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About Theism-Atheism: why is it assumed that these two "Poles" cover the whole question? What about the alternatives.?

The Theism-Atheism gamut has so completely captured Western Thought for the last couple of thousand years, that any altenatives has been rather overlooked, although some neglected sects and heresies have developed over the years. It appears that Science has reached a point of making a contribution to this debate., especially in Biology.

  • Jun 19 2012: Tricky, tricky. Because I do not see any way in which half a god, of half a few gods, or maybe billions of gods, then a few gods, then one third of a god, et cetera. Does not look quite sensible. It looks like this is not a false dichotomy other than by how much knowledge one can claim about the gods issue (as defined somewhere here by edward long). Unless you want to mean something like it's not either a literal biblical god with a young flat earth, or no gods, but rather half the Christian god, but accepting half the science, while others accept one third science, two thirds Christian god, while other do the same with the Islamic god, so it goes in every god's direction(s), and it looks rather like a star with some links from one god to the other depending on how willing people are to accept that their god is the same as that other god. Looks rather messy, but if that makes you happy.
  • Jun 15 2012: Shawn,

    What biological contributions are you referring to?

    I agree fully that the polarizing in the debate has crippled a valuable aspect of the discussion. People get so hung up in "for or against" It closes a lot of doors for a lot of ideas. It's simple black and white for a lot of people.

    I like to speak in terms of the "spiritual world" Although this idea in itself is a pretty hard concept to swallow for the materialist, .... it can just as much be a "band wagon" idea for the new ager's

    But it can open up some very interesting new perspectives on the world if one can think along the lines of the possibility of an immaterial form of existence that lives on after the physical body is disposed of.

    I like to think of us as "spiritual beings living in physical bodies" rather than "physical bodies with a soul"

    The "eternal" part of our being is also in the "here and now" ...
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    Jun 15 2012: It's based on the classical reasoning that a phenomenon either is or it is not. There is no in between and it cannot both be and not be at the same time. According to classical reasoning, however with fuzzy logic there is an in between, and with quantum logic we can talk about the probability and wave function of God. But that would mean God is determined by the wavefunctiion which would raise problems if we claim that God is omnipotent.
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    Jul 7 2012: Firstly, what is 'the question'?, if it is: is there a god or not? then I'd say those two poles cover it very well.
  • Jul 3 2012: It will likely take a century or 3 or 4, but one day the scientific study of humans will come up with some answers that will be very useful in debates about God. Some examples: Why do some people look at the universe and find evidence for the existence of God everywhere they look, while others see none? What do all humans have in common? Why would anyone accept any concept on faith alone? Why do some people believe only what is supported by evidence? Why do some people want to distribute their 'truth' to others, while many people just don't care what others believe? Why are so many people convinced that their version of the truth is correct, when humans are so prone to error?

    The ancient Greeks said know yourself. It may be one of the last lessons we learn.
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    Jun 19 2012: Well it's probably because of what theism proposes, a totalitarian ruler/ rulers in the sky, deism merely says there might be one somewhere and it may or may not care about the universe. So an atheist can just leave the deist be because they aren't causing any harm, they aren't invading politics because of their beliefs they're just keeping it open, though a theist by definition says that there IS a god and it is THEIR god and they point to their books etc etc and it's because of this that atheists target them as an opponent because they're the ones trying to impose their views onto the world.
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      Jun 19 2012: -That's not right Steward , not the all theists are trying to impose their view unto the world to the others . Just some .

      - It is not about a totalitarian ruler in the sky for the most theists .

      -There are atheists who're trying to impose their view unto the world right now ; in the name of science or of common sense they crucify religion right away ; did you listen to Richard Dawkins talk?

      You don't know what you're talking about.
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        Jun 19 2012: Richard Dawkins is fighting to keep religion out of science and doing whatever he can to make sure IDists don't get an inch. He campaigns for truth in science.
        No matter how you phrase it the god of the bible or quran is a divine north korea.
        And if I implied that I meant all theists, which I don't, impose their views I'm sorry, but as you saw from my other post on the SK government removing evolution from textbooks because the christian population didn't want it in them.
        And yes there are atheists who try to impose their views, but people like Richard Dawkins are out to make sure that what is taught and what politics is based on is the truth and not some interpretation of a book written in bronze age Palestine.
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          Jun 19 2012: Anyway I interpret what Dawkins says you mentioned clearly two things about him :
          - he campaigns for the truth in science against some ideas associated with religion.
          - he is out to make sure that what is taught and what politics is based on is the truth , not religion .

          The first line is his job as scientist , what worries me is not that he does his job but that he does it taking care to put religion in spotlight as something bad ;
          The second goes beyond his job and doing it he shows one time more that he's trying to impose his view onto the others . Don't be ridiculous saying the otherwise once you somehow said that he goes beyond his job against religion.

          "No matter how you phrase it the god of the bible or quran is a divine north korea" I don't phrase it any way , I'm just telling you : you don't know what you're talking about , get better informed.
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        Jun 19 2012: The God of the bible you must love and fear at the same time and disbelief in this being results in hell. This is a totalitarian ruler in the sky, I'm only great full that the most educated theologians do not believe in this god. As to Dawkins imposing his views on others, I've never heard him talk on issues or morality in such a way that he says you must believe me and the world should believe as I do. No he doesn't do that what he says and is right in saying is something along these lines, we can not allow those who believe in a divine being to rule our land, to choose our policies, because what you get is a set of beliefs with origins in bronze age Palestine. He is actually for secularism, freedom to religion and freedom from religion. His foundation along with Sean Faircloth is fighting to keep America secularist along with Sam Harris' Project Reason. Time and time they have said over and over, fine have a god, practice whatever religion, and keep it at home as church and state are separate. He never says we must all be atheists, no intelligent atheist does. But he requests that science is science and no matter if book in the world says otherwise won't affect science. And yes he expresses his personal views on how bad religion is to him and yes he wants religion gone but he knows it is an impossible goal and does not force it on others or else he won't be a hypocrite. He as do all of us, fight for a secular world.
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          Jun 19 2012: " The God of the bible you must love and fear at the same time and disbelief in this being results in hell" Like you love your wife (or like the love in the modern songs) , or you fear the... Idk .... ? Nope , this is not what God is about .

          As to Dawkins it depends on what you mean by 'to impose' ; what you described about Dawkins could be interpreted as 'something that is imposed ' . There are levels of imposing , Dawkins is just at one of them , not the ultimate it seems .

          But I don't understand you man : "And yes there are atheists who try to impose their views" "....they aren't causing any harm (the deism)....though a theist by definition..... they're the ones trying to impose their views onto the world" , if your part is full of shit why do you bother telling us about a fart from our part ?

          By the way I couldn't defend God better than you defended Dawkins.
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        Jun 19 2012: Well it's easy to defend Dawkins, he fights for truth
        Deuteronomy 6:13 Fear the Lord your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name. There you go straight from the bible, and then there's millions of versus on loving him also. This is sadomasochism and the essence of the master and slave relationship. And yes disbelief sends you to hell. Time and time again throughout the bible disbelievers were either slaughtered by the Israelites or the god sent plagues upon them. It's funny how the mass murderer upon having his final meal only has to turn to god and repent and receive eternal heaven yet the monks in Indonesia who care for others all their lives and the environment around them will be subjected to hell, it's the one sin in the bible which can't be forgiven.
        And I'm sure there are atheists out there who want religion stamped out and campaign time and time again against religion that's what I meant by that. Deists have no evidence and so they keep their beliefs at home and so they should. Though the theists, who base policy on their book, take a look at the Eastern theocracies, and the American bible belters who want creationism taught in their child's science class. Well I don't care what they WANT taught, science is not a democracy, we don't get to pick the theories which make us feel best, we don't have a choice the truth is what is taught no matter how horrifying it may be and it all derives from their fear of being related to a fish.
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          Jun 20 2012: Stewart : I am a christian by my believe but I don't belief in that god . I understand something entirely different from the Bible ;
          -it seems you have problems , serious problems with understanding a book , go to somebody to help you or if you want to take care of it on your own start reading some books of philosophy applying the Rene Descartes method , exercise you mind .

          "And I'm sure there are atheists out there who want religion stamped out and campaign time and time again against religion that's what I meant by that." It is enough to want , if they continue so when they will can ...... .
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    Jun 19 2012: Two poles are poles because they are opposite , so this two . This could be a reason why it is assumed that they cover the whole question .
    I don't think science has reached a point of making a contribution in this debate because strictly speaking this debate is about God's existence , a thing science doesn't deal with .

    In my opinion atheism is wrong from the start ; the atheistic position is : I don't know , I don't feel , I can't think anything certain about a god , then why to believe in one ? It is the starting point of the all 'contradictions' they think they find in theism (here science may have a role to play) .

    Excepting the fact that there are people who would ask the contrary ( because they do know... ) this question in my opinion is irrational : there is a difference between my perception of the exterior things and the exterior things , if you have this in mind you realize that you are you (including your perceptions) and god is god . And this is it . You can find what I mean more here : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UnURElCzGc0
    • Jun 19 2012: Whether science deals with "God" depends on what people mean when they say "God." If this is a god claimed to have created a certain way, and science shows quite a different story, then science can say something about the existence of "God." More generally speaking, if the god in question is supposed to have done this or that, and science has shown that this or that did not happen, or happened in a different way, then science has something to say about the existence of "God." If this god is more one of deism, one that claims nothing, does nothing, one who is indistinguishable from no gods at all, then science might not be able to say anything about its existence, but why bother?
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        Jun 19 2012: "More generally speaking, if the god in question is supposed to ...... " I guess that in this case it has something to say but
        I'm not sure how much this story happen ; so maybe science still doesn't deal with the existence of God.

        I don't bother .
    • Jun 19 2012: Ed, You said: "but I'm not sure how much this story happen"

      Oh, plenty of times. Maybe you are not paying enough attention.

      So, is your god one who claims anything? Have some example? Is your god compatible with evolutionary theory? With the true age of the planet at around 4.5 billions of years old?

      What about logic? Did your god need a bloody sacrifice of himself as his own son so that you could be saved for being what you were created to be in the first place?
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        Jun 20 2012: So, is your god one who claims anything?
        I don't know but He seems to claim some things .

        Is your god compatible with evolutionary theory? With the true age of the planet at around 4.5 billions of years old?
        I have only some basics about the evolution theory so I can't say exactly, but I don't have a problem with the processes of "natural selection" and of 'survival of the fittest " as Darwin presented them in his book The Origin of Species (this is my single source so far) .
        What I'm sure about however, is that what I know about the God I believe in gives me a pretty substantial space of maneuver ; maybe I could say yes to your questions.

        What about logic? Did your god need a bloody sacrifice of himself as his own son so that you could be saved for being what you were created to be in the first place?

        I'm not sure this happened , I usually prefer a kind of deeper understanding, if you know what I mean . Why am I not sure ? :
        -do you remember the relation between the 2 D and 3 D (the video posted in one of my comments above) ?
        More exactly I'm pretty sure that 'to need' for God is very different of 'to need' for me . I understand what I can , I believe the rest . You are like that guy who , when happens to find a body from a different planet , instead of exclaiming : what amazing and instead of looking with wonder and curiosity , he exclaims : what irrational , what illogical !!! .
    • Jun 20 2012: Ed,

      You said: "instead of exclaiming : what amazing and instead of looking with wonder and curiosity , he exclaims : what irrational , what illogical !!! "

      Well, I doubt that you could know what I would say or do if I found such an extraterrestrial's body. All you could possibly know is what I would say if you told me that there is an extraterrestrial body with and without arms at the same time, invisible, untouchable, that I cannot see, but have to believe by faith, not reason, and that if I believed in it I would be able to see square circles. I know how useless it would be to tell you that square circles are irrational, while you would say that half of it you understand, the other you believe. Just look at this video with 2D and 3D.
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        Jun 21 2012: You misunderstood what I wrote again : I said that 'to need' ( 3 D )
        for God is different of 'to need' for us (2 D ) ;
        take this 'to need' as an extraterrestrial body , it is all right , not as you described what you imagine I believe . Imagine the relations between this ' to need' because they are similar with the relations between 2 D and 3 D . (3 D is 3 D not a square circle even though I am a 2 D and can't see too much , in the same way 'to need'...).

        You are already full of preconceived ideas in so way you can't understand too much it seems ; it took me a while to realize it .
    • Jun 22 2012: Ed,

      I understand perfectly what you are saying. My reductio ad absurdum is meant to show you why your many metaphors won't convince me. Example, you said that it is not the same to need for you as for your believed god. Well, it does not matter, it is still clear that there is a bloody sacrifice, and that without it you would not have this sin-release clause. So, no matter how much you play with metaphors and semantics, the problem that you are forgiven for your sins via a bloody sacrifice of this god to itself in the form of its own son for a problem that arises for you being created to be exactly what you are is a square circle. Twist, metaphor, semantics, as much as you want, the end result keeps being nonsense. Trying to avoid the conflict via "to need is different for god and me" is just that, avoidance.

      So there. My "preconceived" ideas mean that I won't accept metaphors to avoid confronting an obvious logical problem. My "invisible extraterrestrial body" makes the problem clear. Use as many metaphors as you want. They will not make a square circle any less nonsensical.

      I see no reason to continue answering, so be well.
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        Jun 22 2012: You put a question , I answered it , and as much as I know I did it without using metaphors excepting the example with Ds (your example does not talk about any metaphor ) , so who talks crap ?

        You are so fully convinced it doesn't matter but it does : you use ideas about a god , you used what is supposed he said but when it comes to understand it from a different perspective than yours the single thing you know to say is : that's square circle ; maybe from your perspective (humans one) it is square circle but WHAT DOES IT MATTER ? because I repeat everything is about god in your question not about you . You are so damn selfish , this makes you very insipid .

        Of course you don't need to answer , you already know everything about this . I'm well , in fact I'm better than you .

        Frankly : don't think you are well ! Bye .
    • Jun 23 2012: Eduard, I did not know I made you so angry. I promise to leave you alone from now on.
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        Jun 23 2012: I'm not angry , I'm decided, I'm very sure of me . Do what you wanna do .
  • Jun 18 2012: Very quit here Shawn .. considering the "temperature" of this conversation.

    This has always been my idea

    " There's much more between heaven and earth ... and lots of other places..".
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    Jun 18 2012: It is because of our old-school horizontal-integral approach. we are all alikes so we must be created in the sameway and by same creator. I believe people will overcome this prejudices and start to think vertically in near future. As each individual develops unique approaches to concepts than we will have the real enlighment of humankind. see? Even I approached horizontally myself...
    • Jun 18 2012: Erol,

      It's like Bob Dylan said once about politics....

      "There is no right wing and left wing .... there's only up wing and down wing.."
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    Jun 16 2012: Depends on what your definition of god is. If you are looking at some type of being thing, then atheists do not believe in the being and theists do. If you have a broader definition of god and look at what people apply their faith to, you could include phenomena such as science, nature/natural rhythms, medicine, money, and so on.

    I think almost everyone has a god, just do not conceptualize it as such. For instance, many people believe in science, that through science we can find out most of the mysteries of life. We have faith that technology will be able to address most of the challenges of the future. For some of us that is where we apply our faith and that has been our experience and we have faith it will be so.

    For some of us, we apply faith to nature. Nature has a rhythm and will eventually correct all the challenges of the future. I won't go into the whole deity thing. There are enough people contributing to that here. Same with money. There are a whole lot of people (esp in government) that believe enough money will comfort us in times of tribulation and address the challenges of the future.

    So really it depends on your conceptualization of god and what is theism.

    Just putting that out there for discussion.
  • Jun 15 2012: Shawn, TED's moniker is: "Ideas worth spreading", so here goes:

    We do not know everything. Consider a parent God watching children. A wise parent would wait to reveal to and teach his children the realities of life and the Cosmos when the children are mature enough or about to be mature enough to comprehend new revelation. In the meantime we have had great confusion on this planet regarding God, the Cosmos, relationships of angel and man and purposes of life. Many religions were developed and yes, someone said here once, it is all imagined. We humans tend to speculate, imagine, dream, discuss, and speculate on reality when we wonder about truth. We are forced to without facts. Our planetary history is rife with confusion about spiritual and other factors of the past.

    As I have said here, when we apply deductive processes we come to an end when we eliminate an all-wise Original Creator Parent. This Parent is not human gender, but is the uncaused Creator parent that will reveal more in time. In the meantime we are required to have patience and patience is in short supply in human nature.

    A wise parent disciplines and corrects his children. In time we will see more correction of concepts, but humanity should continue scientific exploration and keep open our minds for other possibilities. Faith is good in all things of life.

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      Jun 16 2012: Parent? Seriously? Why not Santa Claus then? Or since this being is not gender specific, maybe that whole Mayan-extraterrestrial thing is more accurate.

      There is lots of stuff I don't understand but I certainly do not write it off on some omnipotent benevolent parent being thing and wait for some type of discipline or correction. Your deductive process must be very different than mine. So you are saying that this whole paradigm makes more sense than biology? Or are you going to go into that whole 'it's not about logic, it's about faith' rhetoric?
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    Jun 15 2012: What question are you implying?

    If you define theism as a belief in one or more gods or goddesses, and atheism as not having a belief in gods I guess you believe in a god or gods or you don't.

    I not concepts of god vary widely from one, to many, to something that is in everything, From humans who are gods Jesus, Pharaohs, some Roman emperors, to gods that can take human form such as Zeus, to invisible interventionist gods (Yahweh/Allah), to Deist and pantheist approach. Most involve some super natural intelligence. I've heard some definitions of god that that are barely an intelligence or an entity, more like an energy. So a definition of god is a good starting point.

    Technically if you think you know for sure you are Gnostic.
    If you don't know for sure you are agnostic.

    So 4 options with just these two dimensions - Believing and knowing.
    Agnostic Atheist (me)
    Gnostic Atheist
    Agnostic Theist
    Gnostic Theist

    If the question you have in mind narrow - like is there a god the answer is binary, although some might say they don't know.

    If you are asking other supernatural things - like do we have an immortal spirit, is there life after death or reincanation, are there ghosts, aliens, angels and fairies, is there some overriding purpose to life, you are asking a different question that may or may not be related to gods.

    Also some of these questions may be helped by science, the best process for explaining reality we have found so far.

    The pathway to these sorts of questions can rely on evidence and reason before believing, or more intuitive speculative approaches.
  • Jun 15 2012: There are no other alternatives since the question has only two answers. Is there a god or not.
    Science has made hundrets of contributions. There are many theological and philosophical texts that deal with the question about the dichotomy of beeing a theist or not.

    Biology can exmplain why we belief in a god and history can explain how religion has developed, but the abstract question "is there a god or not" can never be answered since the definition of a god makes the clain nonfalsifiable and every rational statement has to be falisifiable.
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    Jun 15 2012: How many possible answers are there to the question: "Does a sovereign, omnipotent Being exist?"?
    1) Yes. Theism.
    2) No. Atheism.
    3) It is not known. Agnostic.
    There are 7 billion Homo Sapiens but only 3 possible answers.
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      Jun 15 2012: I do know there's a sovereign, omnipotent Being as you say Edward but at the same time I'm an atheist for I have nothing with most religious believes that are based on scriptures or that stage a God to venerate as an idol.
      Some of the old Greek theists knew but most theists of today don't. Maybe the word is misplaced to denote the deluded. Maybe language has to catch up with reality.
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        Jun 15 2012: You know (believe) there is a sovereign, omnipotent being but do not accept the validity of any associated sacred writings or idolatry. You are a Category 1.21.c Theist.
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      Jun 19 2012: But how many correct questions there are ? also three ?
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        Jun 19 2012: My comment is regarding the question: "Does a sovereign, omnipotent Being exist?" Other questions might have more than three possible (correct) answers, but I insist this particular question has but three. Are you aware of something" incorrect" in the question? Or, are you suggesting another question altogether? If the latter, my comment would probably change. Did I miss your point EG? Thank you!
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          Jun 19 2012: You are very kind Mr Edward .

          I mean to say : which is the correct answer ? they can't be altogether correct.

          I'm sorry for confusion .
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        Jul 1 2012: Sorry I overlooked your question to me, E G. I think the math analogy works to illustrate this question:
        2 + 2= ?
        a) 5
        b) 4
        c) 22
        d) all of the above.
        e) none of the above.
  • Jun 15 2012: It would be fun to debate that there are actually multiple gods, especially beautiful, sexy, female gods.

    Personally, I think there may be a spiritual god that is extremely unlike the omnipotent paternal figure I learned about in childhood. There is just one characteristic of this god that I feel fairly certain about. God has a sense of humor.