TED Conversations

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.


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • 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 wehi.edu 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.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.