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splashscuba

What's an atheist ?

I see all sorts of definitions for the word atheist.

What's yours ?
Leonard James

For me an atheist is somebody who doesn't believe there is such a thing as a 'supernatural' creator god.

However, as you say, there are a number of different ideas as to what an atheist is.
gone

Leonard James wrote:
For me an atheist is somebody who doesn't believe there is such a thing as a 'supernatural' creator god.

However, as you say, there are a number of different ideas as to what an atheist is.


I agree with Leonard.
Andy

Atheism is the belief that there is no God based upon a pre-set criteria for assessment, which leads to a single outcome as long as one remains within that criteria for assessment.

Some would say it is an inevitable outcome of the process started with The Reformation.

I like to think of atheism as being a stage of belief. Of course it has no more merit than theism with respect to being able to substantiate the position, with agnosticism the only valid and reasonable conclusion from a logical point of view.

I am fascinated by Buddhism though, which one might claim is an atheist religion being as there is no god. It is highly spiritual though, which may frustrate some occidental atheists.
Pukon_the_Treen

It's the word for someone who doesn't believe there's a God. Is that different from believing that there is no God?
Andy

I think so, I think the first description permits there to be a god, just that there isn't one. The second hints that a god couldn't possibly exist.
Shaker

Andy wrote:
I think so, I think the first description permits there to be a god, just that there isn't one. The second hints that a god couldn't possibly exist.


Hmmm, ponder ponder ponder ... I'm not sure about that. I'm not sure I've ever heard anybody seriously say that there are absolutely no gods, never have been and never, ever could be, finito Benito. (I'm leaving aside, for the nonce, the question of a coherent definition of a god in the first place. Let me know when the nonce gets in    ). For example, I don't believe there are/I believe there are no living organisms on the planet Venus - but I'd be the first one to accept the existence of such if furnished with compelling credible evidence to the contrary. What you've described there is dogmatic atheism, which seems to operate as some sort of target practice/bogeyman/straw man for a certain type of theist but I've never met such a mythical beast.
Pukon_the_Treen

Quote:
What you've described there is dogmatic atheism, which seems to operate as some sort of target practice/bogeyman/straw man for a certain type of theist but I've never met such a mythical beast.


Me neither. I've heard some say (with fairly good argument to support it) that the Christian God as described by the bible cannot exist, but I don't think I've heard anyone go so far as to claim that no god of any description can possibly exist. For a start, I'm not entirely sure what a god is, so how can I be sure one doesn't exist?
Andy

I think that atheism is dogmatic by definition. So is theism for that matter.

Agnosticism isn't, and I think there may be a sliding scale of dogmatism to theism and atheism. But it is there nevertheless.
Shaker

Andy wrote:
I think that atheism is dogmatic by definition. So is theism for that matter.

Really? Isn't the latter an expression of a belief (with a greater or lesser degree of certainty, but still a belief) and the former its absence?
Andy

I think it has gone beyond that, at least in the developed world, inasmuch as it is rather tribalistic.

There are rules and mantra which must be adhered to. In fact the behavioural similarities between evangelical theists and evangelical atheists is striking. Both require a degree of adherence which I think qualifies them as dogmatism.

The wisdom of grey area tends to be dismissed in order to comply with a classification.
Pukon_the_Treen

Quote:
There are rules and mantra which must be adhered to. In fact the behavioural similarities between evangelical theists and evangelical atheists is striking. Both require a degree of adherence which I think qualifies them as dogmatism.


I'm not sure. What mantra? I'm an atheist and I don't know any mantra. What's an evangelical atheist anyway? If you just mean someone who is fairly vocal in their atheism and likes to argue about religion then that's me, but I don't feel part of any larger movement to which I must conform. Are you sure this isn't just straw man construction, as Steve suggested?
Andy

I would say that an evangelical atheist is one who feels compelled to not only hold their own view, but to spread that view in order to convince, or convert, others.

Just as there are many believers who are content to allow others their own views, there are those who find this situation intolerable and are compelled to recruit. Sometimes over riding normal social boundaries and seeing opposition as justification for their own perspective.

I don't mean to raise a straw man. Perhaps I am being too swiping in trying to add classification, which rather defeats my point I fear.
URBT

Andy,

Another way to look at it is that religion has power and influence over the levers of government, the judiciary, education, even health.

Some of us feel strongly that when determining policy in these areas, the emphasis should be placed on evidence and reason as opposed to belief in the supernatural.
Shaker

URBT wrote:
Andy,

Another way to look at it is that religion has power and influence over the levers of government, the judiciary, education, even health.

Some of us feel strongly that when determining policy in these areas, the emphasis should be placed on evidence and reason as opposed to belief in the supernatural.

... and yet (me being the voice of sweet reason, as always   ) this is surely secularism rather than atheism per se: and the staunchest religious believer could support such secularism (as indeed many do).
jeremyp

Pukon_the_Treen wrote:
It's the word for someone who doesn't believe there's a God. Is that different from believing that there is no God?

Yes.  The latter can only be applied to somebody you knows what a god is.
Andy

So can we agree what a god is?


The Christian view, and that taught by Jesus through scripture, is every time we treat a stranger as we would treat Him, we are actually treating God. So God is within everybody.

We can all acknowledge God within each other.

So to deny God, means to deny mankind as a whole.



[PS: this may actually be a strawman]
IvyOwl

My quick and not particularly intellectual answer:-When I describe myself as an atheist what I'm really saying is 'We've no way of of knowing (yet if ever) how this universe got started but giving the credit to the Abrahamic God is just plain silly.

IO
Andy

That's fine Ivy,  and you are not wrong.

But that doesn't make you right, not totally.


Ah the wisdom of the grey.  
IvyOwl

Quote:
So can we agree what a god is?


Maybe



Quote:
The Christian view, and that taught by Jesus through scripture, is every time we treat a stranger as we would treat Him, we are actually treating God. So God is within everybody.


I know what you mean and can agree with it up to a point ....... it's all this Jesus through scripture stuff that irritates me. Not saying that Jesus didn't exist but even if he did and even if that is what he said he's hardly alone in saying things like that.  Christianity following the supposed sayings of Jesus fine and dandy .....  if only the Abrahamic god didn't have to come along with him! Oh I know every Christian has constructed their own personal version of god and maybe us humans need to have a god in our head to help us through but why start off with that one just because that was the one your hero was familiar with?


Quote:
We can all acknowledge God within each other.


We can all acknowledge each other with respect.

Quote:
So to deny God, means to deny mankind as a whole.


BOLLOX

[PS: this may actually be a strawman]

Andy these attempts of yours to be cerebral about god whilst still clinging on to the Bible bemuse me. But I guess if you've been brought up to believe in that particular god it must be hard to let go no matter how much you intellectualise it.

IO
IvyOwl

Quote:
But that doesn't make you right, not totally.


Oh I'm well aware of that!

In any case I only ever spout on about my atheism to those believers who I know can take it and give considered ideas in return .. like your good self for instance.

The dear little old lady (am I still young enough to refer to others as old? .... the one I have in mind is probable only ten years older than me ..... oooops) who comes round with the Watch Tower I treat with kid gloves!

IO
trentvoyager

I'm sorry if its the Watch Tower she comes round with age is no excuse. Point her in the direction of Dignitas in Switzerland.
IvyOwl

trentvoyager wrote:
I'm sorry if its the Watch Tower she comes round with age is no excuse. Point her in the direction of Dignitas in Switzerland.


You rotten sod!
I can't undo years of intensive indoctrination in five minutes so I may as well be polite. The young men who occassionally come round are fair game though  Does that make me guilty of ageism or sexism?  

IO
Leonard James

It seems we have reached an impasse! Until we can come up with a definition of what constitutes a 'god', we can't really define an atheist.
Lexilogio

A - theist

The "a" is the prequel to make a word mean it's opposite.

"theist" - believes in one God.

So an "atheist" could be any person who doesn't believe in one God. Although I'm not sure that believers in polytheism would accept that the term applied to them.
trentvoyager

IvyOwl wrote:
trentvoyager wrote:
I'm sorry if its the Watch Tower she comes round with age is no excuse. Point her in the direction of Dignitas in Switzerland.


You rotten sod!
I can't undo years of intensive indoctrination in five minutes so I may as well be polite. The young men who occassionally come round are fair game though  Does that make me guilty of ageism or sexism?  

IO


I always treat young men who come round as fair game to - but I think we may have slightly differing terms of reference on that issue  
IvyOwl

Quote:
I always treat young men who come round as fair game to - but I think we may have slightly differing terms of reference on that issue  


Ho hum ........ should have seen that coming!

IO
splashscuba

Lexilogio wrote:
A - theist

The "a" is the prequel to make a word mean it's opposite.

"theist" - believes in one God.

So an "atheist" could be any person who doesn't believe in one God. Although I'm not sure that believers in polytheism would accept that the term applied to them.

It just goes to show that there are many interpretations for atheist.

Just for the record, so that you know what I mean when I talk about being an atheist:

Someone who doesn't believe in god(s)

That's it really. There's no other baggage about me that I hang off the atheist moniker.
Andy

But - is that the belief there is no god?

Or that such a thing as a god doesn't exist, but could?

Or that the concept of a god existing is invalid?

Which sort of backs up Dear Leonard's point.

Which is possibly itself stymied by his (Leonard's) inherent kindness?
Leonard James

Let me try again.

I suppose it is possible that the universe came into being due to a supernatural force, rather than a natural one. If such is the case, the nature of that force is quite beyond our comprehension, since our brains have only evolved to deal with the natural world we live in.  

I don't believe any of the god stories we have so far been presented with ... I consider them sincere but futile attempts to answer the question.

If such a force existed and wanted us to know about it, then we would know.

EDIT. I've just realised I used the word 'force', but since 'force' is part of the natural world, best substitute it with the word 'entity'.
Lexilogio

Leonard James wrote:
Let me try again.

I suppose it is possible that the universe came into being due to a supernatural force, rather than a natural one. If such is the case, the nature of that force is quite beyond our comprehension, since our brains have only evolved to deal with the natural world we live in.  

I don't believe any of the god stories we have so far been presented with ... I consider them sincere but futile attempts to answer the question.

If such a force existed and wanted us to know about it, then we would know.

EDIT. I've just realised I used the word 'force', but since 'force' is part of the natural world, best substitute it with the word 'entity'.


See - I'd have said you were agnostic.

Greek interpretation aside, I'd suggest that an atheist is a person who has considered the issue and rejected the idea that there is a God. An agnostic is someone who doesn't believe in any of the organised religions, but hasn't quite shaken the idea that there might be something.
URBT

I am an atheist, because having considered the subject, I am not aware of any evidence to support the existence of a god or gods.  Should evidence supporting god's existence be presented to the world, tested, published an reviewed (fully and rationally explained), then I would have to change my position.  I can't see this happening anytime soon.

If a god was unearthed, I wonder which one it would be.  Maybe Thor will turn up with his majic hammer.  How would the christians or muslims feel if god turned up but he was the wrong one?

urbt
splashscuba

Andy wrote:
But - is that the belief there is no god?

Or that such a thing as a god doesn't exist, but could?

Or that the concept of a god existing is invalid?

Which sort of backs up Dear Leonard's point.

Which is possibly itself stymied by his (Leonard's) inherent kindness?


That's just messing with words to me. I don't believe in gods in the same way as I don't believe in fairies.
Leonard James

Lexilogio wrote:
See - I'd have said you were agnostic.

Greek interpretation aside, I'd suggest that an atheist is a person who has considered the issue and rejected the idea that there is a God. An agnostic is someone who doesn't believe in any of the organised religions, but hasn't quite shaken the idea that there might be something.

I can't see that, Lexi. It is a fact that nobody knows for certain whether a god exists or not ... and I feel that to claim certain knowledge one way or the other is to fool oneself.

Like URBT, I discount the existence of such a being because of the complete lack of evidence that anything supernatural even exists, but if I were presented with irrefutable evidence I would obviously change my mind.

Now, of course, I have opened a whole new can of worms. What exactly would be 'irrefutable evidence'?
Grantus Maximus

Lexilogio wrote:


See - I'd have said you were agnostic.

Greek interpretation aside, I'd suggest that an atheist is a person who has considered the issue and rejected the idea that there is a God. An agnostic is someone who doesn't believe in any of the organised religions, but hasn't quite shaken the idea that there might be something.


You can reject the idea of God without entirely discounting the possibility that you might be wrong. That's why I call myself an Agnostic Atheist and why I also consider the vast majority of other atheists to be exactly the same.

If you think there might be a god of some sort, even if you can't describe what it is and don't necessarily go along with any existing religious assertions, you're still technically a theist, as opposed to an atheist.

I don't see 'agnostic' as being a foggy middle-ground occupying a gap between theism and atheism, but as a sub-set of either. It was only when I came to came to this understanding that I felt comfortable taking the label of atheist to represent my own position.

Cheers - GM
Shaker

Grantus Maximus wrote:
You can reject the idea of God without entirely discounting the possibility that you might be wrong. That's why I call myself an Agnostic Atheist and why I also consider the vast majority of other atheists to be exactly the same.

Absolutely.

Quote:
I don't see 'agnostic' as being a foggy middle-ground occupying a gap between theism and atheism, but as a sub-set of either.

Precisely - until and unless I see confirmed, credible evidence that somebody is fully justified in claiming gnosis either way, the world is divided into agnostic theists and agnostic atheists, by my understanding of the terms used. I don't think the more careful and even minimally philosophically aware amongst us - believers or nonbelievers - claim to know either way, only to believe or not to believe.
IvyOwl

Quote:
I don't think the more careful and even minimally philosophically aware amongst us - believers or nonbelievers - claim to know either way, only to believe or not to believe.


Exactly!

I'm not sure exactly why Christians like to engage in these endless debates about what an atheist is exactly. Are they hoping that in getting us to admit that we don't know and that we acnowledge that there might be one that we are one step nearer to accepting their god?

As far as I can see every Christian forms their own version of god even if they have to wriggle/intellectualise (is that a word?)  like mad to fit it in with the Biblical one.


IO
Andy

splashscuba wrote:
Andy wrote:
But - is that the belief there is no god?

Or that such a thing as a god doesn't exist, but could?

Or that the concept of a god existing is invalid?

Which sort of backs up Dear Leonard's point.

Which is possibly itself stymied by his (Leonard's) inherent kindness?


That's just messing with words to me. I don't believe in gods in the same way as I don't believe in fairies.


I see it as more than just semantics.

If you believe that there is the possibility of a god, there just isn't one as no evidence has been proffered, then you effectively adopting a faith position. You have faith that a god could be a possibility, even if it is not realised.

Whereas if you totally dismiss the very idea that a god could exist, that the idea is impossible and therefore there can not be one, you are not maintaining any degree of faith whatsoever.

I see a distinction between the two. But if you require evidence of a god to substantiate your belief, this is accepting the idea that a god could exist. That is faith, albeit minimally.
Shaker

But you haven't even told us what a god is yet, Andy!
Andy

But you you don't need me to tell you.

God is within us all, every one.






OK, shall we try to define God? Mankind has been trying to do this for millennia with limited success. Personally I prefer abstract concept as you know. I think that the only validity in this direction is an acceptance that the moment we define God, we diminish God, and as such this cannot be God.

A traditional view is that God is the being who created everything material, but God remains spiritual and non-corporeal. That God is limitless in a material sense as God exceeds physicality.

God is beyond our knowledge or understanding, which is why we hold a concept we call God.

How am I doing so far?

Could such a being exist?
Lexilogio

If we go with a Wittengstein perspective, then the semantics are terribly important, and one cannot move on with the argument until there is agreement on the semantics.

It's largely why philosophers never get much further than the dictionary and the pub.


But I'd add that my understanding of atheist was someone who believed that there was no God - and that is why I'd see atheism as a belief, like any other. Wheras agnosticism isn't a belief. It's more of a pint glass.
Shaker

Andy wrote:
OK, shall we try to define God? Mankind has been trying to do this for millennia with limited success. Personally I prefer abstract concept as you know. I think that the only validity in this direction is an acceptance that the moment we define God, we diminish God, and as such this cannot be God.

A traditional view is that God is the being who created everything material, but God remains spiritual and non-corporeal. That God is limitless in a material sense as God exceeds physicality.

God is beyond our knowledge or understanding, which is why we hold a concept we call God.

How am I doing so far?


In my humble opinion, not ever so well, Andy, since what you seem to be saying is that God is "beyond our knowledge or understanding" therefore you can say absolutely nothing whatsoever about it at all, in any way shape or form! By definition you can't say anything about something which is beyond understanding - if you can say anything about it, however minimal, it's not beyond understanding at least to that extent, however small.
Leonard James

Andy wrote:
If you believe that there is the possibility of a god, there just isn't one as no evidence has been proffered, then you effectively adopting a faith position. You have faith that a god could be a possibility, even if it is not realised.

But that is no different from a disbelief in fairies ... and yes, I am being serious. We are all pretty certain that fairies are only a human invention, but we don't actually know for certain that they don't exist, do we?
Quote:
Whereas if you totally dismiss the very idea that a god could exist, that the idea is impossible and therefore there can not be one, you are not maintaining any degree of faith whatsoever.

Which is something you can never do, however bizarre the belief. Lack of evidence is not evidence for non-existence.
Quote:
I see a distinction between the two. But if you require evidence of a god to substantiate your belief, this is accepting the idea that a god could exist. That is faith, albeit minimally.

Now explain to me how that is any different from belief in fairies.
Leonard James

Quote:
Could such a being exist?

Yes, and so could Puck, even though Shakespeare's (and English folklore's) definition of him is complete guesswork
Farmer Geddon

Why are we talking as if God actually exists?

I thought it was a well established fact that it is just a figment of God believers imagination.....  the clue is in - imagination!!

Andy

admin. wrote:
Andy wrote:
OK, shall we try to define God? Mankind has been trying to do this for millennia with limited success. Personally I prefer abstract concept as you know. I think that the only validity in this direction is an acceptance that the moment we define God, we diminish God, and as such this cannot be God.

A traditional view is that God is the being who created everything material, but God remains spiritual and non-corporeal. That God is limitless in a material sense as God exceeds physicality.

God is beyond our knowledge or understanding, which is why we hold a concept we call God.

How am I doing so far?


In my humble opinion, not ever so well, Andy, since what you seem to be saying is that God is "beyond our knowledge or understanding" therefore you can say absolutely nothing whatsoever about it at all, in any way shape or form! By definition you can't say anything about something which is beyond understanding - if you can say anything about it, however minimal, it's not beyond understanding at least to that extent, however small.


No, that is not what I have said at all.

Certainly God is beyond our knowledge and understanding. If we had a knowledge and understanding of God, we would exceed God, which renders the concept of God as defunct. But because God is beyond our knowledge and understanding does not mean that we 'can't say absolutely nothing about it at all'.

All it does mean is that a context is set for the concept of God. That God must always exceed the ability of man to contain or limit God. If we describe God with a degree of exactitude we limit God. Yet we can describe God in conceptual terms. For example we do not know how many fish there are in the sea. To hold that knowledge is beyond us. But we can understand on a conceptual level that there is a certain number of fish without actually knowing the number of fish. So we can describe God without having that knowledge of God. Because this is the context of the concept of God.

So as the mystics describe God as no-thing, they were describing something which defied their description. I suppose we might use anti-matter as a metaphor, we cannot describe the properties of anti-matter, not in terms used to describe matter, as that would not be valid. But we can understand the concept of anti-matter and perhaps articulate that concept without actually defining it precisely.
Andy

Leonard James wrote:
Andy wrote:
If you believe that there is the possibility of a god, there just isn't one as no evidence has been proffered, then you effectively adopting a faith position. You have faith that a god could be a possibility, even if it is not realised.

But that is no different from a disbelief in fairies ... and yes, I am being serious. We are all pretty certain that fairies are only a human invention, but we don't actually know for certain that they don't exist, do we?
Quote:
Whereas if you totally dismiss the very idea that a god could exist, that the idea is impossible and therefore there can not be one, you are not maintaining any degree of faith whatsoever.

Which is something you can never do, however bizarre the belief. Lack of evidence is not evidence for non-existence.
Quote:
I see a distinction between the two. But if you require evidence of a god to substantiate your belief, this is accepting the idea that a god could exist. That is faith, albeit minimally.

Now explain to me how that is any different from belief in fairies.


Perhaps the only difference is a cultural one. That does not diminish that difference IMHO. We live in a culture which acknowledges fairies as being fictional and amusing for children. But this was not always the case. Earlier societies believed firmly in the existence of fairies. But we do live in a society with a long history of belief of God so this might seem more acceptable.
Leonard James

HI Andyman,
Quote:
But we do live in a society with a long history of belief of God so this might seem more acceptable.

True, but that is not really a valid difference.

I understand that the difference seems very big to you, but to us it isn't different at all.
Andy

I think perhaps the name God is associated with so much cultural baggage that it becomes misleading.

No matter what we think or believe, when we picture the concept of God in our minds it is categorised and defined, because that is what we humans do, but this immediately renders the picture as false.

Hence the ease of paralleling that which we know to be fictional, fairies, with that which we have culturally inherited as God.

Which is why I think the very word God is misleading. I have long been smitten with the Orthodox Jewish practice of not writing down God's name. I see it along similar paths. We become distracted by the name of God, and therefore all of the cultural definition.

Sorry - I know alot of you don't like it when I get all misty.
Leonard James

Quote:
Hence the ease of paralleling that which we know to be fictional, fairies, with that which we have culturally inherited as God.

I don't know this for sure, Andy, but I would think that every culture has its assortment of 'little people', just as they have their gods ... and I honestly can't see why one should be considered more fictional than the other.
Ketty

Lexilogio wrote:


It's largely why philosophers never get much further than the dictionary and the pub.


Lexi, I think that will become one of my all time favourite quotes!  
SusanDoris

Andy

Seems to me that while you (or anyone) continue to consider God as anything other than fiction, you deny a part of yourself. Once you can take back to yourself (and other people) the credit/value/power/etc you ascribe to God, you ...... pause while I try and think of the right words! ......realise that you have been doing everything anyway, that there never has been this mystical God doing anything etc.

I think that there are so many words in the language too which continuously reinforce subliminally the beliefs. Words such as saint, sacred and holy carry the overtones of thousands of years of use.

Susan
Andy

Susan

Quote:
Seems to me that while you (or anyone) continue to consider God as anything other than fiction, you deny a part of yourself. Once you can take back to yourself (and other people) the credit/value/power/etc you ascribe to God, you ...... pause while I try and think of the right words! ......realise that you have been doing everything anyway, that there never has been this mystical God doing anything etc.


I think you might be making assumptions upon my behalf.

I understand what you say, and indeed that may be applicable to some, but I tend towards the more abstract notion of God, rather than the anthropomorphised version which I think you are aiming at here.

I would quite happily refer to God as fiction. Because the role of fiction is to articulate something in an imaginative or artistic fashion. The 'existence' of God is not an issue for me. Just as the existence of any collective understanding and it's impacts upon a society are not a problem for me. I can see why someone who is confined to believe that which they can demonstrate would be frustrated by this.

But for me it is less about limitations and more about the ability to welcome that which is outside my natural sphere of reference. It seems to me to be less two dimensional than the post enlightenment, western, logical and clinical rules impart. For me there is so much more to life than that which we can touch, or categorize, or dissemble, or reduce. I do not need to understand the refractive principles of light through a droplet of water to appreciate a rainbow. I do understand them, and that is an outcome of the culture within which I am raised, that same logical and clinical one. But that does not enhance my appreciation of the sight I behold. I just acknowledge the beauty of the vista for what it is.

Which is behind my semantic efforts earlier, because I can see a difference between those who say that there is no such thing as god because it simply is impossible, given their guidelines, and those who say it is possible but not true.

I think there is also an element of my rejection of rules and classifications to some extent if I am being honest. For example the rules of art, how can there be rules of art? A creative expression is surely something which has no rules, this might be represented by the biblical creation account, which is an act of will rather than adherence to established rules. Which, incidentally, theories like the Big Bang actually are. An attempt to classify and attempt to define the rules of creation. I know that the biblical creation account is not this, and as such it matters not whether it is demonstrably 'true' or not.
IvyOwl

Quote:
I understand what you say, and indeed that may be applicable to some, but I tend towards the more abstract notion of God, rather than the anthropomorphised version which I think you are aiming at here.


And you in turn could be making assumptions on Susans behalf. Of course I can't speak for her only myself, Please don't assume that those of us who reject the notion of god need to anthropomorhise in order to do so. I'm more than capable of abstraction ...... just don't see a need for the notion of god.

IO
Farmer Geddon

Agreed IVY.. I too Am more than capable of abstraction ...... just don't see a need for the notion of god...

But as for super girl...  Well this is not really an abstraction, more a distraction:

Andy

Ivy/Farmer

I don't think I was guilty of assumption with regard to Susan's message.

She claimed I was crediting God with carrying out things which I actually did for myself. I responded that I didn't see God that way and hold a more abstract view.

I didn't say she couldn't, or indeed anyone else couldn't be capable of abstraction. I just inferred that she wasn't sharing my view of an abstract concept and was assuming I held an anthropomorphised view of God, who I felt had undertaken things as a human would. Which I don't.

However, this is a familiar position for some atheist I find, to hold a defined and anthropomorphising notion of God which is then easily dismissed.
IvyOwl

Quote:
However, this is a familiar position for some atheist I find, to hold a defined and anthropomorphising notion of God which is then easily dismissed.


Even more familiar to some theists.

You've not told me why you have to bring this notional god into anything ... especially as you are acknwledging that it is totally unknowable. What is the importance/necessity/point?

IO
Grantus Maximus

Andy wrote:
However, this is a familiar position for some atheist I find, to hold a defined and anthropomorphising notion of God which is then easily dismissed.


Hi Andy

I agree that the idea of the anthropomorphised God is the one that atheists tend to criticise. However, if you talk to the bulk of believers, the God that they believe in does tend to be that sort of God, at least in part.

I would suggest that the main reason we're able to discuss religion with you in a more relaxed and less antagonistic manner than some theists is because you have more of a philosophical approach to God - i.e. you're not making claims about reality that directly contradict our observations.

Cheers - GM
Andy

iVY

Quote:
Even more familiar to some theists.


Ain't that the truth.

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You've not told me why you have to bring this notional god into anything ... especially as you are acknowledging that it is totally unknowable. What is the importance/necessity/point?


I think it is a basic of humanity. It is an aspect of humanity to categorise a god thing. Even if only to dismiss it. A human psychological element of the anthropological march.

GM

Quote:
I agree that the idea of the anthropomorphised God is the one that atheists tend to criticise. However, if you talk to the bulk of believers, the God that they believe in does tend to be that sort of God, at least in part.


Perhaps that is the way they articulate the same thing. Or at least how they can self articulate. I tend to try not get too involved in an individuals understanding to the degree that all faith is bespoke to the individual, so an expression of it can only carry one so far.

I can no more dismiss a persons understanding of God than I can their understanding of the smell of an orange.
IvyOwl

Farmer Geddon wrote:
Agreed IVY.. I too Am more than capable of abstraction ...... just don't see a need for the notion of god...

But as for super girl...  Well this is not really an abstraction, more a distraction:



Yes poor girl .... looks like she could do with a good meal. Where will you take her?    

IO
IvyOwl

Quote:
Quote:
You've not told me why you have to bring this notional god into anything ... especially as you are acknowledging that it is totally unknowable. What is the importance/necessity/point?


I think it is a basic of humanity. It is an aspect of humanity to categorise a god thing. Even if only to dismiss it. A human psychological element of the anthropological march.


Well we humans have certainly come up with rather a lot of gods and goddesses.  They come have their day and then go. So I can't argue against it being an aspect of humanity but as the existence of atheists confirms it's not compulsory or a necessity for everyone.

So if I understand your answer correctly what you are saying is you believe in one albeit an unknowable one, because  .... well just because you do cos lots of humans have? Fair enough.

IO
Andy

Ivy

Quote:
So I can't argue against it being an aspect of humanity but as the existence of atheists confirms it's not compulsory or a necessity for everyone.

So if I understand your answer correctly what you are saying is you believe in one albeit an unknowable one, because  .... well just because you do cos lots of humans have? Fair enough.


The existence of atheists does not confirm the necessity or compulsion at all. It simply means that some people substitute that aspect and desire of humanity for a god with other things. Sometimes even a refutation of god. We have just come up with different ways of scratching the same itch.

So no, I am not saying that I believe in a god because lots of humans have. Certainly nothing as glib as that. I am saying that this desire for a belief is articulated by many as god, by both atheists and theists alike. That we have different ways of expressing this desire in our society than previous or other societies. But that same human requirement remains. Which is why I previously mentioned that the baggage of the term 'god' can be misleading. We all have this as a aspect of humanity. Some articulate this as god, some do not. Some articulate this through fantasy, through media, through art or through relationships. Some articulate this through what the hold as dear in there lives, for some it is material prosperity, for others it is horses. For others still it is god. God is a label as much as anything. Most of the associated paraphernalia is simply the man-made structure to that acknowledgement, we call that religion. But god, or indeed God, is the experience rather than the defined knowledge.

And indeed is limitless, so is bespoke to each of us.
Leonard James

God is simply the answer to a question we don't at present have an answer for, and is probably a necessity for some people who can't achieve peace of mind without an answer.

For the rest of us, 'don't know yet' is perfectly satisfactory.
IvyOwl

Quote:
For the rest of us, 'don't know yet' is perfectly satisfactory.


Yep and save ourselves a lot of mental gymnastics at the same time!

Andy I can see what you mean but it comes across as the reasoning of someone who started off with a god belief that they couldn't quite let go.

Letting go and thinking 'oh what an awsome universe we live in' suffices for some of us. We just don't need the G word!

IO
splashscuba

Andy wrote:

The existence of atheists does not confirm the necessity or compulsion at all. It simply means that some people substitute that aspect and desire of humanity for a god with other things. Sometimes even a refutation of god. We have just come up with different ways of scratching the same itch.

Substitute what ? Are you saying there's stuff that I do because I don't believe in gods ?

What about all the stuff I do because I don't believe in fairies ?

And all the stuff I do because ....... etc
Andy

Quote:
Substitute what ? Are you saying there's stuff that I do because I don't believe in gods ?


No

I am saying there are elements to your life which are determined by the human condition, and that you satisfy those elements accordingly.

Other people have, and still do, satisfy that same aspect of humanity through a belief in a god. Some people satisfy that aspect of humanity through a belief that there is no god.

To use an oblique example, we see in many religions certain charaters who express a frustration with the human, physical condition. We have angels and demons who can fly. Man is frustrated with being unable to fly, indeed it has been a frustration which went on to drive innovation and invention. But to articulate that frustration we have fantastic characters why defy the limitations of man, and are able to fly. We see the same with myth and legend, we see the same through virtually all religions of antiquity. We currently see the same with Hollywood blockbuster films, through books, comics, TV shows and cartoons. That same awareness of our human limitations is expressed through articulating it in the form of projected characters. So whilst an American teenager may be submerging himself in a superhero film with a bucket of popcorn and a vat of coca-cola, the same aspect of humanity is being addressed as when a devotional monk in seventh century Constantipole paints an icon of the heavenly host. It is the same anthropological itch being scratched.

This illustration is a fraction of the capacity that man has in contriving answers to certain elements of the human condition. My point is that we all do it, just that some of us call it God.
splashscuba

Hmmm, I wonder which bit of what I do would be replaced if I became a believer ?  
samuel_11

Leonard James wrote:
Let me try again.

I suppose it is possible that the universe came into being due to a supernatural force, rather than a natural one. If such is the case, the nature of that force is quite beyond our comprehension, since our brains have only evolved to deal with the natural world we live in.  

I don't believe any of the god stories we have so far been presented with ... I consider them sincere but futile attempts to answer the question.

If such a force existed and wanted us to know about it, then we would know.

EDIT. I've just realised I used the word 'force', but since 'force' is part of the natural world, best substitute it with the word 'entity'.


Once again Leonard you describe a position I more or less hold myself but have hitherto been unable to express with such eloquence. Cheers buddy .

I personally find that belief in god is often a very good 'anaesthetic' to a good number of believers I know, in that it gives them their answers for the universe, life, why we are here, what happens when we die and all sorts of other such philosophical questions.

Of course while they are free to believe this and take comfort for the safety they perceive it to give them. The fact is however that these answers religion gives are no more likely to be true than any other attempt to understand, given the lack of evidence regarding the subject, its abstract nature and of course the limitations of our comprehension. From my perspective the feeling of safety that is gleaned from belief in god and the perception of safety is in fact an illusion; they think they have it worked out and believe in their religion for the security it gives them, but the cold hard truth is we simply don't know.

Some people, such as Leonard and myself, are prepared to accept the rather unpalatable fact that we just don't know the answer to many of these questions regarding life and the universe right now; there is no objective evidence regarding why we are here. Some go further and say we never will know and attempts to gain understanding of such things is pointless. Others are dissatisfied with this, either through fear of the unknown, a hunch, a feeling or whatever reason, and so try to form explanations, of which gods and theologies are just one more example.

That's my piece anyway  
Leonard James

Hi Samuel,

I am probably the oldest poster on the forum, and I think you may well be the youngest! I don't know why, but the fact that we agree about these things makes me feel good!
mrjohnno

Re: What's an atheist ?

splashscuba wrote:
I see all sorts of definitions for the word atheist.

What's yours ?


An atheist is someone who rejects the claim made by theists that there is a supreme being, this is not the same as saying that there is no supreme being.
Synonym

Leonard James wrote:
For me an atheist is somebody who doesn't believe there is such a thing as a 'supernatural' creator god.

However, as you say, there are a number of different ideas as to what an atheist is.
That is what I would have thought though I have heard it argued that an atheist can believe in a God.

The argument goes something like:
Atheism means 'without theism'.
So an atheist in someone who isn't a theist.
A deist isn't a theist.
Therefore a deist is an atheist.

So there you go, a person who believes in a God (albeit one that doesn't concern themselves with planet Earth) yet is an atheist, on this argument.
Gangnoel

Dear Splash,

A numpty, no , no, I could be wrong, just my tuppence worth.

Gonnagle.
Shaker

Synonym wrote:
Leonard James wrote:
For me an atheist is somebody who doesn't believe there is such a thing as a 'supernatural' creator god.

However, as you say, there are a number of different ideas as to what an atheist is.
That is what I would have thought though I have heard it argued that an atheist can believe in a God.

The argument goes something like:
Atheism means 'without theism'.
So an atheist in someone who isn't a theist.
A deist isn't a theist.
Therefore a deist is an atheist.

So there you go, a person who believes in a God (albeit one that doesn't concern themselves with planet Earth) yet is an atheist, on this argument.


However:

An atheist means someone who doesn't believe in any gods.
A deist believes in a god (of some sort, after a fashion).
Therefore a deist can't be an atheist or vice versa.
bnabernard

So a deist don't desist but an atheist dist  

pills pills

bernard  
SceptiKarl

Just my own take. Poor old Andy with his heart rendingly "abstract" God, rather neglects the claims made by Christianity for its particular God, i.e. Jesus. That carpenter who being one third of God, arranged His own insemination of a virgin by the Holy Ghost, only so that He could be born as a man, do some preaching, get Himself arrested and executed,and then go off to live with His other 2 parts in heaven sitting on His own right hand side, - no less.

Nevertheless this "abstract" God came to Earth, (having created the universe beforehand), as a man who could walk on water, feed the 5000, bring Lazarus back from the dead, (and Himself), turn water into wine, drive pigs over a cliff, curse a fig tree, and whatever else. In other words this "abstract" God had a real and definite effect in this, - the real material world. I hope we all agree that THIS world exists. (Wigginhall wouldn't but luckily he's not here).

So Andy's rather lame excuse for a God as something within us all, could equally apply to DNA.
Leonard James

SceptiKarl wrote:
Just my own take. Poor old Andy with his heart rendingly "abstract" God, rather neglects the claims made by Christianity for its particular God, i.e. Jesus. That carpenter who being one third of God, arranged His own insemination of a virgin by the Holy Ghost, only so that He could be born as a man, do some preaching, get Himself arrested and executed,and then go off to live with His other 2 parts in heaven sitting on His own right hand side, - no less.

Nevertheless this "abstract" God came to Earth, (having created the universe beforehand), as a man who could walk on water, feed the 5000, bring Lazarus back from the dead, (and Himself), turn water into wine, drive pigs over a cliff, curse a fig tree, and whatever else. In other words this "abstract" God had a real and definite effect in this, - the real material world. I hope we all agree that THIS world exists. (Wigginhall wouldn't but luckily he's not here).

So Andy's rather lame excuse for a God as something within us all, could equally apply to DNA.

Brillliant, Karl! I had never thought about it like that before. That's it!

'God' is in our DNA ... and whether or not we are able to recognise that depends on the genetic hand we've been dealt. Some people manage to see it, others are misled into thinking he actually exists. The wilder ones even think they really talk to him!

Thank you!
SceptiKarl

Thank you Leonard, but hardly "brilliant" IMO. Rather mundane in fact. At least we, (all living organisms on Earth), wouldn't be "us" without DNA.  This God who is "within us all" could equally apply to carbon, - at least on Earth!

Leonard James

SceptiKarl wrote:
Thank you Leonard, but hardly "brilliant" IMO. Rather mundane in fact. At least we, (all living organisms on Earth), wouldn't be "us" without DNA.  This God who is "within us all" could equally apply to carbon, - at least on Earth!


Yes, indeed! It's just that your post reaffirmed to me my idea of the cause of 'God' beliefs, and presented it in a new light.

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