Scientific Atheism and Other Oxymorons

By Roger Browning

When two ideas seem to contradict each other, we call it an oxymoron. Drawing a clear understanding of what an oxymoron is can be achieved by simply looking at the word ‘oxymoron’; oxymoron is an oxymoron.

Oxymoron is actually two words put together in the same way as compound words like jellyfish, fingernail, jigsaw, toothbrush, etc. In this case, both words are Greek. Οχυσ (Oxus) literally means ‘sharp’ or ‘swift’. Early Greeks used this word to describe the sword of Christ in Revelation 1 & 19. But, οχυσ also carries the imagery of a sharp, quick thinking individual—one who is smart. μωρός (Mōrus), on the other hand, is where we get our modern word, moron; it means fool/foolish. Thus we have a clear oxymoron: oxus moros, smart fool.

Welcome to scientific atheism. Science: “the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.”[i] In contrast, atheism is a, “disbelief[ii] or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods”.[iii] As atheism is considered a system of disbelief pertaining to spiritual entities, it draws an οχυσ (sharp) contrast to scientific physical necessity. In very straight forward terms, scientific atheism is like saying physical-study, spiritual-disbelief; a clear oxymoron on multiple fronts. Just as physical and spiritual are opposite, study and disbelief also find themselves in opposition.

I think recognizing the polar differences between physical and spiritual are straight forward (mass/mass-less, observable/non-observable, has weight, is weight-less, etc.) Study and disbelief may not be as clear, but these terms are more conflicting than the latter two. Study is an active process; it is an intent to learn, investigate, and explore. To study is to give credence to the topic and then draw a conclusion based on the results. Studying concludes in belief–always. Whether that belief affirms that a proposition (i.e. God exists) is true or affirms that the proposition is false (i.e. God does not exist) is indifferent. Studying a topic leads you to either believe it’s true or believe it’s false; it will never lead you to disbelief in the topic. The only way to arrive at disbelief is to reject the topic exists and therefore refuse to study. Some might say I have a disbelief in unicorns or leprechauns or flying spaghetti monsters. That’s fine, I’m not saying everything requires a belief. I am saying, you do not arrive at disbelief by studying. To disbelieve, to say I don’t want (or there is nothing) to learn, investigate or explore, is to refuse to study.[iv]

Let me clear this up in terms of atheism (atheism as a disbelief). There are some atheist that say, “there is no evidence therefore there is nothing to study.” But this is clear rejection of study for two reasons. First, there are a lot of scholars who study the concept of God (atheists and religious). The atheist that makes the claim, there is nothing to study, is rejecting all arguments that exist which are against his position; this atheist is not studying. This atheist can only say, “There is nothing to study” because he is refusing to study what is available. This is drastically different than refusing to study the flying spaghetti monster which literally has no proof to investigate…

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Scientific Atheism and Other Oxymorons – A Clear Lens