Wanting to embrace atheism yet sceptical.

Jul 8, 2013


Discussion by: RobertDeanIII

 I'm sceptical of atheism, even in light of probability. More importantly, I'm concerned atheism makes an assumption, much like religion, that god certainly does not exist.

Keep in mind that I maintain this view in light that I have only recently woken from the coma of Christian fantasy. Therefore with an open and curious mind I present my scepticism. This pesky mental obstacle of mine, or foundation depending on the truth of the matter, consists of the fact that anything exists at all. If one claims 'god made that', atheism raises its head and beckons 'life is improbable, yet then: God is even more so'. I find such arguments intellectually unsatisfying and incomplete. I find myself considering, yet only philosophically and no deeper, of god in the sense that Einstein, allegedly, considered god: a genius, or force of intelligence, that began the cosmos but has nothing do with human affairs. There seems to be a gap of evidence in either way, save the mere fact of existence and surely existence has a root? So I find myself chartering a boat to the waters of Deism, yet surely aware that I do not totally comprehend atheism–or for that fact the mysteries of the universe! 

-Robert E Dean III

92 comments on “Wanting to embrace atheism yet sceptical.

  • 1
    papa lazaru says:

    Wanting to embrace atheism yet sceptical.

    Well, that’s a good start! To keep it simple, look at the burden of proof. Atheism is not so much a negation of the concept, but it’s just pointing out that there are no evidence towards the existence of God. Deism is making the assumption that there is, although benign and impersonal. It’s all gradation.

    So I find myself chartering a boat to the waters of Deism, yet surely aware that I do not totally comprehend atheism–or for that fact the mysteries of the universe!

    You may start with Taoism then. It’s tongue in cheek, not saying you should, but hey it’s a kind of atheistic natural philosophy view.

    BTW, you don’t have to ‘convert’ to atheism or wear the badge. If you don’t like it, that’s fine. Pick and choose, we don’t care, but remain sceptical and open.



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  • 2
    Seraphor says:

    “Life is improbable, yet then: God is even more so'” You’re right in saying that this is an unsatisfying and incomplete argument. The probability of something occuring has no baring on whether it has or has not occured. Many people will start with this argument and it’s expected that you’d come accross the likes of this first, but atheism has a lot more to it that fobbing off low probabilities. In fact some of the major roots of atheism come down to accepting incredibly low probabilities, such as that of the origin of life, as being completely inevitable.

    It is not the possibility of an extraordinary event that is paramount, especially when such an event is unfalsifiable, but the necessity of such an event. God may be ridiculously improbable and entirely possible, but from what we know god is not NECESSARY for the universe to exist in the form it does.

    If god is not necessary, and there is no evidence or indication that god exists, then why propose such a hypothesis?

    Regardless, there is nothing wrong with the concept of deism, so long as no further assumptions are extrapolated, ie. the prime mover is in no way concerned with life and does not interact with it, and so long as the physical laws of the universe as set out by said prime mover are consistent and predictable using science. Atheism and deism are merely two sides of an agnostic coin, and make no mistake, atheism does not require certainty.

    It’s only the fantastical assumptions and fabrications of organised religion that affect our lives here on Earth that should be of any real concern. So regardless of whether you side with atheism or deism, congratulations for ridding yourself of Christianity.

    However deism does leave the doorway to religion ajar, so you’d have to be vigilant not to slip back into old habits.



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  • Christopher Hitchens put it best:

    “we don’t say, and can’t prove that there’s no god; but we will say that there’s no good evidence and there’s never yet been evolved a good argument for saying that there is. That’s why we’re more modest than we perhaps look sometimes. Whereas those who say there is, don’t only say there is. They claim the authority of that god to tell other people what to do.
    So they make a very extraordinary claim, with only very ordinary evidence, at best. Obviously sometimes with fantastic evidence, with fabricated evidence, and they make very very large claims for themselves. They say, well now I know what god wants, so you have to do what I want. We repudiate that. And we say there are a couple of easier, simpler questions that you haven’t answered yet. Like the difference between being a deist and a theist, for example.”

    So to be an atheist you don’t have to be certain the answers to the “big questions” completely exclude any intelligent entity, you simply have to recognize that no good arguments have been put forward to back up this position.



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  • 4
    SelfAwarePatterns says:

    I think you’re going through a phase that many of us have gone through. I know I was a deist for several years (before I even knew what the word ‘deist’ meant), before I realized that I was simply holding on to a concept for emotional reasons rather than logical ones. It helps to compare the deistic god to any other concept and ask if you would accept that other concept without any evidence.

    I think most thoughtful nonbelievers would freely admit that we can’t know what lies behind the ultimate foundations of reality. The critical difference is that an atheist/agnostic doesn’t pretend to have answers that we simply can’t have at this point. To some degree, intellectual maturity requires accepting that there are some things we don’t know, without using that fact to wedge in any preferred traditional answers.



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  • 5
    MitorTheBold says:

    The existence of god is an assertion backed by zero evidence, so while there may not be any proof of his non-existence (what would such proof look like, anyway?) it is nevertheless safe to make that assumption. It is on the same basis that you surely make the assumption that Atlantis and the Tooth Fairy do not exist. Strictly speaking you would have to admit that you are agnostic about Santa but day-to-day you live your life as though in the certain knowledge that Rudolph cannot fly.

    “There seems to be a gap of evidence in either way, save the mere fact of existence and surely existence has a root?”

    Well, your use of the word ‘surely’ is misplaced, unless you have some evidence for such an emphatic claim. I would say that it is more fanciful to claim that there was once ‘nothing’ rather than something and therefore that the universe had to be created either by a supernatural being or by natural processes. ‘Eternity’ is easier to conceive than ‘nothing’ to my mind – at least it is a measure of time, which is a concept with which I’m familiar. ‘Nothing’ is a far trickier idea and there’s no evidence such a state (if you can call it that) ever existed or, er, didn’t exist… see what I mean?



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  • 6
    garyward says:

    I’d suggest that you’ve got a slightly incorrect view of what the concept of atheism necessitates. I think this is probably largely a symptom of a series of memes spread by religions (“but you can’t KNOW there’s no God”) that they’ve forced on children since the enlightenment, passing it off as wisdom. This is a ridiculous way of thinking and the formerly religious often struggle to overcome it. Instead, think of God as you’d think of the Loch Ness Monster. What’s your thinking process when you come to evaluate this claim? You start off by creating a kind of initial plausibility for the claim (so you can decide how much evidence you’ll need to accept it).

    So to start off, we’ll take one form of the claim. A very specific version. The Loch Ness Monster is a surviving pleiosaur species (or similar form of dinosaur) that somehow survived the last 65 million years and is a permanent resident of the Loch. The first thing to notice is that by making it very specific, it’s become intrinsically inplausible. By adding a bit of vagueness, we make it more probable- e.g it could be a surviving dinosaur OR have evolved in more recent times. It could be a permanent resident OR just have passed through the lake from time to time (thus giving it more places to hide and more things to eat).

    The way I see it, this is a very solid analogy with the status of God. The god of one of our religions is a very specific thing like our geographically unadventurous but somehow resilient pleiosaur species that has remained in perfect evolutionary islotation for 65 million years (something no species has ever done, they always leave a trail of evolutionary offshoots). But of course, if the Loch Ness Monster claim becomes sufficiently broad- e.g a huge and hitherto unknown species of seal occasionally frequents Loch Ness OR a pleiosaur OR another unknown species, we’ve got something that epistemelogically resembles Deism. You’re almost admitting you don’t know any of the specifics, but you’ve got a rough idea of the shape that needs to ‘fill’ this space. Hell, you can broaden the concept of Deism to the point that it’s not even a being at all, just some transcendant cause of being.
    The more you do this, the more the “atheist” clearly looks like a fool. I’d suggest that at this point, you ARE the atheist and the only reason you think otherwise is that for the last 200 years, this thing that you sort of believe has been claimed by the religious as being under their umbrella. Well, if they did find a giant seal in Loch Ness, I hope you’d agree that we’d be justified in saying “sorry, but that actually wasn’t the Loch Ness monster, it was a giant seal.”

    Hope this line of thought is helpful! Let me know if you think this analogy doesn’t hold.



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  • 7
    Sci_Guy_Bri says:

    I’m sceptical of atheism, even in light of probability. More importantly, I’m concerned atheism makes an assumption, much like religion, that god certainly does not exist.

    I’m not inclined to agree with the ‘certainly’ part. Even Dawkins describes himself as a 6.9 out of 7 with regard to atheistic certainty. A lot of times it’s the religious zealots that try to portray atheists as absolutely certain in an attempt to make it sound close-minded. (They seem to be blissfully unaware of the irony of making the “absolute certainty” a derogatory thing when it’s the very thing they demand of their followers.) I hope you won’t worry too much about it. Glad to hear you’ve broken the shackles and I think you’ll enjoy exploring other roads of thought. (And I think you’ll find the ‘certainty’ aspects certainly exaggerated.)



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  • 8
    Pauly01 says:

    Hello

    makes an assumption, much like religion, that god certainly does not exist.

    That’s not how I see it , I don’t believe in God , I don’t make the assumption that God does not exist. I don’t believe in God because there is no evidence , only subjective experiences of conciousness. I see this ‘subjectivity’ as an area of psychiatry and psychology to investigate , certainly not religion or spirituality.

    And you don’t need to ’embrace’ Atheism.

    Welcome!



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  • Like the other posters have said, it does get easier once those “shackles” are shed. I was once Catholic and briefly a deist (just as a previous poster noted, before I too even knew what the word meant). You’ll find it pretty amazing to see just how much influence religion really does have on the world and people around you.

    There are no “atheist” assumptions. Just the inability to believe without evidence. I find this quote quite appropriate (I believe it was Christopher Hitchens): “That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.”



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  • 10
    Nash33 says:

    I was a Christian for the first 25 years of my life. For at least 40 more years I was nonreligious. I really didn’t think much about god or religion. I was at least 70 before I was actually ready to call myself an atheist because of the negativity associated with the word.
    Sometimes it takes a while figure out what you really believe.
    You are more aware of your surroundings than religious people, who in my opinion are wearing blinders. As you observe the world and all the advances of science you will form your beliefs without thinking about it.



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  • 11
    functional atheist says:

    Everyone is, of course, free to choose the label of their preference: deist, agnostic, atheist–or Christian, Muslim or Hindu, for that matter. But a couple things to bear in mind would be semantics and rounding.

    Semantics: for a long time, I called myself an agnostic, as I considered the certitude implied by the label “atheist” to be both arrogant and inaccurate. Nobody really knows anything, so who was I to traffic in absolutes? One reason I changed was I decided the implied uncertainty and ambivalence of ‘agnostic’ cast an even more inaccurate perspective on my views than did the implied certitude of ‘atheist.’ I may still literally be an agnostic in that I do not claim absolute knowledge, but for all practical purposes I’m an atheist, so I use that word since it more accurately conveys my opinions than does the word agnostic.

    Rounding is another way of saying the same thing–since I’m 99.99% certain there is no theistic god, rounding myself up to atheist is a convenient and accurate short-hand for everyday conversation. While I’m only 98% certain there is no deistic god, the word I use is aTHEIST, not aDEIST (and 98% is still well within the realm of reasonable ’rounding’). The percentages are whimsical approximations–they’re not derived from a formula.

    So you can call yourself an atheist even if you don’t believe in certitude. I do.



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  • 12
    orbitfold says:

    Here’s the thing. There is almost an infinite number of things you can invent. If I write down a function that describes the attractive force between two objects randomly there is probably a zero percent chance I will get it right. There are so many possible hypotheses you can state that getting one that corresponds to reality by guessing is zero. It makes the most pessimistic odds of life starting by itself on a planet like early earth seem like a certainty. Why does the creator has to be intelligent? Intelligence is something we evolved to help us arrange objects in a way that helps us survive on planet Earth. What reason is there to think that our pathetic intelligence is a property of whatever started the universe? What sense does it make to talk about something you have no idea about in those familiar terms? It seems to me a bit like if a member of a primitive tribe upon seeing an alien spaceship started wondering what does an egg of this bird taste like. There is no god of any kind that was ever described by any person. How do I know? The same way I know that if I guessed a function describing the weather on the whole planet over the next 5000 I would get it wrong.



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  • 13
    petermead1 says:

    I think I understand what you’re trying to explain, and I think that I can connect with you in some way. I vacillate between the likelihood of there not being a god and the likelihood that a mysterious, vague deistic force exists somewhere in the universe that created everything. Through introspection, I have discovered that my occasional inclination towards the supernatural is only aroused by ignorance and awe, not proof or good reason. It is all too human to consider the questions that baffle the imagination: “Wow. The universe is amazingly complex and vast. Where did it all come from? Did it come from nothing? How is that? What was there before the nothingness? Why is it the way it is? Why are we here to ask the question? Why is there something rather than nothing? What happens after death?” Unfortunately, the mere existence of these questions and the absence of solid answers is not indicative of a supernatural intelligent being or force. The human propensity to inject the “God answer” to solve these questions is done in vain. It doesn’t satisfy these conundrums and only creates further issues. The harsh reality is that we may never know the real answer to these questions, and asking them may be absolutely pointless. This is why I am an atheist. I do not (and would never) assert that a god certainly doesn’t exist, but there is a paucity of evidence for god(s). Furthermore, this so called “evidence” is usually riddled with doubts, illogical qualities and is just plain bad. Therefore, I have no belief in god(s). If good evidence comes to light one day, I will reconsider my position.



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  • 14
    Neodarwinian says:

    ” atheism makes an assumption, much like religion, that god certainly does not exist. “

    Not really.

    How can one be skeptical of a non-claim?



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  • 15
    ZakHiggins says:

    Jacque Fresco really helped me get over any boundaries. I’ve never been religious, but once I was old enough understand things, I began to question everything. Jacque really helped me understand certain things.



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  • 16
    steve_hopker says:

    Overall I’d say that most atheists have a broadly evidence-based, scientific view.

    This implies that statements about reality, including the existence or non-existence of God will always have some degree of provisionality, since it is intrinsic to genuine scientific inquiry to be open to accepting contrary evidence. Thus, it is doubtful if such atheists could rationally assert a 100% confidence in their atheism.

    Indeed, 100% certainly can only apply to logically irrefutable arguments. These may be trivial (statements only telling us something about other statements yet nothing certain about the real world) but there may be some concepts of God that are logically incoherent and therefore can be totally refuted.

    Thus, it might be argued that a God who is referred to as ‘unknowable’ or ‘beyond all understanding’ may logically be impossible to make any statements about, if those concepts are asserted to be literal as opposed to poetic. Indeed, if the ‘universe’ is defined as ‘everything that exists’ then stating God was outside the universe would be equivalent to saying H/She was outside the set of existent things, ie did not exist.

    Thus, according to such philosophical arguments some asserted deities are disproved, or perhaps rather disallowed, by their own definition.

    But in usual, non abstract life, the world of creation and claimed miracles etc, the scientific principle would surely apply, with appeals to evidence, or lack of it, rather than inherent illogicality: in which case, as noted above, only probabilistic rather than absolute statements could be made.



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  • 17
    Bixelate says:

    When I first stopped believing in a christian god, I wanted dearly to remain “spiritual”. I went down many paths but never felt fulfilled in that sense. It wasn’t until this year when I really started researching the different scientific theories and such that I realized I am whole heartedly an Atheist, and I have never felt so fulfilled. Everything clicked, everything felt “right”, it all finally made sense.



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  • 18
    julio.rangel.161 says:

    sounds like agnotiscism to me,I do not believe because the evidence for god does not exist and,on the contrary,the universe could not care less for our well-being,it is up to us



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  • 19
    Fouad Boussetta says:

    Interesting. I guess it all depends where you’re coming from. Myself, I never thought for an instant in my life that there must be a “God”. Why should there be a “God” anyway? Why should I entertain the idea at all? Maybe there’s some kind of “God” -whatever that may mean- but I would really be surprised. I basically have the same religious stance as our cat. If it wasn’t for the effects of religion on the world, I wouldn’t care about atheism, deism, or theism in the first place. I was born “Godless”, and I remain such. I guess that could change if I experience brain damage, though.



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  • 20
    Ornicar says:

    What is unsatisfying is to explain complexity by more complexity, improbability by more improbability. What you are doing is like, for example, postulating that life came to earth from outer space ; that would still not explain how life first started and you would be adding a middle-man with no evidence nor logical need for. If a theory explained how life started (on earth or elsewhere), that would be a better theory. I don’t understand why you need a middle-man if you seem clever enough to understand that that middle-man adds nothing, explains nothing, is rationally useless. With such methodology, William of Ockham would have grown a beard.

    How did existence happen is an ongoing mystery, but what is certain is that however improbable it was, the probability for an existing observer to contemplate an existing universe is 100%. It’s like the phone always ringing when you are in the bath.

    If you think you still need a pinch of supernatural to accept nature and science, remember that every mystery ever solved has turned out to be not magic.

    If you feel awe and wonder when contemplating and understanding nature, please don’t use the word god to describe that feeling. The word is copyrighted.



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  • 21
    Spraguelle says:

    Richard Fenyman -Lectures 1963 -The Meaning of It All

    excerpt –

    “This freedom to doubt is an important matter in the sciences
    and, I believe in other fields. It was born of a struggle. It was a
    struggle to be permitted to doubt, to be unsure..And I do not want
    us to forget the importance of the struggle and, by default, to let the
    thing fall away. I feel a responsibility as a scientist who knows the
    great value of a satisfactory philosophy of ignorance and the progress
    made possible by such a philosophy, progress which is the fruit of
    freedom of thought. I feel a responsibility to proclaim the value of this
    fredom and to teach that doubt is not to be feared, but that it is to be
    welcomed as the possibility of a new potential for human beings.If you
    know that you are not sure, you have a chance to improve the situation.
    I want to demand this freedom for future generations.

    regards,

    spraguelle



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  • 22
    steve_hopker says:

    In reply to #22 by Spraguelle:

    Richard Feynman -Lectures 1963 -The Meaning of It All
    “This freedom to doubt is an important matter in the sciences
    and, I believe in other fields. It was born of a struggle. It was a
    struggle to be permitted to doubt, to be unsure.

    Thanks for this brilliant quote, Spraguelle. As ever, Feynman puts it so well.

    Doubt is the key to science, and I’d say atheism, but doubt is the opposite of Faith and theistic dogma. So to doubt atheism is right in the sense of doubting an atheism with a 100% confidence that there is no God. But if doubt is used to attack 100% atheism, with its links to evidence based scientific evidence – near-spherical earth, evolution etc, so much more will doubt undermine theism and faith, with its unseen god(s) and scriptural claims of a flat young earth etc.

    So, if the ‘doubting atheism’ case heard of in the OP is being advanced by theists, they are shooting themselves in the foot.



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  • 23
    Alan4discussion says:

    @OP – I’m sceptical of atheism, even in light of probability. More importantly, I’m concerned atheism makes an assumption,

    Probability and lack of evidence for gods is a feature, but it is clearer if you recognise that atheism is a LACK of assumptions about gods.

    I’m concerned atheism makes an assumption, much like religion, that god certainly does not exist.

    This presumes there is a particular god which is the default position. There are, and have been, many gods List of deities
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    – all with followers claiming their existence – frequently to the aggressive exclusion of other gods.

    The Christian god is no exception – although most Xtains are ignorant of his history. (Thou shalt have no other gods before me.)

    The Christian god evolved from the Old Testament Jewish god Yahweh, which evolved from the Canaanite polythesitic god of war, before his priests of monotheism killed the priests of Baal and suppressed the fertility goddess Asherah.
    Yahweh (Canaanite deity)From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Keep in mind that I maintain this view in light that I have only recently woken from the coma of Christian fantasy.

    This link may help you understand the issue of absence of evidence for gods. The followers of gods make various claims for which there ought to be identifiable traces in the real world – if the gods existed.

    Absence of Evidence Is Evidence of Absence – Victor Stenger



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  • 24
    bluebird says:

    concerned atheism makes an assumption

    Personally, I presume god does not exist – I take it for granted that the non-existence of a god is true in the absence of proof to the contrary.

    a boat to the waters of Deism

    At some point, weigh anchor in the sea of atheism / mysteries of the universe – let go, let flow!



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  • 25
    Mister T says:

    @RobertDeanIII May I suggest watching the video series ‘Why I am no longer a Christian’ by the youtuber ‘Evid3nc3’? It describes his gradual deconversion from Christianity to Atheism via Deism, in a way you might empathize with.

    Here is the video playlist, I suggest watching the whole series if you can find the time, I found it a fascinating insight into the mind of an ex-believer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mSy1-Q_BEtQ&list=PLA0C3C1D163BE880A

    If you do watch, I’d be interested to hear your perspective.

    Welcome and good luck btw.



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  • 26
    Earwaxxer says:

    What has been helpful to me is books like “A universe from nothing” by Lawrence Krause. I think that will help with the “where did it all come from” issue.



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  • 27
    happyendings says:

    I completely understand your challenge. I still have trouble saying the “A” word, but I live in a very religious prairie province surrounded by theistic relatives, in a supposedly secular Canada. That word still carries so much negative weight. Setting aside the questions about who created the universe, and why we’re here, I have a few mantras that help me shake off any remnants of religion or Catholic guilt biting at my heals. “They (religions) can’t all be right”, “if not, then who gets to say which one is true?”, “the Bible is way too contradictory and there are way too many versions/interpretations to ever be considered credible”, and “it’s okay to not be religious”. Also, it’s not like we have to accept one position (theism) or another (atheism), it’s just acknowledging/accepting the lack of evidence of the former. Sounds easy, but I know that it isn’t. Best of luck!



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  • 28
    Uriel-238 says:

    The atheist position is not (typically) that there is no god, but that there is no indication in nature for there of God, at least as according to the properties that we typically attribute to God (omnipotence, omnipresence, benevolence, omniscience, etc.). Similarly, we don’t acknowledge invisible creatures until we find a way to detect them.

    We can demonstrate clearly other religious notions, such as the infallibility of the bible (or for that matter, the Hellenic myths), so we can rule out most popular religions as they are practiced. So atheism is more about ruling out positive statements rather than ruling in a negative.



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  • Let’s say you had been trapped on an LSD trip by the notion that leprechauns ruled the world in an undetectable way. Let us presume a patient psychiatrist gradually convinced you there was no evidence whatsoever to support this fantasy. You might say “I can see there is no evidence for Leprechauns, and many against, but you are biased. You believe Leprechauns are a fantasy. You made an initial assumption leprechauns did not exist.

    I am an leprechaun atheist, but I did not get that way as you imagined. As a child I heard stories about leprechauns. A few adults assured me they did exist. They did not seem that improbable. I had seen dwarfs. They might just be children who refused to eat their carrots. I found the Irish accent intriguing. I met people who claimed to have seen them or fairies. Gradually over time I accumulated evidence for their existence and non-existence. At this point I am pretty sure they are purely mythical. The possibility of them existing is still millions of times greater than the existence of Jehovah which I find laughably improbable.

    Obviously children are born atheists, even you. Then adults inculcate religious beliefs. Then you question the beliefs and sometimes change or abandon them. As an atheist, even if you never had any religious indoctrination, you can’t help but be very curious why so many of your planet mates believe such bizarre things. You have to at least entertain the ideas and claims.

    The main reason it is easier to shed a belief in leprechauns than Jehovah is there are not millions of people earning a living from the con.

    The bottom line, is you much closer to the typical atheist than you imagine.



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  • Let’s say you were deciding whether to marry X or not. Everyone had an opinion whether it would be a good idea or not.
    You might write two lists, pro and con listing the reasons you were given, rating the reasons by how valid-important it was.

    Let’s say the #1 con was “she/he is bed ridden with cancer and is likely to die within weeks.”

    Then you say, I can’t take that into account. Aunt Mary gave have me that reason. She is biased. She does not like my intended
    for several other reasons, including the criminal record. She never liked my intended from the get go.

    No matter where the idea came from, it is up to you to evaluate it.



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  • What the internal fight really about? Why does it matter? What gives it energy?

    1. correctness of Christian dogma vs dogma of all other religion?
    2. infallibility of the bible?
    3. existence of a creator god?
    4. after death torture?
    5. should you feel obligated to torment gays?
    6. should you curb your desire for shrimp cocktail?
    7. should you permit Christians to deny their children medical care?
    8. should you feel obligated to stop others from using birth control/abortion?
    9. are wars of conquest in the name of Jesus holy and righteous?



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  • 32
    leemachilles says:

    I am also sceptical of atheism, but whatever anyone else says that is good, you and I and all the people here are using thought, and if any of us have looked in to science or philosophy will know thought may not be the answer, even if it seems to lead us to an apparent truth. Richard Dawkins may be asking us for money (see other page) but at least he (I hope) asks with a good heart (or brain in this case) he gives us all he can within reason and does not just asks us to just believe. In any case I say to you, you must do what you think, or if you or any of us can, do what is right, even if the result is going to lead to some bastard setting us on fire, and if you do not believe in god, in this earth you must believe that some with power will gladly torment others to keep it or just to enjoy it, to do what is right that may be what we have to endure. I know many will say the fire is a lie, but for me the sun and the moon are just as imposible as the words of any religion (science says they are there not why they are there), and the horrible ways humans treat each other for power and money and ideas (which is why we should be all careful, fate and atheistism is an idea, it may even be a hope) Any way you probably think I am mad, as do I, but I have a feeling inside of me which wants life to exsist, even if it is for a short time. I want a child to love its mother and father, and grow up happy, even if its born to die. For what is the point of any of this, if there is no god, why should we care unless we are given something to care about, and I for one would stand up to a god who toments people for having children that they love and whanting them to have a good (not infinite) life. I say to that god f**k you, I am not asking to be god, I am asking for life to be worth something other than the revenge you obviously want for our happiness. Sorry I have become a bit emotional and not scientific but from my experience with science it is not the answer, it tells us what is there and how it interacts, not why it is there, the most impotent question.



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  • 34
    Seraphor says:

    @leemachilles: ” Sorry I have become a bit emotional and not scientific but from my experience with science it is not the answer, it tells us what is there and how it interacts, not why it is there, the most impotent question.”

    I’m assuming you meant important and not impotent. As such I’d like to present you with an opposing view. (In fact impotent may be far more apt, so that’s a pretty ironic typo)

    Yes it’s your emotions that cause you to ask ‘why’, but it is also your emotions that lead you to believe ‘why’ is a more important question. As humans, as social animals, we seek out patterns and causation, we are inclined to seek out the ‘why’s and the ‘how’s, but that doesn’t mean those questions are important.
    The question ‘why’ implies purpose and agency, and as such is only applicable to actions of design or function. ‘Why’ cannot be applied to accidents or random chance, not everything has a reason for it’s appearance.

    So when you ask questions like ‘why are we here?’ or ‘what is the point of life?’, the answer may just be that there is no answer, and while that can be emotionally unsatisfying for us, it’s reality and we simply have to come to accept it. And it is entirely possible to accept that reality without losing your capacity for emotion. It’s all about context.



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  • 35
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #33 by leemachilles:

    I am also sceptical of atheism, but whatever anyone else says that is good, you and I and all the people here are using thought, and if any of us have looked in to science or philosophy will know thought may not be the answer, even if it seems to lead us to an apparent truth.

    Without thought there is no perception of anything. Without “thought” there are no answers at all.
    So the question is:- “Which methods of thought lead us to the most accurate understanding of truth about the material universe in which we live.

    Richard Dawkins may be asking us for money (see other page) but at least he (I hope) asks with a good heart (or brain in this case) he gives us all he can within reason and does not just asks us to just believe.

    It is in the mission statement of this site to use reputable scientific studies which can be repeated and independently confirmed as a basis for making claims about the world. No one is asked to accept unevidenced “belief”.

    In any case I say to you, you must do what you think, or if you or any of us can, do what is right, even if the result is going to lead to some bastard setting us on fire, and if you do not believe in god, in this earth you must believe that some with power will gladly torment others to keep it or just to enjoy it, to do what is right that may be what we have to endure.

    Both the real threats from the likes of historical inquisitors, and the fantasy threat of Hell – both used to stifle thought, are not evidence of any scientific aspects of the universe.

    I know many will say the fire is a lie, but for me the sun and the moon are just as imposible as the words of any religion (science says they are there not why they are there),

    Some silly philosophers play word games about the interactions of perceptions and the physical universe to appear “profound”, but neuroscientists have produced good explanations of how we interact with our surroundings. The Sun and Moon are both real, with measurable effects on us and our surroundings. ( Light, heat, tides etc.)

    and the horrible ways humans treat each other for power and money and ideas (which is why we should be all careful, fate and atheistism is an idea, it may even be a hope)

    Indeed, much of the horrible activity is based on the tribalism of religious and political ideologies, together with greed based cultures, and the religious view that humans have a “god-given right”, to do what they like with our planet or regard “unbelievers” as second-class humans.

    Any way you probably think I am mad, as do I, but I have a feeling inside of me which wants life to exsist, even if it is for a short time. I want a child to love its mother and father, and grow up happy, even if its born to die.

    Life does want to exist, and with only one life before we die, we should make the most of it, rather than trying to notch up “Brownie points” for some mythical imagined “afterlife” for which no evidence exists. Some may wish to live forever, but wishing will not make it so. The reality is that when we are old and worn out the next generation takes over. A moral position is to leave the community and planet in as good a condition (or better) than we found it!

    For what is the point of any of this, if there is no god, why should we care unless we are given something to care about,

    The reality is that our caring philosophy is our own, worked out by individuals – except for those who do not work out their own and simply wait to be spoon-fed some ancient package by manipulating priests and elites who live off the population. Labelling the package as a personified (anthropomorphic) god, just makes the concept simpler for those with limited (or repressed) thinking capabilities.

    and I for one would stand up to a god who toments people for having children that they love and whanting them to have a good (not infinite) life. I say to that god f**k you, I am not asking to be god, I am asking for life to be worth something other than the revenge you obviously want for our happiness.

    The afterlife “revenge” is imaginary, but is worrying for those who have been duped into believing in it.

    The real danger comes from the gods in the brains of believers, which motivate them to attack (or discriminate against) other people who are free from such god-delusions, or people with different conflicting god-delusions. No ‘God Spot’ In Brain, Spirituality Linked To Right Parietal Lobe Inquisitors, crusaders, witch hunters, and jihadists are the extreme form of this.

    Sorry I have become a bit emotional and not scientific but from my experience with science it is not the answer, it tells us what is there and how it interacts, not why it is there, the most impotent question.

    It is in the human psyche to look for patterns, uses and purpose in features of the world around us. Understanding why things work helps to keep us alive and in good health.

    But in reality these are human objectives not fundamentals of nature. “Why?” questions, always produce “how?” answers, which will track back through available knowledge to a point where the honest answer is “We don’t know”! The “god-did-it-by-magic” answer, is just pretending to know the unknown.

    I know many will say the fire is a lie, but for me the sun and the moon are just as imposible as the words of any religion (science says they are there not why they are there),

    Your example of the Sun and Moon illustrate this. We have a good idea of HOW evolved from a nebula and accretion disk, We know the heavy elements in them came from exploding stars, and we know that all matter came from the Big-Bang.

    The concept that vast galaxies and a vast universe were created by some magical being, specially for humans to live in a tiny corner of it, is just egotistical fantasy, following the historical homocentricity, and geocentricity, which puts the thinking of particular cults which have existed for a tiny part of billions of years measured time, at the centre of everything.

    “Why?” is a feature human questioning curiosity.



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  • 36
    will knutsen says:

    Robert,
    Your concern that atheism “makes an assumption, much like religion, that god certainly does not exist” can be settled I think if we just say that a god as envisioned by Bible-based religions certainly does not exit. However, concerning your notion of a god throwing dice, as it were, but having afterwards no interest in the outcome of the roll, let me offer this: Remembering what we know “know” about quantum theory, that is to say that there is -logically- no end to descriptions of infinity ( The physics do/does get awkward, but we have gotten used to it, biologically, by adapting illusions of “answers”, and we can even walk and run amongst the endlessly dancing and darting quarks of atoms (no sense getting any more complicated than that, eh?) as if we were walking on solid ground, I think we must totally dispense with any notion of a god because a god that threw dice, as it were, and cared not for what the result was of that action would be in my estimation no god at all…and I think we therefore must bravely say that existence is forever and had no beginning, and therefore of course no beginner of things, and in that way we can at last comprehend infinity, that is to say understand the endlessness of existence…and never mind the Big Bang, or a cold end of our universe; universes are always reforming…or else we would not be here to be discussing it…but to say that that makes us “alone” in the universe would not be quite right because we are molecules after all; we are a part of the thing… starlight, you and I as the JJ Cale lyric put it Yes, it is complicated, but mostly that is because of the limiting nature of the philosophies and even the words we have been raised within. And once those limitations are broken off from our thoughts, existence seems less complicated. and ever increasingly so. But this takes time. The chemical nature of learning and unlearning is a rather new science, but that science has shown us why beliefs are the same as any habit…but certain beliefs, especially ones that say that if you abandon this belief you will burn in a hell fire “for “all-eternity” can make the believer understandably reluctant to even consider the logic the belief. Never mind that that “all eternity” is redundant; even more important is that going to a place, or getting sent to a place that is eternal is illogical because one cannot “join” eternity. One must always be it. But nothing in the biblical religion survives logical scrutiny. Or physics! By the way, a good question to ask is how supposedly rational humans ever fell for the illogical theology of the Bible…I mean that basis of Biblical belief from which all the rest of its illogical stories follow: that an “all-powerful god” has a rival…a rival mere mortals must sort out. The simple answer is, if you did not believe it you were either shunned, cast out of the society (in those days a death sentence because the neighbors would not take you in either, or just a good old fashioned death sentence. Fear is the great instructor. As all cult leaders through out history knew and know. The chemistry of fear induced learning is extremely interesting, but this is not the place to go into that. At any rate, the fearful believers pay the cult leaders to speak to the god and put in a good word for them so they will not be sent to this illogical hell. The theology of a hell (and paying priests to appease a god so one would not be sent there) was laughed at in Europe until Charlemagne (d 814), using 35 years of endless terrorism in his conquests there, got the surviving scoffers to believe! (Just wrote a book on it) Anyway, I am getting long-winded here, and must get back to my work. I hope this has helped a bit. New ideas, especially ones concerning and based on quantum thinking do not fall easily into the neural networking of the brain, though they may do in time. The old thinking must be abandoned before the new can function properly. It can not be forced. It takes time. Cheers!
    Will Knutsen



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  • 37
    The Jersey Devil says:

    These days, I wouldn’t even assume the definition of ‘god’ without clarification. That three letter word has been used by so many people in so many ways that it has become ambiguous.

    You gave a definition of god: ‘a genius, or force of intelligence, that began the cosmos but has nothing do with human affairs.’

    Well, doesn’t intelligence require a brain? If yes, how did this brain exist prior to evolution? If no, please define what is meant by intelligence.

    Just prior to atheism, I believed in a sort of ‘Quantum Mysticism’. However, questions like these forced to me to admit that I really was engaging in wishful thinking.



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  • 38
    Stephen of Wimbledon says:

    Hi Robert,

    I’m sceptical of atheism, even in light of probability

    In reality there is no atheism, only atheists. Yes it’s confusing – because people often talk about atheism – even atheists. But the word atheist is an excellent description of what’s going on. It comes from a-theist, the combination of the prefix a (meaning: not; without; opposite to) – with the word theist (believer in the existence of a god or gods).

    To be an atheist, therefore, may only mean one is ignorant of what makes a Theist a theist. Or, to put that another way – we all start out as atheists, until someone persuades us that there is a god or gods.

    When people replace the suffix ‘ist’ (from atheist) with the suffix ‘ism’ (a distinctive practice, or system of thought, or philosophy) we come up against the problem of what is it that an atheist (someone who merely lacks a belief in a god or gods) has as a philosophy. Obviously, to say atheism is a mistake: There is no philosophy of non-astrology, for example.

    Many atheists make this mistake accidentally – and many theists deliberately make this mistake in order to twist your mind into thinking that an atheist has no capacity to think. Both are simply being incoherent.

    More importantly, I’m concerned atheism makes an assumption, much like religion, that god certainly does not exist.

    To be an atheist just means you have seen no evidence that a god or gods exist, and therefore conclude that there is no god or gods.

    To be an agnostic means that you have seen no evidence that a god or gods exist, and that you remain open to being convinced – just as soon as someone provides some evidence.

    Thus: Many atheists are agnostics.

    Therefore with an open and curious mind I present my scepticism.

    To be an atheist requires scepticism, you’re among friends here.

    This pesky mental obstacle of mine, or foundation depending on the truth of the matter, consists of the fact that anything exists at all. If one claims ‘god made that’, atheism raises its head and beckons ‘life is improbable, yet then: God is even more so’

    Well … that’s one argument. A better argument might be to start from the natural point we all start from as children:
    – Priest: There is something rather than nothing, therefore god
    – Kid: Why?
    – Priest: Because having something is better than nothing.
    – Kid: What does ‘better’ mean? Why is having something better than nothing? What do you mean by ‘something’? What do you mean by ‘nothing’? What is god? There is no god in the statement “having something is better than nothing”, where did you find god in your argument?

    I find such arguments intellectually unsatisfying and incomplete.

    Me too.

    I find myself considering, yet only philosophically and no deeper, of god in the sense that Einstein, allegedly, considered god: a genius, or force of intelligence, that began the cosmos but has nothing do with human affairs.

    Einstein was clear that he was not a theist – Wikipedia has a whole section on this. That aside, the position you describe is called Deism. Again, be a kid again:
    – Priest: God was the origin of the Universe.
    – Kid: Evidence?
    – Priest: Beauty, Love, Design, etc. etc.
    – Kid: Beauty is in the eye of the Beholder – am I your god? Love is a human emotion not connected to the Big Bang. When we look at the supposed design in the Universe we find none. (etc. etc. ad nauseum)

    There seems to be a gap of evidence in either way …

    Sorry, I have no idea what you mean?

    … save the mere fact of existence and surely existence has a root?

    Why ‘surely’?

    So I find myself chartering a boat to the waters of Deism, yet surely aware that I do not totally comprehend atheism–or for that fact the mysteries of the universe!

    Join the club!

    Peace.



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  • This sort of discussion is totally pointless…. use all the logic you want…. have a vision from God himself… believe all Dawkins ranting’s… or the popes for that matter…. it’s all irrelevant!

    No one alive or dead can prove or disprove the existence of God! Amen.

    I know there is no such thing as God…. in my world I’m content knowing there is no God… I don’t need to continually beat myself up over the issue, I know there is no definitive answer, I have made my choice and I live by consequences…. Who knows in years to come I may be visited by God himself and I will be a born again Christian, thinking what a load of jokers you Atheists are…

    I think you need to visit and Agnostic forum…. Atheism is not for you!



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  • 41
    Seraphor says:

    GRAViL: “I think you need to visit and Agnostic forum…. Atheism is not for you.”

    Agnosticism and Atheism are not mutually exclusive, in fact most atheist arrive at that possition through agnosticism.

    Agnosticism is a claim of knowledge, stating that you do not know if a god does or does not exist.

    Atheism is a claim of belief, stating that you do not believe a god exists.

    You do not need to know for certain that a god does not exist in order to not believe in a god, just like you don’t need to know for certain Santa doesn’t exist in order to believe he doesn’t. Have you been to the north pole? scoured every inch of it?

    @ Stephen of Wimbledon: I understand where you’re coming from with regards to the term ‘Atheism’. However I would suggest that most people, expecially atheists, use the term to mean the act or state of ‘being an atheist’, rather than implying they are following any kind of atheist philosophy or dogma.

    Perhaps ‘Atheism’ is not the most accurate term although it may sound right. Perhaps something like ‘Atheity’ would be more accurate.



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  • 42
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #41 by GRAViL:

    No one alive or dead can prove or disprove the existence of God! Amen.

    Which god? There are thousands to choose from – and why would anyone want try to DISprove all of them, when there is no evidence for any of them?



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  • 43
    fabi11975 says:

    If you right,improbable, it s not reason for have law from god, organised believing, lobying, about religion. If tou re right, science is the best way for understandding what is realy god, and religion way do encouraged fror rationality. Sprituality are in this case scientifical research, and not believing in old mythological book. But with or without god, the only way for be alive is thinking god don t exist because this entity can t do anythin for earth. Seriously, which god?



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  • 44
    Lonnie Fountain says:

    I too still question the samething. I been steady studying everything I can get my hands on, and yet still think to myself “in the grand scheme of thing why should I even bother?” I kinda see a religion in atheism also. Like I kinda have a feeling Christianity’s just gonna be replaced by islam, And atheists are next going to be at war with Muslims like its an on going cycle of debate that’s never gonna stop but just in the ends gonna be a lot of waisted time. People seem transparent to me anymore “like I can see what they’re gonna say before they even say it”. I debated this same stuff with myself lastnight. “Am I really agnostic?” This is something I wake up thinking every day. I still don’t know? The more I learn about how insignificant I really am in the universe the more I question if its purely just a animal behavior echoed as ego in disguised lol. I’d say if anyone’s really humbled me in my doubt its gotta be Pat Condell. I looked into many others, but none answered that same question better for me than he has, “he’s blunt” but I like the boldness of him.

    I hope you continue to look at things with skepticism, I don’t think anyone can full on answer anything for you, I just know for me it’s really made me look at the world and all the great things I took for granted in a whole different way. To find the beauty in the little things in life and understanding in what they are and why has been so aw-inspiring. And to really soke in the “hate to say this word but”” mirical” that I’m here, & the long journey it took for me to be here right now Wows me. 🙂 I still find myself getting freaking full on angry with the hard headed people who just know everything about everything…as if.
    So I don’t think anyone can tell you what and what not to believe. I don’t believe in anything. No gods, not spirits, or ghosts, or any book in whole. forgive me if I’ve misspelled some things. And good luck on finding out



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  • 45
    Timothy McNamara says:

    Alternative header to the thread: “Wanting to be skeptical, therefore atheist”

    I wish people would steer away from grouping atheism with various organised religions, or even posing it as an alternative.

    IT IS the ABSCENCE of any such faith or inclination to validate the primitive need for that element in life. Recall the repeated mentions on this site that babies are born athiests. This is true absolutely. If you can manage to totally accept that, you’re on track.

    IT IS NOT another team in a certain sports league. It is being someone who doesn’t find sport necessary, appealing, worthwhile.



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  • 46
    Mr DArcy says:

    Scepticism is always a healthy attitude to have. Encourage it , go with it. Sure be sceptical about atheism, but make sure you are equally sceptical about the claims made by the believers. A non belief in a deity is far removed from a belief in a caring creator who worries very much about your sex life, and wants to burn non believers forever.

    As for the runaway deist god, what a pathetic idea ! Insert the forces of nature, instead of a deist god and, the universe, as we see it, makes perfect sense. No need of any Magic Man !



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  • 47
    capetownian says:

    You should watch some of Christopher HItchen’s debates with representatives of the monotheistic religions. You need to read up on evolution and how extremely fortuneate we are to be here today, which had NOTHING to do with any celestial being! Religion is illogical, irrational and nonsensical and a home to people who are sold on the idea that there is life after death ( for a fee of course…)



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  • If I look at this logically, there are two possibilities There is no God (any religeon) or there is a least one God (any religeon, I don’t care), just because I choose to be an Atheist doesn’r mean I’m right… I have to consider the fact I could be wrong, I don’t believe I am, but the two logical choices open to me will always be there and so neither can be ruled out.

    In reply to #43 by Alan4discussion:

    In reply to #41 by GRAViL:

    No one alive or dead can prove or disprove the existence of God! Amen.

    Which god? There are thousands to choose from – and why would anyone want try to DISprove all of them, when there is no evidence for any of them?



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  • 49
    Red Dog says:

    In reply to #49 by GRAViL:

    In reply to #49 by GRAViL:
    If I look at this logically, there are two possibilities There is no God (any religeon) or there is a least one God (any religeon, I don’t care), just because I choose to be an Atheist doesn’r mean I’m right…

    I don’t understand when people say things like “just because I choose to be an atheist” as if you were picking out what flavor ice cream to eat. Do you choose to believe in evolution? I hope not, I hope you believe in evolution because you are convinced by the overwhelming evidence. Why is it that when people talk about religion and to some extent philosophy it becomes “I choose to believe” this or that? I would think you want the truth in those areas as much as any other.

    I have to consider the fact I could be wrong, I don’t believe I am, but the two logical choices open to me will always be there and so neither can be ruled out.

    Of course you could be wrong. You could be wrong on just about any topic. What a rational person does is live there life based on what seems most probable. I think the evidence is overwhelming that religious myths are one more example of stories that primitive people made up to explain the world. Its only because our scientific understanding of morals and other religious issues are so immature that people still give any credence to things like the ten commandments when they would never say “well I could be wrong and maybe God created the earth in six days rather than the big bang and evolution”



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  • 50
    Uriel-238 says:

    In reply to #41 by GRAViL:

    No one alive or dead can prove or disprove the existence of God! Amen.

    Arguments about proving or disproving natural science (in contrast to abstract studies such as logic, mathematics or semantics) are intrinsically absurd and positing such challenges will elevate one’s Crackpot Index, since it indicates an unfamiliarity with the nature of science.

    Nothing in the real world can be proven beyond doubt, including hypotheses of a negative, ergo we have to come to terms that there is a degree of probability that our supposition is correct (i.e. accurately reflects the world). Science is about building models that reflect behavior of the real world as accurately as possible, but any scientific model will have embarrassments, just fewer ones than the ones they render obsolete.

    That said, studies of all the black crows in Scotland will never disprove the white crow, even if it’s never seen. So it is with powerful intelligent species capable of manipulating worlds and creating life. And even if we found one and was able to determine it set our world in motion, how would we determine if it is a god, especially if it doesn’t match the image presented by our religions?

    Dostoevsky posits in The Brothers Karamazov that religion would not survive the revelation of God even if it closely matched the deity of the bible. If Jesus were to return as a man and perform his miracles, he’d be crucified again as a fraud by His own church, according to Dostoevsky.

    In the meantime, ours is not the universe you’d expect from a creator, at least no creator necessarily interested in us. We are moss suspended in the film covering a speck of dust, and in contrast to the universe, that is a generous description. Our theistic philosophers have yet to provide even a reasonable explanation as to why there is so much space, and so much stuff, if we earthlings are so important.



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  • 51
    Vaughan says:

    In reply to #9 by Pauly01:
    “I don’t believe in God because there is no evidence , only subjective experiences of consciousness.”

    I have been an atheist all my life, due to there being a lack of evidence for anything else, however I recently read the book ‘Proof Of Heaven’ by neuroscientist Eben Alexander MD, where he describes his very vivid account going on a journey to ‘heaven’ during a time when he had a near-death experience. According to medical reports, the part of his brain responsible for thought, imagination & memory etc was not working.

    In Appendix B of that book, he lists the neuroscientific hypotheses he considered that might explain his experience, and in his considerable years of experience & expertise on the brain, he says none of them are valid.
    It’s got me thinking about the possibility of an afterlife. After all, a fetus experiences a whole hugely different world/realm in “life after delivery”, and “life after ‘death’ ” might just be a continuation on the spectrum of experience we have.

    In an effort to try to get a bit more evidence (of sorts), I’ve watched several interviews on YouTube of people who experienced clinical death and came back to life, and they all report common experiences.
    Is that just a co-incidence? I honestly don’t know. Maybe it is.

    “The sensations of going to heaven are just due to chemicals in their brain” some may say, but I wonder how that explains things like these people telling of things they ‘saw’ as they ‘floated upwards’ (such as a shoe on the roof of the hospital they were in at the time of ‘death’) that they would never have seen or known about otherwise. Many of these people who describe ‘going to heaven’ were atheists before the experience.

    A video full of these interviews can be found here:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z56u4wMxNlg

    I was just wondering if you (by unlikely chance) have read the book ‘Proof Of Heaven’ and if so, what your thoughts on it were? I hope you read it, only because I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on this subject after reading it.

    (I’m not trying to convert you or anything, as I’m not a religious person. Never have been, and am still not. I just find the topic very interesting).



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  • 53
    Uriel-238 says:

    In reply to #52 by Vaughan:

    however I recently read the book ‘Proof Of Heaven’ by neuroscientist Eben Alexander MD

    Keep in mind that when Alexander reported his experiences, he was cognitively capable of expressing it in words, so it is as he remembers, not as he was experiencing it. And memory is a renowned unreliable narrator. There would be no way to match what he experienced with a given time frame. It may be possible that those experiences never actually occurred, but rather were only remembered after the fact. The brain works like that.

    And when the brain doesn’t work, it doesn’t work at all, so there is no experience of void, no experience of time passing, nothing. To unobservant lifelessness, everything from the big bang to the end of the universe flashes by faster than the blink of an eye.

    As for tales of objects above the lights in surgery rooms, it would be curious how many of these are actually confirmed and recorded, because true or not, it makes a good story. But we don’t have much in the way of empirical evidence.



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  • 55
    Pauly01 says:

    So I’m telling you that Dr Alexander experienced a set of base perceptions that is a Symptom of a certain kind of medical emergency and the brain essentially sexed these up through a mixture of projection , delusion , hallucination and dream.

    That is the default scientific position ,
    the only way you could debate this is if the ‘medical reports’ you speak off actually proved that ‘the part of his brain responsible for thought, imagination & memory etc was not working’.

    Well do these reports prove that? or Is it even provable from the outset ?

    In reply to #56 by Pauly01:

    OKCancelAccording to medical reports, the part of his brain responsible for thought, imagination & memory etc was not working.

    In a real sense this is the only approach you could take to add scientific weight to this whole claim. So have you looked at the evidence , are their read outs , scans…



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  • In reply to #50 by Red Dog:

    I totally agree, I don’t really choose to be an Atheist I am one…. and although there are two logical choices, I consider one of them so ludicrous that its not a choice at all (to me). However if you are to be logical and scientific about all this, a proof is needed, just like in mathematics. I’m happy without this proof, I know it’s unattainable….. Religion has evolved to this point because it can’t be proved to be “bunkum”



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  • 57
    Red Dog says:

    In reply to #57 by GRAViL:

    I totally agree, I don’t really choose to be an Atheist I am one…. and although there are two logical choices, I consider one of them so ludicrous that its not a choice at all (to me).

    Agree with all that.

    However if you are to be logical and scientific about all this, a proof is needed, just like in mathematics.

    I absolutely disagree. You no more need a proof that God doesn’t exist then you need (or could supply) a proof that evolution or the big bang are true. All those claims: God exists, the universe started with the big bang, species arose via natural selection, are empirical claims and can only be supported by empirical evidence which is mostly inductive and not certain the way deductive truths via math and logic are.

    I’m happy without this proof, I know it’s unattainable…..

    Its not just unatainable its not needed

    Religion has evolved to this point because it can’t be proved to be “bunkum”

    disagree with that as well. Or rather I would say we have no good scientific understanding yet of exactly how and why religion evolved. But the idea it was all because no one could prove its “bunkem” is not supported by anything I’ve read (e.g. Dan Dennet’s book on the topic).



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  • In reply to #58 by Red Dog:

    I think the existence of a “god” is rationalist claim where you either believe or you don’t, without any evidence or observation to support this belief. Empirical claims require observation or experimentation, I think your use of the big bang here is a classic example, I think there are a number of problems with this theory that require answering before it should be accepted as being “true” and while I accept that it is most widely accepted theory of how our universe started it is still just a theory.

    Why religion evolved is irrelevant, had it been possible to prove that god does not exist, there would be no “god” based religion today.



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  • 59
    Red Dog says:

    In reply to #59 by GRAViL:

    I think the existence of a “god” is rationalist claim where you either believe or you don’t, without any evidence or observation to support this belief. Empirical claims require observation or experimentation, I think your use of the big bang here is a classic example, I think there are a number of problems with this theory that require answering before it should be accepted as being “true” and while I accept that it is most widely accepted theory of how our universe started it is still just a theory.

    One big problem I have is that I often miss sarcasm. Its hard to be sure but I think you said above that the Big Bang is “just a theory”. Which of course it is but do you mean that in a negative way the way people who say evolution is just a theory or is this another example of me not getting the joke?

    Why religion evolved is irrelevant, had it been possible to prove that god does not exist, there would be no “god” based religion today.

    Actually why religion evolved is very relevant if you want to think about it the way a scientist would which I do. One example of how its relevant is that I would say the evidence we have about religion shows pretty clearly that even if there were a nice mathematical proof that God didn’t exist it wouldn’t make a bit of difference. Most people of faith ultimately don’t care about rational justifications anyway and the more self aware and intelligent among them will even admit it.



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  • 60
    Uriel-238 says:

    In reply to #59 by GRAViL:

    I think the existence of a “god” is rationalist claim where you either believe or you don’t

    You’re using a definition of rationalist of which I was previously unaware. Usually rationalism focuses on evidence- or observation-based truth, of which no god is.

    while I accept that [big bang cosmology] is most widely accepted theory of how our universe started it is still just a theory.

    Your crackpot index just climbed a few points by conflating the lay-definition of theory (a hunch or guess) with the scientific definition of theory (a model that is strongly backed by a preponderance of evidence, and the ability to predict observations not yet made).

    Why religion evolved is irrelevant, had it been possible to prove that god does not exist, there would be no “god” based religion today

    Your crackpot index suffers further from the failure to recognize that it is impossible to prove a negative (or really to prove anything physical at all). There remain to this day people that believe in fairies, ghosts, alien visitors and cryptids all of whom are immune to disproof.

    I posit that those who believe in God do so because they have a bias to believe in God which overrides rationality. And I posit that those same people don’t believe in boggarts because they aren’t biased towards belief in boggarts and are able to approach the possibility of their existence rationally. And there’s more evidence for boggarts than there is for God.

    Even the Answers In Genesis guys know not to use the only a theory conflation or the can’t disprove creation argument. Both speak to naivete .



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  • 61
    Ryan1306 says:

    Hi Gravil.

    And if it had been possible to disprove the existence of John Frum, there would be no cargo cults in the South Pacific. Does that sentence impress you as a solid argument for John Frum’s existence?

    And in most cases, the people that produced the world’s major religions were people that lived thousands of years ago. Is it really so surprising to you that with their lack of knowledge of the mechanisms of the natural world at that time, that they would ascribe agency to the actions of the world, and anthropomorphize their environment?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Frum

    In reply to #59 by GRAViL:

    In reply to #58 by Red Dog:

    Why religion evolved is irrelevant, had it been possible to prove that god does not exist, there would be no “god” based religion today.



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  • In reply to #61 by Uriel-238:
    In my defense, perhaps on reflection I didn’t word that very well…. peoples belief or lack of belief in god is not due to empirical evidence, but down to person justification. There is no observation or experimental test to prove or disprove the existence of god or as you say aliens, fairies… and so on. We can, and do reject the existence of fairies due to the lack of evidence, however this does not happen with god. Religion only exists today because of belief in god (as obvious as that sounds), while you “think” god doesn’t exist and I “think” he doesn’t exist, and most people who come to this site “think” he doesn’t exist, it appears that we are in the minority, and it is likely to stay that way for many years to come or until the impossible, god is proved to be a hoax, along with the yeti, bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster…. and thousands of other such things. Since god does not exist, it is impossible to prove he does, the only option open is to disprove his existence and as you say, this is impossible too!

    The big bang is a nice theory, and while I am 100% convinced that the universe is inflating and as a result I’m 100% convince that in the beginning the universe was much smaller than it is now… there are a number of issues that science has not yet explained, for example, the violation of the first law of thermodynamics , the horizon problem relating to background radiation, plus a number of others. These issues are more than mere semantics, these are quite major issues, Hubble was more or less right in his assumptions but I also think we are not yet understanding the whole physics of it, until some of these major short comings are ironed out I think the term theory can go into the hunch/guess folder!



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  • In reply to #62 by Ryan1306:
    I’m quite sure over the millennia deities have come and gone across numerous cultures. One can only guess at why one god would gain popularity and another would be dismissed and forgotten, but you would assume the latter would happen because of disbelief or dissatisfaction in that god. This must have happened to the Romans when Christianity was introduced, a load of gods were suddenly made redundant, dismissed as meaningless?

    I’m aware that if you could created a vacuum by removing god altogether… there would be some that would refuse to believe god had been removed, and for others something else would fill the religious void.

    I’ve always seen religion starting as a mechanism for social control, a way for people to live together in larger groups, the “fear of god” being force used to make people abide by socially acceptable standards of the time.



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  • 65
    Uriel-238 says:

    In reply to #65 by GRAViL:

    The big bang is work in progress…. it is not a complete theory. See: In reply to #61 by Uriel-238

    The theory of gravity is a work in progress, GRAViL. All theories are “works in progress”. The Big Bang just has the fewest embarrassments.

    Interestingly, divine creation fails as a hypothesis since it simply defaults to a wizard did it, it doesn’t even attempt to explain the process by which things came to be, a notion that is significant since the etchings of the cosmos’ formation are engraved in its present form. If a deity blinked its (proverbial) eyes and we just appeared, those traces of a past wouldn’t be present.

    As has been said many times, ours is exactly the universe we’d expect if it were untouched by supernatural influence.



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  • 66
    Uriel-238 says:

    In reply to #64 by GRAViL:

    I’m aware that if you could created a vacuum by removing god altogether… there would be some that would refuse to believe god had been removed, and for others something else would fill the religious void.

    Gods exist because we seek out patterns even when there is none, and expect agency even when none exists. Michael Schermer explains it fairly well.

    Christianity rose to power, and became monotheistic (as opposed to previous versions which were monolatristic) because Constantine wiped out anyone who disagreed with his interpretation (and that’s after he revised the gospels to conform to his own Apollonian dogma — so yes, Jesus is Apollo by another name).

    If L Ron Hubbard had enough military might to wipe out every man, woman and child who did not convert to Scientology, we’d all be Scientologists.



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  • Religion is irrelevant in the context of reality. It is obvious from a mere cursory read of any of the major faiths is that they are completely in conflict with each other. So set religion aside. Start with this: how did life occur. Most everyone on here will tell that through some unexplainable miracle, life started in primordial soup and bootstrapped its way (all the way) to the complexity of the human body. Kind of like a tornado going through a junkyard and producing a dreamliner. It makes the same amount of sense. All observable scientific knowledge contradicts every premise of evolutionary theory. Evolutionists resort to the unobservable, untestable, and unverifiable theories and use eons of time as a buffer to silence the critics. No, I don’t know what was going on a billion years ago. Guess what, neither do they. Yet they claim they do. When any scientist anywhere evolutionist or not constructs one cell in the lab that lives for 5 seconds, I absolutely will listen to what they have to say. That is one cell of the trillions in the human body. Just one, that’s all I ask.

    Back to the point, either God (or Gods) exist or they don’t. My opinion, yours, or anyone else’s is irrelevant. Go with what makes the most sense. Don’t allow religious zealots (Muslims, Christians, Buddhists or Evolutionists) to influence you. Find your own way. I will, however, say this to you: “The fool hath said in his heart: there is no God”



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  • In reply to #66 by Uriel-238:

    In reply to #65 by GRAViL:

    The big bang is work in progress…. it is not a complete theory. See: In reply to #61 by Uriel-238

    The theory of gravity is a work in progress, GRAViL. All theories are “works in progress”. The Big Bang just has the fewest embarrassments.

    Interestingly, divine creation…Your statements trivialize how a God (or Gods) could have put the cosmos into motion. Lots of intelligent design theories could be completely consistent with the big bang or other postulations. Seriously, if God exists, and created the world and life as we know it, do you really think it would be like a wizard waving a wand? Really? The very idea of a divine creator implies complexity beyond human imagination. To illustrate my point, has anyone lately produced one single living cell in the lab? Kind of undercuts the credibility of those dismissing the notion of a intelligent creator, since they( everyone since the beginning of time) lack the knowledge, understanding and intelligence to construct one single living cell. Just sayin’



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  • 69
    Red Dog says:

    In reply to #65 by GRAViL:

    In reply to #60 by Red Dog:

    The big bang is work in progress…. it is not a complete theory. See: In reply to #61 by Uriel-238

    By work in progress I mean the following:

    http://metaresearch.org/cosmology/BB-top-30.asp

    I’m not saying the big bang it totally wrong… it’s just not totally right.

    And? I mean of course its a work in progress and there are open questions and its probably not right in the sense that there is more to learn and probably some things we think are true now will turn out to be wrong. . No scientist worthy of the name would disagree with that about the big bang or any other empirical theory.



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  • 70
    Uriel-238 says:

    In reply to #69 by mikeje:

    Interestingly, divine creation…Your statements trivialize how a God (or Gods) could have put the cosmos into motion. Lots of intelligent design theories could be completely consistent with the big bang or other postulations.

    Intelligent design postulates (they’re not theories nor even hypotheses) only suppose that a given part of the universe was willfully constructed by a being (such as the Empire State Building or the Curiosity Rover) those notions presented by the ID community (such as the the Discovery Institute) still do not explain the process by which that design was translated into creation. Evolution, in contrast, is expected to offer such an explanation (and it does!). It is suspicious that Creationists find God (or rather, their god of choice) a sufficient answer and evolution an insufficient answer no matter the intricacy of the latter and the simplicity of the former.

    The very idea of a divine creator implies complexity beyond human imagination.

    That is an inappropriate presumption, mikeje. Firstly, it doesn’t. A divine creator may have access to sophisticated power, and it may not. Secondly, it is understating human curiosity and our ability to catalog observations (and deduce truths from them) to say that such powers are by default beyond human understanding. Beyond you personally, maybe, but not the capacity of all of humankind.

    And thirdly being satisfied with “it’s beyond our capacity to comprehend” as a sufficient explanation is in this case falling back on wizards waving wands.

    Even if a divine power created the universe, mikeje, there would still be mechanic by which it happened, and that process would leave skidmarks, exactly the same way that the formation of bones (or trees) leave rings, which erosion leaves lines and the sewing of teddy-bears leaves seams. Cosmology, geology, biological evolution — all those sciences study the seams, and so far they all appear to be formed by natural processes, not by the willful lathing of a mindful creator.

    And the truth of the matter is, human technology has designed living cells. Lots of them, mikeje, all custom engineered. We just didn’t do it with a crane and a bulldozer as you seem to imagine.



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  • 71
    Uriel-238 says:

    In reply to #68 by mikeje:

    Most everyone on here will tell that through some unexplainable miracle, life started in primordial soup and bootstrapped its way (all the way) to the complexity of the human body. Kind of like a tornado going through a junkyard and producing a dreamliner.

    Um…no. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6QYDdgP9eg

    As pointed out, this is a way that life might have formed from non-life, it’s not yet proven to be the way. But it works.

    But even if you fall back on Goddidit you still have to find the mechanics by which it was did, otherwise, again, we’re back to the wand-waving.

    All observable scientific knowledge contradicts every premise of evolutionary theory.

    [Citation needed]

    Find your own way. I will, however, say this to you: “The fool hath said in his heart: there is no God”

    Quoting the bible (Psalm 14:1 KJV) will rachet up your crackpot index. I don’t advise it.



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  • 72
    Moderator says:

    Moderators’ message

    A reminder that our Conditions of Use, which can be found at the foot of every page, require comments to remain on the topic of the OP and forbid preaching.

    The mods



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  • 73
    tantrai says:

    I think Einstein was more of a Pantheist..More like, the grandeur of the Universe is so wonderful.. it must be like God..
    It is more important to be skeptical and accepting things based on evidence..I believe Deism is just a position which is taken to create a feel good situation with our circle…

    You are on to better things…Skepticism. Enjoy.



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  • 74
    nodogma says:

    My own suggestion would be to resist the urge to categorize yourself. People of this world seem to have this compulsion to define themselves, as if they need a label to know where they fit in and how to relate to others. Similarly, we obsess about whether we have a consistent rational model that ties together our ideology and presents a “genuine” representation of “truth.” Many atheists as much as religious dogmatists buy whole-heartedly into the system of assumptions that they cling to for their definition of reality (Atheism is a belief system like any other – a way of thinking about the world that is grounded in assumptions). I would caution that the real “gods” that hold dominion over this world are not transcendent beings but unquestioned ideas.

    I have always felt that the path to wisdom lies in questioning everything, while at the same time being open to everything. “Questioning” does not mean “rejecting as false”, and “being open” does not mean “accepting as true.” As human beings we have the power to see things from multiple perspectives, to understand and see the meaning in ideas even if we do not agree with them, to appreciate that the value of an idea may be different for different people and in different contexts. We have the power to suspend belief or disbelief, to imagine alternative world views, to incorporate ideas from divergent sources. We have the power even to accommodate conflicting or contradictory ideas, “superpositions” of belief that may aid us psychologically by reconciling some of the seeming contradictions of our existence (for example, the contradiction of living a purposeful life when life has no purpose).

    I am not religious. I am not an atheist. While I have thoughts that may be characterized as “religious” or “atheistic”, I reject the argument that I need to “decide”. In pragmatic terms, I base my thoughts and decisions about how to live in this world on ideas that seem to carry weight for me in particular contexts. As someone with a scientific background, I feel that no methodology has been more effective at allowing us to understand and interact with objectively-shared reality than the scientific method and its underpinnings in logical positivism. But for reasons I won’t elaborate on in this post, I find the scientific answers to existential questions wholly unsatisfying. So I also study religion and philosophy and in the process I have incorporated other ways of thinking into my world view. These ideas evolve, shift and change as I continue to learn, ask questions, and mature in understanding. Not all of them are compatible, but I reject the need to weld them into something solid that I can cling to. They are simply possibilities, comforting or intriguing notions that can not be proven neither true nor false. They are not scientific, but that does not mean they are not useful to me in terms of how they guide my thoughts or emotions.

    The philosopher Karl Jasper argued that no one can tell us what is “true” – we can only discover that for ourselves. My suggestion to you, as to anyone, is to read a lot, and diversify your reading across different disciplines and ideologies. When you start to feel that you have the answer, find someone with an opposite point of view and read what he or she has to say. Always reject claims of certainty and challenge assumptions – especially your own. If you are properly humble about your own beliefs, it becomes much easier to feel tolerance and empathy for the beliefs of others.



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  • 75
    Uriel-238 says:

    In reply to #75 by nodogma:

    Atheism is a belief system like any other – a way of thinking about the world that is grounded in assumptions.

    Um, no it’s not.

    Atheism is a lack of specific belief. There are many ideological positions that are atheist. Naturalism, for example, presumes that there are no supernatural influences on the universe, and that the world operates in accordance to consistent laws that can be modeled. (The justification for such a presumption is that we’ve yet to encounter any verifiable supernatural events) But atheism itself doesn’t make such a presumption. Rather it is lack of other presumptions.



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  • It’s important to be skeptical of everything. Including religion, including atheism.

    We have to admit when our answers fall short, and to be fair, in atheism much of our answers do fall short. After all, science is still in it’s infancy.

    We have to be willing to accept “I don’t know yet” as an answer.

    Because there is one important thing that we do know that trumps all our “I don’t knows”. It is the truth of atheism.



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  • 77
    nodogma says:

    In reply to #76 by Uriel-238:

    In reply to #75 by nodogma:

    Atheism is a belief system like any other – a way of thinking about the world that is grounded in assumptions.

    Um, no it’s not.

    Atheism is a lack of specific belief. There are many ideological positions that are atheist. Naturalism, for example, presumes that there are…

    I won’t argue this with you, as “atheism” and “belief system” are just words whose semantics may be interpreted differently by different individuals. If we want to try to “pin down” meanings for the sake of argument, then, for the record, Collins defines “atheism” as “rejection of belief in God or gods” and Random House says it is “the doctrine or belief that there is no God.” Those are beliefs grounded in assumptions. It sounds to be like you define atheism as an effort to reject assumptions and if so, congratulations – I think you have embraced a more liberating ideology. Of course, even this is an ideology – and that was my point. Even as I talk about what I think is the right approach, I am conscious that this too is a belief. I don’t suggest that I have no beliefs (I don’t think that is even possible), only that I try to be conscious of them and not hold to them too rigidly.



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  • The debate on whether god does or does not exist is a debate which,to me , rests on the existence of a soul. The only scientific evidence, I have encountered, used to justify the existence of the soul is that when someone is brain dead and has a near death experience, if the EEG records no brain activity then how it is possible to have an experience at all. The answer, to me, rests on the fact that the brain works by electrical and chemical processes. The brain may not be electrically active but it is still chemically active thus near death experiences have their roots in the chemical makeup of the human brain and explains why many different people all have the same experience. Thus no soul, No god 🙂



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  • 79
    Uriel-238 says:

    In reply to #79 by nodogma:

    In reply to #76 by Uriel-238:
    If we want to try to “pin down” meanings for the sake of argument, then, for the record, Collins defines “atheism” as “rejection of belief in God or gods” and Random House says it is “the doctrine or belief that there is no God.”

    The typical Christian definition of atheism is more along the rejection of salvation lines. The alarmists will include all irreligious (or even people unaffiliated with churches) in the set of atheists, and then plenty of us try to sort them out between people who reason that God requires evidence (so faith denialists?) and those who really can’t be bothered with spiritual or philosophical issues (nontheists? irreligious?).

    We can’t necessarily depend on Mr. Webster or Mr. Oxford or Mr. New American Heritage because they do have a bias towards prior culture which was dominated by the Catholic Church, and the language is rapidly changing with rapid communication.

    But I don’t have an answer either. Similarly, I note that a Christian is anyone who says they are, though some churches don’t regard anyone outside their own, and others will have lists of churches they believe are obviously false (LDS, RCC and Jehovah’s Witnesses are common victims of this form of exclusion).

    So, in order to keep things formal, maybe we should pin things down, but then if you’re going to make a meaningful statement (e.g. Atheism is a belief system like theism) you will have to qualify it with the supposition of a definition (If we were to define atheism as the active denial of all gods, then…).

    ERGO: On the supposition that it is natural for me to distrust things for which there is remote or no evidence (bigfoot, fairies, grays, lizardmen under the earth, etc.) and to not even consider things I haven’t even imagined (invisible, silent guitar-playing magical horses who gather metal bands and smoke hickory — granted, now I’ve imagined it) it follows that gods such as Santa Claus, Yahweh, Chronos or Azathoth require no special pleading, and thus I assert that atheism is a state of non-belief. The only requirement is the ideology that (specific) things we don’t detect almost certainly don’t exist unless we find a way to detect them.



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  • 80
    Uriel-238 says:

    In reply to #80 by matty:

    The brain may not be electrically active but it is still chemically active thus near death experiences have their roots in the chemical makeup of the human brain and explains why many different people all have the same experience. Thus no soul, No god 🙂

    One of the points I found terrifying regarding the possibility of a soul is the lack of evidence of a soul’s departure, meaning that either it doesn’t exist at all, or that it is so ephemeral and delicate that natural ambient activity (electrical storms, solar flares, cosmic radiation and so on) would make it impossible to get anywhere intact.

    On the other hand, if ours is a simulated reality then it’s completely possible that a soul (in this case the actual construct of the consciousness rather than the one we see) simply has its perspective changed: the life in which died turns out to be a dream during a completely different life. (I wasn’t getting interrogated by agents who made my mouth melt away and then infected my belly button with a robotic scorpion after all. It was just bad acid*).

    In fact, this is the only way that super-naturalist models of the universe could be reasonably plausible, and really there is no way to detect how probable it is that we’re just sims in a grand sim-universe (by Maxis!). But most people find such an idea distasteful, as if that makes reality less real.

    EDIT: Homophone correction.



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  • 81
    margana says:

    In all honesty, you sound like you are suffering from a spot of neurotic ruminating. You have replaced religion with a fear of having left religion. You sound like are not happy. That’s unfortunate.

    Sorry, but you don’t get to have everything proven to you. You have to arrive at a conclusion, and settle upon it, and be happy with it. If you can’t be happy with it, well it was your conclusion and you must take responsibility for the fact that you arrived at it in the fist place!

    Here is a link to Brian Green addressing a slightly similar question (video starts at the relevant point); I hope you will find it relevant to your present conundrum.



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  • 82
    nodogma says:

    In reply to #81 by Uriel-238:

    Just a couple of clarifications and then I think I’m ready to rest on this one.

    First, I want to emphasize that when I start quoting the dictionary it is not an effort at one-upmanship, trying to show that I have a better idea what the words mean or anything so arrogant as that. I’m just trying to avoid the common problem of “talking past each other” where two people have a non-argument because their presumption of disagreement is based on differing interpretations of their terms.

    Secondly, I think in this case our dispute, such as it is, arises from the use of the word “belief”, which it seems to me you equate with “faith” or acceptance of things without evidence. When I say “belief”, I am including all things that I consciously or unconsciously hold to be true. I have a belief that if I jump out of an airplane, I will fall to the ground and probably die. It is grounded in pretty solid evidence, but it is still something I believe and therefore a belief. Some beliefs are on very solid ground, others not so much. For example, I don’t believe in the existence of Santa Claus, and while I don’t reject the hypothetical possibility of a bigfoot I find the evidence against him so convincing that for all practical purposes he does not constitute part of my conception of reality.

    On the other hand, the lizard men that live inside the Earth are real. I’ve seen them.



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  • 83
    RobertDeanIII says:

    Thank you all for the encouraging words. Since my last post I have done a great deal of thinking on the matter and have decided to abandon deism altogether. While I may not understand the universe to purport a first mover is, at best, a weak theory. I can wonder if there is a tea pot floating around the earth or ponder if there are fairies in the garden. There is no evidence to support either first movers, tea pots or fairies and, “That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence” (Hitchens). I will keep in mind to be as polite as you all have been to those who are seeking answers.



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  • 85
    Tlhedglin says:

    I am new, and know not how to quote the original post, as yet. So I will have to take this in stages, and to hit only the ‘high points’.

    A: Atheism is a claim of belief, not knowledge. One either believes in deities or they do not, there is no fence or middle ground. If you do not believe in any deity, you are an atheist, by definition. Atheists can claim knowledge(a gnostic claim), but it isn’t necessary for one to be an atheist.

    B. In order to calculate the probability of life, the universe, or anything. One would need to know the number and probability of any other configuration or possibility that exists, and we do not. We do not know if any other kind of universe is even possible, or even how probable the chemical evolution of self-replicating pseudo-organisms would be in the environment proposed in abiogenesis, or many other claims one would have to know in order to argue the probability of the current state of things. Moreover, discussing probabilities in things that have already occurred does not dismiss or discredit them. If you threw any deck of 52 playing cards in the air, the position and direction of where they landed would be nearly impossibly improbable, but that does not make it reasonable to conclude you purposely laid each card in their respective placements.

    C. I, personally, have no problem with Deism. You simply make, at least, one baseless assumption that I am unwilling to make.



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  • 86
    Oldschoolsaint says:

    In reply to #85 by RobertDeanIII:

    Thank you all for the encouraging words. Since my last post I have done a great deal of thinking on the matter and have decided to abandon deism altogether. While I may not understand the universe to purport a first mover is, at best, a weak theory. I can wonder if there is a tea pot floating around…

    When I read your original posting I was quite impressed with your honesty, in particular your skepticism of your newly found skepticism. “Here is an individual who really wants to get to the truth”, I thought to myself. How disappointing to see that you’ve succumbed to the most sophomoric and feeble of arguments. Do you really equate the inductive argument for the existence of an intelligence behind the universe with silly assertions regarding fairies and flying spaghetti monsters? You seem too thoughtful for that. Perhaps some further thought is called for.



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  • 87
    SPOONER says:

    Question everything, Atheism included.

    Becoming a fully functioning adult, solely responsible for your own life is liberating, not necessarily comfortable.



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  • Whenever I hear people talking about a god as if he exists, I want so badly to say to them, “You are believing in an ALL-knowing, ALL-powerful, inVISible being who is everywhere, who created the WHOLE universe, who lives in another dimension called heaven, who is perfect in every way, who was never born, who will never die, and who watches over each of the 7 billion humans 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (even when they’re sitting on the crapper).

    I mean, COME ON! This belief isn’t just foolish, it’s insane.



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  • 89
    nick keighley says:

    In reply to #3 by Seraphor:

    “Life is improbable, yet then: God is even more so'” You’re right in saying that this is an unsatisfying and incomplete argument. The probability of something occuring has no baring on whether it has or has not occured. Many people will start with this argument and it’s expected that you’d come accross the likes of this first, but atheism has a lot more to it that fobbing off low probabilities. In fact some of the major roots of atheism come down to accepting incredibly low probabilities, such as that of the origin of life, as being completely inevitable.

    how can life be both inevitable and low probability. Or do you the probabilityof life being inevitable is low probability? Because I can’t make sense of that either! How are these probabilities calculated?



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  • 90
    Markovich says:

    Atheism is a belief system characterized by the assertion that everything that has ever happened, or will happen, is mundane. A corollary is that the God of the Christians does not exist. All the various religious belief-systems are alike in character to atheism, in that they assert with absolute confidence that some state of the world, which might not be true, is true.

    The basis for preferring atheism to religion is not that it is not a belief, but that it is a much more reasonable belief than any religious system. So far as we can tell, nothing has ever happened that is not mundane (there has never been a miracle or any other manifestation of anything spiritual). So it seems more reasonable to assume that this quality of the world will persist than that it will not. That is the essential argument for atheism.

    Atheism is not something that you accept or decline to accept. It is confidence that certain propositions are true. Either you are confident that there is no such thing as a god, angel, demon or soul, or you are not. If you are confident of the opposite, then you are in some way religious; if you are not confident either way, then you are some sort of agnostic.



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  • 91
    Red Dog says:

    In reply to #92 by Markovich:

    Atheism is a belief system characterized by the assertion that everything that has ever happened, or will happen, is mundane

    Not sure where you got that but I don’t agree at all. Let’s start at the beginning, there is nothing “mundane” about a Big Bang. And things got even more interesting after that.



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  • 92
    Markovich says:

    In reply to #93 by Red Dog:

    In reply to #92 by Markovich:

    Atheism is a belief system characterized by the assertion that everything that has ever happened, or will happen, is mundane

    Not sure where you got that but I don’t agree at all. Let’s start at the beginning, there is nothing “mundane” about a Big Bang. And things got…

    Well, I was using a poetic locution. More precisely, what I meant was, since the beginning of time, nothing has happened that is not, in principle, able to be accounted for by the various interractions of energy and matter. I suppose that many people would say that a massive asteroid smashing into the earth, or the sun being sucked into a black hole, was not “mundane.” But in the sense I meant, these events are just as mundane as two billiard balls being knocked together or water running down a drain.

    Now as to the big bang. On best evidence, all matter and energy, and time itself (which is a property of matter) did indeed begin with the big bang. Assuming that that is the case (and I believe that it is), then there is no possibility of explaining the big bang itself, which in effect would explain all existence. To do that is an impossibility, because explanation inherently relates one existing thing to other existing things. Just as it is not possible to reach outside the set of all existing things and find an explantion for existence itself, so it is not possible (assuming that time did indeed begin with the big bang) to find something “before” the big bang, by which to explain it. In the same way, if Hoyle’s steady state theory had been proven true and time and matter reached back into the infinite past, it would be impossible to explain why the whole cosmos existed at all. So yes, on current understanding, the big bang itself, just as existence itself, must forever remain a mystery.

    But my point was that whatever constitutes regular behavior of matter and energy, atheism posits that everything that happens is explained by it. And to say that is to express what, for me, constitutes the essence of the atheist belief-system (which I uphold). (For the reasons that I have laid out, this could not, of course, explain existence itself, and I do not claim that it does.)



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