Can Atheism Be Proven Wrong? »« Why Get Married?

Is Atheism A Belief?

This piece was originally published on AlterNet.

Is atheism a belief?

No.

*

I really wish I could just leave it at that. Maybe post a funny story about Einstein here instead, or show you some cute pictures of our cats.

But I suppose I can’t just leave it at that.

I believe Here’s the thing. One of the most common accusations aimed at atheists is that atheism is an article of faith, a belief just as much as religion. Because atheism can’t be proven with absolute 100% certainty, the accusation goes, therefore not believing in God means taking a leap of faith — a leap of faith that’s every bit as irrational and unjustified as religion.

It’s a little odd to have this accusation hurled in such an accusatory manner by people who supposedly respect and value faith. But that’s a puzzle for another time. Today, I want to talk about a different puzzle — the puzzle of what atheism really is, and how it gets so misunderstood.

Let’s start with this right off the bat: No, atheism is not a belief. For me, and for the overwhelming majority of atheists I know, atheism is not the a priori assumption that there is no God. Our atheism is not an article of faith, adhered to regardless of what evidence does or does not support it. Our atheism is not the absolute, 100%, unshakeable certainty that there is no God.

For me, and for the overwhelming majority of atheists I know, our atheism is a provisional conclusion, based on careful reasoning and on the best available evidence we have. Our atheism is the conclusion that the God hypothesis is unsupported by any good evidence, and that unless we see better evidence, we’re going to assume that God does not exist. If we see better evidence, we’ll change our minds.

Nasa_earthLook at it this way. Are you 100% certain that the Earth is round? Are you 100% certain that there are no unicorns? I assume the answer is a pretty heartfelt, “No.” I assume you accept that it’s hypothetically possible, however improbable, that unicorns really exist and that all physical traces of them have disappeared by magic. I assume you accept that it’s hypothetically possible, however improbable, that the Earth really is a flat disc carried on the back of a giant turtle, and that all evidence to the contrary has been planted in our brains by hyper-intelligent space aliens as some sort of cosmic prank.

Does that mean your conclusions — the “no unicorns/ round Earth” conclusions — are articles of faith?

No. Of course not.

Green_unicornYour conclusion that there are no unicorns on this round Earth of ours is based on careful reasoning and the best available evidence you have. If you saw better evidence — if there were a discovery of unicorns on a remote island of Madagascar, if you saw an article in the Times about an astonishing but well-substantiated archeological find of unicorn fossils — you’d change your mind.

And that’s the deal with atheism. If atheism is a belief, then any conclusion we can’t be 100% certain of is a belief. And that’s not a very useful definition of the word “belief.” With the exception of certain mathematical and logic conclusions (along the lines of “if A and B are true, then C is true”), we don’t know anything with 100% certainty. But we can still make reasonable conclusions about what is and is not likely to be true. We can still sift through our ideas, and test them, and make reasonable conclusions about how likely or unlikely they are. And those conclusions are not beliefs. If that’s how you’re defining belief, then just about everything we know is a belief.

Faith Religious belief, on the other hand, is a belief. If you ask most religious believers, “What would convince you that your belief was mistaken? What would convince you that God does not exist?”, they typically reply, “Nothing. I have faith in my God. Nothing would persuade me that he was not real. That’s what it means to have faith.” This isn’t true of all believers — some will say that their religious belief is based on evidence and reason and could be falsified — but when you press them hard on what evidence would persuade them out of their belief, they get very slippery indeed. They keep moving the goalposts again and again, or they keep changing their definitions of God to the point where he’s so abstract he essentially can’t be disproven, or they make their standards of evidence so impossible that they’re laughably absurd. (“Come up with an alternate explanation for the existence of every single physical particle in the universe. Everything — down to the minutest sub-atomic particle known or surmised presently, to everything yet to be discovered in the future — must be accounted for up-front each with its own individual explanation.” I’m not kidding. Someone actually said that.) Their belief might be falsifiable in theory… but in practice, it’s anything but. In practice, it’s an a priori assumption, an axiom they start with and are not willing to let go of, no matter how much overwhelming evidence there is contradicting it, or how many logical pretzels their axiom forces them into.

And that’s conspicuously not the case for atheism.

100% Now, a few atheists will contradict this. A few atheists do say, “Yes, I’m 100% persuaded that atheism is correct.” But when you press them on it, they almost always acknowledge that yes, hypothetically, there might be some God hypothesis that’s correct. Even if it’s not a God hypothesis that anyone actually believes in, or even if it’s only the most detached, deistic, non-interventionist, “for all practical purposes non-existent” God you can think of… when pressed, even the ardent “100-percenters” acknowledge that there’s a minuscule, entirely hypothetical possibility that God exists. When they say they’re 100% convinced of their atheism, they mean that they’re 100% convinced for all practical purposes, given the best information they currently have.

And that’s still a conclusion — not a belief.

So is atheism a belief?

No.

*

Violet Once again, I dearly wish I could just end it there. Fill out the rest of this piece with some tirades against the religious right, or tell you an inappropriate and irrelevant anecdote about my sex life. (Or show you some more pictures of my cats. They’re very cute. I promise you.)

But I’m afraid I can’t.

Because we have a somewhat knottier question here, a question that muddies this issue and makes conversations about it a giant, slippery mess.

We have the question of what the word “belief” even means.

The word “belief” has multiple meanings. It can mean a basic tenet — in other words, a doctrine or dogma — especially in a religious context. But it can also simply mean an opinion or conviction: something thought to be true or not true. It can mean “trust or confidence” — such as, “I believe in my marriage.” And, of course, it can mean “deeply held core value, something that’s considered to be fundamentally good” — such as, “I believe in democracy.”

That’s true for a lot of words, of course. Plenty of words have multiple meanings; some even have meanings that are almost the opposite of each other. But because this particular word is so central to religion and the debates about it, it come with an inordinate amount of problematic baggage.

Blurred line When they’re debating atheists or defending their religion, religious people often blur the lines between some or all of these different meanings, slipping back and forth between them. In trying to defend the validity of their own beliefs — or to slur atheists with the appalling (if somewhat baffling) taint of having faith — religious people often conflate these different meanings of the word “belief.”

They mix up the “opinion or conclusion” meaning with the “doctrine or dogma” meaning, to make any reasonably plausible conclusion seem like unsupported dogma… or to make unsupported dogma seem like any other reasonably plausible conclusion. They mix up the “core value” meaning with the “doctrine or dogma” meaning, to make any passionate conviction seem like stubborn close-mindedness… or to make inflexible adherence to dogma seem like a strong moral foundation. They mix up the “trust and confidence” meaning with the “doctrine or dogma” meaning, to make any act of confidence without absolute certainty seem like irrational blindness… or to make belief in that for which there’s no good evidence seem like a loving act of loyalty, and to make atheism seem suspicious and cynical.

Twister1If atheists say, “I don’t believe in God,” religious people will reply, “See? Atheism is a belief!” (Overlooking the fact that “Not believing in X” isn’t the same as “Believing in Not X.”) If atheists say, “I believe in evolution” — meaning, “I think evolution is true” — religious people will jump all over it, saying, “See? Atheists believe in evolution, just like I believe in God!” (Overlooking the fact that evolution is a conclusion supported by a massively overwhelming body of hard physical evidence from every relevant branch of science, and that religion is supported primarily by logical errors, cognitive errors, misunderstandings of probability, an excessive tendency to trust authority figures and things we were taught as children, and the demonstrably flawed cognitive process known as intuition.) If atheists say, “I believe in something bigger than myself,” religious people will reply, “See? See? You have beliefs! Therefore, your atheism is a belief!” (Overlooking the fact that atheists having beliefs is not the same as atheism being a belief. Sheesh.)

Even if it’s patently clear from context which definition of “belief” we’re using, it’s way too common for religious followers to twist it around into the definition that best supports their… well, their beliefs.

And because of this, I’ve come to the reluctant conclusion that, when atheists are discussing our own ideas and feelings and conclusions, we should stop using the word “belief.” I’m trying to wean myself off of it, and I’m encouraging other atheists to do the same.

Dictionary If we want to say that we think something is true, I think we should use the word “conclusion.” (Or “opinion,” depending on how certain we are about what we think.) If we want to say that we think something is good, I think we should use the word “value.” If we want to say that we have trust or confidence in something, I think we should use the word… well, “trust” or “confidence.” I’ve come to the reluctant conclusion that the word “belief” is irrevocably tainted: there’s no way to use it in discussions with believers without the great likelihood of being misunderstood. Deliberately or otherwise. So whenever it seems likely that our use of the word “belief” will be misunderstood — and it seems that any use of the word “belief” is likely to be misunderstood — we should endeavor to make our language as clear and precise as possible.

It’s impossible to prevent religious believers from twisting our ideas. It’s impossible to prevent religious believers from putting words in our mouth, and pretending that we said things we clearly never said and don’t think.

But we don’t have to help them.

Comments

  1. says

    Maryann: With all due respect, did you even read the piece?
    Atheists do not say, “I believe no god(s) exist(s).” Almost all of us say some version of, “I have concluded that no god exists.” Which is not a belief — it is a provisional conclusion, based on the best available current evidence.
    Or else we say, “I don’t believe that god(s) exist(s).” Which is NOT the same thing as saying, “I believe no god(s) exist(s).” Do you believe that unicorns exist? If not — wold you say, “I believe that unicorns do not exist?” Or would you say, “I don’t believe that unicorns exist?” And if the latter — does that make your a-unicornism a belief?
    You’re acting as if making a reasonably certain provisional conclusion without 100% guaranteed certainty is always a belief. And, as I pointed out in this piece, that’s not a very useful definition of the word “belief.”
    You can make this assertion about how atheism is a belief again and again and again — you have done so, in my blog and on my Facebook page — but it doesn’t make it true. You keep saying it, and atheists keep responding, “No, that isn’t what atheism means,” and you keep hanging on to that assertion in spite of the fact that so many atheist have told you that isn’t who they are or what they think. Why do you think you understand what atheism is better than atheists ourselves do? And why are you so attached to this idea of atheism as a belief? Why are you so willing to twist around the definitions of the word “belief,” so that you can convince yourself that atheism is a belief?

  2. says

    “If you don’t believe in the nonexistence of god(s), claim agnosticism/apisticism.”
    Maryann: You do not get to single-handedly define this language.
    The word “atheist” has clearly come to mean, “Person who does not accept the god hypothesis; person who has concluded that God does not exist.” The fact that you say that that’s not what it means doesn’t make it true. Even if you say it over and over and over again.
    And according to your usage of the word “agnostic,” it would mean “anyone who understands the hypothetical possibility that the things they have concluded to be true might not be.” And that’s not a very useful definition of the word.

  3. Eclectic says

    The problem is the slippery word “belief”, which has quite a few confusingly similar meanings which obscure important differences. When used in the noun form (a belief), it generally refers to something dogmatic. The most clearly ambiguous is the phrase “believe in”. Do you believe in the Communist Party of China?
    Just for example there are the usual phrasings of weak and strong atheism:
    Weak atheist: I do not believe that a god exists.
    Strong atheist: I believe that a god does not exist.
    I consider myself a strong atheist, but I insist on a careful definition of “believe” and “god” which might not correspond to someone else’s.
    Believe: having considered the matter at some length, I consider it settled and will move forward with my life without wasting mental energy worrying about the alternative.
    I’m not unwilling to consider dramatic new evidence, but I’m not bothering to make contingency plans in case I’m wrong.
    God: I’m referring specifically to the kind of interventionist god of popular mythology who cares about (e.g.) my sex life. I can’t disprove last thursdayism, or a similar non-interventionist deity, but such a deity’s existence also makes no difference to the outcome of anything in my life.

  4. says

    If I were to say to you “God exists,” you might reply “I do not have the belief that God exists.” But, if I said, “God does not exist,” you would NOT reply “I do not have the belief that God does not exist,” because you are an atheist (unless, of course, you are a true agnostic).

  5. Blondin says

    If you said, “God does not exist,” I would say, “I suspect you are correct.”
    I really don’t give a shit if you wish to label me an atheist or an agnostic. I am provisionally as sure that gods do not exist as I am that unicorns, leprechauns, fairies, and invisible dragons do not exist. If you want to insist that makes me an agnostic rather than an unbeliever in those things then I would have to say that makes you a pedantic twit but says nothing about atheists having faith.

  6. says

    I just think atheists “protest too much” when they claim not to believe, period, as opposed to believing in the alternative [(the nonexistence of god(s)].
    Like I told Greta on her Facebook wall, if you want to feel better than theists, just say “You guys might believe, you guys might have faith–but your belief is blind–your faith is blind. Mine is not.”
    All beliefs lacking absolute certainty (as defined by philosophers) involve some measure of faith. The stronger the evidence the stronger the faith. If there is a lack of evidence, or the counter-evidence out-weighs the rest, the faith is blind.
    Speaking of Facebook, take this Facebook belief scale poll…it even mentions unicorns: http://apps.facebook.com/my-polls/belief-scale?ref=mf

  7. says

    “All beliefs lacking absolute certainty (as defined by philosophers) involve some measure of faith.”
    And as I keep saying: That is a completely useless definition of the word “faith.”
    With the exception of a handful of mathematical and logical propositions, EVERYTHING we know and think and conclude lacks absolute certainty. If you’re saying that everything we know and think and conclude is “faith”… that makes the word “faith” entirely useless. I do not know anyone else except you, Maryann, who uses the word that way.
    And as I said on Facebook:
    Let’s say that I concede your point. I don’t, obviously, but for the sake of argument, let’s say that I do. Let’s say I agree that “belief” ought to be defined as “any conclusion that is reached without absolute 100% certainty” — and that therefore, atheism and theism are both beliefs. Along with virtually every other conclusion we make in our lives.
    So what?
    What does that prove? About atheism, or anything else?
    Does that prove that atheism and theism are in any way equivalent? Does it prove that they are equally reasonable? Equally plausible? Equally supported by logic or evidence? That atheists and theists have come to their conclusions — “beliefs,” if we are to use your word — through equivalent processes of critical thought?
    Or does it simply prove that atheism and theism both fall into the extremely broad category of “everything we can’t know with 100% certainty” — which is to say, everything, except for certain mathematical and logical conclusions?
    If that’s your point… well, it’s not very interesting, is it? It doesn’t actually say anything important or useful about either atheism or theism, does it?
    So why are you riding this hobby-horse?

  8. says

    ‎”Does that prove that atheism and theism are in any way equivalent? Does it prove that they are equally reasonable? Equally plausible? Equally supported by logic or evidence? That atheists and theists have come to their conclusions — “bel…iefs,” if we are to use your word — through equivalent processes of critical thought?”
    No.
    I’m cool w/ using the word ‘conclusion’ in place of the word ‘belief’ but it is more expedient just to use the word philosophers (not just li’l ol’ me) typically use. For example, doing it your way necessitates that all the literature be revised when discussing whether or not knowledge is justified true belief. I believe switching to “justified true conclusion” just creates unnecessary confusion.
    Many more than me use “faith” correctly (the correct use of it being useless to ‘you’ of course). Atheists of your variety would love all faith to mean “blind faith” but — it simply doesn’t. Blind faith is to faith as blind belief is to belief. Not all belief (I mean…not all concluding) is blind, either.

  9. says

    @Maryann
    Atheist and agnostic are not mutually exclusive terms. You seem to think that all atheists are gnostic about the existence of a god. You can have agnostic and gnostic theists as well as agnostic and gnostic atheists. Those who are gnostic generally claim absolute certainty which is, in my opinion, dangerous.

  10. says

    “but it is more expedient just to use the word philosophers (not just li’l ol’ me) typically use.”

    Is it more expedient to use a word that clearly causes confusion and distraction, with multiple definitions that differ widely and even contradict one another, and that commonly gets twisted by theists in an attempt to discredit atheists?
    No.
    You are clearly very attached to your definitions of these words being the “correct” ones. I have made an actual argument for why these definitions are useless (see above). You haven’t made an argument for why your definitions are better, except to say “some other people use them that way.”
    It is becoming increasingly clear — from this conversation, from the one in Facebook, from the comments you keep making again and again and again in my blog, and from your own blog posts that you keep linking to here — that you are intensely invested in this semantic quibbling over the words “belief” and “faith”. It is increasingly clear that you are doing this as (a) an attempt to draw false equivalencies between atheism and theism, and (b) an evasion of the substantial questions about the real differences between atheism and theism.
    If you’re interested in discussion substantial questions of how similar/ different atheism and theism are, whether atheism or theism is a more reasonable conclusion based on the available evidence, whether or not they are equivalent conclusions, whether they’re based on equivalent thought processes and sources of evidence… I am willing to have that conversation. But it seems that the only thing you have to say is, “if you accept my particular definitions of the words ‘atheist’ and ‘belief,’ then atheism is a belief.” You say it over and over and over and over and over again. And that’s neither pertinent nor interesting. I can only run around in circles for so long.

  11. Theunis says

    Greta Christina said:-
    “With the exception of a handful of mathematical and logical propositions, EVERYTHING we know and think and conclude lacks absolute certainty.”
    “EVERYTHING” excludes all, therefore we cannot have any “exceptions”. (Oh I know you meant all other things and not Everything”
    I say am a man; on your terms (using EVERYTHING) this means that is not so and I only thinks so. Then again to think so makes me something, or are you perhaps referring to the Yoga view that this life as we perceive it is an illusion and not reality ?
    You, Greta and Maryann, are both correct to air your present views as you do, although there is no certainly in both the atheist or theist views. So let’s replace beliefs and faith with views and then start again.
    The fact of the matter is we are merely expressing our views of how we see life, which because of the uncertainty clause we keep discussing to attempt to verify, or even to justify, them.
    The reality is because of a lack at evidence, at this stage, both of you don’t really have a sound foundation for your arguments.
    Without faith there is no hope for the future. This means anybody can have faith in a better future BUT with warped faith and beliefs/views, as so many fanatics, Christians and others, exhibit, there is no hope whatsoever for the future.
    Let us therefore walk into my world which is labeled “Reality” which says The only hope for humanity is “accept each other for what we are” and get on with life.
    I am not criticizing, It is that I simply love to look into other peoples realities.

  12. Snoof says

    The reality is because of a lack at evidence, at this stage, both of you don’t really have a sound foundation for your arguments.

    Uh… have you not been paying attention either? That’s Greta’s point! Insufficient evidence, therefore atheism (as a provisional viewpoint subject to review in the face of new evidence).

    Let us therefore walk into my world which is labeled “Reality” which says The only hope for humanity is “accept each other for what we are” and get on with life.

    So, what, we should accept that some people are bigots and not challenge them? Accept that some people have terminal cancer and not try to cure them? Accept that some people are going to try to kill others and not stop them? Accept that some people are ignorant and not try to educate them?

  13. Blondin says

    All beliefs lacking absolute certainty (as defined by philosophers) involve some measure of faith. The stronger the evidence the stronger the faith. If there is a lack of evidence, or the counter-evidence out-weighs the rest, the faith is blind.

    This is bullshit. I would like to see some citations where faith is defined in this context. The stronger the evidence the less faith is required to believe. The weaker (or lack) of evidence the more faith is required to believe. Faith is believing without concern for evidence (or truth).
    Arguments from authority are not good arguments as a general rule but arguments from authority of unspecified philosophers are especially suspect. Perhaps there is a reason why they say 95% of philosophers give the rest of them a bad name.

  14. Blondin says

    Let us therefore walk into my world which is labeled “Reality” which says The only hope for humanity is “accept each other for what we are” and get on with life.

    That’s a really nice warm-fuzzy sentiment. Too bad for women and children born into religious families or in theocratic communities that don’t share that sentiment. Gay/lesbian couples, women who want or need an abortion, apostates who wish to leave a religion, children who need medical attention but whose parents believe in the healing power of prayer, etc. These are all people who I’m sure would be delighted to be allowed to get on with their life.

  15. says

    Daniel Stewart–atheists and theists both are “gnostic” (“pistic” anyway). If they are “a”gnostic, they are not atheists (they are not theists), only agnostic.
    Blondin said: “The stronger the evidence the less faith is required to believe. The weaker (or lack) of evidence the more faith is required to believe. Faith is believing without concern for evidence (or truth).”
    Let me give you an example, flattering to atheists, of what faith really means. Faith is when you hold on to the belief that there is no god(s) (as I once did), despite the fear and panic that rise up in you during your deconversion (because of what you have been taught about hell, and because of how your believing friends and family react to your deconversion). Faith is when you believe evolution because of the evidence (as I do), rather than siding with young-earth creationists merely due to peer pressure. That faith (as opposed to blind faith) is based on evidence (or, lack of evidence where evidence should not be lacking). It is strengthened by evidence, and weakened by counter-evidence.
    It is “subjective certainty” short of absolute certainty. The further away from absolute certainty, the more lesser degrees of faith (lesser degrees of subjective certainty) will be involved–and that is true of every belief (which is not to say every belief is equally justified!), not just ones involving god(s). It is unnecessary to change the lingo to “conclusion” or “view”…or to cast around insults. It really is not that big of a deal, so why this blog post about atheism not being a belief? Better to say atheism is not an unjustified/blind belief.

  16. Theunis says

    I was showing to you all that BOTH sides are faced with the same dilemma. Unless of course you are now being egotistical by saying you are right and the other is wrong.
    Apparently someone else can read but does not comprehend. Accepting people as they are is a case of accepting their views, especially when they want to get on with their lives without interference from others. This does not mean that You should not kick butt if crime and hurt to others is involved. It is shoving yourself into the face of others and screaming your supremacy, which if analyzed actually points to feelings of inadequacy, that should be avoided.
    It is also just as bad for children born in other spheres; atrocities are found amongst all walks of life or do you believe in “you are pure as the driven snow” and the others are “covered in soot”.
    Warm fuzzy sentiment? Do not confuse fact with sentiments, You fail to see what I say. They have their ways and you have yours. Get on with your life referred to us people and not the extremists and fanatics who should be ignored and then because of lack of fuel they will cease to be.
    Laws have long ago been passed to take care of those who abuse their children and others. If you know about it and do nothing then you are as guilty as the perpetrators of the atrocities you speak of. So stop crying and do something.
    This is the “reality” to which we are subjected to every day but we must be able not to let it get us down. Therefore I repeat get on with your life, as you see fit, naturally without the “To Hell with others attitude”.
    Is it so hard for you to understand that I am at peace with you as you are. Don’t you like it to be accepted as a human or is it too foreign for you with what you have experienced to date.
    This may sound like preaching, it is not, it is the views of a “Realist” who can see all sides of the story.

  17. Doug from Dougland says

    What a brilliant piece of armcahir psychology Theunis. Tell me, how is being relatively sure of your own correctness and being able to cite and present evidence for your views being egotistical? Are we supposed to accept the inherently flawed notion that everything and everyone is equally wrong at all times?

  18. Blondin says

    Faith is when you believe evolution because of the evidence (as I do), rather than siding with young-earth creationists merely due to peer pressure.

    You are being disingenuous. Perhaps you can find a dictionary or thesaurus entry that shows a usage of “faith” equating the word to “confident” or “certain”. Perhaps you can extend “degrees of certainty” to be synonymous with “degrees of faith” in certain contexts. But you are trying to make the case that faith and blind faith are opposites. This is ludicrous.

  19. Theunis says

    @ Greta Christina.
    Sorry Greta It is my way to confirm what you stated but others are misinterpreting it and we have drifted from the subject. My thoughts are too radical for most people because I will fight against theism or atheism when it comes to fanaticism. This sometimes causes communication problems.
    @Snoof
    I hope after my previous post I have made myself a bit clearer, Acceptance of the things you refer to is as you indicated is definitely not acceptable.
    @Doug.
    You read what is not there “inherently flawed notion”. Read again when I said accept others views it did not say Not deny them. Which means accept what they say as correct at that time or to further explain, until somewhere sometime they may be proven correct or otherwise, a sort of agnostic view.
    I cannot fathom where you found the bit of my own correctness or where I am being egotistical. So please elucidate your statements.

  20. Blondin says

    Is it so hard for you to understand that I am at peace with you as you are. Don’t you like it to be accepted as a human or is it too foreign for you with what you have experienced to date.
    This may sound like preaching, it is not, it is the views of a “Realist” who can see all sides of the story.

    You’re right. That does sound an awful lot like holier-than-thou preaching.
    If people want to believe fairy tales about magical beings and that’s as far as it goes I really wouldn’t give a shit. The trouble is that many of them are not happy to just keep their insane delusions to themselves. They insist on trying to influence politicians, lawmakers, education standards, etc.
    Theunis, perhaps you should read Ophelia Benson’s “Why Truth Matters” or Laura Penny’s “More Money Than Brains: Why School Sucks, College is Crap, and Idiots Think They’re Right”, or Oreskeys and Conway’s “Merchants of Doubt” or Ben Goldacre’s “Bad Science: Quacks, Hacks, and Big Pharma Flacks” for some real-life examples of why it’s important to challenge things that don’t make sense.

  21. Theunis says

    @Doug
    Is this what you are talking about ?
    “Unless of course you are now being egotistical by saying you are right and the other is wrong”.
    If it is then you have misread what I said. If there is no evidence then how am I at fault to say this?
    @Blondin
    Do you really not want to face life.
    Looking at the world with all it’s beauty yet being able to see the truth of the horrible human actions should not be so hard to understand. There is no holier than thou anywhere in what I say and if you see it as such then I apologize. I do not subscribe to any one view, Fanatical christians and atheist alike do not like what I say because invariably none wish to face the truth. I am only a realists facing life.
    As I said I am not here to try to change your thoughts or views but if you feel like kicking arse, do it if it should perchance give you pleasure.

  22. loomis says

    Greta, thank you for this post, it had several good points and explanations that were helpful towards better understanding a complex idea. Concrete examples, such as the unicorns and ways of defining belief were particularly useful.
    NL

  23. Theunis says

    @Greta
    Thank you for allowing me to continue with something that was not always relevant to the discussion of “Faith” and “Belief”.
    I still think that Belief should rather be replaced with “View” or maybe “your point of view”.
    Belief can be used in so many different ways that in the end it can become meaningless.

  24. Blondin says

    I do not subscribe to any one view, Fanatical christians and atheist alike do not like what I say because invariably none wish to face the truth. I am only a realists facing life.

    I don’t know how you can think I don’t wish to face life or the truth. My whole point is that reality is whatever it is. I am only interested in what is true. People who wish to pursue alternate realities (what ever those are) through “other ways of knowing” are welcome to do so as long as they don’t try to limit or dictate the rights of others.

    As I said I am not here to try to change your thoughts or views but if you feel like kicking arse, do it if it should perchance give you pleasure.

    Oh, those horrible, fundamentalist atheists! I don’t see asking for rational justification as kicking arse. I get a little fed up with being called fanatical, hateful, militant, extremist, etc simply for not accepting things “on faith”. This is a diversion tactic used by people who just don’t want to answer awkward questions and people like you buy into it.

  25. Doug from Dougland says

    @Theunis
    So you say we should all accept that other people can have conflicting views and think that we ourselves are correct, but that we should never, under any circumstances, tell the other person that they are wrong?
    I take it to mean that you think, that everything we know about the world around us is a belief, or a “view.”
    That is equating fact with opinion, and one of the most insidious ways of telling other people to shut up and play nice. After all, if it’s everyone’s view that the world is an oblate spheroid, then the person who says it’s flat isn’t wrong, they just hold conflicting views.
    Most people on the other hand, myself included, fully acknowledge that views not supported by evidence are, shockingly, wrong.
    I don’t understand why you feel that insisting that opinions be based on facts (especially opinions about facts, e.g. does prayer work?) is unnecessarily harsh. And I especially don’t understand why you think that saying all knowledge is opinion, therefore all knowledge is equally valid (and that is the argument you are making) leads to less conflict. Perhaps you can illuminate me?

  26. Sarah says

    All beliefs lacking absolute certainty (as defined by philosophers) involve some measure of faith. The stronger the evidence the stronger the faith. If there is a lack of evidence, or the counter-evidence out-weighs the rest, the faith is blind.
    Indeed. And any positive Atheism requires some faith, as does any positive statement at all, such as “The World Exists” i.e. “We do not live in the Matrix”
    To pretend that you can be without faith without being an Agnostic is silly.
    If you claim to “know”, then you claim “I believe strongly”, that belief is justified more or less depending on the evidence, but remains, still, and forever, a belief.
    If you claim not to know, then you are agnostic.

  27. Blondin says

    Words are defined by human beings. Individuals are not defined by words. The title of this article is “Is Atheism a Belief?”. I think the context and meaning of Greta’s article are quite clear.
    While it is true that many people use the word “believe” to mean “based on my experience and understanding I accept as true until contradictory information becomes available” it is also true that many religious people use it to mean “I unconditionally accept as true regardless of availability of supporting/contradictory information”. It’s a cheap and dishonest debating tactic to try to use common usage definitions of words to attach meanings to people’s statements that are not intended or apparent from context.

  28. Theunis says

    @Blondin.
    By kicking butt I meant giving what they deserve to those fanatics/extremists who try to ram their views down the throats of others or try for self serving motivations to influence authorities. You must admit though that it does feel good when one succeeds.
    I was making a general statement about fanatics and the bit you are knocking me for therefore does not refer to you.
    So far you have not shown that trait, If I thought you were one I surely would have said so, but I now understand better of how you see things because of what you said about getting fed up
    with such statements. But you must admit there are plenty of those creatures around.
    I am way beyond believing nonsense and “buying into it”.
    Although there are some things I must accept on “Faith” like it is raining today but I have faith that the sun will shine tomorrow. The “on faith” as per fanatical christian definition is not always acceptable to me, especially if someone tries to delude me. But the “faith of a child” is totally acceptable to me.
    I keep apologizing but again if I’ve affronted you I am truly sorry.

  29. says

    Theunis: Doug from Dougland beat me to it, but I’m going to say it again. You’re treating the question of whether god exists as if it were a matter of opinion — instead of a question of what is and is not literally true in the real, non-subjective world.
    It is simply not the case that there’s no evidence to support atheism. Here are my Top Ten Reasons I Don’t Believe In God. These reasons don’t provide absolute, 100% certain proof that there is no god — an impossible standard — but they provide compelling evidence that strongly point to that conclusion.
    But even if I didn’t have positive evidence for my atheism… it would still be the most logical conclusion. If there’s no positive evidence for a hypothesis, we ought to accept the null hypothesis unless we see good evidence suggesting otherwise. So in the absence of good evidence supporting the god hypothesis, we ought to accept the null hypothesis — which is atheism.
    (You’re also treating the expression of disagreement as if it were inherently disrespectful and intolerant and likely to lead to civil unrest, as opposed to a central part of the marketplace of ideas… but that’s a different question.)
    And Theunis, Sarah, Maryann, etc.: You are proving the point of this piece for me. You are demonstrating why the words “belief” and “faith” ought not to be applied to atheism. You are conflating different meanings of the words: you’re conflating “trust” or “hope” or “confidence” or “reasonable but uncertain conclusion” with “unshakable, a priori assumption.” You seem to be doing this to create a false equivalence between atheism and theism. You’re trying to make it seem as if, because neither atheism nor theism can be proven with absolute certainty, therefore they are equally plausible, and it’s reasonable to believe whatever you like. As Blondin so eloquently put it, it’s “a cheap and dishonest debating tactic to try to use common usage definitions of words to attach meanings to people’s statements that are not intended or apparent from context.”
    As I said to Maryann earlier: Let’s pretend, for the sake of argument, that I conceded this point, and agreed that “belief” and “faith” meant “any conclusion that we can’t prove with absolute 100% certainty,” and that according to this definition, atheism would be a belief. So what? What would that prove? Would that say anything interesting or useful at all about atheism, or theism, or how they are similar or different?
    If so — what?
    And if not — then why are you riding this hobby horse?

  30. Theunis says

    @Doug.
    “So you say we should all accept that other people can have conflicting views”
    Yes
    “and think that we ourselves are correct, ”
    No.
    “but that we should never, under any circumstances, tell the other person that they are wrong?”
    No. Only in cases where it is futile to argue without gaining any knowledge. This means let the other party keep on dreaming. At least then he will leave you alone so that you may pursue more fruitful ventures. Well this is how I deal with it. You may deal with it differently. It doesn’t make me a coward nor do I consider my actions as haughty.
    “I take it to mean that you think, that everything we know about the world around us is a belief, or a “view.””
    No. Not “Everything”.You are doing some fancy interpretation of what I said. A brickwall is not a belief or a view. Try running into it. Take all your clothes off and go lie in the sun for a couple of hours or go roll in the snow in the nude. Try swimming the Atlantic. A belief or a view is not necessarily a fact. (Remember flat earth, the sun revolves around the earth)
    “Most people on the other hand, myself included, fully acknowledge that views not supported by evidence are, shockingly, wrong”.
    What say you about the Human Aura. Age old knowledge denied by the majority because it is not supported by scientific evidence ?. So it doesn’t exist ? Please enlighten me on this subject.
    “Most people” is a generalization and does not in fact include most people unless you are referring the most people in a certain group. 85% of Americans are Christians
    (found this data on the WWW) and they wont agree with you. I will agree with you on many things but not all things.
    Because I have examined so many things I have actually seen, as an unbiased onlooker and not a Christian or from a religious point of view, prayer work.
    If you insist on proof for everything that is your prerogative and nowhere have I knocked your views on the matter.
    Knowledge is usually based on facts but sometimes it is very much outdated, while opinions are what they are, very concrete to the person who has them but ephemeral to others unless they are members of the same group.
    @Greta
    Oh come off it don’t include me in your squabble between theists and atheists. You are doing what Doug did interpreting what I say to suit yourself. If theists believe in their God I say let them. It’s no skin off my nose. If you want to drag me into the argument or to take sides, I will not then again still no skin off my nose that you are an atheist. All I said was I support your view but I believe that all people are entitled to their views. Nowhere have I attacked you views or that of others. The world will keep on turning irrespective of what we say to each other. It doesn’t give a damn what we think or say or believe or think we know.
    So take your comment regarding what I said and go dump them somewhere else where they may have meaning but first go reread all that I have said before and after your post which included me.
    Oh yes now I see the reason for your confrontation. You didn’t like it when I said you both have no solid ground to base your arguments on. But that was what you said to start it off and I was merely repeating what you had said in different words.
    Don’t presume that I am a theist or anything at all that you can label. My kind are few and far between and as far as 99% of the world population is concerned we do not exist.
    I wish you were all like Blondin but in your world her kind is also far and few between.
    I am merely a spectator at this boxing match so beat the excretions out of each other for my enjoyment.

  31. Maria says

    My kind are few and far between and as far as 99% of the world population is concerned we do not exist.
    Oh, I thought Special Snowflakes was in fact rather common…

  32. says

    Theunis: If your only point is “all people are entitled to their views”… of course that’s true. Nobody has disagreed with that. But people are also entitled to express our disagreement with other people’s views, and to make a case for why we think our views are better supported by the evidence and are more likely to be correct. If you’re not interested in participating in that… then don’t. Nobody is making you read this blog.

    I am merely a spectator at this boxing match…

    For someone who claims to be just a spectator, you’re spending an awful lot of time in the ring. If you really have such a “live and let live, it’s futile to argue” approach to life… then what are you doing in this debate?

  33. Theunis says

    Maria
    In my part of this country snowflakes don’t exists. But a telepath or two do exist. Have you ever viewed the horror of some minds in your vicinity and the beauty of others.
    You and many of your kind have no concept of reality. Why do you think I said accept the views of others. Have you ever looked at the despair people inflict on others especially when they are fanatics causing the despair.
    I vowed never to interfere with humanity for they all have free choice to be a god unto themselves. They can decide if they wish to live or die, yet they may not play god to others.
    It is not for me to rob them of their choices. If what they do is not detrimental to others they usually find peace.
    I have found the answer to your squabbles. I shall not and never will answer in this regard for even as I were to lay the evidence before you, you will not accept it. You must find the answers yourself which you will never find if you keep running around in circles.
    Laugh as you wish but in the end I will be the one laughing and he who laughs last just laughs and laughs and laughs, even if it is tear filled laughter.
    Don’t try to reply I will no longer be found here.

  34. says

    I love it when people accuse other people of having no concept of reality… and then refuse to provide any good evidence for why their conception of reality is the right one.
    And I love it when people spend 2153 words (I did a word count) arguing that it’s “egotistical” to try to convince people that you’re right and they’re wrong.
    And by “love,” I mean “am irritated, but entertained at the irony.”
    Flounce away, little snowflake. Flounce away.

  35. says

    I should leave this alone now (especially since Theunis said he/she was leaving) but I just want to squeeze in another 2 cents worth.
    Theunis indicates a belief in auras, telepathy and the power of prayer. My instinctive response is to repeat the words of Richard Feynman, “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself — and you are the easiest person to fool.” We are none of us infallible and the scientific method is the only tool we have for getting at the truth. Science may approach the truth asymptotically but approaching truth is preferable to latching on to “truths” that are nothing but dreams or wishful thinking. Most people are not stupid or wicked; they just don’t realize or won’t admit that none of us are as objective as we think we are. Instinct and intuition aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.
    While I do have a tendency to “live & let live” (“let sleeping dogs lie” would be more accurate) I think it is generally detrimental to all of us to not challenge flawed thinking when confronted with it.
    Truth does matter.

  36. says

    Oh sorry Maryann. I forgot to specify that I was using the dictionary to define the words I’m using. If you are going to use the same words but make up your own definitions then you should at least fill everyone in. Saying that all atheists are gnostic is just ignorant.

  37. says

    Maryann’s requirements for “truth” and “knowledge” are so stringent that every mathematical theorem would be deemed a “belief”. At that point, the term is so meaningless as to be useless.

  38. Buster says

    To Blondin and Greta
    I know Theunis personally. He is my cousin. He is “weird”. I can never argue anything with him he seems to know what I want to say before I say it. If he tells you he has seen prayer healing then he did.
    He is not deluded in any sense of the word but he is the most uncomfortable person to have in your presence.
    I like to look at Tatarizes Blog (ssnot) and found the following.
    QOUTE–
    “Francis Bacon said “Read not to contradict and confute,…. but to weigh and consider.”
    I am taking the liberty to post this to show that here is one that has been confirmed by science it was not brought “under the umbrella by way of science”.
    ************************
    “Human Aura:
    At the Kirov State University in Alma-Ata biophysicists and biochemists studied the human energy body (Aura) with the aid of an electron microscope. Their conclusion:- “some sort of elementary plasma-like constellation made of ionized particles. It is not a chaotic system, but a whole unified organism in itself”.
    *****************
    Not earth shattering but it does confirm that for some people their vision spans a frequency which is not regarded as “normal”. Although to them it is. ”
    UNQUOTE–
    The poster said he found it on the Holistic Healing Forum. So I went there as well and found that scientific proof has been found for – Acupuncture, The human aura and some Yoga “tenements”.
    It looks like we now have to add Aura, acupuncture and control of the autonomous nervous system as put forward by yogis thousands of years ago, to our scientific pool.

  39. Snoof says

    I know Theunis personally. He is my cousin.

    Oh, hey, my sockpuppet-dar is pinging. Nevertheless, I will assume good faith (see what I did there?) and indulge you.

    He is “weird”. I can never argue anything with him he seems to know what I want to say before I say it.

    So what you’re saying he knows you well enough to predict your behaviours? Amazing! He’s demonstrated a basic human ability. One that explicitly does not require anything resembling magic, but merely experience and a degree of intelligence.

    If he tells you he has seen prayer healing then he did.

    And if he tells us that he has seen a fire-breathing dragon fly through the skies? Or if he tells you that there’s fifty million dollars in an offshore bank account and he just needs a few hundred thousand dollars so he can make the transfer, and is willing to cut you in for fifty percent? Seriously, this isn’t even an argument from authority, it’s an argument from some guy.

    He is not deluded in any sense of the word but he is the most uncomfortable person to have in your presence.

    Yes, I too dislike being around people with poor personal hygiene.
    Ok, that was a cheap shot. But seriously, “what someone is like to be around” is in no way a reliable indicator of the validity of their statements, and I’m honestly surprised that anyone would believe this.

    “Francis Bacon said “Read not to contradict and confute,…. but to weigh and consider.”

    Uh… yes. We _have_ weighed and considered what he’s said. It’s generally useless fluffy nothings, at best.

    Some stuff about human energy bodies.

    Probably would be more convincing if you actually sourced said quotes. And explained what you meant. What the hell is a “human energy body”, and how can an electron microscope be used to look at it? I’ve used an electron microscope, they’re cool tools, but they look at _matter_. Usually solids, too, and certainly not plasmas, which is what a field of ionized matter is.

    Not earth shattering but it does confirm that for some people their vision spans a frequency which is not regarded as “normal”. Although to them it is.

    Uh… no, it doesn’t. Even taking your reference as given (which I don’t), the quote listen in no way indicates that some people have “special vision”. It says that there is some sort of organization in energy bodies, whatever they are.

    The poster said he found it on the Holistic Healing Forum. So I went there as well and found that scientific proof has been found for – Acupuncture, The human aura and some Yoga “tenements”.

    Oh, sure, some guy on the Holistic Healing Forum says it, it must be true. Yeah, I’ll go and rewrite the textbooks based on a _quote_ on a _forum_ with no evidence specified at _all_. Sheesh.

    It looks like we now have to add Aura, acupuncture and control of the autonomous nervous system as put forward by yogis thousands of years ago, to our scientific pool.

    Who says? Seriously. You’ve provided no evidence of any kind, just a single anonymous quote. I mean, the one you listed doesn’t even _mention_ acupuncture.
    *deep breath*
    Ok, so let me see if I can work this out. You’re saying that because mystic powers exist (which you have not, in fact, demonstrated to any useful degree) we should listen to your cousin because he has said mystic powers (which also hasn’t been demonstrated to any useful degree) when he tells us to… well, I’m not sure what, exactly. Not argue against theism? Not opposed the activities of religious fundamentalists? Not seek to actually _verify_ the claims people make? Bow down and worship at feet and hope he will dispense morsels of cosmic wisdom?
    Yeah, right. Good luck.
    [PS: Apologies to everyone else for the tl;dr. I needed the exercise.]

  40. says

    Theunis & Buster, I know where you can pick up an easy $1 Million.
    “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself — and you are the easiest person to fool.” — Richard Feynman

  41. Buster says

    To SNOOF
    AURA: There is a reference to the university where it was investigated. Just run along to them and see for yourself. Some people say they can see the Human Aura, consequently if the Universities scientists confirmed that the aura exists then they are also confirming the claims of the people who say they can see it. Apparently you are scared stiff because this could be the ghost in your machine pulling your strings.
    ACUPUNCTURE: There is a reference to Kirlian photography. It appears that you have never heard of this photography. It is not a very recent technology.
    YOGA: There is a reference to modern bio-feedback technology which confirms the control of the autonomous system as used by the yogis and taught their students.
    So he is possibly a telepath. Something which has already been confirmed scientifically. Investigations indicated it was sporadic but it exists.
    Go read some books on the subject in your public library.
    These are everyday known facts but your world is blocked by your perception and apparent fear of the unknown. To protect yourself from your inner fears you keep repeating it doesn’t exist, it doesn’t exist until you believe what you say by your self induced brainwashing.(Also known in your case as auto-suggestion)
    You don’t have to indulge me with anything your “pup”peteer is really jerking your strings.
    I can’t find anything about Theunis saying accept theism. He did say they can believe what they want and it is no skin off his nose, and that people are entitled to their own views. Which of course as Greta said are subject to qualification.
    There is enough evidence for you to follow up so stop being an armchair specialists. Get of your behind for a change so that you can give
    concrete evidence of the University being wrong and that Kirlian photography and bio-feedback systems are myths.
    Specific things were mentioned so there is nothing vague about them.
    I have seen a Dragon (not your flame breathing kind, and I don’t mean a snapdragon flower either).
    I give the fishing pole, I don’t give the fish. Go look it up. I will not spoon feed you while you make little gurgling noises.
    The only unsavoury thing I can perceive on this blog are your thoughts.
    Blondin : He said you were rather nice. Shame on you for bursting his bubble. I would rather be fooled than be the fool like you are now exhibiting yourself to be with silly little remarks.

  42. Buster says

    To Snoof
    The dragon thing. It is a living creature, it moves around and eats It is not a sketch, photo, computer generated it is not a puppet on a string. It is not man made.

  43. says

    Blondin : He said you were rather nice. Shame on you for bursting his bubble. I would rather be fooled than be the fool like you are now exhibiting yourself to be with silly little remarks.

    Perhaps he isn’t the savant you and he think his is. FWIW: he got my sex wrong, too.
    Explain to me why he wouldn’t use his powers for good by claiming Randi’s million and using it for some worthwhile project?

  44. says

    And another thing…

    I would rather be fooled than be the fool like you are now exhibiting yourself to be with silly little remarks.

    So you are not concerned with truth? Bullshit is okay as long as it’s soothing bullshit?
    Christian notions about morality of condoms & abortion, murder of abortion doctors, suppression of civil rights for gays, modern day witch hunts, teaching superstition in public schools, religious oppression/subjugation of women, fatwas for blasphemy, psychic fraudsters bilking people of their life-savings…
    Those things don’t affect you so you’re fine with all that? Nobody’s demanding that you march or picket or do anything but I have to wonder why you have such a problem with those of us who do care simply asking to see real evidence.

  45. Buster says

    To Blondin.
    Reading through this blog what you and Theunis said about such iniquities and “atrocities”, I like both of you despise them to such an extent that words to describe my feelings fail me.
    With sex I presume you mean gender. You said he is a she/he making him a hermophrodite. (Just pulling your leg)
    I can see why he misunderstood your gender. Blondin in our part of the world and some european countries means blondie with reference to a blond female. Not the bad blond jokes. We consider such jokes vulgar and don’t make them. So please excuse the man.
    I can quote the references because I have already found them but why should I. If I found them what is stopping anybody else from doing the same. If I come across a statement then I don’t say bullshit prove it, I find the evidence to contradict or confirm it. I do not consider the onus to be solely on the other person if he was quoting someone else. I first go and check it up and only then will I confront the person who made the statement or merely enlighten him.
    With all the pointers given it should not be difficult.
    We are discussing every day life and everyday day matters which should be common knowledge. Am I perhaps missing something or is it a fact that some atheists have acquired the bad habit of saying prove it because they are just plain lazy and want to be spoon fed. Knowledge sought and found on your own or with pointers from others is more valuable than being spoon fed.
    Sheez Tatarize checks many things and he is a liberal atheist so why can’t others do the same. Quite frankly because of this I like the man and his rhetoric and go daily to look at his blog.
    Only a fool would try to fool others with such a blatantly transparent statement. I think Richard Feynman was referring to himself when he made that statement. Both our families come from a very hard school. We had to learn not to fool ourselves nor try to fool others.
    How do you expect me to explain someone else’s motivations. I may just as well ask you to explain why you don’t you use the millions ?

  46. says

    Only a fool would try to fool others with such a blatantly transparent statement. I think Richard Feynman was referring to himself when he made that statement.

    No, I am quite sure that is not what he meant. I’ve read a number of his books and I think I have a pretty good understanding of the point he was making. If you and your cousin really think you are incapable of being fooled, or fooling yourselves, then you are indeed fools. His point was that only the scientific method (controlled experiments, double-blind testing, peer review, replication of experiments, etc) can reliably separate the demonstrably false from the possibly true. And even then we’re not really sure…

    I can quote the references because I have already found them but why should I. If I found them what is stopping anybody else from doing the same. If I come across a statement then I don’t say bullshit prove it, I find the evidence to contradict or confirm it.

    I am old enough to remember when Kirlian photography was touted as a new, non-invasive diagnostic tool back in the ’70s. Funny that PET, CAT, MRI and Ultrasound have all been so successful since then but you’d be hard pressed to find a doctor who’s heard of Kirlian photography. I have read and heard enough about it to understand what it is and some of the physics behind it. I’m not aware of any way in which it can be used to support claims of people being able to see auras. Why wouldn’t you quote references? Here’s your opportunity to show me where I’m wrong; make me eat my words. Or is your evidence perhaps not quite as compelling as you claim it is? Maybe you know damn well it is inconclusive or non-existent but didn’t expect anyone to call you on your bullshit? You’ll never get James Randi’s million dollars with that attitude.

    How do you expect me to explain someone else’s motivations.

    Frankly, I’m not convinced that Theunis is someone else. If the sock fits…

  47. Buster says

    Blondin.
    Apparently as far as the shoe, (Not the sock as you incorrectly say) when it comes to about lazy and reading what is not there, fits you.
    So you evade the question but I will repeat it. “I may just as well ask you to explain why you don’t you use the millions ?”
    I am now asking so what do you say or is this your further attempted BS. It does not work on me.
    How did you connect Kirlian photography with the Aura. They are two different subjects.
    This is what you say about Kirlian photography “I’m not aware of any way in which it can be used to support claims of people being able to see auras.”
    Neither am I but read further.
    Looking back at the posts.
    1. Aura and the electron microscope and seeing the aura is one subject.
    2. Acupuncture and Kirlian photography is one subject.
    3. Bio-feedback technology and yoga “tenements” is the third subject.
    Okay fooling yourself apparently refers to you if not to the author thereof.
    My cousin and I live in the same city we are about 30 km from each other but by phone the distance is meaningless. We grew up together so why shouldn’t many of our views be the same.
    Apparently you do have some “magical” qualities for you to see across the Pacific, but your view is as Feynman says – you are fooling yourself – but look at your thumbs you will find the one is whiter and wetter than the other.
    If you make an effort to approach the University in Alma-ata and give me the contents of their investigation then I will give you my references regarding their investigation and the the more difficult to trace references you seek.
    **********************************
    To the person who says acupuncture is nonsense:
    On what do you base your statement. You gave no references either so why should I. Go ask the Chinese Embassy to give you the proofs you do not desire.
    *******************
    I am going to visit Tartarize. I will return in a day or two. I have some computer programs to write so if you made no effort it is of your own doing and bad luck that you remain in ignorance.

  48. says

    Auras: debunked.
    Acupuncture: debunked. Total placebo.
    Yoga: debunked, as anything other than a useful form of gentle physical exercise and stretching.
    Kirlian photography: debunked.
    Telepathy: debunked.
    A study or two does not make a claim credible — even if it was done at a university. People at universities can be credulous, and subject to cognitive errors and wishful thinking, as much as anyone. To accept a claim as likely or even plausible, research supporting it has to be double-blinded, placebo- controlled, rigorously cross-checked, carefully examined for methodological errors, and replicated multiple times to make sure it wasn’t a fluke. And none of the claims you’re making have passed that test.
    Thank you for playing. Better luck next time.

  49. Buster says

    Greta
    Wow what knowledge and power you and your cohorts have. You merely have to say “Debunked” and all scientific facts vanish from your view.
    If I had even a quarter of your knowledge and power I would rule this galaxy plus a few others.
    You are worse than the worst christian extremists I have come across. You wallow in your pride and warped so called knowledge but don’t enjoy it because you must continually argue about imponderables to justify your “Beliefs”. You have no proof to offer yet demand proof from others. When they do offer you some pointers for self investigation your inadequacies are revealed because to be lazy and spoon fed is your ultimate goal.
    You want proof that “GOD” exists so here goes – I read on the atheist forum that great fun or was it consternation was being made concerning so called given facts put forward by some atheist. One posters retort was that he can prove you wrong and that one plus two equals is not three it equals one. Relative to the subject he was quite correct 2 parts Hydrogen plus one part oxygen equals one part water. One man plus one woman makes one and nine months later makes three which reverts to one. One what – One family of course. The poster went further and gave irrefutable proof that a GOD exists and stated Water is GOD without this GOD everything and everyone on earth dies so it must be GOD the poster said. Try not drinking water for a week or so. Just when you succeed living without it you will surely die. Therefore water is GOD to all things on earth and this proves that GOD exists he said. He does have a good point doesn’t he because if you are totally dependent on it it must surely be your GOD that provides for your nourishment and keeps you alive.
    Atheists throw more petty tantrums and demand more things than any group I have ever met.
    I am now in a quandary – Tartarize is an atheist but as a person I cannot debunk him.
    So before you vanish into oblivions let me say, even if I had hope for you your supreme knowledge wins the day. Have a nice day or as the Chinese say “may you have an interesting life”.
    Now the ultimate –
    Greta: Debunked:
    Atheism: Debunked
    Now that wasn’t difficult to say, I must try it a few more times until I really believe such tripe.
    I could as you do ignore the fact that you are still there but so what as far as I am concerned you do not exist.
    Quite a nice thought from now on that is exactly what I am going to do. I am going to follow your grand example.
    Goodness with whom am I communicating. Oh yes now I remember I am writing about a fictitious sub group of the human race.

  50. says

    Wow what knowledge and power you and your cohorts have. You merely have to say “Debunked” and all scientific facts vanish from your view.

    [facepalm]
    I didn’t just say, “Debunked,” Buster. I provided actual links to summaries of careful research showing exactly how and why these claims had been debunked. That’s what it means when a word or phrase on a Website or blog is highlighted in a different color. It means there’s a link to another page, and if you click on it you can go to that page.
    And providing links like this, to careful research supporting your claims, is you have consistently failed to do every time anyone has asked you to.

  51. Maria says

    Oh the smell in the morning of the arrogance of the ignorant… Nothing is like its… rancor…
    You merely have to say “Debunked” and all scientific facts vanish from your view.
    Why don’t you actually learn what the scientific method is, and how it works? Then you would know why some pseudoscientific research is not valid, and you would realize these things actually are debunked, and you would get why this sentence of yours is very silly.
    If I had even a quarter of your knowledge and power I would rule this galaxy plus a few others.
    If you had at least some knowledge of these things, you would at least not make a fool of yourself here. That’s at least one step towards ruling the galaxy.
    You have no proof to offer yet demand proof from others. When they do offer you some pointers for self investigation your inadequacies are revealed because to be lazy and spoon fed is your ultimate goal.
    You might want to read up on ‘Burden of proof’ too. We’re not the ones making silly claims.
    He does have a good point doesn’t he because if you are totally dependent on it it must surely be your GOD that provides for your nourishment and keeps you alive.
    *LOL* Okay, you must be a Poe. Seriously, I am probably just falling into a trap here, replying to an obvious Poe… But in case you’re actually serious… No, he does not have a good point! If you want to prove god’s existence by pointing to something that exists, and have importance, and then calling it god… I can’t find the words to describe what a silly and utterly unconvincing argument that is. :-)
    Atheists throw more petty tantrums and demand more things than any group I have ever met.
    Uuumm… lots of pots calling the kettles black here. I seem to recall that it was your cousin (or maybe your sock) who stormed out of here because of ONE sentence calling him a snowflake after he, himself, exclaimed he was super special. He was the one throwing a tantrum and storming out only because he didn’t get the respect he thought his ÃŒber-specialness should receive.
    Now the ultimate –
    Greta: Debunked:
    Atheism: Debunked
    Now that wasn’t difficult to say, I must try it a few more times until I really believe such tripe.

    That was your ultimate? Color me unimpressed. What are you? Twelve? Tell your cousin to send an older cousin to defend him next time, you are not doing him any favors here :-) I repeat, if you would learn a bit more you would understand that some people have some substance behind what they are saying, and that just saying ‘Debunked’ doesn’t make it so. Greta provided links where you can read up on these things and learn WHY these things are debunked. Now, you don’t want to spoon feed us lazy atheists with the “facts” you have, but you… you are obviously too lazy to swallow even when we DO spoon feed you. WOW :-)

  52. says

    So you evade the question but I will repeat it. “I may just as well ask you to explain why you don’t you use the millions ?”

    Are you really that obtuse or just pretending?
    Why would you think I have any access to millions of dollars? The James Randi Educational Foundation has a standing offer of one million dollars US “to any person or persons who can demonstrate any psychic, supernatural or paranormal ability of any kind under mutually agreed upon scientific conditions.”
    I have no reason to believe that I have any special powers so there’s no point in me applying but you… sorry, your cousin should be able to take Mr Randi’s money with one hand tied behind his back. Just click on the link above to apply.

    Atheists throw more petty tantrums and demand more things than any group I have ever met.

    Not taking you at your word is throwing a tantrum? Asking for citations is making demands? Come on, now… did you really expect us to just accept your claims about telepathy, auras & dragons? You’ve never been challenged on those claims before? I find that almost as hard to believe as the idea that you and Theunis are not the same person.
    Sorry about confusing Auras, Kirlian photography and acupuncture. See, I did do some digging and found a number of flaky websites which associated them with each other. You flakes might want to get your bullshit together. Inconsistency is a bit of a giveaway.

  53. Buster says

    Blondin.
    What about the real dragons I am talking about and not the mythical fire breathing fiction that you keep ascribing to me without any justification. Some if not most of the species look very much like the pictures of the dragons which YOU keep referring to which I know do not and never have existed.
    There are quite a few different species of the dragons I have seen.
    Very well they are sea dragons found off the coast of Australia. They are truly beautiful creatures.
    I am reading Greta’s links to sites one by one so be patient if I don’t respond to them all in one go. I am not an internet “Fundi” (Expert) to me the other colours were highlights so thank you for pointing out to me they are links to other sites.
    Her first reference does not meet her own requirements for scientific studies. It merely expresses opinions and conclusions drawn from the observations of a few people.
    “Western Yoga” is something I have laughed at for many years. It is in fact only scratching the surface and using the most basic and first physical exercises of yoga for relaxation and one pointedness of mind. Synonyms would be concentration, meditation on one exclusive subject.
    “Western Yoga” : Debunked. I whole heartedly agree.
    Non western yoga is still open to discussion but does it really affect us in any way?. I no longer have the books printed in the 19th and early 20th Centuries. Yoga as described then was a total different kettle of fish.
    CHAKRA – An ancient misinterpreted word, esoteric and foreign to us. Because of this Westerners became slaves to their own misconceptions.
    Take a careful look at where they are situated on their charts.
    What follows is what I have taken from the Holistic Healing post but slightly shortened/modified –
    ****************************
    From head to feet.
    1. Third eye – The pineal gland.
    2. Throat – the thyroid gland.
    3. Chest – This one is a bit trickier. It is a gland the size of a pea found in the young, which in adults dries up and appears to be no longer functional.
    4. Abdomen – in females the ovaries. In men the testes.
    5. Feet – Cluster of nerve cells.
    **********************
    Back to me:
    re 5. When massaged they are overstimulated and then stop transmitting the pain in the feet. Because pain is stress inducing the cessation of pain causes relaxation. Relaxation is the key. The massage merely turns the key.
    Chakras stand demystified, it is a pity the mystical misconception thereof lives on.
    These glands can be influences by control of the autonomous nervous system. Using bio-feedback technology control of the autonomous nervous systems has been proven. Blood pressure, Rhythmic heart beat, generating alpha and other brain waves, confirmed by modern day technologies are medical and scientific facts. The roots and motivation for creating these technologies was inspired by the older yoga techniques. Not the mislabeled physical exercises as practiced in modern day western societies.
    I have always understood this to be general knowledge but I appear to be wrong for many things are queried because of misconceptions and the milieu we find ourselves in is not always the same so our general knowledge will never be exactly the same. Damn I now sound like Theunis but as I said previously, we grew up together so it is only natural that many of our views and ways of expressing ourselves would be similar.

  54. Buster says

    Blondin.
    There is a lot of nonsense floating around regarding bio-feedback technology. The profiteers and money hungry are singing their songs of deceit to delude people. Some of their claims are totally ridiculous.
    The only portion I am referring to is actual brainwave, blood pressure, heartbeat monitors similar to those, but less expensive, as used in hospitals etc.
    It has nothing to do with the poo they sprout. If it was not that I am aware of these facts and having built elementary equipment from schematics for my personal use, Then I will surely agree that is it most atrocious beyond belief rubbish. Money madness. It looks like that old song “Money is the root of all evil” is correct.

  55. says

    Buster/Theunis,
    The song you are singing goes back much further than Money is the Root of All Evil.
    I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and allow that you sincerely believe everything you’re telling us but your words are right out of the cranky, crackpot clairvoyant song book:
    “I have all these special powers and I have experienced all these magical things that fly in the face of logic/science/modern medicine/common sense.”
    “All those other psychics, faith healers, alt-med practitioners, etc are fakes but I’m the real thing.”
    “Of course I can provide studies and corroborating evidence of my claims! I’m just not going to.”
    And on the subject of actually participating in a controlled experiment to test whether you really can do what you claim you can do… crickets.

  56. says

    Daniel Stewart said: “Oh sorry Maryann. I forgot to specify that I was using the dictionary to define the words I’m using. If you are going to use the same words but make up your own definitions then you should at least fill everyone in. Saying that all atheists are gnostic is just ignorant.”
    I never claimed all atheists are gnostic. They can only be gnostic if there is in fact no god. I only claimed they are pistic–believing there to be no god. For a dictionary definition that all atheists are pistic (though Greta doesn’t like the dictionary)–http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/atheist
    themann1086: “Maryann’s requirements for “truth” and “knowledge” are so stringent that every mathematical theorem would be deemed a “belief”. At that point, the term is so meaningless as to be useless.”
    Sometimes belief doubles as knowledge. :) Math, logic, etc., all ground rules for being…only “true” when corresponding to actual being…otherwise, merely justified. When true, the belief counts as knowledge. Sometimes we know when that is happening…sometimes we just guess. That’s the best we can do, lacking omniscience. I take “stringent” as a compliment, btw. :)

  57. says

    It wasn’t a compliment. Your argument boils down to “everything is a belief, therefore atheism is a belief, therefore atheism is just like religion, therefore agnosticism!” Hell, by that logic we shouldn’t say that the speed of light is a constant in all reference frames, since that’s just a belief.

  58. says

    Not all beliefs are “just” (only) beliefs. When they are not only justified, but also true, they are also knowledge…whether or not those beliefs are considered “religious” or “scientific” or whatever else category.

  59. buster says

    Blondin.
    What is the matter the one moment you are lucid and the next you are not. Where have you dug up your last post to me? Or is it that there are two or more people using your name and thereby giving me totally conflicting modes of communication ?
    If you come back and say there is only you, how can I believe you, You don’t believe me.
    I referred to profiteers and racketeers deluding people with bio-feedback systems. And concerning them said that the old song seems to be correct.
    I told you about sea dragons and where they can be found and said they are truly beautiful creatures. I forgot to mention that they are tiny.
    Without proof you say I am two people. Is this your normal mode of argument, making statements without proof.
    Me psychic! Where did you dig this up?
    I confirmed that “Western Yoga” is nonsense.
    I demystified the Chakras.
    Is it that you do not like it when I agree with you, because you then have no reason to fight with me.
    I have been writing a computer program and before I switched of decided to see what is going on here. In my part of the world it is now 3 AM. So goodbye for now and have a nice day.

  60. Buster says

    To Maria
    Ignorance only means that at a given moment in time you don’t yet have some knowledge that others do. Yet the one using the word ignorant is also as ignorant about other things.
    Can you build a Faraday cage?
    Can you built a brainwave monitor
    Can you tell me how old I am. When you look at me you can make a guess but you are still ignorant of my actual age.
    Can you do surgical operations?
    Can you hypnotize someone.
    Can you pilot an aircraft?
    Can you repair the engine of my automobile.
    Can you install a lighting system.
    Do you know the requirements to become a para-medic.
    Can you tell me what a “dragon” looks like without first asking me what your concept of a dragon is. If one does not the ignorance of the questioner and not the questioned is at stake.. What relevance does such a question have to Botany or Marine biology or is the questioner again generalizing and referring to his concept of a non-existent fire belching monster.
    So if you ask me if Dragons exist then you must first qualify your statement with your own concept so that I may adequately reply to you. I know of at least two “dragons” at this stage.
    1. A snapdragon (Botany)
    2. A sea dragon (Marine biology). They are beautiful and look just like the drawings and paintings we see of the non-existent fire belching dragons.
    If I say bank, what do you see. You may could see a financial company or if you were a fisherman the bank of the river where you love to sit and fish. Because you did not see the second concept straight away the bank of the river did not exist for you at that given space of time. Your “ignorance” of the other’s thoughts were therefore showing but it was not ignorance as such it was not knowing what the other person meant and jumping to conclusions based sometimes on misguided thoughts of superiority.
    I am well versed in the scientific method. Have you ever used it? During my studies I had to.
    Even with double blind studies the bias of the person or team undertaking the study and those who judge the study cannot be eliminated. But does that qualify me to say that because of small discrepancies the total investigation is nonsense. That is being biased and egotistical to the extreme. Why have a pass mark of 80% and you are not awarded your degree. Well your professor said nothing less than 100% is acceptable. Poor professor he only knows his own field and not much else. There are too many so called specialists and ignorance becomes a greater burden for us all because of this.
    So maybe you now understand a bit more about ignorance and will use another better word or qualify what you mean when you use the label ignorant.
    You will only get yes to a few of these question when you ask it to a group of people.
    Ignorant is such a wide concept but it does not make anyone stupid and only points to lack of specific knowledge at a given time.
    In life you will always find someone who knows something you don’t, must one thus conclude you are an ignoramous because you don’t know what others do but notwithstanding you may have a much greater general knowledge than most.
    I have already been taught that on the internet it is not highlights they refer to links. I was ignorant of that but now I am no longer because some one ignorant of other things has taught me.
    The joke about water – can you live without it ? So why wouldn’t people of ancient revered it as a GOD because it is a fact that without it nothing on this earth could live. So many concepts were born. To them that is proof beyond any doubt.
    Aren’t things that cannot be perceived with our normal five senses being “proven” all the time. How do we know it is not a lot of nonsense scientists are saying because they have to use things beyond our normal senses to prove something. How do we know that that which is seen on their screens or cathode ray tubes are not their own interpretation and the computer program was written to justify their views. They use amplifiers to increase the signal, but how much of the signal is not random noise or reception of radio waves generated by other stars or galaxies. Have you ever heard how the old manual farm line telephone systems “sing” because the length of the wires they become tuned antenna/aerials picking up radio/magnetic waves.
    Dogs hear frequencies higher than we can, does this not mean that we have limited perceptions of sound. We can feel frequencies below 12 Hz as vibrations but cannot hear them.
    Can we see the air ? Can we see X-rays or Gamma rays or the magnetic field of the earth with our normal five senses?
    Does this not point to other limitations that we are subject to.
    On one atheism forum I read the brag that “Atheism is the fastest growing religion”. Is this then expressing a belief or is he now saying that Atheism is a religion, This statement says automatically that they have their own beliefs and faiths. Tut Tut bad choice of words by him would be your response or again you could say the darn fool he is making atheists look like idiots. Both statements are correct, there are no two ways about it. However Scientology also claim they are the fastest growing religion. In both cases neither gave actual figures from ten years ago till now. So are atheist and every one else not prone to having false “beliefs”. Better to say “atheists are also just normal people and they are also prone to making false conclusions.”
    Take the fact that my immediate family grew by 33%. The total body count for the original family was two. Add one child and no one can argue that it is not an increase of 33.333 %. A nonsensical use of statistics but being used every day to prove nothing except to attempt to delude people.
    Oh apparently I, from your and Blondin’s unqualified wild statements, have a dual personality. Again my previous ignorance but without assistance from you or any one else I have figured out what you mean by “Sock” in internet terms. (Previously my only concept for sock(s) was that you wear them on your feet).
    The only thing that was proven by Psychometric tests was that I am an abnormal. I fall within that 2.5 percent of people known as nerds and that I am not a Brady Murphy.
    As Theunis would say “Peace be with you”

  61. says

    What the hell is your point, Buster?
    I mentioned invisible dragons and Greta mentioned flying, fire-breathing dragons. In both cases it should be fairly obvious that these dragon references were being given as examples of things which sane people generally accept as non-existent.
    You keep going on about snapdragons and sea dragons as if the fact that there are plants/creatures named for a mythical beast they somewhat resemble has any bearing on the existence of their namesake. I’m surprised you haven’t mentioned Komodo dragons.

    If I say bank, what do you see. You may could see a financial company or if you were a fisherman the bank of the river where you love to sit and fish. Because you did not see the second concept straight away the bank of the river did not exist for you at that given space of time. Your “ignorance” of the other’s thoughts were therefore showing but it was not ignorance as such it was not knowing what the other person meant and jumping to conclusions based sometimes on misguided thoughts of superiority.

    When it is clear from context which bank (or dragon) is being discussed how does it advance the discussion to play little word games with unrelated ideas? Do you just like throwing in oblique references so you can say, “Aha! That’s not the dragon I was talking about so I was right and you were wrong“? You and your cousin both seem to have a preoccupation with being “special”. Far from making unqualified wild statements I think we have simply voiced justified observations about a possible case of sock-puppetry.
    None of which has any bearing on the discussion about atheism being a religion. I really can’t think of anything new to add on that subject. Atheism is an opinion or attitude that is arrived at for various reasons by different people. There is no central canon or dogma. It simply tends to be a conclusion arrived at by people who think in terms of evidence and degrees of certainty. That is not to say there are no dogmatic atheists who claim to know things they can’t possibly know. I’ve never met one of those but I’m sure they’re out there.
    Pasta be with you.

  62. Buster says

    Blondin
    I still think there are two of you using one name. But never mind this is one of your interesting conversations.
    I think it is the other way round regarding the sea dragon, some look exactly (not similar )to those paintings which was probably an ancient SYMBOLS painted by Chinese and Japanese of something known which had some meaning to them. Some twit decided to paint about 500-1000 times the actual size and not knowing where the symbol came from decided there used to be dragons. As far as symbols are concerned the so called swastika is a symbol that is thousands of years old. It actually means “Eternal peace and prosperity”. What does it now mean after the Nazi’s got hold of it. A now horrible symbol devoid of it’s original meaning. Yet another symbol of which the original meaning no longer exists.
    The Komodo Dragon is not nearly a dragon it is of the lizard family if a remember correctly, but that is one I forgot about so thanks for reminding me. To date I still wonder why they named it so because there is absolutely no resemblance to the paintings.
    We both are in accord with the Dragon stories so we may as well drop this as a conversation piece.
    Thanks for telling me that Atheists are like any other humans fallible and have differing ideas of what an atheist is. Actually I already knew that and have no preconceived ideas on the matter.
    Live and learn is my motto.
    Is that Fattis and Monis Pasta you are referring to? They make a great variety or is it some private local joke or insult you guys have ? No worries it only means something if the other person knows what you mean so in this case I feel you are not communicating. Even if you were to explain how you use it and it is an insult so what. If it is an insult and it made you feel good, Enjoy.
    I had a typing error it is should have read “Bridy Murphy”
    I’m too busy with that darn computer program but I did pop in to say hello.
    So with some SF. The force be with you.

  63. says

    Not intended as an insult. Merely a reference to the FSM.
    No offense, but have you been in a coma or living in a cave for some years? I’m not trying to belittle but I just find it interesting that you are a computer/internet user who seems to be just learning about web tropes like links, sock-puppets and the FSM.

  64. Buster says

    Blondin.
    I have only recently got Internet for my daughters sake who is doing her masters and she needs it for her studies.
    My computer programs are in QuickBasic (QB4.5) which is now a legacy item. But I think I have now had enough and if there was another forum were we could chat on I’d rather chat with you.
    Okay I make piddly statements but I don’t mean ill with them.
    I could have been my daughters grandfather, which gives you an idea of my age. A so what you may as well know, in September I turned 74. The only illness I have had over the past 50 years is flu. (She is a terrible thing she takes anybody to bed)
    I must forever learn it is the monkey on my back which just pushes me on and on to acquire more and more general knowledge. Sheez I have been at it since the age of 5, that right five. web tropes, sock-puppets, FSM is meaningless to me until someone tells me what they mean then It is some added knowledge.
    I really don’t take offense and about almost anything can be said to me, because I feel that people if frustrated must blow of steam.
    I try not to behave obnoxious but I am virtually a babe in the woods and things we say jokingly in my home language, Afrikaans, in South Africa, I have found are regarded as insults elsewhere.
    That is why I said if it makes you feel good kick me.
    I normally deserve one or two kicks.
    You say you are an atheist, I say so what you are still a man. I have been called many things in my life Atheist was one of them, It was like water off a ducks back. It just never touched me so in that regard I differ from most people and have even been regarded as abnormal.
    After the psychometric tests it took me two years to change my normal mode of communication but I have never had 100% success to make myself understood at all times. I am not whining I am just me explaining that I hunt knowledge and don’t know how to stop.

  65. says

    I’m getting a clearer picture…
    For more background on the FSM try googling “Kitzmiller v Dover” or “Dover trial”. You’ll probably get more info on that subject than you want just from Wikipedia.
    For a 74 year old who recently gained internet access you’re doing pretty good – probably better than I would in similar circumstances.
    BTW (that’s internet shorthand for “by the way” by the way): Is your internet connection fast or slow?

  66. says

    Not all beliefs are “just” (only) beliefs. When they are not only justified, but also true, they are also knowledge…whether or not those beliefs are considered “religious” or “scientific” or whatever else category.

    But since we can never be 100% sure whether our conclusions are true, then by your definitions, we can never tell whether our conclusions are “knowledge” or simply “justified beliefs.” (With the exception of a handful of mathematical and logical propositions, along the lines of “If A and B are true, then C is also true.”)
    And once again, we’re back to the central problem. Which is this: Let’s say we accept your definition of “belief” — namely, any conclusion we can’t be absolutely, 100% positive about. And let’s say that we therefore agree that, according to this definition, atheism and religion are both “beliefs.”
    So what? Would this say anything substantial about either atheism and religion? According to this definition, “The earth is round” and “Leprechauns hide pots of gold at the ends of rainbows” are both beliefs. “Lightning is an atmospheric discharge of electricity” and “Lightning comes from Thor’s hammer” are both beliefs. Totally regardless of whether that’s a useful definition of the word “belief”… does it say anything at all about whether atheism and theism are comparable world views, or are similarly likely to be true?
    And if not… then why do you care about this point? Is there any reason to insist on it, other than to (a) create a false impression of equivalency between atheism and theism, and (b) distract from the substantive questions of whether there is even one scrap of solid evidence supporting the god hypothesis… or whether there is any god hypothesis that’s even coherent and worth subjecting to questions of evidence?

  67. Buster says

    Blondin.
    Thanks for the understanding and the link.
    It is supposed to be ADSL running at 384 KB. Tests indicate that because of line attenuation it is closer to 262 Kb but when downloading anything The fastest I get is 39 Kb, which is slower than a normal dial up system of 56Kb.
    Although I am 74 in years I am a young man caught up in an old body. The yoga I use (not the Western and self styled Guru, sorry to say, crap) since the age of 24 has been the reason that I am the exception in our family who still has the same blood pressure as when I was fit and 20 Years old. Those who passed away or are still living all take medication for high blood pressure, I can drop my heartbeat, but prefer never to take it below 55 beats per minute.
    And have many times dropped my blood pressure to 112/64.
    I can give pointers without any mumbo jumbo.
    I practice self-hypnosis and auto-suggestion every night before I fall or as I fall asleep and have hypnotized others with very good results.
    I am sorry we better fight about, or discuss something, this is Greta’s Blog and we should not chat on it.

  68. Buster says

    I must agree with Greta. As far as the God of the Jews is concerned, he never existed and never will, This is the omnipotent, all knowing, most compassionate and at the same time the most horrible GOD, if you were to believe the stories of the mass murders ascribed to him, which history has proven to be natural disasters and in the case of the 50,000 or more Assyrians which the “angel of death” killed in one night, was an outbreak of the plague and it did not occur overnight.
    I had a Christian upbringing but nowhere does the old testament give proof of such a GOD. In the Sanskrit there are references to people with technological power far beyond what we have now and if we put aside some esoteric nonsense in the old testament then they confirm certain things and even point to the time of the great ones, Not GOD. The reference here is “the sons of GOD, clearly indicating flesh and blood sons, took the earth women and they had children, and that was in the time of the Great Ones”.
    Of course the latest translations now say the heavenly beings, just to justify their thoughts, but they still made babies with our women so they were still human no matter what you call them.
    Most Atheists deny this merely because it is in the Bible and Many Christians because they choose to not see what is before their very eyes. Those Christians who see it become anathema and end up excommunicated. (Not that I ever was)
    The Jews were always downtrodden so a psychological crutch had to be invented for them to believe in something better than themselves. It worked but later became twisted into fanatic beliefs and the Jews started believing they were the chosen.
    In the New testament there is a very short piece about I found you lying in the gutter (my word meaning beaten and regarded as worthless) cleaned you up and taught you to be more human, but then they became arrogant and thought yourself better than others.
    Voltaire said “Even if there is no God it would be necessary to invent one”. He gave both Christians and Atheist some big blasts.
    The two beings that I have the most pity and compassion for is God and The Devil. They get blamed for everything because of our non-acceptance and denial of our responsibilities.
    All we have left is our beliefs and faith that there is more to life. This cannot be taken away from anyone no matter how we argue.
    Is Atheism a “belief” No it is a way of life. The same applies to Christians.
    If I have to stand by an atheist as I am now doing, and fight because of nonsense I will do so, and the same goes for Christians. Why was it said I am now leaving earth but I am taking Joshua, with me ? Sounds very much like a space ship. Go find the visions of Isaiah which for the first time appeared AD. not BC as one would have expected.
    There Isaiah was taken to another world and after a short visit he was informed that they must return. He wanted to know why so soon and was informed that many years have passed since he left earth, but he need not worry when they return he will still be the same age. Einstein’s theory of relativity. Nonsense relativity was published almost two thousand years before he was born. This also points to a journey by space ship. God was demystified ages ago but we still stick to our beliefs and cherish them.
    Except for the “Visions of Isaiah”, all that I have said appears in the old and new testaments.
    UFO fanatics don’t get excited in America there was definitely a “UFO” cover up, attention was diverted to UFO’s, to cover up the American experiments on their own people. Grey ones. Crickey doesn’t anyone recall where they originated. In a science fiction movie in about 1935 titled the War of the Worlds. So a couple of gas or virus masks would to a drugged person appear to look like the old Greys from that movie.
    I don’t profess to know more than either parties, but somewhere along the line I discovered I was not born with blinkers which means I can look to both sides and forward.

  69. Buster says

    Belief
    My English dictionary gives a conflicting definition so I looked at the same word in my home language for the translation and it is more correct than the English dictionary. The translation says:-
    Belief : Hold true.
    It doesn’t say it IS true it says you think it is true.
    So what is the argument. Belief cannot be made a fact nor is it knowledge. No matter how one tries it cannot be interpreted as anything else.
    I can think it is true and so can you. But that does not mean it is true for you only think so and it could be false.
    My knowledge of links was lacking, A fact. If you say it is my belief (or I believe) that your knowledge of links is lacking it only opens a subject for discussion. You are expressing an opinion which could be true or false.
    So once again Greta Kudos to you.
    A way of life cannot be made a belief of life. It remains a way of life.

  70. says

    My English dictionary gives a conflicting definition so I looked at the same word in my home language for the translation and it is more correct than the English dictionary. The translation says:-
    Belief : Hold true.

    There’s a solution – just find a dictionary that gives the definition you like!
    Seriously, I’m being flippant but I think this illustrates that words mean what we want them to mean when we say them. Context is important. It is presumptuous, disingenuous and rude to insist that people intend something they clearly don’t because of dictionary definitions of words.

  71. Buster says

    Blondin
    I agree with you.
    I dug out my yellow paged Noah Webster Dictionary first published 1847 with additions etc to 1900.
    If I look at this Dictionary. It is an A4 size book and almost a a third of the page in very fine print, is used to describe the various uses of this word. If we talk worldwide on the Web then whose dictionary must we use? This immediately limits you.
    How about “Sodomy” An older Collins dictionary says “unnatural copulation with animals”.
    Another dictionary says. “abnormal sex, usually anal”
    So why did the meaning of the word change?
    Reading through previous replies I can see why she drew Theunis’s statement into the conversation. He used it loosely and probably did it so to show that it can be used in different ways. She was correct to use what he said the way she did.
    I am not arguing with Greta, I support her , for want of a betters word, “views” and arguments in this regard.

  72. Xenolan says

    Douglas Adams put it very well, I think. He was asked once in an interview why he believed there was no God. His response (and I’m paraphrasing because I don’t have it in front of me) was that he preferred not to put it that way; rather, he was convinced that there is no God. This is an important distinction; beliefs, after all, can be based on anything or nothing. When an Atheist says, “I don’t believe in God,” they are putting it in religious terms – it is easy to interpret such a statement as an expression of faith. When one says, “I am convinced there is no God,” the choice of words shows that “No God” is a conclusion reached through reason and examination of evidence. It also shows that evidence and reason is what it will take to sway our opinion.

  73. John KE5C says

    “For me, and for the overwhelming majority of atheists I know, our atheism is a provisional conclusion, based on careful reasoning and on the best available evidence we have. Our atheism is the conclusion that the God hypothesis is unsupported by any good evidence, and that unless we see better evidence, we’re going to assume that God does not exist.”

    Different people look at the same evidence and come to different conclusions all the time. If atheism is a provisional conclusion and not a belief system, why isn’t Christianity equally a provisional conclusion that God does exist (rather than a belief system)? What is the difference? How is your assuming God does not exist any different than a Christian assuming God does exist? Trying to understand…

Leave a Reply