39 thoughts on “Atheism”

  1. Yeah no kidding.
    Atheism is the belief that there is no god. I call it belief because that’s what it is really.

    I think the appropriate tack if you have no evidence God exists is to be Agnostic. But Atheism is simply bonkers.

    1. I think you may be wrong because that’s YOUR definition of atheism.

      When I question atheists closely and drill down a little bit what comes out is that they don’t have a REASON to believe in a god.

      Not that they’ve come up with a proof that there is no god.

  2. Do you believe in living unicorns which are pink with purple polkadots which are more intelligent than humans and speak in perfect English and Japanese and large herds of them live in your very own hometown even though you never see them because of their magical abilities?

    If you are agnostic but don’t believe in those unicorns (or any other completely fantastic entity for which there is no proof) then your agnosticism indicates a religious belief, rather than a scientific belief. Your criteria for believing in God should be exactly the same as all the other crazy nonsense entities I can describe.

    I think the appropriate tack if you have no evidence an entity exists is to simply not believe in it until such time as some evidence is discovered. And then continue to not believe in it until you have really good evidence. And then subject the whole pile of evidence to the scientific method. Agnosticism is simply bonkers and is completely inconsistent with the scientific method.

    1. Do you believe in intelligent life beyond Earth? Same problem. There’s absolutely no evidence of it no matter how much time you spend gazing upon the Drake Equation.

      Belief in extra-terrestrial life is therefore a religion, under your criteria, and should not receive any government funding.

      1. Belief in extra-terrestrial life (intelligent or otherwise) is certainly a religious belief. Spending money to do scientific exploration to look for it is entirely different. We look for intelligent life for scanning for transmissions. We will soon look for any kind of life by doing spectral analysis of the light passing through extra-solar atmospheres. Finding a God of any sort would be the greatest scientific discovery imaginable, and if you can propose similar sort of tests to find a God, I think such tests should be considered for funding alongside other scientific investigations, and they should be conducted if judged affordable. Belief is not necessary to look for Gods, aliens, or magical unicorns — all that is necessary is a good idea for how to look for them.

      2. If someone believes there’s intelligent life beyond Earth they have more reason to believe that than to believe in a god:

        There exists one verifiable example of intelligent life (by our definition of intelligent). (All joke of just ho intelligent we are accepted and enjoyed).

        Any person can look around and see examples (except in D.C.). It’s not something that occurs only in the laboratory.

    2. If you believe you’re a meaningless biological accident it makes no sense to opine about anything, and makes even less sense for anyone to listen.

      1. If you are a meaningless biological accident, it is AMAZING that you have opinions at all and I certainly want to hear them!

    3. No. Agnostic simply means you neither believe nor disbelieve them. It simply means you keep an open mind about it.

      Disbelief, which is what Atheism is, is a form of intellectual blindness and dogma to me. It is as much of a dogma as believing in it. To me it smacks of hubris as well. A lot of Atheists seem to have a belief there must be nothing superior to them or humans in general.

      1. Regardless of that, I think I’ve said it before, I’m a Catholic so I believe in God. I even have my own personal experiences which, to me at least, are sufficient proof. Although I had periods where I was Agnostic. In fact I was Agnostic for most of my life.

      2. When I was young I never understood the concept of the Holy Trinity for example. I spent considerable amounts of time thinking about and thought it made no sense at all. I gave up on thinking about it. One day, when I was much older, I had a time of personal crisis where I was losing faith, not in God, but in humanity. I thought about the concept of the Trinity a lot. Just before I went to sleep I heard a voice whisper “Athens”. The next day I started searching on Google and guess what, in 2 minutes I found Athenagoras of Athens and read his Apologetics. The page I found described exactly the Christian concept of the Trinity and a lot of other things people typically have misguided ideas about with regards to Christianity today. Athenagoras basically explains Christian concepts to non-believers.

        People like you would say I had a moment of temporary insanity or something. Maybe. But it’s sure was a goddamned coincidence. Especially because I never heard of him before or even knew about apologetics.

        1. This kind of thing is why, thought I’ve been God-blind all my life (to today), I never argue with others about it. If He exists to them, even if not to me, He exists to them.

          1. Or perhaps you’re the only one who can’t see God out there because he’s actually you, which would be the situation if you were that one particularly unique entity.

            There’s probably some philosophy course that covers this question in painfully rigorous depth, which is why engineering or even business administration is such a better major.

            My analysis tree would look like this.

            Properties of God:
            1) Tax exempt.

            Nope. I failed right there.

            I think that test also hits at why so many on the left are atheists. They’re can’t even conceive of the possibility that there’s something out that they can’t tax.

            It’s possible that many young leftists have their faith crushed early.

            “Mom, is God infinitely powerful?”
            “Yes dear.”
            “Mom, if he’s infinitely powerful he’s infinitely rich.” “Yes dear.”
            “So if he’s infinitely rich, taxing him at 38% would pay for Medicaid for all, free college, the Green New Deal, and a guaranteed minimum income.”
            “Yes dear, but let me explain some important things…”

            Three hours later the kid’s eyes are burning with righteous fury after finding out that God doesn’t exist and everyone outside the entertainment industry who has money is a greedy racist slave-owning puppy-killing homophobic bigot whose company is destroying the Earth so that children suffer and die.

    4. This is lazy equivocation. There is zero evidence that pink polka-dot unicorns, or any unicorns for that matter, do or have ever existed. There is no gap to fill.

      Contrariwise, there are huge gaps in our knowledge of how we came to be, or in why our existence should even be possible in the first place. A god or gods – some conscious designer or designers – is a reasonable working hypothesis, given how little we understand about the nature of reality.

      1. Bart, that’s a great point. When you read “God” you thought of a creator, whereas I was thinking a biblical God who can be
        1) an invisible powerful active presence in our lives,
        2) the source of goodness and morality.

        I don’t find there to be a gap for those two, but for the question of where things come from, sure I can see where you would say there is a gap to fill. On the other hand, a creation doesn’t imply an intelligent creator (we see clouds create raindrops, and we see raindrops create rainbows, etc, and we don’t imagine an intelligent creator for those. Or, at least, I don’t.)

        But if God the creator is. as you say, a working hypothesis, then there should be tests to perform — a working hypothesis is a testable hypothesis, right?

        And on a lighter note, there is quite a lot of evidence for ordinary unicorns, despite none having been proved to exist, so I’d say you’re wrong to claim there is no gap to fill. People have depicted unicorns for thousands of years, horns thought to have come from unicorns have long been found and treasured, and both the narwahl and the Indian rhino are existence proofs for large one-horned mammals. We also have God’s word on the matter — unicorns are mentioned in the Bible 9 times: https://www.biblegateway.com/quicksearch/?quicksearch=unicorn&qs_version=AKJV 🙂

        1. Something to consider is that niether religion or science are static. Our understanding of, and relationship to, them are always changing.

          Personally, I think the more we understand about both the closer the two will become.

          But if you are looking for a source of good or morality, you are in part ignoring the reality that existence is not all good or moral. It’s the old, “If there was a god, then why is there suffering? Suffering exists, so god(s) can’t exist.”

          But if you do believe in a creator, they made both the wolf and the rabbit.

          Also, you might be interested in the distinctions between active and passive religions. Voodoo has active gods and while Christians believe God is active in their life, it’s not quite the same thing.

          1. “If there was a god, then why is there suffering?”

            That question never made sense to me, at least not in the way it is usually intended. If there is a God according to the usual Judeo-Christian concept, then we have everlasting souls, and no one can truly die. So, what’s a little temporary and overall inconsequential suffering in that grand scheme of things?

    5. A good reason not to believe in those is that they were created to be a ridiculous example that exists outside the theology or philosophy behind religious belief.

      Science and religion are not mutually exclusive and those who are motivated to view humans that way aren’t motivated by science or religion, just bigotry and blissful ignorance.

  3. If I were to ever appear on the Bill Maher show (fat chance), I’d be sure to pack a good set of Vegas dice. At the beginning of the show I’d hand them to him as a gift with the statement: “Here Bill, something you can believe in.”

  4. There’s no religion, philosophy or science that has, to date, solved the “first cause” problem, sometimes states as, “Why is there something, rather than nothing?” And, of course, the joke referenced above, “It’s turtles all the way down.” So in that sense, all theistic and atheistic “beliefs” are equally evidentiary (or not).

    Simply put, we either live in a deterministic universe, or a non-deterministic universe. A deterministic universe requires a prime mover to exist and evolve, because it can be rewound to a base state. A non-deterministic universe is driven by probability, meaning it cannot be rewound to a base state. All attempts to reconcile those have resulted in facile, excuse-seeking theories. Why does God exist (if He does)? Why does probability exist? Etc.

    Epicurianism is an example of a non-deterministic philosophy. The deterministic universe is interupted by a non-deterministic, uncaused clinamen. Zoroastrianism approaches the same conclusion with Uncreated Time. Both suggest a modern interpretation: In an infinite multiverse, in which all things, no matter how improbably, must at some point actually happen, God must exist, as an emergent property of probabilistic space.

    And you can’t dismiss the problems by saying the universe and/or God has always existed, because then you have to explain why there would be such a thing as “always.” Otherwise, turtles all the way down would be as good an answer as any.

    Do I believe these things? No. But I’ve wasted a lot of lifespan writing science fiction novels and stories about them. Which is pretty funny, all by itself!

    1. Science has shown us that things exist that we can not perceive, that perception can change reality, and how we interpret reality is not how reality actually is.

      Magical thinking is a part of every human, even if they aren’t self aware, and what we have collectivly learned about how we fit into reality would not have been possible without magical thinking.

      A lot of people are ashamed of their humanity but we should strive for both acceptance and understanding. Nothing wrong with being human.

    2. “There’s no religion, philosophy or science that has, to date, solved the “first cause” problem, sometimes states as, “Why is there something, rather than nothing?”
      Try this on for size. When you ask what existed before the Universe’s creation you are forgetting one thing. Time is not an independent variable; it is a dependent variable. It is effected by relative velocity and/or proximity to mass for instance. It has no reality outside of the Universe it is in. There was no “before” the Universe was “created” because there was no time. Think of the Universe as a program running on your computer; time being a dependent variable of the program having no meaning outside of it.

      1. I’m not forgetting anything. Why should there be such a thing as time? All definitions are self-referential within all religions, philosophies and scientific theories. Which was, in fact, my point. All you and others are doing is pointing out the next layer of turtles. (Or missing a joke; whichever comes first…)

    3. “There’s no religion, philosophy or science that has, to date, solved the “first cause” problem, sometimes states as, “Why is there something, rather than nothing?” ”

      One of the problems is that the axioms and premises we use are created by us. The questions are all affected by the fact that we have created things in our minds that don’t exist and then we use them.

      For example, there is no numeral 2 in nature. You can’t show it to me. It doesn’t exist.

      You can show me 2 of something but that concept of counting and grouping exists in our minds only. We’ve agreed on the concept and we both use it but 2 does not exist in nature.

      Another example that arose from the human concept of 2: infinities.

      So far as I know there are no infinities in nature. Can’t see one in a museum; can’t be seen in a nature walk or in a lab.

      But the human mind created the concept because we created counting. Counting takes you to the concept of infinities – there is always one more number, and infinities are really useful in calculus.

      But they don’t exist.

      A lot of philosophical problems might be neatly solved is we asked the right question or asked it in the right way.

      Does time exist in nature? Or is it too a human construct only. If time is a human construct only then there is no “First Cause”.

    1. Invoking the word of God I see.

      You know, for a lot of evangelists, he’s a function that returns currency.

      1. For anyone who’s interested, the line is from my translation of the first book of genesis into Java. I originally wrote it as part of a programming course I was teaching, so the students could have a little fun. For a while, I thought of refining it and submitting it to Asimov’s in the guise of a poem, but never got around to it (busy getting divorced instead). Later on, I used snippets as example code for my stories “Moments of Inertia” and “Dark of the Sun,” which were published in Asimov’s a few years later. Currently assembled as a novel-length e-book under the “Moments of Imertia” title. I must still have the original, buried somewhere in the terabytes of project data, either on my home network drives (I hope) or on some collection of external disks lost in a heap somewhere.

        For evangelists, God is the input parameter of the Word function. It’s televangelists who return data type $$.

  5. I tend to the viewpoint espoused by the “avout” in Neal Stephenson’s superb novel Anathem; basically, the existence or nonexistence of that which we call “god(s)” is not something that science can meaningfully address. So all forms of belief or disbelief in “god(s)” are scientifically meaningless.

    My personal opinion is pretty much atheism, largely because I see minimal evidence of god(s) in the world as it is, whether we’re talking cosmology, neuroscience, or what have you. But the leap from, say, “I see evidence / no evidence of a non-material, undying soul animating humans” to “god(s) do / don’t exist” is unscientific.

    1. In the context of doing science, understanding science, or using science, whether one does/doesn’t have religious beliefs is meaningless. Some people believe this is the case but it is just a way to differentiate themselves from the “other”, a display of superiority over lesser humans.

      The reality is that even people who don’t overtly follow a religion still engage in magical thinking because we are hard wired for it. It is so internalized into self that they would be no more self aware of it than the frequency our vision operates at.

      There is a hubris or false sense of knowledge that leads them to think they are different, which is really more human than human when you think about it.

  6. Sounds like a bunch of woo-woo crap to me. I self-identify as an atheist (knowing how poorly society views atheists) because I live a life without theism. I don’t follow any gods, I don’t do prayer, or rituals or icons, I scream the woman’s name while climaxing, there’s just no theism in my life. It’s a-theistic. [But not, I would strongly note, a-moral]

    Coming from an analytical background, I don’t care about ‘truth’, I care about facts, and what those facts say. I don’t use words like ‘believe’ unless I know I’m using it in a context where there are facts backing it up (i.e. I ‘believe’ the Sun will rise tomorrow because I know the fact that the Earth is rotating on it’s axis). Probably my most tenuous use of the word in that regard is in asserting things like ‘I believe in physics.’ But at least there I can rely on the scientific method and engineering principles to figure things out, like using a pendulum to verify that the Earth is rotating on its axis.

    In fact, I would argue that the scientific method is better approached from an a-theistic standpoint than from a theistic one, in that the former requires that everything that is in nature/universe/cosmos can be tested and measured and verified and explained through data and facts, and there can be no reliance on any kind of woo-woo super/supra-natural explanation that exists beyond our ken or ability to verify. Obviously our tools are still crude as compared with the subtle complexity of the physics of the universe, but we’re still working on that…

    1. Atheism is a positive, proactive belief in the nonexistence of a deity of any sort. It is an affirmative statement that nothing beyond our ken can exist. It is often accompanied by a whiny insistence that anyone who doesn’t share your disbelief is a knuckle-dragging troglodyte who ought to be banished to a reeducation camp.

      If that describes your viewpoint, then you are an atheist.

      If, on the other hand, you simply don’t see a need for theology or for taking a stand one way or the other, that is not atheism. That is agnosticism.

      1. Bart,

        I think some people think that’s the definition of atheism. But I bet you if you independently polled a large bunch of atheists they might say they see no REASON to believe in a god. Or they might arrive at that after a question or two.

        Which is vastly different than saying, “There IS no god (as in it’s been proven)>”

        1. It used to be that atheists adopted their ideology through deep philosophical thought. These days, many arrive there through ignorance and bigotry. They know nothing about any religion except what stereotypes they are inculcated with. And they don’t know anything about atheism either because it isnt an ideology they arrived at through contemplation, it is an ideology that shuns contemplation.

          There is a huge difference between the current generation of atheists and the older ones. The current generation is incapable of articulation and their arguments are based in ignorance of what makes humans human, of religion, and of atheism. Conversing with them is an exercise in patience while they use insults and espouse supremicism.

          This is a problem because the ignorance creates large blind spots and leads to acting with religiosity without the awareness or understanding of why they act the way they do.

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