• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Distinguish between atheism and agnosticism. Analyse a critique of religious belief and consider critically whether it better supports an agnostic or atheist view?

Extracts from this document...


Distinguish between atheism and agnosticism. Analyse a critique of religious belief and consider critically whether it better supports an agnostic or atheist view? Atheism is the idea that there is not a God this is different to agnosticism where people believe that there is the not possible to know if God exists or to know his nature. People do not believe in God for a number of reasons such as they have had a loss of faith, because of unanswered prayers or a negative experience of religion; this is an example of how someone can turn from being a theist to becoming an atheist. In his book 'Varieties of Unbelief' J.C.A. Gaskin argues that there are 5 types of 'unbelief', he avoids using the word atheism, as atheism he argues has negative connotations and has been used as a term of abuse in the past. In Ancient Greece, atheism was seen as a criminal offence and was occasionally punished. Anything that contradicted the teaching of the Christian Church was suppressed and individuals that professed these views were often executed. There are many philosophers and psychologist who criticise religious Belief, such as Sigmund Freud and Karl Marx, who give psychological and sociological views on religious belief. ...read more.


"I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world", this shows how Dawkins believes that religion stops people from investigating and having a greater understanding of the world. Another critique which Dawkins makes about religious belief is that religion offers people a poor vision of the world, so they only see the world narrowly. Whereas Dawkins believes that science contrasts with this view, because it offers a "bold and brilliant" vision of the universe and sees it as grand and beautiful. "The universe presented by organised religion is a poky little medieval universe, and extremely limited"; therefore Dawkins believes that religion makes people see the world in a different way to science, because religion limits the mind of new ideas and interpretations. Not only does Dawkins not agree with religious ideas, but he also disapproves very strongly of labelling children, especially young children, as something like 'Catholic children', 'Protestant children' or 'Islamic children'. He believes that it is "wicked" because in effect what someone is doing is making the assumption that the child's beliefs are automatically going to be inherited. He uses the example that a child will not automatically inherit it's father's sports team. Dawkins does however agree with the idea that very often a child will be influenced by a parent to take up a sport or hobby because it is ultimately the child's choice. ...read more.


There are people who support Dawkins view on religion such as D'Holbach who wanted to sweep away belief in God altogether, claiming that belief was the result of misguided human imagination. Therefore it is not just Dawkins who believes that people who believe in God are delusional, because there are many philosophers who Dawkins agrees with when it comes to his anti - theistic views towards religion. Although Ayer suggests 'It is now generally admitted, at any rate by philosophers, that the existence of a being having the attributes which define the God of any non-animistic religion cannot be demonstratively proved.' Therefore Ayer is not claim that God does not exist; but he is arguing that the existence cannot be proved, as we do not have the tools to do so. In conclusion, Dawkins is criticising the whole of society who are religious leaders, because he believes that religion is misguiding both children and adults. Dawkins is an anti - theist, because he is not just being an atheist and disbelieving in God, but he is preaching to others that worshiping God is the wrong thing to do. Therefore Dawkins scientific critique of religious belief best supports an atheist view, because it is against the idea of believing in a God and not being unsure whether there is a God. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Philosophy section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Philosophy essays

  1. Compare and contrast arguments for and against belief in life after death.

    Indeed if the energy is little more than a reflection of what once was, it fails as an argument intended to prove what know is.

  2. Synoptic Study, Satre, Engels and Marx

    This man surly can't have the same freedom that Sartre has. He is not free to define him self as anything he chooses to be. He could not decide to become a write or doctor as he would loss his job, income and eventually starve himself and his family.

  1. Prayer in Public Schools

    Firstly, Religion can't be imposed but rather be encouraged and taught...it's up to the educated whether or not to accept the knowledge. Frucci's statement is purely circumstantial because people learn at all times of life and new ideas are presented everyday.


    He also says that design is dead. He says there are 6 constants so fine tuned that if they moved even a small amount life would not exist on earth. To therefore suggest that God did this he calls a futile explanation because we have to ask who brought God into being.

  1. Discuss the suggestion that it is pointless to analyse religious experience

    Religious believers may see religious experience as the ultimate example of a leap to faith, as it is wholly subjective and non-empirical, and thus hugely positive. There is evidently a large amount of doubt that should also go hand in hand with any such faith.

  2. Philosophy - Religion

    If we were transcendent and had access to more than one universe or even if we had witnessed them being designed we may have been able to accept Paley's claims. Hume also says that it's not analogous because a watch's purpose is axiomatic but this is unlike the universe where it is subjective.

  1. Discuss the issue that it is pointless to analyse religious experience

    only serves the experience rather than find another way round the explanation. Richard Swinburne, with his ?principle of credulity? and ?principle of testimony? exemplify the previous point I just made. The principle of credulity says that if one cannot find any reason to disbelieve an event, then one shouldn?t really believe in its occurrence.

  2. How Can the Religious View Be Defended As a Way of Seeing the World?

    He finds all the indicators of design, observed in the watch, in the natural world. This leads him to the conclusion, that like the watch, nature must also have a designer, who also designed the universe. His argument is essentially as follows: A watch has many complex features, which work together for a specific purpose (to tell the time).

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work