Faith in atheism
I put these defintions out there to show that these are the definitions of the words themselves and we can’t choose which definition to not use unless your already using one of them. The defineition of religion i did not have a hand in creating, so when you say that you disagree with it i really don’t know what to say. But i do understand your point on the purpose of the universe. So for your sake i pulled down a couple other definitions for religion that i believe you would fit under. First, religion-the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices. Such as not believing in God and having faith that he doesn’t exist or at least living life accordingly by not worshiping gods and other such things(not beleiving being is a kind of beleif). See just because atheist don’t go to Church doesn’t mean that they are not together in their beliefs. Second, religion-something one believes in and follows devotedly; a point or matter of ethics or conscience. You say that you don’t believe in God and that you live your life in such a way because you are not convinced of his existence. Also didn’t you mention that you were writing a book on how ethics came about, this is devotion without a doubt. I believe it can be safely stated that you are a devout atheist.
With all that being said would you agreee that; your atheism is a belief, it is a belief based without proof so it is faith, and you are devoted to being a ethical atheist making this your religion.
As for your example of the bank i beleive in a sense you can be right but not in the context of our conversation. Let me explain this in two different ways. First if your trying to count from one to two you will eventually get there for a distance between two things is not eternal. Second if you were dividing for ever as your claiming than i would say that your are still not telling the truth. Yes if you were a friend and i aske you how much money you had this would be a justified answer. But we are speaking of a life or death situation (such as religion and atheism) than you should tell me the truth of the matter. For even in this example you show that something is still true no matter how little or insignificant it may be to a person.
“Emotions are not unlikely; they clearly exist.” If your so sure how come the divorce rate is through the roof. I also claim to never have been in love. So how can you prove to me they exist.
“do you mean that you think God is not unlikely because there is evidence for His existence, or do you mean that even before you had any evidence you thought it was not unlikely that God existed?” Again i believe Jesus to be God but you refuse to believe he even existed so there isn’t much we can do here except discuss history. As for his for his Holly Father the only proof of him is philisophical (metaphyical) and i believe miracles. Before i became Christian i didn’t know what to make of the strange animal that is man, so before i was Christian i was atheist than agnostic because of my confusion and lack of evidence. Now it is my belief that this strange animal is more than engough proof of a devine being. My thoughts and beliefs changed somewhere in my philosophy classes.
I would say that i am not wrong with my beliefs because they are eternal, true, complicated, common, sophisticated, humble, and least of all they make more sense than anything else. This is what i believe. Nothing against any other religion but a devout Christian i beleive to be a very intelligent individual, let me mention that there are few of these individuals, i myself would one day like to be one.
The moment is eternal, try to get out of the moment you are forever stuck in it. “The mans eyes are blue” is eternal. How can it not be. Eternity is not bound by time and therefore not bound by present tense or anyother tense. As long as you are telling me this is will forever be true that you said this. If his eyes are truly blue and i saw them i would say it is true today, tomorrow, and yesterday. I believe in a sense all things are true because they can become history but if a concept makes coherent sense and cannot change throughout time this is the truth that we are looking for, the universal, an axiom, the metaphyical. We are not talking of relativism or marterialism or anyting else that has to do with poplular thought because these concepts change over time (what was good on monday is no longer good on tuesday). We are trying to catch a glimpse of the eternal, the never changing, God.
“A day has passed, thatâ€™s how. If my child is one day old on Monday, sheâ€™s no longer one day old on Tuesday.” This is true and never changing again the eternal is not bound by time. This would also be true, “Something as general as killing your parent (without the circumstances carefully defined) may be immoral one day and moral the next because circumstances have changed.”, as long as the circumstances change not the concept. If we constantly change the concept we are in a way turning down the concept of truth or constantly changing the concept our need better suit us which isn’t truth at all.
You have done a good job convincing me that your definition of truth is more credible than i first thought except i don’t see how it doesn’t necessarily have to be eternal? Truth as you stated doesn’t say that the nature of truth is not eternal but with the definition i gave of eternal i would have to say they necassarily go hand in hand. For example; the true or actual state of a matter, conformity with fact or reality. These definitions do not say anyting about eternity.
Jesus could have been wrong that is a possibility that i find highly unlikely, none the less your right it is a possibility. But i don’t agree for being Christian i have put my faith in Him becasue He is God. There is also very slim chance that he had his words misinterpreted since the Bible can be translated from hebrew in to english to this very day. I would also say that this man truly thought he was God for he let himself die for saying so. I also don’t see how his death helped his people (except of course taking our sins) because they were hated for his name sake. The apostles were put into house arres for an example.
If this Man truly walked on water healed the sick and did many miracles, this is what i believe, and He was truly God than i also believe that he could have pulled himself off the cross. So why didn’t he pull himself off the cross, easy because it was his will. “Perhaps the simplest explanation for why God would allow this to happen to him is that he wasnâ€™t God”. If we are going to assume that he is God then we can’t say he isn’t that is a mental impossibility. If you don’t think he’s God just say that.
“Aquinasâ€™ proofs for the existence of the divine are sorely wanting” I still believe that your not understanding where i’m coming from. Let me explain, his proof is metaphysical, he found this proof through philosophy seprate from theology meaning that philosophy is in accordance with theology the same as you would say something is in accordance with reality. His proof shows a couple of different possiblities; one that the world itself could be eternal, or two that the world was created by something eternal. I don’t see how this can be “sorely wanting”. As for “Kalam cosmological argument” i seriously doubt it can be more rigoursly explained than this one argument not to mention the whole work it is a part of. (have you seen how big this work is with all the parts together, sheesh i can’t beleive someone can right that much it truly is amazing)
I don’t think i ever said this, “we donâ€™t completely understand gravity, therefore God exists”, but i see your point. I am simply saying that sceince doen’t define a ultimate cause in this situation but it trys to in situations like this one and many other such as the big bang, evolution, and even psychology. We are filling a void that should be filled with astonishment with lame and shallow definitions. This is where i’m going.
“Research into the Big Bang has taught us quite a bit about how the universe works.” So, how does the universe work??? I don’t claim to know that much, this truly is a remarkable claim. So when people say that the universe is “expanding” what does this mean. How can something expand into nothing??? The only answer to that, that i have, is that it is expanding into eternity or God. If you were at the edge of the universe which is the limit of that which exists physically, what would you expect to see on the other side??? I believe you might want to explain this to me. I actually believe that a person might be a little more “sorely wanting” by taking the big bang and theory of evolution as ultimate explanations of how we came to be when actually all they are is theories that put forward an explanation and still leave why out of it. I beleive science inept to answer these questions and it is up to philosophy and theology. Besides haven’t you ever heard of theistic-evolution. Francis Collins wrote the “Language of God” which explains how the two don’t actually disagree with one another. It could be since God is not bound that he created organisms knowing that they would eventually turn into humans, wa la and just like that you really can’t say evolution disproves God.
“arenâ€™t you in effect saying that there are valid methods for testing for the existence of God but that these methods have negative results? If that is what you are saying, then you are implying that science can prove that God does not exist” I am saying there is no valid methods of science to test for God.
“Actually, by not allowing a distinction between natural and supernatural, you are the one being ambiguous.” If you made ditinction i didn’t see it. I beleive we might both be guilty of “sorely wanting” in this instance, because you say if something can not be explained we need call it nature. I ask why? There is a bias here because you think nature is responsible for everything. I know you can make this more clear.
My question of progress is something that you can see over the years. I take it you believe in evolution so how does an evolutionist explain progress.
I have an idea lets treat this as if it were thy ultimate crime scene and we are to use every tool possible to solve the crime. If we are to do this i would say that Occam’s razor is eliminating real possiblities for no good reason so we must move on to another tool.
People do stay dead unless they arisen. I find that common sense also. Need i pull out the definition of miracle.
“How seriously would you consider the possibility that God broke your lamp?” I would take the possiblity really serious only after i ruled out every other possiblity. I think satan could also be a possiblity. I do believe in signs from the Lord and divine purpose.
“Okay; what is it?” It depends on the situation and intent i believe you can figure it out from here. If all standards were subjective than most people would contradict one another. This to me doesn’t make any sense, in philosophy this is how we diprove theories by contradiction. In other word somone has to right somone wrong. There has to be truth or else no could be wrong though they contradict which doesn’t make sense. For example God’s existence is not based on my beleif but niether is his nonexistence based on your nonbelief. God either exists or doesn’t, not both that is not possible (another mental impossiblity).
“The real question is whether or not killing when you do not think you are in the wrong is ever murder and therefore morally prohibited.” Again i would say it depends on intent. That is why i believe that only the Lord can justly judge somone. If God knows that in your heart you wanted to execute justice than it’s obvious, if He knows you were seeking glory that would also i believe be obvious. As to those whom burned women i believe they might go to hell. But listen to this i beleive that these women were speaking out against the Church for heresay and they were killed to shut them up. They say they saw these women talking to spirits and say they worshiped satan, so why would they burn them and not try treating them? Doesn’t make sense, i would say they aren’t true Christians.
I will definetly read the Old Testament don’t worry, but i found it more inportant to learn more about Christ. I also don’t think they changed in that sense but something was added something along the lines of forgivness.
I have a really good Chesterton quote that’s pretty long i’ll send to you sometime. I know you’ll like it he is the “Apostle of Common Sense” you know.
I didn’t realize that you were quoting definitions as opposed to proposing definitions. I see that they are similar to the definitions at Dictionary.com, but you may have found them elsewhere. Your definition of religion, by the way, is the same as the first part of definition 1 of “religion” at Dictionary.com (which you might want to take a look at — I likely would have accepted it in its entirety).
Turning to your new definitions of religion: “the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices.” I’d have to reject that as a definition, since it could apply to science, Republicanism, ethnic groups, and other groups I would not consider to be religions.
You go on to say that having faith that God doesn’t exist is a religion — I would entertain an argument for that being a religious belief, but not an entire definition of a religion. I completely disagree that not worshipping gods is a religion. People who don’t worship gods may have that one belief in common, but they are not a “body of people” and may otherwise be completely culturally distinct.
Your second definition: “something one believes in and follows devotedly; a point or matter of ethics or conscience.” I can believe that a sports team is the best in its league and follow it devotedly, but that is not a religion. Medical confidentiality is a matter of ethics or conscience, but it is not a religious belief.
It’s true that I don’t believe in God, but it is a bit misleading to say that I “live your life in such a way because you are not convinced of his existence.” This makes it sound like I base some of my beliefs on disbelief in the existence of God, when in reality disbelief in the existence of God emerges from my beliefs. If it turned out that God existed, my core philosophy would not change because none of it relies on there being no God.
To clarify about my book — it’s about developing one’s own set of ethical beliefs, and it applies whether or not you believe in deities.
You ask, “would you agreee that; your atheism is a belief, it is a belief based without proof so it is faith, and you are devoted to being a ethical atheist making this your religion.” I agree that atheism is a belief in the sense that it is what I believe; I disagree that it is based on no proof (since the burden of proof is on those who believe in deities); and I disagree that I am devoted to being an ethical atheist (I am devoted to being ethical — atheism is an outgrowth of my philosophy, not a requirement of it).
Now, for my bank example. If I understand you correctly, you are agreeing that small possibilities can be treated as non-existent, but you are saying that for very important subjects (such as life and death or the existence of God) we need to be completely precise. I think that’s a point worth considering.
Here’s an illustration of how I feel about the subject. I know that people have been killed by falling objects — meteors, airplane parts, things dropped from buildings, etc. Knowing that this is the case, do I wear a helmet whenever I leave my home? Of course not, but I still recognize the remote possibility that I might be killed by a falling object. Now let’s pretend that there is a group of people called the Crushheads who think it’s possible that they will be killed by falling objects and live their lives with that in mind. Would you say that I am a Crushhead? I would say that I am not because the possibility of death by falling object is so remote that I don’t even consider it when making decisions.
Bringing this back to religion, I feel that it is much more likely that I will be killed by a falling object than that God exists. To me, saying I’m not an atheist because there is an infinitesimal chance that God exists would be like saying I’m not an American because there’s an infinitesimal chance I wasn’t really born to American parents. If we are going to spend time considering all possibilities, even only when concerning the most vital subjects, we will be so busy cataloging the infinitesimally possible that we will have time for nothing else.
You ask why the divorce rate is so high if emotions exist. That seems like a complete non sequitur to me, so I’ll have to ask you to rephrase the question. You also ask how I can prove to you that emotions exist if you have never been in love. I assume you are asking how I can prove to you that romantic love exists if you have never been in love (since not having been in love doesn’t preclude having other emotions), and that we’re not talking about the possibility of doing brain scans to show a mental activity that can be labeled “love.”
This is a good point — emotions are completely subjective and can only be meaningfully defined in reference to one’s own experiences (in the same way that light can be scientifically described but the experience of seeing a color is subjective). I know that emotions exist because I have personally experienced them, but that experience is not compelling proof to someone who has no emotions. I’d say that same thing for God. If you have had a personal experience of the existence of God, I wouldn’t blame you for believing in Him, but your personal experience is in no way compelling to me.
You say, “i believe Jesus to be God but you refuse to believe he even existed.” No, actually I said I thought it was likely that he existed, but not likely that he was God.
You also say, “As for his for his Holly Father the only proof of him is philisophical (metaphyical) and i believe miracles.” But wouldn’t miracles be non-philosophical proof for the existence of God?
“The moment is eternal, try to get out of the moment you are forever stuck in it. ‘The mans eyes are blue’ is eternal. How can it not be. Eternity is not bound by time and therefore not bound by present tense or anyother tense.” I can accept that definition of “eternal” for the purpose of defining truth, but it has some unfortunate side effects and can lead to a loss of clarity. For example, it means that the phrase “God is good” is eternally true (assuming it is true right now) even if God was evil in the past and will be evil again in the future.
You ask why my definition of truth doesn’t mention eternity. I would say that a statement is true if it conforms to reality at the moment it is asserted. “His eyes were blue” is true if his eyes are currently blue. “His eyes were blue” is true if his eyes were blue in the past. “His eyes are blue today and will be brown tomorrow” is true if indeed the change in color will take place. After the change, “His eyes are blue” is not true, but it was true in the past.
Jesus: You say you don’t see how Jesus’ death helped his people. I didn’t say it did, but rather that it’s possible that Jesus knew he was not God but thought that his death would help his people (by making him a martyr for their cause, for example). I agree that this is a remote possibility. Just a quick clarification — the New Testament wasn’t written in Hebrew (this doesn’t change your point, but I thought I should point it out).
Aquinas: I think I do understand what you are saying. I’ve read his work (albeit, quite a while ago), and thought that the proofs for the existence of God were not exactly his best work. I understand his proposing two possibilities for what is eternal, but I think that the way he did it was seriously flawed. Take a look at the Kalam argument if you have a chance (I’m sure there’s a Wikipedia article on it) — it’s pretty much the same argument as Aquinas’ argument for a prime mover, but with less gaping holes in it.
Regarding science, you say: “We are filling a void that should be filled with astonishment with lame and shallow definitions.” I don’t think that science’s explanations for how the world works are, in general, lame or shallow. I also don’t think they are incompatible with astonishment or a sense of wonder. Personally, I find that the more I understand things from a scientific perspective, the more wonderful and delightful the universe becomes.
You ask, “So, how does the universe work???” That’s rather a broad question — I said that research has taught us quite a bit, not that we know everything. Let’s look at the individual items you brought up.
“So when people say that the universe is ‘expanding’ what does this mean.” it means that over time the distance between objects increases. The rate of expansion can be (and has been) measured.
“How can something expand into nothing???” I wouldn’t say that the universe is expanding into nothing. It’s possible that there is a type of space outside of our universe. It’s also possible that our universe is finite but unbounded and that the phrase “outside the universe” is without meaning. Questions like these are unresolved bur currently under investigation.
“The only answer to that, that i have, is that it is expanding into eternity or God.” I don’t understand how either eternity (a period of time) or God (a noncorporal being) can be expanded into. Without further explanation, this starts to sound like “anything I don’t know I label ‘God.’”
“If you were at the edge of the universe which is the limit of that which exists physically, what would you expect to see on the other side???” I don’t know that (from our perspective, at least) the universe has an “edge” in any meaningful sense. FWIW, you can’t walk off the edge of the earth, either.
You mention that the big bang and evolution leave “why?” out of the explanation. I agree with this. But I’d also say that asking why assumes that there is some ultimate purpose to the universe, and a purpose implies a deity or creator of some kind. Therefore God is not the answer to Why, but rather He is part of the question. If you are not assuming that God exists, then there is no Why.
I have indeed heard of theistic evolution (I used to be Catholic), and I think it is a reasonable way to marry science and religion. You are right that evolution doesn’t disprove the existence of God (it doesn’t pretend to), but so far as I can see it does make God unnecessary. Could God be directing evolution? Sure. Must he be? I don’t think so.
Regarding a distinction between natural and supernatural, you say, “If you made ditinction i didn’t see it. I beleive we might both be guilty of ‘sorely wanting’ in this instance, because you say if something can not be explained we need call it nature.” I don’t think I ever explicitly defined “natural” since I thought it was obvious. Just to be clear, I would say that anything that is entirely part of the physical world is natural. To clarify, I didn’t say that if something cannot be explained we need to call it nature. Rather, I said that if there is a reasonable possibility that something has a natural explanation then we can reasonably consider it natural. Something shouldn’t be considered supernatural until all reasonable natural explanations have been exhausted, just as an unknown light in the sky shouldn’t be assumed to be an alien spacecraft unless there is no more reasonable possible explanation.
“My question of progress is something that you can see over the years. I take it you believe in evolution so how does an evolutionist explain progress.” I had been talking about progress in the sense of moving forward — philosophical progress would be the process of putting together and refining ideas; scientific progress would be developing better and better explanation.
I don’t understand the question, “how does an evolutionist explain progress.” Do you mean “if something evolves is that progress?” or perhaps “how can progress occur if evolution is true?” or something else?
On to the crime scene. You say that, “Occam’s razor is eliminating real possiblities for no good reason.” I disagree with this statement. Occam’s razor is a tool for showing what possibilities are to be preferred, it doesn’t eliminate any. But for the sake of discussion let’s see how far we can get without using Occam’s razor.
“People do stay dead unless they arisen. I find that common sense also.” Please tell me how, in this case, appealing to common sense is any different from appealing to Occam’s razor. Aren’t you just selecting the most likely possibility?
You say that you would take the possibility that God broke your lamp seriously “only after i ruled out every other possibility.” But why are you not taking it seriously right away? Considering more likely possibilities first is Occam’s razor.
Regarding public decency, you say that the amount of clothing it is moral for a woman to wear in public “depends on the situation and intent.” But didn’t you also say that there is an absolute moral rule for how much clothing is decent in public? If the absolute moral rule significantly varies by situation, then it seems we’re back to my original point — there is no unambiguous, universally accepted moral rule for public decency, and no unambiguous moral sense of right and wrong so far as this issue is concerned. Maybe we could better clarify this if you gave me an example: describe a situation in which you can say specifically how much clothing would be morally required for a woman in public.
Regarding murder, I would say that even if in your heart you intend to execute justice (as in “thou shalt not suffer a witch to live”) you can still be a murderer. But even with our disagreement on this subject, your statement that only God can justly judge someone (which, from your perspective, is a completely reasonable statement) seems to support my statement that “thou shalt not murder” is not rigorously and unambiguously defined.
I’ll also disagree with you about whether women being burned as witches deserved any punishment. In my reading on this subject, it seems that a woman as more likely to be burned as a witch because she was old, unliked by neighborhood children, or a midwife than because she was un-Christian. But this is a side point to our discussion.
In: About atheism, Discussion, Morality