Frank Segro

This conversation is closed.

Abolishing the use of the term Atheism.

We all know that the term "atheist" means without god. However, as an atheist I often find it annoying when people talk about it as a belief system. Lack of belief does not constitute belief in anything else. No one would call me an a-paleontologist simply because I'm not one. Simultaneous to being an atheist I may be a rational empiricist or follow some other set of beliefs. I believe that we should stop using convenient designators such as atheism when we "classify" ourselves to others or are classified by them, because there is simply nothing behind it.


  • thumb
    Nov 8 2011: A little historical context on the roots of the words:

    Theos = Greek for God, Deity,

    A, an, anti, ag = not/no

    Atheos = no god

    Nostic , gnosis = knowing

    ag = not

    agnostic = not knowing

    Whats ironic is the attempts by many to unify atheists around this lack of belief. Being an atheist tells you nothing about me. I may believe in reptoids, or Santa Claus. You cannot form a base on a non-belief.

    English is a semantically closed language. The statement “This desk is flat” has dual content. We read a sentence and again we presuppose that there is an actual physical desk in the world and that it is flat. Tangible content.

    However, there also exits the semantic content “ The sentence this desk is flat is a true statement”. This is totally non-visceral and is referring to an abstract statement that doesn't exist anywhere.

    “Did you just say, this desk is flat?”

    What this means is that a negative term can be talked about as a positive one, a negative term (not god) not god can now be taken as a semantic object.

    Atheist refers to a lack of something, we can now talk about it as if it is a belief system. And I don't like that it lumps me in with one of the most hated groups of people on the planet.
  • Nov 11 2011: I have a new term I've used for some time.

    When we build a bridge, we use sound building theory. Theory that has been tested and proven. It becomes a fact.

    Yet all who cross it, cross in faith that it will stay up. If we do not respect the law of, oh let's say the big G here, Gravity, then we will suffer the wrath of the Law when it comes down!

    I don't believe in God but I am not an atheist. What am I?
    I am a "faitheist". I believe in what I know. What's been proven. What is fact. That is what I have faith in.

    However, I have experiences I cannot prove (don't need to), and as a result of them, I guess I believe certain things. One of those is that my experience was real. It was a fact. I went through it. I am the empirical evidence of it! The meaning thus, is mine alone.

    Just as one may have experiences that lead them to believe there is a God, they cannot prove them and I think they should have to when they claim free land, tax-free money, or want to have power over others (many forms of this), based on the claim their particular deity exists.

    We most likely will never be able to halve and continue halving, cells that heal cuts to the body, and eventually point at the nothingness left, and say, "There, there it is. That is intelligence. That is how it knows how to heal. There, that is power. That is how it does the healing. There, that is love. That "is" the healing."

    But, both believers and Faitheists, can point to this nothingness, and say, "It works. It really does."

    I certainly didn't do it nor have I ever had a conscious awareness or connection that I was healing this small cut or scratch myself. And, I am going to assume that everyone who has ever lived, is now living, and all who will live (until future discoveries), have had and will have, the experience of the scratch! Everyone has this empirical evidence that they have faith in when they first feel it, then look at it, and seeing it is so small, that somehow, "it" will heal it. And it did/does.
  • thumb
    Nov 10 2011: Im sory to say but atheism is a belief system since it does not rely on testable facts.

    Atheist "believe". Therefore, you guys are a religion, albeit loosely organized one.

    The biggest problem you guys have is that you claim that there is no gods or "A GOD" at all - and you cannot know that and you cannot prove that.

    Now wait a minute... i know what you will retort to this statement but thats not what i mean.
    I DO NOT MEAN to say that anyone should believe in anything based on the lack of evidence.

    But i do mean that you should not believe in something based on the lack of evidence. Unfortunately for you guys, that particular trick works both ways.
    And there is no evidence that "A God" does not exist.

    Which is a totally different kind of game then observing that, for example, a bible has many, many silly things written in it that are mutually exclusive or simply insulting or gross etc. And that by observing our reality we can deduce that indeed a god that is described in the bible does not exist.

    That does not mean some kind of "god" doesnt exist, only that the biblical version is very likely not true.

    The problem you atheists have is that you go on and extrapolate that no god whatsoever exists.
    And you have no proof for that. Simple as that.

    Its even funnier seeing how you guys constantly use the word "belief" in your statements, without ever stopping for a second to see what youre doing.

    You are people that simply cannot accept that you dont know something. Or that something is not yet proved true or false. You make absolute statements without any proof and you quite often state that you "believe there is no god".
    And then you get angry when someone calls you out on this.

    To me, this burning desire to be certain and to "know" with certainty, regardless of the evidence or lack of it is in some ways interesting because it is the same fountain from which religious fervor originates.
    • Nov 10 2011: No. Somebody quoted before, "Atheism is as much a religion as not collecting stamps is a hobby." Albeit using the quote in an argument to say Atheists ARE religious, the quote stands in my favor at this moment. A lack of belief is not equivalent to a belief system. A belief system requires ideologies, dogmas, etc. etc. To be Atheist is simply to not accept things without prove. A true Atheist, or at least a true "agnostic atheist" will never say, "I KNOW god is not real." Richard Dawkins himself said that on a scale of 1-7, his lack of belief is a 6 because to be a 7, you would have to know. Atheists that say "I KNOW god isn't real" can be accused of having a religion, I suppose, but most Atheists are agnostic atheists in the sense that if sensible proof of god's existence is presented to them, they will accept it.
      • thumb
        Nov 10 2011: A baby is born atheist... As you would describe "a lack of" belief, therefore they are still developing them. But belief systems are constant, no one person has one belief system even if they are fundamentally religious.

        A grown person whom has reflected on the idea of "God" (More directly an Omni-being) and rejects that idea and has arguments for it, are gnostic-atheist. You're atheist to the idea of gnosticism. You can't just have a lack of something without something else to be a comparison. Atheist, wouldn't exist without theist, agnostic without gnostic. So to say "a lack of belief is no equivalent to a belief system" is a foul statement. In fact the lack of belief is supported by many other beliefs that support it, thus it is a composite belief. Now a belief is simply a conformity to "knowing" something. 2+2=4. Is the human consensual conformity or belief. Because truly 2+2 does equal 22, just not in mathematics but in semantics.

        Also, everyone, stop generalizing "atheist" like there is a super class of atheist... Atheism is a quality as well as a factor in belief systems. The majority of Eastern religions practice gnostic-atheism or agnostic-atheism.

        Naturalism, humanism, (some of) animism, natural pantheism (Jedi faith), the list goes on... all have atheistic qualities. To be solid "atheist" is abstract...

        I don't know if you agree with the premise of the conversation Charles, but truly Western Academic have tainted the word "atheism" and polluted it. And, the fact Neo-atheism is rising... shows total unawareness in respects of world religions (and the history of religions).

        And I am sorry, but any evidence of a superior being, is going to come up alien to me. As alien-life is far more likely the reason of our existence than a non-physical being. God's existence is another foul statement... What, who and why is "God" - irreligious practices should be championed, not "atheist."
    • Nov 11 2011: siniša karađole, [EDITED here: added the name of person to avoid confusion]

      I am sorry, but your comment is pure nonsense.

      Atheism is not "a belief system." Atheism can influence the person's "belief system" but it is not itself one. Atheism is just the rejection of beliefs in gods. Anything else is up to the person. Also, a "belief system" is not something "not based on testable facts," it is the background on which you base what you accept as part of reality.

      I don't know of many atheists who claim that there are no gods (I might have known but one or two). Go listen to Dawkins, he does not say that there is no gods, he says that's untestable, but that the probability for there being one is very small. And that's a militant atheist. So, please, verify what you claim before claiming.

      Few atheists make "absolute statements." That might be why you get angry answers.

      Also, if someone claimed to "believe there is no god," that would not be an absolute claim. Anyway, the atheists I know claim that they don't believe in gods, not that they believe there is no god. Quite different, one is a rejection of a belief, the other a belief. None is absolute.
      • thumb
        Nov 11 2011: I find that you selectively read my comment..

        First, I state no one person has ONE belief system, but a mixture of belief systems. Even a fundamentally religious person has other belief systems affecting/effecting their fundamental beliefs.

        Now again a new definition of what atheism means to someone else... Okay it is the rejection of beliefs in Gods. So you are premeditating on the rejection... You have arguments, logic and claims to defend that rejection... If it looks like a duck...

        And again, atheism is a quality or trait. It in postmodern philosophy practices, it became an individualized dictation of overall belief systems, some how. But like someone said here, an "atheist" probably does think naturally, humanistic, trans-humanistic, whatever. But the FACT they dictate purely "atheist" is belittling human spirituality and limiting existential thinking. It's fundamentalism on scientific terms, creating an unorganized religion.

        And when I addressed, everyone, I am addressing the rise in Neo-atheism, which practices militant ideals when sharing of their beliefs.

        I don't care if all of you do not appreciate me saying "belief" but it is, there is no question. Every list of belief systems... guess what, they have atheism on there... and yeah, I think scholars whom write about religions, philosophies, humanities and anthropology have a bigger say here.

        Your belief systems are "atheistic" they cannot be just atheist. So, again to say "it's a lack of a belief" is dumb founded. Only unaware people can lack something, because they have no idea about it, their ignorant. You guys are not ignorant towards the term and usage of atheism. It is a rejection, you do have something do with the theism, you have the arguments against it.

        It's just a pop-culture fade/trend to be JUST "atheist" to divide yourself from others. Then claim theist are trying to bring you "down" to their level... Because everyone doesn't conform blindly time to time..
        • Nov 11 2011: Nick,

          Your comment? I did not answer your comment my friend. I answered the top one in this thread (siniša karađole). If that were an answer to your comment I would get a complete fail in reading comprehension (and would deserve a few good insults).

          Still, do you want me to answer your comment to me? Seems like we agree on most stuff, and disagree only in a few points (maybe, but it might be a matter of semantics), but it would be an exchange founded in a mistake of identity . :)
      • thumb
        Nov 11 2011: Apologies,

        By all means disagree!
      • thumb
        Nov 11 2011: to Gabo moreno.

        I see nothing but nonsense in your reply.

        If a person is claiming something for which he does not have any evidence and that claim cannot be tested - then it is a belief. Regardless if that person is an atheist a theist or any kind of gnostic or whatever.

        The fact is that there is many, many so called atheists that do claim over and over that "there is no god" which is an absolute statement based on nothing. Thats the kind i usually meet.

        All props to Richard Dawkins. More atheists should look up and follow that example.

        I would also suggest you dont start your replies by insults because it makes you look like a moron even before you prove you didnt understand the argument you were replying to.
        • thumb
          Nov 12 2011: Saying, there is no God is an approximation. How many times have you claimed something and then been shown wrong. Were you not aware that you might be wrong? Of course you were, but to spend life addind "probably" and "almost certainly" and "as far as I can tell" at every single occasion is something nobody would ever bother to far as I can tell.

          Next time you meet those gnostic atheists which you judge us all by, ask them what it would take for them to believe in God. You'll notice most of them will answer that rather than brush it off by saying "nothing, because there's definitively no God!"

          At any rate, it's not a religious belief.
        • Nov 12 2011: siniša,

          Sorry, but calling nonsense nonsense is not an insult. But if I called you, or insinuated you to be, anything similar to moron, or fool, or idiot, show me and I will apologize.

          You might have met lots of atheists who claim "there is no god." But it does not matter because your claims were generic, not specific. You did not say "those atheists who claim absolute knowledge ..."

          Let me recap:
          1. Atheism is not believing in gods. Nothing wrong about it. If we define it as rejection of beliefs in gods, there is still nothing wrong about it either, because it does not claim to **know** that there's no gods.
          2. That something is "not testable" does not mean it is a "belief system." It might be a belief, but not a system in and of itself.
          3. A belief system is not the same as a belief.
          4. A belief system is a basis for what you will accept and what not as part of reality. Atheism might influence such base, but it is not a system by itself.
          5. That people may have "belief systems" does not mean they follow a religion.
          6. That people have "beliefs" does not mean they follow a religion either.
          7. That we can't prove that there's not any kind of god(s) does not mean that their possible existence is on equal terms with their possible nonexistence. (So, no, it does not "work both ways," otherwise you would have to remain neutral about any ridiculous proposition for as long as you could not "prove it" false, because of a philosophical technicality.)
          8. When atheists argue with believers, the god in question is quite specific, often one easy to dismiss with a "there's no God." Context is important before claiming that atheists claim absolute knowledge about any imaginable, or unimaginable, gods.

          Since your argument contains categorical and logical errors, it was nonsense.

          But if you still think that I did not understand your argument, show me, because, your answer seemed to confirm that I got it all right.

          Have a good weekend.
    • thumb
      Nov 12 2011: belief =/= belief system, it's as simple as that. I believe that today I'll get a call from my parents, the probability of that happening is high. Is that a belief system, is that a religion? No way. I don't believe I'll see a unicorn from another dimension in my lifetime, is that a religion?

      To know is gnosticism. To not know is agnosticism. Atheists, who do not believe in God, are by definition also agnostics. Only religious people claim to know for certain (some at least) that there is a God.
      • thumb
        Nov 12 2011: Only religious people claim to know for certain?

        Lol, so false.
        • thumb
          Nov 12 2011: You have a point, it might be an oversimplification, there are atheists who do claim to know there is no God. By and large though, atheism is not defined by these people. Atheism is a claim of belief. Agnosticism is a claim of knowledge. The important point is that, by its very nature, atheism is not a belief system. It is simply a belief in its purest form about something. Something so specific (the existence or otherwise of God), that to elevate atheism to the level of other belief systems, with all their complexity and intricacies, should really feel like an insult to religions rather than atheism.

          As I said in previous posts, the only reason they're equated is so that when one side argues something, the other can argue the same in retort. There's a desire of symmetry where there is no symmetry. Just like the evolution vs. creation debate where evolution is branded a worldview, evolution is expected to explain the origin of life, evolution is assigned to a lack of belief of that. It has none of these characteristics, but it helps the Creationist side to think of evolution as symmetrical to creationism in what it addresses.

          So yes atheism a belief, but no it is not a belief system.
      • thumb
        Nov 12 2011: As long as you "believe" there is something or that there is no such something - you are a believer.

        end of story.
        • thumb
          Nov 12 2011: I'm guessing you must be replying to someone else because this reply suggest you haven't even read the first four words of my post.

          [EDIT] having read Gabo's answer, I'm confused to whom your post is directed to.
      • thumb
        Nov 12 2011: To both.

        Gabo continues to misunderstand and gets entagled in semantics. I dont care for that.
        You are not much different.

        If i said "system" it was in most general terms. Its not like im claiming that atheism is a organized religion with Richard Dawkins as a pope. Please.

        btw these are your words from the reply above:
        "Atheism is a claim of belief."

        As far as your argument that people just go a bit absolutist in their speech even though their real precise opinion is not that absolutist - i dont care. Its their problem and im not telepathic.
        • thumb
          Nov 12 2011: Yes these are my words, but you ignore them. Why? This is precisely my point. your reply brings nothing to what I've said, neither in opposition or in agreement.

          Your initial claim, even though you have dropped the "system" in a few places, was that atheism was a belief system, which it is not. Even in general terms. A belief system requires an organised set of beliefs, whether they be religious or otherwise. Not one discrete belief such as that of there being no God or the Sun coming up every day. Sure the belief that there is no God could have some effect on other beliefs held by an individual, but atheism is certainly not a set of rigid beliefs. It has nothing that would make it a belief system.

          Also, I was thinking of our exchange on atheism saying "there is no God" and I wanted to ask, given that atheists believe there is no God, shouldn't you expect them to say "there is no God"? or do you really expect them to preface this with "I honestly believe". Should we preface ALL we say with "I honestly believe"? If I say "Sarkozy is a terrible president", will you honestly perceive that as me trying to make an objective claim about my president or will you see in it an opinion and a belief.

          I suspect that like everyone else, you don't take what people say at face value. There is nuance to be found in words. Some of us who think about how our position could be misinterpreted put a lot of thought into what we say. Gabo and I, go out of our way to say: 'you know, when we say there is no God, we can't claim that for certain, for that would suggest we have the kind of absolute knowledge nobody can have'. But in daily life, nobody puts these kind of disclaimers on what they say. Good thing too, conversations would be painfully long-winded and full of digression. We are smart enough to make abstraction. Think about it, if ever somebody said "this is true" and they meant it in an absolutist way, why debate them? How is it they sometimes change their mind if they know?
      • thumb
        Nov 13 2011: For Christ sake... arguing with people like you is the same thing as arguing with some religious fanatic.
        Bilnd, deaf and totally impervious to logic and common sense.

        No, i dont ignore your arguments.
        Its just that they are wrong. WRONG!

        You believer!

        And yes you should take care of what youre saying because people will take what you said as what you said - not as something else that you were thinking but didnt say!
        For christ sake...
        • Nov 14 2011: siniša,

          You said:
          "And yes you should take care of what youre saying because people will take what you said as what you said - not as something else that you were thinking but didnt say!"

          Isn't it a bit curious that I took what you said as what you said, yet you said that I kept misunderstanding without clarifying what you were thinking but didn't say; that now you got all worked out about meaning, that being worked out about meaning means being worked out about semantics, yet you accused me of being entangled in semantics, which you said you didn't care for?

          Sorry siniša. I know this is now beating a dead horse. Maybe I shouldn't keep at it, but I wanted to say that I have made huge mistakes. Worse than yours here. Probably much more often than you. At some point I started to learn from those mistakes. Maybe, hopefully, you learned something. If you still think that I misunderstand, feel free to show me. If you rather not say anything, have a happy life.
      • thumb
        Nov 20 2011: "To know is gnosticism. To not know is agnosticism."

        I'm pretty sure just about everyone who calls themselves an agnostic would disagree with this statement. Agnosticism can be most broadly defined as the position that matters dealing with the universe's origin or purpose, including all possible concepts of God, are absolutely unknowable. This is an entirely different position than the one atheists like Dawkins take. Most atheists are pretty damn sure there isn't a God.

        Agnosticism, in both etymology and semantics, pins itself against cults that were described as gnostikos by Irenaeus. These cults claimed to have a secret knowledge about God and the universe, mainly the idea that the material world was evil and created by some kind of demiurge. The greek word "gnosis" means experiential knowledge as opposed to theoretical knowledge, or in some later cases "spiritual knowledge". Gnosticism isn't at all a term to denote someone who knows something, especially not in the context of theoretical belief (for example: there is no God). Agnosticism is not at all a term to describe someone who is ignorant, nor is it a quality of being atheist.

        "Atheists, who do not believe in God, are by definition also agnostics."

        Baruch Spinoza, Thomas Huxley, almost every great naturalist and biblical critic probably rolled in their graves as you typed this. To deny all possibilities of a higher consciousness is to dismiss not only recognition of the unknowable, but all philosophies and free-thinking pertaining to it. It might as well dismiss free-thinking all together. Naturalism and agnosticism were never about atheism. Without these philosophies, atheism is nothing but dogma.

        A quote from a man much loved by atheists, Robert Ingersoll:

        "Now, understand me! I do not say there is no God. I do not know. As I told you before, I have traveled but very little -- only in this world. I want it understood that I do not pretend to know. I say I think."
        • Nov 20 2011: Fred,

          I don't care what "agnostics" would say, agnostic is a position about knowledge, and it is not incompatible with atheism.

          We had already established that you have no idea what position Dawkins takes (you have not listened to the guy). Now you confirm that you don't read what we tell you. Is it worth repeating or will you ignore it again?

          If you capitalize "God", you are being dogmatic yourself, and far from agnostic, since you don't know if there would be one of many gods, or if there might be layers and layers of gods one on top of another, if they might have names, rather the be called by their "job description," or whatever. After all, we can't know. Right?

          You said: "Baruch Spinoza, Thomas Huxley, almost every great naturalist and biblical critic probably rolled in their graves as you typed this."
          My answer: I doubt it. Unlike you, I think they would understand the difference between "not believing" and "knowing that no possible gods are out there."

          You even failed to note that, in you quote, Ingersoll agreed with us. We don't pretend to know. We say we don't believe.

          In your self-righteous "agnosticism" you fail to reason beyond the mere "we can't know about any imaginable gods," only to keep yourself trapped in both semantics and philosophical technicalities. We go beyond that. Example: it is a fact that humans have been inventing gods out of anthropomorphizing whatever goes beyond our understanding, from thunder to physics constants. Regardless of whether we can know, I don't see why we should not reject such beliefs. Similarly, I will reject any gratuitous gods, no matter how beautiful the rhetorics, no matter how shielded from testing. But give me evidence, and I will reconsider. Stop your self-righteous, and barely researched, claims. We understand your "neutral" agnosticism. But we have reasons to be less neutral. Listen for once.

          Again: "not believing" does not mean "knowing." We understand that. Will you ever?
        • thumb
          Nov 21 2011: All I'm pretty damn sure about is that you don't know Dawkins' position on the matter is. In his book "The God Delusion", Dawkins makes the point that a thinking atheist cannot be absolutely sure and would change his mind should there be an obvious reason to.

          This might help: I found it the other day.
      • thumb
        Nov 21 2011: Gabo, it seems you've really hardened into your beliefs and how you justify them. If you still really believe atheism is in line with agnosticism, I think I'll just let it go. If at any time you actually want to refute my points, I'm open ears.

        The capitalization of God, and the ineffability of symbols given to a supreme creator (like YHWH) are what separate it semantically from the idea of a demigod. Where demigods anthropomorphized different forces within the universe, there was always a distant creator that stood behind the universe and anthropomorphized the infinity, the unknowable.

        The idea of a creator that ascended the gods was present in every pantheon. As I stated in an earlier post, Mesopotamian pantheons (Canaanites, Akkadians, the ancient Jews) had El Elyon, the supreme being that remained beyond and detached from the other gods. Monotheism is just an elimination of the demigods with a focus on the supreme one. Elyon was a name for God in Genesis.

        Atheists usually get upset about the capitalization of God because they don't approve of the ineffability, of giving a supreme deity importance. Nothing I said above would be of interest to someone frantically upset that religion still controls parts of the world. Instead they might be more interested in making tongue in cheek statements like "I contend we are both atheists, I just believe in one fewer god than you do." But such statements are dogmatic, in that they're fueled by a consensus reality that doesn't value understanding the etymology. By capitalizing God, I'm just making it clear that I'm talking about the objective infinite and however it's been deified, and not about some storm god.
        • Nov 21 2011: What's there to answer Fred? All you have done so far is insist on "atheism is dogmatic," and "agnosticism" is the only reasonable option, while ignoring why we insist that while we don't know, we reject the belief, and that there's reasons to reject such beliefs.

          Give me any other point, and I shall answer. But so far ...

          You just confirmed that you capitalize "God" because you think there is "a" god. If you were neutral about gods, you wouldn't do that. Meaning you are bounded by a belief in some supreme being. I don't care which culture(s) you cite, with "supremer" gods to other gods, that does not make any of them real. The thing is, you defend "agnosticism" while engaging in theism (or deism, I don't remember which is which). Fine by me if you will accept yourself as being dogmatic. As for me, I won't capitalize the unknowable. I am not "upset" Fred. I just point to the hypocrisy of calling atheists "dogmatic" for stating a rejection of beliefs, while you engage into a belief that seems just as dogmatic if you are to stand by your words. Unless, of course, you have a different standard for yourself than for the rest of us.

          (An "objective infinite" is as much a god as any storm.)

          Edit: It also seems quite dogmatic to pretend that you own the word "agnostic" and that it can only mean a completely neutral position regardless of how may explanations you are given. It seems quite the double standard for you to say that it is me who is "hardened in his beliefs."
      • thumb
        Nov 21 2011: @Gabo 'Again: "not believing" does not mean "knowing." We understand that. Will you ever?'

        Much of your responses haven't had any points or substance, but instead just unbacked statements with a few insults. What's real to you is what you believe, what you think you know. The difference between believing and knowing is that we believe everything and we know nothing. ;) Do you believe you're on your computer? Do you believe there is a God? There's little difference. An atheist doesn't abstain from a belief about God, the reality they choose to live in is that there is no God. This is why they call themselves an atheist, and not an agnostic. Robert Ingersoll called himself an agnostic, not an atheist.

        An apology to Matthieu, I replied to your comment to keep it organized.
        • Nov 21 2011: Show me exactly how belief is the same as knowing, and you will show that I made "unbacked" statements. For now it seems like your unwillingness to listen prevails.

          I don't choose to live in a reality where there is no god(s). This reality has not shown me that there's any so far.

          It does not matter what Ingersoll called himself. His comment supported my stand. If he thought there were no gods, he was an atheist for all practical purposes.

          So, if you now make a point, or show me exactly what's what I did not answer ...
      • thumb
        Nov 21 2011: "All I'm pretty damn sure about is that you don't know Dawkins' position on the matter is. In his book "The God Delusion", Dawkins makes the point that a thinking atheist cannot be absolutely sure and would change his mind should there be an obvious reason to."

        Dawkins has made up his mind that human reasoning is sufficient for understanding the universe and that our senses are sufficient for discovering all that is true. This is an entirely different position than agnosticism takes, which maintains a neutral position on the grounds that such things are unknowable.

        Dawkins is a militant atheist. While his lips say that he can't be sure there isn't a God, his career says something else.
        • Nov 21 2011: "Dawkins has made up his mind that human reasoning is sufficient for understanding the universe and that our senses are sufficient for discovering all that is true."

          There you go again with ignorant statements about somebody's stance on a matter you have no idea about ... (there is a little talk by Dawkins, I don't know, but maybe in TED, something about a queer universe, where he talks about things we may never understand just by reasoning, let alone by our senses. But who cares. Fred must know better than Dawkins what Dawkins has made up his mind about.)
    • thumb
      Nov 13 2011: Dear siniša,
      Look carefully at some of your statements:

      "Therefore, you guys are a religion, albeit loosely organized one".

      You are telling "them" what "they" are. How about listening, rather than pointing fingers?

      "The biggest problem you guys have is that you claim that there is no gods or "A GOD" at all - and you cannot know that and you cannot prove that".

      To the best of my knowledge, siniša, you cannot prove the opposite, so what is your point?

      "But i do mean that you should not believe in something based on the lack of evidence. Unfortunately for you guys, that particular trick works both ways".

      You're right siniša, the "trick works both ways", so what are you arguing about? Do you honestly think it is productive to tell "you guys" what they "should" believe? You know better than they do what is good for them?

      "The problem you atheists have is that you go on and extrapolate that no god whatsoever exists.
      And you have no proof for that. Simple as that".

      The "problem" siniša does not appear to be theirs. It appears to be your "problem" for not accepting other people's beliefs?

      "You are people that simply cannot accept that you dont know something"

      Interesting label for all those "people huh? I wonder if you can say that while looking in a mirror?

      "To me, this burning desire to be certain and to "know" with certainty, regardless of the evidence or lack of it is in some ways interesting because it is the same fountain from which religious fervor originates".

      I totally agree siniša, wanna check the mirror again?
      • thumb
        Nov 13 2011: My point (didnt read after that line, sorry), was that one at the basic level shouldnt be so fired up and eager to take one very specific position if we currently really just dont know yet. It seems that humans have a problem with saying simply : "well, we just dont know for sure, yet. In the sense that there is no enough data about it to make such an absolutist idea and stance."

        But then i look at this conversation and its funny, right?
        How both sides are completely convinced that their "theory" or arguments or whatever - is the really correct one.

        It seems its some kind of human affliction. :)
        And strictly speaking i dont like seeing it on myself.
        Its much better to spend energy on something more positive.
        • thumb
          Nov 13 2011: Yes, I find it amusing:>)
          It's a "human affliction" only if one wants it to be part of the way s/he functions. It's a choice. I agree with you...I don't like seeing it on myself, so I don't do it:>) my humble opinion...much better to spend energy on something more productive:>)
    • thumb
      Nov 22 2011: I hate when people tell me what an Aethist is when they aren't one. An Aethist is someone who does not believe in a god. That is it. Other people have classified us into one group, Aethist. From there, people began to think that being Aethist is a religion or a belief, or a culture, or an organization, etc. Aetheism is not any of that. We are people that do not believe in a god. I choose to believe in scientific reasoning over unexplained stories written into a book. I mean no offense to any religion, however, there has been no proof that Jesus proformed these miracles, there is no proof that there is a god, there is no proof that we will go to heaven.

      You said that we do not know there is a god because we can not prove it. And that is true. We can not prove there is or isn't a god. But, neither can you. So, instead of believing in something which has no proof what so ever, we choose to not believe in that until there is proof.
  • thumb
    Nov 8 2011: Whatever you replace atheism though will become the new "belief system" or "worldview". They only call us these things so they can apply the same arguments to us that we apply to them. It's what one side does when it lacks the imagination to have its own arguments. Whether we call ourselves atheist or otherwise, strawmen from the other side will always be used on us.

    I like the word atheist personally, screw those who misunderstand it.
    • thumb
      Nov 8 2011: Oh boy because neo-atheism is really creating new and creative philosophies/arguments...

      Only your first sentence I agree on - it's true. So here are some new terms for you all "irreligious" "religious naturalism" and "ignosticism"

      A belief system is a set of mutually supportive beliefs. The beliefs may be religious, philosophical, ideological or a combination of these. (Wikipedia)

      "Atheism is a religion like not collecting stamps is a hobby." - An idiotic popular quote.

      Atheism is a TYPE or QUALITY of religious belief, not a religion, but in European cultures, it definitely has the tendencies to be like one. As soon as you defend your position involving a belief, you are protecting yourself also; you are apart of your belief systems. As soon as people group up on others whom are going against yous, that is a militant approach to dictating your thoughts about the topic at hand. Quoting one book may be fundamental, but quoting those who dictate "atheism" is doing something similar - appealing to an authority.

      Trying to escape belief systems is foully, you would have to practice anti-emotions, which would eliminate imagination and parts of reasoning - ultimately.
    • thumb
      Nov 8 2011: Exactly! Like "evolutionists". What the hell is an "evolutionist"?
      As you say, Matthieu, it's a way to imply that evolution is still a mystery and that "evolutionism" is just one of the options available to scientists.
      Instead of "biology" and "physics", should we say "biologism" and 'physicism"?
      • thumb
        Nov 9 2011: Are there no biologists or physists?
        • thumb
          Nov 9 2011: There are.
          But ist and ism have different dogmatic flavours. Ism is spicier.
          I should've said 'evolutionism" then, O wise friend.
      • thumb
        Nov 9 2011: Or different semantic ones. Don't tell me we need english lessons.
  • thumb
    Dec 7 2011: Dad: "You're dating a murderer?"

    Daughter: "Um, yeah."

    Dad: "Oh, that's okay ... as long as he's not an atheist or a rapist."


    A study by researchers at the University of British Columbia found believers distrusted atheists more than members of other religious groups, gays and feminists. … The only group study participants distrusted as much as atheists was rapists, lead author Will Gervais told the Vancouver Sun. – Steve Mertl
  • thumb
    Nov 30 2011: Words are used to communicate some idea / concept etc. Over time words due to over-use of it to express something different than what was the intension at the begining of the birth of word , slowly people start using some other words replacing the earlier one. So that word dies automaticallyfor which it was used at the very begining. So it's a matter of self death of word , which may finally stay only in dictionary but not in use, it's natural process of every language.

    Otherwise I am not sure how we can abolish a word?
    Do we mean banning it ? How this ban can be enforced?
    By taking it out from dictionary? Even if we do that we can stop use of it as some people will still use it.

    However I agree what you told in your proposition to great extent , the question is implementation of the same for the purpose of better communication.
  • thumb
    Nov 29 2011: well, Atheist at least sets you apart from all people who are theist...

    You can then continue to say that you are a skeptic, a bright, a humanist, or a spiritualist, animist,... indicating the things you believe/assume.

    Most often I call myself an atheist when people are bothering me with their gods, and a skeptic when people bother me with their pseudoscience.

    So I wouldn't abolish such a term... I would not solely identify myself with it either... (I'd choose to be a bright if asked)
  • thumb
    Nov 23 2011: Uncelebrated as it may be, every person’s duty to self is to attain psychological maturity (understanding--particularly understanding reality) according to their natural abilities and noble considerations.

    Things and life exist instead of nothingness. Regardless of origins, evolution seems to follow laws. Energy may have always existed, and evolution may conserve energy. Yet origin of evolution’s laws seems unknown.

    Many prehistoric cultures assumed supernatural being (SB) controls everything, for example, assumed the earth’s sun is a SB in the heavens. Humankind now understands the sun is among countless natural nuclear reactors in the universe. Yet the SB assumption has not yet been disproven.

    In understanding a phenomenon or perception, all plausible explanations may compete for viable study. For example, the assumption that the universe is one and controlled may be false. When understanding is incomplete, plausible assumptions remain.

    Many people take the SB assumption to the next stage: specification. Some say the SB is God. Further, God has known characteristics and practices, for example, love and judgment. The result is theism. Others aver belief in God is the favored side of the bet; such philosophers ignore the possibility of error in choosing the God and SB.

    Based on the above understanding, I prefer neutrality on the question of God’s existence: I prefer to attest, “I do not know.”

    I aver neutrality constitutes neither atheism nor agnosticism, but if another person disagrees, it does not bother me in the least.

    I hope this helps and moreover look forward to TEDsters increasing my understanding.

    • thumb
      Nov 23 2011: "I don't know", regarding unexplained phenomena, is atheism.
      But who cares... It's just normal to say you don't know when unable to explain.

      I would get rid of the term "atheism" in favour of "sanity".
      • thumb
        Nov 23 2011: I appreciate your comment and in addition to avoiding insanity advocate avoiding self-contradiction, which religion requires: believers must assert, “I know what no-one knows.”

        An infant is uninformed and has about 80 years to achieve and move beyond humankind’s understanding.

        If the community indoctrinates the infant in knowledge, evidence, discovery, understanding, and open mindedness, he/she may achieve the maturity his natural abilities facilitate.

        However, if his environment indoctrinates him in an ideology, such as religion, he has diminished opportunity to mature. Yet, he is on a path, and something may happen to re-inform him. People who listen can be either supportive or discouraging.

        Every time a Christian tried a Freethinker’s Group I attended for a couple years, their comments indicated they were on a path I had tread. I did everything I could to support their thoughts. Meanwhile, the avowed atheists, agnostics, and secular humans in the room unintentionally belittled the visitor’s struggle for psychological maturity. I never saw a Christian return a third time. I pleaded with the group to be accommodating, but was not heard.

        I want to encourage each person’s quest for psychological maturity where they are when they are on their path.
  • thumb
    Nov 22 2011: An Aethist is someone who does not believe in a god. That is it. Other people have classified us into one group, Aethist. From there, people began to think that being Aethist is a religion or a belief, or a culture, or an organization, etc. Aetheism is not any of that. We are people that do not believe in a god. I choose to believe in scientific reasoning over unexplained stories written into a book. I mean no offense to any religion, however, there has been no proof that Jesus proformed these miracles, there is no proof that there is a god, there is no proof that we will go to heaven.

    We do not know there is a god because we can not prove it. We can not prove there is or isn't a god. But, neither can anyone else. So, instead of believing in something which has no proof what so ever, we choose to not believe in that until there is proof
  • thumb
    Nov 21 2011: If we were discussing paleontology I would be interested to know if you were a paleontologist, but not in knowing if you are an athiest (excuse the word use). If we were discussing theology I would be most interested to know if you were a Buddist, a Zoroastrian, a Christian, or a person who rejects the idea of the existence of god in any form. Why should all the others have a name but not yours? To be complete, a list of all possible beliefs about god would have to include the word athiest (please excuse). Without it in the list of possible answers to a multiple choice question there would be some who would have to leave the question blank because there was no appropriate box for them to check. Only when germane to the topic at hand does the term become appropriate and necessary.
    • Nov 21 2011: (Only it is not "athiest", but "atheist")
      • thumb
        Nov 21 2011: Thanks Gabo. I use a Baptist spellchecker which does not recognize the word atheist. You know, another example of the prefix "A" is the word "amuse". "Muse" means to think or consider. By adding an "a" in front we create a word that means "to not think or consider". Isn't that amusing?
        • thumb
          Nov 22 2011: LOL!!!
          That looks like a "gotcha".

          Is this thread about ..."Abolishing the use of the term Atheism"?

 it an exercise in realizing how we "muse" to be "amusing"?
        • thumb
          Nov 23 2011: I find it funny that a Baptist spell checker does not even acknowledge such a word and I'm curious as to why.
  • thumb
    Nov 14 2011: My dear, Frank Segro, I do understand that you found the term Atheist is not acceptable...
    I ask back to you then: what do you want to be called? :-)
    You should suggest yourself a more acceptable term, right?
    I know you would not stay quite when you are asked what's the belief, despite belief system.
  • thumb
    Nov 13 2011: Hi neighbor Frank, (I live in northern Vt.)
    I am curious as to why you start a discussion thread entitled "Abolishing the use of the term Atheism", and then you refer to yourself in your introduction as "an atheist". If you don't like the use of the term, why keep using it? Do you honestly think that abolishing the use of the term is going to change people's perception of the belief...or disbelief?
  • Nov 12 2011: Hey Frank,

    I was with you just a few years ago. Not liking to be defined by what I don't believe. However, I have found it to be futile to try and abolish this word. Anyway, yes, semantically atheism just means a lack of theism, or a lack of belief in gods. But it is also a rejection of such beliefs. Nothing wrong with any, and not enough information to truly define somebody. However, it stands in hard contrast to all forms of theism, which overall is so prevalent, that we can't but expect to be called and first described by this word (maybe we should feel privileged).

    I often talk about "atheists" in the third person because I know not every person rejects the belief in god the same way, and that such word alone does not describe me. But I know I will be called an atheist, and have learned not to worry about it too much. In my experience, it takes too long to just argue about this word than getting to the substance of, for instance, the ridiculous rejection of scientific findings via mischaracterizations and muddled logic, or the insistence that a "god-of-the-gaps" explanation is scientific.

    Yes. People will try to describe atheism as a religion (we have several trying right here). But we know it is not ... perhaps we would be better off by learning when to insist on the distinctions and variety of disbelief, and when to move on to whatever an issue under discussion might be.

  • Nov 11 2011: Food for thought!

    Frank think of it this way.

    I have a pie representing all the knowledge of the universe. That includes space, earth religion, and everything ever knowable.
    In this pie there is 100% knowledge. Now about how much do you know of this pie?
    Lets say your really, really smart and you know 5% of all the pie. That leaves 95% of all knowable knowledge that you don't know.
    Logically thinking here, could it be that in that 95% you don't know there could be a God regardless of who he is or what his part is in this universe?

    Well for me I don't even know 1% of all the knowledge in the universe let alone 5%, so I am forced to say that in all the knowledge I don't know there could be a God.
  • Nov 10 2011: @Phillip, I agree about the needed progress of another popular humanist movement. And I don't at all believe we must lose the term atheism or atheist. We need only dredge it up from the common misinterpretation of the term. Atypical anti seizure medication: Atypical antler arrangement: This term is valuable, but loosely applying it to a thought field so sensitive as religions is where I feel the problem arises. I love the term "rational empiricist"! I don't feel that atheism is in any way opposing those who believe in god. I personally can appreciate the atheist, I encountered the complete lack of empirical or even rational evidence for the existence of god. We live in a world where we demand proof, we want explanation that makes sense, is rational, is empirical, is provable on multiple levels. This shall never happen with an immaterial force like god. Even our alleged proof by way of prophets, bibles, etc. Cannot prove whether any of these saints, prophets, messiahs, were anything more than individuals with a vastly different approach to reality, logic, faith, and creation. The devout Christian, Muslim, cannot prove the existence of a creator. Nor can the atheist prove the absence of one. Although, If I were assigned that task, I could use many lessons of history to show where reality and human culture. Were occurring in a way that should not be, if their were a divine oversight. Take the Crusades as a compelling example, let's break your commandments in the name of you. Jihad, similar. These instances of action, belief systems, executed in the name of a nonmaterial entity. Completely deny rational thought or insight of the individuals or groups carrying them out. Social psychology seems especially relevant in these cases. Becoming anonymous in the name of a greater purpose has allowed mankind to perform atrocities to each other. Fanaticism exists on the side of Muslim and Christian schools of thought. Each believe they alone have right connection to higher a power
  • thumb
    Nov 8 2011: @frank How exactly is atheism "lack of a belief system"? Most atheists are pretty confident in their belief that there are no gods. "Atheism" isn't simply the lack of theology, but as a word brands itself as the antithesis to theology. And this is only in name, for it's still a world view relating to matters of theology. Overall it asserts something about the nature of the universe, ironically on faith.

    A simple lack of believing anything would be agnosticism. "He who does not know" or "he who does not claim to know". Disbelief is still a belief in the antithesis.

    Semantic arguements aside, popularly atheism often incorporates philosophies such as rationalism and naturalism. Thus we have a belief system commonly referenced when one brings up the concept of atheism, regardless if these philosophies are implied by the name.
    • thumb
      Nov 8 2011: Thats exactly the problem. Quote : "belief that there are no gods". Atheism is not a belief. It is a lack of belief. I am not actively believing that their are no gods right now. I simply don't believe something else that someone else does.

      There are no beliefs associated with atheism. Not believing in a positive statement like there is a god doesn't count as a belief. Call it disbelief if you will. But it only brands itself as the antithesis to theology because people misunderstand what the word actually means.

      As I mentioned earlier, atheism does not at all imply any belief in anything. It simply states that you do not believe in this. Although I do not believe in God, that does not assert anything that I do believe in. Because I don't believe in fairies doesn't necessitate that I believe in something else. To me that space need not be filled and I think the same is true of atheism.
      • thumb
        Nov 8 2011: No, Agnostics have a lack of belief. These are not semantically equivalent.

        If you simply had a lack of belief, there wouldn't be this compulsion to convert others.

        I was staying out of this like a good agnostic, but that was a step too far.
        • Nov 10 2011: Agnostic what? I hate to argue semantics, but there are Agnostic Theists and there are Agnostic Atheists. Agnostic theists are those that believe there's some sort of supernatural force, but aren't sure what it is. Agnostic Atheists are those that believe in nothing they can't prove, but if one were to prove the supernatural, they would believe it.

          As for the "conversion" comment, that's not true. To be an "atheist' is to lack belief, that is all. This compulsion to convert as you put it is merely human nature.

          If somebody tells you 2+2=22, and you know (or think you know) that 2+2=4, you're going to feel compelled to "convert" them into accepting the "truth" that 2+2=4. It's just how most people are. Note the "most", not all Atheists have that compulsion. Just like not all people would bother to get you to understand that 2+2=4.
      • thumb
        Nov 8 2011: I feel like I'm beating a dead horse here. If atheism is synonymous with agnosticism, then what do we call a person who believes there are no gods?

        There's an underlying tone of self righteousness to your arguements. It's similar to a Christian saying that Christianity "isn't a religion, but a relationship." Atheism is professed by a large following of people who firmly believe there are no gods. If you feel this paradigm doesn't represent your views then why care what they choose to call themselves?

        And if it does represent your views, then I have to call bullshit on the way you're rationalizing all this. "There is no God" is a positive statement.
        • Nov 11 2011: Nobody said that atheism is synonymous with agnosticism, but that atheism is not antagonist with agnosticism. You should read more carefully. Let me quote it for you from above:

          "there are Agnostic Theists and there are Agnostic Atheists"

          Got it now? Most atheists claim not to believe in gods, not that they know that there is no gods. Agnosticism is about whether you know, not about whether you reject or accept something. A gnostic atheist would be one claiming to know that there is no gods. But I know just a couple of them.

          I am convinced that there is no gods whatsoever. However, I can't claim to **know** that there is no gods whatsoever. Thus, I would be an agnostic atheist. What's wrong with that? How is that a "religion"?

          You seem inclined to the possibility that there is some god(s), thus you might be an "agnostic theist." I have no idea. I would however never claim that you follow the "religion of agnostic theism." That would be plainly stupid.

          Now, I don't want to create strict boxes. Let us say you don't feel comfortable with either theism nor atheism, but you are fine with "agnostic." Fine by me. I would still not be justified to say that you follow the religion of "agnosticism." Just like above, that would be plainly stupid.

          (I don't understand why people give you "thumbs up" for failing in reading comprehension.)
  • thumb
    Nov 8 2011: Agreed.
    In the middle ages, when people had no damn clue about anything around them, an atheist is a good name for someone chosing not to believe in one kind of superstition.
    But since our scientific revolution, what is the use of this? I fully agree. I'm bothered being called an atheist as much as being called an a-easterbunnist. I'm bothered because this gives credit to theists, as if adults of our modern societies with half a brain and a non abusive education could possibly consider things either way.
    Also, what about the people getting away with atheism and yet read horoscope or buy homeopathic treatments?

    So let's twist things around. There are people, and some of them are credulous.
    • thumb
      Nov 8 2011: "as if adults of our modern societies with half a brain and a non abusive education could possibly consider things either way."

      Maybe I could be just as self righteous and say that anyone who isn't an agnostic is an agnostic in denial. I would've thought anyone with half a brain could analyze atheism like any other movement and see the dogma underlying it's unsubstantiated association with "the scientific revolution". But I think I'll yield to my understanding and forgiving side. There are people, and some of them are credulous.
      • thumb
        Nov 8 2011: But atheism is unlike any other movement, and there is no other way to say this without sounding self righteous, but the other movements are just bad philosophies.
        I could talk about the association of atheism with the scientific revolution, but before I need to make sure that you're asking me to explain where atheism comes from. Do you really think that atheism is not a product of scientific and moral progress?
        • thumb
          Nov 9 2011: Yes. :P

          I'm pretty sure every religious movement would quickly point out that it's unlike every other. Every movement would point to all others as bad philosophies. So we have this incredible consistency with these movements... it's really all just human nature. Atheism doesn't evade it.

          Let's not confuse science with philosophy... naturalism, though an undertone to some scientific theories, is not science. Even naturalism isn't necessarily atheistic... "Nature" is often referenced in a way almost synonymous to "God" (a clue to just how ambiguous these concepts can get) though regardless, naturalism remains a philosophy and not a set of established facts. There is no science behind atheism, and I'm not sure what any of it has to do with morality.

          Atheism must be provincial in the way it assesses theology in order to have any meaning at all. You can't deny God unless you define God, and all too often this definition is narrow and influenced by the Abrahamic religions. The wikipedia article on atheism (which is a joke by the way) references Hinduism and Buddhism as "atheistic", obviously because popular atheism is incompatable with their views of God, thus invoking the misconception that these faiths don't believe in God. Atheism enjoys knocking a magical overlord that sends people to hell... introduce the vedic Brahman and things become more complicated.

          As long as we're going to champion "free thought" why not open the door for individual notions of God... suddenly atheism loses even more meaning, let alone the claim to thinking freely.

          So let's talk about the association of atheism with the scientific revolution. I feel it's unwarranted.
      • thumb
        Nov 9 2011: You say many things, I'll try and answer all of them.

        QUOTE : "every religious movement would quickly point out that it's unlike every other."

        Atheism is not a religious movement, first of all. It cannot be defined as one. If anything, let's define it as "not a religious movement", perhaps you could agree with this. And I've heard many religious people say that all religions are pretty much the same. Some of them strongly disagree, of course, and there are fanatics... But I know muslims who have sympathy for christians and vice-versa, who agree that they have a different name for the same deity.

        QUOTE : "let's not confuse science and philosophy"

        Why not? Until quite recently, a philosopher was a scientist. Someone digging for wisdom, trying to understand the world, everything about it. This is the problem with some modern philosophers, they have let go of biology and physics which have gotten very complexe and have specialised in litterature analysis, for instance. But if you're gonna talk about happiness, call the endocrinologist. If you're going to talk about time, call the quantum physicist, ...
        But let's see why I think THERE IS SCIENCE behind atheism. I all starts around Galileo when a new way of creating knowledge is born. It's a philosophy of doubt, of constant questionning, of double-testing and still believing you might be wrong. There is no more authority, no man nor holy scripture. The only knowledge you get is the one coming from good explanations. If an idea comes from ill-defined theories, then it brings no understanding and is just discarded. This is the scientific revolution : the creation of a philosophy of good explanations. It has started in Europe and had Abrahamic religions to deal with. The faithful are asked not to doubt or question their Gods in Abrahamic religions, and the scriptures are indeed sacred. No book was ever holy for the atheist philosopher, and absolutely everything could be questionned in hope to be understood.
      • thumb
        Nov 9 2011: ... So this is how atheism begins. As a philosophy that believes that knowledge comes from humans, and that constant criticism only improves our understanding. This makes it a good philosophy.

        QUOTE "what atheism has to do with morality"

        Perhaps nothing, if atheism is defined solely as a lack of God. But if you think atheism as the refusal to adopt ideas with no explanations or bad ones, then you might expect an atheist to resist endoctrination.
        This is why I dislike the term "atheist". It focuses on what a person is not, instead of what it might be, a boundless mind of curiosity and doubt.

        Which brings us to your comment : "
        As long as we're going to champion "free thought" why not open the door for individual notions of God... suddenly atheism loses even more meaning, let alone the claim to thinking freely."

        I agree with this. Atheism has had to rebel against Christianism, a tough enemy of scientific knowledge and reasoning. So it has specialised in counter-attacking this single worldview. But, again, let's not limit atheism to anti-christianism, or even to an anti-conformist, anti-authority philosophy. If you have beliefs of your own and "individual notions of God", atheism doesn't lose it's meaning, since one of them is the idea that the natural world is explained in the natural world. Anything not in our reality is supernatural, and the atheist believes that the supernatural has no influence on the natural. The idea of a god is directly in conflict with this principle.

        Let's keep it simple : atheism is resistance to superstiton.
        • thumb
          Nov 9 2011: "Anything not in our reality is supernatural, and the atheist believes that the supernatural has no influence on the natural."

          The naturalist believes this, and atheism, as a theological perspective (alright, "anti-theological perspective") bases itself on naturalism. This might seem like I'm nitpicking, but this is a crucial thing to note when assessing the concept of God. There exist naturalistic views of God such as pantheism in which nothing is distinguished as supernatural. In many Eastern doctrines, this Western separation of the natural and supernatural isn't recognized.

          "If God could be known by the limited mind and senses, then God–knowledge would be like any other knowledge and spiritual science like any physical science." Kena Upanishad of the Vedas

          Naturalism bases itself not against concepts of God, but against forces that lie outside the natural order and operate upon it. And as this is it may not even be sound philosophy. What's to distinguish a force as natural or not natural?

          "The unnatural, that too is natural." Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

          Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, by the way, was a precursor to naturalism and a huge influence on Charles Darwin.

          Which brings us back to philosophy and science....

          It's funny you brought up Galileo, because he was a Roman Catholic. Many great contributors to our base of scientific knowledge were theists. Michael Faraday and James Clerk Maxwell, two strong proponents of electromagnetism in a time when prominent scientists such as Humphry Davy sought to discredit it, were devout Christians. Faraday credited his interest in electromagnetism to his belief that the forces of God were intertwined in everything. Sir Isaac Newton was a theologian and held to his own unorthodox Christian views. Einstein developed his own ideas over his life of a God that flowed through nature.

          These scientists were naturalists and free thinkers, but not atheists. I guess they were credulous.
      • thumb
        Nov 10 2011: You argue well, and I feel like I should kneel. Yet a voice tells me to stand still, and that if I must go, I might as well take some of your arguments down with me.

        I admit that a creative mind exploring unfathomed depths of reality may also be a spiritual one. I also admit that most of the militant atheism picks easy targets, such as belief in the afterlife, the creation in 6 days, and so forth. You ask, what about a God flowing through nature, hidden in the laws governing universes, or embodied in the energy humming in every corner of the cosmos?
        What's wrong with such beliefs?

        Well, one thing is wrong. When Einstein believes in a God flowing through nature, he is making assumptions about God, about nature and about flow. And the reason why they remain assumptions is that spirituality is involved. When you define a phenomenum as divine or spiritual, you're giving a name to something you cannot understand. In some respect, we all do this. If I try to explain quantum physics to someone, I'll find myself talking of the Photon, as if having a name for it discharges me of understanding it.
        I guess it's the same when you see a magic trick that seems impossible to figure out. Some people might say it's just real magic. Others, skeptical, might say there is a trick even though we don't know what it is, yet, or might never know.
        I think the atheist is the latter.

        The goal of atheism is to increase mystery indefinitely, ironically perhaps. See how much more room there is today for deities than there was a thousand years ago. It isn't unlikely that some (and today it's very few) scientists might solve certain problems and yet remain superstitious aside. But it never is the superstitious part of them that comes up with solutions than raise more problems and that increase the universe's mystery. Einstein's God is a dead end. General relativity is a begining.

        Atheism is the disbelief that some things may have names but no definitions.
        • thumb
          Nov 11 2011: A well argued point... but I think there's a difference between being superstitious and considering the unknown. There's also very possibly the unknowable, and I think that's where atheism trips a bit. Atheists are passionate about understanding the world through scientific observation, and the idea that we're somehow blocked from understanding a large part of it doesn't sit well. It's the fundamental difference between being an agnostic and an atheist... the former don't think they could know such an unknowable thing and the latter just deny it.

          There's an old philosophical challenge to rationalism: how could you reason a swan was white if you've never seen one? Karl Popper once wrote a counter argument, " matter how many instances of white swans we may have observed, this does not justify the conclusion that all swans are white." Clearly both of these illustrate that you need experience and reason, empericism and rationalism go hand in hand. But there exists an unknown (possibly infinite) amount of the universe that can arguably never be experienced because it transcends our senses. If it can't be experienced, it can't be reasoned and can't be known.

          (I have a cut and paste coming)
        • thumb
          Nov 11 2011: The Vedic scripture I referenced earlier, the Kena Upanishad, has a set of verses on how to identify God. "That which cannot be thought by mind, but by which, they say, mind is able to think: know that alone to be the Brahman, not this which people worship here." It repeats the statement with each of the senses, "That which is not seen by the eye, but by which the eye is able to see..." and so on. With modern materialistic naturalism we like to just attribute our senses to the structures they depend on and call it good. But the link between experience and the universe leaves us stuck with the world we perceive through our senses. What lies behind and outside the realm of being defined by the senses can only be referenced with a name, it can't have a definition. I'd agree that "Atheism is the disbelief that some things may have names but no definitions."

          This placeholder for the unknowable adds an element of consistency to the idea of God. Even Christianity describes God as unknowable to some extent. In ancient pantheons different unknown forces of the world were deified into a collection of gods, but in most there was a supreme creator that transcended the rest. Mesopotamian pantheons had El Elyon (Elyon is a name for God in Genesis). Where most of the gods deified unknown forces in the world, Elyon deified the unknowable infinite, as with the Brahman in Hinduism.

          There's a quote by Einstein... "The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is comprehensible." Within this incomprehensiveness we have all the matters of origin, meaning and reality that humanity hasn't been making much progress with. This whole blurry area can be deified as an omniscient, omnipotent Creator, and this is where religion may have failed or succeeded. Either way it's a step ahead of atheism, which usually insists there is no blurry area.
      • thumb
        Nov 11 2011: This is very interesting. A pause to thank you for the constructive information-packed replies, it's a pleasure to read them.

        Let me now quote and discuss your points.
        - "the former don't think they could know such an unknowable thing and the latter just deny it."
        But is it really denial? Or has scientific investigation not been successful, so far, at coming up with answers to so-called unknowable phenomena? Should atheists have any reason to suppose that some things are inherently unknowable? It seems that denial is too strong a word, gives the impression that there is evidence somewhere against it, or that atheists are much more spiritual than what they are. The unknowable is just unlikely to exist, for all we know.

        - "What lies behind and outside the realm of being defined by the senses can only be referenced with a name, it can't have a definition"
        I agree, and my name for it is "unreality". Atheists have no problem admitting that there is room for a deity somewhere. The problem they have is admitting the deity into reality, since they have yet found no reason to do so. Everything is possible in the unreal, there is no arguing with that.

        - "atheism, which usually insists there is no blurry area."
        On the contrary. Theism "a step ahead of atheism" has constantly been taking shortcuts. The idea of a fuzzy understanding of reality, meaning and origin leads to frustration among anyone but the atheist. And this frustration leads to taking shortcuts. Examples are numerous of unexplained phenomena that have been given shortcut explanations by religions. Every step that science takes is either denied or fitted in a new shortcut explanation. Atheists live right in the blurry area, never taking leaps of faith to deny the unknown, or to give up investigation and call some of it unknowable.
        And we're back to the difference between "I don't know" and "nobody will ever know".
        The latter is a leap of faith, an assumption. The former is a fact.
      • thumb
        Nov 11 2011: PS : No part of the multiverse is unreal. This is how we define it. Every universe of it has the same set of laws.
        • thumb
          Nov 20 2011: And a pause to apologize for my absence, and to thank you for a good discussion.

          There's a quote by Nietzsche I really like: "There are no facts, only interpretations."

          Unless you're a solipsist, you can probably agree that there exists an objective reality independent from our thoughts and perceptions. Reality however is a more complex word than that, and most of its varying meanings and contexts rely on the notion of a subjective reality, the world as it exists through our thoughts and perceptions.

          By agreeing on our observations we can establish different facts and ideas about the world, and this is how we get empirical data for science. But how we interpret these observations can be somewhat arbitrary. For example, I can point to a tree and say, "this is a tree." Well what is a tree? "This organism, it is a plant." We can go on to explain what we've come to distinguish as a plant. We can explain its cellular structure and how the many parts appear to behave, the chemical structure, etc. But really we're just giving names to different structures and processes, all the way down to the core of our understanding, where the best we can do is establish "laws", absolute consistencies in the behaviors of the world we live in. "Why are the laws of physics what they are?" can almost be dismissed as a stupid question, because it's absolutely beyond us.

          We see very clearly the limitations in the comprehension level of other animals. And we admit that we too are animals, with limitations to our comprehension. A dog might come to know that his dish gets filled every night. For him it might as well be a law of physics, and if one night it wasn't filled he might lose it, much like we would if the Sun rose in the west one day. Animals live in a world that works for them, as do we. But most importantly, we live with our senses and what they interpret.

          (this will be another two-post response)
        • thumb
          Nov 20 2011: The world as experienced by a bat is something unknowable to a human, and there are possible perceptions unknowable to any current carbon-based life form. And this is what I mean by unknowable... not things which we have yet to discover, but instrinsic truths that are simply beyond the organisms we are. We are a manifestation of one possible way of seeing the world, one possible level of reasoning, in an infinite pool of endless possibilities.

          This objective, infinite reality, independent from any organism's perception of it, where lies all intrinsic truth is our "blurry area". Not unexplained phenomena, because all of our explanations are arbitrary apart from the classification systems that we establish. Instead it's the matters of meaning, origin, purpose, matters that are dismissed and in many cases even denied. "There is no meaning." "There is no purpose." Even the Big Bang theory fails horribly at explaining matters of origin, because it's completely beyond us. These are matters that won't be explained with observations, superficial classification systems or mathematics. This is why I said religion is one step ahead... even if it fails horribly at finding answers, at least it's asking the questions, addressing the issues.

          In this unknowable infinity, maybe we have consciousness. Maybe we have one manifestation of supreme omniscience. Maybe all consciousness manifests a kind of Matryoshka system, infinitely many but one... I'm just throwing out there different ideas that humanity has toyed with. One thing's for certain: in addressing the possibility of a consciousness we have to establish if consciousness is possible ;)... and what this phenomenon's relationship is with the universe. Maybe consciousness is some accidental occurence... maybe it's an inseparable aspect of life, down to the cell and maybe beyond... but for now it just seems ineffable. We're really not making much progress with it.
      • thumb
        Nov 21 2011: Hey Fred, glad you're back, as sparky as ever! Thanks for the lengthy interesting replies.

        I've spotted a concept on which we have different understandings.
        If I try to sum up one of your major arguments, I'd say that humans are animals, and as such are limited to a useable reality, a worldview that makes sense to humans but not to jellyfish, a worldview that has nothing to do whatsoever with an objective reality, a worldview that we've evolved with (such as perception of colour or stereoscopy...).
        I disagree with this, and I'll use your dog allegory to explain why.
        SO the dog is living in a world where humans provide food every day at noon. Whatever he does has no effect on this phenomenum, so he has no reason not to expect to be fed. And indeed, this is one of the building blocks of the dog's reality. He doesn't know about shopping for dogfood in supermarkets, or how credit cards work. In his worldview, the human owner steps out of his house with the food every single day and that's all he needs to know. It's all he could possibly know since he's never been to a supermarket, for one thing. The supermarket and the bank are simply out of his reality, right?
        Now, we know that the dog is wrong, that he's missing a big part of the picture. But my point is that a clever dog should know better.
        You say that the dish getting filled is a law of physics for the dog. But it's not. It's a rule of thumb. It's deduction from past experience shaping future expectancy, it's the assumption that tomorrow will be just like yesterday.
        A smarter dog (one with human-like creativity) and one with a good education would not be satisfied with such assumptions. He would know that the likelyhood of something happening has nothing to do with how many times it has already occured. He would know that he needs a good explanation about how dishes are filled.
        This is how his scientific research would begin for the dog. TO BE CONTINUED.
      • thumb
        Nov 21 2011: For humans, the dog would no longer appear to be living in a small parochial reality, but would soon be entering ours. This is because scientific research aims at objective truth.
        Similarly to the dog expecting the dish to be filled with the assumption that tomorrow will be like the days before, we've woken up for millenia expecting the sun to rise. This was not science, and the sun spinning around the earth is absolutely not a law of physics to us.
        Seeing the sun go around the earth is not an observation. It's an interpretation, and it's a bad one. Science pays no attention to bad interpretations or assumptions.
        Indeed, an animal brain is evolved to use bad interpretations and assumptions to survive and reproduce. But science brings something new, and you should take this into account. Objective reality does exist and we do have acces to it, though it requires that we leave our inborn animal interpretations.

        Religions are not a step ahead, since they are built right on top of our inborn interpretations. Religions are rarely counter-intuitive. Science is ever more counter-intuitive and today's physics have nothing to do with what our senses can reccord or what our brains would naturally be enclined to expect.

        I disagree that science is mere classification. I don't know if I should bother to explain why. I'll just give a quick example. Imagine we don't have a word for 'sun'. Imagine we have a word for 'sun and earth', let's call it " SURTH".
        Classification is a tool, it's part of creating a theory, sure. But one could come up with a theory about the solar system using the word "surth". It would be extremely complicated, but it wouldn't be impossible. It's just helpful, and we both agree that "to give a name" is not "to explain"
        • thumb
          Nov 25 2011: And thanks to you too for such careful scrutiny!

          There is one point where I think you get me wrong, it being "a worldview that has nothing to do whatsoever with an objective reality." Even a jellyfish senses a true, objective reality, even if it's interpretations leave it with something a bit less. A planaria might only sense the presence of light, but it can still tell that light is certainly present. How it interprets this, how it experiences, isn't just an abstraction of reality... it too is a true asset of reality, something that exists. The universe is full of things that can be seen, if only with the correct tools. But the many different ways of experiencing in the universe, the many different minds, aren't accessable to sight, smell, taste or touch. The only insight we have into the existence of subjective experience is our submersion in our own. From here we might get anthropocentrism, theories slanted by the assumption that our being is the only. We get ideas like heliocentrism, heaven and hell, and the less disputed notion that our perception of reality is everything evolution aims to achieve.

          This kind of barrier keeping us from experiencing the world through the mind of something else prevents us from truly understanding how much experience can vary, and also keeps this kind of empirical knowledge out of the realm of scientific observation. Thus in this scientific era, we have a very materialistic paradigm when it comes to understanding the universe. Everything must be explained by observable phenomena, and we end up getting theories that deny the role of consciousness all together, like epiphenomenalism. It's not that what we see isn't reality. The fact that we see is reality, what we see is both an interpretation of objects in reality and itself an asset of reality. Science however can't be concerned with empirical knowledge of experience because it can't be studied scientifically.

          (they really ought to give us 5000 characters)
        • thumb
          Nov 25 2011: Thus God, which can be described from eastern notions as the subjective side of the universe, isn't a matter that can be studied scientifically. If I asked you to draw a picture of God, you might draw Thor with a lightning bolt, or maybe some weird beaver animal. If I asked you to draw your consciousness though... you see you might have to think a bit. The idea of God, of origin, meaning, the infinite, the unknowable, can't be scrutinized by science. The study of forms of matter as they appear on the outside, whether or not accurately represented by our interpretations, isn't adequate for assessing the experience of consciousness, let alone a supreme one.

          A magical overlord that created the world in six days and sends people into their eternal damnation is an entirely different animal, and doesn't represent the whole of Christian/Judaic kabbalism, let alone every religion and idea of God. But this is what naturalism rebelled against, and the difference between that view and other ideas of God was well known by Spinoza and all the great biblical critics. It was well known by Darwin. It is only ignored by contemporary atheism, and only because of a culture ignorant of philosophy, theology and history.

          Reality consists of everything that exists, including every possible perception. But my point that we'll never be able to experience other perceptions was only to point out something that was unknowable. Had we no notion of our own experience, we'd have no notion that subjective experience exists at all. How many other things will we never have a notion of, or never have a notion that they're even there to never understand? As I quoted earlier, "How could you reason a swan was white if you've never seen one?"

          So, science itself is parochial in scope, and observation is interpretation. That doesn't make it untrue, but it certainly doesn't account for all that there is.
      • thumb
        Nov 26 2011: So, how could I reason a swan is white if I've never seen one?
        Because the swan is objectively real, and everything about it is. So on a planet populated by blind persons, scientists would figure out its colour, sooner or later. The experience of actually seeing it would be impossible, so they'd need to build instruments first that transform light signals into sound signals, for example.
        In fact, no one has ever seen a whilte swan, come to think of it. Not a single photon has ever been directly seen and we're not any better than blind people with instruments. In our case, the eye is the instrument and light is invisible to our brain, so it's transformed into electrical signals. But we don't even "see" the signals even then. We guess about their meaning, and constantly check for errors.
        When you're looking at something for a few seconds, there is a back and forth process of guessing and checking. When I walk in the street, there's a thing I like to do : See a person coming your way, about 100 feet away. Glance at the person's face for half a second, then try to picture in your mind the face. Now the person is closer, glance again quickly. Surprisingly, your new model is completely different, you had the nose wrong, the chin, even hair colour, etc... Then glance again, etc...
        Every single time, you notice that you had it all wrong. And yet you had your own clear picture of the face every time, and could've described it accurately to the police. But it wasn't the real face, and the error comes from not enough error correction of your guesswork.
        So we only guess about what the signals mean, and by adjusting the guesses one with another, you build your interpretation of reality. But this is not science.
        If you've never seen a swan, or an electron, the only thing you can do to know about it's nature is to use reason. This is science. The swan is not white until you have a good explanation about it's colour. (5000 characters would be nice).
      • thumb
        Nov 26 2011: For example, someone seeing the swan at dusk might tell you it's yellow. And there is nothing you can say to contradict him, since it does appear yellow, unless you have an explanation for all this... This is science, the quest for knowledge about the objective reality.

        So once more I'm puzzled. We seem to agree that everything about reality can be studied by science.
        You say that there is possibly more to the world than reality, thus more than can be explained.
        I ask "why should we bother thinking about what isn't real?"
        • thumb
          Nov 28 2011: Well the swan statement this time was almost an allegory, given that most of my response I was using an animal's mind as an example of something that can't be seen or directly experienced in any way. Almost... because it's direct with the point that scientific knowledge to a certain extent must be empirical, but a swan itself is something that can be seen, while the experience of sensing electromagnetic fields as a platypus is something beyond our senses.

          The one point I'd really like to elaborate on is science's limitations in assessing the subjective side of nature. I totally understand that this point is somewhat unconventional in today's culture, at least in scientific circles. The value of consciousness is overall down played, maybe because it's largely misunderstood, but I'd argue it's because our understanding of it is entirely provincial. We experience one consciousness, and that's the experience of being human. This instills something of an inherent prejudgment in all of us, anthropocentrism, much like ethnocentrism but completely unavoidable. To your question, "What isn't real?" I would answer nothing. But to reframe it, "What can never be experienced as reality?" I would start by pointing out every animal mind other than our own. From there, I can point to white blood cells. Very likely a leukocyte has no sense of self... but is a sense of self a necessary aspect of consciousness? You see, what consciousness is, how it varies, what forms it takes is a question only hindered by our only possible sole experience of it.

          It's this inaccessability to the experiences of other life forms that keeps scientific study materialistic. The relationship between the experience of life and its apparent behavior to an outside observor, for our hardened scientific culture at least, has become a one-sided debate. It's anthropocentric prejudgment that skews the way we study psychology, biochemistry, evolution... binary computing influences how we study biomechanics.
        • thumb
          Nov 28 2011: Whether consciousness is the direct product of blind mechanics, or if the behavior of matter is the direct product of conscious intent, is a parochial question that ought to be buried. :) Clearly it's an interwoven dance of both, and research into neuroplasticity has put this into scientific evidence. But both of these opposing ideas about the nature of matter, consciousness and energy still reside at the foundations of two popular paradigms: one being a world completely controlled by a divine being, the other being a world completely controlled by blind mechanics. The core flaw in both of these is an anthropocentric misunderstanding of consciousness.

          I'm sure that we can both agree that consciousness is real, even if we possibly have different views on the idea of free will. Look at your hand. Make a fist. Give yourself a thumbs up. I'm sure we can both agree that consciousness has an influence on matter. Now think about your subconscious. There is a part of your mind, or maybe even a psuedo-mind within you that lies distinct from your sense of self. Don't mistake that I'm suggesting this as a divine being, but note that different kinds of intelligence are utilized by organic mechanisms. This is in the realm of scientific reality, if somewhat beyond our scientific scrutiny. Now think, what other forms of subjective experience does the universe hide? Please don't mistake that I'm hinting at an omniscient creator, without explanation lying separate from the universe. But note that matters of consciousness and it's role in the universe won't be discovered with a microscope. Exploring the self is a matter of spirituality free from religion, but not a matter free from scientific reality. What is God if God is nature, and what is atheism without Judaic dogmas to reject?
      • thumb
        Nov 29 2011: I absolutely agree with you that subjective conscious experiences are not yet understood. Nobody knows what blue looks like to someone else. Or in wider terms what it feels like to be a chimp, a dog, a bee, a worm, a bacterium, a whilte blood cell, and ... so on? Or not?
        How far into simpler organisms does consciousness go? Where do you draw the line between the chemical reaction and the complexe reaction to the environment, such as my hand made into a fist or giving myself a thumbs up in reaction to reading your post?
        So I may ask what it feels like to be an electron. And no one should be able to tell me that it doesn't feel like anything. Unless one believes that consciousness is a result of having a "spirit" or a "soul". Physicists don't believe in souls. So in principle, there shouldn't be anything different, except complexity between an elementary particle's qualia and a highly complexe living organism's qualia.
        We know nothing about these yet.
        And about consciousness : this term is completely useless by now. It's never had a proper definition, and deserves to be abandonned. We need a clean word. For example, one word should express the experience of being human, i.e. of seeing in 3D and in colour, stereophonia, attraction to hairlessness, etc... Another the experience of being a unique person, i.e. feeling what blue looks like.
        Self-awareness, or even awareness is something else. Baboons don't recognize themselves in mirrors, but they recognize their feet as being part of them, and recognize other baboons as being other baboons. And, same thing, you can take this awareness down to worms and molecules, untill it doesn't mean anything in particular anymore.

        So very bad definitions and poor scientific knowledge in these areas.
      • thumb
        Nov 29 2011: So I get what you mean. But I think our different viewpoints are that I believe that everything real can be understood, while you argue ( " But note that matters of consciousness and it's role in the universe won't be discovered with a microscope " ) that parts of what affect reality might be out of scientific reach.
        Well, we have many different viewpoints, and the conversation has got quite complexe. It's getting tricky to stay focused.
        But I'll sum up my ideas, for clarity...

        Science and the scientific method seems to be extremely successful at uncovering our world's mysteries (and creating new ones). Subjective experiences are not understood yet, but are part of physical reality, unless you jump to conclusions such as "souls".
        My atheism is about controling what conclusions we feel like jumping to. Our brains are wired to make such jumps, so the perception of objective reality (or the eternal quest towards it) is hard work.
        Judaic dogmas are an easy target now. It should've been an easy target then. We have a way of detecting jumps to conclusion. So even though we can't explain countless things about reality, atheism is defined as being defiant to shortcuts.
        • thumb
          Nov 29 2011: Ah, but aren't you making a jump that a soul signifies immortality or something beyond nature?

          The interesting thing about Judaic dogmas is that they've changed drastically over the centuries. The idea of the soul hasn't always been tied with immortality... the Sadducees, the sect of Jews in power before the rise of the Pharisees, rejected immortality of the soul all together... they even rejected the existence of angels. They held strictly to the Torah, which never had anything about an afterlife, and the little it had about angels wasn't anything like the Christian representation. (really the few Old Testament references to "angels" were bene elohim, "sons of El" (El Elyon), and these same words and even biblical transcripts have been discovered on Phoenician amulets, describing the gods of their pantheon (we can conclude that the Jews were polytheists once)). The Pharisees began as the Greek common people under the rule of the Sadducees, and were heavily influenced by Greek mythology. It's from them we get the Talmud, the "oral law", which was basically a collection of dogmas adopted from Greek beliefs.

          The soul has always been our inner life, and the idea of spirituality today, our life journey of loving, understanding and feeling a connection to nature, can be free from religion and not at all mutually exclusive with secular humanism. Likewise, regardless of the atrocities committed by religion, many religious scriptures are worth a glance too, because they document the journey of the soul. I'd share more, but I don't want to get too off topic. Simply put, religious scriptures, when studied as the products of human consciousness, become incredibly interesting and insightful.
        • thumb
          Nov 29 2011: Your atheism is about controlling the conclusions you jump to, yet you jump to atheism... ;) I'm just giving you shit. To some up my ideas for clarity, I don't believe that just because something can't be discovered with a microscope means that it can't be understood. Nor do I believe that consciousness lies outside physical reality, nor do I believe the word should be abandoned. Many words fall short of meaning when too deeply analyzed, and "God" and "atheism" are no exceptions. But to get rid of the word would remove it even further from our cultural awareness, and I don't think we'd be better off.

          You asked, where do we draw the line between a chemical reaction, and I'm guessing you mean a response? My question for you is, what is adaptation, a result or a response? What role might some kind of cellular perception play in evolution? Darwin's finches are a good start for a naturalist never exposed to the field of biochemistry, but you'd have a good time explaining how blood clotting and healing mechanisms just happened to appear. Some harmless snakes and sea creatures have markings to look like more dangerous species. I'd hate to use the word design because it implies a designer, but I'd hope we could lend life some credibility to design itself. Nature is the mysterious mother of life, and I fail to see how man referring to a mother Goddess or father Spirit over the centuries differs from scientists acknowledging mother Nature.
      • thumb
        Nov 29 2011: Religious scriptures, let's say mythologies in general, are incredibly interesting. The Old Testament is a treasure, and no sane atheist would think otherwise.
        It might be off topic, but you seem very cultivated and I enjoy learning from you.

        Did I jump to the conclusion that the soul was supernatural? Or was I relying on the common definition we have of the term? Your idea of soul looks like my idea of psyche, the emergent phenomenum of human neural computation.

        About Mother Nature... It is always tempting to marvel at the problem-solving genius of evolution. It's tempting to speak of creativity, or intelligent design. Some imagine a supernatural omnipotent creator, some locate the magic inside the building blocks of all living things, or some in everything in the universe. I think this is what many New Age adepts mean by "quantum level conscience"...
        But again, I refrain from jumping to such conclusions, and as I try to do when I see close-up magic, I look for the trick.
        From what I know about biology, there is no room and no need for magic. Variation is well understood by genetics, so one would expect a snake to have a slight variation in the colour of its offspring, for example. And if one of these variations causes one of the snakes to look vaguely like a poisonous one, then not only will it have a better chance of survival, but it would have less energy wasted of flight and could concentrate on reproduction, for instance. Or it might find itself able to access otherwise dangerous food ressources. In any case, it would have an advantage over its rivals. And he would transfer this advantage down to its offspring. And one of its descendant might have an even better colour or patern, that would fool the predators even more. This goes on and on. When it looks just like the poisonous one, it stays that way, because the unlucky variations are selected out.
      • thumb
        Nov 29 2011: The snake's DNA does not have creativity. It's made of genes that stick together so long as it causes them to replicate. If they fail, it's the end of them and the information they hold. Variation due to error in replication that does cause the genes to be replicated is selected.
        So you may argue that human creativity works the same way, trial and error. And I would agree. But I'd also specify that there is nothing creative about a single neuron, or about a single gene, nor is there anything about them that explains design.
        You need to consider an entire brain and the whole of evolution to understand how solutions are found.

        You've asked me a question, let me see if I've answered. "My question for you is, what is adaptation, a result or a response? What role might some kind of cellular perception play in evolution"

        Adaptation is a result, according to my understanding of it. It occurs at the gene level and it's only about either being successful at replicating or not.
        As for the role of cellular perception, I'm not sure I get what you mean. Define perception, as I would otherwise say that when I burn a cell it is perceiving the flame and burning in response.
        • thumb
          Dec 7 2011: This is a very interesting thread in this discussion and I should thank you both for continuing it with such depth and civility. I wish I had the time to participate but its a good read nonetheless.
  • thumb
    Nov 8 2011: Well, true lack of belief would be agnosticism. Atheism is the belief that there are no gods.
    • thumb
      Nov 8 2011: it is your definition, but in fact there are many.
      • thumb
        Nov 8 2011: ...such as?
        • thumb
          Nov 8 2011: Herein lies the problem, were assigning words to non-existent belief systems. Atheism is not a belief system. As I mentioned earlier it is simply a lack of something. That's why I don't think that we should use it as a term. We don't describe people by what they are not.

          Also, the term has such a negative connotation, part based in it's etymological roots, part in its anthropological, that it becomes difficult to discuss viewpoints when your automatically targeted as something negative.

          Would you go on a dating website and write "I don’t have blond hair, I'm not 5’ 8’’ nor 5’ 6’’, rather than I'm 5’ 7”?
        • thumb
          Nov 8 2011: tough call. lemme see. wikipedia, atheism article, first paragraph:

          "Atheism is, in a broad sense, the rejection of belief in the existence of deities. In a narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities. Most inclusively, atheism is simply the absence of belief that any deities exist."

          hm. that was easy, after all. do you know wikipedia? kinda cool stuff.
      • thumb
        Nov 8 2011: Definition 1 depends on definition 2, and definition 3 is inconsistent with the anatomy of the word. I'm familiar with wikipedia and what it takes to qualify as an author.
  • thumb

    E G

    • 0
    Nov 29 2011: Peter:
    (I hope you'll see my comment )

    I just don't understand your so strong attitude against evolution .
  • Nov 28 2011: Being an A-theist is that belief that there is no God. This is equivalent to the belief that there is a God, or gods. It i a belief in the lack of existence of God.
  • thumb
    Nov 25 2011: When someone asks me, "Are you an atheist?" I sometimes answer, "What's an atheist?" I always get the explanation "Someone who doesn't believe in God." I may respond that I only use gods for social and entertainment purposes, and sometimes actually like this, for engaging in fun but fruitless discussions. I've become familiar with a lot of gods, and with a Scandinavian background I should probably choose Odin, Thor, and that lot if I had to pick a favorite. But believe in them?? That they have some actual existence beyond the stories? Are we in the 11th century or the 21st?

    No, no, they didn't mean those kinds of gods. Those are false, as we all know. (Yes, I knew that.) They mean the true god, the one decent people believe in. The one that was angry, vengeful, and jealous in the Old Testament but became a god of love in the New Testament. (Loving, though he still keeps an eternal fire going for such as myself.) If I don't believe in the reality of That One, the current one, then I'm an a-theist, they tell me.

    Call me what you like, I say. I'm not a boxing fan. Call me an "a-boxingfan." I'm not in the habit of defining myself with reference to gods, or to boxing, or any other amusement. And somehow I'm able to live with that millstone.
    "A-theist"!! The idea!

    An "a-liver-eater." No, an "a-rap-listener." No, no, make that "a-bearded." (At the moment.)
  • thumb

    E G

    • 0
    Nov 22 2011: To the theists :
    don't do the wrong I did : to think that athiesm means to claim that God don't exist , athiesm means to believe/think that God don't exist due to many many things : the lack of rational proofs about God existence , the behaviour of many 'theists' , the irationality of dogmas sometimes and so on.......... but I still don't think there is rational to be athiest .
    • thumb
      Nov 22 2011: Hi Eduard

      "atheism |ˈāθēˌizəm|
      the theory or belief that God does not exist."

      MAC Dictionary

      You weren't so far wrong.

      • Nov 22 2011: Weird, my mac's dictionary says:

        atheism |ˈāTHēˌizəm|
        disbelief in the existence of God or gods.

        But there is a reason: lack of any evidence. Show me evidence, I might change my stance. So far all quackery, fallacies, and straw-man of scientific findings. That won't work.
        • thumb
          Nov 23 2011: Your Mac is probably smarter than mine Gabo.

          When you dub all the witnesses as "Quacks", it is difficult to get a fair trial. But I'll keep trying, we could have a ball in eternity !

        • thumb
          Nov 23 2011: Dear Peter,
          How are you and Gabo going to "have a ball in eternity"?

          According to you, you will be in heaven with god, because you embraced the "right" belief, and poor Gabo, according to your teachings, will be in hell, because he chooses not to believe in a god!!! Hardly seems fair to seperate you you think? Maybe your plan is to convert Gabo before you both leave the earth school?
        • thumb
          Nov 24 2011: Hi Colleen

          Hope springs eternal. I think Gabo is a long term contract; but you never know.

          I'd love to have you all there; people are my passion!

        • W T

          • 0
          Dec 3 2011: I have read along this thread and I'm stepping in to share my point of view:

          Many people claim that science disproves the Bible's account of creation. However, the real contradiciton is not between science and the Bible, but between science and the opinions of Christian Fundamentalists. Some of these groups falsely assert that according to the Bible, all physical creation was produced in six 24-hour days approximately 10,000 years ago.

          The Bible, however, does not support such a conclusion. If it did, then many scientific discoveries over the past one hundred years would indeed discredit the Bible. A careful study of the Bible text reveals no conflict with established scientific facts. For that reason, my befiefs disagree with Christian Fundamentalists and many creationists. While the Bible is not a book on science; when it touches on the subject, it is scientifically correct.

          I wholeheartedly feel that "That which does not satisfy the mind, cannot satisfy the heart". We must use our power of reason to come to truth about God. I don't think he would want it any other way.

          In order to learn about God you have to go to the book that says of itself that it is inspired by him. Reading the Bible is the first step, but to really learn, you need to study it. I do not think you have any kind of authority to speak for or against the Creator or anything related to his inspired word, otherwise. It is absurd to argue about something you know nothing about, or to even call yourself an atheist, what an ugly word...
          .Why not get a copy of the Bible....for the library, or on-line. Then, start asking questions about what you read to people of different christian faiths. Don't you think sooner or later you would be smart enough to figure out which religion is teaching the truth about the God of the Bible, and which ones are not.

          I'll end with a quote:

          "We're all theologians. The question is whether what we know about God is true."
          (J. Harris)
      • thumb
        Nov 23 2011: Semantics I see?

        Well I can say that Peter's definition is nearly inaccurate.

        I must have missed the memo but I do not remember atheism ever being a theory.
      • thumb

        E G

        • 0
        Nov 24 2011: Peter:

        we have to recognize that all I said about theism (the irrationalities of dogmas sometimes ....) happen and this create more disbelief in god than another belief and this simply because the people loose their interest about religion perhaps.
        the irrationality of atheism stays in something else , I'll write a comment about it and if you want to read it... .
        • thumb
          Nov 25 2011: Hi Eduard

          I agree that the church can be full of dogma & irrationality which puts people off. Added to this we have thousands of different 'religions' and hundreds of "christian" denominations. My contention is that all this is a spiritual smokescreen designed to keep people from bothering to investigate. It is only smoke however. Jesus promised that those who truly seek the truth will find him.

          I certainly worried about the myriad of beliefs out there, but when I got down to really searching there was really only one path with any credibility. The Christian denominations are only representative of committees disagreeing on detail; my experience is that there are Christians everywhere, & they are not difficult to spot.

          What do you think ?

      • thumb

        E G

        • 0
        Nov 24 2011: Gabo said (and not only him here ) : ''but there is a reason:lack of evidence'' (about God existence) .

        I don't think this is a reason.
        God is like the thing in itself and therefore He is out of the reason's power of action ( I use Kant's language) , the reason is useful just for understanding the phenomenal world . We can't undestand God reasonable , all we can understand are only His manifestations ( and even this maifestations can't be understood by us fully. )
        So I guess that by 'lack of evidence' the atheists mean 'lack of God's manifestation' , I'd be very curious to know what the atheist except at . But the problem is that even if you have a manifestation of God you need to believe that it is a manifestation of God , if you don't wanna believe that a certain thing is GodM there is no hope , if you ask yourself : 'why to do that?' , you shouldn't (it's irational : remember the difference between the world of thing in itself and the phenomenal world ) if you don't really mean by evidence to see God Himself .
        That's what I mean by atheism going usually with materialism : to ask always yourself : ' why to do that? '.

        God= what is understood by the concept of God , it's not about a specific God.
        • Nov 24 2011: Eduard,

          Of course lack of evidence is reason. But that's very simplistic. It's more than that. It is evident that we humans have invented gods at least as many times as cultures exist. Thus, the concept of a god cannot easily be trusted to come from an understanding of some real thing, whether material or not. It looks a lot as if invented. Thus, couple those two: lack of evidence, and the undeniable talent of humans to give anthropomorphic agency to nature, and you get a recipe for disbelief. I don't know about every atheist, but with me you fail to see that to you it starts with a god as a reality out there. To me, there has to be some logical pathway towards a god (this might not be too clear, but I don't know how else to put it). Otherwise, as far and as beautifully as you might put this god, it will be just another storm god (to steal Fred's words), only the storm is a tad bigger.

          It is very reasonable not to believe. Believing requires a leap of something that you might not notice from where you stand, but it is quite clear from here. You start by asking the possibility for a god with capital "G." You don't seem to ask where did you get the god idea from in the first place. I do.

      • Nov 24 2011: Pete,

        Not all the "witnesses" are quacks. But most copy the misinformation produced by the quacks. Fairness is not about giving everything equal weight. It is about giving each thing its proper weight. So, for example, I will not give equal weight to deformed science over well thought and carefully interpreted science. The media, for another example, is confused about what fairness means, and they put quacks next to scientists as if their opinions in matters of science were equally valid. That's far from fair, and it's close to fraud, because It deceives the public into the false impression that both are equal. It is giving the quacks an unfair position. It is as if I gave the students who never came to class, who did not work, who did not learn anything, an A+, despite their difference to students who worked hard to learn the stuff. The good students would not perceive that as fair, and they would be right.

        Anyway ...

        • thumb
          Nov 25 2011: Hey Gabo

          I love these debates on this subject. I don't see your point about unfairness though. If we have two guys with (say) a PhD in biology each; one believes evolution, the other believes creation. They are given equal time etc in a neutral venue. They debate & cross examine. What's unfair about that ?

          Sometimes one will be a better orator, but that can be on either side. I think it is great; both sides are aired, & now & again someone might learn something. I would advise watching a few.

      • thumb

        E G

        • 0
        Nov 25 2011: Peter:

        You are right : that's what I think ; why do you think that atheism is more a belief than a disbelief? because I don't think so .
        • thumb
          Nov 26 2011: Hi Eduard

          I guess you are right in that atheism could be considered a disbelief Where the belief may come in is with evolution etc. Folks don't usually just disbelieve; they have an alternative belief system to take the place of God. Materialism in general, & often Darwinism in one of it's forms.
          So it probably is a bit different from atheist to atheist whether they have a belief, or a disbelief.

      • thumb

        E G

        • 0
        Nov 25 2011: Gabo:

        I don't think you can prove that the concept of God has been invented , you said that it is evident that we invented gods at least as many times as cultures exist, that isn't possible because what a culture can leave us heritage are some ideas about gods (it's like a descriptions but never a description is the real thing) , they can't invent God, all you can say I guess is that everything ends here (at a description) , but that's not true (in fact that antrophomorphic agency it's not mroe than a description) ; you also said that you know where my conceptions of God comes from , you can't, and I tell you frankly why:
        -that's true: I was educated to believe in god but I don't believe in him because of that : because of the doctrine I grew up with , if everything had been resumed to that now I would be the most 'atheist' but there is something else what I didn't get from education (it is impossible to be got from education) , it's an intuition (not some abstract knowledge=a belief , not anything else ) , and tell me how can I have (and not only I , I know some other people , they aren't too many , that's true) an intuition , and how this intuition grow in intensity if the real thing/the intuited one don't exist? My beliefs evolve , they maybe don't have that logical riguros concistency now (some of them) , they perhaps won't be so in the future .... , it doesn't prove God don't exist.
        And something else very important : this intuition I have (it's exprimation in words is not complete and depends on my/ours ability to reason ) is the same at the real theists , it can be proved historically and in a scientific way .

        ''To me , there has to be some logical pathway towards a god...'' what I described is a logical pathway even though it starts with 'to believe' ;( and suppose for a second that God=(like the thing in itself) is real : isn't that irrational to think that you can go towards God through reason ?)
        • Nov 26 2011: Eduard,

          I did not say that I can prove that the concept of god was invented, but that we can easily show that gods have been invented in every culture. This is for sure. Do you need a list of gods for starters? It thus seems reasonable to think that the concept comes from the anthropomorphizing of whatever mysteries or frightening things found in nature or imagined beyond. I can't rule out that some real god(s) presented themselves to some ancient culture, or that some real god(s) communicate for real to you and Pete. But that's another issue. What I am saying is that there is real evidence that cultures invent gods, and that it is thus very reasonable to infer that all concepts of god(s) come and evolve from that.

          I did not say that I know where you got the concept from either. I said that you don't seem to think where that concept could have come from while I do. Since you say that it is impossible for cultures to invent "God," seems like my guess is correct. You really have not thought about how cultures invent gods, and how you can go from gods of thunder to "God." I see paths very clearly. Since what I see is reasonable (all cultures invent gods out of anthropomorphizing natural phenomena, then some of today's "thinkers" go beyond the mysteries of mysteries and deify them too, which is no different to deifying thunder), it is thus reasonable to conclude that gods are imaginary. Couple that with lack of evidence for the actual existence of gods. Couple that to the irrationality of holding to Noah's flood and instant creation by denying and shielding yourself against understanding the proper science. I can't but conclude that gods are imaginary.

          How come you have this intuition? Wishful thinking? Subconscious holding to a cherished belief? I have had intuition about many false things. Why would your intuitions be better than mine?

          Note that my point is about atheism being reasonable. It is. Intuition is not reason, is it?

      • thumb

        E G

        • 0
        Nov 26 2011: And something else: form how you said that the process of becaoming atheist start: 'because of the contradictons found ...' everything says me more that you (and the atheists usually) adopt the idea that God was invented only after you become atheist : now all you do is to put it in the first place and to draw conclusions from it , this is fallacious and a cyclical way of thinking which goes nowhere .

        I hope you'll read my comments....
        ......Best (too) and frankly : be careful .
        • Nov 26 2011: Be careful about what? You misunderstood what I said. Let's both be careful. You said that atheism was not reasonable. I told you why it is. You thought I said I know where you got your concept from, but I did not say that (I said you did not ***seem*** to question where you got the idea from). Yet, you say you got it from your education and later intuition. None of those are reasons to conclude that atheism is not reasonable,

          We can't start with atheism to later "adopt" the idea that gods, or "God," were invented. That is illogical. Maybe investigating the many reasons why gods would be invented can come after becoming an atheist. But atheism itself implies that, to the person, gods are invented. You have to "adopt" the idea to become an atheist. It is part of the definition. You can't be an atheist and adopt the idea later. I think you should take your own advice and be careful.

      • Nov 26 2011: Pete,

        If two PhDs in biology, one believes in evolution and the other believes creation, then they are both on equal footing. But if one understands and thus accepts evolution, while the other paints cartoons, or builds straw-man, of evolution, then they are not equal. One holds to knowledge the other to quackery. It is unfair to put them together in a forum and give the impression that they both are at the same level.

        I have listened to many of your quacks Pete. They build straw-men of evolution and of every other science. They misinform, misrepresent, and twist scientific disciplines and methods to play rhetorical games. They can be quite good at it. Long ago I listened to them with hope Pete. But, since I was starting to understand the science, I could see the quackery for what it was, just as clearly as I could see the sun. Today I also have a more formal understanding of fallacies and about how rhetoric works. Thus, I see what they will be about from the opening sentences. So far they are scum.

      • thumb

        E G

        • 0
        Nov 29 2011: Gabo:

        I don't need that list and I see that paths too .
        Yes: gods have been invented in every culture , about that gods I'm an atheist as you are and I think that to believe in them is irrational as you do; and also yes : the concept of god(s) could have been evolving from there , but as I said I'm not the believer in that gods .
        I talk about God with a different meaning , is what the cultures couldn't invent (I think that to believe in God is to believe in God : it's part of the 'definiton' of God to not be invented); I argue about that thing who the cultures never invented , and I say that is irrational to be an atheist in relation to Him .
        How does seem now my first argument ?
        And also yes (as I said): the single way to know Him is by intuition , by direct relation , you don't have it , you talk about nothing . This relation/intuiton starts with 'to believe' , why this ? it's easy explainable.

        You see that paths , very well, I see that paths too , therefore I know where my concept of God comes from : it's very clear for me : not by walking on that paths (and I didn' say i have my concept of God from education).

        You perhaps remember of that 'cumbersome excuses' , I tried an explanaiton , that was very imperfect , it was a wrong from me to try to give one to an atheist.

        Summarizing : the single way to know God is by intuition: this is what implies the 'definiton' of God and this, couple with my first argument makes theism very rational and atheism very irrational .Your excuse then to reject my argument that the lack of evidence it's not an argument for not believeing don't have a real basis , not for what I'm talking about (in the best case you don't know anything about God ).
        - About that gods we shouldn't have a different opinion .

        You are right in your last pharagraph .

        Best .
  • thumb

    E G

    • 0
    Nov 22 2011: Maybe behind being an atheist is nothing , and that's true , as you said the atheists don't believe in God's exsitence and it's not a belief system (they dont have proofs and they don't see why to believe in God.........), but behind the word theist is something , it automatically means a belief , here is the problem : this words (atheist and theist) seems to be at the opposite poles , is in our mind ability to judge through analogies / comparations ......... .
  • thumb
    Nov 21 2011: The point is often made that A-Theism is as much a religion as A-Stamp Collecting is a hobby. I have a certain sympathy with this point of view. Where the religion comes in is with naturalism; ie the belief that nothing exists which is non-material. That implies a confidence & trust in a dogma which is non-verifiable. So just as a Christian (eg) may put their trust in God, the materialist puts their trust in material.
    So if a person is atheist AND materialist; and the two usually go together; then that is a belief system, or religion if you like. A positive confidence that a condition is true, although ultimately it is un-verifiable.
    I think the term Atheist is as good as any, unless you are an Atheist who accepts nevertheless that there may be a spiritual realm.

    • Nov 21 2011: Hey Pete,

      Nice to see you. Sad to note that you engage in this "put their faith on" rhetoric.

      I don't put my faith on materialism, I don't put my faith in naturalism. I just don't easily accept whatever people propose as existing with no evidence. Let alone if you then claim that there's "evidence," but you have to twist and contort at every evidence of contradictions within your "evidence," and without (as in nature and science showing that things happened in a completely different way than your "evidence" suggests). If I had to do that much to trust any "evidence," and it supposedly backed proposition, I would just start from scratch. Rather say I have no idea than accept such a hyper-twisted thing.

      I don't see how that makes me "religious." It is as if because you don't accept science as it works, but pick and choose, I would then call you a scientist. Your having a position about science, whichever position it might be, does not make you a scientist, does it?

      • thumb
        Nov 22 2011: Hey Gabo

        I Agree that I am not a scientist; not in your league anyway. However I can process the logic that scientists come up with and make a decision on whether it seems logical. Many scientists down through the ages have made tremendous gaffs, so they are not infallible. When I run the evolution stuff through my sieve I foresee a gaff which is being revealed daily.

        When you do the same you come up with a truth that you are willing to accept. That is fair enough, but to me both our positions are faith positions, as empirical science is insufficient for historical events.

        I have asked you this before without success..... I was watching an old John Wayne movie at the weekend. You know, out in the Badlands. One of the many craggy features of the landscape was a column of sedimentary layers about 200ft tall, & 50ft or so square, although tapering towards the top. This is a typical formation. How was it formed; in your opinion ? You should have an opinion; after all I have an opinion about everything remotely looking like a jigsaw piece from the overall plan.

        • Nov 22 2011: Pete,

          You are missing the point. The point being that atheism is not a faith position just as your positions for or against some aspects of science don't make you a scientist. That was it.

          I don't see how my acceptance of evolution is faith. You start with your bible, and deny whatever might seem to conflict with it on the basis if the quackery you have managed to read/listen/whatever. I just see the data, all corroborating the evolution scenario, I accept it. I have nothing in my life conflicting with anything. Should the evidence show a very young earth, then I might be inclined for a young earth. The difference is that I am committed to the evidence, you to the bible. Siding with the evidence is not faith. Siding with an old book of stories is. The only reason you don't find conflicts with the bible is because you don't want to find it. But there's plenty.

          Those formations? I told you. I am no expert on that, but geologists say wInd erosion. Since I am no expert, I accept their verdict. Is this faith? Nope. I accept it because when I read it so long ago, it was reasonable. I don't remember a lot of it, but it did. I can change my mind about that, of course. Only it will take evidence. But books of mythology? Nope.

          Now, let us take it further. I am no expert, thus you could say: it was Noah's flood! I would say that the fields I study show no evidence of any global flood. Thus, your hypothesis fails from what I do know. Why should I accept it in such other field it is already makes no sense in my field?

          I hope that was clear.

      • thumb
        Nov 23 2011: Hi Gabo

        I didn't initially begin with the bible, I began with evolution.

        Think about the pillar Gabo. Never mind the experts for a minute, just think for yourself.

        We have a column of water deposited (the experts would agree) layers a couple of hundred feet thick. This would be laid down over a period of time, during which time the land was either under water, or periodically under water. I don't think anyone would disagree with that.

        Then comes the tricky bit; we have to remove all the surrounding material & leave the pillar standing. There are really only two hypothesis.

        1. The land, which was underwater, rose up, & the water rushed away, taking large amounts of the sedimentary layers with it. But conceivably leaving our column.

        2. For some reason the water stopped laying down layers, the whole thing dried out, and strong winds removed most of the layers but left our pillar. Presumably this is the line the experts will take?

        I can't for the life of me see why the pillar would be left by scenario 2. This would surely take many years to accomplish, but there is no serious erosion of the pillar, or the vertical faces of surrounding up-stands. There is debris at the bottom of the pillar indicating that it has been crumbling for a short time. Note the debris has not yet been blown away.

        My contention is that if wind were responsible then the pillar would have been removed with the rest of the earth. It would not have been left as a fragile edifice which will undoubtedly be eroded to nothing over the next thousand years or so.

        The pillar is good in that neither of us are experts; but neither do we need to be. My quacks haven't really cottoned on to it yet; I just wondered myself. Do you really believe wind did it. If you can link any of your experts on this I would be interested, but it's a hard one to nail down.

        • thumb
          Nov 23 2011: Oh Peter...that's interesting that you advise to "just think for yourself"?.

          In another comment on this thread, you write...
          "It works just great; but we have to play by His rules; folk don't like that".

          Are we really thinking for our "self" when we play by someone else's rules?
          My perception is that playing by someone else's rules, causes us to give up our own "thinking".

          Although I don't like any labels, my perception, is that those who call themselves Atheists, simply are choosing to play by their own rules:>)
        • Nov 24 2011: Pete,

          Nope, you did not start with evolution. You might have known about something that sounded like evolution, but it was not evolution. You give me some very wrong cartoons. Thus that is not where you started. Also, the evidence is conclusive. You start with the bible. You will twist and contort farther than the normal breaking points for anybody else before accepting that your bible is wrong. I have been witness. No field of science indicating an old earth can be right. No fossil exists if it points to the evolution of any life-forms. Information means whatever creationist quacks prefer before accepting that energy plus natural laws can do the trick ... et cetera.

          Anyway. The pillar. I don't see "for the life of me" why the pillars would be "left alone" by something so much more powerful than wind such as water, while wind would not "leave them alone."

          Anyway, I might try and find a link. But, again. I see no point. If, again, and again, the flood looks ridiculous when "explaining" things I perfectly understand, why would I even entertain the idea of a global flood for those pillars? The most you could expect it to convince me that there was a flood right there. That if some caveats could be solved. How quickly the deposition of the layers? These layers have mixes and mismatches of different materials. Some have gross particles, some fine particles, mixed. Not ordered in a way that would make sense in a single go ... et cetera ...

          But will find you a link sometime ...

        • Nov 24 2011: Colleen,

          Since I am rather harsh to others. I welcome your harshness. But here I answer: I did not choose to play by my own rules. I did not choose for there not to be any evidence for gods. You might say that it is my choice not to believe without evidence. But far from my own rule. It just makes sense. That's how my brain works. Give me evidence, I will consider it. Give me cartoons of science. I will not. Give me a mystery. Nice, let us work it out. But because we can't work it out there is gods? Well, that won't fly.

          Maybe that's "my own rule" that I won't buy into believing without evidence. Then, science kills most believed gods (such as Peter's), and leave's only gods that encompass wider mysteries, but still look completely made up (there is no logical path towards them), as poetic as they might sound. So, given the irrationality of the former, and the no-logical-path for the latter. I don't believe. So, knowledge was what made it for me. Is it my own rule? Here I am lost in the semantics. I don't think so. But maybe to a point.

      • thumb
        Nov 24 2011: Sorry Gabo...didn't mean to be harsh...just realistic:>) I respect your beliefs, and percieved myself to be supporting them:>) Seems like you are arguing with me???? I'm not arguing with you...simply supporting you in your argument:>)
        • Nov 24 2011: Thanks Colleen. No, I was not arguing with you. I know, I am an arguer, but with you it was more like trying to think together if my disbelief was about my own rules ... Seems like a "yes and no." :)
      • thumb
        Nov 24 2011: Hi Colleen

        I guess everyone imagines that they are playing by their own rules. We all like to believe we are free thinkers, but life conspires to pressurise us. While on this site, I feel that I am very un-cool for believing in God. In church it seems natural. It is hard to ignore peer pressure.

        I have chosen to fall into line with who I believe created the universe. And let's face it, if you are going to bow to peer-pressure, then God is the ultimate peer. That is my free choice & it frees me from all other peers (to an extent). I still have the choice to turn away; but why?

        Sure Atheists are free to chose as well; as are you. It's a great system.

        • thumb
          Nov 24 2011: Peter,
          I do not percieve you as being "un-cool" for believing in a god. I percieve the "un-cool" part as your insistance that YOUR belief and YOUR god are the one and only, and if one does not embrace YOUR beliefs, they just are not good enough, and will spend an eternity in hell.

          You are welcome and encouraged to "fall in line" with whomever you is always a choice. You have also stated over and over again on TED that you are trying to convert all of us to your beliefs. I'm percieving that you feel you are better than others because you know what is "right", and you know what is "wrong". You often mold your beliefs around facts to "prove" your "rightness". That is the "un-cool" part of your dialogue Peter.

          Those beliefs have only served to seperate people throughout history, rather than unite, and I do not agree with anything that continues to seperate us as human beings in this life journey. If you feel you have to "bow to peer pressure" Peter, that is unfortunate, and it is a choice YOU you say. It doesn't mean YOUR choice is "right", or better than anyone else's choice. To make our own choices IS great, and I think it's important to respect each other's choices. What religion or philosophical belief we embrace is not as important as how we live our lives. For me, accepting each other and individual beliefs is a choice I make, so I don't feel "un-cool" in dialogues with many different people:>)

          With the greatest respect for you and your beliefs, and not much respect for your attempt to convert:>)
      • thumb
        Nov 24 2011: Hi Gabo

        "The pillar. I don't see "for the life of me" why the pillars would be "left alone" by something so much more powerful than wind such as water, while wind would not "leave them alone.""

        Have you ever played with a hosepipe in a sandpit ? You can carve the sand into many weird shapes, If you just empty a bucket of water in there, you get similar results. A lot of water, over a short time frame will do the job.

        A short time frame is not an option with wind. It is a long slow process. It leaves no jagged edges, everything gets rounded off, & smoothed out. We also have to wonder why, after millions of years of layer deposition, it should stop & reverse the procedure by blowing them all away again.

        Some nice pictures.

        Don't worry about links; what is your best guess, just based on common sense ?

        • Nov 24 2011: Those photos are great Pete.

          I have played with water and sand. Sure thing. But the "formations" you talk about are smallish. They tend to be much wider at the bottom, and collapse under their own weight, as you "scale up" until they don't form anymore. I would imagine that for those formations you have to have had some uneven solidification before removing the rest. I would bet that water would not leave such things. My best bet would be wind for those tall columns. ;)

          (I was just thinking aloud. I remember geology being a lot of fun.)

          EDIT: Browsing around I found lots of sandstone cliffs eroded by periodic floods. They look amazing. Anyway, the shapes are not like those thin tall columns at all ... interesting stuff.
      • thumb
        Nov 25 2011: I guess the layers would be somewhat hardened, depending on how long they had been compacting.
        My guess is that wind would give you the Sahara (There's a joke in there somewhere); lots of dunes, but no spikey bits.

        At least we are in agreement about the pictures being cool.

      • thumb
        Nov 25 2011: Dear Gabo,
        I cannot get this response near your comment that I am replying to, so here it is...
        "Thanks Colleen. No, I was not arguing with you. I know, I am an arguer, but with you it was more like trying to think together if my disbelief was about my own rules ... Seems like a "yes and no." :) "

        I LIKE the idea "to think together", and I LOVE the idea of an answer being "yes and no"....that is PERFECTLY "right"!!! LOL:>)

        I just read your comment above..."I guess the layers would be somewhat hardened, depending on how long they had been compacting"
        I realize you were talking about sand and rock formations, and also... how appropriate the comment is regarding some of the comments on this thread...interesting:>)
      • thumb
        Nov 27 2011: Hi Colleen

        {I percieve the "un-cool" part as your insistance that YOUR belief and YOUR god are the one and only, and if one does not embrace YOUR beliefs, they just are not good enough, and will spend an eternity in hell. }
        My dear Colleen; whatever gave you the impression that I think I am better than you? If we were both driving down the highway, & I came to a place where the bridge was out & narrowly escaped death. If I retraced my steps & tried to wave you down, would that make me better than you? I don't think so.
        God has said that he doesn't call the righteous, but the sinners to repentance. I know for a fact that I am a sinner; no mistake. There is nothing in me that is better than you. The bridge may not be out, I may be mistaken, but I warn you from sincerity, out of love for my fellow wo/man. (You, in this instance)

        I would love for folks to accept Jesus. However generally in this forum all I am trying to do is to take a second look at what they believe. eg. my pillar of layers above. I really want to know what series of events folks think may have produced such an effect. Mainstream science seems strangely silent.

        • Nov 27 2011: That's false Pete, mainstream science has answers to those pillars questions. I feel awkward reminding you, because the first time you asked me I answered that I remembered vaguely that they were formed by wind erosion, and you said that's what you heard too--from mainstream science I assume--though you prefer to think it was Noah's flood, as with everything else.

          As I said, browsing around I found other formations made by flooding, which I thought you would go immediately and find and be all exited about. But those columns? Wind. I learned that a very long time ago. As I said, I am no geologist. I know of one geologist, but you did not like her style. Otherwise you would have an answer to those pillars, and other questions about sandstones that you rather prefer to keep believing as coming from Noah's flood.

        • thumb
          Nov 28 2011: My Dear Peter,
          You ask..."whatever gave you the impression that I think I am better than you?"
          Two years of seeing your same message in pages of dialogue on TED. has given me this impression Peter. I realize that TED has removed a lot of your comments for being off topic, as we are again right now. It is very clear that you would like everyone to accept your beliefs Peter, and your beliefs are not always the topic. We KNOW you "would love for folks to accept Jesus", but that is not the topic of discussion here, nor has it been the topic many times when you hyjack sites to spread the word of your beliefs.

          Regarding your comment..."Mainstream science seems strangely silent".
          Peter, science is not at all "strangely silent" You are simply not listening, and you seem to be stuck in your righteousness.
      • thumb
        Nov 28 2011: Well Gabo

        Wind erosion is only part of the answer.

        It is accepted I think that the layers were laid down by water. South Dakota seems to be between 2 & 5 thousand feet in elevation above sea level.
        1. So did the sea overwhelm the state once, or many times?
        2. What is the mechanism for that ?
        3. Once all the layers were there; why did the sea cease to overwhelm the state?
        4. Given that our pillar is made of the same layers as the surrounding countryside; why would it be left standing & not leveled by wind erosion ?
        5. Where is all the sand ?

        Agreed there is wind erosion taking place now which has a certain sculpting effect, but if wind erosion is responsible for my pillar, then it is also responsible for the Grand Canyon. Not a widely held view.

        • Nov 28 2011: You are missing the point, the point being that mainstream science has not be silent about those pillars at all.

          If you ask what is responsible for those specific pillars, wind erosion is a complete answer. That you might have other questions is ... another question.

          Perhaps the only pertinent to how those pillars is number 4, for which I would say that maybe not all the sandstone is uniformly "stonified."

          Your last part got me seriously perplexed: How exactly do you go from "wind is responsible for these pillars" to "wind is responsible for the grand canyon"? I can't see the connection. Please explain very clearly, because it looks awfully like a non-sequitur.
      • thumb
        Nov 28 2011: Hi Gabo
        The pillars of the badlands are very similar to the formations in & around the Grand Canyon. See links :-

        The canyon is believed to have been formed by water by both sides of the debate. Certainly the ratio of land removed to land retained is a bit different, but the formations are similar.

        Do you not have an opinion on my 5-points ? All are required to form my pillar, so an explanation of the pillar would require answers. Go on; give it a try.

        • Nov 30 2011: Pete,

          It does seem like we are hijacking the thread into geology, and this will be the last from me on this topic over here. Maybe if there is another thread (once I got tons of nice comments deleted because of this off-topic thing, and it feels awful).

          So, it is nonsense to think that because some formations were eroded by wind, thus every formation has to have been eroded by wind.

          Some of your questions are answered by plate tectonics.

          Some formations in South Dakota's badlands are wind eroded, other formations are water eroded, and I have no problems with either. The photos you posted that are similar to those at the grand canyon were described as water-eroded at some badlands tourism web-site. While the weird, thin, columns, as far as I remember, were wind-eroded. But there are others I had forgotten, by the ocean-shore, that look spectacular, and just as weird, except that the materials are different (the ones I saw mixture of metamorphic and volcanic rock, rather than sandstone). Also due to differences in hardness of the rock, different materials, and how the water splashes on it.

          It is to be expected that some sandstone will be more solid than other sandstone.

          Now that Frans mentions it, yes, rocks on top can produce such effects. We did some experiments in geology (I did not remember about that). But that is not the only explanation.

          Also, big area maps show where the sand produced by the erosion has accumulated. Consistent with how the wind/water flows.

          Quite often I will not know anything about something. I am only me. However, that I might not know something does not mean that "mainstream science" has been "strangely silent" about it.

          I will always side with geologists on this, just as I will always side with scientists on anything I don't know. Creationist quacks ***openly*** and ***unashamedly*** deform and lie about the fields of science that I know, why should I think they don't deform any other science?

      • thumb
        Nov 28 2011: Hi Colleen

        You are the one who is always bringing up my beliefs. Gabo & I were discussing rock formations; which is also off-topic. However the whole concept of Atheism is dependent upon the non-existance of God, so maybe our theological differences are more on-topic than Gabo & I talking geology.

        If you think I've hijacked the discussion, then start another thread.

        Awe heck, who cares, it's good fun.

        • thumb
          Nov 28 2011: "I think you are getting confused by materialist. A materialist can be a greedy person who likes to accumulate material possessions. However in the scientific world a materialist is someone who does not believe in anything which has no atoms; ie everything in the universe is material, there is nothing else; no spiritual dimension."

          Well thanks for pointing that out although I must say that I already understood the distinction but it is usually thought (at least from my personal experience) that scientist who materialist(in the scientific sense) are also those who value other physical, material things (in the economic sense) because that is all that exist (or they think exist). I do not think this makes sense and since I did not talk to you until your reply I thought I'd just address that point (which is also why I brought up quantum mechanics). I apologize for the assumption, I just thought I'd cover all bases.

          In regards to everything else you said I do agree, many atheist do reject any sort of spirituality(or spiritual experiences) but I can tell you the reason as to why: the very word spiritual is usually correlated with religious metaphysics or dogma and an atheist fears that if they have spiritual experiences then they might be lumped w/in the same category of a religious person. In all honestly, it really undermines the experiences that individuals have on a daily bases.
        • thumb
          Nov 28 2011: Hi Peter,

          I don't know what you and Gabo exactly talked about but if there's a pebble on the sand and the wind blows the top layer will be blown away exept where the pebble was. If this goes on for a while the pebble lays on top of a little tower of sand. That explains the strange rock formations.

          Even the Vatican and the pope accept evolution Peter. when will you?
        • thumb
          Nov 28 2011: Peter,
          I am the one always bringing up your beliefs???
          That is WAY TOO FUNNY!!!
      • thumb
        Nov 29 2011: Hi Frans

        Sorry the pebble doesn't cut it. We are talking about pillars of geological layers the same consistency as the surrounding countryside. You'd need to read back.

        The Pope & I agree on very little, so his influence on my thinking is marginal. Now evidence, that's a different matter.

        • thumb
          Dec 3 2011: Peter there is no difference like you suggest.
          If the top plate was weak and at some points hardened or covered the wind would erode the weak parts and the towering parts under the hard top would erode on the vertical as well as horizontal levels in between. With time you get pillars like we see them today.

          Nothing special about that. You can simulate this artificially at any time.
      • thumb
        Nov 30 2011: Hi Gabo

        This was as near as I could get.
        ""It does seem like we are hijacking the thread into geology.....etc""

        Thanks for that. I can agree with most of what you say. However the water had to cover Dakota for a while to form the layers. Then something had to change & the erosion start by whichever method. It just seems that some interesting stuff happened, but we don't really know what.

        By mainstream science I merely allude to the lack of links. Most things you can find some sort of 'official' hypothesis.

        You're right though, we'd better close down this one. Shame; it's not stopping others.

    • thumb

      E G

      • 0
      Nov 22 2011: Hi Gabo and Peter:
      I agree with Peter : atheism and materialism usually go together : it's interesting that many scientists are atheists when usually the science don't offer more than an materialistic view of the world ( not the all branches of science do that of course).
      And I also agree with Gabo that the atheism is not a belief system , I rather call it now an attitude due to the lack of proofs about the subject(God) .
      -As I many times said here on TED I'm not an atheist : the lack of proofs is normal in my opinion and is even more rational to not exist proofs than to do .
      • thumb
        Nov 22 2011: "atheism and materialism usually go together"

        This proves neither you or Peter know what you are talking about.
        • thumb

          E G

          • 0
          Nov 22 2011: really? so what's materialism in your opinion ? (I guess you agree with what I said here about atheism , don't you? I don't see how the atheism would make sense otherwise).

          (if you think to asnwer : check for a reply at the end of the week)
      • thumb
        Nov 22 2011: I find the whole point of this conversation was to abandon atheism as a term because it is too confusing.

        For those whom are theist would consider atheism - a mindset, a religion and/or theme of beliefs.

        All wrong, atheism is just one belief of many that someone can have. The belief in no deities, as an omni-being of some sort. "It's a lack of belief" ... No, it's the rejection, you can't consciously lack something unless you never learned it, but you can reject it.

        Every individual has multiply belief systems that create a major Belief system. Which reflects their personalities, thinking, receiving of information, sharing, etc.

        Back on to this materialism statement. Materialism is the belief/process of thinking that all of existence can be summed up into matter, in the debates such as mind vs. body, mind is apart of body.

        No, atheism only implies the deities, after that it is individualistic. Plenty of eastern atheistic philosophies in the world believe matter is comprised of Chi (xi) and that Chi involves continual change. Liu explains it better.

        You guys are trying to make certainties from other certainties. Which is flawed, there are variations and degrees to every word that describes. I'm a little materialistic, meaning, we can definitely learn a lot about the physical world when thinking it is static (atomism). However I'm a lot more of a naturalist, that I accept their is a divine nature outside of human intelligence as of now. We do not know a lot about nature, but what we do should be reflected on as a plausible information.

        I believe scientific data should influence religious beliefs. Such as it has before in Buddhism and Taoism.
        • thumb
          Nov 22 2011: Hi Nicholas
          ""I believe scientific data should influence religious beliefs.""

          I agree entirely. I would never have become a Christian if I could have found any conflict with the real material world we know & love.

          I had 2-steps :-

          1. Is this whole idea (Christianity) plausible in the light of the scientific knowledge we have?

          2. Humbly acknowledge my maker & ask for understanding.

          It works just great; but we have to play by His rules; folk don't like that.

        • Nov 22 2011: Pete,

          You said: "I agree entirely. I would never have become a Christian if I could have found any conflict with the real material world we know & love."

          Sorry, but from my experience chatting with you, this is false. You start with the bible, then read creationist quackery, and thus reaffirm your beliefs. I don't know why you became a Christian, but your common explanation seems a lot like a pseudo-ratinalization in retrospect.
        • thumb

          E G

          • 0
          Nov 24 2011: Nicholas:

          I agree with you on materialism . And yes the atheism and materialism don't go in a compulsory way always together , what I said was that they usually go together( you can be an atheist and not be a materialist)and this according to what you understand by materialism, but there is a fact that many atheists(scientists) believe in materialism and try to explain the world in this way . As a theist you can't be materialist .
          But for really understand what I meant to say (I wide there the concept of materialism ) read my commment which start like : ' Gabo said (and not only.......)' .
      • thumb
        Nov 22 2011: Peter,

        This is an off topic response on an ill-interpretation of my overall argument on belief systems and Belief systems.

        Also, I am too much aware of your position on religion and "God" and I find them, distasteful and rejecting a lot of natural realities. Example: Evolution

        Christianity is gnostic in its foundation. The Christ, the anointed one, was a messenger whom brought the sacred message of the sacred gift. There were many anointed ones, there are many anointed ones. Scientifically accepted or not, Christianity today is not the Christianity during the turn of the millennium. Since then between the Roman Catholic church and the Roman Empire influences on Christianity, Christianity today is not the same.

        Jesus was talking about the kingdom of heaven as (two theories): A. a level of consciousness or B. true, pure and entire "globalization" all men equal, period. He would be talking what Buddha, Confucius and Lao-tzu (if he existed) were talking about, and that would be self reflection, self actualization, self existentialism and so on. In my opinion, because a lot of philosophers were talking about such things at the turn of the same point in time. And in the west, they were just entertainers and authors.

        With that said, I accept Christianity as plausible, but I don't go around telling people they shouldn't hurt others and get famous in the 21st century. I'll only get a merit badge. Who cares what the messenger did, saw, heard, died.... Care about the message. Be Christ-like do not be a Christian!

        Okay, God's rule.

        That would be nature's rules, no? Since God is everything and in everything and controls everything. God is pure "omni." Now in my understanding, there are laws of nature in science. Does God's rule to you, conflict with any of those laws?

        Because, if they do, I think you misinterpreted Jesus.

      • thumb
        Nov 23 2011: Eduard,

        Nicholas has a point and I would have to agree with him that I do no think you understand what your really saying (no offense or anything). If you ask me, I would say that capitalism and materialism go together more so than atheism and materialism.

        I do not like the term atheism myself but for the sake of simplicity I'll use it. I'm an atheist myself and I do not value materialism. I"m actually pretty spiritual and value self transcendence . I meditate and contemplate a lot to the point where I'm really not attached to the material world how most people are and I'm really ok with not having much. I can acknowledge that there is a range of human experience that does not involved embracing the physical world. I'm one of many people who have these experiences. Me being atheist, although it has some value to me, is not what gets me through my day. Its does not have an influence on my everyday experiences of the world.

        I will also say that yes, there are a lot of scientist that are atheist or agnostic (aprox 93%) but this by no means mean they embrace materialism. They just follow the evidence and I'll provide you an example:

        A good friend of mines at my former school has the physics professor thats atheist. He knows a lot about quantum mechanics w/its relationship to consciousness. If you know anything about quantum theory and consciousness you would come to know that what is called the material/physical world is actually influenced by sub-atomic, non-physical properties. As much as this spooks him, as it did Einstein, he is just following the evidence, which in this case, shows that a physical reality MAY not exist independent of a conscious observer. I'm not validating this as truth but I'm coming to show you that not all scientist, who are atheist value only material evidence.
        • thumb
          Nov 24 2011: Hi Orlando
          I think you are getting confused by materialist. A materialist can be a greedy person who likes to accumulate material possessions. However in the scientific world a materialist is someone who does not believe in anything which has no atoms; ie everything in the universe is material, there is nothing else; no spiritual dimension.

          This is the term often applied to Atheist, as they usually deny the spiritual realm.

        • thumb

          E G

          • 0
          Nov 24 2011: Orlando :

          ''but I'm coming to show you that not all scientist, who are atheist value only material evidences'' that's true ........

          just that happen sometimes to be atheist and to value materialism (for some people) , theism excludes from the start the materialism . But for understanding better what I meant to say read my comment which start : 'Gabo said (and not only him).... ''
    • thumb
      Nov 29 2011: Hi Peter,

      I see you are promoting a Christian interpretation of science again. I have not read everything in the thread so someone might have addressed this already.

      First off, there is absolutely no way you can refer to yourself as a scientist (such as your comment, "... I am not a scientist; not in your league anyway.")

      You quite simply are not a scientist.

      There are many reasons but perhaps the most telling is you are unwilling to accept your fundamental beliefs can be proven wrong. You have no intention of ever disproving your hypothesis. (You flirt with the idea that you are, but you are not really convincing anyone ... not even yourself.)

      No matter were you "started" you now assert the Bible is inerrant and your present-day assertions "start and end" there.

      There are also all kinds of reasons you choose this set of religious, cognitive "subroutines" not the least of which is they make you feel a "particular way." They provide you with a sense of purpose, the anticipation of a great reward, a means to express concern for others (you want them to share in the same reward), etc.

      These outcomes - sensations and feelings - are real. They are as real as any other sensations and feelings and they are directly attributable to your faith in God, Christ, and the Bible.

      You would be an "idiot" to give these up (seriously.)

      However, what you seemingly fail to realize is these sensations and feelings are EXACTLY the same sensations and feelings any "true believer" feels regardless of what they believe in. The ONLY difference is, it is YOU who feel them (in conjunction with the Christian faith.)

      I could tell you you can have these same sensations and feelings without subordinating your intellect to a book that is thousands of years old and has been thoroughly discredited but we all know how you will respond to that, don't we?

      The same way a Muslim would respond to similar assertions made in regards to the Quran. And, yet, even you can see the Muslim is "deluded."
  • thumb
    Nov 11 2011: @ Gabo Moreno

    Sure there are people that reason it's impossible to define God, and some without this consideration just sitting on the fence. I don't really see what the point of the comment was besides an attack on her for not being politically correct. Agnosticism in all contexts is about what we think we know... which is directly correlated with whether we reject or accept something. It's not about whether we're knowledgable or naive.

    Claiming to know is thinking you know, which is the exact opposite of agnosticism. There are agnostic atheists, agnostic theists, agnostic doctors, agnostic biologists... it's just an adjective for an attitude. But it's also a person that takes a neutral position on things they don't think they could ever know, usually matters of the universe and whatnot.

    If you were a Gnostic atheist you'd probably be exiled or killed. There haven't been Gnostics for over fifteen hundred years. The movement popularly identified as Gnosticism was a Christian cult that believed the God of Eden and of the flood was a kind of Satan demiurge and that the material world was evil. They claimed to hold a secret knowledge, which is where the word "agnostic" comes from.

    Atheists don't just take a neutral position and "have no beliefs". They're usually about as firm in their beliefs as many Christians and Muslims. The difference between agnosticism and atheism is well defined, and it's the same thing that separates agnosticism from every religion. Atheism and religion are a lot alike.
    • Nov 11 2011: Freddie,

      Seems like you can't read then. Go back, try and understand, then post some relevant answer.

      As for now:

      I know there was a sect called Gnostic, but the word does not belong to them. If you tried to understand the conversation could go somewhere.

      All you said about gnostic and agnostic I knew. Only you try and insist on agnostic being antagonistic with atheist. Your problem. You just don't want to understand.

      Of course not every atheist takes a neutral position. I know I don't. But I am not gratuitously "firm in my belief." Since all I get from theists and creationists is fallacies, since I know where beliefs in gods come from, I can't but be firm in my rejection of the belief that there's any gods. In other words, there are reasons for me to be "firm in my belief" that have nothing to do with following anybody, nor any institutions, not any churches, not any of that stuff that makes religions, ahem, religions. Atheism is not a religion, just like your preferred version of neutral (yeah, right) "agnosticism" is not a religion, regardless some people also have instituted some following to agnosticism to the point that they get offended that people use the word to refer to knowledge claims (as if "agnostic" was a religion, rather than a position about beliefs). Got it now? I don't believe in gods. I am pretty convinced that there is no gods at all. But I don't know that there is no gods at all. Got it now? Man, how many repetitions do you need?

      If you just won't get it, fine by me. You fail to read properly, and you fail to note that you don't own the word "agnostic," just like that cult you talk about does not own the word "gnostic."
      • thumb
        Nov 20 2011: "I knew this, I knew that", "You didn't read"... I don't think I have time for this kind of response Gabo. :P I thought I made my points pretty clear, but it seems you didn't really address any of them. I explained my analysis of atheism in other posts on this thread, so I think I'll save us both some time and not explain it here.

        But you did address Gnosticism. Gnostikos was first used in the context of theology to describe a few cults that felt they held the secrets of the universe, which is exactly the context agnosticism pins itself against. Outside of that context you might be able to stretch it to the "learned" atheist but that's not really semantically equivalent to "being sure" you're an atheist, and isn't at all the origin of the idea of agnosticism. More accurately the term comes from gnosis, experiential knowledge as opposed to theoretical knowledge, also not an accurate way of describing your confidence in your atheism. But this is needless bickering...
        • Nov 20 2011: I addressed everything Fred. I will not repeat myself.
  • thumb
    Nov 10 2011: I think Atheist, as one of the largest groups in America, should be represented in government. However, the word has kind of a bad rap, but I think it's important to keep proper numbers on this demographic so it is represented fairly
    • Nov 10 2011: Eh. I don't know how I feel about that. A) Atheists should be represented by the ENTIRE government as it is. Government is supposed to be secular and completely devoid of religion anyway. Of course, it isn't though.
      B) I dislike anything that makes atheists seem united, really. I support talks and groups among atheists, but not so much "Atheist chaplains" or atheist representatives in government. It creates the same problem the word "Atheism" does, which is making "Atheists" seem like they share more than anything but a lack of belief, which isn't the case.
      • thumb
        Nov 10 2011: point taken, I think my view point comes more as votes or voices to help ofset the christian coalition/Tea partys' agenda.I don't favor one over the other, to the contrary, I think they both have values and ideas I can agree with. I hope for more balance and a strive towards a true Democracy
  • thumb
    Nov 10 2011: Read Dawkins - The God Delusion.
    It is almost very very very certain God does not exist. THere is much more evidence that he does not exist than that he does.
    And if by chance he does exist, well he can go jump! What use is he? Really. Its about time we moved on and grew up. Our imaginary friend. God. I'm well over it. The world should be over it but i concede it will take more time. Pity I'd love to see a Godless world.
  • thumb
    Nov 10 2011: Yeah atheist the word, does set itself up in oposition to the belief in God through its very title.It was somehow needed as a counter but into the future I would like to think that Humanism is the preferred term.
  • thumb
    Nov 10 2011: some use the word humanism
  • Nov 9 2011: 'Atheism' is a subliminal technique theologians use to imply a form of belief on those who have none.

    It's kind of a win for them when people blindly accept espousing atheism; when in actual fact, atheism is the rejection of the concept of an 'omni entity' whose existence is beyond explication or comprehension by humans.

    I agree with the proposition to dissolve the term 'atheism'. For those who make / are lucky enough to make the conscious, intelligent decision to not follow a theological doctrine, do so not to adopt another belief system of their own, but because EXPLANATION is the foundation of what they judge the world around them by. A concept that's an anathema to all religion.
    • Comment deleted

      • Nov 9 2011: I think you'll find most who adhere to a particular religious doctrine profess to 'study' it, at least to some extent.

        I mean, it would be quite silly to blindly follow a belief system that potentially dictates the course of one's life without having some scholarly knowledge of what the faith stands for, no? Imagine poor, uneducated, insular people following each other, lockstep into some fanciful belief for no other reason than those in front told them to do so... LOL!

        (See what I did there? ^_^)
  • thumb
    Nov 8 2011: Secular humanism is an armchair philosophy and a mutual admiration society. When secular humanists get together all they do is pat themselves on the back for being so smart, and having the best belief system.
  • thumb
    Nov 8 2011: I am an atheist even though I believe in many gods. My religion is Empathy and Loving-kindess. I worship Empathy and Loving Kindess like most religious people worship God. My religion requres commitment, self-sacrafice, and devotion. If you wish to join my religion you can email me at My religion has many gods, no dogma, no prayer, no rituals and few holidays. Humans who are warm, loving, and kind in my religion are gods. Most goodness comes from them. Their existence sustains me. I pray they do not change. I invite you to join my family. I hope to sell my religion to potential gang member seeking to belong to something bigger than themselves, to those needing loyal friends, to people who care too much, and to adults who never had a loving family or no longer have aloving family. We do not believe we are our brother's keeper. We do believe we are responsible for each other, like family members are responsible for each each other. On our holidays we go out and help others in need of help. We care for each other because we know we are part of team. TED moderators removed this idea for a religion as being too vague. There is nothing really vague about it. I am an atheist, but atheismis not my religion. The cost to join my religion is steep. The cost is your soul. You have to be willing to give it your soul.
  • thumb
    Nov 8 2011: Thank you for the link, Linda, interesting conversation there as well!

    I guess the terms "atheist" or "agnostic" were only coined as such because the initial, "normal" state of mind was to be a "theist" or a "gnostic". For milennia humans worshiped all kinds of deities and supernatural forces and used them to explain the world around themselves. As some no longer felt the need to do this, they at first became a minority amongst the believers. At first the terms were used as insults (in Romania for example they quite often still are), but in time became descriptions of these new mindsets.

    I understand your point, Frank, but due to its historical value I'm willing to accept these terms.
  • thumb
    Nov 8 2011: Interesting topic, Frank.
    Here's a link to a recent conversation on a similar subject. Just an FYI, in case it adds value. :)