If this is one of the main positions of atheists as a group, then that puts atheism much closer to a faith or belief than to a scientifically empirical position, due to the fact that there is no formal framework for cetainty or probability that allows such statement without any evidence at all. And, no, lack of evidence of existence is not evidence for nonexistence. A conclusion based on no evidence is one of two things: (1) a belief, or (2) wrong.
So, given these facts:
- Most atheists agree that the scientific method is the only justifiable way to gain knowledge.
- Self-proclaimed "atheists" cannot seem to agree on their position with respect to belief in gods (despite the definition of the word "atheist"), and the most popular position (above) is a statement of faith, not science.
- There is no widely popular politcal movement whose main motivation is the scientific method and reason and whose roots or main positions do not lie squarely in beliefs or faith.
- I don't want to talk any more about the existence of gods.
Yes, we might also be skeptics, agnostics, atheists, Christians, Muslims, Taoists, libertarians, Democrats, Republicans, Socialists, and Communists, but the one thing all rational empiricists have in common is a set of arguments (politically, socially, interculturally) based only on empirical evidence and logic.
The term "rational empiricism" has a well-developed philosophical background, and the difference between this philosophy and what I propose here is mainly political activism. The philosophy does not have a goal, but I do. My goal is:
All laws and regulations enacted by the power of any government should
- guarantee personal freedoms insofar as they do not harm others, or,
- given (1), guarantee fairness and equal opportunity for all participants in economic, social, and political exchanges, or,
- given (1) and (2), promote the general welfare.
We can adapt rational empiricism to a political ideal by using the principles of the established philosophy to achieve these goals.
Many of these ideas are not at all new, but it seems obvious to me that politics are driven by opinions and beliefs, which is something I'd like to see changed. The solution is of course reason and the scientific method, neither of which has their own political voice, as they are constantly bent and mingled with other less desirable ideologies.
In case anyone was wondering, no, I am not planning on putting my name on any ballots in the near future, but I do plan to spend more time here in the background, analyzing and commenting, preparing myself for a future where things might change.
Notes and references:
Atheism is a religion, my first post focusing on this topic
Atheism is not science, a second attempt at clarity
One more time, on atheism, a stab at the politics of atheism
A very good Blag Hag post, under which I put forth and defend some of my positions using the name "Brian".