Why I Am An Atheist

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Lacewing
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Re: Why I Am An Atheist

Post by Lacewing » Wed Jun 08, 2016 12:40 am

Nick_A wrote:One thing I’ve noticed about atheists here who claim to respect logic; they openly commit the logical fallacy of false dilemma. There are only two choices for them: belief or denial.
I'm not sure that's what's happening. I see non-theists saying that they have neither. There's nothing to believe nor deny. It almost seems like denial can only be performed against something that exists. In the case of a god, there is simply nothing there for non-theists... so there is no denial. Do you see what I mean? Are you in denial that there's a huge spaceship hovering in the sky above you? It is simply not there for you. There is no denial.
Nick_A wrote:It seems neither a blind believer or blind denier appreciates what contemplation and pondering means other than from a superficial perspective.
Well, I've seen the blind believers... but I'm not sure who the blind deniers are. Again, I don't think people tend to deny things that simply aren't there for them. In my case, I grew up in the Christian faith... so I had plenty of opportunity to explore and question all sorts of things for myself. And I can tell you that I was very open to the Christian teachings, but they never felt true to me as they were presented. I could see value... but I saw so much distortion that it really turned it into something ELSE... manmade. And it danced with evil in ways that don't come into my life at all now. It is an energy all its own -- it is not an ultimate single truth. I think there are many energies we can resonate with.
Nick_A wrote:It is within consciousness without content that universal laws are known and unite to create contents of consciousness.
I think I know what you're talking about... as it sounds like a near-death experience I had, in which I was aware of vast space without any human needs or ideas... it was just awareness with no judgments attached. AWESOME!!! If that is similar to what you're referring to, I would say... that is not a "god", nor would I classify it as some sort of "thinking consciousness". It was just awareness (as ONE) without agenda. There is no contents when we're talking about "all"... because contents would require a separate container to put the contents into, in order to make it contents. There is no separation of contents and container. There is no separation of us and god. Separation is simply illusion/manifestation to play with. That's how I see it, anyway.

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Immanuel Can
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Re: Why I Am An Atheist

Post by Immanuel Can » Wed Jun 08, 2016 1:30 am

FlashDangerpants wrote:
Immanuel Can wrote:Well yes. I agree. When I state that I am an atheist, I'm not fooling myself that I know there isn't a God, I just don't believe there is one, or many.
Are you? I didn't know one way or the other. Well, if I may say, you're extraordinarily honest with yourself. Well done.
Arguments that it is ok to believe there is a God or that there is not occupy a similar logical space in that they have some hope of sustainability. Arguments that it is not ok to believe either of the above occupy the other potential space.
I wonder what you mean by "space." And I wonder why it would be "ok" to believe in something if it weren't true. Why would it be ok to be a Theist if one was wrong about God, and why would it be ok to be an Atheist if a God does exist? I also wonder what "some hope of sustainability means," -- unless you're more agnostic than Atheist, which I suppose could be so. Very interesting.

As for Atheism, I think it can have personal space, but the minute it's advanced as a recommendation or postulate for other people it doesn't really have "space" any longer in the field of rational alternatives. For then it musts supply evidence to justify its recommendation or postulate; and that it simply does not have and admittedly cannot get.

I've found that popular Atheism exists only by two means: one, by the attempted negation of some particular form of Theism, or two, by way of prejudgment without evidence. The former is nearly impossible to achieve in all cases, and the latter is irrational. So I think there's not much "space" for that sort of Atheism, if "space" means the realm of the reasonable. It's just not a rationally-sustainable position...at least in anything more than the way of a merely personal confession.

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Arising_uk
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Re: Why I Am An Atheist

Post by Arising_uk » Wed Jun 08, 2016 1:48 am

It's very rationally sustainable, if someone says something exists then the onus is on them to show or prove it exists. My dog exists is provable by me showing you my dog. Now you can argue its not a dog but you can't argue that whatever it is doesn't exist. So show me your 'God' as until then I can rationally think you are just making it up and have a very strange view of "exists".

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Re: Why I Am An Atheist

Post by Nick_A » Wed Jun 08, 2016 2:00 am

Lacewing wrote: I'm not sure that's what's happening. I see non-theists saying that they have neither. There's nothing to believe nor deny. It almost seems like denial can only be performed against something that exists. In the case of a god, there is simply nothing there for non-theists... so there is no denial. Do you see what I mean? Are you in denial that there's a huge spaceship hovering in the sky above you? It is simply not there for you. There is no denial.

As I see it there are two kinds of skepticism related to denial. There is intellectual skepticism which I believe is a healthy human quality. A person who blindly believes becomes victim to every form of deceit. Then there is emotional skepticism. It is an attitude of denial that prevents any form of impartiality. The prejudging of emotional skepticism denies objectivity.
"The poison of skepticism becomes, like alcoholism, tuberculosis, and some other diseases, much more virulent in a hitherto virgin soil." - Simone Weil
This is how the normal intellectual questions concerning the human relationship to higher consciousness degenerate into meaningless emotional ad hom attacks. This is why blind deniers are so dangerous in school systems. The emotional attitude of skepticism maintained by many adults in education represses the open mind normal for a young student.

They commit the logical fallacy of dilemma emotionally. Consider Dalek Prime for example. He wrote
Nick, I've already explained twice elsewhere why the universe can't possibly be conscious. Either refute my explanation, or shut up about it.
He hasn’t refuted anything intellectually since he doesn’t know what it is. He has refuted it in his mind emotionally. Suppose some kid reads Jacob Needleman’s book “A Sense of the Cosmos” in which there is a section on the conscious universe. His prof has this attitude of emotional denial. Can you see why the kid would shut up about it and gradually turn off to impartial contemplation? Only a few students can be like Simone and beat them at their own game. Her brother Andre wrote of Simone: "It will now be I think 23 years that you made your entry into the phenomenal world to create the greatest pain in the ass for rectors and school directors." A brilliant young person with an open mind has to be willing to deal with many emotional blind deniers without losing their sanity in order to survive this experience. Albert Camus called Simone the Only great mind of our times. Surviving all these emotional skeptics and their negativity and still come out on top is a rare but inspiring gift for all young brilliant open minded pains in the ass who begin to doubt themselves.
I think I know what you're talking about... as it sounds like a near-death experience I had, in which I was aware of vast space without any human needs or ideas... it was just awareness with no judgments attached. AWESOME!!! If that is similar to what you're referring to, I would say... that is not a "god", nor would I classify it as some sort of "thinking consciousness". It was just awareness (as ONE) without agenda. There is no contents when we're talking about "all"... because contents would require a separate container to put the contents into, in order to make it contents. There is no separation of contents and container. There is no separation of us and god. Separation is simply illusion/manifestation to play with. That's how I see it, anyway.
You are fortunate to have had such an experience IMO. I agree that consciousness without content is pure awareness within which all potential is present as “ideas”. No-thing is pure awareness with potential. Nothing in contrast is void of conscious potential. Pure awareness for us is pure conscious affirmation. It doesn’t include denial. Yet this quality is within existence and the quality of consciousness people refer to as the source is outside the limits of time and space: Creation including humanity is consciously within the Source so our highest conscious potential cannot be at the level of inclusion as the Source. This is why the Source cannot be denied. The best we can do is open ourselves to contemplation which blind denial will prevent. Of course you mentioned the solution. "Know Thyself." Strive for the conscious experience of oneself. Unfortunately blind denial is more fun and great for inflating ones ego so why bother with reality?

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Immanuel Can
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Re: Why I Am An Atheist

Post by Immanuel Can » Wed Jun 08, 2016 2:14 am

Arising_uk wrote:It's very rationally sustainable, if someone says something exists then the onus is on them to show or prove it exists. My dog exists is provable by me showing you my dog. Now you can argue its not a dog but you can't argue that whatever it is doesn't exist. So show me your 'God' as until then I can rationally think you are just making it up and have a very strange view of "exists".
Well, for me personally there would be a problem with the "show me your God" test. The main problem would be that I am a human being, and thus not in command of the Supreme Being. In fact, if I were, I would suggest that would be an excellent reason to doubt that I was showing you the Supreme Being at all. So the test you propose is a self-defeater.

However, what if the Supreme Being Himself had already decided to show you He exists, and to do so on terms congenial to His purposes and nature, not merely to perform tricks on my cue to please you? But what then if you simply refused to acknowledge the evidence as evidence, so that nothing was sufficient any longer for you to be willing to believe He exists? Where would we go from there?

If you can suggest how to proceed, I would be happy to proceed.

sthitapragya
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Re: Why I Am An Atheist

Post by sthitapragya » Wed Jun 08, 2016 6:21 am

Immanuel Can wrote: But what then if you simply refused to acknowledge the evidence as evidence, so that nothing was sufficient any longer for you to be willing to believe He exists? Where would we go from there?

If you can suggest how to proceed, I would be happy to proceed.
How could evidence not be seen as evidence? Unless the evidence was something like the existence of a chimney proving the existence of Santa. Can you give an example of evidence which has not been acknowledged as evidence?

yiostheoy
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Re:

Post by yiostheoy » Wed Jun 08, 2016 7:02 am

henry quirk wrote:From the piece...

"The worst reason for not believing in God (though the least obviously bad), is that there is no evidence for His existence."

This is the foundation for my disbelief: no evidence, as I assess things.

Guess I'm a bad atheist.

*shrug*

I can live with that.
Technically speaking, that would be more of an agnostic argument in defense of agnosticism than a truly atheist position.

Bertrand Russell explained the difference, reminding himself that only Philosophers actually know the difference.

Atheism is simply a belief system that believes that nothing Theological exists.

Philosophically speaking you cannot prove a negative without first exploring every square inch of the Universe -- and we humans do not possess the technology to do so. Ergo atheism is irrational.

marjoram_blues
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Re: Why I Am An Atheist

Post by marjoram_blues » Wed Jun 08, 2016 8:59 am

uwot wrote:
Nick_A wrote:God IS.
How can you keep bleating this and blindly deny that you are a blind believer? As for all that rot about being open to the possility of god, who isn't? The moment he parts the clouds and days 'Peek-a-boo!', I and most others will believe. In the meantime, anything suggested as evidence for god can only be accepted by blind believers.
Yes, the trouble is in the 'anything suggested as evidence for god'. Tallis writes:
The worst reason for not believing in God (though the least obviously bad), is that there is no evidence for His existence. This is a bad reason for atheism because no-one can agree what would count as evidence. Miracles, scriptures, the testimony of priests and prophets etc, can all be contested on empirical grounds: but for some people the fact that we communicate intelligibly with one another, or that the world is ordered, or even that there is something rather than nothing, is sufficient evidence to demonstrate that there is a Creator who not only made the world but also made it habitable by and intelligible to us. Therefore the appeal to evidence, or lack of it, will always be inconclusive.
We can turn this around and ask: what is a good reason for someone to decide to be a theist; and the turnaround question to Nicky: 'Who is really a theist?' or is it 'Who Really is a Theist?'

For even if the argument is inconclusive; it is still interesting to explore the real reasons why someone holds a particular position. Some have already been suggested e.g. psychological need, etc. However, it is easy to jump to hasty conclusions without really hearing the background to the decision-making process.

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Re:

Post by marjoram_blues » Wed Jun 08, 2016 9:12 am

henry quirk wrote:"intellectually the case does not rest on the lack of evidence for God, or the bad behaviour of believers and religious institutions, but on the idea of God itself, which insofar as it is not entirely empty, is self-contradictory, and makes less sense than that which it purports to explain."

See, I think the above is a bad reason to be an atheist.
It's like sayin' 'I don't know what causes the bubblin' on the water's surface but I know it ain't fire cuz fire under the water can't happen'. Tell that to deep sea volcanic vents.

No, Tallis is wrong...we are evidence-seekers...only sensible, in the absence of evidence, to suspend judgment (agnosticism) or, with reservation, say there is no god (atheism).
Say it with me: ev-i-dence...gimme that good stuff.

What comprises evidence?
One clue: it ain't anecdotal (and it absolutely must be in keeping with the claim).
You tell me you have a ham sandwich in a box...nuthin' remarkable about the claim...I can accept the claim without actually seein' the sandwich...now, if you tell me you got a dancin', singin', ham sandwich in a box and you bet your ass I wanna see that...not gonna accept that claim till I see and hear the sandwich for myself, till I can examine that sandwich.

Seems only reasonable that I'd want the same when told there is a supranatural being responsible for designing, building, and sustaining the universe. You say there's fire, but I smell no smoke, feel no heat, see no flame.
Evidence...eeeevvvviiiidddeeennnncccceeee.
Sorry Henry but I think I misquoted Tallis. You and he are in agreement about it being a bad reason:

Here is the full paragraph:
Nearly all the bad reasons for being an atheist are rooted in a fundamental confusion between what one might call the ‘metaphysical’ as opposed to the ‘institutional’ or ‘societal’ aspects of religion – between that part of religion which makes claims about the origin, the nature, the shaping forces and the meaning of the universe and the lives of humans; and that part which prescribes how we ought to live, who is authorized to guide us in this respect, and what we should be guided to do – precepts, rituals, observances, codes of behaviour and so on.

An intelligent defence of atheism should separate religious institutions, with their protean prescriptions and the powers for good or ill that result, from sets of propositions about the origin and nature of the universe and the bit of it we live in. Badly behaved priests and sickeningly venal and powerful churches do not demonstrate the untruth of religion. While they remind us of the corrupting influence of power, particular when it claims to have transcendental authority, this fact doesn’t support the Big Bang against the Six Days of Creation. Atheists might argue that religious believers themselves do not separate these aspects of religion: God’s Wisdom, for example, is often both a metaphysical concept and a non-negotiable set of instructions about how we should live with one another. True – but this doesn’t make the argument any better. However, it does bring me to the first good reason for being an atheist (not before time, you might think).
Actually, I must admit to some confusion - I don't think that Tallis is saying that we are, or should not be evidence-seekers - rather that it is, for him, not the best reason to offer up as part of an argument for his atheism.
Perhaps, I need a break !!!

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Re:

Post by marjoram_blues » Wed Jun 08, 2016 9:30 am

henry quirk wrote:"Tallis sums up this part by saying that the bad reasons are based on confusion between the metaphysical and institutional aspects. The claims and the prescriptions. Who is authorised, and what we should be guided to do."

At least when it comes to me: he's wrong.
My disbelief, based on a lack of evidence, is not about institutions, or perscriptions, or authority.
Again, and simply: believers say there's a fire...I say 'where?'.
I don't deny the possibility of fire...just not seein', smellin', feelin' it...so: I get on with with what must be done in the day-to-day and don't give the fire much thought...if it's there, I'll get burned eventually...if not: then I haven't wasted my finite time worryin' about it.
Again, I must apologise for my probable misrepresentation of what Tallis actually wrote. I seem to have made a complete balls up of it all :oops:
Never mind. I seem to be in agreement with you - my life does not turn around the question of atheism v theism.

Best I get on with it !

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Re: Why I Am An Atheist

Post by marjoram_blues » Wed Jun 08, 2016 9:38 am

Skip wrote:So, are there any other good reasons for identifying as an atheist?
Note, I didn't say being one, because there may well be people who are atheists and don't know it yet, or haven't admitted it. There may be people who have never believed and don't think about the reasons. But when somebody dons the label voluntarily, in public, it's usually because they have arrived at a reasoned conclusion.

If we put aside the idolatry and disregard the claims of any particular religions regarding all named and particular gods, then we must each have personal reasons for rejecting - usually - the god we were taught to pray to in early childhood, and then all the other gods we heard about in adolescence.
That has to be a very subjective process, with a hefty emotional component. I very much doubt any 7-year-old suddenly stands up in Sunday school and says: "Prove He's real or I'm not doing the confirmation." The rejecting happens in stages and glimmers; everyone who became disillusioned with faith and its culture-specific object must have experienced certain landmark events. Most of these take place during the articulate and memory-retentive period between ages 6 and 15. The reflection comes later. The summary is often deferred for decades.
Thanks for keeping on track, Skip - I do believe that I've come to the end of my engagement with this.
I agree that that there can be an emotional component, sometimes it can get heavy. However, as you say, when and if anyone comes out publicly to identify as, and support the position of what it means to be an atheist - then usually it is through a process of objective reasoning.
I'm not sure that the stages are at the same time or order for everyone...

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Re: Re:

Post by marjoram_blues » Wed Jun 08, 2016 9:49 am

yiostheoy wrote:
henry quirk wrote:From the piece...
"The worst reason for not believing in God (though the least obviously bad), is that there is no evidence for His existence."
This is the foundation for my disbelief: no evidence, as I assess things.
Guess I'm a bad atheist.
*shrug*
I can live with that.
Technically speaking, that would be more of an agnostic argument in defense of agnosticism than a truly atheist position.
Bertrand Russell explained the difference, reminding himself that only Philosophers actually know the difference.
Atheism is simply a belief system that believes that nothing Theological exists.
Philosophically speaking you cannot prove a negative without first exploring every square inch of the Universe -- and we humans do not possess the technology to do so. Ergo atheism is irrational.

About Tallis and his view of being an agnostic:
But shouldn’t one humbly admit uncertainty, and be an agnostic rather than an atheist? No; and here’s the reason why. A quick glance at the metaphysical claims associated with the 100 or so religions on offer at the present time shows that they are in profound and often bitter conflict. But unless you have been indoctrinated from birth into a particular religion you are forced to make a seemingly random choice in the Shopping Mall of Theological Ideas. If in the spirit of humility you seek what they have in common, very little of substance remains: the highest common factor between Christianity, Paganism, Hinduism, Jainism and all the other theisms is pretty small, and what little remains is incoherent.

To be a sincere agnostic you would have to be able to entertain the notion of a God who is infinite but has specific characteristics; unbounded, but distinct in some sense from His creation; who is a Being that has not been brought into being; who is omniscient, omnipotent and good and yet so constrained as to be unable or unwilling to create a world without evil; who is intelligent and yet has little in common with intelligent beings as we understand them; and so on. The ‘apophatic’ God, defined in terms of what God is not, of the Greek philosopher Xenophanes and some strands of Orthodox Christianity, is some acknowledgement of this unthinkability of the deity. But agnosticism requires one to keep in play the notion of a square circle. Not, I would think, worth the effort.
Note the qualifier 'sincere'. To be a sincere agnostic - is perhaps a bit different to someone who hasn't given it much thought and simply shrugs at such questions in an indifferent matter: I don't know and I don't care.
Henry is clearly sincere - having given this issue a great deal of thought.
Re atheism being irrational - if based on the need for evidence. The position of any atheist is not always about the evidence. Indeed, Tallis says this would be a 'bad' reason.

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Arising_uk
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Re: Why I Am An Atheist

Post by Arising_uk » Wed Jun 08, 2016 12:14 pm

Immanuel Can wrote:Well, for me personally there would be a problem with the "show me your God" test. The main problem would be that I am a human being, and thus not in command of the Supreme Being. In fact, if I were, I would suggest that would be an excellent reason to doubt that I was showing you the Supreme Being at all. So the test you propose is a self-defeater. ...
Not really, as presumably you are in touch in some sense with this 'Supreme Being' so tell me 'its' telephone number and I'll give 'it' a ring.
However, what if the Supreme Being Himself had already decided to show you He exists, and to do so on terms congenial to His purposes and nature, not merely to perform tricks on my cue to please you? ...
What if the moon is made of green cheese, Santa Claus has a time-machine and pigs fly? If 'it' has a pupose and a plan for me than apparently it involves me not believing in 'it', so all good eh!

How do you know 'its' a "He"? If you do then presumably you've met 'it' and as such should be able to introduce me. Just like if you say your dog exists.
But what then if you simply refused to acknowledge the evidence as evidence, so that nothing was sufficient any longer for you to be willing to believe He exists? ...
What 'evidence'? Give me an example of what you think constitutes evidence of something existing other than showing it to someone.
Where would we go from there?

If you can suggest how to proceed, I would be happy to proceed.
Sure, you tell me how you know that this 'God' exists.

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henry quirk
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Post by henry quirk » Wed Jun 08, 2016 1:33 pm

Hey, Mannie...what's shakin'?

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henry quirk
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Post by henry quirk » Wed Jun 08, 2016 1:38 pm

"Amazing that me an HQ are so much alike but so far apart."

Not so amazing...we're both sensible men.

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