Friday, August 9, 2013

Martin's "Atheist by default" response

 While searching the atheism hashtag and recording my radio show, I noticed the above tweet.  I decided to respond to the blog post criticizing my blog post found here:

My words will be in black and Martin's will be in blue. 

 Atheist by default from: (

<<<I've never been a regular Twitter user. Recently, I logged back in because I had started garnering a number of strange followers, who started preaching to me about their god. No, not just the Christian god, but whatever god they believed in. Apparently, a few posts using #atheism will do that.

So, I put #atheism into the Twitter search bar to see what the fuss was about  (after candidly blocking the preachers due to their annoyance factor) and it wasn't long before I discovered something interesting. The #atheism hashtag is used more by the religious than it is by atheists. One use in particular, Sacerdotus, regularly spams it with his blog posts, one of which I opened in order to inspect his claim on Twitter that "#Atheism as Default Fails"

Sacerdotus replies:

My tweets are not spam according to Twitter.  They contain links to my blog posts which are classified as "status updates."  By your definition, any tweet can be considered spam.  Nevertheless, thank you for reading and taking the time to write your own critique on my post.  However, I specifically asked that permission be obtained from me before using my material.  My blog posts are copyrighted.   

<<Before I go into what's wrong with his argument, we really have to establish what atheism is in order to establish the fault with his premise. Many in the religious community might see it as a movement, like feminism, or a religion as a way of life. At it's core, however, atheism is a position of disbelief in a god or gods. It really is that simple.>>

Sacerdotus replies:

You do not understand what atheism is.  Atheism is simply the rejection of the concept of God.  The word comes from the Greek "a-theos" which means 'without gods.'  This word was used in ancient Greek culture to defined those people who rejected the folk gods of Greek mythology.   Atheists of today love to play word games in order to give themselves wiggle room to move about when discussing atheism.  I used to be an atheist and understand well what it comprises. 

<<Atheism can be the result of both knowing that there are gods that people believe in, but being unable to believe or rejecting the notion due to finding such things ridiculous, or not being aware of these gods in the first place. Sacerdotus argues against the latter by stating in the comments of his blog, "The first does not follow the second. One is lack of awareness and the other is a rejection of belief in a deity," but this argument assumes the posture that to lack a belief in a god, one must be aware of the god or god's in question in order to not believe. However, atheism (read: not theism) is not dependent on awareness by any definition, it merely labels one as not being theistic. That is, an atheist is one that does not have a belief in a god or gods. Not, an atheist is one that learns about gods and then rejects them.>>

Sacerdotus replies:

This writer contradicts himself and actually agrees with my previous statement where I define atheism as a rejection of the concept of God.  As you can see, atheists have difficulty understanding what atheism really is.  Moreover, the writer does not understand that one must be aware of a concept before rejecting it.  In order for an atheist to reject a notion, he/she must know of that notion beforehand.  How can you reject a date on a Friday night without knowing who is asking you out or that the event is happening?  The logic does not follow.  This writer's argument basically assumes that all human beings are born with knowledge of the notion of God.  This would contradict the 'atheism as a default' argument. 

<<<Let's inspect this word 'atheism' for a moment. The word itself follows a common linguistic pattern in the English language where the 'a-' prefix establishes the word that follows as an antonym. Take asexual, for example. An asexual is not sexual. The word 'atypical' means 'not typical'. The word 'asymmetrical' means 'not symmetrical'. That's the definition of those words with no complex contexts to consider beyond what the prefix establishes. It is no different for the word 'atheism'. If a shape is not symmetrical, it is not that way because it doesn't know what symmetry is, but nor does it mean that it does know what symmetry is. The same applies for one observing that shape. Just because an observer doesn't know what symmetry is, it does not mean that the shape is not symmetrical.>>>

Sacerdotus replies:

The writer here is posting a non-sequitur.  His understanding of the "a" prefix establishes the reality of the definition of the word 'atheism' as a position that rejects the gods.  He is actually helping my argument by using these examples.  Atheism is a definitive rejection of gods, not a lack of belief.  Lack of belief is 'apisteuo.'

<<<So what makes atheism the default position? Simple biology, of course. When we are born, we are unaware of religious beliefs of any kind until we are taught them. One cannot be taught atheism as a concept, one can only be taught atheism as a word, a simple label given to a simple state of existence that simply means one does not believe in a god or gods. So, what is Sacerdotus' argument against this?>>>

Sacerdotus replies:

Actually, studies show that human beings are hardwired to believe in God and the supernatural.  We all possess the VMAT2 gene that allows us to contemplate the concept of a God and supernatural existence.  Atheism cannot exist without God.  In other words, one cannot reject god without knowing god.  The concept of atheism is dependent on God, in a conceptual sense. 

   **** All human organisms are conceived when a sperm and egg unite. At conception, a new human being is created with its own genotype and phenotype. However, no human being is born with an infused intellect or conceptual knowledge. No person is born having acquired knowledge from stimuli outside of the womb. Studies show that unborn children do have memories; however, these memories most likely are related to what the child has experienced in the womb.****

<<<So what you're saying is, basically, nobody knows anything when they are brought into existence? Okay, I've already established that... where are you going with this?>>>

Sacerdotus replies:

My post answers your question.  Since God is needed for atheism to exist, it is impossible for atheism to exist before knowing the concept that is being rejected (God) by the aforementioned.   

   *** All human beings are born with "tabula rasa," or a "blank slate." There is no information in the brain in regards to experiences while living on Earth because the human being has been in a womb for 9 months. Even after birth, the brain still does not have experience and needs those around in order to learn. Babies need to be taught even the simplest of things in order to survive. The human being is the only organism that needs this attention. Other organisms instantly know what to do and how to handle their environment the moment they are born. A human baby will die if left alone and its needs are not met. ****

<<<Apart from the "other organisms instantly know what to do" bit, you got that right too. All animal species have instinctual behaviours upon birth, such as locating food from their mother, but you might want to take a closer look at Animal Planet channel and check out a whole bunch of species that without parental care, nurturing, and training for the wild, would simply not survive. Predators need to be trained to hunt, for example, such as wild dogs or big cats.>>>

Sacerdotus replies:

Exactly.  Human beings are not born with this.  Therefore, we cannot reject a concept we have not learned beforehand.  Before you can reject an idea, or disbelieve it; you have to know about it first. 

    ***Being that human beings are social creatures, they learn about society via interaction. Each culture presents to the individual what are called Social Scripts, or how to behave within a society. These are nurtured and are not part of nature. Atheism is a social phenomenon and therefore cannot be the default position. It must be learned.***

<<<Whoa now, sorry, but your conclusion in the last two sentences does not match what you have been saying. You've only established that everything we learn in life, we do not automatically know. What you're trying to say is that for one to be an atheist, one must first learn about religion. This is simply not the case, but it does make a very strong argument for religion being a learned way of life.>>>

Sacerdotus replies:

No, what I am saying is for one to be an atheist, one must know of the concept of God.  How can you lack disbelief or reject a concept you have not learned about??  Think about this for a minute.  Disbelief occurs when one is aware of a piece of information and refuses to accept it as factual. 

<<<As for your "social scripts" not being part of nature, you actually contradicted yourself in this argument by stating both this and that human beings are a social species. Like every other social species, there are a set of instinctive "social scripts" that humanity is both born with and learns. One of these "scripts" is morality, that for the sake of the survival of the pack, one must contribute to the pack and not take from it. Since maliciousness and immorality are of detriment to the pack, the morality "script" is a must have for the pack's survival. This is 100% natural and a natural imperative for the survival of any species.>>>

Sacerdotus replies:

Social scripts are not provided at birth.  These are behaviors that we learn via culture and society as a whole.  Morality is not necessarily a social script.  I am not sure where you're getting this idea from.  We are born with the capacity to know right from wrong.  This capacity is then expounded upon via ethics and laws.  I will post a blog on this at a later time which will go more into detail. 

<<<I do not know what Sacerdotus' motives are in targeting the atheist community with this nonsense, because it's easy to see how instead of arguing the point he was trying to prove, he argued the complete opposite, that atheism, the lack of belief in gods by default of not being aware of them, is a default position, as a concept. I can only assume that atheists are not his target audience. However, it's more than likely he intends atheists to read his work in any case, due to his use of the #atheism hashtag when promoting his posts on Twitter. Whether it be a simple minded attempt to enrage us, or pick a fight, or some other reason I've not thought of, I cannot say. What I can say for sure, however, is he is going to have to come up with better arguments if he wants to prove his claim that atheism is not the default position of a human being at birth.>>>

Sacerdotus replies:

There is no motive.  My only intention is to educate people, theist and atheist.  I  used to be an atheist and am using my knowledge and experience to present atheism in a light that atheists and theists are not used to see it under.  I dissect it and present it as the sophism that it is.  You seem to not understand the difference between lack of awareness and lack of belief.  Lack of awareness is when we are completely oblivious to something or someone.  Lack of belief is when we are exposed to some particular data and choose to not believe it.  See the difference?  The latter requires prior knowledge in order for a person to make a conscious decision to reject it or disbelieve said data.  My arguments are extremely strong against atheism.  My blog is visited by thousands of atheists hourly.  The problem here is that the writer does not understand epistemology and the proper use of words.  

<<<However, for argument's sake, let's say he is right, that atheism is not the default position at birth. Would he kindly care to provide an alternative? That is, what is the default position on religion at birth, Sacerdotus? What does a newborn child believe or not believe? What is your argument to support this position?
Posted 6 minutes ago by The Pinstriped Aspie

Sacerdotus replies:

A newborn child is not born with concepts as we understand them.  However, he/she is born with the capacity to contemplate God, religion and the supernatural. 


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