PDA

View Full Version : Atheism is not a belief or a religion



Pages : [1] 2

Rational Root
09-28-2010, 11:02 AM
Just cause it annoys me every time I read it.

An atheist does not believe in God. Not in Apollo, Not in Odin, Not in The Flying Spaghetti Monster, not in any of them.

This is not a belief, this is an absence of belief. It is not a religion.

Some atheists may be quite aggressive in their views, but then I get wound up when someone says a coin will be more likely to toss heads if it was tails last time, and then quotes the law of averages.

When you and your imaginary friends get all bent out of shape about atheism and the ungodly, please stop calling it a belief.

I do not believe there is a green horse standing behind me that disappears every time I turn around. Nobody calls this a religion.

There is no evidence for it the green horse. I do not believe it. It ends there. If someone provides credible evidence, I will review my position. The more outlandish the claim, the more evidence I will require. Occam's razor will be applied.

A 2000 year old book is not evidence. Paper seldom refuses ink. Not now, not 2000 years ago.

The fact that we do not understand something is not evidence for a supernatural cause. The universe does not owe us the ability to understand everything. It's perfectly possible that there are things that no human will ever know or understand. This does not require a God.

All religious people have gods that they do not believe in, Christians as a whole do not believe in Zeus. They do not call their absence of belief in Zeus a religion.

Atheists simply do not believe in any of these Gods.

And yes, I may be wrong. But it's not a BELIEF, it's a reasoned view. It is as with all views subject to change in the light of further evidence.

GWB
09-28-2010, 11:07 AM
Of course Atheism is a belief. You have to believe there is no God.

TimH
09-28-2010, 11:19 AM
What do you call someone that believes there is no Santa Claus?

rbgarr
09-28-2010, 11:25 AM
Three people dancing on this pin head. Any one else got tiny feet and twinkle toes?

Kaa
09-28-2010, 11:51 AM
There is no evidence for it the green horse. I do not believe it. It ends there. If someone provides credible evidence, I will review my position.

Looks like you're staking out an agnostic position.

By conventional definition an atheist is someone who positively asserts there is no god or gods. An agnostic would just state that there is no conclusive evidence either way.

Kaa

bobbys
09-28-2010, 11:56 AM
This is the 4th Atheist thread.

OK we believe youse dont believe already.

Flying Orca
09-28-2010, 12:00 PM
Of course Atheism is a belief. You have to believe there is no God.


By conventional definition an atheist is someone who positively asserts there is no god or gods.

I think both GWB and the "conventional definition" are incorrect. An "atheist", linguistically, is one who is not a theist. No positive declaration required. (Edited to add - I think the distinction was invented by theologians and philosophers, both notoriously untrustworthy classes... :D)

Kaa
09-28-2010, 12:20 PM
I think both GWB and the "conventional definition" are incorrect. An "atheist", linguistically, is one who is not a theist.

Not sure what etymology has to do with this. "Linguistically", philosophy is love of wisdom, a monastery is a place where people live alone, and psychology is the study of souls. So?

Kaa

James McMullen
09-28-2010, 12:21 PM
Great Frith preserve us! Or don't you all believe in him either? Well, no flayrah for you then!

Flying Orca
09-28-2010, 12:36 PM
Not sure what etymology has to do with this.

Not sure what etymology has to do with the meaning of a word?

Really?

GWB
09-28-2010, 12:42 PM
What do you call someone that believes there is no Santa Claus?
A non believer of course

Kaa
09-28-2010, 12:43 PM
Not sure what etymology has to do with the meaning of a word?

Really?

No, I'm quite sure, it's you who's looking confused :-P

Etymology "has to do" with the meaning of the word, usually. It does not define it, however. Lesbians are not the natives of the Lesbos island and skyscrapers do not leave scratches on the firmament of the heavens.

Kaa

isla
09-28-2010, 12:45 PM
What do you call someone that believes there is no Santa Claus? A grown up :p

bobbys
09-28-2010, 12:57 PM
What do you call someone that believes there is no Santa Claus?.

What?????

John of Phoenix
09-28-2010, 01:01 PM
Etymology! Kaa is going to get orgasmic on this one. :D

James McMullen
09-28-2010, 01:02 PM
"I am against Religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world." Richard Dawkins said that. I couldn't agree more.

Kaa
09-28-2010, 01:06 PM
Etymology! Kaa is going to get orgasmic on this one. :D

Woo! Take etymology, mix with statistics, arrange into convoluted logical chains, just before serving season liberally with smartassness... Now we're cooking, baby!! :D :D

Kaa

McMike
09-28-2010, 01:15 PM
As I said in the other tread on this subject


Personally, I think to claim there is no god or higher power or whatever you want to call it is as ignorant and improvable as it is to claim a particular god/religion is the "real" god/religion. Anyone who says they truly know the answer is full of it and has no credibility on the subject. Agnostics are the only truth bearers, the unknown is out there.

Faith is the only answer for believers; it is the point after all.

I'd have to say that Atheism is a belief taken on faith, there is no more a way to prove that there is a god then there is not one. A religion? IMO nope.

pefjr
09-28-2010, 01:18 PM
The total weight of about 6 egos= 2/3 pages of orgasm, nuts, or wads. depends on the language spoken or what's cooking, and how it's seasoned.

johnw
09-28-2010, 01:54 PM
Proving the non-existence of something is nearly impossible. No unicorns? Are you sure? Did you really look everywhere?

Based on etymology, I'm sure there are unicorns -- the kind of rhinos that don't lose primaries. But I understand that the kind of unicorn usually meant is a myth (probably based on an interpretation of a description of a rhinoceros,) just as the kind of god usually referred to is a myth. If there is a god, it probably bears as much resemblance to the one people appeal to for intervention in football games as a rhino does to the myth of the unicorn. Or maybe there isn't one at all.

That's agnosticism. Atheism asserts there is no god, as a firm belief. You may base your belief on reason and evidence or lack thereof, but it's a belief. If you believed there is no proof of God, you'd be agnostic (no knowledge) rather than atheist (no god.)

Many years ago, there was a photocopied samisdat making the rounds that listed some scientific definitions:

Truth -- What I believe
Belief -- What you believe

It's funny because it's true (that is, what I believe.)

TimH
09-28-2010, 01:56 PM
.

What?????

If not believing in a god is itself a religion then not believing in Santa Claus is also a religion. I was just wondering what it is called.

bobbys
09-28-2010, 01:58 PM
If not believing in a god is itself a religion then not believing in Santa Claus is also a religion. I was just wondering what it is called..

O i was just panicking about no Santie..

{have my order in for a Red Ryder carbine 20 shot BB gun}

Scott Rosen
09-28-2010, 02:03 PM
If not believing in a god is itself a religion then not believing in Santa Claus is also a religion. I was just wondering what it is called.Not to get silly, but the non-existence of Santa is a fact, supported by physical evidence. We KNOW there's no Santa and we knowingly lie to children when we tell them otherwise.

On the other hand, the non-existence of god is a belief, not supported by physical evidence. It may be a fact. It may not. But it's not something you prove.

Funny that certain atheists are really bothered by having their unprovable and unconfirmable view of the universe labeled as a belief or a religion. I think they protest too much.

Kaa
09-28-2010, 02:05 PM
...But I understand that the kind of unicorn usually meant is a myth (probably based on an interpretation of a description of a rhinoceros,)

Probably not rhinocerous, though :-)

http://img.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2007/09_01/narwhalDM0509_468x312.jpg

Kaa

Scott Rosen
09-28-2010, 02:07 PM
Another thing -- I've known atheists who believe in ghosts, astrology and the like, even though they've never seen a ghost or the imaginary fate that guides the planets. They trust other people who claim to have seen these things. Yet they don't trust people who say they've seen god . . .

TimH
09-28-2010, 02:11 PM
the non-existence of god is a belief, not supported by physical evidence.

what evidence?

Scott Rosen
09-28-2010, 02:13 PM
what evidence?

Tell you what. For every piece of evidence you have that god does not exist, I'll provide a piece of evidence that he does exist. ;)

bobbys
09-28-2010, 02:23 PM
The Bible teaches us that even if people had direct knowledge of God they would still rebel.

In the OT the Rabbi's could enter the room where the Ark was.

Only they could enter but the Hebrew Children witnessed Miracles such as Manna from Heaven yet still complained about no meat then complained about Too much meat,, Thus the Stiff necked people .

When JC died on the cross the Vail was split giving ALL access to God not just Hebrews.

Remember the story of Lazarus when the rich guy said saying go tell my brothers about this place{hell} so they do not come here, The reply was if they do not believe the prophets they will not believe God if they see him..

This is why JC is the greatest story known to man as his sacrifice opened up access to God for All.

I see nothing wrong with Atheists Q if there is a God, In fact i think God wants people to Q.

I just dont think its right to dismiss the Bible out of hand..

Its deeper then saying its a fairy tale or God is mean because the Hebrews killed people.

pefjr
09-28-2010, 02:27 PM
Another thing -- I've known atheists who believe in ghosts, astrology and the like, even though they've never seen a ghost or the imaginary fate that guides the planets. They trust other people who claim to have seen these things. Yet they don't trust people who say they've seen god . . .Holy ghosts?

Flying Orca
09-28-2010, 03:29 PM
Etymology "has to do" with the meaning of the word, usually. It does not define it, however.

It doesn't always define it, perhaps. There are certainly terms (and you've provided several) whose meaning has drifted over the years. The term "atheist", however, means what it did on first use: "one who is not a theist".

James McMullen
09-28-2010, 03:31 PM
I don't dismiss the Bible out of hand. . .I dismiss it after carefully reading it and deciding that since the people who wrote it were ignorant of everything from the fact that the Earth orbits the Sun, to the germ theory of disease, to atomic structure of molecules, to the existence of North and South America, let alone China or India, to electricity and biology and mathematics higher than arithmetic and psychology and sociology and physics and chemistry and ecology and medicine and airplanes and automobiles and the internet and all sorts of everything else that's been studied and refined and tested and improved since the freakin' Bronze Age that they couldn't possibly know or understand the ultimate nature of the Universe well enough to make convincing claims about it. I dismiss the Bible because so many of its basic precepts as laid out in the very first chapter have been overwhelmingly and conclusively proven by neutral observers to not correspond to reality--which certainly puts the rest of it into question as well.

GWB
09-28-2010, 04:16 PM
God is spirit

The bible is not a science or biology text book

Now read it again :)

Peerie Maa
09-28-2010, 04:19 PM
God is spirit

The bible is not a science or biology text book

Now read it again :)

True, some of it is quite a good history book, it is when it tries to do science that it all falls apart.

GWB
09-28-2010, 04:24 PM
True, some of it is quite a good history book, it is when it tries to do science that it all falls apart.
I don't believe - there that word again, that the Bible was intended to "do science" or be a history book

Scott Rosen
09-28-2010, 04:25 PM
True, some of it is quite a good history book, it is when it tries to do science that it all falls apart.There's the rub. The Bible never tries to do science. Scientific inquiry would have been an alien concept to Biblical folks. You can read the Bible a hundred times, and you'd be hard-pressed to find any pretense to science. The Bible is based on revelation, and doesn't hide from that fact.

It's the moderns, who should know better, who confuse myth with science.

Peerie Maa
09-28-2010, 04:34 PM
There's the rub. The Bible never tries to do science. Scientific inquiry would have been an alien concept to Biblical folks. You can read the Bible a hundred times, and you'd be hard-pressed to find any pretense to science. The Bible is based on revelation, and doesn't hide from that fact.

It's the moderns, who should know better, who confuse myth with science.

Genesis?

Scott Rosen
09-28-2010, 04:35 PM
Genesis?

Where in Genesis do you find any pretext of science?

Peerie Maa
09-28-2010, 04:41 PM
It tries to explain the origin of everything - from Big Bang through evolution all in seven days. That is the field of scientific enquiry, and not a lot to do with how you should live your life now.

Keith Wilson
09-28-2010, 04:53 PM
I dunno - did those who first wrote these stories down think they were literally true? A lot of people over the years have thought they were. Creation stories aren't "science" in any modern sense, but they do make statements about the physical world that I think were intended to be taken as factual.

John Smith
09-28-2010, 04:58 PM
What do you call someone that believes there is no Santa Claus?

A parent.

John Smith
09-28-2010, 05:02 PM
As I said in the other tread on this subject



I'd have to say that Atheism is a belief taken on faith, there is no more a way to prove that there is a god then there is not one. A religion? IMO nope.

There is a flaw here. Whatever burden of proof exists, that burden is on those who believe there is a God. Atheists can simply acknowledge that the existence of God has not been proven.
I'm still waiting for someone to explain to me why the existence of God matters, as he obvious has no interest in the affairs of man.

Captain Intrepid
09-28-2010, 05:12 PM
"I am against Religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world." Richard Dawkins said that. I couldn't agree more.

A shame he thinks so. Some people certainly teach ignorance in religious and secular culture. Both make me exceedingly sad, but neither leads me to make such sweeping and damning generalizations.

johnw
09-28-2010, 05:19 PM
I dunno - did those who first wrote these stories down think they were literally true? A lot of people over the years have thought they were. Creation stories aren't "science" in any modern sense, but they do make statements about the physical world that I think were intended to be taken as factual.
I doubt the person who first told these stories thought they were literally true. I doubt that was the objective. At a time before science, mythopoetic stories sought to explain the world in a way that was emotionally satisfying, and in some cases contained important information (a myth about a spring might actually tell people where to find water.) Those looking back on these texts from the perspective of a rational, scientific society might place a demand on them that the stories be literally true, but that's not what they were written for. When you read a really good novel, it feels true, and is true in what it says about the human condition. That's what a good religion has in my view -- stories that say something true about the human condition. Though of course, there have been religions that would kill you for saying that.

StevenBauer
09-28-2010, 05:22 PM
Did any of you hear the story on NPR this afternoon that reported that atheists and agnostics knew more about religion than religious people?


http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2010/09/28/130191248/atheists-and-agnostics-know-more-about-bible-than-religious


Steven

Osborne Russell
09-28-2010, 05:23 PM
I believe in Newton's laws, in the sense that I trust my *** to them, for example, when I fly in an airplane. It's how I figure center of effort and reserve buoyancy. I believe in them in the rational sense. They haven't let me down yet.

It is an accident of history that, in English anyway, the word "believe" covers both religious faith and reliance upon a hypothesis. It doesn't make one thing out of two things.

WX
09-28-2010, 05:26 PM
Religion was born to give a reason to natural events that affected Humans in a time when the tools to truly understand did not exist. of course that is just one possibility. Another is death, once people became aware of their own mortality they needed something to take away the fear...religion is born.

johnw
09-28-2010, 05:27 PM
There is a flaw here. Whatever burden of proof exists, that burden is on those who believe there is a God. Atheists can simply acknowledge that the existence of God has not been proven.
I'm still waiting for someone to explain to me why the existence of God matters, as he obvious has no interest in the affairs of man.
If you simply acknowledge the existence of God hasn't been proven, you're agnostic.

As to why the existence of God matters, consider that all known human cultures have religion. We can therefore surmise that there is some kind of survival advantage to groups that have it. One would think an expert on evolution, such as Dawkins, would consider that before insisting that people are better off without religion.

Osborne Russell
09-28-2010, 05:29 PM
Religion was born to give a reason to natural events . . .

If so, within a half hour after its birth its usefulness as a rationalization of aggression was discovered.

WX
09-28-2010, 05:33 PM
If so, within a half hour after its birth its usefulness as a rationalization of aggression was discovered.
Of course. Convert or die!

Scott Rosen
09-28-2010, 05:40 PM
There is a flaw here. Whatever burden of proof exists, that burden is on those who believe there is a God. Atheists can simply acknowledge that the existence of God has not been proven.
I'm still waiting for someone to explain to me why the existence of God matters, as he obvious has no interest in the affairs of man.No flaw. Atheists can acknowledge 'till the cows come home. Religious people can simply acknowledge a purely material existence has not been proven.

God only matters if you want god to matter. There's nothing to explain.

Not interested in human affairs? Why do you assume that? Maybe he's just plain mean and nasty. Your view sort of suggests to me that you believe in god but may be a bit disappointed in him . . . .

Flying Orca
09-28-2010, 05:46 PM
Religious people can simply acknowledge a purely material existence has not been proven.

Let's remember that neither has anything else... and material existence is self-evident.

John Smith
09-28-2010, 06:45 PM
Proving the non-existence of something is nearly impossible. No unicorns? Are you sure? Did you really look everywhere?

Based on etymology, I'm sure there are unicorns -- the kind of rhinos that don't lose primaries. But I understand that the kind of unicorn usually meant is a myth (probably based on an interpretation of a description of a rhinoceros,) just as the kind of god usually referred to is a myth. If there is a god, it probably bears as much resemblance to the one people appeal to for intervention in football games as a rhino does to the myth of the unicorn. Or maybe there isn't one at all.

That's agnosticism. Atheism asserts there is no god, as a firm belief. You may base your belief on reason and evidence or lack thereof, but it's a belief. If you believed there is no proof of God, you'd be agnostic (no knowledge) rather than atheist (no god.)

Many years ago, there was a photocopied samisdat making the rounds that listed some scientific definitions:

Truth -- What I believe
Belief -- What you believe

It's funny because it's true (that is, what I believe.)

True, much depends upon one's perspectives. My perspective is that if there is a God, he is neither loving or caring. Why would he create people, and then give many of them allergies? Or not make the tastiest foods good for you?

Congress begins every day with a prayer, and we all know how well that's worked. Christians running for office oppose health care for everyone. My aunt, a lifelong Chistian is upset because if everyone has health insurance, it may be a little more difficult for her to get an appointment with her doctor; proving that she doesn't live by the ideals her faith preaches.

If there were a God, and you, or I, or anyone else took the witness stand and promised to tell the truth, SO HELP ME GOD, for the time on the stand, we would be physically unable to tell a lie.

I view these things as evidence that their eiher is no God, or God has no interest in us.

John Smith
09-28-2010, 06:49 PM
Tell you what. For every piece of evidence you have that god does not exist, I'll provide a piece of evidence that he does exist. ;)

Over the years, the only "evidence" that this debate always leads to is the "everything has to have a beginning" argument. To this the response is, "Who created God?". The response to that is always, "God was always there." Which, of course, means everything doesn't have to have a beginning.

John Smith
09-28-2010, 06:52 PM
A shame he thinks so. Some people certainly teach ignorance in religious and secular culture. Both make me exceedingly sad, but neither leads me to make such sweeping and damning generalizations.

Religion, to some of us, is a scary thing. It is often used to justify acts that cannot be justified. People who believe as facts things that are just faith, think they know answers, but are only kidding themselves. Then they want to force their great knowlege on the rest of us.

What is more dangerous than a man who believes himself to be on a mission from God?

John Smith
09-28-2010, 06:54 PM
Did any of you hear the story on NPR this afternoon that reported that atheists and agnostics knew more about religion than religious people?


http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2010/09/28/130191248/atheists-and-agnostics-know-more-about-bible-than-religious




Steven

Not at all surprising. Those who hold the Constitution highest, don't seem to have read it.

Captain Intrepid
09-28-2010, 06:57 PM
Religion, to some of us, is a scary thing. It is often used to justify acts that cannot be justified. People who believe as facts things that are just faith, think they know answers, but are only kidding themselves. Then they want to force their great knowlege on the rest of us.

What is more dangerous than a man who believes himself to be on a mission from God?

It's my observation that if there's one thing people excel at, it's justifying the unjustifiable. Rid the world of religion, and people will start killing each other over sports teams.

Goodwilltoall
09-28-2010, 07:00 PM
Atheism is the belief you believe in, and no matter how much you believe it, its still wrong, there is a god-the Creator of the earth. He is revealed in the Holy Scriptures. He was there to create the world. If He didnt tell us how it was created we wouldnt know. Therefore, when you reject knowledge, laughable ideas like yours come into existence, and the Word is correct in calling people like you fools.

PhaseLockedLoop
09-28-2010, 07:02 PM
As to why the existence of God matters, consider that all known human cultures have religion. We can therefore surmise that there is some kind of survival advantage to groups that have it. One would think an expert on evolution, such as Dawkins, would consider that before insisting that people are better off without religion.

Religion, sure. Not God. Not many human cultures believed in anything that would be called "God." If God is an omnipotent, omnipresent, supernatural being that created the world, you've got to leave out Hindus, Buddhists, Greeks, Romans, and all the pre-civilized cultures. Some pre- and early-anthropologists projected God into various "primitive" cultures, in the same way that they assigned "chiefs" to various groups, on the theory that "somebody's gotta be the boss".

Tom Montgomery
09-28-2010, 07:09 PM
...there is a god-the Creator of the earth. He is revealed in the Holy Scriptures. He was there to create the world. If He didnt tell us how it was created we wouldnt know.
Huh? Does not compute.

We actually have a pretty good idea of how the Earth was created. The explanation has absolutely nothing to do with the "Holy Scriptures" of any of the world's religions. But perhaps by "earth" and "the world" you actually meant the Universe? Then please explain why the "Holy Scriptures" of the various world religions vary so dramatically in the details?

Everything has a beginning, correct? Except for God, correct? God is the great unfathomable, illogical, supernatural exception, correct?

bob winter
09-28-2010, 07:25 PM
I have no idea as to whether or not God ( in whatever form or forms) exists. I think that I am an agnostic. My father was an atheist, which denotes a level of certainty that I would never aspire to. However, I think his position makes more sense that a belief in most religions does.

PhaseLockedLoop
09-28-2010, 07:53 PM
I don't believe in God because the notion makes no sense to me. I don't believe in the Big Bang because it makes no sense to me. Maybe better say that they have no meaning to me. Most of the marvelous findings of science I believe--if that's the word--only because people I judge to be knowledgeable say so. Do I believe in neutron stars? Oh, um, I guess. What are they again, exactly? Do I believe in Relativity, and/or Quantum theory? Oh, sure, I've read about them, but I didn't get past elementary calculus actually, so if we get down to the details, umm.... People who say they demand evidence for their beliefs mean, in the vast majority of cases, that they believe such evidence exists, collected by other people.

It'd be better if atheists who demand material proof for this or that belief would admit that the basis for their demands is scientific materialism. When the great discoveries of the Enlightenment and the power of the scientific method are examined, it's usually held that science has given us untold power, corrected vast numbers of ignorant belief, chucked out the earth-centered universe, discovered gravity and inertia and all the rest, all of which were unavailable to past modes of thought. Yet now people who accept scientific materialism as the only basis of fact, (and, usually, truth) claim to think that their criteria are somehow really just common sense. You can't have it both ways. Either the scientific world-view was a hard-won triumph of courageous genius, and thus a new way of thinking, or it wasn't. I've known science enthusiasts, at this point in the argument, to flee in rhetorical disorder to pre-humanity and claim, startlingly, that even animals use the scientific method. So much for Newton's originality, then.

It's really no good claiming that the scales have fallen once-and-for-all from our enlightened eyes, leaving past ideas as illusion, and that all we--and EACH of us--has to do is be our individual self to evaluate the world. The wonders of science are after all the fruits of a method.

It's disheartening to me that Christians will, supposing they give a damn, use my post here to bolster their arguments for belief in a Christian God. But you can't have everything, or so I've been told.

johnw
09-28-2010, 07:54 PM
I have no idea as to whether or not God ( in whatever form or forms) exists. I think that I am an agnostic. My father was an atheist, which denotes a level of certainty that I would never aspire to. However, I think his position makes more sense that a belief in most religions does.
I like it. You don't even know if you're agnostic, which means you are agnostic on the subject of agnosticism.

johnw
09-28-2010, 07:57 PM
Religion, sure. Not God. Not many human cultures believed in anything that would be called "God." If God is an omnipotent, omnipresent, supernatural being that created the world, you've got to leave out Hindus, Buddhists, Greeks, Romans, and all the pre-civilized cultures. Some pre- and early-anthropologists projected God into various "primitive" cultures, in the same way that they assigned "chiefs" to various groups, on the theory that "somebody's gotta be the boss".
How narrow your horizons are! You deny that most of the gods worshiped through history are even gods.

oznabrag
09-28-2010, 08:56 PM
Just cause it annoys me every time I read it.

An atheist does not believe in God. Not in Apollo, Not in Odin, Not in The Flying Spaghetti Monster, not in any of them.

This is not a belief, this is an absence of belief. It is not a religion.

Some atheists may be quite aggressive in their views, but then I get wound up when someone says a coin will be more likely to toss heads if it was tails last time, and then quotes the law of averages.

When you and your imaginary friends get all bent out of shape about atheism and the ungodly, please stop calling it a belief.

I do not believe there is a green horse standing behind me that disappears every time I turn around. Nobody calls this a religion.

There is no evidence for it the green horse. I do not believe it. It ends there. If someone provides credible evidence, I will review my position. The more outlandish the claim, the more evidence I will require. Occam's razor will be applied.

A 2000 year old book is not evidence. Paper seldom refuses ink. Not now, not 2000 years ago.

The fact that we do not understand something is not evidence for a supernatural cause. The universe does not owe us the ability to understand everything. It's perfectly possible that there are things that no human will ever know or understand. This does not require a God.

All religious people have gods that they do not believe in, Christians as a whole do not believe in Zeus. They do not call their absence of belief in Zeus a religion.

Atheists simply do not believe in any of these Gods.

And yes, I may be wrong. But it's not a BELIEF, it's a reasoned view. It is as with all views subject to change in the light of further evidence.

Certainly your screed follows logical precepts, however, there are those on the cutting edge of psychology who wil most vociferously maintain that the very architecture, the structure of the human brain demands the consideration of god.

This indicates NOTHING about the actual existence of god, merely that our biological structure, and our consciousness, demands consideration of the question: 'Is god?'

oznabrag
09-28-2010, 09:00 PM
Atheism is the belief you believe in, and no matter how much you believe it, its still wrong, there is a god-the Creator of the earth. He is revealed in the Holy Scriptures. He was there to create the world. If He didnt tell us how it was created we wouldnt know. Therefore, when you reject knowledge, laughable ideas like yours come into existence, and the Word is correct in calling people like you fools.

Sooooo... If his purpose was to create the world, who set him to that purpose? Every tool has an inventor. Who is the ubergod? Why do we not worship the ubergod, rather than this miserable contract-engineer?

skuthorp
09-28-2010, 09:50 PM
Thanks for the thread. As I do not believe in anything I have only a little to add as most has been said already. The most interesting parts are the attempts do define what an 'athiest' is, and this from onzabrag:
"Certainly your screed follows logical precepts, however, there are those on the cutting edge of psychology who wil most vociferously maintain that the very architecture, the structure of the human brain demands the consideration of god.
This indicates NOTHING about the actual existence of god, merely that our biological structure, and our consciousness, demands consideration of the question: 'Is god?'. "
I certainly think that a common belief was instrumental in the successful development of our species, whether that belief was well founded or not is not relevant.
GoodWillToAll seems rather disturbed by the discussion, if he sticks about he will get used to it.

oznabrag
09-28-2010, 10:26 PM
Thanks for the thread. As I do not believe in anything I have only a little to add as most has been said already. The most interesting parts are the attempts do define what an 'athiest' is, and this from onzabrag:
"Certainly your screed follows logical precepts, however, there are those on the cutting edge of psychology who wil most vociferously maintain that the very architecture, the structure of the human brain demands the consideration of god.
This indicates NOTHING about the actual existence of god, merely that our biological structure, and our consciousness, demands consideration of the question: 'Is god?'. "
I certainly think that a common belief was instrumental in the successful development of our species, whether that belief was well founded or not is not relevant.
GoodWillToAll seems rather disturbed by the discussion, if he sticks about he will get used to it.

I sure as hell hope you don't refer to me, with this 'he'.

Edited to add: I see we have a new member with the handle: 'Goodwilltoall'.

Given the empirical evidence I have gathered over the last nigh-unto-fifty-years, this person will have good will only to those who believe as he does, and crush all others into paste.

leaotis
09-28-2010, 10:59 PM
"If not believing in god is a religion, then not playing basketball is a sport."

SamSam
09-28-2010, 11:46 PM
Funny that certain atheists are really bothered by having their unprovable and unconfirmable view of the universe labeled as a belief or a religion. I think they protest too much.
It occasionally works the other way when referring to religion as a superstition or a myth or a delusion, all of which more correctly describe religion than religion describes atheism.

KM Bever
09-29-2010, 01:10 AM
Rid the world of religion, and people will start killing each other over sports teams.

They are managing to do that with regligion. God gave us free will.

bobbys
09-29-2010, 01:16 AM
It's my observation that if there's one thing people excel at, it's justifying the unjustifiable. Rid the world of religion, and people will start killing each other over sports teams..

I would not put anything past a Red Sox fan.

Basstards!

AussieBarney
09-29-2010, 01:43 AM
There is also the guy who thought, how can I rip off enough people so I dont have to get dirty and sweaty making a living. he sat down and had a think about this and came up with a cock-a-mamy story about god and wacko! religion is born. And, the phrase, a sucker born every minute takes on a whole new meaning. The tele-evangilist will attest to that.

Rational Root
09-29-2010, 02:21 AM
"If not believing in god is a religion, then not playing basketball is a sport."

It's not a sport unless you get to die screaming if you mess up, but I digress.

downthecreek
09-29-2010, 03:26 AM
I just dont think its right to dismiss the Bible out of hand..

Its deeper then saying its a fairy tale or God is mean because the Hebrews killed people.

Of course it is. It's stupendous and full of profound wisdom (as well as a lot of other stuff)

I don't find it necessary to attribute it to God to acknowledge that.

marshcat
09-29-2010, 07:06 AM
This article (http://www2.timesdispatch.com/news/news/2010/sep/29/reli29-ar-530732/), also mentioned earlier in the thread, defines atheism this way:

"Agnostics believe they cannot prove the existence of a supreme being, while atheists do not believe one exists." (emphasis added).

Compare two sentence constructions:

Atheists do not believe god exists.
Atheists believe god does not exist.

The first supports RationlRoot's argument, the second supports the notion that atheism is a belief. I am still unclear on how the absence of a belief (first sentence) is a belief.

downthecreek
09-29-2010, 07:16 AM
Atheism is, or is not, a religion.

It isn't, of course.

Atheism is, or is not a belief.

Maybe it is and there again, maybe it isn't. Belief is not the same as religion, of course.

But could someone explain why it matters?

marshcat
09-29-2010, 07:24 AM
It seems one school of thought says atheism=belief=religion. It is important to me, because if not believing in something is a religion, I now belong to a whole bunch of them (the no tooth fairy religion, the no allah religion, the no Redskins superbowl this year religion).

skuthorp
09-29-2010, 07:33 AM
I think the religious have a great deal of trouble getting their heads around the concept of no god, hence their struggle to fit "atheism", for want of a better word, into the structures they can concieve of. The trouble is of course is once you have a label for non belief it fits nicely into the preconcieved mould.

PeterSibley
09-29-2010, 07:45 AM
Agnosticism seems the only logical position .How can I know if something exists without evidence or equally swear to it's non existence without evidence .It may or may not exist ,I just have no idea either way .

downthecreek
09-29-2010, 07:52 AM
It is important to me, because if not believing in something is a religion, I now belong to a whole bunch of them (the no tooth fairy religion, the no allah religion, the no Redskins superbowl this year religion).

Gosh - when they get around to inventing the rituals, obligations, hierarchies, moral codes etc. for all the religions you belong to you aren't going to have much spare time....

I'm afraid I belong to a good many too, but I shall content myself for the time being with ignoring them, on the grounds that I belong only in the eyes of others and not in my own. The problems will start when they start demanding special rights, worm their way into law making institutions and invent their inquisitions.

By the way, I don't believe in jetlag. Maybe I'll start there and get my own religion going around that. I shall be the High Priestess. Now, I must set about acquiring wealth and power. I haven't had much success at that to date, but you never know - this may be my big break. :d

skuthorp
09-29-2010, 07:55 AM
Tax exemption is the vital step downthecreek.

downthecreek
09-29-2010, 08:03 AM
Tax exemption is the vital step downthecreek.

By jingo! So it is! :)

PeterSibley
09-29-2010, 08:07 AM
It needs to be said in defence of the possibility of ' god' ...human institutions and tax laws are somewhat irrelevant to it's existence :d... or not ..

downthecreek
09-29-2010, 08:20 AM
It needs to be said in defence of the possibility of ' god' ...human institutions and tax laws are somewhat irrelevant to it's existence :d... or not ..

But, my dear sir, exactly the same can be said of jetlag. However, I think tax laws may prove the key to the success of my new religion. I am aflame with enthusiasm! I am consumed with passion for the non-existence of jetlag! I shall commence immediately after tea! |;)

Edited to add - there are, of course, people who claim to have experienced jetlag, but they are delusional. ;)

(No offence is intended to those who have experience of a relationship with God, as I count that as one of those phenomena that I must accept but cannot share or explain. I'm just playing..... :))

skuthorp
09-29-2010, 08:24 AM
Also, considering the possibility of god, so are religions. But the various franchises are wonderful instruments for taxation exemption.
But the most important 'work' of the religions and sects of same is the work they relieve governments of responsibility for. And whilst a 'god' is in theory not essential, the common belief is the hook that makes this workpossible. I may be an unbeliever but I am also aware of the enormous amount of good they do. One could actually become part of the organisation without any actual beliefs, but the other participants may not be so sanguine.

BrianY
09-29-2010, 08:31 AM
Compare two sentence constructions:

Atheists do not believe god exists.
Atheists believe god does not exist.



The problem that everyone is dancing around is that there are different kinds of atheism. They're commonly referred to as "soft" or "hard" or "positive" and "negative". The differences are somewhat complicated but the two statements above are a good generalization of the two positions.

To make sense of this discussion you have to first define what sort of atheism you’re talking about.

To quote Wikipedia:

Positive atheism is a term popularly used to describe the form of [URL="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atheism"]atheism (http://www2.timesdispatch.com/news/news/2010/sep/29/reli29-ar-530732) that maintains that "There is at least one god (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deity)" is a false statement. Negative atheism refers to any other type of non-theism (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nontheism), wherein a person does not believe any deities exist, but does not claim that same statement is false.

These differences have also been call "implicit" and "explicit" atheism where implicit atheism refers to the absence of theistic belief without a conscious rejection of it and explicit atheism refers to the more common definition of conscious disbelief.

Thus "negative" or "implicit" atheism is essentially the absence of belief ("atheists do not believe that god exists") and "Positive' or "explicit" atheism is an assertion of belief ("Atheists believe god does not exist").

When people argue that atheism is a religion, they are assuming that all atheists are "positive" or "explicit" - that atheists have a conscious belief in the assertion that god does not exist. It is entirely debatable whether this assertion constitutes a "religion", but there is no doubt that it is a "belief".

As others have pointed out, however, not all atheists share this view. 'Negative" or "implicit " atheists simply have no belief in the matter at all. I realize that this is a difficult concept for some people to grasp, but it is true. Consider the situation of a young child who has had no exposure to the concept of god or religion. In his case, the very notion of "god" does not exist. He cannot disbelieve in something he knows absolutely nothing about. Or take an adult who practices Zen Buddhism. In Zen, there is no concept of “gods” or divine beings. Those things are totally irrelevant. To this person, there is nothing to actively disbelieve.

To complicate things further, there is debate as to whether 'negative' atheists can also be considered to be a varitey of agnostic...but that's a different discussion.

skuthorp
09-29-2010, 08:36 AM
Little boxes, everyone has to fit into one little box or another...........................................

marshcat
09-29-2010, 08:47 AM
Why does such a complex taxonomy exist for atheists? Is there a wiki page with a comparable taxonomy for theists? If not, why not?

TomF
09-29-2010, 08:51 AM
Why does such a complex taxonomy exist for atheists? Is there a wiki page with a comparable taxonomy for theists? If not, why not?Marshcat, you've stumbled on it ... You might think it's about classifiying this or that, but really it's all about taxes. :D

(there are doubtless a whole lot of competing taxonomies of theists)

TomF
09-29-2010, 09:11 AM
The reason religious people like to accuse atheism or agnosticism of being a 'religion' is to put it on the same rhetorical footing as their own religion...Not put it on the same rhetorical footing, but draw attention to the fact that it is on the same rhetorical footing. And I disagree that it's a "construct."

Both Atheism and Theism go the same direction in the initial "binary" choice. The choices are:

The existence of God is subject to proof or disproof
The existence of God is not subject to proof or disproof
Agnostics take the second choice - arguing that we cannot "know." But both Atheists and Theists take the first - arguing that we can. That's the choice which leads to the claim that both are "religions," because it's a choice which cannot be empirically proven, either way. Though some in each group will claim otherwise - with passion.

As others have said, agnosticism is frankly more logical ... from the perspective of what can be empirically proven.

marshcat
09-29-2010, 09:20 AM
The existence of God is subject to proof or disproof


Can you give me an example of disproving that something exists?

Alternatively, if you leave the word 'disproof' out of your first statement, the atheist is off the hook, right? They don't need to prove the existence of god, the theist does.

TomF
09-29-2010, 09:31 AM
Marshcat, you're right that I can't disprove the existence of little green Martians, 'till I've disassembled every particle of Mars.

The fact remains though, that Atheism and Theism each make a claim of objective knowledge. They make different claims, to be sure, but both Atheists and Theists claim that their view is objective, actual, incontrovertible. That it both can be "known" ... and that they "know" it. That is the same order of claim - a claim of objective knowledge.

Agnostics make a different order of claim - a claim that objective knowledge is not available.

It's the claim of objective knowledge which supports the opinion that both Atheism and Theism are religions. I think that's stretching the point - a "religion" I think implies substantial development into ritual and belief systems following that first claim to "objective knowledge."

But both atheism and theism do start from a common point about the nature of what can be known ... a point which is empirically unprovable, and a statement of belief.

downthecreek
09-29-2010, 09:37 AM
The fact remains though, that Atheism and Theism each make a claim of objective knowledge. They make different claims, to be sure, but both Atheists and Theists claim that their view is objective, actual, incontrovertible. That it both can be "known" ... and that they "know" it. That is the same order of claim - a claim of objective knowledge.
[/QUOTE]

Are you sure? I suppose the most militant atheist I'm aware of is Richard Dawkins and I don't think even he makes that claim. He simply says (as far as I can see) that there is no reason whatsoever to believe in God and that belief in God, expressed through organised religion, is actively harmful.

TomF
09-29-2010, 09:41 AM
Oh yeah, there's a whole lot more to "religion" than the starting place that says that the God question can be objectively resolved. As you say, ritual, tradition ... and yes, superstition ... all are elements of established "religions." Atheism has no Temples or Churches, no High Priests performing arcane Atheistic Rituals. No catechisms for the faithful to learn, nor examinations before people can become full members of the Atheist circle. :D

I don't buy that Atheism is a religion. But I do think that it makes precisely the same empirically unsupportable claim that Theisms do. Seems to me that Agnosticism isn't Atheism-lite, however similar some of the behavioural outcomes are ... they may end up with the same observable result, but the starting places are quite distinct.

TomF
09-29-2010, 09:51 AM
Are you sure? I suppose the most militant atheist I'm aware of is Richard Dawkins and I don't think even he makes that claim. He simply says (as far as I can see) that there is no reason whatsoever to believe in God and that belief in God, expressed through organised religion, is actively harmful.Well, since there isn't any catechism for Atheists, clearly they'll describe what they believe however they like ... and perhaps somewhat differently.

But atheism means belief that God doesn't exist; agnosticism means that one doesn't know - can't know. I've not paid any real attention to Dawkins' claims or how he writes them ... but the claim "there's no reason whatsoever to believe in God" is agnostic if the implication is "but I suppose it's dimly theoretically possible that evidence could turn up, though I can't imagine it." It would be atheistic if the implication were "there's no possibility that evidence could turn up. Total utter bosh." I don't know which way Dawkins goes on that.

Dawkins' second claim - that belief in God expressed through organized religion is actively harmful - can be made equally by Agnostics or Atheists. And supported in much larger measure than Dawkins would admit by not a few Theists too!

pefjr
09-29-2010, 09:52 AM
Reason proves the Atheist is right. That's what we use to prove anything. Intellectual thought, try some. Engage the Cerebrum, its just behind your ears.

Scott Rosen
09-29-2010, 09:58 AM
Can you give me an example of disproving that something exists?

Alternatively, if you leave the word 'disproof' out of your first statement, the atheist is off the hook, right? They don't need to prove the existence of god, the theist does.

That argument goes nowhere. We prove the non-existence of things all of the time. If you wanted to prove that a roomful of air had no oxygen, you would simply attempt to light a match. The inability to start a flame would prove the absense of oxygen. Then there are the scientific instruments that could do the same with much more accuracy.

We have proven that Santa doesn't exist. We found that out when we got to the North Pole and found no toy factory, no reindeer, nothing.

Also, there are degrees of proof. Most people don't require absolute proof of anything as a condition to accepting its existence. For example, I've never been to the North Pole, and I didn't personally verify that the photos I've seen were actually taken there, but I "know" that Santa's house wasn't found.

Some folks are confusing "argument" with "evidence." There's a big difference between arguing for or against the existence of god and proving it.

Edited to Add: The existence of the material world does not prove, or even tend to prove, the non-existence of any other world. Unless you are a materialist, in which case your materialistic philophy is based on faith.

TimH
09-29-2010, 10:31 AM
A vengeful god he is. We should try casting young virgins into volcanoes and see if things get better.

TomF
09-29-2010, 10:32 AM
A vengeful god he is. We should try casting young virgins into volcanoes and see if things get better.Surely there are better things to do with virgins.

TomF
09-29-2010, 10:49 AM
I'm not sure about those 'behavioral outcomes' you refer to.... explain?Oh, I meant Atheists and Agnostics each tend to just focus on getting on with one's life autonomously. Quice consciously developing systems of justice and ethics based on logic and community-derived values, rather than trying to ground them in something other than human precedent. And not being convinced about an afterlife, both "purpose" and "accountability" have to be found here.

Theists will, if they live out their beliefs, be conscious of trying to live consistent with their understanding of God's will. And if their beliefs include an afterlife or reincarnation, they'll be considering purpose and accountability in timescales longer than their 3 score + 10 this time 'round.

Osborne Russell
09-29-2010, 11:05 AM
"If not believing in god is a religion, then not playing basketball is a sport."

I ought to be in better shape, then.

BrianY
09-29-2010, 11:09 AM
That argument goes nowhere. We prove the non-existence of things all of the time. If you wanted to prove that a roomful of air had no oxygen, you would simply attempt to light a match. The inability to start a flame would prove the absense of oxygen. Then there are the scientific instruments that could do the same with much more accuracy.



Actually, your analogy is flawed. It is one thing to determine if something is not present at a particular point in time and space (which your match test may do) and an entirely different thing to determine that something does not exist anywhere at any time throughout the entire existence of the universe - which is what you'd need to do to "prove the non-existence of god".

Your match test merely seems to indicate that in that room at that point in time there was not enough oxygen to support combustion - not that oxygen does not "exist". However, your match test is hardly sufficient to prove with absolute certianty even that low level of assertion. After all , the real reason that the match won't light could have nothing to do with the oxygen level in the room and everything to do with the presence of invisible fairies who hate fire and immediately and instantaneously extinguish all attempts at initiating combustion. Go ahead, prove that such faries don't exist.

You can assume that the cause of the match problem is the lack of oxygen because the preponderance of empirical evidence indicates that this is a far more likely explanation than invisible faries, but that doesn't mean that a) you are 100% certian that your assumption is correct and b) the invisible faries do not exist.

Likewise, we have NOT proven that Santa doesn't exist. We have proven that there are no toy factories, etc. at the North Pole and, by doing so, we have proven that one aspect of the Santa story as commonly related is false. Beyond that, the absence of toy factories at the north pole proven nothing about the existence or non-existence of Santa.

We need to be very careful about drawing incorrect conclusions from data and making erroneous assumptions based on what we thinkthe data indicates.

Osborne Russell
09-29-2010, 11:11 AM
both Atheists and Theists claim that their view is objective, actual, incontrovertible.

I was with you up till the last. I've never heard anyone say that the non-existence of God is incontrovertible.

Kaa
09-29-2010, 11:14 AM
We have proven that there are no toy factories, etc. at the North Pole and...

Actually, we have observed that there are no visible toy factories, etc. at the North Pole. That's not much. Maybe there's a pocket universe utilizing dimensions six to eight in there :-) Or maybe all elves are ninjas :D

Kaa

Rational Root
09-29-2010, 11:22 AM
Russell, Godel, Incompleteness theorem.

A proof that in any complex system things can be true which cannot be proven.

They proved that particular classes of proofs cannot exist, and some problems cannot be solved.
READ THAT AGAIN. There are problems that cannot be solved. Not just difficult, not just it takes a long time, but CANNOT BE SOLVED.

So you cannot create a machine that will solve them.
You cannot create a computer system that can solve the Halting Problem.

It has been proven. It is indisputable. Or at least it's indisputable to anyone who can understand graduate level math/logic.

So, yes there are utter, absolute, complete and unarguable proofs that given specific things cannot exist.

Go google Russel's paradox and Godel's incompleteness theorem.

Unless you have at least degree level understanding of a math/computer science/logic please do not argue about what can and cannot be proven. Very little of it is intuitive.

Scott Rosen
09-29-2010, 11:32 AM
You can assume that the cause of the match problem is the lack of oxygen because the preponderance of empirical evidence indicates that this is a far more likely explanation than invisible faries, but that doesn't mean that a) you are 100% certian that your assumption is correct and b) the invisible faries do not exist.

We need to be very careful about drawing incorrect conclusions from data and making erroneous assumptions based on what we thinkthe data indicates.We could put you in the room and see what happens. We'll revive you before you die and ask you if you felt or heard any fairies. Or we could just let you expire and take that as more "evidence" of the absence of oxygen.

To argue that something does not exist, one first has to posit its existence.

I think you and I are making the same point -- that ultimately all proof involves a level of trust, including that we truste our own perceptions of reality. We experience facts through our subjective perception. As the saying goes, "who are you gonna trust, me or your own lyin' eyes?"

I'm told that there's a land mass in the Southern Hemisphere called Australia. I've never seen it. Other people claim to have been there, and some people on this Forum claim to be there now. Others claim to have taken pictures of it. But I've not been able to verify to an absolute certainty that Australia exists, except as a fiction in someone's mind.

Yet there is lots of evidence that Australia exists. Even though it is not absolute, it weighs very strongly in favor of its existence. Do you think I could get abolute proof by going there? I don't think so. I couldn't be sure that the pilot of the plane actually took me to where he said he would. The people I meet there could all be lying to me about the name of their country.

Very few things are suceptible to absolute proof. Trust, inference, logic, etc. fill the gap. That includes the belief that there is no god.

Kaa
09-29-2010, 11:34 AM
So, yes there are utter, absolute, complete and unarguable proofs that given specific things cannot exist.

Not if we are dealing with religion.

Your "utter, absolute, complete and unarguable proofs" assume a certain framework -- things like logic, math, causality, etc. -- and God is, kinda by definition, is not limited by this framework. Think about miracles -- they are (again, by definition) something that breaks the laws of nature and so "cannot exist" :-)

Kaa

Rational Root
09-29-2010, 11:35 AM
Agnostic : There may be a god. I don't know

Atheist : In the absence of any evidence of the existence of a god, I conclude there is none. I will review my conclusion in the face of any new evidence.

It is a tautology that you cannot prove that an all powerful being does not exist. Being all powerful, if it wanted to remove all evidence of itself, it could.
Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

We are faced with incomplete knowledge about everything, we can make conclusions.

However there is no evidence for the flying spaghetti monster either, and I choose to conclude that given the lack of evidence, it does not exist.

Few would argue with the statement above, yet when I put in God instead of flying spaghetti monster, people get all bent out of shape.

Why would God look like us (we were created in his own image?) Does he need a mouth to eat, a nose to breath, eyes to see, legs to walk and bilateral symmetry to retain good balance.

Rational Root
09-29-2010, 11:38 AM
You are correct. And the fairies at the bottom of my garden can draw a circle on a flat plan where the Circumference is 5 times the radius.

But absenting the fairies, most people would accept that the circumference is 2 * Pi * r.

Scott Rosen
09-29-2010, 11:39 AM
Agnostic : There may be a god. I don't know

Atheist : In the absence of any evidence of the existence of a god, I conclude there is none. I will review my conclusion in the face of any new evidence.Why would God look like us (we were created in his own image?) Does he need a mouth to eat, a nose to breath, eyes to see, legs to walk and bilateral symmetry to retain good balance.

There is a huge difference between believing there is no god, on the one hand, and believing that the holy scriptures are wrong, on the other hand.

You could very well prove the Bible to be completely wrong. That would not affect my opinion as to the existence of a deity. Nor should it.

Rational Root
09-29-2010, 11:39 AM
Not if we are dealing with religion.

Your "utter, absolute, complete and unarguable proofs" assume a certain framework -- things like logic, math, causality, etc. -- and God is, kinda by definition, is not limited by this framework. Think about miracles -- they are (again, by definition) something that breaks the laws of nature and so "cannot exist" :-)

Kaa

I am glad that you finally accept that miracles cannot exist.

Kaa
09-29-2010, 11:48 AM
But absenting the fairies, most people would accept that the circumference is 2 * Pi * r.

Actually, I would posit that most people would scratch their head and go "Umm...." :D

But in any case, you asserted that there is no evidence for the existence of god(s). I'd say that this is not true -- there's lots of evidence that can be interpreted as pointing towards god(s). It's the interpretation that's the issue.

Talk to our own TomF and he'll tell you that he knows God exists because of his personal experiences. He knows because he felt God and interacted with Him. That's evidence -- insufficient for you but quite sufficient for him.

Kaa

Kaa
09-29-2010, 11:48 AM
I am glad that you finally accept that miracles cannot exist.

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" :D

Kaa

downthecreek
09-29-2010, 11:53 AM
Dawkins' second claim - that belief in God expressed through organized religion is actively harmful - can be made equally by Agnostics or Atheists. And supported in much larger measure than Dawkins would admit by not a few Theists too!

Indeed so. The distinction between belief and/or faith and the institutions established to organise communities of the faithful is too often blurred.

pefjr
09-29-2010, 12:00 PM
Man's capabilities to reason fully exposes gods to nothing more than imagination. This process is ongoing. Meanwhile mankind discuss,create more religion, debate, fight, and kill over their own imaginations, supported with tax free dollars of course.

GWB
09-29-2010, 12:14 PM
Oh yeah, there's a whole lot more to "religion" than the starting place that says that the God question can be objectively resolved. As you say, ritual, tradition ... and yes, superstition ... all are elements of established "religions." Atheism has no Temples or Churches, no High Priests performing arcane Atheistic Rituals. No catechisms for the faithful to learn, nor examinations before people can become full members of the Atheist circle. :D

I don't buy that Atheism is a religion. But I do think that it makes precisely the same empirically unsupportable claim that Theisms do. Seems to me that Agnosticism isn't Atheism-lite, however similar some of the behavioural outcomes are ... they may end up with the same observable result, but the starting places are quite distinct.

I don't know about that! The flying spaghetti monster and fairies at the end of the garden are standard Atheist stuff that is used in so many arguments... disciples of Dawkins if you will :)

Scott Rosen
09-29-2010, 12:18 PM
Man's capabilities to reason fully exposes gods to nothing more than imagination. This process is ongoing. Meanwhile mankind discuss,create more religion, debate, fight, and kill over their own imaginations, supported with tax free dollars of course.Or you can take religion away. Then mankind can fight and kill over differing atheistic philosophies. Oh. Wait. That's actually happened. And the secular tyrants were even more brutally efficient than the relgious ones.

Humans are power-hungry, blood-thirsty and selfish. God or no god, we will always find a justification for our bloodlust.

Anyone who thinks atheism will bring about a better world is more deluded than the most die-hard religious fundementalist. It would be nice to think that you can change the way people think and thereby change human nature. But it's been tried and we know how that turns out.

pefjr
09-29-2010, 12:40 PM
atheistic philosophiesExample please.




Anyone who thinks atheism will bring about a better world is more deluded than the most die-hard religious fundementalist. .It's what brings about Atheism that might bring about a better world. And that is Reason. But no, we can not change the misuse of religion overnight, I said it's ongoing, slow, measured in millenniums maybe.

Scott Rosen
09-29-2010, 01:00 PM
It's what brings about Atheism that might bring about a better world. And that is Reason. But no, we can not change the misuse of religion overnight, I said it's ongoing, slow, measured in millenniums maybe.My friend if you believe that the passage of time will change the effect of religion on people, then you must have faith in a beneficent god -- because all of human history suggests otherwise.

Reason is a good thing. But, as the saying goes, reasonable minds can disagree. Since you can't use reason to prove or disprove god, your statement that reason will bring about atheism makes no sense at all.

Norm, I know that atheism is not a moral code and the only thing all atheists share is the belief that god doesn't exist. It's the "evangelical" atheists I'm poking at.

pefjr
09-29-2010, 01:06 PM
Since you can't use reason to prove or disprove god,

.Obviously you can't. I can

Kaa
09-29-2010, 01:08 PM
It's what brings about Atheism that might bring about a better world. And that is Reason.

Reason is a tool. It's not so good at setting goals and defining morality.

Kaa

pefjr
09-29-2010, 01:12 PM
Reason is a tool. It's not so good at setting goals and defining morality.

KaaWell, what do ya suppose defines morality?

johnw
09-29-2010, 01:15 PM
This article (http://www2.timesdispatch.com/news/news/2010/sep/29/reli29-ar-530732/), also mentioned earlier in the thread, defines atheism this way:

"Agnostics believe they cannot prove the existence of a supreme being, while atheists do not believe one exists." (emphasis added).

Compare two sentence constructions:

Atheists do not believe god exists.
Atheists believe god does not exist.

The first supports RationlRoot's argument, the second supports the notion that atheism is a belief. I am still unclear on how the absence of a belief (first sentence) is a belief.
The problem with 'atheists do not believe god exists' is that agnostics don't believe god exists either, although they are open to the possibility. A definition that makes a distinction that puts atheists in a different category than agnostics is more precise. That's why 'atheists believe god does not exist' is a more precise definition of this strain of thought.

Kaa
09-29-2010, 01:15 PM
Well, what do ya suppose defines morality?

Crudely, biological imperatives + social contract.

Kaa

pefjr
09-29-2010, 01:19 PM
Crudely, biological imperatives + social contract.

KaaWhich boils down to sound reasoning.

Scott Rosen
09-29-2010, 01:20 PM
Obviously you can't. I canThat's impressive. Where did you learn how to reason?

Kaa
09-29-2010, 01:22 PM
Neither is religion, as evidenced by the number of people who profess morality, but fail to live up to it.

"Define" and "enforce" are two verbs with quite different meanings, are they not?


Not much point in defining morality, if you don't live up to it.

I think we'll have to disagree about that :-)

In the meantime, consider whether there's much point in defining a geometric circle -- it's not like you can ever achieve a perfect circle in reality...


Religion is pretty good, however, at providing an escape clause for immoral behavior; forgivenness, and absolution are fundamental precepts of Christianity, are they not?

Christianity, yes. Judaism and Islam, on the other hand, are not big on forgiveness. So it seems your generalization is incorrect, even within the scope of the monotheistic religions. And further East karma seems to be the dominant idea, and it's not exactly full of escape clauses :-)

Kaa

pefjr
09-29-2010, 01:22 PM
I would add that it was sound reasoning that brought about religion in the first place. But, since that time we have many facts brought forth to reason.

Scott Rosen
09-29-2010, 01:22 PM
The problem with 'atheists do not believe god exists' is that agnostics don't believe god exists either, although they are open to the possibility. A definition that makes a distinction that puts atheists in a different category than agnostics is more precise. That's why 'atheists believe god does not exist' is a more precise definition of this strain of thought.I read that definition of agnostic differently. I think it says an agnositic acknowledges the unprovability of god, but doesn't exclude the possibility of a god.

Kaa
09-29-2010, 01:23 PM
Which boils down to sound reasoning.

LOL. Could you please explain to me, in small steps and baby words, how do biological imperatives boil down to sound reasoning? :D

Kaa

pefjr
09-29-2010, 01:23 PM
That's impressive. Where did you learn how to reason?A scientist taught me.

pefjr
09-29-2010, 01:25 PM
LOL. Could you please explain to me, in small steps and baby words, how do biological imperatives boil down to sound reasoning? :D

KaaI never said it did.

Kaa
09-29-2010, 01:28 PM
I never said it did.

Sigh. Peffy, ol' son, I play with words better than you do :-P

Kaa

pefjr
09-29-2010, 01:33 PM
Sigh. Peffy, ol' son, I play with words better than you do :-P

KaaTrue. Go back and play with your post #131

johnw
09-29-2010, 02:02 PM
Russell, Godel, Incompleteness theorem.

A proof that in any complex system things can be true which cannot be proven.

They proved that particular classes of proofs cannot exist, and some problems cannot be solved.
READ THAT AGAIN. There are problems that cannot be solved. Not just difficult, not just it takes a long time, but CANNOT BE SOLVED.

So you cannot create a machine that will solve them.
You cannot create a computer system that can solve the Halting Problem.

It has been proven. It is indisputable. Or at least it's indisputable to anyone who can understand graduate level math/logic.

So, yes there are utter, absolute, complete and unarguable proofs that given specific things cannot exist.

Go google Russel's paradox and Godel's incompleteness theorem.

Unless you have at least degree level understanding of a math/computer science/logic please do not argue about what can and cannot be proven. Very little of it is intuitive.
Godel's proof is only about logical systems. There are other kinds of proof. If I want proof my keyboard works, I type on it.

Even as regards logic, many things can be proven. Any logical system will, however, be unable to prove that all true things are true and all false things are false. Most things that are true can be proven true, and most things that are false can be proven false.

What Godel did was put logical systems on the same plane as scientific theories -- systems of explanation that are often incomplete and subject to revision when a better way of thinking comes along. This is exactly the attitude toward truth that makes many deeply religious people uncomfortable.

He wasn't talking about ontology or any other aspect of epistemology, only logical proofs. And I'm at a loss to see how the Halting Problem relates to ontology or epistemology.

There is a great deal we can know without logical proofs. If I want to know if I have an apple, I look where I keep the apples, I don't do a logical proof. Or, I ask someone who's already looking if there's an apple, and based on their past truthfulness, accept their judgment on the matter.

We have the testimony of many that God exists. I don't doubt their sincerity or honesty, but I'm uncertain whether what they experienced was really god, so I reserve judgment. I don't tell them they didn't experience god, because how would I know? But that's a judgment that atheists are happy to render.

Where they come by this certainty of belief I don't know.

And by the way, I've never met anyone who sincerely assured me they had experienced the flying spaghetti monster, although there was one incident in a college food fight...

Rational Root
09-29-2010, 02:54 PM
Actually, I would posit that most people would scratch their head and go "Umm...." :D

But in any case, you asserted that there is no evidence for the existence of god(s). I'd say that this is not true -- there's lots of evidence that can be interpreted as pointing towards god(s). It's the interpretation that's the issue.

Talk to our own TomF and he'll tell you that he knows God exists because of his personal experiences. He knows because he felt God and interacted with Him. That's evidence -- insufficient for you but quite sufficient for him.

Kaa

Anyone who is lost at that may have some difficulty with Russell's Paradox and Godel's incompleteness theorem.

TomF
09-29-2010, 02:56 PM
I confess that I've not studied higher math, but despite that I'm quite sane. My brother, who did study higher math (and philosophy ... and Godel) is clergy nonetheless.

Rational Root
09-29-2010, 03:01 PM
Godel's proof is only about logical systems.
..snip..
And by the way, I've never met anyone who sincerely assured me they had experienced the flying spaghetti monster, although there was one incident in a college food fight...

The question of being able to prove that something does not exist came up,
if something cannot be done within a logical framework, then a machine cannot exist to do it within that framework,
ie you can prove that a physical thing, in this case a specific machine, cannot exist.


Also, if you eat blue cheese late at night, and drink a lot of red wine, you too can experience the flying spaghetti monster..

D

Kaa
09-29-2010, 03:01 PM
Anyone who is lost at that may have some difficulty with Russell's Paradox and Godel's incompleteness theorem.

I think I can safely assure you that "most people" will have some difficulty with Russell's Paradox and Godel's incompleteness theorem. :-)

Kaa

Rational Root
09-29-2010, 03:11 PM
I confess that I've not studied higher math, but despite that I'm quite sane. My brother, who did study higher math (and philosophy ... and Godel) is clergy nonetheless.

My math is more middle than higher. I have some background in probability, stats, calculus, dynamic systems and chaos, some small understanding of logical systems, and a vague and passing knowledge of the existence of complex geometries, measure theory, and other esoterica. As to my sanity, that really depends on where you draw that particular line in the sand 8-),

Rational Root
09-29-2010, 03:33 PM
I am the barber in the kingdom.

Some men shave themselves.

The king has decreed that I must shave every man who does not shave himself, but only shave men who do not shave themselves.

Do I shave myself?

Put some nice notation around it and you have russell's paradox. Simple. 8-)

Wrap it logic and you have godel's incompleteness th.

Suddenly you realize that even the plane old natural numbers 0,1,2 etc are not as simple and manageable as people thought.

But yes, it's difficult.

It leads to a world of unimaginable complexity and wonder. And that's just numbers.
Reality will really mess with your head, if you start to learn about it.

It stands all on it's own as a startling amazing and wonderful thing, and you don't need to invoke any deities. The things we know about are more than fantastic enough without going all supernatural.

pefjr
09-29-2010, 05:13 PM
Do I shave myself?
Does the king think for you?

johnw
09-29-2010, 05:34 PM
The question of being able to prove that something does not exist came up,
if something cannot be done within a logical framework, then a machine cannot exist to do it within that framework,
ie you can prove that a physical thing, in this case a specific machine, cannot exist.


Also, if you eat blue cheese late at night, and drink a lot of red wine, you too can experience the flying spaghetti monster..

D
You're overlooking something fundamental about Godel's proof. He showed that no system that shows all untrue things are untrue can show that all true things are true, so clearly he believed that it was possible to know whether a thing was true without logic. He used set theory, so you could see the truth or falsehood of the statements, then compare that to the results of the logic. That's why I was talking about looking at things to see if they were there rather than relying on a logical proof. That's what Godel relied on to test logic.

This means he thought the truth or falsehood of some statements was independent of logical systems. You can look and see that some things are true. In the case of god, we have the testimony of some who say they have experienced god. If you or I haven't, we have to evaluate those statements and decide whether we accept it.

oznabrag
09-29-2010, 08:18 PM
I confess that I've not studied higher math, but despite that I'm quite sane. My brother, who did study higher math (and philosophy ... and Godel) is clergy nonetheless.

But is he insane?

Kaa
09-29-2010, 09:21 PM
But is he insane?

:D Sanity is relative :D

Kaa

Rational Root
09-30-2010, 02:19 AM
You're overlooking something fundamental about Godel's proof. He showed that no system that shows all untrue things are untrue can show that all true things are true, so clearly he believed that it was possible to know whether a thing was true without logic.


never studied maths did you ?



He used set theory, so you could see the truth or falsehood of the statements, then compare that to the results of the logic.


Set theory falls to Russell's paradox too. "the set of all sets that do not contain themselves"
He accepted that there were things that were true, but we could not know them to be true.



That's why I was talking about looking at things to see if they were there rather than relying on a logical proof. That's what Godel relied on to test logic.

This means he thought the truth or falsehood of some statements was independent of logical systems. You can look and see that some things are true.

No, you can look and form an opinion, sometimes informed, sometimes ill informed, sometimes right, sometimes wrong.
There exist things which you cannot "see" that they are true or false. Russell rocks.


In the case of god, we have the testimony of some who say they have experienced god. If you or I haven't, we have to evaluate those statements and decide whether we accept it.

Perhaps, but this little digression was about the nature of proofs.

TomF
09-30-2010, 07:25 AM
:D Sanity is relative :D

KaaWell, in the family at least. :D

marshcat
09-30-2010, 08:16 AM
... this little digression was about the nature of proofs.

So to recap the practical application of the Incompleteness Theorem to the 'Is there a god' question:

The argument that you can't prove there is no god (because of the logic flaw that you can't prove a negative) is incorrect? Do I have that right? I did not major in math in college, but I still like to think about unfamiliar ideas, and sometimes even argue about them.

Rational Root
09-30-2010, 09:33 AM
So to recap the practical application of the Incompleteness Theorem to the 'Is there a god' question:

The argument that you can't prove there is no god (because of the logic flaw that you can't prove a negative) is incorrect? Do I have that right? I did not major in math in college, but I still like to think about unfamiliar ideas, and sometimes even argue about them.

1) You can prove a negative.
2) As an all powerful God could mess with our heads, our logic, and the evidence that we see, the notion of proving the absence of an all powerful God is logically absurd.
3) Atheists put the burden of proof on the existence of God.

diesel_pusher
09-30-2010, 10:41 AM
So to recap the practical application of the Incompleteness Theorem to the 'Is there a god' question:

The argument that you can't prove there is no god (because of the logic flaw that you can't prove a negative) is incorrect? Do I have that right? I did not major in math in college, but I still like to think about unfamiliar ideas, and sometimes even argue about them.

Ravi Zacharias was born a Hindu. He has a unique outlook on ALL things Theistic, that wont insult ones intelligence. Ravi delves into and makes many difficult propositions understandable. He is brief and to the point. Three books of Ravi's are a must. 1) "Who Made God ? " by R.Z. (2003) 2) "Can Man Live Without God? " by R.Z. (2004)
3) "The End of Reason" by R.Z (2008)

johnw
09-30-2010, 01:02 PM
never studied maths did you ?



Set theory falls to Russell's paradox too. "the set of all sets that do not contain themselves"
He accepted that there were things that were true, but we could not know them to be true.



No, you can look and form an opinion, sometimes informed, sometimes ill informed, sometimes right, sometimes wrong.
There exist things which you cannot "see" that they are true or false. Russell rocks.



Perhaps, but this little digression was about the nature of proofs.
O wise one, do you then accept that we can know things are true independent of logical proofs? Snide comments don't really tell us anything.

PhaseLockedLoop
09-30-2010, 02:14 PM
How narrow your horizons are! You deny that most of the gods worshiped through history are even gods.

Oh, bull****.

Scott Rosen
09-30-2010, 05:03 PM
1) You can prove a negative.
2) As an all powerful God could mess with our heads, our logic, and the evidence that we see, the notion of proving the absence of an all powerful God is logically absurd. . . .I'll go one step further. God is absurd. Once you accept that god is absurd (in the philosophical sense), the question of "proof" disappears. I have been mocked by some of my religious friends for saying that god is absurd. But god IS absurd. His existence is beyond the physical universe, outside of the laws of nature, and cannot be known by reason alone.

Arguing over his existence can be a fun mental game. But it is ultimately meaningless, as it's an argument that can never be resolved by resort to argument.

Glen Longino
09-30-2010, 05:12 PM
Oh, bull****.

So, are you saying you believe that most of the gods worshipped throughout history are still gods?

johnw
09-30-2010, 09:01 PM
Oh, bull****.
How very profound.

bob winter
10-01-2010, 03:55 AM
Atheism is certainly a belief, whether or not it is a religion is a moot point as far as I am concerned. For that matter, agnosticism is a belief as well, it is just a different belief. I believe that I am in no position to say God does or does not exist on an objective basis. To my mind, the chances are that he does not exist. From a practical point of view, it makes no difference to my daily life, one way or another.

PeterSibley
10-01-2010, 04:22 AM
I believe I haven't the faintest idea ,if that qualifies as a belief ??:rolleyes: I suppose you're right .:rolleyes:

Rational Root
10-01-2010, 06:19 AM
O wise one, do you then accept that we can know things are true independent of logical proofs? Snide comments don't really tell us anything.

Depends on what you mean by "know"

Can you know something that is wrong ?

Can one person "know" that God exists while another "knows" that he does not.

Clearly one is incorrect.

If you allow that "know" does not mean that you are right, then you can know thing without proof.

If by "know" you mean you are aware of something, and you are right... then Without a proof, how can you satisfy the "being right" part?

So, do you mean "can we be 100% certain things are true without a proof" ?

If you skip past the philosophical discussion of can we know anything*, then we can be 100% certain of things that are self evident, and things that we can prove.

(* If there's an apple on the table in front of me, can I even say that I am 100% sure that there is an apple there, perhaps I am hallucinating)

What constitutes a proof ? What constitutes self evident ?

Proofs within a logical system have very specific meanings. Even then there are arguments about the validity of complex proofs.
Within a logical system you can have things which are true, but you cannot prove. The fun part is that you cannot known which ones are true and which ones are false without a proof.

Proofs and knowing outside of logical systems mean different things to different people.

Rational Root
10-01-2010, 06:26 AM
Atheism is certainly a belief, whether or not it is a religion is a moot point as far as I am concerned. For that matter, agnosticism is a belief as well, it is just a different belief. I believe that I am in no position to say God does or does not exist on an objective basis. To my mind, the chances are that he does not exist. From a practical point of view, it makes no difference to my daily life, one way or another.

Nope.

Atheism is a conclusion, not a belief.

The _VAST_ majority of religious people have the same faith as their parents.
That does not seem like they looked at the facts and came to a conclusion.

Certainly I was brought in a Catholic environment.
To reject that required a decision.
That required forming an opinion.
That required a thought process.

Believing because your parents did may or may not include a thought process, but it does not require one.

"you can't reason someone out of a position that they have not reasoned themselves into"

beliefs are tangential to reason, they do not require reason, they often do not stand up to reason.

D

BrianY
10-01-2010, 07:49 AM
Atheism is a conclusion, not a belief.

D

Atheism can be a conclusion (i.e. after pondering various religions, sciences and philosophies, one may conclude that god does not exist). It can also be a "natural condition" (for lack of a better term) i.e. someone who has had no exposure to the concept of god or whose philosophical and cultural mindset does not allow for the existence of gods. For this person, the existence or non-existence of god or gods is not something that is even considered.

I also think that it can be a belief - what about atheist who say "I believe that god does not exist"? They may have arrived at this belief through rational consideration of religion, etc. but the assertion that god does not exist is an assertion of belief.

Consider these two statements:

After careful study, I have concluded that god does not exist.
After careful study, I believe that god does not exist.

It may be a quibble over semantics, but I believe that these two statements are not equivalent. The first is, as you say, a conclusion - the end result of a rational process. The second is a statement of belief - an assertion of faith based more on an emotional response to the data than a rational, logical process

I believe that more people arrive at atheism through the second route than the first. It is entirely possible to set up a logical argument for the non-existence of god...but how many people actually think that way? If that sort of thinking was common, religion wouldn't be such a popular thing in the first place.


It seems to me that in your generalization about what atheism is/is not, you are forgetting that atheism is not monolithic. There are different types of atheism arrived at through different means. Atheism IS a conclusion, but it's ALSO a belief and a non-belief/non conclusion ("a state of being"). It all depends on who you're talking to.

Y Bar Ranch
10-01-2010, 07:59 AM
Consider these two statements:

After careful study, I have concluded that god does not exist.
After careful study, I believe that god does not exist.
A more common third statement would be, "After careful study, I do not believe that god exists."

TomF
10-01-2010, 08:13 AM
The _VAST_ majority of religious people have the same faith as their parents.
That does not seem like they looked at the facts and came to a conclusion.Very true - certainly true in my case.

Not in my wife's though, as I've described before. Her parents are atheists, and have nothing but rather embarassed disapproval for folks who aren't of their way of thinking. Sasha's Christianity started as the result of an unlooked-for mystical experience which happened to her when she was a teen. It effectively divided her more sharply from her family of origin than anything else might have done, but has continued to be a touchstone for what's actually "real" for her in the decades since.

Her life would have been much easier, her capacity to fit in with her family much greater, had she rejected this experience as some sort of delusion, as a fiction, daydream, or psychological escape. Problem is, to her mind ... it wasn't. And for her, and for people who take her seriously as a credible, responsible reporter, that casts a whole lot of weight onto one side of the balance. Especially since acting on the experience generated conflict and pain, rather than comfort.

When I apply Occam's Razor to such a situation, and set it beside the anecdotal experiences I've had ... and others have had ... I don't come up with the conclusion that God's a figment of imagination. I come up with the conclusion, as I've said many times here, that the whole purpose of our being here could not be accomplished were the existence of God to be utterly proven one way or the other.

Rational Root
10-01-2010, 08:34 AM
It seems to me that in your generalization about what atheism is/is not, you are forgetting that atheism is not monolithic. There are different types of atheism arrived at through different means. Atheism IS a conclusion, but it's ALSO a belief and a non-belief/non conclusion ("a state of being"). It all depends on who you're talking to.

You are quite correct, in the absence of Papal infallibility, I can of course only speak for my own personal brand of Godlessness.

skuthorp
10-01-2010, 08:39 AM
You think there's a purpose TomF? Good grief. I think that's just a product of us being self aware at it's base. That and self importance. The ultimate sin of pride writ large if you will.

And 'athiesim' is certainly not monolithic. It's not organised, it's personal. I actually detest the label because it allows the implication of a 'belief'.

TomF
10-01-2010, 08:43 AM
You think there's a purpose TomF? Good grief. I think that's just a product of us being self aware at it's base. That and self importance. The ultimate sin of pride writ large if you will.Yeah, I think there's purpose to our being here. I'm rather unconventional (compared with Televangelist Protestantism, or orthodox Catholicism at least) about how I describe that purpose ... but since I've written about it at length before here, I won't take up the bandwidth now.

Y Bar Ranch
10-01-2010, 08:47 AM
One of the Human Universals, common to all human cultures, is belief in supernatural/religion.

http://condor.depaul.edu/~mfiddler/hyphen/humunivers.htm

skuthorp
10-01-2010, 08:47 AM
I can tell that you have a more kindly view of our species than I do TomF. A canker is more my opinion.

Flying Orca
10-01-2010, 09:12 AM
One of the Human Universals, common to all human cultures, is belief in supernatural/religion.

Sure. But all that means is that there is some factor common to our cultural or cognitive systems that creates such belief... probably because said factor experienced positive selection pressure up to 50-odd thousand years ago. By no means does such an observation support the conclusion that said belief is correct.

SamSam
10-01-2010, 09:44 AM
One of the Human Universals, common to all human cultures, is belief in supernatural/religion.
[I][SIZE=-1]

So is superstition. Maybe also a belief in good luck/bad luck. Driving it all is a universal human ability to wonder and reason, and to assign an answer that is the conclusion as far as is known, although not necessarily the right one.

Y Bar Ranch
10-01-2010, 10:31 AM
Sure. But all that means is that there is some factor common to our cultural or cognitive systems that creates such belief... probably because said factor experienced positive selection pressure up to 50-odd thousand years ago. By no means does such an observation support the conclusion that said belief is correct.
I'm with you. The idea that we've evolved for a propensity to believe in religion is compelling. It also means that attempts to convince humanity that there is no god(s) will always be like rowing a boat upstream. The moment you stop, you're back at the beginning.

Kaa
10-01-2010, 10:39 AM
The idea that we've evolved for a propensity to believe in religion is compelling.

Not really. There's a very well-documented propensity of humans to make up stories to explain what we don't understand. There's another really obvious propensity of humans to be social and do things together. I don't see a propensity to "believe in religion".

Kaa

pefjr
10-01-2010, 10:57 AM
To form a conclusion based on hearsay is a belief, to form a conclusion based on reason(intellectual thought)is the foundation of knowledge. Of course allowing for all possibilities, TomF could be right but what are the odds? .Based on reason, the odds are the same as the odds for the green horse mentioned earlier. But the green horse does not promise, whereas gods promise through the imaginations of believers and the self proclaimed employed mouthpieces of gods. Is it the promise, or these gods, that believers hang to? The basic promise has remained fairly constant through the age of gods, basically a promise of life after death, whereas the gods we are familiar with have changed every few thousands years and now are said to speak through how many mouthpieces? So is it gods speaking or payed mouthpieces? These PMs have multiplied and now control 6 billion believers. All on hearsay. So, are the believers trained and controlled to act upon the imaginations of man or gods?

Yes, I know TomF, along the way we can not measure the good religion has accomplished. But using reason, do we attribute this to man or gods?

John Smith
10-01-2010, 11:15 AM
To form a conclusion based on hearsay is a belief, to form a conclusion based on reason(intellectual thought)is the foundation of knowledge. Of course allowing for all possibilities, TomF could be right but what are the odds? .Based on reason, the odds are the same as the odds for the green horse mentioned earlier. But the green horse does not promise, whereas gods promise through the imaginations of believers and the self proclaimed employed mouthpieces of gods. Is it the promise, or these gods, that believers hang to? The basic promise has remained fairly constant through the age of gods, basically a promise of life after death, whereas the gods we are familiar with have changed every few thousands years and now are said to speak through how many mouthpieces? So is it gods speaking or payed mouthpieces? These PMs have multiplied and now control 6 billion believers. All on hearsay. So, are the believers trained and controlled to act upon the imaginations of man or gods?

Yes, I know TomF, along the way we can not measure the good religion has accomplished. But using reason, do we attribute this to man or gods?

I go along with the conclusion argument. I find it interesting the the religious quiz recently done found the atheists scored better than the believers. Penn, of Penn and Teller, figures that is because the atheists are more in tune with facts about religion than are the religious folks. I agree with that opinion.

From where I sit, the people who wave their religion the most are like those who wave our constitution the most; they don't appear to have read it. I see something within the human race where we like to believe someone has the answer to any question. "God" seems to work as an answer for most. I view "God" pretty much like "migraine". When you go to the doctor with a bad headache, he says you've got a migraine. Sounds like he's got an answer. Truth is he has no idea why your head hurts so bad.

I'm not sure there is much good to be measured from religion, but I'm sure there's an awful lot of bad things done in it's name. I cannot think of anything more frightening than a man who believes himself to be on a mission from God.

Scott Rosen
10-01-2010, 02:59 PM
To form a conclusion based on hearsay is a belief, to form a conclusion based on reason(intellectual thought)is the foundation of knowledge.Not quite. The difference between faith and knowledge does not turn on hearsay.

99% of what you think you know, is the result of hearsay. Learn your current events from the newspapers, TV, internet? All hearsay. Ever do celestial navigation? The tables you use -- all hearsay.

You think an atom has a proton, electron, etc.? Unless you personally conducted the experiments, it's all hearsay.

The relevant question to ask about hearsay is, "how reliable is it?" Some hearsay is so reliable that we trust our lives to it. Other hearsay, not so much.

johnw
10-01-2010, 03:31 PM
Depends on what you mean by "know"

Can you know something that is wrong ?

Can one person "know" that God exists while another "knows" that he does not.

Clearly one is incorrect.

If you allow that "know" does not mean that you are right, then you can know thing without proof.

If by "know" you mean you are aware of something, and you are right... then Without a proof, how can you satisfy the "being right" part?

So, do you mean "can we be 100% certain things are true without a proof" ?

If you skip past the philosophical discussion of can we know anything*, then we can be 100% certain of things that are self evident, and things that we can prove.

(* If there's an apple on the table in front of me, can I even say that I am 100% sure that there is an apple there, perhaps I am hallucinating)

What constitutes a proof ? What constitutes self evident ?

Proofs within a logical system have very specific meanings. Even then there are arguments about the validity of complex proofs.
Within a logical system you can have things which are true, but you cannot prove. The fun part is that you cannot known which ones are true and which ones are false without a proof.

Proofs and knowing outside of logical systems mean different things to different people.
You're using the word proof rather carelessly there. Logical proofs are not the only kind of proof we can have of the truth of a statement. In fact, in most cases in our daily lives, we go with observation rather than logic.

JormaS
10-01-2010, 03:58 PM
Belief is always a gamble. When you think about it, any belief is an expression of a gambling attitude. Itīs typical H.sapiens.

It always involves anticipation of a personal profit.

Belief in a divinity is a safe gamble because one thinks one can only win, never lose.

Osborne Russell
10-01-2010, 05:34 PM
Belief in a divinity is a safe gamble because one thinks one can only win, never lose.

Santa Claus would never pull the pin on a grenade, hand it to you and say "Merry Christmas".

Rational Root
10-02-2010, 09:11 AM
You're using the word proof rather carelessly there. Logical proofs are not the only kind of proof we can have of the truth of a statement. In fact, in most cases in our daily lives, we go with observation rather than logic.

Is that not pretty much what I said ?

Rational Root
10-02-2010, 09:12 AM
Belief is always a gamble. When you think about it, any belief is an expression of a gambling attitude. Itīs typical H.sapiens.

It always involves anticipation of a personal profit.

Belief in a divinity is a safe gamble because one thinks one can only win, never lose.

If there is no God, and you spend you entire (and only) life worshiping, living according to arbitrary rules, and worrying about eternal damnation, is that not a loss?

Flying Orca
10-02-2010, 09:36 AM
I think it is a loss not only for you, but for society, because one effect of faith is a decrease in the effectiveness of the nonsense-detection module. That's the cost Pascal never considered when making his famous wager.

johnw
10-02-2010, 05:19 PM
Is that not pretty much what I said ?
Then I fail to see what your objection is to my earlier post, or what Godel has to do with the existence of God.

Rational Root
10-03-2010, 04:08 PM
Then I fail to see what your objection is to my earlier post, or what Godel has to do with the existence of God.

My point in bringing up Godel was simply that you _CAN_ prove that something is impossible. A claim was made that you could not.
No more, no less.

Ian McColgin
10-03-2010, 04:11 PM
Logical proof and and ontological proof are a bit different.

johnw
10-03-2010, 04:36 PM
My point in bringing up Godel was simply that you _CAN_ prove that something is impossible. A claim was made that you could not.
No more, no less.
Ah, I see now. Only what he proved was the impossibility of a logical system that could in all cases provide certainty. Perhaps there are versions of atheism that don't insist on the certainty that God does not exist, as Dawkins seems to. I'm not sure how such a view would really differ from agnosticism, but I suspect that's what you're getting at. Care to elaborate? It may be that many of the arguments on this thread don't apply to the kind of atheism that you believe.

brad9798
10-03-2010, 07:43 PM
Atheism is a cop out against thinking ...

PatCox
10-03-2010, 09:22 PM
Isn't there a difference between saying "I do not believe there is a god," and saying "I believe there is no god?" I think there is a huge difference. You can believe the first, without this belief resulting in your judging those who do believe there is a god. But if you believe the second, if you think that the evidence and logic leads to the sole reasonable conclusion that there is no god, then you will judge those who do believe in god as lacking in knowledge or intelligence, and think them ignorant and superstitious. This second state may not be a "faith," but in its worldview, its similar to that of true believers in a religious faith, who think alll those who don't share their faith are evil or wrong.

SamSam
10-03-2010, 09:30 PM
Atheism is a cop out against thinking ...
"All thinking men are atheists." Ernest Hemingway

Nanoose
10-03-2010, 09:36 PM
"All thinking men are atheists." Ernest Hemingway
History would disagree with Ernie.

Glen Longino
10-03-2010, 09:48 PM
History would disagree with Ernie.

History has no voice, Deb!

Nanoose
10-03-2010, 09:53 PM
History has no voice, Deb!

Sounds just like those guys proclaiming the Holocaust never happened....

SamSam
10-03-2010, 10:12 PM
"I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.." That Adolf Guy

Glen Longino
10-03-2010, 10:55 PM
Sounds just like those guys proclaiming the Holocaust never happened....

Maybe it sounds like that to you, but it's only in your mind.
Show me where written history has any existence other than in the minds of us present day thinkers and I will kiss your arse!

Nanoose
10-03-2010, 11:33 PM
Glen! Are you getting fresh with me!??! :eek: ;)

johnw
10-03-2010, 11:43 PM
Sounds just like those guys proclaiming the Holocaust never happened....
Well, we almost made five pages before Godwin's Law kicked in. I'm a little surprised it was you, though.

Christians have been making the case for the existence of God at least since St. Augustine, which means the question has arisen for at least 1,700 years. A controversy doesn't last that long in the face of incontrovertible proof, which, by the way, exists for the Holocaust. However great your certainty, your God has cast a long shadow of doubt. This may be because Christianity demands so much of its God. Those quarreling, philandering Greek Gods who were often angry or ignorant of important facts could make mistakes or screw up because their emotions got in the way, which means that they were not riddled with logical impossibilities. The problem of pain does not arise when you believe in a God who may not care, or may want you to suffer because he's an SOB at heart.

So have a little mercy for the doubters, Deb.

Nanoose
10-03-2010, 11:45 PM
Well, we almost made five pages before Godwin's Law kicked in. I'm a little surprised it was you, though.



What? You lost me John. I was poking fun at Glen's comment about not being able to believe anything historical. Please explain. Thx.

johnw
10-03-2010, 11:48 PM
What? You lost me John. I was poking fun at Glen's comment about not being able to believe anything historical. Please explain. Thx.
From the Oracle Wikipedia:

Godwin's law (also known as Godwin's Rule of Nazi Analogies or Godwin's Law of Nazi Analogies)[1] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin%27s_law#cite_note-GL_FAQ-0)[2] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin%27s_law#cite_note-WiredMCM-1) is a humorous observation made by Mike Godwin (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_Godwin) in 1989 which has become an Internet adage (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_humor). It states: "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1."[3] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin%27s_law#cite_note-canonical_version-2)[2] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin%27s_law#cite_note-WiredMCM-1) In other words, Godwin put forth the sarcastic observation that, given enough time, all discussions—regardless of topic or scope—inevitably end up being about Hitler and the Nazis.
Godwin's law is often cited in online discussions as a deterrent against the use of arguments in the widespread reductio ad Hitlerum (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reductio_ad_Hitlerum) form. The rule does not make any statement about whether any particular reference or comparison to Adolf Hitler (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adolf_Hitler) or the Nazis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazism) might be appropriate, but only asserts that the likelihood of such a reference or comparison arising increases as the discussion progresses. It is precisely because such a comparison or reference may sometimes be appropriate, Godwin has argued[4] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin%27s_law#cite_note-CRDFSDA-3) that overuse of Nazi and Hitler comparisons should be avoided, because it robs the valid comparisons of their impact.

Nanoose
10-03-2010, 11:52 PM
Ya, ok. I still don't get why you are offended.

Glen Longino
10-04-2010, 12:44 AM
What? You lost me John. I was poking fun at Glen's comment about not being able to believe anything historical. Please explain. Thx.

Dangit, Deb, we all believe things historical, but we each one of us pick and choose which things we believe and which things we disbelieve.
I believe the Mexicans whupped the Texans at the Alamo, but I don't believe Jesus died for my sins. See?;)
BTW...when do we get a grand baby and new mother report with some detail in a new thread?

Glen Longino
10-04-2010, 12:53 AM
Glen! Are you getting fresh with me!??! :eek: ;)

Heheh!
I might, but if my wife didn't kill me your husband would kill me and you would go free and blameless!
I will not let that happen!:);):D

johnw
10-04-2010, 12:54 AM
Ya, ok. I still don't get why you are offended.
Sure, who could object to being compared to a Holocaust denier?

If you meant it as a joke, that's fine, but no one can see you smile in print.

Rational Root
10-04-2010, 02:28 AM
Ah, I see now. Only what he proved was the impossibility of a logical system that could in all cases provide certainty. Perhaps there are versions of atheism that don't insist on the certainty that God does not exist, as Dawkins seems to. I'm not sure how such a view would really differ from agnosticism, but I suspect that's what you're getting at. Care to elaborate? It may be that many of the arguments on this thread don't apply to the kind of atheism that you believe.

I guess (for me) it comes down to this

There is a difference between believing that Goes does not exist, and not believing that He does.

I put the burden of proof on the existence of God.

I have no good reason to believe he does exist. I do not "believe" in things simply because they are popular.

I have a mind, I am prepared to use it.*

(*Edited to add: and boy does that ever get me into trouble at times)

D

WX
10-04-2010, 04:19 AM
I think Lennon sumed it up quite well.

God is a Concept by which
we measure our pain
I'll say it again
God is a Concept by which
we measure our pain
I don't believe in magic
I don't believe in I-ching
I don't believe in Bible
I don't believe in Tarot
I don't believe in Hitler
I don't believe in Jesus
I don't believe in Kennedy
I don't believe in Buddha
I don't believe in Mantra
I don't believe in Gita
I don't believe in Yoga
I don't believe in Kings
I don't believe in Elvis
I don't believe in Zimmerman
I don't believe in Beatles
I just believe in me...and that reality

The dream is over
What can I say?
the Dream is Over
Yesterday
I was the Dreamweaver
But now I'm reborn
I was the Walrus
But now I'm John
and so dear friends
you'll just have to carry on
The Dream is over

johnw
10-04-2010, 02:54 PM
'Believe in baptism? Of course I do, I've seen it done.'
-- joke told by an old man to a sociologist who didn't get it.

johnw
10-04-2010, 03:00 PM
Isn't there a difference between saying "I do not believe there is a god," and saying "I believe there is no god?" I think there is a huge difference. You can believe the first, without this belief resulting in your judging those who do believe there is a god. But if you believe the second, if you think that the evidence and logic leads to the sole reasonable conclusion that there is no god, then you will judge those who do believe in god as lacking in knowledge or intelligence, and think them ignorant and superstitious. This second state may not be a "faith," but in its worldview, its similar to that of true believers in a religious faith, who think alll those who don't share their faith are evil or wrong.
We talked about this higher in the thread. Agnostic means no knowledge, as in I have no knowledge of God's existence. Atheist means no God. It's in the root words.

A set of people that are defined by the statement 'I do not believe in God' includes agnostics, who do not believe in God but are open to the idea that he might exist. A set of people defined by the statement 'I believe there is no God' includes only atheists, which is why I think it is a better definition. And if you define yourself by saying 'I do not believe in God,' and are also not open to the idea he exists, there is no difference between that and 'I believe there is no God.'

bob winter
10-04-2010, 03:45 PM
Nope.

Atheism is a conclusion, not a belief.

The _VAST_ majority of religious people have the same faith as their parents.
That does not seem like they looked at the facts and came to a conclusion.

Certainly I was brought in a Catholic environment.
To reject that required a decision.
That required forming an opinion.
That required a thought process.

Believing because your parents did may or may not include a thought process, but it does not require one.

"you can't reason someone out of a position that they have not reasoned themselves into"

beliefs are tangential to reason, they do not require reason, they often do not stand up to reason.

D

I am not at all sure that is correct.

Rational Root
10-05-2010, 02:10 AM
I am not at all sure that is correct.

Any of it ?
A specific part of it?

Do you believe is is not correct, or simply not believe it is correct?

D

Andrew Craig-Bennett
10-05-2010, 05:25 AM
I should have read this thread sooner. The name of the Original Poster should be a sufficient recommendation. Anyway, now that I'm here...



Atheism is a conclusion, not a belief.D

I agree. It is not necessary to say "I believe that there is no God" - no act of faith is required of an atheist and most people come to the conclusion that there is no God by a process that is akin to rational deduction.


The _VAST_ majority of religious people have the same faith as their parents.
That does not seem like they looked at the facts and came to a conclusion.

Yes, but I bet a great many of them rejected the faith of their parents and then wandered back to it.

To choose the faith of your parents rather than another, once you have decided that you want to have one at all, may be the laziness of taking the path of least resistance, it may be a search for the certainties of childhood (actually, the problem with childhood is that it is uncertain) or it may indeed be, as Dr Johnson maintained, that God intended you to have the faith that you were born into.


Certainly I was brought in a Catholic environment.
To reject that required a decision.
That required forming an opinion.
That required a thought process.

Believing because your parents did may or may not include a thought process, but it does not require one.

Agreed (let us not get into the weird business of inherited memes!)


"you can't reason someone out of a position that they have not reasoned themselves into"

That is surely wrong; how has humanity made any progress in anything? The adoption of the hand axe required someone to reason someone else out of the position that using tools rather than your paws is a strange thing to do.



beliefs are tangential to reason, they do not require reason, they often do not stand up to reason.

But beliefs can be greatly modified by the application of reason. The Flying Spagetti Monster is unreasonable, so is the conviction that Jove resides on Olympus with his family, but the latter belief was once reasonable, the former has never been reasonable.

Indeed, I suspect that it was the application of reasoned discourse to physical and psychological phenomena that led to the belief that a family of human shaped gods lived on Olympus and behaved rather badly. Today, we have soap opera.

I am not an atheist; I am a rather feeble theist. I may have arrived at that position irrationally, but I reason myself into it by such devices as considering the descrption of the finding of the empty grave in the Gospel of John.

There is such a thing as a conversion experience. Some people have them, some do not.

bob winter
10-05-2010, 08:58 AM
Any of it ?
A specific part of it?

Do you believe is is not correct, or simply not believe it is correct?

D

I think that it is quite possible to be an atheist without going through the process required to reach a conclusion. For instance, it is pretty well held that children tend to follow the same religious beliefs as their parents. If this is the case (I am not at all sure it is) it follows, to my feeble mind at any rate, that a child brought up in an atheist household could very well be an atheist without following any more thought process than a child who was brought up in a religious household. Therefore, atheism in that case would be matter of belief and nothing more.

pefjr
10-05-2010, 09:39 AM
I think that it is quite possible to be an atheist without going through the process required to reach a conclusion. For instance, it is pretty well held that children tend to follow the same religious beliefs as their parents. If this is the case (I am not at all sure it is) it follows, to my feeble mind at any rate, that a child brought up in an atheist household could very well be an atheist without following any more thought process than a child who was brought up in a religious household. Therefore, atheism in that case would be matter of belief and nothing more.That may be true where the child grows up without religious peer pressure. All infants are Atheist.

Rational Root
10-05-2010, 09:50 AM
I think that it is quite possible to be an atheist without going through the process required to reach a conclusion. For instance, it is pretty well held that children tend to follow the same religious beliefs as their parents. If this is the case (I am not at all sure it is) it follows, to my feeble mind at any rate, that a child brought up in an atheist household could very well be an atheist without following any more thought process than a child who was brought up in a religious household. Therefore, atheism in that case would be matter of belief and nothing more.

Due to the historic pressure of religion, go back 2 generations, and there were very few atheists, or at least very few who were open about it.
So many atheists are either 1st or 2nd generation godless.

In Ireland, go back 50 years ago, and run around saying there's no God, you might find life somewhat difficult.

GWB
10-06-2010, 03:59 PM
If there is no God, what's the point in being an Atheist?

Captain Blight
10-06-2010, 05:10 PM
If there is no God, what's the point in being an Atheist?
This is either incredibly deep, or the dumbest damn thing ever said by a human. I'm seriously torn which way to go with this.

I shall choose to be charitable and address it seriously: SINCE there is no "God," atheism is simple acknowledgement of fact. That's the point. Since God is a lie, religion is a lie as well. Faith is something else, but that's not the topic of discussion here.

Glen Longino
10-06-2010, 05:20 PM
If there is no God, what's the point in being an Atheist?

If there is no God, then we are all atheists!
If there is no God, but some people imagine that there is a God, then they are delusional!
Simple, ain't it?;)

Jaywickrob
10-06-2010, 05:25 PM
Surely to not believe in a God you have to acknowledge it's existence in the first place.

I believe in Gods, there's 100's of em, all man made.
I don't believe in the supernatural powers attributed to Gods.

Peerie Maa
10-06-2010, 05:27 PM
Nah, you acknowledge that someone else posits her existence.

Glen Longino
10-06-2010, 05:31 PM
Nah, you acknowledge that someone else posits her existence.

Exactly!

Scott Rosen
10-06-2010, 06:05 PM
At the risk of inviting all sorts of scorn, I'm going to ask if anyone watched Glee last night?

It basically summed up all of the Forum's religious debates in one very entertaining and moving hour of television. And it resolved nothing. Just like real life.

Bongo Boy
10-07-2010, 09:33 AM
"I am against Religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world." Richard Dawkins said that.That probably wouldn't be so bad, but I think in the case, at least, of our more popular religions, the situation is quite a bit worse. IMO, they don't seem to encourage being satisfied with not understanding the world, but rather they assert we do understand the world. Or at least they lead followers to that conclusion. This in turn leads many directly to the notion and behavior that no one else understands it in an acceptable way, and that they should be therefore shown the 'right way'.

My problem with being a non-believer has been two-fold:

1) A consistent denial on the part of people of faith that I'm an atheist ("Oh no you're not, really."), and
2) The apparent assumption folks make that it's a matter of choice--like a 'lifestyle' choice

These pointless threads are so much fun.

pefjr
10-07-2010, 10:26 AM
If there is no God, what's the point in being an Atheist?Good question. Questions like this leads to thought. Thought leads to Atheism for about 6/8% of us. It's the 80+% believers that never stop claiming miracles that stimulated the thought process to begin with. Once a conclusion is made an Atheist is created( yep, the believers believe they were created, yet they are unaware they themselves unintentionally have created the Atheist). Now one can lie to anyone but not to themselves. So, being an Atheist is nothing more than a declaration of honesty to oneself. I believe many are still in the closet for various reasons, but they are not hiding from themselves, they are hiding from you.

Nanoose
10-07-2010, 10:26 AM
As I keep looking at this thread title, it seems very obvious to me that the answer is yes. Atheism may not be a religion, but it is a belief - the belief that God does not exist. In fact, due to the very few things in life than can be absolutely proven (e.g. rules of logic; maths), most of life is belief. Therefore, given the 'or' question of the thread, the answer is yes.


That probably wouldn't be so bad, but I think in the case, at least, of our more popular religions, the situation is quite a bit worse. IMO, they don't seem to encourage being satisfied with not understanding the world...

Modern science began when Christians (earlier work by Muslims duly noted) developed methods by which to examine and understand the world. Their curiosity about the creation of the God they knew drove them to examine how things work, which actually confirms BB's statement about them not being satisfied with not understanding the world.


My problem with being a non-believer has been two-fold:

1) A consistent denial on the part of people of faith that I'm an atheist ("Oh no you're not, really."), and
2) The apparent assumption folks make that it's a matter of choice--like a 'lifestyle' choice

#2 seems to indicate that belief is not a choice. You lost me there. Beliefs should be examined and based on the best data available. They will necessarily involve an inference to the best explanation due to their lack of certitude, but it is hard to think of much of life that isn't based on belief and, therefore, choice.

Kaa
10-07-2010, 10:36 AM
#2 seems to indicate that belief is not a choice. You lost me there. Beliefs should be examined and based on the best data available.

I think the point is that you cannot force yourself to believe. You can come to certain abstract/intellectual conclusions based on examining "the best data available" but that's not belief (in the religious sense) at all.

You can certainly push yourself towards belief by playing mind games with yourself (or letting others play these games with you) but that's a bit different.

Kaa

GWB
10-07-2010, 10:40 AM
Good question. Questions like this leads to thought. Thought leads to Atheism for about 6/8% of us. It's the 80+% believers that never stop claiming miracles that stimulated the thought process to begin with. Once a conclusion is made an Atheist is created( yep, the believers believe they were created, yet they are unaware they themselves unintentionally have created the Atheist). Now one can lie to anyone but not to themselves. So, being an Atheist is nothing more than a declaration of honesty to oneself. I believe many are still in the closet for various reasons, but they are not hiding from themselves, they are hiding from you.

Of course the same argument can be made for Christians being in the closet. They believe but don't want to be made fun of...

For me being a Christian means trying to find out HOW God did it, not sticking my head in the sand.
Apart from all the other stuff

pefjr
10-07-2010, 10:58 AM
Of course the same argument can be made for Christians being in the closet. They believe but don't want to be made fun of...

For me being a Christian means trying to find out HOW God did it, not sticking my head in the sand.
Apart from all the other stuffThere are christians in the closet too! geez, they're everywhere.

GWB
10-07-2010, 11:03 AM
There are christians in the closet too! geez, they're everywhere.

Nope - those are the Atheists mate! :)

pefjr
10-07-2010, 11:16 AM
Nope - those are the Atheists mate! :)consider yourself lucky to be with that crowd of Atheists.

GWB
10-07-2010, 11:20 AM
consider yourself lucky to be with that crowd of Atheists.

The Episcopal church welcomes you!

pefjr
10-07-2010, 11:26 AM
The Episcopal church welcomes you!Born there and been that route , but Thanks

Nanoose
10-07-2010, 11:43 AM
I agree. It is not necessary to say "I believe that there is no God" - no act of faith is required of an atheist and most people come to the conclusion that there is no God by a process that is akin to rational deduction.

I'll disagree. If we are going to say atheism is a conclusion rather than a belief, we will also have to say belief is a conclusion. Both are arrived at after consideration of the evidence (it is hoped!....at least at some point). As neither can be proven with certitude, both involve a degree of faith. So, we can call them equally beliefs, or conclusions, but must not flip-flop when speaking of one versus the other.




But beliefs can be greatly modified by the application of reason. The Flying Spagetti Monster is unreasonable, so is the conviction that Jove resides on Olympus with his family, but the latter belief was once reasonable, the former has never been reasonable.

Great point, Andrew. Anything can be held, but not everything is reasonable to be held. We all have interpretive grids through which we filter everything. The challenge is continually modifying those grids to be most consistent with whatever evidence we have.



I am not an atheist; I am a rather feeble theist. I may have arrived at that position irrationally, but I reason myself into it by such devices as considering the descrption of the finding of the empty grave in the Gospel of John.

There is such a thing as a conversion experience. Some people have them, some do not.

Yup.

johnw
10-07-2010, 01:11 PM
As I keep looking at this thread title, it seems very obvious to me that the answer is yes. Atheism may not be a religion, but it is a belief - the belief that God does not exist. In fact, due to the very few things in life than can be absolutely proven (e.g. rules of logic; maths), most of life is belief. Therefore, given the 'or' question of the thread, the answer is yes.



Modern science began when Christians (earlier work by Muslims duly noted) developed methods by which to examine and understand the world. Their curiosity about the creation of the God they knew drove them to examine how things work, which actually confirms BB's statement about them not being satisfied with not understanding the world.



#2 seems to indicate that belief is not a choice. You lost me there. Beliefs should be examined and based on the best data available. They will necessarily involve an inference to the best explanation due to their lack of certitude, but it is hard to think of much of life that isn't based on belief and, therefore, choice.
That's rather personal for me. I was at one point in my life deeply in love with a woman who was a born-again Christian. The view of this sort of Christian is that belief is a choice. My future with the woman I loved depended on choosing to believe what she did. I found that it would be within my power to say I believed, but to believe something that did not seem true to me was impossible. I could choose to be a hypocrite, but I could not choose to believe.

I've concluded that belief is an emotion akin to love. You may choose who you get to know, you may disqualify some suitors, but if you don't feel it, you aren't in love.

Different people arrive at their beliefs in different ways. I find that the traditions of my family (one uncle was a missionary, another an Evangelical preacher) are overruled by my reason and observation. While love led me to a woman much like the family I knew, my skeptical nature led me away from the social milieu in which she was comfortable and the beliefs that gave her that milieu. And in that milieu, there was a preacher actively working on her to break up with me.

In my own case, I found that I could not choose to believe that which did not seem true to me. Nor do I think a believing Christian can choose to be an atheist if they feel God has touched their life. Perhaps that's why these threads seem so pointless. Persuasion has a tough time shifting belief.

Nanoose
10-07-2010, 01:29 PM
That's rather personal for me. I was at one point in my life deeply in love with a woman who was a born-again Christian. The view of this sort of Christian is that belief is a choice. My future with the woman I loved depended on choosing to believe what she did. ...to believe something that did not seem true to me was impossible.

Different people arrive at their beliefs in different ways. I find that the traditions of my family (one uncle was a missionary, another an Evangelical preacher) are overruled by my reason and observation. ...

In my own case, I found that I could not choose to believe that which did not seem true to me. Nor do I think a believing Christian can choose to be an atheist if they feel God has touched their life...

Lost loves...very painful, for all of us. I am sorry, John...
Even with your great love, I wonder if your marriage would have proven very difficult had it come to be, given two very different worldviews. I wonder if the pain of letting go was not, in the end, actually the lesser of the pains such a disparate union would have brought.

As you point out, most of us hold beliefs because we are convinced they are true. In fact, many hold to what you experienced - that it is simply impossible to believe something one is not convinced is true. I know that is put forward when discussing the disciples' reaction to the resurrection as a lie concocted for personal gain. I think it is simply impossible, especially when holding to what one knows to be a lie is very costly (cost them their lives).

I agree regarding different journeys to the conclusions we reach and beliefs we hold. I too found the traditions of my family (not Christian) overruled by observation, reason and also experience.

As for your final thought about believing Christians not being able to choose to be an atheist after they have known God...I can think of a number of such people...those once profoundly touched by Christianity that leave it behind. It is often over disappointment with God in some form. I think of John Templeton, once associated with Billy Graham, now an avowed atheist. I also think of Bart Ehrman - very evangelical at one time, seminary trained - yet, in the end, could no longer hold to his belief in God in light of the suffering in the world. There are many more - those two just immediately come to mind. And, as equally, that process does flow the other way. I think of Antony Flew, philosopher, and lifelong atheist very committed to upholding that view. Near the end of his life, based largely on scientific evidence, he moved from atheism to theism.

Nanoose
10-07-2010, 01:44 PM
More than one Rabbi has pointed out to me that, for Jews, at least, belief isn't required... only the 'suspension of disbelief'.

It only ended up pissing me off even more :(

I'm trying to think of what in the Hebrew text would be the basis of that thinking....having trouble, especially given God's perspective in Hosea....

Nanoose
10-07-2010, 01:53 PM
I think it is vitally important that we all "follow the evidence where ever it may lead," as Antony Flew said and lived. I know that being committed to that process has seen radical changes over the past 2-3 years in beliefs I had held for over 40 years. Over 15 years ago, life events challenged my faith to the point I was not even sure I could continue to hold onto it. Those processes are at times terrifying. Facing new issues and thinking through the ramifications - the extent of the ramifications - was overwhelming. But as John pointed out, it is impossible to believe what we do not think is true. Sometimes that process is hard, so hard some are unable to even go there, and understandably. But it is essential, I think, and I appreciate having Antony's maxim planted in my mind.

Scott Rosen
10-07-2010, 02:03 PM
More than one Rabbi has pointed out to me that, for Jews, at least, belief isn't required... only the 'suspension of disbelief'.

It only ended up pissing me off even more :(That's just second-rate rabbinic wordplay. For Jews, belief is not an issue. It's assumed. Jews are not commanded to believe in god, they are commanded to love god.

Two things that are implicit in the command to love god -- first that god exists. Second, that sometimes you will feel that god is not worthy of your love. Man disappoints god, and god disappoints man.

If loving god were easy, there would be no need for a commandment on that point.

If god and man didn't disappoint each other, there'd be no need for a covenant.

These issues exist in all of the montheistic religions. It's in the nature of our relationship with god. Man cannot keep god's law perfectly. Christianity didn't solve that problem, it just shifted it from a communal one to a personal one. No individual can have perfect faith. Man cannot have perfect anything. That's okay. Jews believe that god does not require the perfect keeping of the law. Just as Christians believe god does not require perfect faith.

Nanoose
10-07-2010, 02:13 PM
Thanks, Scott.
I think loving God is hard because man's nature is to put self first and not the 'other.' God says we are to be bent toward him rather than bent inward toward ourselves. I think it is the challenge to our very nature that makes this difficult for us.
I also think due to the nature of love itself and the call to love the issues are more about relationship than law keeping. The law flowed out of the relationship/covenant not the reverse.

Kaa
10-07-2010, 02:23 PM
Jews are not commanded to believe in god, they are commanded to love god.

I think there's considerably more of "worship, fear, and obey" than there is of "love".

Kaa

Scott Rosen
10-07-2010, 02:24 PM
I think loving God is hard because man's nature is to put self first and not the 'other.' God says we are to be bent toward him rather than bent inward toward ourselves. I think it is the challenge to our very nature that makes this difficult for us.
I also think due to the nature of love itself and the call to love the issues are more about relationship than law keeping. The law flowed out of the relationship/covenant not the reverse.

I agree completely. The law was given for man's benefit, not god's.

We readily admit man's flaws. But will god admit his own flaws? And can a person who believes in and loves god also be disappointed in god?

I think the answer to both questions is yes. We were created in god's likeness. That tells us something about man, but it also tells us something about god. God does not need to be perfect, and we do not need him to be. Once you let go of the idea that god has to be perfect -- well, it explains a lot.

Nanoose
10-07-2010, 02:26 PM
I think there's considerably more of "worship, fear, and obey" than there is of "love".

Kaa

The first and greatest command is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Loving God takes care of worshipping Him, fearing Him and obeying Him. Love really sums up it all and is therefore the summation of the whole law.

Scott Rosen
10-07-2010, 02:27 PM
I think there's considerably more of "worship, fear, and obey" than there is of "love".

KaaRead the Sh'mah, and read the propehts. The Sh'mah is one of the central commandments and is receited at least twice a day. Worship and obey are akin to love. Fear is another story. Pick up a Siddur. Tell me how many times the word "fear" appears compared to love and worship.

Scott Rosen
10-07-2010, 02:30 PM
The first and greatest command is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Loving God takes care of worshipping Him, fearing Him and obeying Him. Love really sums up it all and is therefore the summation of the whole law.The ancient sage Hillel said, "Love your neighbor as yourself. That is the whole of the law." I wonder if Hillel thought the command to love your neighbor was included within the command to love god with all your heart, all your soul and all of your might? I suspect he did.

Nanoose
10-07-2010, 02:35 PM
When Jesus was asked about the greatest law, he added 'love your neighbor...' to the first, saying, "The first is love the Lord your God...and the second is like it - love your neighbor..."

These things lead me to conclude it is about relationships more than anything else.

johnw
10-07-2010, 03:48 PM
Lost loves...very painful, for all of us. I am sorry, John...
Even with your great love, I wonder if your marriage would have proven very difficult had it come to be, given two very different worldviews. I wonder if the pain of letting go was not, in the end, actually the lesser of the pains such a disparate union would have brought.

As you point out, most of us hold beliefs because we are convinced they are true. In fact, many hold to what you experienced - that it is simply impossible to believe something one is not convinced is true. I know that is put forward when discussing the disciples' reaction to the resurrection as a lie concocted for personal gain. I think it is simply impossible, especially when holding to what one knows to be a lie is very costly (cost them their lives).

I agree regarding different journeys to the conclusions we reach and beliefs we hold. I too found the traditions of my family (not Christian) overruled by observation, reason and also experience.

As for your final thought about believing Christians not being able to choose to be an atheist after they have known God...I can think of a number of such people...those once profoundly touched by Christianity that leave it behind. It is often over disappointment with God in some form. I think of John Templeton, once associated with Billy Graham, now an avowed atheist. I also think of Bart Ehrman - very evangelical at one time, seminary trained - yet, in the end, could no longer hold to his belief in God in light of the suffering in the world. There are many more - those two just immediately come to mind. And, as equally, that process does flow the other way. I think of Antony Flew, philosopher, and lifelong atheist very committed to upholding that view. Near the end of his life, based largely on scientific evidence, he moved from atheism to theism.
Yes, I did conclude that she would be more comfortable with someone who shared her faith. That's why she listened to the preacher.

But the point is that you can't just choose what you wish to believe, even if you have a compelling motive.

Nanoose
10-07-2010, 05:02 PM
But the point is that you can't just choose what you wish to believe, even if you have a compelling motive.

So if beliefs aren't chosen does that mean they are compelled?
I understand given your example that you simply could not choose to believe Christianity true.
Evidence (regarding anything, not only religion) only gets us so far. We all choose whether to believe the evidence or not (so flat earthers still exist as do those saying we never landed on the moon).
Perhaps we are using 'belief' too broadly?

Scott Rosen
10-07-2010, 05:16 PM
I understand what John is saying.

The capacity to believe certain things may be more innate, as opposed to compelled.

I couldn't believe in reincarnation or astrology no matter how hard I try.

It is possible that the capacity to have religious experience is not universal.

pefjr
10-07-2010, 05:24 PM
I couldn't believe in reincarnation no matter how hard I try.

You could believe that as easily as christianity if you were indoctrinated as a child and never questioned it. As an adult the indoctrination might or might not not take.

Nanoose
10-07-2010, 06:17 PM
I understand what John is saying.

The capacity to believe certain things may be more innate, as opposed to compelled.

I couldn't believe in reincarnation or astrology no matter how hard I try.

It is possible that the capacity to have religious experience is not universal.

My automatic response is usually, "show me what 'cha got."
I think things need to be investigated, examined, thought through...as Antony held, "follow the evidence where ever it leads."

johnw
10-07-2010, 07:30 PM
And yet, we don't all have the same evidence (especially in regards to Tom and others experiencing God in their lives,) and don't all think it leads the same way. The only one I can think of that has a theory of truth that fits this is John Milton, who in the Areopagitica that when the truth meets falsehood, truth will win, but that truth has many colors. This allowed for the proliferation of protestant sects. The Areopagitica was the definitive defense of free speech, but even Milton had his limits. He didn't think Catholics should have free speech.

Truth is a tricky and slippery concept, which is odd since people look to it for a solid basis for their lives. In terms of language, it is a word we use to describe that which we believe without question. But how should we arrive at our beliefs? That's the question behind the question of whether God exists. People like Dawkins are atheists because they insist that people should discover truth the way science does and by no other means. Since science describes the natural world, proof of the supernatural would be impossible.

Scott Rosen
10-07-2010, 07:48 PM
You could believe that as easily as christianity if you were indoctrinated as a child and never questioned it. As an adult the indoctrination might or might not not take.Actually, I have as much difficulty believing in Christianity. My childhood home had very little religion. My family has a wide variety of beliefs, including some who believe in reincarnation.

I questioned everything. Except maybe the Beatles, John Coltrane and Beethoven.

PatCox
10-07-2010, 08:33 PM
You know, the subjective nature and understanding of any single person's atheism maybe should not be the point, does it matter if someone came to the conclusion there is no god, after exhaustive study of both science and theology, or based on shallow sloganeering which just demonizes all belief in anything transcendental as "ignorant superstition."

If you are going to answer the question, is atheism a faith, I think its proper to judge by completely different criteria, the subjective manifestation that belief produces in the believers actions. If your conception of atheism results in you believing that you are a member of an elite group which is in sole possession of the real and only truth, and you look down on those who don't share your atheism as ignorant, mentally ill, weak, superstitious, or otherwise inferior, then the results of your atheist belief system are indistinguishable from the results of the beliefs of the most fanatical theists, who also look down on those who don't share their belief, as flawed, inferior, evil, people.

skuthorp
10-07-2010, 10:45 PM
Look, I've posted this before but I had what some may call a 'revelation' One day out in my canoe in the middle of the bay I heard a voice, what it said made sense but not in any religious way whatever. It changed my attitudes in some ways but maybe because I was not a believer anyhow it certainly didn't change that. My lack of belief is certainly not a faith. It is careless in that I am not a shopper, so I am leery of the generic term 'athiest'. I am really just not interested. That said at times I am sorely tempted art times by these threads that provide me with such interesting reading.

Glen Longino
10-08-2010, 01:09 AM
My automatic response is usually, "show me what 'cha got."
I think things need to be investigated, examined, thought through...as Antony held, "follow the evidence where ever it leads."

Most of us "think things need to be investigated, examined, thought through" and "follow the evidence where ever it leads."
You seem to think that if we all investigate, examine, think, and follow the evidence, we will all reach the same conclusions you have reached, and if we don't, our investigations, examinations, and thoughts are somehow faulty.
Awhile back on another thread you asked me, "When did you leave God behind".
I did not answer at the time because it seemed such a presumptuous question but at the same time a sincere question.
Fact is, I never left God behind.
There never was a God to leave behind, nor was there ever a God to leave me behind or to help me or harm me in any way.
Call me a sane and independent biological human being. I don't owe any gods anything and no gods owe me anything.
Antony Flew was a voice of reason throughout most of his career.
In his final days, Antony was manipulated by people around him and said things he never said for fifty years.
Unfortunately, you have chosen to use the manipulated Antony to further your own delusions.
That's okay with me if that's what you need to do.
Anything God can do, I can do better! And so can you!