Author Topic: am i an atheist?  (Read 184 times)

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Offline frank callaway

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am i an atheist?
« on: August 28, 2014, 05:20:39 PM »
o.k. just some quick thoughts...

I believe a person chooses to believe or not believe based on empirical evidence; “empirical” as derived from or guided by experience or experiment.  That is to say “belief” is what a person chooses to be true based on their own observations and their own personal inner experience.  I can say the sun will rise in the east tomorrow because I have acquired sufficient knowledge through observation and experience to say that it is “true”.  I’m not so personally convinced I have adequate knowledge to categorically make a “truth” claim one way or the other regarding the existence of “god”.  I don’t consider myself as having lost any “faith”… it’s more like; sometimes I “choose” to believe and other times I “choose” not to believe based on changing knowledge and personal inner experience.  This is true for me whether the belief is related to “god”, or life on other planets, or free will, or wormholes or whathaveyou…  In other words, it’s easy for me to say there is no empirical evidence of amputees regenerating limbs because of prayer, so based on this observation I don’t believe in “god”.  But it’s not so easy for me to say – I possess adequate knowledge to definitively declare, without doubt, there is no “god”.  For me, philosophical or reasoned arguments don’t lead to a positive belief in “god” and a material universe governed by the laws of physics can either speak for or against a belief in “god”.  My own inner experiences sometimes point to what I would consider the “divine” - moments of altruism, beauty, music.  Other times all I see is pitiless indifference.  I have a v e r y loose idea of what “god” is… for me, you can’t define “god”, because a god defined is a god dethroned.  There’s more but I’m busy now…

When a great genius appears in the world you may know him by this sign; that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.

-Jonathan Swift

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Re: am i an atheist?
« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2014, 05:54:54 PM »
1. Learn to use spaced paragraphs. They are your friend.

2. Don't be so repetitive; it creates rambling.

and

3. What "god" are you talking about, and why do you think (individually) you can't empirically disprove them?

I can empirically disprove the Christian god by using their own Bible, and with only one sentence: it's gibberish. One who has read the Bible knows it is gibberish. For one, it attempts to fit a circle in a square (same size). It takes individual books, different in many ways, and tries to make each of them fit each other. If someone doesn't like something it states, they are able to successfully twist its meaning. No one can prove, empirically, anything it says is true (except perhaps places) without adding their own individual interpretation of it.

Therefore, empirically, the Bible proves itself to be false.

Empirical is defined as "observation" and "experience" through observation in "actuality".

Sums up the Bible, as a whole.

-Nam
« Last Edit: August 28, 2014, 06:08:54 PM by Nam »
A god is like a rock: it does absolutely nothing until someone or something forces it to do something. The only capability the rock has is doing nothing until another force compels it physically to move.

The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously - Humphrey

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Re: am i an atheist?
« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2014, 06:18:41 PM »
Hey frank,

From reading that post alone I'd say you're in a gray area between agnostic deist and agnostic atheist. There was a time in my deconversion from Christianity where I was sort of sitting on the fence with this vague idea of a deistic god. After examining my beliefs for some time I began to think there wasn't even enough evidence for me to believe an unknown watchmaker type god existed, so I just started identifying as an agnostic. However, the term agnostic doesn't actually say anything about whether or not you believe in a god since it deals with knowledge and not belief. Most people that identify as an agnostic are usually atheists that just don't want to be tied to the negative connotations the word atheist usually carries. And I'm fine with that.

Humans get too hung up on labels anyway.  :)
Leave nothing to chance. Overlook nothing. Combine contradictory observations. Allow yourself enough time. -Hippocrates of Cos

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Re: am i an atheist?
« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2014, 06:19:27 PM »
Nam, you've even more prickly than usual.
Leave nothing to chance. Overlook nothing. Combine contradictory observations. Allow yourself enough time. -Hippocrates of Cos

Offline frank callaway

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Re: am i an atheist?
« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2014, 06:23:05 PM »
1. Learn to use spaced paragraphs. They are your friend.

2. Don't be so repetitive; it creates rambling.

and

3. What "god" are you talking about, and why do you think (individually) you can't empirically disprove them?

I can empirically disprove the Christian god by using their own Bible, and with only one sentence: it's gibberish. One who has read the Bible knows it is gibberish. For one, it attempts to fit a circle in a square (same size). It takes individual books, different in many ways, and tries to make each of them fit each other. If someone doesn't like something it states, they are able to successfully twist its meaning. No one can prove, empirically, anything it says is true (except perhaps places) without adding their own individual interpretation of it.

Therefore, empirically, the Bible proves itself to be false.

Empirical is defined as "observation" and "experience" through observation in "actuality".

Sums up the Bible, as a whole.

-Nam

#1.  Ok
#2.  Ummmm, ok
#3.  You must have missed it when I said you cannot define "god".  Every positive definition is deniable.  A god defined is a god dethroned.
#4.  You didn't answer my question
When a great genius appears in the world you may know him by this sign; that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.

-Jonathan Swift

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Re: am i an atheist?
« Reply #5 on: August 28, 2014, 07:06:38 PM »
Nam, you've even more prickly than usual.

I don't get it?

-Nam
A god is like a rock: it does absolutely nothing until someone or something forces it to do something. The only capability the rock has is doing nothing until another force compels it physically to move.

The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously - Humphrey

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Re: am i an atheist?
« Reply #6 on: August 28, 2014, 07:11:09 PM »
#1.  Ok
#2.  Ummmm, ok
#3.  You must have missed it when I said you cannot define "god".  Every positive definition is deniable.  A god defined is a god dethroned.
#4.  You didn't answer my question

I missed nothing. You're sitting on a giant ball; between you and the ground is hot air. When you get to the ground, you'll know where you stand.

We can't help you. Only thing we can do is push the giant ball back and forth to shake you off. Where you land is up to you. However, there are those here who will pop the ball.

-Nam
A god is like a rock: it does absolutely nothing until someone or something forces it to do something. The only capability the rock has is doing nothing until another force compels it physically to move.

The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously - Humphrey

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Re: am i an atheist?
« Reply #7 on: August 28, 2014, 07:25:04 PM »
Nam, you've even more prickly than usual.
I don't get it?

You know, prickly- snarly, apt to snarl- irritable. I mean you're Nam, so you're usually sharp tongued but you're giving frank a hard time right out of the gate in a thread where he's being pretty open about himself.  :P You were a Christian so I assumed (possibly wrongly) that your deconversion experience was similarly rough like mine was. I really struggled for years leaving Christendom and evaluating the god beliefs on my journey through deism, pantheism, and eventually atheism.
Leave nothing to chance. Overlook nothing. Combine contradictory observations. Allow yourself enough time. -Hippocrates of Cos

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Re: am i an atheist?
« Reply #8 on: August 28, 2014, 07:41:37 PM »
You know, prickly- snarly, apt to snarl- irritable. I mean you're Nam, so you're usually sharp tongued but you're giving frank a hard time right out of the gate in a thread where he's being pretty open about himself.  :P

Most people ignore walls of text. That's what he posted. I suggested, facetiously, that perhaps he shouldn't do that.

Quote
You were a Christian so I assumed (possibly wrongly) that your deconversion experience was similarly rough like mine was. I really struggled for years leaving Christendom and evaluating the god beliefs on my journey through deism, pantheism, and eventually atheism.

Not really. I read the Bible, and that was the end of it. Yes, I travelled through other philosophies, ideologies, still am in a way, but my business is my business, and if one doesn't like it, I don't care. Life can be complicated but if one doesn't accept the reality of things then it'll always push them around.

"We" can't really tell him what he is, only he can tell him what he is. We can suggest what he could be but that doesn't really help him because, in the end, it's his road to travel upon.

-Nam
A god is like a rock: it does absolutely nothing until someone or something forces it to do something. The only capability the rock has is doing nothing until another force compels it physically to move.

The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously - Humphrey

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Re: am i an atheist?
« Reply #9 on: August 28, 2014, 07:53:12 PM »
Not really. I read the Bible, and that was the end of it.

Nam, I guess my brain was a little more mushy than yours thanks to the religious indoctrination from my family and church. I made excuses and jumped through hoops for Jesus for years to avoid cognitive dissonance. I'm not saying that's what frank is doing, but if he's having trouble drawing a line at where he stands on the god idea then I can relate. I tried going back through your post history to find what denomination you were but I gave up because your post count is astronomically high. Was it Southern Baptist like me?
Leave nothing to chance. Overlook nothing. Combine contradictory observations. Allow yourself enough time. -Hippocrates of Cos

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Re: am i an atheist?
« Reply #10 on: August 28, 2014, 08:49:27 PM »
Not really. I read the Bible, and that was the end of it.

Nam, I guess my brain was a little more mushy than yours thanks to the religious indoctrination from my family and church. I made excuses and jumped through hoops for Jesus for years to avoid cognitive dissonance. I'm not saying that's what frank is doing, but if he's having trouble drawing a line at where he stands on the god idea then I can relate. I tried going back through your post history to find what denomination you were but I gave up because your post count is astronomically high. Was it Southern Baptist like me?

Didn't really go to church that often as a kid. When my parents took us, didn't seem they were too into it; my dad worked 4 jobs, worked at one full-time, and went to University part-time. My mom worked, then came home and took care of three kids. Weekends were mainly reserved for Disney World.

When I was in 5th grade I did go on my own after baseball practice but then a couple of years later I read the Bible, and that was it. Hell, the first job I had was at a YMCA. Believe it, or not I was a Child Counselor. I was an atheist when I worked there.

Yes, I was an SB, and member of the SBC. Hell, probably still am.

-Nam
A god is like a rock: it does absolutely nothing until someone or something forces it to do something. The only capability the rock has is doing nothing until another force compels it physically to move.

The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously - Humphrey

Offline JeffPT

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Re: am i an atheist?
« Reply #11 on: August 28, 2014, 10:31:10 PM »
I believe a person chooses to believe or not believe based on empirical evidence; “empirical” as derived from or guided by experience or experiment. That is to say “belief” is what a person chooses to be true based on their own observations and their own personal inner experience.

There is no choice involved.  A more accurate statement might be 'A person comes to accept that something is true based on the 'evidence' they have gathered throughout their life in support of the position'.  Experience and experiment have a lot to do with it yes, but context is incredibly important.  If someone is told throughout their life that the little voice inside their head is a deity of some kind talking to them, then every time they hear that voice, they are going to be more convinced that the deity is real. 

I can say the sun will rise in the east tomorrow because I have acquired sufficient knowledge through observation and experience to say that it is “true”.

If there exists a being that has the capability of not making the sun rise in the east tomorrow, how could you claim with any degree of certainty that the sun will rise in the east tomorrow?  A god could change his mind at a whim and make the sun rise in the west whenever it wanted.  Yet this has never, ever, ever happened.  Nor has a limb ever, ever, ever regrown.  The evidence piles up. 

Given the past history of sunrises and the 100% consistency with which the sun has risen in the east, it is safe to say that sunrises behave as if there were no such thing as a deity with the power to keep the sun from rising in the east.   

I’m not so personally convinced I have adequate knowledge to categorically make a “truth” claim one way or the other regarding the existence of “god”.

I like the intellectual honesty here, but there is sufficient evidence to place the Christian God in the same probability category with Zeus, Thor, Santa Claus, and the tooth fairy.  The knowledge you require to make this categorization is out there for you. 

I don’t consider myself as having lost any “faith”… it’s more like; sometimes I “choose” to believe and other times I “choose” not to believe based on changing knowledge and personal inner experience.

You keep using the word 'choose' here as if that's what you really mean.  You can't choose to believe something.  If you think you can, go ahead and choose to believe in Santa Claus.  Go ahead, see if you can do it.  I doubt you can.  You might be able to fake it, but you can't choose to believe in it. 

I think of belief as being on a continuum.  One end is strong belief, the other end is strong disbelief.  You're probably just sitting near the middle.  One piece of information pushes you one way, another pushes you another and the see-saw shifts back and forth, waiting for a giant push from one side or another. 

This is true for me whether the belief is related to “god”, or life on other planets, or free will, or wormholes or whathaveyou…

You ride the continuum of all of those near the middle, yet you seem to ride the 'the sun rises in the east' continuum toward the strong belief end, and most likely the Santa Claus continuum near the strong disbelief end.  That makes more sense, doesn't it? 

In other words, it’s easy for me to say there is no empirical evidence of amputees regenerating limbs because of prayer, so based on this observation I don’t believe in “god”.  But it’s not so easy for me to say – I possess adequate knowledge to definitively declare, without doubt, there is no “god”.

Lack of limb regeneration is just one piece of evidence that pushes you toward the disbelief side.  For most of the folks on this site, there is such an overwhelming number of these sorts of pieces of evidence that they are simply sitting on the far end of the continuum.  Those pieces are out there for you as well.  The difficult thing is something you mentioned earlier.  Faith.  Faith in God will literally override piles and piles of evidence that would normally push someone toward the disbelief side.  The people here are capable of bombarding anyone with huge amounts of knowledge that, in the absence of faith, would easily sway just about anyone.  Most of the time, I really think we butt our heads against faith more than anything else.  Its frustrating.  Believing something for which you have no evidence is such a dumb thing, but god believers never see it that way. 

My own inner experiences sometimes point to what I would consider the “divine” - moments of altruism, beauty, music.

Chemical and neurological changes in the brain.  No divinity required.  We also experience boredom, fear, jealousy, hate, etc.  All chemical and neurological. 

Other times all I see is pitiless indifference.

This categorically rules out a benevolent deity.  It does nothing to help rule out something like deism, however.   

I have a v e r y loose idea of what “god” is… for me, you can’t define “god”, because a god defined is a god dethroned.  There’s more but I’m busy now…

A god defined is a god dethroned because the more carefully you define a god, the more likely it is that humans can check to verify it's qualities.  That's why they all get dethroned.  The most resilient of all proposed gods are also the ones that are most ill-defined.  That says something... doesn't it? 
Whenever events that are purported to occur in our best interest are as numerous as the events that will just as soon kill us, then intent is hard, if not impossible to assert. NDT

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Re: am i an atheist?
« Reply #12 on: August 28, 2014, 11:04:08 PM »
Frank

You are of course correct when you say that it impossible to disprove a god. Any concept can be claimed true, and those that are lofty enough are impossible to disprove. You could claim that all rocks have been painted red by tiny mites with spray cans, but if I don't see any red rocks, I can sort of safely dismiss your claim. But if someone says that there is a giant guy in the sky who does all kinds of mysterious things and he loves us, etc, even if there is no evidence to back up such claims, I have no grounds for completely dismissing them because the nature of the claim is so vacuous that there is nothing there to disprove.

If there is a god, or gods, I have absolutely no reason to believe they are related to the christian god or the muslim god or the hindu gods or any other claimed deities. Because each of those sounds exactly like a human invention, and given that there is no proof other than the claims made by, you guessed it, humans, I have no particular reason to take any of the proposed gods seriously.

Now if you want the god you don't know about to be so mysterious that you'll never know about him, I'm sure that will serve you well. It won't accomplish anything, but at least you'll have your bases covered. But I will happily dismiss even the most mysterious of possible god creatures, because unless one or two of them show up and sign my autograph book, they are useless to me.

Human religions toy with morality, claim rights to a certain amount of power and usually charge for their services. All they offer in return are promises that if you're good, you have at least a slight chance of living forever. And while, to me, that sort of like saying "Hey, if you agree to take the garbage out every night, we'll let you sleep in the dumpster!", I guess it appeals enough to others to garner attention. I've no idea why. I see religions as obvious myths, and treat them accordingly. What little positive they have to offer tends to be offset by righteousness and abuse.

Sitting on the fence is certainly far better than pretending you have all the answers. And if it is important to you to hold on to both indecision and the undefinable, you're right on target. But how is it going to make your life any better if you have to put a lot of energy in to your indecision? Are you going to behave differently? Is it going to make you a better person? Do your doubts define you more accurately than if you were to make a more definite decision?

I just say "probably not" and go on with my life. It doesn't make me meaner, shorter, unhappier, poorer or shy. It doesn't cause me to wreak havoc or lust after Porsches. Granted, I don't have the security of being a righteous SOB, but I fake that by being an Apple fanboy.

It simply isn't important to think that there is a god just in case there is one. It isn't important to decide that god isn't definable to cover your hiney. Any god out there, well aware that he or she or it or they have provided inadequate information to earth inhabitants, is unlikely to judge you by how much angst you've suffered while dealing with the unknowable.

There is no way to balance the real world and religious one and accomplish as much as you can by ditching the belief stuff. There are plenty of proactive things you can do on this planet once you get the religious crap out of your head. And far fewer proactive things you can do if you suspect flying a plane into a building is a wonderful idea.

Screw not defining a god. Define your life, and live it without one.
Not everyone is entitled to their own opinion. They're all entitled to mine though.

Offline frank callaway

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Re: am i an atheist?
« Reply #13 on: September 09, 2014, 10:43:14 AM »
My own inner experiences sometimes point to what I would consider the “divine” - moments of altruism, beauty, music.

Chemical and neurological changes in the brain.  No divinity required.  We also experience boredom, fear, jealousy, hate, etc.  All chemical and neurological. 

i agree with your statement "belief as being on a continuum".  but when it comes to ideas that are unknown all you have is a "choice".  to me, that's where this "god" (whatever that is) resides... in the realm of the "unknown".  obviously it's easy to deny any positive definition of the unknown, since it's "unknown"... so the "choice" becomes, do you believe that someday you will know more than you do today...?

also, i have to disagree with your statement above.  when i say my own inner experiences such as music or beauty, i'm not talking about emotions like fear, jealousy or hate, but rater the subjective nature of our conscious interpretations.  we take each other's consciousness on "faith" because we have to - there is no test of its existence.  scientists "believe" that consciousness arises from the complex interaction of neurons, but even if we finally understand that (interaction), we still won't be able to prove that it produces consciousness.  and yet i have no doubt that everyone has an inner life, a subjective experience, a sense of self, just like me... that's why my own inner experiences sometimes point to the divine.

When a great genius appears in the world you may know him by this sign; that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.

-Jonathan Swift