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Why have people (Atheists) Chosen not to believe in God? Does this give freedom to live life without becoming answerable to anyone?

Many people are atheists because of the way they were brought up or educated, or because they have simply adopted the beliefs of the culture in which they grew up. So someone raised in Communist China is likely to have no belief in God because the education system and culture make being an atheist the natural thing to do.

"Other people are atheists because they just feel that atheism is right." It is on this premise that i am asking this question.

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    Jul 1 2012: Lorenzo, for what I know most people that were born within a religious tradition start to stop believing and are called atheists by those that still believe all non sense that is preached.
    People that stop believing choose to know or not know and live a quest for real answers.

    As long as you believe you will never know and follow where ever they lead you. Like a parrot you repeat the things they tell you, so to question your believe is the first step towards knowledge.

    Knowledge will bring freedom which brings appreciation and responsibility. You will no longer care for others out of fear for punishment but you will care because you understand the oneness of life and the interdependence of everything living. Knowledge raises all the good things because it comes from love instead of fear.
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        Jul 1 2012: Did you intend to say, "no belief survives honest scrutiny."? I'm guessing you intended to say "no FALSE belief"?
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          Jul 4 2012: I think he means all beliefs crumble if you question until you reveal assumptions built on approximations based on imperfect senses and a our limited capacity to comprehend reality and truth etc
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        Jul 2 2012: The reason to ask is that your statement, "no belief survives scrutiny", says EVERY belief will be falsified by scrutiny. That cannot be true.
        • Jul 2 2012: Edward,
          I think Mark is going for a solipsist point.
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        Jul 2 2012: So, Mark. Do you believe the only knowable Truth is that one's self exists, as Prof. Moreno suggests? I have always thought a Solopsist would be very terse in the conversation game, what with not knowing if other people are real or not. I on;y ask to add to my understanding of why some people choose to not believe in God.
      • Jul 2 2012: Maybe Descartes couldn't take it any further, but we can :)
        Let's use caps lock in writing 'me' or 'self, ME, SELF is me/self in quantum superposition. The pattern ' me VS not me' makes itself redundant.
        There is no 'other human/mind that is not me, it's all me thinking the same thought differently. In this case ME is always true and me is always untrue.
        Does it make any sense ? :)
        • Jul 2 2012: Natasha, I get exactly what your saying and i don't totally disagree, but existing as a wave function or a particle doesn't change the fact of existence as a separate being. If we all shared one massive galactic hippocampus this might be true. Even if our brains are in superposition this doesn't change the fact that they still exist apart from the universe in this current state.

          An interesting question : If 2 identical twins were separately placed in a controlled, exactly similar environment, would they emerge to be the same exact person?
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        Jul 2 2012: Your defense against solipsism is impenetrable. I did not mean to say you were a disciple of that philosopy. I thought Gabo might know something I missed. No hard feelings?
        • Jul 5 2012: Brian !

          " that line of thought seems to bring you in endless circles"

          No it doesn't , the motion is spiral and this way of thinking brings more clarity to the mind than linear logic, you seem to practice.
          ". Ive never heard anybody who recalled an experience of cosmic consciousness "
          As a model :Jesus, Buddha.. they were real. And there were/are a lot of individuals who can experience the state of extended consciousness.
          Actually all great geniuses in recorded human history experienced that kind of state , it inspires scientific and artistic insight, it gives the sense of intuitive certainty that usually accompanies deep insight and described as the state of 'all-at-onceness'.
          Are you real ? Of course you are, and 'you' are unreal also .
          What makes you 'you' ?
          Try to feel comfortable squeezed between two opposites 'yes' and 'no', in a tiny space in between you'll find something infinitely large, you may call it truth.
          If you manage, QM will be for you to grasp :)
          It's what i seem to' know', it doesn't mean that it is true :)
          Cheers !

          Edward, sorry to disturb you , but you are the only proud possessor of the reply button in the whole wold :)
      • Jul 3 2012: Hi Mark !
        " No need to invoke quantum anything."
        It's true for you, for me ' quantum something ' makes things clearer. 'The way 'is not the matter of choice even, simply it goes this or that way. Does 'way' make any difference if can easily find this :
        "And what is thought of as "me" and "not me" were never really separate patterns anyway, that's why they are redundant."
        in my own mind ? :)
        And this:" Creator and creation could never be separate"
        Exactly because of that I don't believe in Holy Other Deity, whatever the name... For me God is real, but not directly observable force carrier of the observable forces. Our ancestors chose to call it God, so be it. Again , you may say , that there is no need to invoke Holy Doctrine, - maybe, but I find a lot of ' matches' there too.
        And talking about beliefs, maybe we don't have anything but beliefs. What we think we know, is our coherent belief system, individual or collective; scientific or religious.
        The left cerebral hemisphere is largely responsible for creating belief systems in order to maintain a sense of 'understaning'. New experiences get folded into the pre-existing belief system. When they don't fit, they are simply denied. The right hemisphere ( the intuitive part ) is constantly challenging the status quo. When the discrepancies become too large, it forces a revision of the 'picture'. However, when our beliefs are too strong, the right hemisphere may not succeed.
        So it is not that important how right/wrong our beliefs/disbeliefs are but how strong they are and how emotionally we are attached to them , we'd better hold them lightly and be ready to let them go.

        Hope you don't believe me, I am not sure i believe myself :)
      • Jul 3 2012: Mark, sorry for hijacking you reply button. : )
        Brian !
        It's is a kind of a 'thought experiment'; a good deal of imagination should be involved and a personal experience if you are lucky to have such.The very word 'existance' is challenged here, in a way, yes , it means ' not to be. But there is nothing scary about it, it has nothing to do with demise :)
        The plot wouldn't change whether we took 2 identical twins or you and me in ' exactly different environment ', for it goes beyond illusion of separation.
        "one massive galactic hippocampus " and " brains in superposition" description is bound to matter that's why it doesn't fit to the experiment. Big ME deals with a state of consciousness which has no extendness in time and space. But we can experience it momentarily and it's enough to colour the thinking. You can fragment it through an analytic view, which is what we have trained our cerebral cortex to do, or you can identify with the formal and functional essence of the experience and intuitively place it in its cosmic context. That takes a reeducation of the senses for current state of human mind…
        I don't remember where i took it but I like this lapidary dictum:
        "we search everywhere the Unconditional, and we always find only things"
        Can we see not seeing 'things' ?
        I am not sure you have the context in which my response can make any sense to you, but anyway, thanks for your interest:)
        Have a nice day !
        • Jul 5 2012: I wonder if any of "this" is true, if you are real, If I'm real and what that even means. However, that line of thought seems to bring you in endless circles.

          I have to say, being able to experience undivided consciousness doesn't seem to be at all possible. Ive never heard anybody who recalled an experience of cosmic consciousness be able to describe their own brain chemistry, this aspect seems to be based outside the consciousness, which in and of itself would make the experience not undivided consciousness.

          I have to wonder if this idea of "consciousness of which has no extended time and space" is another construct of the illusion, an aspect that seems to serve certain individuals better,in their path to replicate life (Just to clarify when I say replicate life I mean find inner peace, make for a better world, and allow for human species to flourish, not just the passing of ones genes). Based on what you said in your response, consciousness is both divided and undivided simultaneously. I wanted to note that I saw mark make an excellent point about this line of thought. Its still based on opposites, which in our previous correspondence(schrodingers cat and collapse of the wave function discussion) I proclaimed this trend to be nothing more than how humans have been built to view the world.

          Is this true? If so, why is it true?

          Thanks for your reply!
      • Jul 3 2012: Mark !
        We are not afraid of not knowing, we are curious creatures and we want to know. Knowing is not a destination but the way ; on this way we shape/reshape extend our beliefs ( in the best case scenario ) and the abyss of unknown grows exponentially. And I agree with you, here we should be ready to face a revelation that we actually don't know anything and try to feel comfortable with it and keep on going. Why ? I don't know, I love the way. :)
        You seem to invest heavily into true/untrue option. I don't think Truth is something that exists in complete perfect form, what if it is unfolding, extending by virtue of true/untrue dance ? In a sense, Truth is perfectly balanced ' 0 ' , drop anything into it and it is fractured and branches into opposites ' true' and 'untrue'. The balance is broken and still preserved.
        And God is a symbol,( it doesn't imply that it is not real.) symbolism is a language of imagination intuition. Imagination retains symbols narratives, not facts. The symbol 'God' invokes in you something you are not even conscious of. You need tons of words to explain what you've got through this symbol.
        You read poetry, don't you ? Cross out ' God' everywhere you meet and replace it with " personified creator ' , you will kill the verse. Not only because the rhyme and rhythm would be missing, but mainly because there would be no Symbol to 'tune' you properly to get the message . I could be wrong here ( sure i am ! ), but it works for me .
        I try not to talk about God and Holy Doctrine with strong believers / non believers, they are pretty much the same, two sides of the same coin. I would emphasise the word 'strong' here :)
        Take care !
      • Jul 3 2012: Mark,

        I just said "I think," I did not mean to say that I was sure you actually were making a solipsist point. It just seemed so, and thus I gave the idea to Edward for him to consider the possibility. After all, your argument seemed leading that way.

        See ya.
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      Jul 1 2012: Frans and Mark,
      I totally agree...questioning beliefs is a step toward knowledge, which creates freedom, which brings appreciation and responsibility. I also agree that it is much more beneficial to the individual, as well as all of humankind, to function based on love, rather than fear.

      This is one reason I choose not to believe in a god. God(s) and religion(s) seem to be fear based and controlling, even though we are told they are a god(s) of love. This has always seemed contradictory to me, even as a small child, when I began to question religious teachings.

      I agree Frans, that to care because we recognize the oneness, interdependence and interconnectedness of life, is more beneficial and genuinely loving.
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    Jun 21 2012: I doubt many atheists hold their beliefs because it gives them freedom. I think this is more a matter of needing proof that something exists in order to accept it.
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      Jun 22 2012: Spot on.
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      Jun 23 2012: Atheism is not so much knowing that god does not exist, but not knowing that he does exist?
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        Jun 23 2012: I will leave this for a scientist to describe how evidence is used to draw conclusions about hypotheses. In scientific method, data are weighed to consider two kinds of errors, conventionally called the Type 1 and the Type 2. The Type 1 error is the chance of rejecting the hypothesis of non-existence (the null hypothesis) when it is in fact true. The Type 2 error is accepting the hypothesis of existence when it is false.
        Not all atheists are scientists, of course, and have their different ways of synthesizing data to draw conclusions.
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          Jun 24 2012: It is not productive to use natural laws to explain the supernatural. God's ways are not man's ways. God is not altogether like us.
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          Jun 24 2012: Ed, Of course your God is not like us, but God's ways are not man's ways and many people believe natural law is God's law. What the Bible is talking about are governmental laws. No man made the law of nature. Or science for that matter. A huge part of science is the work of discovery of what already exists. The other part is creating something new that hasn't existed before.
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        Jun 25 2012: I was replying only to the original question of why some people "choose not to believe in God"- the lack of scientific evidence. I was not suggesting that everyone must decide this question on the basis of scientific reasoning or evidence.
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      Jul 2 2012: Thanks Mark for the fresh air. It illustrates the essential difference between religion and God. They are NOT the same.
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        • Jul 4 2012: Hi, Mark !
          It's funny, really, reading your posts I had the uncanny sense of deja vu, I have been there before, " I know the room, I walked this floor " :)
          " The true reality of which the one we experience is a shadow."
          It's old age Plato Forms, is it not ? Plus a lot of stuff I have in my head too.So I am on board with this vision.
          But...
          Correct me if I am wrong, you think that we have no access to truth, just the knowing that it is not possible to know it is the only truth we have .
          You can define Truth as opposite to False, but it leaves you empty and confused. I have the feeling that Truth can't be known but can be experienced, momentarily, like a gift.
          Maybe it sounds corny, sorry for that. Quantum match : you are not in the process you are process. Mystic metaphor : The knower is the known, the seer is the seen.
          I believe it, because it is reinforced with my own experience. Truth is not only undivided within itself, it is not separated from Love and Beauty. Am I preaching ?:) You know, the words are so overabused, we'd better play jazz , verbalizing is tough. :)
          I am in favour of holographic image, it makes quantum entanglement a real feature of the universe and proves that we are not totally separated from truth, though what you said about " phenomenal world" is also true. .Mandelbrot set makes our umbilical cord with the Truth almost palpable. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ma6cV6fw24&feature=related

          Biblical truth : " so above as below " You know what ' aha moment ' is, it can be a glimpse of truth for that very moment, reasonable explanation are later comers. The mind is just a bridge between shapeless and form. Form is never true for nothing has absolute meaning without a whole, it's knowing about not knowing. Again wave/particle duality explains a lot, you can find a verbal match : " Who speaks doesn't know , who knows doesn't speak''
        • Jul 4 2012: It's my response to yours, I've used the reply button that works, it has little to do with a joke, though why not ? :)
          And "being in the moment' is a great 'thing' it allows experiencing truth without attachment to imaginary/ false separated self. Eckhart Tolle tries to make it a practical tool, not an elite practice of the few, and i think he is doing a great job.
          OK, I think I have a lot of opinions today, sorry.
          It's my luck i have no time to continue.:)
          Have a nice day !
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          Jul 4 2012: Dear Natasha, you're right on the flow of inspiration. Love this!

          Quote: "I have the feeling that Truth can't be known but can be experienced."

          Exactly, and to convey it you need to break the thing in peaces and then there's nothing left to tell.

          The moment time breaks in you're out of the experience. To know is to remember but we can only share with those who know.
        • Jul 4 2012: Hi, Frans !!!!

          What can i say ?
          "... and to convey it you need to break the thing in pieces and then there's nothing left to tell."

          Bingo ! :)
          I am glad you are back !
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        • Jul 4 2012: Hi, Mark !
          Maybe i am wrong, but there is nothing abstract in Plato ideal forms , they stands for 'isness' of observable forms, there is nothing external , everything is here, but we need something more subtle than biological eyes to see it.

          ".. it's just that the world isn't the way we experience it "

          You preach the converted :).
          Though it depends what you mean by 'experience ', it's like consciousness, nobody knows what it is , but who can deny different levels of consciousness ? Flower is conscious where the sun is, we can be conscious of a lot of things or the most advanced can be conscious of no things, of 'no thing, 'nothing'. At the point of 'nothing' experience and consciousness is the same ' thing' . OK, it's just an idea, that came to me right now, while printing. God forbid, i don't insist :)

          And there is a point here : "The only way to get it "to the masses" is by turning it into something it's not. "
          Generally it's true, maybe it's always true , i don't know. And I don't practice it, I can't go 'in the moment ' at will, maybe i am too cerebral for this, though I think i am not. Actually, I don't practice anything but life, it can give you spontaneous openings, but it's another story :)

          Thanks for the conversation !
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        • Jul 4 2012: Thanks for your response, I appreciate such conversations, it's a dialogue a kind of attempt to think together on line :)
          Yes, cultivating ... whatever is cultivated may lead to opposite direction, I guess it's an inner dynamics of any process. Still I am in favour of two-opposites-making-the-whole picture.:) If it is totally irrelevant, what is the balance ?
          Everything is conditioned ? Yes, it's a human condition, it's tough, but I like it. Actually i don't have a choice, it's a kind of freedom :)
          I think, being in the moment or meditation doesn't obliterate consciousness but highlights it. The thinking, reasoning is secondary in understanding things or 'knowledge' , they are the tool , not the guide.
          The whole is prior to a part , seeing, experiencing the whole or I don't know what, I don't have a name for it, you start to find matches everywhere and they are everywhere in different contexts , seemingly not related , but you start to see the bigger picture and , yes it is a 'cerebral' joy ! Faculty of discernment alone makes one just a walking collection of other people's thoughts, maybe wise, but dead.
          I've just have seen the video you posted. Yes , I think it's the way it is. I came up with this picture some time ago. In plain language : there is nothing really exists but relationships. I am vigilante, not to let it turn into a strong belief, but no input has shaken it so far. :)
          But Alan Watts' story is incomplete, and not quite accurate. It is not the way people become atheist and there is a gap at the very beginning of the story, that's why it sounds as something new . People not always felt isolated or aliens.Take the average medieval man , he didn't question the priority of the Whole he was a part of. The change in perception started somewhere 4, 5 hundreds years ago, with scientific advances, I guess.It is not science which is to blame, but the attitudes it generated.
        • Jul 4 2012: cont.
          The part gained a kind of independent existence, the doctrine of objectivity got the status of Divinity, a part was studied in isolation from the whole, a man became a machine, assembled from different parts and so it began...And here we are with the urgent necessity to come back to the whole. And science with its quantum revelations is an agent that can give us a new understanding of eternal truths: what comes as one goes out as many and remains one. Nothing has independent existence from everything else. What for us is quantum entanglement or Torsion field , for tribal shaman was simply magic.
          I am reminded of a T.S Eliot verse :
          ...and the end of all our exploring
          will be to arrive where we started
          and know the place for the first time.
          But we are not going round on circles, maybe it's a spiral motion, what we have always known, now we have.So there is an advantage in the crises we are in, actually, we are not in crises, we are crises.
          It's a long talk, everything is not simply connected, everything is just one story, and there is nothing off topic in any topic.
          But it's pretty late here... please don't take me wrong, i don't state anything, though it may look like a statement, but it is not :)

          Thanks !
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        • Jul 5 2012: Morning !

          I'm afraid ' thinking on line together ' doesn't work, alas, in a way it shouldn't . We can't think together without silence ,which is understood, and spontaneity of immediate responses. Still it's an exchange of opinions, I would not call it ' throwing mental bullshit out the window ' though, at least it was not my intention :) Anyway thanks for the attempt., I appreciate it . At least, we were not debating !
          I find debates totally useless, they generate a lot of heat and no light. I tried to balance this 'debate' thing with a new genre :)
          And talking about balance, could i ask you to ponder this zen koan :

          Shuzan held out his short staff and said, "If you call this a short staff, you oppose its reality. If you do not call it a short staff, you ignore the fact. Now what do you wish to call this?"

          Any thoughts ?

          Have a nice day !
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    Jun 22 2012: I would actually argue that many people choose the path of atheism, because it holds you accountable. We do it, not because it is easy, but because it is hard. Atheism, forces you to be held accountable to yourself. It forces you to be responsible for your own actions.

    No Devil coerced you... No god can forgive you. You are responsible for every good deed you have ever done, and every one of your smallest transgressions against others. When your tax money is used to murder civilians, that is your fault, and there is no excuse.

    Atheists often find much sympathy with the Buddhist faith. The concept that life is full of suffering, but that suffering is designed to teach you compassion. The idea that suffering exists because of ignorance, and thus knowledge is the path to overcome suffering. Atheists must learn to see their failures as a learning experience or else be bogged down in guilt, shame, and misery.

    Confession, prayer, and other direct forms of communication with "god", seem easy by comparisson. I choose to believe that I am alone, and at best I have 50 years left to make the most beautiful mark I can on this world. Even if there is a god, why would he/she/it want me to live any other way?
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      Jun 22 2012: Beautifully put!
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      Jun 22 2012: Well said David.

      Atonement is such a suspect idea. That someone else can take responsibility for my misdeeds.

      A culture of forgiveness that allow priest pedos to evade the law. and go on harming children Suspect.

      That humans are sinful in nature, and condemned because of the crimes of our ancestors.

      Thumbs up for taking responsibility as a non theist.
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        Jun 26 2012: I agree obey, I have never subscribed to the idea of past lives. Really I subscribe only to the simplest principles, because they remind me of an emotional extension of the scientific method.
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          Jun 26 2012: Wrong said David :

          To choose atheism because some religious persons are idiots and think they aren't accountable for their deeds. This is just not a correct judgement.
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        Jun 22 2012: Atheists often have sympathy for the buddhist path... That is all.

        "And yet no God will punish you. One is free to be as amoral as they may wish."

        This shows a deep misunderstanding of human nature, and the physical world. When you do drugs... You get a hangover, or you commit acts you regret. When you treat people in your lives poorly, they treat you poorly.

        When this is the only life you have, and you make horrible choices, you will spend an eternity in misery. If you abuse your body, your relationships, and your love, it will all fail you, and on your death bed you will have spent every moment you believe exists in pain. There is nothing more terrifying.

        We don't need a god to get punished. There might be one... Amorallity is its own punishment. The means are the end.

        Using tax money to murder civilians of a different religion, is par for the course for almost every religion that has ever existed, most atheists are against it.

        Buddhism is less reliant on the afterlife than you think. HH suggests that anyone who accepts the four noble truths is a buddhist. Many atheists do not accept the four noble truths, however I do, so in speaking for myself I can say that I have strong buddhist sympathies.

        Very few atheists are gnostic btw. I would never say "I know there is no god"... I simply suggest it doesn't matter if there is a god, and specific beliefs in one, that cause an us and them mentallity... appear unhealthy.
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          Jun 22 2012: One dark aspect to Buddhism I found was that a belief in reincarnation was used to justify those born into wealth and power - they deserved it due to good works in past lives etc.

          And if you were poor you deserved that to.

          A little similar to caste issues.

          Also Buddhism is not monolithic. Just like Christianity there are an array of beliefs, dogma, practices and the reality of human nature, organisation, scoiety etc
      • Jun 23 2012: Karthik M,

        Having sympathy for Buddhism is not the same as being a Buddhist.
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        Jun 26 2012: His Holiness The Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatsu, one of the best writers in modern religious history, in my humble opinion. I would actually consider it a bit disrespectful to refer to him as HH, if he didn't have a twitter account that used it... hehe.

        I don't consider myself a Buddhist, partially because of the often strict belief in the afterlife. Honestly, it's a bit more than that though... I believe that there is a fundamental flaw in the philosophy, and I actually think Tenzin himself realizes it, and this may be why he refuses to discuss finding a new Lama. Church is basically a financial scam, and enlightenment is actually an easy state to reach, it just isn't as glorious as one would have hoped.

        Enlightenment, is the point at which, you realize, that kharma works instantly, all around us. This is the problem with religion, it creates an us and them mentallity.

        You suggest "This suffering isn't always the amount it should be" and "My nature is different from yours". You are simply wrong, demonstrably. Less than 1% of human beings are psycopaths... All the rest of us, feel bad, the instant we do something that hurts someone else.

        We all feel bad when, in the moment, based on poor information or a bad state of mind, we do something that hurts someone accidentally.

        When we see a man his arm broken in a jiu jitsu match, we all clutch our arms as if we were just injured.

        Everyone has the exact same nature as you. Everyone feels the exact amount of suffering they should.

        Again, there is the exception of psycopaths, but that's what we have law for, law punishes them. Reality punishes the rest of us. Law is of course an instrument of reality, so you could even reason that they get exactly what they deserve, but still they don't feel it the same way unfortunately. You just have to learn to get over that.

        This is the problem I have with most religions. It sounds to me, like you actually refuse to believe in reality, simply to justify belief in god.
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          Jun 28 2012: I've read some of his stuff and there was some good stuff. Glad he has stepped down from political leadership. I disagree with theocracies in principle.

          I studied a bit about Buddhism, living in a Buddhist country and some bits resonated. You know life is suffering and taking the middle road etc.There is some good understanding if the human condition with many of the axial age sages.

          And we have 2-3,000 years more human development on our side, science, the enlightenment, Hume, Darwin, and we don't necessarily have to believe in a hidden world of invisible agency.

          I still meditate, just without superimposing the supernatural. I guess we can pick out the good bits and just accept the supernatural and bronze age cultural aspects as a product of their time before science and contraception.
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    Jul 2 2012: Well where to start for old earth evidence
    Light- by working out the density of the sun and it's gravitational strength we've worked out that it takes 1 million years for light from the centre of the sun to reach the outside.
    Staying on light, the distance between galaxies, calculated in light years, and given the speed of light, it takes billions of years for the light from the most distant galaxies to reach us.
    Staying with galaxies, if you rewind the expansion of the universe and decelerate it at a constant rate you get a singularity forming 13.72 billion years ago.
    Radiometric dating
    Evolution
    Fossils
    Geological explanations for separation of Pangea, distribution of animals and occurrence of the same animals on completely different continents, geological reasons for how mountains are formed
    Blackholes, supernovas,
    Rock layers, k-t boundary
    Ice cores Archaeology I could go on, and what do you have? O well there is an invisible god who we'll never see till we die and basically he cursed our race for wanting to have knowledge and so he gave us pain and then he flooded the world but dont worry he floated all animals on a boat which can't physically work or hold the amount of animals it required. But dont worry about that it's all a matter of faith.
    What a pathetic and disgusting argument, honestly the aboriginal explanation is even more plausible that a giant snake slithered and created all the rivers, welcome to the 21st century Peter where the most educated humans on this planet would laugh the second someone mentioned young eart and know what's worse? The fact that the most educated theologians of Christianity accept evolution and old earth and the big bang. It's time to catch up Peter, and I don't care if Im sounding rude but we need to get rid of stupid beliefs, they are of no benefit to society and make you look like an idiot And threaten to drag the future generations into a regress of knowledge if religious fundamentalists had their way. I won't have it.
    • Jul 3 2012: For example, religious fundamentalists took power of the Middle East nations and they went form the centre of knowledge generation to what we see today. Not a nice prospect, but that's what we would get if we allow religious fundamentalists to take hold of our nations. I won't have it either.
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        Jul 3 2012: Exactly, and the pope's inquisition against Galileo
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      Jul 4 2012: You won't find any argument from me but there are ways to twist some observations to fit even a YEC view for some of these and others are ignored or seen as discredited. Then they have things like a constant growth rate seeing 7 Billion people and extrapolate back to 6000 years ago etc etc

      With a powerful deity nearly anything is possible to fit what we see, even if not the simplest explanation.

      E.g. in regards to the time it takes light to reach us from other galaxies, some claim this is an illusion in that god must have created all the stars and galaxies closer together and then moved them far away so there was light on route from 6000 years ago,

      If you want to believe you will usually find a way.
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        Jul 4 2012: well would you trust anyone who twists evidence to get a conclusion which requires more evidence?
        to this I think we'd both answer no, and this is why I don't listen to any creationist evidence usually (and to back me up in case anyone thinks I plug my ears to creationist "evidence" I've just about heard and read it all so I assume any further "revelations will still be bogus) unless I fool myself into thinking they might once have got actual evidence then later realizing in the article it asserts god somewhere and I lose a little more faith in society. .
      • Jul 4 2012: Maybe Obey, but such a claim is easily discredited. All it takes is a bit of research and you get how ridiculous the population growth is. Example, if so, then why are we not swimming in Bacteria instead of having 7 billion humans? Mice anyone? Those two show that growth rates cannot be constant. Also, extrapolating back in history shows that with the creationist assumption there was not enough people to build the pyramids of Egypt. Tons more. Sure, believers find a way to still fit the model (well, it's just an approximation, et cetera). They will use the same argument again. To me, that's mere dishonesty. To themselves and to the world, because they were shown that the argument is ridiculous, yet they keep at it ... anyway, it is the same with everything creationism has to offer: cherry-picked and misrepresented "evidence" with self-delusion and dishonesty.
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          Jul 5 2012: No argument from me.

          It's just that a compelling argument based on evidence may not work.

          We may think we discredit a claim, but others don't. They change the story to fit the evidence and still fit their core beliefs.Like the X Files people want to believe. Their core fath based beliefs are the last thing to be given up.

          It may be the same process we all use in regards to our core beliefs, it's just that some core beliefs are based on more reliable sources than others.

          Amazing.
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          Jul 5 2012: It IS amazing Obey, that no matter what information is offered, religious fundamentalists/extremists/enthusiastic believers will change the story, twist, misrepresent, misinterpret and manipulate information, even from their own holy books, to justify and argue for beliefs that do not make sense, and harm people physically and emotionally.

          That is probably the biggest underlying reason for my rejection of a god and religion. Throughout history, the manipulation has been, and continues to be apparent. If an individual chooses to limit him/herself in that way, fine. The practice, however, has adversly impacted many people in our world.
  • Jul 2 2012: "Why have people (Atheists) Chosen not to believe in God?"

    There is a bit of a flaw in your question which I can't answer without correcting. People don't choose to _not_ believe in something. You cannot choose to not believe in computers. If there is enough evidence of computers existing, you believe in them existing. The threshold may be different between people, as some are less skeptical and scientific minded than others, but the beliefs themselves are not a choice.

    That said, an atheist finds no compelling reason to believe in gods, the same way you find no compelling reason to believe in all of the others gods ever created but your favorite one (which you named 'God'). An atheist believes in gods the same way you believe in unicorns, the tooth fairy and leprechauns. There is simply no evidence in these things beyond a story in a book.

    So, if you really wish to understand the mind of an atheist, recall why you do not believe in unicorns or mermaids, even though there are thousands of stories based on them, sculptures of them, drawings of them and even people who truly believe they exist, no matter how much you try and reason with them. Then you will realize atheists simply use the same standards for all other claims with no evidence, even if they wish one were true.

    It is said, "Everyone is an atheist, some simply go one god further."
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    Jul 2 2012: For me understanding is important. We have the universe, we have circumstances of life, and we are living being interdependent on each other and on the world as a whole. This is interactive. Love, compassion, anger, hatred and so on require, practically, at least one individual other than myself. I can pray the whole of my life to love and to be loved; but to love, I have to love; and to be loved, I have to let someone love me.

    It is true that we come from diverse cultural, religious, and educational backgrounds which can result in what one may call "civilization of clashes" rather than "clash of civilizations." But it only requires careful reflection and understanding that the stranger i meet on the street is also perceiving me in his/her ways just as I'm perceiving him/her in my own ways. If there would be anyone responsible for any clash, it would be two of us. Because we had the freedom to perceive the otherwise, to change our minds.

    Also, mind is the forerunner of our actions. If we see ourselves as cognitive human beings, as open to endless impingement of sensory data, we can "see" how seeing someone, for instance, we generate feelings such as love, fear, etc. There is a complex psychological process involved in it. We just need to be able to observe it or, to use meditation terms, to be mindful or to be aware of our physical and mental activities. This is hard at first, but when we understand the nature of our own mind, it gives us inner peace. When we have peace within, there is is peace without. When we have peace within, we also have true happiness, and that happiness liberates us from fear. Questions of existence and non-existence do not seem to matter. We have a life, we live happily by helping others also to be happy.
    I don't know if it is matter of 'right" not to believe in God, but the way I see the world as interactive and being interdependently weaved by our actions and perceptions do not require a God. We answer to ourselves and to each other.
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      Jul 2 2012: Quote: "When we have peace within, there is is peace without"

      Very well put and from this trust replaces fear.

      Be happy, always!
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      Jul 2 2012: Very wisely stated Teja:>)
      This issue can be resolved with understanding, respect, acceptance and a genuine intent and effort to have compassion/empathy for one another. All of these qualities are embraced with unconditional love. One does not have to be a theist, or atheist to be unconditionally loving. It is a choice we can make in any moment of the life experience. It requires, as you insightfully say..."careful reflection". If one needs to get "stuck" with his/her individual beliefs to the point of not reflecting, it is not as useful as having an open heart and mind to all people. We ALWAYS have the choice to accept each other....or not.

      I totally agree..."When we have peace within, there is peace without. When we have peace within, we also have true happiness, and that happiness liberates us from fear. Questions of existence and non-existence do not seem to matter. We have a life, we live happily by helping others also to be happy.
      I don't know if it is matter of 'right" not to believe in God, but the way I see the world as interactive and being interdependently weaved by our actions and perceptions do not require a God. We answer to ourselves and to each other".

      SO beautifully expressed Teja!!!
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        Jul 3 2012: Thank you very much dear Colleen.

        It's good to read that you also think almost the same way. When such thinking becomes evidently mutual there probably also comes, to borrow your words, "understanding, respect, acceptance and a genuine intent and effort to have compassion/empathy for one another."

        It's also good to have feedback, for that allows us to evaluate our own patterns of thinking and to reshape them in a desirable way.

        Thanks a lot once again!
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          Jul 5 2012: Dear Teja,
          It is indeed good to have feedback, and to put some feedback into action would be helpful, if churches have an intention to really work for the good of all people. Those who are controlling people with dogma that is not useful to our global societies, seriously need to listen, evaluate patterns, and reshape them in a desirable way.
          Thanks again to you as well...good to connect:>)
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    Jul 2 2012: I personally take the stance that no body knows what happens after we die. I will do whatever it takes to make an impact on this earth before I die because "I" give my life purpose. I was raised Catholic but I just didn't understand how a man could stand up there week after week and pretend to KNOW what would happen after death. He doesn't know. Obey, doesn't know. No one knows and we won't know until we die.

    I feel like theological debates are a waste of time. Neither side is going to concede. The person of reason or the person of faith. I love religion. I wish very deeply that I could sit there and be like "Yeah, this makes total sense" but I would be fooling myself. I read religious texts because as Obey said men that were thinking about humanity and what they felt was best for it may have created these religions and therefore, they are important to understand! They were philosophers in a sense.

    It does give me freedom not to bow to a higher power because I'm able to think freely and rationally. I have really great friends who are very religious. They are some of the most wonderful people to be around but they HATE gay people and want to see abortions made illegal, based solely on the fact that "there god says so."

    Am I a good person? I believe so. Do I live a life that is wholesome? I sure as hell try

    Do I answer to anyone? Society, humanity and my sovereign state.
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    Jul 2 2012: Frans kellner,
    I really like your response to lorenz question it reminds me of a quote by Bertrand Russell - "To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom". Most people hide behind a fear of questioning their beliefs, they're told (have faith and do not question God) - the fear is that if you question God then you do not have faith and now risk eternity in hell. To conquer this fear is the first step towards knowledge, even if you do decide to still believe in a god. Because at least now you have some sort of reason to your beliefs. One more quote I like that I think fits here is by Thomas Jefferson - "Question with boldness even the existence of God, because if there be one, he most more approve the homage of reason then that of blindfolded fear".
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      Jul 2 2012: Thank you Marshal, however for many centuries and on many places still people need to believe to stay participating within their society. For them to question local believes has as a consequence to be banned or to be treated like an outcast.
      Information still is out of reach for most people so it will take some time before reason conquers fear on a global scale. Yet, those that dare are heroes for the sake of truth.
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    Jun 26 2012: Well most people in America believe in God for the same reason most people don't in China, they were brought up that way. I was brought up to believe in a God, but am now an atheist. I contribute my atheism to education. The more I learned throughout the years, the more my core beliefs were not matching up. I never wanted to not believe in God, it just hapend. Infact, it would be nice to know that their was a God so that I could see all my loved ones when I die,and I wouldn't have to worry about dieing because I would have everlasting life on the other side. However, just because something sounds good does not make it reality. Reality leads me to believe there is no god. My evidence is all the wars on this planet, all the suffering and starving people around the world, and the absence of an omnipotent force. All it would take for an omnipotent force to change these atrocities is the will, and if we would quit looking for this God to end it, I am sure given the will, Mankind could solve thesr problems.
  • Jun 25 2012: The older I get, the more comfortable I get with the phrase "I don't know".
    Is there a God? I don't know
    Why are we here? I don't know
    Is there life after death? I don't know

    Not knowing the answers to these questions doesn't make me not want to be a good person. I'm not trying to do my best because there may be a higher power to answer to after we die. I'm trying to do my best while I'm here because it's all that I can do. I know that I have the gift of life. I have chosen to try to make the most of it. I think as highly of other's lives as I do my own and try to help people when I can. It's a shared experience for all of us and I try to be a good neighbor locally and globally.

    There is no comfort for me not knowing the answers to these questions. However, I do take comfort in the belief that I'm doing the best that I can while I'm here for its own sake.
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    Jun 22 2012: There are many different reasons why people are atheists, as many reasons as there are people. Not being an atheist, myself, it would be presumptive of me to comment on the reasons. But from studying the majority of their arguments for atheism, or more specifically, their arguments against religion, one major theme has always presented itself: atheists are mainly antagonistic against religious beliefs and practices, especially those that procliam peace and yet commit murder,that proclaim community and yetcast people out, that procliam a soveriegn god, and then use that excuse to commit all kinds of atrocities.

    There are many other logical reasonings as well, but the hypocricy of the hyper religious is the most noticeable target of the ire of the atheist. And the blame must be put on the Christians primarily, in America andthe rest of the Western world, because throughout history to today, we as Christians have done a terrible terrible job of presenting the true message of salvation through Christ. When Christians finally begin to present themselves as true responsible messengers of peace, instead of hedonistic bubllies of the world, then and only then will atheists and others see that perhaps there is some truth to all this dogma we've been spewing for centuries.

    In my humble opinion.
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      Jun 29 2012: Dear Verble,
      I LOVE your open mindedness, your open heart, and ability to express yourself with respect, honesty, compassion, empathy and kindness...no matter what the topic question or your personal beliefs are.

      I do not label myself, other than as a simple human being, exploring this life adventure, and I totally agree with what you have written in the comment above. I believe that when the majority of people walk their talk, we may have a world in which we can all live in peace and harmony.

      Thank you for being you, and sharing the beautiful gift with everyone you interact with:>)
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        Jun 30 2012: Thank you so much, Colleen, for these kind words. You wouldn't know this, but they come at just the right time, because I've been having kind of a bad week, but then, you always been on TED a great source of true kindness and light.

        But i would not be truly walking my walk if I didn't confess that any of those wonderful attributes comes not from me, but from the Christ whom I serve. I must give Him the credit for any goodness. And whenever I get snarky or testy, well, that's all me!

        Again though, thank you most kindly!
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          Jun 30 2012: Dear Verble,
          Maybe I do, on some level "know" the right time!!! I saw your comment when you first wrote it, a week ago, and thought the exact same thing I expressed above. I kept seeing your comment as I scrolled through this thread on several occasions during the week to check out new comments. Every time I passed your comment, I thought..."no...not yet". Yesterday, I thought..."yes...now".

          I call it intuition or instinct. I believe there is a universal energy, or collective consciousness which allows us to "know" on many different levels when we are open to it. You choose to believe it is God driven, which I totally respect. Mostly, I respect that we can respect each other regardless (or because of?) some of our underlying beliefs?

          Thank YOU for your kind words Verble...always...all ways.

          I'm glad to listen to your "confession" Verble.......LOL:>)
          I love your communications my friend:>)
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      Jul 1 2012: Hi Verble, the hypocrisy doesn't help if you try to know them by their fruits. But it does not disprove god. It just proves people can do bad stuff no matter what they preach, or they can believe stuff that teaches them things that are in part detrimental to human rights. Some of the bad stuff is actually just following the nasty parts of the dogma or scriptures. Parts of the scriptures themselves are often problematic if you value human rights.

      Hypocrisy is not the reason I don't believe in any gods or goddesses. When I really looked there just wasn't any evidence, backed up by other non supernatural explanations for the universe, earth, life, human behaviour and culture (including religion) and experience (including religious experience) making more sense.
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        Jul 1 2012: This is very true Obey.....hypocrisy does not help the argument of those who call their god and religion loving, when the "preachers" are not behaving in a loving or respectful way. It simply serves to strengthen my beliefs (or lack of) regarding god and religion.
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    Jun 22 2012: I don't think I'm qualified to speak on behalf of the Atheist community, but I can speak for myself.

    I personally am an Agnostic-Atheist. I started to make the "switch" to Atheism when I was about 10. This happened because as I learned more and more about the world through science, I attributed less and less to God. This cycle continued for a few years, until I sat down one day and thought about the issue. I noticed I no longer agreed with the notion of God.
    I personally think God is something used by people to fill in area's that science has yet to understand. And I personally have just chosen to leave those area's blank.
  • Jun 22 2012: Nobody believes in "God" because people only know of their various Gods through other people.

    People either believe the people telling them that a specific version of god exists or they don't.

    Faith in god is actually faith in the people that told you that their god exists. This is an important distinction which seems to have been lost somehow.

    Given that there is no evidence more than the word of the person proposing gods existence and the transparent nature of this chain of people infecting one another each in their own turn, it's not at all surprising that someone would choose not to believe you when you tell them that there is an unseen being to which you and your religion can magically attribute certain properties.

    Having faith in what people say is an important part of life and certainly we cannot question everything we are told but when you encounter a claim with as much scope as religion and god, it's in your own best interest to look for evidence.
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      Jun 22 2012: Faith in god is actually faith in the people that told you that their god exists.

      - I'll try and remember this one. Thanks.
      • Jun 22 2012: I can't really take credit, I'm just paraphrasing from a video by theramintrees on YouTube. I've been watching a lot of his videos lately, very educational stuff.

        I wish I had come up with this myself, it's the sort of thing that should be obvious but somehow you just don't think of it that way till it's pointed out to you. Very clever stuff.
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      Jun 22 2012: On this I must respectfully disagree. My belief in God is not based on what other people have told me of God, but through powerful personal experiences with God. Nothing earth shattering, just several moments of a "quiet, small voice" that has helped me out of some strange situations. That, combined with what science has revealed, both on the mind-blowing magnificence of the universe to the power contained in each miniscule atom of the sun, down to entire universes in a drop of water at the bottom of the sea - wow! Sorry, I'm going to get romantic poetically here and state that with each new scientific breakthrough the evidence of God just reveals itself again.

      I mean, come on: time itself bends in space, just based on your physical proximity to a black hole? Like that can really just be on happy accident?

      You say yes, I say no.

      You say stop, I say go go go!

      And yes, when I break out into Beatles lyrics, it's time for me to leave.
      • Jun 22 2012: I can accept that you may take that as evidence of a God but it's not really evidence specifically of any of our earthly invented religions.

        It could well be that all our religions are completely wrong but god still exists and interacts with you.

        Perhaps you can take profound experiences to mean that there is a non-descript god.

        For any specific versions of god where he wants you to worship him on sunday, accept christ into your heart, kill all the non believers or wail at a wall, you're placing your faith in people, not god.
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          Jun 22 2012: Luke,

          Suggest if you add the word "Most" you have it about right.

          This will account for those that find a more independent path rather than the dogmatic denominations and sects.

          Agree our experience and culture inform religious and spiritual beliefs, even the the very independent ones. Probably not too many original spiritual ideas these days, even if they seem original to the individual.

          Even a belief in god, monotheistic, could be influenced by time and place. Not unusual in Europe or their ex colonies today. Maybe a bit rarer in polytheistic cultures and time periods.

          I guess even science shapes the beliefs of some. Religion is a flexible and adaptable meme.
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          Jun 23 2012: "For any specific versions of god where he wants you to worship him on sunday, accept christ into your heart, kill all the non believers or wail at a wall, you're placing your faith in people, not god."

          And you are exactly correct. That is not God, that is people's version of a god.
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          Jun 28 2012: Verble, I suggest if there is a god or gods, our human interpretation is probably always going to be insufficient or imprecise limited by our senses, imagination and intellect.

          So all dogmatic human interpretations are likely to be flawed. Pity most religious gloss over this logical conclusion.
      • Jun 23 2012: I could argue that even someone who constructs their own set of beliefs still does not have faith in god, rather they have faith in themselves.
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          Jun 23 2012: Suggest it might depend on how much their beliefs are based on evidence and how much is speculative or intuitive.

          I have friends who have absorbed a whole lot of occult, shamanism, wicca, new age, arch types etc and developed some sort of amalgam. One says we are all gods.

          Supernaturalists are a wide and varied bunch. I note even with someone who calls themselves a Christian you need to probe to understand what they actually believe.
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          Jun 23 2012: Luke and Obey,
          This is why I do not like labels. There are many different variations and interpretations of any belief system.
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    Jun 22 2012: I used to think that an atheist chose not to believe in God because they didn't want to follow rules or be answerable to a higher power. I came to realize that this is a misconception. Atheists reject the current definition of God as a person. Many believe in a higher power, but don't label it as God because organized religion presents God in non-realistic terms, and most fundamentalists reject the claims of modern science on pure conjecture. We all know that Galileo was right. So was Darwin in many ways.

    Many atheists make the following challenge; prove your position in some positive way and they will listen to what you have to say. Proclaiming the word of God to be proof is illogical in several ways; it has gone through many revisions and translations; many definitions have changed over time; the Christian church has gone through so many revisions that they can't agree among themselves; the evidence of science is understood by many atheists, yet rejected by fundamentalists on scriptural verses alone; when you ask for clarification of scripture, you are told that you will understand when you are dead!

    In a good lecture, there is a question and answer period following. When have you seen such a thing in a church? The minister gives his sermon and then bids everyone goodbye. You are not given the chance to question what was said. To me, it is like a one room schoolhouse and you never get past first grade. Where do you go for more clarification? You're on your own. Fortunately for me, I didn't leave this part out. I have had spiritual experiences while meditating, and I have studied mythology and Eastern philosophy which helped to answer many questions that the minister left out.

    Many atheists are answerable to the higher power of the forces of nature. They see science as the god of the future, but they don't label it as god because they don't want religion corrupting what they are discovering.
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      Jun 22 2012: I agree with much of what you say Roy.

      I suggest there is continuum of theist beliefs in several dimensions.
      From specific literalist fundemental beliefs to moderates to less dogmatic individual interpretations.
      From the specific detailed deities, perhaps with human characteristics to the unknowable
      From interventionist personal gods to impersonal unknowable
      Etc

      My definition of atheism is simply not having a belief in gods.
      Suggest there is a range of non belief in gods from those that simply don't see any evidence for any particular god or deity, to those who would strongly argue there is very probably no god.

      If it does involve the question of a deity, god, creator, goddess etc it is not about theism or atheism.

      So you might get some atheists who believe in reincarnation, spirits, fairies, ghosts, astrology or what politicians say, just no gods.

      Many atheists I know are also sceptical in regards to many supernatural claims like astrology, fortune tellers, or a godless spiritual realm. Some lean towards materialism. But that is not a requirement.

      Far be it for me to tell anyone whether they should call themselves an atheist or not, but I'd suggest a higher power with an intelligence is possibly a type of god.

      I've had discussions whether belief in angels or demons or fairies is compatible with the definition of atheism. We could not agree. If they are powerful they are almost like gods pre almighty monotheistic beliefs. But a race of beings that are less powerful but perhaps magical might not be considered gods. Lots of fun.

      I'm an agnostic atheist and I understand science is a process not god. I doubt science is god in the sense that theists see god is common among atheists.

      Please don't suggest atheists confuse one of the best methods we have for explaining and understand the universe as a god. Science and reason may have superseded explanations and rules linked to theist beliefs, but to say science is god is like saying chemistry is alchemy.
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    Jun 21 2012: Hi Lorenzo,

    Interesting question!

    The thing is that few people know what belief is.

    From my perspective, belief is a neural topology.
    It is the result of refining what perception leads to what outcomes.

    Consider the experiment of the moonwalking ape.
    The subjects were asked to count the basketball passes between the players in white shirts.
    They narrowed their perception to the white shirts and the ball.
    They did not see the ape moon-walk through the middle of the game.
    In effect, they only believed in white-shirts, black-shirts and a ball, they did not believe in the ape - and therefore did not even see him.
    This produces 2 bits of knowledge:
    1. Perception/belief can be externally directed/acquired through dynamic context.
    2. Belief relies on results.

    SO, if you lived in a community that imposes penalty or reward you for your belief/non-belief in god, then you would acquire that belief for self-preservation.

    I note that the Atheist community makes no such imposition, but many religious communities do.

    Unfortunately, the belief/non-belief in god produces no self-preservation outcomes outside of a community.
    In this, I am not talking about the benefits of religious reccommendations such as the 10 commandments etc - these have clear benefit, however believing that they came from god has no benefit for anyone except the priests.

    When a community resolves to remove religious persecution from its cusoms, many members of that community drop the god perception - it has no benefit.

    Personally, I have been through the god-belief phase, into the atheist phase and am now inclined to keep some spiritual belief based on personal observation. But that belief does not look much like the gods that people worship. All I see in modern religion still looks like the manipulations of politicians(priests).

    I count myself as lucky that I cannot be stoned to death for this view in my community.
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      Jun 22 2012: Actually this test doesn't work on people with ADD or ADHD. They always see the ape because by the time he floats by the screen they are already bored with the test.
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        Jun 22 2012: Hi Adam,

        Interesting observation ...
        Do you have a source for the stats on this?

        There is always a cause for perceptional filtering. In the ape test, the cause was the instruction to count passes between white-shirt players.

        I have problems with the word "bored". Like "belief", I don't think it has been properly defined (culturally), and can see a few disparate causes for the generalisation. Perhaps there are better definitions in neural/behavioural science?
        It might help the discussion about belief by identifying the parameters of systemic constraints/parameters influencing perceptional focus.
        • Jun 22 2012: I might be wrong Mitch, but I think it's possible that Adam's comment was simply an attempt to be humorous..
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          Jun 25 2012: Hi Mitch, Claudeus is partially correct in that it was a feeble attempt at humor. However there is truth in my statement. The first time I took the test I saw the monkey man. I don't know why exactly or if this was the case for anyone else. I don't have any clinical data but I can tell you what happened to me. When the test began I immediately asked myself why the object of the test was to count the number of times the ball was passed. By the time the ape danced past I was not surprised, but I did not expect it. There was no warning, nor was I tipped off in any way. Yet the ape caught my attention.

          A common misconception about people with ADD and ADHD is that they cannot focus. We focus but we do it much faster than everyone else. It's like having a Hyabusa when everyone else is on a Harley, if you know what I mean. ADD/ADHD does not make you smarter but it does make you faster.

          Thought occur in a chain reaction yes? They pop into your head and build upon themselves. Well imagine speeding this process up immensely. That is what it is like to have ADD/ADHD. A person w/o it can mimic this attribute after copious amounts of coffee or stimulants.

          Therefore you're right. Bored is the wrong word. I would say I was already wondering why I was asked to watch the ball.
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        Jun 26 2012: Hi Adam,

        I suspected as much.

        Seems to me that treating ADD/ADHD as a dissorder is the wrong approach.

        The real issue would be developing techniques for teh ADD/ADHD to harnes that Hyabusa.

        I am most likely diagnosable - my problem was trying to understand why people could not see what was obvious to me. ..
        Sadly, it slows down as you get older.
        • Jun 26 2012: Mitch, ADHD is becoming so prevalent it raises some serious questions about the psychiatric community and their end goal. There are a multitude of theories as to what ADHD is and why it exists. One states that certain humans carry genes that trace back to very nomadic people that needed to constantly be on the move. Another theory is that technology has caused a problem, as instant gratification is a click away. Im not sure how much weight these theories really hold. Is ADD real? Is it normal disillusionment and boredom in children? Is it a disorder that makes you less affective in a society that demands perfection and strict conformity to the status quo, modern, fast lane society. Or is it really a disorder that is maladaptive and destructive to the self? I guess it may be a mix of the two but the way that its being treated is suspect.

          The normal treatment involves prescribing stimulant narcotics. This can't be the only answer to this problem. Exercises in meditation are known to increase focus and attention skills. There are a couple other practices that can be helpful in treating this disorder.

          The link I posted below is incredibly informative and eloquent. I have posted it at least 4 times on TED, but the more who see it the better. There are some awesome stats about ADHD, also how changes in the diagnostic criteria and quick fix psychiatry are contributing to this.

          http://ww3.tvo.org/video/177352/allen-j-frances-overdiagnosis-mental-illness
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          Jun 26 2012: Anytime Mitch. I'm off to scour the web for more satisfying crumpets of delicious and sometimes useless knowledge.
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        Jun 26 2012: @Brian:

        I thought that SRI's were the main treatment for ADHD?

        I am beginning to think that a combination of social and environmental pressures has kicked-off a genetic questing for new adaptation - resulting in wider deviation of mental function. I begin to suspect that ADD/ADHD is part of the autism continuum .. see: http://www.wrongplanet.net/article419.html
        There seems to be a growing movement advocating the re-evaluation of these conditions - not as disorders, but as super-orders, for which we are yet to develop effective development strategies.
        The problem with that is it threatens vested interests and institutions: drug companies, traditional psychiatry, schools, law, healthcare, and industry in general as it starts being challenged by new paradigms it cannot understand.

        I agree that there are some techniques that help harnessing a fast brain (e.g. visual concentration exercises) but these result in further isolation .. it's like super-charging the super-charged. I have this analogy of the man who starts a race and begins competing with the leader - he overtakes him and crosses the line and gets the prize, however, the leader he was competing with had already run the circuit 10 times. The prize was given by those who could not comprehend that someone can go 10 times around to your 1 (because they could not do it). This is the plight of teh super-charged. A super-=charged individual can know when others only think they know, or pretend to .. it causes problems, and a lot of potential is wasted.
        • Jun 26 2012: SSRI's are used but less frequently, treatment usually consists of prescribing a stimulant as they seem to work somewhere around 70-80% of the time.

          In regards to the link you have sent me, I must confess, I have thought in similar ways. I have a friend who has aspergers and his insights into other people can be absolutely brilliant. He is incredibly sensitive and has an uncanny ability to do quick calculations and remember sports statistics like none other. He has also been subject to much misunderstanding, as he has a hard time with social cues. Due to this he has a grudge against much of the world and as you could imagine harboring this view has caused him personal strife. I have pondered how much different he could have turned out had there been a more empathetic society to nurture him and understand his differences. Although I still remain friends with him I worry about what the future brings.

          There is an interesting book i was introduced to not long ago called "Touched With Fire" its written by Kay Jamison, psychologist at Johns Hopkins University. The book discusses the relationship between psychotic disorders, creativity, and genius. If it is true that there is genius associated with illnesses of this character I don't see how it wouldn't be true of autism and its spectrum. In fact, as I'm sure you know, it's not uncommon for savants to sit on the autism spectrum.

          As the brain grows in potency so to should the emotions. I would imagine this would make for peeks of pleasure and valleys of pain far more vast, that could be quite the burden.

          As a psychology major I feel frustrated at times with the hold the drug companies have on the committee that creates the DSM. It seems as though many of the higher ups in psychiatry remain happily deceived by drug companies.

          Most psychiatrists are working for the greater good and I have to say I can't wait to get into the field.
        • Jun 26 2012: In response to ADHD being related to Intense World Theory, I'm undecided, it certainly provides a different aspect of looking at ADHD. I will need more information and hopefully in the future personal experience with those diagnosed with ADHD will provide me with the information to formulate an informed theory and treatment.

          Thanks for the link I will be sure to bring it up in my classes.

          -Brian
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        Jun 26 2012: @BRian,

        I have a small advantage in that my child is high-functioning autistic.
        Learning to understand his thinking has ejected me from traditional thinking and assumptions.
        Goodbye comfort - hello reality.

        These days, I get a lot of juice from neural net theory. I am surprised that so many psychiatrists haven't had their lights go on yet. Damasio being a notable exception.

        The entry point is topology - and Minsky is one of the leading lights of that.

        Top down psychology fails becasue it is hampered by language and obsolete semantic structures.
        In short - fashion. So many good minds reduced to fanboys of old conservatives, who in their day, were wall-breakers.

        We need more wall breakers - the hierophants are selling entry at too high a price.
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        Jun 22 2012: Hi worthy Don!

        They are challenging to write .. it reflects the challenge presented by new thoughts.

        For instance, what is it that makes people defined ADD/ADHD get "bored"?

        What does "bored" mean anyway?

        If bored means "anxiety arising from dissengagement"

        Then is it caused by:

        A defect in the ability of sustained focus?
        The brain has already fully understood and is eager for more stimulus?
        The person has learned that sustained focus can lead to being blind-sided?
        The person judges the task to be superfluous to his interests?
        ... etc?

        I'm sure behavioral scientists already know the answers and have classifications for them all.
        But one wonders if ADD/ADHD sometimes gets diagnosed simply on the ambiguous word "bored".

        For myself, it is interesting how perceptual framing and focus are such a dynamic process .. I always classed the word "ignorance" as a passive thing, perhaps it has a dark active side as well.

        Mostly, I enjoy lifting up the bonnets of words to see what's really inside them.
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          Jun 22 2012: I guess there might be a couple components involved in defining ADHD as an illness.

          1) It is outside the norms
          2) it has detrimental results in some way

          Maybe this is just the next stage of evolution and the people without ADHD have the problem.

          If I read your comments carefully I usually get a lot out of them. Have to admit your ideas are often left field and also the way you explain them does not make for easy reading. Amazing thing language. Good to get an intellectual shake now and then. Stops you automatically reverting to a habitual response.
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      Jun 22 2012: Mitch, agree our perceptive focus can narrow or expand depending on the situation.

      We may not be aware of someone leaving the room while engrossed in a movie.

      It maybe semantics but I suggest that it might be more accurate to say the players only perceived the other players and the ball, while engrossed in the task. They did not perceive the ape. That is not the same as saying they did not believe in the ape.

      If you told them there was a moonwalking ape there they would not believe you. At that point you could say they did not believe there was an ape there.

      Big jump from this to self preservation issue. Although I agree in part that social pressures to conform, to avoid social alienation, or more dramatic penalties, and even the to please our parents is part of our make up. I would suggest young children are credulous and don't have the critical thinking capabilities of adults - perhaps we have evolved to believe what our parents tell us unquestioningly for survival purposes.

      I also agree that there can be a cost coming out as an atheist in many communities. Many parallels to coming out as a homosexual thanks to similar religious dogma and ignorance and tribalism and the authoritative value.

      In some cultures the penalty for apostasy is still death. I also count myself lucky to have lost a few friends, nit my life.
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        Jun 22 2012: Hi Obey #1,

        I equate "believe" with "percieve' it is a process that results in a belief (a topologically filtered outcome of stimulus).

        Also believing works on different levels

        The ape test showed results on the primary perception/belief level - the level that deals with senses.

        The belief you are talking about is secondary perception - the level that deals with what you receive through communication. Secondary perception is more subject to contradiction.

        But both behave in the same way.

        2 things are interesting:
        Memory seems to be a compression function that abstracts perception for associative recall.
        This would occur against all levels of perception - yielding a stratification in memory - even beyond short/medium/long term..
        The inhibitary function at work in the ape test demonstrates a subtractive feedback. Does this also apply to the subconscious, or is part of the definition of the conscious? THe inhibition was commanded - I suspect that religions use this same device against the secondary perceptive process.

        Self preservation is lurking under everything. This is the self defined by a midline optimum of body function. As Damasio observes.

        @claudeus gothicus - yes, I suspected as much, but wanted to explore the word "bored". That was my little joke ;)
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          Jun 22 2012: I wonder if our focus on a subject is part of reinforcing a memory.

          I can remember the songs I was listening to on the way home, the taxi in front, the bus that impinged my lane but the other cars are a blur.

          I suggest the focus thing, shutting out the periphery, was very important for hunting, warring, etc. Evolutionary. Is this what you mean by self preservation? I wonder if there is a difference between the sexes in the ape test?

          Do you mean confirmation bias or something similar? Agree we see what we want to see to some extent. We also invent. Pattern recognition. I remember seeing faces in the lino pattern. Again self preservation at work I suspect.

          Memory seems to be a bit unreliable in general. We seem to invent parts of it. Re the subconscious, I wonder if some parts could be accurately accessed via hypnoses or do we also fill in the gaps organically.
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        Jun 22 2012: Hi O#1,

        These are all important questions.

        Focus is not so much important for memory, as it is important for accurate/reliable memory.
        Focus is required to learn.. perhaps this is the bit that picks out the key points needed to efficiently lay down a map. As you say - the key points are the means of compression, in our imagination, we can re-construct/de-compress and that can go wrong if the key points were ambiguous.

        So focus (perceptive inhibition) seems to be part of the compression function.

        A few points:
        1. The action of perception is not exactly the same as a filter - it's more like a classification that groups inputs into lumps. The grouping is "to believe" the lump is the "belief". The inhibitory action of focus inhibits the lumps - not the inputs.

        2. Neural memory is not exactly like computer memory. Rather than having some area that is the "hard-disk" wired to a CPU, the whole thing is asociative. It is true that there are areas that seem to deal with different levels of memory, but the method of access is not so deliberate - there is no "seek" .. it just happens.

        3. There are spacial maps and there are causal maps. There may be more - say person and object.

        4. Consciousness as defined as a focusing principle can use narrative as a means of directing that focus.

        I suppose I better think more on what narative actuially is.

        But one thing stands out - the "lumping" action of perception can lead to big problems if the grouping is fallacious - it can give rise to error in anything that associates to it, and it can blind a person to important information if it is supressed as part of a focus. This would occur quite often in secondary perception (communication being subject to a lot of noise/error).
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    Jun 21 2012: Even in Communist China they have a diety, Lord Budda. Just because they do believe in the same way I do does not make them atheists. Why some people are atheists is really their business. As for me, my goal is to live my life in such a manner that I would be an example to others. Perhaps they would say there is a Christian. Maybe, there is a honest man. How about, he is a role model to the students. Get the drift.

    I often wonder why we are so concerned about others when there is plenty to keep us busy in our own lives. As my friend Colleen Steen might say, "Live in the minute". I only know of one perfect person and have long ago given up the dream of being perfect. So I am happy being who I am.

    Let us define ourselves beore we define others.

    All the best. Bob
    • Jun 22 2012: I seriously doubt that anyone would consider the world's fastest growing economy and, overall, 2nd largest economy in the world, to be a "communist" country anymore. Secondly, China might be the birthplace of Zen but even if Buddhism was prevalent there compared to say, Japan or southeast Asia, no Buddhist would consider the Buddha to be a diety. Siddhartha Gautama was simply, as you admirably profess to be, an example to others.
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        Jun 22 2012: One party state perhaps,

        The 2011 census in Australia showed 22% no religion compared to 15% in 2006. In part due to Chinese migrants. So many of them consider they have no relgion.

        Although Buddhism and perhaps Confucianism carry many dynamics of religion. Although Buddha and Bodhisattva are not gods and angels they come pretty close.

        I lived in country where the majority are Buddhist for 4 years and they had a very religious type of Buddhism compared to some western variants. Also infused with Brahamic and shamanism. Some forms of Buddhist type belief are not as pure as you might think. They don't build those big Buddha statues to contemplate. They worship. They pray for help.

        Buddha has become something supernatural for many of them. More than the God kings of old.

        Even many Chinese still believe in an afterlife. Ever see them burn the pretend money to give their dead relatives some dosh.

        I've been to Buddhist funerals, I've been to some shrines as they pray and make offerings, its pretty close to religion. Its definitely supernatural and superstitious.

        Its almost Western Imperialism to use our narrow definition of what faith is, what religion and say Buddhism is not a religion. Even though a few Buddhists like to make a point of it. But Buddhism is not a monolithic intellectual tradition many might believe.
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      Jun 22 2012: Dear Robert, you are a Winner!!!

      I was at a meeting last night, and I noticed this posted on the wall...it may be my new mantra for awhile:>)
      LEARN from the past
      LIVE in the present
      PLAN for the future

      I agree that what one chooses to believe is "their business" AS LONG AS it does not adversly impact other people. I see much more adversity created in our world because of a belief in a god, rather than belief in no god. I "get your drift" Robert, and I agree:>)

      As I looked at the words on the wall last night, I had this conversation in mind as well. Are we learning from the past regarding religion/god/no god? Are we living in the present moment when we are so concerned about whether we are going to heaven or hell? Or warning our neighbor about going to heaven/hell because s/he does not believe the same as we do? Or even worse, manipulating, controlling, torturing, killing people in the name of our god?

      Are we truly planning for a peaceful loving future when the only thing we think about and preach, is joy of heaven for some, and the eternal fires of hell for those who believe something different? Are we truly accepting and caring about each other with the arrogant belief that we are "better" than others because of what we choose to believe?

      I totally agree Bob...let us define ourselves before we define others. Let's truly "BE" what we want to "SEE" in our world. I believe more people are embracing the concept of no god, because as evolving human beings, we realize we can think and feel for ourselves, rather than blindly follow dogma that makes no sense, is controling, and encourages seperation, rather than unity in our world.
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        Jun 22 2012: Colleen, Some live, learn, and plan while other stagnate and resort to demons and threats to achieve the goal of "allowing you to choose" the direction in your life. Establish fear to achieve peace in your life seems sort of counter productive to me.

        We agree 99% of the time and I hold you in great esteem. It is the 1% I cherish as it causes me to reflect and evlaluate. One thing we share I hold in great value is "The courage of our convictions".

        I look forward to our next conversation. All the best. Bob
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          Jun 22 2012: Dear Robert,
          That has been one of my questions for 60+ years! What sense does it make to establish and encourage a prejudice, discriminating fear based belief, while at the same time preaching about peace, harmany and unity for all? I agree...it is not only counter productive, but also contradictory and hypocritical.

          Thank you for your kind words. The feeling is mutual my friend:>) Yes, I agree that we share the courage of our convictions. I have often been accused of walking my talk:>)

          I look forward to more conversations and your insight as well:>)
          Best always...all ways:>)
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        Jun 22 2012: Hi Colleen,

        I'm all for peace with freedom of and from religion within limits.

        I do worry about growing fundamentalism and a backlash against secularism. Secularism is good for minority religions and atheism alike.

        It is one thing to have a contest of ideas. It is another if one side gets violent.

        In some places it is a war between modern enlightenment values, like equality of the sexes, freedom to change religion and theocratic medieval morality .

        Praying against atheists- no problem. Shooting or bombing or imprisioning or deiscriminating. Not so good.

        I'm also against forcing atheism on anybody, unless no one is looking.
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          Jun 23 2012: Me too Obey...all for peace, with freedom of, and from religion. Violence in our world is not ok, and unfortunately, much violence is practiced under the guise of religion(s). As I continually say, I respect anyone's belief AS LONG AS it does not adversly impact others.
          I am against forcing anything on anyone.
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        Jun 25 2012: Unbelievable! I have to scroll up an up further each time to find your name with a reply button so I can reply to you Ms. Steen! Come on, how do you do that? Are you assuming the author of this post is an Atheist? I don't think that has been stated by him. Anyway, is it ever justifiable on TED conversations to "Close" a conversation to all but like-minded contributors and punish violators with a barrage of YouTube style venom? Disagree with me, please, but don't ridicule, misrepresent and mock me. You cannot imagine being happy with God and I cannot imagine being happy without God. We disagree on that. I apologize and ask your forgiveness for my for arrogance. I am in no way superior to you, or anyone else. I did not write the Holy Bible I merely quote from it. Your problem is with the author. I withdraw so you can take it up with Him. I hope we go back to the civility of TED Conversations and, again, I apologize for my part in moving away from it in the first place. Friends?
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          Jun 26 2012: Dear Edward,
          I do not "do" anything regarding the TED communication system, except understand and accept how it works.

          I am not "assuming" anything about anyone Edward. I am simply addressing the topic question.

          I do not perceive anyone here closing the conversation, nor is anyone punishing anyone else with a barrage of "U-tube style venom". Are you projecting what is in your heart and mind? You are the one who said those who do not agree with you are uninformed and ignorant.

          I have nothing to forgive you for Edward, because I did not blame you for anything. Your arrogance, is yours...not mine.

          I do not have a "problem" with the author of the bible. We know that there were many authors, all of whom were probably writing what they sincerely believed at the time.

          In my perception Edward, I am your friend no matter what we agree or disagree on. Disagreement with one another does not cause me to cut off a friendship. That sounds like your god speaking...if we agree with everything "he" says, he will love us...if not...to hell with you...so to speak!!! LOL:>)

          I care about you, respect you, and respect that you have beliefs that are different from mine. Whether or not we agree, is not relevant to the fact that I care about you and respect you without conditions. Preferences...yes....that we can converse with kindness and respect is a preference. Conditions....no.
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        Jun 26 2012: (Insert my usual expression of confusion about the lack of a REPLY button on your comments here).
        I value the free and vigorous exchange of ideas and opinions with you Collen, even though we do not form a very good mutual admiration society. I appreciate your candor and depth of experience. You pointed out my arrogance and I apologized. May I have your expressed forgiveness for that particular offense?
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          Jun 26 2012: Dear Edward,
          (Insert my usual comment regarding the TED communication system)

          I admire and respect you as an evolving human being (just like all of us) Edward, regardless of our agreement/disagreement. I do not make that conditional upon you feeling the same way about me, so it's ok if there is not mutual admiration:>)

          What you choose to percieve, believe and express, does not change my perceptions and beliefs....unless of course, at some point I choose to change my perceptions/beliefs based on information I choose to embrace. Suggesting that I am ignorant and uninformed does not EVER cause me to change my beliefs. It simply gives me information about the person making the statement.

          Actually, I did not "point out" your arrogance. I believe I said that to accuse those who disagree with you of being ignorant and uninformed feels arrogant to me. I'll look for that comment, so we can be clear. I certainly reflected an idea to you, and if you accepted that as arrogant on your part, that seems to be a decision you made about yourself.

          Again Edward, I have nothing to forgive you for. If you made a decision about yourself regarding arrogant/not arragant, perhaps you can forgive yourself?
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          Jun 26 2012: GREAT Edward!!!I found the comment regarding "arrogant". Now we can be clear:>)

          2 days ago: Dear Edward,
          "Young lady"....that must be me? LOL:>) From what I've read in your comments, I think we are about the same age:>)

          I agree...you are not qualified to speak for another entity.

          You say..."People who deny God's existence are willingly uninformed..."

          This is one difficulty I have with religious fundamentalists/extremists. You say that because I do not believe as you do, that I am "uninformed". You try to put yourself on a pedistal by believing that you are more informed, more intelligent and know something that I do not know.

          That is not truth Edward, except to you. The fact is, which I've stated in many comments on TED, is that I have explored, practiced, researched and experienced various religious and philosophical beliefs for 60+ years.

          So, your insistance that I am uninformed, suggests that you are more informed and intelligent than I am....that YOU know more about me and what I need than I know about myself. That YOU are "right" and know the "right" thing for me.

          I respect you as an intelligent, informed individual, who has chosen a certain life path, which includes the belief in god and religion. Why can't you give that respect to me, rather than believing that you are more informed and intelligent? That seems very arrogant to me.

          The topic question here Edward is...
          Why have people (Atheists) Chosen not to believe in God? Does this give freedom to live life without becoming answerable to anyone?

          Some folks are honestly answering the question as it pertains to us/them, and you say they/we are "vociferously ranting" against the Holy Bible. Honestly Edward, I don't percieve anyone "vociferously ranting". I do, however, see some disagreement with your beliefs, as we/they intelligently address the topic question..
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    Jun 21 2012: Lorenzo, your title says more about the idea you have of atheists rather the behavior of atheists themselves. Atheists, like everyone else, are answerable to the law and (almost as importantly) to other people.

    Your description is quite clearly something you've heard said about religion that you're spinning the other way around. The actual fact is that atheism seems to be much more detached from social and societal context than religion is. Many atheists will have a religious background (that includes me).

    Your premise is obvious, nobody is something because they think it's wrong.
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      Jun 21 2012: Hi Matthieu! Long time no see:>)
      It is so true that many who do not believe in a god have very in-depth backgrounds in religion(s). Many people I know (myself included) abandoned the religion they were born into, and often spent years exploring other religions and philosophical beliefs. I venture to say that sometimes, we may know more about the religious teachings BECAUSE we actually explored it rather than simply accepting it.
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        Jun 22 2012: Yes, agree, it is powerful having been inside the bubble of a religion and now looking from outside the bubble.

        Perhaps having both perspectives provides more understanding then being born into one or the other and staying that way.
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          Jun 23 2012: Yes Obey, knowledge is power. It is like staying in any bubble or box, and then experiencing something beyond the limited beliefs of the box or bubble. I also agree that stepping outside it often provides more unlimited understanding. That is always a choice we make as individuals. One challenge, is that stepping outside limited beliefs is frightening for many people. It sometimes feels more secure living with the limited beliefs s/he has become comfortable with.
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    Jun 21 2012: Lorenzo,
    With the information I have at this time, I do not believe there is a god, I am always open to possibilities, and I do not choose to label myself.

    I was born into a catholic family and attended catholic schools for 12 years. Even as a child, I questioned the dogma that was forced on us. Yes forced. The teachings and dogma were/are fear based, and that was clear to me as a very young child.

    While the teachings presented god to be unconditionally loving and forgiving, we were told that we were born sinners. While we were told to love thy neighbor, we were only supposed to love the neighbor who was catholic, because everybody else was going to hell anyway. Lots of contradictions!

    Whether or not one believes in a god, we are here...now, and that is the important piece for me.
    I am accountable/answerable to myself and all those I share this earth with. Wherever I go, there I am. I want to like the person I spend so much time with. Those who give answerability/accountability to a god may be the ones who are not accountable or answerable to anyone.
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      Jun 24 2012: I am with Colleen on this one. I was raised in a different religion but just as hard core.
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        Jun 25 2012: Hi Linda,
        Hard core indeed. I couldn't even say the word god for years, because of the fear it instilled in my heart. After moving out of my parent's home, I decided not to attend Sunday mass. I remember that whole day, fearfully anticipating a bolt of lightening, striking me dead!!! I can laugh about it now...thankfully! I realize the absurdity of most of the fear based teachings.

        Not only was it hard core, but often contradictory as well. "He" was supposedely a loving and forgiving god, so why were we taught to fear "him"? Makes no sense on any level. We have all these people in our world clinging to contradictory, fear based concepts. It is no wonder there are so many physically and emotionally wounded people in our world.

        It is interesting to observe in myself...I was actually more open to the possibility of a god until the conversations on TED, in which people try to convert us! Their arguments in favor of god/religion, are strongly reinforcing the reasons I do not believe in a god.
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          Jun 26 2012: I think the whole fear of punishment to control behavior is a hallmark of most of the Christian religions. It definitely works but so many dots just didn't connect in the whole thing.

          We went to church on Saturday and there were so many rituals and rules to keep God happy and if you did not keep him happy, you risk everlasting life (hell, 1000 years, beasts and so on). Well needless to say, with so many rules, I regularly broke them. From there on it was downhill. When I started to critically think as an adult it just didn't make any sense.

          Got to say, what I know about religion, they really weld the whole guilt, punishment, retribution. reparation, etc to an artform.
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        Jun 27 2012: I agree Linda...the practice of using fear to control, has worked well to control people throughout history.

        I believe, for a long time, people were not looking for the dots to connect. It seems that people were willing to be controlled. When one is controlled, there are fewer decisions to be made...less accountability...it's easier to be told how to act and react when someone else is orchestrating our lives...is it not? No decisions to make on our own? Simply accepting what we are taught without question seems preferable to some folks.

        I honestly think that more and more people all the time WANT to connect the dots...WANT to make decisions for themselves...DO NOT want to be controlled with mumbo-jumbo, nonsensical information. Which is why more people are turning away from the belief in a god who is controlling and abusive by sending us to an eternity in hell if we do not agree with the controlling behaviors.

        I agree...often religions encourage the whole guilt, punishment, retribution, reparation etc. to an artform....a very controlling artform...one which keeps us living in fear based beliefs when/if we accept it.

        I honestly believe, and it seems to be reinforced with the conversations on TED, that more and more people are questioning beliefs, rather than simply accepting. I believe we (humans) are evolving to a point where we are less willing to be controlled, and more willing to accept the responsibility and accountability to orchestrate our own lives in a beneficial way...beneficial to ourselves as individuals, which also benefits the whole of humankind.
  • Jul 3 2012: I think it's important to recognise that non-belief is the natural state. What I mean is that someone cannot believe in God without being told about the concept. It is possible that someone can come up with an idea which is similar to the existing concepts of God but impossible for someone to spontaneously and without guidance begin believing in a specific religions version of God due to the infinite number of possible variations to an idea of what a God is.

    If non-belief is the natural state then the question should be; "why do people believe in God(s)?"

    The short answer is that they have been taught to.

    Perhaps we Atheists are just slow learners...?
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      Jul 3 2012: From your perspective your thoughts seem logical but not for those who grew up in a religious environment.
      They are taught from early on that the first human, Adam, was created and he and all offspring held a kind of relation with that creator known by the name God. So they believe that all ancestors up to the first one were observed by God which they themselves can't see because with Eve man was driven from paradise.
      From that perspective your logic makes no sense.
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        Jul 3 2012: Frans,
        Although you say Luke's perspective is not logical for those who grew up in a religious environment, are you actually saying the same thing as Luke?

        Luke..."...someone cannot believe in God without being told about the concept."
        Frans..."They are taught from early on..."
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          Jul 3 2012: Yes my dear Colleen, we say the same thing.
          The point I tried to make however was that when born in a house and never ever went outside once you can't know what that house looks like. The conclusion that to not believe in God is natural, is only valid for those that can look from the outside, those that can see the human being as an developing species instead of an instant made, walking talking image of God.

          To my humble view both assumptions are untrue to represent the past events in human development.
          With language came stories. Before that we were fully connected and aware of the totality of our being. Of course awareness without knowledge for to have knowledge we need to have stories, stories to tell ourselves and each other. With those stories/knowledge man was born and able to edit its own role on the world stage. This editing we call free will.

          Seen this way the naïve parable of Adam and Eve has really something to say about the origins of the human race for separation of our true being was a fact and with it paradise was lost.
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        Jul 5 2012: Hello again Frans...thanks for your reply:>)
        I thought you were both saying the same thing, and thought I'd check, rather than assume:>)

        I agree that if one is born into a house, and never ever goes outside, s/he will not know what the house looks like from the outside. I believe this is exactly what many religions do to people. The strick dogma, that often does not make any sense, keeps people from exploring...keeps them frightened, trapped and controlled.

        I really like encouraging exploration of the life experience without dogma that is destructive and abusive, often limiting people in an unhealthy way. There certainly are people who use religions as beneficial life guides. However, there are enough fundamentalists/extremists in our world who would like nothing better than to convert everyone to his/her destructive beliefs and practices.

        This is part of the reason I do not believe in the concept of a fear based god. and/or religion.
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      Jul 3 2012: Hi Luke.

      "that non-belief is the natural state"
      If you mean non-belief in god, then I agree. However I remember as a child wondering where everything came from. My parents were very evasive on babies; but outright silent on everything else. My mum did drag me along to church for a while. I had no idea what all that was about, & I don't think she had either.
      Church notwithstanding however, even as a child I knew full well that there was a lot of explaining to be done as to why everything seemed to be geared around humans. This was my 'natural state'. I 'knew' that there was something that I was ignorant of,& set about trying to find out what it was.
      So I was ignorant of why things existed,& I knew I was ignorant. Very frustrating, but that was my 'natural state'; not non-belief, but non-knowing; but fully aware there was an explanation out there.
      I may have been an exception, as nobody else seemed at all interested. Still the same today, nobody's bothered. Now that I find amazing!

      :-)
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        Jul 3 2012: Peter you mistook the point, not having a belief or an idea is the natural point is meant to be taken as if you were a blank canvas you'd have no ideas. So as soon as you assert something then you're no longer in the natural state.

        Edward there was nowhere for me to reply to you, I didn't literally mean it in terms of nature.
        It's like this, not believing in unicorns is a natural state, you know there's no suggestion of them or reason to think they exist, but when someone says unicorns exist, well then they've left the stage of non belief and now have they have to prove what they've said. Now IF they prove their assertion, it then becomes the natural state. So in modern day a lack of belief in horses is an unnatural state of thinking because they're everywhere. So it's the same for new scientific ideas, someone suggests something, if they prove it it becomes common knowledge. and so forth.
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          Jul 3 2012: Please understand I am not trying to manipulate your words Stewart. I am trying to understand exactly what you mean, in context, by the phrase, "as soon as you assert something you are no longer in the natural state." Prior to your explanation it really sounds like you are saying knowledge is unnatural.
      • Jul 3 2012: Hello Peter,

        As a child/teenager and even now i suppose I have always been very actively seeking answers to the fundamental questions of life. Philosophy has often been an obsession which has kept me awake at night wondering what free will conceptually is or what the purpose of life itself is among many other things and I've come to a number of unexpected conclusions along the way.

        To some extent, I imagine that religion is for many a framing mechanism which guilds the same process of self exploration/discovery/definition in the formative years and onward.

        I don't think you're at all strange for having a sense of unfulfilled wonder in your early years and in fact I would consider that as a sign of intelligence in someone. Growing up and even still now, I often feel like some kind of alien because the people around me usually show very little outward signs that they have interest in philosophy or knowledge more than gossip or sports.

        I sometimes think that religion for some is a vocabulary as much as anything else. There are stories, morals and meaning in texts which allow you to communicate with others in a unique and in some cases probably a powerful way which wouldn't otherwise be possible.

        I don't question that there are valuable answers to important questions in the bible or any other religion but I guess it's a bit like a maths book which has half the right answers. Just because half the answers are right, you can't then assume that they are all right. When you fail in maths because of that faulty maths book, do you question the whole intellectual institution of mathematics or do you question the book?

        Obviously you're free to believe and live how you choose but in my opinion, nothing in life should be above scrutiny or critical questioning.
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          Jul 3 2012: Hi Luke.
          Like you I wonder why people prefer to talk about sports more than the meaning of life. I can understand folks not agreeing on the answer, but not even to ask the question; well I just don't get it.
          Another trend is for folks to get all uptight & defensive about their own particular viewpoints; even to the point of going to war over it. My personal search ended in Christianity; I'm pretty sure I'm right, but none of us can be 100%.
          Much of the 'religion' in the world is about form & custom; I think my dear Mum was of that ilk. Church was the place for respectable people to go on a Sunday. My Dad had a general store, & was an ardent Atheist, but he enjoyed closing the shop on a Sunday just for the break. Many people send their children to faith schools today, just to teach them discipline & good manners. Religion gives folks a level playing field; a set of common values.
          What is actually true in all this is a different question. In my case I have thrown my lot in with the bible, which tells us that this will be a minority view, & will attract a lot of flack. Well it got that right at least.
          Whether it is right in everything, I don't know, but I'm willing to bet my soul on it; which, when you think about it, is a bet I cannot possibly lose. Others must seek their own path, & this site is pretty good for exchanging views & generally chewing the fat over what we agree are very important subjects from any viewpoint.

          :-)
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        Jul 3 2012: Peter,

        I guess you have heard of the anthropomorphic principle.

        I guess it is at least equally plausible that we could be geared or evolved to suit the environment rather than the universe created for us.

        I note it is not that perfect. for humans. Earthquakes, floods, disease, inclement climate, parasites, billions starving etc I know there are religious rationales for some of these. Maybe Eden had no earthquakes. Still 99.999999999999% of the universe would kill us instantly even if we had access to it. Most of the universe is redundant if it is all about humans.

        Points at least to the mirrored perspective being worth some consideration.
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          Jul 3 2012: Hi Obey.
          Yep you're right. We wouldn't be here if the earth wasn't capable of sustaining us. It's so beautiful though, so nearly perfect. And we can understand it, or at least some of it. Galaxies motoring at thousands of mph all over the place & not colliding. Caterpillars melting into a pile of goo & morphing into the most beautiful creature & flying; first go; much to the amazement of our aeronautical engineers. Get out the electron microscope & watch the Liliputians beavering away in their hi-tec factory complexes just to keep us all up & running. It's absolutely awesome.
          We live near the beach. We moved here 30 odd years ago, & we used to walk along the sand barefoot. We just loved it, we were so lucky. You know, sometimes a year can go by & we never bother; we've got used to it. The universe is like that, we've learned lots about it, but I think we've gotten used to it. It has lost it's ability to awe us. We truly are 'so lucky'.
          :-)
      • Jul 4 2012: "Whether it is right in everything, I don't know, but I'm willing to bet my soul on it; which, when you think about it, is a bet I cannot possibly lose."

        Hello Peter,

        It sounds like you're alluding to Pacal's wager which suggests that you have nothing to lose and everything to gain but I believe there is a flaw in this wager.

        It ignores the possibility that those who believe in religion will go to a place like hell while those which do not will go to a place like heaven.

        I'm sure you're probably thinking "Ridiculous!" right now but as unlikely as this reverse scenario might seem, there is as much objective evidence to suggest that it is true as there is objective evidence to suggest that Christians go to heaven and that non-believers go to hell.

        They each have no objective evidence and that is why they are equally likely.

        There is no hedge bet for something which you have no information about, no matter what you do or believe, you're still going to be just as likely to damn yourself as anyone else is.
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          Jul 4 2012: Hi Luke.
          Interesting perspective, never heard that one. From my perspective there is loads of evidence, so Pascal's wager is very much a fall-back position. It's strange how two people can look at data & reach opposing conclusions, but that's just the way it is.
          I would have thought that anything offering eternal, blissful, life would receive the most careful & open minded scrutiny. However the reality is the very opposite. The very idea invites open hostility. Present company excepted of course; I appreciate your civility.

          :-)
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        Jul 5 2012: Peter,
        "Wondering where everything came from" and exploring the life adventure with curiosity, is very natural for most children. Actually, I like retaining that part of me, because there will always be new possibilities to explore....in my humble perception:>)

        You say..."I may have been an exception, as nobody else seemed at all interested. Still the same today, nobody's bothered. Now that I find amazing!"

        How does it serve you to say that nobody else is interested...nobody's bothered? There are many here in this discussion thread and in other TED discussions who have explored this topic extensively (myself included). You seem to think that because people do not agree with you, that they/we must not care...are not interested....are not as intelligent or informed. That is not true Peter. For me, the truth is that I have INDEED explored this topic, and make certain choices for myself regarding how I want to live my life, which, at this point, does not include belief in a god or religious practice.

        You are not better or worse than anyone else Peter. Nor are you more informed or more intelligent. In fact, my observation, based on information you have provided, is that you have not explored as much as many people have. You make a choice to be "stuck" with certain controling dogma, and that's ok if it is your choice.

        One of the things that keeps pushing me further and further from a belief in god or religion, is people like you who believe you need to save or convert everyone to your way of thinking. I believe this to be one of the growing reasons why people DO NOT believe in a God. People are learning to think and feel for themselves, rather than be blindly led by dogma that does not make any sense on any level.
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    Jul 2 2012: @ Obey No1 kinobe re:" Did she say "we are told in bible" ........?"
    In context the comment was presented as an example of a contradiction in Christian doctrine. The merit of any such claim depends upon it being supportable with direct reference to the controlling media of the accused. For Christianity that medium is the Holy Bible. Many falsehoods are perpetrated by enemies and sometimes even by friends of Christianity. Conflict is easily resolved by citing what the Bble states on the subject. "Someone said," or "My experience is," is not a supportable claim because it does not refer to the controlling authority. Such wild, unsubstantiated accusations can be made against Atheism because there is no controlling authority, but it is not so with Christianity. The Holy Bible is the Word of God embraced by every Born Again person. To disprove all, or part of, Christianity one can only disprove the Holy Bible.
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      Jul 2 2012: Hi Edward, which bible? The Catholic, Protestant, or Eastern Orthodox one? They are all a little bit different.
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        Jul 2 2012: Good call Obey. When I speak of the Holy Bible I intend the King James Version, also known as The Authorized Version. Any changes to the KJV to fit denominational teachings are different books and are identified as such. Thank you!
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          Jul 3 2012: Good old Church of England. Hope that is the best one. It's not necessarily the oldest. Some bibles contain different books not just textual interpretations or omissions about graven images etc.

          I won't get into the usual arguments about the arbitrary compilation, unverifiable or questionable claims, and internal inconsistencies, but suggest that translation from Greek and Hebrew or any language is somewhat subjective. Also interpretation of any text, even by the well meaning can differ.

          Text may always be a susceptible to subjectivity and problematic in conveying complex and contextual meaning. But agree it is better to have a written reference point to come back to rather than not have one.

          I actually think the Koran is better example of managing revelation by text.
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        Jul 2 2012: Since I am the "she" refered to in Edward's previous comment, I'll pop in here for a moment:>)

        Since I do not use any holy book for a life guide, it doesn't matter which one is referenced. I speak only from my heart, based on research I have done and my own experiences, having an open mind while doing so.

        AGAIN...the topic question is..."Why have people (Atheists) Chosen not to believe in God? Does this give freedom to live life without becoming answerable to". I know you know this Obey, and perhaps there are some folks who need reminding.

        My comment was not "wild" Edward, it simply did not agree with what you believe.
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          Jul 2 2012: OK, not "wild". How about "unsubstantiated"? How do you substantiate your content other than with personal experience? Am I to accept your experiences based solely on your say so? Is it all really that arbitrary? 7 billion souls on Earth can yield many, highly varied experiences. Sounds wild to me. Why have people chosen not to believe in God? Maybe for the unbridled freedom from any demand for substantiation of their assertions.
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        Jul 3 2012: There are many holy books. I believe the KJV is best overall within Christianity. I am ignorant about the Koran but I appreciate your respect for its management of revelation by text. Why do you think people have chosen not to believe in God? Thank you!
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          Jul 4 2012: Back on topic. Good call. Part of it is that the books such as the bible and koran and the book of mormon etc don't seem to be accurate or verifiable and on the surface seem to be products of their time and not one some claim them to be.

          When I read bible or koran, the stories are often bizarre. They sound like oral traditions written down much later after the event. Or tribal myths. Things like a prophet cursing some kids for calling him baldy and then god sends bears to rip into the kids. Not what I would expect from the creator of the universe..

          So for me I don't find much in old religious texts leading me to believe and much that points me the other way.

          There doesn't seem to be any reliable way to learn about which god interpretation is correct.

          Still everyone is welcome to believe what they want.
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    Lejan .

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    Jun 30 2012: Hello Lorenzo,

    this is an interesting question you are presenting and I like to bring in my experiences.

    Today I consider myself being agnostic and was brought up during childhood in Roman-catholic faith, emphasised in kindergarten and school and within a family less strict on it and mainly based on the 'golden rule'.

    During my 'transformation' process I never had to choose consciously not to believe in God, it happened gradually, naturally to the point of my personal insight. This proces was induced by various reasons, yet mainly lacking some direct feedback and faith. After thinking and 'feeling' deep on this topic I could neither find proof of Gods existence nor against its existence and so it became clear to me that I was agnostic and I am happy with it ever since.

    As I do not have to 'defend' nor 'share' any God I could keep my mind open to all religions, which to me was the best thing that happened in this respect. Yet I turn into a blazing critic towards any absolutism, fanaticism, double standards and feigned innocence if its comes close in reach.

    What makes me wonder though is, if all religions together - in balance and over time - have contributed positively or negatively to this world compared to their imaginative non existence were mankind was only guided by the golden rule.
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      Jul 1 2012: Jan-Bernd, I'm also agnostic. I don't know if there absolutely are or are not any gods or goddesses.

      I'm also an atheist because I don't have a belief in any gods or goddesses due to a lack of evidence for any I have heard of. I'm open to compelling evidence.

      So I'm an agnostic atheist. If you don't believe and don't know you may be in the same boat.

      Interesting question. Hard to no the answer.
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        Jul 1 2012: Hi Obey,
        It's not difficult for me to say I do not have the answer. Actually, nobody has the answer for sure, we are all speculating, based on information we choose to accept at any given time. So, technically, we are all "in the same boat"!!! :>)
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          Lejan .

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          Jul 1 2012: Hello Colleen,

          in this context I would prefer to see all of us beeing on the same pond, lake or ocean, yet the boats we are using to cross it are quite different from each other. Some float alongside each other in peace, some are firing all their cannons and some define all other boats going in the wrong direction.

          What makes you certain that nobody has found 'the answer'? If there is such thing, maybe some have already, maybe none of them, personally I don't know...
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          Lejan .

          • +1
          Jul 1 2012: Hello Colleen,

          nature itself is diverse and mainly not linear, which reflects in our nature. And because we are questioning, our answers, doubts and believes are reflecting this too. Some alike, some similar, some in their opposite. This is our nature, as we are part of the whole.

          I remember how nice it felt to realize that we are all made out of stardust and although temporarily granted, a little bit more akin to fairies... :o)
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          Lejan .

          • +1
          Jul 2 2012: Hello Colleen,

          as you like the idea of beeing made out of stardust, I am happy to say, you can be assured of this! :o) To be a bit more precise, 93% of the mass in our body is stardust. The rest was created by the beginning of the universe itself.

          http://www.physicscentral.com/explore/poster-stardust.cfm

          Seen in this light, any diet then is nothing but making us less 'star' alike... :o)
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          Jul 2 2012: Welcome on board our star-fleet! I salute you! :o)
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        Jul 1 2012: Hello Obey,
        thank you for sharing this interesting thought. And yes, we are sitting in the same boat (agnosticism), yet in different compartments. But I can see you very well... :o)

        Agnosticism is compatible with atheism to a certain degree, yet there is a distinct difference in between them. Atheism is based on denial of a God, where as agnosticism is based on the idea that it is not recognizable whether or not a god exists.

        My lack in faith and believe in any God is not enough reason for me to deny the possibility of it. This is why I am not sitting right next to you in the boat, as I am no atheist.

        As much as I am lacking faith, I am struck with awe about our world, the universe and somehow it is difficult for me for this to have happened randomly or by chance... I can just not figure out its reason and most likely never will.

        So, let's keep rowing... :o)
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          Jul 1 2012: Jan-Bernd Pauli,
          I agree...I like to "float alongside each other in peace". I believe we all have our own truth/beliefs, depending on what information we embrace at any given time. I like the idea of continuing to "row" through the life experience with an open mind and heart, and I'm content with not having all the answers:>)
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          Jul 2 2012: Hello again Jan-Bernd Pauli:>)

          I agree..."nature itself is diverse and mainly not linear, which reflects in our nature. And because we are questioning, our answers, doubts and believes are reflecting this too. Some alike, some similar, some in their opposite. This is our nature, as we are part of the whole"...very well said:>)

          I like the idea that we may be made of "stardust"....nice thought and feeling:>)

          This little humble piece of stardust will continue to row contentedly through the life adventure, always seeking to be moving alongside others, because the alternative is not pleasurable...in my humble stardust opinion:>)
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          Jul 2 2012: Hello Mr. Stardust...known as Jan-Bernd Pauli:>)
          I LOVE having that information....thanks:>)
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          Jul 2 2012: Hi Just different terminology.

          Gnosticism is about knowing theism is about belief.

          I don't deny there might be a god. That would be Gnostic atheism. There could be thousands of them.

          I don't know but haven't seen any reason to believe, so I don't.

          I'm not a theist, I don't believe, so I'm a non theist, an Atheist.
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          Jul 2 2012: I salute you as well Jan-Bernd Pauli...for your insight and open mindedness.

          Some religious beliefs, including fear of a god, have often served to seperate people, and unfortunately, we see this behavior right here on this discussion thread. I believe we are all interconnected, and when the majority of people in our world recognize this, there is a possibility of peace and harmony in our world. It begins with each and every one of us as induviduals. "BE" what we want to "SEE" in our world.

          I believe that as we evolve and recognize that we have the ability to think and feel for ourselves, free of religious dogma that is not peaceful, there will be less trust in those behaviors, beliefs and practices which seperate us.
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      Jul 1 2012: On your question about the positive/nagative impact of religions it is good to see that it's a human undertaking.
      Some have a good idea and that is good, others hijack such ideas for their personal interest and that is bad.
      If stories are institutionalized it is mostly bad for they need to sustaine that institution while on the other hand some members work for the intended job what is good.
      So everything human you find in all human efforts whether it's politics or religion.
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        Lejan .

        • +1
        Jul 1 2012: Hello Frans,
        the imperfection of humankind is evident and I am not complaining about this, as I am part of it.

        But my simple understanding of religion is, that because of this our imperfection, religion came alive to make us acting a bit better than we would have acted before.

        Commandments and definitons of 'good' and 'bad' is evidence for this strive.

        But, emotionally, it makes a difference to me if a none religious person is doing something inappropriate to someone else or if the same deed would have been done by someone who claims to be religious for himself. Especially then if 'confession' and 'forgiveness' is used later on to ease the burden of ones 'conscience'.

        To me this seems more like a 'wildcard' than growing towards ones very own responsibility.

        If the overall output or religion was negative, the concept of it would have decreased our naturally given imperfection and was therefore to be re-considered, as our strive should be towards improvement not degradation.
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          Jul 2 2012: Jan-Bernd, we all know hypocrites and Pharisee’s but often things differ from what we see.

          Believe can divert normal reasoning.

          An actual case here on the news is about a monk that worked with handicapped children 50 years ago. He killed most of them with compassion, to bring them to God without suffering.
          It was noticed and reported by bystanders but kept silent, even denied until recently.
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          Jul 2 2012: Frans,
          That is HORRIBLE...done in the name of God...how sad.
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        Jul 1 2012: Right on! Religion is a human construct.Humans cannot construct anything which is perfect. Therefore religion is imperfect. An imperfect god is no better than a Man. God must be perfect, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable. Religion is imperfect. God must be perfect. Therefore God and Religion cannot be the same thing.
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        Jul 2 2012: Dear Frans and Jan-Bernd Pauli,
        I agree that some folks hijack ideas and beliefs for their personal interest and that does not serve humankind at all.

        I believe that religions may have been formed originally to help organize people into practices of more useful behaviors... "make us acting a bit better than we would have acted before", as you say Jan-Bernd Pauli.

        I reject fear based religious dogma and fear based god, because many times throughout history, and today, religions and belief in a god have NOT served to encourage people to behave in a more useful way. It has often encouraged and sanctioned behaviors which have been destructive, controlling and abusive to masses of people who are non-believers. In that respect, I do not perceive fear based religions or god to be at all beneficial to humankind. Religions CAN serve a useful purpose to individuals and humankind when/if the beliefs are used appropriately...meaning when it does not adversly impact others.

        You are absolutely right Jan-Bernd Pauli, that religious practices advocate "confession" and 'forgiveness' to ease the burden of ones 'conscience'. I suggest having a good conscience
        and behaving with respect toward others, and perhaps one does not always have to run to the confessional to ease one's conscience!

        I remember when I made my first communion, which required my first confession. As a 6yr. old child, I struggled to figure out what I could tell the priest. I did not believe I had sinned in any way.
        I asked one of the nuns about this..."what do I say when I go in there"? She said "make something up...just tell the priest something". So, I made up a "sin"...a lie...for my first confession, and that was the beginning of my questioning regarding the teachings of the church I was born into.

        Whether we believe in a religion and/or god or not, my perception of the life experience is to continually grow, learn, evolve and improve, and that is not always what religions encourage.
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          Jul 2 2012: You was born a little angel Colleen. You needed to be a little sinner to fit the church rules, so they let you lie.

          Here it was no different. As children we told each other what we could confess to look a little bad. Not too bad of course because you had to do your penance to pay it off.
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          Jul 2 2012: Hello Colleen,

          it was the same with me at first confession! I consulted the whole family but my brother, because his list would have gone beyond the scope :o) and there wasn't really anything I had done worth to mention. Even thogh I was a wild child and was scuffling with a lot of other boys, I always had my very own reasons to do so and did not regret any of it. So the list was made up like yours and became a first 'crack' in by encounter with religion. And why was a need to mention this anyway, if God was almighty he already knew, so why wasting time on this in the first place? :o)

          On the other hand, children by their nature, can behave very brutal towards each other and I have been part of it as well. Yet it was the model of my parents and the way they carefully made me re-think my actions, so that some of my deeds at early age stay reminding myself up to this very day to do better than that.

          Your rejection of fear based religions I share. They are not constructive and chain people insted of guiding them towards responsible actions. And if it comes to missionizing, things really have gone bad in the past.

          At young age I could not name what I was missing in the bible, yet I knew that what was described there did not belong to my country. There was no desert, no camel to be found in Germany. We did not live in tents (still don't) and never did. So to me it became more like a cultural shock at that time and what was around me in my world and what I liked the most was not mentioned at all. There were no large green forests, no ravens, buzzards or deers. There was no mist climbing from the trees or lingering in the valleys. Where was the incredible sight of all the stars at night?

          Today I know that the religion who once covered it had been banished by christianization, yet it's replacement I could never quite accept at young age at that time.

          And even today I am sad for the loss of all the ritual places, which got destroyed by placing churches on.
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        Jul 2 2012: Dear Frans,
        Thank you Frans. There may be some folks who would disagree with your statement!!! LOL:>)

        I believe we are all born innocent, honest, trusting, curious, exploring, unconditionally loving little beings.

        You're right Frans...we had to follow the fear based rules of the church no matter what. We did the same thing as you describe...figure out what we could confess to look a little bad because that is what was expected of us. But we didn't want it to be "too bad" because of the price we had to pay in penance. What a horrible thing to do to little vulnerable, open, honesting, trusting children!!!
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          Jul 2 2012: Hello Colleen,

          by what you just said (below), you have me on your side.

          But what turns out to be quite difficult is to define which way we could go for humankind to develop more positively.

          I was just within another TED conversation today about 'parenting' and as more I was thinking about it, as more it became difficult to spot down what is crucial to hand over to next generations to evolve into strong and fair individuals.

          http://www.ted.com/conversations/12372/everyone_who_is_contemplating_1.html

          On the one side we already have a non-religious based set of values for humanity, on the other side we can and never should enforce it to be implemented (as this was contradictory to itself). So how could it get started without dominating others, as in doing so the claim would be rised to know better. Either way, this seems to lead into a dead end.

          I was once thinking, that with the rise of the technological level of a nation, religion would decrease naturally. Yet especially the latest discussions within the US about Creationism has corrected my thought.

          So what to do best remains unsolved to me till today. Do you have any suggestions?
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          Jul 3 2012: Hello Colleen,

          yes, the limitation not to be able to reply on 3rd level comments makes conversation a bit difficult here. So this refers to your ideas about 'humanity and empowerment'.

          I highly support the concept of laicism, which did not penetrate deep enough in many nations and unfortunately so it did in mine.

          Yet this is part of most religious strategies. You need to get them 'young' so that indoctrination diggs in deep to the core. Only this way, religion as we now it today, was able to outlive any other concept of human regulations. Many great nations rose and perished, yet many regligions survived. So seen as a marketing strategy, they did a pretty good job and that's why it is so difficult to get them out of the way to empower people for themselves and the community they live in.

          About your presented trend that people choose more requently to think and feel for themselves, I am afraid, that this a demographic tendency only. According to an article on Wikipedia, the worldwide trend for people choose for religion is increasing. In Europe for example, the tendency towards religion is decreasing in countries like Great Britain, France and Germany, whereas south/east states such as Italy, Spain and Poland count for increasing numbers. Worldwide the overall tendency is increasing!! So in my view, the change towars free and self-determined individuals stays a very slow process and related to education and a rise in prosperity.

          Regarding discussions I can only hope those to rise, which are questioning the influence of religions in democratic societies. In Germany, for instance, the Catholic Church is still allowed to have their sibject thought in school. Yet instead of getting rid of this historic habit, we are instead discussing about the Islam getting thought as well... Please don't get me wrong, I consider religious freedom a valuable part of democracy, yet there is no place for it in the education system for young people itself. At Universities it's fine
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        Jul 2 2012: Hello Frans,

        I highly agree with you!

        And similar to what you described we had in Germany just recently a whole wave of adults who began to speak openly of what has happened to them when they grew up in churchly run children's homes here in Germany. Child abuse!!!

        This has cast a huge shadow on the churches here and rightly so! And many people resigned from the church in protest, as up to this very day the church is not able to deal with in in an open and appropriate manner.
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          Jul 2 2012: Frans and Jan-Bernd Pauli,
          And here in the US we have the multitude of children molested by priests...supposedely the representatives of god here on earth....actually, that is a global issue...not just in the USA.

          There have also been several child abuse cases here, claimed (and proven in a court of law) by people who were as children, abused and sexually molested in church sponsored orphanages.

          There are many wounded people in our world BECAUSE organized religions sanction abusive violent behaviors. The hypocritical, contradictory dogma, also confuses people, so not only is there obvious physical abuse, but many people are living with the ramifications of emotional abuse their entire lives, which causes a great deal of confusion.

          God is a loving god, and he will punish you....do what he says and you might be saved...or not.

          I remember when volunteering at the women's shelter, it was not unusual to talk with women who were very confused about what love actually is. "He's beating me...punishing me, so he must love me". "I have a broken arm and I just lost the baby I was carrying because he kicked me in the stomach right after he broke my arm...he told me he loves me....is this love? Or abuse?" These were questions we heard ALL the time....it was NOT an isolated case.

          Because of the teachings of some religions, children grow up with a twisted, confused perception of love, god, and the life experience. This is another reason I do not believe in a god, or embrace a specific religion. In my perception, it wounds, confuses and seperates too many people in our world.
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          Jul 2 2012: Dear Jan-Bernd Pauli,
          This is in response to your comment beginning with...
          "by what you just said (below), you have me on your side".

          I am on the side of humanity, and it sounds like you are already on that side as well. To evolve more positively, we need to empower people rather than disempower each other.

          Parenting is very important, and right now, we have parents who were disempowered as children, teaching their children the same disempowering information. There is NOTHING empowering about telling a child s/he is born a sinner, for example.

          My suggestion is to STOP trying to dominate others. STOP teaching disempowering, dominating dogma to little innocent children. STOP abusing and violating the rights of others. This seems like simply "stuff" to me, and yet some people are so entrenched in their dominating religious dogma, they fail to see the damage it is causing.

          I think/feel that with the continued technological improvement, isolation will be less of a problem. Isolation is one factor in the ability to abuse and violate rights, so I think that will be very helpful to the cause to help empower people rather than disempower.

          As humans, we are evolving. The brain is getting larger, and can hopefully think on a different and more compassionate, loving level. More and more people all the time, are choosing to think and feel for themselves, rather than be blindly led by religions. More people are realizing that they can make choices and decisions for themselves, rather than be dependant on a god or abusive dogma. What do you think?

          I don't honestly think there are more discussions...perhaps we are more aware of discussions because of internet connections? I believe those who cling to a dominating religion are becoming frightened, that there may not be the support for their beliefs any more, and they may have to change to "fit in" with the new world view!
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      Jul 3 2012: Dear Jan-Bernd Pauli,
      Response to your comment...
      "yes, the limitation not to be able to reply on 3rd level comments makes conversation a bit difficult here. So this refers to your ideas about 'humanity and empowerment'.

      I agree...levels of response opportunities are challenging...if this is the biggest challenge of my day, I am content!!! LOL:>)

      I agree that part of most religious strategies is to penetrate our world on many different levels. If the intent is to control people (which I believe), it would have to infiltrate on many levels...correct?

      I agree that the conscious intent of some religions is to indoctrinate vulnerable children, who often do not have a choice. Some religions did a great job of "marketing", as you say. In many cases, religions have so much control, that people have stopped thinking and feeling for themselves.

      I believe that is why we get the hypocrasy and contradictions apparent with religious beliefs. People simply did not challenge the beliefs given to them by religions. If people were genuinely empowered in themselves, they would not follow blindly, and that is something I believe religions are afraid of today. My perception, is that those who are arguing the loudest, are those who are afraid to lose support for the beliefs they depend on.

      Regarding my belief that people choose more frequently to think and feel for themselves....mmmmmmmmm
      Perhaps that is my wishful thinking/feeling! LOL:>)

      Change is a slow process, and I'm going to continue with my wishfull thinking/feeling!!! What we focus on expands. I give a lot of energy toward change...empowering people to think and feel for themselves. While many times, as children, we did not have a choice regarding our circumstances, as thinking, feeling adults, we DO have choices in every moment:>)

      I am not attached to others believing in religion/god...or not...AS LONG AS it does not manifest into behaviors that adversly impact others....which religion often does.
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        Jul 3 2012: Hi Colleen, some, I guess many or most religions make it a virtue to indoctrinate your children. You've done a good job if you raise believers. Failed otherwise. If you believe you know the truth and it is vital to your childs eternal wellbeing that might be a factor too.

        Childhood religious indoctrination is one of the most hateful things. Its almost a human rights abuse.


        calling someone a Muslim child doesn't help if they are too young to comprehend what it even means.
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          Jul 5 2012: I agree Obey, that indoctrinating children wth destructive, abusive dogma is adversly impacting many people in our world.

          There have been quite a few court proceedings in this area, addressing the sexual molestation of children by priests. I've seen some of the testimony, and listened to interviews with victims.

          One common thread, is that the victims were all told similar things by the priests, as they were sexually molested...sometimes for several years. One gentleman told an interviewer that he was always told by his parents to do whatever the priest wanted, because he was the representative of god. The man said he KNEW as a child that what was happening was wrong, but he was told that if he didn't, he would go to hell...he was told to do what the priest wanted, or else. He was told not to tell anyone because god wouldn't like that and he (god) would punish him for betraying the priest. The priests told the children they would be punished if they did not comply.

          The man in the interview expressed his confusion, which he had been living with all his adult life. Everything the children were told reflects the constant programming by some churches....do what we say no matter what...accept whatever we say on faith. It doesn't matter if what we are saying makes sense or not...just do it.

          Children are deprived the right and encouragement to make informed decisions...to make choices that are healthy in their life experience.

          These are all the lies children are told every day, and this is another reason I am strongly against religion and god. Church leaders often misuse their position at the expense of many innocent people. They then hide under the protective rules of a religion.

          The atrosities are now being called what they are...a crime. Perpetrators are now facing the courts, and those who pretended to have a blind eye, are being punished. However, many times the church leaders are STILL not accepting responsibility or accountability for their actions.
  • Jun 28 2012: When one man has an imaginary friend, its called insanity. When many people have the same imaginary friend, its called religion. Why do we not believe in God? We don't seek freedom, we just wanna be free from the dumb.
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      Jun 28 2012: Good call, Omar! God and religion are not the same thing. I highly recommend fleeing from religion. I also recommend fleeing to God. He is there, search and you will find. Thanks.
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    Jun 27 2012: [341�270 B.C.] Greek philosopher "Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?"
    Epicurus
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      Jun 27 2012: Recognize that good cannot exist without evil, and visa versa. Dark cannot exist without light. Cold cannot exist without heat (nor does it exist). Now address the question "Does God want you to be good because He commands it, or does he want you to be good for the sake of others?"
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        Jun 27 2012: Or ask the question does evil exist or is it a human construct aimed at improving ourselves. And by improving I mean that someone could call something evil then not do it.
  • Jun 25 2012: ii don't think atheism is a choice, just like theism isn't a choice. Sure we can justify what we are through reason and argument but it's not as if one day I decided to be an atheist, its just how I felt, a natural instinct. And one day I might be a theist but again it would not be through choice but an acceptance in a change of mind or spirit.
    Religious or non religious feeling imposes itself onto us and at best we can rationalize those feelings.
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    Jun 25 2012: Lorenzo,

    Your description fills me up with satiric joy!

    Change 'China' with another country with belief traditions and 'atheism' to their established belief system... You got the formula for children receiving education of the prior generations value systems. Religious or not religious, we do this constantly... Religion is just the best example.

    *Why have people (Atheists) Chosen not to believe in God?*

    The way God is/has [been] presented in history gives off the image there is some deity looking down at us, with an ultimate plan and a higher knowing or design for all of life. The 2 major problems continue when people without understanding nature decide to create the images and paint pictures of a human-mirrored God; jealousy, anger, resentiment, disappointment, and other emotions. Problems: 1. people ignore they may be biologically prone to creating humans (or the qualities of being human) as God and the void of "what is God?" is filled in with doctrine and not constant exploration of self and nature. -and/or- 2. they are refusing to look at natural studies outside of their belief systems in order to understand and find overlaps of God's nature (divine nature).

    '1' is the hardest to defend, but simply, as animals we place our species on "the most important factor" list - in our: unconscious, subconscious, physiological nature to create consciousness, etc. If we naturally are anthropocentric, God would become the image of the human that is painting him/her/it - the shared painting is more or less the religious description of the human-mirrored God.

    However, I cannot disprove there is no God. I am beyond a skeptic. For all we know we are one giant experiment for another more intelligent species of humanoid. But, if God does exist, it is by understanding nature in which we can understand God.

    Why should they believe?

    *Does this give freedom to live life ...?*

    Absolutely not. No one who labels themselves 'atheist' would normally suggest such a brutish thing
  • Jun 22 2012: Belief in God and having a conscience are two separate things. The development of the conscience comes about as a social evolutionary trait and proper child rearing.
    Either way, I answer to myself I have a conscience that will debilitate me if I were to consistently ignore it. My conscience is connected to how I make others feel, hence I answer to myself and my fellow earth creatures.

    Im not sure that as a theist you are answerable to anyone else, but yourself. You are answerable to your brain, which has built the construct of what it is you believe God to be.

    I think what your asking is, do you become an atheist in order to behave in a hedonistic manner and have no guilt over your behavior?

    My answer to this is absolutely not. As an Atheist, I can assure you that I have a conscience and wether I believe in God or not, my conscience doesn't seem to be going anywhere. The belief in God can make your conscience far to judgmental and punishing. Religion accomplished the feat of not only inducing guilt over behavior, but thoughts. It was an extension of the first government, a tool used by the ruling class to control the people.

    Look at the areas of the world where religious extremism is practiced. Poverty and an all around lack of pleasure breed religious extremism. Religion allows for pleasure to be derived from a construct in the mind.

    Atheism to me is a rejection of the countless number of religions that propose the same old feeling, as a solution, for the same old problem.
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      • Jun 23 2012: Karthink, you put a lot on the table here Its going to take me at least 2 posts to reply to this, bare with me.
        Let me explain the development of a conscience this way. Dogs are not born with a conscience. They are not born with shame. Dogs must be reared properly in order to make them suitable for life with a human. This is also true with children. Too much criticism towards a child he/she develops an overly punishing conscience. Too little direction and instruction and the child develops a conscience that doesn't do its job in controlling certain primitive impulses. Proper conscience development relies on parental compassion and guidance. Your conscience is the identification with your parents and society as whole built into a mental construct that governs your behavior, its a product of societal evolution.

        Now think of what God is supposed to be. He/she is the ideal citizen. God is a father figure who supposedly guides you towards a life of being truly moral. He never leaves your side, forgives you, but punishes you with guilt when you don't listen to him. The idea of God is a conscience that allows for an ideal societal life. The problem is that most of the religions that people follow are based on the idea of what a proper conscience was 2,000 years ago. This is filled with absurd beliefs towards women and other tribes.

        So this is why i believe people have a conscience, its a product of a society, an evolutionary trait that allows for a society to serve the replication of life more efficiently.

        To answer your second question, I know other people have a conscience, however this is not true for all. There are some rare cases where an individual has no conscience. This individual usually has brain damage or has suffered long term physical/psychological abuse.

        In response to your third question about being just, I have to say compassion towards my fellow creatures is something that i subscribe to and i believe is necessary.
      • Jun 23 2012: I want to address your statement "belief or disbelief doesn't affect conscience". Believing that there is some immortal being watching you ever minute of every day who will punish you for your mistakes is very problematic. No human is perfect and to be blackmailed into perfection will debilitate you and commonly leads to mental illness. It's one thing to strive for perfection, its another thing entirely when you believe if you don't meat these standards you are not worthy. This is like installing a controlling and abusive parent into your brain.

        So yes belief in God does affect your conscience and it does so in a negative way by overdeveloping it and creating moral standards that are impossible to meet, then punishing you when they are not met.

        To address your question about fundamentalism in America. Yes there is fundamentalism in America and if you look at the places where religion flourishes its almost always in areas where poor education and poverty run rampant. It almost never turns violent except in areas where there is a lack of pleasure. My statement was mainly addressing the pleasure that is received from believing you can change the world with your mind by praying(telepathy). this also works brilliantly for the ruling class. You have people trying to telepathically change their life vs actually changing it. You have the poor who don't have anything that brings the common man pleasure except their belief that if they stay moral and don't start a revolution based on economic inequality they will be rewarded. In ancient Egypt Pharaoh had to believe in you to be granted eternal life. Pharaoh was apparently sinister and knew by doing this he could work them into oblivion because they have been sold on the idea that there was paradise after death.
      • Jun 23 2012: Ok, to address your statement about theism and atheism having people who are both "good" and "bad". I have met atheists I didn't like and I have met theists I didn't like. I also have met atheists I like and theists I liked.

        So i think what your saying is that belief or disbelief in God doesn't shape your character. I don't think this is so . I have friends who are theists who are very nice people who simply don't recognize what kind of cruelty there spreading by believing in God. If you question them, they constantly rationalize atrocities by stating we don't know Gods will. They also tend to harbor borderline anti gay and jewish sentiments. Now I know who these people are at their core, there good people, but in order for them to continue the life they have built they must believe harmful dogma. In many cases its the fear of abandonment by their family and peers that keeps them in a constant state of denial about so many of the obvious contradictions religion purports.

        On the other hand there are people who use Atheism to rationalize selfish and abhorrent behavior. So there is some truth in your statement, but nothing makes a good person behave more irrationally than religion.


        There is no dogma with atheism its simply a rejection of theism as a whole. By believing in religion some people help themselves, but at the same time they accept ridiculous claims and loose all intelligent critical thought in the process. At this point religion is standing in the way of progress to a better world for all. It's had its place, but we now have other tools for developing a better world.
      • Jun 24 2012: Karthik, you make some good points. The first thing i want to respond to is your comment "those who believe in God and are reasonable, believe that there is someone who understands them, even if the entire world misunderstands them". That can be excruciatingly problematic. I am pretty sure that Mohammad Atta probably felt misunderstood by most except his God. Im also pretty sure most people who join cults feel misunderstood except for their god which is of course interpreted by the prophet.

        Also your statement punishment is important, this is true to a degree, but its not quite that black and white. Punishment and forgiveness as preached in the bible is nothing short of abusive. Its a dictatorship that instills fear, that's how psychopaths control people.

        In regards to your statement about modern religions that behave like pharaoh in ancient egypt,you know i believe we still have many religions like this. To say this is more to do with the persons logic has some truth, but if fundamentalists are an example of what behavior looks like when following the religion then it shows how absurd the religion is. You have over a billion muslims in the world, many of which are fundamentalist, violent, and brainwashed. Your trying to say this has less to do with religion than we think?

        As I said there is a correlation to levels of religious extremism and poverty, but if you follow a religion where the prophet was a pedophile, teaching morals, how do you think your going to treat people? Is the treatment of women in the islamic world a product of religious brainwashing or is everyone in the middle east irrational? For you to dismiss religion as the culprit in these cases of disgusting traditions and behavior, is to be willingly ignorant.

        "Theism offers redemption" sure it does and thats the problem, it preys on those who seek this. What is redemption? Atoning for your sins? Its reality about making peace with yourself why do you need God to do that?
      • Jun 24 2012: Karthik, although you have personally insulted me, I will be the bigger man and address what I hope it is you mean. Stories of hope, personal struggle, and triumph are beautiful. I have had many of my own problems in the 24 years I have lived. Finding out who you are, making peace with yourself, and conquering inner demons is something I have had to personally live through. Religion incarcerates your mind and destroys all personal responsibility for the good or bad you have done. Religion takes stories of the above stated nature and perverts them for power and money.

        To say belief is analogous to being a whole person is an absurd judgment and in no way, shape or form has any truth to it. This is like saying a child who no longer believes in santa claus isn't a fully developed child. I think you know that the opposite is true.

        I could address your claims about Islam, but I can already see it would be completely useless.

        Have a great day!
        -Brian
  • Jun 22 2012: atheism is right as thesism bot are one or samething,and my way is untill i experiance i don't belive in anything because it doesn't affect me..
    if he is there he is there nothing is going to hapen by my beliving.
    if he is not there ,it is of no use to belive..
    let HIM(GOD) live his life and let me live mine...
    yes i am free but how can be if i am on one side of river but not flowing with it.
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    Jun 22 2012: Hi Lorenzo,

    I think this question applies more to atheists out there . We need to hear it from them .... :)

    According to my opinion We don't need to see god , they are around as our parents ,as best friends . We just forget the simple fundamental thing that god is there within everybody and everywhere around us .

    If we are in a postion to discriminate between right and wrong , I don't think we need to explicitly worship god .. We just need to silently pray to Him and thank him for all the things we received from Him .

    Regards,
    Bharath
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    Jun 22 2012: Does this give freedom to live life without becoming answerable to anyone?

    What a silly question. Is it real?

    I'll give it the benefit of the doubt.

    We all live in societies. We are answerable to each other and ourselves.

    Atheism just frees the individual from questionable and conflicting religious rules and regulation. E.g. I don't have to kill witches, adulterers, homosexuals, naughty children, and people who work on Saturday.

    My experience is I have had to work harder to figure out the best way to live and act and in making decisions on ethical issues. My ethical views are based on supporting human rights and responsibilities, freedoms with limits, and what is best for the human condition. Freedom is limited because we should not be free to harm others.

    I prefer this to iron age and medieval morality built into the bible or koran etc. E.g. I don't support slavery, but the bible endorses it and actually regulates it etc etc.
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      Jun 22 2012: "Atheism just frees the individual from questionable and conflicting religious rules and regulation"

      Very well stated, and I hope you don't mind I quote it, because it succinctly states what I have been observing about the negative reaction not necessarily toward God himself, but with religion as a set of dogmatic confining and contradictory rules that humans have set up around God.

      Basically, though, you're right. We can be virtuous and responsible and good without God. Sometimes Christians need to re-learn that. The main point of accepting Christ is to understand our part in this grand scheme and to acheive something greater than we could ever possible acheive ourselves. But sometimes I think we have fooled ourselves into believing that "ah sprinkle some holy water on me as a baby or dunk me in a swimming pool as an adult and suddenly I have a stamp of divine greatness across my forehead" - that's how it comes across . . .

      and when you tie it back to the argument, that's the evidence that some people see when deciding whether god is real. They see that as evidence of god? No. No god in that, is there?
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        Jun 22 2012: Thanks.

        Whether we are theist or otherwise we are all human. I don't expect theists of any stripe to be better or worse than non theists and they constantly meet my expectations.

        Agree hypocrisy doesn't help anyone's claims to moral superiority. Although it does not go to the core truth claims.

        I'm not sure which group does more harm per capita all else being equal, but would be surprised if the godless were over represented. There is some data by country, but not tonight.

        But again this wouldn't support any of the core truth claims on either side - perhaps just highlight the practical benefits. Hard to unpack the other factors too.

        I guess religion has helped change some individual lives in a positive way. I have known some wonderful Christians. I think atheists get a harder time in the US, East Europe etc. But in general belief in god or not seems to have less impact on behaviour such as violence or crime than other factors.

        Its hard to be negative about an entity you don't believe exists in general, but I do have objections to the being described in some specific interpretations. In theory, there are some positive messages in most religions. If only we could detach it from the not so good, and the dark side of basic human nature.

        In the end, whatever your world view, if we focus on the things that improve the human condition, help us live a good life, we'll all be better off.
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    Jun 22 2012: I would suggest many more people are theists because of the way they were brought up, when and where they were born.

    I note you assume there is one god. Just as likely there are many, and maybe some goddesses too.

    I didn't choose not to believe. I just couldn't maintain a belief in a god without any evidence and it was becoming increasing obvious all religions and gods were man made. It became apparent that gods and religions are simply human cultural constructs.

    Belief is not really a choice. Try and believe in Santa Claus or the tooth fairy or Zeus. You can't force belief. You can choose whether to participate or not in a religion.

    I lost a lot of friends.

    I did make a choice to give up the facade, to stop living a lie as the dissonance between reality and religion become unbearable.

    If I become aware of any reasonable evidence for one or more of the thousands of gods in human history I will have no choice but to believe.
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      E G

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      Jun 26 2012: "I just couldn't maintain a belief in a god without any evidence and it was becoming increasing obvious all religions and gods were man made"

      Did you ever ask yourself : is it a reasonable thing to look out for evidence for a god ? ; did you ever think that religion may be more than a simple human construction ? I mean for God sake , oh sorry , for science sake you talk about concepts which already go beyond the physical reality .
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        Jun 28 2012: Good question E G - " is it a reasonable thing to look out for evidence for a god"

        I'm not sure what else we can use but evidence and reason.

        If something is claimed to exist and conflicts with other similar or completely contrary claims, how do we discern which if any is closer to the truth. I could not differentiate between the claims of Christianity and unsubstantiated opinion.

        Plus it all ran counter to a better explanation of reality through science, history etc.

        Science doesn't go beyond physical reality. Its just that reality is more complex than our ape senses have evolved to easily comprehend.

        If there was a god that we are supposed to have a personal relationship with, there would need to be more evidence than some writing in a book and what a preacher tells you.

        It could be there is a god with no evidence. This is not something anyone can prove, so whats the point. Its just like me saying there is an invisible material dragon in my garage> I know because I had a dream, or read it in a book, or a wise man told me -its unverifiable and nothing more than opinion from revelation, authority or scripture.
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          Jun 28 2012: So what you're saying is that we have no choice than to look for evidence due to the contrary currents of ideas that exist.You also said that there aren't sufficient evidences for God.
          Maybe that was a good question but I don't see any answer to it , do you ?

          And by the way you use a terminology I don't agree with (not only here) like : personal relationship with God , what does it mean ? I don't know what to understand by it .

          Personally, I have my reasons to think you only scratch the surface .
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        Jun 29 2012: I'm saying evidence and reason, and I'll throw in the scientific method, are some of the best ways we have to determine and understand reality.

        I guess the counter question is how else do we determine which if any religious claims are correct or at least closer to the truth?

        Should we accept all unverifiable claims equally alongside the more mundane claims that have some evidence?

        The point about the conflicting religious claims is firstly most must be wrong. They also indicate the development of religious belief is somewhat haphazard and inconsistent. This suggests a degree of scepticism in regards to religious claims may be prudent.

        I am personally yet to see any compelling evidence for any gods or goddesses. Others can make their minds up for themselves or even blindly follow their parents faith. However, if people are going to assert this or that god exists but ultimately there is no compelling evidence but we take it on faith, then it is really just an idea, an opinion, an unsubstantiated belief.

        I'm okay with that. People can believe what they like if it doesn't harm others. But I'm also okay pointing out they have a burden of proof to meet if their beliefs are to be taken seriously.
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          E G

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          Jun 29 2012: Ok , what is more exactly the answer to my question , is it : 'yes I don't know if it's reasonable or not but we don't have a choice ? Let's use evidence and reason to understand the reality (if a god is real will discover it ) . "
          Nope , if a god exist then he has certainly a different type of reality of ours , what makes you think that the evidence and reason in the way we know them would help you understand that reality ?

          If there there are conflicting religious claims , then how can we know which if any religious claims are closer to truth ?
          I don't know , why do you ask me ? we talk about the existence of different types of realities and religious claims related to them ; I'm not sure how much we can verify them .
          If something can't be verified and is in contradiction with something else that can't be verified either , which of them to choose ? this is what you ask me to answer but how could I ? I don't have any point of reference you will accept to guide me after . I have points of reference but they need a bit of faith .
          So this means skepticism ? I'd say that to be open-minded is enough .
          But what religious claims of this kind you know ?
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        Jun 29 2012: Re: personal relationship with god - you'd have to ask each theist what they mean when they say this. I am not asserting all Theists believe in the same interaction between the deity and themselves.

        Personally, as a Christian I was taught God knew every hair on my head. That I was a special creation of God. God's son even died for me (and everyone else) so I might be saved and go to heaven, God would visit us with his holy spirit and I could talk to him and ask for things. God was watching me all the time. God would help us. God loved me.

        This is what I mean as one view of a personal God. I guess many Christians might have a similar view. However if someone asserts that their God is intervening in their lives and taking personal interest in them it is very subjective. Just like believing in astrology. The belief in itself is not proof of the belief being correct.

        I would contrast this say with a Deist approach where some being created the universe but does get involved with humans or intervene at all.

        Just as another example, I often hear "I know god is real because I just know," or because "he answers my prayers". Or "because the bible tells me so"Or I know god created the universe because the universe is all around me. "Look at the trees, the sun the moon. The existence of these proves Yahweh exists and created the universe". Or "I know Jesus died for my sins and was ressurected becuase the bible has eye witness accounts and none of these would have been willing to die if it wasn't all true". Or "I feel god is with me when I pray". Is any of this a good reason to give weight to their assertions?

        There are better arguments, but these usually lead to questions, unknowns, where theists inject God into the gap.

        Not all beliefs are created equal in my view. And evidence is a key tool to help discern.

        If there is no reasonable evidence for any god, then tradition, old books, and subjective experiences and interpretations are not enough in my view. Others?
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        Jul 1 2012: E G, if there is no evidence then why believe in any of the gods and goddesses. We rely on evidence and credible authority in most other aspects of our life. Why treat these big questions differently.

        If there is no evidence and there are gods or goddesses they don't seem too worried about whether we believe or not.

        I even went a step further than relying on reasonable evidence for years as a Christian. I went looking. This experience helped me understand from inside the bubble how a religion and spirituality works and is experienced. I can still speak in tongues, although no longer cast out imaginary demons. The emotions, the trance like music, the group expectations, the love bomb, the certainty. Yet nothing reasonably indicating the existence of a god or support the claims of the bible. From my experience at least.
  • Jun 22 2012: 1) The 1st law of thermodynamics: Energy cannot be created or destroyed, only modified.
    2) The 2nd law of thermodynamics: Entropy of an isolated system will increase over time.
    3) The 3rd Law of Thermodynamics: All processes cease as temperature approaches absolute zero.

    You cannot explain the universe by starting from the complex. All of existence proceeds from the simple to the complex. The previous two sentences explain, in part, the three laws and also answer your first question (as well as many other questions). When you understand the three laws of James Joule, Rudolf Clausius and Walther Nernst, it may help you to understand why your second question has little meaning to someone who is ethical simply because it is the right thing to do.
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        Jun 22 2012: Don,

        I would suggest there are no absolute "rights".

        These are just values many of us think should be rights. Values to aspire to. Values to fight for, if necessary.

        Agree ultimately you do need a set of assumptions e.g. That living is preferable to death in most cases etc

        Some ethical questions are relatively straight forward.
        E.g. Should someone be born into a position of political power - no

        Others are complex as different values or so called rights conflict.
        E.g. Should women be allowed to niqab in a liberal western democracy. Or abortion.

        No cookie cutter answers. Many of the cookie cutter rules are flawed.

        A humanist ethical perspective has the advantage of evolving as society evolves. Slavery is no longer acceptable. Sexist, rascism, homophobia etc. Stoning those who break religious laws etc. In many countries we have the least violent societies of all time. Far from perfect but better.
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    Jun 21 2012: Here's a point well worth making, we are all atheists. I've said this on two threads already but here's the best thread for it. We don't believe in Apollo, Zeus, Cthulhu, Horus, Ra, Osiris, Isis, Anubis, Mars,Saturn, The flying spaghetti monster, the ancient alien warlord of scientology, the snake god of the Australian aborigines, or Wakan Tanka of the American Indians. We just ask that you're consistent and go that one god further, thank you.
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      Jun 22 2012: Hey leave my snake god out of it.

      But seriously I have also heard some posit that all these gods are aspects of the divine. Some Hindu strains also have this view.

      My guess is they are aspects of our delusional super monkey brain, psychology, and culture,

      Most of us have the potential for language/accents/vocabulary, and this varies by culture and experience. Just like religion.
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    Jun 21 2012: Hi Lorenzo.

    2 Corinthians 4:4 (KJV)
    In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

    A commitment to materialism by definition excludes all knowledge of the spiritual. This, unfortunately is the fate of the majority.

    :-)
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      Jun 21 2012: Peter,
      According to the bible, we are ALL born in the image and likeness of god. If there is a god, we already have her light shining unto us:>)
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        Jun 22 2012: Hi Colleen,
        Better still if the light shines out from us, & others can get the benefit. :-))
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          Jun 22 2012: Peter,
          I LOVE this...YES....we have a light in ourselves that we can nurture, be aware of, and project into the world. YES, YES, YES.

          So, it doesn't depend on "the god"...who "hath blinded the minds of them which believe not"!
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        Jun 23 2012: Colleen
        As you said, we are all made in the likeness of God. It is that image that provides our light. Jesus said, "I am the light of the world". We all have our share, the rest is just atoms. What we do with our light is up to us.

        :-)
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          Jun 23 2012: Peter,
          I said..."According to the bible, we are ALL born in the image and likeness of god. If there is a god, we already have her light shining unto us:>)"

          I was simply reminding you of the contradiction with your previous statement regarding "the fate of the majority".

          In an attempt to stay on topic.....
          For me, it is the many contradictions, inconsistancies, hypocritical and prejudice scriptures, beliefs and practices, observed, studied and researched for 60+ years that cause me to not believe in a god.

          I totally agree Peter..."What we do with our light is up to us"....it is not up to an imagined god.
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        Jun 24 2012: Young lady your comments are frequently without a reply button. This is in response to your "What is the point in asking, seeking . . ." Please understand that, as a rule, I no longer do Q & A on questions about God for three reasons: 1). I am not qualified to speak for God. 2). Only God can change the heart of those who deny his existence. 3) People who deny God's existence are willingly uninformed about God's Word, the Holy Bible, but this does not stop them from vociferously ranting against it. I am not ignoring your questions. I do not mean to denigrate your spiritual experience, but If you truly wish to know why anyone should ask, seek and knock my only advice to you is ask, seek and knock. Maybe God will change your heart. All the best. Edward
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          Jun 24 2012: Dear Edward,
          "Young lady"....that must be me? LOL:>) From what I've read in your comments, I think we are about the same age:>)

          I agree...you are not qualified to speak for another entity.

          You say..."People who deny God's existence are willingly uninformed..."

          This is one difficulty I have with religious fundamentalists/extremists. You say that because I do not believe as you do, that I am "uninformed". You try to put yourself on a pedistal by believing that you are more informed, more intelligent and know something that I do not know.

          That is not truth Edward, except to you. The fact is, which I've stated in many comments on TED, is that I have explored, practiced, researched and experienced various religious and philosophical beliefs for 60+ years.

          So, your insistance that I am uninformed, suggests that you are more informed and intelligent than I am....that YOU know more about me and what I need than I know about myself. That YOU are "right" and know the "right" thing for me.

          I respect you as an intelligent, informed individual, who has chosen a certain life path, which includes the belief in god and religion. Why can't you give that respect to me, rather than believing that you are more informed and intelligent? That seems very arrogant to me.

          The topic question here Edward is...
          Why have people (Atheists) Chosen not to believe in God? Does this give freedom to live life without becoming answerable to anyone?

          Some folks are honestly answering the question as it pertains to us/them, and you say they/we are "vociferously ranting" against the Holy Bible. Honestly Edward, I don't percieve anyone "vociferously ranting". I do, however, see some disagreement with your beliefs, as we/they intelligently address the topic question.
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        Jun 24 2012: Ye gads woman. how do you manage to never have a reply button on your comments? Anyway, I do mean to imply that Atheists tend to rant and rave about the Holy Bible out of ignorance. Guilty as charged. The appearance of arrogance on my part is an illusion. I simply repeat what the Holy Bible says. (To add to my arrogant appearance may I point-out to you the proper spelling of the word "perceive"?). You may be an exception to my remark about anti-Christian antagonists being generally ignorant of Christian doctrine, but I stand by my remark. My beliefs are not superior to yours, nor yours to mine, For some reason though it is open season on Christianity while anti-Atheism sentiment is verbotten. Hmmm. Does the fact that you disagree with my beliefs allow you to speak disrespectfully, even maliciously of them? I had you pegged as an enlightened, free-thinker Colleen. Thank you! Edward
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          Jun 24 2012: Ye gads man, it appears that I have been elevated (or demoted?) from "young lady" to "woman"!!! LOL

          So man, you have entered a conversation entitled...
          "Why have people (Atheists) Chosen not to believe in God?"
          You honestly expect there to be a lot of support for the bible here?

          There is no "rant and rave" here Edward...there is disagreement to your attempt to reinforce and defend the words of the bible.

          You write..."For some reason though it is open season on Christianity while anti-Atheism sentiment is verbotten".
          Again man, you have entered a conversation, the topic of which is...
          "Why have people (Atheists) Chosen not to believe in God?".
          Would you be more comfortable if people did not honestly address the topic question?

          Thank you for the correction to my spelling. If misplacing the "i" and the "e" in percieve/perceive is the worst thing I've done today, I consider it a good day:>)

          You can "peg" me however you like man. The thing is, I know in my heart who and what I am and how I got there/here, and I percieve THAT to be the important piece of the puzzle of life for all of us.
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      Jun 22 2012: Actually a lack of superstitious belief in some spiritual realm does not prevent one from a journey of self discovery, exploring your consciousness through meditation, from transcendent experience, from awe at the universe, from appreciating your existence, the human condition, life, from feeling love and projecting love and acting in love.

      Just done without dogma or religious baggage.

      By the way at least in Australia 78% claim to have religious beliefs. Kind of a large majority.
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        Jun 22 2012: There is certainly loads of ammunition for awe & wonderment when you look around.

        :-)
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          Jun 22 2012: Agree, however it got here - on its own or with help
  • Jun 21 2012: The right to choose what you believe in should not matter regardless if you are answerable to anyone. The fact a 'GOD' would make you answerable due to a mistake you made because he does not interfere in the surroundings, circumstances and life you live in is a valid point in itself.

    I am atheist because I feel it is right for myself and the views I have, if 'GOD' exists and I get summoned and asked a question I shall evoke the right to say 'no comment'. Then what will god do?
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    Jun 21 2012: Would you choose to believe three impossible and contradictory things before breakfast?

    What would that say about your beliefs if you could switch between opposing and conflicting beliefs at will? Belief is much more fundamental than that. For some people it is a gut feel. Others feel the need for some form of proof or logic before they are comfortable with a belief. But it's certainly not a matter of there being some absolute right thing to believe, with differing beliefs something that people choose to do.

    Even if you consider the question from the religious perspectives, many religions view faith as a gift.
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    Jun 21 2012: Well freedom would be one angle, but I am still answerable to the law, to my fellow human beings and to myself. Yes I'm glad that I'm free of North Korea in the sky because it warms me to know that it was a mere creation of bronze age man to install a theocracy and to explain the unknown. That is how I feel when comparing my views against those of a theist. Though to a deist (along with the theists) I require a lot more proof and evidence and reasoning before I'll ever consider their views in a serious light, for all the evidence ever provided by both views I may as well believe in the flying spaghetti monster or Cthulhu
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      Jun 22 2012: Yes, the law. Constraining our freedom. Atheist should not have to obey any laws.
      I don't believe in the law.
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      Jun 23 2012: You have done a fine job of being clear about where you stand. Are you also clear about where the Holy Bible stands? For the record,the Holy Bible says people are saved by grace through FAITH, and this is not of themselves, but is a GIFT from God, not of works lest any man should boast. This means God does not cause people to be born again by meeting their demands for "a lot more proof and evidence" of his existence. I am not trying to convince you of God's existence, only He can do that. What I am trying to do is clearly state the teaching of the Holy Bible.i hope it adds honest value to the conversation. Thank you!
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        Jun 23 2012: Thank you for expanding.

        The burden of proof test applies to humans making claims about god or anything. I understand that a Supreme Being can set things up however it likes and this includes not necessarily meeting reasonable burden of proof for everyone, or anyone. If some of us are not convinced, or grow up in a Buddhist or Muslim country, and end up going to hell and suffer for eternity, that’s just tough. The question how do you know this to be true is a different question to examining what it would mean if you are correct.

        If your assumptions are correct then god created us with free will and I suppose the ability to think critically. God created a world knowing there would be thousands of gods created by man, and little evidence to distinguish one invisible entity from another. Then God set in place rules knowing many would end up suffering an eternity in hell even if Jesus sacrificed his mortal life.

        There is a moral question about a supreme being setting up a universe where the great majority of conscious beings he created will end up suffering eternally.

        If your assumptions are correct then God god offers salvation through faith from a hell he set up. God created a universe and conscious beings in way and within a scenario where billions would suffer for eternity. Do you accept this observation?

        This a disturbing proposition. What sort of supreme being would do this. Why would a supreme being set up a hell in the first place?

        I don't expect you to accept the logical conclusion that the proposed supreme being has cruelty or coldness far outweighing any compassion. But I hope you recognise the issue of a god that provides salvation through faith, but also created a hell and a scenario where many will suffer eternally. This is the issue Christians seem to gloss over. The salvation pathway does not address the overall questions in regards to a supreme being that chooses to set up a universe with eternal suffering.
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        Jun 23 2012: Or hopefully more succinctly, how does offering salvation via faith address creating humans, then putting in place rules that God knows will result in billions of conscious beings he created suffering for eternity.

        Most Christians seem to avoid contemplating would it says about God if he is the supreme being who set things up so that Billions would suffer for eternity. Having the power to make it this way, giving us free will, offering salvation, does not make it ethical or even understandable. Why would a supreme being create a hell, for fallen angels or humans. Why not forgiveness without the eternal infinite punishment.

        I can understand why many Theists can not accept this kind of cruel iron age deity.
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          Jun 23 2012: One quick clarification Obey. The Holy Bible does not teach that God "offers" salvation. Before He created the Universe God chose certain people to be spared from the final annihilation of Everything. Only those people who's name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life can become born again (saved). It is not an offer which Man is free to accept or reject. If your name is in the Book you WILL become born again before you die. If your name is not in the Book you will perish. Again, the really good news is that no one knows who can be saved and who cannot. All are free to ask, seek and knock on God's door. Again, this is not intended to convince you, only to inform you. Your fate is in God's hands. Thank you!
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          Jun 23 2012: Edward,
          What is the point in asking, seeking and knocking on god's door if it is already determined that one will be saved or perish? What is the motivation? Either you're one of the folks "to be spared from the final annihilation" or not. What's the motivation to live life with integrity? Besides not providing motivation, it feels really abusive!!! A god put's us here on earth when he/she/it already KNOWS we're simply going to "perish"!!! Are you kidding me!

          When we do not believe in a god who has written our name down way before we're even born, there is a lot more freedom to choose to live with integrity....in my humble perception. I really like knowing that I orchestrate my life, rather than believing that my name is in a book somewhere and that it has already been determined that I will be saved or perish. That doesn't make any sense to me, nor does it have even any hint of truth for me on any level!

          I'm really glad I had a glimps "out there" with a near death experience...there was no god...no hell...no predestination with a book of names. What I experienced, witnessed and was a very connected part of, was the energy of a different form. I did not witness any selectiveness or prejudice (which I consider abuse by a supposedly loving god) "out there"....thankfully:>)
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          Jun 24 2012: Profoundly important questions you ask Mr. No1. The answer to them is in the Holy Bible. If I quote them to you you will reject them unless God enables you to see them as Truth. Ask, seek, knock. Seek ye the LORD while he may be found. It is not too late.
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        Jun 23 2012: Thank you for the clarification Edward.
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        Jun 23 2012: Edward thanks for replying, maybe you didn't mean it this way but here's what being saved by the grace of faith really is. I can live my entire life as an atheist being the most humble and loving person on the planet, I could help the elderly and care for the young, I could save a million lives but because I've no faith in a God I don't get saved. Now here's the flipside to that coin, any mass murderer who could kill 10 million people, could right before his death sentence simply turn and pray for forgiveness etc etc and he'd be saved. This is what I find to be one the most immoral practices of religion and I'm glad it's not true because if it is then it truly is North Korea up above with the most sadomasochistic dictator imaginable sitting on its throne.
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          Jun 24 2012: I don't explain God. I just interject in these conversations where folks who are pretty much ignorant of what the Holy Bible teaches rant and rave against God. If you choose Atheism as your religion then its doctrine allows, prefers even, you to steer clear of God issues because, after all, God does not exist, how silly to argue about his substance. Christianity has one book. I simply have pointed-out what that book teaches. The posted question asks why people choose Atheism. I have offered my opinion. Why do you think people choose Atheism as their religion?
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          Jun 24 2012: I wrote this in a previous comment Edward, and perhaps a reminder would be helpful.

          The topic question is...
          "Why have people (Atheists) Chosen not to believe in God?"

          Those who do not believe in a god are sharing their/our beliefs regarding the topic question. We/they are not "ignorant" and many of us/them have done extensive exploration, study, research, and practice regarding the topic.

          I don't percieve anyone here ranting and raving. I percieve people sharing their beliefs and perspectives regarding the topic question.

          With all due respect Edward, In my perception, you have expressed your beliefe that those who do not agree with you are ignorant and less informed than you are.
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    Jul 4 2012: --Administrative Plea--
    Is it necessary to scroll through hundreds of comments to find the one you just were notified of via email? I am spending more time searching than reading. Please remember I am old and technologically challenged. Is there a better way? Anyone?
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      Jul 4 2012: I'm no disciple of Atheistic Humanism but my guess is that Mr. Watts' sermon would be well received by those who are. I must say the background music is a bit over-theatrical, distracting even. Thanks for sharing!
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        • Jul 5 2012: No, no, no, the prior -ism was all mine. Edward was an unaware victim of my solipsism assessment. :)
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    Jul 3 2012: Main points so far I think are
    lack of evidence
    the fact that texts once called the holy word of the deities themselves have been proved wrong
    conflicting parts within the same texts
    similarities or identical stories across the texts
    Other gods have been abandoned why not abandon them all
    universe does not need a creator to start
    not wanting it to be true, as in not wanting an immortal dictator in the sky
    the variety of different beliefs
    coincidences within books, i.e for the bible murder is bad but genocide's ok as long as god allows it
    the horrors committed in the name of religion,
    the immoral practices suggested by religion i.e genital mutilation
    the dilution of "god" throughout history, from the creator of everything, the cause of sickness, the turner of stars to the modern deistic view of a god who doesn't interfere.
    Mixture there of arguments against deism and theism
    • Jul 3 2012: You forgot that most described gods are nonsensical.
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        Jul 3 2012: Thanks for the addition Gabo
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        Jul 4 2012: "Most described gods"? Why did you not say "all described gods" Gabo? What are you hiding?
        • Jul 4 2012: I am hiding that I have not read about all the gods ever described, and that the ones I have seen described that are not nonsensical are useless, as in they are claimed to exist, to be undetectable, to not intervene, thus worthless as anything but kind of a mediocre consolation prize for those who have figured out the nonsense but want to keep believing in some god(s). There's also those who rather describe the whole enchilada, the whole of nature, the universe(s), as "God." Again useless but as mediocre consolation prize. Well, you can see that I could go on forever.
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    Jul 2 2012: @ Colleen re: calling you stubborn and evasive.
    More cut and paste of of my actual words:
    ". . . I can only assume you are being stubborn and evasive, which I cannot believe is true of you."
    Please notice the words, "which I cannot believe is true of you." That is the absolute opposite of saying you are stubborn and evasive. Why have people chosen not to believe in God? Maybe because it affords greater freedom of interpretation and makes no demands of its followers to meet some concrete standard.
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      Jul 2 2012: You "assume"? And you do not believe your own assumptions?
      Well.....That makes a lot of sense!!! What's the point in spending the time confusing yourself???
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        Jul 2 2012: Please understand there is a difference between assumptions and beliefs. For example I assume you are bright and capable of offering your opinion as to why people have chosen to not believe in God without dwelling on the opposite question (why have some people chosen to believe in God, and what is wrong with their system of beliefs?). My assumption will become a belief when I see you do it. Thank you young lady.
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          Jul 2 2012: I understand quite a bit Edward, and I'm simply reflecting your words back to you.
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        Jul 2 2012: And reflecting adds no content. I was hoping for more than reflection of my own words. Something along the lines of an answer to the question: do you acknowledge a difference between a belief and an assumption? That answer would add content to the topic conversation regarding why some people have chosen not to believe in God. Stay happy Colleen!
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          Jul 2 2012: No Edward, it would only add content to your ego. I am VERY HAPPY...thank you very much:>)
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        Jul 2 2012: As much as I enjoy discussing my ego, or any of my behavioral traits ,it is not germane to this most stimulating conversation among friends. So, anything to add about why some people choose to not believe in God? Stay very happy!
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    Jul 2 2012: @ Mark Meijer re: "consider the fact that all human beliefs are human constructs, without exception. "
    Is your statement true? Is there an example of a belief which is not an invention of Man? If faith is not allowed then the answer is no. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the essence of things not seen. In faith-based issues not all human beliefs are human constructs, so your statement is true for atheists but not true for those who live by faith. Why have people chosen not to believe in God? Mr. Lorenz asks. Maybe the answer is because they do not have faith. Thank you Mark!
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        Jul 2 2012: FAITH is the substance of things hoped for. BELIEF is the conscious decision made to embrace something as Justified True Belief. HOPE is the evidence of things not seen. In my belief system, or world view if you will, the three are quite distinct from one another. I respect that it is not so in your world view.
        Regarding the KJV. You asked which Bible I mean when I say the Holy Bible. I do not insist it is authoritative to anyone other than me. It is the "language" I speak and understand. This is a conclusion I reached after prolonged personal study of several versions.
        Claims from the KJV are verifiable by reading the KJV. Whether one agrees with such claims or not they can be supported and verified.
        Personal experience is subjective, arbitrary and heavily influenced by imagination, memory, and unknowable motives. Thank you Mark for those excellent questions. Be well. Edward
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        Jul 3 2012: You, Siir, are correct. I ask others to accept the Holy Bible, not as truth, but as support for my personal beliefs in my personal world. I think it is fair to challenge whatever I say about theology by asking for supporting information. For me that reasonable request is met by referring to the Holy Bible. If I had no supporting evidence, or information, no Bible, my assertions would be nothing more than personal musings, imaginings, and/or experiences.
        I do not insist that the Holy Bible is "authoritative for everyone,", only for me. I have not given authority to the Holy Bible. Man has no congenital Authority. For example, an Atheist relies on the Holy Bible being false becauseif it is true then Atheism is the mark of a fool. The Atheist is not surrendering or repudiating (abdicating) his authority by rejecting the Bible, any more than I am by accepting it. The Atheist and I both make a decision about Theology. He says, "No such thing as the study of God because there is no God." I say "To know God study the Holy Bible." I base my belief on an actual (not "ostensibly") external source as evidence. The Atheist bases his beliefs on an absence of evidence. Epistomologically we are the same, but in practice one believes the Holy Bible is evidence for God and the other believes the absence of evidence for God is proof there is no God. My methods are no better than the Atheist's. But our conclusions are very different. The Atheist says, wrongly, absence of proof is proof of absence.
        Thanks, Mark, for the reminder about honesty being essential in the pursuit of Truth. There is always a temptation to embrace false words. Socrates said, QUOTE: "False words are not only evil in themselves, but they infect the soul with evil." Be well. --Edward
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        Jul 3 2012: Ye Gads! Mark. You took a quantum leap there.
        Methods are the same but conclusions can be (and in this conversation are) different.
        You make it look like i just renounced my faith in God. Very dramatic, but most unscientific.
        If you choose "C" as the answer to a multiple choice question, and I choose "A", which of us made the better choice? Does it not depend on which answer is correct? If the question is: "Does God exist?", the answer choices are: A= Yes. B= No. C= Not enough information. You choose "B", I choose "A". When the grades are poosted after the Final Exam we will get the answer. Sorry I can't choose the same answer as you. Good luck on the test!
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        Jul 3 2012: So getting the right answer does not matter? Reality is truth. When the unknown (conjecture or faith) becomes known (reality) then the right answer, and the wrong answer will be known. You refuse me the use of the literary technique of representing Truth as an academic exam? Again I can't communicate with you because of your imposed restrictions. I can't thank you enough for calling me a hypocrite in the most polite way you know how. One question Mark,why do people choose to not believe in God?
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        Jul 3 2012: Thank you for the link (this conversation has grown to need its own directory of commentors). Nothing further from me. Fare thee well sir.
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      Jul 2 2012: think faith is tied to hope and belief is tied to truth. Both can be based on empirical evidence or not.
      But I am not sure these are singularly human constructs. And you are very right Ed. I do not have faith in a God. Can't get it, can't buy it on Amazon. Don't really miss it or want it either.
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          Jul 2 2012: I like your new phrase Mark. . . "side-trackage". You do see my point that for those who believe in the supernatural there are beliefs that are constructed by God and not by Man? You may not agree, but it is a non-contradicting component of systematic theology. Thank You!
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          Jul 3 2012: i agree. but are all beliefs equal or are some closer to the truth
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        Jul 2 2012: No one without faith ever does want, or miss, it Linda. It is a good and perfect gift from God, who is neither wasteful nor stingy. Thank you!
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          Jul 3 2012: If that's true Ed, why are people always telling me to have faith in God? Like I can just go get some? It just does not make sense and that is what I cannot get past. I am too much of a realist. However, I do understand the human phenomena that people call God. I have similar experiences. I just do not attribute those human experiences to a God/gods/omnipotent parental being/extraterrestrial life form. But I can speak the language that people use to communicate about those experiences from whatever belief framework they use to discuss it.
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        Jul 2 2012: Edward,
        Linda clearly says..."I do not have faith in a God." You have misrepresented her statement, to try to mold it around YOUR beliefs...AGAIN! Based on Linda's comments on many threads regarding the kids she teaches and advocates for, my perception is that she has faith in them and the wonderful work that she does. I am open to correction Linda, if this is not true. Not open to any more preaching from you Edward.

        "Faith: allegiance to duty or a person; loyalty; complete confidence; something that is believed with strong convictions; without doubt or question". Just because Linda does not have faith in your choice of gods, does not mean she does not have faith. You are preaching YOUR beliefs again Edward.
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          Jul 3 2012: My reply was specifically to Linda and specifically about faith in God. You want to make my reply about one of the other definitions of faith? Linda said "faith in God", I replied regarding "faith in God", and you come in wanting to remove God as the object of faith? I did not misinterpret Linda's statement. I did not try to mold her statement. Here are her words to which I replied: "I do not have faith in a God. Can't get it, can't buy it on Amazon. Don't really miss it or want it either." How can you suggest from those exact words that it is me misrepresenting Linda about not having faith in God? You really need not forbid me to preach to you Colleen as I never have, nor will I ever. . . . unless you ask me to. Be very happy!
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          Jul 3 2012: Thank you Colleen, you are correct in your interpretation of my statement. I have a lot of faith just not in a God. I have faith that I will wake in the morning when I go to sleep. I have faith that if I love to the best of my ability it will be returned to me. I have faith in my students and that my work matters. I even have faith that most people are good. I might get cynical but I have lot of hope anyway.
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        Jul 3 2012: Edward,
        Linda wrote..." I do not have faith in a God". That statement is pretty clear, and does not indicate that she has no faith in anything.

        I have no intent to "make" your reply anything other than what it is Edward.

        I did not "forbid" preaching Edward.
        I wrote clearly..."I am open to correction Linda, if this is not true. Not open to any more preaching from you Edward".

        If you honestly believe that you are not preaching your own personal beliefs on this thread, you might want to reflect on that a bit.

        The topic question is: "Why have people (Atheists) Chosen not to believe in God?"
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          Jul 3 2012: And how has this most recent post of yours answered that topic question? I don't see it.
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        Jul 3 2012: No one who is speaking consistently with the Holy Bible will tell you to "have faith", as if you can just conjure it up of your own volition. Christian faith is a gift from God so no one can boast about having it. What you should be told is to seek God with humility and honesty, The only way to faith is to ask, seek, and knock. The offer is to all mankind. Thank you Linda!
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        Jul 3 2012: Dear Edward,
        You ask..."And how has this most recent post of yours answered that topic question? I don't see it"

        Edward, again the topic of this discussion is...
        "Why have people (Atheists) Chosen not to believe in God?"

        Linda expressed her reason for not having faith in a god, which, of course is on topic.
        I simply pointed out that you were manipulating her words to fit your own agenda, and preaching.

        Atheist...no faith in a god....get it?
        Perhaps you have been so busy preaching about your god and advocating for "him" that you forgot what the topic is?
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        Jul 3 2012: Mark I agree it is hard to be absolutely certain in many things especially if taken to extremes e.g. Do I really exist. Measurement for example is often rounded.

        I suggest in practical terms not all claims are equal.

        Also some things may be absolutely true, e.g. some mathematical equations.
        Or there are 26 letters in the English alphabet.

        On the topic at hand, a 13 billion year old universe versus a 6000 year old one is not a trivial difference and while either may not be exact one would be closer to the truth. Also if something is positioned as an estimate +/- rather than an absolute, then the claim my br more correct.

        Does 1 + 1 = 2?
        Is pure water H2O
        I live in Australia
        There was a car accident today
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        Jul 3 2012: Sorry Mark, I have nothing of value with which to refute your assertion. In your scenario I am guilty of the same offense as you-- having nothing to support beliefs. Since you will not accept that I believe in, and live by, my personal belief in the transcendant Truth of God communicated from God in the form of the Holy Bible, I must be silent. After all, If the BIble is like a strange, foreign language to you it is foolish for me to use it. Make sense?
        Why do you think people choose to not believe in God?
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        Jul 3 2012: I might just stick with practical reality and not jump off a cliff because i can not be absolutely certain the collision at the end will kill me.

        These sorts of rabbit holes are useful up to a point, until the mundane world impacts my perhaps illusory existence.

        There are some things we can not be certain of, but many are close enough for many purposes.

        Do you believe your mind exists? Into solipsism? Or is this some form of epistemology? Post modernism?

        Scepticism, questioning is useful, but I guess if you paralysed in question everything mode you may eventually die of dehydration wondering if you are really thirsty. That is if you actually exist.

        Not sure we need to aim for absolute truth or understanding to get by in a practical sense. I can calculate an approximation of gravitational force between 2 bodies of imprecise mass, I can read about the gravitational force carriers, but struggle to comprehend how gravity works, If we are evolved apes, then our minds developed around our senses and the nature of reality will be through the lens of our senses and whatever constructs we have to understand the world I guess.

        I wonder if a dog perceives the world very differently to us. Maybe smell and hearing fill awareness more than for us.

        Its not quite the same thing but I sometimes think about my body made of atoms, try and visualise atoms. What am i. These atoms came from food and water etc. Then I have cook dinner.

        If you have a definition and something meets that definition, that's a useful tool in the minds arsenal. I guess our world view/perception model had some evolutionary benefits, yet we are very susceptible to cognitive bias etc

        Interesting perspective.

        What's your take on when someone moves from say believing in a god to not believing. Would you consider that some sort of collapse of one world view and building up another. A transition period?
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        Jul 4 2012: I’ve enjoyed reading your comments. Fresh perspectives, provoking, challenging. Also some insightful one liners I have taken note off, Truth over dinner, invisible unchallenged beliefs etc.

        If absolute reality even makes sense as a concept, humans are not really capable of determining what it is. This certainly doesn’t stop the claims.

        I guess we evolved with the belief world view mind/brain system. Most of us seem pretty attached to our world views and opinions. This may be in part related to social standing. But I guess if our world views were too flexible it might have impacted our survival.

        On the social standing issue, people may be more open to new ideas when in private reflection mode rather than public debate mode. We all probably have periods in our life when we are more reflective and open and other that are not. Also, some have more time and safety for reflection than others. Some may not even be aware or value reflection. It may be uncomfortable.

        Labelling or making intuitive assumptions may be related to this. Part of our pattern seeking or pigeon holing mind to concentrate the infinite information into discrete but imprecise packets. You look dangerous. You are not of my tribe. Atheists are all xyz. Useful at times e.g. if someone says they are an atheist I can reasonably infer one thing if we share the same definition. But with some tradeoffs given a person is much more than a label and the label may only partially fit.

        What am I, perhaps followed by who do I want to be, what sort of person, what sort of life do I want to lead etc (in a practical sense).

        Agree words (and our senses) are limited and imprecise, but important to the human experience. Still they are what we have.

        The final transition awaits us all. Not surprised we have ways to avoid being overwhelmed by the inevitable end. I doubt an ant knows it will die in the sense humans do.
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        Jul 4 2012: I think I understand your point on the illusion of our senses and interpretation. How does a blind persons mind perceive and make sense of their surroundings. In a video game you see bars with gaps and try to shoot through the gap, but the game physics may have an impenetrable block.

        A dog may perceive and interpret reality differently. Similar eyes, but cars maybe "dangerous moving things", human owner "pack leader" or however the presumably language free concepts are packaged and labelled in a dogs brain.

        I wonder if many of our complex mental constructs or filters are in some way tied to the basic evolutionary mammalian and primal machinery. Atheist = threat. My pack. Pack leader. This will help me reproduce.

        Agree re psycho active substances. I heard someone once say an LSD trip proved to them there was a god and we are all one. I use this point to reinforce my beliefs about perception, delusion, materialistic brain processes, subjectivity etc (Which demonstrates one of your initial points how our beliefs are part of the filtering and interpretation process). Some aspects of religious and spiritual experience may utilise these tendencies in a less extreme manner. Trance like music, community expectations, dissociative experience etc.

        Interesting that many aspects of religious/supernatural belief systems have some parallels in a non religious/non supernaturalist world views. While I don't suggest claiming there is a sky Father god is completely equivalent or equally justified to not believing based on a lack of any evidence we might agree on, I guess information, belief mechanisms, and a lack of absolute certainty applies across the board

        Also, given reasonably agreed observations, many explanations can be created to explain these. These explanations may reflect existing beliefs. Assuming an all powerful all knowing being (which is overstating the case I suggest) nearly everything we find can be twisted or interpreted to fit that world view
  • Jun 30 2012: The reason people choose to not believe in a god lately is due to the fact that it is "cool", "hip", and "fun" to be atheist, without doing much research themselves. They just listen to what everyone else tells them to do, then just follow along, like little sheep being herded without a sheep dog to herd them. This is very disturbing, because the same type of thing happened with Christianity, as I believe that religion is one of the most profitable, misused, and corrupted systems out there.

    I am a student of Physics, and from my knowledge of the complexity, yet simplicity of how the universe was made to become hints at the fact that there was some hand in creating the mathematics and the symmetry of everything that we know of in the universe today.

    I do not believe that the universe we live in is the only universe that exists, nor do I believe that a superior being really cares or does anything about what was created, but I do believe that some hand was played in the creation of not just this universe, but the fabric and the formula used to create the kind of "sea" that our universe is but just a small part of.

    I guess the choosing to be atheist comes from the fact that the society we live in states that being cool is the most important thing out there.
    • Jul 1 2012: And I thought it was Christian fundamentalists who distorted reality. I did not stop believing in gods because it was cool. I stopped because gods don't make sense. Your belief is based on mere assumptions about why would the universe work the way it works with or without "a hand behind it." Quite the example of a non-sequitur if anybody needs one. Your choice though.

      I should add that your wonderment at how the universe works does not give you the right to conclude about such a diverse bunch as atheists, whose reasons for disbelief might vary, but who would promptly say that their disbelief is not a choice any more than we could choose to believe that the sky is blue. Let alone a choice for the sole reason of being cool. Is it cool for you to believe in "a hand out there" while rejecting the quite most common interventionist gods? How can you be so self-righteous to think that your rejection of the common gods is well funded, while that from others is just being cool? After all, for all practical purposes you are an atheist.
    • Jul 1 2012: Hyun, I can assure you that my atheism doesn't find it's roots in being socially acceptable, or "cool". Although i understand where your coming from, this doesn't justify such a broad generalization. Based on what you are saying, it seems as though you think your the only one who has reasoned out the existence of a God or Gods.

      Current American society does seems to be absolutely obsessed with status and populism, but I think there is a difference between atheism and nihilism. There are always going to be people in every respect of life that seem to have had their opinion formed by others.
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      Jul 1 2012: Hyun, I doubt your comment is serious. Probably just to stir. But giving it the benefit of the doubt....

      Any evidence for your claim that atheists don't have a belief in gods and goddesses because it is cool?

      I've heard many atheists have a hard time and suffer for their position, including in the US. They don't and I don't lack belief because it is cool. For me it is simply a lack of evidence for belief in any type of deity, especially the thousands of more specifically detailed ones which conflict and therefore at best only one is correct. This is reinforced by everything we understand in the universe pointing to no supernatural help in input.
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      Jul 1 2012: Hyun,
      I do not label myself, and I do not believe in a god. This choice is certainly NOT because I want to be "cool", or "hip". It is a choice I have made after 60+ years of exploration, research, study, and practice of several religious and philosophical beliefs. If I get new information that causes me to believe in a god, I will change my perception. So far, with years of exploration, and an NDE/OBE, I do not have that information.

      You say that atheists do not do much research themselves. If you yourself do some research, you may find that those who do not believe in a god often have an in-depth religious background, and have indeed researched quite extensively.

      I agree with you that the universe we live in is not the only universe that exists:>)
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      Jun 30 2012: Hi Mark...nice to cross paths with you again:>)
      I don't see the choice as black and white as you do, nor can I judge anyone for "a lie". How does it serve you to judge others for living a "lie" because you do not agree?

      Although I do not label myself, I strongly believe that I have made a choice to not believe in a god, based on many years of study, research, practice of several different religions and philosophical beliefs and a near death experience during which I did not meet a god "out there". I definitely choose to feel the way I do, based on information I have at this time, and I cannot imagine why or how you can judge it to NOT be a choice.
      I CAN start or stop believing at any time, if/when I get different information, and I cannot understand why that would not be true of everyone.
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          Jul 1 2012: Hi Mark,
          I'm good...hope you are good too:>)
          If what you write is not your opinion, why do you write it? What's the point in sharing something that is not your opinion...something that you do not agree with?

          You do not know if "they" are fooling "themselves" or not. I am surprised by this comment from you Mark, because many of your other comments are so very insightful. This doesn't sound like you at all!

          I AM indeed the author of many of my experiences.....by choice. Yes, I am free to choose to believe based on information I have in any given moment. If this does not sound free to you...so be it. It certainly feels very free to me. Yes, I could absolutely choose to change my mind based on new information...that does not seem difficult for me. I control a LOT of information that comes my way by being open minded, open hearted, and seeking information. There are many avenues by which to assimilate information, and I wonder why you would want to limit yourself by believing otherwise.

          I CAN indeed start or stop believing at any time, (which most people can do), if/when I get different information. I control the thoughts moving through my mind Mark, and I do not see why anyone would want to give up that choice in him/herself. It is indeed a choice.
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          Jul 1 2012: Belief is an interesting topic all in itself. So is choice.

          I won't get into epistemology, but suggest there are different depths or types of belief and knowledge and different levels of evidence required to support beliefs or push a belief into the realm of knowledge.

          Some might believe in a god the same way I believe that the computer in front of me exists. Particularly if they grow up where it was just accepted. Others might profess they believe in some God, even argue for it, but have this deep down doubt or suspicion perhaps floating around their unconscious and that they habitually push down or avoid whenever it impinges their consciousness.

          I'm also not sure choice is the right word for not believing in gods or goddesses. Maybe realisation or acceptance is better.

          On an unconscious level, you can not control it, but you can choose to squash or distract the doubts when they float into your consciousness until it becomes a habit.

          Alternatively you can choose to get more information actively.

          There was a period in my life, attending church after I had really started to question, when I probably knew in my "heart" or unconscious that belief was unjustified, but if you asked me I would have professed I was a Christian.

          Later on I did choose to intellectually explore this dilemma rather than avoid it. After much consideration I intellectually accepted that it was most likely not true. At some point I aligned my intellectual position, with my unconscious world view.

          It is sort of a choice to turn away from the dissonance and vocalise acceptance, to align your conscious thing position with what you "feel" is true. This is almost a choice, to be honest with yourself.

          Another choice is when you profess to others that you no longer believe and begin to act and live in accordance with your non theist views, to be authentic.
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          Jul 1 2012: Hi Mark,
          OK....I agree to disagree. In my perception, the nature of beliefs is a matter of opinion. Believing in a god, or not believing in a god is a choice, in my humble opinion. Based on your many other comments, I am surprised that you do not think/feel it to be a choice.

          No, I do not find it a shock, nor do I think you've lost capacity for insight and common sense. I am "surprised", which is exactly what I stated above. I'm not interested in trying to convince anyone of anything either Mark, which is why I agree to disagree.

          Sharing thoughts, feelings, ideas, perceptions, beliefs and opinions, is part of what TED is about, in my humble opinion, and I do not choose to be offended by your opinion:>)


          EDIT:
          I notice that you edited your comment since I posted my comment.
          My belief, or lack of belief in anything, is based on information. I take in information, and make a choice regarding beliefs. If you believe it is not a "free choice", but rather a "necessary consequence" for you, so be it. That is not what it is for me. You said above that you were not trying to convince me of anything.

          As I already said Mark...I CAN change my beliefs when/if I get new information. Why is it so important for you to convince me that I cannot?
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          Jul 1 2012: My goodness Mark.....another edit to your comment? Seems like you are trying to convince me of something? Again...why is it so important to convince me of your perspective? Do you think/feel that I am not intelligent enough, or informed enough to make my own decisions?
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          Jul 1 2012: I'm not at all "affronted" Mark. I appreciate your ability to be thorough, as it is the same thing I am trying to do:>)
  • Jun 30 2012: This is not a direct answer to your question, nor is it meant to start an argument, it is just an idea that keeps nagging at the back of my logical brain.

    Suppose a creator was interested in testing one and only one matter, moral judgment. So this creator creates a world of animals that slowly evolve, perfecting their instincts for survival of both the individual and the tribe. The process of evolution assures that these creatures are completely devoted to a single purpose, the survival of their genes. Then to complete the recipe he adds a logic box of exquisite complexity, even capable of contemplating the mystery of its own consciousness. Most importantly, this logic box is capable of developing many different schools of morality, based on both spiritual beliefs and the natural world. Would not this creature be the perfect test subject, continuously confronting moral dilemmas?
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    Jun 26 2012: Mr. Lorenz I hope you are compiling information for a closing statement on this volatile question. My experience is that it is difficult to get precise answers to the question as asked. It would be helpful to know how many actually choose to call themselves atheists to avoid being accountable to God. I find your question quite perspicous and free of ambiguity, but, alas, you will not get many straight answers like, "Yes. I am an Atheist because I do not want to be accountable to some god's rules." Or, "No. I am an Atheist for reasons other than escaping accountability." Anyway, I hope you will take the time to compile a Closing Statement. Thank you!
    • Jun 26 2012: This is perplexing. It seems quite clear that atheists writing here so far don't have accountability as a motivation for not believing. If it is not clear to you, I found gods to be nonsense. That has nothing to do with accountability, but if it is still not clear to you, my lack of beliefs in gods is not for avoiding accountability. It would not make sense to "become atheist" to avoid accountability. Declaring not to believe would not take accountability away, would it? Thus, I doubt that any atheists would become atheists just to avoid accountability to some god(s). Finally, I find the question nonsensical and self-righteous: Since your god is but one of many gods not believed, which gods would atheists not want to be accountable to? Would it make sense to you if I asked if you don't believe in Allah, and Mohamed as his prophet, because you don't want to be accountable to him?
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        Jun 26 2012: Hi Gabo,
        Are you talkin' uh me? I didn't ask a question, or express an opinion. I simply asked Mr. Lorenz if he planned to compose a Closing Statement and shared my experience regarding the difficulty of sifting out the ancillary traffic so as to summarize those responses germane to the question. Not that I don't appreciate your arguments, as always, but I spent my 2-cents worth way back there somewhere. I am interested to know the answers to the question regardless of how "nonsensical and self-righteous" you judge it to be. Is that OK my friend? Allow for Faith Gabo. Ta Ta.
        • Jun 28 2012: I know what you meant Edward, but you said something to the effect that atheists would not be straightforward about their answer. So my answer was for both you and Lorenzo. So, of course I find it all right for you to want to read an answer. If my tone sounds otherwise, I apologize. I still think it proper to both answer, and point to the problems of the question.
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      Jul 1 2012: I am an Atheist for reasons other than escaping accountability.

      There's one straight answer.

      In fact I have never even contemplated this or have it come up when discussing with other atheists. Not even on the radar.

      I don't recall having heard a single atheist put this forward as a rationale.

      Its kind of a bizarre surprising question. Do people actually think this is a reason that leads people to disbelieve in god or goddesses? If so I'm guessing it is theists who think this.

      I think the question reflects more on the questioner. Not sure if this a an honest proposal or just a put down. It does show a real lack of understanding of atheism from my perspective.
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      Jul 1 2012: Edward,
      It is not the question that is "volatile" (questions are simply questions) but rather, how some people choose to address the question. The question being..."Why have people (Atheists) Chosen not to believe in God? Does this give freedom to live life without becoming answerable to anyone?"

      Several people have given very "precise answers to the question as asked". Personally, although I do not label myself, I do not believe in a god, because of information gathered, researched, studied and explored for over 60 years, in addition to a NDE/OBE in which I did not meet a god, nor was there any indication whatsoever of heaven or hell "out there". I experienced an interconnectedness that is often lacking in the human life experience BECAUSE of religions, which often cause seperation of people.

      Because I perceive everything and everyone to be interconnected, I feel very responsible and accountable to myself, all the people in our world, and our environment. In other words, I feel accountable to everyone and everything. At this time, with the information I have, I do not believe in a god. However, if there is a god out there somewhere, he/she/it would be included with my feeling of accountability to everyone and everything, because my belief in interconnectedness, includes everyone/everything. I honestly don't know how to say it any more "precise" than that

      I sincerely hope this may begin to meet your demand to have "straight answers".
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        Jul 1 2012: Sorry Colleen. I trust your remarks are sincere and meant to be helpful, which they are to me in understanding your personal belief system. But they do not answer the specific challenge of your assertion that the Holy Bible teaches a fatalistic view of life. You said the Bible teaches something and I asked for your specific reference from the Holy Bible itself supporting your assertion. If you continue to refuse to supply that information (which you cannot because the Bible does not teach any such thing) then I can only assume you are being stubborn and evasive, which I cannot believe is true of you. To stop further ad hominem arguments let me tell you in irreducibly simple terms what I hope you will do: Agree that your statement was based on your impression or opinion of what the Bible says and not on actual reading and study of the Bible itself. The Bible teaches the only truly hopeful view of life for every living individual.Thank you friend.
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          Jul 1 2012: Edward,
          I have NEVER stated that "the Holy Bible teaches a fatalistic view of life", and I would VERY MUCH APPRECIATE IT IF YOU WOULD DISCONTINUE TRYING TO PUT WORDS IN MY MOUTH, WHICH YOU ARE OBVIOUSLY DOING TO TRY TO SUPPORT YOUR ARGUMENT.

          I wrote, that I learned something from 12 years of catholic schooling. I'VE CLEARED THAT UP WITH YOU IN THREE DIFFERENT COMMENTS. This is beginning to feel like harrassment from you Edward.

          Calling me stubborn and evasive, along with ignorant and uninformed is in violation of the TED terms of use.

          The topic question...AGAIN EDWARD...is..."Why have people (Atheists) Chosen not to believe in God?" This is not a bible study, which you apparently would like it to be.
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        Jul 2 2012: Easy on the Caps Lock Colleen! I can hear you just fine. Enough ad hominem, straw men, and red herrings!
        The following cut and pasted words are from your mouth and I did not put them there. They speak clearly of a fatalistic view of life:
        "We are told we are sinners, for no apparent reason, and must suffer and work toward connecting with god our whole lives. Then "he" will judge us at the end of our life."
        The Holy Bible does not teach that we are to "suffer and work toward connecting with god our whole lives". I am not trying to trouble, worry or torment you (the definition of harassment). I am trying to get you to recognize the difference between your life experiences and actual Bible truth. Please cut and paste my statement(s) calling you stubborn, evasive, ignorant or uninformed. Until you do I plead innocent. I understand you feel accountable to share your NDE/OBE experiences. My concern is that you mislead folks about what the Holy Bible teaches. This is very much consistent with Mr. Lorenz's question.
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          Jul 2 2012: Did she say "we are told in bible" ........?

          Or just "we are told".

          If just "we are told" you might not even disagree.

          I was also told I was a sinner and could only be saved by accepting Jesus as my personal saviour. I think this bit is actually biblically based.
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          Jul 2 2012: Obey,
          You are correct...I said..."we are told"...Edward copied the statement correctly, so he knows exactly what I wrote as well. I was addressing the topic question...
          "Why have people (Atheists) Chosen not to believe in God?" Nowhere in the introduction, does the facilitator of this discussion ask for, or require bible references. That appears to be Edward's attemp to promote his own beliefs, and is consistantly off topic.

          Unfortunately, this is the kind of behavior, which causes me to move further from the belief in a god or religion. When words, meanings and interpretations are twisted and used with anger, religious dogma and bible study no longer serve as a beneficial life guide.

          I have addressed the topic question based on my beliefs, which evolved from 12 years of catholic schooling, research, study, exploration of several different religions and philosophical beliefs, and a NDE/OBE.

          Obey, I appreciate your intervention....thanks. I'm out of thumbs for you at the moment!

          Edward,
          You know exactly where on this thread you called non-believers ignorant and uninformed, which you have apologized for, and continue to do. It is right in your comment above that you write..."then I can only assume you are being stubborn and evasive". The evidence is right here on this thread at this moment...I just checked...so unless you remove the comments, it it clear Edward. Most people who have participated in this discussion are aware of it Edward, so I feel no need to copy it. I do not enjoy regurgitating and going round and round in circles with information that is off topic.
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          Jul 2 2012: No problem Colleen.
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    Jun 26 2012: "Other people are atheists because they just feel that atheism is right."
    Come on , you talk about atheists here , they label themselves as rational guys , as guys who think and after this thinking to adopt atheism , what feelings ?no feelings , thinking , maybe after it feelings .
    Aren't they the guys who dismiss the argument from the theistic side about 'feeling of God ' as unfunded , as wrong in the end ? and now you tell me this guys are atheists because of a 'feeling of right' ?
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    Jun 24 2012: Lorenzo, one more for you.

    At some point religions come down to faith. Their gods or goddesses are not tangible in an ordinary sense etc etc.

    I note faith is not a good method for discerning the truth as evidenced by wild array of religious and related beliefs.

    You mention "God". You haven't defined which one you mean. There have been thousands of gods and goddesses including Deist and Pantheist etc, some with many more sects and millions if not billions of specific individual interpretations.

    I not Christians have Chosen not to believe in the Muslim God or Zeus etc. Atheists, just go one more.

    There is just a huge soup of conflicting supernatural beliefs and claims. None I know of have any compelling evidence.

    What if god is actually best described by an extinct religion?
    • Jun 25 2012: DEAR OBEY;
      I MEAN THE GOD WHO CREATED THE UNIVERSE, HIS FINGERPRINTS ARE ALL OVER IT AND WE ONLY HAVE TO LOOK AROUND US TO SEE TANGIBLE EXAMPLES OF WHAT HE IS LIKE.
      There is only one God, and He has made Himself known to us in three Persons; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Each reveals a different aspect of God’s character; much like a diamond with many faces or facets reflects the light, and displays the beauty within the whole gemstone.
      Another picture that helps us understand what God is like is water. Water can exist in three different forms; solid, liquid and gas. We know the solid as ice, the liquid as water and the gas as steam, but each state is still water – just in a different form.
      God made us in His image. This doesn’t mean that we look like God, but that we have some of the characteristics of God within us. We have aspects of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit within us and the easiest aspect of God for us to identify with, the Son; Jesus Christ.
      God the Son, Jesus, came to Earth and was born as a baby. Jesus had a human body, knew hunger and thirst, he got tired and slept, he felt pain and sadness, he worked and grew, he learned and he was tempted, just like us! All these characteristics, and more, show us that Jesus was human.
      However, Jesus was also God. He did miracles and healed people to demonstrate the power of God. What was even more amazing is that Jesus allowed the authorities to put Him to death, so that the penalty of our wrongdoings, the sin that separated us from God, could be paid. However, this was not the end; because he was God, death had no control over Him and he was raised to life again. When Jesus did return to Heaven, the Holy Spirit came to live in the hearts of those who became followers of Jesus and enables them to be like Jesus.
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        Jun 25 2012: This is a compelling story Lorenzo.
        You say..."What was even more amazing is that Jesus allowed the authorities to put Him to death, so that the penalty of our wrongdoings, the sin that separated us from God, could be paid".

        Apparently, he had no control over the attenpt to pay "the penalty of our wrongdoings, the sin that separated us from God", because we are told that as little babies coming onto this earth, we are born with original sin. We are told we are sinners, for no apparent reason, and must suffer and work toward connecting with god our whole lives. Then "he" will judge us at the end of our life.

        We are also told, based on comments on this thread, that it doesn't matter anyway, because our names are already written in a book, which indicates who will be saved, and who will not.

        Surely you see the contradictions, which are very apparent.
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          Jun 26 2012: Your second paragraph is at variance with the Holy Bible. Please share the Bible references that led you to say, ". . . must suffer and work toward connecting with god our whole lives." Please do not cite the comments of others on this thread as they are fallible and debatable. Just provide your Bible references please. Thank you!
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          Jun 30 2012: I am grasping at facts, not straws, Colleen. Your experience-based impression of what the Holy Bible teaches is not the same as faithful representation of what it teaches. It seems conventional that claiming the Bible says something carries with it an obligation to cite exactly where it says that something. No references then? Just your unsubstantiated claim that the Bible teaches what you say it does? The real point here, if I may return to it, is that the Bible absolutely does not teach what you say about living our lives in an effort to gain acceptance from God. I am sorry we can't be more fact-based and less focused on motives. We could learn and advance in knowledge by so doing. Thank you.
      • Jun 25 2012: Lorenzo I look around all the time and I recently saw a flesh eating bacteria killing a college student, a serial killer who made a video of him killing his partner with an ice pick,and a man high on bath salts that ate another mans face. If God is all powerful and all knowing then he knew this would happen to these people and did nothing to stop it. Is God evil? Or were the recipients of this torture "sinners"?

        Also Lorenzo you say the one true God? How can you be sure of this?There have been hundreds, if not thousands of Gods that have popped in and out of existence since the first records of human culture. Why is it that you are not saying Horus is the one true God? You offered nothing to answer obey's question, except your assertion that this God you speak of is all around us. Where is he, can you be more specific?
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          Jun 26 2012: Dear Edward,
          Sorry I could not get this closer to your comment starting with...
          "Your second paragraph is at variance with the Holy Bible."

          I respect the fact that you believe the bible to be a good reference book, and I believe the bible to be, at best, an interesting story about conditions at the time it was written. That being said, I would not, of course, use it for reference. It seems silly that you would ask for that!

          The comment, which seems to offend you, is from my experience of 12 years with catholic schooling. The nuns taught hundreds/thousands of us that we were born sinners, and must suffer and work toward connecting with god our whole lives. It's only information I was told with 12 years of catholic schooling Edward, and it is something I do not believe.

          Again Edward, I remind you of the topic..."Why have people (Atheists) Chosen not to believe in God?"

          It does not seem reasonable or appropriate for you to demand bible references, when I am trying to explain why I do not believe in a god, or the bible as a reference for life.

          It feels like you are grasping for straws to keep your argument going.
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        Jun 26 2012: I see all the same things you do Lorenzo and I do not attribute it to a God. And I don't believe any of the other stuff at all.

        It's a nice story but it is only a story.
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        Jun 28 2012: Nice to hear from you Lorenzo.

        Sounds like one of the Christian trinity type gods based on the bible. Thanks for clarifying. There are so many different ideas of god and gods this helps.

        You seem pretty sure you know there is a god and what he is like and the book that describes him best.

        Without relying in the bible, for which there is no reasonable evidence to support its supernatural claims, how do you know your god created the universe and not some other god or even some not well understood natural process?

        If you rely on the bible for evidence then so can anyone with an old religious text.

        How do you know a God exists? Who created god? Where did he come from and how do you know this, again with proper evidence.

        If you say the universe is evidence of god, that is like someone else saying it is evidence of their gods, or me saying it is evidence of a natural processes and the laws of physics. That is not evidence.

        What convincing evidence is there that the bible is absolutely correct?

        If you were born in Saudi Arabia would you not be making similar claims about Allah, and demote Jesus to a prophet?

        How do you know Jesus did miracles and was ressurected?

        If he did, how do we know that he was an aspect of god, how do we know all the other claims are correct, how do we know his followers letters and memory and interpretations were correct after he died. Do you just assume it is correct? He could just as well been an alien. His followers could have been wrong and the message just for Jews and wrote down the new testament books to suit their assumptions.

        How do we distinguish your assertions from those of other religions?

        If you believe because of faith, you are entitled to your beliefs but you might start with " I believe,,,," because you believe it is true, but don't know for sure and have no way of demonstrating any of it is true.

        Doesn't your point about atheists growing in communist China also apply to you growing up with Christianity?
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    Jun 23 2012: If I completely believed in the Christian god and hell, I would never have children.

    Why risk bringing someone into this world when there is a risk they may not be saved and spend eternity suffering in the next life?
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      Jun 23 2012: Hi Obey,
      Had my children before I got saved, but both my children are now saved. My daughter does not want children because of the moral state of the country.
      You make a good point though, I guess it's down to the individual. Personally, I'd go for it.

      :-)
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        Jun 24 2012: Hi Peter,

        What if they did not believe? Would you regret having them, believing they will suffer in hell for eternity?

        I would have thought the risk of infinite eternal suffering is a bit worse than the current state of morality in British society. What is she scared of violence? Homosexuality? Sex out of marriage? Greed? It's all temporary. Of this world. The Christian afterlife is for eternity.

        The term saved is interesting. Saved from the hell God made and will send some of us. What sort of deity sets up a universe where some of us need to be saved through faith and luck (where and when you were born) against the logic and reason we were given?

        I'll try to stop harping on about this for a while. The Hell doctrine proves God is evil. The consequences if it were true are profound, but being human believers still manage to put it in a box and go on procreating.
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          Jun 24 2012: Hi Obey.
          Hell isn't a subject that comes up much in Christian circles. In fact TED is about the only place it does; & that from Atheists of all folk. You are right of course; it must be a major blow to lose one's children like that. I don't know how to answer, I don't share your pessimism. I realise my life is in God's hands, I can only do that which is humanly possible, the rest is His problem.
          My daughter's issue is with schools. She knows what they are like in London through her work & feels that Christian influence has gone completely. I guess this in part ties in with the hell issue; her offspring may well be at eternal risk.

          :-)
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        Jun 25 2012: Thanks Peter.

        I personally don't see any place for many aspects of Christian influence in state run schools. Such as scripture classes, or chaplains.

        I guess we might agree on some practical aspects in terms of class discipline, education outcomes etc.
  • Jun 22 2012: if we belive on something because someone has tought us it shows we are not progressed in evolution ,monket do the same thing..
    we are not imitator but we are experiancer.
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    Jun 22 2012: atheism is not a religion to adopt or inherit from your parents. and being an atheist doesn't gives you the freedom to live without becoming answerable to anyone. you are still bound by the responsibilities and obligations just like anyone. but, if you mean god by saying "anyone", the answer is no.
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    Jun 22 2012: If a person has a choice whether or not to be accountable to another, then that person is the cause of the arrangement and the entity to which they make themselves accountable is merely an effect. If there is a god in the arrangement it is a god who is subservient to that person. So, I say "No!", people do not choose to not believe in god to avoid being accountable to that god. People do not choose to not believe in God. God chooses people to believe in Him. A person believing or not believing in God is an effect of which God is the cause. It must be so because the Holy Bible and Bob Dylan both say so. . . "Everybody's got to serve somebody".
    • Jun 22 2012: Edward, I may be misconstruing what it is that your saying. Are you claiming that God is in control of who believes in him? He therefore orchestrates the unbelief as well?

      On what basis does God choose those to believe or not believe?
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        Jun 22 2012: What I know about God I learned from the Holy Bible. I struggle constantly against the temptation to make stuff up about God. I checked my comment which sparked your response for signs of extra-biblical doctrine and found none. The Holy Bible clearly teaches that the only way anyone becomes born again is by being elected by God on a purely unconditional basis. Being born again is a process which is all of God. A person can contribute nothing to the process. God grants salvation to those he chooses. The good news to mankind from the Holy Bible is that while no one knows who God has chosen to be saved, the offer of salvation is made to all people. Even a wretch like me can be born again! God, and God alone is in control of who believes and who does not. You are not misconstruing my meaning Mr. Klink. Thank you!
        • Jun 23 2012: This is an awful contradiction. How can it be good news if salvation can only come when your god decided that you will be saved? How can that mean that salvation is available to anyone? Let's rephrase: Who is saved is not based on any merit, but on this god's whims. Oh, that's good news by the way because who knows, his whims might help you (or not).

          Do you see the logical problem? Man, if I believed in this god I would despise the monster. By the way, the Bible is contradictory about this. Calvinists (the main ones believing in the same kind of god as you, an evil one that is) choose some passages and ignore others, as most Christian denominations do. Each interpreting and cherry-picking for their own interpretation to look reasonable. If anything, this shows how contradictory the Bible is, and how contradictory and nonsensical people can be when referring to their beliefs in some version of a god.

          Which leads to why I don't believe. I grew up a Christian, but started having doubts when doctrine crashed with reality, when I found defences of the faith to be based on lying about what science is about, or on beautifully sounding but meaningless rhetoric, when ... long story short, at some point I thought that "God" was just misinterpreted, looked briefly into other religions, into other Christian denominations, but with time the idea of a god existing faded away and I could see with clarity how much gods are just human imaginary constructs. Very often nonsensical ones.
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        Jun 22 2012: I agree Edward. God has known all of history since before the beginning of history. He has sovereignly (?) decided who & who not shall be saved. From our human perspective however; whoever calls on Him will be saved. Thankfully !

        :-)
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          Jun 22 2012: Hi Peter, in a way this just demonstrates the absurdity of trying to make a coherent position out of the conflicting and incoherent principles, verses, paradigms etc.

          God already knows what is happening, is outside time etc, so why not skip to the chase. Do we have free will, when god made us and knows exactly what we do. HE made some of us knowing we would fail. A lovely paradox.

          Actually, while the bible says god is almighty, eternal, and knows everything that goes on, I'm a bit rusty about how we get to being outside time and knows the future.

          Is the outside time thing a recent invention to go along with the scientific view that time began with the big bang. I would not be surprised if eternal means he has been around forever and will not die. Not necessarily outside time and seen the future. Maybe there are temporal limits on being all knowing. Just like almighty is not quite omnipotent. I mean god can not lie (but he can trick as per Abraham) and must remain true to his nature

          Also does the bible just say god "knows all things" which does not necessarily mean he knows the future, it is open to interpretatn, or does it specifically say god "knows the future".

          Maybe god hasn't seen or experience the future rather being all knowing he can predict it down to the quantum level. Every quark. Amazing. And he still had time to send 2 bears to maul 42 youths after they called Elisha a baldhead.

          Seriously though, I think there is still some Christian debate about whether everything is predetermined or not.

          There is a non religious parallel. If you had enough computing power and scientific understanding you could predict every atomic action at the quantum level. In effect, unless there is an element of chaos everything is predetermined. However, on the human scale it feels like we are making decisions. Perhaps this logic applies to the god question as well, it feels like we have free will. But it does not answer the issue that god made some us knowing we would fail
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          Jun 22 2012: Peter,
          "God has known...since before the beginning of history...who & who not shall be saved"...AND..."whoever calls on him will be saved".

          I know....I know.....I know.....we're supposed to accept this on faith!!! LOL:>)
        • Jun 22 2012: Peter could you clarify what your statement means.

          Also, why would God who punishes and rewards, according to the Bible, orchestrate the design of non believers. If he created us and chose who believes in him then he would have to take responsibility for those who do not believe. If he were to then punish those who do not believe, with an eternity in Hell, that would mean God built some people, who by no fault of their own were destined for hell. Wouldn't that mean god is at lest partially sadistic?
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          Jun 23 2012: Peter, one logical conclusion if you really really believe in eternal damnation as outlined in the bible, is simply not to have children.

          If Hell as asserted by many Christians is true, then by having children you are complicit in risking a human soul to eternal damnation, endless suffering.

          Unless believers are 100% confident their children will follow Jesus and be saved, it is simply too great a risk when they face infinite punishment - eternal suffering and torment.

          This is a logical conclusion to the scenario knowingly set up by god.

          Free will and a mind capable of critical thinking, supposedly a gift from god, will result in billions of souls suffering for eternity. This is a result of gods creation, gods rules. Creating us with free will and reason, knowing that this will result in billions of conscious beings suffering for eternity is simply evil.

          Think about it. Please really pause and think about it before leaping into an automatic response.

          I'm not trying to offend. This is an honest and I think correct analysis of the mainstream Christian doctrine of hell and salvation.
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          Jun 28 2012: Amen!
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        Jun 23 2012: Hi Obey/Brian.
        Like regular science, our side does move with current discoveries. However the bible has always told of the universe having a beginning & an end. Beginning in a ball of water & ending in a fervent heat. God has always been outside the system. Since Einstein we have believed that time can travel at different speeds, & can only effect items with mass. God has no mass, so is unaffected by time.
        Basically the big bang is built on our interpretation of red shift, ie the universe appears to be expanding. The bible is ok with this as it says many times that God stretches out the heavens. However the BB does not fit with the bible regarding creation. The best model I read was of the universe being created small, with the earth at an event horizon, which allowed 6 days on earth,& millions elsewhere, to sort out the starlight question. This is of only passing interest however; the bible is where it's at.
        We are free to make whatever decisions we like, incl. having children. I believe God knows all my decisions as He knows the end from the beginning. I am in time so the decisions are still entirely mine to be made.
        Why does everyone want to question the wisdom of God. All that matters is what is real. If we don't like it that's too bad. We cannot wish it away. I have decided that the bible is true. I have to accept it warts & all. The author made the universe, so He is smarter than me. That is my decision; you are all free to make yours.

        :-)
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          Jun 23 2012: Thanks Peter.

          I find a lot of this very speculative. God has no mass. I guess he's not pure energy either.

          Wouldn't parents who really believe in hell be concerned about whether their kids will end up there. I guess Christians are humans too and have all the cognitive tricks to avoid looking at the dark side and focus on the love etc.

          Part of the comments above were about understanding a particular god concept. Part questioning the morality of it. In other places asking where is the evidence for this concept. Others, the absurdity and other issues.

          Whether it is true matters most. This does not preclude analysing the concept whether you believe or not.

          "If we don't like it too bad" I appreciate the honesty.

          More powerful, smarter, but not necessarily great ethics. Might does not make right.
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          Jun 23 2012: Peter you make a lot of assumptions, firstly that the author of the bible is god and not someone installing a theocracy. As to your side moving with the times as science does, I can't accept that because it's a double sided coin for someone who says the bible is true, and yet their faith progresses like science. They are incoherent, either the bible is the inherit word of god or it isn't , it can't be one or the other.
          Why do people want to question the wisdom of a god? Well simply because given ten minutes I could think of a utopia for a race to live on and then to prove I existed I'd pop down there every day at around 12, just to see how things are.
        • Jun 23 2012: Peter I agree that if we don't like reality we can't wish it away. The reality is that the bible was pieced together during a committee held by constantine around 300 a.d. Jesus never met anyone who ever wrote about him.

          I see you are sincere about your beliefs and they probably help you on a personal level. I respect you for those beliefs. But the bible can't be taken as fact.

          I can tell you i question God because I see all types of different religions claiming there exclusivity, they can't all be right? How do you know which is right and which is wrong?
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          Jul 1 2012: Peter,

          You say: "I have decided that the bible is true."
          That's all you have to say in your comments.
          What it tells we all know but most of us don't believe the bible to be true any more than we believe any other myth to be true.
          You believe in God while I have no idea what the word means. So what's your contribution to the conversation? Maybe you first explain the word God.
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        Jun 24 2012: Hi Brian.
        "Jesus never met anyone who ever wrote about him. "
        Matthew, John, Peter, & James, (his brother) all met Jesus before his death. Paul met him after his resurrection.
        The compilation of the bible is a pretty complex story; Constantine certainly had a part.
        It is true there are many religions. Why would there be any at all if there was no truth in any of it? When we look at the bible we find historical data that can be checked out. The whole scenario makes a lot of sense when we look around the world we live in. Jesus promises that those who sincerely seek him will find him. He comes through. Millions have had their lives changed for the better by following him. There's a reality there that I find absent in the others. Most disagree, but that's the way I see it.

        :-)
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          Jun 24 2012: To say that because there is religion there must be some truth in it, well that's just not true, I could make anything up but there would be no truth behind it, this is like saying scientology exists or mormonism exists because there's some truth in it. Is it not more probable and almost certainly factual that the only reason Constantine became Christian was because Christians told him he would lose a certain battle if he didn't pray to God, we all know the Romans would have won the battle anyway.So is the christian church spread by its innate truth or because Constantine made it the official religion of the Roman Empire after winning a battle under the banner of god which he was going to win anyway.
          Now Jesus' existence I'll skip tackling, haven't got enough words.
          But in the case of people finding comfort within this religion or doing good deeds in the name of a creator. Surely to the critical mind basing your life upon a disturbing truth is much better than a comforting lie, in religion it is the one place where we will abandon all logic just to comfort ourselves, it reduces us to that. Then if people only act better after accepting a potential lie, then the fault lies with the person and the state in which the person lives. If you only do good because Jesus says so then you're just not a nice person or if you think you'd be immoral without Jesus then you've abandoned all human solidarity.
          Which leads to a few extra points worth saying, because it makes you feel better, that does not inherently make it true. Also if a million people believe a lie, its still a lie. The only way you can change their opinion is if you get them to pause their faith and actually question what they know which I fear some people are afraid to do.
        • Jun 24 2012: Peter, what evidence do you have to back up the claims that these men met jesus? Almost all the gospels were written 100 years after his death. The fact that they had a committee to choose what would be in the bible or not doesn't bother you?

          Every culture has creation myths. There an expression of the struggle of life vs death, a tribute to life conquering death. So i understand if you take the bible for metaphor and it gives you strength, but to say its historically accurate is another thing entirely.
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          Jun 25 2012: Peter, my understanding is we don't know who wrote down the Gospels.

          The best scholarly assessment is they were written decades after Jesus died assuming a person called Jesus existed (which I think is most likely).

          The best assessment I have heard is that the gospels, and there are more than 4, may have been oral traditions that developed over time e.g. this is the story of Jesus according to Mark etc. We have no idea if Mark was present when the Gospel according to Mark we written. I guess the first written gospel put a bit of a stake in the ground and this influenced the rest, but they do differ and in some cases contradict.

          I note the last 12 verses of Mark in the modern bible are not in the earliest manuscripts and are in a different style to the rest of the gospel. It is reasonable to assume these were added later and support the developing mythology.

          While 1 and 2 Peter are attributed to Peter the disciple the authors are also unknown. Unlikely to have been Peter if written in the 2nd century

          The claim about Paul meeting a resurrected Jesus is an extraordinary one and is unverifiable with the information we have, as is the resurrection of Jesus, as is the validity of any of the supernatural or truth claims in the bible.

          The whole New Testament thing was not very well thought out in terms of proving evidence or reliable information for future generations.

          Suggest Islam has some similarities in regards to historical references. Agree once the Jesus Jewish messianic cult started taking on gentiles and proselytising it was on the way to spreading, with help from the Romans after 300, and then European colonisation from the 1500's. There are not to many religions that seek converts as aggreesively as some forms of Christianity. (Not the Coptic or Orthodox that seem less expansionary) .

          We will have to disagree on Christianity having a reality beyond most other religions, particularly Islam that did a much better job documenting the teachings and event
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        Jun 25 2012: Brian/Obey.
        We could talk forever about who did what when, that is the nature of history. I cannot prove empirically that Julius Ceasar ruled Rome, or that Hannibal crossed the Alps. What I can say is that the bible has to be the most poked & prodded history book on the planet & has an excellent reputation with most scholars.
        God normally works through men, & to me at least, it is reasonable that an all powerful universe creator would be able to procure a book through mankind. I see no problem with that. Whether the bible is that book is for each of us to judge. On the other hand, I am told that the universe, life, & all it's wonders popped into existence with no intelligent input whatsoever. I am asked to believe that the Colorado river formed the Grand Canyon over millions of years, but the Athabaska Vallis on Mars was formed rapidly by a torrent of water. The former on a planet absolutely awash with water, & the latter on a planet with zero detectable water.
        For me it boils down to either/or & becomes a rather easy choice.

        :-)
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          Jun 25 2012: Mars actually has lots of water, it's either beneath the surface or at the ice caps. And giant cuts in mars would a be a lot easier to form on Mars than Earth giving the fact that almost all of mars is covered in iron oxide which is an extremely fine dust.
          Now as to the universal creator conveying his messages through man, I can't disprove it but I can say that it seems a little odd that he contradicts himself just about everywhere in Deuteronomy, or the fact that I'm asked to believe that the creator of the whole universe including time itself could only cleanse the sin of humanity by sending his son to be a human sacrifice, or to drown everyone bar 6. Was this god just having a day off or not feeling creative when he thought he'd cure sin by human sacrifice but he wouldn't fully cleanse it, nooo that'd be too easy, everyone's still born in sin apparently.
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          Jun 25 2012: Hi Peter, yes I guess in the end we will agree to disagree. But I find the discussion interesting.

          I guess the difference is suggesting a Roman ruled Rome is a mundane claim compared to if you said Caesar was born or a virgin, walked on water and came back to life to get Brutus back. Supernatural claims require more evidence than the mundane.

          The more I learn about the different bibles, how the New Testament developed and was compiled, what is actually written in it, the disconnect between old and new, the more I'm baffled how so many see it as infallible or at least a source of divine wisdom.

          If you take it literally, Yahweh is a petty monster drowning nearly everyone, killing thousands and still having time to command some bears to savage some youths who call a prophet baldhead . Slavery is okay etc.

          The Mars thing is a bit of a red herring, Its not between a theory about the geological formations on Mars and the literal truth of the bible. Science has improved via millions of iterations and resulted in technology we are using to converse today, no thanks to the bible.

          I understand many struggle to comprehend evolution, The really tricky bits that we don't know the answers to are how did life start, how did the universe start, and end up looking and working like it does now, and what does life mean, how should we live etc. The theist approach is the easy way out. Yet there are so many competing theist views saying they have the answers.

          The amazing thing for me is we both genuinely look at the same stuff and see two completely different realities. And I get the same certainty about other supernatural claims from a Muslim or Mormon etc.
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        Jun 26 2012: Hi Stewart.
        You make my point very well. I never for a minute said that it wasn't water that cut the canyons on Mars. What I do say is that the evidence for a universal earthly flood is much greater, but you presumably deny that possibility. On the Mars thing; liquid water is very unlikely given the lack of atmospheric pressure, Water would go directly from ice to vapour.
        http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2000/ast29jun_1m/
        Not saying impossible, but unlikely. I reckon it gets pumped up when NASA needs funds.

        :-)
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          Jun 26 2012: Yes mars no longer has liquid water yet it is theorized that it did once and that's how you got the river beds and deltas on mars etc etc, the worrying thing there is what caused Mars' atmosphere to thin? and can it happen to Earth?
          On the contrary I think there have been many huge floods, I forget how many ice ages there were (around 5 major ones) but following them sea levels would rise causing significant flooding but nothing of the scale you describe. Also I forgot what site it was but I linked it to you in a previous conversation where it said that even if you used the highest estimate for the amount of water on Earth (including potential subterranean water) the sea level would still rise by less than 200m, so either a god had to create extra water then take it all away again afterwards is just too presumptuous and lacking of evidence for my liking. Also if sea and fresh water mixed as I mentioned also, almost all fresh water fish would die due to osmosis bar salmon, almost all plants would die due to the extreme levels of salt not to mention that lack of sun light that would be reaching them for photosynthesis. Also, boats float, your flood covered all land, that includes Everest, put these two facts together and you get a boat with over 100 million species (that includes the extinct ones) at an altitude of over 8000m, where the air is incredibly then and incredibly cold, now you require more assumptions, God provided extra oxygen and heat etc etc etc. None of this has any evidence to it and it just gets even more fabricated as it goes along.
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        Jun 27 2012: Hi Stewart.
        I have to wonder how we 'know' there were 5 Ice Ages when the last one would remove all evidence of the former ones.
        You really need to look at what creationists really believe. All your points are addressed. Try :-

        http://www.answersingenesis.org/get-answers/topic/flood

        To my original point. How do you believe the Grand Canyon was formed ?
        A) The Colorado River.
        B) A temporary torrent.
        C) Another.

        :-)
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          Jun 27 2012: Ice cores in the two poles Peter, they've told us a lot, because they never change depth at their most Northern or Southern points, they leave lovely clues within their depths. Scientists have been able to map changes in atmospheric composition throughout time with these cores and so far as I know they also match the same predictions made from looking at normal rock layers. Also waves of extinctions are good examples of what was going on at the time and by seeing what survived you can get a good estimate as to what actually happened.
          And I've actually lost all faith in humanity after reading through that answering genesis site. It actually thinks that dinosaurs could have gone extinct prior to the flood or were on the boat, how does the top predators bloody die off! That's like modern day all lions just randomly dying on a continent full of crippled chickens, it doesn't work that way.
          And the Grand canyon lark, water, ice, wind, sun, tectonic activity, you name it any erosional feature combined is a billion times more probable than single flood lasting a month caused it. It would probably take the Americans a month of nuking an area before it resembled a grand canyon.
          I'd advise everyone to just not even look at that answering genesis, it just refutes evidence simply because it doesn't want to, you yourself said somewhere creationists don't accept the evidence for evolution, like there's all the evidence and all you're doing is putting you fingers in your ears and going lal la la la. Faith in humanity is just completely gone.
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        Jun 28 2012: Well Stewart,
        "Ice cores in the two poles Peter, they've told us a lot, because they never change depth at their most Northern or Southern points,"
        I fail to see what ice cores at the poles can tell us about ice ages in Europe. "Never change depth"? If it snows they get deeper, if it thaws they get shallower.

        "Also waves of extinctions are good examples of what was going on at the time and by seeing what survived you can get a good estimate as to what actually happened."
        "It actually thinks that dinosaurs could have gone extinct prior to the flood or were on the boat, how does the top predators bloody die off! "
        You are the one talking about extinctions. Evolutionists are the ones who are so sure that the dinosaurs went extinct 65 million years ago; except those that evolved into birds of course.
        BTW the flood lasted about a year, not a month.
        No-one is saying the Grand Canyon was formed at the time of the flood. We don't know. The two main opinions are 1. The Colorado River. & 2, A torrent of water.
        You don't have an opinion; which in my experience is unique for someone proclaiming an interest in the subject. You are however willing to go along with the torrent hypothesis on Mars ?

        :-)
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          Jun 28 2012: If it snows they don't get thicker, you've got to clear the top layer of snow to get to the ice first. Well the fact that they trap the air from those time periods shows us something. So if you know when the last one was, roughly around the time of wooly mammoths and you see what the conditions were like, then you just have to see how many other times had identical conditions.
          And no it's not just me talking about extinctions I read (painfully) through the genesis site and it suggested that they died off prior to the flood but perhaps one species stayed alive to fit the description of the behemoth that Job sees.
          And yes we are very very very sure dinos went extinct millions of years ago. Except for their smaller remnants in the form of birds and crocs.
          Ok a year long flood is even more implausible and hasn't helped your case. Btw in a time of flood, you require water to be moving to create erosion. So unless there was extremely powerful deep water currents, a global flood couldn't do very much erosion. And my idea for the GC is just simple erosion and weathering techniques over a few million years.
          And for Mars no you don't require a torrent of water, like I said Mars mainly has a very fine sediment and so it isn't hard to move about. So just your average river and a few tectonic shifts could probably help create that canyon.
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        Jun 28 2012: Hi Stewart.
        Maybe we need to back up a little. How do you think the ice formed at the poles ? It is simply the accumulation of snow that slowly turns to ice. 260ft of it can accumulate in 50 years.
        http://p38assn.org/glacier-girl.htm
        A squadron of fighters landed on the ice at the end of the war. Some of the guys decided to retrieve them later & that's how deep they had to dig.
        The flood was not just a bad shower. The whole Pangea thing started with a bible verse. The flood involved massive tectonic, & volcanic upheavals, together with land & seabeds rising & falling, probably followed by THE ice age. To get an ice age there must be lots of snow. The ideal conditions for this are hot seas & cold land. These conditions probably prevailed after the flood due to the massive submarine fissures that had opened up, & are still detectable today.
        This is obviously all new to you; it's a fascinating study.

        :-)
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          Jun 28 2012: The ideal conditions for an ice age can't be hot seas and cold land, the heat would just transfer, you require cold seas for an ice age, that's why if the world's ocean currents were to fail, or switch direction we'd most likely end up in an ice age. Ok here's another thing on the flood, if it covered Everest and rained every day for a year, 21m of rain would have to fall every single day. and then if it rained for less, more had to fall in a day.
          http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/earth/cause-ice-age.html
          Just one question after the flood when continents and oceans were made, did god teleport animals onto the other continents or?
          And there's no evidence of such cataclysmic events that you speak of! If volcanoes were erupting and spewing ash all over the world and Noah was up there in a boat how could he breath? This all requires A LOT of faith with no evidence.
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        Jun 29 2012: Hi Stewart.
        "Although the exact causes for ice ages, and the glacial cycles within them, have not been proven, they are most likely the result of a complicated dynamic interaction between such things as solar output, distance of the Earth from the sun, position and height of the continents, ocean circulation, and the composition of the atmosphere."
        That's as close as Nova gets to explaining what causes an ice age. Put simply; nobody knows.
        It is a simple fact of physics that warm water evaporates more than cold water. An ice age requires lots of snow, which in turn requires evaporation from the sea. If the atmosphere is black from volcanic activity, then sunlight is blocked. The atmosphere & the land will quickly cool. The sea is slower to cool, and may also still be warmed by magma at the borders of the tectonic plates. Warm sea, freezing atmosphere, freezing land; ice age conditions. I don't know either, but it is at least a workable model.
        The main source of water is not rain. Think about it; rain comes from the sea, falls on the land,& returns to the sea. It adds nothing to the equation. The main source of new water was the subterranean water exploding into the atmosphere from the sea floor rifts at the edge of the plates.
        Try googling fossils on Everest or similar. There is no disputing the fact that Everest & most mountains for that matter, have marine fossils in the rocks at, or near, the summits. So we all agree these mountains were under water. Most folks on both sides also agree that these mountains have been pushed up by tectonic activity. The only real difference of opinion is on timescale.
        It seems likely that after the flood as the crust was settling down, there was a period when the water level paused at a lower level than today & the animals could migrate at will. This is too much to explain here.
        Here is a plan. Pick a topic. Go to "TalkOrigins" read up on it, then go to "Answersingenesis" & do the same. Or vice versa. If you're interested.
        :-)
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          Jun 30 2012: An ice age doesn't require snow to start it, the snow/ ice would be a result of climatic change. And it's just incredible how nothing you talk about has any evidence. Yes tonnes of mountains have sea fossils, but those mountains were once tiny and a flood would easily cover them.
          Like current plate speeds etc would indicate they'd been moving this way for millions of years.
          There is just no logical way at all you can get to a worldwide flood where nothing dies except for humans and whatever animals were left on the land. All plants would die after being subjected to salt water and lack of light. Volcanic eruptions on the scale you talk of would have spewed ash into the atmosphere completely covering it and so Noah and his ark goers would have suffocated. All freshwater fish would have died except salmon. And then you say the water level dipped to such a scale that animals could walk over to different continents. There's just no evidence OR any logical way of getting to this conclusion if you solely examined evidence. If you hadn't read the bible and studied all our current evidence you would arrive at the same conclusions as everyone else, old earth, slow tectonics, billions of years etc etc. Yet no, you disregard the evidence you've no doubt read about, simply because a bronze age book says otherwise.
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        Jun 30 2012: Hi Stewart.
        Perhaps you could give a plausible mechanism for an ice age that doesn't involve a lot of snow? You complain I have not given evidence. I have tried, but as you use the blunderbuss approach with multitudes of questions & complaints; it is difficult to address them all. The creationist view on all these things are readily available; it is frustrating that you have no idea what they are.

        You 1 day ago "Ok here's another thing on the flood, if it covered Everest and rained every day for a year, 21m of rain would have to fall every single day. and then if it rained for less, more had to fall in a day."

        Me 1 day ago "Try googling fossils on Everest or similar. There is no disputing the fact that Everest & most mountains for that matter, have marine fossils in the rocks at, or near, the summits. So we all agree these mountains were under water. Most folks on both sides also agree that these mountains have been pushed up by tectonic activity. The only real difference of opinion is on timescale."

        You 2 hrs ago. " Yes tonnes of mountains have sea fossils, but those mountains were once tiny and a flood would easily cover them."

        You only know this because I told you. So where is your argument that the flood could not have covered the mountains? So go for it. Give me your take on how an ice age comes about.

        :-)
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          Jun 30 2012: Well this isn't hard you learn this in first year. Mountains form when two tectonic plates collide (destructive) or pull apart (constructive). In a destructive plate margin sediment is pushed and bent upwards due to the sheer force of the plated pushing against the sediment. This is seen today as most mountains are still growing and Everest grows by 1cm each year but will soon reach its limit due to gravity. Now my argument is that say 100 million years ago Everest may have been a few hundred meters tall and would be easy enough to almost cover given other circumstances. Now at a constructive mountains form when rising magma forms lava and then cools to solid rock. This is how the mid atlantic ridge is formed and still takes a very long time to do so. Now so far as I know only trilobites and very early fossils have been found on mountains which were sea creatures. Now they existed 529 million years ago, so potentially by this point you don't even have any high ground. So a simple raise in sea level would get them to an area which would later form mountains etc or falling sea levels made them stranded and die on land which would later be a mountain, easy and a lot more plausible. Now an ice age doesn't require snow, it's the same for frost, you don't need it to snow for there to be a frosty day. Now what could cause an ice age, cooling planet due to supervolcano eruption, atmospheric composition change, or the most dramatic, change in ocean currents. This transports cold sea water which carries cold air to places which normally wouldn't receive it. An ice age doesn't require 1km thick ice all over the world, it some areas it may have that but it is defined as a long period of cooling of earth's temperature. So I'm no expert but that's how I could see one coming about, or also by a lack of tectonic or volcanic activity to warm the planet up. Now how about you answer how Noah could breath given the circumstances you suggest.?
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        Jun 30 2012: Hi Stewart.
        ""Now an ice age doesn't require snow, it's the same for frost, you don't need it to snow for there to be a frosty day.""

        ""An ice age, or more precisely, a glacial age, is a period of long-term reduction in the temperature of the Earth's surface and atmosphere, resulting in the presence or expansion of continental ice sheets, polar ice sheets and alpine glaciers. ""
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice_age

        ""Ice that makes up glaciers originally fell on its surface as snow. To become ice, this snow underwent modifications that caused it to become more compact and dense.""
        http://www.physicalgeography.net/fundamentals/10ae.html

        Sorry; but an ice age requires lots of snow.

        Volcanic ash falls like snow. The Icelandic people regularly breath through eruptions. Noah was indoors in the pouring rain; why should he choke? Never heard that one before, full marks for originality.

        :-)
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          Jun 30 2012: You're still not getting the point, the snow is a result of cooling temperatures. You get snow due to climatic change. Large snowfall didn't cause an ice age, a climatic change causes an ice age and it just so happens that snow is a result of this.
          Well why should he choke? Because he along with 2 of every species thats about 10 million animals excluding the extinct ones are now 8000m + above the Earth's surface, where there is a third of sea level oxygen in the air. Now people can survive these heights, but only for an hour or so, there is no physical way that many animals could survive at that height with so little oxygen. And the ash, according to your flood theory, wouldn't have far to fall, and actually it doesn't all fall straight away, normally some of it circulates the Earth a few times in the case of a supervolcanoes, now this would then create a super dense fog of ash and dust at 8000m+ high, coupled with the SO2, CO and CO2 emissions you're making it less and less likely for anyone to live.
          Now another point to be made, given the parameters stated in the bible and on answering genesis, how do you get 5 million species to fit into it, and that's excluding the extinct species, that and how were they fed.
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        Jun 30 2012: Hi Stewart.
        Don't quite know how to break this to you; but the ark was at sea level. It was floating on the stuff, as was the atmosphere, so air supply would be as normal.
        If there was a flood, the water would still be around. Where else would it be? If we flattened the existing planet, the water would cover the earth at an average depth of 3km; so the depth of water at the flood would have averaged the same. At any rate, no choking.

        I think we've done the snow thing to death.

        At present rates of progress I won't live long enough to explain the animals thing to you. I'll pass. You could start here if you are interested..
        http://www.christiananswers.net/q-eden/edn-c013.html

        :-)
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          Jul 1 2012: So as the sea level rises, air dissolves into the water hence reducing the atmospheric pressure which would still result in thin air at 8km high. The problem here is you still haven't given any evidence! All the sites you point to only give speculative answers with no evidence and faith based propositions made on a bronze age book, written by a group of men with less understanding of the natural world than any first year high school student.
          Edit through more research I found that if the air saturated the water early on, it would have risen up with the water hence creating high air pressure at 8000m up causing oxygen levels to be toxic. Hence he would be poisoned
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        Jul 1 2012: I thought we had already agreed that the mountains were lower when the water was over them ? Why then are you still talking about 8km high ?

        The atmospheric pressure at SEA LEVEL is 1bar or 14.7psi. It matters not whether the sea is 3km or 8km deep. There would be a very small difference due to the effective increase in the diameter of the earth, but so imperceptible as to be insignificant.

        Nothing from the past can be proven, whether creation or evolution, everything is speculative.

        :-)
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          Jul 1 2012: I'm really sorry but you said a lot of stupid things. We agreed that mountains were shorter, I said yes, they take millions of years to form, but 5000 years ago they would be the same relative height they are now. Now SEA LEVEL can CHANGE along with it's atmospheric pressure. It's not a geological constant. Any thing you google for sea level etc etc will come up with an answer for the current sea level. If the sea levels raised to the required height one of two things would happen, 1) It would be saturated with air, hence raising free air to the new heights along with existing air thus producing toxic air with O2 levels at toxic. This would not increase the Earth's diameter as most likely the thin air would then be thrown out into space.
          2)The air dissolves in the new water, leaving the thin air where the boat would be causing them to suffocate.
          More points. Global flood of the kind you describe would kill ALL plants, they'd receive no light for p/s, this is increased by your idea of cataclysmic tectonic activity, ash would encircle the Earth blocking all light, extra salt water would poison normal plants. As mentioned previously all freshwater fish would die except salmon. Also if erosional features for you were formed by the flood why isn't there an evenish spread of erosion,
          Also it is impossible to get that many animals on a boat which is impossible to build a working model of as it would collapse under its own weight. It's also highly immoral a flood, like your god is a right bastard.
          And saying nothing from the past can be proven is incredibly stupid. Egyptians existed. Greeks existed, hell if we're talking about the past my granda existed. Dinos existed,evolution does happen we see it every day in bacteria and flowers. We CAN PROVE a lot about history, Peter just look at the science, the flood is impossible given the circumstances you assert and those of the bible. There's no evidence and this is why I'm an atheist.
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        Jul 1 2012: Sorry Stewart, you've lost me. The water we have today is the water we had at the flood. If we lowered the land a bit, raised the seabed a bit, & flattened off jaggy mountains, then we would flood the earth today. The mean sea level would not be that different.
        If you stick to the millions of years scenario, I grant you, the flood would be impossible, the mountains are too high. It's one or the other. The flood is in the context of a 6000 year old earth. What we see of tectonic movement today is things grinding to a halt from a greater speed in the past.
        Maybe you could give a link that explains how rising sea levels would dissolve atmospheric gasses to any extent. I've never heard of such a thing before.

        :-)
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          Jul 1 2012: You don't need a link to it? It's how fish breath, their gills allow them do take in dissolved oxygen and discard water.
          Now we need evidence of a young Earth, and there just isn't any evidence which suggests it.
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        • Jul 2 2012: Peter, what is more likely, scientists from across the entirety of the world have conspired to falsify the bible or that the evidence flat out suggests the Earth is vastly older than 6,000 years?
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        Jul 2 2012: Hi Brian.
        What is your best evidence for an old earth?

        :-)
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          Jul 2 2012: Maybe the best evidence for those that have little notion of scientific evidence is the Sumerian written legacy that proves the book of Genesis to be a late concept adapted from their Sumerian originals.

          Nice site: http://history-world.org/genesis_narrative_in_the_light_o.htm

          Written memory goes back almost 6000 years as people started agriculture in the Middle East as a new way of life. As they settled they started to write also. Nomadic peoples don't write, even today, they have no need for it.
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          Jul 2 2012: Well where to start for old earth evidence
          Light- by working out the density of the sun and it's gravitational strength we've worked out that it takes 1 million years for light from the centre of the sun to reach the outside.
          Staying on light, the distance between galaxies, calculated in light years, and given the speed of light, it takes billions of years for the light from the most distant galaxies to reach us.
          Staying with galaxies, if you rewind the expansion of the universe and decelerate it at a constant rate you get a singularity forming 13.72 billion years ago.
          Radiometric dating
          Evolution
          Fossils
          Geological explanations for separation of Pangea, distribution of animals and occurrence of the same animals on completely different continents, geological reasons for how mountains are formed
          Blackholes, supernovas,
          Rock layers, k-t boundary
          Ice cores Archaeology I could go on, and what do you have? O well there is an invisible god who we'll never see till we die and basically he cursed our race for wanting to have knowledge and so he gave us pain and then he flooded the world but dont worry he floated all animals on a boat which can't physically work or hold the amount of animals it required. But dont worry about that it's all a matter of faith.
          What a pathetic and disgusting argument, honestly the aboriginal explanation is even more plausible that a giant snake slithered and created all the rivers, welcome to the 21st century Peter where the most educated humans on this planet would laugh the second someone mentioned young eart and know what's worse? The fact that the most educated theologians of Christianity accept evolution and old earth and the big bang. It's time to catch up Peter, and I don't care if Im sounding rude but we need to get rid of stupid beliefs, they are of no benefit to society and make you look like an idiot And threaten to drag the future generations into a regress of knowledge if religious fundamentalists had their way. I won't have it.
        • Jul 2 2012: Peter, to avoid an absurdly frustrating waste of time I will tell you my proof. My proof is that the bible says the earth is young, these people didn't know what a thunderstorm was. They didn't know the Americas existed. They didn't know things that are now taught in 4th grade classrooms. Yet somehow Im expected to believe they miraculously knew the age of the planet. The old testament is crude and asinine. It condones genocide, slavery, and rape. Honestly, how am I supposed to believe a book that tells me a story about a man living inside of a whale for three days?
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        Jul 2 2012: Hi Frans.
        Much prefer the scientific stuff. Debating who wrote what first is never going to get us to billions of years. 10,000 at most.

        :-)
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        Jul 2 2012: Hi Brian.
        So your proof that the world is billions of years old is that the bible is a load of rot ?
        Not the most scientific of reasons, but one that I hear a lot.
        Stewart has exactly the same approach.
        :-)
        • Jul 2 2012: Peter, Like I said, I could waste my time and put forth a litany of scientific evidence, but what good would it do. What logical argument can I make if you already believe that someone lived in a whale for three days? If you take the bible literally then theres nothing I can say to you. It creates an impenetrable logical barrier where the whole world is conspiring against you to test your faith. What more can I say?