The "Leap" to Atheism
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01-09-2010, 05:26 PM
 
The "Leap" to Atheism
In another thread I asked why you became an atheist. Yhank you for your answers. I'd like to ask a related question. I've learned some reasons why people became an atheist: not finding any evidence of a God, finding evidence for another conclusion, biblical contradictions, biblical atrocities, etc. But how did you make the leap from this to "There definitely is no God"? What I mean is, if I have no evidence to support something, how can I be sure it doesn't exist? I guess that's the tree falling in the forest question. Or, if I have proven evolution, how does that disprove God? Or, if the bible contradicts itself, how do I know that it's not just because of human intervention, and that God still exists?

Finally, how can you know for sure that God does not exist unless you are God yourself?

I promise I am done talking on this thread. I am sincerely curious about how that final "leap" to atheism happens.

Thanks!

Barley
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01-09-2010, 05:37 PM
 
RE: The "Leap" to Atheism
A correction ... the correct interpretation of atheism is that we do NOT believe in a deity. This is NOT logically equivalent to a statement that we 'believe' there is no god! We're not saying we have 'proven' there is no god - a logical impossibility. Rather, we have negated our belief in any deity, such as the one in which you choose to believe.
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01-09-2010, 05:40 PM
RE: The "Leap" to Atheism
(01-09-2010 05:26 PM)BarleyMcFlexo Wrote:  I've learned some reasons why people became an atheist: not finding any evidence of a God, finding evidence for another conclusion, biblical contradictions, biblical atrocities, etc. But how did you make the leap from this to "There definitely is no God"?

Who says we have?

You seem to misunderstand what the term "atheist" means. "Atheist" simply means "not theist"; anyone who does not actively espouse belief in a deity is an atheist (even those who claim to be "agnostics" - I'll get to that in a minute). Atheism simply means that you do not actively believe in a god. It does not mean that you say "there is no god", or even "I'm pretty sure there is no god".

There are four main categories here. The two main questions when it comes to belief in a deity are "Do you believe in a god?" and "Do you think that we can prove that a deity does or does not exist?" Your answers to these questions decide whether you are a gnostic theist, an agnostic theist, a gnostic atheist, or an agnostic atheist.

You see, "agnosticism" is the philosophical position that the truth about some matters - in this context, the existence or non-existence of a deity - cannot be known. Since this is a metaphysical claim, most atheists are agnostics.
"Gnosticism" is the philosophical position that the truth about God's existence or non-existence can be proven. Very few atheists are gnostics, though there are many gnostic theists.
"Theism" is the active belief in a deity. "Atheism" is the position of not actively believing in a deity, even if you don't say that that deity does not exist.

Being an atheist does not mean that you say that God does not exist. It merely means that you do not actively believe in him. Indeed, you will find very, very few atheists who believe that.

"Owl," said Rabbit shortly, "you and I have brains. The others have fluff. If there is any thinking to be done in this Forest - and when I say thinking I mean thinking - you and I must do it."
- A. A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner
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01-09-2010, 05:46 PM
 
RE: The "Leap" to Atheism
I don't know whether or not this is true, but I assume you don't believe in the flying spaghetti monster, that we are living in the matrix, and that magical unicorns inhabit the core of Mars.

Can we completely disprove any of these things? No. There always exists that possibility, no matter how remote.

So, technically, we must all be agnostics about these things. We don't know for sure. But by that reasoning, we wouldn't know anything in life "for sure." The rational probability of certain things existing is so faint that we must discount their possibility for all practical purposes.

Thus, I am an atheist about living in the matrix, and the flying spaghetti monster. The same argument applies to God and any number of hypothetical creatures. Until there is a proof proving the existence of God, I have no reason to accept that possibility. The burden of proof is in the affirmation of an idea.

When a scientist proposes a new theory, he doesn't throw it out there and ask people to disprove his new, unsupported, theory (and like in the case of parallel universes, scientists can't right now). He attempts to find proof supporting his theory. Furthermore, he may mold his theory in an attempt to explain already known phenomena. I think this is where the concept of God originates from. It is man's crudest attempt to explain that which he sees, before the advent of modern science.

Do you really find it likely that the superstitions of people thousands of years ago are more correct than the multi-billion dollar efforts of thousands of scientists today possessing technology that would be considered god-like to the people who wrote those superstitions?

As for the leap to atheism, I never made one. From the moment I was complex enough to think about these things, I saw no rationale for God. I was never given any proof that he existed from an objective source. Again, the burden of proof is on those who wish to prove an idea. For me to ever accept the idea of God, I needed proof.

Evolution does completely throw Genesis out the window, so it does help to make the "leap." BTW evolution is so well supported, and Genesis lacks any support at all....

In all honesty, I believe the leap is taken by theists. Again, the burden of proof is on you guys. The rest of us are simply maintaining a non-biased point of view. Seriously. If you can find definitive evidence that proves a certain religion, I will give it credit. However, until then, I will simply go with the evidence.


Of course, a lot of us start as theists, not atheists. Why is this? As children, we are biologically programmed (by natural selection ironically) to believe everything our parents tell us. So, when your parents told you about Santa Claus, you were inclined to believe in it. It seems like such an illogical idea now, doesn't it? Well, it is no more illogical than the concept of God. It is just that nobody told you to stop believing in God, so you have looked at the world through a theistic lens since childhood (My sincere apologies if you weren't raised Christian, but the argument applies to the majority of theists).
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01-09-2010, 05:46 PM
 
RE: The "Leap" to Atheism
(01-09-2010 05:26 PM)BarleyMcFlexo Wrote:  In another thread I asked why you became an atheist. Yhank you for your answers. I'd like to ask a related question. I've learned some reasons why people became an atheist: not finding any evidence of a God, finding evidence for another conclusion, biblical contradictions, biblical atrocities, etc. But how did you make the leap from this to "There definitely is no God"? ...

Being raised an Atheist, there wasn't much of a leap. I have, however, coached and coaxed a believer from Catholicism to Atheism. And I will tell you that it was a lengthy process.

it started out as a discussion about my beliefs, and then it turned to a discussion about hers. Eventually, it became a series of questions and science lessons. i had to do a lot of research to answer her questions. but I found those answers and they satisfied her.

I would state to you that for some, it's like deconstructing a wall, brick by brick. You can see the light start to shine through after a while and it spurs you to keep pulling bricks away.

There wasn't any 'final leap', simply because the process of self-discovery that took place alongside the criticism of her faith made it more of a progression.

I secretly believe that she was an Atheist inside all along and was searching for a way out from her belief-system. She simply didn't know where to find the answers.

Additionally, I never challenged her beliefs. I let her challenge mine, and then showed her where the evidence came from. I think that is what made it possible for her to move from Catholicism to Atheism. there was no argument form my part, so it was a non-confrontational move.
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01-09-2010, 06:43 PM
RE: The "Leap" to Atheism
(01-09-2010 05:40 PM)Unbeliever Wrote:  
(01-09-2010 05:26 PM)BarleyMcFlexo Wrote:  I've learned some reasons why people became an atheist: not finding any evidence of a God, finding evidence for another conclusion, biblical contradictions, biblical atrocities, etc. But how did you make the leap from this to "There definitely is no God"?

Who says we have?

You seem to misunderstand what the term "atheist" means. "Atheist" simply means "not theist"; anyone who does not actively espouse belief in a deity is an atheist (even those who claim to be "agnostics" - I'll get to that in a minute). Atheism simply means that you do not actively believe in a god. It does not mean that you say "there is no god", or even "I'm pretty sure there is no god".

There are four main categories here. The two main questions when it comes to belief in a deity are "Do you believe in a god?" and "Do you think that we can prove that a deity does or does not exist?" Your answers to these questions decide whether you are a gnostic theist, an agnostic theist, a gnostic atheist, or an agnostic atheist.

You see, "agnosticism" is the philosophical position that the truth about some matters - in this context, the existence or non-existence of a deity - cannot be known. Since this is a metaphysical claim, most atheists are agnostics.
"Gnosticism" is the philosophical position that the truth about God's existence or non-existence can be proven. Very few atheists are gnostics, though there are many gnostic theists.
"Theism" is the active belief in a deity. "Atheism" is the position of not actively believing in a deity, even if you don't say that that deity does not exist.

Being an atheist does not mean that you say that God does not exist. It merely means that you do not actively believe in him. Indeed, you will find very, very few atheists who believe that.

This here. ^

As far as I know, God could be pouring tea from Russell's teapot for his sidekick Chuck Norris riding Invisible Pink Unicorns. =P It's silly, and it's incredibly improbable, but it's very true I can't know for sure. It's the same way with God.

I am a non-theist: an atheist. "I do not believe", as opposed to "I believe there is not". =)

"It does feel like something to be wrong; it feels like being right." -Kathryn Schulz
I am 100% certain that I am wrong about something I am certain about right now. Because even if everything I stand for turns out to be completely true, I was still wrong about being wrong.
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01-09-2010, 07:08 PM
RE: The "Leap" to Atheism
I wasn't raised an atheist but I was also not raised with any strong religious tradition. I'm Jewish and did the standard high holiday stuff, went to Hebrew School, had the Bar Mitzvah, but all of this was done more on a cultural level then a religious level. My parents never told me there was no God but they equally never told me that there was one. They left it up to me to figure out on my own.

I went to services and I read the Torah and the history and from a very young age it never seemed like anything more than stories to me. There was no "leap" to atheism for me.

Now, believing that, out of nothingness, came an all-seeing, all-knowing, all-powerful entity who can create the stars and the planets, and man and all the animals, and the various minute differences in Galapagos Tortoises living on different islands: THAT is a leap.

Shackle their minds when they're bent on the cross
When ignorance reigns, life is lost
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01-09-2010, 07:36 PM
RE: The "Leap" to Atheism
I didn't make a "leap" to atheism. It was more like a slow, bumpy ride down a poorly built stair case. I feel anger towards religion because I have always hated beeing lied to (part of my need to know personality). Religious people claimed to know the truth and then they would create lies to prove that they they were right and I was wrong. They claimed to have proof, but had absolutely nothing. To me, this is as good as proof that there is no god.

If you have to lie to prove your truth, your truth is a "LIE".

When I find myself in times of trouble, Richard Dawkins comes to me, speaking words of reason, now I see, now I see.
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01-09-2010, 09:08 PM
 
RE: The "Leap" to Atheism
OK I lied. I will comment on this thread. Thank you for setting me straight! It's late now so I will come back later and reread everything for my own education.

Good Night.
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02-09-2010, 06:23 AM
 
RE: The "Leap" to Atheism
Yeah, I didn't make a leap of faith either, it was a slow process. I was raised as a catholic, so as a child I believed what my family told me. After I grew up a little, I started doubting in some of the aspects of my religion, like the exact word-to-word interpretation of Book of Genesis, etc. After that came the doubt in the existence of God, and soon I lost my belief completely.

As others already pointed out, you don't need evidence to NOT believe in something if it isn't proved in the first place.
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