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Ask an atheist

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Askthepizzaguy, May 7, 2011.

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  1. peter grimes

    peter grimes ... Retired Moderator

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    To the first part, it's not at all accurate to say that atheists say 'we don't need god'. It's more accurate to say 'when looking at all the evidence from physics, chemistry, biology, etc. we find no evidence for the existence of gods'.

    As to your second point, I don't understand what you mean that the rules of our universe are too detailed. Perhaps you could elaborate?
     
  2. Flying Pig

    Flying Pig Utrinque Paratus Retired Moderator

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    He doesn't fiddle with the physical world on any large scale, but occasionally suggests things to us via our subconscious. At least, he might, it's not really that likely - but I think we arrive at conclusions through addressing our problems to 'God', and whether the answers come from him directly or because we think about them in a differnet way when we ask for advice on them - what's the practical difference? It still works!

    Atheists, of course, will shoot me down on that one.
     
  3. ParadigmShifter

    ParadigmShifter Random Nonsense Generator

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    You don't have to be a theist to suggest things to yourself via your subconscious, you know.
     
  4. erez87

    erez87 Lord of Random

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    So he does fiddle with the physical universe? Thoughts are the mechanics of the brain - if you claim god interferes with the thoughts, show it to me on the brain. Show me any tiny piece of evidence an outside source influences the brain mechanics in such a way and that it is god.

    If god does ANYTHING inside the universe - he influences it - and so it is detectable. If he doesn't than he has no influence on the universe and I cannot claim something is true without evidence, since that's dishonest.



    As for subconsciousness. I don't believe in it either. It has no evidence :) it doesn't even have a definition.
     
  5. El_Machinae

    El_Machinae Colour vision since 2018 Retired Moderator

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    Isn't the subconscious easily defined as 'intelligent processing that we're not aware of'?
     
  6. erez87

    erez87 Lord of Random

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    'intelligent processing that we're not aware of'

    And how's that "occasionally suggests things"?

    and what is "'intelligent processing that we're not aware of'"? you mean the shooting of electrons in the brain?
     
  7. ParadigmShifter

    ParadigmShifter Random Nonsense Generator

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    Never tried dreaming?
     
  8. El_Machinae

    El_Machinae Colour vision since 2018 Retired Moderator

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    Flashes of intuition or feelings of certainty, I'd assume. Heck, I get gut feelings sometimes, too.
     
  9. erez87

    erez87 Lord of Random

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    And that's something you are NOT aware of? Sounds like things you are.
    Dreaming is VERY conscious too. Otherwise - how would you know you are dreaming?
     
  10. Flying Pig

    Flying Pig Utrinque Paratus Retired Moderator

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    And therein lies the rub. We are faced with two possibilities - either that God influences it in a way entirely in order with normal operation: in other words, doesn't do anything which would show up as 'strange' on observation - having a thought is entirely consistent with what hte brain does all the time, but God might 'push' a certain one to the fore, which would from an observer's point of view look entirely the same as just thinking of one spontaneously. However, since these revalations, if you will, come more often from addressing problems to what you think is God, it seems to me that whether he's actually there or not the 'best option' is to presume that he is because it works best.

    Well, one night in Aldershot an outside source convinced me that it would be a great idea to - well, let's not go into that, but perhaps it's a little early to start worshipping the god of Stella.

    Until you wake up, you generally don't!
     
  11. Ziggy Stardust

    Ziggy Stardust New Englander

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    Heh, you were doing well until you got to "However".

    These revelations do not exist, or are at least not noticeable by your own logic: "in other words, doesn't do anything which would show up as 'strange' on observation". There are no revelations since nothing shows up as out of the ordinary. Without these revelations you cannot conclude that the 'best option' is to presume "he is". Without any leads to go on (even just because we're not able to notice them) the best option as dictated by Occam's Razor is to presume he's not here because there is no need to introduce him. There is no "working best" distinction to make. Stuff happens. Stuff may happen because of some deity pushing the buttons, but there is no evidence of it pushing buttons. The best explanation is the one which does not include unobservable phenomena.
     
  12. Flying Pig

    Flying Pig Utrinque Paratus Retired Moderator

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    True, except that you get tangible benefits from acting as if he does exist, and as it's an even chance either way (no 'proper' evidence for or against) that means to me that it's best to presume that he does. I'm aware however that I'm not going to convince many people with that slightly Pascal-esque thinking.
     
  13. Ziggy Stardust

    Ziggy Stardust New Englander

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    From a personal perspective I can understand that.

    The reverse however is also true, from a personal perspective.
    Sorry to be snipping quotes, but that makes no sense. If you use this kind of reasoning, you are to include every single phenomena which has no proper evidence for or against. The God possibility will be swamped with other just as unprovable possibilities and thus becomes infinitely unlikely.

    Bottomline: not a very good criteria to judge possibilities.
    Ask an Atheist threads aren't meant to convince, so knock yourself out :)
     
  14. El_Machinae

    El_Machinae Colour vision since 2018 Retired Moderator

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    Yeah, the Pascal argument won't convince. We all see it and know it, so we're able to look at it and know its weaknesses and its strength.

    However, there's still the subconscious aspect. IF 'acting as if God existed' provided material benefit, then we'd be implicitly conditioned through multiple-trial learning to act as if God does exist. We'd be trained, over time. And then, acting as if God existed would be justified into belief, because we like to justify our behaviours, even if we invent reasons.

    Now, it doesn't need to be true that 'God exists' for this implicit training to work. All that's required is that there's a benefit to believing so. Looking at statistics, I wouldn't be surprised if there's a benefit to believing God exists, the religious score pretty nicely on certain psychological metrics!

    That would leave the question as to why some people still don't believe. They're 'unlucky', in that they didn't sufficiently receive the benefits from belief? Their metacognition doesn't allow them to believe something, even if it provides psychological benefit?
     
  15. sanabas

    sanabas Psycho Bunny Hall of Fame Staff

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    Or maybe there WAS a benefit to it, rather than there IS a benefit to it. Seems to me that there were also fewer alternatives to belief, there wasn't much scope for having a good understanding of stuff that flatly contradicts belief. Unlike now. Most people get exposed to far more alternative belief systems than just their parents' one. Most people get an education that includes things that contradict beliefs. (Even something as simple as sex ed, which contradicts the idea of a virgin birth). Makes sense that a particular belief is less likely to take hold when it's one idea of many, rather than virtually the only one available.

    And while believing something might provide psychological benefit, does it follow that choosing to proclaim your belief in that same thing should provide the same benefit? I could call myself a catholic if I wanted, I could turn up to church every Sunday, I could say a prayer every night, I could desire the psychological security blanket that many people seem to have. But I don't see any of those actions actually making me believe catholic dogma. No matter how much I pretend to believe, or even want to believe, I'm not going to actually believe it unless it actually starts making sense.
     
  16. erez87

    erez87 Lord of Random

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    The brain can create thoughts all by itself. If you claim god puts OTHER thoughts, other than what the brain created, inside your brain - than that is a "strange" phenomena which should show on tests. Otherwise, god does nothing more than what we can explain with only the brain, and we can remove him from the explanation, seeing as his existence in the explanation adds nothing and only complicates things.

    What I meant, is that inside the dream, you are self aware, even if confused about what is the real world and thinking you are in it (even while you are not). And when you wake up you remember you dreamed and so you cannot say it was an unconscious thing that was done to you. Otherwise, you would not be aware of it in any way (like the pumping of blood through the heart, that's unconscious things happening).


    There is no evidence for any tangible benefits from believing in a god. The only thing I see happening when one claims gods exist when he has no evidence for it - is that that person becomes dishonest. He claims things as true even thought they have no evidence to be so, and sometimes against the evidence. That's faith after all.

    And duuuh. Of course you won't convince anyone with faulty reasoning and absolutely no evidence.
     
  17. mayor

    mayor Heart & Mind

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    It has taken some time but I've taken it up me to answer.

    @Ziggy:

    About the definiton issue:

    The main thing you must realize is that God is a believe. That is key
    It isn’t easy to believe in God. If it was we wouldn’t have this discussion because you would, probably, also believe in God or some other deity, in which case we would have a completely different discussion ;)
    But to get back to the point. God is a believe. It is a believe because nobody can prove he is real. People want him to be real because it helps them in times of need or in dayly life.

    I don’t think it is possible to give a clear devinition of God.
    What you said, I took advantage of the “poor” definitions as you call them and used them. True, and you know why? I can’t define God. God is something that is here but at the same time isn’t. It’s a believe. And it is that believe and it is that believe that is God. It is the believe in God that makes people live the way they do (if they believe in God) not God himself.
    It is the believe in God that makes people get through rough times.

    (and to prevent a question you probably want to ask after this ;) Yes I do believe he actually exist even with what I just said :))

    I think I’m happy with this so I’ll leave it at this for now.

    I can't and honestly I don't believe in a "Christian" God, or a "Islamic" or a "Jewish" for that. I believe in God.
    The reason I'm Christian is because I was raised that way. My knowledge of Islam and Judaism (to stay with the monoteistic faiths in the same tradition) is rather limited so I don't believe in God in that tradition. The reason that I am part of the particular branch of Christianity (Dutch Protestant Church) is because that one suits me best, to say it crude. The way this church stands in today's society matches my own stand on that best.

    Why is that odd? People are different, it is only natural that the way they believe and interpret a book different. The way someone believes is something completely different from what he believes.


    I'm not sure if I keep this discussion going after this. While I do find this interesting there are a lot of things more fun :)
    If you feel the need to ask further question feel free to do this. If this thread pops up in my subscription list I'll open it. It'll probably will take some time for me to answer.
     
  18. mayor

    mayor Heart & Mind

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    the last thing I said in last post still counts but I will address this one.

    first let me say, next time please rephrase your questions in actual question instead of accusations. You'll not get me from my faith and it's only decent not to try, I'm not trying to get you to believe either.

    that said.

    true I don't have evidence but I never claimed it was true. I believe it is true but since I can't proof it I will never claim it is true.


    short answer since I want to check some other threads :)

    With interfering I mean things like earthquakes, tornadoes, vulcano eruptions

    With Influencing I mean the way people live their life. This doesn't mean he influenced people like Hitler (to name some extremity) you have to be open for his influence.


    Do I claim he exists? like I said no, I can't proof it how can I claim it

    Do I speak of God as a true thing in my life? Yes definitely

    Do I understand why claiming something is true without evidence is dishonest? No and neither is faith. If something is dishonest it is Religion, but that is a completely different topic. EDIT: scratch that. No claiming something to be true without proof isn't dishonest. Claiming something is true with evidence it clearly isn't is dishonest. Claiming something is true without evidence is called believe. Faith isn't dishonest since people believe it to be true, Religion, however, might be dishonest.


    and I know with that last statement I have opened up a new debate but what I said earlier still stands.. this thread won't be high on my priority because of the simple reason other threads are more fun :)
     
  19. Ziggy Stardust

    Ziggy Stardust New Englander

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    Well, thanks for taking the time to reply.

    Note that I'm not asking these question for a Gotcha-effect. I'm not trying to back anyone into a corner, I'm just voicing the issues I see with theism and atheism which led me to become an atheist. Asking these questions and reading the answers, it seems to me that often the debate really isn't about: ""Do you believe in God?" But: "How have you defined experiences?". I feel most theists and atheists experience the world in the same way (not individually) with regard to so-called (not derogatory, I could also name it so-defined) spiritualism. I feel a lot of the perceived differences are born out of theists calling an emotion God, or attribute it to God, while atheists don't call it God, but experience the exact same emotions.

    What I found odd is the way organised religion tries to standardize a personal experience. That is what's odd, not that those personal experiences differ. That's only logical for the reasons you mentioned. II feel the attraction is the social and community benefits that organised religion carries with it which makes people subscribe to it.

    Anyway, thanks for your answers, and since this is an Ask an Atheist thread (at least until they close it) if you have any questions, shoot :) And if not, don't.
     
  20. mayor

    mayor Heart & Mind

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    it weren't your questions that backed me into a corner. Erez just got to me a little :)
    and I must say I did find it a pleasure to notice there is more to this forum. I came via S&T at this forum and well.... de threads their aren't really serious to say the least :)

    You'll probably see me posting in Off-Topic more frequently, both serious as less serious ;) and if I have a question I won't hesitate


    EDIT: I do concur with what you just said by the way.. I myself have several atheistic friends, I even had a girlfriend for three years who was atheistic, who all have the same few of the world and how to live..
     
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