Beginners guide for atheist

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Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Wed 14 May, 2008 02:43 pm
@Vasska,
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Dawkins is not the soft kind of atheist if you read his "The God Delusion" he really hates the soft Agnostic people who do not want to chose and stay neutral. Maybe you like Pat Condell better (Search his name on Youtube and his video's will show up) who has a somewhat stronger voice.


No, Dawkins is a hard atheist - and that's one of my problems with him. More significantly, Dawkins attacks a caricature of religious belief, which is intellectually weak.

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For me it's simple; there is no reason to believe in our definition of God, and there is no God as we intend him to be.


What definition of God? There are many.

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If you look at the universe and even our simple small planet I cannot and refuse to believe there is a God.


That's fine if you refuse, but I doubt you are incapable. It's up to you, anyway.

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A bundling of cosmic forces that might influence us and other planets is something else, but i won't call it God. But use the God term in the more scientific way like the God-particle and others.


That's the thing, though, God is not a scientific question.
 
Vasska
 
Reply Wed 14 May, 2008 02:55 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas wrote:
No, Dawkins is a hard atheist - and that's one of my problems with him. More significantly, Dawkins attacks a caricature of religious belief, which is intellectually weak.
[\quote]
Replied to that in the "God's Unfailing Love" topic

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What definition of God? There are many.

The standard he loves you, he gives he takes and the rest you know.

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That's fine if you refuse, but I doubt you are incapable. It's up to you, anyway.

I don't really get this comment somehow.

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That's the thing, though, God is not a scientific question.


That's the whole problem of God. We can prove many things, we even worked out how the whole universe has been created withing the last 150 years. We know exactly what does what, and are only 20 years away from nano technology on wide commercial scale.

If we put God in the center of a story it would make for a great character that can captivate you for hours on end, just like the devil. The problem being that this has happened and people really believe in this fictional figure to put it simply.

God is just like the imaginary friend indeed not a scientific question, but more a psychological question.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Wed 14 May, 2008 03:02 pm
@Vasska,
Quote:
The standard he loves you, he gives he takes and the rest you know.


I really don't know, though. For example, is God really some guy up in the sky, or do we refer to God as an individual something for convenience?

The differences in the understandings of God are so vast that claims like 'God does not exist' are impossible to defend. You may not believe in God, which is fine, but trying to show that there is no God is just silly.

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I don't really get this comment somehow.


You are capable of belief in God, even if you refuse to believe in God. It's all up to you.

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That's the whole problem of God. We can prove many things, we even worked out how the whole universe has been created withing the last 150 years. We know exactly what does what, and are only 20 years away from nano technology on wide commercial scale.

If we put God in the center of a story it would make for a great character that can captivate you for hours on end, just like the devil. The problem being that this has happened and people really believe in this fictional figure to put it simply.

God is just like the imaginary friend indeed not a scientific question, but more a psychological question.


Even if God is a psychological question, this does not mean God is imaginary.

Our technological and scientific progress has nothing to do with God, not necessarily, anyway.

That's something useful to remember - is the God notion being criticized just one particular God notion or something essential to all God notions?
 
Vasska
 
Reply Wed 14 May, 2008 03:17 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas wrote:
I really don't know, though. For example, is God really some guy up in the sky, or do we refer to God as an individual something for convenience?

The differences in the understandings of God are so vast that claims like 'God does not exist' are impossible to defend. You may not believe in God, which is fine, but trying to show that there is no God is just silly.

When Nietzsche proclaimed God is dead he meant the God advocated by the church, that man in the sky watching you and sending you to hell if you were bad is something that can be disproved by simple thinking.

The personal God for individual convenience is no God anymore, it's an imaginary friend that you gave more respect and a higher status than yourself, and for many people it seems to work.

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Even if God is a psychological question, this does not mean God is imaginary.

Our technological and scientific progress has nothing to do with God, not necessarily, anyway.

That's something useful to remember - is the God notion being criticized just one particular God notion or something essential to all God notions?
You are putting God in the special corner of it cannot be proven and disproved, a status it does not deserve. The problem with God as you state is that we have 1 name God and 7 billion different ideas of it's meaning. In that way some might be disproved and some might not and we never get rid of it.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Wed 14 May, 2008 03:48 pm
@Vasska,
Quote:
When Nietzsche proclaimed God is dead he meant the God advocated by the church, that man in the sky watching you and sending you to hell if you were bad is something that can be disproved by simple thinking.

The personal God for individual convenience is no God anymore, it's an imaginary friend that you gave more respect and a higher status than yourself, and for many people it seems to work.


Yes, Nietzsche knew exactly what he was doing, and was not sloppy in the process. If God is some notion for personal convenience, then I would agree this is illusory, something people convince themselves of for comfort. But I do not see how this could possibly cover all conceptions of God.

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You are putting God in the special corner of it cannot be proven and disproved, a status it does not deserve.


So, you can either prove or disprove God? Otherwise, the status seems quite appropriate.

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The problem with God as you state is that we have 1 name God and 7 billion different ideas of it's meaning. In that way some might be disproved and some might not and we never get rid of it.


Exactly, many ideas being called one name. Should we let semantics, the naming of things, disturb the subject?

It seems to me that proving and disproving God is pointless, and impossible. We should, and can, criticize certain God-notions, but a total rejection of all God-notions is beyond our capability.

Why should we "get rid" of God entirely?
 
Aedes
 
Reply Wed 14 May, 2008 08:16 pm
@Arjen,
Arjen wrote:
I'd say you should start with David Hume's "An enquiry into human understanding". Trust me.
Smile
I completely agree.

I'd also suggest Tractatus Theologico-Politicus and Ethics by Spinoza. These are so profound, astute, and daring that in my mind he is the greatest of the rationalist Enlightenment philosophers.

Incidentally his counterpoint with Leibniz, who was like his evil doppelganger (or perhaps he was the evil doppelganger of Leibniz) is one of the greatest philosophical 'conversations' in history -- as great as Kant-Hume, greater than Wittgenstein-Russell, and perhaps second only to Plato-Aristotle.

Spinoza as far as I understand was not an atheist, he was sort of an unorthodox pantheist (and excommunicated by both the synagogue and church in Amsterdam). But he levelled just brutal critiques against theistic philosophy, as harsh as Nietzsche was but 200 years earlier. He was undertaking much the same project as Descartes, to help the world awaken from the drudgery of medieval scholasticism.

Here's a good Spinoza link with e-text access.
A Dedication to Spinoza's Insights - Joseph B. Yesselman's Home Page
 
Foldstein
 
Reply Wed 14 May, 2008 10:26 pm
@ltdaleadergt,
<daleader> wrote:
I always wonder if there was ever a Beginners's Guide for atheism what would be in it! Very Happy hmmmmmmmmm:rolleyes:
You guys have any idea! Very Happy

Start to examine God and universe issues with the view of science and logic. That would be a beginners's guide for atheism.
 
Vasska
 
Reply Thu 15 May, 2008 01:56 am
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas wrote:
Yes, Nietzsche knew exactly what he was doing, and was not sloppy in the process. If God is some notion for personal convenience, then I would agree this is illusory, something people convince themselves of for comfort. But I do not see how this could possibly cover all conceptions of God.

I think the problem here is that everyone refers to God in his or her own way, in this way God cannot be disprove for there are no exact points to focus on. However i find that if God is a word with many different interpretations we are safe to say there is no real tangible God, only shadows of what it once was.


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So, you can either prove or disprove God? Otherwise, the status seems quite appropriate.
I typed this while in thought, and the status seems quite appropriate, but what i meant was to say why bother with God?

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Exactly, many ideas being called one name. Should we let semantics, the naming of things, disturb the subject?
Guess it's a discussion for another time.

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It seems to me that proving and disproving God is pointless, and impossible. We should, and can, criticize certain God-notions, but a total rejection of all God-notions is beyond our capability.
Why should we "get rid" of God entirely?
Proving and disproving God is pointless if you indeed agree that God is something that has to many interpretations. We indeed should criticize many notions of God that are either demeaning for humans, and maybe use God more as a word that means origin as has been done in science, than as the invisible man watching you that as Nietzsche proclaimed is dead.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Thu 15 May, 2008 03:08 am
@Vasska,
Quote:
I think the problem here is that everyone refers to God in his or her own way, in this way God cannot be disprove for there are no exact points to focus on.


First, I really see no use trying to prove or disprove God. Even then, while we cannot ever disprove or prove God in any universal way, we can talk about certain notions, especially traits common to many God notions, and evaluate them.

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However i find that if God is a word with many different interpretations we are safe to say there is no real tangible God, only shadows of what it once was.


Once was? God, and god like concepts, have never been static. They have, as far as recorded history can tell us, always been diverse, and they evolve over time. Notions of God gain and lose popularity, some cultures destroy others.

I'm not sure what sort of tangible God you were expecting, but i don't think such a thing has ever existed.

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I typed this while in thought, and the status seems quite appropriate, but what i meant was to say why bother with God?


Ah, well, that can be a complicated question. To be honest, I see no reason why anyone necessarily should bother with God.

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Guess it's a discussion for another time.


Well, I just don't see a problem. There are many kinds of ships, and if you say 'I don't like ships' I know what you mean. God is a similar term, there are many kinds, but it has use in language for statements like 'I do not believe in God'.

If we need to know what kind of ship someone is talking about, we can simply ask. The same goes for God.

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Proving and disproving God is pointless if you indeed agree that God is something that has to many interpretations.


Everything has as many interpretations as people perceiving. Saying there are too many notions of God is like saying there are too many notions of a good time, or too many kinds of ships.

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We indeed should criticize many notions of God that are either demeaning for humans, and maybe use God more as a word that means origin as has been done in science, than as the invisible man watching you that as Nietzsche proclaimed is dead.


God often carries connotations of "origin". Notions of a female, mother-like God are especially common.
 
Vasska
 
Reply Thu 15 May, 2008 03:49 am
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas wrote:
First, I really see no use trying to prove or disprove God. Even then, while we cannot ever disprove or prove God in any universal way, we can talk about certain notions, especially traits common to many God notions, and evaluate them.

Once was? God, and god like concepts, have never been static. They have, as far as recorded history can tell us, always been diverse, and they evolve over time. Notions of God gain and lose popularity, some cultures destroy others.

I'm not sure what sort of tangible God you were expecting, but i don't think such a thing has ever existed.

Ah, well, that can be a complicated question. To be honest, I see no reason why anyone necessarily should bother with God.

Well, I just don't see a problem. There are many kinds of ships, and if you say 'I don't like ships' I know what you mean. God is a similar term, there are many kinds, but it has use in language for statements like 'I do not believe in God'.

If we need to know what kind of ship someone is talking about, we can simply ask. The same goes for God.

Everything has as many interpretations as people perceiving. Saying there are too many notions of God is like saying there are too many notions of a good time, or too many kinds of ships.

God often carries connotations of "origin". Notions of a female, mother-like God are especially common.


I think we can both agree on the following 2 points:

  • Trying to prove or disprove God is useless for everyone interprets God differently, and we will keep up proving and disproving God till the universe ends. People like Dawkins sadly keep these discussions alive, by attacking the most ridiculous notions of religion.
  • The concepts of God are different, even between people from the same religion. This proves that there is no God as presented and described in the bible and advocated throughout history, making Nietzsche's "God is Dead" statement right. This however is not applicable on the personal Gods.
  • The word God is interpreted in to many ways, this makes it difficult for us to start a discussion on God, and often results in heated debates. We should only accept to notions of God; God as the creator of the universe and God in the scientific way of origin. Within the first we should reclassify God in multiple notions as; a vengeful God, a loving God etc.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Thu 15 May, 2008 04:52 am
@Vasska,
Quote:
Trying to prove or disprove God is useless for everyone interprets God differently,


We disagree here. Trying to prove or disprove God is nothing more than an intellectual exercise. Some definition of God is given, and off to the races. The result is of no real significance because God isn't for intellectual theories, God is for personal spiritual practice.

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This proves that there is no God as presented and described in the bible and advocated throughout history, making Nietzsche's "God is Dead" statement right.


Here we also disagree. Nietzsche meant something very different about God being dead. Either way, different ideas about God do not present any problem for God, nor any reason to conclude that "God is dead".

God like concepts have evolved over time. God as described in the Bible is viewed in a million different ways. And God to pre-New Testament Christians was viewed in many different ways. There is no God as "advocated throughout history". Never has been.

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We should only accept to notions of God; God as the creator of the universe and God in the scientific way of origin.


See no reason for this. God as a scientific origin seems to miss the point entirely, and sets the dangerous precedent of explaining away ignorance with God and not wisdom. If we do not know the origin, saying 'God did it' is no help.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Thu 15 May, 2008 06:09 am
@Didymos Thomas,
Just a brief followup, the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy is in my estimation the best philosophy resource on the web (blows away Wikipedia), and they have a great entry on Spinoza (as well as everyone else):

Baruch Spinoza (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Thu 15 May, 2008 06:48 am
@Aedes,
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy - definitely the best philosophy resource I've found online. Great articles from reputable scholars.
 
Resha Caner
 
Reply Thu 15 May, 2008 10:54 am
@Didymos Thomas,
Thanks for the reference. I'll check it out.

Being an amateur without enough time to read the infinite swamp of philosophic discourse, I despair over using wiki to buttress my knowledge.

But maybe this will help.

Caner
 
Vasska
 
Reply Fri 16 May, 2008 03:48 pm
@Resha Caner,
Didymos Thomas wrote:
We disagree here. Trying to prove or disprove God is nothing more than an intellectual exercise. Some definition of God is given, and off to the races. The result is of no real significance because God isn't for intellectual theories, God is for personal spiritual practice.


I've been thinking about this one, and I can only agree whether I like it or not.

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Here we also disagree. Nietzsche meant something very different about God being dead. Either way, different ideas about God do not present any problem for God, nor any reason to conclude that "God is dead".


This follows your point made before that God proving is only an intellectual exercise.

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God like concepts have evolved over time. God as described in the Bible is viewed in a million different ways. And God to pre-New Testament Christians was viewed in many different ways. There is no God as "advocated throughout history". Never has been.


God has always had some pointers to go on within the same religions, the only difference was that in one religion god was vengeful and in the other a little less vengeful. This does not make an advocated God go away, the basics stay the same.


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See no reason for this. God as a scientific origin seems to miss the point entirely, and sets the dangerous precedent of explaining away ignorance with God and not wisdom. If we do not know the origin, saying 'God did it' is no help.

It indeed - as i think of it now - serves little purpose. However the God meant in science is simple another use of the word God just for the sake of it. Saying God did it never really got us anywhere.


Aedes wrote:
Just a brief followup, the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy is in my estimation the best philosophy resource on the web (blows away Wikipedia), and they have a great entry on Spinoza (as well as everyone else):


It's not an online reference; but I'm fond of The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy which is very thorough on subjects that really need the explanation.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Sat 17 May, 2008 02:50 am
@Vasska,
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This follows your point made before that God proving is only an intellectual exercise.


Not really. If we are going to engage in that intellectual exercise, the fact that there are many conceptions of God does not present any problem. We can disagree about ethics just like we can disagree about God - ethics is not dead, nor is God.

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God has always had some pointers to go on within the same religions, the only difference was that in one religion god was vengeful and in the other a little less vengeful. This does not make an advocated God go away, the basics stay the same.


There is more to the disagreements about God than how vengeful he is.
 
Vasska
 
Reply Sat 17 May, 2008 03:23 am
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas wrote:
Not really. If we are going to engage in that intellectual exercise, the fact that there are many conceptions of God does not present any problem. We can disagree about ethics just like we can disagree about God - ethics is not dead, nor is God.
I'm curious to your view of Nietzsche's "God is Dead" argument.

Didymos Thomas wrote:

There is more to the disagreements about God than how vengeful he is.
There indeed is, I was wrong to only cite vengefulness, however if we were to ask 5000 people withing let's say Christianity or Muslim we would get a lot of similarity's proving there is an advocated God. God however can be different in you were to look in America or Europe, by me saying that there exists an advocated God I do not limit it to one, but to multiple, distributed over a large geographical area. People like forum member Solice in the discussion "Gods unfailing love" are among the few with another view of God.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Sat 17 May, 2008 03:42 am
@Vasska,
Quote:
I'm curious to your view of Nietzsche's "God is Dead" argument.


Nietzsche was an insane genius? Seriously, though... From what I understand, Nietzsche was interested in debunking Christian morals, and the statement was to mean that God is no longer a foundation for morals.

I agree with him to a large extent.

I also have a great many criticisms of different views of God. Depending on which one we are talking about, I might echo his opinions. But I do not think concepts of God necessarily fit his model.

But I'm not someone who should be teaching Nietzsche.

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There indeed is, I was wrong to only cite vengefulness, however if we were to ask 5000 people withing let's say Christianity or Muslim we would get a lot of similarity's proving there is an advocated God.


Sure, and in this way we can identify, and criticize, different views in our intellectual exercise. Great fun.

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God however can be different in you were to look in America or Europe, by me saying that there exists an advocated God I do not limit it to one, but to multiple, distributed over a large geographical area. People like forum member Solice in the discussion "Gods unfailing love" are among the few with another view of God.


Ah, a very large area. Head to the east and western arguments for atheism fall apart. They all seem to miss the point.
 
Vasska
 
Reply Sat 17 May, 2008 11:38 am
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas wrote:
Nietzsche was an insane genius? Seriously, though... From what I understand, Nietzsche was interested in debunking Christian morals, and the statement was to mean that God is no longer a foundation for morals.

I agree with him to a large extent.

I also have a great many criticisms of different views of God. Depending on which one we are talking about, I might echo his opinions. But I do not think concepts of God necessarily fit his model.

But I'm not someone who should be teaching Nietzsche.

You are right, given the fact that as I take a look at my books i see Nietzsche's books; The Genealogy of Morals, The Antichrist and Beyond Good and Evil it is indeed about morals and the debunking of Christianity.

However, seen God is dead and the rotting foundation of our morals, i see little use for God except in the psychological way of having an all knowing imaginary friend that you can tell everything, and use to get rid of any question you have, hence "God did it".

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Sure, and in this way we can identify, and criticize, different views in our intellectual exercise. Great fun.
Don't be sarcastic. If there is no advocated God how come that many people agree in large extents to what God is?

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Ah, a very large area. Head to the east and western arguments for atheism fall apart. They all seem to miss the point.
This is not about atheism, it's about the advocated God being more than one supreme "this is the only one" God, and the differences between large or small geographic area's.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Sat 17 May, 2008 01:42 pm
@Vasska,
Quote:
However, seen God is dead and the rotting foundation of our morals, i see little use for God except in the psychological way of having an all knowing imaginary friend that you can tell everything, and use to get rid of any question you have, hence "God did it".


I think God was always pretty useless when he is thought to be "an all knowing imaginary friend that you can tell everything, and use to get rid of any question you have, hence "God did it""

I hate to tell people this, because often they do not like to hear it (religious people), but without a practice it's all rhetoric and/or comfort in ignorance. God has to mean something to you, there has to be an application to life that is more than a way to explain away what you do not understand because you are too lazy to investigate or too afraid to say 'I don't know'.

In that sense, God is dead. Or should die.

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Don't be sarcastic. If there is no advocated God how come that many people agree in large extents to what God is?


I'm sorry, I meant no sarcasm. Even if we cannot come to a full definition of God for intellectual discourse, we can still talk about God and consider the array of claims about God. Doing this can be great fun as long as the issue does not get personal. The execrise can even be helpful in trying to understand different points of view about God, something which is important for tolerance.

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This is not about atheism, it's about the advocated God being more than one supreme "this is the only one" God, and the differences between large or small geographic area's.


Yes, that's fine, but not all comments have to be some sort of argument.

About 'advocated God' such a thing does exist, many of them, too many to count. We can discuss them by identifying them by whatever characteristics believers apply to them. What we cannot do is debunk one 'advocated God' and then conclude that God does not exist, or that God is dead in some universal sense.

We might, for example, prove that Gods do not literally cause weather patterns. But in debunking notions of God which rely on this claim we have not shown all notions of God to be bogus.
 
 

 
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