Why don't you believe in a possible God?
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17-01-2016, 06:52 AM
RE: Why don't you believe in a possible God?
(17-01-2016 12:39 AM)GrandMasterK Wrote:  Hi. Firstly, disclaimer. I am an agnostic. I come with this question out of ignorance of the matter as most "atheists" I run into speak as if they are certain there is no God. However, reading some of the writings on this board I notice that isn't quite where a lot of sophisticated atheists typically file their opinion.

I notice most people, religious or not, base their opinions of a process of reasoning that doesn't quite hold up under scrutiny. A lot of people simply don't see the bias that directs their opinions. For a lot of atheists, they don't seem to consider anything outside of disagreeing with established ideas and religions. Naturally this is curious because we are of limited intellect, crowding one tiny planet in the vast cosmos, most of us having hardly even explored much of this tiny planet, much less the universe. Yet most of us are so certain in what we believe and don't believe. After all, consciousness could be contained in dark matter. Probably isn't. But it could be.

A universe of laws without a lawmaker is a curious one. The four forces....have force somehow. We may never be able to understand it. Though if we assume design, then the obvious question who designed the designer and so on and so fourth pops up pretty quick. Again, a somewhat hidden bias behind peoples thinking is that the concept of a God entails no need for an even higher creator, yet for some reason the concept of the universe does. Nobody knows the answer to that question of course.

So I wonder, why the disbelief? Or rather, when did you declare yourself an atheist as opposed to not declaring yourself anything at all? (as perhaps a man alone in a world of strictly science may do)

I used to believe in a religion that had a talking snake that convinced a couple of people to eat a magical fruit which pissed god off. God then kicks them out of his garden and acts like a dick for a few thousand years and then sends his son on a suicide mission so he can forgive us for all of the wrongs that we did to him.

His son dies, resurrects, and then vanishes to heaven, never to be seen again except for the occasional appearance on toast.

Why should I believe any of that?

Gods derive their power from post-hoc rationalizations. -The Inquisition

Using the supernatural to explain events in your life is a failure of the intellect to comprehend the world around you. -The Inquisition
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17-01-2016, 06:55 AM
RE: Why don't you believe in a possible God?
(17-01-2016 12:39 AM)GrandMasterK Wrote:  Hi. Firstly, disclaimer. I am an agnostic.
No problem. Welcome to the forums. Smile

Quote:I come with this question out of ignorance of the matter as most "atheists" I run into speak as if they are certain there is no God.
I'm as certain that there are no gods as certainly as there's no leprechauns. A total lack of empirical evidence to the contrary proves my position to be correct.


Quote:I notice most people, religious or not, base their opinions of a process of reasoning that doesn't quite hold up under scrutiny.
Nope. Atheist's reasoning stands up absolutely to any/all scrutiny. No theist can successfully invalidate the singular posit of the atheist. Whereas the position of the theist relies totally on faith, and faith is defined as belief without evidence.

Quote:A lot of people simply don't see the bias that directs their opinions.
This could apply to both theists and atheists, and is therefore null.

Quote:For a lot of atheists, they don't seem to consider anything outside of disagreeing with established ideas and religions.
Needs clarification. Is it only atheists that purportedly disagree with "established ideas"? What sorts of established ideas are you talking about? And what do you mean by atheists not considering anything "outside of" disagreeing with religion? Are you seriously suggesting atheists should not be disagreeing totally with the tenets of religions?

Quote:So I wonder, why the disbelief?
Simple. An absolute lack of any empirical evidence supporting the existence of supernatural entities and paranormal phenomena.

Quote:Or rather, when did you declare yourself an atheist as opposed to not declaring yourself anything at all?
An atheist self-defines as such based on a single posit; that there is no evidence for the existence of gods. According to a 2012 Gallup International survey of 57 countries , there are approximately 910 million "convinced atheists" in the world. And each and every one of those millions has total agreement on the question of gods. On the other hand, we have Christians, Muslims, Zoroastrianists, Hindus, Rastafaris, Sikhs, et al who all have very different core religious beliefs, and who self-identify differently each from the other—one only has to look at Islam where we have Sunni and Shiite Muslims fighting each other to the death.

I'm a creationist... I believe that man created God.
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17-01-2016, 07:00 AM
RE: Why don't you believe in a possible God?
(17-01-2016 12:39 AM)GrandMasterK Wrote:  For a lot of atheists, they don't seem to consider anything outside of disagreeing with established ideas and religions. Naturally this is curious because we are of limited intellect, crowding one tiny planet in the vast cosmos, most of us having hardly even explored much of this tiny planet, much less the universe. Yet most of us are so certain in what we believe and don't believe.

I will believe anything for which there is evidence; the more outlandish the claim the more evidence will be needed to support it. As has been said, anything the is proposed without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.

Quote: After all, consciousness could be contained in dark matter. Probably isn't. But it could be.

That's exactly the kind of claim the religious make. It is pure speculation and might make a good basis for a science fiction story but there is no reason to believe it. I enjoy science fiction, but I don't believe it.

If the idea that dark matter is conscious inspires investigation and it turns up evidence that it is true, that would be great. The point is that the time to believe it will be when the evidence is there and not before. As attributed to Aristotle: "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it".

Quote:A universe of laws without a lawmaker is a curious one. The four forces....have force somehow.

You are equivocating on the definition of law. Human laws are defined, imposed and enforced by conscious intent. Natural laws are human descriptions of how things work. They are attempts to define the "what" but not necessarily the "why" or the "how" of the universe.

Quote:We may never be able to understand it. Though if we assume design, then the obvious question who designed the designer and so on and so fourth pops up pretty quick. Again, a somewhat hidden bias behind peoples thinking is that the concept of a God entails no need for an even higher creator, yet for some reason the concept of the universe does.

We have good reason to believe that the universe exists. We don't know how it got started, or if a cause was needed, or even if 'started' applies to it. As you note, proposing a complex, intelligent creator doesn't answer any questions, it just moves them back a level and adds more questions.

Quote: Nobody knows the answer to that question of course.

Exactly. Nobody knows the answer. Believing any proposed answer is currently premature.

Quote:So I wonder, why the disbelief? Or rather, when did you declare yourself an atheist as opposed to not declaring yourself anything at all? (as perhaps a man alone in a world of strictly science may do)

Because not believing unevidenced claims is the rational response. Don't confuse not believing with believing the opposite. You can reject a claim without accepting its antithesis. When the answer is "I do not know" then there is no belief.

I label myself an atheist under the definition "without a god belief" because that is the most accurate description of my position. I am also an agnostic because I do not claim to know the answers.

Atheism: it's not just for communists any more!
America July 4 1776 - November 8 2016 RIP
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17-01-2016, 07:24 AM (This post was last modified: 17-01-2016 07:28 AM by Bucky Ball.)
RE: Why don't you believe in a possible God?
(17-01-2016 12:39 AM)GrandMasterK Wrote:  reading some of the writings on this board I notice that isn't quite where a lot of sophisticated atheists typically file their opinion.

Then why are you posting here ?

(17-01-2016 12:39 AM)GrandMasterK Wrote:  After all, consciousness could be contained in dark matter. Probably isn't. But it could be.

And there could be pink sparkly aquatic unicorns in Europa's frozen sea. It isn't likely, but it could be. There is no need to take a formal position to every single possible (ridiculous) notion out there. The gods are one of those notions that require no formal position. Agnosticism is a formal nod to an ancient notion that has no meaning.

(17-01-2016 12:39 AM)GrandMasterK Wrote:  A universe of laws without a lawmaker is a curious one. The four forces....have force somehow. We may never be able to understand it. Though if we assume design....

You can stop right there. We don't "assume design". What we observe is EXACTLY what one would expect to observe if there were no design.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaos_theory


(17-01-2016 12:39 AM)GrandMasterK Wrote:  So I wonder, why the disbelief? Or rather, when did you declare yourself an atheist as opposed to not declaring yourself anything at all? (as perhaps a man alone in a world of strictly science may do)

Why the knee-jerk reflex to "If I have no other answer today, then I shall assume a god did it". You have no coherent definition of a god.

Until someone can come up with one, many here are :
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ignosticism

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein God has a plan for us. Please stop screwing it up with your prayers.
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17-01-2016, 07:33 AM (This post was last modified: 17-01-2016 07:38 AM by Reltzik.)
RE: Why don't you believe in a possible God?
Okay. Basic Intermediate definition time.

There's two different definitions of the word "atheist" floating around out there, and they conflict with each other. (Actually it's closer to something like 5, or 100k, depending how you count, but I'm focusing on just the two for now.) Each definitional framework carries certain assumptions with it and also contrasts and combines with agnosticism in different ways.

In one definition, an atheist is someone who outright believes that no gods exist. This is sometimes called "strong" atheism, because (as you note) it is a strong position to take. In another, an atheist is someone who does NOT believe that any gods DO exist -- in essence, they're unpersuaded by any of the god-propositions, or that they are absent any belief in any god. This is sometimes called "weak" atheism, in contrast with strong atheism.

Which definition is the right one? There's no such thing as a right definition. Word definitions (save for the odd onomatopoeia) are not facts of the universe, but rather human conventions akin to whether we drive on the left or right side of the road. It doesn't really matter whether we drive on the left or right side, so long as everyone else does the same. Similarly, if for some bizarre reason everyone suddenly switched terms and started calling rabbits "shmeeps", we'd muddle through just as well as if we called them rabbits. At the very least, it would be best if the people who use the word "rabbit" know what other people mean by the word "shmeep", and if people who use the word "shmeep" know what other people mean by the word "rabbit".

That happy agreement and understanding does not exist with the definition of atheism. Rather, we've got some people who imagine that the only sort of atheist is a strong atheist, and others who recognize that the word atheist can also refer to weak atheists.

The former sort of person envisions atheism as being on a tail-end of a single spectrum of conviction regarding the existence of one or more gods, with theists (convinced that at least one god exists) existing on the other extreme, and gradations of agnosticism blending the spectrum between the two extremes. This forms a trilemma, in which one can be an atheist, an agnostic, or a theist, but not more than one of these at a time. Under the strong-only notion of atheism, agnosticism and atheism are mutually-exclusive. The best argument for employing this definition is that it seems more people assume that this is what the word atheism means -- it's how it's usually HEARD.

The latter sort of person, the sort who thinks the word atheism includes the weak-atheist position under its umbrella, recognizes that this sort of atheism is NOT in contrast with agnostic. It's possible to say "I do not believe, but I admit it could be possible and that there is room for uncertainty". Agnosticism becomes an independent variable rather than a mutually exclusive position. One can imagine a 2x2 table, with one dimension being defined as a spectrum between between theism and atheism (whether you believe in any god or not), and the other dimension being defined as a spectrum between gnosticism and agnosticism (whether you claim certainty or sure knowledge in your position or not). This allows for the positions "agnostic atheist", "agnostic theist", "gnostic atheist", and "gnostic theist". The best arguments for this definition is that, first, it allows more concepts to be expressed and thus has greater utility. Second, most people who describe themselves as atheists mean it in this sense -- it's how it's usually USED. That's how most people on this board use the word as well.

This is still an oversimplification of definitional issues. With theism you also have to ask WHICH gods someone believes in. Does deism count as a form of theism or not? With gnosticism/agnosticism we have to ask what the threshold is -- is 80% surety enough to be gnostic? 99.9%? Does it have to be 100%? And of course there's ignosticism, which points out that the basic idea of what does or doesn't count as a god is itself not well-conceived.

Bottom line, language is a medium for communication and understanding. If we use words to convey our underlying concepts and facts, then we are doing it right. If we instead get bogged down arguing what the "right" definition is and haranguing people for using the "wrong" one, rather than trying to get on with the business of talking about those concepts and facts, then we're doing it wrong.

When we get technical about things, I identify as an ignostic. The concept of what is or isn't a god is not clearly expressed, and the more I break it down the less clear it is. Without a clear concept, the question of whether one of those things exist is (literally) meaningless. However, in casual conversation I'll tend to identify as an atheist or, more specifically, an agnostic atheist, because these terms require 10 seconds to explain rather than 10 minutes and still give a fairly accurate notion of my attitudes and affiliations. But my degree of agnosticism is what someone (I WISH I remember who) described as "tooth fairy" agnosticism. IS there a tooth fairy? I certainly don't believe in one. I haven't the slightest bit of compelling evidence in favor of one. The "evidence" that others put forward in favor of a tooth fairy is deeply flawed. Things that we would expect if a tooth fairy existed (universal rather than selective cash payments for teeth regardless of whether the family believes in the tooth fairy, for example) do not occur... though of course people have spun rationalizations to explain this. I can't outright disprove it, and if I DID encounter good evidence in favor of a tooth fairy I'd have to give it serious consideration and modify my views in light of that evidence. So I'm unconvinced they exist, fairly well convinced that they don't, highly skeptical, and carry on with my life as if tooth fairies don't exist... and I'm the same way with Santa Claus, leprechauns, Russel's Teapot, and gods. Whether that counts as gnostic (because I'm largely convinced against it) or agnostic (because I'm willing to reconsider in light of new evidence, even if I first vet that evidence with a careful, critical review) is, as mentioned earlier, a matter of gradation.

My position is less the strong atheist position, and more the skeptical one. I adopt beliefs when I have compelling evidence for them, and do not adopt them otherwise. "Do not adopt" is my default, and applies both when there is no evidence either way and when there is strong evidence against, or even when there is some evidence for but that evidence is scant and suspect.

Why be skeptical? Because it's the option with the better track record for leading to truth. With thousands of proposed gods and potentially infinitely-many that could be conceptualized but have yet to be proposed -- and then various denominational disagreements on the NATURE of those gods and how they interact with the world in general and us in particular -- it is difficult to adopt any default position save non-belief, or a "not yet convinced" position. After all, if we defaulted to belief instead, we'd be forced to believe in thousands of mutually-contradictory positions simultaneously, by default. Furthermore, psychological research shows that the brain has a hard time correcting false beliefs in light of new evidence, compared to if the subject had instead reserved judgement. Skepticism is the more flexible position. Finally, by making evidence a gateway to belief, I ensure that any practical impact on my life is accounted for in my beliefs. (After all, anything that impacts me will count as evidence.)

It should be noted that belief in gods has a long, LONG history of impeding inquiry and exploration. After all, if someone already believes they have an answer, why go looking for it? As someone who values inquiry, beliefs with that tendency are both obstacles and potential traps. And if there is no method of falsification for the belief, how could I ever discover that it is false once I fall in the trap of believing it is true?

One more note. The reason that many atheists are so quickly dismissive of arguments and "evidence" is that we've HEARD IT before. The first time we encounter, say, the teleological argument, we might give it an honest hearing, carefully research it, identify all its logical flaws, and reject it as a bad way of knowing anything. The five-hundredth time someone throws it in our face, we in turn throw it straight into the trash without a second look.

Quote:A universe of laws without a lawmaker is a curious one. The four forces....have force somehow. We may never be able to understand it. Though if we assume design, then the obvious question who designed the designer and so on and so fourth pops up pretty quick. Again, a somewhat hidden bias behind peoples thinking is that the concept of a God entails no need for an even higher creator, yet for some reason the concept of the universe does. Nobody knows the answer to that question of course.

It's a logical paradox. There IS no answer to it. Either there are things that don't need created or designed (in which case the argument ceases to support a god), or they do (in which case the pattern must regress infinitely). Neither of these possibilities point to a prime mover.

Here's another question. If the universe bends to a god's will, would that feature of the universe not ITSELF be a law? Who, then, made and enforces THAT law? If it's the same god, then how did that god create the law before the law existed to allow that god to bend the universe to its will so as to create the law?

Nothing is actually explained by positing a god behind the laws of physics. The only thing accomplished in doing so is to push the questions back a step (making them harder to notice) and introducing a new, potentially false concept into a system of knowledge that had just as much explanatory power without it.
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17-01-2016, 09:30 AM (This post was last modified: 17-01-2016 09:42 AM by UndauntedToast.)
RE: Why don't you believe in a possible God?
Everybody else here has pretty much covered the bases. I just don't. To me, there's no rhyme or reason. When I grew up, I did not grow up in a religious household. However, my parents believed in god. I've never been to church (and never will, in regards to a religious gathering type) in my entire life. I grew up believing... when I was 11 and 12, when one of my uncles (who was like a second dad to me) passed away, and then when my dad died, whenever someone told me, "He's in a better place" or "He'll be watching over you", that never made me feel any better or comforted by those losses.

For years (during those days), I just blindly believed, because that's all I knew, and I never questioned otherwise. In the summer of 2008, right before my senior year started, I began thinking about it more, and realized that, deep down, I didn't believe in any god. Could I be wrong? Absolutely. But I just don't believe in one. It's all fairytale, and this idea of an everlasting afterlife is just bullshit to me. Sounds exhausting.

I think I first really started questioning it a long time ago, as a kid, when I developed an interest in the brain, and about how, of course, when the body dies, the brain is essentially dead. As a child, I kept wondering how in the fuck 'memories', formed in the brain, could 'follow you' to an afterlife? Your soul? As politely as I can possibly say... get the fuck out of here with that.

A big annoyance to me is the, "Do you know where you are going after you die?" crowd. I feel like a lot of people, deep down, ONLY believe in a higher power because they are scared of death and need that reassurance. They don't do it out of faith. It's all fear-based, and that's no way to live.
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17-01-2016, 09:30 AM
RE: Why don't you believe in a possible God?
(17-01-2016 12:39 AM)GrandMasterK Wrote:  Hi. Firstly, disclaimer. I am an agnostic. I come with this question out of ignorance of the matter as most "atheists" I run into speak as if they are certain there is no God. However, reading some of the writings on this board I notice that isn't quite where a lot of sophisticated atheists typically file their opinion.

I notice most people, religious or not, base their opinions of a process of reasoning that doesn't quite hold up under scrutiny. A lot of people simply don't see the bias that directs their opinions. For a lot of atheists, they don't seem to consider anything outside of disagreeing with established ideas and religions. Naturally this is curious because we are of limited intellect, crowding one tiny planet in the vast cosmos, most of us having hardly even explored much of this tiny planet, much less the universe. Yet most of us are so certain in what we believe and don't believe. After all, consciousness could be contained in dark matter. Probably isn't. But it could be.

A universe of laws without a lawmaker is a curious one. The four forces....have force somehow. We may never be able to understand it. Though if we assume design, then the obvious question who designed the designer and so on and so fourth pops up pretty quick. Again, a somewhat hidden bias behind peoples thinking is that the concept of a God entails no need for an even higher creator, yet for some reason the concept of the universe does. Nobody knows the answer to that question of course.

So I wonder, why the disbelief? Or rather, when did you declare yourself an atheist as opposed to not declaring yourself anything at all? (as perhaps a man alone in a world of strictly science may do)

Very simply Grandmaster, because it is incompatible with principles that I know to be true beyond the shadow of a reasonable doubt. On my view, there must be at least some evidence for and no evidence against an idea before it can be considered possible. Theism fails spectacularly on both counts.


No theist that I have encountered can tell me how to distinguish his God from something he is merely imagining.

Theism is flawed at the most fundamental level.

Theism rests on stolen concepts.

Theism's starting point is self contradictory and commits the fallacy of pure self reference.

The very notion of a cause for the universe is fallacious.

Basically theism is a fallacyapalooza.

I'll be happy to explain each of these points in detail if you would like.

Do not lose your knowledge that man's proper estate is an upright posture, an intransigent mind and a step that travels unlimited roads. - Ayn Rand.

Don't sacrifice for me, live for yourself! - Me

The only alternative to Objectivism is some form of Subjectivism. - Dawson Bethrick
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17-01-2016, 09:37 AM
RE: Why don't you believe in a possible God?
(17-01-2016 01:09 AM)cactus Wrote:  
(17-01-2016 01:06 AM)DLJ Wrote:  Him?

Blink

Oh right, sorry. I worship (capital H) Him daily.

Her damn you Her!
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17-01-2016, 09:40 AM
RE: Why don't you believe in a possible God?
I ain't never been exposed to a possible God, only the impossible type! Could you tell us more about a God being possible, please. The God evidenced in the Bible disqualifies itself from consideration by being an impossible God. Yes I repeat tell us about a possible God.
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17-01-2016, 09:56 AM
RE: Why don't you believe in a possible God?
(17-01-2016 09:40 AM)DerFish Wrote:  I ain't never been exposed to a possible God, only the impossible type! Could you tell us more about a God being possible, please. The God evidenced in the Bible disqualifies itself from consideration by being an impossible God. Yes I repeat tell us about a possible God.

Gods walk amongst us.




There is only one really serious philosophical question, and that is suicide. -Camus
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