Matthew

Ask an Atheist!

122 posts in this topic

I think that my "after life" will be exactly like my "before life." In essence: nothing. This doesn't bother me much, because I wasn't exactly unhappy during my before-life of non-existence, so why would I worry about my after-life of non-existence?

 

This is exactly how I feel.  I'll also add that my disbelief in an afterlife pushes me to make the most of my time, both with regard to my own pursuits and how I spend time with those I love, because after my life is over... that's it.  There's no second chance to do the things I wanted to do or say the things I wanted to say, so if I'm going to do something, I have to do it now. 

4 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Alright, a little more interesting and in depth, thanks for answering my questions.

Just so you know, I'm asking your personal opinions, they don't have to be based of science or anything (I'm just genuinely interested in what people have to say).

 

When it comes to morality is there such a thing as universal morality? Or is everything relative?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When it comes to morality is there such a thing as universal morality?

 

Looking at things from the largest of possible scales to the smallest: two galaxies colliding into each other, suns exploding, asteroids crashing into Earth and wiping out 75% of all species on Earth, right down to...the every day course of nature here (ever seen a nature documentary? That stuff is brutal).... It's just impossible for me to see any evidence of morality outside of what we humans have come up with ourselves. And what we come up with has historically been quite imperfect. Even if I did believe in a god, I don't think I would believe in objective morality; it would simply be one more being whose thoughts I'd take into consideration. "Death of the author" and all.  :D

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Looking at things from the largest of possible scales to the smallest: two galaxies colliding into each other, suns exploding, asteroids crashing into Earth and wiping out 75% of all species on Earth, right down to...the every day course of nature here (ever seen a nature documentary? That stuff is brutal).... It's just impossible for me to see any evidence of morality outside of what we humans have come up with ourselves. And what we come up with has historically been quite imperfect. Even if I did believe in a god, I don't think I would believe in objective morality; it would simply be one more being whose thoughts I'd take into consideration. "Death of the author" and all.  :D

 

Well they say the sun will burn out in what is it. 2 billion years but in 1.1 it'll become a giant and make life on earth uninhabitable. Andromeda is said to be on a collision course with the milky way.

 

Another question.

 

Do you believe warp travel is possible?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Another question.

 

Do you believe warp travel is possible?

 

bones-mccoy1.jpg

 

Dammit Ringer, I'm an atheist not a physicist!  :P

5 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 

Dammit Ringer, I'm an atheist not a physicist!  :P

I'm sorry... I guess I'm spoilt by being surrounded by atheists who like to talk about such topics.

I gotta say, I had some interesting discussions about beaming technology and warp technology when it comes to actual consciousness...

 

I'll ask a simpler question then.

 

Do most of you prefer atheist partners or can the partner believe in something so long as he/she doesn't force that belief on the you?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Alright, a little more interesting and in depth, thanks for answering my questions.

Just so you know, I'm asking your personal opinions, they don't have to be based of science or anything (I'm just genuinely interested in what people have to say).

 

When it comes to morality is there such a thing as universal morality? Or is everything relative?

 

I saw that you posted in the "secular values" thread. I think my post here mostly sums up my views. I pretty much agree 100% with what Steadfast said. I especially like the part about how she wouldn't believe in objective morality (at least not in the universal/absolute sense) even if a god did exist (and if he/she/it handed down a "moral law").

 

Do most of you prefer atheist partners or can the partner believe in something so long as he/she doesn't force that belief on the you?

 

Well, I haven't dated anyone since I accepted my non-belief and later identified as an atheist, so I can only speculate, but my ideal partner would be another atheist. I wouldn't really care if she labeled herself an atheist or anything or if she debated about religion, just as long as we shared views on gods and religion. At this point in my life I can't see being with someone who believes in things like hell, reward/punishment based on belief and faith, usefulness of prayer, an omni-this-and-that god, things like that. So probably just a vague belief in a hands-off designer I guess, but I wouldn't know unless I tried.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm sorry... I guess I'm spoilt by being surrounded by atheists who like to talk about such topics.

I gotta say, I had some interesting discussions about beaming technology and warp technology when it comes to actual consciousness...

 

 

Are you referring to something like the transporter/teleporter problem of consciousness? Like, how do you know you're still you after going through a device that teleports you by copying your cells or disassembling them and recreating them or reassembling them somewhere else? I enjoy thinking about stuff like that. 

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm sorry... I guess I'm spoilt by being surrounded by atheists who like to talk about such topics.

 

Oh, don't get me wrong, I think it's very interesting! I'm just woefully under-qualified to have my own opinions on the matter...I'm pretty abysmal when it comes to higher-level mathematics and physics. Plus I saw the opportunity to make that joke, and I had to take it.  :P

 

Are you referring to something like the transporter/teleporter problem of consciousness? Like, how do you know you're still you after going through a device that teleports you by copying your cells or disassembling them and recreating them or reassembling them somewhere else? I enjoy thinking about stuff like that. 

 

To continue my Star Trek nerd-ing, there was an episode of TNG that raised this issue. It featured a group of people who refused to travel by transporter for exactly the reason you mentioned (how do they know it'll still be their consciousness that emerges on the other side?). After I saw it I realized, hey, that's actually a fantastic point. So if transporters ever are invented, I don't think I'l be stepping in one.  :lol:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Do most of you prefer atheist partners or can the partner believe in something so long as he/she doesn't force that belief on the you?

 

I definitely prefer another atheist. I could probably make things worth with an agnostic, and maybe even someone who is loosely theist (believes in a creator entity but doesn't subscribe to any specific religious doctrine), but I don't think I could have a happy relationship with someone who was truly religious.

 

Most atheists I've heard of who are married to Christians were: #1, raised in a church, and weren't particularly traumatized by the experience, so church traditions have pleasant cultural meaning to them even if they don't believe, and #2, are OK with attending services with their family even if they don't believe, or are OK with staying home while the rest of their family attends church services. I am neither of those things. I was raised in a wholly secular environment, and have never attended religious services of any sort. I do not plan to start. And I am absolutely not OK with my future kids being brought to church every week, or being taught that the Bible is the word of God. Maybe there are some Christians who are OK with raising their kids in a secular manner and attending church alone...but I doubt there are many of such individuals. (BTW, this isn't only targeted at Christians, it's just easiest to use one theoretical spouse-religion instead of trying to phrase things so all possible religions are covered. I'd feel the exact same way about a Hindu spouse, or a Wiccan.)

 

Aside from the "how to raise the kids" question, well...I live in the Bible Belt. I literally cannot drive a city block without running into a church of some sort. Everyone assumes that everyone else is a Christian, and it's usually easier to simply play along then to tell the truth and start a debate with the dude who likely has a pistol in his truck, or scandalize nice old ladies, or lose friends. When it comes to other people telling me about their beliefs, I've perfected the "smile and nod." In my own home...I simply need a break. I need to be able to kick back and vent sometimes without worrying that I'm going to trod all over my spouse's beliefs in the process. I need someone who will understand and support my complete and utter inability to comprehend religion. Because having that kind of validation in my personal life allows me to continue being respectful of everyone else's beliefs when I'm in the outside world.

3 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@matthew and @steadfast madcap

 

Yeah the discussion of said consciousness in transportation of the beaming variety is one I had a long discussion with a psychiatrist I knew since he is a trekkie. I'm telling you, we even went into the discussion about how warp travel could be theoretically possible if certain laws of physics could be bent by quarks which would have to shift the improbabilities of how gravity would bend space. enough so that people could travel instantly.. but concluded that we were just making some stuff up with what we saw in star trek.

 

As for the stuff about finding someone who is also an atheist... I guess that was what I was expecting in an answer. All humans and people want to be with someone who i similar to them I guess.

 

Anyway another question.

 

What would you say would have to happen to convince you that there was another power in the universe, theism for instance? Like would you have to see a flying spaghetti monster or a troll chopping wood in your back yard? A giant hand in the sky?

 

A psychiatrist who is an atheist told me if he saw that he would take haldol. Which means he'd just think he was hallucinating. What would it take to make you believe otherwise? Or what do you think it would take?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What would you say would have to happen to convince you that there was another power in the universe, theism for instance? Like would you have to see a flying spaghetti monster or a troll chopping wood in your back yard? A giant hand in the sky?

 

A psychiatrist who is an atheist told me if he saw that he would take haldol. Which means he'd just think he was hallucinating. What would it take to make you believe otherwise? Or what do you think it would take?

 

I guess it really depends on what particular deity we're talking about. After all, you're an atheist about every other god aside from the Christian one, right? So what would it take to convince you that the Greek gods exist, or the Wiccan goddess?  :D

 

It is kind of odd, isn't it? First hand experience is widely accepted as the most valuable form of evidence we can have, but clearly it isn't the only form of evidence we accept. I've never seen the Tower of London for myself, but I'm still sure that it exists. And plenty of people swear they have first-hand experience with God, but the second someone claims to literally hear the voice of God, pretty much everyone agrees they're hallucinating and need to be thrown in the looney bin.  :lol:

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Is there any belief about what happens after death? Or what the purpose of living for yourself fulfills?

 

As a spiritual atheist, yes I believe in life after death. Though it's a little more complicated.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As a spiritual atheist, yes I believe in life after death. Though it's a little more complicated.

 

Spiritual atheist? Now you've got me curious!

 

If you don't mind me asking, what does that entail?

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Also, sorry for the late reply but I just wanted to say thanks to Matthew and Steadfast for your answers to my question, I really appreciate them :) To be honest, I didn't really get the point the author of that article was making (I'm not great at philosophical lingo). From what I understood, he was saying that an atheist can only be an atheist if they're 100% sure no spiritual entities exist, and anybody who is less sure than that shouldn't call themselves an atheist - something I disagree with. But again, I'm not sure if I understood correctly so that's just my general opinion on what constitutes an atheist (and which is probably at least partially misguided since I'm not one myself :P).

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As a spiritual atheist, yes I believe in life after death. Though it's a little more complicated.

I am quite an atheist but spiritual as well; it is just the inner workings, I don't believe in life after death and it is complicated :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Also, sorry for the late reply but I just wanted to say thanks to Matthew and Steadfast for your answers to my question, I really appreciate them :) To be honest, I didn't really get the point the author of that article was making (I'm not great at philosophical lingo). From what I understood, he was saying that an atheist can only be an atheist if they're 100% sure no spiritual entities exist, and anybody who is less sure than that shouldn't call themselves an atheist - something I disagree with. But again, I'm not sure if I understood correctly so that's just my general opinion on what constitutes an atheist (and which is probably at least partially misguided since I'm not one myself :P).

 

No problem. I'm no philosopher either; I had to read the author's four posts a couple times to fully understand.

The reason I read this...

 

That's what theism and atheism are all about, in my opinion - belief. Nobody is 100% sure that God(s) exist. Likewise, nobody is 100% sure that God(s) don't exist. The reason I believe is that I've weighed the evidence, science, personal experiences, etc and decided that it is in favour of the Gods' existence, but there is still the possibility, however small I feel it may be, that I might be wrong. As far as I know, for atheists, it's the same - you believe that there is no God, you may even be 99.9% sure of it, but there is always the possibility that there might be. Whether or not you believe, you're still going to have to make that leap of faith (ha ha, bad pun) that your position is the right one.

 

Basically, saying that an atheist should not call themselves an atheist because they believe but don't know God(s) exist is like saying that a religious person should not call themselves religious because they doubt their faith sometimes. Everyone doubts their faith from time to time. What matters is what we think, feel and believe to be right - not what we know. Because really, what do we know? About the universe? About God or Gods, even if we believe? We're so insignificant and imperfect in the overall scheme of things that knowing all the answers is impossible. Expecting people - even atheists - to have them is ridiculous.

...And said that I think you agree with the author is that I don't think the author is saying you have to know or be sure that no gods exist, but simply that an atheist is someone who believes that no gods exist (which is what you think as well, right?) The author's point is that atheists are the same as theists in that they believe something which is unprovable, and that atheists thus have no place to criticize religious belief like many of them do. He's also saying that the people who claim to be atheists but try to dodge and say they don't hold a belief that no gods exist but simply don't accept the claims that they do, are not really atheists but agnostics.

My disagreement with the author is due to my view that theism and atheism are the only two positions one can have on the existence of gods. When asked whether you believe in a god or gods, you either say yes and are a theist, or no and are an atheist. Gods existing is the claim and so you either accept it (believe) or don't accept it (don't believe). Agnosticism and Gnosticism are separate labels. One can be a gnostic or agnostic theist and one can be a gnostic or agnostic atheist. That's my view on the labels, at least. Let me know if I'm misunderstanding your view.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I guess it really depends on what particular deity we're talking about. After all, you're an atheist about every other god aside from the Christian one, right? So what would it take to convince you that the Greek gods exist, or the Wiccan goddess?  :D

 

It is kind of odd, isn't it? First hand experience is widely accepted as the most valuable form of evidence we can have, but clearly it isn't the only form of evidence we accept. I've never seen the Tower of London for myself, but I'm still sure that it exists. And plenty of people swear they have first-hand experience with God, but the second someone claims to literally hear the voice of God, pretty much everyone agrees they're hallucinating and need to be thrown in the looney bin.  :lol:

 

 

As to your question about wiccan goddesses or greek gods, this topic is "ask an atheist" not "ask a theist" so I refrain from answering  ^_^

 

Yes I agree it's odd that we are so willing to believe something because of "this study" or "this proven thing" and yet there are many people who are delusional about certain aspects in the world. First hand experience... is there anything that would convince you not to be an atheist?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Spiritual atheist? Now you've got me curious!

 

If you don't mind me asking, what does that entail?

 

 

Basically it goes like this: We don't believe in god but we believe that there's something out there.

 

For me I don't believe in a deity but I do believe in a Universal Force. (Think of the Force from Star Wars) 

 

Some atheists believe in ghosts, I'm one of them. I know guy who is an atheist that believe in ghosts because he saw one himself. In some ways I count him as a spiritual atheist because he doesn't believe in a god but he agrees there's something out there due to his personal experience.

 

For more information here is a link:

 

http://www.centerforabetterworld.com/SpiritualAtheism/about-spiritual-atheism.htm

3 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

First hand experience... is there anything that would convince you not to be an atheist?

 

That's honestly a pretty hard question for me to answer, because I see absolutely no evidence of there being a deity. It isn't like I have some kind of experience that makes me think, "Hm, well maybe there is a God afterall...nah, that wasn't quite good enough for me, I need to hold out for something better before becoming a theist." I just really see nothing. So I haven't ever put much thought into what my particular "proof threshold" might be. 

 

Literally hearing the voice of God/seeing God might be the most obvious answer...but the most likely cause of that would be schizophrenia, so I'd have to get evaluated for that first. [As per my thread about trying to understand theism here, the religious people on this site have told me that when they talk about having a relationship with God they do not mean they literally hear a voice speaking to them, which is why I feel confident in saying schizophrenia would be the most likely cause.] If this voice were able to literally answer my prayers and act upon them in a way that other people could verify (ex. "Hey God, could you levitate this lamp in front of my friends to prove you exist?" "Sure thing!" "What the hell Steadfast that lamp is actually levitating?!"), that'd be especially convincing. Asking for a generic "sign" wouldn't be enough, because then my brain is free to interpret any possible event that could randomly occur to anyone as being the "sign."

 

Perhaps being saved from an impossible-to-survive situation would do the trick (not just an unlikely to survive situation...afterall, the 9/10 people who died under the same circumstances aren't exactly alive to attribute their survival to a deity). But then...the fact that current science couldn't explain my survival doesn't mean it never will be able to, and I wouldn't want to attribute my seemingly impossible survival to a "God of the gaps."

 

Maybe putting a religious text in my hands that not only describes our current understanding of science/history, but is also able to predict future findings? Or one where the words within the text changes for all adherents across the world, depending on the individual needs of the follower? That'd be pretty nifty. But surely, if such a text existed, we'd all have heard about it and converted to whatever that religion was.

 

Or, on the darker side, perhaps this deity is a cruel one that only favors its followers. In that case, I'd expect to see a radical difference in quality of life between the followers of one religion vs all other religions + non-belief. I mentioned a few posts back how I recently had a string of incredibly unlucky events that I could do nothing to avoid, that made my life miserable for about 3-4 months. Well, if this cruel deity existed, I'd expect my whole life to be like that, unendingly, until I finally caved and converted. Then the events would have to cease.

 

This of course isn't an all-encompassing list, just the best examples I could imagine. I suppose, generally, the way I see it is: a loving god wouldn't let me go to Hell (or whatever punishment-zone this deity has set up) because it couldn't be bothered to put forth a minimal amount of effort to say "hey, guess what, I exist!" and a cruel god wouldn't let me live such a happy and fulfilling life that doesn't seem to contain any less joy or more misery than any of its followers' lives. So either of these two conditions would have to change pretty radically to get me to believe.

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

May I just say that this thread has been extremely interesting and enlightening so far :) Several of my friends and family are agnostics or atheists but I've never really thought about what that entails, beyond the fact that they don't believe in any deities, and it's not something we tend to talk about. So it's been very cool to read your posts and get to understand atheism better :)

 

 ...And said that I think you agree with the author is that I don't think the author is saying you have to know or be sure that no gods exist, but simply that an atheist is someone who believes that no gods exist (which is what you think as well, right?) The author's point is that atheists are the same as theists in that they believe something which is unprovable, and that atheists thus have no place to criticize religious belief like many of them do. He's also saying that the people who claim to be atheists but try to dodge and say they don't hold a belief that no gods exist but simply don't accept the claims that they do, are not really atheists but agnostics.

My disagreement with the author is due to my view that theism and atheism are the only two positions one can have on the existence of gods. When asked whether you believe in a god or gods, you either say yes and are a theist, or no and are an atheist. Gods existing is the claim and so you either accept it (believe) or don't accept it (don't believe). Agnosticism and Gnosticism are separate labels. One can be a gnostic or agnostic theist and one can be a gnostic or agnostic atheist. That's my view on the labels, at least. Let me know if I'm misunderstanding your view.

 

From what you explained in your first paragraph, I think I do agree with the author there. I would say that if an atheist knows there is no God or Gods, they're just as much an atheist as someone who believes there isn't, but that said, I'm of the opinion that nobody can truly be 100% sure. As for your second paragraph, I would personally add a third choice: "I don't know" or "I abstain from giving an opinion". It's not a position I have personal experience with, so I don't know what it's like and whether people who hold such a view privately do lean on the side of theism or atheism, but I do think it's possible to be neither a theist or an atheist. But again, that's just my opinion based on my admittedly limited experience.

 

Basically it goes like this: We don't believe in god but we believe that there's something out there.

 

For me I don't believe in a deity but I do believe in a Universal Force. (Think of the Force from Star Wars) 

 

Some atheists believe in ghosts, I'm one of them. I know guy who is an atheist that believe in ghosts because he saw one himself. In some ways I count him as a spiritual atheist because he doesn't believe in a god but he agrees there's something out there due to his personal experience.

 

For more information here is a link:

 

http://www.centerforabetterworld.com/SpiritualAtheism/about-spiritual-atheism.htm

 

Thank you for sharing :) I guess that means several people I know are spiritual atheists then. Interesting to know.

 

This of course isn't an all-encompassing list, just the best examples I could imagine. I suppose, generally, the way I see it is: a loving god wouldn't let me go to Hell (or whatever punishment-zone this deity has set up) because it couldn't be bothered to put forth a minimal amount of effort to say "hey, guess what, I exist!" and a cruel god wouldn't let me live such a happy and fulfilling life that doesn't seem to contain any less joy or more misery than any of its followers' lives. So either of these two conditions would have to change pretty radically to get me to believe.

 

My immediate thought when I read this was: what about a God that simply doesn't take any interest in you? A lot of polytheistic religions, mine included, have the belief that the Gods are just there - superior to us, of course, but still just a part of the world. They might take interest in a specific person, but generally, unless you take interest in them, they're not going to meddle in your life. You could compare it to a random person who lives in your town, who you might see on the bus or at the supermarket from time to time, but who doesn't interact with you because you simply have no interest in each other. Benevolent and cruel aren't the only two personality options for a God.

 

Actually, I could develop this into something I've been wondering about for a while now. What are atheists' views on non-Abrahamic religions? The reason I'm curious is because whenever I hear (or see, or read) an atheist disproving religion, the ideas they are pulling apart are almost always inherent to monotheism, and specifically, Christianity.* I know that atheists who are atheists because of lack of evidence won't change their minds just because the God in question is Zeus rather than YHWH - what I'm interested in is the deconstruction of the religions themselves. For example, atheists often say that Christianity doesn't make sense because of x, y and z (generally related to God being both omniscient and omnipotent, as well as benevolent).

 

So apart from the fact that we believe in fictional invisible people too :D, is there anything in particular within non-Abrahamic religions that you don't think makes sense?

 

*I'm aware that's because most of these arguments are directed at monotheists, who make up the majority of religious people in the world. Still, maybe I'm weird, but it makes me feel a bit left out. I want my religion to be criticised too! :P (Okay, I'm kidding. But I'm still curious to hear atheistic opinions on the subject that aren't 2000 years old.)

4 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's honestly a pretty hard question for me to answer, because I see absolutely no evidence of there being a deity. It isn't like I have some kind of experience that makes me think, "Hm, well maybe there is a God afterall...nah, that wasn't quite good enough for me, I need to hold out for something better before becoming a theist." I just really see nothing. So I haven't ever put much thought into what my particular "proof threshold" might be. 

 

Literally hearing the voice of God/seeing God might be the most obvious answer...but the most likely cause of that would be schizophrenia, so I'd have to get evaluated for that first. [As per my thread about trying to understand theism here, the religious people on this site have told me that when they talk about having a relationship with God they do not mean they literally hear a voice speaking to them, which is why I feel confident in saying schizophrenia would be the most likely cause.] If this voice were able to literally answer my prayers and act upon them in a way that other people could verify (ex. "Hey God, could you levitate this lamp in front of my friends to prove you exist?" "Sure thing!" "What the hell Steadfast that lamp is actually levitating?!"), that'd be especially convincing. Asking for a generic "sign" wouldn't be enough, because then my brain is free to interpret any possible event that could randomly occur to anyone as being the "sign."

 

Perhaps being saved from an impossible-to-survive situation would do the trick (not just an unlikely to survive situation...afterall, the 9/10 people who died under the same circumstances aren't exactly alive to attribute their survival to a deity). But then...the fact that current science couldn't explain my survival doesn't mean it never will be able to, and I wouldn't want to attribute my seemingly impossible survival to a "God of the gaps."

 

Maybe putting a religious text in my hands that not only describes our current understanding of science/history, but is also able to predict future findings? Or one where the words within the text changes for all adherents across the world, depending on the individual needs of the follower? That'd be pretty nifty. But surely, if such a text existed, we'd all have heard about it and converted to whatever that religion was.

 

Or, on the darker side, perhaps this deity is a cruel one that only favors its followers. In that case, I'd expect to see a radical difference in quality of life between the followers of one religion vs all other religions + non-belief. I mentioned a few posts back how I recently had a string of incredibly unlucky events that I could do nothing to avoid, that made my life miserable for about 3-4 months. Well, if this cruel deity existed, I'd expect my whole life to be like that, unendingly, until I finally caved and converted. Then the events would have to cease.

 

This of course isn't an all-encompassing list, just the best examples I could imagine. I suppose, generally, the way I see it is: a loving god wouldn't let me go to Hell (or whatever punishment-zone this deity has set up) because it couldn't be bothered to put forth a minimal amount of effort to say "hey, guess what, I exist!" and a cruel god wouldn't let me live such a happy and fulfilling life that doesn't seem to contain any less joy or more misery than any of its followers' lives. So either of these two conditions would have to change pretty radically to get me to believe.

 

 

What you are basically stating is.. literally nothing could make you change your mind.

 

It's the same as quite a few of my friends. Fair answer.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This of course isn't an all-encompassing list, just the best examples I could imagine. I suppose, generally, the way I see it is: a loving god wouldn't let me go to Hell (or whatever punishment-zone this deity has set up) because it couldn't be bothered to put forth a minimal amount of effort to say "hey, guess what, I exist!" and a cruel god wouldn't let me live such a happy and fulfilling life that doesn't seem to contain any less joy or more misery than any of its followers' lives. So either of these two conditions would have to change pretty radically to get me to believe.

 

I don't think people go to Hell for simply not believing in God. There aren't a bunch of people in Hell right now because they lived on an island somewhere and never heard of God. There aren't a bunch of people in Hell right now because they were genuinely looking for the truth and just couldn't find reasons to believe in God. People go to Hell for rejecting God when the evidence comes to them, or perhaps for saying, "Well, I can see that the evidence might point to God, but I can't be bothered following up on it because I don't want to believe in God."

 

And the argument that God "hasn't even made a minimal amount of effort" to reveal His existence, I've heard a lot, and it's incredibly subjective. What constitutes a minimal amount? For some people, the fact that the universe exists at all when it doesn't have to exist, that's plenty of evidence for them. For others, you could have Jesus Himself appearing and tap-dancing in front of them, and they'd still say, "Well, there's still the chance that this is just a vision, or an alien pretending to be God, so no, that's not good enough proof." And if someone is like that, then I can't think of anything in the world that would convince them to believe in God, because they don't really want to believe.

 

Anyway, I guess my question is, those who identify as atheist/agnostic, what kind of resources do you like to look at for arguments for existence of God? e.g. watching online debates (I think those can be cool), reading religious texts, apologetics books, classical arguments for God's existence, etc. Do you tend to look at material making the case for God (e.g. Mere Christianity), against (e.g. The God Delusion), or a mix of both?

 

xxx

5 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Actually, I could develop this into something I've been wondering about for a while now. What are atheists' views on non-Abrahamic religions? The reason I'm curious is because whenever I hear (or see, or read) an atheist disproving religion, the ideas they are pulling apart are almost always inherent to monotheism, and specifically, Christianity.* I know that atheists who are atheists because of lack of evidence won't change their minds just because the God in question is Zeus rather than YHWH - what I'm interested in is the deconstruction of the religions themselves. For example, atheists often say that Christianity doesn't make sense because of x, y and z (generally related to God being both omniscient and omnipotent, as well as benevolent).

 

So apart from the fact that we believe in fictional invisible people too :D, is there anything in particular within non-Abrahamic religions that you don't think makes sense?

 

*I'm aware that's because most of these arguments are directed at monotheists, who make up the majority of religious people in the world. Still, maybe I'm weird, but it makes me feel a bit left out. I want my religion to be criticised too! :P (Okay, I'm kidding. But I'm still curious to hear atheistic opinions on the subject that aren't 2000 years old.)

 

Sorry! ^^; Like I said in another post, most of my posts are meant to be applicable to all religions, it's just much easer to phrase things using one religion as an example. And since I knew Ringer was writing to me from a Christian perspective....

 

Anyway, it's hard to know exactly what I think of non-Abrahamic religions, because I know so few people who practice them. I do know some people who are Wiccan, and I tend to find I have a lot in common with them. Afterall, they also know how other-ing it can be to be a non-Christian in a predominantly Christian environment (I even knew a girl who was the victim of a hate crime because of her Wiccan affiliation). And apparently I eye-roll at them less than people they know from other faiths, because, as a non-believer, all religions are equally strange to me...the concept of doing magick is no weirder to me than believing that a cup of wine turns into blood every Sunday.  :D

 

As for what specifically about non-Abrahamic religions doesn't make sense to me...well, I guess I might need some specific examples of what you do differently in order to be able to shoot it down.  :P

 

My immediate thought when I read this was: what about a God that simply doesn't take any interest in you? A lot of polytheistic religions, mine included, have the belief that the Gods are just there - superior to us, of course, but still just a part of the world. They might take interest in a specific person, but generally, unless you take interest in them, they're not going to meddle in your life. You could compare it to a random person who lives in your town, who you might see on the bus or at the supermarket from time to time, but who doesn't interact with you because you simply have no interest in each other. Benevolent and cruel aren't the only two personality options for a God.

 

I actually did think of addressing this in my post; I just decided it was long enough as is, and figured you might bring it up.  ;) With a person on the street, at least, you do have evidence of their existence, even if you take no interest in one another. While I do admit it could be possible there are deities out there that have simply decided to provide no evidence of their existence...why would I choose to believe such beings exist? If there is no evidence, then it seems much simpler to conclude that those entities don't exist, rather than to assume that they do exist and just haven't revealed themselves yet. Of course, if these entities did show themselves, I'd take that new evidence into account and change my thoughts on the matter. But why would I change my beliefs before the proof comes in?

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry! ^^; Like I said in another post, most of my posts are meant to be applicable to all religions, it's just much easer to phrase things using one religion as an example. And since I knew Ringer was writing to me from a Christian perspective....

 

Anyway, it's hard to know exactly what I think of non-Abrahamic religions, because I know so few people who practice them. I do know some people who are Wiccan, and I tend to find I have a lot in common with them. Afterall, they also know how other-ing it can be to be a non-Christian in a predominantly Christian environment (I even knew a girl who was the victim of a hate crime because of her Wiccan affiliation). And apparently I eye-roll at them less than people they know from other faiths, because, as a non-believer, all religions are equally strange to me...the concept of doing magick is no weirder to me than believing that a cup of wine turns into blood every Sunday.  :D

 

As for what specifically about non-Abrahamic religions doesn't make sense to me...well, I guess I might need some specific examples of what you do differently in order to be able to shoot it down.  :P

 

 

I actually did think of addressing this in my post; I just decided it was long enough as is, and figured you might bring it up.  ;) With a person on the street, at least, you do have evidence of their existence, even if you take no interest in one another. While I do admit it could be possible there are deities out there that have simply decided to provide no evidence of their existence...why would I choose to believe such beings exist? If there is no evidence, then it seems much simpler to conclude that those entities don't exist, rather than to assume that they do exist and just haven't revealed themselves yet. Of course, if these entities did show themselves, I'd take that new evidence into account and change my thoughts on the matter. But why would I change my beliefs before the proof comes in?

 

Hey Madcup, I come from a non-Abrahamic (Dharmic) background, and there are also Abrahamic nontheistic or atheistic and agnostic religions because some belief systems do not need god at all, for example, Buddhism and Jainism, although mainstream Hindus believe in gods. Jains and Buddhists mostly believe that existence of god is irrelevant, and, some forms of Hinduism do not worship a supernatural god, but the sun which we can see; I have seen Jainism having a strong logical foundation rather than foundations based on authority, and sentient beings are autonomous in Jainism, and to some lesser extent, under Buddhism. Whether or not someone believes in reincarnation is still a choice as some still see reincarnation as some easier way to conceive the moral system and more perspectives, than what is apparently told by the authority. Of course, old Jain books are lost, but still faiths do exist in some forms, especially after influencing (Hindus think that they invented senticentrism but most scholars agree that Jainism is of pre-Aryan/pre-Vedic origin; some even consider Jainism to be an offshoot of Hinduism but it is the other way around.) other religions. But still, whether or not you consider them religions is entirely up to you. These religions usually say that when someone maximizes his/her autonomy (inner autonomy, actually), that person attains happiness, (i.e. being free from what perceived as earthly feelings or temptations)

 

I have no idea about Sikhism and I was not interested in it because it more or less fails to acknowledge the sentience and the want to live (like humans) in sentient beings of other species, so I think it is not much different from the western ones.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now