is fine. I would expect an atheist to have an understanding of criticisms of their beliefs. However, the article does not deal with the title which is criticisms of atheism. In my opinion, points of argument here should be along the lines of criticism from other viewpoints. As as example, one could argue that there are inconsitencies in a basis for ethics to an atheist. The claim that ethics can exist beyond a deity is what should be presented in this article. It is simply not good enough to make the statement that some people disagree with the basis for atheistic ethics and then spend the rest of the article defending the atheistic belief. This article should at least be moved to a category on a defence of atheism if not be deleted altogether.

As mentioned in the first posts here, everyone is well aware of that and asking for contributors to make it more NPOV.--Kugamazog 16:51, 12 April 2006 (UTC)
Small note. Why should atheism (or agnosticism for that matter) be defended at all? The theists are conjecturing something, the proof is their burden. I'd say don't bother defending atheism here, just list the common-heared criticisms and leave it at that. Albester 12:58, 15 May 2006 (UTC)
This article isn't meant to be critical of atheism.... it is meant to be about Criticism of atheism. Why do so many people miss the point when arguing about Criticism artcles? Also, sign your posts.--Greasysteve13 09:26, 20 June 2006 (UTC)
The lack of counter arguments could validate the merit of the criticism. Every religious sect has a defense to every kind of criticism possible and in other articles their defense always seem to get the last word, why shouldn't this one? This looks pretty neutral to me. It shouldn't be deleted as every other religious sect has an article on criticism, it would be biased to not recognize atheism. Citing WP:BIAS: A lack of articles on particular topics is perhaps the most obvious kind of bias. One could also see why a religious person would complain about atheism being able to argue against all accusations, the same way it annoys me when other religions justify whatever they do according to some holy book. Maybe all those articles should be renamed "Defense of Generic Major Religion" too. PHF 20:02, 15 June 2006 (UTC)
The article does list criticisms of atheism and I dont see the problem if arguments for and against those criticisms are also noted.

objective existence of the supernatural

I tried to find discussion of the "objective existence of the supernatural" within Wikipedia, but failed. The section heading about "objective existence of the supernatural" strikes me as oxymoronic. Can anyone provide sources that describe objective evidence for the supernatural? --JWSchmidt 02:23, 17 April 2006 (UTC)

There is none — which is probably why some people are atheists. — JEREMY 02:50, 17 April 2006 (UTC)
Just clarified that section a bit to reflect this. PHF 19:45, 15 June 2006 (UTC)

Response to criticism

Criticism of Christianity has a response section, I don't see why this article shouldn't. PHF 19:43, 15 June 2006 (UTC)

Misconception about the article - About NPOV and balance

People seem upset that the analysis seems too much positive, as opposed to attacks atheism receives from other religions, I must remind people of the meaning of the word criticism

crit·i·cism ( P ) Pronunciation Key (krt-szm) n. The act of criticizing, especially adversely. A critical comment or judgment.

The practice of analyzing, classifying, interpreting, or evaluating literary or other artistic works. A critical article or essay; a critique. The investigation of the origin and history of literary documents; textual criticism

from [1]

cri·tique ( P ) Pronunciation Key (kr-tk) n. A critical review or commentary, especially one dealing with works of art or literature. A critical discussion of a specified topic. The art of criticism.

Usage Note: Critique has been used as a verb meaning “to review or discuss critically” since the 18th century, but lately this usage has gained much wider currency, in part because the verb criticize, once neutral between praise and censure, is now mainly used in a negative sense. But this use of critique is still regarded by many as pretentious jargon, although resistance appears to be weakening. In our 1997 ballot, 41 percent of the Usage Panel rejected the sentence As mock inquisitors grill him, top aides take notes and critique the answers with the President afterward. Ten years earlier, 69 percent disapproved of this same sentence. Resistance is still high when a person is critiqued: 60 percent of the Usage Panel rejects its use in the sentence Students are taught how to do a business plan and then are critiqued on it. Thus, it may be preferable to avoid this word. There is no exact synonym, but in most contexts one can usually substitute go over, review, or analyze. ·Note, however, that critique is widely accepted as a noun in a neutral context; 86 percent of the Panel approved of its use in the sentence The committee gave the report a thorough critique and found it both informed and intelligent.

Also from [2]

Therefore, there is no need to make it extra negative just because you think that's what criticism is about. Also, if you think there should be a balance between positive and negative criticism, it doesn't mean the article should be 50-50, but to be balanced corresponding to reality. There is reason to believe people have precedent on bias, and I cite a study that finds americans discriminate atheists more than any other minority. PHF 01:06, 16 June 2006 (UTC)

About the page move to Critique of atheism. Why would you move it if I just proved that the two words have the same meaning? I don't agree with this since it appears it breaks consistency shown in other articles titles where the word Criticism is used, such as Criticism of Islam. A person would search for criticism of atheism and get critique and somehow think the point of this article was different. PHF 17:50, 24 June 2006 (UTC)

In academic circles, criticism is understood not to be polemical, but constructive to the discipline at hand. Critique and Criticism are not exact synonyms. English is a language made up of a whole bunch of other languages and developed in such a way that its terminology tends to have certain connotations. Anger has different connotations than rage, for example, even though their roots meant more or less the same thing in their languages of origin. Critique (outside of academic circles) is a gentler term than is criticism and one which is farther away from polemics. No article in any reputable encyclopedia takes the form of a polemic. I assessed the article's overall tone and decided it was becoming more of a productive critique than a "here's what's stupid about atheism" article. I therefore changed the title, and did so using what I thought was the appropriate word. Flip through your OED's and find a better term, please, but I thought the move was a warranted one. MerricMaker 04:57, 25 June 2006 (UTC)

I must be sincere, now that you put it that way I kind of like the name of the article more than I did previously, but what made me uneasy was the fact that every other article for other religions analogous to this one used the word criticism. And now that I think about it, people might want to make an article about "what's stupid about atheism" since it is apparently lacking. That was my original point before the whole name change when I was arguing and showing dictionary definitions trying to keep the balance when people were attacking this article for being more of a critique rather than criticism. But it's ok, I need to stop worrying about such petty matters, point conceded, thanks for taking the time to make such a thoughtful response. PHF 01:59, 26 June 2006 (UTC)

Why no Criticism of theism article?

--Greasysteve13 08:28, 18 June 2006 (UTC)

That's what the atheism article is for. MerricMaker 16:23, 18 June 2006 (UTC)
Then what is the theism article for?--Greasysteve13 09:35, 19 June 2006 (UTC)
You see my point.
Actually, the antitheism article would probably serve the purpose. The last time I checked, however, it was somewhat underdeveloped. The articles on theology will generally touch on this issue to some degree and with varying degrees of success and accuracy. MerricMaker 02:31, 20 June 2006 (UTC)
Uh-huh--Greasysteve13 05:27, 21 June 2006 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Criticism of Judaism

--Greasysteve13 09:36, 19 June 2006 (UTC)

FYI, the result of that debate was "KEEP (no consensus)". This indicates to me that this section should also be kept, though it's unlikely that everyone will always agree on that point. -- HiEv 00:55, 14 May 2007 (UTC)

Cleanup tag

Anybody want to argue why it should be kept? The article looks fine to me. PHF 18:23, 22 June 2006 (UTC)

Been over a week and nobody contested it, so I will remove the tag. Star Ghost 05:51, 30 June 2006 (UTC)

This article should be called Criticism of Atheism

--Greasysteve13 10:37, 25 June 2006 (UTC)

Whilst we're suggesting renaming, it should be Criticism of atheism (or Critique of atheism) - maybe it's being pedantic, but "atheism" is not a proper noun. Mdwh 15:01, 25 June 2006 (UTC)
Yeah, It was the slip of the finger.--Greasysteve13 02:09, 26 June 2006 (UTC)

Titles are always capitalized, it does not matter if the item in question is a proper noun or not. Traditionally, you capitalize the first and last word, as well as any nouns or verbs in the title. For example: "Jimmy and company's house of atheism" would be incorrect. "Jimmy and Company's House of Atheism" is correct. MerricMaker 08:02, 28 June 2006 (UTC)

Incorrect, as per Wikipedia:Naming_conventions_(capitalization). I changed the title from "Critique of Atheism" to "Critique of atheism" for now, although I disagree with the "critique" over "criticism" wording preference. — `CRAZY`(IN)`SANE` 08:58, 28 June 2006 (UTC)

That particular convention is in opposition to standard english usage. Since the English-language articles in the Wikipedia are bound by the rules of English, English is not bound by the rules of the Wikipedia, this approach is best ignored. We are trying to make the Wikipedia into the equal of print encyclopedias, if we're going to do that, it can't do so in complete ignorance of proper English. I've read the Naming Conventions material here on Wikipedia, it is self-contradictory. Standard usage not presented on Wikipedia is not self-contradictory on this matter. Yes, we're doing something new here and yes, it is less beholden to matters of protocol, but it still has academic aspirations and heading articles in this manner is unwise. This same discussion is going on in the talk pages for Naming Conventions. Here's how it boils down, absolutely every reputable corner of publishing does proper capitalization (unless you're e.e. cummings), Wikipedia doesn't, and that's inappropriate. Please change it back. MerricMaker 14:11, 28 June 2006 (UTC)

I see you've brought the issue up on Wikipedia_talk:Naming_conventions_(capitalization), which is where it should be discussed, not here. Until the convention is changed, I see no reason to ignore Wikipedia convention just for this article. Mdwh 21:30, 28 June 2006 (UTC)

Oh Irony of ironies, all is irony!

"However, atheists have countered that the existence of unethical people who have a certain belief system (or a lack of a certain belief system) does not indicate that the belief system itself is unethical."

- No shit! Could this be Atheists engaging in that most famous of logical fallacies they love to accuse Theists of? The 'No-True Scotsman fallacy'? Hehe, this is gold! —Preceding unsigned comment added by 86.138.0.221 (talkcontribs)

I don't see how that would relate to the fallacy, unless you're trying to imply atheists are saying "true atheists" don't do unethical things? Because that's not what it says there at all, the way I read it, it is just a counter to the generalization some people might make citing unethical atheists as an example of the lack of ethics of all atheists. If you can read it differently and make the relation to the scotsman fallacy more explicit, do enlighten me, so I can also enjoy the "irony gold". Do sign your comments next time as well. Star Ghost 22:53, 10 July 2006 (UTC)
The Atheist Empire has long despised those who dare to oppose it. I am just one in a series of martyrs against their cabal. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 86.138.0.221 (talkcontribs)
You mean a troll. Wikipedia frowns upon this. I am going to ask you to quit trolling or leave, but whatever attitude you decide to take, you shall not be fed. And this [3] I shall keep for posterity. Case closed. Star Ghost 01:08, 11 July 2006 (UTC)
You do realize that atheism doesn't have an "official" organization, and what one atheist says only reflects that particular atheist's opinion?

Factual accuracy

I see User:The_Epopt is disputing the factual accuracy and citing straw arguments in the article [4]. I would ask that either him or somebody else who agrees with this to point out said problems so we can work on fixing them, as putting the tag on by itself is not doing much good. Star Ghost 05:44, 30 July 2006 (UTC)

I'm removing the tags. Seems frivolous to just put on tags without putting the rationale on the talk page or working to improve the article. They lacked appropriate justification and made the article look bad in an unjustified manner. Star Ghost 01:45, 1 August 2006 (UTC)

Considering the subject matter, it's not surprising that someone would be a bit tender about it. I've actually been pleased with the constructive tone of the article. Good edit, thanks. MerricMaker 02:46, 1 August 2006 (UTC)

You're welcome chief! Face-wink.svg Starghost (talk) 05:46, 1 August 2006 (UTC)

Argument from Numbers

Why not excise this portion in total? We might want to have census data about how many people are atheist versus how many aren't, but as it stands this little snippet doesn't really do much. The fact that an appeal to numbers is used also doesn't seem to need to be mentioned by name, it's just a bad argument, no need to sound like Philosophy 101. Any feedback? MerricMaker 16:14, 7 August 2006 (UTC)

If I remember correctly, this specific argument was added and debunked by the same editor. To be honest, at the time it seemed to me that this portion of the text was added with the exact purpose of increasing the list of weak "theistic" arguments displayed. --Leinad ¬ Flag of Brazil.svg »saudações! 19:56, 7 August 2006 (UTC)
Leinad, assume good faith, there are no reasons to think there is an antitheist conspiracy in progress within this article. My view on the issue, however, is neutral. To judge the argument as bad might be just a personal view, as one might say it is as bad as any of the other arguments. If this argument is used when criticizing atheism, I don't see why it shouldn't be included in the article. However, as it is it doesn't look worthy of inclusion. My suggestion would be citing it as part of a greater argument, such as "miscellaneous critique" or "philosophical fallacies". Neither of those sound encyclopedic, but if you delete it someone might find it is lacking, and might even subsequently add it back to the article, unknowingly of what was agreed upon. You might want to develop that section too, adding authors or media events in which that criticism was used. Just a few thoughts. Starghost (talk | contribs) 20:21, 7 August 2006 (UTC)
Smiley.png Don't worry; I see no antitheist conspiracy in progress. On the other hand, I think the fact that most of this article came directly from the article about atheism helps to explain why it is more focused in replying to the arguments against atheism than focused in explaining the criticisms. Anyway, your suggestions about the argument from numbers seem reasonable to me, but they would call for a more substantial rewrite of the article to group other "common mistakes". --Leinad ¬ Flag of Brazil.svg »saudações! 22:03, 7 August 2006 (UTC)
Is this so-called "Argument from Numbers" verifiable anyway? I doubt you would find many people who would admit to having belief in such a fallacious argument. --203.59.166.123 16:39, 16 September 2006 (UTC)

nonexistence of atheism removed

I have removed the section "Claimed non-existence of atheism" - this is completely absurd. I am an atheist, so atheism exists! Maybe some of that material could be put back in somewhere, apologies to those who worked on it.Poujeaux 13:06, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

Well, the claim also exists, and I personally find it as absurd as most other claims religious in nature, so to say that is any more absurd than the others might be a personal view of yours. While you can assert that you are an atheist, people who claim atheism does not exist would simply say that you are in a state of denial. I disagree with the removal of that section. Starghost (talk | contribs) 19:56, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
Actually, your argument is so frivolous it completely disregards everything that was written in that section, which by the way was well written and properly cited. I am reverting your edit until you can come up with something deeper than "I am an atheist, therefore atheism exists". Starghost (talk | contribs) 19:59, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

My worry is that the page may appear as a collection of completely nonsensical arguments against atheism, each accompanied by several explanations as to why the argument is wrong. In other words the article appears to be written by us atheists as a way of ridiculing the anti-atheism arguments (see points 3 and 4 in the list above). The section is not properly cited - first sentence - who are the theists who claim atheism doesnt exist? Poujeaux 12:49, 17 August 2006 (UTC)

While the page may look like that, I don't see why it shouldn't. What if all arguments against atheism are nonsensical? Should we just remove the article all toghether? Should we just list them with no counter-argument and give them validity? I think they are all nonsensical. The way to go though, you pointed out yourself, we should look for citations then. Starghost (talk | contribs) 16:36, 17 August 2006 (UTC)
Starghost. It must feel good to believe that, if this page appears to be a collection of nonsensical arguments against atheism, it must be (or probably is) because your own position is the only reasonable one. But the truth is this article makes little effort to really explain the criticisms, let alone to provide arguments to back them up. The display of Platinga's argument in the article until my intervention yesterday was essentially a straw man followed by many "rebuttals" that did not even apply to the real thing. The section about "atheism and faith" is another good example: only an extreme version of the claim is presented (straw man?) with no argument to support it (none, zero)… but it is followed by many rebuttals, or "atheistic responses" as the article calls it. I’m not saying that these things were made on purpose, but I am saying the article is indeed biased right now. --Leinad ¬ Flag of Brazil.svg »saudações! 15:16, 27 August 2006 (UTC)
These are common beliefs and criticisms of atheism, do not blame atheist bias for the fallacious nature of, or lack of evidence for most of these arguments, because atheists did not come up with them.--203.59.166.123 16:57, 16 September 2006 (UTC)

Atheism, Faith, and Logical Fallacies

Atheism as a generalized topic may not apply to this, but the theme behind the "Claims atheism requires faith" section appears to be related to strong atheism (the affirmative statement that there is no such thing as deities, the supernatural, et cetera). In particular, the first line of this section appears to be quite opinionated and biased. But, the third and fourth paragraphs cite applicable logical fallacies to support the answers given by atheists. However, the second paragraph seems to be lacking a citation to any applicable logical fallacies, especially the argumentum ad ignorantiam. More specifically, the fallacy becomes apparent when considering that strong atheism is not necessarily the "default position." Ignorance as to whether there are or are not deities would be a more accurate description of the "default position," meaning that both theism and atheism statments that a lack of evidence from both sides are argumentum ad ignorantiam. Perhaps an additional sentence could be added to the second paragraph to address this issue. I would propose that "However, others feel that neither theism nor atheism are a proper default position to be taken and hence labelling atheism's call for proof to be an argumentum ad ignoratiam" could be used to address this. Ideas? Rminer25 05:56, 27 August 2006 (UTC)


  • Even though it was never made explicit that the criticism was actually addressed at strong atheists, previous versions of this section explained that similar criticism was also made by weak atheists and agnostics. At the time, an informed and attentive reader could realize that the criticism really applied to strong atheism - not to all kinds of atheism. Now, even that is gone.
  • Your suggested reference to the Argument from ignorance is a basic agnostic/theistic/weak atheist contention that should have been in the article a long time ago. --Leinad ¬ Flag of Brazil.svg »saudações! 15:58, 27 August 2006 (UTC)


So... should I add the text I provided above? As noted in other places in the discussion, there appears to be a strong bias in the article; is there agreement that the proposed text would be appropriate in helping to alieviate this bias? Rminer25 21:14, 27 August 2006 (UTC)
Of course I can't guarantee agreement from other editors, but your proposed edit is perfectly reasonable. Wikipedia police states that should be bold when editing the pages. I encourage you to update the article and even develop more the argument. --Leinad ¬ Flag of Brazil.svg »saudações! 22:23, 27 August 2006 (UTC)
Added it. Rminer25 01:37, 28 August 2006 (UTC)

I'm going back through the section we've been talking about and editing it to specify between strong atheism and agnostism/weak atheism. But, in the interests of preservation, I'll copy the original text here in case there are issues. Rminer25 20:14, 28 August 2006 (UTC)

At times, this argument consists of laying the burden of proof on atheism, or on both atheism and theism. However, laying the burden of proof on atheism may be unrealistic, as, while it might be theoretically possible to one day find reasonably persuasive evidence of the existence of a deity, it seems unlikely that atheism could ever find evidence of a "not-god" anywhere. As such, arguments for atheism consist primarily of arguments against theism, which is in keeping with claims that atheism is only the lack of a belief rather than a belief itself. Some atheists argue that, since they see the burden of proof as being upon theism, they are under no obligation to offer arguments that seek to actively disprove theism. Instead, atheism is the default position that they feel ought to be held unless and until that burden of proof is shouldered. However, others feel that neither theism nor atheism are a proper default position to be taken and hence labelling atheism's call for proof to be an argumentum ad ignoratiam.

New NPOV tags.

User:Gabrielthursday has just put on a NPOV dispute based on "repeated discussion" on the talk page. This stikes me as funny, since he didn't take any part in the discussions and those who did take part did not choose to put the tags themselves, and I don't see what discussion is being "repeated" to the point of being disputed. If anything, there's one new discussion topic for this article every month. I ask you to clarify what matters are pending neutrality so we can work on them. Until you make your case, I am removing the tags. Starghost (talk | contribs) 23:15, 16 September 2006 (UTC)

In that same vein, I'd like people who think the article is unreferenced to add the needed citation tags. Mind you, these were added toghether with a previous NPOV tag by a vandal earlier this year, but I was reasonable enough to give him that citations were lacking since we didn't actually have any at the time, so I removed only the NPOV tags back then. Now I see we have quite a few and no more unsourced markings so thhat warning on the top of the page is starting to lose my support. Starghost (talk | contribs) 23:18, 16 September 2006 (UTC)

Well, there has been repeated discussion on the subject here, and I think the problems remain in the article. I think the principal problem is an inequality in discussion. For instance, the Atheism requires Faith section barely provides the essential critique of atheism, but includes a number of responses. Similarly, there is an imbalance in the presentation of the Atheism/Immorality section, along the same lines. Again, not only is there nowhere near equal space given, but the criticism is presented in its baldest and weakest form. Hence the NPOV tag. Gabrielthursday 18:19, 18 September 2006 (UTC)
There hasn't been repeated discussion, and you failed to present why do you have that impression. Just watch the signature dates and you will see, in comparison to any other page, calling the discussion here "repeated" as opposed to "scarce" is ridiculous. Even more so if you exclude the bad faith arguments that have been put forth in the past. You also fail to understand the concept of critique, which has been discussed earlier. Why is it a bad thing that there are more responses, specially if it is actually so in an actual argument? It would be undue weight to give equal space as in 50-50 space if that did not accurately reflect the discussion. Again, you have to make your case, just because you said that it barely provides the essense of the debate doesn't mean that it actually does. If you wanted to work on improving the article, you would name the things as you see lacking and work on adding them to the article, rather than make generic statements. If there is such a thing as a stronger form of criticism, you should prevent it. You can see why without doing so, you could perpetuate insatisfaction by always saying there is some stronger form of criticism. You will have to excuse me, but so far your point is comprised of generic statements that could be used as justification for NPOV tags on every article that involves a discussion between two points of view. Hence, no NPOV tag. For now. I'm sure you're just holding it back to make me curious, hope to hear from you soon. Starghost (talk | contribs) 22:36, 18 September 2006 (UTC)
All right, looking at this page again, "repeated" is a bit of a strech. "Occasional" would be more accurate. As for your substantive reasoning, inequality between the volume of critique/defence is a mark of bias. I'm well aware of the purpose of 'critique' articles such as this one, and I agree with the discussion above that it does not mean a lack of response to the criticism. I do also suggest that an unbiased observer would see the critiques, particularly in the two sections I mentioned, as bare and the responses thereto well expressed- again, a lack of balance.
I mean to edit the article to address these concerns, but the point of an NPOV tag is to encourage collaborative improvement. I'm afraid that my expertise in this area is limited- I suppose I could say I'm familiar with the arguments, but couldn't identify which thinkers are identified with each argument.
I'll try to take a closer look at the article, give it some more thought, and expand on my suggestions for improvement. Gabrielthursday 23:11, 18 September 2006 (UTC)
My argument was that it is not bias if it corresponds to reality. If in reality the volume of counter arguments is indeed greater, it would be undue weight to give the same volume to the other views. If reality is unbalanced, we must present it as such, otherwise THAT would give undue weight and would be POV. What if one side does in fact present more arguments from the others? Are we supposed to neglect some of them so it balances out? I believe we are looking to provide as much relevant information as possible, and until it is evidenced that the critics do indeed have further arguments that are not presented in the article, I see no reason to believe such. Being such evidence provided, it will be written in the article, and it will therefore be neutral again, so I don't see how the POV dispute can be properly substantiated within this process. And you can see how an article such as this, even taking other bad faith additions of the NPOV tag as an example, might be sensitive to this method of encouraging improvement. You can also see how it would be better to reach consensus, and how the unilateral addition of the tags might raise a few eyebrows. There are already collaborations underway to improve these articles such as Wikipedia:WikiProject_Atheism, slowly but surely the articles will improve without making it look unnecessarily bad in the process. I do encourage you to edit the article adressing these issues, if they are indeed substantiated, we must act on it.Starghost (talk | contribs) 01:02, 19 September 2006 (UTC)
You may be on one side of this question and I the other, but this is not the sort of issue where volume of argumentation is one-sided. Furthermore, number of arguments may be misleading- one strong argument may require the space adequate for the presentation of two or three inferior ones. Frankly, I think we risk interminable and near-unreconcilable conflict if we allow "my arguments are better/more numerous than yours" to be a justification for the lopsided presentation of one point of view outside of really self-evident cases (holocaust denial, the historicity of the Da Vinci Code, etc). One interesting question you raise is Are we supposed to neglect some of them [arguments] so it balances out? My answer would be a qualified yes- if experts on one side of the issue are expanding an article, they have an obligation to expand the other side to the best of their ability so as to prevent undue weight being given to their side of the issue- additional, unbalanced information would be better off stored away until it could be employed in a balanced article.
About the line I deleted about atheist rejoinders to arguments for the existence of God: this is emblematic of problems with regard to undue weight/balance. In that case, the postive arguments had not even been advanced, merely referenced, and the negative argument was put forth alone. Similarly, there are problems with undue weight when an argument is advanced in its most basic form, but the rejoinder is made in detail and at length. That is, I fear, the problem we face in at least some of the sections of this article. I will say that the Atheism & Morality section (-and thanks for the better title) is particularly bad, and not only because of a pronounced undue weight problem. Beyond that, the positive argument is advanced almost as a straw man, while other forms of the argument and counterrebuttals are absent. Gabrielthursday 06:10, 19 September 2006 (UTC)
The arguments for the existence of God section, as you put it, is emblematic of attempting to rephrase everything to weasel out of an answer. Also, one of the tenets (or alleged tenets if you will) of atheism is the removal of irrational beliefs from the equation, so it should be self-evident that when doing a rational critique arguments would favor the more rational side over the other. Neglecting information strikes me as absurd and probably goes against guidelines. Anyway, so far I havent been able to conclude these problems are as evident as you put them to be, but I encourage you to keep trying to solve them, as we might end up with a better consensus, such as the headings, and I appreciate the fact that we've been able to improve that, and I see that as an example of good things to come. While you and others continue to work on it, I suggest a more direct comparison between this and the other criticism articles, which, as far as I can tell, hold a very similar structure and balance, with the argument presented and the response having the final word on the issue, again, just for the fact it's the final word, giving the impression it is one sided.
Also, just as I am writing this and pondering about how the removal of information (to create a sense of balance) in the article could be a loss, hindering the progress of the article, with information lost in the process, when balance has been reestablished and the possibility that the information previously removed is not returned, I think maybe there is a better way to handle this. The please expand this article tag. If you put that tag it will suggest that there are criticisms not presented in the article yet, which is exactly what we want, all the same not being so harsh on it. It would also encourage people to work on it just the same. Just a thought. Starghost (talk | contribs) 18:22, 19 September 2006 (UTC)
Starghost, I think the better tag to put on would be the "clean up" tag- sure, there's room for expansion, but that's not really a central problem with the article. While there are POV problems, I think agree that a general improvement of the article ought to alleviate them. As for the issue of one-dimensional expansions, the question is not that of "neglecting information", but rather the obligation of the editor to ensure that WP:NPOV be observed. If the editor cannot meet that burden, he should not contribute, or at the very least slap a npov tag onto the page. Information removed will always be available in the history; if you think it needs to be more prominent, I believe some will paste it onto the talk page. Gabrielthursday 18:56, 19 September 2006 (UTC)
Gabrielthursday, I share your concerns. All the criticisms of atheism in the article are complete nonsense and are quite rightly demolished. See my comments above where I tried to delete the most stupid (and uncited) claim that atheism doesnt exist. If you know of any valid criticisms of atheism, please go ahead and edit the article and put them in! Poujeaux 12:45, 19 September 2006 (UTC)
Thanks for the kind word, Poujeaux. I agree that that section definitely needs a cite, and may in fact be appropriate to delete. I certainly haven't ever heard of the argument before, and it is a pretty poor argument itself; in short, I suspect that it is so marginal that it may not merit inclusion. Of course, I disagree that all the criticisms are nonsense, even as they (inadequately) stand now. The Plantinga naturalism argument, though complex and perhaps not made sufficiently clear as yet certainly has merit. So too with respect to the Atheism & Faith argument. Gabrielthursday 16:46, 19 September 2006 (UTC)
I have heard of the argument before, although I wasnt the one to write that section. Do mark which sentences of that argument need a cite with the proper tag. Poujeaux, nevertheless, I resent that you held a grudge after failing to consolidate your point so long ago, this strikes me as some kind of poor taste opportunism. Starghost (talk | contribs) 18:22, 19 September 2006 (UTC)

I just have given this some more thought, and I think it will prove a good experiment to delete some sections alltoghether. If you want to try to delete the existance of atheism section, or some other one you think is alltoghether too weak, go for it, and let's then wait for the reactions of other editors. I just wonder if then people who didn't realize this change will come here crying because they agree with those criticisms and that would give the unbalanced impression that atheism is above criticism, and then people would post the responses back and this would repeat itself. But I digress. I support the experiment. Starghost (talk | contribs) 18:27, 19 September 2006 (UTC)

Suggestions for Improvements

The whole meaninglessness/ignosticism mention could be expunged- it's unclear and extremely marginal as an argument. If not expunged, the issue should be split from the Plantinga naturalism argument, which could be titled "Coherence of Atheism". This argument could use a little more clarity, and perhaps a rejoinder. On the Atheism v. Irreligion section, the section doesn't really cohere as a whole. I've outlined the borderline straw man & undue weight problems with the Atheism & Morality section. The Atheism & Faith section principally needs a deeper explication of the criticism. There is at least one significant criticism which isn't currently a part of the article- the psychological roots of atheism, which I'll get around to adding eventually.

Removed Material

Re: Existence of Atheism

One popular claim among some theists has been that all people must naturally, inherently believe in a deity. Thus, atheism cannot be a true statement of belief, but is simply a form of denial. With atheism defined out of existence, atheists must necessarily be deluding themselves rather than honestly disbelieving.

Logically, however, this argument is weak because it is an unfalsifiable hypothesis. For this reason, an atheist could claim with equal authority that all people are atheists, and theists are simply deluding themselves rather than actually believing in God

Another rebuttal to this argument would be pointing out the fact that all people possess an atheistic mindset without even realizing it. A person believing in one particular theistic view will have an atheistic view of any other religion. In the words of Richard Dawkins:

Modern theists might acknowledge that, when it comes to Baal and the golden calf, Thor and Wotan, Poseidon and Apollo, Mithras and Ammon Ra, they are actually atheists. We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further. (A Devil's Chaplain 150)

Re: Meaning to Atheism

Some hold the view that atheism is meaningless, a belief that can either be the polar opposite of ignosticism (the view that theism is incoherent), or an actual aspect of ignosticism, as many ignostics reject the label atheist on the basis that it is just as nonsensical as theist is.

With regard to both of these, reintroduction should be considered if it can be shown that these are significant arguments directed against atheism, and if citations to individuals advancing them can be made. Gabrielthursday 19:04, 19 September 2006 (UTC)

I must admit the article looks better now. Keep it up and we might quickly improve it to an acceptable status for all parties.Starghost (talk | contribs) 19:35, 19 September 2006 (UTC)
May I also suggest the addition of a to-do list to this discussion so we can better focus our efforts and have a sense of accomplishment? Starghost (talk | contribs) 19:43, 19 September 2006 (UTC)


good to have some concensus on this. I also think the Platinga argument needs some work, it makes no sense to me. (a) Surely it is a biological advantage to be able to make sense of the world around you (eg to grow crops you need to know about the seasons and be able to predict when its going to get warm again). (b) This argument seems to be a criticism of evolution, not of atheism. Poujeaux 12:29, 20 September 2006 (UTC)
Yeah, I personally think his argument is crap, not that my opinion matters. Starghost (talk | contribs) 15:28, 20 September 2006 (UTC)
Given that Plantinga is a leading epistemologist, I don't think his argument is "crap". Nor do the other contributors to Naturalism Defeated [5]. One doesn't criticize what one doesn't respect. Gabrielthursday 18:11, 20 September 2006 (UTC)
One would think that Platinga would at least educate himself on a subject before incorporating it into one of his major theories, unfortunately, this is not the case. Platinga's argument (and his understanding of evolution) is undeniably crap, no matter how much of a "leading epistemologist" he is. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 203.59.166.123 (talkcontribs)
Yeah, but I dont see how atheism being possibly incompatible with evolution is of any use in the article. Plus, given that it is my opinion, I'm entitled to classify some things as crap and not justify these views as they are personal, what I meant to do with that statement is support if you guys want to work on it or remove it. Starghost (talk | contribs) 02:54, 21 September 2006 (UTC)
To clarify further, I meant "crap" as "discardable" or "neglectable", and that is my view in regards to this article. Specially since you can't claim all atheists are naturalists. I'm sorry the word crap is loaded with a heavier connotation in the english language, but I hope this clears things up. Starghost (talk | contribs) 03:01, 21 September 2006 (UTC)
Yeah, that's definitely prone to misinterpretation in English. Not to worry, though- I see the issue you raise now. To my mind, the argument is certainly close enough- philosophical naturalism is inherently atheistic, and it accounts for the enormous majority of atheists (if we're excluding Buddhists, etc). I'd actually given some thought to the problem of knowledge in this context before happening across Plantinga's argument, but he goes much further than I had gone.
Poujeau- that's a petitio principii; Plantinga asks that if evolution is true, does it mean that rationality results from that process? He says no. Saying of course it does doesn't undermine any of his premises, it's just a contradiction of his conclusion. Gabrielthursday 03:52, 21 September 2006 (UTC)
Yet, the point he makes is that atheism is incompatible to evolution. Well? I'm sure it might as well be incompatible to lots of other stuff, such as creationism, astrology, nationalism, pizza, basketball or whatever. Given that it has the citation of a leading scholar, are all of those deserving of mention in this article? IF not, why are we picking the specific subject of evolution? Starghost (talk | contribs) 04:38, 21 September 2006 (UTC)
On an unrelated discussion, it should be at least clarified. The way it is, I dont see how rationality couldn't be a byproduct of evolution. The ability to use computers isn't selected for survival, yet we can use them anyway. The same could be said about the ability to perceive reality I guess? I don't necessarily agree that all traits are exclusively selected for survival. Say two traits show up at once, and only one of them affects the survival rates positively, the other one will still carry on with it, despite having no effect. For that matter saying the ability to perceive reality doesnt relate to survival, to me, doesnt seem enough to say it doesnt originate from evolution. Something tells me I should have not been left with this impression from reading the article. Starghost (talk | contribs) 04:52, 21 September 2006 (UTC)
Never mind. I reread it and saw it. He says its epistemologically unlikely. And because we say something unlikely is true we are wrong. Got it. Carry onStarghost (talk | contribs) 04:56, 21 September 2006 (UTC)
I was also just reading up on Platinga. He is a Christian apologist and advocate to Intelligent Design. Hes definitely not impartial in that respect. Is he truly a leading epistemologist? Or just in the same way Ann Coulter is a leading political commentator? I wonder how valid is his standing as to show up in this article, and if his claims are rebutted or commented upon at all by his peers. Surely there are others who disagree?Starghost (talk | contribs) 05:08, 21 September 2006 (UTC)
Yes, he's a leading epistemologist. Not everyone agrees with him, obviously, but he's pretty important. That book I mentioned is commentary and criticism- and some disagree with his argument. I rather suspect that Plantinga is a Christian apologist in the same way that Descartes was. Is he really an advocate of ID? Out of curiousity, is there a reference you can give? I know he was critical of the Dover ruling, but that was really a criticism of the necessity of methodological naturalism to science. Gabrielthursday 16:40, 21 September 2006 (UTC)
Yes, exactly. By the way his name is Plantinga not Platinga, sorry, my typo. Another problem is that the stuff on this page is a cut and paste job from the page about him. See also his page for much discussion. Personally I would describe the argument as a load of Dingo's kidneys. Yes, Gabriel, evolution leads to rationality. Behaving rationally is an advantage! Poujeaux 12:28, 21 September 2006 (UTC)
Poujeaux, it's awfully easy to "defeat" arguments if you just assume they're incorrect. Frankly, you're only giving credence right now to the "atheism requires blind faith" argument. Gabrielthursday 16:40, 21 September 2006 (UTC)


Hi, Starghost, Poujeaux, and Gabriel. I’ve been watching the discussions, and may participate more actively after the end of my wiki-break.

I did some google on Plantinga last week. His argument has critics, indeed, and some of them raise valid points against it (IMO). One of the scholarly responses for Plantinga seems to be that, just because evolutionary theory doesn’t (yet) have an operational explanation of how the ability of developing accurate cosmologies would have survival value for our ancestors, it doesn’t mean that such explanation cannot be developed. (BTW, I believe that more biologists will soon be working to fill this gap exactly because of Plantinga drawing attention to it; this self-correcting nature is one of the beauties of science.) Another contention that I overviewed is that, even if the development of the ability of theorizing about the universe should not be expected (given the mechanism of evolution), it is actually not enough to "epistemicaly defeat" naturalism (If I remember, he the critic was writing in the sense of naturalism as a method in science; which needs to be distinguished from the idea of materialistic worldviews. He noted, for example, that Plantinga’s argumentation reminds us that men of science should be humble in regard to their explanations of reality – there is always some possibility that human understanding of the world to be actually "crap" because our senses and/or logical devices are in some way deceiving us.

I, for one, think Charles Darwin was right in questioning if a monkey's mind is reliable for discovering truth. Still, I think that Plantinga’s argument does not amount to disprove the validity of methodological naturalism in science. It does a better job if the aim is only to put further doubt on materialism; which, by scientific standards, is an unproved assumption anyway. Apart from the subjective crapiness/greatness of the argument, Platinga seems to be indeed a relevant academic source of criticism. --Leinad ¬ Flag of Brazil.svg »saudações! 20:30, 21 September 2006 (UTC)

Note: One last thing before I try to go back to my wikibreak: In spite some improvements, the article still needs work in its general undue weight for the responses - let's try to fix it before focusing in even more replies (now for Plantinga). I think writing a more concise text on the responses of some sections would help a lot in this regard, and it seems possible to do so without removing much actual content, simply buy removing redundant statements). --Leinad ¬ Flag of Brazil.svg »saudações! 20:30, 21 September 2006 (UTC)
Thanks for the edits and comments Leinad. Just to correct a small misunderstanding re: Plantinga's argument, he is dealing with philosophical naturalism, not methodological naturalism. Best of luck with the wikibreak! Gabrielthursday 23:30, 21 September 2006 (UTC)
Thanks Gabriel. But, as you can see in the section bellow, I just interrupted my wikibreak once again. Let’s hope I can stay more time away until the next edit. :-) PS.: When I said "he", (see correction above), I was referring to "the critic", and not to Plantinga. It seems that my ambiguity there confused you. If Platinga's argument is meant to be used against materialism, and never against "methodological naturalism", it is possible that I misinterpreted the critic's meaning on that specific point and he (the critic) was talking about materialism, after all. --Leinad ¬ Flag of Brazil.svg »saudações! 00:10, 22 September 2006 (UTC)
Leinad, do you mind using those sources to write a small section on these other views differing from Plantinga in the matter of evolution in the proper section? I believe it would be a nice addition, that is, if that section gets to stay, or even if that section gets moved to another article. Starghost (talk | contribs) 15:16, 23 September 2006 (UTC)
Hi, Starghost. I’ve been thinking about doing so, and I might give it a shot after my wiki-break. On the other hand, there are many other articles I want to edit. If I had more time at my disposal, I would edit the article until I felt NPOV was reached – and the counterarguments for Plantinga would be added in the process. Right now, however, the fact that I still see this article as generally biased toward the “atheistic responses” makes me uncertain about how I should help to improve the text. --Leinad ¬ Flag of Brazil.svg »saudações! 22:00, 26 September 2006 (UTC)

Re: Atheism as a rejection of theism

I removed the paragraph relating to natural theology ("One criticism concerning atheist rejection of the supernatural is relevent [sic] to the idea some atheists hold that theism by its nature implies belief in the supernatural. Natural theology is a belief system that attempts to demonstrate the existence of a God without resorting to supernatural means."). It seemed to be based on a misunderstanding of natural theology, which uses natural evidence to demonstrate the existence of a supernatural deity as creator and sustainer - Paley's watchmaker analogy being the most famous example. In any case, I'm not sure how one might "demonstrate the existence of a God [by] resorting to supernatural means". -- Jmc 23:05, 20 January 2007 (UTC)

still POV

I just edited the morality section to improve the presentation of the quotations... and couldn’t help but noticing that, from the 3 quotations, 2 are in defense of atheism and the other one is reporting previous prejudice against atheists. See, the name of this article is not “Responses to criticism about atheism”. This configuration is in sharp contrast with all other criticism articles that I’m aware of. When I read, for example, Criticism of Christianity, I notice that the page focuses on the criticism instead of using most of the text to the many possible answers for them. --Leinad ¬ Flag of Brazil.svg »saudações! 21:41, 21 September 2006 (UTC)

Looking a little further, I see the same "morality" section completely misquotes Francis Bacon. For starters, Bacon was actually a Christian (while the text makes it seems as if he was an atheist). Moreover, the quotation provided in the article is different from the actual text on the webpage provided as source (!). The actual text cited is against superstition, but without implying in any way that religion and superstition are being considered one and the same... Tsc. tsc. I'm removing it for now. Maybe latter the correct version of the quotation can be reinserted as a good example of Christian that does not believe atheism leads to immorality. --Leinad ¬ Flag of Brazil.svg »saudações! 23:41, 21 September 2006 (UTC)
Notice the name of the page is Critique of atheism. Not criticism. Plus, like it's been discussed before, there's no extra need to have predominantly negative criticisms thorough the article, if that's what you were implying. Starghost (talk | contribs) 02:45, 23 September 2006 (UTC)
I think the greater issue is having this article being a collection of straw men "critiques" that have been "cleverly defeated" by atheists. I understand and appreciate an article that explores the entire topic, but at some point that becomes propaganda. To use an example, I made changes to the atheism and faith sections to acknowledge the logical fallacies found both in some flavors of atheism as well as theism. Before I made those changes, the text created (in my opinion) a feeling that any statement that atheism implies faith is foolish; a feeling that is a matter of opinion or even Point of View. Hence, I would venture that this article still requires a measure of review to ensure neutrality, both in a literal and contextual sense. Rminer25 15:31, 26 September 2006 (UTC)

Moved the Plantinga argument

I have relabelled this section from "coherency of atheism" to "coherency of atheism with evolution," as this is the only alleged incoherency presented. I have also moved it to the end of the article to reflect the rarity of this argument; I have only ever seen it presented here, and only by one prof at Notre Dame. The other arguments are much more common and should be placed accordingly. Also, if someone does add other incoherencies and rename the section, "coherency of atheism with evolution" should be made a subcategory to reflect its relative unimportance compared to other arguments (i.e., the ubiquitous arguments that atheists are just "mad at god" or that atheism is incapable of producing morality, both of which have been made for millenia and are still popular today). Lamont A Cranston 12:14, 23 September 2006 (UTC)

Having reviewed Plantinga's Wikipedia entry, it appears to me that his argument is not against atheism, but against non-theistic evolution. If my perception is correct (feel free to inform me otherwise), this argument does not belong in this article, but rather in an article on creation-evolution controversy. The fact that it may have some relevance to naturalism does not make it an argument against atheism. Lamont A Cranston 12:31, 23 September 2006 (UTC)
That's what I have been saying all along, so I agree with you. Gabrielthursday's argument was that most atheists are naturalists, therefore it should stay. It doesn't belong though since I don't see all the general arguments against general religion in the criticism of christianity article. Maybe that should be saved for criticism of naturalism or the creation evolution controversy, and then people over those articles can discuss this man's credibility. Starghost (talk | contribs) 15:06, 23 September 2006 (UTC)
This is a page intitled "critique of atheism"; arguments do not have to disprove every variety of a given thing to amount to criticisms or arguments against. If one had a good argument that the Trinity was absurd, just because non-Trinitarian forms of Christianity exist wouldn't mean it isn't a criticism of Christianity. Gabrielthursday 17:51, 26 September 2006 (UTC)
They dont have to respond to everything, but they must display balance. Saying naturalistic evolution is incompatible to atheism and leaving it as that, undisputed truth, certainly isn't a neutral point of view. Starghost (talk | contribs) 16:06, 27 September 2006 (UTC)


This is how the article summarizes Plantigna's argument:

Thus, asserting that naturalistic evolution is true is also asserting that one has a low probability of being right in any of his assertions. This, Plantinga argues, epistemically defeats the belief that naturalistic evolution is true and that ascribing truth to naturalism and evolution becomes self-referentially incoherent.

Please explain how this is a critue of atheism. It doesn't even mention atheism. It's about "naturalistic evolution," which is not an idea that is unique to atheism, nor an idea that all atheists accept. Lamont A Cranston 23:00, 26 September 2006 (UTC)
Au contraire, "Naturalistic evolution" is unique to atheism. An agnostic would be agnostic about its naturalistic component. Not all atheists are naturalists, but scratch an atheist, and I'll bet 9 times out of ten he believes in naturalistic evolution; moreover, naturalistic evolution is a pretty important support to contemporary atheism, or hadn't you noticed? Now that Anthony Flew is a deist, the principal proponents of atheism are Dawkins, Dennett and a notch down, folks like Singer and Pinker, all of whom to a greater or lesser extent point to evolution as a foundation for atheism. Gabrielthursday 02:48, 27 September 2006 (UTC)
Care to source your claim that naturalistic evolution is unique to atheism? Just because you say it is doesn't mean it is. It doesnt matter though, since I can source things saying your claim is wrong. A quick check to article Creation-evolution controversy reveal the following about beliefs on evolution in the US: "12% chose "Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process" while the Demographics_of_atheism article claims only 2% of the US population is atheist: "A 2005 poll by AP/Ipsos surveyed ten countries. Of the developed nations, people in the United States had most certainty about the existence of God or a higher power (2% atheist, 4% agnostic)". population is atheist. What do you make of that extra 10%? Keep in mind, this is the US, one of the most pro-creationism countries in the world. Also, I really disagree about your claim about agnostics being unable to ever take a naturalist stance. Saying they dont know if god exists is not mutually exclusive to saying evolution happens without his influence, as god and evolution are two different subjects, and while agnosticism says something about god, it doesnt say anything about evolution, so Im guessing it accepts both views. I have yet to see agnostics stuck with the brain in a vat syndrome, unable to believe in everything because they dont know if god is behind it, be it evolution or pizza. Also, these modern advocates of atheism who also happen to be biologists might have left you with the impression evolution is somehow fundamental to atheism, or at least it seems like it if your contact with it comes through the creation evolution controversy and the media, and I am guessing it does, but I must mention that atheism has been around for ages longer than evolution was ever mentioned. I wanted to add that in fact, I can see all sorts of religious people believing in naturalistic evolution. Just because you believe in a god doesn't mean he has a direct role in everything. But Im really going further than necessary, those statistics should be enough to settle the discussion. Since your argument was based on saying Naturalistic Evolution is exclusive to atheism, and I cited sources that are enough to conclude it isnt, even if that wasnt kind of absurd in the first place and I actually shouldnt need to come to that, but I did, and now I've reached a satisfying point in the debate where I can say a conclusion can be drawn, and I am hereby removing that section. Starghost (talk | contribs) 05:42, 27 September 2006 (UTC)
You're confusing methodological and metaphysical naturalism. Plantinga is speaking of the latter. You are speaking of the former. I will happily admit that "naturalistic evolution" isn't a very clear phrase, but I was quoting Cranston, who was quoting the article. Care to suggest a better alternative. I'm restoring the section. Gabrielthursday 15:05, 27 September 2006 (UTC)
Even if it becomes established that Plantinga is only talking about the so-called "unguided evolution" (I'll need to do some research on that latter, now I'm too busy), there are still good reasons why the argument is relevant here. Many theists and atheists agree with Richard Dawkins when he considers that naturalistic evolution is what transformed atheism in an intellectually satisfying position. As such, an argument against the coherence of believing in evolution without recourse to a Creator is perfectly valid in a Critique of Atheism article. If one wants to remove really irrelevant stuff, why not to remove the "argument from numbers"? --Leinad ¬ Flag of Brazil.svg »saudações! 15:45, 27 September 2006 (UTC)
Removed the "really" irrelevant stuff. What I have said in my last comment in this discussion is that the view that atheism is only intellectually satisfying through evolution is a ridiculous impression people get through the recent media exposure of the creation-evo controversy and school teaching. I'm guessing all those secularists, Comte, Nietzche, Bertrand Russel, Epicurus, Protagoras and such found atheism a pretty intelectually satisfying position despite evolution. And Gabriel, what kind of naturalism were you talking about? You said so much stuff I only got more confused, and also under the impression you meant Plantinga was speaking of metaphysical naturalism? Maybe I misread. (I meant which kind of naturalistic evolution is unique to atheism, metaphysical or methodological? Im guessing the latter, in which case your response is confusing because you said I was talking about that, when in fact I was talking about the metaphysical one?)Starghost (talk | contribs) 15:56, 27 September 2006 (UTC)
Just to jot down a few, perhaps necessary clarifications: Metaphysical naturalism is necessarily atheistic. Methodological naturalism is not. Plantinga talks about metaphysical naturalism, and whether it is coherent with evolution. "Naturalistic evolution" is a poor phrase since it collapses two distinct ideas (metaphysical naturalism and evolution) into what appears to be a single idea. Gabrielthursday 16:35, 27 September 2006 (UTC)
Starghost, regarding your question to Gabriel, the article on naturalism (philosophy) has info on the difference between metaphysical and methodological naturalism. While I don't know exactly which kind of naturalism Plantinga is criticizing, criticism for any of the alternatives would still be seen as critical towards those atheists who rely on evolution to support their opinion.
You contend that the view that atheism is only intellectually satisfying through evolution is ridiculous. I am perfectly fine with you having this POV. It doesn’t change the fact that others view evolution as an important support for the atheistic worldview, which makes Plantinga's criticism relevant for this article. --Leinad ¬ Flag of Brazil.svg »saudações! 17:09, 27 September 2006 (UTC)

If this criticism is going to be kept, it needs a great deal of work. I personally find it a bit sophistic, and I doubt I would do it justice. As it stands, however, I don't think casual readers of this article would readily understand how this argument is a criticism of atheism. The argument states that if one concludes that non-theistic evolution is how humans came about, then humans should doubt whether their reasoning is sound. I don't see how this deals with "metaphysical" naturalism as opposed to methodological naturalism. A deist could very well believe that a god got the ball rolling and then let evolution take its course. According to Plantinga, that deist should doubt whether his reasoning about god (or anything else) is sound. The deist's scenario is just as implicated by Plantigna's argument as the atheist's scenario. Finally, if this section is to be kept, it needs the obvious response - there is no reason to assume (as Plantinga seems to) that nature would not select in favor of truth-conducive reasoning. Lamont A Cranston 17:19, 27 September 2006 (UTC)

I agree, if the criticism is to be kept, at least the following things should be clarified in the article:
1:Naturalistic evolution as metaphysical naturalism
2:Establish connection between that and atheism
I would also very much like look into the obvious response Lamont mentioned, as well as the differing views Leinad mentioned earlier. Starghost (talk | contribs) 20:06, 27 September 2006 (UTC)
To my way of thinking, the response should go something like this: "(Metaphysical) naturalistic evolution posits that organisms evolve because they develop traits that make them more likely to survive and reproduce, thus increasing their chances of passing on traits that helped them survive. Plantinga's argument depends on the assumption that truth-conducive reasoning would not necessarily help a species survive and reproduce. Proponents of naturalistic evolution contend that truth-conducive reasoning would be a natural advantage, and that it is logical to assume that natural selection is more likely to produce beings that reason well than beings that reason poorly." Lamont A Cranston 20:27, 27 September 2006 (UTC)
I've made some minor changes (hopefully improvements) to the Plantinga argument. Much expansion still to do, but I think the logical steps Plantinga makes are at least clear now. Lamont, your suggested criticism rather misses the point- you need to deal with the relation between belief and behaviour before you can say that beliefs would be an advantage. Gabrielthursday 20:31, 27 September 2006 (UTC)
I'm not talking about beliefs, and I don't think that Plantinga is either. I'm talking about the capacity to reason in a way that leads to a correct understanding of the world. Lamont A Cranston 20:42, 27 September 2006 (UTC)
What are understandings of the world but certain kinds of beliefs? Gabrielthursday 21:17, 27 September 2006 (UTC)
Beliefs are influenced by the ability to reason. The ability to reason has real-world survival benefits. Ergo, evolution improves man's ability to reason, better reasoning leads to more accurate beliefs. Lamont A Cranston 21:24, 27 September 2006 (UTC)
How does the ability to reason have real-world survival benefits? Reasoning itself causes us to do precious little (perhaps stop walking). Reasoning leads to beliefs. Beliefs arguably lead to behaviour, which does have a direct effect on survival. Plantinga addresses the issue of whether beliefs lead to behaviour head on, noting that under the two leading theories of behaviour (pure epiphenomenalism and semantic epiphenomenalism) they don't. Gabrielthursday Sometime around 21:30, 27 September 2006 (UTC)
What about monism? Plus, those aren't THE leading theories of behavior, and they aren't above their fair share of disagreement either. The sophistic feeling of Platinga's argument another editor mentioned above comes from his assertions built more and more on uncertainties and the choice for a certain line of thought among others.Starghost (talk | contribs) 04:30, 28 September 2006 (UTC)
Also, to assert reasoning does little to survival sounds like original research. If we are entering that realm let's enter the world of non experts and let me start using my own arguments to attack him. "Small pox vaccines! Humans preventing huge asteroids from destroying the earth! Oh but the survival through vaccines and lasers comes through behavior!" Actually, scratch that. I have just been wondering how much of your own have you been using to defend this discussion. Plus the small contradiction that "reasoning arguably leads to behaviour" and "according to x and y, they dont" is bothering me. Starghost (talk | contribs) 04:40, 28 September 2006 (UTC)
Ivory tower hand-wringing aside, I have no problem stating as a fact that beliefs influence behavior. Islamic terrorists, teetotalling Baptists, and Nathan Hale agree with me. I suppose that's original research, though. I think this points to the weakness of the no OR policy in relation to logical arguments (as opposed to factual statements). Lamont A Cranston 13:16, 29 September 2006 (UTC)

I didn't want to hop into this discussion since Lamont will probably want to answer that himself, but I wanted to add a few other stuff to the discussion. How would you say Plantinga holds up with the comments made on this page?. Also, Plantinga is actually against the theory the evolution [6]. Yet he uses it to try to debunk naturalism. Kind of a troll, no? Anyway, I just found a great source to start responding to Plantinga. [7]. It's too bad once the response is put up, Platinga's argument which is so fiercely defended will seem like "just another strawman so the atheists can shoot it down and look clever". Oh well, I still say it is removed. I will give it a couple of rounds of discussion before I start editing that section. Starghost (talk | contribs) 22:36, 27 September 2006 (UTC)

Well, to be fair to talkorigins, I'm sure the claim they address in the first link has been made somewhere. But Plantinga makes a much more ambitious argument, which is not addressed. Regarding the second talkorigins page, if the summary is correct, Plantinga has made a not terribly sophisticated argument about irreducible complexity (which, in his defence, he appears to have done before irreducible complexity became prominent). I'm a little doubtful that talkorigins single-sentence summary does justice to his 24-page paper, but that is neither here nor there. One doesn't need to accept evolution to treat it accurately, which Plantinga does. I'd further point out that Plantinga isn't debunking naturalism, but rather the combination of naturalism and evolution. Gabrielthursday 00:07, 28 September 2006 (UTC)
Wait, I find I was giving too much credit to talkorigins- I missed the line where they actually attribute the argument to Plantinga. So, Talkorigins presents an enormously weakened straw man. Not an edifying spectacle. I'd encourage all to actually read Plantinga's argument, which is available in one of the references. Gabrielthursday 00:15, 28 September 2006 (UTC)
He's actually more worried about debunking evolution on all fronts. Anyway, talk origins wasn't the only website I posted. The last one goes into a lot more detail and is the one I said I would use to respond to Plantinga. Did you miss clicking that one? Starghost (talk | contribs) 01:05, 28 September 2006 (UTC)
Well, the evolutionary argument against naturalism isn't an argument against evolution. Evolution is a closely linked support for metaphysical naturalism, not vice versa. I read the other page, and wasn't impressed by the argument. Moreover, its criticism of Plantinga focuses on his view that methodological naturalism isn't warranted or necessary for science, which is wholly irrelevant to the issue at hand. Gabrielthursday 01:41, 28 September 2006 (UTC)
The evolutionary argument isnt an argument against evolution, but he's presented other arguments against evolution in several other occasions, that's what I meant, so basically that's in line with his whole profile of a religious activist. His fronts are basically something like this, evolution isn't true, and in the case it is, God has to be involved.
Anyways, evolution is a scientific theory, and within the scope of science, it disregards metaphysical interference. So it has everything to do with the subject. To say the scope of the discussion is limited is cherry-picking arguments out of a much greater context. I am starting to see a lot of your bias put into the article. Somehow you've established Plantinga has standing to pose valid criticism, but when response can be sourced to his assertions are presented they aren't valid?
Moreover, when there are two schools of thought, one saying atheism(use this interchangeably with any kind of nautralism if you will, for the sake of argument) is incompatible with evolution, and the other one says it is, presenting only one of them undisputed is far from a neutral standpoint. Starghost (talk | contribs) 04:25, 28 September 2006 (UTC)
By the way, earlier I cited something that said "
"12% chose "Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process" . How is this NOT metaphysical naturalism? Starghost (talk | contribs) 04:51, 28 September 2006 (UTC)
Taking the last first: a metaphysical naturalist believes nothing exists except nature. Ergo, no God. The 12% question doesn't exclude the existence of God.
"Religious activist"? He's a prominent academic theist who (very) occasionally moonlights as a public intellectual. "activist" is hardly the mot juste. It is, however, better than "troll". And I'm the one with bias?
What of monism? I'm afraid I missed your point.
Plantinga doesn't "assert" that reason under naturalism & evolution is unreliable- he argues for it. And of course it's "original research", or at least original thinking. The man's an academic. That's what they're supposed to do.
Not only is methodological naturalism irrelevant, I can't even see why you think it's relevant.
As for the theories of behaviour, Plantinga argues they are the most popular theories in his paper (among academics). Of course, the third view, that (the semantic content of) beliefs have causal efficacy with respect to behaviour does have common sense on its side.
Finally, there's no contradiction between my statement that beliefs arguably affect behaviour and my agreement that the two forms of epiphenomenalism stand for the proposition that (the semantic content of) beliefs don't affect behaviour. I'm suggesting the possible causal path that naturalists/evolutionists need to tread while pointing out theories that say it doesn't exist. 154.20.13.204 (Gabrielthursday) 07:38, 28 September 2006 (UTC)
As far as evolution goes, those 12% are pretty inline with metaphysical naturalism. Our discussion doesn't include the existance of god either, so that's a straw man. Those 12% aren't necessarily naturalists, just when it comes to evolution, and that's what matters. Metaphysical Naturalist evolution is not exclusive to atheism.
You always seem to miss my point. I over argue and you say "you're confused, straw-man, straw-man, not impressed, missed your point". Monism is a leading theory of the mind-body problem that as I see contradicts the theories Platinga says are popular. So you do admit that they are leading just because Plantinga says it is, and Plantinga does so because he has an agenda from the start. Nevertheless, there are other views, and that was my point from the beginning, establishing that the article is clearly one sided in this respect. You also seem to not realise the concept of WP:OR, I didnt mean Platinga made original research, that would make no sense, I meant you made original research when you interpreted some of the things said to use as counterarguments. Lastly, you didn't seem to present any objections about the discussion I presented below about the wording they use on the metaphysical naturalism article? Starghost (talk | contribs) 16:44, 28 September 2006 (UTC)
"Our discussion doesn't include the existance of god either, so that's a straw man." Nonsense. All Metaphysical naturalists are atheists by definition. There are presumably three categories of believers in evolution: those who also believe nature is all there is (metaphysical naturalists); those who believe in supernature but not God; and those who believe in supernature and God. The poll question didn't distinguish betweent the three categories of people. "Metaphysical Naturalist evolution is not exclusive to atheism." "Metaphysical Naturalist evolution" denotes, as I've pointed out before, two separate beliefs: metaphysical naturalism and evolution. Evolution is not exclusive to atheism. Metaphysical naturalism, by definition is. "Those 12% aren't necessarily naturalists, just when it comes to evolution, and that's what matters." No, they aren't metaphysical naturalists at all. Metaphysical naturalism describes an entire view of the universe.
I missed your point about "monism" because the monism per se doesn't deal with the mind-body problem. Perhaps you meant anomalous monism? At any rate, anomolous monism is entirely consistent with either semantic epiphenomenalism or the view that the semantic contents of beliefs are causally efficacious with regard to behaviour. (later note: I see that one of the primary criticism of anomolous monism is that it in fact results in epiphenominalism. I guess my statement would be disputed.) You'll note Plantinga allows that the latter opinion exists (causal efficacy of beliefs), but points out that it isn't terribly popular in the academy, and actually cites sources to this effect. Of course, if you haven't read his paper, you wouldn't know that.
You seem to be the one with the misunderstanding about WP:OR. WP:OR dictates what can go into an article, it doesn't regulate how we discuss the way an article ought to be constructed.
I didn't present any arguments to the discussion below because I had to sleep. Taking a look at it now, they are apparently sourced from a guy with some advanced degrees... in ancient history. They are published on a partisan webpage. WP:RS, anyone? And yes, it suffers from the same problem that Lamont's argument does- it assumes the conclusion. Gabrielthursday 21:29, 28 September 2006 (UTC)
Misunderstandings keep happening because you keep baiting me by making your points without backing them by actual arguments. I dont know if you like doing that to make me look ignorant, but I dont want to research every single one of your arguments, specially since you usually come back after I ask and are able to clarify in a couple of lines, so it shouldnt be too much work since you seem to be knowledgeable on the subject, and I would appreciate the courtesy. Nevertheless, here we go again: Pray tell, just how does it assume the conclusion?
Plantinga doesn't explicitly say metaphysical naturalism at any point in his paper. Does he use another term for it or is it just "Naturalistic evolution"? If so, what would be his definition, and is it still incompatible with the 12%?
How come there is no mention of atheism in the metaphysical naturalism article?
Are you going to dispute the Plantinga argument as it is in that article as well?
Have you considered Plantinga might have picked the sources that support his claim, instead of those that oppose it? I'm guessing that's the point when you want to give validity to your statements. I can see how he would establish them as popular. Doesn't mean he has the last word on that subject, specially since this particular research doesn't seem to make it's focus to explore all the areas of the mind-body problem.
So what if the guy doing the criticism is a historian? I've never seen anyone dispute infidels.org before, you might want to do that in the WP:RS discussion. This is particularly hilarious, since infidels is partisan, but the "Academy of Christian Apologetics" [8], which is used as a reference for Plantinga's claims, is perfectly fine, and not partisan at all?
Which brings me to another point. If I simply claimed the arguments on that website as my own, despite being original research, suddenly you would have to accept them, because that's allowed in the discussion? Original research obviously shouldn't be much use in a discussion if only for ludical purposes. I could say Starghostism proves everything he said wrong, so it should be removed. You would say: source it. See how it works? Discussion pages aren't free-pass to bullshitting. I'm not saying that's what's happening here, but some arguments have been pretty loose on interpretation and abridging themselves to other theories that aren't immediately connected, when in fact some of those connections can be disputed. Also, nowhere in the policy you cited yourself it is said that OR doesn't apply to discussions. As far as I know, there is no distinction.
And the 'main concerns still remain, does this belong in its entirety to this article? (consider the arguments for the existance of god as a good example of what I'm getting at). And the other one: Is it going to be presented undisputed, despite the criticisms present in every single element he uses to make his point (you can refer to the very epiphenomenalism article for that if you like, which is funny, because it seems epiphenomenalism does something very similar to assuming the conlcusion)? If you're going to sleep and not have enough time to answer everything, and need to choose what to answer, I would ask you to answer this one first. Starghost (talk | contribs) 03:05, 29 September 2006 (UTC)
Well, I do apologize for being unclear. Rest assured I haven't been trying to bait you.
On the issue of WP:RS, I'm not saying hisdefense.org or whatever it is isn't partisan. I think a few distinctions can be drawn however. First, the authors have different stature. Plantinga is an eminent figure in the field- indeed he invented the field. Carrier has no academic credentials in the fields of biology or philosophy whatsoever. Secondly, it seems as if hisdefence.org is serving as an archive, while the atheist website is the initial publisher- the Plantinga paper had been delivered as a lecture at Biola University. It's a combination of site, author and whether it's a reprint or an initial publication that points to the cites for that argument violating WP:RS. I wouldn't have a problem with citing a paper of Richard Dawkins or Anthony Flew if infidels.org reprinted it. One further point on the question- the infidels cite was to get in the entire argument. The hisdefence.org cite was to clarify Plantinga's meaning. The main argument was already in from a neutral source.
As for the proper place of the section, it's probably equally relevant to both the metaphysical naturalism article and this one. The main entry probably should be in this article since the article is geared towards criticism. The arguments for the existence of God section probably should have a summary of the various issues, rather than just a wikilink, but we'll just have to put that on the to-do list.
The academic critiques of Plantinga's argument should indeed be mentioned- but the section needs to be expanded before they'd make sense.
The definition of OR in WP:OR starts: "Original research is a term used in Wikipedia to refer to material placed in articles...". With regard to your concern that "Starghostism" or "Thursdayism" could be used to object to anything under the sun in discussions, I'd point out that a statement in the discussion that isn't persuasive or logical won't further anyone's cause.
Plantinga doesn't use the term "metaphysical naturalism" in the paper, he uses the synonym "philosophical naturalism" and then calls it simply "naturalism".
I don't know why the article on "metaphysical naturalism" doesn't mention atheism- it probably should in the introduction. Still, I don't think it's controversial to state that since naturalism claims nature is all that exists, it excludes the existence of God.
You raised a lot of points, and I know I haven't answered all of them, but I do have to get some sleep, and I may not get back to this until after the weekend. Best, Gabrielthursday 05:51, 29 September 2006 (UTC)
Just to shortly describe the problem with Carrier's argument: he argues that since evolution has resulted in advantageous beliefs, Plantinga can't be right that metaphysical naturalism and evolution are unlikely to produce reliable cognitive faculties. The difficulty is that his observation doesn't necessarily occur under the conditions of naturalism & evolution- it might occur under the conditions of theism and evolution. Evolution we'll grant, but Carrier is only assuming it occurs under the additional condition of metaphysical naturalism. Gabrielthursday 04:35, 4 October 2006 (UTC)
I guess the argument boils down to the fact that Plantinga makes an argument from improbability when formulating his epistemic defeater. The leap from "being improbable of being right" to "being completely incompatible" is quite shocking. I think Carrier's view would actually qualify as an hypothesis that considers the fact that, although improbable, it happened, and therefore Plantinga's fallacy of an argument from improbability becomes evident. If observational evidence supports reliable reasoning faculties, you can make two hypothesis, one, it happened by itself, two, it was guided by a god. Assuming god violates the principle of scientific parsimony, so as far as philosophy of science goes, his argument seems pretty correct to me still. So I guess what I am saying is, it's not petitio principii, it's a valid hypothesis. Starghost (talk | contribs) 05:05, 4 October 2006 (UTC) By the way, official policy has no problem with citing his answer based on the reliability of the source, and I quote: "The websites and publications of political parties and religious groups should be treated with caution, although neither political affiliation nor religious belief are in themselves reasons not to use a source.". Now on to keep discussing the validity of his claim.
And in an unrelated matter, how come his criticism doesn't show up in such detail or in the same way the metaphysical naturalism article, which, the way I see it, is a better fit for it? The basis for putting this here is that it has to do with atheism because the "majority" (which was an unsourced claim) of atheists are metaphysical naturalists (weak atheists, which I on the other hand consider the majority, are unlikely to assert that, as that would probably qualify strong atheism). And yet on the article of metaphysical naturalism this isn't present. There are plenty of arguments for and against there. I don't see why we don't follow the Existance of God example and just mention there are arguments for the incompatibility of atheism when combined with metaphysical naturalism and evolution and then link to the metaphysical naturalism article. Starghost (talk | contribs) 04:57, 28 September 2006 (UTC)
Just so we have a copy on the wording in that article, if it ever becomes useful to this one:

"Finally, the most recent argument to be proposed is that of Alvin Plantinga, who claims that naturalism assumes evolution by natural selection, but evolution by natural selection may be more likely to generate unreliable faculties than reliable ones, yet unreliable faculties will lead us to false beliefs more frequently than not, and therefore if naturalism is true we have no reason to trust our belief that naturalism is true. Naturalists respond that none of the premises in this argument have any basis in fact. First, they reason, evolution by natural selection clearly tends to improve cognitive faculties over time, not the other way around. There is no scientific evidence that warrants believing it will generate hopelessly unreliable faculties. Second, unreliable faculties do not entail unreliable beliefs, because learned behavior can correct for and thus eliminate errors produced by such faculties, and it is clear humans have in fact discovered and developed exactly such behavioral tools, which, like any other technology, greatly enhance our ability to discover the facts of the world we inhabit. For more discussion of these and other problems, see Rea on Plantinga, as well as Argument from the Reliability of Our Rational Faculties and We Should Attack Rocks?."

So are you going to go over to that article and dispute that answer too or should we just incorporate these changes? This is the bad thing about having redundant articles, if they ever improve the wording on either one, one of them might be left lacking behind, one more reason to just link to that article. Starghost (talk | contribs) 05:15, 28 September 2006 (UTC)
I'm here just to say that I have important stuff going on my life right now and won't participate in this discussion for the next 2 weeks. In fact, since my attempt at a wikibreak was not working, I’ll avoid even visit Wikipedia at all costs. This is a pity, because I would have many things to say here. . . One thing before I go: Plantinga is an academic doing philosophy. Criticism for his view should be presented as scholarly philosophical criticism, with sources. The criticism on the metaphysical naturalism page is inadequate: basically, it seems to be the personal opinion of the editor who wrote the text. Wikipedia is supposed to be an encyclopedia, a reference work. Many WP pages don’t yet follow wikipedia own guidelines (including most of the text in this one). But that’s no reason to allow such lazy approach in future edits, especially in the only section of this page that is properly sourced. Please, everyone, carefully read WP:NOR and WP:VERIFY; it is also important to know what constitutes a reliable source according to WP. Good bye. See you all in about two weeks. --Leinad ¬ Flag of Brazil.svg »saudações! 16:17, 28 September 2006 (UTC)
Don't worry, that response text actually has 3 sources, I was just too lazy to copy the code for the discussion. Starghost (talk | contribs) 16:32, 28 September 2006 (UTC)

Vote on linking to Plantinga

  • Move Similar to "arguments for the existence of god," put a link to either Alvin Plantinga or Metaphysical naturalism#Evolutionary argument against naturalism. Plantinga's argument is only tangentially about atheism. The words "atheism" and "atheist" only appear twice in his paper, in a quote from Dawkins, in a footnote, where Plantinga conflates atheism and metaphysical naturalism. Currently, a third of this discussion page deals with one argument by one philosopher. This is totally out of proportion to the popularity of the criticism and its attenuation to atheism. Lamont A Cranston 12:34, 29 September 2006 (UTC)
  • Move. Wouldn't want to use double standards for the existance of god argument and this one. I think it would also be interesting to mention that criticism to metaphysical naturalism as a whole is related to the criticism of atheism. Starghost (talk | contribs) 02:24, 30 September 2006 (UTC)
  • Move. (a) Argument is not a criticism of atheism. (b) Material duplicates material on plantinga page. (c) Argument is rubbish and does not merit the amount of discussion it's getting. Poujeaux 13:22, 2 October 2006 (UTC). One final point - his paper has not even been published by any peer reviewed philosophical journal.
    • I agree with everything you said Poujeaux. The problem is, being that the case, it would have been better to just scrap the section alltoghether. How do you suppose we link to it though? Keep the header and say something like "Alvin Plantinga, a contemporary philosopher [...] has suggested naturalism is incompatible with evolution (link to main article)?" That would still present it uncontested and would still look like a non sequitur if it is not a criticism to atheism. I'm just thinking of a draft here. Starghost (talk | contribs) 22:22, 2 October 2006 (UTC)
  • Keep or spin it off into a separate article. If the EAAN (Evolutionary argument against naturalism) isn't an argument against atheism, then it isn't an argument against metaphysical naturalism either. It is an argument against the conjunction of evolution and naturalism- a conjunction which is common among both naturalists and atheists as a whole. However, metaphysical naturalism deals with more purely philosophical issues- whereas the thrust of this article allows for greater breadth. Since the EAAN isn't a direct disproof of the theory of metaphysical naturalism, it would be somewhat out of place there. However, this article already includes criticisms of atheism that aren't direct disproofs (atheism could result in horrible people, or could be an article of faith and could still be true), and so the section fits well in this article.
  • Poujeaux & Starghost, if you can't recognize an intellectually respected argument, please desist from commenting on this issue. Contrary to your aspersions, the EAAN was originally published in Warrant & Proper Function, published by Oxford University Press. If OUP doesn't peer review, who does? Moreover, it has been the subject of substantial academic debate, even meriting its own book, published by Cornell.
  • Finally, to address Lamont's concern that the EAAN barely addresses atheism, I quote the second sentence of the linked paper: "Take philosophical naturalism to be the belief that there aren't any supernatural beings- no such person as God, for example, but also no other supernatural entities." It's pretty clear Plantinga's speaking of a theory of atheism. As for the length of discussion on this topic- that's entirely due to the advocacy of Starghost & Lamont- I've been purely reactive. Gabrielthursday 03:27, 4 October 2006 (UTC)
    • So your vote was one of indifference? Because spin it off into a separate article is pretty much my conception of move. I guess that would make it a unanimous call then? Oh, and by the way, really mature of you for blaming everything on us saying "I've been purely reactive". How constructive. I could claim the same thing.Starghost (talk | contribs) 04:26, 4 October 2006 (UTC)
    • Not a vote of indifference. I think that the EAAN might be of sufficient significance to merit its own article. Lamont's original suggestions were to link to either of the other instances of the argument at WP, both of which would have been inappropriate. I'm not blaming anyone for the lengthy discussion- even if I've become exasperated at times (for which I apologize)- there's nothing wrong with discussing the format of an article, even at length. Gabrielthursday 04:48, 4 October 2006 (UTC)
      • I agree. Anyway, feel free to create the article. With the vote having reached a half-assed consensus, I've done the half-assed temporary solution as of now, a placeholder for linking to the main thing. I guess a more focused discussion will benefit that argument. Starghost (talk | contribs) 05:11, 4 October 2006 (UTC)

Discussion of moving Plantinga argument

Please limit your comments in the above section to the reasons for your vote, and questions/comments relating to specific objections. For more discussion of whether there is consensus and how to procede, please use this section. Also, please recall that Leinad is on a break, and may wish to add to this discussion next week. Lamont A Cranston 11:54, 4 October 2006 (UTC)

Since GabrielThursday's comment in the vote, I have concluded that creating a new article with the title EAAN is the best way to procede. This article, Alvin Plantinga, and Metaphysical naturalism can link to it. That way, each of those articles will point to a (hopefully) high quality description of the argument where it can be developed in a place more appropriate than this article. My comment regarding the length of this talk page was not an attack, but a reason why the section should be moved (i.e., it was receiving a totally disproportionate amount of editors' attention considering the fact that several editors did not even think it should be in this article). By the way, we should archive this talk page soon because it is getting too long, but I think a reference to the Plantinga discussion should be made in the new section so that other editors can see why we made whatever decision we will make. Lamont A Cranston 12:03, 4 October 2006 (UTC)
OK, brief mention and link as in current edit is acceptable compromise I suppose. By the way Gabriel the paper 'naturalism defeated' is described as unpublished in his CV on his own website! Please everyone keep posts short. Poujeaux 12:32, 5 October 2006 (UTC)

Irrelevance of 'Evolutionary argument against naturalism' section

Time for a fresh look at this section, I think.

Now that the topic has an article of its own, there's no justification for retaining a section on this topic here. Any relevance it has to an article on the criticism of atheism is very hard to discern.

On that basis, I've removed it.

-- Jmc 08:13, 28 March 2007 (UTC)

"Responses" section

I have tagged the "Responses" section as being POV. Of course a section of this nature will provide more weight to one side of an argument than another, but it is riddled with POV language and needs a good clean up. It also contains some dubious assertions like "most objections of atheism have dealt strictly with moral relativity"...they have? Says who?

I would do it myself, but I'm involved with a dispute with the author of the section on another page (the C. S. Lewis article), and I don't want him to feel like I'm Wiki-stalking him. Martin 00:41, 8 October 2006 (UTC)

What the hell, this section just lept out of nowhere. I'm inclined to wait until the wording on the other articles have been resolved and transfer them here once it has. That is, I haven't read it, so I don't even know if it fits the article. Perhaps the other editors who were previously complaining about POV before we solved THOSE disputes are going to have something to say, so I will take their word for it if they say this section has or hasn't a place here.Starghost (talk | contribs) 01:34, 8 October 2006 (UTC)
Apparently the user who introduced it has been introducting very similar sections at Criticism of Christianity and C.S. Lewis. Unsurprisingly then, the section doesn't fit with the rest of the article very well. Elements of it are positive arguments for Atheism, which belong, and are, in the Atheism article (of which this is a subpage). Moreover, the idea of a separate "Response" section is contrary to the structure of the article as a whole (issue-response, issue-response) and perhaps therefore structurally POV. My inclination is to simply remove the section, but I'd like to hear comments from the other editors before taking that step. Gabrielthursday 03:21, 8 October 2006 (UTC)
Remove it. Some of the material is interesting, but it is basically proselytizing for atheism. It doesn't fit with the article and it's POV. Lamont A Cranston 11:36, 8 October 2006 (UTC)

"better" summary

Gabriel, your new summary of the EAAN presents it uncontested again. That was the whole point. I think I'd prefer the other summary, even if it's not so descriptive, than what it actually is now. Starghost (talk | contribs) 20:18, 9 October 2006 (UTC)

It doesn't actually advance the argument- it says what it is, which is entirely appropriate, I think. Since the argument isn't presented, it isn't presented uncontested. Gabrielthursday 21:07, 9 October 2006 (UTC)
I made some changes to clarify that the argument is debated by other philosophers and suggesting the reader to read the main article for critique of the same. I think it is enough to leave the section balanced. Agreed? --Leinad ¬ Flag of Brazil.svg »saudações! 22:44, 9 October 2006 (UTC)
I think the way you put it it seems that other philosophers are actually backing him up. Maybe it should be established that the argument is controversial and some philosophers actually reject it. And Gabriel, saying what the argument is to me is very close to presenting the argument itself. It's weaseling out of a response. Starghost (talk | contribs) 00:45, 10 October 2006 (UTC)
To be perfectly blunt, here's the impression I get from that section "Check it out, our bro' Plantinga here says y'all atheists are irrational, thanks." Add "And don't nobody be saying anything" if you like for extra credibility. Sure you wont present the argument, but it's still pretty unbalanced and one-sided if you ask me.Starghost (talk | contribs) 00:59, 10 October 2006 (UTC)
I didn't understand your post above very well (the "blunt" one)... Anyway, I changed the text again, see if the new version seems better for you. --Leinad ¬ Flag of Brazil.svg »saudações! 02:09, 10 October 2006 (UTC)
Starghost, I don't think language like "Plantinga argues" or "If so" yields the implication that his argument is undisputed. Gabrielthursday 03:45, 10 October 2006 (UTC)
Leinad, good edit. Gabriel, I am sorry, but that was way too sneaky and subjective for a short summary. It is fine now though. Starghost (talk | contribs) 04:41, 10 October 2006 (UTC)
I'm sorry Starghost, but there was nothing wrong with the summary in the first place. I'm pleased Leinad has been able to craft it so that you're happy with it, but there was no substance to your complaint in the first instance. The purpose of a summary is to provide an idea of what the gist of the subject is- explaining that it's been criticized is unnecessary since no one would infer from the summary that it was undisputed. Since the merit of the argument wasn't touched on in the summary, mentioning the presence of criticism wasn't necessary. Gabrielthursday 05:41, 10 October 2006 (UTC)
I'm sorry, but there WAS something wrong with it. There's no substance in your response that the point of a summary is to do x but not y and that you're not supposed to touch the merit of the argument, just so you can say "This guy argues that atheists are irrational for x reason" and you're left with the impression that they are irrational, since that is a one-sided view. The argument isn't presented, but his view that atheists are irrational is, and THAT is left undisputed. You don't need the response to the actual argument, just to that particular view that was unbalanced. There is something wrong with saying atheists are irrational in the article and leaving it at that. You can phrase there was nothing wrong with it as fact, when it is in fact your opinion that there was nothing wrong. That's actually pretty consistent with your writing style in articles though. But apparently your comment was purely festive since we are no longer planning changes to the article, and you just wanted to chime in to say "I'm right and you were wrong". It's ok, I'm just satisfied to say we disagree on the previous content of that section, and that the issues are now fixed. If you want, you can keep up your one sided "I'm right" argument, it doesn't matter anymore.Starghost (talk | contribs) 18:53, 10 October 2006 (UTC)
I think I'm entitled to respond when I'm accused of being sneaky, subjective & weaselly. Look, you claim that one is "left with the impression that they (atheists) are irrational". Frankly, I find that a bizarre implication or impression to draw from the summary as originally written. Firstly, the summary clearly indicated that the beliefs of evolution & naturalism are held to be irrational under the EAAN, not atheists themselves, except their belief in E&N. Moreover, the summary didn't present Plantinga's conclusion as a fact, but clearly as an argument. It stated what the argument relied upon and described the conclusion made using the language "if so"- indicative not of certainty, but that it is debateable. No implication about the merit of the argument was made. Also, it was a summary of three sentences, and pointed to the full article - to see an implication in those circumstances that an argument on such a controversial topic is unassailable or uncriticized is completely unwarranted. Starghost, you say that "the argument isn't presented, but his (P's) view that atheists are irrational is, and THAT is left undisputed." Well, that is Plantinga's view (subject to the clarification I made above). Nobody alleges that Plantinga doesn't make the argument. Again, you claim with respect to the summary that: "There is something wrong with saying atheists are irrational in the article..." The summary didn't say that- it says that there is an argument that atheists who believe E&N are irrational to that extent. Finally, however invalid you may deem my arguments, to imply that they were mere assertions- "I'm right arguments", or substanceless is unfair. By all means rebut the arguments presented, but grant at least that they are arguments. Gabrielthursday 18:20, 12 October 2006 (UTC)
They are arguments, but they are pointless. Is there any constructive reason why you would dwell on this? The issue has been solved, so why do you insist on arguing? I don't see how it could be anything than saying "I'm right about this". Plus, this discussion is wholly based on what levels of subjectivity we find acceptable, you are obviously more comfortable with a deeper level than I am, since you were comfortable with phrasing that would require meticulous reading not to leave the possibility for improper assumptions. Something that can be used for learning purposes shouldn't require this kind of analysis. It seems fairly obvious to me how not mentioning explicitly that there is controversy (as opposed to implicit "IF"), showing Plantinga's view that atheists are irrational without showing a view that atheists are rational, or mentioning an argument that says atheists are irrational without showing an argument that says atheists are rational, it is fairly obvious to me how editorial choices can form certain impressions, emphasize certain things and even form different opinions than if other choices are made.Starghost (talk | contribs) 18:52, 13 October 2006 (UTC)
I was defending myself against the accusation of being "sneaky". Since the best way to do that was to argue that the original summary was NPOV, I did so. Gabrielthursday 20:24, 13 October 2006 (UTC)

small issue with "existence of God" argument wording

"If proven, these arguments would necessarily disprove atheism."

I think assuming the possibility that they can be proven isn't neutral in regards to the agnostic's view that it can't be proven or disproven. Mind you, this includes some agnostic theists' views. I'm not sure that sentence applies for all arguments either. Take the first cause for example, that would prove he existed at some point, but wouldn't prove it exists at present (I think?). I don't know, but I was thinking of something like "If it is possible for these arguments to be proven, and if they are indeed proven, that would necessarily disprove atheism." Although that seems like overkill, even more than it already is. For editors so used to subjectivity, when considering an argument for the existance of god and opening the phrase with "the most direct arguments against atheism", it seems already pretty implicit. Starghost (talk | contribs) 04:57, 10 October 2006 (UTC)

"If" doesn't imply a thing is a possibility. When I say, "If mermaids existed, we would have to reevaluate our entire understanding of aquatic civilization" I don't imply that mermaids might exist. Gabrielthursday 05:41, 10 October 2006 (UTC)
But what about "If mermaids are proven". Now you aren't implying the existance of mermaids, but you might be implying the possibility of proving or disproven them. I also think there is a slight distinction to be made when using the present tense. "If they existed" and "If they exist" have slightly different connotations. I really think it's quite obvious to tell the difference between "if mermaids are proven" and "if mermaids can be proven, and if they are proven"Starghost (talk | contribs) 18:46, 10 October 2006 (UTC)
I don't think that mentioning "some believe the existence of god can not be proven or disproved" is really necessary for making the text NPOV. But I might support the inclusion of some kind of summary of POVs in the section on the basis that it would stylistically improve the article, (by avoiding one-line paragraphs). --Leinad ¬ Flag of Brazil.svg »saudações! 19:40, 10 October 2006 (UTC)
Summary:
1: Assumes the possibility of proof.
2: Assumes proven arguments for god necessarily disprove atheism. See the example I mentioned previously. Starghost (talk | contribs) 20:11, 10 October 2006 (UTC)
I repeat my earlier statement, that "if" doesn't imply a possibility. Moreover, there seems to be a confusion about the range of options available- you seem to be implying that there are three: that there is no proof, that there is a proof, and that there is the possibility of a proof. In fact, logically, if a proof is possible, then it is necessarily so. If it is possible for me to prove a thing, then a proof exists. So, if "if" implies a possibility, then in relation to a proof it implies its existence. But this is clearly wrong. Gabrielthursday 17:35, 12 October 2006 (UTC)
Let me rephrase my argument so it is clearer. Say there is a group of people that think proving mermaids is impossible. Some guy comes to them and say "If we can prove mermaids..." (this view, as you say, doesn't imply the possibility of proof, but it suggests both scenarios, a scenario without proof, or an implicit "if not", and a scenario with proof "if so") , this group of people will think this guy is insane for implicitly considering (not implying) the "if so" part. If "we can" implies doubt (when some people are certain), that's what I said about the difference of use of present and past tenses. "If we could", or "if we were able" lean more to implying an hypothesis (which is acceptable regardless of POV), which would be a preferrable wording compromise as I see it. Starghost (talk | contribs) 19:10, 13 October 2006 (UTC)
If it implies doubt (and I would say it only implies a temporary or procedural agnosticism) doesn't it imply doubt equally? Those who see it as there being no proof would find the consideration of the "if so" odd, but equally those who believe in a proof would find the consideration of the "if not" odd. As for tenses, I think I see your point with respect to "if they exist" or "if they existed"- the latter is broader (mermaids used to exist). But I don't see how "if proven" can be improved. "If we could prove" or "if we were able to prove" both imply that the proof has not already been demonstrated. "If proven", on the other hand, is both prospective and retrospective. Additionally, its not the case that a proof could theoretically exist in the past but not now, or in the future but not now - in contradistinction to mermaids. Gabrielthursday 20:04, 13 October 2006 (UTC)
Yeah, when you put it like that, that part sounds fine the way it is. Thanks for clearing it up.Starghost (talk | contribs) 17:03, 14 October 2006 (UTC)
How about the following: "The most direct arguments against atheism are those in favor of the existence of a god or gods. If proven, these arguments would necessarily disprove atheism. However, some agnostics contend that while there may in fact be a god, its existence or non-existence is inherently unprovable." I think it presents the basic sides of the argument pretty well, although I prefer the way the intro reads as it is. If it is necessary to set out the views of strong agnostics here, then should we not also differentiate the beliefs of weak agnostics, ignostics, strong atheists, weak atheists, et cetera? I think the intro as it stands does what it is supposed to do - direct the reader to a comprehensive article while noting that proofs for the existence of a god are antagonistic to atheism. The fact that some people believe that the existence of a god is unprovable is tangential in my opinion. Lamont A Cranston 19:09, 12 October 2006 (UTC)
The fact that some people believe arguments for god would necessarily disprove atheism is tangential, in my opinion, and it might be even wrong (nobody adressed my first cause example yet). To me ending the paragraph in the word "gods" would have been enough. Starghost (talk | contribs) 19:10, 13 October 2006 (UTC)
As I read it, your first cause point is that it's possible that God existed at one point, but doesn't now. The difficulty with this view is that while, as far as I know, polytheistic belief systems might incorporate an idea of a god who could cease to be, or could come into being, the focus of almost all arguments for the existence of God is a conception of God which places him outside of the universe (especially the first cause argument), and therefore outside of time. Since there is no time, and existence and non-existence are contradictory, such a God, if He exists, must exist eternally. Gabrielthursday 20:04, 13 October 2006 (UTC)
I don't know if that focus sounds a little biased in favor of the eternal creator view. I guess we can't prove Ra or Zeus don't exist, so they might have arguments in favor of them. Even so, theoretically, I thought an omnipotent god could cease to be if he willed it? Starghost (talk | contribs) 17:03, 14 October 2006 (UTC)

Starghost, maybe you misunderstood what I meant to say by "summary of POVs"... I was mentioning my support for the inclusion of general considerations (possibly including the POV of the agnostics) in addition of the one-line paragraph that currently exist. (Although I don’t think it is really necessary for NPOV reasons). --Leinad ¬ Flag of Brazil.svg »saudações! 21:26, 10 October 2006 (UTC)

Possible bogus quotes.

Some of the citations may be urban legends. The Joseph Story cite is to an AOL homepage. That quote is listed as a known distortion here. A specific cite to Story's works or an opinion he wrote as a judge is needed. --John Nagle 02:20, 11 October 2006 (UTC)

Possible bogus section, we might say. The whole text on morality seems to be a mess. It would not be the first time something written there turn out to be simply not true (see the section "still POV", above). The criticism of religious morality described there is not only unsourced but also, IMO, ignores essential aspects of mainstream religious practice, (such as appeals for sainthood, for example). Given the unreliability that this section is showing, how are we supposed to assume that most information written there is anything more than a random editor's OR-based opinion? I contend that the section needs some serious cleanup, ASAP. --Leinad ¬ Flag of Brazil.svg »saudações! 03:41, 11 October 2006 (UTC)
I removed the Story quote, which was from a christian apologetics website. If the quotation can be verified, it can be added back. I also removed the worst of the weasel worded claims about religion offering nothing but "thou-shalt-nots." Every major religion has plenty of affirmative statements about morality - the fact that some adherents only pay attention to the prohibitions is a reflection of the laziness and self-centerdness of people in general, not the religions themselves. Until someone can cite a philosopher, theologian, study, et cetera making these claims, they should stay out.Lamont A Cranston 11:36, 11 October 2006 (UTC)
Good edits Lamont. I further modified the section, reorganizing the content and adapting some text that is presented at atheism. I also know some studies regarding religiosity and moral/prosocial behavior that I may mention latter. If someone wants to remove the "complete rewrite tag", I’m not against it. But it may be good to leave the section under a reconstruction status a little more, so others can be motivated to contribute. (PS.: just to be clear, the section still needs improvement, but it is much better now and may not require the tag anymore.) --Leinad ¬ Flag of Brazil.svg »saudações! 12:22, 11 October 2006 (UTC)

A side-note: Looking back at the archived article from September 16 [9], I need to say I think Gabriel was justified in inserting that NPOV tag. That’s something I already thought at the time, but I was then attempting a wikibreak and felt that it would be too hard try to convince others regarding it. Anyway, I think the most active editors here are doing a good job improving the page, even if it is a slow and convoluted process at times. (Special thanks to Gabriel, whose presence in this potentially controversial article made me less afraid of being beaten by angry editors. Tongue.png) --Leinad ¬ Flag of Brazil.svg »saudações! 13:41, 11 October 2006 (UTC)

As the editor who first opposed the use of that tag, I must say that looking back it looks easy to say it was justified. Although I wouldn't say justified so much as I would say "right", since at the time justification was evasive, and we had trouble for weeks trying to pinpoint the exact problems. But I agree with you and I must say the article has improved a lot since that archive you posted and I would say Gabriel had a lot to do with it, since the discussion for this article was pretty much dead before he arrived. I must say though, every editor in this discussion has behaved exceptionally and I think your fear of being beaten by angry editors is the one that might be unjustified in the light of our good work. Are you implying that editors in atheism related articles are angry? >:( just kidding. Starghost (talk | contribs) 19:22, 13 October 2006 (UTC)

Russell's Teapot in morality section?

Why is Russell's Teapot in this section? If it in fact belongs, someone please add an explanation to the article. Lamont A Cranston 22:16, 13 October 2006 (UTC)

... Russell's Teapot is actually at the "atheism as faith" section, no? ... (on a comment regarding your last edit, it’s interesting to learn that "Catholic Church understands" is POV in English – in Portuguese there is a similar expression that would imply only that the CC holds the opinion, without assuming it's necessarily true.) --Leinad ¬ Flag of Brazil.svg »saudações! 23:27, 13 October 2006 (UTC)
I don't know if "understands" is (even a tad) POV in that usage, but I can see that it's open to misinterpretation, though. Teaches is more apt regardless of whether or not there's a POV element. Gabrielthursday 00:08, 14 October 2006 (UTC)
Hmm. Sloppy reading on my part; Russell's Teapot makes sense where it is. Long day at work, I guess. On the other issue, "understands," in that context, is a synonym for "knows" or "perceives correctly" (although an argument could be made that it means "is of the opinion," I don't think that is how most readers would take it). To illustrate my point, it would sound very odd to say "Lamont understands that steel is a type of plastic." It would sound normal to say "Lamont understands that steel is a type of metal." It's POV because it implies that the Catholic Church's teaching regarding natural law is in fact true; the existence of natural law is certainly open to debate. Lamont A Cranston 01:04, 14 October 2006 (UTC)
By the way Leinad, in all this time I had not realized that English was your second language. You have an excellent command of the language. Lamont A Cranston 01:36, 14 October 2006 (UTC)
See, I read it as "is of the opinion", or perhaps more subtly "takes the interpreation that". It took me some time to read it as a synonym for "knows", even though that's the more common usage.
Ditto on the impressive English of both Leinad & Starghost. Gabrielthursday 02:35, 14 October 2006 (UTC)
Thanks Lamont and Gabriel. MS-Word spellchecker helps me a lot, though. :-) --Leinad ¬ Flag of Brazil.svg »saudações! 18:26, 14 October 2006 (UTC)

Time to archive the talk page

I think we should archive everything up to the subsection called "Responses" section. Plantinga discussion took up a lot of the talk page, and the Plantinga issue has now been resolved in a way that left all parties satisfied (as far as I can tell). The current article on EAAN is much better than what we had at this article earlier. Lamont A Cranston 01:42, 14 October 2006 (UTC)

I agree. But I've never done it before, so perhaps I'll leave it for someone who knows what to do. I'll be sure to add a link to the prior EAAN discussion on the EAAN talk page when it's done. Gabrielthursday 02:29, 14 October 2006 (UTC)

New section: Atheists and religious groups

Yeah, it’s probably better to archive, since I’m adding new content to the article.

I think I will center my WP editing efforts in this article for some time. I just want to assure others that this has nothing to do with any personal hatred toward atheists. It’s my opinion that atheists are normal people who are simply mistaken in their view about the existence of God. In fact, for years one of my best friends was an atheist (though he recently became a believer). My edits here are motivated to counter a certain bias I (and others) detect in wikipedia. For example: the "criticism of religion X" articles are many, and usually large, with the criticisms frequently adopting an aggressive tone. Also, much text in WP is leaned toward scientism (a term that is usually applied as a criticism among academics, even though the WP article about the term barely mentions it)… I think you can see were I’m going… Anyway, I intend to focus on constructive criticism as far as I can. --Leinad ¬ Flag of Brazil.svg »saudações! 18:08, 14 October 2006 (UTC)

I just wanted to add a few things. First, I could totally live without you expressing your own opinions about atheists. Second, I, and others, detect what is probably an opposite bias to the one you detect. Third and lastly, about the new section, it's pretty easy to focus criticism on extremists. I don't think the way to solve the problem you perceive as a harsh tone in religious criticism articles is reproducing it in this one. Starghost (talk | contribs) 04:43, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
Granted, I would prefer to tone down the criticisms of religion as a way to balance things out. But current WP culture and policies make such approach impracticable, (AFAIK). I wrote the post above because I decided to be very open about what I was doing, and why. Of course, this openness can have unexpected side-effects: my personal view regarding atheists was in no way intended to offend, sorry Starghost (and maybe others). --Leinad ¬ Flag of Brazil.svg »saudações! 18:19, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
It's ok, you managed to look very considerate in your reply. Editing this kind of article is always walking over thin ice so I guess we shouldnt focus too much on that. Looking forward to see how the section develops, and íf you don't mind, I would suggest something about adding the religious views on atheists, something about infidels or kafir might probably fit this article. I don't know, but since you plan on adding stuff that may be worth looking into. Starghost (talk | contribs) 20:17, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
This new section seems like just another bogus criticism. The criticism seems to be "Some atheists criticise religion". Poujeaux 15:46, 16 October 2006 (UTC)
Starghost, your suggestion about adding the religious views on atheists made me notice that there is an important aspect of the religious criticism regarding atheism that is not present at the article: it is usually regarded as a sin. I will try to add a section about it in the future. I intend to finish my edits in the current section this weekend, probably with some comments regarding Dawkins.
Poujeaux, the section is not intended to criticise all criticism of religion (although it deals with the notion that some harsh criticism seems to be backfiring on the public image of atheism). Maybe we need to change the section making clearer that the problem includes prejudice, bigotry, intended use of ridicule, etc. --Leinad ¬ Flag of Brazil.svg »saudações! 20:41, 17 October 2006 (UTC)

Moved back

Critique of atheism has been moved back to the standard title, Criticism of atheism. The article itself calls it "criticism". This title seems to be a (misleading) anomaly. All other articles of the same nature use "criticism", not "critique". "Critique of atheism" implies that Wikipedia itself is critiquing atheists, which is obviously incorrect. Nor can most of the criticisms and comments listed on the article's page correctly be dubbed as "critiques", specifically. This page is a record of criticisms/evaluations, not itself a critique of atheism. It's not an encyclopedia's job to critique atheism. Until Criticism of Christianity, Criticism of Wikipedia, Criticism of religion, etc. get moved to "Critique of..." style, making an exception for this specific page reeks of bias and inconsistency, even if that is not what motivated the page-move. -Silence 19:32, 20 October 2006 (UTC)

argument from morality

It might be pointed out that pascal's wager, the argument from morality etc are not arguments against atheism as such, but against being an atheist. The argument from morality, ultimately, winds up being that even if there were no gods, one ought to believe that there are, that is: it would be nmorally good ihn those circumstances to believe a lie.

No, it's an argument against atheism. "Being an atheist" is difficult, because if atheism was true (*cough*impossible*cough*), people would be forced into accepting the moral implications of it. Similiar to this entire article, (one of the evidence that wikipedia is pro-atheist), the actual criticism is destroyed and what is presented here is a lot different to that which is usually given.

Yoda921 10:41, 15 February 2007 (UTC)Yoda

Impossible?

"it is impossible to prove a negative." why do people keep saying that? Hasn't anyone ever seen the proof that there is no fractional representaion of the squareroot of 2? In fact all proofs are proving the negative of the opposite. 24.237.198.91 01:28, 26 November 2006 (UTC)

Is it possible to prove you're not a brain in a vat? Is it possible to prove there is no god, no flying spaghetti monster? My specialization is not in philosophy, but taking mathemathical proofs on closed systems and to extending to every sort of proof there is doesn't sound like a valid argument, specially in existential matters. When talking about Empirical proof, which is more closely related to science and also something more closely related to the proof atheists probably demand, finding empirical evidence that something doesn't exist isn't always possible, because if it doesn't indeed exist then you might never find proof. It is no surprise to me that there are separate articles for mathemathical proofs and logical proofs. Starghost (talk | contribs) 23:39, 27 November 2006 (UTC)
My point is there are proofs of negatives, therefor it's possable to prove a negative therefore that statement is false.24.237.198.91 06:19, 28 November 2006 (UTC)
My point is, I said it's probably fine to say that there are proofs of negatives in mathemathics, probably not fine to say that empirically or logically. The concept of mathemathical proofs is irrelevant to this article, thus, as far as I know, the statement remains true. Starghost (talk | contribs) 20:02, 29 November 2006 (UTC)
In any case, if that argument strikes you as an oversimplification or poorly phrased, you might want to suggest something better after looking at this article Negative proof, in order to have it better presented within this one. Starghost (talk | contribs) 20:08, 29 November 2006 (UTC)
This "cannot prove a negative" statement seems nonsensical to me. If I prove I am in London, am I not also proving I am not in New York? If I prove I weigh 200 lbs, am I not also proving that I do not weigh 300lbs? And so on. It may be MORE DIFFICULT to prove a negative (hence why alibis are hard to establish).

Exile 14:20, 7 December 2006 (UTC)

How about "you cannot prove an unconstrained negative"? It is easy to prove "there is no black marble in the sack" by just looking in the sack because the area you need to check is constrained to the finite sack. But you cannot prove "there is no 3-meter wide marble" with the implication that you need to search through the entire universe, for all time, to be sure. And most definitions of gods have them located in unconstrained locations (like "heaven" or "everywhere"). Spejic 00:59, 8 June 2007 (UTC)

No mention of the absurdity of the entire atheism/theism debate.

What difference does it make, if there is a God or not? If there is an omnipotent Creator of All Things, then all things are as they should be. If the universe is governed by laws of physics, then all things are as they should be. The only real evidence that comes from either side of this debate is that neither side is happy about how impotent and irrelevent they are. What difference does it make whether or not the source of all this is self-aware? Does no one see the absurdity of this argument? The best argument against both sides of this argument is the argument itself. Where else would you see this?!?! I LOVE this planet! Dotcomma

You're again posting commentary that is outside the scope of WP. Please read WP:NOT as previously requested, and try to contribute within policy. Thanks. *Spark* 20:05, 4 December 2006 (UTC)
Seriously? "What difference does it make, if there is a God or not?" It makes all the difference in the world. I won't make a "personal attack", but the argument is not absurd (as in "pointless).

Yoda921 12:44, 10 February 2007 (UTC)Yoda

atheism and communism

I'm editing this section to make it at least presentable. I think it should actually be deleted; it starts with a false claim about the connection of atheism with communism, continues with two off-topic descriptions of the practices of communist states and ends with a us-centric remark. how could that fit in an encyclopedia?Treiskaitetarto 12:11, 7 December 2006 (UTC) well, at least I triedTreiskaitetarto 13:20, 7 December 2006 (UTC)

Yes you are right, this section should be deleted. It is off-topic and the argument is backwards. Hitler believed in God, but this fact does not qualify as a criticism of religion! But this is not the only section of the article that consists of an incoherently argued non-criticism of atheism. Poujeaux 17:51, 13 December 2006 (UTC)

Miracle of the Sun

I moved the following from the end of the "Arguments for the existence of God" section for discussion, as they seem to me to be a poor argument, inappropriate for an encyclopedia: --Ronz 17:40, 26 December 2006 (UTC)

(events such as the Miracle of Fátima could have arguably already discredited atheism).

I don't see why they are inappropriate for an encyclopedia in the sense that they are a poor argument, but I guess it could stay removed for the sake of NPOV. 71.243.175.126 19:58, 26 December 2006 (UTC)

Atheism and religious groups

Per 142.179.135.251's suggestion, I'm going to comment this section out. As I've seen it's been discussed above (and per 142's comment), the article is supposed to discuss criticism of atheism rather than criticism of specific organizations who do not declare a religion (i.e. groups that are secular). --HassourZain 15:43, 5 February 2007 (UTC)

As an atheist i don't care for the phrase, the "cause". for the most part we're not trying to 'covert' anyone.--71.97.151.23 07:32, 1 August 2007 (UTC)
The reference to "the cause" needs to be seen in context – Jeff Nall is simply commenting on the attitude of "some atheists", who evidently don't include 71.97.151.23. -- Jmc 09:44, 1 August 2007 (UTC)
I'm very dubious about this section. It seems to give undue weight to a couple of non-notable commentators, makes assertions that are not supported by facts, and spends a lot of time on "criticism of criticism of atheism". NBeale (talk) 08:09, 26 January 2008 (UTC)
An anon user has now removed it. I won't contest it. DEVS EX MACINA pray 14:54, 26 January 2008 (UTC)
The removed content may have cited a non-notable source; but I thought it made a good point. I guess I don't object to its removal, but the final paragraph of the section now makes very little sense ("Dawkins, however...). It seems to be a kind of rebuttal (a criticism of a criticism) to something which no longer exists, and it should probably be removed.--Pariah (talk) 19:02, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

Atheism is cowardly?

I just wanted to mention that I have seen an interesting criticism of atheism on the Internet which does not seem to be mentioned in this article. Unlike many criticisms of atheism, it openly conceded that scientific evidence favored atheism, and then actually used that in suggesting that belief in that which logic says is the less likely scenario demonstrates courage on the part of the believer. It goes on to say that as such theism is courageous and therefore good while atheism is cowardly and therefore bad. As an atheist, I find actual use of this argument sickeningly irrational, but I think it's still something to consider for this article or any articles on arguments for theism. However, as it's a rather obscure argument, I'll leave the call to more experienced editors than me. - green_meklar 23:35, 27 February 2007 (UTC)

That line of reasoning is perfectly in sync with the good ol' "stronger faith" argument (faith that can withstand painfully credible evidence to the contrary is considered a supreme virtue, giving up the (irrational) faith because of rational reasoning is therefore considered a weakness). I haven't heard it as a brave/cowardly statement, but those words work just as well as any others.
The problem is that the argument is actually a defense of religion stating that faith is inherently unrelated and possibly even contrary to evidence. It only becomes a criticism of atheism the second you turn it around and say atheists lack that strength of irrational faith and are therefore inferior (which somehow doesn't sound much like the "Christian love and concern" they frequently advertise to me). Atheists could thus be considered to be atheists because they lack strength of faith -- which is pretty much what atheists would agree with, if only with a different wording.
It's less of a criticism and more of a belittlement via different language (not a different statement, merely a different way to present that statement). — Ashmodai (talk · contribs) 11:03, 4 March 2007 (UTC)
This argument was made by Theo Hobson in The Guardian in June of 2007 (link). He structures it a bit differently, though. He's speaking specifically about the way Christopher Hitchens characterizes religion, and says "I consider the atheist's desire to generalise about religion to be a case of intellectual cowardice. The intellectual coward is one who chooses simplicity over complexity and difficulty. The militant atheist chooses to uphold a worldview of Animal Farm crudity: atheist good, believer bad. He has to believe this; it is his claim to the moral high ground." EastTN (talk) 13:31, 26 September 2008 (UTC)
Conversely the "faith is courageous" arguement can be turned on it's head when you consider that it takes a mental fortitude to understand and accept your place in the scientific scheme (An insignificant, short-lived entity living on a spec of rock in a nearly infinite void) and remain happy, optimistic and moral then it does to accept a theistic world view (ie. the Christian view that you are the chosen creation of the creator of the universe, who loves you dearly, and helps you on a personal level and is never out of arms reach). So, both sides can argue the other is a coward rendering it useless for the article --85.62.18.8 (talk) 12:22, 27 October 2008 (UTC)
There's no sense in our trying, as editors, to decide who's right here about which side is existentially more "courageous." I do think Hobson's twist is interesting, since it's a bit different from the typical "my world view is inherently 'braver' " chest beating. EastTN (talk) 21:16, 3 November 2008 (UTC)

Should the 'Atheism as "Religious" Exclusivism' section be removed?

This section makes no sense to me. People are born atheists, an atheist is simply a person who does not believe in deities. There's no holy book or text(s) that dictate the way atheists must act, each atheist decides for themselves. I remember from my Introduction To Religion class that a system of belief must meet certain criteria in order to be classified as a religion. I don't think atheism meets any of the criterias. Shall this section be removed, or kept? Dionyseus 02:09, 22 March 2007 (UTC)

Read the definition of religion, Lindbeck's definition of religion isn't dependent on "holy" texts, it defines religion as your basic worldview. The star by which you guide your ship. For many, this can take on a degree of significance not unlike religion. Particularly if we're talking about religion as something about which we are ultimately concerned. MerricMaker 02:23, 22 March 2007 (UTC)

Look at someone like Richard Dawkins, who seems to think that anyone who believes in God is deluded and should logically become atheist. He seems to say that it's the only possible belief and is pretty hard-core about evangelizing it. For him, atheism is his primary worldview and his particular interpretation of it is that it's absolute. That sounds like religion to me. The problem is that alot of people see the word religion and assume that some divine something-or-other has to be involved. It doesn't, look at Therevada Buddhism, or at Taoism. Both of them are religions, but reject any sort of theism. 150.199.110.146 21:41, 23 March 2007 (UTC)

I believe that this section should be removed. Quite apart from the question as to whether atheism does indeed qualify as a religion or not, it's hard to see how this section constitutes a criticism of atheism.
What is it saying? Is it saying that, if it's accepted that atheism is a religion, it's therefore invalid as a worldview? But if so, that's a critcism of religion, not of atheism per se!
Can someone put up a cogent argument as to precisely how this section constitutes a criticism of atheism and should therefore be retained? Otherwise, it must be a fit candidate for removal.
-- Jmc 20:05, 28 March 2007 (UTC)

I think it needs to be touched up, just not removed. What's said there is that certain forms of atheism are intolerant of all views which disagree with strong atheism because it's problematic to expect everyone to adhere to a single principle cause. While reality may or may not be multifacted, human views of it are bound to be multifacted and therefore the critique is of absolutist interpretations of atheist assertions. I can't screw around with it right now because I defend a thesis on Wednesday, please leave the section be until I get a chance to fix it. MerricMaker 15:34, 31 March 2007 (UTC)

In the absence of a "cogent argument as to precisely how this section constitutes a criticism of atheism and should therefore be retained", I've removed it. MerricMaker, feel free to "screw around with it" and submit it for reinstatement in a form that clearly and unequivovcally shows how it contributes to the criticism of atheism. As it stands, it has no explicit relationship to the point you make above - and even then, a "critique […] of absolutist interpretations of atheist assertions" is not a criticism of atheism per se.
-- Jmc 20:19, 31 March 2007 (UTC)

I agree with the removal of the section. That atheism may or may not be a religion is not a criticism of atheism. Atheists themselves are not necessarily against religion, they are against the idea of deities. Buddhists, for example, are technically atheists. Dionyseus 23:00, 31 March 2007 (UTC)

Atheism As Faith section

There is a lack of scholarship in the Atheism As Faith section. The arguments presented should be attributed. If the arguments are original work they are not encyclopedic and should be removed. The assertion that "A related argument is to point out that adherents of any one particular faith are also atheists with regard to all other religions" might stand if attributable but otherwise should be removed as an affront to logic and knowledge (not to mention grammar); on the first count because it is impossible for anyone to be a theist and atheist simultaneously, and on the second count because it ignores the history of Abrahamic religion and ecumenism. Catwizzle 14:48, 4 April 2007 (UTC)

As there has been no response to my request for attribution, I propose to remove the two sentences "A related argument is to point out that adherents of any one particular faith are also atheists with regard to all other religions[citation needed]. Thus, a reductio ad absurdum attaches—believers of one faith are also "atheist believers" of every other religion in existence." Both sentences lack intellectual integrity for the reasons stated above, and as they are irrelevant to the subject of the article, their inclusion can only be tendentious. Catwizzle 18:18, 7 April 2007 (UTC)

I agree that it makes no sense, and I have decided to be bold and removed it. Dionyseus 21:42, 7 April 2007 (UTC)
Well done, Dionyseus - "adherents of any one particular faith are also atheists to all other religions" was simply untrue (insofar as it made sense). A Muslim an atheist with regard to the Jewish faith (which I take to mean 'denying the existence of the God of Abraham')? - I don't think so. -- Jmc 04:35, 8 April 2007 (UTC)

Wait... this is a Criticism article?

This article reads as if it were advocating atheism. Over half of it is rubuttle. Now, I understand the huge atheist/liberal bias on Wikipedia, but its actually bleeding into Criticism of Atheism! We need to do something. —Preceding unsigned comment added by asderoff (talkcontribs)

Articles must be written in the NPOV. If you go to the Criticism of Christianity article you'll see that it is also written in the NPOV. Dionyseus 21:32, 7 April 2007 (UTC)
Lol. There's an unwritten rule that WP is pro-atheist; you'll notice that most Christianity-related pages are "anti." It becomes obvious if you look at enough :(
"Atheism and happiness." If this was a neutral article, they would quote someone else as comments like this are prevalent everywhere. They do not answer the point that Atheism makes life meaningless, and the final part is a complete joke. The article is not centred on whether atheism is true or not, but on the bad aspects of living that way. And it's an admission in itself - that God makes people happy, which you have tried to contradict a few sentences earlier.
"Atheism and morality" The rebuttal is done incredibly poorly here, although it is obviously attempted. They appear to promote the notion that morals come from natural upbringing, although if this was true it would inevitably produce a completely immoral state if given enough time.
And the sentence "According to this view, truly ethical behavior would come from altruistic motivation, not from fear of punishment or hope of reward after death" clearly demonstrates an incredibly limited understanding of theism.
If this section was neutral, it would actually bring up the crimes done in the name of atheism, such as Hitler. And it could quote some of Darwin's work (not directly related to atheism, but still relevant), which appear to support immorality. The section around "acts inspired by religion" also demonstrates giant gaps in understanding on the part of whoever put it there. Also, the direct correlation between violence, fornication and secularisation should be brought up as well since it's obviously happening here.
"Atheism and faith" - this should be obvious... I won't respond to this.
I'm not going to bother fixing any of the article itself ATM because it will be reverted almost immediately, without addressing anything I've said... and I'm too tired regardless.
Happy Easter!
-- Yoda921 14:04, 8 April 2007 (UTC)Yoda
I couldn't disagree more with your comment, all of it. One thing I'll definitely not let slide is your Hitler comment, Hitler wasn't an atheist, he mentions that he's a Christian many times in Mein Kampf. Furthermore, in a speech on April 26, 1933, Hitler said and I quote "Secular schools can never be tolerated because such schools have no religious instruction, and a general moral instruction without religious foundation is built on air; consequently all character training and religion must be derived from faith . . .". On February 23, 1933, an Associated Press article is headlined 'Hitler Aims Blow at 'Godless' Move,' and talks about how Hitler was campaigning against atheists and was asking support from other Catholics. [10] In addition, in 1941, Hitler told General Gerhart Engel: "I am now as before a Catholic and will always remain so." Dionyseus 14:30, 8 April 2007 (UTC)
Actually, Hitler was a psuedo-Catholic. He was a staunch critic of Christianity nd religion in general. According to him, "Christianity is a cancer on society."[citation needed] Also, I don't care if you're religious or not, but WP and this article in particular has an enormous atheist bias. I'm trying to calmly and civilly (sp.?) request a re-write.--Asderoff 17:35, 8 April 2007 (UTC)
And one thing I'll definitely not let slide is Yoda921's Darwin comment ("And it could quote some of Darwin's work (not directly related to atheism, but still relevant), which appear to support immorality."). Darwin was not an atheist (nor immoral). See Charles Darwin: "When asked about his religious views, he wrote that he had never been an atheist in the sense of denying the existence of a God, and that generally 'an Agnostic would be the more correct description of my state of mind.'"
Criticism of the 'Criticism of atheism' article is welcome, as are suggestions for improvement, but these must be founded in fact.
-- Jmc 23:47, 8 April 2007 (UTC)

Wikipedia is trying to promote facts and reality. So it's hard to criticize atheism, you know.--Svetovid 03:42, 21 April 2007 (UTC)

Can we at least rename the article, "Defence of Atheism"? It makes more sense. This article is simply not criticism. There's no denying it.--Asderoff 02:24, 25 April 2007 (UTC)

In lieu of that, why don't you, you know, contribute to the article? Instead of saying "we need to do something," just do something. You certainly shouldn't ask/expect atheists to flesh out arguments against atheism. It seems patently obvious to me that the onus is on those who find fault with an article to improve the article. Lamont A Cranston 16:50, 25 April 2007 (UTC)
Because, I can't simply do a major rewrite by myself.
A) I don't have this kind of time or sources.
B) I'm simply not allowed to do something this drastic with no one behind me. I'm not being cross, in fact, I'm being very calm and reasonable.
C) The atheist majority would simply revert everything.
Also, I'd appreciate kinder words when we are all trying to do what is best for WP. Well, some of us.--Asderoff 02:47, 26 April 2007 (UTC)
Some kind words for Asderoff:
Wikipedia is about editing articles, rather than just discussing them. So have a go at editing. Be bold! Respect the Guidelines, back up what you write with reliable sources, and you'll find that your editing will be accepted and respected.
-- Jmc 05:15, 26 April 2007 (UTC)

In regards to the original question "Wait... this is a Criticism article?", if you mean "Is this a 'criticism only' article?" the answer is no, this is an article that discusses the various criticisms of atheism. The point of this article is not to slag on atheism, it's to discuss each of the various common arguments against atheism, including the strengths and weaknesses of each argument. Just as when any other commonly disputed subject is discussed on Wikipedia, both sides should be fairly presented so as to provide a neutral point of view. This point has been made repeatedly on this talk page. If you think any of the arguments against atheism are missing or are poorly represented, feel free to add or improve them, but understand that the argument will be fully discussed instead of only presenting one side of the argument. -- HiEv 03:30, 14 May 2007 (UTC)


Here is one possibility (and a possibility just to be entertained): perhaps the arguments against atheism just are very weak. I know that theist friends of mine will gladly admit that rationally atheism has more plausibility, but they rely on such things as faith. Now if the arguments against atheism are weak, then it would be terribly POV to hide this fact by not putting in the obvious rebuttals. Do you really believe that there are strong (rational) arguments against atheism? Dast 08:20, 14 May 2007 (UTC)

Most of the authors I enjoy are atheists and I have thought about atheism. I admit my rejection is largely emotional, but not entirely so. If there is no God then truth has to be determined by humans. To me this has problems. First in a Godless universe humans are nothing more than creations of natural selection on a single planet that occuppies a very miniscule amount of the Universe. Whether their ape-derived brains even can understand the Universe is unclear. In addition to that relativistic barriers mean most of the Universe is unavailable to them/us for actual observation. Second science is a trial-and-error method. It can create increasingly accurate descriptions of natural phenomenon, but it doesn't lead to the "truth" nor does it claim it can. Atheism can not really be true or at least it can not prove itself to be so going by its own terms. However if you take theism by its own logic it can/does lead to Truth as it involves connection to a being that knows everything including truth. (Granted at this hour I might not be making sense) In addition to that a great many atheists are not atheists for rational reasons, but are instead atheists for emotional reasons. I don't think Wikipedia has much on "romantic atheism", but I think essentially the idea is that human life is sweeter if it is finite and has nothing "above it" to tell it what's what. That whether atheism is "true" or not is less important than it being liberating and allowing a life of searching for some kind of truth even if you never find it. Others are atheists for emotional reasons because they're libertarianish and don't like anything "watching us." One such person advanced the idea that if God exists it'd be the duty of good-hearted people to destroy it to avoid such a know-it-all being. Still others are just ticked off at theists for some reason. Most people's beliefs are not purely rational. Theists don't kid themselves on that as much as atheists so I've found myself more, not less, sympathetic to them/us as I've gone through higher education.
That said I think it's fine for this to have responses to criticism. Just like I think it's fine for the other criticism articles to have responses. Because otherwises you might end up with one-sided "attack articles" if you're not careful. If the Christian article on criticism doesn't deal with unfair or spurious criticisms it's likely the problem and not this article.--T. Anthony 11:28, 16 May 2007 (UTC)
I'm not clear what the first paragraph of that rant has to do with the "Criticism of atheism" article. The purpose of this Talk page is not to debate the merits or problems of atheism, it is to discuss the article itself. If you think something is missing from the article please add it, but please do not try to turn this into a "debate of atheism" page. Thank you.  :-) -- HiEv 22:36, 16 May 2007 (UTC)
Hah, I was up late feeling odd. I'll cross out the irrelevancy/rant.--T. Anthony 03:07, 17 May 2007 (UTC)

Although I'm not going so far as to say this article advocates atheism, the "Atheism as faith" and "Atheism and Morality" sections do seem to lack an equal amount of argument and counter-argument. If someone could please perhaps elaborate further on each aspect of these two sections as seen fit? —Preceding unsigned comment added by 203.114.179.11 (talk) 08:58, 25 November 2007 (UTC)


I agree that this article is terribly biased. Can we move it to Atheistic Apologetics please? —Preceding unsigned comment added by 78.86.143.3 (talk) 12:25, 13 July 2008 (UTC)

Atheism and Happiness Section: it needs attention

In the above debate Yoda921 says that the Atheism and Happiness section does "not answer the point that Atheism makes life meaningless, and the final part is a complete joke." Unfortunately I think he's right, but I'm not going to update until I hear some ideas and, even better, until someone finds some good sources on the issue. Here's the problems.

The first problem is it conflates two points,

  1. That Atheism makes life meaningless.
  2. That Atheism makes life miserable.

A meaningful life is not necessarily a happy one and a meaningless life is not necessarily an unhappy one. Imagine - from a Christian's perspective - the life of a self-sacrificing saint or indeed of Jesus: they are not happy lives but they are meaningful to a theist. Likewise, a philistine who spends his life indulging in material pleasures could conceivably be described as living a happy but meaningless life.

The response to the happiness point is straightforward: as the article says it confuses a matter of truth with a matter of value. The other point is less easily dealt with. The basic idea is that without religion we are left with a cold, physicalist universe where we are nothing more than matter that happens to be animated simply because of some chance aberration in amino acids millions of years ago. Or something to that effect. The argument is mistaken, I believe, but it is one of the most common reasons cited for rejecting atheism and, most importantly, requires a different response than the happiness argument. The reason it requires a different response - even though it could be seen as just another question of value - is that generally we start with an assumption or intuition that life is not meaningless. So the (perhaps bad) argument runs:

P1. If atheism were true, life would be meaningless. P2. Life is not meaningless. Therefore, C. Atheism is not true.

Now, yes, we may question P2 (e.g. what does 'meaningful' mean? does it rely on some idea of teleology? etc), but I think many Atheist will want to question P1 (myself included). Positively, the response is that life can be very meaningful without some externally endowed purpose for mankind - it can be meaningful because of one's life projects, one's relationships and so forth. Negatively, the response would be that the criticism relies on a false dichotomy between religion and naive reductivist physicalism (a dichotomy also unhelpfully adopted by some atheists). Many atheists - and most naturalist philosophers - do not only stand by science, but also do not believe that such things as poetry, love, or justice (which make life meaningful) are any less real as a result of science's success. They believe that it is simply mistaken to think that if my poetry book (and I) are made of atoms then poetry must be reduced to atoms (I'm sure someone studying modern metaphysics or philosophy of science could articulate this better).

I think something along these lines is a much more interesting and faithful criticism of atheism, and one that allows responses to the theist that do not just sidestep the issue he raises. But, as I said, I think that it would benefit from some sources. Nonetheless, if there's no objection (some hope!) I'll make some changes in this direction in a week's time. Dast 16:29, 21 May 2007 (UTC)

I find it hard to believe there is no criticism or addendum of the above, but as no one has objected, I'll make the changes shortly. Dast 20:33, 5 June 2007 (UTC)

POV

While I realize that much has been done to improve the article, it still appears biased toward the atheist view. Much of the arguments invoked in the article are shorter than the rebuttals, especially the Morality section. The Atheists and Religious Groups bit does not even feature theist perspectives as all of the authors quoted are atheists. I would appreciate it if this article was made a little bit more NPOV. --BlarghHgralb 18:21, 5 June 2007 (UTC)

BlarghHgralb, if you feel the article needs a bit more balance, why not have a go at editing it to achieve this? After all, Wikipedia is about editing articles, rather than just discussing them. -- Jmc 20:19, 5 June 2007 (UTC)
Jmc is correct, we get this far to often. It's getting ridiculous. It is absolutely extraordinary how people accuse it of bias without making any concrete suggestions for improvement. Surely they have some in mind - why else would they make these comments? I, for instance, am an atheist and naturally the criticisms - by and large - seem weak to me and the rebuttals seem strong. If the criticisms are to be made stronger this can only be done by exactly the people who accuse it of bias. How can I fix a bias I'm blind to? Dast 20:30, 5 June 2007 (UTC) Although I note, Blargh, that your comment is very courteously put and my preceding comment is clearly not aimed only at you. Dast 20:37, 5 June 2007 (UTC)
Pending more substantive explanation by BlarghHgralb of why s/he added the POV tag at the head of the article, I've removed it. Better than explanation, of course, is editing to remove the perceived bias. Dast puts it well in saying that such editing "can only be done by exactly the people who accuse it of bias". -- Jmc 05:01, 6 June 2007 (UTC)

Spong & Robinson

I started editing the riff on Spong and Robinson, but have now removed the following: "In his book Exploration Into God John A.T. Robinson suggested that Christianity needed to find "a God beyond theism." One view is that some atheists have arrived at their view due to encountering religious experiences that have not sought a higher power beyond the definitions of a particular religion. Just as Christianity is seen by some--like Spong and Robinson--as needing to transcend "traditional" beliefs, likewise one might say that some forms of atheism could find a definition of themselves which is not beholden to old formats or, for that matter, dependent on religion. That is, that atheists could be so because that is the choice they have made based on their own initiative, not because they find a given god-concept to be unconvincing. In keeping with this reasoning, atheism as such would need to be a full rejection of the existence of a higher power, not simply a rejection of a theistic philosophy promulgated by a religious institution." Unsourced "one might say"s don't belong in Wikipedia. And anyway this is not about "criticism of atheism", it's about "how great atheism might be" NBeale 06:18, 7 June 2007 (UTC)

Problematic content in "Effects of Atheism on the individual"

I removed the following content:

There are now extensive studies indicating religious people are happier and less stressed.[1][2] Surveys by Gallup, the National Opinion Research Centre and the Pew Organisation conclude that spiritually committed people are twice as likely to report being "very happy" than the least religiously committed people.[3] An analysis of over 200 social studies contends that "high religiousness predicts a rather lower risk of depression and drug abuse and fewer suicide attempts, and more reports of satisfaction with life and a sense of well-being"[4] and a review of 498 studies published in peer-reviewed journals concluded that a large majority of them showed a positive correlation between religious commitment and higher levels of perceived well-being and self-esteem, and lower levels of hypertension, depression and clinical delinquency.[5][6] Studies by Keith Ward show that overall religion is a positive contributor to mental health[7] and a meta-analysis of 34 recent studies published between 1990 and 2001 also found that religiosity has a salutary relationship with psychological adjustment, being related to less psychological distress, more life satisfaction, and better self-actualization.[8] On the other hand, statistical association between faith and well being do not negate the point that there are examples of atheists who appear to have led long, productive, and happy lives.[9] Although some highly atheist nations, like Estonia, have low-levels of life satisfaction others, like most of Scandinavia, score quite high in these measures.[10]

Which basically is a cherry-picked jaunt through social science data and opinion polls. In the sense of NPOV we can include prose to the effect that certain religion proponents have said that atheists are unhappy, depressive, etc. but making unequivocal statements regarding the purported unhappiness of the areligious is a point-of-view, not a scientific fact. Nor is it wise to make grand conclusions from opinion polls which are tuned to political characterizations rather than scientific control. Happiness, we all know, is something that is extremely difficult to measure and so constructing arguments such as those included above is problematic at best and soapboxing at worst. I'll also point out that the ending sentences are meaningless: some atheist countries are unhappy and others are not -- so what? It doesn't add any meaningful information to the article.

--ScienceApologist 18:39, 15 June 2007 (UTC)

Maybe the above text can be be revised before it is reinserted in the article, but please notice that this deleted paragraph includes at least 3 meta-analysis reviewing a very impressive amount of studies on the subject. Mentioning them can hardly be seen as "cherry-picking". And I hope we all agree that editors are allowed to provide studies that may support the views discussed in the article, right? --200.19.190.5 20:27, 15 June 2007 (UTC)
A meta-analysis is not a criticism. Such commentary is asking the reader to jump to conclusions. --ScienceApologist 23:34, 15 June 2007 (UTC)
I fully agree [with the anonymous user]. We would at least need some evidence that they were cherry-picked. 'Evidence', I suppose, would be a massively larger body of studies that offset these results - and I presume ScienceApologist is familiar with this body of studies, since he believes the paragraph cherry-picks from them (!). Dast 23:17, 15 June 2007 (UTC)
I am indeed fully aware of the body of studies. One can look at just about any of the major psychological journals to find studies which report that religious people are more prone to various mental illnesses and disorders, for example. This is not the place to argue about which study is right and which is wrong. Instead we should try to frame this commentary in light of the subject of the article (criticisms of atheism). Quoting selected studies that do not directly criticize atheism is not criticism of atheism. Cited criticism of atheism that used these studies to support their critique would at least be defensible. --ScienceApologist 23:34, 15 June 2007 (UTC)
More then just claiming you are aware of the studies is needed, you have to give us some reason to think you are not simply influenced by a pro-atheist bias. As it is, you have given precisely no reason. As to the logic of the argument of that section, it needs some changing (see my comments from a few weeks back, for example) but it is a much laboured criticism - a bad one, indeed, but a notable one nonetheless. Dast 01:17, 16 June 2007 (UTC)
The ironic thing, I must add, is that what you are calling 'bizarre propaganda' actually looks like good science - are you an apologist only for science that you like? Dast 01:22, 16 June 2007 (UTC)
The issue I have is with the way the prose is written and how its tied to the sources. Citing some studies that seem to show benefits to religious belief is not a criticism of atheism. What you should do is find a source that criticizes atheism along the lines you want to include and then use that as a guide. --ScienceApologist 13:41, 16 June 2007 (UTC)
Actually, It is not even controversial to say that most modern research on the topic suggest that, on average, religiousness is good for ones physical and mental health. One more example, not included in the removed paragraph, is a very recent meta-analysis on the religion-mental health relationship, with systematic review of 850 studies (!) claiming that: "The majority of well-conducted studies found that higher levels of religious involvement are positively associated with indicators of psychological well-being (life satisfaction, happiness, positive affect, and higher morale) and with less depression, suicidal thoughts and behavior, drug/alcohol use/abuse." [11] --200.19.190.5 00:49, 16 June 2007 (UTC)
You are failing to realize that this isn't an article on the benefits of religiousness, it's an article about criticism of atheism. If you can find a person who uses these meta-analyses to criticize atheism directly, then we can use that to add to the section you are interested in expanding. However, using these sources to conclude that atheism is therefore criticize is essentially original research and banned by Wikipedia policy. --ScienceApologist 13:41, 16 June 2007 (UTC)


The point is not that the section is perfectly written or argued - it's not - but that it is relevant and well referenced. That atheism makes you unhappy is a direct criticism - not a criticism of the truth value of atheism, but a criticism of the value of atheism. Weak? Certainly, but nonetheless legitimate. As it stands it should be edited not deleted. This is true even if you doubt (wrongly I believe) that this criticism is in the literature - if this is your worry, then put a post here asking for references, if none turn up then perhaps deletion could be discussed. Furthermore, I have outlined a general approach to improving the section above - please look at it ('Atheism and Happiness section: it needs attention' above) and perhaps suggest further or alternative ways of dealing with it. This would be far more helpful than deleting even when two reasonable editors object to the deletion. Dast 14:26, 16 June 2007 (UTC)
Also, note the section has been there for a while and is the result of many editors work, not just 200.19. Dast 14:29, 16 June 2007 (UTC)
Relevence is unclear: these studies report to say that people are unhappy who are not religious, but they do not criticize atheism directly. In order to include such argumentation you need to find a source that actually makese the argument. Simply saying that the areligious are unhappy is NOT a direct criticism of atheism: it's a description of studies comparing religious and areligious people. We are not equipped at Wikipedia to draw conclusions from studies that the studies are criticizing atheism. We can only report what others say. If you can find a source which uses these studies to criticize atheism then it will be very appropriate for us to discuss this in the article. But simply mentioning these studies is forbidden per WP:NOR. --ScienceApologist 18:31, 16 June 2007 (UTC)

Persistent deletions in the "Morality" section

At the moment I am REALLY ANGRY. I've spent almost the whole day trying to add some very well sourced and verifiable comments in this article. The text is bellow, (here reproduced with the actual text in bold, and the original references in normal text).


...modern research in criminology acknowledges an inverse relationship between religion and crime,...

REFERENCE given:

  • As is stated in: Doris C. Chu (2007). Religiosity and Desistance From Drug Use. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 2007; 34; 661 originally published online Mar 7, 2007; DOI: 10.1177/0093854806293485</ref>
Counter reference for this statement: [12] (Note: This counter reference actually does not negate the inverse relationship between religion and crime, instead it acknowledges this relationship while suggesting that it may be spurious - which, according to ScienceApologist's view: "is a level of dispute removed from the content of the article and therefore the disputed prose is rightly removed".)


...with many studies establishing this beneficial connection (though some claim it is a modest one)...

REFERENCEs given:

  • Albrecht, S. I., Chadwick, B. A., & Alcorn, D. S. (1977). Religiosity and deviance:Application of an attitude-behavior contingent consistency model. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 16, 263-274.
  • Burkett,S.,& White,M. (1974). Hellfire and delinquency:Another look. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion,13,455-462.
  • Chard-Wierschem, D. (1998). In pursuit of the “true” relationship: A longitudinal study of the effects of religiosity on delinquency and substance abuse. Ann Arbor, MI: UMI Dissertation.
  • Cochran,J. K.,& Akers,R. L. (1989). Beyond hellfire:An explanation of the variable effects of religiosity on adolescent marijuana and alcohol use. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 26, 198-225.
  • Evans,T. D.,Cullen,F. T.,Burton,V. S.,Jr.,Dunaway,R. G.,Payne,G. L.,& Kethineni,S. R. (1996). Religion, social bonds, and delinquency. Deviant Behavior, 17, 43-70.
  • Grasmick, H. G., Bursik, R. J., & Cochran, J. K. (1991). “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s”: Religiosity and taxpayer’s inclinations to cheat. The Sociological Quarterly, 32, 251-266.
  • Higgins, P. C., & Albrecht, G. L. (1977). Hellfire and delinquency revisited. Social Forces, 55, 952-958.
  • Johnson,B. R.,Larson,D. B.,DeLi,S.,& Jang,S. J. (2000). Escaping from the crime of inner cities:Church attendance and religious salience among disadvantaged youth. Justice Quarterly, 17, 377-391.
  • Johnson, R. E., Marcos, A. C., & Bahr, S. J. (1987). The role of peers in the complex etiology of adolescent drug use. Criminology, 25, 323-340.
  • Powell,K. (1997). Correlates of violent and nonviolent behavior among vulnerable inner-city youths. Family and Community Health, 20, 38-47.
Counter references for these statements: [13] (Note: By the abstract, it is not clear at all if this study really is denying the relationship found in the other studies), [14] (Note: this study is only denying that the effects of religion are mediated trough "social control", it is not claiming that the relationship doesn't exist.), [15] (Note: This old study -1982- is trying to explain the apparent confusion on this subject 25 years ago, now we are in 2007), [16] (Note: Even though this study says that at the year 2000 there were still authors suggesting confusion regarding the relationship, the study is actually a systematic review revealing "that the literature is not disparate or contradictory, as previous studies have suggested" and that "religious measures are generally inversely related to deviance, and this is especially true among the most rigorous studies.") [17] (Note: this study is the same already provided as counter reference for the first quote, as was already said, it acknowledges the relationship.)
(General note: My impression is that none of the above studies is a very good counter reference. Even if studies actually denying the relationship were provided, it would not in any way deny the statement that there are "many studies establishing this beneficial [religion versus crime] connection". Please also notice that in this morality section there is already research showing supposedly "bad links" between religion and crime.)
Your impression is meaningless. The claim that there are no counter references is refuted. The relevance of references or counter-references can now be addressed as we discuss below. It is clear that the relevance of these studies is dubious at best and original research at worst and so this prose is deservedly removed from the article. --ScienceApologist 18:39, 16 June 2007 (UTC)
ScienceApologist, you are attempting to refute a claim that was never made. How can the addition of this text ever be denial of the existence of counter references when counter references were already a feature of the precise paragraph that these phrases were supposed to complement? You failed to notice the context. The one making wild claims around here is you, labelling all the serious research above as "bizzarre propaganda"[18]. --200.19.190.5 19:06, 16 June 2007 (UTC)
If the addition of text cherry-picks only sources that tend to support a statement while ignoring statements that tend to detract from it, the adition of text effectively denies the existence of counter-references. When people claim that the text is well referenced, they should be claiming that the text is referenced by the whole of established research. This text is not of this variety. --ScienceApologist 12:21, 17 June 2007 (UTC)
You have no base to accuse me of cherry picking sources. The few supposed counter references you provided until now can hardly be seen as any better than the studies that were already reported in the paragraph long before my edit. --200.19.190.5 00:35, 18 June 2007 (UTC)

...Indeed, a meta-analysis of 60 studies on religion and crime concluded, “religious behaviors and beliefs exert a moderate deterrent effect on individuals’ criminal behavior”...

REFERENCE Given:

  • Baier,C. J.,& Wright,B. R. (2001). “If you love me,keep my commandments”:A meta-analysis of the effect of religion on crime. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency,38,3-21.
Counter reference for this statement: [19] (Note: This a study about homicide in a single religious population. Yet, It is being used as "counter reference" opposing a much more comprehensive meta-analysis on the subject. If one wants to suggest that religion can lead to more homicides, the "Gary F. Jensen" study is a stronger reference. A detailed report about Jensen's study is already in the article... User:ScienceApologist claims that: "Obviously 201 did not read the paper in its entirety because it explicitly argues against the referenced paper." ... User:201 strongly disagrees and claims instead that this supposed counter reference never argues against the conclusion of the meta-analysis.)


What happened after my first edit [20]? Within less than five minutes User:ScienceApologist reverted my addition, clamming that he was "removing bizarre propaganda plagiarized from an apologetics site". This first comment is complete nonsense regarding the text actually reverted, (and I am now inclined to think he mistakenly thought he was reverting some other text - see the topic above created by him)...

  • Then I reverted the deletion for the first time...

A few hours latter User:ConfuciusOrnis thought it was a good idea to remove the text again, claiming: "they're some pretty weak sources... "Center for the Scientific Study for Religion"?... pfft" Beyond the unpolite comment, the fact that he misspelled the name of the renowned "Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion" strongly suggest to me that he gave almost no thought on the matter before removing the text again.

  • Then I reverted the deletion for the second time, while pointing (in my headline) that it seemed clear that both previous deletions were made with no real attempt to consider the actual text and it's sources...

Then, guess what (!), User:ConfuciusOrnis immediately reverted my addition for the 3rd time, and in this last revert he didn't even bothered to justify his undue move.

  • I really didn't expect this kind of behaviour from Wikipedians, especially with such extensively sourced content. Would please a reasonable wikipedian put my legit edit back were it belongs? --200.19.190.5 00:06, 16 June 2007 (UTC)


Ok. Nobody appears to be raising objections to the above text. I am inclined to think (or hoping) that the removals were actually the result of good-faith mistakes. I just reintroduced the text in the article. Attentive users will notice how this new text is very well integrated in the discussion of that topic, that was already presenting studies regarding pros and cons of religious involvement in regard to morality. --200.19.190.5 12:53, 16 June 2007 (UTC)
I'm raising objections to the above text. The first sentence is a conclusion from a single paper about drug use that was funded by a religious organization. Harldy a neutral source and also not a criticism of atheism. The second selection of sources is a bit more comprehensive but again irrelevent to the subject of the article unless we allow for 200.19's original research. That's simply not the way Wikipedia works. I will remove the prose again until someone can find some secondary sources which directly criticize atheism through these arguments. --ScienceApologist 13:41, 16 June 2007 (UTC)
Counter-references are now given. It is irresponsible for us to report a singular opinion when the research is so varied. --ScienceApologist 14:10, 16 June 2007 (UTC)
Dast, I agree with your points. But I think it would be better to restrict opinions about the "happiness" section to the above topic. --200.19.190.5 15:16, 16 June 2007 (UTC)
Ah! Good point - I'll move them up.
ScienceApologist, I completely agree when you say that "It is irresponsible for us to report a singular opinion when the research is so varied." But you did not took the time to notice is that this page already presents detailed reports of studies suggesting bad links between religiosity and moral behaviour. Indeed, the single study you mention as "counter reference" to the meta-analysis of 60 studies I provided is no big news, since a similar (and much more generalisable) study about homicide is already reported in the section. Once again, your behaviour suggest very little analysis before deleting information you didn't like. --200.19.190.5 15:03, 16 June 2007 (UTC)
No, you completely are missing the point. First you tried to imply in the text that there were no counter studies, which I showed wasn't true. Then you tried to say that these sources are criticizing atheism, but they aren't: they are simply positing a connection between religiosity and certain social indicators. We are not equipped to make the leap in judgement required to say that these studies are criticizing atheism. If you want to include discussion of these arguments you need to find sources that explicitly say "Atheism is bad because people who are atheists are unhappy, deliquent criminals." You have not done that. --ScienceApologist 18:28, 16 June 2007 (UTC)
As I explained above, the claim that there were no counter studies was never made. How can the addition of the text in discussion ever be denial of the existence of counter references when counter references were already a feature of the precise paragraph that these phrases were supposed to complement? You failed to notice the context. --200.19.190.5 19:06, 16 June 2007 (UTC)
The major problem remains that the text in question is not referenced by specific criticisms of atheism. If you want to compose text along the lines of "people criticize athesim as leading to crime" then you should have a sourced reference that makes such a claim about atheism: not a list of social science papers that deal with self-reported lack of religiosity (which is manifestly different from atheism). --ScienceApologist 22:38, 16 June 2007 (UTC)
Let me then explain what really is happening here. Right now the morality section contains large amounts of text claiming that religion is bad for morality. More importantly, right now it only presents studies suggesting bad links between crime and religion. The presentation of those studies alone is the definition of "cherry picking" and is also a "bizarre" distortion of what research in criminology actually suggests. You kept complaining that I was "ignoring counter reference", but the very text you are censoring here IS the counter reference that was supposed to restore the neutrality of the section. I give up, do whatever you want. I hope someone willing to face fierce (although unjustified) resistance can fix the article. --200.19.190.5 00:35, 18 June 2007 (UTC)
I'm willing to fix the article, but you cannot fix the article through original research conclusion jumping. I agree with you that there is a number of studies that purport to show an inverse correlation between religiosity and crime, but unless someone uses this as a criticism of atheism, simply reporting on these studies is essentially original research. --ScienceApologist 13:05, 18 June 2007 (UTC)
Ok ScienceApologist here is the paragraph:

A recent study by Gregory S. Paul published in the Journal of Religion and Society argues for a positive correlation between the degree of public religiosity in a society and certain measures of dysfunction.[15] However, an analysis published later in the same journal contends that a number of methodological problems undermine any findings or conclusions to be taken from the research.[16] In a response [17] to the study by Paul, Gary F. Jensen builds on and refines Paul's study. His conclusion, after carrying out elaborate multivariate statistical studies, is that there is a correlation (and perhaps a causal relationship) of higher homicide rates, not with Christianity, but with dualism in Christianity, that is to say with the proportion of the population who believe the devil and hell exist. Excerpt: "A multiple regression analysis reveals a complex relationship with some dimensions of religiosity encouraging homicide and other dimensions discouraging it." Meanwhile, other studies seem to show positive links in the relationship between religiosity and moral behavior.[18] [19] [20] For example, surveys suggesting a positive connection between faith and altruism.[21]

Now as far as I can see this paragraph cites studies that show a correlation between religiosity and 'certain measures of dysfunction'. Now, according to your criteria this is original research, since it doesn't say that the studies in question are meant to be responses to criticisms of atheism - to slightly adapt a quote from you 'unless someone uses this as a [response to a] criticism of atheism, simply reporting on these studies is essentially original research'. But your criteria is silly - their relevance to the criticism is clear to absolutely anyone, so there is absolutely no need to cite an expert - appeal to experts simply isn't needed to make this childishly simple inference (that's why stating 1+1=2 without citing someone who said this is not OR). Now 200.19 is simply adding this exceptionally well referenced statement to the existing brief response:

Modern research in criminology acknowledges an inverse relationship between religion and crime, with many studies establishing this beneficial connection (though some claim it is a modest one).Indeed, a meta-analysis of 60 studies on religion and crime concluded, “religious behaviors and beliefs exert a moderate deterrent effect on individuals’ criminal behavior”.

This simply references pertinent studies that show the opposite of the studies in the original paragraph. Indeed they do not even have to purport to be a criticism of atheism: they simply show that the opposite of the conclusion of the studies cited ( a 'positive correlation between the degree of public religiosity in a society and certain measures of dysfunction') is found in other studies. Now what exactly is the the OR? Is it simply citing these articles? But a child could see how they are relevant, we do not need an expert to see that studies that state not-P are importantly related to studies that state P. All, this addition seems to me to do is make the article more balanced. As an atheist, I would really like the article to be balanced, since I want it to be compelling to both theists and non-theists. Your deletion seriously questions that balance. Dast 14:22, 18 June 2007 (UTC)
    • ^ BBC
    • ^ Time
    • ^ Is Religion Dangerous? p156, citing David Myers The Science of Subjective Well-Being Guilford Press 2007
    • ^ Smith,Timothy, Michael McCullough, and Justin Poll. 2003: “Religiousness and Depression: Evidence for a Main Effect and Moderating Influence of Stressful Life Events.” Psychological Bulletin 129(4):614–36.
    • ^ Bryan Johnson & colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania (2002)
    • ^ Is Religion Dangerous? cites similar results from the Handbook of Religion and Mental Health Harold Koenig (ed.) ISBN 978-0124176454
    • ^ Is Religion Dangerous? Ch 9.
    • ^ Hackney, Charles H. & Sanders, Glenn S. (2003) Religiosity and Mental Health: A Meta–Analysis of Recent Studies. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 42 (1), 43-55. doi:10.1111/1468-5906.t01-1-00160
    • ^ The List of atheists is said to contain examples. There are of course many examples of heavy smokers who have long lives as well, so this does not settle the point.
    • ^ Happy Planet Index