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I'll poke my nose in and say that not all atheists want "to take the piss" or bash believers. I am quite happy to live and let live as longs as believers don't feel the need to bash me.

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Hazel wrote:

I'll poke my nose in and say that not all atheists want "to take the piss" or bash believers. I am quite happy to live and let live as longs as believers don't feel the need to bash me.
Hear hear! live and let live I'm not a believer (see my comments on the separate religion thread) but I wouldn't dream of belittling someone who did have a faith and I would not expect a believer to ramn their beliefs down my throat. Everyone deserves the respect to believe in what they want!

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FWIW- I find Richard Dawkins to be as tiresome as Oral Roberts, and for the same reason; they think they know things which are unknowable. Atheism is as absurd as blind faith. They both come from egoic unwillingness to admit there are things which we don't, and cannot, know. I think it was Socrates who said something like "if I am wise at all that wisdom comes from knowing that I don't know". And as for the benefit of Dawkins encouraging people to think for themselves; anyone who is out of their teens and is still blindly drinking the koolaid dispensed by any codified belief system designed to explain the universe and humankind's place therein (which includes Mr. Dawkin's) is probably not going to suddenly acquire a taste for freethinking based on reading his book.Religion and Science (though not necessarily individual believers and scientists) are opposite sides of the same coin; both are trying to eff the ineffable. And both require the general public to believe in their mythology and methodology and the findings acquired therefrom to thereby fund their further indoctrinations.

Religion as a social institution has some of the benefits, (such as structure and stability), and all of the drawbacks (such as intolerance,inflexibility and mob rule) of any other social institutions (such as governmental systems and educational systems). It really doesn't matter if we are talking about adherents of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Great Pumpkinism, democracy, fascism,capitalism, communism, anarchism, public schools, private schools, home schools, or getting your information from TV (and if you don't think this is a socially institutionalized education system then you apparently don't get around much), they are all going to tell you that they have the answers and you NEED to believe them.

But, and this is the main thing, all beliefs are just concretized concepts, just thoughts and symbols to which we choose to attach validity, and therefore no beliefs accurately describe Truth, including the beliefs of eminent scientists or theologians. All beliefs are false, including the belief that all beliefs are false. But please do not think that I am saying that no one should have beliefs. That would be like telling a fish not to swim. Belief is the medium in which we live. Just don't expect me to buy into any of your beliefs. And I am certainly not claiming that I have no beliefs. Heck, I still appear to believe I am a male hominid in a physical universe, a separate corporeal entity with some amount of volition, a belief which is probably no less, or more, patently absurd than the belief that Jesus was the only son of God, (virgin birthed to boot), and that his Dad orchestrated his crucifixion to atone for the sins of mankind, or the belief that Newtonian physics accurately describes the workings of the universe, or the belief that Earth is the center of the universe and we are the only sentient life forms extant, or the belief that chance alone could account for the astounding diversity of life on this planet. But I am actively involved in questioning every belief I currently hold and , so far, I have yet to find one which can stand up to intense and unbiased (ie not based on any other unsubstantiated beliefs) scrutiny. Just saying.....

Edited by Dan

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But, and this is the main thing, all beliefs are just concretized concepts, just thoughts and symbols to which we choose to attach validity, and therefore no beliefs accurately describe Truth, including the beliefs of eminent scientists or theologians.

 

You are wrong to think that scientific thinking involves beliefs. Science deals with error margins and with probabilities: For example, the existence of the Higgs boson will be commonly accepted if it has been detected with a probability factor of six sigma, which is a probability of 99.99966% that that thing found is actually a Higgs boson. Right now they are at four sigma, I think, which is pretty good but not yet good enough to be accepted by everyone as certainty. This approach profoundly distinguishes science from, say, Islam that preassumes an infinite sigma of Allah's existence, so to speak.

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First off, let me state that nothing I am saying indicates that I am anti-Science. For most of my life Science has been my religion. And it still fascinates me. There is no denying that Science has , at times, managed to accurately describe aspects and relations within the phenomenal universe. And I greatly admire the empirical research of the scientific method. It has a certain effectiveness in describing the relative truth of our perceptual universe,but it falls woefully short when it comes to the absolute underpinnings of Reality, which is what I think of as Truth. For the flaw in any system of logic occurs when a line of reasoning is based on incorrect, or unproven, assumptions. And Science starts from the assumption that we are subjects in an objective universe, capable of 'discovering the Truth'. But, other than the shared hallucinations of consensus reality, there is not a shred of evidence to support this assumption. It seems far more likely that we are objects in a subjective universe, but that is still merely a belief, because anytime we use words to describe anything we have distorted and limited the Truth about that thing. And statistical probability and margin of error do not make Truth. Nor, I must add in the spirit of fairness, does the lack thereof imply falsity or non-existence. After all, less than .0000001% of the universe is comprised of matter, and less than .0000001% of that matter is alive. So, based on your 6 sigma ideal, neither life nor even matter actually exists. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence of course, but any suppositions and theories based on spurious and unfounded and biased assumptions would have to be considered a belief rather than a fact. But I also have to admit that I think it is amazingly cool that, even though it springs from some rather baseless assumptions, Science is actually managing to 'prove', from within the dream!, that the dream is a dream, and that even reality is just a concept, a belief system within the illusion.

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How do we really

know

that there is reality

inherent

in this collection of phenomena

we call the world

Consider a cup.

I am here to tell you that this cup doesn't exist. Before you call for the fellows with the backwards wardrobe and/or shiny silver bracelets to give me a chauffeured ride to a gated community with 'round the clock servants attending to my tiniest needs, which they'll have to inform me of after my stimulating yet relaxing electro therapy of the prefrontal lobe, I will explain why this is so. But before we get started on that I must make what may appear to be the ultimate in tautological statements.

Only Truth is true.

If something is not true it must be false, fictional, illusory. If something is not true it is not real and therefore it doesn't exist. Truth is not relative, perceptions are relative. If something is true it must be true in Scranton , on Arcturus, in the nucleus of an atom and in a black hole, in the vastness of interstellar space, or in the fetid air of a public toilet. Perceptions, on the other hand, change constantly. No two people have ever seen the same rainbow, since the prismatic effect which engenders it is a function of angle and regardless of how close they are together the angular perspective is altered. Unfortunately for our belief in the validity of our perceptions this applies to everything. Nobody sees the same world as anyone else. And, as any quantum physicist will tell you,the appearances of space/time are altered by our observation of it.

Now to the cup. First of all it isn't a cup until we call it a cup. Cupness doesn't reside in these atoms , nor in these molecules. As many a spouse will attest it could be called a bludgeon, a blunt force trauma actualizer, a projectile missile, or a paperweight. Or a flower vase or a penholder. If I call it a doorstop then I can place it in front of a recalcitrant screendoor and, presto chango, it's a doorstop.

Ah, but the structure, the form of it, makes it a cup. Hardly. The emptiness is the only aspect which gives it even the potential for cup usage. The manufacturer may have intended it to be a cup, but intentions haven't been real since they paved the road to hell.

"It functions as a cup because it holds fluid " is not true if you pour liquid nitrogen into it for then it will shatter into thousands of very uncuplike fragments. Or if you try to fill it with sulfuric acid, which will burn a hole through the cup in 20 seconds or so, depending on the glazing. Nor will it function as a cup if you attempt to fill it with DMSO which will permeate the clay and soak right through in short order.

"It holds my double shot decaf rice milk latte(with a hint of cinnamon) while I drink it" you may counter. Well so would a pothole in the parking lot, a birdbath, or the butt can in front of Harry's Tavern. "A cup is portable". So is a shoe, a tackle box, the aforementioned flower vase. All would hold a cuppa joe and none of them do we call a cup.

What we end up with is 'a thing with the potential for cup like function' , which besides being a cumbersome mouthful of words, is still not true. Take the word "A". This implies that there is an object separate from the rest of the world, which it most certainly is not. Not only is it in contact with alleged handness or table like function which is in contact with layers of interconnected atoms leading to the illusion masquerading as the potential for planet earth like function, and being caressed by a collection of oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, methane, and sushi fart, gas molecules, which yesterday was being breathed by someone in Japan or, God forbid, Utah, but it is also exchanging photons, electrons, quarks and various other particles with everything in the universe. There is no way we can call it "A" anything. The universe as we know it would not exist without that particular collection of molecules in precisely that shape.

Now to "thing" which implies not only separateness, which clearly doesn't exist, but solidity. And, brace yourself kiddies, solidity doesn't exist either. All of these molecules are made up of atoms which are made up of particles whirling around an empty core at 186,000 miles a second, creating the illusion of solidity the way a rotating helicopter blade appears to be a disc. What appears to be matter is 99.9% empty space.

But it gets better. Because the particles themselves are not matter, either. They are energy waves, oscillating strings of pure potential, and depending on the vibrational levels, the height of the wave and distance between troughs, they can appear to be lead, gold, uranium etc. At the heart of this illusion there is only one kind of stuff, it is energy, and the ways in which it vibrates and aggregates manifests as the whole of the phenomenological universe we misperceive.

Now this could all be just intellectual b.s., mental masturbation. But the problem, Oh my Brothers and Sisters, is that it's not just the cup which doesn't exist. The principles of non relativity of truth, the discriminatory power of naming, the lack of inherent potential, the broadform mutability of function, the emptiness of matter, and energy rather than solidity as the constant state of the elements of everything we perceive, need to be applied to every chair, wall, floor, diamond ring, river, Toyota landcruiser, skyscraper, tree, ant, cow, flower, person, planet or star. To everything in the universe. Do this and you will discover that none of it exists. It's all an illusion. Along with the principles for ascertaining the truth, this is the only true statement you can make about either the totality of the allegedly material universe or any of its aspects. None of it is real. This seemingly infinite mass of happenings which surrounds us is just sound and fury, signifying nothing, a cosmic costume tragicomedy, full of smoke and mirrors, miscreated by our minds. And the director is, drum roll please....Consciousness!!!!

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Thanks Ting. And, of course, I am aware that all of my previous comments merely represent my own unsubstantiatable beliefs, which are based on the combination of my own perceptions of my experiences and the alleged factoids I've accumulated during what appears to be my lifetime????

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Hey Dan good to you see to back :)

My head is still buzzing from the Philosophical, Scientific, Theological, Etymological, Epistemological  ideas your throwing at us :)

Back to the thread The God Delusion. I to had a religious upbringing and like many who have posted, questioned that in later life. Flirted with communism, anarchism and atheism but never really felt comfortable with any of those belief systems. Humanism and Agnosticism I have felt a strong attraction but still didn't define what I think/believe. Christopher Hitchens gave me my most agreed point of view , with "antitheism*. I think the problem is human organised religion and their atrocities, bureaucratic money grabbing ways.

Having said that I have a great respect for peoples faith and the good individuals can do.

Reading Marilynne Robinson at the moment and I know she is religious but she seems to me to be trying to get to the spiritual truth and goodness of humanity.

Edited by Clavain

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Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence of course,

 

And that's why, yes, there are vampires among my neighbours!

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And that's why, yes, there are vampires among my neighbours!

It is why we can only believe there are not, or for that matter are, vampires in the neighborhood. Regardless of whether or not the idea of vampires offends our sense of a rational universe there is simply no way to definitively state that there are no vampires. Or angels or devils or gods or honest politicians. Just because we've never encountered one doesn't mean it doesn't exist. And just because we may observe one hominid sucking the blood from another, or catch a politician telling the truth about something, that is still not proof that vampires or honest politicians exist. We can't know anything, we can only believe.

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I usually avoid books like this god delusion.

I had personally encountered too much miracles in my life to deny that God exists.

Therefore, I do not see the need to prove or disprove God.

I know God is with me, and I love Him like I will a father.

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