Re: Why atheism beats agnosticism (Was: Re: Contacting God)

Max More (
Thu, 23 Apr 1998 11:26:37 -0700

At 10:20 AM 4/23/98 EDT, T0Morrow wrote:
>I take it that an atheist in fact asserts that gods do not and cannot
>claim that cries out for positive proof. But, again, most understandings of
>theology deny that scientific methods will suffice to resolve the question of
>god's existence. Scientists typically agree that they have little to add to
>theological disputes. Defending atheism thus take more than mere
rejection of
>theism; it calls for the sort of proof that, ex hypothesis, cannot obtain.

While I agree with your other comments on this thread, I don't agree here.
"Atheism" = a-theism. Since "theism" means a belief in a god, "atheism" is
the absence of belief in a god. In that sense, I am an atheist. An atheist
*may* actively deny that there is a god of any particular description, and
may even claim that they can prove that there is no god. However, that is
not the essence of atheism. The essence is simply the absence of belief.

I would not call myself an agnostic, since I do think that knowledge of
these things is possible. If you define "god" in some clear enough way --
the standard sense being a single being who is omnipotent, omniscience, and
all-good, then I would say I know there is no such being. "Know" here is
contextual and not absolute -- but that's always the case with knowledge.

I would take the same position if someone claimed that an invisible,
intangible elf lived on top of the Empire State Building, where it
controlled the minds of the heads of state. Since there is zero evidence
for such a belief, and any predictions such a beliefs makes are going to be
either unfalsifiable or plain wrong, I would reject that belief. I would be
an atheist (or an a-elfist) not an agnostic (or ag-elfist)! That doesn't
mean I claim that I can definitely prove that there is no such elf.

Atheistically yours,


Max More, Ph.D.
Updated website (Jan 98):
President, Extropy Institute:,