Hello and a few points

Semp2pts
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Hello and a few points

Hey all.

I'm new here and I thought it would be worthwhile introducing myself.

I'm 26 year old Christian from Australia. I've been studying matters of faith since I was about 10 years old and have been actively searching out answers ever since. Particular interest is in the age-old creation vs evolution debate (incidently, I don't really have a side - to me it doesn't really matter how it all came about). In discussion of faith issues, I've usually been able to gain the respect of both atheists and Christians as being fairly balanced and unbiased. I hope this is true here too. I look forward to discussing things with you guys as well.

A few points that have come to mind:

1. "The Rational Response Squad"
I find it interesting that this group would be named as such. A classic definition of "rational" is

1. agreeable to reason; reasonable; sensible: a rational plan for economic development.
2. having or exercising reason, sound judgment, or good sense: a calm and rational negotiator.
3. being in or characterized by full possession of one's reason; sane; lucid: The patient appeared perfectly rational.
4. endowed with the faculty of reason: rational beings.
5. of, pertaining to, or constituting reasoning powers: the rational faculty.
6. proceeding or derived from reason or based on reasoning: a rational explanation.
(Synonyms 2. intelligent, wise, judicious, sagacious, enlightened)

I am not disputing that the view points and beliefs of Atheists aren't achieved in a rational, methodic way - BUT - I am disputing the claim that theists cannot achieve their view points and beliefs in a similar way.

There is a common misconception that theists, in particular Christians, are somewhat mystical - relying on nothing but vague superstitions and faith without any sound factual reference points. As a Christian and a student of both the faith and science (read: student meaning I am always learning new things), I find that standpoint to be misleading and untrue.

In the same way that Atheists have a foundation for their belief system (and it is a belief system), Christians have a similar rational for their belief system. I suppose that not all Christians are able to express their viewpoint as solidly or as eloquently as some Atheists - but the reverse is true as well ("prove it!" repeated over and over).

I guess my point is this: It is wise to be careful with your words. As a living, breathing, human being you are not subject to the whole truth - that is, what lies beyond the final day of life - therefore, the air of presumptuousness is naive at best and, most likely, egotistical at worst.

2. Atheism is a religion and Atheists do believe in god.

The two biggest catch phrases of Atheism and the two biggest lies - "Atheism is not a religion" and "Atheists do not believe in god". "What the??!?!?!?" you say?

"Atheists do believe in god"

Let's play the definitions game shall we:

god -noun
1. the one Supreme Being, the creator and ruler of the universe.
2. the Supreme Being considered with reference to a particular attribute: the God of Islam.
3. (lowercase) one of several deities, esp. a male deity, presiding over some portion of worldly affairs.
4. (often lowercase) a supreme being according to some particular conception: the god of mercy.
5. Christian Science. the Supreme Being, understood as Life, Truth, Love, Mind, Soul, Spirit, Principle.
6. (lowercase) an image of a deity; an idol.
7. (lowercase) any deified person or object.

In particular, lets focus on the first part of definition one - "the one Supreme Being".

There are many tiers in the idea of "the one Supreme Being":
1. The Christian understanding of God - One true God, complete control, undivided authority.
2. Empirical god - Japan is a good example. One man is god, all follow. The emporer was seen as god and all citizens were to be subjugated to him.
3. The New-age god - We are all part of god. One universal god spirit. (e.g. Humanism, Buddhism, Taoism)
4. The Atheist god - We are god. Individual and autonomous. No-one controls an atheist but the atheist. Provider of own destiny.

The irony of this progression is that number 4 is seen as the strongest possibility and the position of personal strength. Despite humans never really being in control of any aspect of their life (besides what they have to eat or what they wear on a particular day - but even that is doubtful) Atheists maintain that there is no guiding force or "something" that propels them through life beyond survival and the passing on of genes. Even a belief in superstitious luck or chance would make more sense than to disregard some sort of higher order or over-riding purpose or meaning.

The usual response is to claim survival as the ultimate human meaning but that doesn't explain why we paint pictures or climb mountains to "find ourselves".

A more truthful position would be to acknowledge that we aren't in control and that there is something, even if there is no strong assertion as to what, bigger than us guiding the whole thing we call life.

Atheists do believe in god. It just so happens that they believe that they are god.

"Atheism is a religion"

Definition?

Religion -noun
1. a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
2. a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion.
3. the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices: a world council of religions.
4. the life or state of a monk, nun, etc.: to enter religion.
5. the practice of religious beliefs; ritual observance of faith.
6. something one believes in and follows devotedly; a point or matter of ethics or conscience: to make a religion of fighting prejudice.

Atheism -noun
1. the doctrine or belief that there is no God.
2. disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings.

The nonsensical position that Atheists are free from the constraints of religion is indeed an interesting standpoint. Seeing as a religion is a set of beliefs and Atheism is the doctrine or belief that there is no God would, to me, classify Atheism as a religion. It is a body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices. It seems to flag all the right things to be classified as a religion.

The really interesting thing is that Atheists generally get quite upset when I classify their beliefs as being religious in nature. There can be no other definition however, unless Atheists wish to be exempt from the rules they apply to others.

Why is all this important? For one very good reason. Atheism has always been viewed as the factual and truthful path and theism (in particular Christianity) has been viewed as the fanciful faith path. The truth of the matter is that both are faiths and both can be argued. Neither can be proved or disproved without personal account and thus fall into the category of faith. And, in being faiths, because they have more than one person sharing the beliefs - they are classed as religions.

The ultimate reason I bring this up:

3. Escaping the responsibility of burden of proof

Atheists have always attempted to escape the responsibility of burden of proof. But this isn't a vacuum. Simply by closing his eyes and blocking his ears and saying "Gravity doesn't exist" does not excuse a scientist from the responsibility (as a scientist) of at least coming up with a semi-detailed rational as to why he believes that gravity does not exist.

Add to that, finding flaws with Isaac Newtons theory of gravity is not that same as having a theory of Non-gravity.

The burden of proof rests on all those who have a side to an argument - not just the claimant. Richard Dawkin's analogy of the flying teapot (at least he used it on several occassions) springs to mind most readily. It is an easy way out to simply deny without evidence.

The biggest problem that Atheists have with Christianity is that a lot of it relies on personal account. I speak of experiences of healing or witnessing healing and I get the response of "why hasn't the whole world been told" and "if that's true, then everyone should know and then everyone will believe" - but sadly it doesn't work like that. Personal accounts are met with skepticism and mockery.

If Atheists believe they are in a position to simply deny something using blind faith (that is, they don't know for sure - their best guess is there is no god), why is it such a big deal when people accept something using blind faith?

Atheists share exactly the same responsibility in this arena. The burden of proof rests on all those in the discussion.

That's all for now. Comments?

Semp.


AtheistInWonderland
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Quote: In the same way that

Quote:
In the same way that Atheists have a foundation for their belief system (and it is a belief system), Christians have a similar rational for their belief system.


An atheist believes there is no god. Is that a system? So if I believe there are no fairies, is that a belief system?

The rationale that has led me to atheism is not to believe supernatural claims without evidence. How can a Christian have any similar rationale to that? They have faith..which means they are willing to believe supernatural claims without evidence.

Quote:
I suppose that not all Christians are able to express their viewpoint as solidly or as eloquently as some Atheists - but the reverse is true as well ("prove it!" repeated over and over)."


Most of us have heard the same arguments over and over and over..and that is how the conversations usually ends. We will say prove it and they will say "I can't you have to have faith." Saying "prove it" cuts right down to the divide between our ways of thinking. You believe things that can't be proved and have no evidence in their favor..I don't. If you have proof I am listening. If you make claims that you cannot prove, I am not going to listen to you build things up on top of that claim that you can't prove.

If I started out telling you that I am typing to you from inside of a live whale's stomach and then proceeded to tell you that there are diamonds and gold in here, I am cooking some pasta, talking on a cell phone, the smurfs are here and that the world was going to end soon if you didn't come join us...at what point would you stop and say "prove it?" I would stop right at being in the whale's stomach..anything you would say past that is pointless to me and wastes my time.

Quote:
"As a living, breathing, human being you are not subject to the whole truth - that is, what lies beyond the final day of life - therefore, the air of presumptuousness is naive at best and, most likely, egotistical at worst."


You can't prove that I am not typing to you from inside of a whale right now either...you aren't subject to the whole truth. So do you believe me? An atheist believes there is no god, not that they can prove that no god(s) exist.

Quote:
The two biggest catch phrases of Atheism and the two biggest lies - "Atheism is not a religion" and "Atheists do not believe in god". "What the??!?!?!?" you say?


Atheism is lack of belief in a deity. If atheism is a religion then bald is a hair color and off is a tv channel. (stole that from other people...I know)

If you want to define god as ourselves then fine. Would you define a domestic cat as a lion? It's the same bending of definitions. It's absurd.

Quote:
Atheism is the doctrine or belief that there is no God would, to me, classify Atheism as a religion. It is a body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices. It seems to flag all the right things to be classified as a religion.


What is our doctrine? I missed out on that! Do we have a doctrine? If so, I am out guys.

What are our "beliefs?" We have one belief that unites us all..we believe there is no god. What do we practice? Not believing in any gods..that takes no practice.

Quote:
The really interesting thing is that Atheists generally get quite upset when I classify their beliefs as being religious in nature.


It's because it is beyond absurd.

Quote:
The truth of the matter is that both are faiths and both can be argued.


You really like redefining words to suit your needs don't you? Is it a matter of faith that you don't believe me when I tell you that I am talking to you from inside of a whale? If so, you don't have a smidgon of reasoning skills about you.

Quote:
Atheists have always attempted to escape the responsibility of burden of proof.


We have no burden of proof. You are making the positive claim, we don't believe you when you say a god exists. It is up to you to prove your claims.The default is not to believe something until it is disproven. Otherwise you should believe me when I tell you that I am sitting inside of a whale right now.

Quote:
But this isn't a vacuum. Simply by closing his eyes and blocking his ears and saying "Gravity doesn't exist" does not excuse a scientist from the responsibility (as a scientist) of at least coming up with a semi-detailed rational as to why he believes that gravity does not exist.


We can devise a test to disprove gravity easily. What test would you offer that would disprove the existence of a god?

Besides, there is tons of evidence to support gravity. No amount of scrutiny being thrown at gravity would make it seem untrue. It doesn't take much scrutiny at all to make the idea that there is a god seem untrue.

Quote:
If Atheists believe they are in a position to simply deny something using blind faith (that is, they don't know for sure - their best guess is there is no god), why is it such a big deal when people accept something using blind faith?


You must understand that the default position is not to believe things until they are disproven. If you really believed that then you must believe in 20,000 or so gods and that I am typing from inside of a live whale right now.


Strafio
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On RationalityNo one is

On Rationality
No one is saying that theists can't be rational and it's possible that their religious beliefs come from rational thinking.
However, I have yet to meet a theistic position that isn't seriously flawed.
Once you understand what theism is, a belief in a God that is outside space, time and all things comprehensible, there's no way you can have 'reasoned' knowledge on such a thing.

Another point is that in practice, many religious people will believe the weirdest things on account of their Holy Book. Many Christians deny basic Scientific facts because they think it contradicts the Bible.

On atheist believing in God
Yes, there are many things you can call God.
When I say I put my money in the bank, does that mean I will throw it into a river?
If I was to add to the definitions of 'gay sex' this:
1) 'Gay Sex can be the act of giving money to the poor
would this mean that I could say that Christians believe gay sex to be morally correct?
When saying atheists don't believe in God, it is quite obvious we are talking about the supreme being.

On atheism being a religion
Nope. Some religions might be atheistic (like Buddhism) but atheism isn't a religion. Humanism might be considered a religion under the 'worldview' definition. Atheism is a rejection of supernaturalism.
Some religions are atheistic, some aren't.
Having said that, when people talk about religion they mean something a lot more than 'worldview'. The religions that have dominated in the west have been very much about conforming to rules and believing supernatural beliefs on faith. That is generally what people have in mind when they talk about religion.

Quote:
Why is all this important? For one very good reason. Atheism has always been viewed as the factual and truthful path and theism (in particular Christianity) has been viewed as the fanciful faith path. The truth of the matter is that both are faiths and both can be argued. Neither can be proved or disproved without personal account and thus fall into the category of faith. And, in being faiths, because they have more than one person sharing the beliefs - they are classed as religions.

We've heard this one many a time! Smiling
The basic line against this is that theism requires an extreme sort of faith. As theism is defined as believing in something that cannot be known through rational methods, it takes an extreme kind of faith to believe in something like that.
The full argument is a lot more complicated but I'm sure you'll be spending plenty of time with us to hear it through! Smiling

On burden of proof.
Quote:
The burden of proof rests on all those who have a side to an argument - not just the claimant.

I actually agree with this when it comes to personal beliefs.
Dawkins has a good point about the Teapot though.
Something not being disproved is not a good reason to believe in it.
Surely you agree with that?

Atheists do a lot more than say "prove it to me or it's wrong!!!"
They give alternative explanations that don't require leaps of faith in supernaturalism and they give explanations on where the theist has been mislead, where religion comes from.

The problem with personal accounts is that people can be so easily mislead by their imagination and feelings. No one's denying that they had an experience, just that it had a 'supernatural cause'. It doesn't really make sense to say 'supernatural cause' as supernatural is supposed to be something outside of the causal chain.


Anyway, welcome to the RRS website and have fun debating with us! Smiling


Semp2pts
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@AtheistinWonderland  You

@AtheistinWonderland

 You miscontrue what I am saying. I never once said you had to believe in God. That's not at all what I was talking about in the burden of proof section. And that's why I like the teapot analogy. I would be a fool to believe that there is a teapot orbiting the sun right now - there is no proof whatsoever.

However, if I was to say to someone who believed in the teapot, "you tard, don't believe in orbiting teapots because I believe there is no orbiting teapots". That's not exactly shakespeare. Add to that, if the person believed that the teapot was purple and it sang Christmas carols - bringing up the fact that it is absurd for teapots to be purple or to sing still does not achieve what you set out to do. The only way for the teapot believer to "see the light" would be for you to say "I searched the galaxy and I couldn't find a teapot. In fact, here are some extra reasons why such a teapot wouldn't exist".

It's at that point that we have a discussion.

Until then, it's just theists saying "we believe this because x y z" and atheists saying "no you're wrong" and "prove it".

@Strafio 

Strafio, I definitely agree with you on the teapot analogy (and to some extent the guy that went on about the whale).

What if I told you that once whilst praying I received a very specific message regarding someone I hadn't met and when I spoke to them, they confirmed what I said and broke down and cried?

That's a personal account but that means nothing here. Even though the likelihood of me knowing intimate details of another persons life that I hadn't met is so improbable that if I spent time calculating it the odds would be in at least the 1:1000 given the details involved.

But again, such points are instantly dismissed.

When discussing something that's personal (as well as corporate, in the sense of church) it's difficult for it not to be personal.

I wouldn't describe the taste of a sauce by using logic and deduction - those aren't tools for description of sauce (the best logic and deduction can do is say that "it's not like this" or "it is like this" but that still isn't apt to describe God). That seems like a crazy thing to say but suppose I describe an animal for you:

It's a small animal. Not very big but not tiny. It's fury. It has a distinct nose, which it moves a lot. It has a small tail. Eats plants/vegatables. It has long ears and people can have them as pets.

I'm describing.....an elephant of course.

See the problem here is that you can't describe God in human terms. The other discussion "Hell and punishment" is a classic example - how can I explain God's ultimate plan? And because I can't, does that make it flawed? The simple fact is that He is completely other. He is completely undescribable.

The only way possible is to see the snail trail in the morning. At my parents place, when I was growing up, I never ever saw a snail but every morning I would wake up and see snail trails everywhere. It's the same thing.

Theism isn't unrational or crazy - theism sees the snail trail and deduces the best it can, through experience and knowledge passed down, where it came from.

Last but not least, on what you said about "atheists believing in god". I can appreciate what you are saying but I do not believe I am adding to definitions at all. I believe God is in control of my life. You believe you are in control of your life. It's a play on words but it's not a stretch of the imagination.

Peace and thanks for the welcome Smiling

Semp.

p.s. can anyone explain to me why it keeps giving a coloured background - grrrr!


AtheistInWonderland
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Quote:

Quote:
I would be a fool to believe that there is a teapot orbiting the sun right now - there is no proof whatsoever.

Every teapot on Earth is orbiting the sun. HaHa. Just kidding..Seriously though, are you admitting that you'd be a fool to believe there is a god because there is no proof whatsoever?

Quote:
However, if I was to say to someone who believed in the teapot, "you tard, don't believe in orbiting teapots because I believe there is no orbiting teapots".

I don't call theists names and tell them not to believe because I don't believe. I ask them for their evidence that a god exists and when they have none, which is always, I tell them there belief in god is no different than believing invisible blue trolls exist.

Quote:
The only way for the teapot believer to "see the light" would be for you to say "I searched the galaxy and I couldn't find a teapot. In fact, here are some extra reasons why such a teapot wouldn't exist".

You are still working on the seriously flawed assumption that it is justified to believe in something because it hasn't been disproven. No one is an atheist because they've scoured the universe and couldn't find a god. They are atheists because of the lack of evidence that there is a god. You are doing your best to hoist a strawman saying that atheists believe that we can prove a god doesn't exist. That works well when you're talking to other theists. It won't work here. People don't require things to be disproven for them to not believe in them. Atheists don't have any burden of proof. Our position is not trying to prove anything. Without theism the term atheism wouldn't exist.

So will you concede that the burden of proof lies with the person making the claim that something exists rather than the person who just sits there making no claims?


Semp2pts
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@AtheistinWonderland I have

@AtheistinWonderland

I have plenty of "proof" but none that you find sufficient. Do I have a map to where God is? No. Like Sapients absurd question, Can I show you where my soul is? No.

In a similar way - Can you show me the wind? No but you can show me the effects of the wind. Sure you can colour the wind with smoke but is that then the smoke being moved by the wind and is that just a different way of showing leaves russling. This is a bad analogy because you are going to say that wind has physical properties.

Perhaps it is a good analgoy because I can only share with you one thing regarding my faith - My faith.

I can share reasons why - some supernatural, some purely physical and emotional but I doubt that any reason would change your mind.

To quote a book that you probably don't like, "Taste and see that the Lord is good".

I didn't get tricked into believing anything - I saw with my own eyes, experience the reality of it, and then believed.

You say that Theists never have proof when what you should be saying is that "Theists never have proof that you will accept".

Peace,

Semp


Strafio
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Semp2pts wrote:

Semp2pts wrote:
What if I told you that once whilst praying I received a very specific message regarding someone I hadn't met and when I spoke to them, they confirmed what I said and broke down and cried?

That's a personal account but that means nothing here. Even though the likelihood of me knowing intimate details of another persons life that I hadn't met is so improbable that if I spent time calculating it the odds would be in at least the 1:1000 given the details involved.


If you do the epistemology, a natural coincidence is more likely than a supernatural miracle. After all, natural is defined as discoverable through a causal chain of events.
There's also a good chance that it wasn't a complete coincidence either. Our minds pick up sutble things from conversations/experiences which can give us insights without us consciously realising it.

I don't think that supernaturalism can be proved from personal experience.

Semp2pts wrote:
I wouldn't describe the taste of a sauce by using logic and deduction - those aren't tools for description of sauce (the best logic and deduction can do is say that "it's not like this" or "it is like this" but that still isn't apt to describe God).


See the problem here is that you can't describe God in human terms. The other discussion "Hell and punishment" is a classic example - how can I explain God's ultimate plan? And because I can't, does that make it flawed? The simple fact is that He is completely other. He is completely undescribable.


So you're saying that we have direct experience of God but it isn't describably in human terms? The closest we can do is say what it wasn't like. Even if we had such an experience, we'd have no reason to believe that the experience was caused by something supernatural. The we experienced a 'thing' that was the creator of the universe. It would just be an experience we felt.

Semp2pts wrote:
The only way possible is to see the snail trail in the morning. At my parents place, when I was growing up, I never ever saw a snail but every morning I would wake up and see snail trails everywhere. It's the same thing.

Theism isn't unrational or crazy - theism sees the snail trail and deduces the best it can, through experience and knowledge passed down, where it came from.


My definition of theism might be mistaken but as far as I'm aware there isn't the possibility of such trails. I'll explain what I mean:
The natural world is the world within time and space.
'cause' is a relation between two events within time and space.
So if we know that Event A causes Event B and we see Event A then we can deduce Event B will happen (before we see it happen) or if we see Event B then we can deduce that Event A happened.
(it's a bit more complex than that but you get the idea! Smiling)

So that would be how we see the mysterious snail, as the cause of the trails you see in the morning. However, God is outside of time and space so how can 'he' leave any kind of trails for us to follow. A cause is a relation between events within space-time. When you imagine God causing something, you imagine a God within space-time, with spacio-temporal properties. This contradicts God's definition of being outside space and time. So we cannot deduce of God in this way. Our beliefs in God can only be metaphoric (as all our ideas/concepts are spacio-temporal) and it's a matter of complete faith whether they apply to a supernatural God.

I was open to God being rationally believed in until I got my head around what 'outside space and time' really means. Once you understand that, anything you say about a supernatural God can only be believed on absolute pure faith.

As far as I understand it anyway! Laughing out loud


Semp2pts wrote:
p.s. can anyone explain to me why it keeps giving a coloured background - grrrr!

Lol! The RRS message board went really weird a couple of weeks ago. I've been meaning to ask them to change it back. The new formatting tools are really erratic. I found the old, simple style a lot more comfortable to use.
SAPIENT! GET TO WORK AND FIX IT! Sticking out tongue Evil


todangst
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Theists can be rational, but

Theists can be rational, but theism is necessarily irrational, as it is a faith. Faith is a belief held without justification.

Those who know the good, do the good. - Socrates

Books on atheism.