This conversation is closed.

Religion and Atheism

Here's my take on an "Atheism 2.0" - all quotes are for emphasis:

Imagine a continuum; on the left side is a 100% conviction that a god(s)/afterlife do not exist, and on the right is a 100% conviction that a god(s)/afterlife is real. In the middle of this continuum, 0%, is a conviction that a lack OR presence of a god(s)/afterlife are on equal terms.


Believe in a god(s)/afterlife? If so, where do you think he (it?) resides on the above mentioned continuum? Why? As a point of reference, where do you think the existance of the toothfairy falls on this continuum?

Now, while my own personal opinion might be that the existence of a god(s) and/or afterlife (especially the one depicted in any of the three desert dogmas) are of extremely low odds (say, 99% for does not exist) and are not worth adopting as real, the important thing is that I am not absolutist in my point of view, because it is unprovable, even if only technically unprovable (ya can't bring back evidence of nothingness, can you?).

In my opinion, the "thoughtform" of the future is one were people do not claim an absolutist stance on impossible to prove concepts such as these. Arguing whether a god does or does not exist is pointless. Fighting over which god is or isn't a true god only leads to war. It's possible that the most humble and honest position is one of uncertainty. Imagine if everyone would just concede that they really just didn't know...might be a lot more peaceful world.

Also, the terms "atheist" and "believer" should probably be removed from our vocabulary. Not only have these terms been evacuated of any substantive meaning, but they've become words regularly used to express contempt or ridicule, which makes people defensive, and basically blocks any hope for open communication regarding the greatest mysteries of the universe.

  • thumb
    Jan 30 2012: Addressing a few points scattered around this thread:

    Which god: All of them. And not only gods but all variations of rebirth, godheads and life after death promises. Big fancy church religions or prostrating oneself before a volcano and avoiding black cats, it's all the same. It is superstition.

    Convincing those (at least, adults) of faith: This isn't going to happen, but I would say that this thread is primarily a discussion between people with no religious beliefs. The contradictions inherent in belief in the supernatural are plain to see if one is willing to see. Therefore I have nothing to offer the religiously inclined.

    Why discuss it then?: Well, our entire history has been accompanied by religious belief. It is everywhere we look. The need to establish a strong body of opposition to superstition in education, governance and public life in general is paramount.

    Atheism's "bad" track record: Hardly. With increased knowledge has come a reduction in the proportion of people able to hold the beliefs of those who explained the world in primitive terms derived from a primitive existence. Detailed knowledge of the world around us is, historically speaking, a new phenomenon. Knowledge has an excellent track record.

    Atheism as offensive term: I address myself here to those who have no religious beliefs and therefore feel no need to look for placative terms. However, I do not wish to offend those who are religious. I'm not even sure that I'm doing someone a favour by undermining their beliefs. Doesn't change the facts, though, does it?

    Agnostic/atheist/whatever: We do not need to waste our time and energy playing with these words. The concept of gods and ghosts was made up by primitive peoples. I will happily explain to someone who doesn't understand that there is no need to prove the nonexistence of fairy tale x, but among ourselves let us not mess around with 99.99% anything. Those of faith will misunderstand it and many will abuse it.
  • Jan 29 2012: My position on the continuum would be 100% to the left as I don't see anything to believe in. A quote from Dr Desmond Morris, a noted Zoologist may be useful.

    " When we first developed verbal language we were able to talk in the past, present and future tense. Other species only communicate in the present tense- so a dog, for example, has no idea that one day it will die. Once we were able to contemplate out personal future and realize that one day we would be dead, we had to protect ourselves from this terrible thought and so we conceived of an afterlife. And (to cut a very long story very short) in this way religion was born. We still fear death which is why, I suppose, religion still manages to prosper, even in a scientific age."
  • Jan 29 2012: Agnostic Atheism (or -99.99% probability of god existence) is the only rational position to take.

    It's not so much that you think that it may just be possible that there could be something out there. It's simply the acknowledgement that the absence of evidence isn't evidence unto itself.

    As it relates to the idea of god; not so important (because after all, you're treating the idea of god as essentially pointless)... but as it applies to things that have a greater, more immediate and direct affect on our lives, it's an important point to bear in mind.
  • thumb
    Jan 25 2012: The term "atheist" is certainly one that I find objectionable. Not because I shy away from any stigma that some may attach to it, but because its very existence implies that belief in a god is somehow the norm. There is no word for people who do not believe in the tooth fairy.
    • Jan 25 2012: but because its very existence implies that belief in a god is somehow the norm.

      Because it IS the norm.
      • thumb
        Jan 25 2012: Ethan, you are right. Sloppy thinking on my part.

        The term "atheist" implies that belief in a god is some sort of default setting. Which i would dispute.
    • Jan 25 2012: How engenuous of you to view the term atheist like that.

      Is a loving person ruthfull?

      This duction of entomology seems interesting to me.

      I hope my tax refund conds on time.

      Vert your eyes to these words.

      I suppose being cancer free or pain free must be negative states since they are modified by the negative word 'free'. Or is it just negative prefixes or suffixes that turn a word into something bad.
    • Jan 30 2012: I'm thinking they should relabel the terms atheist and theist with the new official terms non-theist and pro-theist. That way, instead of suggesting a negative and a neutral, they would suggest a 'not' and a 'for'... might be linguistically fairer that way. Quick someone tell Webster.

      Or wait, how about they take the inverse polarity of theist and switch it with the multiplexed isotope of....., if not for the dark ages, rather than sitting here pushing back against this tide of hysteria, I'd be slam dunking on the moon. right. now. boomgoesthedynamite.
  • Feb 1 2012: My feelings on this matter (indoctrinated as a Catholic until the age of reasoning) is that you cannot convince a truely convicted theist of the absurdity of their religion until they have some awakening within their consciousness. It just is not going to happen, no matter how persuasive your argument is or how elegantly you present it. A country that could elect George WishIhadabrain Bush twice! Has not awakened and one would have a better chance of creating a spark of atheistic doubt in a rock. Don't mean to be so blunt but thats how I see this topic.
    • Feb 2 2012: Yeah, I've always thought that. But somehow, I stubbornly keep thinking there might be a better way to approach one's resistance to, or a way to accelerate a person towards, an awakening.

      I personally had an awakening after nearly 20 years of being a...Christian, as you might imagine, considering I'm named after the religion. The second I built the courage to stand up for myself in the face of blasphemy and eternal damnation, a chain of thought was set in motion like a snow ball rolling down a hill. A decade later, here I am.

      And my belief wasn't shallow or hokey either. The religion game was serious business for me. I've had some powerful religious experiences, some resulting in tears and damn near hysteria. But I came to learn what a complex organ the brain is and how perception does not always equal reality, no matter how true something might feel on an emotional level. And more importantly, I came to learn that fervent reliance on god and prayer was a waste of time.

      Thus, it dawned on me that, as humans living on a planet floating in space, our fragile situation of life was and always will be influenced primarily by OUR choices and OUR interaction with each other and the environment around us. So I think to myself, if everyone else could get their head out of the clouds, and focus solely on issues affecting people and the environment while we're alive, what would this world look like?
  • Jan 25 2012: As Alan Watts said, "Faith is a state of openness or trust. To have faith is like when you trust yourself to the water. You don't grab hold of the water when you swim, because if you do you will become stiff and tight in the water, and sink. You have to relax, and the attitude of faith is the very opposite of clinging, and holding on. In other words, a person who is fanatic in matters of religion, and clings to certain ideas about the nature of God and the universe becomes a person who has no faith at all. Instead they are holding tight. But the attitude of faith is to let go, and become open to truth, whatever it might turn out to be."
  • thumb
    Jan 28 2012: Atheism = There is no proof for any of the claims theism has provided, therefore we must not assume anything. This includes god, unicorns, and talking cereal. Wipe the slate clean, all the bullshit is just sidetracking us from harnessing our infinite potential.

    Think of an artist, attempting to create a masterpiece. Before he starts drawing, he needs to decide WHAT he is going to draw, how he is going to draw it, etc. He needs to KNOW what he is drawing. You can't just scribble all over the page aimlessly. That's a waste of a canvas.

    If we are to create OUR masterpiece, we need to stop wasting so many canvasses. Think of all the deaths, of all the years we lost to the dark ages, of all the ideas destroyed and people who suffered for thinking differently.

    I actually want to KNOW how the universe operates, how it came to be, etc. It's the most important thing, the ONLY thing.
    • thumb
      Jan 28 2012: "I actually want to KNOW how the universe it came to be, etc " -- even i also dont know. But dont you think that the explanation given by modern scientist is more trustworthy than the explanation given by old people based on asumption .
  • Jan 27 2012: I think we should stop this debate about who is right about the existence or non existence of God because there will be no agreement I can assure you. The stalement can be compared to two salesmen both selling shoes, one Nike brand and the other Adidas. Both companies want to make the best shoes, but when asked in an open debate which company makes the better shoes, none would want to openly admit that the other is correct, even if it knows it is true. This response can either be a basic human survival instinct or as a result of a code of honour one has undertaken to protect. May be something else drives this behaviour.

    In my view, science is the only tool available at this moment that will help us determine if there is indeed God. Asking atheist to have faith alone is not gonna work because atheist are people who would only accept a hypothesis as truth when backed up with sufficient cogent evidences and who would feel irresponsible if they just argue based on hearsay. Having said this, granted that "truth" it self is transcient and why it is so is mainly because new evidences might be found to disproved the accepted "truth". A good example is the debate over whether the world is flat or round centuries ago.
  • Jan 26 2012: As to the term "agnostic", it seems that people that bother to use that term are really just trying to hedge their bets. Here's a question: Are you "agnostic" about the existence of Santa, or the Easter Bunny, or leprechauns or invisible pink unicorns? Are you "agnostic" about the Flying Spaghetti Monster or Zeus? Are you "agnostic" about the existence of Mithra or Ra? If not, why would you be "agnostic" about yhwh? Why would you feel the need to hedge your bets just because as much of the population now believes in that fairy tale as they did in Odin and Hercules during their time? Are you *really* agnostic or are you just trying to placate the majority and appear less "offensive" to their delicate sensibilities?
    • Jan 26 2012:

      Sums up my position.

      While not trying to placate, it may be productive to find a less offensive way of identifying what can be defined as a delusion, in this case, the belief in god or an afterlife. Can it be done? What if we changed the "I'm right, you're wrong" approach to an "I don't know and you don't know" argument? Will our species, as a whole, ever be able to find strength and meaning when faced with uncertainty and the infinite unknown?
      • Jan 27 2012: To be honest, I could really care less if someone is "offended" by my lack of buying into their delusion. I am more than happy to listen to their arguments for their beliefs, if they are willing to listen to my arguments against those beliefs. My attitude is pretty much, if you are offended by and don't want to listen to me laugh in your face, don't present your fairy tales to me as though they were in any way reasonable or made any sense.

        I think there is value in all approaches. Sometimes being extremely subtle has value, sometimes being blatantly, brutally honest has it's value. Obviously, subtly is not my strong suite (yes, I know it's PAINFULLY obvious, lol), so I'll let someone else cover the subtle, placating approaches. :)
        • Jan 27 2012: I know where you're coming from. Matter of fact, I'm basically there. I concur with arguments made by people like Richard Dawkins, Pat Condell, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, et al.

          The thing is, it would be easy if militarnt atheism was enough to make Christians, and the like, realize that maybe they are delusional, but it usually only leads to cries of persecution and a greater resistance to logical appeals.

          So I'm wondering, how does one level with religion without condescension, yet still maintain a stern anti-delusional message? And more importantly, how can we imbue culture with this sentiment so that religiousness is no longer the default?

          Just a passing thought. It may very well be this phenomenon of religion will have to take its course until its inevitable demise. But I'd like to be an active participant in its extinction, rather than a passive element living in the shadow of its specious and wide-spread influence. Guess that's why I'm here.
  • Jan 26 2012: Well, if we are talking about the abrahamic religions, we must examine the "holy books" that they are based in. With all books of the bible (old testament, new testament, and the book of mormon), each having hundreds of contradictions, inconsistencies, logical fallacies, and flat out lies, we MUST assume that the religion is 100% false, since every assertion that they claim can be disproved. Are any of them based on the existence of a "real" supernatural being that was just so inept that it was unable to communicate its message to humanity in any meaningful way? I would have to put my vote at about the -99.999% area. As for any other religion, I think odds are that they are just as fallacious. After all, if any were the "perfect word of their god", they would actually be able to stand up to scrutiny. Since none have ever produced any evidence that they are valid, we can only assume that there has never been a valid religion. Does that mean there are no supernatural being that are in "existence"? Well, no, but then, as you point out, there is no way to prove a negative. But, since there is no evidence of their existence, we can only assume that they fall into the category of the invisible pink unicorn. There is no reason to believe any crazy hypothesis without having at least same evidence to it's validity and only as long as there is no evidence contradicting its validity.
  • Jan 26 2012: I assume most if not all participants in this discussion predominantly refer to a christian god. Would it make sense to define what we mean by god in this context?
    Actually, the reason why I think it might be a good idea to define god is because it helps frame the question in exploring its existence. My exploration beginning with the Big Bang to our existence indicates that there is plenty of evidence that god, as defined by conventional religions does not exist. Nevertheless, there are still meny questions about the cosmos and our existance. This in turn leads me to the question of the meaning of life ( sometimes a la Monty Phyton)
    • Jan 26 2012: I would assume you can define the term any way you feel the need. I agree that most of the participants refer predominantly to yhwh, but if you want to be more general, just try to be specific in your definition. For me, a fairy tale is a fairy tale. There is no evidence that ANY religion is valid and there is no evidence of any "afterlife", so no matter how you define the term, I'm going to be atheistic about it. Seems pretty cut and dried to me. If there is some sort of afterlife, IMHO, it makes no difference. The xian version is clearly false, so we couldn't possibly have any idea what it would be like, so it is really just an exercise in futility to even try to imagine it.
      • Jan 27 2012: I fully agree with you. The issue of religion could be approached from the point of view of the vacuum created by the renounciation to the religion that we grew up with; i.e.: for former religious people, how do we meet needs for belonging, rituals, morality, spirituality, etc.?
        • Jan 27 2012: Except for "morality". Morality does not come from religion, but from socio- and socio-economical evolution and pressures. If we took the "morality" of the bible, we would still be slave holders, burning people at the stake, raping virgins in order to obtain a wife, stoning her to death when we find out she isn't a virgin on our wedding nights, beating children, stoning children to death if they talked back to us, committing genocide and more. Sharia law comes from Yhwh, it is not something that mohammad made up. it comes from the Old Testament, just like xian law does. Notice that in the 10 commandments, there is no mention of fraud, or rape, or destruction of another's property, or pedophilia. Notice that the bible can be interpreted to allow people to treat homosexuals as not just sub-citizens, but sub-humans, despite the fact that no person has any control over their sexuality, or who they are attracted to. And yet at the same time, it condones and even commands that people hold slaves and details just how severely they are allowed to be beaten.

          No, morality does not come from the bible or even from god himself. He is such a inept leader, teacher, parent (whatever you want to call him) that he ended up having to wipe out the entire human race because he couldn't figure out how to communicate how he wanted them to act. The, 2000 years later, had to have a brutal blood sacrifice to himself just to allow some humans to be acceptable to himself. Sad, sad, sad. I am amazed that people actually think that any decency could come out of fairy tales that are even more horribly, disgustingly brutal than even the Brothers Grimm could imagine up.
  • Jan 26 2012: I do not belive in god simply because i have not seen him or her.
    i do not have any problem with others who believe on him.But i do have problem when my own ideas are questioned.
    Throughout my 26 years of small life-- religion never helpled me to achive anything, even the peace of mind.Its me and the good people around me who makes me a better person.So to me religion(whatever it is)-written by some crazy people 1000 years ago, is simply a waste of time. But my idea is my idea. Came out of my education,my mind.Listen, if you like or ignore it.
  • Jan 25 2012: As an atheist, I have never argued that 'no god or gods actually exist.' Why not? Because I do not believe that 'no god or gods actually exist.'

    Atheism/theism are descriptors based upon a single question: Do you believe that some god or gods actually exist? If you do believe that some god or gods actually exist, you are a theist. If it is not the case that you believe some god or gods actually exist, you are not a theist... that is... you are an atheist. Either x or ~x must be true--the law of the excluded middle. Either you believe some god or gods actually exist, or you do not. Either you are a theist, or you are an atheist.

    Knowledge/certainty is another question entirely. One can claim to know that some god actually exists, making them a gnostic theist. One can claim to know that no god actually exists, making them a gnostic atheist. One may not claim to know, but still believe, that some god actually exists, making them an agnostic theist. One may not claim to know, and still not believe that some god actually exists, making them an agnostic atheist.

    I am an agnostic atheist. I do not claim to know that no god actually exists. If I encountered good reason or evidence to support the claim that some god or gods actually exist, I could become an agnostic theist. I haven't placed a bet on the god or no god horses. I simply prefer to follow reason and evidence. I'd be thrilled to find some good reason or evidence, but I haven't. As such, I do not believe that some god or gods exist.

    Does it matter? Not much, no. Still, I think reason and evidence do matter, and when someone seeks to justify a claim with bad reason or evidence, I'm not going to be convinced. I might even point out how the justification falls short. I believe truth does matter, and reason and evidence are the only two sources I am aware of that provide it reliably.
    • Jan 25 2012: Well articulated. I'd have to agree with you - according to your descriptions, I would also consider myself an agnostic atheist.

      It would be interesting to find another effective, yet less confrontational, way around this age old religious argument in a bid to infuse the future of our civilization with a greater desire for finding truth with reason and evidence rather than superstition. Unfortunately for the most part, it seems like religion (among other things) is a huge road block sitting in front of this goal.
    • thumb
      Jan 25 2012: Dawkins argues here for the use of "non theist": (last quarter of the lecture)
  • thumb

    E G

    • 0
    Feb 3 2012: We have proofs and evidence for God existence .
    • Feb 3 2012: Ironically enough, the link says, "page not found."
      • Feb 3 2012: Ironically or appropriately? :)
        • thumb

          E G

          • 0
          Feb 3 2012: It was removed , what I wrote : "I saw many here on TED think we don't have proofs for God's existence ; this is not true . If it were true we(the theists) wouldn't have too much options. I mean, how can we say God is love if He didn't endure to leave us some proofs about Him ? ...... it's not enough saying we don't know if God exist therefore there is possible for Him to exist; (and usually after this claim to fallow the entire triad of ideas like the one above : God is good , love , omnipotent .............) It doesn't make sense .

          The evidence for God MUST exist ; it also must be a simple evidence to can be understood by everybody, otherwise this evidence shoots itself in the foot .
          So what is the evidence ? Good question .

          The revelations exist (the Bible) : we test them , we see if they corroborates with the evidence we have and with the predictions this revelations make ; the results of the test to the all ones who did it are positive therefore we know God exist . Of course you'll never be convinced of it , no problem , all remains to do it's to test the revelations yourself if you wanna make sense . Gook luck.

          (It's not important if we know if the Bible is the revelation of God or not because by testing we can find out it ; it's not important if more people claim the reality of different gods : we test them too . In the end we compare and analyze everything we got . I can predict already the results : God exist (the Bible's One) ."
        • thumb

          E G

          • 0
          Feb 4 2012: Hi Avenir :

          Do you know to criticize something ?
          Look why I'm asking you this :
          -"-Well if God the Mother is considered by theist to be a type of "Parent figure", what do you think is wiser?-Giving a child (humanity) everything it wants, or giving it the tools to get everything it wants; which includes Her Grace"
          What is the relevance of this question about what I was talking about ? I don't care about what's wiser because I already know somehow what God did.

          """The evidence for God MUST exist""

          ---No it doesn't. She's mysterious remember?" how do you know 'she's' mysterious ? However I talk about what we know and have .
          "God? Simple?...." I never said God is simple .

          You know , you are funny with 'She' , are you serious or not ?

          Instead of all these your last question it's a good question :
          ''"Would you please name these revelations, predictions and evidence that have 'come true'."" Of course I will : the Bible; it contains the revelation of God , it has predictions about the all ones who try to listen of God . When we apply the Bible we get some results ; this results corroborate with the Bible's predictions , in this way we get the evidences .
          "How exactly do we do that?" By applying .
          We can do this process about any revelation/God and see who's the true One .
        • thumb

          E G

          • 0
          Feb 5 2012: Avenir:
          "You stated that we were given Proof by the Holy Mother, for all to see. But we can't all see it"

          I agree but this is your problem not God's one, solve it . Of course we can solve it (we have the tools) God will have do it if we couldn't , I guess .

          "Well we don't really know much about Her, She's a mystery" you told me you can see the proofs , I told you this is your problem ; God is not mysterious but you can't see Him which is your problem .

          'She':.. it's just funny, and it shares your ideas not what God is about .

          I named a revelation : the Bible ; apply the Jesus teachings, and if you gonna read them you'll see they are full of predictions about what happen after you apply them . You'll know then the evidences . All I can do more is to give some examples of some people who applied them and get the evidences. Do you want it ?
        • thumb

          E G

          • 0
          Feb 5 2012: "So it's like solving a math problem; common sense would dictate that there is only one answer. But what if my answer is different from yours? Did one of us forget to carry the 5? If so, who?" No like a math problem because it involves your entire life . What if ... or what if not ... ? this kind of questions can be easily put . After you consider to do it and you do it , we'll talk about the results.

          "-Oh I hardly consider it a problem. It would, however, be a problem for someone who needs a supernatural deity to justify their lives" Of course you hardly consider it a problem , that's why you see the proofs now . It doesn't matter if you think you need or not to justify your life, if you are atheist or agnostic or.... (I don't know it of course but just in case...).

          "Why would I want the power to hurl mountains into the sea?" You are just funny . Read again and read also if can't understand more than this some theologians you think you can trust more or less. The same thing about everything else. You didn't understand a iota from Jesus teachings . I don't have time to explain now ; I have also doubts about how much you wanna know it , I don't wanna pass a funny demagogue .

          Names : General Booth , John Fletcher , Aiden Wilson Tozer , Martin Luther King , Joan of Cross , bishop of Anslem ...... and many others . You can read about them from wikipedia for now . Good luck .
  • thumb
    Jan 29 2012: My views might be considered ridiculous on this matter but i am on both side of this continuum depending on which side of the coin you are looking at it. You will have to decide on which side i belong.

    My beliefs are that we were created, not by a god or by gods, but by extra-terrestrial human beings, that made us like the old Sumerian tablets mentioned.

    I deny the existence of the almighty figure depicted by the Monotheistic religions as "God". I think the "divinities" or the "deities" did existed, but were no real "divinities" as to speak.

    As for the "afterlife" part, i do not think of it as the official religions out there, but i think it is possible via advanced technologies to resurrect the body and restore it's previous personality inside it by the use of technologies we have yet to discover.

    I am convinced that the old scriptures are true, but i am also convinced that these scriptures were mistranslated and modified during history to please certain theological philosophy that couldn't "at that time" understand how all these things mentioned were possible outside of a "divine realm".

    So the religions changed words to adjust to their understandings and sometimes deliberately added or subtracted passage that did not fit their philosophy.

    To know what these texts are really all about, we need to look to their most ancient origin, the Sumerian tablets, the bible does not bring the true records of those texts, the bible is a very mistranslated and edited version of the Sumerian tablets.

    Therefore i am an Atheist / Creationist.

    Does that fit to the 100% conviction that a god(s)/afterlife do not exist, or to the 100% conviction that a god(s)/afterlife is real. Knowing that "god(s)/afterlife" do not correspond to the interpretation of my understandings. But i am formal, the God the bible speaks about doesn't exist, but the Elohim-Anunnaki the Sumerian spoke about do exist.

    I think my position is on both sides of the continuum at the same time.
    • thumb
      Jan 29 2012: Hi Maxime,

      "My beliefs are that we were created, not by a god or by gods, but by extra-terrestrial human beings, that made us like the old Sumerian tablets mentioned."

      You've got the infinite regression to deal with. Who made et, who made whoever made et, ad infinitum.

      • thumb
        Jan 29 2012: The answer is the same for every "who made them" question, ad infinitum.

        The mistake most of us are doing is to believe that the Universe "must be" finite.

        What if i tell you that the Universe isn't finite, neither in space nor time, that it has an infinite layers of existence, like a fractal.

        The relation between time and space is one of inverse proportionality. The infinitely large is the same as the infinitely small, working on different scale of time according to their respective scale in space vs the source of observation. That is why planets take a long time to revolved around their stars compared to how fast electrons revolved around their atomic nucleus.

        But even there, i'm not sure whereas the Universe is on the same layer as the atomic structure or is contained within the subatomic structure of the atomic nucleus.

        However, the "as above so below" or "the infinite state of the universe" was mixed with the concept of ET creators and gave birth later to a new concept of "almighty infinite god" but originally these two concepts were separated, our creators are not almighty like the bible claims their "God" to be, it's a misconception of both concepts put together.

        But think about this, if we "today" with the science we have, fail to understand the true concept of infinity, how our ancestors (that did not have the science we have today) could have understood those concepts, they couldn't.
  • thumb
    Jan 28 2012: For God existance I would give -99,(9)%
    0,(3)=1/3; 0,(6)=2/3
    Aaand 1/3+2/3=1
    I love decimal numeral system.
  • thumb
    Jan 28 2012: I want to pose the question, what is the proof that God does not exist? I my self identify myself as a Protestant Christian. I say this to give you a frame of reference in which to respond.
    • Jan 30 2012: Andrew,

      There IS no proof that God does not exist. The same can be said of fairies, ghosts, or any of the myriad deities in which people once believed. So should one believe in everything that cannot be disproved? Why would one believe in YHWH, but not in Zeus? I think the answer is that the YHWH meme has been more successful in perpetuating itself than the Zeus meme. But I really don't understand why. Now THAT would be a much more interesting topic than a fruitless debate about nonexistent evidence for or against gods.
      • thumb
        Jan 30 2012: The why debate would end up in the same debate you described as fruitless. However, I do see the point and thought of the same reply myself after posting the comment. I really just wanted to see how someone would respond. Some people just fly off into a frenzy, but I can see that is not the case here.

        Now your reply being in essence correct, the question must be posed, "where does logic come from?" It is no more abstract and unseen as those entities mentioned before. So where does it come from?
        • Jan 30 2012: Andrew,

          Logic is something we humans invented to describe "being" when referring to physical reality, correct ways of thinking in the case of rationalizations. But, lest I be misinterpreted, the terms "physical reality" and "rationalizations" are language shortcuts, because thoughts are as physical as anything else. Thus, our logic is ultimately physical.

          It is an gross equivocation to compare something like logic to imaginary beings though. Example, those imaginary beings are never necessary, while using logic is unescapable.

          I am assuming that you are honestly trying the TAG trick unaware of its failures. But some branch of Christianity has made the trick into a full methodology of rhetorical garbage. Please don't be the latter.

        • Jan 31 2012: Andrew,

          Logic comes from the minds of human beings. Belief in gods, ghosts and goblins also comes from the minds of human beings. Humans are capable or creating both practical and impractical ways of explaining and attempting to influence the events that they see around them. Logic seems like a more practical approach to explaining the world around us than does superstition.


          I take it that when you mentioned "TAG trick" you were referring to the transcendental argument for the existence of God. I found that entry in a list of 150 "TAG" acronyms. Yes, that seems to be where Andrew was going when he asked where logic comes from.
  • Jan 28 2012: Peter, this issue will not go anywhere as long as the pro-God camp and the pro non-God camp cannot agree on certain basic rules for fruitful debates. Imagine in a game of soccer, players do not know what amounts to a unfair tackle or an offsite, how can the game become fair and watchable let alone beautiful? Will the rules for such a discussion be agreed by both parties now? I don't think so
    • thumb
      Jan 28 2012: Hi kwang.

      The usual answer is a neutral referee, but where do we find one of those ?

      • Jan 29 2012: I think we will not be able to find one that both parties will be happy about, so the only way is to continue the scientific work to prove or disproved existence of God, in the same way it took Christopher Columbus to prove that the world is round and not flat by embarking on the, then considered foolish journey, by the public.

        Unfortunately, this is the only route because fact based argument is gaining more and more acceptance. Just like President Obama says, "You are entitled to your own views, but you are not entitled to your own facts"
        • thumb
          Jan 29 2012: Hi Kwang,

          As we learn more about the world, things should become more focused. I invite you to watch this short video about how a very small part of our bodies function.

          Does it really seem deluded to infer a degree of intelligent planning behind this sort of system. Possibly we should also remember that there are trillions of such functions coming together & working in concert to make the whole machine (no other word for it) function.

      • Jan 29 2012: Does it really seem deluded to infer a degree of intelligent planning behind this sort of system? Yes. Very.

        As you can see in the animations, the scientific community is just now starting to truly understand the deep complexity of cellular mechanics. So clearly, we don't have the required information to make any conclusions about the origins of these complex machines. And to automatically suggest that the most plausible (or only) explanation for their presence is that they were consciously evoked into existence by the god of abraham, or any other god(s), is not a suggestion based on courage and curiousity or a genuine desire to find truth, but a suggestion based on superstition and a fear of the unknown. It is a "god of the gaps" argument.

        As I'm sure you're aware, "god of the gaps" is a phrase used to describe the tendency of theists of various religious persuations to conclude that a god(s) is/are responsible for phenomena human knowledge has not yet explained. When these gaps are filled, the theist jumps to the next gap and the game can continue ad nauseam until human knowledge is able to explain everything.

        It is far more likely that the complex structures found in modern day life evolved from very simple ones millions of years ago, with various ingredients interacting under different environmental conditions.

        Consider this:


        The gaps are getting smaller everyday. Perhaps one day we will all be able to humbly work together toward a common goal, undivided by superstition... and delusion.
      • Jan 30 2012: I think there nothing more neutral than evidence. But creationists have created a series of mental shields against looking at it.
        • Jan 30 2012: I've always wondered, aside from those who shield themselves because they genuinely believe, I wonder how many others shield themselves because they're opportunistically religious, or just trying to save face.
  • thumb
    Jan 27 2012: Hi Christian,
    Like the name by the way. For a basically atheistic website there sure is no shortage of conversations on religion. The comments below are typical; more or less daring any god botherer to put his/her head above the parapet, at which point a feeding frenzie will ensue.
    There is little scope for reasonable dialog with such animosity. What I can't figure is why you folk keep bringing the subject up ? After all we are talking about something that doesn't exist; right ?

    • Jan 28 2012: Is it confrontational for a psycho-therapist to inform a patient that there are no gremlins under the bed? I am not being confrontational. Actually, on the contrary, my argument here is precisely how to present the facts that certain beliefs are delusional, without being condescending or mean about it. It's an important issue, as some might argue that it is unwise to allow destructive fantasies to be indulged by society and be allowed the opportunity to get injected into governmental policies, and more importantly, into the minds of innocent children.

      We are talking about something that does exist, which is, what some might refer to as, "a large portion of earth's religiously ill population" - this is much different than arguing that "god doesn't exist", which is obviously a pointless argument. What I think about a god(s) and/or afterlife doesn't matter. What does matter, is what people should not be establishing as fact, in this case, anything based on religious dogma.

      I can see how all this can be misconstrued as having animosity. But really, it's all about being as honest as you can about reality.
      • thumb
        Jan 28 2012: Hi Christian.

        Do you honestly expect to dissuade religious folks from their worldview by telling them that they are delusional ? Whether they are or nor is irrelevant, it is not a good approach. When it comes right down to it neither atheism, nor regimes which try to subdue free thought, have a very successful track record. You need to ask what are you going replace it with ?

        Historically we have seen the slaughter of millions of Jews & Christians by various well meaning social systems. What we learn from this; or we should if we are paying attention; is that Judaism & Christianity come out stronger than ever. So what is the answer ? To me we must live with an attitude of love & tolerance for our fellow man. We can converse rationally & politely, & respect the other guy's opinion. Mr Dawkin's rant about mental illness, stupidity, & evil smacks of anger & panic. It is not the way to win hearts & minds; which is the only option if you want to spread the gospel of Atheism .

        • Jan 29 2012: To start, I am not telling anyone to proclaim "Okay! There is no god! We are nothing but dust! Woe is me!" I know you would like to dismiss this thread with a standard atheist stereo-type by fitting it into a religious framework by calling atheism a belief or gospel. That is wrong.

          Continuing; so, is a schizo who believes that invisible gremlins are trying to kill him expressing a world view, or a delusion?


          You are right though, a delusional person probably would not like being called delusional, because their fantasies are real to them, I understand.

          So I guess my purpose with this argument is not so much to directly address those who are hopelessly delusional, but rather, sane people who already have doubts about the delusional ideas that their family/friends/community are trying to impose on them. I'm addressing anyone who has influential power on how our consensus reality is shaped.

          We need to stop giving delusional institutions special treatment with things like tax-free status, written acknowledgement on our national currency, and the general respect they get for their "faith", which is somehow regarded as some kind of deep and examined frame of mind, when it is actually one of the most shallow of experiences, because by definition, faith, the religious kind, is completely unexamined - it is a state of choice. It is the willful suspension of critical thought.

          As such, we need to push religion (which is trying to establish a reality based on superstition) off into the fringes of society, with other things like cults and such, right where it belongs. If we truly value honesty and courage, we must embrace the statement "I don't know", and replace religion with questions and curiousity, like "why?" and "how?".

          Like I said before, I am not being mean, I'm just being stern. It is unwise to patronize the delusional, otherwise you get things like children who live in fear of gremlins, and that is mental abuse. Let's stop mentally abusing children please.
        • Jan 29 2012: "Historically we have seen the slaughter of millions of Jews & Christians by various well meaning social systems."

          That is because, throughout history, psychopaths have a tendancy of being in control of those various, supposedly well-meaning social systems, like they are today:

          The slaughter of millions of Jews & Christians has nothing to do with how secular that system might be. So that diffuses your argument that Judaism & Christianity are somehow the proper and only legitimate foundation for civilization.

          On the contrary, in a secular system, the leaders can not scapegoat their psychopathy with their religious ideology like they did during the inquisition, or like they're doing in some places today in the mid-east.

          "To me we must live with an attitude of love & tolerance for our fellow man. We can converse rationally & politely, & respect the other guy's opinion."

          True. But people can accomplish this without being delusional.

          "Mr Dawkin's rant about mental illness, stupidity, & evil smacks of anger & panic."

          Rightly so. We can not risk granting a delusional person control of THE BUTTON. It's a nightmare that gets closer and closer every election season.

      • thumb
        Jan 29 2012: Hi Christian,

        I guess if I lived in Salt Lake I may be a bit jumpy as well. You guys over the pond sure are more worked up than folks over here in the uk.. You live in a democracy, why not just vote for an Athiest government, or is the problem that most of your countrymen are also delusional. That must be really tough on you sane guys. Glad I'm in the UK. Lol

    • Jan 30 2012: This is not an atheistic website. It is a place where people with big ideas (however the organizers might have defined what a big idea might be) come and talk about them. If atheism is prevalent, I do not know, maybe. But if so, it would be accidental.

      As for discussing a lot about the gods issue (nothing particularly important about not believing a single god, so why should I say "God" rather than "gods"?), well, everyone has the right to a hobby. :)

      Well, that and the problem of people spreading misinformation about science in order to support mythologies, be it Christian mythology, Muslim mythology, or whichever. I see misinformation, I get the urge to set things straight. I did not become a scientist only to suffer silently the misinformation that creationist quacks love spreading all over the place.
  • Jan 27 2012: My view is ,we all take stake on our own belief actually,to make a choice,and do something which seems to be related with it.To bid our belief to a specific direction.
    Just think about how the religion comes about?It is just the need of governing the people who don't have a specific reason for being governed.And I regard the religion-choosing as a kind of investment,sounds ridiculous...For example,suppose there is a criminal just be released from jail,he wants to start a new life,and there is a religion says to him,"Our God tolerate the people who make mistakes.",and also there is another religion says to him,"If u believe our God,u will make a fortune.",I bet that this criminal would choose the first,because what the first says is more attractive than the second,making this guy invests his used-to-be blank belief in the first.If u are an Atheist,that means u haven't invest any in ur belief.
    Yes WE have the freedom to choose our God,but this choice mostly depends on what u did.
    Once someone balance the spiritual with the material,there is coming the fraud.
  • Jan 27 2012: Someone in my city was injured yesterday and is in critical condition. In response, people have been invited to gather in prayer at a location nearby. I understand, people need connection and a sense of community. This is fundamental to human nature. So, while optimism and support are always vital in situations like these, especially for those closest to the victim, is there a way to achieve this without the superficial pretense of prayer?

    I can understand vocalizing your will over a difficult situation that you are powerless to control, but to make an emotional appeal to an entity to resolve event X (in the victim's favor) when that entity is responsible for creating an environment where event X *can* occur, thereby *allowing* it to occur, is ridiculous, and probably delusional.


    The person died. guess prayer didn't help. how tragic for his wife and children. may they find the strength and will to recover.