Julian Sanchez v. Ron Rosenbaum

Julian Sanchez offers a thoughtful response to Ron Rosenbaum’s horrible Agnostic’s Manifesto.

But when I say that I think there is no God, I don’t mean anything so grandiose. I mean just that I see no good reason to think that there is, and that all the various stories told about deities appear to me equally likely to be mythical. I don’t believe in basilisks or psychic powers either—probably neither do most religious believers—but few of us, on reflection, would be so bold as to say this is a belief we are absolutely certain about. It’s possible we could be mistaken, even if the possibility seems too remote to bother much about or, indeed, take all that seriously.

I like how he puts this. Atheism is only a religion if atheists believe in it like religious people believe in their religions. But why would anyone assume that we do? When I say I believe there’s no God, it’s a judgement of probability in the same way I believe that I won’t live to 250.

I will take Rosenbaum’s side when it comes to the importance of the question of why there’s something rather than nothing. Sanchez doesn’t take it seriously — and isn’t even sure it makes sense to ask. Which I think gets at what I would personally expect the answer to be: that there must be something rather than nothing — in the way that two plus two must make four. If that were the case, the question might still make sense, but proposing any alternative answer wouldn’t. Of course, I don’t know if that’s the case. I mean, I’d rank its probability as higher than the existence of God, but I could be wrong.

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