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Athiests - Why is rejection better than acceptance? Why is No Hope Better than Hope?


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Having read and posting on various threads where atheists have expressed their views. The Following questions seem appropriate. This thread grows out of another thread but I felt the subject needed it's own thread.

 

When a Christian asks you to believe in God and preaches the Gospel etc to you, they are offering you a hope in Eternal Life.

 

The questions for you are are these.

 

1. What is it you are offering to us when you ask us NOT to believe?

2. What advantage(s) does belief in NO God offer?

3. Why is Rejection of God better than Acceptance of God?

4. Why is Hopelessness (No afterlife) better than Hopefulness (glorious afterlife)?

 

Let it be know right now that I am no philosopher, nor am I a theologian.

I am a simple believer in God, because it makes no sense to me NOT to believe in God.

I am a Christian because Christianity, built upon Love, makes more sense than any other faith that I have looked at.

 

I recognize that there are numerous examples of people of faith acting badly, even horrifically, yet I cannot see that as some sort of proof against Gods existence.

 

So tell me - What does the "faith of Atheism" offer that is not found in a "faith of theism".

Most forms of belief in God, particularly Judeo/Christian belief, whether right or wrong, offers the Hope of salvation and an eternal life of happiness. What can Atheism offer me except the grave?

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So tell me - What does the "faith of Atheism" offer that is not found in a "faith of theism".

Most forms of belief in God, particularly Judeo/Christian belief, whether right or wrong, offers the Hope of salvation and an eternal life of happiness. What can Atheism offer me except the grave?

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No matter how you cut it, Pascal's Wager carries no weight.

 

What is it you are offering to us when you ask us NOT to believe?

some might say the wonder of knowledge for knowledge's sake, the satisfaction of an intellectually honest understanding of the universe as it truly is, or others might say freedom from the negative elements imposed on a person's life by religious superstition.

 

What advantage(s) does belief in NO God offer?
See above and below for some suggestions.

 

Why is Rejection of God better than Acceptance of God?
If God does exist and is the foul, petty douche portrayed in the bible, then yeh, we'll burn. Whatever. If that's what he's like I don't think I'd want to whore out my intellectual integrity just to suck up to the king of raving tyrants even for the bribe of eternal paradise (I'd want to get as far from Him as possible)

 

If He does exist, but is a truly benevolent, reasonable being worthy of worship (completely unlike the god of the bible), it's hard to imagine that he would penalize good, well-meaning atheists for misguidedly but honestly following where their intellect led them, in which case, no harm done, we'll all laugh about it with Him in the afterlife over a round of beers.

 

Or, He doesn't exist and no harm done anyway, and we can content ourselves in the meantime with the reward of honest knowledge.

 

Why is Hopelessness (No afterlife) better than Hopefulness (glorious afterlife)?
While some more nihilistic or satisfactorily fulfilled atheists might not mind the concept of oblivion, plenty of us are perfectly happy to admit that we'd prefer a nice stay in paradise (personally, I like the version in What Dreams May Come). But because one sounds nicer than the other doesn't make it legitimate. I would PREFER if I had a billion dollars in my bank account, but I don't, and lying to myself isn't going to change that.

 

If anything, the lives of SOME (certainly not all) religious folks definitely would have been better if they hadn't spent theirs' striving to be pious or to earn their way into heaven, possibly plagued by guilt or shame or fear or revulsion at their so-called sinful nature. When they die, if there is no afterlife, they'll have ended up wasting the only shot at living a good, happy life they'll ever get.

 

So tell me - What does the "faith of Atheism" offer that is not found in a "faith of theism".

Most forms of belief in God, particularly Judeo/Christian belief, whether right or wrong, offers the Hope of salvation and an eternal life of happiness. What can Atheism offer me except the grave?

The ultimate failing of Pascal's Wager is that it proposes a coin toss. Heads or Tails. Judeo-Christendom or Atheism. But that ignores all the other options. What if you're being such a good christian that you fail to die a valorous death in combat, and you're sent to the dreary Norse underworld of Hel rather than Odin's hall in Valhalla?

 

Or maybe Christianity was right, but Fundamentalist Mormonism in particular, and you damn yourself by not having enough wives.

 

Or what if you don't properly preserve your body or stock your tomb or regularly receive fresh offerings? Ending up destitute in the world of the dead, receiving no food with which to nourish your Ka, your Ba ruinously bound to your decaying, non-mummified corpse, destroying any possible hope of even being able to get to Duat in order take your tests, much less pass them and win entry into Aaru in the first place.

 

For that matter it would suck to get stranded on the banks of the River Styx just because some cheapskate forgot to leave coins over your eyes back in your grave.

 

So if you DO get it wrong, you'd better hope that Hinduism, Buddhism or Jainism, or even Scientology are right, giving you chances at do-overs. Or Zoroastrianism, since in the end Ahura Mazda will considerately and benevolently go out of his way to purify and redeem each and every soul anyhow, no matter what they believed.

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One of the old questions of philosophy is whether it is better to be a deliriously happy pig or a somewhat morose and cynical Socrates? Obviously it is better to be Socrates, since what we most seek as humans is a life that has value, not just one that is happy at any price in our human dignity or intellectual sophistication. If all we want is happiness at any price, why not just remain intoxicated through drugs, alcohol, or reassuring self-delusions all the time?

 

Atheism urges people to move out of their theistic self-delusions because even though such an evolution may not make them any happier, it will certainly make them more sophisticated entities, able to confront with stark honesty the greatest and most real problems of human life, such as how do we give our finite existence meaning knowing that we face inevitable extinction? or how do generate our own values in a universe which gives us none? Only by wrestling with ultimate questions such as those can people truly become human. If they assume that some imaginary being from legend just solves these challenging, existential issues by his mere existence then they have lost the vitally important opportunity for personal development that comes from facing these questions as real problems to be thought through and answered for themselves. Since atheists would rather share the planet with existentially sophisticated beings rather than people anesthetized through fairy tales, we actively promote our atheistic attitude for others to adopt.

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1. What is it you are offering to us when you ask us NOT to believe?

2. What advantage(s) does belief in NO God offer?

3. Why is Rejection of God better than Acceptance of God?

The answer to all of these is intellectual honesty, and the focus on a fulfilling life.

 

4. Why is Hopelessness (No afterlife) better than Hopefulness (glorious afterlife)?

To you the choice is between hopelessness and hopefulness. To me it is between intellectual honesty and a false hope. I do not need false hope, I'm too busy living life. What is so wrong with your life that you feel the need of the hope of a glorious afterlife? Why would you want to bet your whole life on mere hope? :(

 

I hope for your sake that you are right, but I seriously doubt that you are. Besides which, as has been pointed out by others, if the God of love DOES exist, I can't see that he would condemn me to eternal purgatory just because I did not believe in him in life. Do you want to believe in that sort of a God? I don't. And if he is a cruel heartless God, what's to say he isn't lying to you? We could all be heading to purgatory anyway, to feed his sick sense of humor.

 

So it's heads I win, tails we are both in the same boat! :)

Edited by jedaisoul
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1. What is it you are offering to us when you ask us NOT to believe?

2. What advantage(s) does belief in NO God offer?

3. Why is Rejection of God better than Acceptance of God?

4. Why is Hopelessness (No afterlife) better than Hopefulness (glorious afterlife)?

 

Briefly, believing in something does not make it true. Christianity does not offer eternal life, Islam does not offer an afterlife with 70 virgins, Hinduism does not offer rebirth -- such "offers" are, as far as anyone can see, delusions. That is not necessarily a bad thing. Some delusions are good -- for example, many people have delusions about their sexual prowess, but such delusions help them succeed. Sometimes delusions are detrimental. We offer truth, for whatever that is worth.

 

Of course if you believe that God exists and that His offer is true, then it is obviously a good offer. But what you said was "When a Christian asks you to believe in God and preaches the Gospel etc to you, they are offering you a hope in Eternal Life." -- that is, you have to look at this offer from the perspective of a non-believer because you are offering it as a reason for belief. A non-believer would view the offer of eternal life as a nice delusion, while a believer would view atheism as offering a nasty hopeless delusion.

 

Consider that worshiping the wrong god is worse than not worshiping any at all. The safe bet is to not worship any gods.

 

Also, atheism offers a hope for (nearly) eternal life whereas Christianity seeks to deny anyone eternal life.

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Obviously, not all atheists are the same and there's no organized church of atheism whose "official statements" one could cite. So I can only speak for myself.

What is it you are offering to us when you ask us NOT to believe?

Depending on your particular implementation of Christianity, there's a few things I could offer you in principle: sex before marriage, sex for fun rather than only for reproduction, sex in other positions than Missionary, gay sex, ... <I find it rather interesting that all I can think of at the moment is related to sex>.

But I don't quite see why I should offer you something. I don't quite see the need to ask you to stop believing in whatever god you worship unless in involves practices interfering with my life, e.g. worshiping the god of loud heavy metal at midnight when you're my neighbor :angry:. Actually, the believe would still be fine, just not the worship.

 

What advantage(s) does belief in NO God offer?
None by choice of the natural zero level (which is believe in no god). Depending on the religion you follow, a few disadvantages can fall away. But those disadvantages not only depend on the goddess you follow, but also on whether you feel they are disadvantages. Example: for me, being expected to attend church every Friday would be a pain in the ass. But I have no doubts a lot of whatever-faith-has-churchday-on-friday followers enjoy seeing their fellow theists on a regular basis in this form. Same goes with other church specific things and naturally the advantages will tend to dominate. After all, who'd chose being a satanist if he doesn't like orgies and blood or a Buddhist if he finds fat people disgusting?

 

Why is Rejection of God better than Acceptance of God?

The biggest problem for me is that the acceptance in god tends to come with the acceptance of "chosen ones" (be it prophet, child, attorney of a major prophet, church-trained expert preacher, highest religious authority who also happens to be the chief of military, whatever). Perhaps I am just too paranoid to be bullshitted when people tell me I should devote my life to their ideas or else The Makers won't take me with them in their spaceship.

 

Why is Hopelessness (No afterlife) better than Hopefulness (glorious afterlife)?

Simple answer: It's not.

But it's obviously ridiculous if I ask you to call me god and worship me, even if I promise you the most glorious afterlife you can imagine plus some more. So somehow the promise of infinite glorious afterlife for only a bit of worship (and membership fees) is not necessarily the killer argument that it might seem at first glance.

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Briefly, believing in something does not make it true. Christianity does not offer eternal life, Islam does not offer an afterlife with 70 virgins, Hinduism does not offer rebirth -- such "offers" are, as far as anyone can see, delusions. That is not necessarily a bad thing. Some delusions are good -- for example, many people have delusions about their sexual prowess, but such delusions help them succeed. Sometimes delusions are detrimental. We offer truth, for whatever that is worth.

 

Of course if you believe that God exists and that His offer is true, then it is obviously a good offer. But what you said was "When a Christian asks you to believe in God and preaches the Gospel etc to you, they are offering you a hope in Eternal Life." -- that is, you have to look at this offer from the perspective of a non-believer because you are offering it as a reason for belief. A non-believer would view the offer of eternal life as a nice delusion, while a believer would view atheism as offering a nasty hopeless delusion.

 

Consider that worshiping the wrong god is worse than not worshiping any at all. The safe bet is to not worship any gods.

 

Also, atheism offers a hope for (nearly) eternal life whereas Christianity seeks to deny anyone eternal life.

I'm still having trouble figuring out what "Reality" it is we are not accepting on it's own terms.

 

We believe that the earth revolves around the sun.

We believe that diseases are Caused by germs and viruses etc.

We believe that we need to be good stewards of the Earth.

We believe that we should help our fellow man.

We believe that the physical sciences are extremely important to mans future

etc........

 

There seems to be a disconnect somewhere, because you seem to think that we aren't dealing properly with "reality" because we believe there is something "Intelligent" behind the physical universe and you believe there is NOT.

Yet in this, neither one of us can objectively prove their point.

 

Perhaps I'm missing something.

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I'm still having trouble figuring out what "Reality" it is we are not accepting on it's own terms.

 

Well, I suppose it depends on what specific flavor of Christianity you follow. Historically, God has been invoked to explain various things such as rain and lightning, etc., and such belief has been an impediment in trying to find real explanations for said phenomena. This is especially important in medicine, where to this day many believe it is God who has the power to cure (with some not even taking their kids to the hospital when seriously ill). There is also the reality that prayer does not get answered (when tested scientifically, so as to eliminate various biases). Oh and of course, that there is no reason to believe that the god you are worshiping exists, is the correct god, etc.

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By even asking what a belief "offers," the implication is that there are other reasons to believe something besides it being most likely to be true. That is intellectual dishonesty. Hence, rejecting all those reasons is "not denying truth."

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Whether or not there is anything to be offered for not believing in a deity is irrelevant. Many would say one should only be concerned with what is true [other motivations shouldn't matter]. I'll go a step further and say that the truth is irrelevant, and one should only be concerned with what is demonstrable. I don't care whether God exists or not; he has not provided sufficient evidece for my skeptical mind to comprehend his existence. Try not to think of it as belief in atheism. Atheism is the lack of belief in a supreme deity and in my case the supernatural all together. The only thing atheists truly believe in is the power of deductive logic.

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Atheists can be as irrational as anyone. The image of the atheist being rational is not exactly the entire story, by atheist design. For example, animals are not rational, yet this is the atheist gold standard for human behavior. How can a rational person, use an irrational entity as the basis for behavior, and call that being rational?

 

Religion works under the assumption that humans are higher than animals and therefore should use a higher standard for behavior. Based on all observable evidence, the human mind allows humans to go faster, fly higher, sing louder, etc. than any animal. Human higher than animal is supported by the data, not by atheist irrationality.

 

The atheists need to dwell on the God issue, since this is the best place to show rational decision and based on the data. As long as they stay away from other questions, most people won't look too deep and won't see the irrationalities.

 

Say we work under the assumption humans are suppose to use animal behavior. If we look at animal behavior the data says two things. It shows us the physical dynamics of the behavior. It also shows us the practical limits used by the animals. The second half of the data is ignored since even if animals do X, there is a limit. Religion would call human renditions of animals that exceed the natural limits, acting like a beast. The atheist beast can't see the data., but will shift the argument back to God to avoid addressing their irrationality.

Edited by pioneer
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Needimprovement's most recent answer makes two points, the first implicitly, the second explicitly. He initially lists a number of not easily observed facts, such as the existence of germs to explain certain diseases, and says that we 'believe' in those, so the implication is why can't we also believe in an invisible Deity. But the problem is that the first kind of facts are ultimately testable by sophisticated experiments or required as unavoidable hypotheses to explain other observed phenomena, so they are unlike the Deity, who is not a necessary implication of any data observations or required to be assumed to account for experimental results.

 

Needimprovement also cites some values in which we all believe, and implicitly asks why, if we can believe in these values, we cannot also believe in a Deity. But we can rationally argue for those values in terms of their role in sustaining a viable society of cooperative but autonomous beings, while we have no similar reasons supporting belief in the Deity.

 

Finally, Needimprovement asserts that we can neither prove nor disprove the existence of the Deity, so implicitly belief in it is as rational as disbelief. But all rationality is ultimately based on economy of thought. If you asked me to explain to you how flicking on the light switch causes light to appear in the room, and if I replied by listing a nearly infinite regress of imaginary entities which transmitted the flicking action of my finger to the appearance of the light, all rationality would gradually come to a halt from this lack of economy of explanation. We explain only by reference to what we can actually see or test to be causing the phenomena to be accounted for, or by reference to necessary assumptions we are strictly forced by the phenomena to make. Occam's Razor says that we must not needlessly multiply theoretical entities in explaining anything, so if my account of the light going on has to involve reference to invisible electrons, then I should not also feel free to add that the electrons are carried by invisible fairies, which in turn are carried by the spirits of deparated ancestors, which in turn are supported by the Deity. Electrons suffice because they are the minimum required by the data and no more.

 

Right now I firmly believe that a new Ice Age has not suddenly set in in India, even though I cannot see India from where I sit and I have not read the weather or news reports today. I believe this because rationality requires economy of thought, and unless I have a positive reason for believing something, I don't clutter my mind with the possibility of it. For me to believe something extraordinary like the sudden appearance of a new Ice Age in India, I would need equally extraordinary evidence to induce me to believe it. The same is true with the Deity hypothesis. In the absence of absolutely extraordinary evidence proving its existence, the economy of thought requires that I not believe in it. The person asserting the possibility that something exists has the burden of establishing that that is a real possibility, so the balance is not equal between belief and disbelief. If we had to believe in the real possibility of everything everyone posited, simply because we could not disprove it at the moment, all rationality would collapse, because we would live in a Medieval world of potential goblins, fairies, ghosts, unlucky places, sacred streams, magic stones, miraculous wise women, and secret spells everywhere, and amidst this clutter how would we ever find a path clear to determinate, clear, rational explanations of anything?

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The questions for you are are these.

 

1. What is it you are offering to us when you ask us NOT to believe?

2. What advantage(s) does belief in NO God offer?

3. Why is Rejection of God better than Acceptance of God?

4. Why is Hopelessness (No afterlife) better than Hopefulness (glorious afterlife)?

Here is a question:

 

Imagine, as a child you had a Goldfish as a pet, and then it died. Which would you rather occurred:

A) Your parents tell you that it died

 

or

 

B) Your parents replace it with an identical one without your knowledge leaving you to belive your goldfish never died.

 

In other owrds, would you rather live your life with truth, or would you rather live a lie.

 

Under Athiesm, we try to determine what it truth and what is a lie. This is done by eliminating any assumptions that can not be proved with evidence (and by evidence I mean data that eliminates other - if not all other - possiblities). As there is no such evidence for the existance of God (it either doesn't eliminate the possiblity that God dosen't exist or the data itself is not true), as an Atheist one can not acftep the existance of God.

 

This is similar to Agnosticism, but with an important difference: Agnostics neither believe or disbelieve if the evidecne is uncertain wher as Atheists take the negative (ie: disbelieve).

 

So to answer your questions directly:

1) When asked not to believe, Atheism is offering the knowledge that you are only accepting what can be shown to be true and real. It is saying that just because someon believes something to be true does not make it true. After all, I might believe that all the money in your bank account should be mine, this does not make it true, if it did, I'd be both extremely rich (as I'd believe that all the money in all bank account is mine) and extremely poor (as everyone else would believe the same).

 

2) For this we have to avoid the assumption that the God you believe in is the real God, simply because there are Gods that other peoiple believe in and to answer this I can't just answer it for a specific God.

 

It is actually this fact that there are other Gods that people believe in that provides my answer. In all religions that demand a bliefe in a God or Gods, they are quate strict about belife in false Gods. They take this as being worse than belife in no God. So, as we can't determine if any Gods are the real Gods (or that there is any Gods at all), then the safer option is to not believe in any God at all (until he/she/it/they actually make it clear to all).

 

Of course, if no Gods exist, then you will have been right all along. :cool:

 

3) This is assuming that God exists, and if God doesn't exist, then rejection of God is better than living a lie. If God does exist, then rejection of him can be seen as a protest at his past actions.

 

See, in christianity, God is supposed to be Omnipitent (that means that there is notthing that He can't do) and Oniscient (that is He knows everything). What this means is that He has the power to do anything. And by this I mean anything (that nothing is imposible), not just a real lot of things.

 

For instance: He would have the power to stop people committing sin and still allow them to have free will. Yet, He apparently allows us to commit sin and cause suffering. The only conclusion is that He wants us to suffer and commit sin (and therfore spend an infintie amount of time suffering in hell for it). To me this is pure evil.

 

Here is an example that will make this clear:

 

Imagine I am in a car at the top of a hill. I have complete control over the car if I want to, and the car start rolling down the hill towards a group of school children that can't get out of the way. Now, I could put the brakes on and stop the car from hitting them without harming the car at all or changin it from being a car. But instead I don't use the power at my control (ie hit the brakes) and let the children get hit by the car, after all it wasn';t me that started the car rolling, or put the hill there or caused gravity to exist.

 

Would you see me as an evil person for doing what I did? I certanly would.

 

All it would have taken is for me to push the brake and stop the car and I would ahve saved all those children.

 

Would you see me doing such a thing as a Good act? I would.

 

So, If someone has the power to prevent harm and is given the opertunity to do so, is it not right for them to prevent harm if they are good?

 

So, now look at God. He has the power to prevent all suffering and harm (nothing is impossible for God) without contravening our Free will...

 

... but He does not do so.

 

In effect he chooses not to apply the brakes and lets the car hit the children.

 

I would reject such a God on the basis of Moral and Ethical grounds. So if the christian God exists, He must be Evil and I don't want to worship evil, and by that I woudl reject Him.

 

4) With the christian afterlife, I would not considder it hopeful. Just say that you make it to heven but someone you love does not and goes to Hell. That person you love will be in Hell for an infinite amount of time, and so suffer infinitely. To me, if I was the one to go to Heven, this would be Hell: Knowing that some one I loved was suffering infinte suffering. So there is no way that the christian version of Heven would be considdered Heven for me. I would prefer non-existance (and non-existance to all - because at least they woudln't suffer) to that.

 

Also, a non-afterlife gives meaning to existance.

 

If you had an infinite amount of time to exist, then any finite amount of time is meaningless. So if there is an infinite afterlife, then nothing that occurs, none of the people that are alive or have lived or will live should any meaning to you. However, if life is finite and there is no afterlife, then every single moment that you ahve is the most precious thing you ahve, and the people you meet, the people that existed (and allowed you to exist) and the peopel that come after you (if at least to remeber you, or the cause you had in their existance) have great importance.

 

So an afterlife means that nothing that occurs is of any importance, but no afterlife means that everything you experience, everything you do has great importance.

 

And, I find that very hopefull.

 

Let it be know right now that I am no philosopher, nor am I a theologian.

I am a simple believer in God, because it makes no sense to me NOT to believe in God.

I am a Christian because Christianity, built upon Love, makes more sense than any other faith that I have looked at.

 

I recognize that there are numerous examples of people of faith acting badly, even horrifically, yet I cannot see that as some sort of proof against Gods existence.

Just because something/one says that christianity is based on love does not make it so. If it is, then sure, it makse sense, but first one must test the assuption.

 

The question is: How can you tell if someone is lieing to you?

 

The answer is easy: Check to see if what they say is real or not.

 

In other words, you test the assumptions and data they give you.

 

Looking at christianity and looking at the Bible, I can not see how the idea that it is based on love can be true. I can see how it is based on fear and revenge (exodous 32:14).

 

So, no. I can't see how the God of Christianity loves us. Remember, God is supposed to have infinite power and knowledge which means that there is nothing He is incapable of doing, including what to us is imposible, even going so far as to resolve any and all paradoxes, and still level them as a paradox (the old: Can God create a stone that He can't lift. Yes, and then He lifts it).

 

So it is possible for God to eliminate any and all suffering without it causing problems for any plans He has or affecting our freewill (or anything). But as there is suffering, it means that God has chosen not to eliminate it, or even cause it in the first place. This is not love in any way shape or form. If God exists, there is no evidence that He loves us.

 

The reason that these people of faith that act horrifically at all is proof that God does not exist, or that if He exists does not care for us is because He has the power to stop the suffering of the victims without causeing any disruption to His plans (or whatever). The only reason, if God exists, is that He wants those victims to suffer, and that is not something that comes from love.

 

So tell me - What does the "faith of Atheism" offer that is not found in a "faith of theism".

Most forms of belief in God, particularly Judeo/Christian belief, whether right or wrong, offers the Hope of salvation and an eternal life of happiness. What can Atheism offer me except the grave?

-Well it doesn't have the hipocracy of a God that is supposed to love us but dose nothing, even though it is within His power to do so, to stop us suffering.

 

-It attepts to determine what is lies and what is truth by using rational thought.

 

-It offers a real reason for hope and meaning in our lives.

 

-It gives us a basis for real morality and ethics, not some arbitary rules (what is morally wrong about mixing cloths of different fibers).

 

-It doesn't attempt to suppress our indipendance and free will (yes, this is rather ironic that God apparently gave us free will, but for most of its history, the church, has striven to keep people ignorant - and still does - so act to restrict free will).

 

-It bases it conclusions on what is right, not what sounds right (truth is more important than a nice sounding lie).

 

There is a lot more, but this post is getting too long.

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Needimprovement's most recent answer makes two points, the first implicitly, the second explicitly. He initially lists a number of not easily observed facts, such as the existence of germs to explain certain diseases, and says that we 'believe' in those, so the implication is why can't we also believe in an invisible Deity. But the problem is that the first kind of facts are ultimately testable by sophisticated experiments or required as unavoidable hypotheses to explain other observed phenomena, so they are unlike the Deity, who is not a necessary implication of any data observations or required to be assumed to account for experimental results.

And yet, until these phenomena were discovered and quantified and tested, they remained in the realm of the unknown. In fact, until the sciences and the related equipment became available such hypothoses were not even testable.

Does the fact that these things were "unknown" or were "untestable", mean they did not exist? Of course not. They existed whether they could be scientifically demonstrated or not. They also existed whether they were needed to explain some other phenomena or not.

No good scientist would dare to say that there are not things in the iniverse (or outside of it, or in parallel with it) that we have as yet not even dreamed of.

So, the existance of a "deity" is not dependant upon our ability to prove it nor does it rely even on our abilbity to "dream it".

 

Needimprovement also cites some values in which we all believe, and implicitly asks why, if we can believe in these values, we cannot also believe in a Deity. But we can rationally argue for those values in terms of their role in sustaining a viable society of cooperative but autonomous beings, while we have no similar reasons supporting belief in the Deity.

Yes this is true, but can the atheist rationally argue AGAINST the personal belief in a Deity? That was the point of the thread. The Deist, in arguing for the acceptance of a Deity, particularly the Judeo-Christian Deity, is offering a hope in eternal life. The Atheist view offers no such hope.

So the question of what can be "reasonably argues" cuts both ways.

 

Finally, Needimprovement asserts that we can neither prove nor disprove the existence of the Deity, so implicitly belief in it is as rational as disbelief. But all rationality is ultimately based on economy of thought. If you asked me to explain to you how flicking on the light switch causes light to appear in the room, and if I replied by listing a nearly infinite regress of imaginary entities which transmitted the flicking action of my finger to the appearance of the light, all rationality would gradually come to a halt from this lack of economy of explanation. We explain only by reference to what we can actually see or test to be causing the phenomena to be accounted for, or by reference to necessary assumptions we are strictly forced by the phenomena to make. Occam's Razor says that we must not needlessly multiply theoretical entities in explaining anything, so if my account of the light going on has to involve reference to invisible electrons, then I should not also feel free to add that the electrons are carried by invisible fairies, which in turn are carried by the spirits of deparated ancestors, which in turn are supported by the Deity. Electrons suffice because they are the minimum required by the data and no more.

 

Right now I firmly believe that a new Ice Age has not suddenly set in in India, even though I cannot see India from where I sit and I have not read the weather or news reports today. I believe this because rationality requires economy of thought, and unless I have a positive reason for believing something, I don't clutter my mind with the possibility of it. For me to believe something extraordinary like the sudden appearance of a new Ice Age in India, I would need equally extraordinary evidence to induce me to believe it. The same is true with the Deity hypothesis. In the absence of absolutely extraordinary evidence proving its existence, the economy of thought requires that I not believe in it. The person asserting the possibility that something exists has the burden of establishing that that is a real possibility, so the balance is not equal between belief and disbelief. If we had to believe in the real possibility of everything everyone posited, simply because we could not disprove it at the moment, all rationality would collapse, because we would live in a Medieval world of potential goblins, fairies, ghosts, unlucky places, sacred streams, magic stones, miraculous wise women, and secret spells everywhere, and amidst this clutter how would we ever find a path clear to determinate, clear, rational explanations of anything?

A lot of words for "economy of thought".....

 

A great many arguments can be made about specific human understandings of God. In fact I would say that MOST atheist arguments are less about whether God does or does not exist, but about whether a given understanding of God is correct.

 

How about this for "economy of thought".... "GOD IS...All the rest is details"

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1. What is it you are offering to us when you ask us NOT to believe?

2. What advantage(s) does belief in NO God offer?

3. Why is Rejection of God better than Acceptance of God?

 

It occurs to me that I didn't answer this fully. The advantages of not believing in gods are about as numerous as there are gods. Disbelief in the god of the Old Testament, for example, has the advantage that I don't need to sacrifice animals to him. Disbelief in Moloch means I don't need to sacrifice my children. Disbelief in Tlaloc means I don't need to sacrifice other people's children. I'm sure our more deity knowledgeable members can expand this list.

 

By disbelieving in these deities you, too, can gain these advantages.

 

How about this for "economy of thought".... "GOD IS...All the rest is details"

 

That has zero economy of thought value -- God is entirely irrelevant. Belief in him makes no falsifiable predictions, so can explain nothing.

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While science would now admit that things that were once unobservable, such as germs and viruses, always existed, it is contrary to the positivistic methodology of science to treat anything as even possibly existent unless there is already either good empirical evidence that it does exist, or the available empirical data can only be explained by assuming its existence. So in the case of the Deity, until there is either direct empirical evidence of his existence, or until ordinary objects we know exist are seen to be incomprehensible without assuming that a Deity exists, then that hypothesis is accorded no more weight than the hypothesis that the Bugs Bunny is fighting with Elmer Fudd. To say that you can't prove that the Deity does not exist accomplishes no more than saying you can't prove that Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd are not real. The answer, from the positivistic methodology of natural science, is that we don't have to prove that these things don't exist unless there are already good reasons for having to assume that they might be real. If we do have to worry seriously about whether these things might exist and seriously try to disprove them then we shall face an infinite regress of challenges which will paralyze thought, since all our inferences will be plagued with active doubts over whether the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, the Sandman, Santa Claus, etc. was the real cause which explains lightning, chemical reactions, the precession of the equinox, the presence of dark matter in the universe, entropy, the gravitational constant, etc.

 

This is what is meant by scientific economy of thought. We posit nothing, we entertain serious doubts about the existence of nothing, which ordinary empirical data do not require us to take seriously. If in explaining to someone how to open a door I had to take account of every imaginary entity which has ever been assigned an explanatory role by any belief system, I would never get past the first stage and so nothing would ever be explainable. Thus we have to draw the line as soon as these ungrounded, hypothetical entities start to appear, and this is the credo of positivism, which is also the basis of all scientific inference.

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Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd are not real.

What!!! Not real HEY; let's have some reality here.

 

I never heard of such a thought?

 

Watch it or Wile E. Coyote will come over with an Acme rocket.

 

coyote-5.jpg

 

Now here’s a question if a liberal was alone walking in the woods and God struck lightening on a tree and if fell on the liberal would anybody care?

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Now heres a question if a liberal was alone walking in the woods and God struck lightening on a tree and if fell on the liberal would anybody care?

 

Only a truly evil human being would assert such a thing and only an evil god would do such an arbitrary thing.... I think I am good with being an atheist if a man who believes in God thinks that is funny.... You could be the poster child for atheism....

Edited by Moontanman
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Having read and posting on various threads where atheists have expressed their views. The Following questions seem appropriate. This thread grows out of another thread but I felt the subject needed it's own thread.

 

When a Christian asks you to believe in God and preaches the Gospel etc to you, they are offering you a hope in Eternal Life.

 

The questions for you are are these.

 

I'll accept your premise.

 

1. What is it you are offering to us when you ask us NOT to believe?

 

I'm offering you a chance to live your life the way you want, and not feel guilty for it.

 

 

2. What advantage(s) does belief in NO God offer?

 

It offers a chance to do the above without fear of eternal damnation.

 

3. Why is Rejection of God better than Acceptance of God?

 

Because accepting god makes it a pain in the ass to live my life. I have stuff I want to do and experience, like drug induced all nighters with blowup dolls and god is in the way, all preachy about it. Let him live his own life, and I'll live mine. Else, don't give me the "gift" of life when I'm expected to spend it as a slave.

 

I'll take non-existence for...ever, Alex.

 

4. Why is Hopelessness (No afterlife) better than Hopefulness (glorious afterlife)?

 

Because from who I've seen qualify for such a thing, the "glorious" afterlife will be the most boring, uneventful, puritanically miserable existence. No sex, no drugs, no dirty words, no smoking....what the hell do we do? Sing hymns? A freaking eternity of even more worship? Sounds tempting, but I'm not interested. Send me to hell where the fun is...

Edited by ParanoiA
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Frankly, even as a middle-aged human I have reached a stage when I my store of memories is beginning to exceed my ability to process, handle, and endure their variety. I know from the way I sense and understand things today that I simply don't have the type of mind or existence that could deal with the infinite store of experience and memories that would come from never-ending life. In fact, the sheer weight of it would be painful beyond what the finite type of being I am could endure. This is one reason why the promise of everlasting life does not inspire me with much hope.

 

Also, it seems rather childish to respond to the existential despair that humans experience in this life by saying, "Okay, don't worry, I'll solve that by giving you even more life later on!" How does more life repair everything that is wrong with the whole business of living?

 

The final hollowness of the promise of infinite life is that everything that humans now do and experience is informed by a pressing sense of finitude. We get agitated when our plans are frustrated and we have to wait around doing nothing, because our whole sense of life is permeated by the background awareness of limited resources of time which makes it extremely painful to waste time. That is why having to live the dead time of a prison term is universally recognized as a severe punishment rather than merely a way to live at the state's expense. So since the person I now am is someone who is defined by his strong sense of having only finite time, if I were to die and live on as some infinite, non-time limited being in Heaven, I simply would not be myself. Instead of me dying and being given the gift of infinite life, it would be a case of me dying and being replaced by a different kind of being altogether who could not possibly be me or have anything to do with me, since he would be essentially defined by a sense of infinite time, while I am essentially defined by a sense of finite time. So what good could that do me?

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Only a truly evil human being would assert such a thing and only an evil god would do such an arbitrary thing.... I think I am good with being an atheist if a man who believes in God thinks that is funny.... You could be the poster child for atheism....

It was Marat who uses Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd, Tooth Fairy, the Sandman, Santa Claus, etc. as line of reasoning. I simply responded to Marat’s post.

 

Not sure if this is helpful or not, but I think there's a qualitative difference. Nobody builds a whole belief system around fairies. They are stories or legends that don't have a whole lot of depth to them. True religious belief is something much deeper, which often leads to, and benefits from, deep reflection and reasoned understanding. Nobody orients their life around fairies, unless they're trying to get on "Wife Swap".

 

I've heard this line of reasoning before... draw an analogy between God and clearly mythical or legendary things like fairies. Or make up something patently absurd ("flying spaghetti monster") and invent some ridiculous beliefs and practices and say "see, I invented an absurd religion. Thus all religions are absurd." Nowadays we don't talk so much about fairies, that's just old quaint nonsense, but those old-timey folks were pretty gullible and didn't have modern science to explain how the world worked, nor TV to fill their imaginations with high quality dramas and lifelike characters, so of course they just made all kinds of stuff up and really believed it, whether it's fairies, God, angels, it's all the same.

 

I'm not a student of folklore, but things like fairies and what not - I'm not sure the extent to which people really ever believe in those things, or just like to talk about them and tell stories because that's what people do, we like a good story to tell our kids with a wink-wink, like we still do today about Santa Claus, or Ninja Turtles. Those of us who teach our kids about both God and Santa Claus know that there's a difference between the two, and the kids figure out the difference pretty quickly too, but they still like making believe about Santa Claus. Of course there is a grey area in between, what I call "superstition", which as I see it are beliefs in legendary things that people never quite move beyond that four-year-old acceptance of. You see the adults who really believe in the Evil Eye and so forth. But I think that's a bit of an anomaly... there is stuff that doesn't stand up to critical analysis. Religions that have stood the test of time do. That of course doesn't mean they're true... I happen to believe Christianity is... but that's another matter.

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It was Marat who uses Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd, Tooth Fairy, the Sandman, Santa Claus, etc. as line of reasoning. I simply responded to Marats post.

 

No you didn't you asserted that God killing a liberal wouldn't be noticed as though the life of a liberal is some how less valuable than other human beings. only an evil god would think that and only a evil human would assert it...

 

Not sure if this is helpful or not, but I think there's a qualitative difference. Nobody builds a whole belief system around fairies. They are stories or legends that don't have a whole lot of depth to them. True religious belief is something much deeper, which often leads to, and benefits from, deep reflection and reasoned understanding. Nobody orients their life around fairies, unless they're trying to get on "Wife Swap".

 

Again you demand respect for your point of view and ridicule the point of view of others when you have no more basis for your beliefs than any one else does. Your ignorance of the Pagan belief system does not show that Pagans have no depth in their beliefs...

 

 

I've heard this line of reasoning before... draw an analogy between God and clearly mythical or legendary things like fairies. Or make up something patently absurd ("flying spaghetti monster") and invent some ridiculous beliefs and practices and say "see, I invented an absurd religion. Thus all religions are absurd." Nowadays we don't talk so much about fairies, that's just old quaint nonsense, but those old-timey folks were pretty gullible and didn't have modern science to explain how the world worked, nor TV to fill their imaginations with high quality dramas and lifelike characters, so of course they just made all kinds of stuff up and really believed it, whether it's fairies, God, angels, it's all the same.

 

You cannot show that your version of god is more relevant than belief in Thor or Gaea. your belief system got to where it is by killing people who disagreed with you, by destroying any writings and traditions they had or by adopting their rituals to suit your version of god. You are just as gullible as those "old timey" folks and your assertions that you deserve more respect than anyone who believes in the old ways is in it's self disrespectful. The very fact that people do indeed believe in those "old timey" things and only by risking their lives could they pass on those "old timey" things to their descendants says that at least they deserve the same respect as you and your beliefs.

 

 

I'm not a student of folklore, but things like fairies and what not - I'm not sure the extent to which people really ever believe in those things, or just like to talk about them and tell stories because that's what people do, we like a good story to tell our kids with a wink-wink, like we still do today about Santa Claus, or Ninja Turtles. Those of us who teach our kids about both God and Santa Claus know that there's a difference between the two, and the kids figure out the difference pretty quickly too, but they still like making believe about Santa Claus. Of course there is a grey area in between, what I call "superstition", which as I see it are beliefs in legendary things that people never quite move beyond that four-year-old acceptance of. You see the adults who really believe in the Evil Eye and so forth. But I think that's a bit of an anomaly... there is stuff that doesn't stand up to critical analysis. Religions that have stood the test of time do. That of course doesn't mean they're true... I happen to believe Christianity is... but that's another matter.

 

Your beliefs are nothing more than superstition, claiming other wise is just proselytizing, nothing more, you have no proof what so ever of your God and equating the beliefs of others with fictional characters is no better than someone equating your own beliefs with fictional characters. Your religion has only stood the test of time by being willing to repress the beliefs of others, often by violence and intimidation through threats of violence and by making sure all records of such competing belief systems were destroyed. The catholics are infamous for destroying the religious writings of other cultures and for destroying the cultures they encountered, truly an evil religion that lives by intimidation and fear. The Pagans were simply not big enough bastards to compete with catholicism...

Edited by Moontanman
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