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About Amit Varma

Amit Varma is a writer based in Mumbai. He worked in journalism for over a decade, and won the Bastiat Prize for Journalism in 2007. His bestselling novel, My Friend Sancho, was published in 2009. He is best known for his blog, India Uncut. His current project is a non-fiction book about the lack of personal and economic freedoms in post-Independence India.

Bastiat Prize 2007 Winner

Recent entries

Two Villains

This is the 18th installment of Rhyme and Reason, my weekly set of limericks for the Sunday Times of India…

How This Nobel Has Redefined Literature

This piece was published today in the Times of India. It’s rare that when a prize is given to someone,…

To Defeat Pakistan’s Generals, Let’s Embrace Their Artists

This is a guest column published today in the Sunday Times of India edit page. I am a hawk when…

The Girl From Haryana

A slightly shorter version of this feature on Sakshi Malik was published in the October 2016 issue of Elle India.…

Hillary and Donald

This is the 17th installment of Rhyme and Reason, my weekly set of limericks for the Sunday Times of India…

08 August, 2007

Atheism as the absence of belief

Scott Adams is a fantastic cartoonist and a very funny writer, but he writes the occasional odd post when he tackles a subject that he is not too familiar with. PZ Myers tears into him for a strange post on atheism, in which Adams had remixed Pascal’s Wager in a rather odd way. Read Myers and Austin Cline for more on his post, but being an atheist myself, let me clarify one point.

Atheism is not a belief that there is no God—it is the absence of belief in God. I am an atheist not because I am 100% sure that there is no God—how does one prove the negative anyway?—but because I see as little evidence around me for God as for flying fairies or invisible pink unicorns. I’m open to evidence that any of those exist, but in the absence of such evidence, I will not believe in them.

Adams’s post was particularly galling because he was not even arguing against atheism, but against his own silly misrepresentation of it. If it was wilful, it was intellectually dishonest; I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that it was just sloppy thinking. I am a massive fan of Adams’s blog, and will continue relishing his posts, but I wish he avoids one of the great dangers of blogging: publishing thoughts without thinking them through.

And yes, of course, I’ve done that as well, and have silly posts in my past that embarrass me when I revisit them. (I’ve done around 5000 posts across my blogs, and such wanton prolificness invites blunder, though I try my best to avoid that now.) So I feel for Adams…

Also read: Austin Cline on the difference between atheism and agnosticism.

(Link via email from MadMan. This post comes out of an email conversation with Neha.)

Posted by Amit Varma in Blogging | Miscellaneous | Personal

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