The ‘A’ Word

I am an atheist. I do not believe that any gods exist.

Being an atheist does not mean that I claim to have knowledge or proof that no gods exist. I have simply never encountered any objective, empirical evidence for the existence of any entity that fits the definition of “god”. If I were provided with such evidence, I would provisionally accept that at least one such entity exists.

Atheism is not a stronger variant of agnosticism. It is simply a lack of belief. Knowledge and belief are orthogonal concepts:

The word “atheist” has social stigma. Some people characterize their lack of belief as agnosticism to avoid offending their family and friends. That doesn’t change the fact that if you lack belief in a god you are, by definition, an atheist. You might also be an agnostic, but that’s a separate issue.

The only way to eliminate the stigma is to show the people we care about that belief in gods is not required to be a good spouse, parent, child, friend, or neighbor.

I am an atheist. If you don’t believe in a god or gods, you are too.

Thanks to Alan Fox for suggesting this topic.

 

48 thoughts on “The ‘A’ Word

  1. Usually, philosophers talk about “knowledge” as a species of “belief,” so that “I believe that p, but I don’t know it” means, “I regard ‘p’ as true, but I don’t regard myself as having an adequate justification for it”. And that’s fine — there are all sorts of cases where this happens.

    (Though here too one must be careful — “completely adequate justification” can be context-dependent. Do I know where my car is? Yes, because I remembered where I parked it, I have good reason to believe that memory is generally reliable about such things, and so on. But that won’t convince a determined skeptic.)

    A further dimension is whether or not it matters to you whether or not God exists. I like to call myself an apathetic agnostic — I don’t know, and I don’t care, whether God is or is not. If one insists that one cannot be a pure agnostic, but only an agnostic atheist or an agnostic theist, then OK — that makes me an apathetic agnostic atheist.

  2. I usually self-identify as “non-religious”.

    When I gave up on religion, I also gave up on fine distinctions between atheist, agnostic, deist, etc.

    What seemed clear, was that religion is a human construct. And what also seems clear is that, without religion, nobody would care whether or not there are gods.

    I guess that means that I’m something like what KN calls an “apathetic agnostic.”

  3. For me it’s a matter of who do you trust (or is it whom?).

    I rail against apologetics, but I recognize the impulse in myself. I am more inclined to trust people who have not betrayed my trust, and to accept ideas from people who have not given false witness.

    I recognize that this is close to the arguments given by creationists when they cite Darwin’s errors. How can you trust him or his ideas.

    The answer is not simple, but it boils down to personal experience with people and evidence and arguments. I suspect creationists accept each others arguments because they form a close knit community of friends and relatives. They reinforce each others beliefs and shun anyone who deviates.

    So it is natural for them to look for evidence that non-believers behave the same way, enforcing belief by intimidation and shunning (Expelled, anyone?).

    My personal experience doesn’t fit in this framework. I arrived at agnosticism within a family of churchgoers. In fact I arrived at something close to my current belief set at age 11 while in confirmation class. I was being asked to recite a list of things I believed without any attention being paid to the content of the statements or the need for evidence. It simply rubbed me the wrong way, and I have distrusted the claims of organized religion ever since.

    Now consider how the community at this website (and at AtBC) behave. The other day a statement was made suggesting that Barry Arrington posted a fabricated quotation. Within hours the claim was questioned, and within a day someone took the trouble to find the quotation and to explain why the citation was wrong, but not fabricated. Something that would never happen among the regulars at Uncommon Descent.

    And, of course, when we were asked to provide a list of Darwin’s errors, we did so.

    So to me the issue of whom to trust boils down to watching people’s behavior when their ideas are questioned. How do they respond to criticism. How does a community respond to ambiguous data and unclear hypotheses.

    For me the word belief is pernicious. I do not like the word and I do not like the concept. It exudes more than a whiff of magical thinking. Not whimsical Harry Potter entertaining fantasy, but magic implying threats of social consequences for unbelievers.

    I also do not like the word atheist. Not because it can’t have a precise definition, but because it carries baggage. There are lots of words that have perfectly good denotations, but which carry baggage. Words denoting race or ethnicity, for example. If someone wants to defy the denegrators and wear a label as a badge of courage, that’s fine with me, but I will stick with agnostic or non-believer.

    Edited for spelling.

  4. petrushka: For me it’s a matter of who do you trust (or is it whom?).

    Language evolves . Redundancies will decay out of a language if allowed. I have had a heated argument with a retired English teacher over such pedantics. StephenB, that arch-pedant, picked me up for “less” instead of “fewer”. More cheese, less cheese but many-er people and fewer people; No it isn’t! If more is not ambiguous and you can have more cheese and more people, what on Earth does “fewer” bring in clarity. So with “whom”.

  5. I like Keiths’s argument on the myth of certainty. A certain atheist would be as suspect as a certain scientologist!

  6. Kantian Naturalist: I like to call myself an apathetic agnostic — I don’t know, and I don’t care, whether God is or is not. If one insists that one cannot be a pure agnostic, but only an agnostic atheist or an agnostic theist, then OK — that makes me an apathetic agnostic atheist.

    Triple A ! Sounds like a winner to me.

  7. If the term agnostic implies or includes the concept of atheism, than atheism is superfluous.

    Atheism does not imply not knowing.

    I don’t follow the category of agnostic theist. That sounds like being a little bit pregnant. If you don’t know, then it follows that you don’t believe.

    The key concept for me is whether belief is invoked. I could understand degrees of belief, but believers tend to scorn doubt.

  8. Alan Fox,

    This “less” vs. “fewer” distinction always struck me as both reasonable and useful. Maybe it’s a math background, but “less” refers to rational numbers, and “fewer” refers to integers.

  9. petrushka,

    Oddly, the notion of the agnostic theist is the only category of theist that makes sense to me. I suppose there are people who consider themselves absolutely certain about things, but I suspect that for most of us, a reasonable probability is sufficient. Our beliefs always exceed our knowledge.

  10. As far as I know, the only source we have about deities is from other humans.

    Does anyone know if any human anywhere actually knows anything about a deity or deities?

    One doesn’t have to be an atheist or an agnostic. Those are pejorative terms that are usually conflated and used by sectarians to politically target and demonize those who don’t belong to any religion; especially their religion.

    Skepticism about religious dogma would be more reasonable. Given the number of religions and fragmenting sects within religions, and given human history and human projections of themselves onto nature, it would be more rational to conclude that humans are notoriously bad reporters on the properties of deities.

    Therefore one is not obligated to belong to or accept the tenets of any religion; it’s not required – in the United States at least. Nor is there any justification for demonizing people who choose no religion.

  11. It’s not so much that I actively believe that no conceivable god can or does exist, but it’s pretty clear to me that every single “god model” that has been positively asserted to exist has either been falsified or is unfalsifiable.

    So, I won’t say that no god exists, but I can say that your god clearly doesn’t exist.

  12. I like “apetheist.”

    “Apatheist” is a close second.

    We’re frakkin’ animals, and oblivion awaits. Get over it.

  13. llanitedave: So, I won’t say that no god exists, but I can say that your god clearly doesn’t exist.

    It might be possible to go down a list of sectarian advocates and determine whose deity doesn’t exist.

    I think I could start with fundamentalists and ID/creationists who seem to get every piece of objective evidence that we can check out wrong. Most fundamentalist sects seem quite gullible in accepting charlatans into their midst. ID/creationists get basic, easily checked science dead wrong routinely. Most seem to be full of angst about their sectarian beliefs being THE correct ones. Those deities we can rule out.

    Some religious people don’t talk about their religion, but simply go about their lives using their religion as a template for living. They come from a variety of religions; though not usually any of the Abrahamic religions. They aren’t proselytizers of any kind. Their religious “spirituality” may be allegorical or inspirational, as some “feeling of unity” with a deity and with all living things; but that “deity” may be a personification of nature. In any case, these people feel a “oneness” with all living organisms which generally directs their behavior to do no harm to others nor to coerce others to their beliefs.

    I have known scientists who were Sikhs and Hindus whose beliefs directed them to explore the universe and their relationships to everything. They don’t bend and break science to fit their beliefs; but instead try to come to a deeper understanding of their beliefs from objective study of science. They were very intelligent people; and they struck me as being quite peaceful and contented people – in stark contrast to the angst-ridden Evangelicals who proselytize, meddle in the affairs of strangers, and use politics to advance their sectarian agendas.

    However, one can’t conclude any deities from these more mature, rational approaches to religion; but it is hard to criticize the platform from which these people have launched their lives. Everyone starts at a different place; and life is short.

  14. By the definitions provided I suppose I am of the ‘Agnostic Atheist’ bent. But I don’t like it. I am known amongst acquaintances, describe myself as, and actively enjoy being known as an Atheist. I am not revolutionary, I am not argumentative, I merely have an overwhelming desire to side with the underdog; Who knows I may have joined the Christians under Nero, just to be contrarian. And I strongly percieve atheists to be ‘underdogs’, especially in the US.

    Ah yes, Allen, I also am a passionate exponent of the descriptive power of being able to use ‘less’ and ‘fewer’ gramatically. “The less new ideas ID can come up with then the less problems they will cause.”

  15. robert van bakel: I am known amongst acquaintances, describe myself as, and actively enjoy being known as an Atheist.

    Then continue using that.

    Definitions at best give approximations. Meanings are determined by the way we use the words. If the way you use them is working, then there’s no need to change.

  16. The bible and mankind always concluded and said that the evidence for God(s)
    was in the universe and all the complexity of its parts including ones self.
    Simple conclusion from the evidence of nature.
    Say there is no need to see this evidence as God evidence bUT that was the evidence. Simple equation.
    to ignore this evidence as at least hinting at a smart creator behind it is to ignore a lot.
    Complexity demands a complex origin. Even evolutionists believe biology is complex but see it from chance meetings of raw materials.
    What would everyone think if one lived 4000 years ago?
    Imagine somehow complexity of reality just popped into being?!
    Actually that is what they do now?
    Somebody’s wrong about something!

  17. Robert, it’s YOUR side that imagines complexity “just popped into being”,
    Rational people accept that complexity can arise, albeit haltingly and slowly, from what might be called chemical chaos; once a replicator has formed and enough time passed.

    As a YEC of course you cannot allow that there has been enough time for this to happen, which mindset fatally cripples your thought processes.

  18. Insisting that an atheist can’t KNOW there is no God (and is therefore agnostic) seems to be tantamount to pensioning off that word, since a theist can’t KNOW either, however loudly they proclaim that they do indeed know that their redeemer liveth. There must be some ground for ‘agnostic’ to cover that does not include everybody. I tend towards atheist (and sod the connotations), because I’m pretty sure. But not certain.

  19. Allan Miller: Insisting that an atheist can’t KNOW there is no God (and is therefore agnostic) seems to be tantamount to pensioning off that word, since a theist can’t KNOW either, however loudly they proclaim that they do indeed know that their redeemer liveth.

    I’ve tended to view the agnostic as holding that, in principle, one cannot know whether there is a God. For many an atheist, there’s a lack of evidence. For the agnostic, there isn’t even a possibility of evidence because the concept of God is such that their could not be evidence.

  20. I’m fascinated by the turns the discussion has taken already, but I won’t be back online until Sunday night.

    Rest assured, as soon as I have time I’ll move everything I disagree with to Guano, put most of you in moderation, quote mine material to take umbrage at (after inserting my own punctuation), and file some lawsuits.

    Have a nice weekend!

  21. This thread is sociologically useful regarding what are the regulars’ beliefs at TSZ.

    The image posted by ‘Patrick’ – can we know its source, who made it?

  22. Patrick:

    Rest assured, as soon as I have time I’ll move everything I disagree with to Guano, put most of you in moderation, quote mine material to take umbrage at (after inserting my own punctuation), and file some lawsuits.

    I had no idea Patrick’s last name was Arrington.

  23. Gregory,

    This thread is sociologically useful regarding what are the regulars’ beliefs at TSZ

    Always a pleasure to look up and see your eyeball peering down the microscope!

  24. Alan Fox:

    I like Keiths’s argument on the myth of certainty. A certain atheist would be as suspect as a certain scientologist!

    Let me add that my argument is against absolute certainty:

    The Myth of Absolute Certainty

    The UD regulars are foolish to claim absolute certainty for their “self-evident truths”, but I have no problem with certainty of the “for all practical purposes” or “overwhelmingly likely” varieties, since those leave room for doubt, however minuscule

    An absolutely certain atheist would be as suspect as an absolutely certain scientologist, but provisional atheism is far more defensible epistemically and rationally than provisional Scientology — or provisional evangelical Christianity.

  25. Patrick: Rest assured, as soon as I have time I’ll move everything I disagree with to Guano, put most of you in moderation, quote mine material to take umbrage at (after inserting my own punctuation), and file some lawsuits.

    Well, if you’re going to learn how to moderate a thread, might as well learn from the best.

    keiths,

    I have a slightly different take, which doesn’t conflict with yours for all intents and purposes but which does close off the loop-holes for the “gotcha!” moments that the UD crowd so adores.

    The idea that certain propositions are “absolutely certain” by virtue of being “self-evident” rests on an equivocation between “self-evident” and “absolutely certain”. For a proposition can be “self-evident” in the innocuous sense by virtue not requiring any inference, either inductive (from other observations) or deductive (from other premises), for one to be warranted in asserting it. In the innocuous sense, “self-evident” means “non-inferential warrant”.

    When I see a blue book, I neither infer that the book is blue (from what premises could this be inferred?) nor do I generalize from other observations (from what other empirical data?) — so there is a perfectly innocuous sense in which “there is a blue book” is a self-evident truth. At work here are only two factors: (1) the reliability of my sense-receptors under normal conditions; (2) the capacity to non-inferentially apply concepts in response to the triggering of those receptors.

    In response to other factors — maybe the lighting is bad, maybe I’m not good as distinguishing blue from black or from green — I might say “it looks like a blue book to me”. I retreat from asserting about the reality to asserting about the appearances. As is widely appreciated by anyone who has enjoyed (or suffered through) an introduction to philosophy course, Descartes was much impressed by the fact that the appearance/reality distinction does not apply to appearances. Still, I think it’s fairly safe to say that the trajectory of thought that leads from Descartes through Berkeley and Hume to Kant and Hegel shows that once one can retreated from reality to appearances, there is no way to get back to reality from appearances alone.

    But self-evident truths, understood in the innocuous sense, clearly cannot survive the onslaught of skeptical doubt from a determined (perhaps perverse) interlocutor. (“How do you know that your senses are reliable?” is one way of pushing the question back — just as “how do you know what ‘blue’ and ‘book’ means?” is another.) So the self-evident propositions cannot be counted as “absolutely certain”, if “absolutely certainty” means “sufficient to refute the skeptic”.

  26. “once one can retreated [sic] from reality to appearances, there is no way to get back to reality from appearances alone.”

    ‘The road to hell is paved with good intentions.’

    KN, were you aware of the distinction between apophatic and kataphatic theology before reading this? Just curious due to your ‘self-evidence’ and ‘error’ philosophist talk.

  27. Gregory: KN, were you aware of the distinction between apophatic and kataphatic theology before reading this? Just curious due to your ‘self-evidence’ and ‘error’ philosophist talk.

    The distinction rings a bell — I have encountered it in my studies — but it hasn’t been on my mind in ten years or more. If it’s connected with anything I’m working on now, it’s a historical residue from how theology shaped modern epistemology. Or do you see a more explicit connection between them?

    (By the way, I don’t think I’ve done anything to deserve the slur “philosophist”, so I suggest that, if you really want me to engage with you in conversation at all, you desist from using such language unless you can show me why I deserve it.)

  28. Kantian Naturalist: once one can retreated from reality to appearances, there is no way to get back to reality from appearances alone.

    that should have been:

    once one has retreated from reality to appearances, there is no way to get back to reality from appearances alone.

  29. Here there comes a practical question which has often troubled me. Whenever I go into a foreign country or a prison or any similar place they always ask me what is my religion.

    I never know whether I should say "Agnostic" or whether I should say "Atheist". It is a very difficult question and I daresay that some of you have been troubled by it. As a philosopher, if I were speaking to a purely philosophic audience I should say that I ought to describe myself as an Agnostic, because I do not think that there is a conclusive argument by which one prove that there is not a God.

    On the other hand, if I am to convey the right impression to the ordinary man in the street I think I ought to say that I am an Atheist, because when I say that I cannot prove that there is not a God, I ought to add equally that I cannot prove that there are not the Homeric gods.

    None of us would seriously consider the possibility that all the gods of homer really exist, and yet if you were to set to work to give a logical demonstration that Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, and the rest of them did not exist you would find it an awful job. You could not get such proof.

    Therefore, in regard to the Olympic gods, speaking to a purely philosophical audience, I would say that I am an Agnostic. But speaking popularly, I think that all of us would say in regard to those gods that we were Atheists. In regard to the Christian God, I should, I think, take exactly the same line.

    What he said.

  30. If you are an atheist at this stage (mature stage) in your life, you cease to believe in God – forever. Even if God stood in front of you, you will still refute Him. Instead what you will do is search for evidences to reduce your dissonance, but you will remain an atheist.

  31. coldcoffee:
    If you are an atheist at this stage (mature stage) in your life, you cease to believe in God – forever. Even if God stood in front of you, you will still refute Him. Instead what you will do is search for evidences to reduce your dissonance, but you will remain an atheist.

    So we are not arguing in good faith and are not capable of rational thought?

    ETA: I have to assume you have evidence for your assertion. Perhaps you’ve seen eldery athiests deny god after being confronted directly by the deity hisself.

  32. coldcoffee:
    If you are an atheist at this stage (mature stage) in your life, you cease to believe in God – forever.

    Bullshit. Does the name “Saul of Tarsus” ring any bells? Road to Damascus and all that? If god exists, and is as described in his/her/its/their press releases (those being the Bible), he/she/it/they are perfectly capable of changing the mind of ay of us puny humans—and we know this, not just because he/she/it/they is/are omnipotent, but because a number of passages in his/her/its/their press releases say, explicitly, that he/she/it/they changed the mind of some puny human.

    Now, I think god’s press releases are nothing but occasionally-interesting fan fiction—but you really ought to take said press releases seriously, assuming (as seems pretty damn likely) you’re a Christian. So how come you’re explicitly, directly denying your god’s power to change the minds of puny humans, hmm?

    Even if God stood in front of you, you will still refute Him. Instead what you will do is search for evidences to reduce your dissonance, but you will remain an atheist.

    [shrug] Whatever, dude. Your god is all-knowing, right? So if he/she/it/they actually does exist, by definition he/she/it/they knows exactly how he/she/it/they could overcome any objections I might have to believing in him/her/it/them. And yet, I remain unpersuaded of his/her/its/their existence. Apparently, your god would rather see me burn in his/her/its/their Hell forever than expend the infinitesimal quantity of his/her/its/their infinite power and knowledge it would take to keep me out of Hell.

    Nice god you got there, pal.

  33. coldcoffee: If you are an atheist at this stage (mature stage) in your life, you cease to believe in God – forever.

    Hi, coldcoffee

    Welcome to TSZ. I think I’ve seen you posting at uncommon descent, haven’t I? How many atheists have you met with and discussed their lack of a belief in god(s)? Though I describe myself as agnostic purely because I don’t deny god(s) as I have no certain way of ruling out the possibility, for all practical purposes, I am indeed an atheist. Now, here’s the thing. I can’t recall any moment in my life, from the very first time that I was introduced to the particular form of Protestantism when the concept of god(s) made any sense. I certainly wasn’t persuaded by the strange disjointed illogical stories and the exhortations to behave in a Christian way to avoid the possibility of being sent to hell.

    Even if God stood in front of you, you will still refute Him. Instead what you will do is search for evidences to reduce your dissonance, but you will remain an atheist.

    In science, this is what is known as an untestable hypothesis. It also turns on perception. If someone made this claim to me, that they were converted to Christianity (or indeed some other theism, depending on what this God or gods turned out to advocate – I’m assuming the purpose of the revelation would be to give some instruction or edict) I would initially consider that person either delusional or dishonest. Not that there’s any harm, necessarily, in that, so long as they are not, say, L Ron Hubbard!

  34. petrushka, cubist, Alan Fox,

    I hope you all don’t mind me answering in a single post. I just have a common point to make:
    I am glad that you all are ready to consider God exist if some one can show proof and that’s exactly why I said you will never become theist, because unfortunately, there will never be a scientific proof.
    God has given you free will to not believe Him. He is not going to force belief. His followers may try to persuade you to see the truth, but He is not a dictator. He will not prove Himself. It is for you to seek Him.You have no problem seeking elusive particles and non-existing multiverses, seek the beginning of universe and try to explain crazy Quantum stuff, but how many of you have read scriptures, discussed with theists, have tried to understand that nothing in this universe can be created only by chance?
    You haven’t seen an atom or a quark yet you believe it exist. Why is it so difficult to believe God exist when His benevolence is what is keeping you all alive and happy? I am beginning to feel like a preacher, so I will stop.
    Thank you for reading this far.
    P.S: Allan, yes I am the same coldcoffee

  35. He is not a dictator? From your description, he is merely a sadist.

    Funny thing is, the bible has abundant references to God “proving” his existence to doubters. The story of Jesus showing his post-resurrection wounds to Thomas is one among many.

    So, why the change in heart?

  36. We have no problem seeking elusive particles and crazy quantum stuff because over the last few centuries we have developed methods, instruments and strategies for accumulating knowledge that people of all faiths and nationalities and political persuasions can test and agree on.

    Rather than dwell on contradictory sectarian revelations — the stuff that leads to people killing each other over disagreements — science goes directly to the awesomeness of the phenomena, and builds concepts that lead to agreement among all competent observers. Even religious believers.

  37. coldcoffee: You have no problem seeking elusive particles and non-existing multiverses, seek the beginning of universe and try to explain crazy Quantum stuff, but how many of you have read scriptures, discussed with theists, have tried to understand that nothing in this universe can be created only by chance?
    You haven’t seen an atom or a quark yet you believe it exist. Why is it so difficult to believe God exist when His benevolence is what is keeping you all alive and happy?

    Contrary to your assertion, many of us have studied various religions; there isn’t just one religion in the world.

    There are thousands of religions and “interpretations” of various scriptures. Religions diverge into mutually suspicious, blood-warring factions. They have been doing this for centuries.

    On the other hand, science converges; it doesn’t have scriptures.

    Some scientists are religious; but that doesn’t lead them into blood-feuding over “scriptural interpretations” of science.

    Some sectarians adhere to their “interpretation” of some scripture and end up mangling scientific concepts in order to keep their versions of scripture. However, their “science” no longer works in the laboratory and in the real world.

  38. The image of Jesus of Nazareth is imprinted on Turin cloth. It has been proved by ENEA technical report that it can’t be faked and yet atheist keep questioning the findings.As I said, nothing will ever change an Atheist.

  39. coldcoffee:
    petrushka, cubist, Alan Fox,

    I hope you all don’t mind me answering in a single post. I just have a common point to make:
    I am glad that you all are ready to consider God exist if some one can show proofand that’s exactly why I said you will never become theist, because unfortunately, there will never be a scientific proof.

    And that should give you serious pause. This god of yours wants humans to believe in him/her/it/them, because that’s the only way he/she/it/they will allow any human to avoid the otherwise-inevitable apres-vie fate of burning in unendurable torment forever and ever, worlds without end, amen… and he/she/it/they has arranged matters so that the single most reliable, most accurate truth-seeking protocol we’ve got will not fucking work to determine the answer to the single most important question of all, the question that determines whether or not someone’s gonna burn forever, the question of whether or not god actually exists?

    Again: Nice god you’ve got there. Real nice god.

    God has given you free will to not believe Him. He is not going to force belief.

    Bullshit. He/she/it/they friggin’ well do/does “force belief”. We have the testimony of Saul of Tarsus, among many others, to that effect. Apart from that, didn’t Adam and Eve, and Lucifer, among many others, all have direct personal experience/evidence of god’s existence? Seems to me that if you’re going to argue that certain knowledge of god destroys free will, you’re saying that Adam, Eve, Lucifer, and all the rest of those guys didn’t have free will. Which, if true, makes this god of yours an even worse monster than he/she/it/they already were…

    His followers may try to persuade you to see the truth, but He is not a dictator.

    Bullshit. According to what you people say about him/her/it/them, this god of yours is exactly and precisely a dictator, exactly and precisely the ultimate dictator. You guys claim that he/she/it/they is/are a benevolent dictator, to be sure, but a benevolent dictator is still a dictator.

    He will not prove Himself.

    On that, we can agree. Where we differ is that I agree on the grounds that your god doesn’t exist, and a nonexistent being can’t prove anything… and you agree on the grounds that you believe some things about your god which are flatly contradicted by the press releases which got collected in the Bible.

    It is for you to seek Him.

    I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that for you, “burden of proof” is always something that the other guy needs to shoulder, and never you, am I right?

    You have no problem seeking elusive particles and non-existing multiverses, seek the beginning of universe and try to explain crazy Quantum stuff…

    Yep. And this is one reason why I don’t buy the you don’t believe in god cuz you’re all close-minded an’ stuff argument. Another reason I don’t buy the you don’t believe in god cuz you’re all close-minded an’ stuff argument is because it’s always, always, always proffered by some friggin’ godbot who absolutely will not change their mind about god, no matter what evidence they encounter.

    …but how many of you have read scriptures…

    Me, for one. Also, all those atheists who deconverted specifically because they did read Scriptures, had questions about what they read, and when they asked their shaman/priest those questions, the shaman gave them nothing but obfuscatory verbiage in response. So fuck you very much for trying to frame it as an issue of ignorance on the part of atheists.

    Oh, and if Scripture is such hot stuff for persuading people of The One Eternal And Absolute Truth Of God, how come there’s something like forty-fucking-thousand different Christian sects in the US alone, hm? How about you godbots get your own One Single Eternally And Absolutely True Story straight, and then try persuading the rest of us to believe in it?

  40. coldcoffee:
    The image of Jesus of Nazareth is imprinted on Turin cloth. It has been proved by ENEA technical report that it can’t be faked and yet atheist keep questioning the findings.As I said, nothing will ever change an Atheist.

    How sad that people want to have their faith bolstered by a mysterious length of fabric which first appeared in the Church in 1357. Where was it all the years before that, if it were authentic? Why would anyone assume with no evidence that it was in existence before the date it first appeared?

    Not surprisingly, samples of the shroud give radiocarbon dates between 1260-1390 AD – 95% confidence – which accords quite well with a likely forgery of the shroud shortly before its 1357 appearance. Also not surprisingly there have been howls of protest that the researchers dated it incorrectly. But even if the linen material had been dated perfectly to 0-30 AD – 100% confidence – what makes believers so eager to assume it’s a christian miracle?

    It cannot possibly be the shroud of their guy Jesus; it’s absolutely unbelievable that all of the apostles could have been silent about the “miraculous markings” on the shroud if they were there after Jesus died. It would have been the first thing they all talked about, and kept talking about, until that part of the story got recorded in the bible 50 years later. Honestly, do you believers nowadays really think you could stay silent about a “miracle” such as the shroud markings if you witnessed it personally? Right, thought not, you’d never shut up about it.

    So we may never know exactly how/when the shroud was made, but we have no reason to believe it was made by Jesus’s body or soul and plenty of reason to accept that it wasn’t. Of course there are millions of devout christians who don’t accept the shroud as an authentic miracle; it’s not just atheists who lack belief in some of the Church’s more dubious relics.

  41. coldcoffee:
    If you are an atheist at this stage (mature stage) in your life, you cease to believe in God – forever. Even if God stood in front of you, you will still refute Him. Instead what you will do is search for evidences to reduce your dissonance, but you will remain an atheist.

    Not true. Any god worthy of the name would know how to convince me of its existence.

  42. Yes an all powerful, all knowing completely wise God would choose the Turin shroud as the best way of getting its message across. Makes perfect sense.

  43. I finally have a few moments to comment on this thread after chaperoning, shopping, celebrating, and recuperating. I’m a bit disappointed that there wasn’t more conflict — there’s nothing like a good terminology argument to finish up the year.

    The Bertrand Russell quote makes my point far better than I did. I also like the apatheist formulation — in my day-to-day life my lack of belief is not particularly important and certainly not something I dwell on.

    It is unfortunate that these words are necessary. Even outside the Bible Belt, the culture in the US is such that lack of belief requires a label, instead of being the obvious default. “Agnostic” is in some ways even worse, granting theism inherent, unearned respect. No one claims to be undecided about the existence of leprechauns, faeries, the Greek and Roman pantheons, vampires, werewolves, or any other mythical beings, yet certain gods get a free pass, an automatic “maybe.”

    As Hitchens said, “Exceptional claims require exceptional evidence.” Until the theists come up with some, being an atheist shouldn’t be considered remarkable.

  44. coldcoffee:
    The image of Jesus of Nazareth is imprinted on Turin cloth. It has been proved by ENEA technical report that it can’t be faked and yet atheist keep questioning the findings.As I said, nothing will ever change an Atheist.

    No, really, it hasn’t, coldcoffee. It’s an intriguing object, for sure, but to say it has been “proved…that it can’t be faked” is simply untrue. For a start, it is notoriously difficult to “prove” a negative, which is why real scientific conclusions are never couched as “proofs”.

    It may be the case that we have no good theory (although some seem pretty good) about how it was created, but that doesn’t mean that it was created miraculously. And several indications suggest that it was not, not least being the oddly modest proportions of arms to groin.

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