Hard Atheism vs. Soft Atheism

Higgins
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Hard Atheism vs. Soft Atheism

So I have recently read a book called "God is not one" by Stephen Prothero, in it he argues, against quite a few contemporary theologians, the religions of the world are vastly different entities and are not going towards the same goal. He gives a brief description over the top eight religions of the world (in regards to influence/population). His final chapter gives a brief Coda on Atheism. He classifies atheism into two distinct classes strong atheism (which I will refer to as Hard atheism) and weak/friendly atheism (soft atheism). He argues that hard atheism is the sort of fervent, evangelical atheism we see with books such as The God Delusion and others, willing to chastise religion for the sake of their own atheism. In this regard, atheism is no different than other religions which the emphasis is upon the missionary work (e.g. Christianity, Mormonism, Islam) of believers. He classified soft atheism by rather than actively trying to convert they took a more wait and see approach attempting to show through their actions that there is another way than belief in a higher power.

 

So my question is which is better to actively try and preach atheism or to allow your own actions and let others see what you have done while being atheist?

 

Oh and before you strain yourself saying that atheism should not be classified as a religion, if one interprets it broadly, then it is. It has a belief which is justified by what the believer holds as true. Furthermore, there are various religions and religious people who do not have need for a god (e.g. Buddhism, Confucianism, and some of Judaism)

"Lycurgus, Numa, Moses, Jesus Christ, Mohammed, all these great rogues, all these great thought-tyrants, knew how to associate the divinities they fabricated with their own boundless ambition."

-Marquis de Sade


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yeah no not really they all

yeah no not really they all have a dogma or doctrine they have to follow, buddhism is in the eightfold path, confucianism has the five canons and the four books which give what it is all about and what to do and not to do, even parts of judaism that doesn't believe in god as you say, still have a dogma or doctrine which they follow.....what is the atheist doctrine again? Besides not believing in any god or deity......I highly doubt you can get much more out of it.


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Higgins wrote:So my question

Higgins wrote:

So my question is which is better to actively try and preach atheism or to allow your own actions and let others see what you have done while being atheist?

Why not both?

“Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.”


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Welcome to the forum.Higgins

Welcome to the forum.

Higgins wrote:
So my question is which is better to actively try and preach atheism or to allow your own actions and let others see what you have done while being atheist?

"Better" is a bit ambiguous. I do think that leading by example is a more effective way to get people to your worldview though.

Higgins wrote:
Oh and before you strain yourself saying that atheism should not be classified as a religion, if

It shouldn't be. Do you think theism is a religion?

Higgins wrote:
if one interprets it broadly, then it is.

Broadly based on what? What is your definition?

Higgins wrote:
It has a belief

That depends on how you define atheism. If atheism is synonymous with non-belief in a God, then it doesn't necessarily have a belief. 

Higgins wrote:
Furthermore, there are various religions and religious people who do not have need for a god (e.g. Buddhism, Confucianism, and some of Judaism)

That is irrelevant. Whether or not a religion is a religion has little to nothing to do with whether or not it includes God belief.

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


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Hmm. He's misusing the term

Hmm. He's misusing the term "strong" (or hard) atheism. There's already a meaning for that: gnostic atheists. If an atheist claims to know that God does not exist, they are a strong atheist.

A "weak" atheist would be an agnostic atheist (like Richard Dawkins). Even in The God Delusion, Dawkins says only that God probably does not exist. He never claims to have knowledge or proof that God does not exist.

Me, I'm a strong atheist. I believe there is enough evidence to disprove the existence of God. Oh, sure, there might be something we might call God, out there some where -- like if the universe were a cognizant quantum computer and we are just simulations, for instance. But really, God appears to be logically impossible. Every single argument for God I've ever seen reduces to begging the question, which is a logical fallacy.

Moving beyond that, this is really just the same ol' accommodationist  bullshit a lot of lilly-livered cowards are using. They are uncomfortable with the idea that atheists actually talk about atheism, rather than keep quietly to themselves. These are the same people who are willing to claim to support same-sex couples, but just don't think gays and lesbians should flaunt their sexuality by having parades, or kissing in public. This ignores the fact that it is this same in-your-face behavior that has pushed the boundaries of society enough to fucking make room for homosexual couples. If it weren't for this sort of public behavior, teh gaiz would mostly still be in the closet.

That's what they want: closet atheists.

And they miss an important point: outspoken atheists are not attempting to convert people to atheism. There are a lot of delusional atheists -- go read HuffPo's woo-soaked medical articles for perfect examples. No, we don't want people to be atheists, necessarily -- we're trying to get people to think rationally. This isn't about conversion. This is about fighting irrationality. Note that most of these sorts of books (The God Delusion, God Is Not Great, Letter to a Christian Nation, and so forth) are more about asking theists to understand why many people are atheist. This is pushback against a culture in which atheism makes people uncomfortable.

There is a huge distinction between vocal atheists, and vocal theists. Most importantly, vocal atheists fight specific battles, such as for same-sex marriage, against teaching intelligent design in the science classroom, and so on. Atheists have to be outspoken because nobody else seems to be willing to defend rationality. And that's what vocal atheism is all about: defense.

Vocal theists, on the other hand, are on the offensive. They are trying to actively convert. If theists would shut the fuck up, vocal atheists would have nothing to say, and we'd be the nice meek and mild and closeted atheists Stephen Prothero seems to prefer.

Does Prothero go on about "worldview?" That's the usual defense. "Oh, teaching young-earth creationism in the science classroom is acceptable, because it's all based on your worldview." Oh, bullshit. Reality doesn't change to match your worldview. Your worldview is a distorted model of reality. The less distortion in your worldview, the closer it matches reality. Some worldviews are warped to the point where they no longer model reality even a little bit. Things like young-earth creationism fall squarely in that group.

So fuck Stephen Prothero's false equivalency, and fuck Stephen Prothero. He's a whiny little nancy-boy who can't stand confrontation. He's hurting society by attempting to blunt the defense of rationality.

"Yes, I seriously believe that consciousness is a product of a natural process. I find that the neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers who proceed from that premise are the ones who are actually making useful contributions to our understanding of the mind." - PZ Myers


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nigelTheBold wrote:Does

nigelTheBold wrote:

Does Prothero go on about "worldview?" That's the usual defense. "Oh, teaching young-earth creationism in the science classroom is acceptable, because it's all based on your worldview." Oh, bullshit. Reality doesn't change to match your worldview. Your worldview is a distorted model of reality. The less distortion in your worldview, the closer it matches reality. Some worldviews are warped to the point where they no longer model reality even a little bit. Things like young-earth creationism fall squarely in that group.

So fuck Stephen Prothero's false equivalency, and fuck Stephen Prothero. He's a whiny little nancy-boy who can't stand confrontation. He's hurting society by attempting to blunt the defense of rationality.

 

No, Prothero's point in his book is to attempt to explain how the religions of the world are not leading to the same path (the view that they are has been prevalent in theological circles for some time). He gives a brief overview of atheism because of its influence in world culture and events. It appears that he is merely stating the various types of atheism, much like different sects of Christianity, Islam, or any other religion for that matter. He isn't arguing for one or the other just giving them names.

 

 

As for asking if theism is a religion, I would say no it is not a religion, but it is a distinction that we use to describe various religions (e.g. Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, and Yoruba Religions) whereas atheism can be a distinction as well for the classification of religions (e.g. Buddhism, Confucianism, and some sects of Judaism). If atheism is a classification of religions then how can we define the atheism which people practice an adhere to? Prothero also argues that in order to be classified as a religion, it must ask of something wrong with the human condition (e.g. A lack of submission to God, The idea of suffering, Human sins, and lack of adhering to God's law) and attempt to fix it (e.g. accepting submission to God, the Eightfold Path, Appealing to Christ to absolve of sins, or adhering to God's law). If this then is how religion is defined, then it would seem that the atheism which people practice is a religion in regard to finding some fault with the human condition (that of belief in a god) and attempts to solve it (by claiming no justification for belief). Perhaps I am oversimplifying things, but it does raise some questions as to the nature of the atheism which people practice and its role with the world religions.

"Lycurgus, Numa, Moses, Jesus Christ, Mohammed, all these great rogues, all these great thought-tyrants, knew how to associate the divinities they fabricated with their own boundless ambition."

-Marquis de Sade


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Higgins wrote:As for asking

Higgins wrote:

As for asking if theism is a religion, I would say no it is not a religion, but it is a distinction that we use to describe various religions (e.g. Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, and Yoruba Religions) whereas atheism can be a distinction as well for the classification of religions (e.g. Buddhism, Confucianism, and some sects of Judaism). If atheism is a classification of religions then how can we define the atheism which people practice an adhere to? Prothero also argues that in order to be classified as a religion, it must ask of something wrong with the human condition (e.g. A lack of submission to God, The idea of suffering, Human sins, and lack of adhering to God's law) and attempt to fix it (e.g. accepting submission to God, the Eightfold Path, Appealing to Christ to absolve of sins, or adhering to God's law). If this then is how religion is defined, then it would seem that the atheism which people practice is a religion in regard to finding some fault with the human condition (that of belief in a god) and attempts to solve it (by claiming no justification for belief). Perhaps I am oversimplifying things, but it does raise some questions as to the nature of the atheism which people practice and its role with the world religions.

 

The biggest distinction is dogma.  Almost all religions have some sort of dogma.  There is no dogma for atheism.  There is nothing to practice; there is nothing that can be said of all atheists except that they do not believe in god.  The same, not being able to make blanket statements, goes for religion, in general.  The difference is when you get to specific religions, where you can look at the dogma and infer, correctly, moral, political etc. positions those practicing that faith have.  This breakdown does not exist for atheism, so consequently comparison is useless and stupid.  To differentiate 'hard' and 'soft' atheists is just creating groups in an attempt to compare those groups to religious groups.  The difference?  Dogma.  You can't adhere to atheism.  You can't practice it.  There is nothing institutionalized about it.  Any attempt to define 'groups' within atheism is useless, because there is nothing set in stone to differentiate one atheist from another, whereas we have a Bible to distinguish a Christian from a Muslim. 


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Higgins wrote:If this then

Higgins wrote:
If this then is how religion is defined, then it would seem that the atheism which people practice is a religion in regard to finding some fault with the human condition (that of belief in a god) and attempts to solve it (by claiming no justification for belief). Perhaps I am oversimplifying things, but it does raise some questions as to the nature of the atheism which people practice and its role with the world religions.

 

The faults with the human condition are irrationality and deliberate ignorance.  If religions did not foster either of these conditions, then I would have no problem with religion.  Religions actively encourage irrationality and deliberate ignorance.  They all encourage this, even the ones without a 'god', in that they require faith in a belief with little or no evidence to support that belief and this is irrational.  They all encourage deliberate ignorance in that a believer is not to examine evidence that is contradictory to their beliefs.  I happen to agree that not all religions are leading to the same path. 

For me, the lack of evidence for god/s/dess is secondary to the problems of irrationality and deliberate ignorance.  Demonstrable lack of evidence is not belief in god/s/dess non-existence.  I go with Epicurious - if god/s/dess does not demonstrably interact with people and the world, then for all intents and purposes, I might as well act as if s/he/it/they do not exist.

edit: trying for a little more clarity.

-- I feel so much better since I stopped trying to believe.

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Higgins wrote:No, Prothero's

Higgins wrote:
No, Prothero's point in his book is to attempt to explain how the religions of the world are not leading to the same path (the view that they are has been prevalent in theological circles for some time). He gives a brief overview of atheism because of its influence in world culture and events. It appears that he is merely stating the various types of atheism, much like different sects of Christianity, Islam, or any other religion for that matter. He isn't arguing for one or the other just giving them names.

Gotcha. I have not read this book. Prothero's accommodationist essays (such as this little piece of condescending dogshit) have poisoned his name for me. He has often drawn a distinction between "good" atheists and "bad" atheists, and my description of him before is consistent with the articles of his I have read.

So, while I do not retract what I wrote, I will admit it may be essentially irrelevant to the discussion.

Quote:

As for asking if theism is a religion, I would say no it is not a religion, but it is a distinction that we use to describe various religions (e.g. Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, and Yoruba Religions) whereas atheism can be a distinction as well for the classification of religions (e.g. Buddhism, Confucianism, and some sects of Judaism). If atheism is a classification of religions then how can we define the atheism which people practice an adhere to? Prothero also argues that in order to be classified as a religion, it must ask of something wrong with the human condition (e.g. A lack of submission to God, The idea of suffering, Human sins, and lack of adhering to God's law) and attempt to fix it (e.g. accepting submission to God, the Eightfold Path, Appealing to Christ to absolve of sins, or adhering to God's law). If this then is how religion is defined, then it would seem that the atheism which people practice is a religion in regard to finding some fault with the human condition (that of belief in a god) and attempts to solve it (by claiming no justification for belief). Perhaps I am oversimplifying things, but it does raise some questions as to the nature of the atheism which people practice and its role with the world religions.

Right -- there are some atheistic religions, like many forms of Buddhism (though some forms of Buddhism have created a pantheon, and are theistic).

However, most of what you are describing as an atheistic religion, the finding of fault with the human condition and attempts to fix it, are not religious at all. If the attempts to fix it are not justified by logic and empiricism, it is at most ill-advised, and not religious.

The attempt to pull atheism under the umbrella of religion is a false equivalency. Not all "worldviews" are equal. The closer a worldview models objective reality, the more demonstrably effective it is. Rational naturalism is demonstrably superior to religious supernaturalism at modeling reality.

Many, if not most, definitions of religion are based on some of spirituality or on the supernatural. As the word is most often used in that fashion, any attempt to pull regular-ol' atheism into the fold of the "religious" appears to be an attempt at sophistry in order to confuse the discussion. This is often in response to the way many atheists scoff at religion, and so the impulse is to show the atheist that the same arguments might apply to them; but, it's really no different than saying, "I'm rubber and you're glue." Since most atheists are scoffing at the supernatural aspect of religion, it's ludicrous to attempt to turn the tables by saying outspoken atheists are "religious."

"Yes, I seriously believe that consciousness is a product of a natural process. I find that the neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers who proceed from that premise are the ones who are actually making useful contributions to our understanding of the mind." - PZ Myers


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Higgins wrote:If this then

Higgins wrote:
If this then is how religion is defined, then it would seem that the atheism which people practice is a religion in regard to finding some fault with the human condition (that of belief in a god) and attempts to solve it (by claiming no justification for belief).

Okay, if this definition is true, then theism is also a religion. It finds some fault with the "human condition" (that of non-belief in a God) and "attempts to solve it" (by claiming belief in a God). Furthermore, vegetarianism is a religion. It finds some fault with the human condition (that we eat meat) and attempts to solve it (by not eating meat). And the idea of human caused global warming is a religion. It finds some fault with the human condition (that we are increasing the temperature of the Earth) and attempts to solve it (be reducing emissions, etc.). And practicing medicine is a religion. It finds some fault with the human condition (people are sick, injured, etc.) attempts to solve it (heal/help them).

Do you agree?

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


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Naw

 

Atheism is not a religion in the definable sense of the word. We certainly talk about an alternative religion-less world view but it bears no resemblance to theism and the 'grades' of atheist strong or weak really look nothing like anglican or catholic variations of adherence to the teachings of jesus. I'm interested in the phrase 'atheism people practice' and it's got me thinking about how you would practice atheism. Some people are more strident than others in their anti-god sentiments but it's more about being who you actually are and keeping an open mind to what can be proven to be true in a given moment. There's no set of rules, none but a human moral code. We are mostly pretty PC but honesty sometimes takes precedence. As soon as the topic diverges from the statement 'there is no god' whole threads are at each others necks.

Perhaps atheists could be defined by some item of cultural attire, like a burqa or a hasidic top hat. In our case I vote for blue hair.

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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Atheistextremist

Atheistextremist wrote:
Perhaps atheists could be defined by some item of cultural attire, like a burqa or a hasidic top hat. In our case I vote for blue hair.

You're just after the coveted nigel vote in our next election.

"Yes, I seriously believe that consciousness is a product of a natural process. I find that the neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers who proceed from that premise are the ones who are actually making useful contributions to our understanding of the mind." - PZ Myers


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nigelTheBold wrote:Hmm. He's

nigelTheBold wrote:

Hmm. He's misusing the term "strong" (or hard) atheism. There's already a meaning for that: gnostic atheists. If an atheist claims to know that God does not exist, they are a strong atheist.

A "weak" atheist would be an agnostic atheist (like Richard Dawkins). Even in The God Delusion, Dawkins says only that God probably does not exist. He never claims to have knowledge or proof that God does not exist.

Me, I'm a strong atheist. I believe there is enough evidence to disprove the existence of God. Oh, sure, there might be something we might call God, out there some where -- like if the universe were a cognizant quantum computer and we are just simulations, for instance. But really, God appears to be logically impossible. Every single argument for God I've ever seen reduces to begging the question, which is a logical fallacy.

Moving beyond that, this is really just the same ol' accommodationist  bullshit a lot of lilly-livered cowards are using. They are uncomfortable with the idea that atheists actually talk about atheism, rather than keep quietly to themselves. These are the same people who are willing to claim to support same-sex couples, but just don't think gays and lesbians should flaunt their sexuality by having parades, or kissing in public. This ignores the fact that it is this same in-your-face behavior that has pushed the boundaries of society enough to fucking make room for homosexual couples. If it weren't for this sort of public behavior, teh gaiz would mostly still be in the closet.

That's what they want: closet atheists.

And they miss an important point: outspoken atheists are not attempting to convert people to atheism. There are a lot of delusional atheists -- go read HuffPo's woo-soaked medical articles for perfect examples. No, we don't want people to be atheists, necessarily -- we're trying to get people to think rationally. This isn't about conversion. This is about fighting irrationality. Note that most of these sorts of books (The God Delusion, God Is Not Great, Letter to a Christian Nation, and so forth) are more about asking theists to understand why many people are atheist. This is pushback against a culture in which atheism makes people uncomfortable.

There is a huge distinction between vocal atheists, and vocal theists. Most importantly, vocal atheists fight specific battles, such as for same-sex marriage, against teaching intelligent design in the science classroom, and so on. Atheists have to be outspoken because nobody else seems to be willing to defend rationality. And that's what vocal atheism is all about: defense.

Vocal theists, on the other hand, are on the offensive. They are trying to actively convert. If theists would shut the fuck up, vocal atheists would have nothing to say, and we'd be the nice meek and mild and closeted atheists Stephen Prothero seems to prefer.

Does Prothero go on about "worldview?" That's the usual defense. "Oh, teaching young-earth creationism in the science classroom is acceptable, because it's all based on your worldview." Oh, bullshit. Reality doesn't change to match your worldview. Your worldview is a distorted model of reality. The less distortion in your worldview, the closer it matches reality. Some worldviews are warped to the point where they no longer model reality even a little bit. Things like young-earth creationism fall squarely in that group.

So fuck Stephen Prothero's false equivalency, and fuck Stephen Prothero. He's a whiny little nancy-boy who can't stand confrontation. He's hurting society by attempting to blunt the defense of rationality.

agreed and also im a strong atheist, sometimes i even ask myself, how can there be weak atheists lol

yes yes i know why but i mean god is just illogical and im gonna make up a new word "Ievidencial" mean opposite of evidence lol


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Variations on a theme

ubuntuAnyone wrote:

Higgins wrote:

So my question is which is better to actively try and preach atheism or to allow your own actions and let others see what you have done while being atheist?

Why not both?

Yep, setting an example is a form of preaching.

Whatever works.

 


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nigelTheBold

nigelTheBold wrote:

Atheistextremist wrote:
Perhaps atheists could be defined by some item of cultural attire, like a burqa or a hasidic top hat. In our case I vote for blue hair.

You're just after the coveted nigel vote in our next election.

How bout normal? A lot of the atheists I see in the public eye have nose rings, long hair or wacky hair, big fat ass earrings (what do ya do with those use coat hangars in um to hang your next set of clothes?) I have always thought this portrayed a negative image myself. I look pretty fuckin normal, regular haircut, no piercings (ok so I had an earring back when I was a dumbass and thought it was cool) anyway, I think normal throws typical christians for a loop because they can relate to me and then bam they find out I'm an atheist. It's a system shock that is much harder to deal with than seeing someone w/ blue hair big huge piercings and tats all over um, they expect someone like this to be an atheist or "devil worshipper" or to be just weird in general, something they do not want to relate too.

I would go so far as to say our Mr "Sapient" is a fine example, or was in the vid's I have seen. Average no frills normal lookin guy.

 

This guy is NOT who we need representing us:

Faith is the word but next to that snugged up closely "lie's" the want.
"By simple common sense I don't believe in god, in none."-Charlie Chaplin


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Adventfred wrote: agreed

Adventfred wrote:

 

agreed and also im a strong atheist, sometimes i even ask myself, how can there be weak atheists lol

yes yes i know why but i mean god is just illogical and im gonna make up a new word "Ievidencial" mean opposite of evidence lol

I was a weak atheist for years. No one knew because I was too weak to spill it and played along with religion.

Faith is the word but next to that snugged up closely "lie's" the want.
"By simple common sense I don't believe in god, in none."-Charlie Chaplin


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robj101 wrote:Adventfred

robj101 wrote:

Adventfred wrote:

 

agreed and also im a strong atheist, sometimes i even ask myself, how can there be weak atheists lol

yes yes i know why but i mean god is just illogical and im gonna make up a new word "Ievidencial" mean opposite of evidence lol

I was a weak atheist for years. No one knew because I was too weak to spill it and played along with religion.

So you have grown strong  lol


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Hundreds of years ago in


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jonusb2 wrote:it's delicious

jonusb2 wrote:

it's delicious fried with eggs.


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I think it's safe to say we

I think it's safe to say we are all strong atheists with regards to theistic Gods, specifically the Abrahamic religions. Because you can disprove them just by their own illogical components. The evidence points the OTHER way.

 

I think we would be weak atheists with regards to a deistic God, perhaps because it is something that is inherently unprovable.

But with the theory of evolution, clear, strong evidence of the fact: a lesser thing can make a greater thing, I have to say that I would not be surprised if physics found their own "theory of evolution" for the universe.

 

Perhaps the only thing that makes me have pause is our four "laws" of the universe, electromagnetism, gravitation, strong nuclear force and weak nuclear force. I have to wonder how these "laws" came into place, by some sort of intelligent hand, or something simple and mindless?? Or were the laws just "always there". Agh, these questions could drive a man insane!


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OhMan wrote:I think it's

OhMan wrote:

I think it's safe to say we are all strong atheists with regards to theistic Gods, specifically the Abrahamic religions. Because you can disprove them just by their own illogical components. The evidence points the OTHER way.

 

I think we would be weak atheists with regards to a deistic God, perhaps because it is something that is inherently unprovable.

But with the theory of evolution, clear, strong evidence of the fact: a lesser thing can make a greater thing, I have to say that I would not be surprised if physics found their own "theory of evolution" for the universe.

 

Perhaps the only thing that makes me have pause is our four "laws" of the universe, electromagnetism, gravitation, strong nuclear force and weak nuclear force. I have to wonder how these "laws" came into place, by some sort of intelligent hand, or something simple and mindless?? Or were the laws just "always there". Agh, these questions could drive a man insane!

 

Oh and what laws would govern gods world