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Baxter
Skeptic Friend

USA
131 Posts

Posted - 02/05/2007 :  15:00:33  Show Profile Send Baxter a Private Message
I don't fully understand the atheist perspective. I understand of course that an atheist does not believe in deities. But, does this only include the dieties (or diety) of Earth's religions? Or does this include any divine being one could imagine?

What if one does not follow any religion but does believe that there is some greater explanation for the universe being here. Are they still an atheist? What if they call that unknown explanation ‘God?'

Additionally, does an atheist believe in the possibility of greater explanations for the existance of the universe?

beskeptigal
SFN Die Hard

USA
3834 Posts

Posted - 02/05/2007 :  15:33:19   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send beskeptigal a Private Message
Atheism varies by degree. I do not believe in any deity, think there are better explanations for belief in gods, and find no other evidence than human generated beliefs so I have no need to disprove the existence of gods.

Most scientists maintain a more purist philosophy of science which says you cannot test for gods therefore gods, like 'before the big bang' and 'outside of the Universe' are outside of the realm of science. I think if gods act then the results would be detectable. So in a purist scientific stand, I say that except for gods which cover their tracks or do not act on or within the Universe, you find no detectable evidence of gods. Once again, science cannot prove the null hypothesis. That means you would need to test an infinite number of sources or samples to be able to conclude you will never find something, so you can't prove a negative.

For all practical purposes, I as close to an absolute atheist as I think you can get.

But from there, the degrees of certainty and statements of absoluteness vary from 'don't know' to complete doubt.

And there are those who believe in a religionless god. They believe there is or might be a god but they reject all religions.

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Dude
SFN Die Hard

USA
6891 Posts

Posted - 02/05/2007 :  17:03:28   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Dude a Private Message
Baxter asked:
quote:
Additionally, does an atheist believe in the possibility of greater explanations for the existence of the universe?



To vague. Are there things we don't know? Absolutely. But your "greater explanations" is to vague to respond intelligently to.

quote:
But, does this only include the dieties (or diety) of Earth's religions? Or does this include any divine being one could imagine?



Lets narrow down the definition of "believe" a bit, so we are all using the same one. For this conversation I'll assume you mean to add the implied "without evidence", as in "I believe, without evidence, in a deity." If that isn't what you mean, then please correct me, my response would likely be different.

As an atheist I do not, ever, use the word believe in that context. I use it only in context with things that are supported by evidence. Like, "I believe the sun will rise tomorrow." This statement is made based on my observation of the regularity with which the sun has risen in the past combined with my understanding of physics and the observed rotation and orbit of our planet.

With that in mind, I do not believe in any diety, nor in the idea of "greater explanations".

In every instance, ever, where we have applied science and reason to find the answer to a question, only natural causes have been returned.

So, if you ever get some evidence that stands up to scrutiny, then we can talk about "greater explanations".


Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.
-- Thomas Jefferson

"god :: the last refuge of a man with no answers and no argument." - G. Carlin

Hope, n.
The handmaiden of desperation; the opiate of despair; the illegible signpost on the road to perdition. ~~ da filth
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Cuneiformist
The Imperfectionist

USA
4954 Posts

Posted - 02/05/2007 :  18:07:28   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Cuneiformist a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Baxter

I don't fully understand the atheist perspective. I understand of course that an atheist does not believe in deities. But, does this only include the dieties (or diety) of Earth's religions? Or does this include any divine being one could imagine?

What if one does not follow any religion but does believe that there is some greater explanation for the universe being here. Are they still an atheist? What if they call that unknown explanation ‘God?'
Defining atheism is a touchy subject, as any search through our archives will show. But I'll venture that the above descriptions you have wouldn't qualify as atheism by most definitions. I think by any definition, deities are supernatural and atheism rejects the supernatural. No?

quote:
Additionally, does an atheist believe in the possibility of greater explanations for the existance of the universe?
It's not clear what the question is. Any honest atheist will allow for naturalistic explanations, I think. But allowing for, say, magic elves or Zeus or any such wouldn't be what an atheist would consider.
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H. Humbert
SFN Die Hard

USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 02/05/2007 :  19:28:34   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Cuneiformist
Defining atheism is a touchy subject, as any search through our archives will show. But I'll venture that the above descriptions you have wouldn't qualify as atheism by most definitions. I think by any definition, deities are supernatural and atheism rejects the supernatural. No?
No. Atheists disbelieve/hold no beliefs in the existence of a diety. That's it. Nothing about the definition of atheist implies they reject the "supernatural" outright. Some buddhists, for example, while holding no belief in any gods, do believe in souls, Karma, and reincarnation. These Buddhists are atheists, though obviously not strict materialists.

quote:
quote:
Additionally, does an atheist believe in the possibility of greater explanations for the existance of the universe?
It's not clear what the question is. Any honest atheist will allow for naturalistic explanations, I think. But allowing for, say, magic elves or Zeus or any such wouldn't be what an atheist would consider.

Actually, as an atheist, I admit the possibility of gods existing and would be open to considering them if presented with new evidence. What I'm against is treating unevidenced assertions as true or likely without any cause to do so. Come to me with evidence that elves or Zeus were responsible for something and I'd consider it, it just better be damn convincing.


"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true." --Demosthenes

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool." --Richard P. Feynman

"Face facts with dignity." --found inside a fortune cookie
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Cuneiformist
The Imperfectionist

USA
4954 Posts

Posted - 02/05/2007 :  19:56:55   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Cuneiformist a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by H. Humbert

quote:
Originally posted by Cuneiformist
Defining atheism is a touchy subject, as any search through our archives will show. But I'll venture that the above descriptions you have wouldn't qualify as atheism by most definitions. I think by any definition, deities are supernatural and atheism rejects the supernatural. No?
No. Atheists disbelieve/hold no beliefs in the existence of a diety. That's it. Nothing about the definition of atheist implies they reject the "supernatural" outright. Some buddhists, for example, while holding no belief in any gods, do believe in souls, Karma, and reincarnation. These Buddhists are atheists, though obviously not strict materialists.
See what I mean, Baxter? I see where HH gets his definitions, but I personally have trouble accepting somthing like the belief in a soul as somthing that falls under the atheist rubric. The Wiki entry has more on the topic.
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moakley
SFN Regular

USA
1882 Posts

Posted - 02/05/2007 :  20:00:14   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send moakley a Private Message
Agreeing with the responses to this point I would just like to add.
quote:
Originally posted by Baxter

I don't fully understand the atheist perspective. I understand of course that an atheist does not believe in deities. But, does this only include the dieties (or diety) of Earth's religions? Or does this include any divine being one could imagine?

That is just it. There is not much that separates the deities of the widely followed religions from the deities that one could imagine other than the number of people who believe in them. They are each equally evidenced. So if one were to find the gods marketed by the popular religions unsatisfying, then I say sure make one up. The odds of being correct are equal to those of the popular religions.
quote:
Originally posted by Baxter

What if one does not follow any religion but does believe that there is some greater explanation for the universe being here. Are they still an atheist? What if they call that unknown explanation ‘God?'

or 'Kil'?
quote:
Originally posted by Baxter

Additionally, does an atheist believe in the possibility of greater explanations for the existance of the universe?

I don't consider supernatural explanation, greater explanations. Being based upon testimonies of faith is essentially no explanation.

Life is good

Philosophy is questions that may never be answered. Religion is answers that may never be questioned. -Anonymous
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H. Humbert
SFN Die Hard

USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 02/05/2007 :  20:09:23   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Cuneiformist
See what I mean, Baxter? I see where HH gets his definitions, but I personally have trouble accepting somthing like the belief in a soul as somthing that falls under the atheist rubric. The Wiki entry has more on the topic.

Ok, I shouldn't have sounded so absolute. You and wiki do make some good points. From Wikipedia:
quote:
A problematic consequence of the broader redefinition of theism is that atheism can be seen as disbelief in almost anything; many pantheists, in particular, believe in a "God" that is synonymous with the natural world, which would make disbelieving in such a God result in disbelief in nature. Increasingly vague, abstract, or figurative conceptions of divinity have led some sources to circumvent the problem by defining atheism as disbelief in all "immaterial beings",[6] rejection of the supernatural world altogether, or simply as irreligion.[16] However, god-centered definitions of atheism remain more common.

Personally I reject the idea that one can simple redefine "god" to mean "nature." I have no patience for that sort of semantic nonsense, like those who define god as "all that exists" and then think that somehow means they proven that god exists.


"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true." --Demosthenes

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool." --Richard P. Feynman

"Face facts with dignity." --found inside a fortune cookie
Edited by - H. Humbert on 02/05/2007 20:13:23
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 02/05/2007 :  22:30:33   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Baxter

I don't fully understand the atheist perspective. I understand of course that an atheist does not believe in deities. But, does this only include the dieties (or diety) of Earth's religions? Or does this include any divine being one could imagine?

What if one does not follow any religion but does believe that there is some greater explanation for the universe being here. Are they still an atheist? What if they call that unknown explanation ‘God?'

Additionally, does an atheist believe in the possibility of greater explanations for the existance of the universe?


Welcome to SFN, Baxter!

Simply imagining a deity might exist somewhere is not, in most atheists' minds, reason to believe in it. I can and do imagine lots of fascinatingly unlikely things, but I don't take these fantasies seriously.

I imagine that there are species in our vast universe who have evolved to a point that we might consider to be gods, if we met them. But since we as yet have no knowledge of such species, belief in them as gods makes no sense.

A person who follows no religion, yet believes in a deity is usually called a Deist, not an atheist.

An atheist may or may not believe in "greater" explanations of the universe's existence, but you really haven't defined that usefully in your question.

As an atheist, I tend to think of the Big Bang as being "greater," as it was certainly a bigger deal than events I run into on a day to day basis. But I see no need to suppose "greater" means a magical force or entity did it. In fact, supposing a god made the universe doesn't answer any questions, but just adds an extra one: What or what made god?

To most, but not all, atheists, the key to "belief" is scientific evidence. We see none, but might change our thinking in the vanishingly unlikely event that we saw some evidence. However, there are those like myself who have read the Bible enough to find reason not to worship that egotistical, psychotic, genocidal deity, even if we had good evidence he existed.


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
Edited by - HalfMooner on 02/06/2007 08:26:37
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 02/06/2007 :  05:02:08   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message
I myself, am a fundamentalist Frisbeetarian. We believe that when we die, our souls fly up on the roof and never come down....

Oh, alright then; I'm an atheist. But I am an atheist who is perfectly willing to accept the concept of some supernatural entities (big Harry Potter fan & all), and even mull the possibility, however remote and minute it might be, of some sort of all-powerful god(s) out there in the vastness of the cosmos. However, I take none of it on faith. Until and unless someone actually proves the existence of souls, or some God or other invites me over for burgers and beer some afternoon, I ain't buyin' it. In short, I don't accept the poke unless I know the pig is really in there; good advice for any endeavor.

I find it unlikely to the point of impossibility that any of the religions, past or present, are correct simply because they all violate the Laws of Physics and the limits of credibility. Further, it is interesting to note that the most successful scams, such as the defunct PTL Club and Pat Robertson's rather incredible 700 Cudgel, are run on the faithful. And historically, these are not out of the ordinary.

Over the years, I have become convinced that religion is the greatest evil our species has ever inflicted upon itself.




"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

Edited by - filthy on 02/06/2007 05:05:28
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 02/06/2007 :  06:56:48   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message
Filthy wrote:
quote:

Over the years, I have become convinced that religion is the greatest evil our species has ever inflicted upon itself.
But otherwise, it's just fine, eh?


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 02/06/2007 :  07:36:53   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by HalfMooner

Filthy wrote:
quote:

Over the years, I have become convinced that religion is the greatest evil our species has ever inflicted upon itself.
But otherwise, it's just fine, eh?



Nah, it's all a matter of degree:



Renfield -- Dwight Fry, from a 1931 adaptation of Dracula
quote:
He is an inmate at the lunatic asylum overseen by Dr Seward. Aged fifty-nine, he suffers from a delusional belief system that leads him to eat living creatures in the hope of obtaining their life-force for himself. Being confined to the asylum, and aware of the foolishness of taking on a full-sized hospital orderly, he starts by consuming flies, then develops a scheme of feeding the flies to spiders, and the spiders to birds, in order to accumulate more and more life. When denied a cat to accommodate the birds, he eats the birds himself.

During the course of the novel it is discovered, that he is under the influence of Count Dracula.

However, when confronted by Mina Harker, the object of Dracula's obsession, Renfield suffers an attack of conscience and begs her to flee from his master's grasp. Enraged by this treachery, Dracula infiltrates Renfield's cell (in the form of fog), and when Renfield lures the Count by assisting his entrance to the asylum, the base of Seward and his fellow vampire hunters, Dracula breaks his neck.






"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

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furshur
SFN Regular

USA
1536 Posts

Posted - 02/06/2007 :  08:53:44   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send furshur a Private Message
This is an interesting conversation - hopefully Baxter will return to clarify some of his thoughts and the conversation can progress...

Baxter?


If I knew then what I know now then I would know more now than I know.
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 02/06/2007 :  09:25:41   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by H. Humbert

quote:
Originally posted by Cuneiformist
See what I mean, Baxter? I see where HH gets his definitions, but I personally have trouble accepting somthing like the belief in a soul as somthing that falls under the atheist rubric. The Wiki entry has more on the topic.

Ok, I shouldn't have sounded so absolute. You and wiki do make some good points. From Wikipedia:
quote:
A problematic consequence of the broader redefinition of theism is that atheism can be seen as disbelief in almost anything; many pantheists, in particular, believe in a "God" that is synonymous with the natural world, which would make disbelieving in such a God result in disbelief in nature. Increasingly vague, abstract, or figurative conceptions of divinity have led some sources to circumvent the problem by defining atheism as disbelief in all "immaterial beings",[6] rejection of the supernatural world altogether, or simply as irreligion.[16] However, god-centered definitions of atheism remain more common.

Personally I reject the idea that one can simple redefine "god" to mean "nature." I have no patience for that sort of semantic nonsense, like those who define god as "all that exists" and then think that somehow means they proven that god exists.



I agree. When you have said "god is everything," you have made essentially the same statement as "god is nothing." Nature as deity is so broad as to be meaningless. In effect, it's either a confused statement, or a coward's atheism.


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
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Baxter
Skeptic Friend

USA
131 Posts

Posted - 02/06/2007 :  13:09:55   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Baxter a Private Message
So it seems there are varying degrees of atheism. However, belief in souls or pantheism not so much. I think I get the gist of it.

quote:
Originally posted by beskeptigal

So in a purist scientific stand, I say that except for gods which cover their tracks or do not act on or within the Universe, you find no detectable evidence of gods.
Is it unreasonable to think that God would ‘cover his tracks?' (Not be detectable by the scientific method.)


And by a greater explanation, I'll say that I mean one that transcends natural laws. This does not necessarily mean a deity. I hesitate to use supernatural because I don't want to connote magic elves.

quote:
Originally posted by moakley
There is not much that separates the deities of the widely followed religions from the deities that one could imagine other than the number of people who believe in them.
Yeah, good point. For an atheist, there isn't much difference.

quote:
Originally posted by HalfMooner
In fact, supposing a god made the universe doesn't answer any questions, but just adds an extra one: What or what made god?
But couldn't the nature of God exempt God from this?
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Cuneiformist
The Imperfectionist

USA
4954 Posts

Posted - 02/06/2007 :  13:35:45   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Cuneiformist a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Baxter
quote:
Originally posted by beskeptigal
So in a purist scientific stand, I say that except for gods which cover their tracks or do not act on or within the Universe, you find no detectable evidence of gods.
Is it unreasonable to think that God would ‘cover his tracks?' (Not be detectable by the scientific method.)

But if a god is in effect indistinguishable from the natural world, then what's the use of positing a god in the first place?
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