I was watching some clips from your show on Youtube. I am always interested in the challenges presented by differing views. Your hosts make some compelling points about what seems to be a great injustice in the belief in hell.The problem with most of the anti-religion views is that they focus on the unknowable or unprovable. Atheists don’t have answers but they are always challenging points within religion that even the practitioners don’t know or can’t prove.The problem with most of religion is that it intentionally deals with the unknowable or unprovable. Atheists don’t claim to have certainty about the answers, but we object to unjustified assumptions about subjects that people do not and cannot know about — by your own statements.
You’re atheists so you’ve probably heard the statement, “even if you know 1 percent of all that is to be known in the universe couldn’t God exist within the 99 percent of everything you don’t know.”You are not wrong to question, only wrong to think you know everything there is to know in this universe to the exclusion of God.
I think you may be working with a misconception about what atheists actually claim. No atheist I know think that we know everything in the universe to the exclusion of God. That would be absurd. Rather, we say that, given what we do know about the universe, there is no reason to believe in a God, and certainly no reason to confidently claim knowledge of what a god would want us to do. To my mind, that’s terribly arrogant.We are so limited in our understanding and even our language fails to grasp even the simplest of ideas. I would suggest the book Godel Escher and Bach to challenge your idea that science has the answers.
Godel Escher Bach is my favorite book. I’m not exaggerating; it is probably the single most influential book on my way of thinking. So needless to say, I’ve never claimed that science answers everything — only that the alternative that theists propose to believe things by faith does not appear to lead to anything that can be justifiably considered true.
And by the way, you should know that Douglas Hofstadter — while he has never explicitly claimed atheism to my knowledge — has declared himself to be non-religious and a materialist.
http://www.celebatheists.com/?title=Douglas_HofstadterThe short version of that book is a story from China.A Chinese Teacher was walking with his student and the student said, ” teacher what is the meaning of life?”The teacher picked up a stick and said, “is this a stick? If you say no you ignore the fact. If you say yes you deny its existence.The “stick” has length, weight, color, history, shape, produces heat, floats, water content, etc, ad infinitum. Our words like “stick” don’t even begin to describe the simplest item and yet we try to use them to grasp an infinite universe or the meaning of life or the existence of God.When it comes to the big questions humanity is vastly under-equipped to meet the challenge with our short lives and inadequate language.My own view is that God exists and I am only beginning to begin to understand his unknowable greatness.
How are you beginning to understand this if it’s unknowable? That doesn’t make sense to me. Your claim that the subject is incomprehensible cuts both ways, you see. If we have no way of understanding anything about god, for what reason would you conclude that one exists?Your host made a very unprofessional and offensive comment about “handjobs for God.” I’m paraphrasing from the “why are you a christian youtube video.”The reality is more likely that those who are faithful and given understanding sing out praise to God and his majesty. Your hosts description imagines that God is unworthy. I can assure you he is worthy. If you want to know how I know God exists I would be glad to share that with you.
Sure, I’d love to know how you know something that you previously stated was unknowable. What changed?For now you would be better served to seek answers than to dissuade others from seeking answers in their own way. The answer may be in your 1 percent (more like .0000000000000000000000000000000000001 percent and even less) or another persons “1 percent.”
We are seeking answers. If you have a better reason to believe in God than the ones I have been presented with in the past, please feel free to share it.Why should it offend you if God exists?
It doesn’t offend me. As it happens, I just don’t think a God does exist.
Thanks for the decent replies. I wasn’t sure if the rude statements were limited to the youtube videos.
You’re welcome, but I can certainly get ruder if you’d prefer, so as to match your expectations.I appreciate your honesty. It is said that the beginning of wisdom is a recognition of our ignorance. When I said unknowable I meant in this lifetime. One lifetime is not enough to know everything or even a fraction of the universe let alone the nature of God. When we prove to be eternal we have a chance.
Are you dead, then? You appear to be very much alive as far as I can tell, and yet you’re still claiming that there are things that living people cannot know, and yet you think you know them. I’m finding this curious.Explaining faith with words is futile for the reasons I outlined before. I think Chinese thinkers have come the furthest in understanding the limits of words. A Chinese philosopher/teacher would probably answer your question by saying Mu.
Okay then, but saying Mu doesn’t actually help to resolve the question. You’re stating that you know you are right and I am wrong. I don’t actually know that, and I am still trying to sort out what appears to be a distinctly Western sort of positivism on your part that you know this thing that you called unknowable.How do I know God exists? The same way you know that God doesn’t exist. A lifetime of searching for answers. You found your .0000000000000001 percent and I have found mine.
I’m sorry, but I can’t seem to shake the feeling that you weren’t actually paying attention to what I said in my first reply. I specifically rejected the idea that we know God doesn’t exist. Yet here you are trying to make me relate to your claims by asserting that I have this “knowledge” in the same way that you do.
What I find curious about the approach you’ve been taking is that you’ve accused me of doing something that I don’t do, and then you’ve gone ahead and done that very thing yourself. When you claim that you “know” God exists, but you can’t seem to muster up any reasons and merely dismiss the question, it seems to me that you’re the one who is taking a limited set of facts and drawing a definite conclusion that would require a lot more information than you currently have. Am I wrong about that?I can’t create God as a reality to you anymore than you can prove Gods lack of existence. Read Godel Escher and Bach again and you will find the same logical flaw explained in the book.
Again: Hofstadter’s position on God seems to be pretty close to my own, so I’m very sure that reading the book again won’t get me any closer to understanding this knowledge that you claim to have. Why are you trying to make your case by referring me to the work of a non-religious materialist, rather than just saying it yourself? If it can’t be put into words, then how would reading Hofstadter’s words change the situation?Or check out Stephen Hawkings Quote below.Up to now, most people have implicitly assumed that there is an ultimate theory that we will eventually discover. Indeed, I myself have suggested we might find it quite soon. However, M-theory has made me wonder if this is true. Maybe it is not possible to formulate the theory of the universe in a finite number of statements. This is very reminiscent of Godel’s theorem. This says that any finite system of axioms is not sufficient to prove every result in mathematics.
That may well be true, but this time you’ve definitely picked a self-identified fellow atheist to support your belief in a God. Listen to what else Hawking had to say:
“I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”
Isn’t it curious that all the people you cite to explain the ineffability of the universe, seem to have also reached the conclusion that there is probably no God? What is it that you think you know that they don’t?Like I said words fail. If it’s impossible to formulate a theory of the universe in a finite number of statements then the same goes for an infinite God. Neither of us will be able to use words or logic to “prove” one way or the other. Not in this lifetime.
All right, then in the absence of any new reasons to believe in any gods, I will continue to reject the idea. Thanks again for getting in touch.
Russell,From your answers I think we are talking on two different levels. M-theory, theoretical math and Zen/Eastern philosophy don’t seem to be in your background.Best of luck. I hope you find what your looking for.
We have come to an impasse. You claim that you don’t know everything in the universe but you know with certainty God and heaven and hell do not exist. You have that belief without any scientific proof. You have that belief without ever traveling beyond this planet or beyond death.Congratulations you have faith.
M-theory, theoretical math and Zen/Eastern philosophy don’t seem to be in your background.
And basic critical thinking doesn’t seem to be in yours. So that’s a pretty big impasse, all right.