Originally posted by Skyfloating
"God hides in two ways. One way is that God hides so that it is very difficult to find him and yet he who knows that God is hiding from him can
advance toward him and find him. The other way is that God hides from a man the fact that he is hiding and, since the seeker knows so little about
God, he cannot find him. It is this that is referred to in the words "I shall hide, hide". God hides the fact that he is hiding, and then those from
whom he is hiding do not know him - the hidden one". - Jewish Proverb
Well...Jewish proverb or not, it's sort of silly. Granted, this comes from a culture that actively admits a deity's violation of free will as found
in the story of Exodus and declares that there is only a select group that is chosen by a deity....so of course they'll have some sort of silly
The odd thing is that those who most actively argue on behalf of not believing in deities themselves have quite a bit of knowledge of deities. Some
were priests, ministers, nuns, imams. Others were merely devout. Some just decided to take a very active interest in the religion they happened to be
born into...and found it lacking.
Thank you for your thoughtful response.
To extend the courtesy, I'll use a quote of my own:
"Time spent arguing with the faithful is, oddly enough, almost never wasted."
Christopher Hitchens, Letters to a Young Contrarian (2001)
But you would consider the idea of a Supreme Intelligence operating the Universe as at least philosophically valid, right?
Philosophically valid in what sense? From what I understand in my studies of philosophy, an idea which is philosophically valid has to be grounded in
reason. The idea of a supreme intelligence operating the universe doesn't seem to be founded in more than speculation. Such an idea doesn't seem to
have any place beyond the realm of speculation.
But you would oppose Theism playing a role in politics and economy such as when keeping "In God We Trust" on the Dollar-Bill, correct?
Keeping, originally putting it there sometime in the last hundred years in the first place (off-hand point, not going to bother with a cited date).
Yes, secularism is an issue for me. Of course, I found such an idea sort of silly as a Christian.
Do you view life as cause-and-effect?
Am I a determinist? Yes and no. I do understand that determinism is probably the only logically tenable position in light of the evidence, though
quantum mechanics may leave room for free will according to some interpretations. Of course, I still act...or at least am compelled to act by cause
and effect as if I do have free will because it's better to be safe than sorry.
If so, what is the original cause, or where does life, the universe and everything originate?
42? In all seriousness:
This is a great question, because it gives me the chance to say something that I have the courage to say as both an atheist and a critical thinker: I
simply don't know.
I, like everyone else on this planet, do not know how everything originated and I would never presume to. Of course, this is not a weakness in either
atheism or evolution as neither maintains the burden of explaining where life, the universe, and everything originated.
To be clear, atheism is merely not believing in any deity.
If this is all Atheism is about, then why are there so many books and webposts written about it?
Well, it depends on what the specific books and webposts are about. If you take a look at my own post history, the threads I have authored have either
been about atheists as individuals, treatment of atheists in society, or questions for the religious from a 'not believing in deities'
So many books have been written about it because it is a position that is consistently under attack. Nowhere in the books of Dawkins, Hitchens,
Dennett, or Harris do we find much about atheism as itself, merely about atheists as people, issues with religion, and an explanation of why atheism
is a tenable position. Atheism isn't actually the topic, it's the reasons for atheism that are.
Wouldnt the following statement be more honest... "We know many of the facts of life but there are many things we dont know. And then there are
things we dont know that we dont know"?
Well, that is what atheism, at least agnostic atheism, is about. It is not believing
. Belief is not a reality claim.
Do you disagree with Abraham Maslow, who observed: There are things we know, there are things we dont know and there are things we dont know that we
It's quite a good statement. But the things we don't know we don't know are discovered through rational inquiry, critical thinking, and/or the
scientific method. They aren't just presumed.
How would anybody know if there is a Supreme Intelligence behind everything or not?
Well, we couldn't. But we also couldn't know if there are faeries in the bottom of my garden with a little house beneath the lemon tree. Not a good
reason to accept it as a valid conjecture.
Of course, your claim isn't merely that of a Supreme Intelligence, as you have personally described yourself as an individual who also claims that
such an intelligence is available for experience at the personal level. Such a being would then be something we could test. The second the Supreme
Intelligence interferes in any way with the natural world it becomes a subject of science.
I will be arguing that there is no good reason to accept the claims of the existence of any deity.
If there is no good reason to be a Theist then I am a theist because....? The implication here is that I must be deluded or stupid?
No, it's that you're not using a good reason. You might have a
reason, it just doesn't have to be a good one. I can make no comment on
whether or not you're deluded, as I would hate to participate in the ill practice of forum psychology where users psychoanalyze other users based on
posts, but I would claim that you are far from stupid. You seem like at the very least a fairly bright individual.
People do all sorts of things for no good reason. I'm not even saying that you're not using reason, I'm saying you're not applying it properly. We
all make mistakes and we all have different thresholds for what we expect from the evidence or proof of something. Yours may simply be more lax than
There is simply no good reason to accept theistic claims. Theists may not care about reason when it comes to theism, but I happen to apply reason
universally as I see great benefits from it whenever I apply it.
This is the crux of the issue. If you would not see benefits for your own life and the lives of others, then you would not be investing time arguing
your point. The same applies to me. I argue for Theism because I see benefits for myself and others.
Well, I never said I don't see benefits. Of course, one of my primary reasons for participating in this discussion is to actually show that a civil
discourse over such issues can be had on this forum. Now, I do see the benefits of reason and skepticism and atheism in all things, but I do not wish
to force it upon people. Which is why there are forums where people can start threads which must be clicked on to view.
I fully agree with your statement that applying reason is beneficial for personal and collective survival. But your statement reads as if you are
equating Atheism with Reason. And if you are, your previous statement of Atheism being merely a disbelief in a deity is false. Atheism then, for you,
would also mean practicing and applying reason. Am I correct in saying so?
No, this would be a false conclusion from my premises. I'm saying that atheism is the necessary product of a reasoned evaluation of the issues at
hand. Atheism itself has nothing to do with reason, it is merely a conclusion arrived at due to its practice. Had I come to the conclusion of Islam
through reason, Islam itself would not be the practice of reason.
To make this perfectly clear, atheism is not a belief. It contains nothing beyond the lack of belief in any claim of the existence of a deity. To call
the lack of belief in something a belief is to inherently contradict yourself.
Atheism is a Position. It is something you argue and invest time in. It is something you study about. It is a position you use in order to address
I'm sorry, but I think you're confusing atheism, which means "I do not believe in any deity", with activism on behalf of atheism and atheists. I
do not invest a lot of time not believing in deities, I'd venture that not believing in something requires no time and effort on my part. I don't
study about not believing in deities either. I do happen to study philosophical works, some of which relate to atheism and some which do not.
Now, I do use atheism as a term to refer to not believing in deities and I do use it as a reference point when discussing religious positions...which
are beliefs. Rejecting other positions isn't itself a position. It actually seems like this is a recycling of the old "atheism is a
Were you disappointed by Theism and Mysticism?
Were you disappointed by Bigotry and Fanaticism?
Always have been, always will be. Now, bigotry and fanaticism drove me out of certain avenues, though not all of them. There were plenty of religious
groups in my area that were not bigoted, not fanatical, and full of nice people.
Evolution itself is an entirely separate issue.
Not entirely. If you ask an Atheist "If you dont believe in God, what do you then believe is the origin of life?" he will frequently rely on
...Origin of life? I already went over this in my opening. Evolution has nothing to do with anything beyond the change in a population. The origin of
life in science is dealt with in the field of abiogenesis. Please, don't saddle this debate with off-topic points.
If Richard Dawkins is anything to go by (which Ive read by the way) then Evolution is an idea Atheists like to use as an alternative to the Creation
Evolution is not used by atheists because they are atheists, it is used by atheists and theists alike because it is scientific fact. Evolution
doesn't even deal with all of the issues of the creation story. It says nothing on the formation of our planet, the stars, the solar system, the
origin of life, etc. Evolution deals with change in populations over time.
I dont for a second doubt Evolution. But, as you have probably guessed, many of us dont view nature, biology, evolution, chemistry or physics as a
"cause" or "source" of life but as the effect of a superordinate cause.
Well, we're not talking about the cause of life. We're talking about evolution here. I have already defined evolution. it is towards the middle of
my opening post.
Evolution says nothing about the origin of life, the origin of the universe, or the meaning of either. Evolution is perfectly compatible with the idea
of a deity,
In that case our Discussion of Evolution ends here, because we agree. It is not Evolution that is being refuted but Creationism that is being promoted
- but not as an alternative to Evolution.
The problem is in promoting creationism you must ignore a lot more than evolution, you must simply ignore the scientific method.
Im certainly not claiming that evidence doesnt matter. When I sign a legal document, I dont rely on Mysticism, I rely on hard facts and evidence. In
the classroom I hope that the curriculum relies on things that are proven or that there is evidence for. In the realm and domain of the world,
Then why must we add another realm or domain?
In the spiritual realm, faith matters. Faith is the act of believing in something that cannot be seen or for which there is no evidence.
And thus faith is useless. Faith is something many have in many different positions on the same issue. It stands to reason that there's no way to say
one or any of them are wrong if what they believe in cannot be seen and has no evidence. You are quite literally adding the idea of another realm on
which we cannot make comment and yet where making comment in the face of nothing is encouraged.
Everyone is merely taking a shot in the dark with faith. I prefer to light a candle.
The ignorant view us as gullible slaves who naively embrace fairy-tales.
You're right, such language is unnecessary and demeaning...except the fairy-tales part. I don't like people using the term 'fairy-tale' in a
derogatory manner, as they are some great stories with great lessons.
But the actual purpose of belief-without-evidence is "to make the unmanifest manifest" and to develop the character-traits of trust,
goodwill, visionary thinking.
Yet we can do these things without belief-without-evidence. I can trust in my loved ones without evidence. I can exhibit goodwill with nothing more
than a hint of empathy. As for visionary thinking, history is ripe with examples of visionary atheists.
Atheists have created somewhat of a stigma around the word "Faith". But if you did not have faith in your loved ones, faith that your employer would
be at months end, faith that you will get a diploma for studying, faith that the car in front of you wont suddenly brake, would you be capabable of or
interested in any action whatsoever?
There is a difference between how you use the word faith for religion and how you are using it in the above question. The faith in your examples all
comes from evidence. It is not the same to have "faith" which is a synonym for trust based on repeated experience and have belief-without-evidence.
And if life really were a random chain of chemical reactions and coincidental arisings, would you feel compelled to do anything at all?
Well, I clearly do. In fact, I'd find it all the more compelling. It's like suddenly realizing that you just happened upon the greatest gift you
could ever have been given, so you might as well make the best of it.
Of course, your point doesn't actually have relevance to the discussion as it doesn't hold any value as to the truth of your statements. If this is
all a series of chemical reactions and we just got a good break and you find that grim...so what? It's grim, learn to live with it.
I will simply point out that all ideas that are proposed without evidence should be simply dismissed without evidence
Is that not akin to saying "What I, personally, do not see or experience, should be dismissed"?
No, it is not. Evidence takes many forms. If I propose to you something without the reasonable threshold of evidence for it then you have every right
to dismiss it. Of course, the threshold of evidence is different for different claims. The more extraordinary a claim is the more extraordinary the
evidence must be.
Both Science and Religion are the basis of modern society.
I would disagree with the latter. Modern society may have been thoroughly influenced by religion, but all that we have today that defines our society
is separate from religion.
Without striving for higher intellect and spirit, feats such as building the Cathedrals would have never been accomplished.
...and those would hardly be described as modern. I'm talking modern society as in having a life expectancy of 72 today rather than the 58 it was 80
years ago. I'm talking about the advances in communication that have shaped our modern life and allowed for this to happen.
And we would still have the Eiffel Tower, the Sydney Opera House, the St. Louis Arch, the Golden Gate Bridge, the massive skyscrapers, Big Ben, etc.
We would still have our Cathedrals, but they might be buildings of a different sort.
Most inventions came from inner inspiration rather than cold fact. Inner inspiration is arguably a spiritual trait.
Then argue it. I'd apply inspiration as a product of connecting previously existed ideas in your brain meat together in a manner that is novel and
innovative. It can happen spontaneously or intentionally.
Civilization owes as much to ancient Hindus as to Christians who set sail to the Americas as to Science.
Yes, the ancient Hindus did do some great scientific things, like create the first concepts of vaccination. Of course, their religion had nothing to
do with it. And the Christians who set sail to the Americas didn't do much for us that was due to their religion rather than anything else.
Very simplified, all Religions have one underlying belief: That of a superordinate reality as compared to worldly reality. That of an implicit order
as compared to an explicit order.
And yet most religions go far beyond this claim. Of course, this is all an odd aside, as I'm talking about not believing in any deity, not that
there is or is not a greater reality.
My rebuttals to your claims here would be....well...pointless. You've ventured beyond the realm of atheism
into the realm of materialism. I'm not here to defend materialism, that is beyond the scope of the title. I will thusly skip ahead to this part.
But no, the invisible should be invisible and the visible should be visible. If everything were visible and easily proven, there would be no
challenge, no leaps of faith, no spiritual growth, no discovery.
No discovery? I'm sorry, but I'd like to point out that we have discovered more in the last 200 years of inquiry into the natural world than the
previous 5000 years of religious inquiry ever provided us. And we still have a long way to go with the natural world. And science is far from easily
The other problem is that all theistic claims of deities inherently involve this 'invisible' thing interacting with the 'visible' world in a
manner that would clearly leave a physical imprint.
Atheists seeing Theists as dumb and Theists seeing Atheists as dumb is because of the perspective from which they view "the other side".
I don't view theists as dumb. I would never claim that billions of people are dumb, as that claim itself would be dumb. Some of the people I most
respect are theists, two of them are theists by trade (priests). I'd prefer to say that theists are making bad claims.
I'll remove the personal anecdote. It doesn't do much for your point. Yes, there are good and bad here, but we're not arguing about institutions,
we're not arguing about people. We're arguing about the positive assertion that you are making of a "Supreme Intelligence" aka Deity. Please, try
to stay on topic.
Now, I have a few questions of my own:
Question #1: How can a mystical/theistic claim be valid if there is nothing behind it but conjecture?
Question #2: How can a mystical/theistic claim be considered of greater value than another such claim if there is nothing behind it but conjecture?
Question #3: Why is it all necessary anyway?