I need some help defining and challenging my beliefs.
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03-01-2014, 07:17 AM (This post was last modified: 03-01-2014 08:56 AM by Seldon.)
Smile I need some help defining and challenging my beliefs.
Hi everyone.

I am new here and I was looking for a spot of advice.

I struggle with all of the categories and terminology for the different schools of modern thought. Defining personal philosophy for me is a little like being in a metal band... There seem to be countless names for what is essentially the same thing. I was hoping that the kind people of TTA could help me out with defining my philosophy so that when people ask me about my beliefs I don't have to go into a long winded, tedious explanation and risk sounding like a self obsessed John Thomas. Also, any suggestions on some literature to help me challenge my current beliefs is both welcomed and appreciated.

Regarding the existence of a God; I certainly don't believe in a God. However, unlike many of my atheist friends seem to, I do not believe that the existence of a God is impossible either. Whilst I think it is highly improbable I do struggle with the origin of the universe and no amount of scientific theory can satisfy my curiosity so far. So I don't believe that I fall under the atheist category. I believe that we can't yet understand the answers to things such as the origin of the universe, but unlike my agnostic buddies as I understand them I don't believe that this will always be the case or that we can't ever understand. I think it is hasty to state that we will never understand something just because it seems impossible now. So I am not sure that I fall under the agnostic category either. As for creationism, well to me it is all just a little too absurd (I am sorry, I don't mean to offend - I just want to be sincere Confused). So I don't fall under that heading either.

My beliefs are as follows...

I think that as mortal creatures who have a definite birth and death with no scope of reference as to what happens or doesn't happen before and after these events, we are currently unable to understand the nature of infinity. I believe that time is simply a way of measuring different states of matter in response to environmental effects that relentlessly and continuously affect and change the subject. I think that time is something that only exists because we are unable to escape it as creatures that not only have seemingly limited time as conscious beings, but also mature and change shape whilst we directly see the affects of our environment on ourselves and each other in the form of ageing etc. We are born, we get old, we die.

So yeah, I think that if time is a tool used for measurement but can not be measured itself. I think that it is possible that the universe could be infinite and we just can't comprehend it. I think that our logic is based on thousands of years of philosophical thinking and that our philosophical thinking tends to factor in things such as birth and death, hence beginning and end, hence something and nothing. To me (and I am in no way arrogant enough to suggest that I am not wrong, this is all just theory) it seems a lot more logical that the universe is infinite than to say it started from nothing.

Please don't think that I have simply replaced the word 'God' with the word 'Infinity'. I don't believe that an all powerful, omniscient God has always existed and created everything. I do however think that it is not impossible that the universe could be infinite.

Please can someone give me a name for what it is that I believe and point me in the direction of relevant literature and counter arguments so that I can challenge my beliefs?

Thanks!

S
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03-01-2014, 05:37 PM (This post was last modified: 03-01-2014 05:44 PM by Freethought.)
RE: I need some help defining and challenging my beliefs.
I'm surprised you hadn't mentioned Deism anywhere in the thread! You did say you do not believe in a God, but that you still believe that it's not impossible for a God to exist. Just to clarify, atheists mostly believe that God can exist, and it's not impossible for him to exist. We cannot disprove God, the same way we cannot disprove Fairies, or hob-goblins. So since God's traits are all 'infinite', they become rather contradictory, and I speak for myself when I say this, but I believe that a monotheistic God not only does not exist, but cannot exist. That to me is an impossibility, but the notion that there was a sort of God that created the universe with the laws of nature in place and never interfered with it seems more likely a possibility, at least when compared to the latter.

Deists reject revelation and authority as forms of religious knowledge, and they reject the idea of a personal God. Perhaps they are more spiritual, but I do not think to the extent that they pray. Just to clear up one thing however, you shouldn't rule out atheism as your position just because you're under the misconception that atheists believe all forms of God are impossible. Heck, for all I know, God is the best hide of seek player in the world that messes with me by giving me square circles to lead me to him, and laughs when no rational person can boisterously claim he's there. Though with carefully assessing the evidence I have in front of me, I can safely proclaim that it's so unlikely that a God even exists, that I can live my life believing without fear if I'm wrong..

As I've said before, the Gods of the monotheistic religions are completely nonsensical, (to me), as they are pretty much not only celestial North Korean dictators, but their attributes are so illogical that it's like saying a square circle exists. Anyway, to be honest I'm not entirely sure of what to classify your beliefs as, but I've just listed out Deism as my best guess, please excuse me if I'm wrong though! Deists do believe in God though, just not a personal one, and I think you said you don't believe in a God, but you still think it's a likelihood that one exists. You just have to ask yourself, is it the monotheistic one? If not, you can rule yourself out as a theist, and maybe you're more of either an Agnostic or Deist. It just depends on how likely it is that you think any type of God for that matter exists. Sorry if I didn't answer your question sufficiently, and please let me know if I helped you in any way.

Also, when trying to rationalize the universe, be careful not to fall into the God of the gaps philosophy in which you use God as a plug to fill in the gap of the unknown, it's begging the question because the existence of a God to me, is much more complicated and doesn't really answer a question with a question, e.g "How did God exist"? You'd sort of go into an infinite regression of question-asking, not getting anywhere, and it's not really logical to say "Because science doesn't know this, an un-tested hypothetical concept of a God in which I have no clue whatsoever about his existence must exist (sort of some form of theistic evidential presupposition). I mean, until new evidence arises, our current state of advancement should predominantly influence our beliefs. As Lawrence Krauss notoriously says, "Make your beliefs conform with the evidence of reality, not the other way around".

Everyday is judgement day. Use your judgement, use reason.
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03-01-2014, 10:38 PM
RE: I need some help defining and challenging my beliefs.
(03-01-2014 07:17 AM)Seldon Wrote:  Please can someone give me a name for what it is that I believe and point me in the direction of relevant literature and counter arguments so that I can challenge my beliefs?

Your an open minded materialist with a yearning for a rational origin explanation.
so essentially you have no beliefs, IMHO don't let your yearning develop into a belief, as its a slippy slope to dogma.

Theism is to believe what other people claim, Atheism is to ask "why should I".
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04-01-2014, 02:26 PM (This post was last modified: 04-01-2014 02:55 PM by Seldon.)
RE: I need some help defining and challenging my beliefs.
Thanks to you both. That was helpful. Just to be clear I don't believe in a God, I just don't rule it out with any certainty. The existence of a God seems highly improbable to me and I certainly don't fear being wrong about that. Who's to say that if there was a God that it would give a crap who believes and who doesn't anyway? Haha. The universe could exist within the day dream of a London cab driver for all I know. I am not a deist either, but I can understand you thinking that with what I wrote regarding my thoughts about the universe being infinite. I suppose it is more of a 'what if?' than a belief that the universe could be infinite. I can't logically believe anything without evidence. I think maybe I am wrong about atheism to be honest. Many of my atheist friends vehemently reject the possibility of a God where as I can't say either way, only that it seems enormously unlikely that one does exist as it has exactly the same chance of being true as... well... as the universe existing within the day dream of a London cab driver lol. Therefore my inability to state either argument as a certainty made me wonder whether I fell under the atheist, agnostic or something else category lol. I guess I just need to keep looking. Most of my questions are philosophical ones, but that's why were here right... seeking knowledge. Thanks again :-) FYI, I am not obsessed with London cab drivers honest...
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04-01-2014, 02:50 PM
RE: I need some help defining and challenging my beliefs.
(03-01-2014 07:17 AM)Seldon Wrote:  Hi everyone.

I am new here and I was looking for a spot of advice.

Hi Seldon. and welcome to our little neck of the woods.

Quote:I struggle with all of the categories and terminology for the different schools of modern thought. Defining personal philosophy for me is a little like being in a metal band... There seem to be countless names for what is essentially the same thing. I was hoping that the kind people of TTA could help me out with defining my philosophy so that when people ask me about my beliefs I don't have to go into a long winded, tedious explanation and risk sounding like a self obsessed John Thomas. Also, any suggestions on some literature to help me challenge my current beliefs is both welcomed and appreciated.

We will try our best.

Quote:Regarding the existence of a God; I certainly don't believe in a God. However, unlike many of my atheist friends seem to, I do not believe that the existence of a God is impossible either.

That is a reasonable position to stand on, and it is where I also stand. My feeling is that pretty much anything is possible, but it's not really a matter of what is possible though. It all comes down to what is "probable," and I have accepted that the existence of any kind of a supernatural god is highly improbable.

I tend to judge in a similar way that a court would judge a person who is accused of a crime. If the evidence against that person is excessive, then he is deemed to be guilty. In respect to the issue of a god, since there is absolutely no evidence to support that god's existence, then there is absolutely no reason to accept its existence. It is not unlike a scenario in which you are standing in an empty room with a friend, and your friend says to you that there is a table in the middle of the room. You cannot detect the existence of a table in any way, so why should you think that one is standing in the middle of the room?

I suspect your reaction to that scenario would be that you would say, "there is no table in the middle of the room." Why would you say that if you determined that the table did not exist? It is because there is no evidence to support it. Hence, when an atheist says that there is no god, he/she is merely exercising the exact same reasoning you would employ in regards to the table.

So is that not a reasonable thing to say? There is no good reason to say something to the effect of "it is possible that there is a table in the middle of the room" unless you had some kind of reasonable foundation to base it upon, right?

You see, it all comes down to what is reasonable. We make judgments either by using evidence or a lack thereof, and then we stand by those judgments until something comes along to correct us.


Quote: Whilst I think it is highly improbable I do struggle with the origin of the universe and no amount of scientific theory can satisfy my curiosity so far.

Why struggle with it? It seems to me that it really all comes down to just two choices:

1. The universe has an origin.

2. The universe has always existed and had no origin. It is eternal. It cannot be measured in any way, shape, or form. It is infinite.


If the universe has an origin, then it is currently unknown to us. There is absolutely nothing wrong with admitting that we do not know. But there is absolutely something wrong with making a positive claim that some kind of god is the creator of the universe when there is no evidence to support such a claim, and when such a claim comes at the exclusion of everything else.

Personally I have accepted that the universe had no origin. The reasoning is because there is no good evidence to suggest that it did. Since we cannot detect any kind of boundary, width, height, length etc in regards to the universe, then the current default position is that there is no boundary, width, height, length etc to the universe. That means that according to the current state of our knowledge the universe is infinite and eternal.

I understand how difficult it can be for some people to get their heads wrapped around the concept of something being infinite and eternal, but we do indeed know that the infinite exists. It can easily be demonstrated by simply counting numbers ... 1, 2, 3 ... and let me know when you reach the last number. We all know we will never reach the last number, and this demonstrates that since counting numbers is infinite, then we know for a fact that infinity exists.

Therefore, it's just a simple matter of acceptance. You do not even have to think about it. It is what it is.

Quote:So I don't believe that I fall under the atheist category. I believe that we can't yet understand the answers to things such as the origin of the universe, but unlike my agnostic buddies as I understand them I don't believe that this will always be the case or that we can't ever understand. I think it is hasty to state that we will never understand something just because it seems impossible now. So I am not sure that I fall under the agnostic category either. As for creationism, well to me it is all just a little too absurd (I am sorry, I don't mean to offend - I just want to be sincere Confused). So I don't fall under that heading either.

By the looks of what you wrote in the quote above, it would appear to me that you are swinging very hard towards atheism but are not yet ready to commit. You have all the tell-tale signs of a budding atheist, but seem to be holding back based upon what you do not know.

My signature at the bottom of this post is a truthful statement. You were born with no beliefs in the first place, therefore you had absolutely no beliefs in any kind of god whatsoever the day you were born. Hence, you were an atheist in the first place, so what changed that default position in you?

A book? It could be the Bible, Qu'ran, or any number of ancient manuscripts.

That's right. An ancient book with tales written by numerous people in ancient times who had limited capacity to understand and reason. So what can we do about that?

How about we envision another scenario in which those old books were never written? Would you even know about any kind of supreme being then? Would you even consider a remote possiblity of a supreme being creating the universe if the concept of this supreme being was never revealed to you? Of course not. Why would you?

Quote:My beliefs are as follows...

I think that as mortal creatures who have a definite birth and death with no scope of reference as to what happens or doesn't happen before and after these events, we are currently unable to understand the nature of infinity.

Hopefully my example of counting numbers demonstrates the absolute simplicity of infinity?


Quote: I believe that time is simply a way of measuring different states of matter in response to environmental effects that relentlessly and continuously affect and change the subject.

I agree! In fact, I take a step further and claim that time does not actually exist. After all, how could time exist if the universe is infinite and eternal? Sure, we create a "time-line" as a means of measuring our immediate environment, but that time-line we created will have a beginning and an end as the universe as a whole- including all matter and energy- is constantly in a state of flux.

Quote:I think that time is something that only exists because we are unable to escape it as creatures that not only have seemingly limited time as conscious beings, but also mature and change shape whilst we directly see the affects of our environment on ourselves and each other in the form of ageing etc. We are born, we get old, we die.

Ahhh ... see? You are thinking like an atheist/scientist. You are questioning and postulating, and then progressing intellectually. There's nothing wrong with what you said in the quote above, because it can be demonstrated to have a great deal of truth to it.

Quote:So yeah, I think that if time is a tool used for measurement but can not be measured itself. I think that it is possible that the universe could be infinite and we just can't comprehend it. I think that our logic is based on thousands of years of philosophical thinking and that our philosophical thinking tends to factor in things such as birth and death, hence beginning and end, hence something and nothing. To me (and I am in no way arrogant enough to suggest that I am not wrong, this is all just theory) it seems a lot more logical that the universe is infinite than to say it started from nothing.

Yep, you are coming along rather nicely. You have put the holy books in the grave, and now all you gotta do is bury them.

Quote:Please don't think that I have simply replaced the word 'God' with the word 'Infinity'. I don't believe that an all powerful, omniscient God has always existed and created everything. I do however think that it is not impossible that the universe could be infinite.

Please can someone give me a name for what it is that I believe and point me in the direction of relevant literature and counter arguments so that I can challenge my beliefs?

Thanks!

Do you understand that you are not actually looking for a "name to your beliefs," but rather you are trying to escape beliefs? There's no kind of philosophical/religious name to what you believe, because what you believe in is what we, as atheists, believe in.

Finding the Truth.

You are an atheist and you didn't even know it. Bowing

How can anyone become an atheist when we are all born with no beliefs in the first place? We are atheists because we were born this way.
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04-01-2014, 03:12 PM
RE: I need some help defining and challenging my beliefs.
Free, that was a great response. Thank you. There are so many misconceptions these days about what an Atheist actually is that I just didn't know for sure to be frank lol. Turns out I am Atheist after all. I was under the misconception that my thoughts about the universe being infinite along with my 'I can't possibly know for sure' approach may have put me in some other category. You hit the nail on the head. Probability is my guide. I'm just glad that I don't have to wear a robe or anything like that...
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04-01-2014, 03:24 PM
RE: I need some help defining and challenging my beliefs.
(04-01-2014 03:12 PM)Seldon Wrote:  Free, that was a great response. Thank you. There are so many misconceptions these days about what an Atheist actually is that I just didn't know for sure to be frank lol. Turns out I am Atheist after all. I was under the misconception that my thoughts about the universe being infinite along with my 'I can't possibly know for sure' approach may have put me in some other category. You hit the nail on the head. Probability is my guide. I'm just glad that I don't have to wear a robe or anything like that...

Hey ... you're welcome!

You are just like the rest of us; you do not know the answers yet, but you are sure as hell going to try and find them! And like the rest of us, you have some great ideas and you want to test them.

That's what we do, as atheists. We look for the truth.

Again, welcome to the forum! Thumbsup

How can anyone become an atheist when we are all born with no beliefs in the first place? We are atheists because we were born this way.
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