Dissecting ‘One God Less’ Meme

One Less God: Australian University Atheists“I contend we are both atheists,” signed Stephen F. Roberts, “I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.” Roberts is believed1 to be the person who crystallized and popularized this increasing reechoed sound bite when he began signing his online post with it in 1995.

Richard Dawkins in A Devil’s Chaplain reechoed this sound bite. Dawkins contended that:

[M]odern theists might acknowledge that, when it comes to Baal and the Golden Calf, Thor and Wotan, Poseidon and Apollo, Mithras and Ammon Ra, they are actually atheists. We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further. (Dawkins 2004, 150)

Paraphrasing Socrates, let us examine this sound bite together, and see whether it is a real sound advice or a mere wind-egg. (Plat. Theaet. 151e). Contrary to Daniel C. Dennett (2006, 210), this is not “some sound advice”  offered by Dawkins but a mere wind-egg because it confuses the conceptions of God with the concept of God. Continue reading