To Thom primarily, and the Community....

Thom;

I'm a long time listener and have actually called and talked once. I find you are a resonable and capable thinker. I've only been disappointed with this nonsense about evangelical Atheists, deities, and beliefs.

So, let me start with belief. An Atheist does not accept that there is a god, not because of a lack of belief, but a lack of evidence. You seem to treat belief as bi-polar, such that non-belief can be deemed a form of belief. A well educated Atheist knows that it's not a matter of belief or lack of belief, as positive is to negative on the same linear scale; but, a zero quantity of belief or absence of it. In this way it cannot reasonably be referred to as a default belief, as indecision can be reasoned to be a form of decision.

As far as the question of god, deities, or any words one might slip together to give reasonable-ness to this nonsense, let me be clear; The question of if deities exist cannot be answered empirically. I can say there is a lack of evidence and that is how I interpret the data; however, others can summon up their belief and any artificial, seemingly reasonable construct to support that belief as evidence of. Therefore the argument is a waste of time; the question of the existence of god cannot be answered. Nevertheless, the question that can be addressed, and answered empirically, is did man create god. Here, the evidence is abundent, that in most aspects of these belief systems that require no evidence, man is at the root. Man has created much, including theisms. Usually, conceptions based upon perception is a step in tool making. Science is a tool for exploring the unknown. Theism may have been the tol of choice for primatives; however, it clearly cannot be accurate enough to be meaningfull or usefull. Remember, an Atheist worth their salt knows not to argue the question of the existence of god. Surely though, the question of if man created god is where all reason leads.

Lastly, the otion of evangelical atheism is all the rage in response to Harris, Hitchens, Dawkins, Dennet, and a host of others. This is a clear invention of the theists. Some Atheists are angry and reactionary. And rightly so. Atheism is so misunderstood and demonized in society today, it should make a reasonable person angry. You had Chris Hedges on a week or so ago. I think he is spot on, as you, with some of your observations; however, the obvious tendency to discredit Atheists and their sounding boards is poor and misguided. These Atheists will be more likely to reason with and find common cause with you and Chris, than with the likes of Pat Robertson and his ilk. You often note that in our politics there should be real commonality between the libertarians, Tea-baggers, and progressives. Lets all work to push through the attempts of the media to fracture us into different parties. I never seen a TRUE Atheist want to deny any religious people their right to worship as they please, just like I've never seen a TRUE Christian who doesn't love his fellow man!

Cheers,

SavroD

Comments

dhavid 8 years 32 weeks ago
#1

Concerning your god question: it seems to me everyone is either an atheist, agnostic, or theist. Being a theist myself, I cannot understand how a rational person can be an atheist. It is true, theroretical physicists are still more or less groping in the dark in their quest to understand the nature of the Universe. There are X number of religions, some bizarre, some understandable, saying contradictory things about the nature of Truth. Lot's of people think they know the Truth, and are willing to kill for it. You can trash religionists, and scientists - with validity - but how in the hell can one come to the concrete conclusion that there never was, or is, or will be a Creator of this vast Universe? It seems ridiculous to me for anyone, essentially clothed in ignorance of the nature of things, to assert atheism. Hubris on steroids.

Albert Einstein said that you can see life in one of two ways - That either nothing is a miracle, or everything is. Clearly the atheist is in the first group.

To me agnosticism and theism are the only two possible choices concerning the existence of the Creator, or God.. An atheist, in my opinion, is a fool.

kleppermaster's picture
kleppermaster 8 years 32 weeks ago
#2

Opps, you stepped over the line. You called me a fool when you don't even know me. My brother is a Theist and I love him very much. I am an Athiest. What is the major diference between us? He was tought by our parents what to learn. I was tought by my grandparents how to learn. It makes all the difference.

The cool thing about science is there are no concrete conclusions. Science is not dogmatic. If something better comes along we run with it. That's why we no longer beleave the world to be flat (It's not round either it's more of an oblate spheroid). Here are just a few things learn-ed people once thought true, but scientists were open minded to save the good, toss out junk and move on:

The Earth is the center of the solar system. Do you think this is true? I don't

Ok, The sun is at the center of the solar system but the planets travel in perfectly circular orbits.

Opps! The sun is the mass center of our sotar system but the planets travel in perfectly eliptical orits. This is based upon Newtonian Physics. But Newton always had problems predicting the orbit of Mercury.

Well Einstin nailed mercury's orbit with General relativity.

General Relativity still works! On large things, but... Not so well on very small things...

Enter Quantum Mechanics. It doesn't replace GR, it covers areas that GR doesn't. In turn GR covers areas the QM doesn't.

This leads us to the next goal.

See how this works? If it fails, we move on. Based upon my own experiments I have found nothing fails like prayer. I have simply moved on.

Peace

dhavid 8 years 32 weeks ago
#3

I stand corrected, as actually no one is a fool, nevertheless I would categorize atheism as foolish because it denies the possibility of a Creator. I am speaking from a purely philosophical standpoint. To deny the possibility can only stand on a firm philosophical foundation, and there is none. This foundation would actually have to have an understanding of the very nature of the Universe, which no theoretical physicist would dare to claim. If your philosophical system allows for the possibility of a Creator or God, then, by definition, you must be agnostic. Agnosticism is not atheism, it simply says, "I don't know."

Zenzoe 8 years 32 weeks ago
#4

How is it I can agree with all of you?! I think it must be the two bits that follow:

—Richard Dawkins, F.R.S.: If you live in America, the chances are good that your next door neighbours believe the following: the Inventor of the laws of physics and Programmer of the DNA code decided to enter the uterus of a Jewish virgin, got himself born, then deliberately had himself tortured and executed because he couldn’t think of a better way to forgive the theft of an apple, committed at the instigation of a talking snake. As Creator of the majestically expanding universe, he not only understands relativistic gravity and quantum mechanics but actually designed them. Yet what he really cares about is ‘sin,’ abortion, how often you go to church, and whether gay people should marry...
In other parts of the world, there is a good chance that our neighbours believe you should be beheaded if you draw a cartoon of a desert warlord who copulated with a child and flew into the sky on a winged horse. In other places, there’s a good chance that your neighbours think their wishes will be granted if they pray to a human figure with an elephant’s trunk.
Even if your neighbors don’t hold any of those mutually contradictory beliefs, they probably take it for granted that we should unquestioningly respect those who do. And the huge majority of American and British newspapers and periodicals go along with this abject kowtowing to what their educated editorial staff must know, in their heart of hearts, is nonsense.

Dawkins, it appears, is not trying to spread his “religion;” instead, he is asserting his position, a position that is valid to the mind of logos (see Armstrong, below), but invalid to any philosophy that holds both logos and mythos as important to a whole, human life.

Karen Armstrong (A History of God, etc.) http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2009/jul/12/religion-christianity-belief-science
"In most pre-modern cultures, there were two recognised ways of attaining truth. The Greeks called them mythos and logos. Both were crucial and each had its particular sphere of competence. Logos ("reason; science") was the pragmatic mode of thought that enabled us to control our environment and function in the world. It had, therefore, to correspond accurately to external realities. But logos could not assuage human grief or give people intimations that their lives had meaning. For that they turned to mythos, an early form of psychology, which dealt with the more elusive aspects of human experience.

Stories of heroes descending to the underworld were not regarded as primarily factual but taught people how to negotiate the obscure regions of the psyche. In the same way, the purpose of a creation myth was therapeutic; before the modern period no sensible person ever thought it gave an accurate account of the origins of life."

Either way, both of these wonderful thinkers are not in favor of taking myths literally. I would love to see a discussion between the two.

dhavid 8 years 32 weeks ago
#5

Hi zenzoe, I enjoy your intelligence. It must be quite intense inside that brain of yours! I would like to respond to two points.

If someone asked you what you valued most about being human I would guess it would be the incredible awareness we call consciousness. So, that which is central in importance finds itself in the Mythos. You said, " But logos could not assuage human grief or give people intimations that their lives had meaning. For that they turned to mythos, an early form of psychology, which dealt with the more elusive aspects of human experience." It sounds like people invented Mythos basically to make them feel better, and give meaning to their lives. This implies fabrication, rather than the dicovery of what is. Mythos, with a valid underlying fabric, can be a guiding and valid factor in life. It can be life itself. So Logos and Mythos are both needed, it depends on how we value them.

I won't comment on Dawkins except to say he is silly, and he must have a very large axe to grind.

Concerning the Jewish creation myth, i find a tremendous truth. Everyone I know has a major flaw. I'm not talking little, I'm talking the Grand Canyon. Thousands of years ago, all these old guys were sitting around, and being honest, saw the same thing. They made up a story to try and make some sense out of it. Hence, the garden of eden and the fall.

Peace

savroD's picture
savroD 8 years 32 weeks ago
#6

Nice examples and good point too! I like the juxtopositioning of "what to learn" versus "how to learn". This is a big problem most litterate people I encounter have. They want to appear reasonable; then like dhavid, they retort nonsense, (what they learned) without comprehending what was written, (how to learn).

Cheers,

savroD

savroD's picture
savroD 8 years 32 weeks ago
#7

dhavid:

Your comments have no basis in fact. Did you even bother to read the post.

You are a theist. This is a belief. At least you didn't elaborate some ridiculousness to back up your belief. I'll say it once more. Atheists have no evidence; therefore there is "ZERO" belief. That is not a belief. It's called REASONING. Also, who cares what you want to call yourself, or I for that matter. The REAL question is if it is possible that man created god!

Natural Lefty's picture
Natural Lefty 8 years 32 weeks ago
#8

savroD, humans created religion, but they did not create the universe. I think you are confused between organized religion and spirituality, and between atheism and agnosticism. A deist isn't necessarily an adherent of an organized religion, and a person who finds a lack of evidence for God is not an atheist. That person is agnostic. To be atheist is to conclude that there is evidence that God does not exist, and Thom's point (although I still find it a bit strange) is that atheism is thus an irrational belief. It would be rational to say that we don't know whether or not a God exists based on the evidence, but not to say that God has been proven not to exist. I think that is what Dhavid was saying.

Zenzoe, I like the quotes from Richard Dawkins and Karen Armstrong. (Are they both British?) I feel as Dawkins does about such ludicrous beliefs, although that does not make me an atheist. About mythos and logos, I think I unwittingly mentioned something to that effect at the end of one of my recent posts, although I wasn't thinking mythos and logos.

However, I must disagree with Dhavid about our flaws. If anything, we humans are probably becoming less flawed over time. I don't believe that there was a "fall from grace." Rather, we are evolving into more complex, intelligent and capable forms. But we still remain imperfect.

dhavid 8 years 32 weeks ago
#9

NL wrote, "However, I must disagree with Dhavid about our flaws. If anything, we humans are probably becoming less flawed over time. I don't believe that there was a "fall from grace." Rather, we are evolving into more complex, intelligent and capable forms. But we still remain imperfect."

Such "mere" opinion, from a scientist?:) I would agree with Emerson that society ebbs and flows, basically remaining the same. We have gained technologically, quite obviously. But morally, ethically? Methinks, not. (And I am not talking about social gains for women and minorities, and righting social wrongs. I am talking about the basic nature within the person.)

-and i don't believe in a "fall from grace" either. why i don't believe in the Magic Book at all.

Natural Lefty's picture
Natural Lefty 8 years 32 weeks ago
#10

Well, you cited the garden of eden, and the fall, but I see that was just what you said people of those times did to explain our faults. My mistake, sorry. I have been subjected to too many sermons from "the Magic Book."

I believe the evidence shows that we have evolved, biologically, culturally and spiritually. Our basic internal nature seems a very subjective issue, so it's difficult to assess whether that has been changing. I could argue that we are somewhat of a "tabula rasa" so there isn't really that much of an innate human nature to talk about, but I wouldn't seriously be that extreme. I do think that we are malleable, so that we can and have been morally and ethically evolving, even if our biology remains essentially unchanged. And speaking of biological evolution, geneticist Simon Wells says that the evidence is that biologically, humans are evolving faster than ever, now.

By the way, with regard to the original post, I think there is evidence of a spiritual nature inherent in our universe. Many prominent scientists have felt that way, too. It doesn't prove the existence of God, but it suggests that the universe is something more than a lifeless machine. Saying that the man in the church said if I pray for a pony, Jesus will give it to me, and that doesn't happen, is not evidence that God does not exist.

mememine69's picture
mememine69 8 years 32 weeks ago
#11

I thought the bible thumping neocons were the enemy.

dhavid 8 years 32 weeks ago
#12

NL, I understand that you believe evolution is toward a more evolved society. I heard Pete Seeger said we are the continued evolution of killers - the ones who survive. So what you have are the best killers. You would have a hard time, describing the atrocities people are doing to people nowadays, that this world society is morally ethically advanced to Ancient Greece.

mememine, I understand the confusion. No bible thumpers here. The right wing hijacked fundamentalist evangelical christianity in the 70's and 80"s. Now they own it. I am just simple folk, a progressive trying to make sense of it all, from a spiritual perspective. I personally am a theist, and even find it philosophically tennable. For a label I agree mostly with the aidvaita vedanta school of philosophy from India, which seems to draw alot from the Upanishads.

Zenzoe 8 years 32 weeks ago
#13
Quote dhavid:

Hi zenzoe, I enjoy your intelligence. It must be quite intense inside that brain of yours! I would like to respond to two points.

If someone asked you what you valued most about being human I would guess it would be the incredible awareness we call consciousness. So, that which is central in importance finds itself in the Mythos. You said, " But logos could not assuage human grief or give people intimations that their lives had meaning. For that they turned to mythos, an early form of psychology, which dealt with the more elusive aspects of human experience."

Thanks for the compliment, dhavid. You're always so kind to me. However, while I would love to claim ownership of the quote, above, I cannot claim it is mine—it is Karen Armstrong's! And, yes, that is quite a brain, indeed. (You must have been scanning the text. I do that sometimes too and miss things.)

As for what I most value about being human —as opposed to...what?— it might not be consciousness, depending on what you mean by consciousness. Sometimes I like the dream state pretty well; but I’m guessing you’re referring to what some folks call “cosmic consciousness,” the one arrived at by meditation, certain mushrooms, drugs, and/or opening up your mail and finding a check for $50,000, which usually puts you in a pretty good mood. Anyway, all silliness aside, we've exchanged ideas on this before, so I have some understanding of your viewpoint, with regard to Oneness, etc., but I doubt I understand what that means, since I've never been there, at least not quite. As Karen Armstrong says, religion is not about belief; it’s about practice—the more you practice the teachings and rituals, the closer you come to knowing.

Then you, dhavid, say, "It sounds like people invented Mythos basically to make them feel better, and give meaning to their lives. This implies fabrication, rather than the dicovery of what is. Mythos, with a valid underlying fabric, can be a guiding and valid factor in life. It can be life itself. So Logos and Mythos are both needed, it depends on how we value them." And I'm not sure I understand what you mean by "valid underlying fabric." Are you speaking of the god thing? Maybe an example would help.

I like Dawkins tremendously, even though he seems unappreciative of mythos, from Karen Armstrong's point of view, and how myths could function —if religious people could let go of their insane literalism— as art does, as poetry does, as love does, not as literal truths, but as meaning, to give our lives richness and depth in the feeling realm. Having said that much, I must say I am in Dawkins’ camp, since most religious people take myth literally and send the rest of us off to find our baseball bats. And I do not think he has an axe to grind, so much as he would like to dispel ignorance. He is a scientist, and a very good guy, handsome, and never suffers fools.

Peace to you too, dhavid, but please don’t talk to me about “the fall” in terms of praise. As myths go, that one caused more problems for women throughout history than any other myth, and it continues to infect our culture with its misogynistic message to this day. As far as I’m concerned, those nice little ol’ Jewish guys sitting around being “honest” were just a pack of patriarchal poops who couldn’t tell their —fill in the blank— from their —fill in the blank. Don’t get me started.

As for my "spiritual" leanings, I would say my inner child is a theist; my inner artist is an iconoclast; my inner socialist is an atheist; my inner feminist is a flyng monkey. That almost covers it. Almost.

NL: I didn’t see your comment to the “Ideal Culture” post until just a little while ago. I checked it a number of times but didn’t see it, maybe because somehow I kept getting the old page— dunno. But thanks for that; I probably don’t have much to add, but I can think of one thing I want to say, so you'll probably see that soon, after I pick up my mail, have dinner, and whatever else.

dhavid 8 years 32 weeks ago
#14

Zenzoe, when I wrote, "Hi zenzoe, I enjoy your intelligence. It must be quite intense inside that brain of yours!" I was referring to what I had already gathered from your former posts. I knew that was a quote of KA you were agreeing with.

I never realized the creation myth from your perspective until now. Now I've learned something. I completely agree with you.

When I said "Mythos, with a valid underlying fabric, can be a guiding and valid factor in life" I am implying that some spiritualities, like that mythos, are BS; and at the same time that others can lead to another, deeper reality which can transform one. I guess it's the god thing, as you say.

Peace zenzoe - always enjoy our interactions, even when we don't agree.

Zenzoe 8 years 32 weeks ago
#15
Quote dhavid:

Peace zenzoe - always enjoy our interactions, even when we don't agree.

Thanks, so much, dhavid. Me too.

Natural Lefty's picture
Natural Lefty 8 years 32 weeks ago
#16

Mememine, when I said I have been subject to too many fundamentalist sermons, I meant unwillingly, which I suspect is the case for many people. And I am an honest person, so I refuse to participate dishonestly as though I were a believer, so I catch some flack for that sometimes.

Zenzoe, I made two replies to the Ideal Culture post, numbers 14 and 15. Are you saying that they did not show on your computer. I checked the post, and they show on mine. I was in a hurry the first time, and mentioned why, but the second one, I mentioned that I had heard Noam Chomsky on the radio that morning, then gave a detailed reply.

Dang it, why is it always other people who find those $50,000 wads of money? Well, I don't really believe in money, anyway.

Dhavid, didn't mean to ignore you, but my wife was calling me for more "honeydo's" again. I would say, if you study world history in an unbiased way, that people are far more humane and civilized as a whole now than they were in the past, although some cultures were exceptions. Also, I don't believe we are the result of selection for the best killers. The evidence is that we are the result of selection for the most intelligent, best communicators, and most importantly, the best nurturers and cooperators. If you want to see some really brutal killers, look at the behavior of our cousins, the common chimp, who engage frequently in murder, infanticide and cannibalism. On the other hand, Bonabo Chimps, to whom we are most closely related, are peaceful, hippie like animals with matriarchal societies. (The common chimps are patriarchal and the adult males as usual cause most of the trouble.)

Brian_S's picture
Brian_S 8 years 32 weeks ago
#17
Quote dhavid: I would categorize atheism as foolish because it denies the possibility of a Creator... To deny the possibility can only stand on a firm philosophical foundation, and there is none. This foundation would actually have to have an understanding of the very nature of the Universe, which no theoretical physicist would dare to claim. If your philosophical system allows for the possibility of a Creator or God, then, by definition, you must be agnostic. Agnosticism is not atheism, it simply says, "I don't know."

You are conflating two terms here without acknowledging their very important differences.

1) Agnosticism is a position on knowledge, but not belief.

2) Atheism is a position on belief, but not knowledge.

One may be an atheist without making any claim whatsoever about the potential for the existence of a deity. To say that oneself is an atheist, is to only acknowledge that they do not possess a belief in any god-theory or supernatural deity. This must not be confused with claiming that no such deity can or cannot exist. To make such an assertion, one must have knowledge of the probabilities and evidence which indicate the likelihood of the deity in question. With this evidence in hand, an individual must take their position of knowledge on the issue - Agnostic or Gnostic.

So a clear distinction may now be drawn. Theists and atheists may be either agnostic or gnostic.

Gnostic Theists: Both believe in a diety, and claim to know that it exists.
Agnostic Theists: Tend to believe in a deity, but recognize that they have no way of knowing for sure if it exists.

Gnostic Atheists: Do not believe in a deity, and claim to know that none exists. Such individuals may contend that "no god exists," in the way that you have labeled as "foolish" in your message. I agree that this could be foolish, but it isn't every likely to be.
Agnostic Atheists (the vast majority): Do not believe in a deity, but recognize that they have no way of knowing for sure if it exists.

Far and wide, atheists fall into the agnostic atheist category. This is often because they generally understand science and it's applications (but also it's implicit limitations). There is no way to be certain through science, but only to minimize uncertainty to the point of reasonably accepting a conclusion. The same stance can be taken in regard to supernaturalism/deities. The burden of proof rests on those making a claim - In this case that claim is a god exists. Atheists reject the claim on the grounds of insufficient evidence, but most also recognize that we don't have proof-positive of the non-existence of god. As such they are agnostic atheists.

It is too easy to say that all atheists "believe no god exists," but this would be inaccurate. We don't believe in any gods which have been presented, but are generally open to the possibility if it can be supported. Belief without evidence is the foundation of faith, and this is perhaps one of the most dangerous forces in history.

You don't believe in Apollo or Zeus or Mithra or [insert mythological deity here], do you? If not, you are an atheist with respect to those deities. You must understand that most atheists view your chosen deity in the same way. In general, people must also recognize that if they are "unsure" or "haven't made up their mind," that they are de facto atheists. They lack belief in the deity which they are unsure about.

I hope this helps clarify matters.

Regards to all,

Brian

dhavid 8 years 32 weeks ago
#18

Hi Brian, you wrote, "It is too easy to say that all atheists "believe no god exists," but this would be inaccurate."

I love words, and especially their roots/origins. The root - "a "- from the greek is - "without." Not "possibly without, or "probably without." That would be another word. So to me your agnostic atheist is really only an agnostic. Therefore, I stand by my former post.

savroD's picture
savroD 8 years 32 weeks ago
#19

You are absolutely wrong....

ATHEISM has nothing to do with belief. THERE IS NO EVIDENCE FOR GOD!

You only call it a belief so you can discard it and feel good about yourself!

And, you and others here still don't understand the difference between Belief, No Belief, and zero belief!

Cite what you will but your reasonings are circular and infantile!

savroD's picture
savroD 8 years 32 weeks ago
#20

There is a possibility if I throw parts of a broken glass on the ground, they will spontaneously reassemble. You can believe that. You can derive the mathmatical probablility; however, It's just not going to happen! That is not a belief. It's an observation! A person who doesn't have evidence isn't "NECESSARILY" an Atheist.

Man created spirituality and god. The reasons can be scientifically addresssed and put to bed. That is, all except for the folks who like to rationalize their beliefs, superstition!

Brian_S's picture
Brian_S 8 years 32 weeks ago
#21

Dhavid,

I'm sorry that we don't quite see eye to eye on this. Perhaps I didn't explain myself clearly.

You stated quite clearly exactly what my position was. A-theism does mean without belief. The introduction of "possibly" comes from the stance one takes on knowledge. Therefore one is either an agnostic atheist, or a gnostic atheist. They either "know" that there is no god (no possibility according to their knowledge), or recognize that they do not know (the possibility exists).

I'm not trying to get into a shouting match here, but these are the accurate uses of the contemporary vernacular on the matter.

One cannot simply be an "agnostic" without having their agnosticism relate to something. I can't honestly just be agnostic on the issue of god, because as soon as I question the likelihood of god, I I cannot honestly say that I believe. Therefore I would be a de facto agnostic atheist.

There is a stigma attached to the word atheism for some reason, and it drives people away from recognizing what it truly means. Instead, many will apply completely ambiguous terms such as "agnosticism" to define their stances on belief. This simply is not accurate as described in my previous post, as agnosticism is only a stance on knowledge. This can support one's belief or disbelief, but is not a position on belief itself.

Again, atheism is a position on one's acceptance of the notion of god(s). Specifically it is the lack of belief in god(s) due to the rejection of claims made to the existence of god(s) due to insufficient evidence or illogical reasoning.

It is disingenuous and dishonest to affix your interpretation of atheism to all atheists without first understanding what the position of atheism really states. Please try to understand this, and let me know if I can elaborate further.

Regards,

Brian

dhavid 8 years 32 weeks ago
#22

savroD said, "Atheists have no evidence; therefore there is "ZERO" belief. That is not a belief. It's called REASONING." I think I understand your concept of zero belief. It is not an issue of negation - there is no evidence, and therefore probably no questions. And you call this reasoning.

On the nature of the Universe let me see if your "reasoning" goes something like this: Giving credence to science let us say the Universe is approximately 12.75 billion years old. The Big Bang Theory is still in vogue, so let us use it as a basis of what is. So, first there was nothing, and out of nothing came something. From this massive explosion matter was created, stars, planets, and all the rest. Without a Creator there would be no consciousness, or order in this exploding matter. So we would have matter, in a quite basic form. Since you don"t believe in a Creator, then you must believe that out of this chaos came order, and out of what would have been no-consciousness came consciousness, and from ameboid-like consciousness all animal and human cifferentiation just happened; that by pure chance this world, in all of it's complexity and beauty, just happened out of literally nothing. The allowance of the possibility of a timeless, conscious foundation falls in the domain of the agnostic.

So if this is what you call "reasoning" - then we might have differences in our understanding of what "reason" actually is, as what I just described seems quite unreasonable to me.

dhavid 8 years 32 weeks ago
#23

Brian times have probably changed. I learned the term agnostic as defined by the dictionary:(–noun a person who holds that the existence of the ultimate cause, as god, and the essential nature of things are unknown and unknowable, or that human knowledge is limited to experience.) and used the word to stand by itself, when I was studying such in 1975 at a Seminary. Your categorization of agnostic and gnostic atheists is congruent with mine, and the dictionarys. To me it is different ways of describing the same thing. And so, to restate my perspective in your terminology:

Agnostic atheism is reasonable, gnostic atheism is not.

kleppermaster's picture
kleppermaster 8 years 32 weeks ago
#24

Brian,

I think of myself as an Atheist pure and simple. I do not believe there is a supernatural deity. I have studied the scientific and mathematical models that explain the possibility for a spontaneous, no cause for an effect initiation of a big bang beginning for what we know as the universe. The big bang is by definition a singularity. One of the fundamental properties of a singularity is that what exists before can in no way affect what exists after. The most obvious implication of this is this; If god existed before the big bang she could have no affect on the outcome. If god came after the big bang, god is a product of it and therefore did not create the universe.

However, perhaps I am an agnostic. I keep an open mind. If a believer in the supernatural can provide evidence in the form of a repeatable, universal experiment that could falsify their hypothesis that there is a supernatural deity, but does not I would be convinced. Such an experiment would not be difficult to design if there in fact were a supernatural deity.

Example:

A fundamentalist acquaintance of mine once told me of a friend of his that had a dog that died. She prayed (I assume to the god of Abraham), and the dog came back to life.

I said: That sounds like a great experiment. Give her a call and have her bring her dog over to my lab. I will get a vet to come over and give the dog a lethal injection. Then once the vet has verified the dog is indeed dead she can pray to her god. If the dog comes back to life I will sit up and take notice.

Strangely, he wasn't even willing to place the call to ask her. Very odd! A perfect opportunity to prove the existence of God.

The problem is nothing fails like prayer.

Peace

Jim

dhavid 8 years 32 weeks ago
#25

kleppermaster, you wrote, " The big bang is by definition a singularity. One of the fundamental properties of a singularity is that what exists before can in no way affect what exists after. The most obvious implication of this is this; If god existed before the big bang she could have no affect on the outcome. If god came after the big bang, god is a product of it and therefore did not create the universe."

In your statement you are saying that you understand the relationship between god, time, and creation. There are many schools and many views on this topic. Few philosophers would dare to be so bold. Even Hawking is left hanging. All kinds of outrageous statements here from you. What if the Creator has nothing to do with time, or creation, or destruction but remains, untouched, "beneath" them all? Part, yet separate? Your authoritative statements simply have no grounds, at all.

kleppermaster's picture
kleppermaster 8 years 32 weeks ago
#26

dhavid,

Until you have a sound understanding of the workings of quantum mechanics you are not in a position to say my statements have no grounds. I'll admit the study of quantum mechanics isn't for everyone. In fact it requires a significant rewiring of the brain (that is if you have already wired your brain to understand Newtonian Physics and General Relativity as I have).

However the conclusions of quantum mechanics are (once understood) are unavoidable. On the quantum level at plank length, mass & time, an effect does not necessarily have to have a cause. And so it must be for ultimately if a cause is required for every event and God is the cause of the universe, What is the cause of God? In other words, if the standard by which you measure legitimacy requires all events to have a cause, then that same standard must be applied universally to all including God or you are operating on flawed logic.

Furthermore, I must point out the obvious. Quantum Mechanics must work as we understand it or we would not be communicating with each other using computers. After-all, electrons are operating at plank length, mass and time. I've often wondered if this isn't the reason my computer behaves the way it does sometimes.

All I'm saying is I am operating on a hypothesis of how the universe began (without first cause). So far all experiments have supported this hypothesis. However, I could be wrong.

Prove it!

If you propose an extraordinary hypothesis (like say God exists) then it's up to you to produce extraordinary evidence to support it. So far I haven't seen the goods. On the other hand, evidence abounds for the no god required hypothesis.

My mind remains open, I only wish your were too.

Peace,

Jim

dhavid 8 years 32 weeks ago
#27

Homey don't play this game. Jim, i think you live so much in thought you probably have trouble sleeping. Your rigid assertions, and secondhand knowledge are a flam. You have been fooled by Western thought into believing that rational thought is the only form of proof of anything. I doubt you know anything about intuitive knowledge - a knowledge not springing from thought. It seems your world has been dead and empty of spiritual reality, so you assume the same for others. It ain't so. But homey don't play this game.

Adios.

Zenzoe 8 years 32 weeks ago
#28

Hm-m-m...I hope dhavid isn't gone. I'd hoped he might help with the following, which I wrote earlier in the day:

I sometimes think atheism requires the greatest of all faith. The atheist is no coward, but instead looks straight at the terror of mortality, faces whatever cruel events and losses come along in life, and refuses to seek refuge in gods or transcendence or any sort of supernaturalism. Such bravery seems very much about faith—faith in life, faith in the laws of nature, of biology, of physics, of the luck of the draw.

I’m afraid I do not have such faith, not deeply. I might pretend to be an atheist on my good days, my confident days, but, faced with a terrible medical diagnosis, you can believe I will revert immediately to my childhood beliefs and tuck myself into the arms of Jesus, if you know what I mean. I won’t pray, but I will comfort myself there. It is not rational. It is a fantasy based on myth, I know. But there you are; and there I will be. Also, given my practice of meditation, I sometimes imagine I’ve come to understand just how safe I am, since there is no division between myself and the universe (don’t know how to say this). When I die, I will simply return to where I was before I was conceived, which is nowhere and everywhere. But then I “wake up,” and realize I’ve probably been tripping via the same brain-wiring folks have been tripping on since the beginning of human existence on the planet.

So, you see, I don’t even have the courage dhavid has to stand by his religious insights.

If I were to decide the god question for myself, it might go like this: The human mind is wholly inadequate to comprehend “god,” which may not be a deity at all, but which may be so beyond human understanding, so immense and so extra-ordinary (hyphen intended), that it’s really pointless to believe or not believe. We simply don’t know what it is we are being asked to believe in, or reject. It would be like expecting a dog to notice the paintings on the wall, were a dog to walk through the Louvre. Sorry, but don’t even bother.

My question is this: What would you call a belief where the definition of god includes all the laws of physics, all the mysteries of the universe, quantum mechanics, the laws and systems of biology, dark matter, etc., but not to say some deity created those things, but to say the forces that drive life, reality, creation—everything—are somehow IT, but we are simply too limited to comprehend it? (I don’t think that would be the same thing as Creationism, because this definition does not include a deity, or Creator.) And, if that were the definition of god, could an atheist then be open to the notion?

savroD's picture
savroD 8 years 32 weeks ago
#29

OK.... but could man have created god?

savroD's picture
savroD 8 years 32 weeks ago
#30

If you can't see what your doing with words, and trying to pass it off as reason, then we cannot communicate. Your examplea are silly and illogical!

Sorry!

Zenzoe 8 years 32 weeks ago
#31
Quote savroD:

If you can't see what your doing with words, and trying to pass it off as reason, then we cannot communicate. Your examplea are silly and illogical!

Sorry!

First of all, who is "you?" Who is SavroD addressing? Does he ever bother to address a person, or just an anonymous you? I get confused every time he comments on someone else's comment, partly because, with all due respect, his sentences seem so disjointed and full of non-sequiturs. (his original post was quite good, so I don't know what happened after that)

Regardless, let me assume he is talking to me, and he is unhappy with my last comment, where I admit to my lack of certainty with regard to religion. Well, it's okay with me if he wants to think what I said was "silly and illogical." Heck, I am a woman, so that's my prerogative, is it not? Or is it just very very difficult for SavroD to follow my thoughts, because he is so stuck in his own mind-set, or out of touch with his own feelings, he is unable to let go for a moment and look at things from another person's viewpoint? Who knows?

Next time, it might help if you, SavroD, would refer to people by name, and make references with quotes, so that others know what you're talking about. Just a suggestion.

Anyway, I think a bit of "silly and illogical" is a wonderful thing. SavroD should try it sometime.

dhavid 8 years 32 weeks ago
#32

Zenzoe said," but not to say some deity created those things, but to say the forces that drive life, reality, creation—everything—are somehow IT, but we are simply too limited to comprehend it? " I will share with you a writing i have pasted to my wall by my bed. Probably because when i read it it struck me, and i knew it was important. It is from the Upanishads, but is an older quote within that ancient text. It goes something like this: It is written, "Before the Universe came into existence Brahman existed as the Unmanifest. From the Unmanifest he created the Manifest, from Himself he brought forth Himself. Hence, He is known as the Self-Existent.....He it is that gives joy."

The argument that random creation, however well spun, could create us and this world, even by some astronomical string of chance, is illogical. In my mind Conscious/God/Creator must precede matter, and creation. The creation with all its beauty and complexity is an outpouring of the same, and the idea of it "just happening" is beyond giving any real thought to, as it is just way too absurd. And I am aware that people think that I am absurd. Peace

Zenzoe 8 years 32 weeks ago
#33

Dhavid, after reading your comment, I had to go to Karen Armstrong’s book, A History of God, to get definitions for some of the words you used. You will be happy to know that in reading three pages, beginning at, “The gods were no longer very important in India” (you can read it here: Armstrong), I had a small epiphany, small, because I don’t yet claim to know anything. Suffice it to say, I was struck by how much sense the notion of “Brahman” made to me, at least by Armstrong’s discussion of it. I think you must have recognized my leaning in that direction in my questionings and the state of my spirituality.

My problem is my “silly and illogical” side, that is, my sense of humor. Thus, it’s nearly impossible for me to adopt any religion as my own, because I can’t block my inner Woody Allen from ridiculing the self-serious rhetoric of religious authority. So that, while I appreciate the insights, and I am grateful to know there is a religion that sees creation along the lines of my own perceptions, I cannot go whole hog with it, without feeling trapped in that humorless rhetoric. I simply must make fun of it, which is my way of being authentic and true to my whole self.

As for the insistence on “logic” on the part of some atheists, I must quote Karen Armstrong again, text which comes after her explanation that “Hindus and Buddhists sought new ways to transcend the gods, to go beyond them.” She writes, “Like the gods, reason is not denied but transcended. The experience of Brahman or Atman cannot be explained rationally any more than a piece of music or a poem. Intelligence is necessary for the making of such a work of art and its appreciation, but it offers an experience that goes beyond the purely logical or cerebral faculty.” This goes to the essential flaw in the position of some atheists—their denial of other aspects of the human mind, beyond logic and science, namely, art, poetry, and, yes, religion. As much as I appreciate atheists and their position, their flaw is in their inability to see metaphor as intelligence. In short, they are narrow-minded, in the metaphorical sense. :-)

dhavid 8 years 32 weeks ago
#34

Hear, hear, let's make a pledge to always honor the inner Woody Allen to ridicule the pomp and circumstance, the authority, the antiquated creation story that trashes women. and all the slimey stuff religion is always made of, while at the same time holding a profound reverence for the sacred, which is always around us, and gives us our every breath.

Zenzoe 8 years 32 weeks ago
#35

;-)

Quote dhavid:

Hear, hear....our every breath.

Lordy Lordy Hallelujah!

Quote Woody Allen:
From Getting Even: “If God is everywhere, I had concluded, then He is in food. Therefore, the more I ate the godlier I would become. Impelled by this new religious fervor, I glutted myself like a fanatic. In six months, I was the holiest of holies, with a heart entirely devoted to my prayers and a stomach that crossed the state line by itself.” To reduce would have been folly -- “even a sin!”

Praise be to all...&, yes, peace.

Brian_S's picture
Brian_S 8 years 32 weeks ago
#36

I think we can all agree on Mr. Allen's insight. Haha, thanks for the share.

kleppermaster's picture
kleppermaster 8 years 32 weeks ago
#37
Quote dhavid:

Homey don't play this game. Jim, i think you live so much in thought you probably have trouble sleeping. Your rigid assertions, and secondhand knowledge are a flam. You have been fooled by Western thought into believing that rational thought is the only form of proof of anything. I doubt you know anything about intuitive knowledge - a knowledge not springing from thought. It seems your world has been dead and empty of spiritual reality, so you assume the same for others. It ain't so. But homey don't play this game.

Adios.

dhavid,

I just thought I would give you a little bit of info on my background and life:

I was born in 1958 in a small farming community in the bible belt, the son of a Presbyterian mother and a hard line fundamentalist father. My older brother and I were raised fundamentalist under the thumb of our father. My brother alas is an irredeemable fundamentalist. Fortunately, my mothers parents saw the damage my father was causing to my brothers education and mind. I stayed at their farm every summer for a couple weeks (100 miles from my home, well away from the power of my father).

My Grandmother and Grandfather spent much time and effort teaching me not what to think, but how to think. I suspect they tried this with my brother as well but before they realized what was going amiss in our home it was too late for him. He remains till this day a evangelical fundamentalist christian and a close listener of the likes of Rush Limbaugh. It's a shame, He has a fine intelligent brain capable of learning languages easily. He speaks fluently perhaps 5 languages including 1 or 2 spoken in Afghanistan and Iraq. A mind is indeed a terrible thing to waste!

My Grandparents played games with me and coached me in debate. They helped me learn to read and listen critically.

With this skill in hand at the age of 10, I sat down and read the Bible. I said to myself; Huh? I don't get it? So I flipped it over and read it again. It still made no sense; logical, moral or otherwise. It wasn't even self consistent! So I went to the preacher of the church my father made us attend and asked him some questions. His response was "Run along little boy and don't ask any more of those questions"

Imagine, My first step down the road to atheism was reading the bible. I wonder if my father and brother have ever read it straight through. Have you?

I have since read the Torah, the Koran, the Bhagavad Gita and Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance.

Reading with a critical mind as I do, I find that if treated as philosophy rather than religion & law they all have lessons worth learning. If only to better understand other members of your own species.

True I have studied the concepts of western philosophy, logic, science, physics and mathematics. I have collected two undergraduate degrees and have been married to the same woman for over 30 years. I loved learning to be a Mechanical Engineer but I never liked actually being a Mechanical Engineer. They don't hire an Engineer for what they are going to learn but for what they already know. If I don't learn something new every day, my feet start to itch. My record was a position on the academic staff at a big 10 University. I designed, built, maintained & operated ice core drilling equipment. I've been to Antarctica 4 times and twice spent 3 months living in a tent there. I loved the field work, not the office. I resigned last year, and now work at the a Food Cooperative. Lower pay & lower stress. It's better to be happy than rich.

I am a pacifist/atheist. I've been a Bicycle Mechanic, Journeyman Machinist, Cabinet maker, Plumber, Electrician, stained glass artist, musician......

I can't stand still. ADD pushes me farther and harder than anything else in my life. Currently for recreation I am studying Quantum Mechanics. I don't know it by rote yet, but I have re-wired to the point it's starting to make sense.

Until Quantum Mechanics, I have spent very little of my time in my own mind. I have taken excursions into my mind only a few times in my life. Those were when I was reading the books I mentioned previously, General Relativity & now Quantum Mechanics.

One more point:

A singularity in Mathematics is like this:

If y=f(x) (or y is a function of x)

If f(x) is plotted on an x-y countenance

If the plot of f(x) becomes asymptotic to a vertical line

Then a singularity exists in f(x).

If this happens in a computer it's referred to as a divide by 0 error.

What do you get when you divide something by nothing Infinity!

Peace,

Jim

dhavid 8 years 32 weeks ago
#38

Jim, if you are saying that this mathwork on singularity is related to knowing the nature of god and it's relation to the big bang, and which side you are on I think you might need a little more background/understanding of how you attained your conclusions. Sounds crazy, but you said, "The big bang is by definition a singularity. One of the fundamental properties of a singularity is that what exists before can in no way affect what exists after. The most obvious implication of this is this; If god existed before the big bang she could have no affect on the outcome. If god came after the big bang, god is a product of it and therefore did not create the universe." Wild claims. What if God exists beyond the opposites of the big bang,or even time itself, or within both "sides", or none of the above?

To carry on with your thesis, a sort of an acausal beginning principle, still begs the point I made earlier, "On the nature of the Universe let me see if your "reasoning" goes something like this: Giving credence to science let us say the Universe is approximately 12.75 billion years old. The Big Bang Theory is still in vogue, so let us use it as a basis of what is. So, first there was nothing, and out of nothing came something. From this massive explosion matter was created, stars, planets, and all the rest. Without a Creator there would be no consciousness, or order in this exploding matter. So we would have matter, in a quite basic form. Since you don"t believe in a Creator, then you must believe that out of this chaos came order, and out of what would have been no-consciousness came consciousness, and from ameboid-like consciousness all animal and human cifferentiation just happened; that by pure chance this world, in all of it's complexity and beauty, just happened out of literally nothing."

Before your feet are set in stone (maybe too late) you might investigate an apparently little known and trusted attribute of the human psyche, often associated with silence, and meditation - It changed my life years ago in how i see things. It is called intuition.

.

kleppermaster's picture
kleppermaster 8 years 32 weeks ago
#39

Zenzoe,

Thank-you for giving me a review on this. I respect your views. I like to keep my head on a swivel to learn as much each day as I can. I look at myself as a part of the universe and my consciousness is a wonderful experience. When on a bus I am not a zombie like the other riders. I am constantly looking around at my surroundings and the sights going by. I am aware of every instant of my existence and taking in information and processing it.

Each breath is one of wonder... to be alive.... to be aware...to love..... experience..

There is that last mystery awaiting...

To live in a Universe calculated to be around 13.7 Billion years old. Calculated by the rate of expansion. At this rate given it's acceleration rate how long ago would everything in the universe be in the same place?

To live in a time when experiments using great telescopes that can see back in time, How far away are the most distant objects we can observe? Around 13.3 Billion light-years away.

Wouldn't 20 billion light-years be an interesting experimental outcome. It would take longer for the light from such a distant object toi reach us than the universe is old.

So the edge of the universe is 13-some billion light-years away? I'm not so sure. If I were on an object 13 billion light years away, I could see objects that same distance away in all directions. So how big is the universe anyway. Infinite I think. I don't know.

Peace,

Jim

Natural Lefty's picture
Natural Lefty 8 years 32 weeks ago
#40

I agree with Zenzoe that being an atheist requires strength which other positions on the God question don't require, especially when those of faith pummel them as infidels. My mom is one of those atheists. I think my dad is more of an agnostic or "agnostic deist" in terms of the 4 categories discussed in this thread, and so am I. Furthermore, I think that being an atheist places responsibility for one's life firmly on the individual, so there is much to admire about atheists in my opinion, although the information in this thread is a bit confusing. I didn't know that (according to Brian S.) atheists can also be agnostic. It seems to me that an atheist is someone who has decided that there definitely is no deity. I find that the most radical atheists, in any case, are usually the disillusioned who were raised as religious fundamentalists.

Kleppermaster, you have some interesting ideas. I also have to question your conclusions, though. When it comes to religion, I have to consider it the case that no one is truly an authority. If we talk about subatomic particles, and extend that to the entire universe, there are many ways to go wrong in such huge extrapolations. Personally, I have always linked the seeming willfullness of subatomic particle to free will. They act as though they have a mind of their own -- so maybe they do, in a sense. As Dhavid said elsewhere, the way he sees it, either nothing is alive, or everything is alive. Since we are clearly alive, it's everything. I tend to agree, which gives us a basis for animism, pantheism, universal consciousness, and all that good stuff. Why couldn't the universe iteslf make up it's own mind? Perhaps that is what happened in the "singularity" that the Big Bang has been extrapolated to have been. Personally, I think that the universe must be infinite too, so I agree with you about that, Kleppermaster. However, many physicists have been postulating in recent years that the observable universe in which we live is but one of infinitely many. Now, that's mind boggling! I say that as a person who also likes to boggle his mind and always learn something new, or at least think about something big.

kleppermaster's picture
kleppermaster 8 years 32 weeks ago
#41

Natural Lefty,

Thanks,

I've looked at this thing from so many different angles and for so long I have reached a point where I have to say; Just how much do you have to swallow to believe what you believe.

If you are a christian you have to have faith in some pretty silly things. Like talking snakes, virgin births and coming back to life three days after confirmed death. And all this with a press corp so incompetent the biographers of Jesus can't agree on what happened the last week of his life.

As an Atheist and one that studies science I like the simplicity of only having to take on faith the concepts of zero and one (something or nothing). Everything we understand about the place we live (the universe) is a logical extension from those two concepts.

It starts out a little slow. It took some 300+ pages of logical wallpaper to prove logically that 1+1=2. After that things picked up.

1+1+1=3 or 1+2=3

there are 2 way to get to infinity. One is to count your way there the other is to do this:

One divided by zero equals infinity.

Dhavid talked about the chaos of the big bag becoming orderly. I think he has it backwards. It's more likely infinate order was distroyed in the big bang and the universe has been in a state of increacing entropy ever since. After all there is the second law of thermodynamics we must all come to terms with. Alas, no perpetual motion machines in this universe.

The Greek philosiphers invented logic, but they wern't real big on experimentation. Dreaming all this stuff up, but never testing it with a real life experiment seems kind of strange to me. I think we are moving back in that direction with string theory. It all sounds nice in 10 dimentions, but you just can't run any experiments on it. In order to see the effects of a string we would need a particle accelorator the size of our galaxy. I don't think congress will be forthoming with the funding for anything that expensive soon.

Peace,

Jim

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