excellent post Ghost! (I'm Nat, what's your name?
I'm Rohan, good to meet(?) you.
I agree with your clarifications too.
You cannot prove a negative. Can you scientifically prove that fairies don't exist? Of course you can't.
Most atheists would consider themselves a 6 on that scale. They have a firm belief that God doesn't exist, but don't assert with 100% conviction. We cannot be certain of anything, after all. Therefore, technically we are agnostics. In practice, we are atheists.
I am an Afairiest, too. I don't believe that fairies exist, but I cannot say that with 100% certainty. No one can. The point is that if you say a supernatural deity exists, the burden of proof is on you. It is literally impossible for anyone to debunk that claim, just as it is impossible for anyone to disprove the existence of fairies.
Is my lack of belief in fairies also irrational?
While you are right, deductive reasoning cannot prove that god doesn't exist, you need to recognize something.
The statement of Atheism is that God does not exist. (a negative)
Therefore, you are stating that the universe was not created by god. (a negative)
Therefore you are stating that reality/the universe originated by some other means.
You could demonstrate that "god", in one of the senses denoted by an organized religion, does not exist by determining a true, and obviously different, origin and nature of reality/the universe. Yes I realize this is impossible for us now, but who can say whether or not it will ALWAYS be beyond the means of humanity?
The issue is not really one of disproving a negative.
Second, I know i just played off semantics here. When I said athiesm is irrational, I mean to say that belief that no kind of higher power exists in the world, as any higher power of any kind could be given a symbol, or not if you so chose, and called a deity
. Given our limited knowledge regarding the origins of the universe I think it would be irrational for anyone to claim pure athiesm and say with 100% conviction that no higher power exists. And I assume you mean disproving the existence of the specific dieties postulated by the organized religions that exist in our world. In that you would be correct, it is no different than trying to disprove the belief in fairies, or any other imaginary construct.
Also, you are right. Being a 6 on the scale of athiesm technically makes you an agnostic. Which is rational.
In the end, all of us just end up 'Dust to Dust'. And there's nothing wrong with that, I think...
Here's my personal (and i guess probably strange) view:
The laws of conservation of energy and matter are essentially an athiest/agnostic's immortality, especially if you consider frames of reference. One frame of reference could be the level of society, where we view things on the level of organisms (ourselves). Another frame of reference could be the molecular or cellular levels. Alternatively, you could look at the universe as a single isolated system. You as a human being are simply a piece of that system, composed of simpler parts (matter and energy when it gets down to it). When you die, it is not some spiritual event, those simpler parts are simply being recycled to construct other elements of the greater isolated system. There is nothing to fear or be sad about in dying, you are simply changing form from being one part of reality at large to another.
I thank physics and chemistry for my peace of mind.