Why are you an atheist?

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Why are you an atheist?

Postby HughMungus » Thu Feb 23, 2006 3:28 pm

Isn't saying "There is no god" logically equivalent to saying "There is a god"?
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Postby theCryptofishist » Thu Feb 23, 2006 3:41 pm

No. Maybe under an agnostic analysis, but I don't really see what you're getting at.
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Postby bringer » Thu Feb 23, 2006 3:44 pm

I don't think so.


It seems to be both logically and grammatically different.
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Postby HughMungus » Thu Feb 23, 2006 3:58 pm

theCryptofishist wrote:No. Maybe under an agnostic analysis, but I don't really see what you're getting at.


Why would someone try to convince themselves or others that there is no god. What's the point of that?
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Postby theCryptofishist » Thu Feb 23, 2006 4:14 pm

Human beings like answers, in fact I'd say that we are to some extent biologically biased to coming up with them. I'd certainly say that as social monkeys we are pre-programmed to think of things happening due to some sort of agency or entity or whatever setting it in motion. When things happened that were too big for any particular monkey to have set in motion "god" became an explination. "There is no god" is an answer to that through some sort of thought process that tries to figure out the nature of "god" and can't. (No chicken and egg problem here.)
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Postby DVD Burner » Thu Feb 23, 2006 4:34 pm

"Why are you an atheist?"

I dont know about me being one but from what I understand, in most if not all books of religion there is a saying that sort of goes "man is created in Gods own image".

If you look at the way man is and the way man treats each other and the world today, why should one want to belive?
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Postby sputnik » Thu Feb 23, 2006 6:04 pm

Can I just say because?
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Postby HughMungus » Thu Feb 23, 2006 6:22 pm

theCryptofishist wrote:Human beings like answers, in fact I'd say that we are to some extent biologically biased to coming up with them. I'd certainly say that as social monkeys we are pre-programmed to think of things happening due to some sort of agency or entity or whatever setting it in motion. When things happened that were too big for any particular monkey to have set in motion "god" became an explination. "There is no god" is an answer to that through some sort of thought process that tries to figure out the nature of "god" and can't. (No chicken and egg problem here.)


So what would cause someone to think, "There is no god"?
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Postby HughMungus » Thu Feb 23, 2006 6:33 pm

sputnik wrote:Can I just say because?


Somebody tried that with me once. I said, "Why are you an atheist" and all he could say was, "Because." I'm not someone who's trying to say that people who don't think there is a god are wrong. I just don't understand why someone would identify themselves as stating, categorically, "There is no god." It's like whether someone believes that there might be alien life or not -- if someone says, "I don't believe there is alien life in the universe" then the first question that comes to my mind is, "Why do you believe that?" (And not because I believe there is or isn't, just because I'm trying to understand how they came to such an absolute statement of what they believe to be fact.)
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Postby Cabanasprings » Thu Feb 23, 2006 6:44 pm

HughMungus wrote:
So what would cause someone to think, "There is no god"?


Because I don't need to believe in a God to make me feel good about myself. My inner thoughts and being tell me there isn't so I don't believe. It's pretty simple actually.
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Postby HughMungus » Thu Feb 23, 2006 6:50 pm

Cabanasprings wrote:
HughMungus wrote:
So what would cause someone to think, "There is no god"?


Because I don't need to believe in a God to make me feel good about myself. My inner thoughts and being tell me there isn't so I don't believe. It's pretty simple actually.


So why are you an atheist instead of agnostic?
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Postby Cabanasprings » Thu Feb 23, 2006 8:18 pm

I think my comment answered that question.


Because if there was any doubt in my mind, I would chose to believe - just in case I was wrong.

Please correct me if I am wrong, but I think an agnostic believes that it is possible. I don't. I won't try to persuade you either way. I just don't believe and that works for me.



Edited to add first response.
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Postby montana wildhack » Thu Feb 23, 2006 8:35 pm

i am not an atheist, but i did walk around for years thinking that Bill Hicks was Jesus of Houston. We find our answers where we find them. I have enough on my plate dealing with my own spiritual education. I hope that others have their own paths that make sense to them. Not trying to be harsh or stir the turds in the punchbowl ...
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Postby HughMungus » Thu Feb 23, 2006 8:46 pm

Cabanasprings wrote:I think my comment answered that question.


Because if there was any doubt in my mind, I would chose to believe - just in case I was wrong.

Please correct me if I am wrong, but I think an agnostic believes that it is possible. I don't. I won't try to persuade you either way. I just don't believe and that works for me.



Edited to add first response.


ag·nos·tic
n.

One who believes that it is impossible to know whether there is a God.

One who is skeptical about the existence of God but does not profess true atheism.

One who is doubtful or noncommittal about something.


Hm. Now I'm miffed. I've been referring to myself as agnostic for a long time. I thought "agnostic" also included people for whom the question of whether god exists is basically irrelevant to their lives. (I'm not anti-religion, I just have more important things to deal with than spiritual isues and believe that if you do right here on earth that if there is an afterlife, you will be viewed positively by anyone/thing doing the "viewing".)

That's why I was asking why someone would describe themselves as atheist ("There is no god") instead of agnostic (by my former definition, "It's not revelvant to me whether god exists or not").

So what IS the word for people for whom the spiritual questions aren't relevant to how they live their lives?
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Postby PlayaPetal » Thu Feb 23, 2006 10:10 pm

Will you accept and answer of "I just don't know if I beleive in God". I need tangible proof. There is a song done by XTC called "Dear God" that sums up some, if not most, of my feeling and thoughts about God:

(XTC Skylarking)
Dear God I hope you got the letter, and...
I pray you can make it better down here.
I don't mean a big reduction in the price of beer
but all the people that you made in your image, see
them starving on their feet 'cause they don't get
enough to eat from God, I can't believe in you

Dear God, sorry to disturb you, but... I feel that I should be heard
loud and clear. We all need a big reduction in amount of tears
and all the people that you made in your image, see them fighting
in the street 'cause they can't make opinions meet about God,
I can't believe in you

Did you make disease, and the diamond blue? Did you make
mankind after we made you? And the devil too!

Dear God, don't know if you noticed, but... your name is on
a lot of quotes in this book, and us crazy humans wrote it, you
should take a look, and all the people that you made in your
image still believing that junk is true. Well I know it ain't, and
so do you, dear God, I can't believe in I don't believe in

I won't believe in heaven and hell. No saints, no sinners, no
devil as well. No pearly gates, no thorny crown. You're always
letting us humans down. The wars you bring, the babes you
drown. Those lost at sea and never found, and it's the same the
whole world 'round. The hurt I see helps to compound that
Father, Son and Holy Ghost is just somebody's unholy hoax,
and if you're up there you'd perceive that my heart's here upon
my sleeve. If there's one thing I don't believe in

it's you....

Just my 2 cents - my interntions are not to offend anyone, but to share my feelings on the subject...
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Postby PlayaPetal » Thu Feb 23, 2006 10:20 pm

Isn't saying "There is no god" logically equivalent to saying "There is a god"?

This question confuses me. I don't see any logical equivalency. Are you saying by saying "There is no God", you are actually acknowledging "God" exists? Ok I will admit I have my blonde moments and ya - I like my smoke but I don't get it. Just when I think I get it WHAM...confusion and my tongue gets all tied up, confusing the voice in my head and I can't put it to words. I'm not ditching you - I want to understand where you’re coming from. Seriously.
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Postby robbidobbs » Thu Feb 23, 2006 11:25 pm

So what IS the word for people for whom the spiritual questions aren't relevant to how they live their lives?


Apothetic.

I define spirituality as one's emotional life with regards to oneself.
This seems to answer all those nagging questions about Who am I, Where do I come from, Where am I going, and why can't I find my car keys.

I believe theism comes from insecurity.
You don't have any ready answers to the nagging questions, so you create a supernatural entity to explain them.

Malanofsky said it best (and this is paraphrasing):
When a given group or individual is faced with a natural phenomenon that they have no control over (love, rain, death, etc) they manufacture a supernatural force that will address that phenomenon on their behalf.

All cultures exhibit this.

Bonhoffer also was right when he said that Man keeps pushing God to those edges of his understanding.

It's like the pat answer we can quickly come up with when we don't know what's going on. We know where rain comes from, so we no longer solicit the help of a deity to make it rain.

I choose not to be intellectually lazy or cowardly about my spirituality. If I don't know the answer, I don't just fall back on a presupposition of a non-natural answer. I believe that an answer is either possible or irrelevant -- mental exercises. I just don't know it, and that's ok. I do not believe in the existance of a dichotomous soul. The "soul" is the mind, and it shuts off upon death. Nothing that concerns me exists outside of space/time. Quantum physics is just the beginning.

I've been all over the map with spiritual mythology: raised as a mormon, became atheist, then christian, then atheist again. I now call myself a taoist, not because I believe in something or not something, but because it encompasses that essential belief that the answers you seek are within yourself. It's really quite empowering if you think about it. You alone are responsible for how you perceive the world around you, and how you respond to it.

Osho says: If we look deeply into our lives, we find there is a thin venear of meaning over a vast ocean of nothingness.

In three words: Get over it. Embrace whatever explanation you have for life, the universe and everything. I'm not more right than you.

For some fun reading on this, read Kiekegaard, and his philosophy of Criterionless Choices.
In a nutshell: Your world view has been shaped by life experiences. You choose which ones have meaning and which don't. You choose also the criterion upon which you base whether a belief is true or not, shit or tuna fish, useful or hogwash. And those criteria are based not on reason, but on emotional rationale, or gut feeling. So logically they aren't criterion at all. But there you are, left with a world view you fiercely believe in, based on criterionless choices. So no one is more correct than another, because they don't share those life experiences that shaped the end result.
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Re: Why are you an atheist?

Postby Bob » Thu Feb 23, 2006 11:40 pm

HughMungus wrote:Isn't saying "There is no god" logically equivalent to saying "There is a god"?


"Atheist" simply means you're not a theist. There are varieties of atheism, though.

As for myself, I don't deny the question of God, I just think it's a stupid question not worth the trouble.
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Postby Ranger Genius » Fri Feb 24, 2006 12:57 am

Isn't saying "There is no god" logically equivalent to saying "There is a god"?


Where did you learn logic?

Let's talk about the standard of reasonability:
A hypothesis is reasonable only if it is testable, that is, only if it predicts something other than what it was introduced to explain.
Other things being equal, the most reasonable hypothesis is the one that is the most fruitful, that is, makes the most novel predictions.
Other things being equal, the most reasonable hypothesis is the one that has the greatest scope, that is, that explains and predicts the most diverse phenomena.
Other things being equal, the most reasonable hypothesis is the simplest one, that is, the one that makes the fewest assumptions.
Other things being equal, the most reasonable hypothesis is the one that is the most conservative, that is, the one that fits best with established (scientific) beliefs.
We should accept an extraordinary hypothesis only if no ordinary one will do.

Belief in God not only is untestable, but in fact defines God based on faith, and therefore defies testing. (see Babel Fish).
Do events around the world comply with what we could expect if there were a God (especially a benevolent one)?
How many assumptions does belief in God require, compared to disbelief?
Which belief flies in the face of more well-established scientific knowledge?

Most people who call themselves agnostic mean that they don't feel there's enough information to make a decision as to whether or not God exists (frequently because their making an [img]ad%20ingorantium[/img] fallacy; thinking that because it hasn't been disproven that it must be worth consideration. Under the standards of reasonability I went over before, it's clear that god-belief is quite unreasonable. Believing in God doesn't profit you anything intellectually; in actuality, it creates cognitive dissonances which prevent fruitful intellectual thought.

Once we come to the conclusion that belief in God is unreasonable, we can discount it and begin the pursuit for reasonable explanations for the things around us. That's why I don't believe in a god: because you can't learn anything that way.

As for why I (and other atheists like me) argue the point with theists: first, it is to help establish and solidify our own beliefs, by forcing us to defent--and thus think about--them; second, it is because of what we call "positive atheism," the belief that theism is morally, intellectually, and socially destructive to humanity. Think about how many wars have been fought over religion. And while 10% of americans profess no religious belief, only 1% of prison inmates do. When was the last time an atheist bombed a clinic or hijacked an airplaine?

I think that should just about do it for now.
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God? What has she done fore you latley?

Postby calsur » Fri Feb 24, 2006 1:39 am

I was raised Roman Catholic. Talk about a mind fuck. By the time I was 12 I realized the priests and nuns were a business and God had nothing to do with their “Church”. And then I realized that this was the way with all organized religions. Its all about getting the donations to preserve the status quo. I now step into a church, synagogue or mosque for weddings or funerals and that’s it.

Take a look at world history and see how much human suffering has been brought about by religion. How many problems are there in this world because of fractions in the SAME religion?

I wish that everyone on the planet had a attitude like robbidobbs. Maybe then we could get past the thousands of years old crap and work together as a people of Planet Earth.
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Postby Das Bus » Fri Feb 24, 2006 8:21 am

I was raised Catholic too. Eight years of catechism (sp?), and all I ever came up with were questions that no one could answer - like this one:

The first Commandment states, "Thou shalt have no other God before me". So isn't that admitting that there ARE other Gods? hmmmmmm.....

(yes, I do know the reasoning behind that commandment, false gods, false idols, blah blah blah; I just like to throw the question out there because I'm an ass!) : )
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Postby theCryptofishist » Fri Feb 24, 2006 9:54 am

HughMungus wrote:
theCryptofishist wrote:Human beings like answers, in fact I'd say that we are to some extent biologically biased to coming up with them. I'd certainly say that as social monkeys we are pre-programmed to think of things happening due to some sort of agency or entity or whatever setting it in motion. When things happened that were too big for any particular monkey to have set in motion "god" became an explination. "There is no god" is an answer to that through some sort of thought process that tries to figure out the nature of "god" and can't. (No chicken and egg problem here.)


So what would cause someone to think, "There is no god"?
What leaps out to me is you live in a sociaty that declares that there is one and you find some problem that doesn't fit in with the theology and you declare your answer. Of course you cannot say "There is no god" without some one, sometime previous declaring there is.
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Postby AntiM » Fri Feb 24, 2006 10:12 am

So if an agnostic doesn't know if God exists, would an apathist (apatheist?) not care if God existed or not?

(darn it, now I have to look up words and terms and prefixes .. argh)
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Postby Rob the Wop » Fri Feb 24, 2006 10:46 am

A belief system and logical analysis are not the same things at all times. You can believe in a logical argument and/or have a perfectly logical argument that is unbelievable.

I see the statement "There is no God." the equivilant of "There is no purple talking grass monsters in Hoboken, NJ that speak fluent French."

I can choose to believe in both, one, or neither of the two statements. I personally don't attribute an omnipotent being to explain things I do not understand- so I say I am an atheist.

In the case of asking a religious person "why?" as to if there is a God, they will typically pull out a bible and/or wave their hands around at everything and state that it is impossible for things to exist without a mind being behind them. Neither of which is a good answer for me.

You simply won't get a good answer for a non-belief, simply because it is a NON belief. You're basically asking them to prove the non-existance of something this is impossible to prove the existance of in the first place. The question itself is moot because a) it is a belief, therefore no requiring proof and b) the subject itself cannot be proven either way. In order to prove the existance of an omnipotent being, you need equipment capable of doing so. By definition, this equipment would have to be 'more omnipotent' than the subject in question- which instantly makes God (non?) omnipotent and there is something 'more omnipotent' that created the equipment which is then God, etc. Gives you an infinite loop.

So I say the question itself is useless.
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Postby lurker » Fri Feb 24, 2006 11:58 am

These are statements of Faith

There is a god
There is no god

This is not a statement of Faith

There may or may not be a god.

It is the only real 'answer' to the question

Is there a god?

Atheism and Theism are faiths, both rely on an unprovable(as yet) idea for their existence.

Theism accepts this--some forms even revel in it, making the unprovablity of their god a factor in proving his existence.

Atheism loathes this and will argue the point citing their reason and logic--when their primary premise is unreason and illogic. You cannot know what you do not know.

Either way, Mankind will argue this point until they wake Great Cthuhlu and are eaten, one and all. Not for having commited any sin, simply because they were there.
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Postby HughMungus » Fri Feb 24, 2006 12:37 pm

Ranger Genius wrote:
Isn't saying "There is no god" logically equivalent to saying "There is a god"?


Where did you learn logic?

Let's talk about the standard of reasonability:
A hypothesis is reasonable only if it is testable, that is, only if it predicts something other than what it was introduced to explain.
Other things being equal, the most reasonable hypothesis is the one that is the most fruitful, that is, makes the most novel predictions.
Other things being equal, the most reasonable hypothesis is the one that has the greatest scope, that is, that explains and predicts the most diverse phenomena.
Other things being equal, the most reasonable hypothesis is the simplest one, that is, the one that makes the fewest assumptions.
Other things being equal, the most reasonable hypothesis is the one that is the most conservative, that is, the one that fits best with established (scientific) beliefs.
We should accept an extraordinary hypothesis only if no ordinary one will do.

Belief in God not only is untestable, but in fact defines God based on faith, and therefore defies testing. (see Babel Fish).
Do events around the world comply with what we could expect if there were a God (especially a benevolent one)?
How many assumptions does belief in God require, compared to disbelief?
Which belief flies in the face of more well-established scientific knowledge?


Prove to me that there is no god. I'd also like someone to prove that there is. I don't think it can be proven either way. That's why they're logically equivalent (logically equivalent statements, not logically equivalent beliefs or systems of belief).

Once we come to the conclusion that belief in God is unreasonable, we can discount it and begin the pursuit for reasonable explanations for the things around us. That's why I don't believe in a god: because you can't learn anything that way.


So a Christian or Jewish scientist can't learn anything? Are you saying that science and religion are mutually exclusive?
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Postby HughMungus » Fri Feb 24, 2006 12:40 pm

theCryptofishist wrote:
HughMungus wrote:
theCryptofishist wrote:Human beings like answers, in fact I'd say that we are to some extent biologically biased to coming up with them. I'd certainly say that as social monkeys we are pre-programmed to think of things happening due to some sort of agency or entity or whatever setting it in motion. When things happened that were too big for any particular monkey to have set in motion "god" became an explination. "There is no god" is an answer to that through some sort of thought process that tries to figure out the nature of "god" and can't. (No chicken and egg problem here.)


So what would cause someone to think, "There is no god"?
What leaps out to me is you live in a sociaty that declares that there is one and you find some problem that doesn't fit in with the theology and you declare your answer. Of course you cannot say "There is no god" without some one, sometime previous declaring there is.


So what facts are atheists basing their belief on? Can they prove there is no god or is it just that they *believe* there is no god based on their experiences? Or is it that they WANT TO *believe* that there is no god. See what I'm getting at? It seems neither side can prove their belief either way so each side is using the same logical argument (belief, not facts).
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Postby HughMungus » Fri Feb 24, 2006 12:48 pm

Rob the Wop wrote:A belief system and logical analysis are not the same things at all times. You can believe in a logical argument and/or have a perfectly logical argument that is unbelievable.

I see the statement "There is no God." the equivilant of "There is no purple talking grass monsters in Hoboken, NJ that speak fluent French."


You don't KNOW that it doesn't exist, you just believe, based on your experience of the world, that it doesn't exist.

You simply won't get a good answer for a non-belief, simply because it is a NON belief. You're basically asking them to prove the non-existance of something this is impossible to prove the existance of in the first place. The question itself is moot because a) it is a belief, therefore no requiring proof and b) the subject itself cannot be proven either way. In order to prove the existance of an omnipotent being, you need equipment capable of doing so. By definition, this equipment would have to be 'more omnipotent' than the subject in question- which instantly makes God (non?) omnipotent and there is something 'more omnipotent' that created the equipment which is then God, etc. Gives you an infinite loop.

So I say the question itself is useless.


So it's impossible to prove either the existence or the non-existence of god?

Is there a difference between saying, "There is no god" and saying, "I believe there is no god"?
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Postby Rob the Wop » Fri Feb 24, 2006 1:02 pm

A = ~A; FALSE

They are not logically equivilant.

As to the concept of beliefs, everyone has them. It is the way it we think, and this is a good thing. Agnostics may claim the miraculous ability to be free of faith, but this is wrong.

Go into a room you have never been in. It is empty save a light bulb and a switch on the wall. You walk over and flip the switch in order to turn on the light. Why? You believe that the switch will turn on the light regardless of the fact that you have not seen this particular switch turn on this particular light. This is the same reason you don't expect a giant man eating purple twinkie behind every closed door you open. You have never seen a giant man eating purple twinkie lurking behind a door, but you can't discount it if you hold your experiences up against infinity.

But humans use 'fuzzy logic' to determine how we react to our immediate reality. We compare our past experiences to new situations and react accordingly. If you take into account our beliefs based upon what we have read (2nd hand knowledge- physics, chemistry, etc), then we add a third removed layer of experiences. This way you can believe that the moon is NOT made of cheese without having actually been there.

Ergo, I believe that there is no omnipotent being responsible for reality. I do not need a logical proof for me to hold this belief any more than you need one to believe in things you have not immediately experienced.
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Postby Rob the Wop » Fri Feb 24, 2006 1:05 pm

HughMungus wrote:So it's impossible to prove either the existence or the non-existence of god?

Is there a difference between saying, "There is no god" and saying, "I believe there is no god"?


a) Yes. It is impossible to prove/disprove the existance of god simply because god, by definition, is omnipotent. Therefore unmeasurable (provable).

b) No. Unless you are lying. "There is no god." is actually saying "I believe there is no god." Unless you believe in god and state "there is no god". 'I believe' is inherent.
The other, other white meat.
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Rob the Wop
 
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