1.1 Negative Atheism: is the lack of belief in God or gods.
A negative atheist does not believe in God or Gods.
1.2 Positive Atheism: is the belief that God or gods do not
exist. Positive atheists do not believe in God and go
further affirming there is no God or gods.
1.3 Agnosticism: the belief that it is not
possible to know anything about
God's existence. Agnostics do not
believe in God or gods; but nor do
they deny the possibility that God or
gods might exist.
2 Reasons and responses
for the rise in atheism
2.1 Science. Ray Billington describes God as God
of the gaps. Says that Science is a supreme
catalyst for the rise in atheism. This is due to
three main developments: 1. Galileo and
Copernicus and the telescope. 2. Biological
revolutions by Darwin. 3. Psychological
developments by Freud.
2.1.1 Responses to Science- Darwin agrees that Science cannot
disprove God. Hawkings will not engage in a conversation
about whether God exists... maybe there is not enough
evidence either way?
2.2 Empiricism. Only believe what is experienced through the 5
senses. Hyman- 'God is precisely that which is non
empirical.' God is not a physical object and so cannot be
experienced through the five senses. Hume- can only draw
on conclusions from known phenomena. Hyman- theism is
completely incompatible with empiricism. A.J.Ayer-
Verification principle- meaningful statements are ones that
can either be proved/ you know how to prove true or false.
We cannot and do not know how to prove God's existence
and so it is meaningless.
2.2.1 Responses to Empiricism- Verifiation principle is
meaningless as it too cannot be proved true or
false.--> Whole argument doesn't work. Is there
not a sixth sense of intuition? Billington admits
that not all beliefs can be proved through the
2.3 The Problem of evil- inconsistent triad. If God is Omnibenevolent,
Omnipresent and Omnipotent, there is no reason why there is evil in the
world. God cannot be all of these things and evil still exist. Evil does exist and
so therefore God cannot. D.Z. Philips- It is never justifiable to hurt someone in
order to help them. When we consider the magnitude of suffering in the world
, this problem is all the more serious.
2.3.1 Reponses to the problem of evil: St Augustine argues that evil had entered the world through human
misuse of freewill. St Irenaeus argues evil is an unavoidable risk if humans have freewill. Hick argues
that God wants humans to be genuinely loving however he cannot get the if he made everyone the
same like robots so evil need to be in the world to allow people the opportunity to stray from the
correct path and learn from it.
2.4 The rebellion against moral absolutes- Moral absolutes are unchanging ethical truths. Moral absolutists rebel against
moral absolutes arguing that what is wrong or right varies according to the individual situation. H.P Owen states that it 'is
impossible to think of a command without also thinking of a commander. ' Immanuel Kant rejected all rational proof's of
God's existence and emphasised that moral laws are not divine commands. He says that a sense of unconditional
obligation justifies us in postulating God's existence. Cultural Relativists go a step further, arguing that what is right and
wrong is based is based on nothing more than the attitude of our culture.
2.4.1 Response to the rebellion of moral absolutes - It is only a threat to
God when it is taken to extremes such as religious nihilism- the
view that there are no objective standards. If relativism is seen as
a rejection of moral absolutes- it could take a more subjective
approach such as that by Joseph Fletcher in Situation Ethics. Not
all atheists reject absolutes as they too see need in some moral
laws such as not intentionally killing innocent people.
2.5 Awareness of other faiths- John Hick claims that
there is a challenge posed by awareness of other
faiths. Where you are born often decides what
religion you are from. Different religions say
incompatible things from one another which often
contradict one another and can arise questions
about whether there is an absolute God. If one of
them is false, how do we know they all aren't? Hume
says that 'in religion, whatever is different is
contrary.' He discusses the fact that all religions
make conflicting claims about the objective nature
of God and if we disbelieve one, what is to say that
they are all not false as well.
2.5.1 Religious Pluralism: Hick interprets this
view that all religions are human responses
to the transcendent reality and that they
are all equally valid responses. There are
many routes up the mountain to God.
3 Nietzsche: 'God
is dead. God
And we have
focus on the
way society no
longer has a
need for a God
trying to prove
God does not
exist. He said
that where God
was once relied
on for answers,
managed to get
areas such as
4 Postmodernism refers to the cultural era
following the modern era. The modern era
focused on absolutes and you knew where you
stood whereas the postmodern era rejects
absolutes and meta narratives and focuses on a
more subjective and personal approach to life
4.1 Cultural Constructs: Postmodern rejection of meta
narratives involves the rejection of absolute truth
claims from western faiths. Emile Durkheim argued that
religion was a product of the society in which it was
developed. What is required by the religion is the way in
which society expects people to behave. He uses the
example of a Christian Cross. To some, the cross would
only symbolise a shape of a cross however to Christians
is has so many more connotations such as salvation and
resurrection. Jean Francois Lyotard argued that beliefs
that have been understood as meta narratives should
be seen as local interpretations on the nature of reality.
For Examples a Hebrew view of God would be one of a
caring and protective God because of the way that they
were given freedom and support to escape slavery.
However for people of a different background that do
not know this story, so would differ.
4.2 No right or wrong religions: Having rejected all claims to absolute truth, there cannot be a
claim for right or wrong religions. Os Guiness states that if we reject absolutes, then we need
to reject a religions claim to exclusive knowledge. Jacques Derrida further develops this
stating 'deconstruction is not an enclosure in nothingness but an openness to other.' He says
that postmodernism allows us to open up to other religions and not feel marginalised into a
'correct' choice. He says we should have an agnosticism about the existence of God. If we say
anything definite we would be sticking to meta- narratives and so instead we should consider
an other- gives us a sense of mystery. Caputo adopts this approach in his book. He promotes
an ideal 'religion without religion' He says tru religion refers to virtue of being truly religious
or truly loving God rather than 'one true religion' or 'my religion is better than yours'. Still
agnostic-Don't know what God refers.
4.3 Religion as a spiritual search: As no religions can be seen as right or wrong, it is up to the
individual to create their own mini narratives. James Beckford identifies the pick and mix
approach. He says that it is like a religion supermarket and we can pick and choose the ideal
and teachings that suit us best. Heelas identified with this and offers the example of New Age
Spiritualism which has branches in Christianity, Islam and Wiccan traditions. Cupitt is an anti
realist. He says that there is no God in terms of an external being. Instead a construct of our
minds that represents our spiritual search to our goal.
4.3.1 Oh wait!! A set spitual
search with a set
spiritual goal is an
absolute. --> word it
instead as a personal
spiritual search to a
4.4 Living religion rather than intellectual faith: Due to the deep
agnosticism of many postmodern views of religion, it is not surprising
that religion focuses on a living approach to religion rather than a set
intellect. Caputo says religion is about the way you live your life, not
gaining or having knowledge. God and religion is what you do and not
what you know. Andrew Wright talks about 'deeds rather than creeds'.
Not teaching us about set religious beliefs teachings about God but
rather how to live our lives in these positive roles,
5 Does postmodernism affirm or deny religion
5.1 1. Most religions
importance of a
living religion e.g.
5.1.1 2. Rejection of
Quakers- refer to
'light of God'.
Have no creeds.
Don't refer to a
God as a
22.214.171.124 3. God cannot be
contained in the
bounds of human
focus on faith/
belief rather than
be seen as a
126.96.36.199.1 4. Some traditions and
practices fir into
intellectual E.G. St
John of the Cross. Via
Negative- Don't say
what God is- describe
him by saying what
188.8.131.52.1.1 5. Exposes
atheism as a meta
narrative- open to
the idea of
religion and God.
of mystery--> New
5.2 1. No universal truth-
contradicts key religious
teachings E.G. Jesus is the
way, the truth and Life. To
get to God, you go through
5.2.1 2. Religious
Pluralism- lots of
routes but mine is
best= absolute. By
saying you are
open to the
possibility of God-
this is not
184.108.40.206 3. Living religion-
Hand in hand
Practise + truth
220.127.116.11.1 4. Rejection of
to have specific
ethical code of
conduct. Do not
kill- not relevant?
18.104.22.168.1.1 5. Freedom of thought-
basis of right and wrong.
22.214.171.124 Closer to atheism than
agnosticism- Cupitt- anti
realist. Is this not admitting
you are atheist in another
name? If you reject
objective existence -
disallows Derrida's open