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Responding to Dennis Prager's Two Questions for Atheists

The Out Campaign: Scarlet Letter of AtheismI came across this entry that I'd had ready to go for a while but forgot about. A few months ago, Dennis Prager wrote an article, Two questions for Atheists. The two questions were as follows:

  1. Do you hope you are right or wrong?
  2. Do you ever doubt your atheism?

I left a comment answering, but thought I would repost that answer here:

'Hope' is not the word I would use. At least the connotation I understand for that word is that there's a reasonable expectation that things we 'hope' for might actually happen, even if it's an outside chance. I hope to be financially stable throughout my adult life. I hope everyone in my family has good health. I hope the next plane I fly in doesn't crash. Conversely, I wouldn't say that I hoped that dragons were real, because I recognize that they're mythical and that my understading of the world would have to be severely flawed for dragons to exist. My understanding of the universe also implies, very strongly, that souls don't exist, and maybe slightly less strongly, that other spirits and divine powers don't exist, including gods. 'Hoping' to be wrong about that would be like 'hoping' to be wrong about dragons or unicorns.*

Now, I will admit to some small level of doubt regarding the supernatural, but it doesn't play into traditional Abrahamic religions. I'm thinking of deistic gods or spirits, that set the universe in motion and then remained hands off, or that actually came into being as part of the universe after the big bang. But even those are outside possibilities. I mean, the only intellects we now about were the result of countless eons of stellar and then biological development. It seems pretty odd to think that an intelligence would have come first and set everything else in motion, rather than vice versa. Everything we know of starts simple and builds to more complex. You don't get a 747 before there's even a junkyard for the tornado to blow through.

And many traditional religions just seem patently absurd. From an outsider's perspective, Yahweh seems no more credible than the old Greek and Roman gods, or the chimera gods of the ancient Egyptians. It's just hard to take those ideas seriously. I mean, there's a huge, gigantic universe on scales we can't truly comprehend, but the creator of it all takes a personal interest in whether or not I eat a bacon cheeseburger, wear clothes with mixed fibers, or style my hair a certain way?

I have further objections, but I think this is already long enough for a comment, so I'll leave it be here.

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*I suppose if you wanted to use a different definition of hope, more in line with wish, where plausibility wasn't part of it, then I do 'hope' that certain relgions aren't true, because of how bleak they are. Christianity is one of them. Here's an article related to that:
God vs. Supervillains

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