I am often shocked by how people use empiricism to back the claim that there is no god.
Now here I am neither arguing for or against “god” whatever that may mean to you. I think it’s an incredibly complex subject not least because that term is used to designate vastly different concepts in different cultures.
For example the monotheistic religions criticize the polytheistic religions by first projecting upon them their own concept of God as being omnipotent.
To sum up my own stance I would use the word shifting. I find that my views on this subject have yet to reach a state of solidness and staidness like my views on free-will have.
Anyway back to the subject.
Empiricism is the belief that all that can be known, that all that is known, is reducible to sensory phenomena.
To bring in an allegory: The Rorschach test.
In this test a subject is presented with an ink-blot on a piece of paper and asked what he sees. Someone may say things like “A couple copulating” or “A parent beating a kid” or even “Just a blob”. Any answer given to the tester is an interpretation. The ink-blot is none of these things no matter how close the semblance may be.
Now reality (and here I mean reality in the empirical sense: that is the contents of sensory experience) is exactly like an ink-blot. There are just colours, sounds, touch-sensations, smells and tastes. Nothing else.
Now take the question: What causes these sensations? The answer will necessarily not be a sensation. That is the answer cannot be empirical.
A similar paradox is shown in the verification principle with the question: can the verification principle (that is the standard we use to verify claims) itself be verified? Obviously not.
The exact same thing is happening when you ask the question what causes empirical reality? That is what produces the contents of experience?
Now atheism is a belief concerning the non-empirical reality. It states that it is a totally natural, non-intelligent thing. This is utterly unverifiable given the contents of experience and nothing but the contents of experience just as the opposite claim that there is a conscious, intelligent producer for empirical reality is equally unverifiable given the same criteria for verification.
That is to say that atheism – though a negative – never-the-less says something with positive content concerning the reality exterior to experience. Which is why I see it as just another religion.