Why I am neither a Theist nor an Atheist
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04-10-2010, 05:58 PM
RE: Why I am neither a Theist nor an Atheist
Ghost, to dismiss my comment about your sophistry is also to be dismissive, but that's neither here nor there. The simple fact is that your argument about what your "belief" is is fodder for this thread. Which category it places you in may have been your reason for bringing it up, but if the belief is itself unsupportable and can be shown to be so then which category it fits is irrelevent.

To that end, allow me one more point to make. The Shrodinger experiment is a thought experiment designed around a 50/50 scenario. Whether or not God exists is in no way such a proposition. Is it 50/50 whether the Christians are right? Is it 50/50 whether the deists are right? Do the Zoroastrians, the neo-pagans, the Hindus and the cargo-cultists all get to claim that there's as much a chance that their God is real as that he isn't? Or are you saying that of all the gods ever dreamed up by the imaginations of men taken as a whole, it's equally likely that none is real as that one is? If so, I have to say, I like atheisms odds.

But the reality is that atheism's odds are actually much better than 50/50. Most of the gods dreamed up by man cannot be real. Jupiter, Shiva, Ra and others have complete mythos behind them which have been discredited by science. And if we're being honest, the Abrehemic God has also been disproven. The creation story is bunk, so the talmud and bible and Koran become meaningless and poorly assembled history books. Yet as I understand it, as each of these ideas of the divine falls one by one from the pantheon-of-the-possible, the probability remains at 50/50 that something-which-could-be-called-God actually exists.

But let's take that as our starting point. This something-which-could-be-called-God has an equal probability of not existing or existing in fact. What does it mean to say there is something-which-could-be-called-God. Is it responsible for creation? Is it timeless and without form? Is it worthy of worship? Does it feel and think? Does it care? Does any of that matter? If not, why not?

And most importantly of all, do you actually believe that it both exists and doesn't exist or are you just making the argument that it could? Because frankly, in my experience, most deists and pantheists don't actually "believe" that the concept of God they describe actually exists. They just consider it an explanation that fits their observations, so they assume the title and go with it.
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05-10-2010, 01:36 AM
 
RE: Why I am neither a Theist nor an Atheist
According to Wikipedia, "Cognitive dissonance is an uncomfortable feeling caused by holding conflicting ideas simultaneously." Ghost evidently is in acute state of cognitive dissonance. One either believes or one disbelieves - those are the only two logical possibilities. Cognitive dissonance is illogical, hence the "uncomfortable feeling". Although there are only two logical positions re the existence of the deity, it's not necessarily true that the probability of one or the other being true is 50%, as has been pointed out already by gamutman. The failure to find any credible evidence in favor of the "god" associated with the major monotheistic religions is in fact evidence for the non-existence of such a deity. It doesn't "prove" that non-existence with logical certainty, but it does tilt the odds in favor of it from 50-50 to something favoring non-existence. As an atheist (and a scientist), I've chosen not to believe. But with the finite knowledge of humanity and my finite understanding of even that much knowledge (including quantum physics), I have to admit that I don't possess absolute knowledge (i.e., of absolute certainty) of the existence or non-existence of this putative deity. As I've said elsewhere, from a purely logical viewpoint, the burden of proof is on theists, not atheists, because it's logically impossible to prove a negative.

It also remains possible that some other "being that could be called god" could exist and might indeed have capabilities that we might consider to be god-like, albeit finite (rather than the infinite powers claimed by most monotheistic believers). There doesn't seem to be much evidence in favor of this hypothesis, either.
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05-10-2010, 06:43 AM
RE: Why I am neither a Theist nor an Atheist
I feel it nescessary to point out that it was never Matts intention to suggest there is, or is not a god. I don't think he even intended to imply there was a 50/50 chance of there being one. I think his intent was to simply (or maybe there's nothing "simple" about it!) discuss the fact that he believes he falls into a category outside the labels of theism and atheism. It was never really meant to be about whether or not there is a god/s.
I also feel compelled to argue that there is no god, which I suppose is why I noticed the deviation from Matts origional debate, and in turn felt it valid to bring this up. I've reminded myself a few times already that the topic is "Why I am neither a Theist nor an Atheist", not "Why I believe there may be a god".

So many cats, so few good recipes.
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05-10-2010, 07:33 AM
 
RE: Why I am neither a Theist nor an Atheist
(05-10-2010 06:43 AM)Stark Raving Wrote:  I feel it nescessary to point out that it was never Matts intention to suggest there is, or is not a god. I don't think he even intended to imply there was a 50/50 chance of there being one. I think his intent was to simply (or maybe there's nothing "simple" about it!) discuss the fact that he believes he falls into a category outside the labels of theism and atheism. It was never really meant to be about whether or not there is a god/s.
I also feel compelled to argue that there is no god, which I suppose is why I noticed the deviation from Matts origional debate, and in turn felt it valid to bring this up. I've reminded myself a few times already that the topic is "Why I am neither a Theist nor an Atheist", not "Why I believe there may be a god".
Thread derailment is inevitable.

I also feel it necessary to point out that in an earlier post Matt says:
Quote:What I have tried to do here is point out a third option, beliving that God(s) simultaneously exist and do not exist. That understanding literally makes your dichotomy impossible.
a concept to which gamutman objected. I respect Matt and he's welcome to any viewpoint he wishes, but ... I find it illogical to both believe and not believe in anything at the same time. You can waver between these two polar opposites, or you can say that your beliefs fall somewhere in between absolute belief or absolute disbelief (which may in fact be common for many of us).

We seem to be swirling about within a semantic black hole of some sort. It's my impression that this is common in atheist forums - I've seen the whole debate "what is an atheist" on virtually all of them so far.

I'm an atheist - I don't believe in any supernatural deity. I admit that it's not possible to be absolutely, logically certain there is no god but I give the god hypothesis no credibility. I see no compelling need to do so, and if pressed, I'd say that the probability that there is no supernatural deity is pretty high (certainly greater than 90%, for example).
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05-10-2010, 07:26 PM
RE: Why I am neither a Theist nor an Atheist
Thread derailment is fine with me. But aren't you sick of arguing about whether or not god exists? Sorry for attempting to guide the conversation back to something interesting. I'll bow out, and let you argue about whatever you like.

So many cats, so few good recipes.
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06-10-2010, 01:22 AM
 
RE: Why I am neither a Theist nor an Atheist
(05-10-2010 07:26 PM)Stark Raving Wrote:  Thread derailment is fine with me. But aren't you sick of arguing about whether or not god exists? Sorry for attempting to guide the conversation back to something interesting. I'll bow out, and let you argue about whatever you like.
Isn't that question something that inevitably will crop up repeatedly on a forum like this? I'm always interested in what ideas other people have and what reasons they offer for their ideas. It seems to me that Matt's original post invites this sort of diversion. So ... no ... I'm not sick about arguing over this topic.
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06-10-2010, 08:05 AM (This post was last modified: 06-10-2010 09:30 AM by TheSixthGlass.)
RE: Why I am neither a Theist nor an Atheist
I'm no physicist, nor a mathematician, and as such may not be qualified to comment on the cat thought exercise... and yes these questions over semantics and definitions often swirl back and forth and back again, but I just thought I'd throw in my two cents.

What we end up talking about is reality, truth, belief, and knowledge, and when we're talking about the question of God existing, that's what I'm interested in. And that is the question that Atheism / Theism is answering. While I sort of understand this thing about observation influencing reality, again, I am no quantum physicist, so I don't really understand. The cat in the room is either alive or dead. God either exists or he doesn't. The possibility of both may exist simultaneously, but the reality of both is impossible. We may not know until we observe, but what we know has no bearing on reality.

And so, you either believe God exists or you don't. You can go back and forth between the two, and there are certainly varying degrees of how sure you are or not, but I just don't think you can believe and not believe at the same time, any more than I think something can exist and not exist at the same time. I've mentioned it before, but "I don't know" is not answering the question, or, more accurately, is an answer to a different question.

All that said, a person can define themselves or their worldview any way they like. But I agree with gamutman, you either believe or you don't, so you're either an Atheist or Theist. That can change from minute to minute, but it seems to me that it's either/or.

edited: forgot to finish a sentence up there.

Our brains deceive us on a regular basis, so we have to find ways to fight back.
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06-10-2010, 08:14 AM
 
RE: Why I am neither a Theist nor an Atheist
I think this discussion is starting to be a little clearer to me than it was a few posts ago. I sort of quite like the idea that Gods exists and don't exist at the same time-- it seems that it makes sense of the world in such a way that we can explain belief (I think gods exist) or disbelief or atheism (I think gods don't exist). Naturally enough it leaves us all intention since none of us can know the answer as to whether Gods exists or don't exist and we have to manage to live without tension.

Of course, if the God that people have in mind, (depends on religion of course) was the creator of the universe then he would by his very acts have to be outside our universe to create it. (of course the Bible doesn't really claim that God created the universe as it appears to take the view of the Earth is flat entity with a do over the top and God sitting on top of the stars in the sun and moon in the dome.) if it turns out there is a God and that God is outside the universe then I suspect we will have an explanation of why contacting is God is a difficult since know one, as yet, has any knowledge of how one might communicate with something outside the universe.

Finally, many Muslim care to say whether the the Quran actually calls God the creator of the whole universe -- that is that he the universe as we know it and not in some reduced form such as the Bible knows -- or not?
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06-10-2010, 10:16 AM
RE: Why I am neither a Theist nor an Atheist
My head us exploding, I gotta stop thinking for this day and head out to the river to wash some matts (not you Ghost)...
But I still want to bitch about the cat thing, even thought I already got your point. The cat thing is about in what condition the ''cat'' is. I doubt the cat thing can be used for the existance of something, because the ''cat'' exists, thats why it can be many things at the same time (is it called superposition?).

Correct me when I'm wrong.
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06-10-2010, 10:33 AM
RE: Why I am neither a Theist nor an Atheist
I really want to respond to all of this, but I have been busy and will be busy for a little while.

My question for now is this. How can you say that you can only believe either or, when clearly, I believe that God(s) exist and don't exist simultaneously? I seem to defeat that premise. I'm not saying sometimes I feel like a nut, sometimes I don't. I'm saying I believe this is the REALITY, yes reality, every nano-second of every day. I mean, if you don't think it's logical or you don't believe it yourself, I can get that. But how can you say that I don't, nay, that I can't believe the very thing that I believe?

Quote:The possibility of both may exist simultaneously, but the reality of both is impossible.
Quote:According to Schrödinger, the contents of the room can be described by an equation, which represents a complex wave-packet, mathematically equivalent to a half-dead, half-live cat. The wave-probability packet does not collapse until somebody comes to look. Then, and only then, does one possibility become actual and the other vanish. The fate of the cat is not determined until an observer looks...

Many quantum physicists, however, see it as a literal truth...

As do I.

Also, I think my analogy of in-water, on-land, in-air is a very important one. I'd appreciate it if people could speak to it.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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