Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Atheism as a Subset of Religion

Of course, the previous post was also connected to other curious arguments I've been having of late. There are a lot of math and science majors out there with funny ideas.

In one of those arguments, I said that atheism is a subset of religion. A famous atheistic pseudo-argument or joke goes like this: "A monotheist claims that Occam's Razor must reduce the total divinity of a viable religion to one. An atheist merely reduces this number by one."

As an admirer (though not adherent) of Bertrand Russell, I can only say that just as the null set is a subset of all sets, so atheism must be a subset of theism. Since theism is a subset of religion, it follows that atheism must be a subset of religion.

However, many atheists contend that atheism is the logical complement of religion, i.e. not-religion. That's plainly not true — atheism is the '0' to monotheism's '1', you might say, but that doesn't mean 0 and 1 are not both values. Neither belief can be proven uncontroversially to be true, and any 'falsification' argument fails simply because of the fundamental asymmetry between 'yes' and 'no'; 'no' is not 'not-yes'.

So, yes, all these controversies are in the end to be avoided. They waste a lot of effort, as the Good Book says.

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Blogger Albrecht Morningblade said...

Didn't the Romans have a mathematics system without a zero? That must be it... these people are living in the ancient past?

: )

Thursday, December 15, 2011 6:00:00 pm  

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