Mail bag odds and ends: Which God don’t you believe in?


This is just a minor email topic that came up, and probably familiar territory to most viewers. Even so, it’s been a while since we posted anything that wasn’t an announcement or an open thread, so here’s a topic to chatter about.

This exchange was actually kind of long and tedious, because the person kept asking vague questions where he wouldn’t really explain what he was talking about. I had to ask a whole lot of clarifying questions, which I won’t repost, in order to make him get to a point. I’ll speed you through it.

…should atheist people believe they can educate people when the very definition of the word educate goes against what atheists people believe?

An atheist is a person who does not believe in any gods. Atheists (at least most atheists, I assume) believe that humans are capable of creating social systems, such as education, on their own. There is no conflict between those things that I’m aware of.

…When you say the word God I get 1000 pictures that the probability of me guessing what picture or groups of pictures you mean is unfair to you. What do you mean when you say the word God?

That is actually a good question, which is difficult to answer properly. The English language is a very fluid thing, and the word “God” in particular means thousands of different things to different people.
I think that the various concepts of “God” are pretty much all human inventions. So although I say “I don’t believe in any gods,” I don’t mean a specific version. I can only discuss the meaning of “God” that any particular theist has in their head while talking about it.
Of course, if you want to get literal minded about it, anything could be called a “God.” So you could say “I believe this snorkel is God. Don’t you believe in that?” I’d say “Yeah, obviously I believe that snorkel exists. I think it’s kind of meaningless to CALL IT a God. But if you want to do that, knock yourself out. I guess I’m not an atheist about that God.”
Most commonly though, in modern society, when people say “God” they usually mean some kind of intelligent supernatural force that has enough power and intent to create the natural universe entirely, and possibly (though not always) interferes with the day to day lives of people on Earth. I can say with confidence that I don’t believe in THAT kind of God, or any close variations of it.

Comments

  1. unfogged says

    …should atheist people believe they can educate people when the very definition of the word educate goes against what atheists people believe?

    Sounds like he may be confusing atheist with nihilist

  2. says

    Wasn’t it just a few weeks ago that we got the argument:

    1) The Big Bang is God
    2) The Big Bang is demonstrably true
    3) Therefore, God is demonstrably true

    Every god definition I’ve ever heard has fallen into one of two categories:

    1) Unimportant/irrelevant redefinitions
    2) Undemonstrated

  3. mattfwood says

    Or with “agnostic,” if he’s further confusing the idea of “not knowing whether a god exists” with “not knowing anything.”

  4. eeLymmoT says

    That’s a wonderful point that sums up, damn near, every conversation with a theist.
    Dinesh D’souza is notorious for this kind of ‘side-stepping’… along with every other apologist.

  5. aunrd says

    Baal is real. He’s in the Bible afterall. The Bible is totally true donchaknow. Where are all the Baalists? My meetings are kinda lonely.

  6. jdon says

    I belong to a group of Baalists that embrace aspects of Free Thought.

    We call ourselves the Free Baalers.

  7. says

    I find no convincing evidence for the existence of any supernatural entities. If someone can provide me with proof I’m willing to consider it. Until they can, I’ll continue to think of myself as an atheist. I don’t call myself an agnostic because I think that if there were any supernatural entities who interacted with the physical world they would have left some evidence. To me it’s not true that you can’t prove either that gods exist or they do not. If one or more existed, it should be provable. So get busy proving or admit the truth.

  8. says

    There’s a weird meme lately (new to me but probably not new) of attacking the big bang. We know that the universe is expanding and that everything seems to be speeding away from the same point and time. I don’t “believe” in the big bang theory so much as see the evidence and reasoning. It doesn’t explain everything and who knows maybe some new evidence will alter our understanding of what happened. Or maybe some of it we just can’t know. None of that causes me to lose sleep at night. I hate when theists try to project their need for irrational belief on to me. I require evidence and reason. If you can prove it, I’ll agree with your ideas. And of course our understanding of the universe changes as we get new evidence. That is the point of the scientific method, not a design flaw.

  9. Bob Tavis says

    Religion is intractable. It does not like change. Divine proclamations cannot be challenged in principle. The words are holy and to alter them anathema. That is why science is resisted. It changes as new knowledge surfaces, as new discoveries are made and evaluated, as the layers of the onion of existence are peeled away and new frontiers exposed.

    Religion remains immutable, transfixed and petrified. Yet, the inertia of change is powerful. Like the undertow of the ocean. Reason drags the pious down to the depths of their beliefs and exposes them for the shallowness that they are. They cannot stare into the face of the Gorgon and not be transfixed. They try to resist the force of critical thought and struggle to maintain the glory and power they once held over mankind.

    And they never realize that the source of their inspiration and awe came from the wellspring that they have lost all communion with; that they subjugated and rejected. The source that brought all of the manifestations that marked humankind apart from all else. Themselves.

    Best they sleep for in rest perhaps they can awaken, be renewed, reborn and ready for the world as it really is.

  10. Edward says

    I think a simple answer to the “which gods don’t you believe in?” question is.. “well, describe a god and I’ll let you know”

    Personally, every possible positive description of a god I’ve ever heard (when I could even coax an attempt out of a ‘god’ believer) has been not just evidence-free, but logically impossible. So, it’s a bit difficult to believe in something a person can’t even describe to me. Personally, I find it more than silly the person claims a belief in something he can’t even describe. What are you even believing in if you can’t even describe it coherently?

    I await the day when a person can describe the ‘god’ they believe in, let alone have it remotely match up to the god of their holy stories.

  11. Hairy Chris, blah blah blah etc says

    Tell them that you’re an ignostic atheist and let them work that one out for themselves.

  12. Lord Narf says

    Heh, yeah, I just made a comment like that on another post around here, only about the supernatural, in general. Until someone properly describes what the hell the word even means and why it is a useful label to add to anything, I can’t even make up my mind for certain.

    Religious thinkers almost all make deliberate use of fuzzy language, in an attempt to sound meaningful without actually providing meaning.

  13. Yellow Thursday says

    I don’t believe in any gods. Granted, I was raised Catholic, so the Catholic God was the first one I actively didn’t believe. (I only passively didn’t believe in any other gods up to that point.) Then, as I examined other gods that humans believe or believed in, I found that I didn’t believe in any of them. So now I actively don’t believe in any gods.

  14. William Bailey says

    I started out as a Methodist (because I was baptized and raised as one), and then I became a born-again Baptist, and then I flirted with Catholicism, finally in college I decided I was agnostic. I self-identified as an agnostic for about a decade. I finally tried to figure out why I felt I couldn’t decide if there were or weren’t gods. I didn’t believe in any of the Norse, Roman, or Greek gods. I didn’t believe in any of the other pantheon of gods. But I was calling myself agnostic when it came to the Christian god, and the evidence was exactly the same for all of them. Finally I came to the self-realization that I was an atheist, and had been an atheist for some time. That was a really liberating moment. I’ve lost a few friends over this realization, but if they were really friends they’d still be friends no matter what I thought, wouldn’t they..? I mean, I wouldn’t stop being friends with them if they suddenly started believing in ghosts or witches. I might try to show them the error in their ways, but shunning them would seem to be an act of desperation, out of fear. Maybe they were concerned that it might rub off..?

  15. says

    Theists use this type of thing all the time once you eat away at their irrational arguments. What it always seems to boil down to is the Deist perspective. The reason why? Because we can neither prove nor disporve the existence of a deity. Then they feel their “faith” is justified. That’s when I like to throw the Flying Spaghetti Monster at them. Once they realize how rediculous that concept is they then see my point and concede.

    http://secularatheist.blogspot.com/

  16. Monocle Smile says

    The “nihilist” label theists love to attach to atheism is rather tiresome. I’ve been accused of being a nihilist, then when I explain how this is wrong, the theist has claimed I’m lying and that I’m both a nihilist and in denial of my knowledge of god.

    There’s really nothing like being told exactly what I do or do not know based on a word describing a response to a single claim.

  17. Narf (the abdicator) says

    I don’t even see what’s really wrong with nihilism. Ultimately, none of this crap really matters. I don’t think anyone on the board would disagree.

    One day we’ll all be dead, as will our species. But right now, we are alive, and it matters to us now … and that’s good enough.

  18. L.Long says

    God is NOT the psychic Ahole’s NAME!!!! I wish those self-centered egotistical dimwitted xtians-jews-islame sheeple would get that thru their thick skulls. god or allah is the job description. Which is why when these sheeple say do you believe in gawd? I always ask ‘which one?’ And they really and actually look puzzled. And these dimwits are really dim! I was talking to a xtian who states ‘yes I have read the buyBull and studied science.’ 90% of the time I know that he just said two lies. I stated ‘that the was no way the incompetent Yahweh ever existed.’ And he returned a dim look and asked ‘who’s Yahweh?’ As far as I can tell here in NC there is the Ahole Cheeses and that’s it. And although they all carry buyBulls around none has ever READ it.

  19. Curt Cameron says

    Narf wrote:

    Ultimately, none of this crap really matters…

    But right now, we are alive, and it matters to us now.

    I was going to disagree with your first paragraph, then I noticed that you already did it for me in your second paragraph.

    Sure, at the end of the universe, all the drama that played out on a little planet going around a plain star in an out-of-the-way corner of an insignificant galaxy won’t matter then, but it sure as hell matters to me now.

  20. Narf (the abdicator) says

    It’s that ultimately modifier that is the important bit, in the first sentence you quoted.

  21. Narf (the abdicator) says

    Heh, tell us what you really think about them. :D

    You’re right, though. It’s sad how many of them don’t know the bare basics of their own theology.

  22. Matt Gerrans says

    Thanks for the summary, Russel. I hope you also returned that question about the definition of God. It seems pretty reasonable that the person positing the existence of something should be able to clearly and precisely define what that something is.

    It’s worth noting that the god of the Bible is very poorly and inconsistently defined in the Bible. You’d think that is one thing the Bible should do well, but it doesn’t. Is he loving or vengeful? Does he live in a box with two carrying sticks attached, or in the firmament? Or does he live “outside space and time” whatever the heck that means? Whatever the definition theists choose, I’d like to know the chapter and verse that backs up their claim. You don’t get to just make it up, kids. At least not if you want others to be convinced it isn’t just your personal fantasy.

  23. DataCable says

    Russel,

    At any point during this discussion did the question arise of which god(s) your opponent doesn’t believe in?

  24. says

    Which is probably why church’s are constantly having what they call revivals. It’s a chance for them to jump start their faith seeing how faith doesn’t have much on it’s own merit. So it would appear that either their faith doesn’t last very long or it’s just pathetic to begin with. The way I see it there really isn’t much to go with when I would need something a lot more tangible. After all isn’t a myth a religion that no one no longer believes in?

  25. says

    How about the new and improved god? You know the one who isn’t a prejudiced, hypocritical,self rightious,self centered dictator that wants everyone to be his slaves and call him Lord and Master.

  26. DataCable says

    I was thinking more along the lines of mythologies and pantheons to which he or she does not subscribe, e.g. Greek, Roman, Norse, Aztec, etc.

  27. sqlrob says

    Is there an objective source to morality? If your answer is no, you’re a nihilist. If the only purpose for living is the purpose you give it, you’re a nihilist.

    I have trouble seeing how an atheist can’t be a nihilist. I freely admit to being one. The “there is no purpose to life, woe is me” type of nihilist is not the only one. Theists just don’t get the idea that they can be the source of their own purpose.

  28. Bob Tavis says

    This is interesting about people: we greet each other with the casual phrases, “what’s new,” or “what’s happening?” And yet for the most part we seek mediocre continuity of our existence. Change brings challenges and we may fear the inability to adapt or cope with those changes. Change may require adjustments to our thinking and behavior. Small changes are obviously easy to cope with but big changes can be threatening.

    I think revivals are just affirmations of what already existed so they don’t really change anything. If it is perceived as change it is an illusion but in fact is a re-affirmation of status quo. It would be like science having a revival of alchemy.

    I do believe the faithful need constant renewal. Faith has to be reinforced to sustain itself. If anyone starts to drift they need to be pulled back to the fundamental belief lest they become free thinkers. Faith needs to be habitual. That is why there are so many incantations in religion. “Amen” becomes a mantra of affirmation.

    I believe in science but I do not need to go to some place of scientific worship each week to re-affirm my belief. I believe in it because the scientific method works and is demonstrable and repeatable. It can be shared, challenged, falsified. Religion needs miracles but science does not (rare, unexplained events notwithstanding).

  29. Lord Narf says

    Sounds like a fair way to put it. I’ve heard from a few fundamentalist Christians who speak of the 5 or 6 times, in 20 or 30 years, when they rededicated themselves to Christ. People don’t go to this sort of thing to become a Christian in the first place.

    I think this is where you also get some of the ex-atheists from … those few who aren’t just flat-out lying about it. They were always really Christians, but some of them, like Kirk Cameron, wandered off from the faith and didn’t pay any attention to their religious beliefs. Then, when the preacher tells them that they’re now real Christians, now that they’ve been born again, they mark it off as a much bigger milestone than it actually was.

  30. Bob Tavis says

    I think we fall into a trap of labeling. I am a musician and despite the fact that music in general is compartmentalized into so many different genres as a musician I do not think about any of it when composing. Most composers don’t. Similar with artists which I also am. We just do what comes natural to us and the labels are applied by others after the fact.

    But since humans are the “namers of things,” it is an unsurprising result. I think labeling automatically trivializes and is potentially dismissive and prejudicial. I could present what I think and believe in great detail and someone will quickly assess and categorize me into one of the labeling buckets they have already established. I think doing that pigeonholes a position in a way that creates problems in understanding.

    I am reminded of what Carl Jung said to his students about the psychological assessments of patients: “Learn everything you can about psychology; all the terms, definitions and therapies and then when you confront the patient, forget them.” What he meant was that if you really want to understand what the patient is presenting do so without automatically putting them into some prescribed category.

  31. Curt Cameron says

    Narf, I guess I misunderstood what you meant by “ultimately.” I was thinking something more like “at the conclusion of our analysis” when you meant “when the universe ends.”

  32. Lord Narf says

    Ah. I figured you just missed it. It’s sometimes easy to miss an adjective that puts the whole thing into context. I do it all the time.

  33. Hairy Chris, blah blah blah etc says

    “I believe in an incoherent god claim.”

    Honest, but I can’t see it catching on for some reason.

  34. says

    I was being sarcastic of the present day religions like Christianity, Judaism, and Islam as to why would anyone want a god like these ones as oppose to one who would treat others with respect, hold themselves accountable for what they are responsible for, and in general a god that’s at least isn’t a giant ass-hole.

    I wonder which god I would want to worship?

  35. rocket says

    oh really ? what about Bonhoffer , Tolstoy , Kierkegaard , Augustine, Dosteyevsky, Simone Weil , Pascal , Isaac Newton, etc etc.. the list goes on and on and on . some of the finest thinkers have been Theists , even Christian . no fuzzy stuff here.

    you want a clear thinking Atheist? they are the rare ones. read Romanian E.M.Cioran . Now that is real Atheist writer ! most of the rest of them are just parating the new atheists that are shallow and only interested in science . Cioran demolished them in his 1950’s book ”a short history of decay ”.

  36. rocket says

    the sad part Narf is that they have been left in a gravyeard of defintions and ideas that is the old paradigm , when there is this thing called the New Testament with Good News . add that to not understaidng theology and you have Christofacism that has created todays Christophobia .

  37. rocket says

    which god would you want to worship ? that is a good question . since ALL our problems come from the dictatorship of our self ( the cult of self ) , then it stands to reason that the liberation must come from someplace -someone else that can pull it off and really set us free. a person may not want that for variuos reasons . the first and obviuos reason is that we think we can liberate ourselves and fixed points that hold us back . trouble with that is how do we get free from the fixity from which they proceed?

    the Self protects itself more than any theology protects its god. how can one escape the self ? if this is not the question than the thinker in question is asking the wrong question , are they not ? it is called DENIAL . Christopher Hitchens was very very good at this . fun to watch his artful dodging by stating that the ultimate oppressor was a god he did not even believe in , meanwhile refusing to admit the obviuos : the Self is the ultimate oppressor . So it is not a question of who you would want to worship , but who you would need to worship in sincerity and i nfull cognition in order to be once and for all liberated .

    the pig-self in us refuses to die so easily , so we all rationalize the self piggy things we do , and the world spins on its axis as so called civilization reels out of control in vertigo, and then naturally when someone comes along , say –God in humility hanging on a cross , our obstruction of mercy blocks us from liberation ..and so we remain haughty , self rightiuos , and there is no difference at this point between the relgiuos pig idiot and the secular pig idiot . Idiocy rules over love .

  38. Narf (the abdicator) says

    Uh, I don’t think Dostoyevsky was a theist.

    Anyway, I’ve read a few of those. They spoke with precision about scientific matters. When it came to speaking about their god, at least from what I’ve read of them, they used the same fuzzy language that you get out of most other theists.

  39. Narf (the abdicator) says

    Maybe English isn’t his first language, and he isn’t as fluent as he think he is? I dunno, besides the lack of capitalization and odd usage of punctuation, the grammar seems mostly correct. I just can’t parse the flow of verbiage into anything meaningful.

  40. says

    For one, not being explicitly theistic, even in academics was frequently self destructive, if not fatal.

    Second, wake me when these great thinkers managed to intelligently and intelligibly make any progress towards demonstrating their particular god concepts. They never seemed to be able to successfully do that.

    What’s Pascal most well known for? Pascal’s idiotic wager.

    Intelligent people are good at coming up with intelligent rationalizations for supporting beliefs they did not arrive at rationally.

    You’re also missing today’s ~80% atheists in the National Academy of the Sciences, who happen to be the ones making most of the scientific progress these days.

  41. Narf (the abdicator) says

    Yes, I’m sure Pascal’s work in mathematics was brilliant and understandable, using precise terminology. That’s not what I’m talking about.

  42. says

    Maybe it would have been better to describe it as “mental word salad”, because the words themselves are understandable, but the concept is garbled.

    What I’d really be curious about is how he intends on demonstrating any of his claims.

  43. Lord Narf says

    Good clarification, Jasper. Yeah, actual word salad is sometimes completely disjointed, unrelated words, thrown together seemingly at random.

  44. says

    This is silly to me, sir. Well I may open up a can of worms here but to be honest NOT being agnostic I find silly. Because, (and yes this is essentially coming down to labels, but also the belief behind them), if you purposefully claim to be, or label yourself, NOT an agnostic, you are making an absolute claim of knowledge arent you? You are saying that you KNOW there is no god. How do you know that a God had to have left evidence? How do you know the universe itself ISNT god? If it was a god with enough power to create the universe, surely it could not leave a trace if that was it’s wish?

    What I’m getting at, is that I don’t understand your anti-agnosticism. For to me (correct me if I’m wrong), it makes absolute claims about things well…we do not absolutely know. An atheist making absolute claims about how the world came to be is in the same boat as a religious person making the same about their religion. OBVIOUSLY there are major differences in each party’s impact etc. but being absolute is being absolute, and I find it irrational.

  45. Narf (the abdicator) says

    I don’t think he’s claiming that he’s absolutely certain. Absolute certainty is a useless standard to aspire to, since it can’t be achieved in anything. The thing is that most people who claim the agnosticism claim a greater degree of uncertainty.

    Most of us here are also agnostics, within certain contexts. I’m not agnostic about the Abrahamic god, but to the question of gods in general, including a deistic god, I am. I never identify myself as agnostic, though, because I find it to be a useless label. Even within contexts in which I’m an agnostic atheist, the atheist component is the more important aspect, since it stands directly in opposition to the theists who are trying to push their bullshit on us.

    That’s my objection to embracing agnosticism as your primary label. It doesn’t answer the primary question. It’s only a modifier.
    “Do you believe a god exists?”
    “I’m agnostic.”
    “Okay, so you’re not certain of your beliefs on the subject, but what are your beliefs? Theism and atheism make up a true dichotomy, by themselves. Are you an agnostic theist or an agnostic atheist?”

    Cutting straight to the atheistic part clarifies things more quickly.

  46. rocket says

    Narf, Dostoyesvsky was certaintly a Theist , even a Christian . He did in literature what Kierkegaard did in philosophy, and that is to present characters in an existentialist predicament and then redeem some of them , as in ”Crime and Punishment ”.

    Victor Hugo was not a Christian but he used it as a literary device in ‘les Miserables”. Both were heavy duty writers dealing with heavy issues . Hugo used christian images as devices and did it brilliantly . Dostoyevsky used those same devices . the difference is is that He really meant it . A study of his personal life shows that.

    i am not sure what you mean by fuzzy . Aquainas ”Summa Theologica ” is about as lucid , clear, and complete as it gets as far the perfect fusion of natural theology of Aristotle and the supernatural theology of Augustine . of course he was the culimation of the rebirth of real hard thinkling and translation in the Middle ages . Richard Rubenstiens’ book ”Aristotles Children ” is the best work on that subject and era from what i can see. nothing fuzzy about it .

  47. rocket says

    Narf , in regards to those comments down below about my style or lack thereof that you and Jasper jumped on .

    first off , allow me to introduce myself : my name is Rocket Kirchner. I am professional muscian singer-songwriter , guitarist ..left wing existentialist Zen eccentric social justice Christian who hates christian apologetics and who plays loud and smokey bars for a living . I write for a progressive blog called Dandelion Salad , and my spelling is bad …. i like ee cummings small caps , except when i use the word DENIAL as i did with those who will not keep ignoring that the self is the source of all tyranny. save the caps for emphasis . and correct spelling surpise .

    i dont get paid to wirte on blogs , but i do get payed to play the guitar ( check youtube ) . so , i hope that my rambling will not throw anyone off on this blog. I have written for SASHA”s blog here ( the Atheist group on the M.U. campus . And have presented my lecture here at the university on Soren Kierkegaard’s influence on Modern Atheism . I discovered this blog cause it was linked up to theirs . this is a cool blog.

    if Jasper of Maine would like me to substantiate any of my claims . that is simple . read Mark Twain . HE paints a very good picture thru historyof what he calls”the damned human race”. why ? SELFISHNESS . Plain as a pikestaff .

  48. Narf (the abdicator) says

    No, I’ve read the Summa Theologica. It’s horribly, logically flawed, and he uses weasel words like crazy. Thomas Aquinas was far from a solid thinker. Each of his 5 proofs ended in a massive argument from ignorance.

  49. Narf (the abdicator) says

    And the formatting style was just a final point I was making. If you had coherently structured your thoughts, I wouldn’t care so much about the lack of regular formatting. I can’t get much meaning from what you said in your comment on #14.

  50. rocket says

    of course . Twain is one of my fav writers. does not matter if one is an Atheist or not . What gets me is that he saw clearly what most Atheists wont admit , and that is that we are our own worst enemy , as in the tyranny of the self .
    Twain is to Atheism was Kierkegaard is to being a Christian , men with rare understanding of how dark things really are …and that we are the shadow, and that shadow of the ax hangs over every human joy. no sugar coating . But as i said , E.M.Cioran is by far my favorite Atheist. takes no prisoners.

    These cats are arsonists , slash and burn . love it .

  51. rocket says

    Matt , the god of the Bible is a paradox… a tragic figure , as in Greek tragedy . if one approaches masterpeice Literature such as Homer , the Bible , Dante , Shakespeare, Milton , etc. etc. and wants to be spoon fed , then they will end up thinking too linear with …well … a spoon in their mouth .

    All literary figures are multi dimensional . that is why people shy away from the Bible , it makes them really think , and do what Socrates says ”The unexamined life is not worth living ”. People would rather die than think . so , many put the spoon in their mouth and become fundamentalists , and the others who reject , do so becuase they cant stand the forboding main character of the book . Both groups …relgiuos fundies , and Atheists miss the point .

    the job of the Christian practioner is not to convinve someone , but to live what Christ commanded — love your enemys , feed the poor , fogive , visit prisoners, be against war …etc. the minute someone says ”prove it to me ” , they are going up the wrong alley . its about inspiration , not proof. its about dimension , soul expansion .

  52. rocket says

    You are assuming that rationality is the be all and end all . Hegel said that ”The rational is real , and the real is rational ”. Both Neitzche and Kierkegaard blew that out of the water by showing just how irrational we humans really are. Unbeleif is just as irrational as faith .

    we try and define ourselves thru rationality . fine . but what do we do when we have drunk the cup dry , so to speak and there is something left in the cup ? that something is our individual existence . this is called the Surd , where we get the word Absurd . we cannot define our existence , it has to be lived out . to refuse to live it out authentically is a cop out . so we live inauthentic lives and say we are so reasonable . but reason in this case has eaten out our eyes. reason has become a whore . reason becomes unreasonable when it stands in the way of living out our lives. The 3 great Atheists of the 20th century : Sartre , Heddigger , and Camus speak of this , and the importance of living by ”virtue of the absurd”.

    reason becomes reasonable when it does what is supposed to do : deal with the consciuos part of the brain . but real life is lived in the unconsiuos weather we like it or not. The Reductionist lives in denial of the whole self , and then wonders why our self is fragmented .

  53. rocket says

    Bob , a post christian world sets the stage for an authentic pre-christian world . Keep your eyes on Europe . it stands a real chance of actually coming full circle and believing again . Amercia is full of Calvinistic hysterics .

  54. rocket says

    Hound –the so called Evolutionist /Creationist debate is a dodge on both sides from dealing with real Earth problems . it has also beocme a political football and power play. it is also Eurocentric , keeping out other views from indigeniuos tribes . Censorship . anti-first amendment stuff. deadly games . doctrines . epilepsy.

    Why arent people working together to create and evolve NOW so we wont kill our selves and this planet? you know why ? cuase they both are chasing knowledge as if it were a god , instead of the prioritys of what is before their eyes. it is easier to argue and throw out red herrings than it is to get busy and help others.

  55. Narf (the abdicator) says

    Or, it’s what it looks like, the beginning of a world relatively free from religious nonsense.

    Besides, how do you know that it isn’t setting the stage for the world-wide dominance of the word of Allah’s true prophet?

  56. Narf (the abdicator) says

    It’s the fundie nuts who are causing most of the world’s problems, right now. That’s why we’re opposing them.

  57. says

    What the fuck are you talking about rocket? Being a bad speller is one thing, being incoherant and irrational is another. I’m having a mental breakdown just trying to piece together your statement. Are you on any kind of psychotropic medication or what?

  58. Peter J Knight says

    It was this show (TAE) that introduced me to the idea of the agnostic atheist (which is how I tend identify myself within this context these days); hitherto I’d thought agnosticism was wishy washy or cowardly (not willing to take a stand either way).

    Also Strong vs Weak atheism or gnostic vs agnostic atheism. It’s a position vis a vis knowledge. You can’t be 100% certain that god doesn’t exist, but you can take the position that the balance of existing evidence (or lack thereof) makes it likely that s/he doesn’t exist.

  59. says

    Rocket my good sir, your views seem incredibly steeped in. I THINK I understand what you’re saying…

    That essentially all of mandkind’s problems come back to themselves, and that our innate selfishness generates and drives forward the world’s problems.
    Also, that some other worldly being, whatever your definition is – NOT a human, is the only thing that is capable of pulling us out of this “funk” ?

    If that is indeed your position, then, duuude…all I can really say is that sure, mankind has a ton of problems. Sure, you can trace them back to us, because well…unless we trace a problem back to the environment – they’re OUR problems.
    second, you mention that you don’t think we’re able to ‘free’ ourselves from essentially what you called in a weird way, our inner emotions and inner behaviours that create problems.

    This I find to be absurd. All throughout history, mankind has evolved. Don’t get me wrong we still have a long long way to go, but I think one by one, we’ve learnt to control, to modify, to even entirely get rid of, negative traits and negative behaviours that have held us back. I think as humans we THRIVE on improvement, on development, it’s just that some people have different ideas of where this improvement lies. I think it is a very plausible idea that humans will be able to liberate themselves. The only real question is if we’ll do it in time…

  60. rocket says

    the difference between an authentic christian athmosphere and relgiuos nonsense is night and day . Bonhoeffer in his ”letters and papers from prison ” talks about a coming new secularity ..a wolrd come of age. this will consist of a certain form of shall we say grown up christianity that has shed all the relgiuos nonsense so that it can embrace the secular without becomeing secularized . this is what i am refering too.

    your question Narf about world wide Islam coming from Europe is an interesting one . i dont know. my point was that once something has died like christendom in its foolish dominating of others , there is a chance that people in that region can re-think the good news a fresh . Amercia is still stuck in the Reformation . its nuts here .

  61. rocket says

    fundamentialism is fundamentilaism . fundies are fundies. dont matter weather they are secular or relgiuos . each side is pointing the finger at the other , blaming each other ..while Rome burns .

  62. rocket says

    Dylan , as to your reponse below — let me speak plain –we have met the enemy and it is us . the ulitmate tyranny is the self. man thinking he can save himself is ”wish thinking ”. i do apprecate your civil reponse , and not attacking my spelling and grammer. when i write a business letter i do it right . when i right an article i do it right . blogs — well…i sort of ramble… but you got my point .

    we agree on the problem, but disagree on the solution .

  63. Narf (the abdicator) says

    You keep using catchphrases like “tyranny of the self”. You should explain what you mean in clear, precise language, rather than using deep-sounding phrases that convey no meaning.

    That’s what we were saying about that first message of yours that we jumped all over. It wasn’t the grammar. It was that you wrote several paragraphs without communicating a single clear concept.

  64. Narf (the abdicator) says

    You can’t have secular fundamentalists. We have no elaborate, dogmatic doctrine about which to hold a fundamentalist perspective.

    You’re making shit up, because you want to present this scenario about both sides being wrong … yet somehow you claim to be right.

  65. Narf (the abdicator) says

    Dude, upon what are you basing your authentic Christian atmosphere? The Bible is a book full of hatred and horror, tying back to Bronze Age myths. There’s very little useful to be taken from it.

    If you’re one of those fuzzy, God-is-love Christians, then what are you basing that belief upon? It sure as hell isn’t the Bible.

  66. rocket says

    no repy button to your response on what i base my belief on comment . so i will have use this .

    i am one of those God is love christians . i base my faith on subjective experience of course. since no one can prove objective reality, it only makes good horsesence to do so . ”Truth is subjectivity, and existence is a category that relates to being an individual , not axioms or systems ”, Soren Keirkegaard said .

    the Bible to me inspires me . that is all. it is not a moral book , so i dont care about moral arguments. what you may not be used to is a critically minded NEW testament Christian . why ? becuase there is so much Old testment stuff going around in so called christian circles that when someone states that there really is a NEW on ..it sort of freaks out the relgiuos crowd. they dont like me very mucgh , but i dont give a damn .

    are Bronze age myths any less relevant than say Greco -Roman ones …? or Norse ones ? Mythology is very important for the fertile mind to grow with . and what is m,ythology opposed by — fundies of all stripes. the fenced in mind crowd , both secular and relgiuos . this is of course the artist in me speaking — open the floodgates .

    one more thing — do you know how i can submit an article to this blog . It is about my favorite Atheist E.M.Cioran . he is yet to really be discovered. i had it edited and submitted to a progressive blog that i write for and people liked it . if you have any info on how to do this i would really appreciate it . thanks. all the best.

  67. rocket says

    you cant have secular fundamentalists ? Mao , Stalin , Hitler , Pol Pot …….relgiuos fundamentalists –Jerry Falwell , Pat Robertson , Pope’s during the Crusades , etc…

    i am talking about mindsets Narf. Hoffer talks about the interchanbility of mass movements . ..in his work ”The True Believer”.
    1.Communism=Capitalism
    2.Republican=Deomocrat

    these things are interchangble . its a fundie mindset . it is descructive . both are intractable . that does not make me right , it just makes them intractable .

    look at our so called 2 party system . it is one party with 2 wings of prey .

  68. rocket says

    fair enough Narf. what do i mean by the ”Tyranny of the Self ”?

    some time ago Christopher Hitchens was being interviewed by 60 minutes while he was getting close to death . He talked about why he oppossed tyranny his whole life . And then he said that faith in God and religion was the ultimate form of tyranny. some years before that i had written a song called ”The Cult of One ” , about acute selfishness .

    something clicked in me , and i realized that he had missed it . that the ultimate form of tryanny is our self . so i wrote a peice for a blog on this very subject. It was called ”The Self as the ultimate source of all tryanny ”.

    i say that because our selves are not whole. they are what Frued would call ”fragmented ”.
    So , many sincere people seek to become ethical by pointing the finger at all sorts of oppression , including relgion . All the while they themselves are fragments of a self . as i said before , one can seek to rid oneself of variuos fixed points as to which the the self is bound too, but can never scoure the terrain from which the fixity proceeds. this leaves the pig stuck in the mud.

    it is not hard to see this becuase all of history attests to what proceeds form us . it is very dark and destructive . All utopian ideaology ,thought ,and action always ends in a distopia .Always. what i see as a form of self delusion is when someone instead of dealing with it themselves they point the finger at others . this is like shining the light on the wrong side of the stage. it is like re-arranging the chairs on the Titanic . Alot of sound and fury signifying nothing , because the root of it all is that each individual self must be uprooted , and really changed. If not , we may have temporary change, but not lasting change.

  69. Narf (the abdicator) says

    i am one of those God is love christians . i base my faith on subjective experience of course.

    You’d do better to base your beliefs upon evidence and things that you can demonstrate to others. You’re coming out worse off than the fundie nut-jobs. At least they have the Bible to point at, as worthless as that is, as evidence of anything. You’ve got nothing, unless you can somehow find a scientific study which demonstrates something about your god.

    Not looking good for you on that point, though.

    since no one can prove objective reality, it only makes good horsesence to do so .

    We’re not asking you for proof; we’re asking you for evidence. Proof is a mathematical concept, not a scientific one. I don’t suspect you have much in the way of evidence.

    Common sense is worthless, without confirming evidence. Much of what we intuitively grasp is wrong. Intuition is only the starting point; then you test your intuitive leap and try to prove it wrong. Religious people leave out that last step.

    Ray Comfort also speaks about how good common sense is for telling you things about the world. How much do you agree with his perspective on the god-question? I suspect you don’t agree with a damned thing he says, beyond the basic existence. To me, that calls that initial position into question, as well.

    are Bronze age myths any less relevant than say Greco -Roman ones …? or Norse ones ?

    The Greco-Roman and Norse myths are pretty much the same. We don’t believe in them anymore. That’s one of the many reasons I don’t believe in the Christian god, either.

    Mythology is very important for the fertile mind to grow with . and what is m,ythology opposed by — fundies of all stripes.

    Fantasy is a fine thing for inspiring minds. You just go wrong when you start believing in hobbits and orcs.

  70. Narf (the abdicator) says

    Those are not secular fundamentalists. Hitler wasn’t even an atheist. He was a Catholic. Do the words “Gott mit uns” mean anything to you? Very secular there.

    Those first 4 you mentioned were political dictators who crushed organized religion because it presented a threat to their power. That isn’t secular fundamentalism, because they weren’t following a dogmatic, authoritarian creed on the subject. You don’t seem to understand a lot of the basic terminology on this subject.

  71. rocket says

    can ray comfort hold a candle on the subject of commen sense to G.K.Chesterton’s work and debates with Shaw ?

    do i come off worse than the fundies –great. i am not one of them . i am a skeptic , and a follower of christ . any attempt to prove this to someone is giving in to a bullys game . the person who says they want evidence really does not want it . becuase if they really had it , it would demand that they give up their entire life to christ. so they are just baiters. i dont take that bait .

    i am not trying to convince any one of the good news of christ dont you see ? i am playing the devils advocate against what they think that they know to be true. why ? becuase the secualr fundies , just like the relgiuos ones seek to impose their will on others . they all externalize their own shadow and dump it on others. it is like the same coin . like political correctness =relgiuos fundamentalism . social engineering , browbeating bullies, verbal and social taboos ..and it has real effect ..destructive effects on peoples lives .

    we all have unconsciuos dogmas we carry around . even the so called secular skeptic in love wit his doubts is a fanatic unto himself . he looks to himself for certitudes . show me where he is different from the relgiuos fundies who are making a god in their own image.

    BTW — how does on submit an article to this blog ? or do you know. ?

  72. rocket says

    you said up above Narf that the secularist dictators where not fololwing a dogmatic creed ? what about MAO and the red book ? what about Stalin and the Communist Maifesto ? Credos ..everyone of them . Just as destructive as Jihad or holy wars , or crusades .

  73. rocket says

    the scientific method works sometimes .and even then it can be quicksand when something new comes along to prove or disprove it .

    those who babble relgiuos slogans all the time have traded in one obession for another. they are not people of faith . they talk alot cause they want to convince themselves.

    people of faith can be free thinkers,. bu the free thinker movement thinks that they have a PATENT on so called free thought . For every question that gets answered thru a faith encounter , many more prop up .

    Bob , do not confuse religon with real faith . in our world that is tuff , but as a free thinker , you will know the difference .

  74. rocket says

    Pascal is known for being one of the great men of mathematics. the Wager comes under christian =-philosphy . but his math genuis and the wager go together .

  75. Narf (the abdicator) says

    I’m getting Princess Bride flashbacks here.

    Rocket, you claim to be a skeptic, and then you push intuition and revelation as ways to know things. That’s one of the most stupid things I’ve ever heard.

    You are not a skeptic. I don’t think you know what the word even means.

    This on top of your ignorant claims of fundamentalist skepticism, and then you give examples of fundamentalist political doctrines. You are so screwed up on so much, in terms of basic concepts and basic thought. I’m not sure it’s worth my time to even engage you, anymore. You aggressively refuse to understand the basics, so there’s no point discussing anything more complex.

  76. Arkain says

    I have to admit. Ever since I saw a few episodes of this show, I’m almost hooked. I like listening to the hosts grind away at the prattling of the theists who call in wanting to defend their beliefs so desperately. I said all that and I’m a theist as well, Christian in fact. However, my parents taught me to challenge everything, including the fundamentals of what I believe. Here’s what I’ve learned in the past 4 decades:

    1. It’s pointless to argue about the existence of God to an atheist. Faith is the only “evidence” that God exists, (I put evidence in quotes because faith cannot be scientifically tested) which is useless to an atheist since they believe they have either no faith or no use for faith.

    2. Everyone has faith, though not necessarily in any kind of deity. For instance, an atheist has faith that evidence-based conclusions lead to the truth. It’s pretty hard to convince an atheist of that even though evidence has led to many a false conclusion.

    3. One has only to peek at Quantum Mechanics to realize that following the evidence can lead to conclusions that just don’t make any sense, even though those same conclusions may allow you to predict other non-sensible outcomes. The problem isn’t that the conclusions were wrong, but rather that the meaning(s) of the conclusions are not well understood. Understandings of this sort usually comes about in leaps, much like the theory of Relativity.

    4. I applaud atheists because their pursuit is the pursuit of knowledge. However, I caution them because knowledge by itself is just plain dangerous.

    5. I applaud theists as well because theirs is the pursuit of wisdom. However, I also caution them because wisdom by itself is futile.

    6. Knowledge and wisdom are a lot like Heisenberg’s quantum property pairs. They always come together, but the more you focus on gathering one, the less you’ll be able to gather of the other.

    7. Knowledge without Wisdom is like having a US-only cell phone in another country. It’ll do everything except its main purpose: calling people.

    8. Wisdom without knowledge is like pulling strings to get a pre-release of the next great gaming console before developers have even made a game for it. Unless you’re a developer, you’ve now got an expensive machine with great potential, none of which you can use.

    9. It’s just better to have both knowledge and wisdom.

    Conclusion:
    Science seeks to explain the mechanics of how things work, but doesn’t bother with the reason why. Religion attempts to explain why thing are as they are without delving into the mechanics of how it became that way. Same coin, different sides. We’re all free to pick a side, but I’ve always thought the coin looks best spinning on its edge.

  77. Narf (the abdicator) says

    What you’re saying goes horribly wrong, almost straight out of the gate.

    2. Everyone has faith, though not necessarily in any kind of deity. For instance, an atheist has faith that evidence-based conclusions lead to the truth. It’s pretty hard to convince an atheist of that even though evidence has led to many a false conclusion.

    No, we don’t. This is the sort of bullshit you hear from idiots like Ray Comfort. It’s called an equivocation fallacy.

    You have faith in something for no damned good reason at all. We have trust in a proven, demonstrated method … the scientific method … upon which our modern technology and society is based. As the saying goes, “Science: it works, bitches.”

    So tell me, when evidence is demonstrated to lead to a false conclusion, what is used to demonstrate that it’s a false conclusion? That’s right, further investigation and evidence, by people who reexamined it, because the initial conclusion didn’t smell right. Your useless kind of faith, for no good reason, isn’t what did it.

    3. One has only to peek at Quantum Mechanics to realize that following the evidence can lead to conclusions that just don’t make any sense, even though those same conclusions may allow you to predict other non-sensible outcomes. The problem isn’t that the conclusions were wrong, but rather that the meaning(s) of the conclusions are not well understood. Understandings of this sort usually comes about in leaps, much like the theory of Relativity.

    How is this meaningful in any way? The field of Quantum Mechanics is a demonstration that common sense is often wrong. The theory creates a model that fits reality rather well, which was formed by evidence and a mathematical study of the way things actually work. Again, your sort of faith is useless for discovering anything so powerful.

    Quantum Mechanics is a particularly bad example for you to bring up, because it’s constantly abused by religious sorts, brought out to demonstrate something that it doesn’t actually demonstrate. There’s almost nothing else you can bring into a conversation to immediately make a skeptic say, “Yeah, this guy is completely full of shit.”

    7. Knowledge without Wisdom is like having a US-only cell phone in another country. It’ll do everything except its main purpose: calling people.
    8. Wisdom without knowledge is like pulling strings to get a pre-release of the next great gaming console before developers have even made a game for it. Unless you’re a developer, you’ve now got an expensive machine with great potential, none of which you can use.

    So, tell me: how do you define wisdom? Your holy book does not contain it.

    There’s a great deal of “wisdom” that I hear Christians trot out, which is flat-out wrong and a bad idea. They’ll bring up something like the Sermon on the Mount. A lot of the suggestions in that section are pretty stupid. If you need to have wisdom in order to pick-and-choose the parts of your holy book that are worth following, the thing itself is not the source of that wisdom.

    This is the sort of thing that you always get out of religious sorts: fuzzy, poorly defined terminology used to hand-wave without actually saying anything meaningful.

    I consider wisdom to be something akin to critical thinking and the ability to examine something objectively, which is the purview of science, not religion. Religion does not do critical thinking. The religious sorts always seem to be the ones attacking critical thinking and pushing … faith without evidence or examination. That isn’t very wise.

    Conclusion:
    Science seeks to explain the mechanics of how things work, but doesn’t bother with the reason why. Religion attempts to explain why thing are as they are without delving into the mechanics of how it became that way. Same coin, different sides. We’re all free to pick a side, but I’ve always thought the coin looks best spinning on its edge.

    Your conclusion is bullshit.

    Religion and science are not different sides of the same coin. They’re not even the same form of currency. Science attempts to find out what is actually true, through an historically proven method that turns out real results. Religion just makes shit up, with no solid justification, and it often opposes science, to the detriment of our cultural advancement.

    As has been remarked upon many times, when you understand how something works, with sufficient thoroughness, why becomes a meaningless question. There often is no why. Why is an un-demonstrated, useless proposition.

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