To begin with, I want to thank all of the kind self-declared Atheists who have chosen to dialogue with me on the social media. It is because of you guys that I have been able to understand and think about these issues as much as I have. And equally important, you have proven to me that not all self declared atheists are the kind of perplexing nimrods who cuss me out because I ask them to explain themselves when they tell me that plants are NOT alive (or at one point, that “pants are alive, depending on your definition.”). Some of the people on social media worry me in that “He’s off his medication again” kind of way.
The “pants are alive” guy also insisted that toasters can’t NOT believe in God. If I made this stuff up, I wouldn’t believe me either.
One of the smarter and much more polite commenters made a comment which I think clarified a part of the debate over the definition of atheism. He said,
If someone said, “Do you believe any gods exist,” and I said, “I’m an agnostic,” I haven’t answered the question.”
This confused me, because as I read this I am thinking, “Of course you answered the question! Agnostics don’t KNOW (thus the term) and so they can’t Believe what they don’t know.” But here in lies another unspoken difference between us. What is the relationship between knowing and believing?
Many of your sarcastic “pants are alive but plants are not” commenters will tell you that knowing and believing are light years apart and in fact are antagonistic to each other. They wish to propose the “Science vs Faith” illusion which has become so popular amongst evolutionists who write books outside of their area of expertise. This idea ties into some philosophy which was suggested to me some years ago. I wrote an article about it HERE, but I shall sum it up for you.
In short, it is proposed that you can believe something without having any knowledge. Naturally, this supports the “Believe VS Know” ideology. As an example, the presenter asks us to imagine a jar full of jellybeans. Is the number of beans even or odd? We cannot know, but we can, he suggests, choose to believe it is even, merely because we choose to. Thus, belief is an arbitrary choice, where as knowledge is based on data. But is this true?
In the article linked above, I pointed out the error in his thinking. What is it we REALLY choose to believe? We actually choose to believe in the probability of choosing correctly. We don’t believe the number of jellybeans is even, we believe that in choosing even instead of odd, we have made a choice which is as good a choice as can be made. It’s either even OR odd, and those differ by a single bean. It’s 50/50, so there is no better choice to be made with the information we have. Our confidence is not in the conclusion, it’s in the odds.
I argued long ago that knowledge and belief are two sides of the same Metaphysical Nickel– they CANNOT be separated.
To Believe is to have confidence/faith in the Truthfulness of information one can recall and understand.
To Know is to be able to recall and understand that which is believed to be true.
So in short, if you are asked what you believe and you admit that you don’t KNOW, you are also admitting that you don’t believe because you lack the ABILITY to believe. Believing an idea you don’t know is like eating a sandwhich you don’t have. It’s not low calorie, it’s imaginary. To eat it, you have to put on a pair of plants and go to Subway. Oh, and those veggies they put on the sub? Those are plants, so they are not alive. Even if they are pants.
But that’s just what I was told on the internet.