Reason religionand the absence of either

I have dealt with the holistic health nuts and conspiracy theorists my whole life. I can rationally observe and scientifically proove that ingesting urine has no health benefit. I cannot proove there is no God. I have mentioned that, as per Occam's Razor, it is easier for me to concieve of the universe where Diety is part of the equation.

Interesting argument Erik. I see your point and understand where you are coming from. This is why I value debate with a diversity of viewpoints. If you will though, allow me to state that I myself,work in stages. First and formost I believe in Diety. The exact nature and identity of diety, I cannot prove. But existance itself, to me, is proof that there is something with a divine will out there. I can go further, but that is not my point here.

By demonstating a belief in Divinity and leaving the rest open to debate, I find common ground with many people; Jews, Moslems, Buddists, Wiccans, Neo-Pagans, and many more. I take further steps, using reason and philosophy to deduce what i figure the nature of Divinity must be. My steps then proceed to Monotheism, Abrahmic traditions, then Christianity. I have a Greek Orthodox background and Protestant influences, but I am developing an interest and respect for Catholocism (they don't play with snakes, drink urine, or have epileptic seizures; so they are a step ahead of a lot of home grown American religions).

As for Atheism, I identify two general types. The passive atheists simply don't believe in God. They just don't, but it isn't a big deal to them. They don't attack others beliefs, and only get onery when they themselves feel attacked. But there is another breed of atheist, who rabidly insists on prooving to everyone that there is no God, whose intolorance for diversity makes me sympathetic towards other religions not my own. That second type of atheism is what I call a religion, and is based more on faith then on reason. My whole point is that Reason and Religion are not mutually exclusive, and that the sword has a double edge.

Agnosticism and atheism address different questions. Atheists do not believe in gods, while agnostics do not believe gods can be shown to exist. It is possible to be an agnostic theist, someone who does not believe their gods can be proven, but believes in them anyway.


I myself felt no discomfort, but if others are uncomfortable I will end my part in this right now :slight_smile:

Vote Cthullu in 08! Why choose a lesser evil?

I strongly suspect that you're wrong about most Atheists that you've encountered. Atheists make up a very large proportion of the population of the US (I see that you're from Chicago) here's the first source I came across, ... merica.htm it says ~12% about allowing that there is some uncertainty in the numbers and that it only reports adult atheists you'd still think that you'd find about 20 million US adults that don't believe in god. Athieists aren't particularly rare. Yet atheist organizations like the Humanists, Freedom from religion foundation and American Atheists are quite small. This seems to indicate that Atheists don't in fact get together. Certainly on the web you'll see a great confluence of whiney former Christians but that's the nature of the web. I speculate that the folks you see and hear attacking religion are the atheist equivalent of the crazy over the top religious folks that stand on street corners preaching to any who hear them.

You've never known most of the atheists you've met were in fact atheists. You've only noticed those who are upset about religion.

Now I'll go further off in to realms of speculation (because I can't back this up) and say that I'd bet that in some European countries where religion is not such a powerful political and social force as it is in the US that although the proportion of atheists is higher the amount of atheist activism and religion bashing that goes on is actually smaller.

In other words those religion bashers aren't bashing religion because of atheisim.

Being bound together by not believing in god is I'd imagine very similar to being bound together by not believing the Minnesota Vikings are the best team in the NFC North. Most folks who have the belief don't care much about it, but the culture that surrounds us does provide fertile ground for those people who want to ruffle the feathers of others to do so and feel self righteous.

Not tring to perpetuate the conversation. I just wanted to thank Erik Tyrell for his input. I also want to mention Erik, you see the precise division which I speak of. Most atheists are not the ones trying to take away my manger scene at city hall or dismantle the manorah display on Devon Avenue. Mosts atheists are rather independant and individualistic in their beliefs.

Um, does it discredit my manliness to admit I have no idea what NFC North means? I know a little bit about football. My policy is to memorize the name of whomever is the current coach of the Bears is, and when people start taking football, I say "that (insert name), he's no Ditka!", then I shut up and pretend to be smart as the debate rages around me.

However, to speak to your analogy, if this club that hates the Vikings had weeklu "Vikings Suck" meetings, then yes, they are bound together by a common belief and qualify for the strict Latin meaning of Religion. We have folks here that hate the Packers religiously, and Packer fans that feel the same about the bbears. It as if no other teams exist.

And I really hate football. White Sox Baseball, all the way (I think them Cubbies stink, and I will gladly join a Cubs Stink religion, :laughing: )

So then you'd agree that for all but a small proportion of Atheists Atheism is not a religion?

Also I've got to ask: my New shorter Oxford has six definitions of religion, my Webster's has four. None of these definitions come particularly close to your definition of "something that binds folks together". Did you have some motivation for specifically selecting an uncommon use of the word religion? From my perspective seems like you may well have chosen your definition just so you could "smear" atheists with the label (I realize that smear isn't the best word). Please set my concerns at ease.

I apologize for the misconception. Acquire a dictionary with an etemology. Religion comes from the Latin, and in Latin "To Bind Together" is what the word literally means.

You keep referring to Occam's Razor. You do realize that it doesn't mean that "we should believe what is easier for us to believe", but rather "one should not multiply ontological entities needlessly"? The point is that in our model (of how the world works, of how the specific physical system works, and so on) we should limit ourselves to the smallest amount of simple constituent types.

I'd like to hear further, if the forums allow it. (Not sure what the forum rules on allowed topics are in the General forum.) If you'd like to, we can take the argument elsewhere.

The reason I'm curious is that for me it's the opposite. I'm an extemist metaphysical naturalist. I just cannot concieve of a reality that is, fundamentally, unnatural. I can imagine us as creations of some entity, but this entiry and ourselves would still be naturally existing things. Reality seeps through.

Let me give an example: imagine that Simulanders in my computer are living in a virtual world that I have programmed. At one level, their reality is determined by the laws of physics that I have programmed into their virtual world, and these are the laws of physics they would discover, at least initially. But they are still actually made up of actual electrons, silicon, and so on, in our world. Our world's reality seeps through, our physics underlies their physics (and, to a limited extent, should hence be discoverable by them).

So, I can imagine us being a computer simulation or creation of another being, at a lower (baser) level of reality. But I cannot imagine that reality (or the reality further down and so on) to be unnatural. Reality seeps through, every level of it is as real as the rest and hence folllows the same rules, has the same underlying nature.

I'd note that I don't insist that everything has a distinct, finite, human-comprehensible nature. Rather, I insist that this is the best way, the only reasonable way, humans can think of reality. Another example: consider the geometry of a sphere. You can construct an axiomatic mathematical theory to describe it, using a finite set of axioms and using finite derivations to deduce geometrical truths. From Godel's incompleteness theorem we know that there would be geometrical truths this procedure will never aquire. Still, the only way to properly conduct the study of the spherical geometry is to set up mathematical axiomatic systems, conduct derivations, raise conjuectures, increase the number of axioms to other consistent ones, and so on. Likewise, the only reasonable way to conduct the study of reality is through naturalism. The description these human means provide us is not reality, there may be truths beyond our current description, and there may always be such truths - but this is the only way serious contemplation can abide. Doing non-axiomatic mathematics is just using bad, incosistent, math; considering unnatural things (things without a nature) is just doing bad, incoherent, philosophy.

I consider it valuable that people understand the world they live in. I think it's valuable to educate people that the earth revolves around the sun, that urine doesn't heal people, and so on - does that make me religous? It certainly "bind me together" with a lot of other people. I wouldn't call that religion, however; I think that's just misuing the word. Religion means a lot more, and a person can be very religous and not preachy in the least.

I'd like to prove people who are wrong wrong; I think it will be better for them, as thinking people, to be proven wrong, and I welcome anyone to prove me wrong. I'm not preaching on the pavement, but can't say I find trying to convince others is inappropriate in the right settings - such as this thread.

For the record, though, I do feel "attacked". I live in Israel, where I have to get married and divorced according to Jewish law; I had to go to another country to get married in a civil ceremony. I am not allowed to work on a Saturday, whereas non-Jews are. I am not allowed to raise pigs (though I don't want to, the mere fact that I'm barred from it is annoying). I must subject my child, when the time comes, to religous education (though, fortunately, in small dosages). Worse of all, others' belief in God and his Commandments are preventing me from enjoying many freedoms and forcing me to even support Jewish religous services (in taxes and in private purcahses). Not to mention the encouragement Islam grants to elements that actively seek to do me harm. I am not living in isolation, and the fact that others around me are believing theists is, I believe, to my detriment in many aspects.

Intolerance to diversity is bad. Trying to preach is not intolerance to diversity. Trying to impede free speech, which includes the right to try to convince others in your obnoxious positions, is intolerance. I have never shut down any religous person from advocating for his faith (in a polite, considerate and truthful manner), and expect people not to shut down any attempt to advocate for lack of faith.

We can agree on the second part of your point. At least for some swords.

:wink: :laughing:

I am not a member of any atheist organization (like the vast majority of atheists), so my acquintance with atheists is of course limited - but I've never even HEARD anyone make the claim that he knows, with certaininty, there is no god. I know for a fact Dawkins doesn't. The only gods against whom such claims are made are certain theological conceptions of God, which are argued to be inconsistent.

I, for one, believe that true faith is a morally-bad psychological state and that belief in God is an ignorant and generally harmful superstition. How does that make me intolerant? I may be wrong, but that doesn't make me intolerant.

There is nothing wrong in being opinionated, or judgemental. There is something wrong in pushing these opinions into a conversation when someone doesn't want to talk about it, it's impolite. What's really wrong is not tolerating others to have other opinions - shooting them down, spitting on them, beating them up, and so on for behaving or speaking against your opinion. Like me not being able to drive in certain roads for fear of being stones, or walking "immodestly" down certain streets for fear of being beaten and spitted on. That's inteloerance.

Yair, I admire and appreciate your desire to go further. I will respond later :slight_smile:

Yet the word's origins and the literal meaning of the word are not the same as how the word is used and the word's present meaning. I wasn't questioning the word's origins. I was asking your motivation for choosing to use an archaic meaning rather than a modern one.

I use archaic meanings for words all the time. They sit in my memory that way. I was not trying to be antagonistic in any way. I only wanted to point out that Reason and Religion are not exclusive. I do percieve organized atheism as having many of the characteristics of religion, but will humbly admit that this is just perception and opinion. My thesis statement, if I were to have one, is that Theism and Atheism both require Reason and Faith. If that offends you as an atheist I apologize. I play a game that has a fictionalized fantasy version of my own religion. Take it in perspective. I do not want to loose my Forum privileges over this matter, and I appreciate that you chose to split this thread off rather than shut it down.

And I honestly have a catalogue of archaic definitions that sit on the surface of my mind. Wizard means one who is wise. Reveal means to cover over again. I still use the word Amongst. I use the word Apology only if I am including an explanation (otherwise I just say sorry instead).

Sounds like a fine explaination to me I shant pursue the issue any further.

I do happen to be an atheist. Let me tell you how that statement could be considered to be offensive. (not that I think you meant it to be, it's pretty clear that you didn't))

I would like to believe that my atheism comes from a frank appraisal of the facts with little emotional bias (in fact my emotional bias is entirely theistic).

What possible meaning of Faith is compatible with a dispassionate appraisal of the phenomena that I’ve encountered? I can't think of one.

The accusation of faith is the accusation of a willingness to tilt the scales of judgment in favor of a desired answer. It's not what you said but it is a consequence of having faith -at least some ways that the word is often used.

Maybe, and I like this, but the previous definition isn't mine. AFAK, it is the definition of atheism, as you can see it in a dictionnary.

I can't say I believe in god, but, like marko said, too many atheists are as adamant about this as too many religious people, and I've grown tired of it, seeing no true difference between their attitudes: Both are convinced they have the One Truth, and can't accept people that believe differently.

This is where we differ :wink:

Although any good religion lies on both faith and science.
Like, I have faith that the Invisible Pink Unicorns are pink, but I logically know that they are invisible because I can't see them :wink:

You misread me.
I am not religious, and I actually hope that there is no god(s).

And yes, I make no real difference between belief in God or Odin.

And if they do exist, why should they imagine there aren't?

To take your urine comparison, we can prove it can't heal people. But we can't do the same thing with god(s). Just say that, so far, our science has no evidence of their existence.

But some people cling to it just as some religious cling to their religion, and are as unable to theorize a universe with a god as some religious are unable to theorize a universe without.

But can they say, with absolute certitude, that, for exemple, our world wasn't created just 10 years ago by a god, complete with false memories and geological data (and all)?

Nope. This is unprovable, while in the power of any omnipotent being.
This is comparable to saying aliens don't exist because we've never met one.

Thus, to me, the similarities between the two.

Yes, that's it. My point, too. Thanks.

Yes, I'd like to hear about this, too, for similar reasons.

:open_mouth: I'm sorry for you. This is bad.
Note that an almost reverse of facts would be about as bad: Don't allowing you to get a religious mariage, being forced to raise pigs, being unable to give a religious education to your child.

As per the work day and similar things, this is a point where, to me, the law of the state should supercede the religion, if the 2 aren't compatible. But then, I'm probably influenced by living in a laic country, and would probably feel different if living in a religious one.

From I found the following definitions from different sources. (largely because I'm too lazy to type out what I've got on my home dictionaries

What I was reacting to in your initial post is the requirement for an Atheist to be certain of their veracity. Here's your original quote

None of the definitions I found imply a requirement that the Atheist must believe that they can prove that there isn't a god.

I'm being defensive because Atheism has been attacked so frequently by apologists with the argument "well, they can't prove that there isn't a god, they've got as much faith as we do." and it's a poor argument based on a twisted and false concept of atheism. Your statement came close to doing this and I wanted to be clear about what atheism isn't .

If atheism required proof then it could not be rational, just as you said. Lots of people have claimed that atheism does require proof and is therefore an irrational belief, this is a false characterization.

Bleugh, I'm getting pulled into this again. The topic has changed, but I still worry that it isn't worth the aggravation it will undoubtedly cause. Ah, well, I guess I'll give it another go anyway. :slight_smile:

Come on, that's no answer. What good does it do a person to imagine that gods exist if they don't? How is this different from imagining that drinking your own urine will cure your cancer? Besides, it doesn't take imagination not to believe in something, especially when there is no evidence of it.

As the person hypothesising the phenomenon in question, you need to demonstrate some evidence for its existence before anyone has to take it seriously. I might imagine there are demons in my underwear and fairies in my garden, but it is absurd for me to insist that we have to leave the door open that they might actually exist without something more definite to go on. Belief is earned. No belief is the default position.

Hasn't this "gods" hypothesis been tested enough by now, though? At what point can we conclude that it is false? For example, we can say with enough certainty to make argument pointless that the weather is not controlled by immortal men and women living on the summit of Mount Olympos. A jolly fat man named Santa Claus does not bring the presents that I find under my tree every year. These things are simply not true, and sane people do not believe in them, however much they may take pleasure in pretending that they are.

Is this imaginary god in any way relevant, does it have any effect on our universe? If it does, then you can detect its influence and you can use that evidence to prove its existence. If it doesn't, how is that "existing" by any reasonable definition of the word? Why must I allow that this particular story might be true?

If everyone thought the same, we would get tired of talking to each other :laughing:

If you want to stay in this, I will too then. But let us all remember to be respectful of each other and be wary of the tendancy to be oversensative.

More to come later :smiley:

Yes indeed I do. I use Thomas Aquinas’ equation, every thing we can observe is the effect of a previous cause, which in turn has cause, and a cause before it, and so on. An infinite regression of causes makes no sense to me, so I figure whatever that first thing was, the Prime Mover, the Uncaused Cause, that is the identity of Deity.

I was going to port this over to the Berklist, but if since Mister Tyrell has been kind enough to split this thread off and keep it open, and since my esteemed peers seem willing to engage the topic in a polite and respectful manner, I shall participate here.

As a note: I use the word Deity to remain as neutral as possible. You can substitute Jesus, Jehovah, Erlik, Arioch, Odin, the Olympians, Markoko, Aerosmith, Ra, Mother Earth; whatever you wish. I am merely trying to demonstrate why, based on Reason alone, I believe in the Divine. Which god, gods, or goddesses are the truth, that is a matter of faith.

Anyway, as I said, I am greatly influenced by Thomas Aquinas, and the fact that modern science proves that there is indeed a start point to the universe, it simply makes all that much more sense to me. Existence is real, I can prove I exist, and I am willing to take the leap of faith that reality is not a figment of my imagination. Yes, I say it requires faith to accept any existence outside of ones self. I believe I exist, and I believe that the world around me is indeed real. I don’t want to get into quantum physics. Pantheistic Solipsism is fun, but that will dovetail us right back into belief-defines-reality.

I like Utilitarianism :slight_smile:. To me, accepting the world around me as reality has the most utility. Now, I know there is a start point to existence. I believe the Big Bang is more than theory, it is an observable fact. The universe is expanding, everything is red shifted. Without a doubt there is a start point to the universe. As far as I have been informed that is :slight_smile:. Now, I have two options. One is the conception of the universe as coming out of utter chaos. There is no meaning to anything save what we impose upon it with our great intelligence.

But wait, what is this Intelligence of ours? Are we automatons merely following a deterministic path? Then there truly is no meaning, even overman ethics are merely the natural process of spinning particles. I reject that hypothesis for two reasons. Foremost is that I am a Humanist. Yes, you can be a Theist and a Humanist. I myself believe that human intelligence, even animal intelligence demonstrates the existence of some form of Deity has passed on to us some attribute or is trying to manifest through existence. Secondly, and most importantly, the idea that all is chaos without purpose has no Utility. It doesn’t work. It doesn’t help live a life or build a society, it doesn’t have any cause or motivation, it offers no explanation or understanding, it has utterly no Utility.

But I know at the very least, unless I want to get all Cartesian, I know that I am not God. I can merely write down my mental process and I cannot Telepathically put my mind into someone else’s, nor can I absorb theirs into mine. I cannot perceive the world the way others do and they cannot perceive it the way I do. No two people have an identical understanding. I am not trying to say that, because of my argument, everyone who is logical must obviously believe in god. No, not at all. All I am trying to say is that the basic fundamental foundation of my Theism is based upon logical conclusions I have made while contemplating the issue with Reason.

Now back to Yair :smiley:

Yes, certainly. Understand that, what you may perceive as a belief in the Supernatural, I see as entirely natural. In my Paradigm (gasp! The “P” word!); whatever Deity chooses to do, no matter how fantastic it seems, it is by definition Natural because Deity is the author of all that is Nature. Deity cannot do anything that is unnatural because anything deity does is nature, and all works of nature are the works of deity.

Yes, that is the goal of theologians and scientists alike. I believe that, if we understood both of these things perfectly, then there would be no contradiction.

Not every level has the same underlying nature. I am made up of particles like the Sims are, this is true. But I am vastly more complex. I am more than just electrons, I have other particles, and my particles are arranged in more complicated patterns and arrayed in more dimensions. These aspects did not seep through to the Simulanders. And if the levels of reality go infinitely upward, then who even knows what deity is composed of. Perhaps the imagination of god is composed of particles, and it is Intelligence that is the aspect that has seeped through. I am a Humanist. I believe Human beings are a manifestation of a Divine Intelligence.

If what you are saying is that perceptual reality is the only reality worth considering or contemplating, I confess I vastly disagree with you. There are many things we can only perceive with advanced instruments, yet we had to first conceive of these things in order to create the instruments to search for them. Am I advocating we invent instruments to detect the evidence of deity? That would be interesting, some Ghostbusters Sons-of-Ether style stuff. Reminds me of a Heinlein story that I can’t remember :wink:

And as for unnatural things, I say again, the way I conceive of Deity, by the very definition it is nature. Where you and I fundamentally differ is that I do not consider the concept of deity unnatural at all. Rather the opposite really. Existence without Deity seem unnatural and makes no sense to me.

I have similar values, and I am actually very well grounded in science. And I am indeed misusing the word, I admitted that to Erik. It was not to antagonize. I am using an esoteric definition, and more so I was using it in the colloquial way. I forget that my word usage is obscure sometimes. My vocal language is not that way. I talk all slang and curse words and stuff. I am a bad person :frowning:

Brother, let me stop and praise you right here. Silence perpetuates ignorance. I love to share conflicting views. If everyone thought the same, we would get tired of talking to each other. I happen to think you are wrong, but I am not trying to convince or convert you. I agree with your view on free speech and discussion of ideas. This thread is appropriate to this game, and this is how we met each other. If this is where you wish to discuss it, and our peers so permit us, then by all means.

That is bogus because that is anti-freedom. I live in a different part of the world than you do, obviously.

Sir, I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it
I love to debate. I will never shut you down my friend :slight_smile:

Indeed :wink:

I'm sorry, It seems you've maybe understood me, maybe because I mixed 2 different things.

What you say here, what your definitions say, is exactly my point: Atheism is not a matter of knowledge (it can't be), but of belief.
I never meant to imply it needed proof, on the contrary.

If I had to beleive something, I'd be an atheist. But, by reason, I must be an agnostic.

We can't even detect vegetables a light-year ago :wink:

What if such an omnipotent being wanted to stay hidden? Or was just too far for us to detect?
IMO, if such a creator wanted to let us utterly free, he'd have to stay completely hidden from us, as the mere knowledge of its existence would affect our comportement.
But he could just as well care not at all, and be gone to something else.

We can't detect any aliens or proof of their influence. Sure, you can believe that the human race is alone in the universe, or not but you can't be sure about it.
To me, the question of the existence of god(s) is similar.
Its existence can only be a matter of belief, not of knowledge, and the definition of atheism go this way.

This becomes then similar to a religion when people become unable to envisage any other viewpoint, and must convince religious people that they are right, being unable to accept religion in others, just as some religious can't accept atheism (or another religion) in others.

So, this is in part a conscious choice on your part? That of a worldview you prefer to another?

I cannot deny that at all, which is why I refrain from imposing my view onto other people. I merely try to explain my view. Now, mind you, I prefer one over the other because it makes more sense to me, not just because it is more comforting. I simply am unable to comprehend of an existance that has no coherence or purpose.