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How do we accelerate the growth of non religious community?

It is a fact that religion is so successful in propagating the religious ideas among people .Still majority of people on earth are religious.Why the scientific community is not coming up with an idea or a system of ideas which can spread like a virus into the minds of religious people and just make them non religious.

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    Nov 4 2011: It's too late for such a virus to work. Religions have long developped an immune system against reason.
    There is not much more we can do to ridicule their silly beliefs. It's a miracle in itself that people in Western societies can still believe in God in 2011. All the litterature is already there, all the evidence, all the technological progress based of non-superstitious theories...

    My pessimistic view : I'm just waiting for the last religious person to die of old age.
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      Nov 4 2011: Do you want religious people to become extinct, Gerald, or do you want them to stop imposing their beliefs on you? Is it them, or their behavior?
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        Nov 4 2011: Either is just fine.
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          Nov 4 2011: What about the spiritual teachings of Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed, Abraham? Is it possible to garner the teachings of love and compassion from all of them, and assign blame for the destructive elements of human behavior to man - his diversion from the essence of the teachings themselves?

          Isn't it possible some are simply designed to find satisfying answers in logic? And others more spiritually drawn? Perhaps a spiritual path is only a matter of definition, of language. Do you think we all experience the same path as it relates to higher consciousness, and we simply use different words? Or do we experience spirituality in completely different ways, as on a scale? Can it be likened to sexuality in that respect?
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        Nov 5 2011: Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed, Abraham should be considered as philosophers. Philosophers are great. We just don't need the superstition around their moral values.

        What I've noticed is that, very often, believers know little about what they have faith in. I know, I know, this is what faith is all about. But what I feel is that there aren't people more inclined to look for spiritual answers and people more inclined to look for rational answers : there are curious people and lazy people.
        Lazy people want ultimate truths, want ready-made statements that are unlikely to be changed, love the idea of a mysterious creator as a solution to every scientific question.
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          Nov 12 2011: I have to say that I find it very scary too Gerald that many, many people have never even read what their own holy book demands or encourages. When they are actually ignorant of the words in their books (as was the case for Christianity for centuries when Catholic masses were said in Latin or wherever people were illiterate) they are further at the mercy of any crackpot who tells them what it says.

          Having said that, some of the truly loveliest people I have known through the course of my life were people of profound faith. Their selfless beauty shines beyond anything I have seen inspired by any other philosophy and world view.
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      Nov 4 2011: I understand what your saying but to be honest as long as people have existential anxieties, they are always going to come up with different ways of repressing those anxieties. the only way i see this happening is if we are more open about death to the point where it is not seen as a bad thing. I mean our loved ones will be missed when they pass and I'm sure they'll miss us when we pass but instead of telling our kids that grandpa is going to heaven we should tell that that this is the way that life is. We live and we die but what is most important is that we had the chance to experience life and what we do with that life is indeed what matters. Not some distant paradise and not eternal hell fire.

      If anything I think religions offer nothing to this notion of death and until we can be honest about death and facing this fear we are going to continue to make up stories for the sake of comfort.
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        Nov 4 2011: Yes! And what's wrong with good fiction when you're emotionally down? Do you actually need the fiction to be real, or does simple fiction do the trick, in terms of releaving anxieties?
        I believe fiction is enough. Religions often have good fiction, well narrated and all... Their only weakness is thinking that humans lack imagination and don't get involved in characters unless they truly believe in their existence.
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    Nov 4 2011: How does it make you different from religious people then? Religious people try to enforce their beliefs on other people. And what you're suggesting here is you should enforce your atheism on them!? Sure that's an idea...to make yourself sound more "liberated" in the eyes of religious people.

    I believe, at the end we all will believe what we want to believe and that is our right. What we need is more tolerant society. Tolerant of each other's beliefs and so. And as for those "Religious" and "Non religious" people who commit a crime, well for that we have state laws.
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      Nov 4 2011: Atheism is not a damn doctrin.
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        Nov 4 2011: Not a damn doctrine. But a belief.
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          Nov 4 2011: Atheism is not a set of beliefs, its not a philosophy or a worldview. Me being an atheist has nothing to do with my everyday experiences of the world. It is not what gets me through the day.

          Atheism may be a belief about the non existence of a higher power but that does not automatically qualify it as a worldview. Many beliefs we talk about usually have some sort of behavioral consequences. This is not the case with atheism.

          You are correct about people having the right to believe what they want to believe but if these beliefs really do not serve a suitable purpose to society and cause nothing but negative consequences then these beliefs should be modified or kept private.
        • Nov 6 2011: hi tanzi ,
          How can someone say 'lack of belief' is a belief. If an object doesn't have any smell will you call this smell-lessness another smell? weird.
    • Nov 4 2011: I am not advocating imposing atheism.The whole idea is meaningless because if you stop imposing religion it doesnt means that you are imposing atheism.I am just saying "please leave the kids alone".
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        Nov 4 2011: So you give birth to someone and yet you shouldn't share your experiences and beliefs with them? This way even religious people can say to atheist parents, "let your children discover universal power and let them decide for themselves." Now i know that sound a load of BS to you but your ideology can sound the same to them.

        I am not trying to offend you {and if I have done so, my apologies} . I understand your concerns and respect them. Only trying to make you understand their perspective. Im a firm believer, that we should have the right to believe in whatever thing we want. And if the concern is some may believe in utter lies, then know of this fact that truth always prevails. At the end, time will decide.
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          Nov 4 2011: Atheists don't think knowledge is a matter of personnal preference. We think knowledge can come from one source only : reason.
          In this respect, and we might be completely wrong for all we know, we cannot accept that any child should be taught unreasonable explanations about the world. Especially when we believe there are very reasonable ones available.
          This is the source of our disagreement...
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          Nov 5 2011: QUOTE: "...truth always prevails. At the end, time will decide.."

          This is a convenient misconception commonly employed by the religious.

          The "end" that is usually referred to is death; and the "decision" will be made by a superior power who decides if we are going to heaven or hell (at which point the still living believer assumes he or she will have "won" the argument and can point, gloat, and say, "See, I told you so!")

          Of course, the problem is, this end never comes. Not to the living. And what transpires after we take our last breath is an unknown (and unknowable.)

          So the question is not, what will be decided "at the end;" the question is, what will be decided now? What choices will we make? Based on what we know. Not on what we believe.

          So what are some of the things we know?

          We know that belief in an afterlife can be used to motivate people to fly planes into buildings; push "the button" (hey, it's armageddon, and I'm just playing my part;) withhold medical treatment from sick children; kill abortionists; affirm the earth is 6000 years old; proselytize; and so on.

          We know that atheists .... don't believe in God.
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        Nov 6 2011: "A Belief is the psychological state in which an individual holds a proposition or premise to be true."
        And you're all telling atheism is not a belief? Might not be a philosophy. but in your eyes it is "justified true belief" which further means "to know that a given proposition is true, one must not only believe the relevant true proposition, but one must also have justification for doing so."

        You're relating belief to only religious context.
        • Nov 7 2011: I just found that theists are actually non believers.They are not believing in what atheists are believing .So now I declare atheists as believers and theists as non believers.
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          Nov 11 2011: Tanzi,

          Here is a definition of Belief from the "Oxford English Dictonary"
          1. The mental action, condition, or habit, of trusting to or confiding in a person or thing; trust, dependence, reliance, confidence, faith.
          2. Mental acceptance of a proposition, statement, or fact as true, on the ground of authority or evidence; assent of the mind to a statement, or to the truth of a fact beyond observation on the testimony of another, or to a fact or truth on the evidence of consciousness; the mental condition involved in this assent.
          3. The thing believed; the proposition or set of propositions held true

          If you ask me, these definitions implies some sort of certainty about whatever it is that is believed. If these definitions clearly define what belief really is, then I do not think you can lump atheism with this entirely (the first sentence in definition two may be acceptable) being that (from my experience) atheist done claim to be "certain" that god does not exist and they do not claim that they "know it to be true" that God does not exist. what I usually hear is that "there is not enough evidence or good reasons for an atheist to believe that a god exist". If you want to be honest, atheist are pretty open minded about the existence of a god, it just there is lack of proof and the reasons that are provided are forlorn or non-sequitur's at best.

          In other words, an atheist goes where the evidence goes and if one day during my life time it is proven that god exist and this evidence cannot be refuted I would be glad to change my mind. i just doubt that this day will actually come.
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      Nov 4 2011: Why is there such vehemence against those with a spiritual belief system. Militant atheism can sometimes appear angry and intolerant. Why? Is it the polar reaction to self righteousness and judgement from the religious? Isn't it the line we draw in believing we're right that divides us?

      I agree with Debra and others here. Kindness and sharing common values - our humanity - are what connects us. For some, their spiritual aspect is what defines them; what gives their life purpose. Do we want to deny them that? Aren't there many meeting places between us as humans, without denying the other's most deeply held values? I am still hopeful.
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        Nov 4 2011: The problem with belief systems is that they hold back inovation. It's a hard thing to tolerate.
        Do we need to remind ourselves about the damage caused by these belief systems ?
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        Nov 4 2011: I honestly do not have an issue with intolerance, especially when the negative consequences outweighs the benefits. There is really a difference between respect and tolerance. I can respect a persons right to believe in what they want to believe. I have no problem with that. but to tolerate the actions that come about certain beliefs, especially if they cause more conflict and division as opposed to solidarity then that is something that should be put into question. We should not tolerate certain beliefs all because someone believes them. I'm not just talking about religious people, I'm talking about anyone in general.

        What we should strive for is to have honest conversations about how e can maximize and help propel the world in a direction in which most people are not suffering and to be honest this is not going to come about through religion or capitalism or atheism but when people realize that cooperation amongst each other is better than competition and proving each other wrong.
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          Nov 11 2011: Orlando, your comments make me think that you are an ideal person to sign the charter of compassion to which I have posted links on the idea thread. Please sign it even if you are a practicing athiest. It encompasses the view that people of relgion should not resort to creating more misery on the planet but embrace and profess compassion. If more athiests signed it I think more and more of the world's population would get the message that it is not religious practice per se that people are objecting to but rather the way people exercise some unacceptable portions of their systems.
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          Nov 12 2011: Orlando... i am so glad to come across your opinions and replies. Well conceived, i must say. I will agree with you that

          "when people realize that cooperation amongst each other is better than competition and proving each other wrong"
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        Nov 5 2011: QUOTE: "Why is there such vehemence against those with a spiritual belief system."

        We tend to discount those who do not see the world the way we do. To some extent, this has nothing to do with what side of the line we are on. However, if we were to make a comparison, it is actually those who hold spiritual beliefs who are more likely to be intolerant of those who do not share their worldview.

        The religious are more likely to harm, emotionally or physically, those who are not believers. This is not supposition, it is well documented. For example, to openly declare oneself atheist (especially in America) is to invite abuse, neglect (for instance, from police in times of need) and death.

        QUOTE: "Militant atheism can sometimes appear angry and intolerant. Why?"

        Because it is countering militant theism.

        I am not a fan of either but, as I have said before, I see no reason to respect nonsensical beliefs that are presented as universal truths.

        QUOTE: "Is it the polar reaction to self righteousness and judgement from the religious?"

        Yes. And I think those that propose militant atheism are doing it "on principle." They do not strike me as irrational. But not too bright.

        QUOTE: " ... Kindness and sharing common values - our humanity - are what connects us."

        Sharing what is of value to you is not the same as declaring what is of value is the only "truth."

        QUOTE: "For some, their spiritual aspect is what defines them; what gives their life purpose. Do we want to deny them that?"

        If their belief is "genuine" and not predicated on confirmation by others, "we" cannot deny "them" anything. If "they" require that "we" believe what they believe, they are lost anyway.

        QUOTE: "Aren't there many meeting places between us as humans, without denying the other's most deeply held values?"

        I can accept your belief in anything, and respect that you believe it, without respecting what you believe. Belief ≠ Truth.
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          Nov 5 2011: I like your thought process Thomas, and I agree that the religiosity of much of current American culture must make Jefferson spin wherever he is. However I think you would have to admit that the "scientific" atheists Stalin, Mao and I would include Hitler ( who was a believer only in himself and hated all religions) were quite destructive. Atheism does not guarantee rational thought necessarily. Just as religions seem to have so far failed to lead us to utopian peace. ie.. one of my favorite oxymorons .. holy war. Of course to be fair I cannot fail to observe that S. M. and H. basically set up their own cults and were as I hinted not really "scientific". The Dalai Lama a "religious" leader has for years pushed for a transcendent moral ethic independent of ethnicity or belief system. But then I tend to perceive Tibetan Buddhism as the most scientific of religions.
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        Nov 5 2011: Hi Chad,

        Thanks.

        Nothing guarantees rational thought. And I would not attribute Stalin, Mao and Hitler's excesses to atheism. I would attribute it to fanatical, idealism. Atheism was simply a coincidental component of their ideologies.

        Atheists can be just as irrational as theists. Although, I'm not sure the opposite is true. Believing in a supernatural being because you read about it in a book, or use it as an explanation for the inexplicable, seems irrational to me. Which is not to say there is not a supernatural being.

        Now, if you have actually met (or otherwise known) a supernatural being, as opposed to believing in one, well, that is a different story. Then, NOT "believing" would be irrational. But of course, "believing" would not be necessary.

        The challenge of course is, what does it mean to "know" a supernatural being?

        For some, it is that their child did not succumb to a deadly illness - this is seen as "proof" that God exists. For others, it is a "feeling." Still others find a downtown parking spot on a busy Saturday and see that as proof of God's compassion. That we cannot conceive of something "before" the "Big Bang" is used to infer a God. And so on.

        If I told you I was pretty sure I had an uncle because someone keeps doing nice things for me, or I feel a presence - and I think it must be my uncle - would you accept that as proof I have an uncle?

        As it happens, I do not have an uncle.

        I had several but they all died years ago. But there are people who do nice things for me.

        This seems to make sense to anyone. Unless we change the word "uncle" to "God."

        With God, these outward signs, and conundrums, are seen as proof that He/She/It/Ta exists.
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          Nov 5 2011: Thomas, Chad,
          Listening to your stories it came to my mind that it isn't as bad that a lot of people believe in their Gods. If that god is taken away from them they start to believe in crazy and dangerous leaders.

          And Thomas, I think your uncle is still keeping an eye on you.
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      Nov 5 2011: Hi Frans,

      It's an interesting comment. We do seem to have a natural tendency to believe in "something" ... a leader of some kind. It could be a God, a "Leader," a boss, a book, an expert. Anything.

      Training people around the world, it has been one of the biggest obstacles for me to overcome: people's tendency to abdicate responsibility to a leader of some kind (often it is me.)

      One of the foundational premisses of the training I do is that the people I train know more about their circumstances than I do. In many respects, they know more than any "expert." Often, what is lacking is the courage to act on what they know. There are lots of reasons this might be true: fear of failure, fear of embarrassment, dysfunctional systems, "bad" bosses, simple lack of confidence, and so on.

      But the interesting thing is; when we create a situation where it is not only okay to make decisions and act on them but it is encouraged; where mistakes are celebrated; when "bad" bosses are taken out of the equation; and people are "empowered" to be their own leaders; they very often simply will not do it. They will wait for a leader to lead them.

      It is an amazing thing to see and very often so engrained as to be intractable.

      We often blame leaders for their excesses (and not unjustifiably) but I have come to think it is not simply "the leaders" fault. Many of us appear to want to be led and we do not seem to care by whom.
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        Nov 12 2011: Thomas, I just now saw your reply thanks to a thumb from Debra.

        We have a saying: what's learned young is when old done.

        What you describe, I think, has to do with how kids are raised. In any authoritarian society kids have to learn to obey and follow their Parents, their Gods, their leaders, teachers and everyone that has some sign of authority.
        Those people do believe that there’s a reason for it because people with authority have earned it by their merits. It takes some experience to start to doubt that believe and see that such merit is often just stupidity of the ones that dare or can’t see their limitations, or put into place by friends or family.

        It is all a relic from the past when there were classes and nobility that claimed to have ruling power and divided society.

        This system of thought was the main feat that was challenged in the sixties and changed the West by its fundamentals. It was the biggest shock at that time for the adult generation. Criticism on church and governments from common people was never heard of before on that scale. This of course had a lot to do with communication by the media and sharing of information similar as we see today in other parts of the world.

        I don’t think I tell you something new Thomas but it’s good to tell anyway.
  • Nov 23 2011: Are we not also indirectly fighting biology?

    Religion is a meme. A meme is a biological term from the consequence of the implementation of human mental ingenuity. Memes offer survival value. Actually, rejecting this particular meme in some areas of the world can result in death FROM AND BY those that are of a unified religious community and an arm of government.

    Nonreligious individuals by definition and fact do not belong to any counter nonreligious meme community and consequently have no empowerment over education and reason. Despite the many nonreligious among us, I don't think we are organizable because we are not looking for emotional support in what we don't believe or accept. Some might argue we encourage delusional or even horrific behavior by being as a group too sensitive to political correctness. The only reason we might be tempted to create an identity is to fight fire with fire.
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    Nov 5 2011: Said like that the word 'community' gives me the idea of 'ghetto': here the non-religious community, there the religious one...
    I'm non-religious but I wouldn't like to be part of a 'community': till we continue to try 'labelling' people (in every domain) we will get nowhere.
    May be we should wonder if we can do something to accelerate the growth of a community where non-religious and religious, together, may have a more constructive way of sharing experiences, thoughts...
    "[...] a system of ideas which can spread like a virus into the minds of religious people and just make them non religious": history teaches us that too many damages have been done trying to make people what they were not. Has mankind to regress?
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    Nov 4 2011: I think all communities grow when they are practically and fundamentally useful to one another. Kindness, friendliness and opportunities for personal growth are attractive to others. Providing a safe and enriching experience helps to keep the members who will then bring others along. Often scientific and academic communities forget the touchy feely side of belonging and of cohesion.
  • Nov 11 2011: The obvious answer would be better education, and in particular the teaching of critical thinking, reason and skepticism in schools, it's not taught, and it's a great shame in my opinion that could be an answer to many of the problems we are seeing today (lack of political interest/understanding, resurgence of fundamentalist religions).

    In the short term, obviously just discussing with friends and family openly, and when you tell them you are an atheist perhaps using words correctly could help.

    Most of us I would imagine are agnostic atheist, and I would think that most religious people are agnostic theists, it would be very useful if people stopped using agnostic and atheist as interchangeable words, when they are about as interchangeable as democracy and socialism (which is another incongruent substitution/comparison that is often made).
  • Nov 5 2011: HAve you watched the presentation by Lesley Hazleton about the Koran? If not watch it and then tell what you think.
    Also didn't Jesus say love thy neighbour?
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    Nov 5 2011: Why do atheists have to be so aggressively intolerant? It is just as bad as the religious fundamentalism it appears to hate.

    Fighting like with like doesn't get anybody anywhere. it's just a senseless opposing reaction to something equally senseless.

    Is it too much to ask to be a bit more tolerant? You might find you get tolerance in return.
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      Nov 5 2011: QUOTE: "Why do atheists have to be so aggressively intolerant? "

      Perhaps it's because they are tired of the intolerance of the religious and feel it is their duty to protect society from something they see as harmful.

      I have never heard an atheist threaten a theist for believing in God but I have heard, many times, theists threaten people for not believing in God.

      I know of no examples of atheists killing theists for their belief but I know of many examples of atheists being killed by theists for not believing in God.

      [I am speaking on an individual level - not institutional violence like that perpetrated by the Church or despotic leaders.]

      It might also be that atheists find it inexcusable and indefensible that theists promote such nonsense as creationism-as-science; end-time prophecies (again, and again, and again, and again, and again ...) 72 virgins-per-martyr, and so on.

      By the way, I am neither theist nor atheist, nor am I a super or a bright (and I'm not agnostic either, for those who like labels.)
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        Nov 5 2011: Thomas, I agree entirely about what you have said about the inexcusable and indefensible aspects of religion.

        What worries me is that the perticularly aggressive brand of atheism tends to tar the whole religious spectrum with the same brush - including those people who subscribe to organised religions in order to peacefully give meaning to their lives.

        Personally, I do not - but recognise that there are plenty of people who do.
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    Nov 5 2011: There are certain things that cannot be known. We do not seem to be comfortable with uncertainty so we create, imagine, or look for explanations.

    Some things that cannot be known are:

    - What happens after we die.
    - That a God does not (or Gods do not) exist.
    - Whether our life partners will die before us or after us.
    - Whether our life partners will be "faithful."
    - If this year's crop (or investment) will proliferate or falter.
    - If we will be caught in a natural disaster (earthquake, tsunami, hurricane, wildfire, etc.)
    - If we will get hit by a car, contract cancer, MS, or go blind.
    - Etcetera.

    With all of this uncertainty, and more, it makes sense that we fantasize about some things that are "certain" and cannot be proven to be uncertain: God, heaven, and so on.

    We cannot prove there is no God. We cannot prove there is no heaven. (Can not!)

    [We cannot prove there is NOT a teapot orbiting Saturn. We can only prove we have not found one.]

    Believing in these concepts provides a sense of certainty in a very uncertain world.

    Religion, and spiritual beliefs of all kinds, will be with us and will proliferate, until we embrace uncertainty (if we ever do.)

    Personally, I see the dogmatic acceptance of ANY EXPLANATION, whether religious or scientific, as an abdication of my personal responsibility.

    I know what I know. I believe in very little. I don't know what I don't know (in every sense of the phrase.) And I am comfortable with that. I do not need the certainty of a religious or a scientific explanation.

    Having said that, "knowing" is important to me. I do not wish to substitute belief for knowing; and I pursue knowledge wherever and whenever I can.

    I have made a distinction between "knowing" and "knowing about." They are quite dissimilar.

    There is little I know; quite a bit more I know about; and a potentially infinite amount I do not know.

    I have coined a word for the state of knowing: gnovidya.

    The state of gnovidya has very strict entry requirements.
    • Nov 5 2011: ""There are certain things that cannot be known"" : Wrong. The right sentence is "There are certain things that have not been completely understood YET ". No one could say something cannot be known.It is illogical.Suppose you cannot understand what is death . if you confidently say death cannot be understood by human, that means you have understood why it cannot be understood.That means you have understood what death is .Contradiction.
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        Nov 5 2011: QUOTE: """There are certain things that cannot be known"" : Wrong."

        Of course, we could take this one in circles forever. And while you are "right" "in theory." On a functional level you might as well be "wrong."

        And, as long as we're talking theory: you are also wrong "in theory."

        We can imagine any kind of world we like. In these imaginary worlds maybe we can know anything and everything. But we do not live in an imaginary world. We live in this world.

        And unless you are a supernatural being, for example, you cannot know what happens after you die.

        Unless, of course, you actually die and come back (which, as you know, you cannot do.)

        But, let's say, you (of all people who have ever lived) actually do know what happens after we die.

        How would you convey this to, say, me?

        Would you say, "Thomas, I know what happens after we die."?

        Now, what do I "know?"

        I know you have said you know what happens after we die. Maybe you do. Maybe you don't.

        Again, let's assume you do. Does that mean now I also know? I mean, you know. You told me. I have no reason to believe you are lying. So, I should know, right?

        Wrong.

        Unless I die, I cannot know what happens after I die. Not even if you know and you tell me.

        So you see, in practice, there really are things that cannot be known - in the real world.

        The list of things that cannot be known is quite long:

        - When you will die.
        - What happens after you die.
        - Much or history and pre-history
        - That there is not a God (or anything else we have imagined into existence.)
        - What your great-great-grandmother's favourite song was. (assuming she did not leave a record.)

        Now, you may actually be a supernatural being and you may know what happens after we die. [But I don't think so.]

        And, we may know what happens to us when we die, when we die, but we cannot even know that until we die. And "yet" really has nothing to do with now. And now is all we've got.
        • Nov 5 2011: "And unless you are a supernatural being, for example, you cannot know what happens after you die." :
          Dying is something that happens to me.After dying I am known as dead human body .For understanding this high school biology is enough .But It is hard for our brain to understand about our own death since it will never 'experience' death. Its just an illusion of our brain that give us a feeling that we exist after we die.You may not have difficulty in imagining what 'happens' to a virus after it is dead. Or what happens to a cockroach after it is dead.Anyway this is out of topic.

          I can imagine in 1st century people thinking " unless you are a supernatural being you cannot understand these:"
          "what lies outside earth ?(Reason: Only birds can fly .so human cannot find out .only super natural can do it),
          How life came to earth ?(Reason:We cannot go back in time and find out .So only supernatural can find out)
          etcetra..etcetra.
          Moral of the story : In each century people claim there are certain things which cannot be understood because of certain 'reason ' which they think is a good valid reason.The very next century the list of 'cannot be understood things' will be updated to one level up based on the previous century discoveries. Now you are holding the list of 21 century 'cannot be understood things' .
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        Nov 5 2011: Hi Shamy,

        Your reply leads me to think I have not been clear and you have not understood my point. Based on my understanding of your reply I would say you do not. But it is also possible I do not understand you.

        Let's start with the first possibility:

        What is it you think I am saying?
        • Nov 5 2011: you are trying to say that there are certain things that people are uncertain about and they are are uncomfortable with this uncertainty . So they are trying to fix this uncertainty by believing in their own version of explanation for these things without using logic or reason. If this is your statement about how religion exists in human mind,I am agreeing with you.

          But I disagree with you if you personally feel certain things (whatever it is ) cannot be known ever. If the question about the thing is valid it can be known.
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        Nov 6 2011: Hi Shamy,

        Yes, you understand most of what I am saying.

        And in principle, I agree, everything is potentially "knowable."

        But there are certain things that are unknowable now. And some things even though they are "potentially knowable" will likely never be known. My favourite example is death. We all know we die. Many of us believe we know what happens after death - heaven, hell, reincarnation, nothing, our atoms disperse, etc. - and I say we simply cannot know what happens after we die until after we die.

        The religious do not know. The scientific-rationalists do not know.

        Simple. Yet many who are still living will argue the point.

        As I say, on a practical level, certain things are essentially unknowable - unless we develop time travel, sensors that are more sensitive than the ones we have now, and so on.

        We cannot actually know much of history or prehistory, we cannot know if "superstrings" are "real" etcetera.

        We might be able to in the future so, in theory, almost everything is potentially knowable. But that is just a convenient way of saying we don't know now and may never know.

        Even the concept of knowing presupposes we are here to know. What about in ten billion years when earth no longer supports life?

        What can be known then? [Assuming, of course, we have not colonized other planets.]

        At some point, we will be gone. All of us.

        What can we know then?

        If there is a supernatural being, He/She/It/Ta may know itself and all that ever was and ever will be again. But you and I cannot know that. Unless we are that supernatural being.

        And if we were that supernatural being, do you think we would be having THIS conversation?
  • Nov 4 2011: Dear Shamy,
    Why would that be a good thing? Religion has been misused/ deliberately misinterptreted. Would Jesus have approved of the crusades? What would Mohammed have said about fatwas and sharia law? Surely it's not religion in itself that is the problem but rather the example that the "leaders" give to their followers.
    • Nov 5 2011: yes It is the religion which is causing the problem .The whole idea of believing something is unquestionably true is the main problem.Once you introduce such kind of system into society , it is very natural that people will misuse it.In other words It is very vulnerable to misuse.if a religious leader of religion-A claims that all people in religion-B are stupids.The people under him should consider this statement as true without thinking .Because its a 'pure belief' system.You have to believe.That the rule.If you use your brain to question the belief system, the belief system will collapse.So I blame the people who propagate such a system not the one who misuse the system.
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    Nov 4 2011: could you update us what is the status of atheism in india? how widespread it is? are there conflicts within families? does religion influences politics?
    • Nov 5 2011: In india atheists exists mainly in communist party here. Among common people here atheists are not so common.Among my 250 friends in Facebook 5-6 people are declared as atheists.But even if atheism is opposed in families ,in society atheism is never attacked.There are occasional campaigns going on against blind believes by communist party.But I have never seen anybody campaigning against the god himself here.In politics religion has very much influence.There are political parties based on religion here.Some politicians are accused of riot and murder in the name of religion.There is reservation for backward cast in all spheres like college seats and government job.So sometimes politics plays around that for votes.
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        Nov 5 2011: i find it unlucky that such a valuable idea as religionless-ness is hostage to communism.

        maybe we should offer a brighter solution: http://www.the-brights.net/
        • Nov 6 2011: Actually communist party here is just like any other political party.There is no difference when they come into power.Its not like the communism in Russia or N.Korea .I think the worlds first and only democratically elected communist party is here in an Indian state Kerala.They are doing a good job of campaigning against superstitions in remote village areas even though their campaigns are not so huge.I find it lucky because political party will be powerful to handle such things than other non political organizations.
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        Nov 6 2011: hm. that's good to hear. i hope it is not just a facade.

        however i would warn about the the dangers of politics taking care of the issue. atheism should spread via education not via power.
        • Nov 6 2011: Political party cannot do that by force.Because the majority of people are religious.Party need vote to float.
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    Nov 4 2011: Realistically this is possible. Many European countries are highly secular or atheistic and more people are being open about their non-religious views.

    I think the real issue here extends beyond religion and has more to do with the existential anxieties/crisis that people have about their lives. What it really boils down to is how valuable ones life is. Imagine if it was proven that nihilistic notions are indeed correct and life on earth was just a cosmic accident. just imagine the terror that many individuals would feel. They would not be able to make sense of it being that they believe there is something very precious about human existence, human experience and the vicissitudes that follow.

    So really I see religion as nothing more than a way for people to feel solace about their existence. To feel that they really do matter and that life is worth living. That does not sound bad at all except when these religious notions start making truth claims about the world and how their beliefs really affect other peoples lives. That is where the problem comes from.
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    Nov 4 2011: Everyone has a worldview based on faith of some sort, usually accompanied by a set of data which backs them up. Darwinism, Neo-Darwinism, Punctuated Equilibrium, Big Bang, Expanding Universe, Old earth, Young Earth, God, No-God, Many Gods, Materialism, Biogenesis, Abiogenesis, Dinosaur extinctions, Floods, Pangea, Plate Tectonics.....ad infinitum. None of these things are empirically provable.
    Oh, I see; this new worldview should be based on what you think is kosher. Where have I heard that before ?

    lol

    :-)
  • Nov 4 2011: Self Exploration..Understanding THE TRUTH >> GOD IS LOVE, GOD IS EVERYONE =)
    >> I feel there is no need to accelerate non-religious community. the religious (also non-religious) ppl should love, respect and treat other ppl like themselves. Its all about LOVE, not how we love =)
  • Nov 4 2011: .....by constantly expressing TRUTH as you behold it. Forbid the religious brainwashing of children.