Is God a Hypothesis

The atheist, by merdy being in couch with reality, appears shamefully out of touch with the fantasy life of his neighbors,

Just chose who feel they are , . , most fully objective in their assessment of reality, are most in the power of deep unconscious fantasies.

—Robert Beliah1

Being an atheist is not always easy, especially in the United States, There can he* no doubt that atheists are unjustly discriminated against, and every instance of hatred dirccrcd toward them by Christians, Jews* or Muslims only drives them deeper into their own circle of certainty» In the company of fellow unbelievers the) find mutual encouragement to continue the good fight. The assembly is still relatively spare, but it is ample and secure enough these days to provide relief from the feeling of estrangement felt by many atheists in the past. The need lor fellowship is as powerful among unbelievers as believers, and Web sites, blogs, books, journals, and conferences provide a growing network of support for atheists. The new atheists still exaggerate their cultural influence, but the enthusiastic popular reception of their books reveals a significant sector of doubters who normally keep their skepticism under wraps. All in all, the comfort zone for antitheism seems to be warming up gradually. In the academic worid the popularity of scientific naturalism provides a cozy intellectual habitat for the new atheists and other skeptics.

Scientific naturalism, the main tenets of which I listed in the Introduction, is now a major wo rid view among intellectuals.

Owen Flanagan, a philosopher at Duke University, even goes so far as to say char the ideal vocation of academic philosophers today is to make the world safe for 'natural ism," by which he means atheism.1 In my own work I have met numerous academic philosophers, as well as other scholars, who embrace Flanagan's ideal. In almost all such cases the intellectual basis (or their atheism is scientific naturalisms claim that science alone can be trusted to put our minds in touch with reality. What this means for our soft-core atheists is that if there is no scientifically accessible evidence to support belief in God, then by default atheism must be true. Surely they have heard the maxim that absejice of evidence for God is not evidence of absence, but, if they have, they ignore ¡t, In addition to lack of "evidence," the new atheists generally insist that there are also moral grounds for rejecting belief in God. These moral reasons, expressed in their outrage at the wickedness of religions throughout the ages, are probably the most striking aspect of their atheism, but! save the discussion of morality and faith until chapters 6 and 8. At present I want to focus only on the question of "evidence,"

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