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Chris Hedges - What is religion?

Chris Hedges - What is religion?

(10:16) American journalist, activist and Presbyterian minister Chris Hedges describes what religion is to him, a way for humans to deal with the non-rational (as distinct from the irrational) - love, beauty, search for meaning, our mortality etc.

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WalterEgo WalterEgo (629 days ago)

He sounds like an atheist to me.

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He sounds like an atheist to me.

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Guest: (628 days ago)

That's the usual mistake of confusing approval / disapproval of religions with belief / disbelief in a god. You can be 100% convinced that a god exists and still disagree with every manifestation of religion currently on offer. New Atheists like to think that any criticism of religion is a criticism of theism but it's just not the same at all.

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That's the usual mistake of confusing approval / disapproval of religions with belief / disbelief in a god. You can be 100% convinced that a god exists and still disagree with every manifestation of religion currently on offer. New Atheists like to think that any criticism of religion is a criticism of theism but it's just not the same at all.

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Guest: Proud Agnostic (628 days ago)

He points out the common mistakes of New Atheists such as yourself several times, talks about transcendent forces, and talks about the principle of non-overlapping magisteria which most atheists and all New Atheists refute categorically.

In actual fact, he talks like an agnostic theist which funnily enough is what he is.

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He points out the common mistakes of New Atheists such as yourself several times, talks about transcendent forces, and talks about the principle of non-overlapping magisteria which most atheists and all New Atheists refute categorically.

In actual fact, he talks like an agnostic theist which funnily enough is what he is.

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Guest: one more time (628 days ago)

Yes he does. I don't think he is though. I listened to this expecting to be infuriated by endless meaningless platitudes, but instead found myself agreeing with much of the content.

One point. He refers to "narcissism" (incidentaly another Greek myth) and that I think is at the root of much religion. We all have feelings of grief, joy, alienation etc at different times in our lives, and these can be overwhelmingly strong. But I think it is narcissism to give them any great importance. They are not the "infinite" (another word he uses).

They are just feelings which we and probably many other species have evolved to experience. The words "motivation" and "emotion" have the same root. If we did not have emotion, or passion, we would sit around until we starved to death. We might feel hungry, but without emotion, we wouldn't care.

And I don't agree that we can't study these things empirically. A neurologist (which I'm not) or endocrinologist would be the person to ask, not a Divinity graduate.

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Yes he does. I don't think he is though. I listened to this expecting to be infuriated by endless meaningless platitudes, but instead found myself agreeing with much of the content.

One point. He refers to "narcissism" (incidentaly another Greek myth) and that I think is at the root of much religion. We all have feelings of grief, joy, alienation etc at different times in our lives, and these can be overwhelmingly strong. But I think it is narcissism to give them any great importance. They are not the "infinite" (another word he uses).

They are just feelings which we and probably many other species have evolved to experience. The words "motivation" and "emotion" have the same root. If we did not have emotion, or passion, we would sit around until we starved to death. We might feel hungry, but without emotion, we wouldn't care.

And I don't agree that we can't study these things empirically. A neurologist (which I'm not) or endocrinologist would be the person to ask, not a Divinity graduate.

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Guest: Proud Agnostic (628 days ago)

I think he talks very clearly like an agnostic theist who believes in higher transcendent forces but worries about the harmful effects of religiosity. However, he is also at pains to point out benefits of religion too, and also to criticise the false assumptions of New Atheism. He speaks a lot of sense when you listen to the whole message rather than plucking out the soundbites you agree with. Besides, he's actually a protestant minister.

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I think he talks very clearly like an agnostic theist who believes in higher transcendent forces but worries about the harmful effects of religiosity. However, he is also at pains to point out benefits of religion too, and also to criticise the false assumptions of New Atheism. He speaks a lot of sense when you listen to the whole message rather than plucking out the soundbites you agree with. Besides, he's actually a protestant minister.

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Guest: one more time (628 days ago)

Yes, but the only "higher transcendent forces" he talks about are no more than feelings. Still, "higher transcendent forces" sounds better.

How do you think he reconciles being a protestant minister with not believing in a personal god? My answer would be, he cherry picks the bits he likes, and so crafts his own religion that he is comfortable with. I have no problem with him doing that - it's what we all do, believers or not - but I do have a problem when people claim that theirs is the One True Way, or when they claim some special privilege for their point of view.

I expect you will say that's exactly what I'm doing right now.

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Yes, but the only "higher transcendent forces" he talks about are no more than feelings. Still, "higher transcendent forces" sounds better.

How do you think he reconciles being a protestant minister with not believing in a personal god? My answer would be, he cherry picks the bits he likes, and so crafts his own religion that he is comfortable with. I have no problem with him doing that - it's what we all do, believers or not - but I do have a problem when people claim that theirs is the One True Way, or when they claim some special privilege for their point of view.

I expect you will say that's exactly what I'm doing right now.

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Guest: (628 days ago)

I'm afraid that his transcendent forces is a euphemism for a god - a word he is reluctant to use because it gets atheists so upset. I've read quite a bit of his writings, and he is definitely a protestant theist, but also his conception of god is not disimilar to that of pantheism - and yet also one that the Bible can successfully describe in certain allegorical ways. That's what he means by not having a personal god. I know Christians who don't believe their god acts on their behalf but rather is looking at the bigger picture. But yes, of course Hedges interprets texts, and of course everyone does, and thankfully there is a majority of people who do so with benevolent results than the loons.

I totally agree about the self-righteousness of belief or non-belief. Wouldn't you say though that the majority of moderate religious followers are more reticent in their beliefs than New Atheists? In my experience, the arrogance and belligerance of fundamentalist atheists rivals if not trumps that of fundamentalist religions. This is a point that Hedges writes extensively about in 'I Don't Believe in Atheists ', and ' When Atheism Becomes Religion: America's New Fundamentalists'. Worth a read if you fancy analysing your views a little deeper.

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I'm afraid that his transcendent forces is a euphemism for a god - a word he is reluctant to use because it gets atheists so upset. I've read quite a bit of his writings, and he is definitely a protestant theist, but also his conception of god is not disimilar to that of pantheism - and yet also one that the Bible can successfully describe in certain allegorical ways. That's what he means by not having a personal god. I know Christians who don't believe their god acts on their behalf but rather is looking at the bigger picture. But yes, of course Hedges interprets texts, and of course everyone does, and thankfully there is a majority of people who do so with benevolent results than the loons.

I totally agree about the self-righteousness of belief or non-belief. Wouldn't you say though that the majority of moderate religious followers are more reticent in their beliefs than New Atheists? In my experience, the arrogance and belligerance of fundamentalist atheists rivals if not trumps that of fundamentalist religions. This is a point that Hedges writes extensively about in 'I Don't Believe in Atheists ', and ' When Atheism Becomes Religion: America's New Fundamentalists'. Worth a read if you fancy analysing your views a little deeper.

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Guest: one more time (628 days ago)

I don't know anything about Hedges beyond the two videos in boreme, so I will accept your first paragraph.

Regarding your second, is it fair to compare the reticence of "the majority of moderate religious followers" with new atheists? Especially since the definition of "new atheist" is that religion should be "countered, criticized, and exposed" (wikipedia)? That is, part of the definition of NA is that they are explicitly not reticent. I would have to agree with you, but only by definition.

I watch videos of a few people that I guess you would call new atheists: Dawkins, Harris, Dennet, and Hitchens of course; also the Atheist Experience (of Austin, Texas); Thunderf00t, Sargon of Akkad and; and other YouTubers (sounds like a kind of potato!) whose names I can't be bothered to remember. Sometimes they get excited and shout, but they always present arguments and usually data to support their claims. There is a clip on boreme just now of an atheist idiot berating a street preacher. But so far, I have not seen atheists calling for anyone's death, let alone carrying it out by machete-wielding atheist mob. On the contrary, I think you will find that most atheists say that people's religious beliefs are a private matter, and that there is no place for thought-crimes on the statute books. Compare that with the many parts of the world where your religious beliefs or lack of them directly affect your civic rights and political power and can even land you in jail.

So, your claims of arrogance and belligerence don't carry much weight with me. These are descriptions of how some NA speak. Others might say they speak with authority and firmness.

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I don't know anything about Hedges beyond the two videos in boreme, so I will accept your first paragraph.

Regarding your second, is it fair to compare the reticence of "the majority of moderate religious followers" with new atheists? Especially since the definition of "new atheist" is that religion should be "countered, criticized, and exposed" (wikipedia)? That is, part of the definition of NA is that they are explicitly not reticent. I would have to agree with you, but only by definition.

I watch videos of a few people that I guess you would call new atheists: Dawkins, Harris, Dennet, and Hitchens of course; also the Atheist Experience (of Austin, Texas); Thunderf00t, Sargon of Akkad and; and other YouTubers (sounds like a kind of potato!) whose names I can't be bothered to remember. Sometimes they get excited and shout, but they always present arguments and usually data to support their claims. There is a clip on boreme just now of an atheist idiot berating a street preacher. But so far, I have not seen atheists calling for anyone's death, let alone carrying it out by machete-wielding atheist mob. On the contrary, I think you will find that most atheists say that people's religious beliefs are a private matter, and that there is no place for thought-crimes on the statute books. Compare that with the many parts of the world where your religious beliefs or lack of them directly affect your civic rights and political power and can even land you in jail.

So, your claims of arrogance and belligerence don't carry much weight with me. These are descriptions of how some NA speak. Others might say they speak with authority and firmness.

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Guest: Proud Agnostic (628 days ago)

Hm, well I think it's a fair comparison, as it's quite often the beligerance and self-righteousness of the religious that most atheists criticise. Perhaps it's a case of who shouts loudest, but I would say most atheists you see online would be classed as New Atheists purely on account of their lack of tolerance for religion or the religious, and their open aggression and self-righteousness. It's quite rare to see a reticent atheist here or elsewhere who doesn't indiscriminately condemn all forms of organised religion in a very hostile way, and that really should have nothing to do with the supposed simple 'lack of belief' that atheists pretend defines them.

Yes, I suppose if you wanted to you could characterise it as 'authority and firmness', as people may say about the announcements of ayatollahs and the pope. If you can afford a little more impartiality though, you would likely characterise them as being all a form of divisive judgement and self-righteousness, rather than respect and understanding. It's the One True Way myth that you objected to earlier. I have never believed in a god, yet my agnosticism has led atheists to call me weak, retarded and gullible, and have been told many times how my beliefs are wrong and unscientific (ironically). I don't think I've met many who have considered my religious beliefs to be a private matter. On the other hand, I can honestly say that out of every single religious person I have ever met (including online), I have never had that kind of judgement - and that includes Muslims and even a Mormon. Maybe if we both lived in areas of a country where religious "machete-wielding mobs" were the norm, then these aggressive atheists may seem the lesser of the evils, but that's not the case. Equally, if we lived in Mexico in the late 20s, we would doubtless think that the atheists and their mass murder of religious people was very much the greater of the evils. The fact is, the here-and-now in my culture and place in time seems to frame atheism as one of the more contentious and hostile world views.

Basically, I can't bear evangelism and self-righteousness, and I'd honestly say that I see more of that in my day-to-day life from atheists than religious people. I'd be very surprised if you were to be completely honest, you wouldn't say the same. As Hedges has said, the way atheism has evolved has made it a particular brand of fundamentalism. For those atheists that just happen not to believe, and who don't care what others believe, good on them. To all those atheists who seek to tell everyone who disagrees with them how wrong, dangerous, divisive and ignorant we are... sorry, you're in the same boat as soapbox preachers. Sadly for them, it swings both ways.

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Hm, well I think it's a fair comparison, as it's quite often the beligerance and self-righteousness of the religious that most atheists criticise. Perhaps it's a case of who shouts loudest, but I would say most atheists you see online would be classed as New Atheists purely on account of their lack of tolerance for religion or the religious, and their open aggression and self-righteousness. It's quite rare to see a reticent atheist here or elsewhere who doesn't indiscriminately condemn all forms of organised religion in a very hostile way, and that really should have nothing to do with the supposed simple 'lack of belief' that atheists pretend defines them.

Yes, I suppose if you wanted to you could characterise it as 'authority and firmness', as people may say about the announcements of ayatollahs and the pope. If you can afford a little more impartiality though, you would likely characterise them as being all a form of divisive judgement and self-righteousness, rather than respect and understanding. It's the One True Way myth that you objected to earlier. I have never believed in a god, yet my agnosticism has led atheists to call me weak, retarded and gullible, and have been told many times how my beliefs are wrong and unscientific (ironically). I don't think I've met many who have considered my religious beliefs to be a private matter. On the other hand, I can honestly say that out of every single religious person I have ever met (including online), I have never had that kind of judgement - and that includes Muslims and even a Mormon. Maybe if we both lived in areas of a country where religious "machete-wielding mobs" were the norm, then these aggressive atheists may seem the lesser of the evils, but that's not the case. Equally, if we lived in Mexico in the late 20s, we would doubtless think that the atheists and their mass murder of religious people was very much the greater of the evils. The fact is, the here-and-now in my culture and place in time seems to frame atheism as one of the more contentious and hostile world views.

Basically, I can't bear evangelism and self-righteousness, and I'd honestly say that I see more of that in my day-to-day life from atheists than religious people. I'd be very surprised if you were to be completely honest, you wouldn't say the same. As Hedges has said, the way atheism has evolved has made it a particular brand of fundamentalism. For those atheists that just happen not to believe, and who don't care what others believe, good on them. To all those atheists who seek to tell everyone who disagrees with them how wrong, dangerous, divisive and ignorant we are... sorry, you're in the same boat as soapbox preachers. Sadly for them, it swings both ways.

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Guest: one more time (627 days ago)

It's possible for an atheist to speak out without telling everyone else they are wrong. For example, here in the UK, the Church of England has 26 bishops in the House of Lords (the second chamber of government). That is just one of many privileges that the CofE has in the UK, and many people, not just atheists, reckon it is not justifiable. The thing about New Atheists is that they won't simply shut up and put up about things like that. They won't respect religions just because they are religions.

Do you think they should just be quiet and respectful?

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It's possible for an atheist to speak out without telling everyone else they are wrong. For example, here in the UK, the Church of England has 26 bishops in the House of Lords (the second chamber of government). That is just one of many privileges that the CofE has in the UK, and many people, not just atheists, reckon it is not justifiable. The thing about New Atheists is that they won't simply shut up and put up about things like that. They won't respect religions just because they are religions.

Do you think they should just be quiet and respectful?

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Guest: Proud Agnostic (627 days ago)

Funnily enough, all your arguments can be used to justify religious intolerance and hatred too: The thing about Wahhabis is they won't simply shut up and put up with the things they disagree with. The thing about neo-nazis is they won't shut up and put up. Etc etc. Saying you have more of a right to be like this than they do is making that authority or righteousness mistake you identified earlier.

"It's possible for an atheist to speak out without telling everyone else they are wrong." - Then I wish more of them would do so. Fundamentally, I don't expect 'quietness', but I think people should be respectful (not necessarily submissive or passive) towards the private beliefs of others, even where they strongly disagree. There is no One True Way, and while exchanging or impartially investigating beliefs and opinions is healthy, so many atheists take a condemnatory, judgemental and aggressive approach. That to me, typifies what I hate about religions and yet atheists fail to see the irony.

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Funnily enough, all your arguments can be used to justify religious intolerance and hatred too: The thing about Wahhabis is they won't simply shut up and put up with the things they disagree with. The thing about neo-nazis is they won't shut up and put up. Etc etc. Saying you have more of a right to be like this than they do is making that authority or righteousness mistake you identified earlier.

"It's possible for an atheist to speak out without telling everyone else they are wrong." - Then I wish more of them would do so. Fundamentally, I don't expect 'quietness', but I think people should be respectful (not necessarily submissive or passive) towards the private beliefs of others, even where they strongly disagree. There is no One True Way, and while exchanging or impartially investigating beliefs and opinions is healthy, so many atheists take a condemnatory, judgemental and aggressive approach. That to me, typifies what I hate about religions and yet atheists fail to see the irony.

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WalterEgo WalterEgo (627 days ago)

"Wouldn't you say though that the majority of moderate religious followers are more reticent in their beliefs than New Atheists?" Yes, but that's because religious beliefs can be embarrassing. Religion is very easy to ridicule, atheism is not.

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"Wouldn't you say though that the majority of moderate religious followers are more reticent in their beliefs than New Atheists?" Yes, but that's because religious beliefs can be embarrassing. Religion is very easy to ridicule, atheism is not.

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Guest: Proud Agnostic (627 days ago)

I'd beg to differ; I find atheism very easy to ridicule. But anyway, thank you for acknowledging that. I think that says more about tolerance and contentment amongst religious followers, and hostility and divisiveness amongst NA. Between someone who thinks they should confront and berate people with other beliefs because they find them "very easy to ridicule", and someone who has strange beliefs but doesn't push them in my face, I know who I would want as a neighbour or fellow citizen.

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I'd beg to differ; I find atheism very easy to ridicule. But anyway, thank you for acknowledging that. I think that says more about tolerance and contentment amongst religious followers, and hostility and divisiveness amongst NA. Between someone who thinks they should confront and berate people with other beliefs because they find them "very easy to ridicule", and someone who has strange beliefs but doesn't push them in my face, I know who I would want as a neighbour or fellow citizen.

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WalterEgo WalterEgo (627 days ago)

You may find atheism easier to ridicule, but I wasn't talking about you specifically. I was simply offering a reason for why religious people tend to be more reticent about their beliefs.

To support my case I'd say, look at the world of stand-up comedy. When tackling religion, atheist comedians are simply much funnier than vice versa. I'm not saying atheists make better comedians, just that religion is great raw material for comedy, because in so many ways it's just silly. Atheism on the other hand, whether you like it or not, hangs together rationally.

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You may find atheism easier to ridicule, but I wasn't talking about you specifically. I was simply offering a reason for why religious people tend to be more reticent about their beliefs.

To support my case I'd say, look at the world of stand-up comedy. When tackling religion, atheist comedians are simply much funnier than vice versa. I'm not saying atheists make better comedians, just that religion is great raw material for comedy, because in so many ways it's just silly. Atheism on the other hand, whether you like it or not, hangs together rationally.

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Guest: Proud Agnostic (627 days ago)

OK well those are your opinions. I personally can't think of many atheist comic routines that I consider to be genuinely funny, so perhaps that really is more about your personal sense of humour rather than them being "simply much funnier"! - though it's a little endearing you think humour is so objective. Besides, whether something can be describing or mocked in an amusing way doesn't mean the truth is necessarily ridiculous.

I don't think religious people are reticent about sharing their beliefs because they think they're ridiculous, or that they think others will think they're ridiculous. I'm pretty certain it's because if they have a certain confidence and comfort in their belief system then they don't feel the need to pressure others or try to proselytise. I have a huge amount of respect for that approach. I had a friend who was a chaplain and to his credit, he never once tried to analyse my beliefs or get me into his church, and he certainly didn't call me retarded or weak for not sharing his views. Something most atheists could learn from.

I am among many agnostics (and probably theists too - including Hedges, along with some pretty eminent scientists) that think that atheism and certainly New Atheism isn't remotely rational... but we've had this discussion before and it's something you don't or won't see.

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OK well those are your opinions. I personally can't think of many atheist comic routines that I consider to be genuinely funny, so perhaps that really is more about your personal sense of humour rather than them being "simply much funnier"! - though it's a little endearing you think humour is so objective. Besides, whether something can be describing or mocked in an amusing way doesn't mean the truth is necessarily ridiculous.

I don't think religious people are reticent about sharing their beliefs because they think they're ridiculous, or that they think others will think they're ridiculous. I'm pretty certain it's because if they have a certain confidence and comfort in their belief system then they don't feel the need to pressure others or try to proselytise. I have a huge amount of respect for that approach. I had a friend who was a chaplain and to his credit, he never once tried to analyse my beliefs or get me into his church, and he certainly didn't call me retarded or weak for not sharing his views. Something most atheists could learn from.

I am among many agnostics (and probably theists too - including Hedges, along with some pretty eminent scientists) that think that atheism and certainly New Atheism isn't remotely rational... but we've had this discussion before and it's something you don't or won't see.

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WalterEgo WalterEgo (626 days ago)

"Besides, whether something can be describing or mocked in an amusing way doesn't mean the truth is necessarily ridiculous." Correct, but it can make people not want to publicise their beliefs too much. It's how humans operate. People care a lot about what other people think about them.

"... others will think they're ridiculous. I'm pretty certain it's because if they have a certain confidence and comfort in their belief system then they don't feel the need to pressure others or try to proselytise." That's your opinion.

How you can say "atheism and certainly New Atheism isn't remotely rational" beats me. Side by side, in terms of rationality (for lay language substitute "common sense"), atheism beats religion hands down. There's simply no contest. There are no issues of rationality in atheism. At least I can't think of any. Can you?

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"Besides, whether something can be describing or mocked in an amusing way doesn't mean the truth is necessarily ridiculous." Correct, but it can make people not want to publicise their beliefs too much. It's how humans operate. People care a lot about what other people think about them.

"... others will think they're ridiculous. I'm pretty certain it's because if they have a certain confidence and comfort in their belief system then they don't feel the need to pressure others or try to proselytise." That's your opinion.

How you can say "atheism and certainly New Atheism isn't remotely rational" beats me. Side by side, in terms of rationality (for lay language substitute "common sense"), atheism beats religion hands down. There's simply no contest. There are no issues of rationality in atheism. At least I can't think of any. Can you?

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Guest: Proud Agnostic (626 days ago)

OK so on the one hand you'd complain about all these awful religious people forcing others to live by their rules, changing policy, affecting politics etc on account of their beliefs, and yet on the other you're saying these shrinking violets are so embarassed and shy of their beliefs they don't even want to talk about them in case atheists think they're ridiculous. Righty-ho. Something that atheists should learn to accept is that the vast majority of religious people (and people in general), could not give two hoots what atheists think of their beliefs.

Can I think of errors of rationality within atheism? Haha! How long have you got? I've read an awful lot about it, particularly from agnostic points of views so I can't claim the credit for all these points - most are long-established. I've talked about them in other threads (have you forgotten?), but as with anyone with entrenched emotional belief sets you've not been able to acknowledge them. I'll try to be brief - some of these apply more to New Atheism than atheism but some are for both:

- It's irrational to assume or expect there to be evidence or proof for a metaphysical being ("but where's the proof")
- It's irrational to assume you cannot prove a negative insofar as you can prove anything
- It's irrational to believe that absence of evidence is always evidence of absence, even within a physical realm
- It's irrational to talk about the probability of a metaphysical being ("The likelihood is god doesn't exist")
- It's irrational to believe that science or mathematics can tell us anything about a non-physical deity ("Science has shown there's no god")
- It's irrational to assume that there is nothing we might define as a god anywhere within the universe ("There is no god!")
- It's irrational to have any level of certainty about an untestable metaphysical speculation (Sagan's "two extremes of over-confidence")
- It's irrational to believe that science is incompatible with religion or theism (LeMaitre, Collins, Higgs, Etrl, etc etc)
- It's irrational to conflate religious adherence with theism
- It's irrational to use certain manifestations or interpretations of a religious belief to claim that no god whatsoever exists ("the world wasn't built in 7 days so therefore there's no god")
- It's irrational to assume that most religious adherents follow literal and strict interpretations of all parts of their texts (generalisation)
- It's irrational to labels all religions in their entirety as being 'untrue' based on fragments of specific religions
- It's irrational to claim that anyone with religious beliefs is unintelligent / less rational / more gullible than those without
- It's irrational to attribute negative events in a time period to religious belief, without do the same for positive events
- It's irrational to speak as though it's possible to isolate the influence of religion without factoring in culture, politics, human nature etc. etc.
- It's irrational to learn about religious belief from sources that condemn it
- It's irrational to claim atheism and anti-theism hasn't harmed anyone by failing to acknowlege the numerous historical examples (from France to Russia to China to Mexico etc etc)
- It's irrational to complain about religious division, intolerance and aggression, by being divisive, intolerant and aggressive
- It's irrational to define modern atheism as a simple 'lack of belief' (in the way my toothbrush lacks a belief) by ignoring the increasing majority of atheists have an active belief that there is no god
- It's irrational to think of Ricky Gervais as being talented or remotely funny (!)

But seriously though. I could go on. I doubt that you personally are guilty of all the above irrational mistakes, but you're probably guilty of most of them and I've met plenty of loud and brash atheists that basically tick every box. Rational atheism indeed! Quaint.

Importantly though, I don't think there's really an issue with you or others holding irrational beliefs. It doesn't matter, so don't worry; we all do in some form or other - even if it's just our favourite band, a weird habit, or personal superstition. Some sets of beliefs are more emotional than rational... the only error is not acknowledging that and thereby thinking your particular world-view is special and right.

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Original comment

OK so on the one hand you'd complain about all these awful religious people forcing others to live by their rules, changing policy, affecting politics etc on account of their beliefs, and yet on the other you're saying these shrinking violets are so embarassed and shy of their beliefs they don't even want to talk about them in case atheists think they're ridiculous. Righty-ho. Something that atheists should learn to accept is that the vast majority of religious people (and people in general), could not give two hoots what atheists think of their beliefs.

Can I think of errors of rationality within atheism? Haha! How long have you got? I've read an awful lot about it, particularly from agnostic points of views so I can't claim the credit for all these points - most are long-established. I've talked about them in other threads (have you forgotten?), but as with anyone with entrenched emotional belief sets you've not been able to acknowledge them. I'll try to be brief - some of these apply more to New Atheism than atheism but some are for both:

- It's irrational to assume or expect there to be evidence or proof for a metaphysical being ("but where's the proof")
- It's irrational to assume you cannot prove a negative insofar as you can prove anything
- It's irrational to believe that absence of evidence is always evidence of absence, even within a physical realm
- It's irrational to talk about the probability of a metaphysical being ("The likelihood is god doesn't exist")
- It's irrational to believe that science or mathematics can tell us anything about a non-physical deity ("Science has shown there's no god")
- It's irrational to assume that there is nothing we might define as a god anywhere within the universe ("There is no god!")
- It's irrational to have any level of certainty about an untestable metaphysical speculation (Sagan's "two extremes of over-confidence")
- It's irrational to believe that science is incompatible with religion or theism (LeMaitre, Collins, Higgs, Etrl, etc etc)
- It's irrational to conflate religious adherence with theism
- It's irrational to use certain manifestations or interpretations of a religious belief to claim that no god whatsoever exists ("the world wasn't built in 7 days so therefore there's no god")
- It's irrational to assume that most religious adherents follow literal and strict interpretations of all parts of their texts (generalisation)
- It's irrational to labels all religions in their entirety as being 'untrue' based on fragments of specific religions
- It's irrational to claim that anyone with religious beliefs is unintelligent / less rational / more gullible than those without
- It's irrational to attribute negative events in a time period to religious belief, without do the same for positive events
- It's irrational to speak as though it's possible to isolate the influence of religion without factoring in culture, politics, human nature etc. etc.
- It's irrational to learn about religious belief from sources that condemn it
- It's irrational to claim atheism and anti-theism hasn't harmed anyone by failing to acknowlege the numerous historical examples (from France to Russia to China to Mexico etc etc)
- It's irrational to complain about religious division, intolerance and aggression, by being divisive, intolerant and aggressive
- It's irrational to define modern atheism as a simple 'lack of belief' (in the way my toothbrush lacks a belief) by ignoring the increasing majority of atheists have an active belief that there is no god
- It's irrational to think of Ricky Gervais as being talented or remotely funny (!)

But seriously though. I could go on. I doubt that you personally are guilty of all the above irrational mistakes, but you're probably guilty of most of them and I've met plenty of loud and brash atheists that basically tick every box. Rational atheism indeed! Quaint.

Importantly though, I don't think there's really an issue with you or others holding irrational beliefs. It doesn't matter, so don't worry; we all do in some form or other - even if it's just our favourite band, a weird habit, or personal superstition. Some sets of beliefs are more emotional than rational... the only error is not acknowledging that and thereby thinking your particular world-view is special and right.

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WalterEgo WalterEgo (625 days ago)

Anyone who keeps on citing their credentials is suspect. Also, reading a lot is not the same as being well read.

You say religious people are confident and comfortable in their belief system that they don't feel the need to pressure others or try to proselytise. I assume you're talking about average/moderate religious people.

But that doesn't fit what we observe, at least for a very significant proportion of average/moderate religious people. I can give plenty of examples, and I'm sure you can think of even more, but I'd rather leave that to another time and respond to your long list of irrational atheist thoughts.

You keep saying you read a lot, but you also keep misrepresenting or misunderstanding me. Of course, it's probably my communication skills, but let's just look at this thread. I said: "There are no issues of rationality in atheism" and you understood that as, "there are no irrational atheists". I'm not sure if you're weaselling with words, or if it's just sloppy reading.

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Original comment

Anyone who keeps on citing their credentials is suspect. Also, reading a lot is not the same as being well read.

You say religious people are confident and comfortable in their belief system that they don't feel the need to pressure others or try to proselytise. I assume you're talking about average/moderate religious people.

But that doesn't fit what we observe, at least for a very significant proportion of average/moderate religious people. I can give plenty of examples, and I'm sure you can think of even more, but I'd rather leave that to another time and respond to your long list of irrational atheist thoughts.

You keep saying you read a lot, but you also keep misrepresenting or misunderstanding me. Of course, it's probably my communication skills, but let's just look at this thread. I said: "There are no issues of rationality in atheism" and you understood that as, "there are no irrational atheists". I'm not sure if you're weaselling with words, or if it's just sloppy reading.

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Guest: Proud Agnostic (625 days ago)

Oh dear, things fall down when you get defensive and start to cry about misrepresentation. We've been through this. I cite my actual words, your actual words, and still you think I'm being unfair. Playing the victim card. I'm disappointed (but not altogether surprised) by your response there Walt.

It's tragic that you class reading as a credential, good grief! It should be the starting point. I was merely trying to put my views into context; I haven't sat around and come up with agnosticism on my own and there are plenty of sources I can give you to investigate these ideas more thoroughly. I am happy to give you a few recommendations and happy to discuss them with you. Of course there aren't the revered canonical texts that you find within New Atheism, but they're worth a look. I suspect you're happy with your strict diet of atheism though - it must be stifling in that comfort zone of yours.

I honestly cannot think of a single time when my views were aggressively challenged or analysed or condemned by a religious person - I have spent time teaching in a Muslim country too, and never once had an issue. Yet I can give you 20 examples of atheists doing that on this site alone within the past month. Yes, in large cities I have occasionally walked past a preacher shouting impersonally at the crowd and that's about as bad as it's ever got. In London I have also walked past those bus adverts from the British Humanists. Still, I think there is a significant majority of evangelical atheists, contrasted to a distinct minority of evangelical religious followers. If you live in the UK, I'm fascinated to hear how all these 'average' religious people have been pressuring you to adopt their faith.

I'm reassured that at least you seem to acknowledge the irrationality of atheists, but no, I was talking about lack of rationality within atheism itself - I even said "Can I think of errors of rationality within atheism ?" So who's sloppy at reading? All of those irrational points are a common feature of atheism as we know it, and even atheism as you have personally described it and defended it (some are directly from you in fact, but often repeated elsewhere!) Perhaps you are disingenously committing my penultimate irrational mistake (I wish I'd numbered them) in your definition. Everyone knows there are irrational atheists... the question is, are there any rational ones that don't commit any of those mistakes?

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Original comment

Oh dear, things fall down when you get defensive and start to cry about misrepresentation. We've been through this. I cite my actual words, your actual words, and still you think I'm being unfair. Playing the victim card. I'm disappointed (but not altogether surprised) by your response there Walt.

It's tragic that you class reading as a credential, good grief! It should be the starting point. I was merely trying to put my views into context; I haven't sat around and come up with agnosticism on my own and there are plenty of sources I can give you to investigate these ideas more thoroughly. I am happy to give you a few recommendations and happy to discuss them with you. Of course there aren't the revered canonical texts that you find within New Atheism, but they're worth a look. I suspect you're happy with your strict diet of atheism though - it must be stifling in that comfort zone of yours.

I honestly cannot think of a single time when my views were aggressively challenged or analysed or condemned by a religious person - I have spent time teaching in a Muslim country too, and never once had an issue. Yet I can give you 20 examples of atheists doing that on this site alone within the past month. Yes, in large cities I have occasionally walked past a preacher shouting impersonally at the crowd and that's about as bad as it's ever got. In London I have also walked past those bus adverts from the British Humanists. Still, I think there is a significant majority of evangelical atheists, contrasted to a distinct minority of evangelical religious followers. If you live in the UK, I'm fascinated to hear how all these 'average' religious people have been pressuring you to adopt their faith.

I'm reassured that at least you seem to acknowledge the irrationality of atheists, but no, I was talking about lack of rationality within atheism itself - I even said "Can I think of errors of rationality within atheism ?" So who's sloppy at reading? All of those irrational points are a common feature of atheism as we know it, and even atheism as you have personally described it and defended it (some are directly from you in fact, but often repeated elsewhere!) Perhaps you are disingenously committing my penultimate irrational mistake (I wish I'd numbered them) in your definition. Everyone knows there are irrational atheists... the question is, are there any rational ones that don't commit any of those mistakes?

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WalterEgo WalterEgo (625 days ago)

I only mention sloppy reading because it casts doubt on how accurately you interpret the authors you read. Another example, you said: "It's tragic that you class reading as a credential" . I didn't.

And another example: "I'm reassured that at least you seem to acknowledge the irrationality of atheists" I assume you mean on this thread. So where did I acknowledge that?

"I honestly cannot think of a single time when my views were aggressively challenged or analysed or condemned by a religious person". That's because you're not challenging anything. With you, as soon as things get metaphysical, anything goes.

I'll sum up your position as this: There is no way that we can prove the existence of a supreme metaphysical being, therefore we should not discount it.

My position is that there is no way that we can prove the existence of a supreme metaphysical being, therefore we should discount it.

Your position is academic, mine is practical. I don't think you recognise that there is a difference. A video was recently posted of an exchange between Lawrence Krauss and Noam Chomsky, which I think illustrates a similar difference. LINK

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Original comment

I only mention sloppy reading because it casts doubt on how accurately you interpret the authors you read. Another example, you said: "It's tragic that you class reading as a credential" . I didn't.

And another example: "I'm reassured that at least you seem to acknowledge the irrationality of atheists" I assume you mean on this thread. So where did I acknowledge that?

"I honestly cannot think of a single time when my views were aggressively challenged or analysed or condemned by a religious person". That's because you're not challenging anything. With you, as soon as things get metaphysical, anything goes.

I'll sum up your position as this: There is no way that we can prove the existence of a supreme metaphysical being, therefore we should not discount it.

My position is that there is no way that we can prove the existence of a supreme metaphysical being, therefore we should discount it.

Your position is academic, mine is practical. I don't think you recognise that there is a difference. A video was recently posted of an exchange between Lawrence Krauss and Noam Chomsky, which I think illustrates a similar difference. LINK

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Guest: Proud Agnostic (625 days ago)

Urrrgh, here we go again. This is what it always boils down to. I logically infer something relatively straightforward from what you have said, and you throw a fit because it's not verbatim what you said. You'd rather comment about our comments rather than the subject at hand. I could well ask exactly where did I suggest you claimed "there are no irrational atheists" but that would be playing your rather distracting game. But to be brief, let me demonstrate:

"I didn't (class reading as a credential)."
"Anyone who keeps on citing their credentials is suspect. Also, reading a lot is not the same as being well read".
I have not yet mentioned my profession, my qualifications, or anything like a 'credential' on this thread. However, I did mention my relevant reading and as the second sentence of your paragraph on credentials talks about being well-read, I reasonably inferred that you were referring to this. See? If the credentials you were referring to were nothing to do with reading, I suggest you improve your use of paragraphs and specify exactly which credentials I was referring to.

As for how well I interpret what I've read, I based my much of my career on literary criticism (though admittedly reading slightly clearer and more academic works than yours), and the level of my understanding was assessed by people a lot more qualified than you, so I'm not too worried by at your personal appraisal but thanks anyway. My point was simply that it was through reading more diverse sources (along with meeting opposing view points) that led me out of my indoctrinated atheism. Funnily enough, by often providing links you seem to expect me to be interested and deferential maybe to your partisan sources and inspirations, without ever showing the slightest glimmer of concern in mine. Perhaps you identify me as being more open-minded.

So the reason I have not been pressured by religious people is that I don't challenge them? In other words, they argue back. Oh Walt. These awful religious people, somehow inflicting beliefs on others that they are too embarassed to even reveal, challenging people who challenge them. They sound insufferable.

To refocus, this particular discussion is about whether or not atheism is rational ; I gave you a list of examples to show it isn't, and sure enough, you've not managed to challenge a single one of my points. Not one. Instead, you want to divert a little, make the conversation more general, comment about comments, bring in yet another circular video that espouses your world view, or maybe one that will do your thinking for you. You say your view is pragmatic? I say it's irrational and hypocritical at bes t. The rational point would be to admit that we don't know - it's fine to admit it - and to accept that any belief of that nature (yes, including yours and theirs), is an irrational emotional response rather than a logical and reasoned one. It's OK, though. It's OK.

ReplyVote up (101)down (99)
Original comment

Urrrgh, here we go again. This is what it always boils down to. I logically infer something relatively straightforward from what you have said, and you throw a fit because it's not verbatim what you said. You'd rather comment about our comments rather than the subject at hand. I could well ask exactly where did I suggest you claimed "there are no irrational atheists" but that would be playing your rather distracting game. But to be brief, let me demonstrate:

"I didn't (class reading as a credential)."
"Anyone who keeps on citing their credentials is suspect. Also, reading a lot is not the same as being well read".
I have not yet mentioned my profession, my qualifications, or anything like a 'credential' on this thread. However, I did mention my relevant reading and as the second sentence of your paragraph on credentials talks about being well-read, I reasonably inferred that you were referring to this. See? If the credentials you were referring to were nothing to do with reading, I suggest you improve your use of paragraphs and specify exactly which credentials I was referring to.

As for how well I interpret what I've read, I based my much of my career on literary criticism (though admittedly reading slightly clearer and more academic works than yours), and the level of my understanding was assessed by people a lot more qualified than you, so I'm not too worried by at your personal appraisal but thanks anyway. My point was simply that it was through reading more diverse sources (along with meeting opposing view points) that led me out of my indoctrinated atheism. Funnily enough, by often providing links you seem to expect me to be interested and deferential maybe to your partisan sources and inspirations, without ever showing the slightest glimmer of concern in mine. Perhaps you identify me as being more open-minded.

So the reason I have not been pressured by religious people is that I don't challenge them? In other words, they argue back. Oh Walt. These awful religious people, somehow inflicting beliefs on others that they are too embarassed to even reveal, challenging people who challenge them. They sound insufferable.

To refocus, this particular discussion is about whether or not atheism is rational ; I gave you a list of examples to show it isn't, and sure enough, you've not managed to challenge a single one of my points. Not one. Instead, you want to divert a little, make the conversation more general, comment about comments, bring in yet another circular video that espouses your world view, or maybe one that will do your thinking for you. You say your view is pragmatic? I say it's irrational and hypocritical at bes t. The rational point would be to admit that we don't know - it's fine to admit it - and to accept that any belief of that nature (yes, including yours and theirs), is an irrational emotional response rather than a logical and reasoned one. It's OK, though. It's OK.

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WalterEgo WalterEgo (624 days ago)

"I logically infer something relatively straightforward from what you have said, and you throw a fit …" Maybe that's what you think you do. But I keep coming across things you say about me or about what I've said, that I don't recognise. So something's not right.

"So the reason I have not been pressured by religious people is that I don't challenge them?" Your arguments don't challenge anything. If anything goes in the metaphysical, then what are you challenging? In the real world, the suicide bomber wants to know what his chances of getting virgins in heaven are. In the real world, the answer is zero. In academia, the answer is … err, you tell me - I can't see up your arse.

In the real world, if the suicide bomber is wrong about heaven, then the chances are that the pope is also wrong about heaven. In academia, the two are not related. Or maybe they are, I don't know. It's too dark up your arse for me to tell.

To the question of whether or not atheism is rational. It is rational to observe, and then figure out what's going on. It is irrational to guess, then try and shoehorn what you observe into your guess, and when it doesn't fit, introduce the metaphysical.

Atheism is the default. It is what we observe and what we can empirically measure. Nothing we have found out so far requires a god, physical or not, to explain anything. The multiverse is a more plausible explanation of our finely tuned universe than some metaphysical being, and it is consistent with what we already know. Even religion is consistent with atheism. That is why atheism is rational, because it is the only ism that is consistent with everything we know or think we know.

I didn't challenge any of your "irrational atheist" examples because they miss the point, which I hope is now clearer.

You should watch that video because I think it illustrates the difference between you and me, although not directly. Starting at 1:05 - Lawrence Krauss asks Noam Chomsky an "academic" question and Chomsky replies with a "pragmatic" answer. Like I said, it doesn't correlate directly with what we are talking about here, but if you understand the spirit of Chomsky's answer, then you'll understand my criticism of you. Here's the link again. LINK

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Original comment

"I logically infer something relatively straightforward from what you have said, and you throw a fit …" Maybe that's what you think you do. But I keep coming across things you say about me or about what I've said, that I don't recognise. So something's not right.

"So the reason I have not been pressured by religious people is that I don't challenge them?" Your arguments don't challenge anything. If anything goes in the metaphysical, then what are you challenging? In the real world, the suicide bomber wants to know what his chances of getting virgins in heaven are. In the real world, the answer is zero. In academia, the answer is … err, you tell me - I can't see up your arse.

In the real world, if the suicide bomber is wrong about heaven, then the chances are that the pope is also wrong about heaven. In academia, the two are not related. Or maybe they are, I don't know. It's too dark up your arse for me to tell.

To the question of whether or not atheism is rational. It is rational to observe, and then figure out what's going on. It is irrational to guess, then try and shoehorn what you observe into your guess, and when it doesn't fit, introduce the metaphysical.

Atheism is the default. It is what we observe and what we can empirically measure. Nothing we have found out so far requires a god, physical or not, to explain anything. The multiverse is a more plausible explanation of our finely tuned universe than some metaphysical being, and it is consistent with what we already know. Even religion is consistent with atheism. That is why atheism is rational, because it is the only ism that is consistent with everything we know or think we know.

I didn't challenge any of your "irrational atheist" examples because they miss the point, which I hope is now clearer.

You should watch that video because I think it illustrates the difference between you and me, although not directly. Starting at 1:05 - Lawrence Krauss asks Noam Chomsky an "academic" question and Chomsky replies with a "pragmatic" answer. Like I said, it doesn't correlate directly with what we are talking about here, but if you understand the spirit of Chomsky's answer, then you'll understand my criticism of you. Here's the link again. LINK

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Guest: Proud Agnostic (624 days ago)

Yes something's not right, and my theory is that you haven't bothered to take the time to see the natural conclusions of your views. When I remind you of those ends, you have that cognitive dissonance between what you think you believe, and something absurd that is also entailed. As you're someone who likes to think your views are supremely rational and scientific (!), if someone points out clear examples of why they really aren't, your natural response is to assume that person is wrong rather than dissect your views more thoroughly.

I don't see (other than arrogance) what would lead you to think that your fragmented faith in atheism is more challenging to religious people than my agnosticism is to you. In fact, as you have 'pressured' me and used condemnatory language to describe all of us who disagree, I'd say by your reasoning you would definitely count as being challenged on this. But unlike you, I expect that - it's fine. I don't criticise people for for 'fighting back' if I challenge them, nor do I criticise them for being to embarassed to rub their opinions in my face if they don't. Another sweaty portion of cognitive dissonance.

"The chances are that the pope is also wrong about heaven". It's unbelievable. I can explain what 'chances' mean, I can guide you through a GCSE level of basic probability and how it does and does not apply to things in the real world, and yet you still come out with statements like that. That means you're ultimately ignoring things that don't suit your argument. Sound familiar? The chances are, there is an odd number of craters on the galaxy's largest moon, that there is such a thing as infinity, and that more dogs sneezed in 1972 than 1982. The likelihood is that the inside leg measurement of the world's tallest man is not exactly 113cm, and that the King of the Zulus does not have exactly 27 children.

To lack a belief in god is possibly the default human position - although according to recent studies (which you even quote when it suits you) even that is debatable. But actively believing there is no god - the actual position of most atheists... including you I'd wager - is certainly not. We can observe and empirically measure that there is no physical god right here in front of us - but who believes there is? Atheism is usually broader than that - that there is no god of any kind anywhere, and that is not what we can observe or empirically measure for skull crushingly obvious scientific reasons.

For your comfort, of course I could write a list of irrational mistakes within religion, and probably within theism too. I'm just trying to make the point that atheism is ultimately not much better in terms of rationality, and makes the added and worse mistake of assuming it is. At first I was frustrated that you couldn't address a single point I had made in direct answer to your challenge, and now it's more amusing. At least with every comment you write I can add to the list of atheist mistakes. Let's see:

- It is irrational to assume that if you personally can't see how something is necessary, therefore it doesn't exist
- It is irrational to believe that theism is inconsistent with what we already know
- It is irrational to "guess, then try and shoehorn what you observe into your guess"

I am still not interested in your video. If you think it contains information that rebukes one of my points, please take it on board and fully understand it, then spell it out in your own words here showing why it's relevant to my argument. It'll do you good. You do an increasingly poor job at explaining the views you have swallowed, and constantly deferring to a partisan 'expert' who you think shares your views is meaningless. Will you read any of the pivotal books that paved my way for agnosticism? - You could actually decide for yourself whether I have misread them, rather than just assuming that for your own comfort. Could I depend on such people to recount my world view better than me? I doubt that. Your arguments are loaded with inherited assumptions about anything from the nature of religious belief to evidence, from the difference between god and religion to the definition of atheism itself, and it's all swimming with hypocrisy. I am constantly looking for someone who has genuinely thought through their atheism and can explain it in a rational way, addressing the points against it. You would have thought that BoreMe is the place to come to find that, but perhaps it's not to be - I suppose this site's nature appeals to people who are more interested in brief soundbites than deeper understanding and reasoning. Pity.

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Original comment

Yes something's not right, and my theory is that you haven't bothered to take the time to see the natural conclusions of your views. When I remind you of those ends, you have that cognitive dissonance between what you think you believe, and something absurd that is also entailed. As you're someone who likes to think your views are supremely rational and scientific (!), if someone points out clear examples of why they really aren't, your natural response is to assume that person is wrong rather than dissect your views more thoroughly.

I don't see (other than arrogance) what would lead you to think that your fragmented faith in atheism is more challenging to religious people than my agnosticism is to you. In fact, as you have 'pressured' me and used condemnatory language to describe all of us who disagree, I'd say by your reasoning you would definitely count as being challenged on this. But unlike you, I expect that - it's fine. I don't criticise people for for 'fighting back' if I challenge them, nor do I criticise them for being to embarassed to rub their opinions in my face if they don't. Another sweaty portion of cognitive dissonance.

"The chances are that the pope is also wrong about heaven". It's unbelievable. I can explain what 'chances' mean, I can guide you through a GCSE level of basic probability and how it does and does not apply to things in the real world, and yet you still come out with statements like that. That means you're ultimately ignoring things that don't suit your argument. Sound familiar? The chances are, there is an odd number of craters on the galaxy's largest moon, that there is such a thing as infinity, and that more dogs sneezed in 1972 than 1982. The likelihood is that the inside leg measurement of the world's tallest man is not exactly 113cm, and that the King of the Zulus does not have exactly 27 children.

To lack a belief in god is possibly the default human position - although according to recent studies (which you even quote when it suits you) even that is debatable. But actively believing there is no god - the actual position of most atheists... including you I'd wager - is certainly not. We can observe and empirically measure that there is no physical god right here in front of us - but who believes there is? Atheism is usually broader than that - that there is no god of any kind anywhere, and that is not what we can observe or empirically measure for skull crushingly obvious scientific reasons.

For your comfort, of course I could write a list of irrational mistakes within religion, and probably within theism too. I'm just trying to make the point that atheism is ultimately not much better in terms of rationality, and makes the added and worse mistake of assuming it is. At first I was frustrated that you couldn't address a single point I had made in direct answer to your challenge, and now it's more amusing. At least with every comment you write I can add to the list of atheist mistakes. Let's see:

- It is irrational to assume that if you personally can't see how something is necessary, therefore it doesn't exist
- It is irrational to believe that theism is inconsistent with what we already know
- It is irrational to "guess, then try and shoehorn what you observe into your guess"

I am still not interested in your video. If you think it contains information that rebukes one of my points, please take it on board and fully understand it, then spell it out in your own words here showing why it's relevant to my argument. It'll do you good. You do an increasingly poor job at explaining the views you have swallowed, and constantly deferring to a partisan 'expert' who you think shares your views is meaningless. Will you read any of the pivotal books that paved my way for agnosticism? - You could actually decide for yourself whether I have misread them, rather than just assuming that for your own comfort. Could I depend on such people to recount my world view better than me? I doubt that. Your arguments are loaded with inherited assumptions about anything from the nature of religious belief to evidence, from the difference between god and religion to the definition of atheism itself, and it's all swimming with hypocrisy. I am constantly looking for someone who has genuinely thought through their atheism and can explain it in a rational way, addressing the points against it. You would have thought that BoreMe is the place to come to find that, but perhaps it's not to be - I suppose this site's nature appeals to people who are more interested in brief soundbites than deeper understanding and reasoning. Pity.

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WalterEgo WalterEgo (624 days ago)

Let's get this straight, I don't think you talk out of your arse, far from it, I find our exchanges very thought provoking, but I think you're up your arse. Or maybe I'm up mine. But one thing I can be sure of, is that we're not up the same arse, thank god.

If you ask a staunch atheist "does god exist?" he will say no. Therefore he's an atheist. But if you asked him "would you believe if credible evidence appeared", he would say yes. Therefore he's agnostic.

It's not that one of the descriptions is wrong, it's that they both describe different thinking in the same person - pragmatic (atheist) and academic (agnostic).

I think the default position for humans is agnostic, because we think, therefore we doubt. As we grow up, our pragmatic side takes a position because in the real world, sitting on the fence is not very useful.

However, the universe we observe looks atheist. My pragmatic hat says, if the universe looks atheist, then I should accept it, even though intellectually I know that no one can be absolutely sure of anything. I contend that most people don't have the luxury to sit around on the agnostic fence, pontificating, just like we are. They take a position, maybe the one that was drummed into them from birth, and then they get on with living.

"The chances are that the pope is also wrong about heaven" . I said it because I think it illustrates my point. Out of academic circles, people don't talk about probability and theorems. A real-world line of thinking might go like this - Virgins in heaven? Don't be ridiculous. Harps in heaven? Faceplant. Both are as unlikely as each other because they are both so stupid.

"It's irrational to assume or expect there to be evidence or proof for a metaphysical being" . Nothing is irrational. You only think it's irrational because you haven't figured out the rational. And since you can never be sure there isn't a rational, then nothing can be considered irrational. Interesting academically-correct answer that deserves another spliff, but it is ultimately meaningless. Just like all of god's mysterious ways that we may or may not be able to imagine in the metaphysical world.

I prefer to answer like this: It is not irrational to assume that if an all-loving, all-powerful metaphysical god can affect anything in the physical world, then there would be something to show for it. And if your god is not one of the popular ones, and they have no affect in the physical world, then why bother.

"It's irrational to talk about the probability of a metaphysical being" . I agree, even though I just argued that there's no such thing as irrational. Metaphysical beings remain as imagination until they are not. And that's my point. Imagination is great, but that's all it is until it is not. As far as we are aware, the only way a metaphysical being can show they are more than imagination, is to get involved with something physical. But who knows, maybe a supreme metaphysical being has something up their metaphysical sleeve, maybe metaphysical 2.0 where Bayes theorem actually works. A few more spliffs and we might figure it out, but ultimately, it's a meaningless exercise.

I summed up our positions before as - you say that since a metaphysical being is not provable, we can't discount it, whereas I say we should discount it because a metaphysical being is not provable. If you agree with my summation, which of us is right?

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Original comment

Let's get this straight, I don't think you talk out of your arse, far from it, I find our exchanges very thought provoking, but I think you're up your arse. Or maybe I'm up mine. But one thing I can be sure of, is that we're not up the same arse, thank god.

If you ask a staunch atheist "does god exist?" he will say no. Therefore he's an atheist. But if you asked him "would you believe if credible evidence appeared", he would say yes. Therefore he's agnostic.

It's not that one of the descriptions is wrong, it's that they both describe different thinking in the same person - pragmatic (atheist) and academic (agnostic).

I think the default position for humans is agnostic, because we think, therefore we doubt. As we grow up, our pragmatic side takes a position because in the real world, sitting on the fence is not very useful.

However, the universe we observe looks atheist. My pragmatic hat says, if the universe looks atheist, then I should accept it, even though intellectually I know that no one can be absolutely sure of anything. I contend that most people don't have the luxury to sit around on the agnostic fence, pontificating, just like we are. They take a position, maybe the one that was drummed into them from birth, and then they get on with living.

"The chances are that the pope is also wrong about heaven" . I said it because I think it illustrates my point. Out of academic circles, people don't talk about probability and theorems. A real-world line of thinking might go like this - Virgins in heaven? Don't be ridiculous. Harps in heaven? Faceplant. Both are as unlikely as each other because they are both so stupid.

"It's irrational to assume or expect there to be evidence or proof for a metaphysical being" . Nothing is irrational. You only think it's irrational because you haven't figured out the rational. And since you can never be sure there isn't a rational, then nothing can be considered irrational. Interesting academically-correct answer that deserves another spliff, but it is ultimately meaningless. Just like all of god's mysterious ways that we may or may not be able to imagine in the metaphysical world.

I prefer to answer like this: It is not irrational to assume that if an all-loving, all-powerful metaphysical god can affect anything in the physical world, then there would be something to show for it. And if your god is not one of the popular ones, and they have no affect in the physical world, then why bother.

"It's irrational to talk about the probability of a metaphysical being" . I agree, even though I just argued that there's no such thing as irrational. Metaphysical beings remain as imagination until they are not. And that's my point. Imagination is great, but that's all it is until it is not. As far as we are aware, the only way a metaphysical being can show they are more than imagination, is to get involved with something physical. But who knows, maybe a supreme metaphysical being has something up their metaphysical sleeve, maybe metaphysical 2.0 where Bayes theorem actually works. A few more spliffs and we might figure it out, but ultimately, it's a meaningless exercise.

I summed up our positions before as - you say that since a metaphysical being is not provable, we can't discount it, whereas I say we should discount it because a metaphysical being is not provable. If you agree with my summation, which of us is right?

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Guest: Proud Agnostic (624 days ago)

My definition of 'being up one's own arse' is someone who has spent no time analysing other people's beliefs and just assumes their own are true and more right than anyone else's. I have dedicated way too much time in investigating other people's views to impractical levels - and for what? My end conclusion is that there is reason to believe in a wide range of contradictory ideas, and that everyone is entitled to their own conception, and that no one is more right than anyone else. That's not what I'd call being up my own arse but I'm sure you can redefine it to suit your needs.

It's very tricky to avoid going over the same points, but you keep making the same assumptions. "The universe we observe looks atheist"... but you would "believe if credible evidence appeared" - we've been discussing what counts as evidence, let alone credible evidence for months. Theists (including emiment scientists) look at the same world we do, and count as evidence things that we do not. Similarly, you count as evidence things that I don't - an absence of evidence for a start. In all honesty, if Jesus himself came down from the sky and landed in front of you, and turned your clothes into margerine for your heresy, the theists would scream "I told you so", and you and all other atheists would be saying "Naa, that's not evidence. It might not have been Jesus. I might have been drugged. It's a clever special effect, etc. etc". Both theists and atheists determine what they count as evidence according to whether it suits their initial presumption.

In terms of what is genuinely pragmatic, neither atheism nor agnosticism are inherently so. In fact, there are actual distinct forms of both that are officially called 'Pragmatic'; Pragmatic atheism is curious in that it does not hold particularly that god exists or not - merely that it doesn't matter either way so they'll act as though he doesn't. That's a very particular form of atheism that I don't think describes most atheists - does it honestly describe you? Similarly, pragmatic agnosticism does not hold that the knowledge of god is knowable or unknowable, but again, that it doesn't matter either way. There is even pragmatic theism - any number of rationales, from 'Living according to god's way gives me a better more virtuous life, so I'll do it', to Pascal's famous wager. Maybe your 'real-world line of thinking' involves faceplants, but equally there would be theists world-over whose line would go 'Virgins and harps in heaven? Well I'd better behave myself then!' - pragmatic religion. Basically, describing all atheism as pragmatic, and all theism or agnosticism as non-pragmatic just doesn't wash.

I don't think the claim that "It's irrational to assume or expect there to be evidence or proof for a metaphysical being" is remotely meaningless, particularly because the lack of evidence is the most common excuse for having an atheistic world view. As I've said, if there were people claiming there is a physical, measurable god in location X, then sure - the lack of evidence is pretty revealing. But that's not the claim, so whether or not there's evidence doesn't matter. It may not be irrational to expect an omnipotent and all-loving god to have had some measurable effect on the world, but neither is it irrational to believe it wouldn't. The fact it would be able to act in obvious ways doesn't mean to say that it would do so - I can think of more reasons why a deity mighty be stealthy rather than obvious. And as for "if your god (has) no effect in the physical world, then why bother" - why bother? Why would it bother existing or why would you bother believing in it? It would bother existing because it does, and people would bother believing in it because they believe in it. There are plenty of theistic world views, including pantheism (like that of Einstein), that don't believe in an intereactive god, let alone 'all-loving'. Just because it doesn't interact doesn't mean it (or some form of it) doesn't exist. The only question about bothering, is why they would bother praying or seeking assistance from a god that doesn't interact - and I guess the answer would be that they think it does interact, just in ways we cannot pinpoint objectively.

I really don't think even you believe in your summation, and I certainly don't. We should discount anything that is currently not provable? We should discount a universe with a god, and equally a universe without - as neither is provable. We should discount the concept of infinity? We should discount mathematics, as despite its use and everyday application in cannot be proven outside of itself? We should discount the idea that genocide is genuinely wrong (rather than antisocial) because it cannot be proven? We should discount dark matter and dark energy as we cannot prove their identity. We should discount theories of the universe heading towards a 'Big Freeze', or 'Big Crunch' or any other current concept because none can be proven? There are plenty of things we cannot prove, both in the scientific and the metaphysical realm - but none need be discounted for that reason alone.

Another example - we can't prove how many stars there are in the galaxy, but there'll either be an odd number or an even number - binary. Likewise, we can't prove a god but it'll either exist or it won't (leaving aside ignostic concerns). For me and most genuine agnostics, the answer to both questions is just 'I don't know - I can't know - so I don't believe or disbelieve in either state'. However both theists and common atheists, or odd-starists and even-starists, are laying their bets on one particular outcome. With each question, one group is of course correct, but we can't know which. You may say that technically atheism is just a denial (one of those irrational mistakes I listed), saying 'I don't believe in an odd number of stars' - but in practice atheists have an active and distinct belief that there is no god which is the opposite binary value to believing there is.

As you demonstrate, atheists often seem to think that theirs is the scientific, rational, pragmatic, or sensible worldview. They have the same confidence and self-righteousness of any fundamentalist. I think there's enough information out there to show that none of these is necessarily the case, and most atheists could do with looking a little deeper into their beliefs and the consequent logical conclusions - particularly if they feel the need to go around proselytising and condemning others.

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My definition of 'being up one's own arse' is someone who has spent no time analysing other people's beliefs and just assumes their own are true and more right than anyone else's. I have dedicated way too much time in investigating other people's views to impractical levels - and for what? My end conclusion is that there is reason to believe in a wide range of contradictory ideas, and that everyone is entitled to their own conception, and that no one is more right than anyone else. That's not what I'd call being up my own arse but I'm sure you can redefine it to suit your needs.

It's very tricky to avoid going over the same points, but you keep making the same assumptions. "The universe we observe looks atheist"... but you would "believe if credible evidence appeared" - we've been discussing what counts as evidence, let alone credible evidence for months. Theists (including emiment scientists) look at the same world we do, and count as evidence things that we do not. Similarly, you count as evidence things that I don't - an absence of evidence for a start. In all honesty, if Jesus himself came down from the sky and landed in front of you, and turned your clothes into margerine for your heresy, the theists would scream "I told you so", and you and all other atheists would be saying "Naa, that's not evidence. It might not have been Jesus. I might have been drugged. It's a clever special effect, etc. etc". Both theists and atheists determine what they count as evidence according to whether it suits their initial presumption.

In terms of what is genuinely pragmatic, neither atheism nor agnosticism are inherently so. In fact, there are actual distinct forms of both that are officially called 'Pragmatic'; Pragmatic atheism is curious in that it does not hold particularly that god exists or not - merely that it doesn't matter either way so they'll act as though he doesn't. That's a very particular form of atheism that I don't think describes most atheists - does it honestly describe you? Similarly, pragmatic agnosticism does not hold that the knowledge of god is knowable or unknowable, but again, that it doesn't matter either way. There is even pragmatic theism - any number of rationales, from 'Living according to god's way gives me a better more virtuous life, so I'll do it', to Pascal's famous wager. Maybe your 'real-world line of thinking' involves faceplants, but equally there would be theists world-over whose line would go 'Virgins and harps in heaven? Well I'd better behave myself then!' - pragmatic religion. Basically, describing all atheism as pragmatic, and all theism or agnosticism as non-pragmatic just doesn't wash.

I don't think the claim that "It's irrational to assume or expect there to be evidence or proof for a metaphysical being" is remotely meaningless, particularly because the lack of evidence is the most common excuse for having an atheistic world view. As I've said, if there were people claiming there is a physical, measurable god in location X, then sure - the lack of evidence is pretty revealing. But that's not the claim, so whether or not there's evidence doesn't matter. It may not be irrational to expect an omnipotent and all-loving god to have had some measurable effect on the world, but neither is it irrational to believe it wouldn't. The fact it would be able to act in obvious ways doesn't mean to say that it would do so - I can think of more reasons why a deity mighty be stealthy rather than obvious. And as for "if your god (has) no effect in the physical world, then why bother" - why bother? Why would it bother existing or why would you bother believing in it? It would bother existing because it does, and people would bother believing in it because they believe in it. There are plenty of theistic world views, including pantheism (like that of Einstein), that don't believe in an intereactive god, let alone 'all-loving'. Just because it doesn't interact doesn't mean it (or some form of it) doesn't exist. The only question about bothering, is why they would bother praying or seeking assistance from a god that doesn't interact - and I guess the answer would be that they think it does interact, just in ways we cannot pinpoint objectively.

I really don't think even you believe in your summation, and I certainly don't. We should discount anything that is currently not provable? We should discount a universe with a god, and equally a universe without - as neither is provable. We should discount the concept of infinity? We should discount mathematics, as despite its use and everyday application in cannot be proven outside of itself? We should discount the idea that genocide is genuinely wrong (rather than antisocial) because it cannot be proven? We should discount dark matter and dark energy as we cannot prove their identity. We should discount theories of the universe heading towards a 'Big Freeze', or 'Big Crunch' or any other current concept because none can be proven? There are plenty of things we cannot prove, both in the scientific and the metaphysical realm - but none need be discounted for that reason alone.

Another example - we can't prove how many stars there are in the galaxy, but there'll either be an odd number or an even number - binary. Likewise, we can't prove a god but it'll either exist or it won't (leaving aside ignostic concerns). For me and most genuine agnostics, the answer to both questions is just 'I don't know - I can't know - so I don't believe or disbelieve in either state'. However both theists and common atheists, or odd-starists and even-starists, are laying their bets on one particular outcome. With each question, one group is of course correct, but we can't know which. You may say that technically atheism is just a denial (one of those irrational mistakes I listed), saying 'I don't believe in an odd number of stars' - but in practice atheists have an active and distinct belief that there is no god which is the opposite binary value to believing there is.

As you demonstrate, atheists often seem to think that theirs is the scientific, rational, pragmatic, or sensible worldview. They have the same confidence and self-righteousness of any fundamentalist. I think there's enough information out there to show that none of these is necessarily the case, and most atheists could do with looking a little deeper into their beliefs and the consequent logical conclusions - particularly if they feel the need to go around proselytising and condemning others.

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WalterEgo WalterEgo (623 days ago)

My definition of 'being up one's own arse' is investigating one's colon to the nth degree as if it is something meaningful to the average person. Discussing supreme metaphysical beings with infinite variables as if it's any more than an intellectual exercise, fits my definition.

"My end conclusion is that there is reason to believe in a wide range of contradictory ideas, and that everyone is entitled to their own conception, and that no one is more right than anyone else." I'm not sure what you mean by "believe in a wide range of contradictory ideas". If you mean understand contradictory ideas, then I'm with you. If you mean believe a wide range of contradictory ideas are all true at the same time, then that makes no sense to me. Of course everyone is entitled to their own conceptions, but I disagree that no one is more right than anyone else. Isn't someone who believes the Earth is round more right than some who believes the Earth is flat?

What is wrong with "The universe we observe looks atheist"? If everything can be explained without the need of god, then introducing a god is problematic because it also has to explain how come his introduction makes no difference to the universe we observe.

"… we've been discussing what counts as evidence, let alone credible evidence for months." OK, let's be pragmatic and stick to the Abrahamic religions. After all, it is these religions that are rooted in much of the problems we face today.

We have data (what we can observe and measure), and interpretation of that data, which are the theories we come up with. That's the empirical stuff. No single piece of evidence proves anything. At some point, enough evidence is gathered (some empirical, some supporting, and all consistent with each other) to be confident in a theory. The lack of evidence is supporting evidence that something does not exist. "God made man in his image" is supporting evidence that we made this shit up. The geographical locations of religions and how they have grown in history, is consistent with what we'd expect if there were multiple gods, or man-made god/gods. The fact that in religious wars every side has god on their side, often the same god, is consistent with god being a man-made construct. The universe being so big is ... I could go on forever with examples of what we observe that are inconsistent with what we'd expect if there really was one omnipotent, all-loving interventionist god.

What gives me confidence that god is man-made, is that the idea is consistent with everything we know. A metaphysical god who doesn't appear to have any effect on anything physical, is not consistent with everything we know, because in pragmatic philosophy, the argument "god's mysterious ways", or anything to that effect, disqualifies you from the conversation.

"Basically, describing all atheism as pragmatic, and all theism or agnosticism as non-pragmatic just doesn't wash." I didn't. I said there are two ways of thinking which are both valid. The pragmatic approach is: Virgins and harps in heaven? End of conversation until something more sensible is proposed. The theoretical/academic approach (I'm not sure what word to use) is to delve into the infinite possibilities of the metaphysical knowing that there is no possible conclusion.

"We should discount anything that is currently not provable?" That's sloppy reading. I specifically said metaphysical beings, because that's what we've been talking about all along.

In pragmatic philosophy, it makes sense to discount unprovable metaphysical beings. You wouldn't want policy based on unprovable metaphysical beings would you? In academia, sure, roll another and let your imagination fly.

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Original comment

My definition of 'being up one's own arse' is investigating one's colon to the nth degree as if it is something meaningful to the average person. Discussing supreme metaphysical beings with infinite variables as if it's any more than an intellectual exercise, fits my definition.

"My end conclusion is that there is reason to believe in a wide range of contradictory ideas, and that everyone is entitled to their own conception, and that no one is more right than anyone else." I'm not sure what you mean by "believe in a wide range of contradictory ideas". If you mean understand contradictory ideas, then I'm with you. If you mean believe a wide range of contradictory ideas are all true at the same time, then that makes no sense to me. Of course everyone is entitled to their own conceptions, but I disagree that no one is more right than anyone else. Isn't someone who believes the Earth is round more right than some who believes the Earth is flat?

What is wrong with "The universe we observe looks atheist"? If everything can be explained without the need of god, then introducing a god is problematic because it also has to explain how come his introduction makes no difference to the universe we observe.

"… we've been discussing what counts as evidence, let alone credible evidence for months." OK, let's be pragmatic and stick to the Abrahamic religions. After all, it is these religions that are rooted in much of the problems we face today.

We have data (what we can observe and measure), and interpretation of that data, which are the theories we come up with. That's the empirical stuff. No single piece of evidence proves anything. At some point, enough evidence is gathered (some empirical, some supporting, and all consistent with each other) to be confident in a theory. The lack of evidence is supporting evidence that something does not exist. "God made man in his image" is supporting evidence that we made this shit up. The geographical locations of religions and how they have grown in history, is consistent with what we'd expect if there were multiple gods, or man-made god/gods. The fact that in religious wars every side has god on their side, often the same god, is consistent with god being a man-made construct. The universe being so big is ... I could go on forever with examples of what we observe that are inconsistent with what we'd expect if there really was one omnipotent, all-loving interventionist god.

What gives me confidence that god is man-made, is that the idea is consistent with everything we know. A metaphysical god who doesn't appear to have any effect on anything physical, is not consistent with everything we know, because in pragmatic philosophy, the argument "god's mysterious ways", or anything to that effect, disqualifies you from the conversation.

"Basically, describing all atheism as pragmatic, and all theism or agnosticism as non-pragmatic just doesn't wash." I didn't. I said there are two ways of thinking which are both valid. The pragmatic approach is: Virgins and harps in heaven? End of conversation until something more sensible is proposed. The theoretical/academic approach (I'm not sure what word to use) is to delve into the infinite possibilities of the metaphysical knowing that there is no possible conclusion.

"We should discount anything that is currently not provable?" That's sloppy reading. I specifically said metaphysical beings, because that's what we've been talking about all along.

In pragmatic philosophy, it makes sense to discount unprovable metaphysical beings. You wouldn't want policy based on unprovable metaphysical beings would you? In academia, sure, roll another and let your imagination fly.

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Guest: Proud Agnostic (622 days ago)

Personally, imagine the "up their arse" description applies to anyone who cannot see their opinions are just opinions, who don't investigate their own views to the logical conclusion, and who hold absurdly contradictory beliefs. Not mentioning any names. Whether or not it matters to the 'average person' is a moot point, and here we are discussing it.

When I say no one is more right than anyone else, I am talking about belief, and religious or quasi-religious belief (including atheism). It's all speculation, the existence or lack of existence, or the nature of a deity. I don't think people should hold beliefs that contradict any of their other beliefs (again, not mentioning any names) but if my beliefs contradict yours, and they are both untestable speculation based on personal preference, then that's fine and neither of us is more right. I know that pains you, because you'd ideally like to think that you're more reasonable, more rational, more scientific than everyone else... but you need to deal with it.

You continually repeat the same assumptions without ever addressing my points, so apologies if you get a little deja vu. Sure, everything can be explained without the need of god, until you reach things which can't be explained yet or at all. Whys rather than whats - non-overlapping magisteria and all that. However, everything can also be explained with a god, bar none - and don't pull out Occam's razor; quite often the most simple explanation is not the most accurate. People that believe in god do not think his existence changes nothing, and the very existence of such a being gives reasons and explanations where science can't or wouldn't be interested. You know that.

OK - I'm going to ignore the fact that once again, you're irrationally conflating religion with theism - seriously, can't you see the difference? Anyway, evidence for Abrahamic religions, as that seems to be the only type of theism you feel confident arguing against - let's run with it:

As someone without an active belief in any particular god, I can honestly say that I can see nothing whatsoever that is inconsistent with there being an Abrahamic style deity. I see plenty of evidence that religion itself is manmade - few would dispute that. God didn't come down, write the sacred texts with a ballpoint and magic up some churches. The question is, is there evidence that we might reasonably expect to show that the supreme being that religions attempt to describe does or does not exist outside of those religions? Forgetting the metaphysical, are there any pivotal Abrahamic claims about the physical world that can be disproven?

Even naively pretending that you all agree on what is evidence, seriously, lack of supporting evidence is not evidence of absence! Good grief! Irrational, illogical! This is such a basic point; in certain cases, where specified empirical outcomes would be expected in specified measurable locations, then possibly. But which unequivocally literal parts of Abrahamic religion would you expect to have supporting evidence of any kind? CCTV from Mohammed's mountain? Scorch marks around a burning bush from 2000 years ago? Objective historical records about a rebel called Jesus of Nazareth? Oh.

The geographical locations and sheer diversity of religions equally suggest that people interpret the supreme being in a way that reflects their culture, and it evolves accordingly. No surprises there. The fact that in "religious wars" (whatever they may be), people claim to have god on their side, is consistent with people interpreting or exploiting sacred texts in a variety of ways to suit their politics, culture, ambition etc. Again, no surprises - mankind is fallible in every enterprise, from religion to science and all in between. The vastness of the universe suggests... what? That if a god created it then that would be a pretty impressive god? The fact that there's evil in the world suggests that... god might think free will is pretty important, or we are being tested in some way? All consistent with the world as we see it, all consistent with theism, all consistent with Abrahamic religion even.

Oh my sloppy reading again! Your sloppy reasoning, more like: "We should discount it because a metaphysical being is not provable." So your reason for discounting a metaphysical being is that it's not provable, right? Logically, (to be rational and consistent) you then have to extend that reasoning and apply it to your other beliefs... this is what I mean about investigating your beliefs to their logical conclusion. If you don't like chocolate because it's too sweet, you can't then say you don't mind the sweetness of jelly babies. If you hate Sudan because it's too hot, you can't not mind the heat in Saudia Arabia. Irrational, illogical. If you don't like unprovable metaphysical things, but you don't mind unprovable physical things, you have to give another reason why there's a difference as it's clearly not the 'unprovability' that's the issue for you.

"(I didn't) describe all atheism as pragmatic, and all theism or agnosticism as non-pragmatic..." ..."Different thinking in the same person - pragmatic (atheist) and academic (agnostic)." Enough said.

(In) "pragmatic philosophy, the argument "god's mysterious ways"... disqualifies you from the conversation."
Despite you seeming to object to academic thought, you drop in academic terms as if you're making them up on the spot; pragmatic philosophy, ie. pragmatism? That's broad, as I've already tried to explain. And actually, pragmatic theistic philosophy would contend that "We can act as if god works in mysterious ways, and we end up leading the kind of life we want to, so let's keep it up" - very pragmatic. No one is disqualified from any conversation. Atheism is as pragmatic as theism.

I'm amazed that you still cannot see that your way of interpreting the world and so-called evidence is as biased as theirs. Don't you see that what you find sensible is based on your history, your culture, etc. and is simply a statement of preference rather than some objective truth that applies to us all? The way you try to hijack terms like 'pragmatic' or 'rational' or 'scientific' to apply narrowly to whatever you believe in is ludicrous, and doesn't stand up to any honest impartial analysis, let alone the real-world we see. Seriously, you never get this kind of infallible confidence anywhere else but fundamentalist atheism and conversative religion. You confirm everything about atheism that made me question it in the first place.

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Original comment

Personally, imagine the "up their arse" description applies to anyone who cannot see their opinions are just opinions, who don't investigate their own views to the logical conclusion, and who hold absurdly contradictory beliefs. Not mentioning any names. Whether or not it matters to the 'average person' is a moot point, and here we are discussing it.

When I say no one is more right than anyone else, I am talking about belief, and religious or quasi-religious belief (including atheism). It's all speculation, the existence or lack of existence, or the nature of a deity. I don't think people should hold beliefs that contradict any of their other beliefs (again, not mentioning any names) but if my beliefs contradict yours, and they are both untestable speculation based on personal preference, then that's fine and neither of us is more right. I know that pains you, because you'd ideally like to think that you're more reasonable, more rational, more scientific than everyone else... but you need to deal with it.

You continually repeat the same assumptions without ever addressing my points, so apologies if you get a little deja vu. Sure, everything can be explained without the need of god, until you reach things which can't be explained yet or at all. Whys rather than whats - non-overlapping magisteria and all that. However, everything can also be explained with a god, bar none - and don't pull out Occam's razor; quite often the most simple explanation is not the most accurate. People that believe in god do not think his existence changes nothing, and the very existence of such a being gives reasons and explanations where science can't or wouldn't be interested. You know that.

OK - I'm going to ignore the fact that once again, you're irrationally conflating religion with theism - seriously, can't you see the difference? Anyway, evidence for Abrahamic religions, as that seems to be the only type of theism you feel confident arguing against - let's run with it:

As someone without an active belief in any particular god, I can honestly say that I can see nothing whatsoever that is inconsistent with there being an Abrahamic style deity. I see plenty of evidence that religion itself is manmade - few would dispute that. God didn't come down, write the sacred texts with a ballpoint and magic up some churches. The question is, is there evidence that we might reasonably expect to show that the supreme being that religions attempt to describe does or does not exist outside of those religions? Forgetting the metaphysical, are there any pivotal Abrahamic claims about the physical world that can be disproven?

Even naively pretending that you all agree on what is evidence, seriously, lack of supporting evidence is not evidence of absence! Good grief! Irrational, illogical! This is such a basic point; in certain cases, where specified empirical outcomes would be expected in specified measurable locations, then possibly. But which unequivocally literal parts of Abrahamic religion would you expect to have supporting evidence of any kind? CCTV from Mohammed's mountain? Scorch marks around a burning bush from 2000 years ago? Objective historical records about a rebel called Jesus of Nazareth? Oh.

The geographical locations and sheer diversity of religions equally suggest that people interpret the supreme being in a way that reflects their culture, and it evolves accordingly. No surprises there. The fact that in "religious wars" (whatever they may be), people claim to have god on their side, is consistent with people interpreting or exploiting sacred texts in a variety of ways to suit their politics, culture, ambition etc. Again, no surprises - mankind is fallible in every enterprise, from religion to science and all in between. The vastness of the universe suggests... what? That if a god created it then that would be a pretty impressive god? The fact that there's evil in the world suggests that... god might think free will is pretty important, or we are being tested in some way? All consistent with the world as we see it, all consistent with theism, all consistent with Abrahamic religion even.

Oh my sloppy reading again! Your sloppy reasoning, more like: "We should discount it because a metaphysical being is not provable." So your reason for discounting a metaphysical being is that it's not provable, right? Logically, (to be rational and consistent) you then have to extend that reasoning and apply it to your other beliefs... this is what I mean about investigating your beliefs to their logical conclusion. If you don't like chocolate because it's too sweet, you can't then say you don't mind the sweetness of jelly babies. If you hate Sudan because it's too hot, you can't not mind the heat in Saudia Arabia. Irrational, illogical. If you don't like unprovable metaphysical things, but you don't mind unprovable physical things, you have to give another reason why there's a difference as it's clearly not the 'unprovability' that's the issue for you.

"(I didn't) describe all atheism as pragmatic, and all theism or agnosticism as non-pragmatic..." ..."Different thinking in the same person - pragmatic (atheist) and academic (agnostic)." Enough said.

(In) "pragmatic philosophy, the argument "god's mysterious ways"... disqualifies you from the conversation."
Despite you seeming to object to academic thought, you drop in academic terms as if you're making them up on the spot; pragmatic philosophy, ie. pragmatism? That's broad, as I've already tried to explain. And actually, pragmatic theistic philosophy would contend that "We can act as if god works in mysterious ways, and we end up leading the kind of life we want to, so let's keep it up" - very pragmatic. No one is disqualified from any conversation. Atheism is as pragmatic as theism.

I'm amazed that you still cannot see that your way of interpreting the world and so-called evidence is as biased as theirs. Don't you see that what you find sensible is based on your history, your culture, etc. and is simply a statement of preference rather than some objective truth that applies to us all? The way you try to hijack terms like 'pragmatic' or 'rational' or 'scientific' to apply narrowly to whatever you believe in is ludicrous, and doesn't stand up to any honest impartial analysis, let alone the real-world we see. Seriously, you never get this kind of infallible confidence anywhere else but fundamentalist atheism and conversative religion. You confirm everything about atheism that made me question it in the first place.

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WalterEgo WalterEgo (622 days ago)

Considering your credentials, sloppy reading shouldn't be a strength. You excelled in your reply. I'll point out those moments as we go along.

I think that one belief can be more right than another. I would say Buddhism is more right than Christianity because there are striking similarities in Buddhism to quantum theory. For example, Buddhism says everything arises from emptiness. Lawrence Krauss is working on that very idea right now. There are many other interesting similarities which are discussed in this video: LINK It's OK if you don't want to watch it, you'll just have to take my word for it.

Now contrast with Christianity which is based on heaven, hell and eternity. I can't think of anything remotely similar to heaven or hell, and we know that eternity is impossible because the universe will eventually fizzle out.

Since Buddhism is similar to quantum theory that is well tried and tested, and Christianity is similar to nothing that is tried and tested, then I think I'm justified in claiming Buddhism is more right than Christianity.

Also, isn't the shape of the Earth also a belief. After all, it is not intuitive that the Earth is round.

This is why I talk about pragmatic philosophy, and yes, I did make it up. You can philosophise that all beliefs are as right as each other, but then what do you say to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of ISIS? That his version of Wahhabism is as right as atheism? Is my belief that god is the real Donald Duck hiding on the dark side of a Martian moon, as right as your version of agnosticism?

"Sure, everything can be explained without the need of god, until you reach things which can't be explained yet or at all." We are nearing some limits in science where some things become impossible to test. We can't see right back to the Big Bang because the universe was opaque for the first 350,000 years. We can test a lot of Big Bang physics in the lab, but it's hard to imagine how we test ideas about what came before the universe that we inhabit even existed. In quantum theory, we have the standard model which as far as I'm aware, is robust and covers everything we can detect in this universe, and we're coming along with explanations for dark matter and dark energy. The point is, we can already explain much of the explainable universe to the minutest detail - and the things we can't explain yet, like the theory of everything - it's hard to imagine what would make scientists throw in the towel and invoke god.

Also, ideas we will never be able to test, like multiverse theory, are not random ideas based on nothing - they are ideas that are consistent with the current physics ideas.

"People that believe in god do not think his existence changes nothing …" True, but when we look at "changes" that are a result of a belief in god, like the existence of holy books, churches, personal experiences, etc. none ever involve god in a direct way. God never joins in in a war. It's just humans who do the fighting. God never talks to humans when there are witnesses around. He prefers to choose a cave and send an angel. Utterly consistent with an atheist universe, but only dubiously consistent with a universe created by a mysterious god.

"evidence for Abrahamic religions, as that seems to be the only type of theism you feel confident arguing against" I know more about the Abrahamic religions than I do others, and they are the most problematic religions today. So it's a rational choice.

"Forgetting the metaphysical, are there any pivotal Abrahamic claims about the physical world that can be disproven?" When is something pivotal? Is the 6 day creation pivotal? Or is that a throwaway metaphor for 13 billion years of Big Bang followed by evolution. That is some stretch of the imagination. How about virgin births and ressurections?

Sloppy reading alert: "seriously, lack of supporting evidence is not evidence of absence! Good grief!" I said: "The lack of evidence is supporting evidence that something does not exist." If something does not exist, you would expect a lack of evidence. So a lack of evidence supports the claim that something does not exist.

"But which unequivocally literal parts of Abrahamic religion would you expect to have supporting evidence of any kind?" The Great Flood, not just supporting evidence, but indisputable empirical evidence as well. If the mountains of the world were really covered with water for a year 4000 years ago, we would see evidence of that in the fossil record. No doubt about it.

"The geographical locations and sheer diversity of religions equally suggest that people interpret the supreme being in a way that reflects their culture, and it evolves accordingly." That's interesting. I haven't come across that point before. But I don't buy it. If that was the case, we would expect to see something in the cultures to suggest why Hindus went from 1 god to 330 million. Or why Buddhists removed god altogether. It's much more plausible that cultures made up there own gods.

"The vastness of the universe suggests... what?" That the Abrahamic religions are made up. If we are god's pet creation, why would he make a tiny pale blue dot the only hospitable place within millions of light years? I know, because he is mysterious. Give me a break.

Sloppy reading alert: "So your reason for discounting a metaphysical being is that it's not provable, right?" I said: "In pragmatic philosophy, it makes sense to discount unprovable metaphysical beings. You wouldn't want policy based on unprovable metaphysical beings would you?"

Sloppy reading alert: "(I didn't) describe all atheism as pragmatic, and all theism or agnosticism as non-pragmatic..." ..."Different thinking in the same person - pragmatic (atheist) and academic (agnostic)." Enough said." Possibly my fault because I used a paragraph break where I shouldn't have. Sorry, it might have confused you. The "same person" refers to the staunch atheist I mentioned in the paragraph before. So you might get a devout Christian who publically says he has no doubts about the existence of god (theist), yet he has doubts privately when he really thinks about it (agnostic).

"God's mysterious ways" should disqualify you from the conversation. If you can resort to a wild card anytime a difficult question is posed, it makes a mockery of the concept of debate. It makes your position unfalsifiable, so it should be disqualified.

ReplyVote up (133)down (150)
Original comment

Considering your credentials, sloppy reading shouldn't be a strength. You excelled in your reply. I'll point out those moments as we go along.

I think that one belief can be more right than another. I would say Buddhism is more right than Christianity because there are striking similarities in Buddhism to quantum theory. For example, Buddhism says everything arises from emptiness. Lawrence Krauss is working on that very idea right now. There are many other interesting similarities which are discussed in this video: LINK It's OK if you don't want to watch it, you'll just have to take my word for it.

Now contrast with Christianity which is based on heaven, hell and eternity. I can't think of anything remotely similar to heaven or hell, and we know that eternity is impossible because the universe will eventually fizzle out.

Since Buddhism is similar to quantum theory that is well tried and tested, and Christianity is similar to nothing that is tried and tested, then I think I'm justified in claiming Buddhism is more right than Christianity.

Also, isn't the shape of the Earth also a belief. After all, it is not intuitive that the Earth is round.

This is why I talk about pragmatic philosophy, and yes, I did make it up. You can philosophise that all beliefs are as right as each other, but then what do you say to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of ISIS? That his version of Wahhabism is as right as atheism? Is my belief that god is the real Donald Duck hiding on the dark side of a Martian moon, as right as your version of agnosticism?

"Sure, everything can be explained without the need of god, until you reach things which can't be explained yet or at all." We are nearing some limits in science where some things become impossible to test. We can't see right back to the Big Bang because the universe was opaque for the first 350,000 years. We can test a lot of Big Bang physics in the lab, but it's hard to imagine how we test ideas about what came before the universe that we inhabit even existed. In quantum theory, we have the standard model which as far as I'm aware, is robust and covers everything we can detect in this universe, and we're coming along with explanations for dark matter and dark energy. The point is, we can already explain much of the explainable universe to the minutest detail - and the things we can't explain yet, like the theory of everything - it's hard to imagine what would make scientists throw in the towel and invoke god.

Also, ideas we will never be able to test, like multiverse theory, are not random ideas based on nothing - they are ideas that are consistent with the current physics ideas.

"People that believe in god do not think his existence changes nothing …" True, but when we look at "changes" that are a result of a belief in god, like the existence of holy books, churches, personal experiences, etc. none ever involve god in a direct way. God never joins in in a war. It's just humans who do the fighting. God never talks to humans when there are witnesses around. He prefers to choose a cave and send an angel. Utterly consistent with an atheist universe, but only dubiously consistent with a universe created by a mysterious god.

"evidence for Abrahamic religions, as that seems to be the only type of theism you feel confident arguing against" I know more about the Abrahamic religions than I do others, and they are the most problematic religions today. So it's a rational choice.

"Forgetting the metaphysical, are there any pivotal Abrahamic claims about the physical world that can be disproven?" When is something pivotal? Is the 6 day creation pivotal? Or is that a throwaway metaphor for 13 billion years of Big Bang followed by evolution. That is some stretch of the imagination. How about virgin births and ressurections?

Sloppy reading alert: "seriously, lack of supporting evidence is not evidence of absence! Good grief!" I said: "The lack of evidence is supporting evidence that something does not exist." If something does not exist, you would expect a lack of evidence. So a lack of evidence supports the claim that something does not exist.

"But which unequivocally literal parts of Abrahamic religion would you expect to have supporting evidence of any kind?" The Great Flood, not just supporting evidence, but indisputable empirical evidence as well. If the mountains of the world were really covered with water for a year 4000 years ago, we would see evidence of that in the fossil record. No doubt about it.

"The geographical locations and sheer diversity of religions equally suggest that people interpret the supreme being in a way that reflects their culture, and it evolves accordingly." That's interesting. I haven't come across that point before. But I don't buy it. If that was the case, we would expect to see something in the cultures to suggest why Hindus went from 1 god to 330 million. Or why Buddhists removed god altogether. It's much more plausible that cultures made up there own gods.

"The vastness of the universe suggests... what?" That the Abrahamic religions are made up. If we are god's pet creation, why would he make a tiny pale blue dot the only hospitable place within millions of light years? I know, because he is mysterious. Give me a break.

Sloppy reading alert: "So your reason for discounting a metaphysical being is that it's not provable, right?" I said: "In pragmatic philosophy, it makes sense to discount unprovable metaphysical beings. You wouldn't want policy based on unprovable metaphysical beings would you?"

Sloppy reading alert: "(I didn't) describe all atheism as pragmatic, and all theism or agnosticism as non-pragmatic..." ..."Different thinking in the same person - pragmatic (atheist) and academic (agnostic)." Enough said." Possibly my fault because I used a paragraph break where I shouldn't have. Sorry, it might have confused you. The "same person" refers to the staunch atheist I mentioned in the paragraph before. So you might get a devout Christian who publically says he has no doubts about the existence of god (theist), yet he has doubts privately when he really thinks about it (agnostic).

"God's mysterious ways" should disqualify you from the conversation. If you can resort to a wild card anytime a difficult question is posed, it makes a mockery of the concept of debate. It makes your position unfalsifiable, so it should be disqualified.

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Guest: Proud Agnostic (622 days ago)

I ask again - what credentials?

"(Is) Wahhabism is as right as atheism?" If you mean right as in correct, rather than right as in benevolent or good, then in a nut-shell, yes. Wahhabism involves the belief that god wants strict enforcement of conservative Islam. Is that correct or true? I don't know and neither do you. I think it's immoral to kill innocent people according to your beliefs, but whether that belief is true or not is clearly not determinable.

"Is my belief that god is the real Donald Duck hiding on the dark side of a Martian moon, as right as your version of agnosticism?" Well your belief about Donald Duck on a Martian moon involves predetermined concepts such as Donald Duck, which have with them inherent constraints and prior probabilities - whereas actual religious belief (and my agnosticism) don't. Faulty analogy.

"It's hard to imagine what would make scientists throw in the towel and invoke god." Another atheistic turn of phrase. Do you think the religious scientists think it's 'throwing in the towel'? It's just a different thing. Without any doubt whatsoever, there will always be things that science cannot prove - even as simple as the Heisenberg principle, but more broadly (as I've repeated ad nauseum) the whys rather than the whats. In fact, as Heisenberg himself is rumoured to have said "When I meet God, I am going to ask him two questions -Why relativity? And why turbulence? I really believe he will have an answer for the first."

"(The) ideas we will never be able to test... are not random ideas based on nothing - they are... consistent with the current physics ideas." Just the same with religious ideas then. There is no religious belief that god always causes seas to accumulate at the poles, or that gravity never works when it's snowing - that would be random. Religious belief looks at the real world and interprets it in a certain way - it runs alongside physics, and attempts to explain why some physical laws exist rather than what they actually are.

"(No changes) ever involve god in a direct way... God never joins in in a war.... Only dubiously consistent with a universe created by a mysterious god" . That's only 'dubiously inconsistent' with a god who you would expect to act in direct ways. Do you know of any religious people who think god personally fights the wars on his own behalf? - that he personally builds churches? - that he is expected to speak to assembled crowds? The idea of a god that decides to prove himself is just not the type of theism that exists in most religions. And 6 day creation? Seriously, that chestnut again? How many Christians have you actually met that think the world was created in 6 days? As I asked for "pivotal Abrahamic claims about the physical world that can be disproven" , I'm fascinated to see how you can disprove virgin births or resurrection. And I asked for unequivocally literal beliefs - do you really think all / most Christians or Jews think the biblical flood literally covered the entire world? Come on Walter, leave the straw men behind.

"Why would (god) make a tiny pale blue dot the only hospitable place within millions of light years?" I would have thought that's equal evidence in his favour. Out of the vast and intrinsically hostile environment of outer space, and the infinite variations of conditions, he has ensured that one spot is absolutely perfect for human life to the nearest few degrees of temperature etc.

"Sloppy reading" again. Come on. "If something does not exist, you would expect a lack of evidence. So a lack of evidence supports the claim that something does not exist." Read it - this is the same claim as my rephrased version: "Lack of supporting evidence... ("the lack of evidence") is not evidence of absence ("evidence that something does not exist"). I was just literally just rewording your comment. I worry about your reasoning. No, a lack of evidence does not support the claim that something does not exist, depending entirely on what that something is and what type of evidence you are looking for.

You said: "It makes sense to discount unprovable metaphysical beings." I said "So your reason for discounting a metaphysical being is that it's not provable?" You don't see that one follows from the other? If it makes sense to discount things (any things) because they are unprovable, then your reason is their unprovability. If you had said 'It makes sense to discount unprovable metaphysical beings if they are yellow', then you've added a new condition - but according to your sentence, your reason is unprovability. If unprovability is a problem, you have a lot of problems. If it's not a problem, then what is it about unprovable metaphysical things that makes them discountable instead of unprovable physical things?

"It makes your position unfalsifiable, so it should be disqualified." Urgghhhh! Here we go again. You will tell me that you didn't mean this, but this is another extension of the above. If the fact that your position becomes unfalsifiable means you should be disqualified, then you logically extend that and maintain that any position which is unfalsifiable should be disqualified. And there are a hell of a lot of unfalsifiable and unprovable claims out there, in the physical and metaphysical world.

"You wouldn't want policy based on unprovable metaphysical beings would you?" That very much depends. I would definitely want our existing policies that depend on the metaphysical concept of Free Will actually existing, yes. But in general, I would not want any policies that depend upon a metaphysical being definitely not existing, or definitely existing.

"We would expect to see something in the cultures to suggest why Hindus went from 1 god to 330 million." Simple lack of knowledge. Hinduism is quite unique in that it has no fixed starting point and has assimilated different cultures and traditions for over 4000 years. The one thing all Hindu denominations have in common is that they worship a single supreme god. Most groups worship other lesser deities which function in the same way as Christian saints and archangels - holy and divine but not supreme. The development of Hinduism is very much dependent on the cultures and manmade traditions of the area.

"Why Buddhists removed god altogether" - within Buddhism, there have always been higher supernatural beings - brahman and devas. Buddhist teachings claim that none are worthy of worship, and none are supreme or omnipotent or even immortal - but they all inhabit a celestial realm. If you could be bothered to do some research, you would find why this interpretation of the world is in-keeping with the traditions and cultures of that time as well. Yes, parts of Buddhism can be aligned with quantum theory, as can parts of Abrahamic religion. There's a lot of material out there about the similarities within quantum theory and Christianity - the lack of determinism and free will, the diversion from simplified physics, the quantum vacuum state, etc etc. Check out the writings of Cambridge theoretical physicist John Polkinghorne who explained it all at length.

"Christianity ... is based on heaven, hell and eternity." Sigh. I wish atheists would spend just a little time trying to really understand religion without just redefining it to suit their needs. How often does the Christ character speak of hell and eternity? And how often does he speak of love? How often are such words found in The Bible? (Frequencies can be found online if you want).

As an atheist, you should be able to argue confidently and rationally (insofar as it's possible) against the belief in any deity. That really has nothing to do with religion, although if you argue well enough then the religions will also be refuted along the way. You can't refute select parts of certain religions and hope that that's good enough to refute theism. Personally, I think the term science is as often used as a wildcard as faith is. Why doesn't god exist? Because science, that's why. I haven't looked into it, I haven't done any research, I haven't investigated the logic behind my belief set, and heck I'm no scientist. But science. Science . So I win.

ReplyVote up (209)down (68)
Original comment

I ask again - what credentials?

"(Is) Wahhabism is as right as atheism?" If you mean right as in correct, rather than right as in benevolent or good, then in a nut-shell, yes. Wahhabism involves the belief that god wants strict enforcement of conservative Islam. Is that correct or true? I don't know and neither do you. I think it's immoral to kill innocent people according to your beliefs, but whether that belief is true or not is clearly not determinable.

"Is my belief that god is the real Donald Duck hiding on the dark side of a Martian moon, as right as your version of agnosticism?" Well your belief about Donald Duck on a Martian moon involves predetermined concepts such as Donald Duck, which have with them inherent constraints and prior probabilities - whereas actual religious belief (and my agnosticism) don't. Faulty analogy.

"It's hard to imagine what would make scientists throw in the towel and invoke god." Another atheistic turn of phrase. Do you think the religious scientists think it's 'throwing in the towel'? It's just a different thing. Without any doubt whatsoever, there will always be things that science cannot prove - even as simple as the Heisenberg principle, but more broadly (as I've repeated ad nauseum) the whys rather than the whats. In fact, as Heisenberg himself is rumoured to have said "When I meet God, I am going to ask him two questions -Why relativity? And why turbulence? I really believe he will have an answer for the first."

"(The) ideas we will never be able to test... are not random ideas based on nothing - they are... consistent with the current physics ideas." Just the same with religious ideas then. There is no religious belief that god always causes seas to accumulate at the poles, or that gravity never works when it's snowing - that would be random. Religious belief looks at the real world and interprets it in a certain way - it runs alongside physics, and attempts to explain why some physical laws exist rather than what they actually are.

"(No changes) ever involve god in a direct way... God never joins in in a war.... Only dubiously consistent with a universe created by a mysterious god" . That's only 'dubiously inconsistent' with a god who you would expect to act in direct ways. Do you know of any religious people who think god personally fights the wars on his own behalf? - that he personally builds churches? - that he is expected to speak to assembled crowds? The idea of a god that decides to prove himself is just not the type of theism that exists in most religions. And 6 day creation? Seriously, that chestnut again? How many Christians have you actually met that think the world was created in 6 days? As I asked for "pivotal Abrahamic claims about the physical world that can be disproven" , I'm fascinated to see how you can disprove virgin births or resurrection. And I asked for unequivocally literal beliefs - do you really think all / most Christians or Jews think the biblical flood literally covered the entire world? Come on Walter, leave the straw men behind.

"Why would (god) make a tiny pale blue dot the only hospitable place within millions of light years?" I would have thought that's equal evidence in his favour. Out of the vast and intrinsically hostile environment of outer space, and the infinite variations of conditions, he has ensured that one spot is absolutely perfect for human life to the nearest few degrees of temperature etc.

"Sloppy reading" again. Come on. "If something does not exist, you would expect a lack of evidence. So a lack of evidence supports the claim that something does not exist." Read it - this is the same claim as my rephrased version: "Lack of supporting evidence... ("the lack of evidence") is not evidence of absence ("evidence that something does not exist"). I was just literally just rewording your comment. I worry about your reasoning. No, a lack of evidence does not support the claim that something does not exist, depending entirely on what that something is and what type of evidence you are looking for.

You said: "It makes sense to discount unprovable metaphysical beings." I said "So your reason for discounting a metaphysical being is that it's not provable?" You don't see that one follows from the other? If it makes sense to discount things (any things) because they are unprovable, then your reason is their unprovability. If you had said 'It makes sense to discount unprovable metaphysical beings if they are yellow', then you've added a new condition - but according to your sentence, your reason is unprovability. If unprovability is a problem, you have a lot of problems. If it's not a problem, then what is it about unprovable metaphysical things that makes them discountable instead of unprovable physical things?

"It makes your position unfalsifiable, so it should be disqualified." Urgghhhh! Here we go again. You will tell me that you didn't mean this, but this is another extension of the above. If the fact that your position becomes unfalsifiable means you should be disqualified, then you logically extend that and maintain that any position which is unfalsifiable should be disqualified. And there are a hell of a lot of unfalsifiable and unprovable claims out there, in the physical and metaphysical world.

"You wouldn't want policy based on unprovable metaphysical beings would you?" That very much depends. I would definitely want our existing policies that depend on the metaphysical concept of Free Will actually existing, yes. But in general, I would not want any policies that depend upon a metaphysical being definitely not existing, or definitely existing.

"We would expect to see something in the cultures to suggest why Hindus went from 1 god to 330 million." Simple lack of knowledge. Hinduism is quite unique in that it has no fixed starting point and has assimilated different cultures and traditions for over 4000 years. The one thing all Hindu denominations have in common is that they worship a single supreme god. Most groups worship other lesser deities which function in the same way as Christian saints and archangels - holy and divine but not supreme. The development of Hinduism is very much dependent on the cultures and manmade traditions of the area.

"Why Buddhists removed god altogether" - within Buddhism, there have always been higher supernatural beings - brahman and devas. Buddhist teachings claim that none are worthy of worship, and none are supreme or omnipotent or even immortal - but they all inhabit a celestial realm. If you could be bothered to do some research, you would find why this interpretation of the world is in-keeping with the traditions and cultures of that time as well. Yes, parts of Buddhism can be aligned with quantum theory, as can parts of Abrahamic religion. There's a lot of material out there about the similarities within quantum theory and Christianity - the lack of determinism and free will, the diversion from simplified physics, the quantum vacuum state, etc etc. Check out the writings of Cambridge theoretical physicist John Polkinghorne who explained it all at length.

"Christianity ... is based on heaven, hell and eternity." Sigh. I wish atheists would spend just a little time trying to really understand religion without just redefining it to suit their needs. How often does the Christ character speak of hell and eternity? And how often does he speak of love? How often are such words found in The Bible? (Frequencies can be found online if you want).

As an atheist, you should be able to argue confidently and rationally (insofar as it's possible) against the belief in any deity. That really has nothing to do with religion, although if you argue well enough then the religions will also be refuted along the way. You can't refute select parts of certain religions and hope that that's good enough to refute theism. Personally, I think the term science is as often used as a wildcard as faith is. Why doesn't god exist? Because science, that's why. I haven't looked into it, I haven't done any research, I haven't investigated the logic behind my belief set, and heck I'm no scientist. But science. Science . So I win.

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WalterEgo WalterEgo (621 days ago)

"What credentials?" A few years of philosophy class.

"(Is) Wahhabism is as right as atheism?" Yes, I did mean right as in correct. When it comes to unknowns, is there a difference between the plausible and the ridiculous? Atheism is plausible, virgins in heaven is ridiculous.

Ultimately, no one can be absolutely sure of anything. Maybe the Big Bang never happened and god created us 10 seconds ago with all our memory. So according to your philosophy, everything is equally correct because nothing is absolutely knowable. So 1+1=2 is as correct as 1+1=3. Please don't go into aero-engineering, I like flying.

If I pick up an unknown virus, I visit a doctor. He says he's not sure what it is but he believes it's related to X and therefore I should take medicine Y. My plumber mate down the pub is also not sure but he believes it is just stress and I should go to bed. If they are as correct as each other, how do I choose which advice to follow?

"your belief about Donald Duck on a Martian moon involves predetermined concepts such as Donald Duck" Every belief involves predetermined concepts. You were born with no beliefs or concepts. Every belief you have was predetermined by a combination of your experiences, your environment, what you read, what your mother said, etc. If you have a eureka moment, it may feel like it came out of thin air, but it was influenced by events before.

"Do you think the religious scientists think it's 'throwing in the towel'? It's just a different thing." It's certainly different. Religious scientists are oxymoronic. But I guess you mean scientists who are religious. I don't trust them. If you can interpret 6 days as 13 billion years, then there's enough leeway to make whatever belief you want fit whatever observation you want. The Big Bang made it into the Qu'ran FFS!

"the whys rather than the whats" The why is cause and effect - what happens because the laws of physics are as they are. Why are the laws of physics they way they are? Best guess, multiverse theory. Worse guess, god.

"Religious belief looks at the real world and interprets it in a certain way - it runs alongside physics, and attempts to explain why some physical laws exist rather than what they actually are." That's rubbish. Religious beliefs start from assuming their holy book is correct, and if it doesn't make sense, don't question, just have faith. If nothing is challenged, then the religion doesn't change. There is no need to figure anything out because the answer is already known. If Lemaitre didn't propose the Big Bang, it would not be in the Qu'ran.

Let's look at one of the verses in the Qu'ran that is supposed to describe the Big Bang - Quran 51.47 And the heaven, We built it with craftsmanship and We are still expanding . It sounds to me the verse is saying We (Allah? Why We? I thought there was only 1 god) had not finished building heaven yet (maybe there was a shortage of bricks) but don't worry, We are still working on it with attention to detail at the forefront of our minds. Or maybe something got lost in translation.

I don't see the point of a holy book that you can interpret. Granted, interpretation at some level is always needed - words are not an exact communication - but the allowable poetic licence is beyond ridiculous.

Religion is about no change. Everything is already figured out. Reinterpreting a holy book is a forced action, because the mismatch between what is written and what is known is just too great to be credible. And as we learn more about the universe, the greater interpretation is needed.

I just had an epiphany. If the Big Bang is in the Qu'ran, then maybe String Theory is also there. Have you got Michio Kaku's phone number? I could save him a lot of work.

"Do you know of any religious people who think god personally fights the wars on his own behalf? - that he personally builds churches? - that he is expected to speak to assembled crowds?" Of course not, because they've never seen it happen. How could god fight a war if he is in your imagination?

"I'm fascinated to see how you can disprove virgin births or resurrection." What is the biological process for a virgin birth, or bringing a dead person back to life? Oh sorry, I forgot. Jesus was not animal, vegetable or mineral so biological processes don't apply.

"If something does not exist, you would expect a lack of evidence. So a lack of evidence supports the claim that something does not exist." Thanks for rephrasing, but the meaning changed. You could rephrase it like this: Lack of evidence supports the claim of absence.

If god really does not exist, there MUST be a lack of evidence. If god really does exist, there MIGHT be a lack of evidence.

"You said: "It makes sense to discount unprovable metaphysical beings." I said "So your reason for discounting a metaphysical being is that it's not provable?" You don't see that one follows from the other?" You took my quote out of context. I said: "IN PRAGMATIC PHILOSOPHY, it makes sense to discount unprovable metaphysical beings." And then I reiterated it with "You wouldn't want policy based on unprovable metaphysical beings would you?"

"We would expect to see something in the cultures to suggest why Hindus went from 1 god to 330 million." Simple lack of knowledge." Fair enough.

"Christianity ... is based on heaven, hell and eternity." Sigh." Hell, heaven and eternity are not core to Christianity? I'm too tired to bother arguing this one.

"As an atheist, you should be able to argue confidently and rationally (insofar as it's possible) against the belief in any deity. That really has nothing to do with religion …" Isn't theism religion without the organised bit. Instead of following someone else's made up god, you make up your own.

My brain is fried. I'm not going to continue on this thread. Do have the last word, I'm sure we'll lock horns again on a future post.

ReplyVote up (200)down (76)
Original comment

"What credentials?" A few years of philosophy class.

"(Is) Wahhabism is as right as atheism?" Yes, I did mean right as in correct. When it comes to unknowns, is there a difference between the plausible and the ridiculous? Atheism is plausible, virgins in heaven is ridiculous.

Ultimately, no one can be absolutely sure of anything. Maybe the Big Bang never happened and god created us 10 seconds ago with all our memory. So according to your philosophy, everything is equally correct because nothing is absolutely knowable. So 1+1=2 is as correct as 1+1=3. Please don't go into aero-engineering, I like flying.

If I pick up an unknown virus, I visit a doctor. He says he's not sure what it is but he believes it's related to X and therefore I should take medicine Y. My plumber mate down the pub is also not sure but he believes it is just stress and I should go to bed. If they are as correct as each other, how do I choose which advice to follow?

"your belief about Donald Duck on a Martian moon involves predetermined concepts such as Donald Duck" Every belief involves predetermined concepts. You were born with no beliefs or concepts. Every belief you have was predetermined by a combination of your experiences, your environment, what you read, what your mother said, etc. If you have a eureka moment, it may feel like it came out of thin air, but it was influenced by events before.

"Do you think the religious scientists think it's 'throwing in the towel'? It's just a different thing." It's certainly different. Religious scientists are oxymoronic. But I guess you mean scientists who are religious. I don't trust them. If you can interpret 6 days as 13 billion years, then there's enough leeway to make whatever belief you want fit whatever observation you want. The Big Bang made it into the Qu'ran FFS!

"the whys rather than the whats" The why is cause and effect - what happens because the laws of physics are as they are. Why are the laws of physics they way they are? Best guess, multiverse theory. Worse guess, god.

"Religious belief looks at the real world and interprets it in a certain way - it runs alongside physics, and attempts to explain why some physical laws exist rather than what they actually are." That's rubbish. Religious beliefs start from assuming their holy book is correct, and if it doesn't make sense, don't question, just have faith. If nothing is challenged, then the religion doesn't change. There is no need to figure anything out because the answer is already known. If Lemaitre didn't propose the Big Bang, it would not be in the Qu'ran.

Let's look at one of the verses in the Qu'ran that is supposed to describe the Big Bang - Quran 51.47 And the heaven, We built it with craftsmanship and We are still expanding . It sounds to me the verse is saying We (Allah? Why We? I thought there was only 1 god) had not finished building heaven yet (maybe there was a shortage of bricks) but don't worry, We are still working on it with attention to detail at the forefront of our minds. Or maybe something got lost in translation.

I don't see the point of a holy book that you can interpret. Granted, interpretation at some level is always needed - words are not an exact communication - but the allowable poetic licence is beyond ridiculous.

Religion is about no change. Everything is already figured out. Reinterpreting a holy book is a forced action, because the mismatch between what is written and what is known is just too great to be credible. And as we learn more about the universe, the greater interpretation is needed.

I just had an epiphany. If the Big Bang is in the Qu'ran, then maybe String Theory is also there. Have you got Michio Kaku's phone number? I could save him a lot of work.

"Do you know of any religious people who think god personally fights the wars on his own behalf? - that he personally builds churches? - that he is expected to speak to assembled crowds?" Of course not, because they've never seen it happen. How could god fight a war if he is in your imagination?

"I'm fascinated to see how you can disprove virgin births or resurrection." What is the biological process for a virgin birth, or bringing a dead person back to life? Oh sorry, I forgot. Jesus was not animal, vegetable or mineral so biological processes don't apply.

"If something does not exist, you would expect a lack of evidence. So a lack of evidence supports the claim that something does not exist." Thanks for rephrasing, but the meaning changed. You could rephrase it like this: Lack of evidence supports the claim of absence.

If god really does not exist, there MUST be a lack of evidence. If god really does exist, there MIGHT be a lack of evidence.

"You said: "It makes sense to discount unprovable metaphysical beings." I said "So your reason for discounting a metaphysical being is that it's not provable?" You don't see that one follows from the other?" You took my quote out of context. I said: "IN PRAGMATIC PHILOSOPHY, it makes sense to discount unprovable metaphysical beings." And then I reiterated it with "You wouldn't want policy based on unprovable metaphysical beings would you?"

"We would expect to see something in the cultures to suggest why Hindus went from 1 god to 330 million." Simple lack of knowledge." Fair enough.

"Christianity ... is based on heaven, hell and eternity." Sigh." Hell, heaven and eternity are not core to Christianity? I'm too tired to bother arguing this one.

"As an atheist, you should be able to argue confidently and rationally (insofar as it's possible) against the belief in any deity. That really has nothing to do with religion …" Isn't theism religion without the organised bit. Instead of following someone else's made up god, you make up your own.

My brain is fried. I'm not going to continue on this thread. Do have the last word, I'm sure we'll lock horns again on a future post.

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Guest: Proud Agnostic (620 days ago)

"Is there a difference between the plausible and the ridiculous? Atheism is plausible, virgins in heaven is ridiculous." Yes there's a difference, and it's cultural and personal. The fact that you can't understand that what you assume is plausible or ridiculous is a contentious statement of personal belief is amazing! Bearing in mind that I consider atheism to be basically irrational and unscientific, I find it implausible along with the majority of the world's population.

"So according to your philosophy, everything is equally correct because nothing is absolutely knowable. So 1+1=2 is as correct as 1+1=3 ." Straw man time. And you say I mispresent you ? No, not everything is equally correct and many things are knowable - I have never said either of those. I'm not interested in the fact that technically, we can never be certain of anything - I'm not the archetypal cynic or some Berkelian idealist. Mathematical equations are tautologous and self-referential, so can't be incorrect - it's more a language. For most of the world, we can figure out relevant probabilities from the relevant directly applicable information. We can gather direct evidence, and we all agree on what that evidence would look like. That includes how a virus is treated. Those probabilities can be so high that ultimately, we can assume we know those things to be true. My point is that not everything is like that, not that nothing is like that.

"Every belief involves predetermined concepts. " What is the predetermined concept of a god? I'm pretty sure it varies widely from religion to religion, culture to culture.

"Religious scientists are oxymoronic.... I don't trust them." That's very sad and rather silly. That attitude discounts some of the most eminent scientists that have ever lived, some of whom have come up with the very ideas you have so much faith in. Thank goodness some people are not so narrow-minded, or LeMaitre's BBT would never have got off the ground, General Relativity would have been relegated as another barmy idea from an untrustworthy Pantheist, and Newton and his crazy ideas of gravity and motion would have been told to stay in church. And your beliefs are scientific, right?

"Religious beliefs start from assuming their holy book is correct... There is no need to figure anything out because the answer is already known." Tosh. Religious scientists have been responsible for pushing forward the frontiers of human knowledge for thousands of years. They believe that the more they find out about the world, the more beautiful they find god's creation. It's a uniquely atheistic irrationality to assume that science and religion don't fit together.

"Quran 51.47 'And the heaven, We built it with craftsmanship and We are still expanding' . It sounds to me the verse is saying We (Allah? Why We? I thought there was only 1 god) had not finished building heaven yet". Again, simple ignorance on two points. In many languages like Arabic, Hebrew and yes English, the pronoun 'we' can be used to denote superiority - the 'royal we' as the Brits call it. Basic stuff. Secondly, that specific verse is often debated because the original Arabic word 'lamusi‘un' is most often interpreted along the lines of setting up a vastness or extending it rather than continually expanding. It's actually quite hard to find a traditional quran that talks about continual expansion, so I can only assume you took that quote from an atheist site or a site specifically trying to analyse claims about the BBT. Frankly, the fact that it describes an allegory of creation loose enough to include many scientific theories shouldn't be surprising and doesn't mean that it is wrong, nor does it mean it was written specifically with those theories in mind. Looking for science in books on morality is the pastime of an idiot.

"I don't see the point of a holy book that you can interpret." There is no written word that cannot be interpreted in different ways. That should be stupidly obvious. But the problem is exacerbated when we're talking about an archaic language and translating it into English, as above. This isn't a point on religion; this is about language and historicity.

"Religion is about no change. Everything is already figured out. Reinterpreting a holy book is a forced action." An awkward contradiction. Religion doesn't change as everything is figured out, oh apart from the fact that people apparently are reinterpreting and therefore changing their religion. Which is it? Most of the time no reinterpretation is necessary because nothing is contradicted. If the very basis of a religion was 'God shows his power by ensuring the world stays perfectly flat for all time', yes, they would have problems. There are no such claims. You can plunder the Old Testament and cherry-pick the funny bits if you want, but the New Testament teachings and the religion that most followers adhere to simply isn't that whacky, and does not attempt to explain the physical world. When did Mohammed explain the water cycle inaccurately? When did Jesus detail nuclear fission?

"What is the biological process for a virgin birth, or bringing a dead person back to life? Oh sorry, I forgot. Jesus was not animal, vegetable or mineral so biological processes don't apply."
You cited that an example of a religious concept that can be disproven, not me.

"If god really does not exist, there MUST be a lack of evidence. If god really does exist, there MIGHT be a lack of evidence."
So therefore it's also true to say 'if god exists there COULD be a lack of evidence, if god does not exist there COULD be a lack of evidence' - therefore the lack of evidence alone is not enough to support either side. Get it? If I claim there is not a real living elephant in my garage, then a lack of evidence in my garage would affect its probability. If I claim that there is not an odd number of craters on the galaxy's largest moon, then a lack of evidence does not affect its probability.

So according to you, only in pragmatic philosophy (wherever that is) does it make sense to discount unprovable metaphysical beings. Why only in pragmatic philosophy? Does that include day-to-day life? I'm sorely glad our policies and laws assume the metaphysical concept of free will exists, that's for sure.

I see most of your views as being based on a basic lack of knowledge about the things you're criticising (particularly when you claim it's the Abrahamic religions you know most about), and a rather blinkered approach to assessing rationality. There's almost a charming childish naivity and self-righteousness to things like 'Well I think that's ridiculous so... it's ridiculous, right?' If you can refuse to trust people like Einstein, Higgs, and LeMaitre because of their personal views, and yet still see yourself as scientific and rational, you should assume there's an error somewhere.

I'm no huge follower of philosophy, but in your case I whole heartedly recommend it. Not only would you get to investigate ideas a little more thoroughly, but it allows you to see logic and reasoning in a near mathematical way. Something you would benefit from. It doesn't much matter what you choose to believe - I suspect like most people a unconscious factor is your community and social circle - but I would ask you to look into your beliefs, and openly look into those of others, and honestly hold yourself to the same standards.

ReplyVote up (202)down (64)
Original comment

"Is there a difference between the plausible and the ridiculous? Atheism is plausible, virgins in heaven is ridiculous." Yes there's a difference, and it's cultural and personal. The fact that you can't understand that what you assume is plausible or ridiculous is a contentious statement of personal belief is amazing! Bearing in mind that I consider atheism to be basically irrational and unscientific, I find it implausible along with the majority of the world's population.

"So according to your philosophy, everything is equally correct because nothing is absolutely knowable. So 1+1=2 is as correct as 1+1=3 ." Straw man time. And you say I mispresent you ? No, not everything is equally correct and many things are knowable - I have never said either of those. I'm not interested in the fact that technically, we can never be certain of anything - I'm not the archetypal cynic or some Berkelian idealist. Mathematical equations are tautologous and self-referential, so can't be incorrect - it's more a language. For most of the world, we can figure out relevant probabilities from the relevant directly applicable information. We can gather direct evidence, and we all agree on what that evidence would look like. That includes how a virus is treated. Those probabilities can be so high that ultimately, we can assume we know those things to be true. My point is that not everything is like that, not that nothing is like that.

"Every belief involves predetermined concepts. " What is the predetermined concept of a god? I'm pretty sure it varies widely from religion to religion, culture to culture.

"Religious scientists are oxymoronic.... I don't trust them." That's very sad and rather silly. That attitude discounts some of the most eminent scientists that have ever lived, some of whom have come up with the very ideas you have so much faith in. Thank goodness some people are not so narrow-minded, or LeMaitre's BBT would never have got off the ground, General Relativity would have been relegated as another barmy idea from an untrustworthy Pantheist, and Newton and his crazy ideas of gravity and motion would have been told to stay in church. And your beliefs are scientific, right?

"Religious beliefs start from assuming their holy book is correct... There is no need to figure anything out because the answer is already known." Tosh. Religious scientists have been responsible for pushing forward the frontiers of human knowledge for thousands of years. They believe that the more they find out about the world, the more beautiful they find god's creation. It's a uniquely atheistic irrationality to assume that science and religion don't fit together.

"Quran 51.47 'And the heaven, We built it with craftsmanship and We are still expanding' . It sounds to me the verse is saying We (Allah? Why We? I thought there was only 1 god) had not finished building heaven yet". Again, simple ignorance on two points. In many languages like Arabic, Hebrew and yes English, the pronoun 'we' can be used to denote superiority - the 'royal we' as the Brits call it. Basic stuff. Secondly, that specific verse is often debated because the original Arabic word 'lamusi‘un' is most often interpreted along the lines of setting up a vastness or extending it rather than continually expanding. It's actually quite hard to find a traditional quran that talks about continual expansion, so I can only assume you took that quote from an atheist site or a site specifically trying to analyse claims about the BBT. Frankly, the fact that it describes an allegory of creation loose enough to include many scientific theories shouldn't be surprising and doesn't mean that it is wrong, nor does it mean it was written specifically with those theories in mind. Looking for science in books on morality is the pastime of an idiot.

"I don't see the point of a holy book that you can interpret." There is no written word that cannot be interpreted in different ways. That should be stupidly obvious. But the problem is exacerbated when we're talking about an archaic language and translating it into English, as above. This isn't a point on religion; this is about language and historicity.

"Religion is about no change. Everything is already figured out. Reinterpreting a holy book is a forced action." An awkward contradiction. Religion doesn't change as everything is figured out, oh apart from the fact that people apparently are reinterpreting and therefore changing their religion. Which is it? Most of the time no reinterpretation is necessary because nothing is contradicted. If the very basis of a religion was 'God shows his power by ensuring the world stays perfectly flat for all time', yes, they would have problems. There are no such claims. You can plunder the Old Testament and cherry-pick the funny bits if you want, but the New Testament teachings and the religion that most followers adhere to simply isn't that whacky, and does not attempt to explain the physical world. When did Mohammed explain the water cycle inaccurately? When did Jesus detail nuclear fission?

"What is the biological process for a virgin birth, or bringing a dead person back to life? Oh sorry, I forgot. Jesus was not animal, vegetable or mineral so biological processes don't apply."
You cited that an example of a religious concept that can be disproven, not me.

"If god really does not exist, there MUST be a lack of evidence. If god really does exist, there MIGHT be a lack of evidence."
So therefore it's also true to say 'if god exists there COULD be a lack of evidence, if god does not exist there COULD be a lack of evidence' - therefore the lack of evidence alone is not enough to support either side. Get it? If I claim there is not a real living elephant in my garage, then a lack of evidence in my garage would affect its probability. If I claim that there is not an odd number of craters on the galaxy's largest moon, then a lack of evidence does not affect its probability.

So according to you, only in pragmatic philosophy (wherever that is) does it make sense to discount unprovable metaphysical beings. Why only in pragmatic philosophy? Does that include day-to-day life? I'm sorely glad our policies and laws assume the metaphysical concept of free will exists, that's for sure.

I see most of your views as being based on a basic lack of knowledge about the things you're criticising (particularly when you claim it's the Abrahamic religions you know most about), and a rather blinkered approach to assessing rationality. There's almost a charming childish naivity and self-righteousness to things like 'Well I think that's ridiculous so... it's ridiculous, right?' If you can refuse to trust people like Einstein, Higgs, and LeMaitre because of their personal views, and yet still see yourself as scientific and rational, you should assume there's an error somewhere.

I'm no huge follower of philosophy, but in your case I whole heartedly recommend it. Not only would you get to investigate ideas a little more thoroughly, but it allows you to see logic and reasoning in a near mathematical way. Something you would benefit from. It doesn't much matter what you choose to believe - I suspect like most people a unconscious factor is your community and social circle - but I would ask you to look into your beliefs, and openly look into those of others, and honestly hold yourself to the same standards.

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WalterEgo WalterEgo (619 days ago)

I'm sorry, I couldn't resist replying.

"Is there a difference between the plausible and the ridiculous? Atheism is plausible, virgins in heaven is ridiculous." Yes there's a difference, and it's cultural and personal." Really? OK, let me rephrase, is atheism more plausible than virgins in heaven, or are they equally plausible/implausible?

"What is the predetermined concept of a god?" Your predetermined concept of god is whatever you got it from. You certainly weren't born with it. A lot of it probably came from philosophy class.

"It's a uniquely atheistic irrationality to assume that science and religion don't fit together." Religion is a subset of science. Science is about figuring out everything, including religion. So far, it looks like religion has evolved by natural selection.

"Quran 51.47 'And the heaven, We built it with craftsmanship and We are still expanding' … Again, simple ignorance on two points." You missed (or chose to ignore) my point, which was - once the Big Bang became scientific fact, religious scholars (another oxymoron) look for verses that, with some stretch of the imagination, fit. Otherwise, they sound ridiculous and it makes recruiting new believers that much more difficult.

"An awkward contradiction. Religion doesn't change as everything is figured out, oh apart from the fact that people apparently are reinterpreting and therefore changing their religion. Which is it?" I said: "Religion is ABOUT no change. Everything is already figured out. Reinterpreting a holy book is a FORCED action, BECAUSE THE MISMATCH BETWEEN WHAT IS WRITTEN AND WHAT IS KNOWN IS TOO GREAT TO BE CREDIBLE." Well done, you managed to combine sloppy reading with taking quotes out of context. I bet your philosophy class grades were low.

"If the very basis of a religion was 'God shows his power by ensuring the world stays perfectly flat for all time' …" I agree. But the basis of the Abrahamic religions is that god knows it all, and if it sounds like BS, just have faith it isn't.

"You can plunder the Old Testament and cherry-pick the funny bits if you want, but the New Testament teachings and the religion that most followers adhere to simply isn't that whacky." Do we need to define whacky? Virgin births, resurrections, water into wine, walking on water - are they whacky? All holy books are whacky, some are just wackier than others.

"So according to you, only in pragmatic philosophy (wherever that is) does it make sense to discount unprovable metaphysical beings. Why only in pragmatic philosophy? Does that include day-to-day life?" Absolutely it does. Pragmatic philosophy is the application of academic philosophy in day-to-day life. Without pragmatic philosophy, it is easy to fall into over-zealous political correctness, and that leads to the popularity of people like Donald Trump.

ReplyVote up (210)down (70)
Original comment

I'm sorry, I couldn't resist replying.

"Is there a difference between the plausible and the ridiculous? Atheism is plausible, virgins in heaven is ridiculous." Yes there's a difference, and it's cultural and personal." Really? OK, let me rephrase, is atheism more plausible than virgins in heaven, or are they equally plausible/implausible?

"What is the predetermined concept of a god?" Your predetermined concept of god is whatever you got it from. You certainly weren't born with it. A lot of it probably came from philosophy class.

"It's a uniquely atheistic irrationality to assume that science and religion don't fit together." Religion is a subset of science. Science is about figuring out everything, including religion. So far, it looks like religion has evolved by natural selection.

"Quran 51.47 'And the heaven, We built it with craftsmanship and We are still expanding' … Again, simple ignorance on two points." You missed (or chose to ignore) my point, which was - once the Big Bang became scientific fact, religious scholars (another oxymoron) look for verses that, with some stretch of the imagination, fit. Otherwise, they sound ridiculous and it makes recruiting new believers that much more difficult.

"An awkward contradiction. Religion doesn't change as everything is figured out, oh apart from the fact that people apparently are reinterpreting and therefore changing their religion. Which is it?" I said: "Religion is ABOUT no change. Everything is already figured out. Reinterpreting a holy book is a FORCED action, BECAUSE THE MISMATCH BETWEEN WHAT IS WRITTEN AND WHAT IS KNOWN IS TOO GREAT TO BE CREDIBLE." Well done, you managed to combine sloppy reading with taking quotes out of context. I bet your philosophy class grades were low.

"If the very basis of a religion was 'God shows his power by ensuring the world stays perfectly flat for all time' …" I agree. But the basis of the Abrahamic religions is that god knows it all, and if it sounds like BS, just have faith it isn't.

"You can plunder the Old Testament and cherry-pick the funny bits if you want, but the New Testament teachings and the religion that most followers adhere to simply isn't that whacky." Do we need to define whacky? Virgin births, resurrections, water into wine, walking on water - are they whacky? All holy books are whacky, some are just wackier than others.

"So according to you, only in pragmatic philosophy (wherever that is) does it make sense to discount unprovable metaphysical beings. Why only in pragmatic philosophy? Does that include day-to-day life?" Absolutely it does. Pragmatic philosophy is the application of academic philosophy in day-to-day life. Without pragmatic philosophy, it is easy to fall into over-zealous political correctness, and that leads to the popularity of people like Donald Trump.

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Guest: Proud Agnostic (619 days ago)

"Is atheism more plausible than virgins in heaven, or are they equally plausible/implausible?&qu ot; As I said, that obviously depends who you ask. Besides, you're comparing a fragment of one specific religion to an entire belief set - is that rational or reasonable? Well if cherry-picking is allowed, I’ll have a go: Which is more plausible, the occasional belief in Islam that there are virgin houri in heaven, or the occasional belief in atheism that it's physically impossible for any god to exist? Which is more plausible, that there is a god that wants humans to love each other, or that religion has only ever harmed humanity? Which is more reasonable, using a tiny minority of religious believers to characterise all theism, or giving of charity through Zakat?

"Your predetermined concept of god is whatever you got it from. You certainly weren't born with it." You’re really not getting this. I was talking about predetermined concepts because that affects the prior possibility of something. For something to be described as Donald Duck, it would have to fit our fairly universal predetermined idea of what Donald Duck is to some degree, which therefore affects its probability. If something to be described as a god, there is any number of conceptions of what that means.

"Religion is a subset of science. Science is about figuring out everything, including religion.” No, science does not include figuring out religion. Seriously, who even believes that? It has nothing to do with it - a subset of science? Good grief. Read some Stephen Gould (don't worry, not a theist) who gives such a basic description of the two separate realms that even you could get your head around it. Yes, keep repeating the same irrational assumption as if maybe that'll wash. Does the caps thing work? Let's see: RELIGION and GOD are TWO SEPARATE THINGS. All your views superficially seem to paint you as an anti-religionist, and you don’t come close to sturdy atheism.

"You missed (or chose to ignore) my point, which was - once the Big Bang became scientific fact, religious scholars look for verses that fit. Otherwise… it makes recruiting new believers that much more difficult." You mean I picked you up on the two premises of your point; two further demonstrations that you don't know what on earth you're talking about when it comes to Islam. I apologise. Your actual point is even more daft: Do you really think people are 'recruited' into Islam based on the scientific accuracy of the Quran? Wow. So maybe someone who was considering converting might look for an explanation of the water cycle, or cellular osmosis, or the big bang, and if they weren't satisfied or couldn’t find verses that ‘fit’ then they wouldn't convert? You seem to have literally no idea how religion, belief, or sacred texts function. Expecting to fit modern scientific fact into ancient holy texts is an occasional feature of ultra-progressives and fundamental atheists only. Ultimately, there are enough devout religious people who agree completely with science, and eminent scientists who agree completely with religion to make your point wholly ridiculous.

"I said: "Religion is ABOUT no change. Everything is already figured out. Reinterpreting a holy book is a FORCED action, BECAUSE THE MISMATCH BETWEEN WHAT IS WRITTEN AND WHAT IS KNOWN IS TOO GREAT TO BE CREDIBLE." "Religion is about no change"? Do you even understand what you're trying to say here? There is no change in religion? Religion describes things that didn’t change or don’t change? Religion is about not changing? Sometimes the more you right, the more confused you sound. Everything is figured out in religion? - because all holy books detail all scientific processes in an infallible and permanent way maybe?; because all holy books give comprehensive descriptions of how every natural process works? Come on - there is no mismatch between what is written and what is known - they describe different things. If 'everything is figured out' then the wealth of scientific discoveries made by devout religious people would never have happened. The Islamic Golden Age of scientific discovery would have been impossible. LeMaitre wouldn't have figured out the BBT. It's a really silly and ill-informed claim, even by your standards.

"Why only in pragmatic philosophy? Does that include day-to-day life?" Absolutely it does. Pragmatic philosophy is the application of academic philosophy in day-to-day life." So well done, you've still avoided the question and come up with another Walter-definition of ‘pragmatic philosophy’. Why does it make sense to discount metaphysical beings in everyday life if they're unprovable, but not discount physical entities for the same reason? I'm not going to bite on the ridiculous 'political correctness' comment, as you're just revealing a whole new realm of ignorance and second-hand rhetoric you’ve swallowed, and you seem to have managed to criticise and agree with Trump in the same sentence.

Walt, I'm afraid you wouldn't know the difference between sloppy reading and sloppy writing if it was carefully explained to you by Dawkins himself in a fun animated YouTube video. I think had you studied anything at a post-graduate level, you would have come to be more careful and clear in what you write, more logical and reasoned in your analysis of your own belief systems, and you’d make sure to only speak out on things you really understand. I'll do you a deal, I won't (and don’t) speak out on threads here on which I don't have a reasonably sound understanding - that's most of them. Unlike you, I'm not a regular here or self-proclaimed expert on all matters from American politics to the Quran, from physics to climate change. I have however investigated, studied, and in certain cases lectured on some of the views you're supporting and denouncing – from theology to mathematical probability, history of religion to human geography – most of which have been largely redundant in day to day life and are in no way worth bragging about, but they do happen to give me a pretty good grounding in discussions like this. Heck, I have even spent time believing similar things to you. Again, all I would ask is that you spend a bit more time reading a more diverse range of source material. Judgmental, intolerant, irrational and self-righteous – if you’re really so anti-religion, it’d make sense to avoid these sorts of characteristics.

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"Is atheism more plausible than virgins in heaven, or are they equally plausible/implausible?&qu ot; As I said, that obviously depends who you ask. Besides, you're comparing a fragment of one specific religion to an entire belief set - is that rational or reasonable? Well if cherry-picking is allowed, I’ll have a go: Which is more plausible, the occasional belief in Islam that there are virgin houri in heaven, or the occasional belief in atheism that it's physically impossible for any god to exist? Which is more plausible, that there is a god that wants humans to love each other, or that religion has only ever harmed humanity? Which is more reasonable, using a tiny minority of religious believers to characterise all theism, or giving of charity through Zakat?

"Your predetermined concept of god is whatever you got it from. You certainly weren't born with it." You’re really not getting this. I was talking about predetermined concepts because that affects the prior possibility of something. For something to be described as Donald Duck, it would have to fit our fairly universal predetermined idea of what Donald Duck is to some degree, which therefore affects its probability. If something to be described as a god, there is any number of conceptions of what that means.

"Religion is a subset of science. Science is about figuring out everything, including religion.” No, science does not include figuring out religion. Seriously, who even believes that? It has nothing to do with it - a subset of science? Good grief. Read some Stephen Gould (don't worry, not a theist) who gives such a basic description of the two separate realms that even you could get your head around it. Yes, keep repeating the same irrational assumption as if maybe that'll wash. Does the caps thing work? Let's see: RELIGION and GOD are TWO SEPARATE THINGS. All your views superficially seem to paint you as an anti-religionist, and you don’t come close to sturdy atheism.

"You missed (or chose to ignore) my point, which was - once the Big Bang became scientific fact, religious scholars look for verses that fit. Otherwise… it makes recruiting new believers that much more difficult." You mean I picked you up on the two premises of your point; two further demonstrations that you don't know what on earth you're talking about when it comes to Islam. I apologise. Your actual point is even more daft: Do you really think people are 'recruited' into Islam based on the scientific accuracy of the Quran? Wow. So maybe someone who was considering converting might look for an explanation of the water cycle, or cellular osmosis, or the big bang, and if they weren't satisfied or couldn’t find verses that ‘fit’ then they wouldn't convert? You seem to have literally no idea how religion, belief, or sacred texts function. Expecting to fit modern scientific fact into ancient holy texts is an occasional feature of ultra-progressives and fundamental atheists only. Ultimately, there are enough devout religious people who agree completely with science, and eminent scientists who agree completely with religion to make your point wholly ridiculous.

"I said: "Religion is ABOUT no change. Everything is already figured out. Reinterpreting a holy book is a FORCED action, BECAUSE THE MISMATCH BETWEEN WHAT IS WRITTEN AND WHAT IS KNOWN IS TOO GREAT TO BE CREDIBLE." "Religion is about no change"? Do you even understand what you're trying to say here? There is no change in religion? Religion describes things that didn’t change or don’t change? Religion is about not changing? Sometimes the more you right, the more confused you sound. Everything is figured out in religion? - because all holy books detail all scientific processes in an infallible and permanent way maybe?; because all holy books give comprehensive descriptions of how every natural process works? Come on - there is no mismatch between what is written and what is known - they describe different things. If 'everything is figured out' then the wealth of scientific discoveries made by devout religious people would never have happened. The Islamic Golden Age of scientific discovery would have been impossible. LeMaitre wouldn't have figured out the BBT. It's a really silly and ill-informed claim, even by your standards.

"Why only in pragmatic philosophy? Does that include day-to-day life?" Absolutely it does. Pragmatic philosophy is the application of academic philosophy in day-to-day life." So well done, you've still avoided the question and come up with another Walter-definition of ‘pragmatic philosophy’. Why does it make sense to discount metaphysical beings in everyday life if they're unprovable, but not discount physical entities for the same reason? I'm not going to bite on the ridiculous 'political correctness' comment, as you're just revealing a whole new realm of ignorance and second-hand rhetoric you’ve swallowed, and you seem to have managed to criticise and agree with Trump in the same sentence.

Walt, I'm afraid you wouldn't know the difference between sloppy reading and sloppy writing if it was carefully explained to you by Dawkins himself in a fun animated YouTube video. I think had you studied anything at a post-graduate level, you would have come to be more careful and clear in what you write, more logical and reasoned in your analysis of your own belief systems, and you’d make sure to only speak out on things you really understand. I'll do you a deal, I won't (and don’t) speak out on threads here on which I don't have a reasonably sound understanding - that's most of them. Unlike you, I'm not a regular here or self-proclaimed expert on all matters from American politics to the Quran, from physics to climate change. I have however investigated, studied, and in certain cases lectured on some of the views you're supporting and denouncing – from theology to mathematical probability, history of religion to human geography – most of which have been largely redundant in day to day life and are in no way worth bragging about, but they do happen to give me a pretty good grounding in discussions like this. Heck, I have even spent time believing similar things to you. Again, all I would ask is that you spend a bit more time reading a more diverse range of source material. Judgmental, intolerant, irrational and self-righteous – if you’re really so anti-religion, it’d make sense to avoid these sorts of characteristics.

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WalterEgo WalterEgo (618 days ago)

"Is atheism more plausible than virgins in heaven … you're comparing a fragment of one specific religion to an entire belief set - is that rational or reasonable?" I am comparing one person's belief (atheism) with another person's belief (virgins in heaven). I said "virgins in heaven" because it's a good soundbite and most people would agree it's ridiculous.

So let's try, "Is atheism more plausible than theism?". A value judgement (whether or not something is plausible) is attributed to the believer, not the ism itself. The ism (atheism, theism) is just an interpretation of what we observe and what we can imagine. When we look at the universe, we don't observe any god or gods. But we do observe the majority of human beings believing a whole variety of ideas based on a variety of concepts of god throughout the history of mankind, and act accordingly - build churches, paint pictures, fight wars, set up charities etc.

We also observe that natural selection (the accepted interpretation of the natural world) could very plausibly be what drives the majority of human beings to obediently follow an authority, and a minority of humans to be the authority. We see in real life how an army with obedient soldiers who never question orders, is a more effective fighting force than a bunch of independently minded philosophising conscripts.

Also, there are many observations that on a COMMON SENSE level, fit an atheist universe like a glove, but not a universe with god/s, if you disallow "god's mysterious ways". We've talked about them before - size/age of universe, history and geography of popular religions, individual and group behaviour etc.

If we zoom out, we notice the observable universe is atheist (we don't see or find any need for god/s, in anything except human behaviour or imagination). We also observe an imaginable universe, which is where theism lies - random or anthropomorphic gods with mysterious ways, and we imagine there's an unimaginable universe - those mysterious ways.

It's not that you won't be able to answer every point I mentioned, but if you take the position that the universe is theist, at some point, you have to resort to "god's mysterious ways", which in a debate is an unsatisfactory answer.

Taking those points together, I think it is reasonable to say that atheism is more plausible than theism.

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Original comment

"Is atheism more plausible than virgins in heaven … you're comparing a fragment of one specific religion to an entire belief set - is that rational or reasonable?" I am comparing one person's belief (atheism) with another person's belief (virgins in heaven). I said "virgins in heaven" because it's a good soundbite and most people would agree it's ridiculous.

So let's try, "Is atheism more plausible than theism?". A value judgement (whether or not something is plausible) is attributed to the believer, not the ism itself. The ism (atheism, theism) is just an interpretation of what we observe and what we can imagine. When we look at the universe, we don't observe any god or gods. But we do observe the majority of human beings believing a whole variety of ideas based on a variety of concepts of god throughout the history of mankind, and act accordingly - build churches, paint pictures, fight wars, set up charities etc.

We also observe that natural selection (the accepted interpretation of the natural world) could very plausibly be what drives the majority of human beings to obediently follow an authority, and a minority of humans to be the authority. We see in real life how an army with obedient soldiers who never question orders, is a more effective fighting force than a bunch of independently minded philosophising conscripts.

Also, there are many observations that on a COMMON SENSE level, fit an atheist universe like a glove, but not a universe with god/s, if you disallow "god's mysterious ways". We've talked about them before - size/age of universe, history and geography of popular religions, individual and group behaviour etc.

If we zoom out, we notice the observable universe is atheist (we don't see or find any need for god/s, in anything except human behaviour or imagination). We also observe an imaginable universe, which is where theism lies - random or anthropomorphic gods with mysterious ways, and we imagine there's an unimaginable universe - those mysterious ways.

It's not that you won't be able to answer every point I mentioned, but if you take the position that the universe is theist, at some point, you have to resort to "god's mysterious ways", which in a debate is an unsatisfactory answer.

Taking those points together, I think it is reasonable to say that atheism is more plausible than theism.

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Guest: Proud Agnostic (618 days ago)

"I am comparing one person's belief (atheism) with another person's belief (virgins in heaven)". Virgin houri in heaven is a single belief plucked from a much wider set, whereas atheism is a wider set itself within which there are single separate beliefs such as 'there is no god', premise beliefs such as 'if there was a god we would expect to have evidence', and that's not even starting on the additional beliefs of New Atheism. And by the by, would most agree with you that virgins in heaven are ridiculous? The actual term houri is likened to angels within Christianity and Judaism, both of which would also assume such beings are virgins. Well over half of the world's population is either Christian, Muslim or Jew, so I would doubt your assumption about 'most people'.

"When we look at the universe, we don't observe any god or gods." If you keep repeating the same assumptions, I'll keep responding in the same way: That depends who you ask . Maybe we don’t directly observe gods (assuming we would know what a god looks like). We don't observe wind either, but we infer its existence from the effects we can observe. The universe we observe fits perfectly with the possibility of theism; there is nothing whatsoever (unless you can think of an example), which would make it impossible or even implausible that some kind of deity or supreme being exists in some form - and that is the essence of theism. There are no observations that at a universal 'common sense' level exclusively fit an atheist universe. That's your claim, a very blinkered atheistic claim at that, and one that most (literally in terms of population) would disagree with. Of course, common sense is also the product of your culture and background.

Absolutely, natural selection and human nature almost certainly affects how religions organise themselves, the hierarchy within them, and possibly the power dynamics too. And yet it does not and cannot effect whether the truth that they all try to access is real or not. Obviously . In the same way, natural selection and human nature almost certainly affects how the study of gravity has evolved - people of the wrong socio-economic background or the wrong gender wouldn't have had the opportunity to investigate it in the ways that Newton could - and to this day, elitism and academia restricts who is able to take part in that kind of research. Again, obviously that doesn't affect the actual phenomena of gravity that these institutions are trying to reveal. Basically, trying to refute theism by complaining about parts of religion is a bit like trying to criticise medical engineering by complaining about the course itinerary at the University of Michigan.

God working in mysterious ways is not remotely an unsatisfactory answer. In fact, it's an integral part of the very concept that people believe in. If someone says "I believe in a god that works in mysterious ways" , and you say "Well what are those ways?" and they repeat, "Walt, they are mysterious, I've already said that!" - unsatisfactory? No - integral - a specified part of the belief. "I believe in UFOs" - "Well what are they then?" - "They're Unidentified!" - unsatisfactory? No - integral - a specified part of the belief.

I know you think it is reasonable to say that atheism is more plausible than theism. I get that. But I don't, and I think most of the world's population doesn't either.

Theism is far broader than atheism, and includes a huge number different interpretations of god or gods. For atheism to be right, or even plausible, it should be able to refute every single conception of god, from pantheism to deism, dystheism, polytheism, etc etc. The only way I can see it doing this is by logically excluding the very concept of a god, which isn't what atheists do. It is not enough to pull extracts from sacred texts used within organised religion and assume that disproving them (or claiming they are ridiculous), thereby entails that a deity cannot or does not exist.

Atheism isn't plausible because it attempts to apply mathematical probability or empirical evidence gathering to metaphysical concepts. Furthermore, it is suspect in that it often claims the support of science where science is wholly ambivalent. That is a characteristic of progressives and zealots. When some of the world's most important scientific theories have come from theists, it suggests that at the very least they are compatible, if not complementary. These are people that know more about their theism and more about science than both of us put together. Or I don't know, maybe they did all the reading and just didn't understand it properly in the way that a scientific mind like yours would, right?

And as far as science goes (an awfully long way), one thing that's certain is that there is a huge amount about the universe that we cannot know and cannot observe directly, and a fair bit that we logically will never be able to observe directly (Heisenberg etc). The deeper we go, the more mysterious it gets. Pretty much anything at a quantum level defies traditional explanations, and some of it defies even quantum explanations. Measuring one entangled sub-atomic particle (and thereby affecting its superposition), instantly affects its entangled sibling(s), regardless of how much physic space is between them - they are permanently linked. There are prominent theories that suggest the universe itself is best described as a wave-function, so that the totality of its quantum state is the only meaningful way of explaining it, which thereby also suggests that physicality and the time-space continuum is a construct. I'm sure you're also aware of multiverse theories, by which other dimensions are not somehow somewhere else, but here, and a logically necessary part of the total quantum state. And I'm not getting started on the Higgs Bosun or dark energy or wave-particle duality. And you'd probably say faith healing is whacky.

So is it plausible that there’s a hell of a lot we don’t yet know? It’s a definite. So it is plausible that that could include another type of being(s)? Yes. Is it plausible that this being is undetectable to us? Yes. It is plausible this being isn't amenable to standard physics, but more like quantum physics, or even something else? Yes. Is it plausible that it "moves in mysterious ways"? Yes - necessarily so. Is it plausible that this being is omnipresent or is in some way linked to the creation of life on Earth? Yes. It is plausible that some of the mechanics of organised religion aren't equipped to identify or describe such a force? Yes. Is it plausible that religious interpretations of this kind of force are a reflection of the traditions, cultures and language of each group? Yes. Do these two anthropocentric facts about religion make the existence of such being or force or deity implausible? No.

So for those reasons (and 101 others), I find blanket atheism intrinsically implausible, and New Atheism even more so. Don’t worry - I see certain rare forms of religion equally implausible, but in general theism comes out better than atheism as it's broader. All I see here is just another guy, trying to establish a system with which he can make sense of the world, picking out the evidence and sources that reflect his own emotional responses, and excluding those that don't. The usual relativist assumptions - trying to prescribe what is plausible, common sense, ridiculous or rational. There is no one true way, but if there was, I really doubt it would be yours... but hey, that's just my view.

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Original comment

"I am comparing one person's belief (atheism) with another person's belief (virgins in heaven)". Virgin houri in heaven is a single belief plucked from a much wider set, whereas atheism is a wider set itself within which there are single separate beliefs such as 'there is no god', premise beliefs such as 'if there was a god we would expect to have evidence', and that's not even starting on the additional beliefs of New Atheism. And by the by, would most agree with you that virgins in heaven are ridiculous? The actual term houri is likened to angels within Christianity and Judaism, both of which would also assume such beings are virgins. Well over half of the world's population is either Christian, Muslim or Jew, so I would doubt your assumption about 'most people'.

"When we look at the universe, we don't observe any god or gods." If you keep repeating the same assumptions, I'll keep responding in the same way: That depends who you ask . Maybe we don’t directly observe gods (assuming we would know what a god looks like). We don't observe wind either, but we infer its existence from the effects we can observe. The universe we observe fits perfectly with the possibility of theism; there is nothing whatsoever (unless you can think of an example), which would make it impossible or even implausible that some kind of deity or supreme being exists in some form - and that is the essence of theism. There are no observations that at a universal 'common sense' level exclusively fit an atheist universe. That's your claim, a very blinkered atheistic claim at that, and one that most (literally in terms of population) would disagree with. Of course, common sense is also the product of your culture and background.

Absolutely, natural selection and human nature almost certainly affects how religions organise themselves, the hierarchy within them, and possibly the power dynamics too. And yet it does not and cannot effect whether the truth that they all try to access is real or not. Obviously . In the same way, natural selection and human nature almost certainly affects how the study of gravity has evolved - people of the wrong socio-economic background or the wrong gender wouldn't have had the opportunity to investigate it in the ways that Newton could - and to this day, elitism and academia restricts who is able to take part in that kind of research. Again, obviously that doesn't affect the actual phenomena of gravity that these institutions are trying to reveal. Basically, trying to refute theism by complaining about parts of religion is a bit like trying to criticise medical engineering by complaining about the course itinerary at the University of Michigan.

God working in mysterious ways is not remotely an unsatisfactory answer. In fact, it's an integral part of the very concept that people believe in. If someone says "I believe in a god that works in mysterious ways" , and you say "Well what are those ways?" and they repeat, "Walt, they are mysterious, I've already said that!" - unsatisfactory? No - integral - a specified part of the belief. "I believe in UFOs" - "Well what are they then?" - "They're Unidentified!" - unsatisfactory? No - integral - a specified part of the belief.

I know you think it is reasonable to say that atheism is more plausible than theism. I get that. But I don't, and I think most of the world's population doesn't either.

Theism is far broader than atheism, and includes a huge number different interpretations of god or gods. For atheism to be right, or even plausible, it should be able to refute every single conception of god, from pantheism to deism, dystheism, polytheism, etc etc. The only way I can see it doing this is by logically excluding the very concept of a god, which isn't what atheists do. It is not enough to pull extracts from sacred texts used within organised religion and assume that disproving them (or claiming they are ridiculous), thereby entails that a deity cannot or does not exist.

Atheism isn't plausible because it attempts to apply mathematical probability or empirical evidence gathering to metaphysical concepts. Furthermore, it is suspect in that it often claims the support of science where science is wholly ambivalent. That is a characteristic of progressives and zealots. When some of the world's most important scientific theories have come from theists, it suggests that at the very least they are compatible, if not complementary. These are people that know more about their theism and more about science than both of us put together. Or I don't know, maybe they did all the reading and just didn't understand it properly in the way that a scientific mind like yours would, right?

And as far as science goes (an awfully long way), one thing that's certain is that there is a huge amount about the universe that we cannot know and cannot observe directly, and a fair bit that we logically will never be able to observe directly (Heisenberg etc). The deeper we go, the more mysterious it gets. Pretty much anything at a quantum level defies traditional explanations, and some of it defies even quantum explanations. Measuring one entangled sub-atomic particle (and thereby affecting its superposition), instantly affects its entangled sibling(s), regardless of how much physic space is between them - they are permanently linked. There are prominent theories that suggest the universe itself is best described as a wave-function, so that the totality of its quantum state is the only meaningful way of explaining it, which thereby also suggests that physicality and the time-space continuum is a construct. I'm sure you're also aware of multiverse theories, by which other dimensions are not somehow somewhere else, but here, and a logically necessary part of the total quantum state. And I'm not getting started on the Higgs Bosun or dark energy or wave-particle duality. And you'd probably say faith healing is whacky.

So is it plausible that there’s a hell of a lot we don’t yet know? It’s a definite. So it is plausible that that could include another type of being(s)? Yes. Is it plausible that this being is undetectable to us? Yes. It is plausible this being isn't amenable to standard physics, but more like quantum physics, or even something else? Yes. Is it plausible that it "moves in mysterious ways"? Yes - necessarily so. Is it plausible that this being is omnipresent or is in some way linked to the creation of life on Earth? Yes. It is plausible that some of the mechanics of organised religion aren't equipped to identify or describe such a force? Yes. Is it plausible that religious interpretations of this kind of force are a reflection of the traditions, cultures and language of each group? Yes. Do these two anthropocentric facts about religion make the existence of such being or force or deity implausible? No.

So for those reasons (and 101 others), I find blanket atheism intrinsically implausible, and New Atheism even more so. Don’t worry - I see certain rare forms of religion equally implausible, but in general theism comes out better than atheism as it's broader. All I see here is just another guy, trying to establish a system with which he can make sense of the world, picking out the evidence and sources that reflect his own emotional responses, and excluding those that don't. The usual relativist assumptions - trying to prescribe what is plausible, common sense, ridiculous or rational. There is no one true way, but if there was, I really doubt it would be yours... but hey, that's just my view.

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WalterEgo WalterEgo (617 days ago)

"And by the by, would most agree with you that virgins in heaven are ridiculous? The actual term houri … so I would doubt your assumption about 'most people'." Thanks for the education, but "virgins in heaven" was very specific. If I included "harps in heaven", then maybe you have a point with my assumption about "most people", but I didn't.

"When we look at the universe, we don't observe any god or gods." If you keep repeating the same assumptions …" I did try to expand on it this time round, but I guess you were in skip-reading mode.

I said: "When we look at the universe, we don't observe any god or gods. But we do observe the majority of human beings believing a whole variety of ideas based on a variety of concepts of god throughout the history of mankind, and act accordingly - build churches, paint pictures, fight wars, set up charities etc." For example, when someone claims they spoke to god, we observe someone who claims they spoke to god, not someone actually speaking to god. They might genuinely believe they are speaking god, but they are not doing the observing, we are.

"There are no observations that at a universal 'common sense' level exclusively fit an atheist universe. That's your claim …" Almost my claim but not quite. Not to worry, it's just a minor case of sloppy rephrasing and skip-reading, skills you seem to be developing at an alarming rate. I said: "… there are many observations that on a COMMON SENSE level, fit an atheist universe like a glove, but not a universe with god/s, if you disallow "god's mysterious ways"." There's a difference between "no observations" (your wording) and "many observations" (my wording). There's a difference between "exclusively fit an atheist universe" (your wording) and "fit an atheist universe like a glove" (my wording). And you didn't even bother with the last bit about god's mysterious ways. D+, and that's generous.

"… a very blinkered atheistic claim at that, and one that most (literally in terms of population) would disagree with." Let's take one example - why is the universe so unimaginably big if it is made just for us? An atheist would say, it's the laws of physics acting out over time. A theist would invoke "god's mysterious ways" - maybe mysterious god wants to prove how capable he is. Or maybe mysterious god was practicing for a few billion years and in the meantime the universe expanded to the size it is now, or whatever. "God's mysterious ways" is an unsatisfactory answer because it's a wild card. Yes, you're absolutely right - it is integral to theistic concepts - that's because it's the only way to make sense of things that don't make sense. Without god's mysterious ways, there is no faith. The word "faith" doesn't even make sense without god's mysterious ways.

Religious scholars are not investigating the unknown, they are busy trying to reinterpret their holy books to fit what scientists find out. Otherwise their religion looks ridiculous. When did the Vatican officially accept the Earth orbited the sun? It was 1992.

And that leads me nicely to Newton. Yes, he was a scientific genius who believed in god. Everybody did at the time. If Newton was alive today he would be an atheist, no doubt about it. The body of knowledge at our disposal today is so much bigger, deeper and wider than in Newton's day.

"Absolutely, natural selection and human nature almost certainly affects how religions … it does not and cannot effect whether the truth that they all try to access is real or not. Obviously." Not obvious to me. You can't talk about "truth" in theism, because it's untestable. If there's no way of differentiating between what we imagine and god, then how does "truth" come into it?

We haven't evolved to believe in a deity - we don't have genes that make us hallucinate with godly images - we have evolved to be obedient to a higher authority without question. The real world manifestation of that is religion, organised or not. It's a hierarchy of authority - god > kings & queens > middle management > peasants. Even the top of the human pyramid, kings & queens, have a higher authority - god. Evolution may not work exactly as I've described, but that's what I visualise it.

"Theism is far broader than atheism …" That's the understatement of the century. Human imagination is certainly far broader than atheism.

"For atheism to be right, or even plausible, it should be able to refute every single conception of god, from pantheism to deism, dystheism, polytheism, etc etc." Why? No conception of god is needed to explain anything, and we have perfectly good explanations for every conception of god. Some conceptions will however earn the believer a room in a mental home. Atheists, who are technically agnostics (you think, therefore you doubt), say there's no god until credible evidence pops up, empirical would be preferred. It seems to me that atheism is more of a philosophical position rather than a "truth". In lay language it might go something like this - why should I change my way of living or thinking or behaviour in accordance to a concept of god when you can't show me that the god even exists? Give me a compelling reason and I will reconsider. It's a pragmatic approach - heard that word before?

"Atheism isn't plausible because it attempts to apply mathematical probability or empirical evidence gathering to metaphysical concepts." No, atheism/atheists don't apply probability to anything. Atheists are not trying to prove anything. Atheists simply say, life is too short. Bring the evidence and then let's talk about it.

"… So is it plausible that there’s a hell of a lot we don’t yet know? It’s a definite." Yes, but it's not really the jist of our argument. We agree there's a hell of a lot we don't know, question is, how do you apply known unknowns in the real world? You say later "There is no one true way …" , and I agree, but (again) what do you say to the suicide bomber who says "no belief is more correct than any other belief, so I'm justified in following my belief that I will be rewarded virgins in heaven if I kill a few non-believers. In fact it's my moral duty to do so, because that's what god commands." This is real-life stuff. Do you apply your belief that all beliefs are as correct as each other and help him on his way to Paris? Or do you bend your theory a bit too take into account the real world?

PS, I beg of you, please, no more sloppiness.

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Original comment

"And by the by, would most agree with you that virgins in heaven are ridiculous? The actual term houri … so I would doubt your assumption about 'most people'." Thanks for the education, but "virgins in heaven" was very specific. If I included "harps in heaven", then maybe you have a point with my assumption about "most people", but I didn't.

"When we look at the universe, we don't observe any god or gods." If you keep repeating the same assumptions …" I did try to expand on it this time round, but I guess you were in skip-reading mode.

I said: "When we look at the universe, we don't observe any god or gods. But we do observe the majority of human beings believing a whole variety of ideas based on a variety of concepts of god throughout the history of mankind, and act accordingly - build churches, paint pictures, fight wars, set up charities etc." For example, when someone claims they spoke to god, we observe someone who claims they spoke to god, not someone actually speaking to god. They might genuinely believe they are speaking god, but they are not doing the observing, we are.

"There are no observations that at a universal 'common sense' level exclusively fit an atheist universe. That's your claim …" Almost my claim but not quite. Not to worry, it's just a minor case of sloppy rephrasing and skip-reading, skills you seem to be developing at an alarming rate. I said: "… there are many observations that on a COMMON SENSE level, fit an atheist universe like a glove, but not a universe with god/s, if you disallow "god's mysterious ways"." There's a difference between "no observations" (your wording) and "many observations" (my wording). There's a difference between "exclusively fit an atheist universe" (your wording) and "fit an atheist universe like a glove" (my wording). And you didn't even bother with the last bit about god's mysterious ways. D+, and that's generous.

"… a very blinkered atheistic claim at that, and one that most (literally in terms of population) would disagree with." Let's take one example - why is the universe so unimaginably big if it is made just for us? An atheist would say, it's the laws of physics acting out over time. A theist would invoke "god's mysterious ways" - maybe mysterious god wants to prove how capable he is. Or maybe mysterious god was practicing for a few billion years and in the meantime the universe expanded to the size it is now, or whatever. "God's mysterious ways" is an unsatisfactory answer because it's a wild card. Yes, you're absolutely right - it is integral to theistic concepts - that's because it's the only way to make sense of things that don't make sense. Without god's mysterious ways, there is no faith. The word "faith" doesn't even make sense without god's mysterious ways.

Religious scholars are not investigating the unknown, they are busy trying to reinterpret their holy books to fit what scientists find out. Otherwise their religion looks ridiculous. When did the Vatican officially accept the Earth orbited the sun? It was 1992.

And that leads me nicely to Newton. Yes, he was a scientific genius who believed in god. Everybody did at the time. If Newton was alive today he would be an atheist, no doubt about it. The body of knowledge at our disposal today is so much bigger, deeper and wider than in Newton's day.

"Absolutely, natural selection and human nature almost certainly affects how religions … it does not and cannot effect whether the truth that they all try to access is real or not. Obviously." Not obvious to me. You can't talk about "truth" in theism, because it's untestable. If there's no way of differentiating between what we imagine and god, then how does "truth" come into it?

We haven't evolved to believe in a deity - we don't have genes that make us hallucinate with godly images - we have evolved to be obedient to a higher authority without question. The real world manifestation of that is religion, organised or not. It's a hierarchy of authority - god > kings & queens > middle management > peasants. Even the top of the human pyramid, kings & queens, have a higher authority - god. Evolution may not work exactly as I've described, but that's what I visualise it.

"Theism is far broader than atheism …" That's the understatement of the century. Human imagination is certainly far broader than atheism.

"For atheism to be right, or even plausible, it should be able to refute every single conception of god, from pantheism to deism, dystheism, polytheism, etc etc." Why? No conception of god is needed to explain anything, and we have perfectly good explanations for every conception of god. Some conceptions will however earn the believer a room in a mental home. Atheists, who are technically agnostics (you think, therefore you doubt), say there's no god until credible evidence pops up, empirical would be preferred. It seems to me that atheism is more of a philosophical position rather than a "truth". In lay language it might go something like this - why should I change my way of living or thinking or behaviour in accordance to a concept of god when you can't show me that the god even exists? Give me a compelling reason and I will reconsider. It's a pragmatic approach - heard that word before?

"Atheism isn't plausible because it attempts to apply mathematical probability or empirical evidence gathering to metaphysical concepts." No, atheism/atheists don't apply probability to anything. Atheists are not trying to prove anything. Atheists simply say, life is too short. Bring the evidence and then let's talk about it.

"… So is it plausible that there’s a hell of a lot we don’t yet know? It’s a definite." Yes, but it's not really the jist of our argument. We agree there's a hell of a lot we don't know, question is, how do you apply known unknowns in the real world? You say later "There is no one true way …" , and I agree, but (again) what do you say to the suicide bomber who says "no belief is more correct than any other belief, so I'm justified in following my belief that I will be rewarded virgins in heaven if I kill a few non-believers. In fact it's my moral duty to do so, because that's what god commands." This is real-life stuff. Do you apply your belief that all beliefs are as correct as each other and help him on his way to Paris? Or do you bend your theory a bit too take into account the real world?

PS, I beg of you, please, no more sloppiness.

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Guest: Proud Agnostic (616 days ago)

"Thanks for the education, but "virgins in heaven" was very specific." You didn't see my point. Angels are virgins too. Most conceptions of heaven involve some kind of celestial beings that are pure in nature. Atheists and Islamophobes get hung up on the translation ‘virgin’ because of the carnal connotations.

"Almost my claim but not quite. Not to worry, it's just a minor case of sloppy rephrasing and skip-reading." Good grief. Do I really have to spell it out? Read it again. Your statement was literally "there are many observations that on a COMMON SENSE level, fit an atheist universe like a glove", and I then denied that by saying "There are NO observations that at a universal 'common sense' level exclusively fit an atheist universe", and by telling you that your statement is just a personal claim by saying "That's your claim." My statement was the exact opposite of your claim - that's the whole point. Seriously Walt, did you write this one after a night out perchance? I can tell you've never dabbled with academia. You’d scrape a level 4 in reading comprehension.

"Why is the universe so unimaginably big if it is made just for us? An atheist would say, it's the laws of physics acting out over time. A theist would invoke "god's mysterious ways" ” That's absurd. That's basically saying that if we can't understand something and we accept and expect that to be the case, then that's a ‘wildcard’ and unsatisfactory. If we say we cannot accurately describe a sub-atomic particle in its quantum state because the very measurement would affect that state – uncertainty principle - that’s no wildcard, it’s a statement of fact and part of the definition. Anyway, yet again you choose to redefine the faith of others that you simply don't understand: How many differing types of theist have you asked concerning the vastness of the universe? And why on earth would you conclude that their only answer would 'god's mysterious ways'? Why would you assume that all theists think the universe was created just for us? Why would you assume that 'laws of physics acting out over time' isn't a ‘wildcard’? It's just as vague a shorthand and refers to a problematical set of theories accepted as incomplete? In Pantheism the vastness of the universe IS god, and in Christianity there is nothing that says the universe was created purely for mankind. Honestly Walter, if you could spend just half a day researching some of these theistic views, or heck even get out there and meet some real people, your opinions would end up with a far better foundation than silly assumptions you’re forced to adopt to make your claims seem valid.

Religious scholars are not investigating the unknown, they are busy trying to reinterpret their holy books to fit what scientists find out.... When did the Vatican officially accept the Earth orbited the sun? It was 1992." Ouch. The ignorance! Firstly, the religious SCIENTISTS (we’re not talking about scholars) who spent time ascertaining the orbit of the earth or the force of friction etc. have nothing to do with reinterpreting holy books – they were discovering the world that is undescribed by their sacred texts. Again, I ask you what scientific points are made in the sacred texts that are disputed? Did Mohammed get the order of the planets wrong in his diagram of the solar system? Did Jesus incorrectly describe photosynthesis? Secondly, oh brother, Galileo, the Vatican - where did you get that crap? I honestly want to know . And you claim I'm sloppy at reading!! In 1982, the Vatican officially pardoned and apologised for their treatment of Galileo in the 1630s; nothing to do with accepting the heliocentric solar system which they have acknowledged for hundreds of years, roughly coinciding with Bradley's proof in the early 1700s. Just please, educate yourself and make up for that loss of time.

"(Newton) was a scientific genius who believed in god. Everybody did at the time. If Newton was alive today he would be an atheist, no doubt about it." That was a laugh-out-loud for me, thanks. So as well as claiming agnostics are secretly atheists, you're now claiming the support of theistic dead people. Good one. "Everybody did at the time". Really. Ouch, the ignorance, again! Newton lived in a time where there were atheists - some pretty pivotal characters in that belief in fact, including Meslier and Spinoza. In fact, atheism was gathering such momentum that a few decades later it would be one of the driving forces of the brutal and bloody French Revolution (‘what harm has atheism ever done?’) You want to assume that dead theists based their belief on certain evidence in the world or maybe just simple primitive ignorance, and that the evidence is now wider and interpreted differently? Well history and current science shows you're wrong – there are still eminent scientists interpreting the world and believing in god. In fact, there are some far weirder and more mysterious bits of science we know about now than in his day. It’s genuinely amusing – maybe dead theists would be atheists if they were still alive; maybe all scientists would be atheists if they were honest or good at their job; maybe anyone who has read books and concluded that atheism wasn’t the way forward has just read them wrong. Maybe Walter, maybe. All those geniuses would kill to understand the world as keenly as you.

"You can't talk about "truth" in theism, because it's untestable. If there's no way of differentiating between what we imagine and god, then how does "truth" come into it?” The fact that it may be unknowable or untestable (more an agnostic point), is not the issue - the fact is, there must be an objective truth, and can whatever we think about that truth possibly have an effect on it? No. If something is or isn’t the case in the ‘real-world’, then we can think what we like – it won’t be changed.

"For atheism to be right, or even plausible, it should be able to refute every single conception of god" Why? No conception of god is needed to explain anything”. Whether or not something exists is not down to whether we can understand that it's necessary in any explanations. If you're an atheist, you can hold that a god isn't necessary if you like, but fundamentally you have to hold that a god doesn't exist - no type of god, anywhere. Why? - you ask; Because atheism isn't about condemning or disagreeing with specific religions, it's about denying any type of theism. Any type of belief in any god. Pantheist, Deist, whatever. As I've said, you can do this by trying to show that all theism is inherently and logically impossible, but that doesn’t seem feasible. Atheism likes to look for the easy target, by plucking out parts of manmade organised religion and never once getting close to theism itself.

"Why should I change my way of living or thinking or behaviour in accordance to a concept of god when you can't show me that the god even exists? Give me a compelling reason and I will reconsider.” Yes that's the pragmatic atheist, and obviously they decide what constitutes compelling evidence. Meanwhile, the pragmatic theist says "Why should I change my way of living or thinking in accordance with the concept of a godless universe when you can't show me that the universe is indeed godless? Give me a compelling reason!" - and again, they pick and choose their evidence. The pragmatic agnostics says "Why should I change my way of living to assume that either the universe definitely has a god, or it definitely doesn't?” Pragmatism all the way.

"Atheism isn't plausible because it attempts to apply mathematical probability or empirical evidence gathering to metaphysical concepts." No, atheism/atheists don't apply probability to anything. Atheists are not trying to prove anything. Bring the evidence and then let's talk about it.” Yes, atheism does apply probability to the existence of god - as you have constantly shown with 'the likelihood is that god is only a part our imagination', or 'god probably doesn't exist', or 'not all conceptions have equal probability' etc. etc. etc. etc. Next, is this deliberate? You contradict yourself in the same paragraph; "(Atheism) attempts to apply... empirical evidence gathering to metaphysical concepts. No... Bring the evidence." As you've shown, atheists do expect empirical evidence gathering to be relevant, it's just they would prefer it if everyone else has to do the gathering and justify their views.

"There is no one true way …" , and I agree, but… what do you say to the suicide bomber?“ You say you agree that there’s no one true way? If only! The one true way to you is atheism - as you've shown, your self-righteousness dictates that atheism is true for everyone, it's scientific, it's rational, it’s pragmatic and anything else is 'retarded', ridiculous, or lacks common sense. What do I say to the suicide bomber? That's such a facile point; I say that my beliefs are as true as his beliefs, but neither of us can break the law in pursuit of them.

“PS, I beg of you, please, no more sloppiness.“ I will try not to be “sloppy” if you would do the same in addition to the following (whittled down considerably): no more skull-numbing ignorance (everybody believed in god in Newton's time; the Vatican officially accepted the Earth orbited the sun in 1992; why does 'we' refer to a singular god? Christianity is about eternity and heaven and hell, etc etc) – if you can’t be sure or don’t know a claim, then don’t make it; and no more flagrant inconsistencies – if you prohibit one belief set from talking about unknowable truth or unprovable claims, apply that same reasoning to all. Simple.

Hand on heart, through this discussion I feel that atheism is even less rational than I did a month ago. You’re clearly a dyed-in-the-wool believer and try to talk your way around your beliefs – yet when it comes down to it you repeat the same assumptions, the same relativistic claims, the same illogical jumps, time and time again. And when you give reasons, you show that they’re often based on things which are objectively not true – historical points, features of modern religions, current practice, or based on a straw-man redefinition of certain ideas. I mean you’d be great when faced with a certain foe – a visible god who interacts in measurable ways, who created the world in 6 days, who is described by ancient texts that also incorrectly detail scientific processes, and who probably has a beard and sits on a cloud. I think you’re quite convincing on that account. Faced with any other kind of theism, you buckle and return to wittering on about suicide bombers and creationists.

We started this thread when you challenged me to think of any points that suggest atheism is irrational – I initially gave you nearly 20, and added more later on as you kindly revealed them to me. You’ve had a half-hearted stab at a couple of them but really I expected better. As you’re clearly and stubbornly non-academic, it’s fair and understandable to say that your history isn’t quite up to scratch so let’s leave out Newton and Galileo; you’re not interested in Philosophy either so perhaps expecting your arguments to be logically sound, let alone logically valid, is possibly ambitious; you’ve conceded in previous posts that your knowledge of mathematical terms like probability is a little remiss; your knowledge of science seems partial, fuzzy and slightly naïve; your reading comprehension rather hasty; but most obviously and importantly, you very firmly refuse to learn about the actual religious belief or theology that you want to refute. Would you like us to talk about something else? This doesn’t seem to be your thing.

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"Thanks for the education, but "virgins in heaven" was very specific." You didn't see my point. Angels are virgins too. Most conceptions of heaven involve some kind of celestial beings that are pure in nature. Atheists and Islamophobes get hung up on the translation ‘virgin’ because of the carnal connotations.

"Almost my claim but not quite. Not to worry, it's just a minor case of sloppy rephrasing and skip-reading." Good grief. Do I really have to spell it out? Read it again. Your statement was literally "there are many observations that on a COMMON SENSE level, fit an atheist universe like a glove", and I then denied that by saying "There are NO observations that at a universal 'common sense' level exclusively fit an atheist universe", and by telling you that your statement is just a personal claim by saying "That's your claim." My statement was the exact opposite of your claim - that's the whole point. Seriously Walt, did you write this one after a night out perchance? I can tell you've never dabbled with academia. You’d scrape a level 4 in reading comprehension.

"Why is the universe so unimaginably big if it is made just for us? An atheist would say, it's the laws of physics acting out over time. A theist would invoke "god's mysterious ways" ” That's absurd. That's basically saying that if we can't understand something and we accept and expect that to be the case, then that's a ‘wildcard’ and unsatisfactory. If we say we cannot accurately describe a sub-atomic particle in its quantum state because the very measurement would affect that state – uncertainty principle - that’s no wildcard, it’s a statement of fact and part of the definition. Anyway, yet again you choose to redefine the faith of others that you simply don't understand: How many differing types of theist have you asked concerning the vastness of the universe? And why on earth would you conclude that their only answer would 'god's mysterious ways'? Why would you assume that all theists think the universe was created just for us? Why would you assume that 'laws of physics acting out over time' isn't a ‘wildcard’? It's just as vague a shorthand and refers to a problematical set of theories accepted as incomplete? In Pantheism the vastness of the universe IS god, and in Christianity there is nothing that says the universe was created purely for mankind. Honestly Walter, if you could spend just half a day researching some of these theistic views, or heck even get out there and meet some real people, your opinions would end up with a far better foundation than silly assumptions you’re forced to adopt to make your claims seem valid.

Religious scholars are not investigating the unknown, they are busy trying to reinterpret their holy books to fit what scientists find out.... When did the Vatican officially accept the Earth orbited the sun? It was 1992." Ouch. The ignorance! Firstly, the religious SCIENTISTS (we’re not talking about scholars) who spent time ascertaining the orbit of the earth or the force of friction etc. have nothing to do with reinterpreting holy books – they were discovering the world that is undescribed by their sacred texts. Again, I ask you what scientific points are made in the sacred texts that are disputed? Did Mohammed get the order of the planets wrong in his diagram of the solar system? Did Jesus incorrectly describe photosynthesis? Secondly, oh brother, Galileo, the Vatican - where did you get that crap? I honestly want to know . And you claim I'm sloppy at reading!! In 1982, the Vatican officially pardoned and apologised for their treatment of Galileo in the 1630s; nothing to do with accepting the heliocentric solar system which they have acknowledged for hundreds of years, roughly coinciding with Bradley's proof in the early 1700s. Just please, educate yourself and make up for that loss of time.

"(Newton) was a scientific genius who believed in god. Everybody did at the time. If Newton was alive today he would be an atheist, no doubt about it." That was a laugh-out-loud for me, thanks. So as well as claiming agnostics are secretly atheists, you're now claiming the support of theistic dead people. Good one. "Everybody did at the time". Really. Ouch, the ignorance, again! Newton lived in a time where there were atheists - some pretty pivotal characters in that belief in fact, including Meslier and Spinoza. In fact, atheism was gathering such momentum that a few decades later it would be one of the driving forces of the brutal and bloody French Revolution (‘what harm has atheism ever done?’) You want to assume that dead theists based their belief on certain evidence in the world or maybe just simple primitive ignorance, and that the evidence is now wider and interpreted differently? Well history and current science shows you're wrong – there are still eminent scientists interpreting the world and believing in god. In fact, there are some far weirder and more mysterious bits of science we know about now than in his day. It’s genuinely amusing – maybe dead theists would be atheists if they were still alive; maybe all scientists would be atheists if they were honest or good at their job; maybe anyone who has read books and concluded that atheism wasn’t the way forward has just read them wrong. Maybe Walter, maybe. All those geniuses would kill to understand the world as keenly as you.

"You can't talk about "truth" in theism, because it's untestable. If there's no way of differentiating between what we imagine and god, then how does "truth" come into it?” The fact that it may be unknowable or untestable (more an agnostic point), is not the issue - the fact is, there must be an objective truth, and can whatever we think about that truth possibly have an effect on it? No. If something is or isn’t the case in the ‘real-world’, then we can think what we like – it won’t be changed.

"For atheism to be right, or even plausible, it should be able to refute every single conception of god" Why? No conception of god is needed to explain anything”. Whether or not something exists is not down to whether we can understand that it's necessary in any explanations. If you're an atheist, you can hold that a god isn't necessary if you like, but fundamentally you have to hold that a god doesn't exist - no type of god, anywhere. Why? - you ask; Because atheism isn't about condemning or disagreeing with specific religions, it's about denying any type of theism. Any type of belief in any god. Pantheist, Deist, whatever. As I've said, you can do this by trying to show that all theism is inherently and logically impossible, but that doesn’t seem feasible. Atheism likes to look for the easy target, by plucking out parts of manmade organised religion and never once getting close to theism itself.

"Why should I change my way of living or thinking or behaviour in accordance to a concept of god when you can't show me that the god even exists? Give me a compelling reason and I will reconsider.” Yes that's the pragmatic atheist, and obviously they decide what constitutes compelling evidence. Meanwhile, the pragmatic theist says "Why should I change my way of living or thinking in accordance with the concept of a godless universe when you can't show me that the universe is indeed godless? Give me a compelling reason!" - and again, they pick and choose their evidence. The pragmatic agnostics says "Why should I change my way of living to assume that either the universe definitely has a god, or it definitely doesn't?” Pragmatism all the way.

"Atheism isn't plausible because it attempts to apply mathematical probability or empirical evidence gathering to metaphysical concepts." No, atheism/atheists don't apply probability to anything. Atheists are not trying to prove anything. Bring the evidence and then let's talk about it.” Yes, atheism does apply probability to the existence of god - as you have constantly shown with 'the likelihood is that god is only a part our imagination', or 'god probably doesn't exist', or 'not all conceptions have equal probability' etc. etc. etc. etc. Next, is this deliberate? You contradict yourself in the same paragraph; "(Atheism) attempts to apply... empirical evidence gathering to metaphysical concepts. No... Bring the evidence." As you've shown, atheists do expect empirical evidence gathering to be relevant, it's just they would prefer it if everyone else has to do the gathering and justify their views.

"There is no one true way …" , and I agree, but… what do you say to the suicide bomber?“ You say you agree that there’s no one true way? If only! The one true way to you is atheism - as you've shown, your self-righteousness dictates that atheism is true for everyone, it's scientific, it's rational, it’s pragmatic and anything else is 'retarded', ridiculous, or lacks common sense. What do I say to the suicide bomber? That's such a facile point; I say that my beliefs are as true as his beliefs, but neither of us can break the law in pursuit of them.

“PS, I beg of you, please, no more sloppiness.“ I will try not to be “sloppy” if you would do the same in addition to the following (whittled down considerably): no more skull-numbing ignorance (everybody believed in god in Newton's time; the Vatican officially accepted the Earth orbited the sun in 1992; why does 'we' refer to a singular god? Christianity is about eternity and heaven and hell, etc etc) – if you can’t be sure or don’t know a claim, then don’t make it; and no more flagrant inconsistencies – if you prohibit one belief set from talking about unknowable truth or unprovable claims, apply that same reasoning to all. Simple.

Hand on heart, through this discussion I feel that atheism is even less rational than I did a month ago. You’re clearly a dyed-in-the-wool believer and try to talk your way around your beliefs – yet when it comes down to it you repeat the same assumptions, the same relativistic claims, the same illogical jumps, time and time again. And when you give reasons, you show that they’re often based on things which are objectively not true – historical points, features of modern religions, current practice, or based on a straw-man redefinition of certain ideas. I mean you’d be great when faced with a certain foe – a visible god who interacts in measurable ways, who created the world in 6 days, who is described by ancient texts that also incorrectly detail scientific processes, and who probably has a beard and sits on a cloud. I think you’re quite convincing on that account. Faced with any other kind of theism, you buckle and return to wittering on about suicide bombers and creationists.

We started this thread when you challenged me to think of any points that suggest atheism is irrational – I initially gave you nearly 20, and added more later on as you kindly revealed them to me. You’ve had a half-hearted stab at a couple of them but really I expected better. As you’re clearly and stubbornly non-academic, it’s fair and understandable to say that your history isn’t quite up to scratch so let’s leave out Newton and Galileo; you’re not interested in Philosophy either so perhaps expecting your arguments to be logically sound, let alone logically valid, is possibly ambitious; you’ve conceded in previous posts that your knowledge of mathematical terms like probability is a little remiss; your knowledge of science seems partial, fuzzy and slightly naïve; your reading comprehension rather hasty; but most obviously and importantly, you very firmly refuse to learn about the actual religious belief or theology that you want to refute. Would you like us to talk about something else? This doesn’t seem to be your thing.

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WalterEgo WalterEgo (615 days ago)

"What do I say to the suicide bomber? That's such a facile point; I say that my beliefs are as true as his beliefs, but neither of us can break the law in pursuit of them." That's not a facile point, it's THE point. What do you say when the suicide bomber says "god's laws always override human laws"?

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"What do I say to the suicide bomber? That's such a facile point; I say that my beliefs are as true as his beliefs, but neither of us can break the law in pursuit of them." That's not a facile point, it's THE point. What do you say when the suicide bomber says "god's laws always override human laws"?

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Guest: Proud Agnostic (614 days ago)

It's a very facile point. ISIS is the new 'reductio ad hitlerum'. "Oh you're tolerant of people's beliefs? You must tolerate the actions of ISIS / Nazis then!" Such nonsense - again, irrational. I think you've just fallen prey to a new Godwin's law.

My point is simply that any speculative, unknowable and untestable belief is literally as 'true' as any other, but the fact remains that whatever your belief, even if you think it is the foremost law of the universe, you exist in a society with a set of laws and you will be judged accordingly. As Charles James Napier once said "This burning of widows is your custom; prepare the funeral pile. But my nation has also a custom; when men burn women alive, we hang them."

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It's a very facile point. ISIS is the new 'reductio ad hitlerum'. "Oh you're tolerant of people's beliefs? You must tolerate the actions of ISIS / Nazis then!" Such nonsense - again, irrational. I think you've just fallen prey to a new Godwin's law.

My point is simply that any speculative, unknowable and untestable belief is literally as 'true' as any other, but the fact remains that whatever your belief, even if you think it is the foremost law of the universe, you exist in a society with a set of laws and you will be judged accordingly. As Charles James Napier once said "This burning of widows is your custom; prepare the funeral pile. But my nation has also a custom; when men burn women alive, we hang them."

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WalterEgo WalterEgo (614 days ago)

It is not a facile point, it's the crux of this thread - how do you apply your belief that 'all beliefs are as true as each other' in the real world?

I'll ask again, what do you say to the suicide bomber who says, "god's laws trump yours, so shove it"? Or what do you say to the Saudi man who says, "I can beat up my wife, god approves and it's legal"?

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Original comment

It is not a facile point, it's the crux of this thread - how do you apply your belief that 'all beliefs are as true as each other' in the real world?

I'll ask again, what do you say to the suicide bomber who says, "god's laws trump yours, so shove it"? Or what do you say to the Saudi man who says, "I can beat up my wife, god approves and it's legal"?

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Guest: Proud Agnostic (614 days ago)

It's not the crux of the thread - maybe it's what you'd like it to be - but the crux of the thread was 'Could atheism be rational?' As usual, you've tried to divert it to a more classic criticism that you feel equipped to wield.

How do you apply 'all metaphysical beliefs are as true as each other' in the real world? In so far as you have to 'apply' any belief, I suppose it simply means you don't get sanctimonious and presumptious by telling people that your speculative beliefs are better than theirs (hint hint). For most people, that's a given. Why, how would you 'apply' your belief that some speculations are more unprovably true than others? Maybe explain to ISIS that the reason they shouldn't behave in such ways is that their beliefs are unprovably false? Maybe debate with them? I'll repeat again, I'd say to the suicide bomber who thinks god's laws trump the legal law, 'Maybe your beliefs are as true as mine, but you're still in a society with laws and you will be treated accordingly'. Believe what you want, but if you try to commit an action that's against your society's laws, everything will be done to prevent you succeeding, and everything will be done to punish you if you do succeed. It's so face-slappingly obvious. It's a pragmatic approach - heard that word before?

I asked you nicely not to make any profoundly ignorant statements. "The Saudi man who says, "I can beat up my wife, god approves and it's legal"? Legal? Check your sources. Domestic abuse has been illegal in Saudia since at least 2013 ( LINK ) If I asked you to get your facts straight before spouting off, you'd never say a word.

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Original comment

It's not the crux of the thread - maybe it's what you'd like it to be - but the crux of the thread was 'Could atheism be rational?' As usual, you've tried to divert it to a more classic criticism that you feel equipped to wield.

How do you apply 'all metaphysical beliefs are as true as each other' in the real world? In so far as you have to 'apply' any belief, I suppose it simply means you don't get sanctimonious and presumptious by telling people that your speculative beliefs are better than theirs (hint hint). For most people, that's a given. Why, how would you 'apply' your belief that some speculations are more unprovably true than others? Maybe explain to ISIS that the reason they shouldn't behave in such ways is that their beliefs are unprovably false? Maybe debate with them? I'll repeat again, I'd say to the suicide bomber who thinks god's laws trump the legal law, 'Maybe your beliefs are as true as mine, but you're still in a society with laws and you will be treated accordingly'. Believe what you want, but if you try to commit an action that's against your society's laws, everything will be done to prevent you succeeding, and everything will be done to punish you if you do succeed. It's so face-slappingly obvious. It's a pragmatic approach - heard that word before?

I asked you nicely not to make any profoundly ignorant statements. "The Saudi man who says, "I can beat up my wife, god approves and it's legal"? Legal? Check your sources. Domestic abuse has been illegal in Saudia since at least 2013 ( LINK ) If I asked you to get your facts straight before spouting off, you'd never say a word.

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WalterEgo WalterEgo (612 days ago)

I think that without a plausibility filter, you can't make any meaningful sense of people's beliefs in god, especially in the real world. I guess we'll have to agree to disagree.

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I think that without a plausibility filter, you can't make any meaningful sense of people's beliefs in god, especially in the real world. I guess we'll have to agree to disagree.

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Guest: Proud Agnostic (612 days ago)
Latest comment:

Sure. But my point is that there is no standardised plausability filter or usable objective yardstick ('truth'?), and so therefore it's all relative to you, your background, your culture etc. Saying what you find plausible, rational, scientific, ridiculous, pragmatic, is simply a statement of belief. Nothing wrong with that, but you need to deal with it and call a spade a spade.

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Sure. But my point is that there is no standardised plausability filter or usable objective yardstick ('truth'?), and so therefore it's all relative to you, your background, your culture etc. Saying what you find plausible, rational, scientific, ridiculous, pragmatic, is simply a statement of belief. Nothing wrong with that, but you need to deal with it and call a spade a spade.

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Guest: one more time (627 days ago)

WalterEgo: I find comedians poking fun at religion to be as funny as shooting fish in a barrel. Religion is silly but it's too easy a target.

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WalterEgo: I find comedians poking fun at religion to be as funny as shooting fish in a barrel. Religion is silly but it's too easy a target.

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Guest: (627 days ago)

humor isn't about targeting ridiculous stuff. are mother in laws more ridiculous than cousins? its about making everyday things seem ridiculous and you can do that with anything. i mean ricky gervais is your english king of atheist comedy and is unfunny overrated bigoted and obnoxious to boot. can we send him back.

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Original comment

humor isn't about targeting ridiculous stuff. are mother in laws more ridiculous than cousins? its about making everyday things seem ridiculous and you can do that with anything. i mean ricky gervais is your english king of atheist comedy and is unfunny overrated bigoted and obnoxious to boot. can we send him back.

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Guest: (626 days ago)

Hm well I don't think atheists are reknowned for being able to laugh at themselves - only at others.

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Hm well I don't think atheists are reknowned for being able to laugh at themselves - only at others.

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WalterEgo WalterEgo (626 days ago)

I'm not sure there's any group that is renown for laughing at themselves, but comedians would certainly be near the top of the list. And I'm sure you'd agree, certain factions of Islam are rock bottom, as Charlie Hebdo staff know to their cost.

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I'm not sure there's any group that is renown for laughing at themselves, but comedians would certainly be near the top of the list. And I'm sure you'd agree, certain factions of Islam are rock bottom, as Charlie Hebdo staff know to their cost.

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Guest: (625 days ago)

funny that because i can think of hindu and muslim and catholic comics who take the pi$$ out of their religion and culture. can you name an athiest that takes the pi$$ out of athiesm?

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funny that because i can think of hindu and muslim and catholic comics who take the pi$$ out of their religion and culture. can you name an athiest that takes the pi$$ out of athiesm?

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WalterEgo WalterEgo (625 days ago)

Off the top of my head, I can't think of any atheists taking the piss out of atheism. But I suspect that's because atheism is not good raw material for comedy.

It is much easier to take the piss out of someone who believes in unicorns, than someone who doesn't.

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Original comment

Off the top of my head, I can't think of any atheists taking the piss out of atheism. But I suspect that's because atheism is not good raw material for comedy.

It is much easier to take the piss out of someone who believes in unicorns, than someone who doesn't.

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Guest: (625 days ago)

you don't think overwieght devients with dubious facial hair and ponytails saying how much they dont care about god yet going round never shutting up about god is funny? to close to home? most religious comics have a joke about there religion and its funny because they can laugh at themselves. maybe one day athiests will be able to laugh at themselves to but im not holding my breath.

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Original comment

you don't think overwieght devients with dubious facial hair and ponytails saying how much they dont care about god yet going round never shutting up about god is funny? to close to home? most religious comics have a joke about there religion and its funny because they can laugh at themselves. maybe one day athiests will be able to laugh at themselves to but im not holding my breath.

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WalterEgo WalterEgo (625 days ago)

Who's your favourite religious comic?

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Who's your favourite religious comic?

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Guest: (624 days ago)

are you kidding? where have you been? hard to pick a favorite but jimmy kimmel and and jimmy fallon are funny and both catholic both makes jokes about it. so is conan o brien who even set up jokewiththepope check it out. mel brooks and sasha baron coen joke about being jews and hell joan rivers and woody allen never shut up about it. check out lenny bruce to. shazia mirza jokes about muslims and that stuff that maysoon zaid did about isis was spot on.. but you probably wont like that because she is disabled AND muslim and you have gervais humor. like i said religious comics can laugh at themselves and there religion and they do it alllllll the time. comics like trevor noah can make jokes of athiesm and your idols so now tell me your athiest comics that take the pi$$ out of athiesm or just admit that you guys cannot take a joke or laugh about yourselfs. stand corrected.

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are you kidding? where have you been? hard to pick a favorite but jimmy kimmel and and jimmy fallon are funny and both catholic both makes jokes about it. so is conan o brien who even set up jokewiththepope check it out. mel brooks and sasha baron coen joke about being jews and hell joan rivers and woody allen never shut up about it. check out lenny bruce to. shazia mirza jokes about muslims and that stuff that maysoon zaid did about isis was spot on.. but you probably wont like that because she is disabled AND muslim and you have gervais humor. like i said religious comics can laugh at themselves and there religion and they do it alllllll the time. comics like trevor noah can make jokes of athiesm and your idols so now tell me your athiest comics that take the pi$$ out of athiesm or just admit that you guys cannot take a joke or laugh about yourselfs. stand corrected.

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WalterEgo WalterEgo (624 days ago)

I wouldn't describe any of the comics you list as "religious comics", and I'm quite sure they wouldn't describe themselves that way either.

But we're straying off my point, which is not about the beliefs of comedians, but the topics they choose for their routines. Religion is a favourite because it is riddled with holes. Atheism is simply "I don't believe something exists if it can't be shown that it exists." It's too reasonable a position to ridicule.

Like I said, it is easier to take the piss out of someone who believes in unicorns, than someone who doesn't. So when North Korean state media claimed they found the lair of a unicorn, yes this actually happened LINK - do you think comics would choose to ridicule North Korea for believing in unicorns, or the rest of the world for believing that unicorns are a figment of human imagination?

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Original comment

I wouldn't describe any of the comics you list as "religious comics", and I'm quite sure they wouldn't describe themselves that way either.

But we're straying off my point, which is not about the beliefs of comedians, but the topics they choose for their routines. Religion is a favourite because it is riddled with holes. Atheism is simply "I don't believe something exists if it can't be shown that it exists." It's too reasonable a position to ridicule.

Like I said, it is easier to take the piss out of someone who believes in unicorns, than someone who doesn't. So when North Korean state media claimed they found the lair of a unicorn, yes this actually happened LINK - do you think comics would choose to ridicule North Korea for believing in unicorns, or the rest of the world for believing that unicorns are a figment of human imagination?

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Guest: (624 days ago)

oh how conveniant. you know perfectly well what religious comics are. i mean who describes themselfs as an athiest comic? fact is comics who are religious laugh at there views and can take a joke and there are mmillions of examples who make it there comedy so you were wrong admit it... and comics who are athiests can't and dont. athiesm is i will guess about stuff that i cant prove but my guess is better than your guess AND i hate idol worship and having beliefs from texts and gobby religious people but i love dawkins and there texts and being gobby . HAHA. it aint too hard to ridicule check out what trevor noah said about dawkins. hilarious. its fine when they joke about religion but oh no when they joke about athiesm its not ok and its not funny!! haha poor diddums.

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Original comment

oh how conveniant. you know perfectly well what religious comics are. i mean who describes themselfs as an athiest comic? fact is comics who are religious laugh at there views and can take a joke and there are mmillions of examples who make it there comedy so you were wrong admit it... and comics who are athiests can't and dont. athiesm is i will guess about stuff that i cant prove but my guess is better than your guess AND i hate idol worship and having beliefs from texts and gobby religious people but i love dawkins and there texts and being gobby . HAHA. it aint too hard to ridicule check out what trevor noah said about dawkins. hilarious. its fine when they joke about religion but oh no when they joke about athiesm its not ok and its not funny!! haha poor diddums.

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WalterEgo WalterEgo (624 days ago)

I couldn't think of any "religious comics", so I googled it. Here a top 10 list from a genuine fan of Christian comedians. LINK

You'll notice that like every other comedian, they have a variety of topics that they joke about. Religion is in that list because it is easy to joke about, even for religious people.

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Original comment

I couldn't think of any "religious comics", so I googled it. Here a top 10 list from a genuine fan of Christian comedians. LINK

You'll notice that like every other comedian, they have a variety of topics that they joke about. Religion is in that list because it is easy to joke about, even for religious people.

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Guest: (623 days ago)

so you deny people like joan rivers and conan o brien are religous and comics? lenny bruce? yes they can joke about there own religion because its funny to make jokes about yourself. shame athiests dont see that cos there to up there own a$$. and as for gervais what a suprise a dick joke. how shocking. i think i will miss that thanks you got me 30 yrs to late for that type of humor. trevor noah just google it. it wasnt a vid it was a series of tweets that he probaly had delete cos athiests cant take a joke. jews catholics muslims fine. athiests? no chance.

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Original comment

so you deny people like joan rivers and conan o brien are religous and comics? lenny bruce? yes they can joke about there own religion because its funny to make jokes about yourself. shame athiests dont see that cos there to up there own a$$. and as for gervais what a suprise a dick joke. how shocking. i think i will miss that thanks you got me 30 yrs to late for that type of humor. trevor noah just google it. it wasnt a vid it was a series of tweets that he probaly had delete cos athiests cant take a joke. jews catholics muslims fine. athiests? no chance.

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Guest: Proud Agnostic (620 days ago)

I suppose it rather depends on whether they are able to see the funny side of something. I've seen jokes about cancer, serial killers, even 9/11 - all kinds of topics that aren't 'ridiculous' or amusing. The apparent fact that atheists can't see the humour in their own beliefs says an awful lot.

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Original comment

I suppose it rather depends on whether they are able to see the funny side of something. I've seen jokes about cancer, serial killers, even 9/11 - all kinds of topics that aren't 'ridiculous' or amusing. The apparent fact that atheists can't see the humour in their own beliefs says an awful lot.

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WalterEgo WalterEgo (626 days ago)

"humor isn't about targeting ridiculous stuff … its about making everyday things seem ridiculous". If that's what you think, then you are missing out on so much. Since you mentioned him, let's look at Ricky Gervais. Did you see his monologue at the Golden Globes? LINK Did you think he was funny? I suggest that those who didn't are not seeing beyond the one-liners. Ricky Gervais was not ridiculing Hollywood, he was exposing the corruption and lifestyle in Hollywood.

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"humor isn't about targeting ridiculous stuff … its about making everyday things seem ridiculous". If that's what you think, then you are missing out on so much. Since you mentioned him, let's look at Ricky Gervais. Did you see his monologue at the Golden Globes? LINK Did you think he was funny? I suggest that those who didn't are not seeing beyond the one-liners. Ricky Gervais was not ridiculing Hollywood, he was exposing the corruption and lifestyle in Hollywood.

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Guest: (625 days ago)

no i didnt watch it cos the man is an obnoxious tw@t. let me guess did he use some naughty words? did he say some rude bits about the human anatomy? did he take the pi$$ out or every one exept himself? did he call someone a mong or impersonate a disabled person? wow how shocking and f**king hilarious. if thats what you call humor then you have no hope.

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no i didnt watch it cos the man is an obnoxious tw@t. let me guess did he use some naughty words? did he say some rude bits about the human anatomy? did he take the pi$$ out or every one exept himself? did he call someone a mong or impersonate a disabled person? wow how shocking and f**king hilarious. if thats what you call humor then you have no hope.

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WalterEgo WalterEgo (625 days ago)

You brought up Ricky Gervais, so I found a clip and explained why I think he's funny.

You couldn't be bothered to watch the clip, but you could be bothered to guess, and then tell me what you guessed. I think that's weird.

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You brought up Ricky Gervais, so I found a clip and explained why I think he's funny.

You couldn't be bothered to watch the clip, but you could be bothered to guess, and then tell me what you guessed. I think that's weird.

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Guest: (625 days ago)

wierd? its because id much rather spend 20 seconds predicting the kind of cr@p he comes out every time with than sitting through 10 minutes of his socalled comedy just to prove me right. or was i wrong? nothing rude or dirty? no naughty words? lots of jokes about himself? no trying to be shocking? be honest. and i thought you were proving why athiest comedians are funnier not just telling us why you think hes funny. we know why you think hes funny its the same reasons why racists find jim davidson funny. people like to have their prejudice spooned back to them it makes them feel better. not rocket science.

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Original comment

wierd? its because id much rather spend 20 seconds predicting the kind of cr@p he comes out every time with than sitting through 10 minutes of his socalled comedy just to prove me right. or was i wrong? nothing rude or dirty? no naughty words? lots of jokes about himself? no trying to be shocking? be honest. and i thought you were proving why athiest comedians are funnier not just telling us why you think hes funny. we know why you think hes funny its the same reasons why racists find jim davidson funny. people like to have their prejudice spooned back to them it makes them feel better. not rocket science.

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WalterEgo WalterEgo (625 days ago)

Not wierd, weird.

But that's fine. It just means you have learnt nothing when you could have learnt something. Your life, not mine.

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Not wierd, weird.

But that's fine. It just means you have learnt nothing when you could have learnt something. Your life, not mine.

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Guest: (624 days ago)

nice won for corecting my speling thats all most as gud as being rite or havin a vallid poynt.

errrrr i could of learned something from ricky gervais? so was my prediction wrong? if you can honestly tell me he didnt do any of the things i predicted i will give it a listen. your move. personally i have grown up a little from when i thought the word mong or dick jokes was funny but whatever floats ur boat.

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nice won for corecting my speling thats all most as gud as being rite or havin a vallid poynt.

errrrr i could of learned something from ricky gervais? so was my prediction wrong? if you can honestly tell me he didnt do any of the things i predicted i will give it a listen. your move. personally i have grown up a little from when i thought the word mong or dick jokes was funny but whatever floats ur boat.

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WalterEgo WalterEgo (624 days ago)

I think comedy can be a very effective educational tool. On a recent BoreMe post, Fon C. Foont makes a joke that I thought was funny: " Do you know how to tell if Hillary is telling a lie? Her lips move." LINK

If you don't know who Hillary is, then it's not funny. It's not even a joke.

If you are a Hillary supporter, you may not find it funny because you know that it is kinda true. You are therefore in an uncomfortable position of supporting a liar.

If you find it funny, then you recognise that there is at least an element of truth, and the next time you hear Hillary's lips move, you'll be on the look out for more lies.

Ricky Gervais' Golden Globes speech is similar. It attacks Hollywood. Whether you think it's funny or not, depends on if you think there's at least an element of truth in his jokes. Here's the link again: LINK

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Original comment

I think comedy can be a very effective educational tool. On a recent BoreMe post, Fon C. Foont makes a joke that I thought was funny: " Do you know how to tell if Hillary is telling a lie? Her lips move." LINK

If you don't know who Hillary is, then it's not funny. It's not even a joke.

If you are a Hillary supporter, you may not find it funny because you know that it is kinda true. You are therefore in an uncomfortable position of supporting a liar.

If you find it funny, then you recognise that there is at least an element of truth, and the next time you hear Hillary's lips move, you'll be on the look out for more lies.

Ricky Gervais' Golden Globes speech is similar. It attacks Hollywood. Whether you think it's funny or not, depends on if you think there's at least an element of truth in his jokes. Here's the link again: LINK

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Guest: (624 days ago)

oh you seem to miss my question again WAS I RIGHT in any of my predictions about gervais???? just tell me.

lets see if find what trevor noah said about athiests funny. yeh educational. if you are an athiest you may not find it funny cos yoiu know that it is kinda true. HAHAHA. #weallneedagod if he made more jokes about rude parts of the body or pretended to be disabled maybe you would laugh

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oh you seem to miss my question again WAS I RIGHT in any of my predictions about gervais???? just tell me.

lets see if find what trevor noah said about athiests funny. yeh educational. if you are an athiest you may not find it funny cos yoiu know that it is kinda true. HAHAHA. #weallneedagod if he made more jokes about rude parts of the body or pretended to be disabled maybe you would laugh

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WalterEgo WalterEgo (624 days ago)

No dick jokes, but there was a balls joke.

I like Trevor Noah. I actually prefer him to Jon Stewart. Find that video about atheists.

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No dick jokes, but there was a balls joke.

I like Trevor Noah. I actually prefer him to Jon Stewart. Find that video about atheists.

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WalterEgo WalterEgo (626 days ago)

one more time: Comedians poking fun at religion just for the sake of it, is in my opinion, not great comedy. Like you say, it's too easy a target.

I think great comedy is thought provoking. Great comedy can "nail the truth" in a punchline. Life of Brian wouldn't be funny if it didn't mirror the life of Christ.

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one more time: Comedians poking fun at religion just for the sake of it, is in my opinion, not great comedy. Like you say, it's too easy a target.

I think great comedy is thought provoking. Great comedy can "nail the truth" in a punchline. Life of Brian wouldn't be funny if it didn't mirror the life of Christ.

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Guest: (615 days ago)

I refute that claim, if The Life of Brian was a mirror of your life it could be just as funny.

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I refute that claim, if The Life of Brian was a mirror of your life it could be just as funny.

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Guest: Proud Agnostic (614 days ago)

A mirror of Walt's life would not be amusing. Remember - there's nothing funny about atheism!

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A mirror of Walt's life would not be amusing. Remember - there's nothing funny about atheism!

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