“This is a depiction of people I intellectually admire. I say admire because it is rather impossible for me to take someone as a hero, looking past their human flaws. But it is their flaws that makes them human, which makes their intelligence all that more admirable.
From left: John Cleese, Penn Jillette, Bill Nye, Stephen Hawking, (above) Frederick Nietzsche, (below) George Carlin, Carl Sagan, Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Charles Darwin, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Adam Savage, Michio Kaku.”
Q: You write that “being an atheist is simply saying, ‘I don’t know.’ ” But it certainly sounds as if you do know that there is no God. Isn’t “I don’t know” more of an agnostic philosophy?
If I asked you, “Is there a God?” and you answer, “I don’t know,” then you are an agnostic, because you are answering an epistemological question, not a theological question. But if I say to you, “Do you believe in God?” that’s a very different question, because I’m asking for the state of your faith. And if you’ve answered “I don’t know” to the previous question, when I ask you “Do you believe”? unless you’re crazy, the answer is no. You don’t believe in things you don’t know.
There are a lot of straw men in atheism. One straw man is, “You made up your mind, you wouldn’t change your mind no matter what.” And the answer is, well, you’d change your mind the instant you’d get a piece of evidence.
Q: Is it sometimes difficult to espouse atheism without sounding like an overbearing preacher?
No, I find if very easy. But atheism has the problem that our television show “Bull-!” had, which is you state things as a negative. But the real fact is that atheism is, when stated in the positive, a very simple sentence: Everything in this world is enough for me. The love of my family is enough - I don’t need love outside of that. The security of my friends and other human beings is enough. The joy that I get from winning this astonishing lottery to be alive is so great I don’t really want more.
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