PLEASE NOTE:

MyNews24 is a user-generated section of News24.com. The stories here come from users.

 
Unrestrained
 
Comments: 33
Article views: 2341
 
 
Latest Badges:



 
View all Unrestrained's badges.
 

This article has been selected as an Editor’s Choice report. Articles are selected based on quality of writing, audience response, newsworthiness and originality, and is at the discretion of the MyNews24 editors.

Have you met the wiggle-thump?

13 December 2011, 07:07
One of the recurring points of contention, in the ongoing atheism vs. theism debate, is around whether atheism is, in itself, a belief and/or religion. Seemingly, a lot would come down to a person’s understanding of a ‘belief’. Essentially, we need to ask ourselves whether disbelief is a belief, or, whether it is something less, i.e. (only) the absence of something. To unpack this would be to get to the heart of whether a person believes (a positive assertion) that there (probably/certainly) is/are no god/s, or, whether they are simply saying that, in the absence of something beyond words, they do not believe (negative) a proposition. I do not think these options to be mutually exclusive. There is, certainly, a sliding scale, on which different people may find themselves, which differing positions will probably influence what they call themselves and the way in which they will argue their points.


Personally, I do not believe that there is no god. I believe that there probably is no god. Allow me to explain why. I did not come along one day and, out of the blue, declare there to probably be no god. This is obvious, if one considers the fact that, had I done this, I’d have been presented with the question, ‘what is god?’ You see, a declaration of disbelief (wherever on the scale it sits) can only occur after a positive assertion has been made. In this case, the positive assertion can only have been ‘there is a god’ (with the appropriate subsequent explanations of what ‘god’ is/was). The point is that the positive assertion started the debate. I could not not believe in god, until there was a god concept that called for one to assert or deny. This is where the burden of proof comes into play. The following tale should show why.


If Caveman 1 walked up to Caveman 2 and said that, just over in the next valley, there was a Wiggle-Thump, it is likely that 2 would, firstly, ask 1 to tell him what a Wiggle-Thump is. Note that, at this point, 2 is neither a believer, nor a non-believer. 2 is just curious and wants to know more. 1 then tells 2 that a Wiggle-Thump is a large, purple monster type thing, which, if you approach it carefully, rewards you with roasted animal, but which, if you ignore or insult, will eat you immediately. Now, Caveman 2 has never heard of such a thing, nor has he seen anything similar in all of his experience, so, a little bit of scepticism starts creeping in. He wonders if 1 is just pulling his leg. “Show me” he says to 1, still acknowledging that 1 may be able to prove himself (i.e. 1’s claim is still falsifiable). “Sure!” says 1 and leads 2 to the top of the mountain, overlooking Wiggle-Thump Valley. 2 stares down for a few moments and asks where it is, “I can’t see it”. “Oh” says 1, “of course you can’t see it! In fact, you’ll never be able to detect it, as its invisible, odourless, weightless and has no detectable effect on our world.” (there goes the falsifiability) Now, 2’s suspicions have been fully raised. “Listen 1! You’ve led me to the top of this mountain, with this amazing story and now have nothing to show for it! Why should I not whack you over the head for wasting my time? How did you come up with this ruse?” 1 now goes on the defensive. “Caveman 3 told me of it and he has no reason to lie! Anyway, you can’t prove that the Wiggle-Thump is not down there!” 1 has now shifted the burden of proof, despite having originally told 2 of the Wiggle-Thump and despite 2 never having possessed the Wiggle-Thump concept, prior to 1’s statement. “Well” says 2 “of course I can’t prove it! You said it’s invisible, odourless and that there’d be no physical trace of it, so, what physical tools do you expect me to use?” 1 is now very happy. “Aha!” he says, “So, the Wiggle-Thump exists. And, by the way, stuff you for having suggested that I’d made it up!”

 

Now, what the above (hopefully) demonstrates, is the need for a minimum of two rules, in proving something to be so. Firstly, the person who alleges something must prove it. This avoids the ‘well, you can’t disprove it’ scenario, which could otherwise be used for (literally) any absurd allegation (Flying Spaghetti Monsters included). Secondly, evidence, used in support of the allegation, should be falsifiable, so that the person denying/questioning it can show your allegation to be false, by means of something at his disposal in the physical world. Invisibility is not falsifiable and lends support to the first fallacy, whereas the original purple was falsifiable, as, had there been a purple monster, 2 would have been hard-pressed to further argue with 1. If you deny that the burden and falsifiability are necessary, then, dear theists, you’ve just admitted the Wiggle-Thump (and the FSM) to exist.

 

The other important point, from the Wiggle-Thump story, is that 2 was never a ‘disbeliever’ (in the Wiggle Thump) until 1 had made a positive assertion and then failed to prove it, only going so far as attempting to shift the burden. Therefore, we see that the negative did not exist, until the positive came along. From this, it follows that atheists did not exist, until theists came along. They may not have believed in god/s prior to theists, but, the label ‘non-believer’ (IRO god/s) could only stick to them, after the god concept was open to consideration.  Until that point, it would have been impossible to say that they did not believe in god. There was an absence of belief, but, nothing to measure it against, i.e. no god to deny. Accordingly, it becomes clear that atheism is not a belief. It is the absence of belief. It is only a shifting of burdens, after failing to falsifiably prove the god claim, which allows some to state atheism to be a belief or religion. Seeing as the shifting of the burden is fallacious and is the premise for this argument, I can only suggest, therefore, that theists have failed to prove atheism to be a belief. Basically, you all now believe the Wiggle-Thump to not exist, but, you always actually ‘believed’ this … there’s just now the Wiggle-Thump concept to measure your disbelief against. But, that’s false logic! It does not make you somehow religious, vis a vis the Wiggle-Thump, just because I created the concept.  To allege this would be to rely of having fallaciously shifted the burden onto you.

 

Then, there are the degrees of non-belief. As I’ve said, I believe that there probably are no gods (remember, my ‘belief’ stems from a previous positive theistic assertion). The only reason that I do not state, with certainty, that there is no god, is because I am taken by the concept of affording everything a small possibility. God/s, in my mind, occupy the same space as Wiggle-Thumps, FSMs and Invisible Pink Unicorns. In other words, the chances are small enough that I will not base my life on the minuscule chance that they do exist.

 

Then, there is the atheist, who is comfortable saying that god/s certainly do not exist. I believe these people to have dispensed with the sentimental concept of affording everything a minute possibility of being true. Sometimes, some concepts are just too bizarre. I hang onto my sentimentality, but, only for the sake of it, in itself. In fact, I lean very close to dismissing the concept entirely and will go so far as to say that there is a massive probability that god/s do not exist. I just can’t make that final jump.

 

Finally, there are the fence-sitters, people who are unsure, but, who afford ‘god vs. no god’ equal possibility. I’m uncertain and I know that I cannot speak for everyone, but, I view these people as having failed to understand the actual probabilities involved (god/FSM/Zeus/Wiggle-Thump etc. can’t each claim 50%) and who still have attachments to the entrenched god concept and the eternal threats that follow it. These people have possibly also failed to grasp the necessity of having a burden of proof.

 

Ultimately, whichever position on the scale it takes, non-belief/disbelief/atheism is not a positive belief. ‘The atheist religion’ is a fallacious box that theists attempt to close us into, for whatever purpose, but, have failed to provide what is necessary to keep us in it. So, please all stop forcing your disbelief of the Wiggle-Thump down my throat! Keep your belief, that it doesn’t exist, to yourselves.   

Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.
 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
33 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
Craig Pedersen
The man who destroyed the police

I shall mourn the passing of an institution that once served with pride and dignity. Read more...

47 comments 12824 views
Submitted by
R. Diedericks
The day our boat broke on the Mek...

After an hour the 1.5 litre bottle was finished. So was I, and that’s the beginning of how our boat broke on the Mekong Delta. More about that next time! Read more...

1 comments 223 views
Submitted by
Michelle Geldenhuys
War, Revenge & The EFF

My manifesto is simple: Love your fellow South African Read more...

7 comments 564 views
Submitted by
Pierre Willemse
Cricket World Cup - can we do it?

Since the Proteas world cup squad has been announced the big question in everybody's lips has been can this team go all the way? Read more...

18 comments 1172 views
Submitted by
Thulane Che Trosky
Submitted by
Holly
No comments on Selebi?

Who's running News24? In a pathetic attempt to silence their voices News24 allowed no comments on his passing. Read more...

36 comments 1842 views

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Save up to 40% on outdoor accessories!

Tents, sleeping, day packs and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Month End Madness Sale!

Save up to 60% on across a wide range of goods from books to electronics, DVDs and many more. Sale end 31 January 2015. Shop now!

Valentine’s Day gifts – 14 Feb!

Gifts to spoil him and her. While stocks last. Shop now!

30% off fragrances

Get 30% off fragrances for him and her. While stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off All Textbooks

Save up to 30% off an extensive range of prescribed textbooks for all major universities and FET colleges. Shop Now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

 

services

E-mail Alerts The latest headlines in your inbox

RSS feeds News delivered really simply.

Mobile News24 on your mobile or PDA

E-mail Newsletters You choose what you want

News24 on your iPhone Get News24 headlines on your iPhone.

SMS Alerts Get breaking news stories via SMS.

Blogs Your opinion on you, me and everyone.

Calais Website keywords automated by OpenCalais.

 
Interactive Advertising Bureau
 
© 2015 24.com. All rights reserved.
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.