Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The equality of gods. Absent, silent and unproven

I would normally leave this kind of thing for the weekend. You know, a sort of a Sunday Sermonette™.
In any case, The TimesOnline was discussing the fact that more than a third of Britons describe themselves as secular humanists and only 10 percent of the population actually goes to church at all.

I found none of that terribly surprizing. What I did find interesting, however, was a reader comment to the article itself.
Atheists are *not* people who claim to be sure there definitely is no god. The word atheist comes from Greek: it breaks down like this: a - meaning 'not', and 'theist' - one who believes in god(s). We don't believe in gods in the same way we don't believe in unicorns, fairies at the bottom of the garden, Santa Claus or an invisible fire-breathing dragon in my garage. We don't believe in them because there isn't sufficient evidence to make these things plausible (and the evidence required to make them plausible would have to be pretty extensive, based on how far outside our everyday understanding of the world they lie), but we don't go round with placards saying, 'unicorns don't exist'. That would be silly. As silly as the people who go round, one way or another, with placards saying, 'unicorns do exist' ... without sufficient evidence. Your 'two extremes' frame is a false one: and thoughtful politeness doesn't mean always accepting some 'middle' path.
Well, I wouldn't be too sure about the fire-breathing dragon in the garage.

But what about sock elves?

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