Monday, January 12, 2009

LOL - Conservapedia on Atheism

Don't ask why ('cause I don't know...), but I took a look at the Conservapedia "encyclopedia" entry on Atheism, and was genuinely disappointed by what a joke it is. It's hysterical, but sort of sad, just how many ways the article is blatently biased, inflammatory, or just plain wrong. It would be funnier, but for the fact that this is a high-traffic web site with millions of readers who take it seriously.

(I usually provide links, but refuse in this case – I'm sure you can find it yourself – because I don't want to lend what little search-engine karma my blog has gained to the drivel on Conservapedia.)

I'm of the same philosophy as Arlo Guthrie:
I'd rather have friends who care than friends who agree with me.
So I was hoping that Conservapedia would have a well-crafted, thoughtful article on Atheism. What a disappointment! It is a total hack job, written by people mostly interested in slapping each other on the back at how clever they are.

Just a few of the more outrageous parts of the article...

They start off on the wrong foot by defining Atheism "is the denial of the existence of God." Most Atheists I know make no such claim, rather, we simply see no evidence for the truly extraordinary claim that there's a magical god in the sky. Alas, Conservapedia goes on to confuse things by calling the denial-of-existence camp "strong atheism," and calling the more common theists-bear-the-proof-burden by the dismissive title of "weak atheists."

So let me get this right: Atheists deny the existence of God ... but "weak atheists" don't. Hmmm, I guess I never swallowed the Anti-Rationalism Meme, otherwise this apparent contradiction wouldn't trouble me. Doesn't anybody check this stuff?

Things really heat up a few sections down. Just take a look at these headings:
  • Atheism and Communism
  • Atheism and Mass Murder
  • Atheism and American Charity (links to: Atheism and Uncharitableness)
  • Atheism and Immoral Views
  • Atheism and Suicide
  • Atheism and Deception
  • Decline of Atheism as an Intellectual Position
Does this sound like an "encyclopedia" to you? What a joke. You can just imagine the contents of each of these sections, don't bother reading it.

And how about this one:
Moral depravity: The history of the atheist community and various studies regarding the atheist community point to moral depravity being a causal factor for atheism.
It's so absurd I can't even be insulted.

It's too bad some serious intellectuals can't take control of Conservapedia and offer something challenging. I was hoping for a good argument, but not today. Just a good laugh.


  1. Conservatives I've met thus far, have proved to be deeply unpleasant.

    It's hardly surprising they view us in such ways.

    I'd recommend a course of rational-emotive therapy for them, but the fact its empirical would no doubt put them off.

  2. Yeah, this isn't surprising at all. If the neocons wanted an unbiased, fact-based article on atheists, they'd had stuck with Wikipedia.

  3. I've yet to find anything actually worth reading on that site. Some of it is worthy of a derisive laugh, while some other stuff just makes me want to find a corner and sit down for a good sob...

  4. I do not appreciate Conservapedia's evaluation of atheism but I think you made one error. The "denial of the existence of God" is to deny the proposition "God exists" (P). If not-P, then it follows that you do not believe in God's existence. By law of excluded middle, you either accept this proposition or don't. However, this by NO means implies that you have the belief that God does NOT exist (q).

    Lack of evidence is precisely what justifies not-P. That does not make it equivalent to Q, however. I'm a theist myself and don't agree that atheism is the default position. But that is up for another discussion...

  5. MacGuy - maybe I misunderstand your comment, but I don't make the claim, not-P. Nor do most atheists who I've met. We take no position either way: There is no evidence at all either supporting or refuting any claims about the proposition P, "God exists."

    Given that there is no evidence, it's not necessary to take a position for or against the proposition P.

    The only reason the question is interesting is because so many people DO believe God exists, and incorrectly try to claim that atheist's non-belief is the same as asserting not-P. They are two completely different things. It's the theists who assert P with no evidence. Until there is evidence for P, the theist's position has no support, so requires no refutation.

  6. I'm sorry if you don't deny the existence of God you are not an atheist check phiolosophical encyclopedas like stanford or routledge or philosophypages online. Conservapedia is correct in this case

  7. Right, MrFreeThinker, and if you don't believe in the literal truth of the Bible in every respect, including history, geography and science, then you're not a Christian. Just ask Jerry Falwell.

    You're simply mistaken. See Wikipedia which gives several more authoritative citations than one professor writing at Stanford. Atheism can be can "be either the affirmation of the nonexistence of gods, or the rejection of theism. It is also defined more broadly as an absence of belief in deities, or nontheism." The definition you give is just one of the three groups of Atheists. Very few Atheists affirmatively state that there is no deity.

  8. In philosophical usage we go to sources like Routledge or Stanford, not Wikipedia.
    If an atheists say they do not deny the existence of God , they are misapplying the term "atheism".
    If you do not deny God but merely say there is no evidence for him you may be some kind of non-theist or agnostic , but not an atheist.

    If atheists insist on redefining atheism , I am going to redefine theism. Theism is merely a lack of belief in naturalism. There are strong theist (believe naturalism is false) and weak theists (don't believe naturalism ).

  9. You are arguing a linguistics question, not a philosophy question. It happens that I studied linguistics at Stanford, and know a bit about the meaning of words and how they're defined.

    Words are defined by their common usage. When an philosopher writes a highly technical paper or book, she/he must carefully defined terms, for the purposes of the paper, so that it's clear what is being discussed.

    That has no relevance when it comes to the widely accepted definitions of common terms. When it comes to the everyday meaning of words, I'd take the Encyclopedia Britannica's definition (which contradicts you), not a philosopher writing for other philosophers.

    Why is this so important to you?

  10. So do you concede at least that conservapedia is using the standard definition, while you just try to us the popular definition of the word?

    It is important because atheists play games with semantics in order to shift burdens of proof. You can't have an atheist-theist argument , if the atheist is just arguing his way out of having an argument and will not defend his position.

  11. No, MrFreeThinker, I concede nothing of the sort. You need to read my posting more carefully. You're trying to engage me in a meaningless argument about who gets to define the meaning of the word "atheist". If you'd studied linguistics, and the history of who writes dictionaries and the policies behind each publisher's dictionary, you'd know this is a silly discussion.

  12. If atheists would like to engage in philosophical discourse with theists they should use the standard philosophical definitions.
    Similarly when a creationist tries to engage in scientific discourse with a evolutionary biologist , they should use the accepted scientific definition of "theory" not the word "theory" based on popular usage.
    In the same way atheists should not redefine the accepted philosophical definition of "atheist" based on popular usage.

    "‘Atheism’ means the negation of theism, the denial of the existence of God."


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