Argument from ignorance

This is a misrepresentation of atheism but it is funny. Whoever created this image seems to be saying, “If there is no God then how do you explain the existence of everything?” That’s a good question. Saying there is no God has another problem. To say that God does not exist requires you to have looked everywhere. And as you probably know, “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” This the argument from ignorance fallacy. The Wikipedia article on this subject makes an interesting point: “The challenge thus becomes to try to identify when a researcher has received a null result (found nothing) because the thing does not exist (evidence of absence), and when one simply lacks proper means of detection (absence of evidence).”

6 Replies to “Argument from ignorance”

  1. Very interesting. I must say, my understanding of Atheism is not very great in part because my experiences lead me in an entirely different direction – but I am open-minded. From what you posted, it almost seems like atheism (Atheism?) is similar or the same as agnosticism. What is the difference?

  2. I don’t think there is any practical difference between atheism and agnosticism.

    To get a better sense of the difference consider some subject in which everyone is “atheist”.

    For example, do you believe in pink unicorns on the moon?

    A unicorn atheist would say, “no” I do not believe in pink unicorns on the moon.

    A unicorn agnostic would say “no, but there might be, I can’t know for sure.”

    But if it turned out that someone finds a pink unicorn on the moon, both the atheist and agnostic would change their beliefs.

    In this sense, there are no complete atheists about ANY subject or idea.

  3. Perry, I don’t think the issue is quite that simple. If an Apollo astronaut wrote in his memoirs that he was embarrassed to admit it but he had seen a pink unicorn on the Moon, most people would still not believe. Believe it or not, all humans practice a certain amount of skepticism when it comes to ideas which seem strange to them. So “if it turned out that someone finds a pink unicorn on the moon” it would depend on what kind of evidence was provided in order to persuade others to believe.

  4. This is pretty funny, but I agree that it is a misrepresentation of atheism. It would be a lot more accurate if the title were “Materialism” or “Naturalism,” but of course those terms don’t have the popular connotations that Atheism has.

    Perry, I agree with you that there is little practical difference between atheism and agnosticism (aside from agnostics being a bit more honest ;-) However, I think you are misapplying the word “atheism.” Type define:atheism into Google and you will find many references to lack of belief in any God. You’ll see the words “no God…or gods,” “no deities,” “lack of belief in a god or gods,” etc.

    Many modern atheists take a somewhat softer position than their intellectual forbears, in that they define “atheism” as a lack of belief in God, rather than the belief that there is no God. Still, it’s a misuse of the word when many of them say, “We’re all atheists. I just go one god farther than you.”

  5. The burden of proof is not on the Atheist but the religious. It is not the atheist that has to prove your god does not exist, but you who has to prove that your god does exist. So until you can come up with evidence to prove the existence of your big sky daddy then your argument has no meaning. D=

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