Everyone believes something. Being an atheist just
means I don’t believe in a god. My underlying principle is to assume as little as
1. I Believe That I Exist
This is fundamental. I assume I’m an actual, physical human being,
interacting with an actual, physical universe. In other words, I am not a figment of someone
else’s imagination, and the rest of the universe is not a figment of my
I have to take this much on faith; there is no way to prove I’m correct. However, no one
can argue against this belief; if they do, they’re admitting to being a figment of my
2. I Believe What I Can Sense, Within Reason
Obviously senses can be fooled — optical illusions, for example — but I take that
into account when I say that I believe what I can see, touch, hear, smell, and taste.
I believe the air around me is getting colder when my body feels like it’s getting
colder, though I again I take into account that this sense can be fooled by relative humidity
and air movement.
Empirical evidence can override the illusions: thermometers, photographs, audio-visual recordings,
etc. Coorborating testimony (what other people say they observe) also will affect what I believe
about my senses — for example: if I thought the suspect running from the crime scene wore a
red shirt, but all other witnesses claim blue, I will be less certain of what I remembered.
3. Knowing More Is Better Than Knowing Less
Even if the newly-gained knowledge is upsetting, it is better to know than to
not know. It’s also important to constantly evaluate knowledge for accuracy and
Information — and its sources — should be judged carefully. Not all sources of
information are equally reliable or valuable.
Not all information has the same value, but even “useless” information
(pop culture trivia, for example) can help keep the mind active.
4. ‘I Don’t Know’ Is Better Than ‘I Assume’
When something cannot be known, or at least cannot be known presently, I would rather
say “I don’t know” than make a baseless assumption. An educated guess is not
the same thing as an assumption.
It’s also okay to trust the experts on most topics. It is unreasonable to expect to
be an expert in every field, and there will always be subjects on which someone else knows
more than you do. It’s okay to research varying opinions, but recognize when one
opinion is the “consensus” among the experts. (For example, you can find an
“expert” that says anthropogenic global warming is a hoax, but this is an
exception against a broad consensus among scientists.)
5. I Believe In The Principles Of Science
Science is the natural outgrowth of 1-4 above. Science is from the Latin for
“knowledge”. In its simplest form, science is the gathering and organization of
knowledge, via observation, forming hypotheses, and performing experiments. Unlike religion,
science demands evidence. Perhaps more than any other endeavor, science attempts to avoid
bias — in fact, it actively searches out bias in order to remove it.
To some extent, all of us are scientists, and have been since we were born. Infants arrive in the
world without assumption or bias, make observations, formulate hypotheses, perform experiments,
observe the results, and formulate new hypotheses — until they can understand the world.
Some of us kept doing that as we grew older; others of us arrived at a basic set of assumptions
and then ceased thinking scientifically.
When given the choice between trusting an assertion based on assumptions or trusting an assertion
based on scientific inquiry, I will always choose the latter. This is why, for example, I
eventually accepted evolution as a fact.
6. Every Opinion (Belief, Stance, Theory, etc.) Should Be Challenged
Until an idea has been put to the test, I should not
hold it dearly. This is part of the scientific mindset. The more important an idea is to me,
and the longer I go without testing it, the harder it is to let go if proven incorrect. If I
have an opinion on something, I want to know why I have it.
This is the updated version of this page. To see the original version,
click here. Known edits are listed below.
• 2015.11.29: Removed “agnostic” from introductory box.
Added link to My Specific Position page. Added link to Wikipedia
page on metaphysical
solipsism. Typed “the air around me is” in place of “it’s”
in section #2. Reworded second paragraph of section #3; added third paragraph. Added
second paragraph to section #4.
• 2016.01.25: Added final sentence to Science
section, including link to my evolution page. Added some internal
anchors (invisible to the casual reader).
• 2016.02.11: Added meta tags for SEO (background). Changed
theme color (only visible in Chrome for Android). Added link to
• EDIT: 2017.07.11: Adjusted italics in intro paragraph. Added
last sentence to number two section. Corrected grammar errors in the final sentence of number