TheSnarister

Atheist / Christian Q&A / Open Discussion

29 posts in this topic

In light of the many threads of us christians and atheists talking past eachother, I invite you all here to ask eachother any questions so that we can understand eachother.

 

If you have any questions about me, why I'm an atheist, what that means in terms of my beliefs, please ask!

 

I would appreciate if we could all be civil and understanding and not grandstand (myself included).

 

Cheers.

 

 

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Thanks for asking.

 

My parents never gave me a religion as a kid, they both came from different backgrounds. My mom said that around age four I asked her and my dad what God was. They told me about different religions. I said that I thought god was a rock. I was big time into rocks and nature.

 

When I was a little older, in elementary school, the idea of god and death troubled me a lot. I would cry about the fact that I would one day die and that I thought there was no after life. I even told my parents I thought it would have been better of them to lie and tell me there was a God, or pick a religion, so that I could enjoy that idea/ fantasy. My dad used to try to comfort me by saying he believed that God was possibly the universe and everything around us.

 

I experimented between elementary and middle school with the idea of religion, sometimes praying, sometimes reading about different beliefs. Despite my seeking I never felt anything responding to my prayers. I figured God was a pleasant fantasy, but I saw no proof of him.

 

I grew out of that phase and I'd say my interest in philosophy bloomed around age 12. That was when I started reading theological debates, I read Descartes Meditations, I watched arguments online, ect. That is when I identified with the term "atheist". I was surprised to see my mom shocked by this. I didn't feel any kind of shift, just a terminology change. At this time I would say atheism DID affect my life because it got me into debate and philosophy.

 

By the time I was 18 I had hashed out the arguments between atheism and theism so many times they bored me, and frankly I thought it was a waste of time. I still thought religion was a pleasant fantasy and wished I could believe it, but never could, I found no evidence for it.

 

Fast forward to now. I never bring up atheism or theism in my personal life, its divisive and often circular. But I enjoy reading spiritual books from time to time as they can be uplifting, particularly buddhist texts. 

 

I would say atheism affects my life very little, and when I meet people who are very INTO their atheism It is usually a red flag to me that they are intellectually insecure or perhaps just at the beginning stages of an intellectual journey. If ones philosophy begins and ends at atheism, one must be very shallow indeed.

 

That is my two cents.

 

What brought you to christianity noonelikesaknowitall?

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Thanks for the share snar.

 

I am a recovering alcoholic. My life was saved by following a few simple spiritual principles. The principles were simple but living by them was hard for me as it was such an alien way of life. Anyway for about four years I got the help I needed from AA. 

 

I had a lodger at one time around then that was a Christian. He would talk about what they had spoken about at church that week. It really caught my attention. I ended up going. The service was great, non denominational, non religious, held in a community center and a really powerful sermon. If I am really honest a couple of the women there caught my eye as well! 

 

I went to that church for about two years. There was no magical fix but I would come away inspired each week with something to think deeply about. The church closed down and I drifted for a while. My spiritual journey was still okay but there was still a lack of power in my life. I was growing though, a lot of tough lessons, some good times and most importantly still sober!

 

Then I copied and pasted a few things I had read about the fossil record onto a thread on the old help.com regarding how poorly substantiated the transitional fossils are. The response I got was crushing. I found myself unable to defend my spiritual life in front of science. They ripped my faith apart. I was crushed.

 

After a few days I decided to look further into it. I wanted to know why science found no evidence for God and were these web-sites I had been on that supported Christianity just a bunch of deluded idiots, and I had bought into a lie. I was prepared to face the truth.

 

From that point forward I started to think for myself. It was probably the first time that I ever had (properly) in my life. I was amazed to find the debate was raging between E v C v id I found out that science makes it philosophical commitment to materialism prior to the evidence being handed in so is not the neutral observer of facts that I had been led to believe. It became an obsession for me. Time consuming but I have found the origins debate utterly fascinating. It has taken me to a new level spiritually and I now fear God which has bought new power into my life. 

 

I get what you are saying, people talk past each other, people get unpleasant. I see you posted that 'I found no evidence for it.'(talking of religion although I suspect you meant God, I wish you would separate the two like I need to separate materialism and athiesim!! pull me up if I do it again) which I find amazing. The evidence does not demand that you believe in Christianity but as for a designer I find it hard to see if anyone takes a good look at the id argument how they can not be impressed with it. Especially as science keeps finding new levels of complexity barely with in our comprehension and incomprehensible if you assume that dumb luck, chemical reactions and deep time can account for it all.  How any one can look at all of that and not see that it really is designed and there fore a designer (lets call it God) is beyond me. 

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@Sherlock

 

I want to keep this conversational, so I hope this is a question of curiosity, not a line of questioning trap.

 

There isn't really a specific God I don't believe in. I would say I tend to believe in things that I feel have evidence, consistency, and a coherence with certain principles I believe in (i.e. logical principles such as non-contradiction). I obviously have some beliefs, like we all do, that are just the result of my upbringing and social life. That is unavoidable.

 

I suppose that doesn't answer your question. I would say just in general, a concept of God is one I don't find tenable or necessary. For me its kind of adding something speculative and I wouldn't do that for no reason. If I'm looking at why things are a certain way, it seems weird to me to postulate something that further complicates and confuses matters. That is how I feel about God. I've never had any evidence or contact with him/her/it so I see no reason to believe.

 

Basically I feel my default position is non-belief, and for me to start believing in something, whether it be God or Ghosts or a 9/11 conspiracy, I need to have ample evidence and argument. It has not been the case that I've found this for any God or religion.

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@Noonelikesaknowitall

 

I think it is very admirable that you came to religion through self improvement and questioning, that is, I hope, how most people come to settle into their beliefs about their world...and the attitude they continue to hold as they grow.

 

Oh and I'm sorry for conflating God and religion, good point. I think I meant God in that case.

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The evidence does not demand that you believe in Christianity but as for a designer I find it hard to see if anyone takes a good look at the id argument how they can not be impressed with it. Especially as science keeps finding new levels of complexity barely with in our comprehension and incomprehensible if you assume that dumb luck, chemical reactions and deep time can account for it all.  How any one can look at all of that and not see that it really is designed and there fore a designer (lets call it God) is beyond me. 

I would have to agree; with our limited ability to observe/perceive the universe its almost impossible to make a logical or scientific evidence based argument for or against the existence of a God or gods. their is just to much we don't know, can't preceive, and can't comprehend to belive we have enough evidence to make such arguments.

thats why to me the debate between theism and atheism is a mater of faith (or lack there of) and not a mater of knowledge or evidence.

I have no real faith in the existence of God or gods ... and so I am an atheist.

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DA-11 brings up a great point about faith. I think faith is often a big difference between atheists and theists.

 

To the Christians: what constitutes faith and do you believe it is core your belief in God?

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Atheists - do you know FOR CERTAIN there isn't a god? if you do, how are you so sure?

Christians - do you know FOR CERTAIN there is a god? How?

Or is it just what you choose to believe with no solid evidence?

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Christians - do you know FOR CERTAIN there is a god? How?

Or is it just what you choose to believe with no solid evidence?

If I were a betting man, the odds are in favor of there being a designer (God) over there not. Now given that if the Christians are right then the stakes are high because it your eternal soul as the wager it is well worth taking a sober look at it.

 

Having studied the arguments from both sides the observational evidence says there is no (observed) mechanism to create the vast amounts of complex, functionally specified. organized information in the natural would that can account for life nor the huge variety of highly functional life that we see. An intelligent agent however is a causally adequate cause because we as human beings can create this type of information and systems.

 

The argument from design (complexity in biological systems) and fine tuning in the universe is very powerful in favor of design based on observed evidence. It seems impossible to describe life on the micro scale with out using design terminology. The basic cell is literally like a miniature city, with information centers, distribution networks, power factories and all sorts of 'machines' to perform various functions. 

 

The universe is finely tuned for life as well. Sadly I have to go and do some work now, I want to get back to this. The evidence shouts design, the materialist is constantly arguing against what is observed. I will leave you with a quote from a famous evolutionary biologist.

 

‘Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism.
It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. '

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So noone, can I ask you, if you believe the evidence is stacked in favor of creationism why is it in your opinion that the vast majority of scientists in the field disagree with you? Is it that they have a bad intent or are they just misguided? And if misguided, how did that happen?

 

Or am I, and others, wrong in our assumption that the majority of scientists support evolution? I would find that hard to believe given both first hand and evidence I've seen in polls but I'm curious.

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First up Snar, did you not read that quote? There is a philosophical commitment to materialism prior to the evidence being handed in.Do you understand the implications of that because your question makes me think you do not. This is your question 'why is it in your opinion that the vast majority of scientists in the field disagree with you? Is it that they have a bad intent or are they just misguided? And if misguided, how did that happen?' and my answer is because they have a philosophical commitment to materialism prior to the evidence being handed in. It does not matter what they find, for example we now know that some sections of dna read backward as well as forward, this is devastating for an unguided process but it does not over turn materialism because the philosophical commitment stands. Do you understand now? Do you understand why they are so arrogant and dismissive of others in the name of science? It is not because they have mountains of evidence (they do however have mountains of rhetoric) it is because they have a philosophical commitment in science that gives them licence to trade on the name of science about some very very extravagant claims. Until you have see this then you will most likely buy into their bluster.

 

The evidence is not stacked in favor of creationism, rather id. They are two different debates although evolutionists do tend to lump them together much to the annoyance of the id brigade. Personally I think there is a lot of merit in the creationists arguments even though they are laughed at by the evolutionists. Once you have gotten passed the ridicule and scorn then the evidence can be evaluated then it is possible to draw your own conclusions. All sides need 'special pleading' to make their case, 

 

The evolutionary dept has a commitment to materialism and it is potentially career threatening to stand apart from that commitment, no funding for those that do not toe the party line.. Now you may well be right that a lot of the evolutionists actually believe that stuff but it is not because the evidence compels them to believe it, Unless it is your own specialist area of science then you are unlikely to have spent a huge amount of time studying it and might not even understand the difference between what has actually been observed in evolution vs what has been claimed.

 

Just so we are clear Snar, when I say evolution I always mean macro evolution (I will specify micro when I mean it). Micro evolution is the observed process, macro is the extrapolation and the faith part of scientism 

 

Everything about a bear evolving into a whale etc... is just claimed to have happened. There is no observed creative force in nature that can produce the vast quantities of functional specified organized complex information that it would require to make such a change and then you have to consider that all of this is considered possible by the evolutionists with out any intelligent involvement, i.e. dumb luck. (note there are plenty of claimed/proposed evolutionary mechanisms but the observational science does not support them being sufficiently creative i.e. causally adequate). Behe's first rule of evolution is adapt or break what is already there. That is all that has ever been observed of the evolutionary process. Adding deep time does not create anything especially on a blind search basis. 

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Ok sorry, I get yah now. Scientists have a prior commitment to materialism which distorts their work. I don't agree because many scientists are not materialists and I don't think science works that way, but I get your argument now. I can say that I agree that a prior philosophical commitment does distort science, and has in the past, but I'm not sure this is a correct diagnosis. It does however, help me understand your perspective.

 

As to the specifics, I understand the micro/ macro distinction and the whole argument that goes along with it. I don't know that we would learn anything about eachothers views by going down that road.

 

Materialism and science, that is an interesting topic though. A rich one. Because I study the history and philosophy of science and its pretty cool to watch the theories change overtime. Medieval science, for example, was richly dualistic and full of extra metaphysical entities. Science that focused on observable materials and particles is not unique to the western enlightenment, but was strengthened and solidified there.

 

If you want my opinion, I think materialism thrives in science because the scientific method deals with what is tangible and observable. For example we can't plug angels, prayers, or supernatural beings into science because they (if they exist) operate in ways which are not easily quantified. As a sidenote: this separation is how some people maintain their devote theism while being a scientist. Charles Taylor is an amazing philosopher of religion, and one of the theists I read a lot. He talks about how we went from a world of spirits and the supernatural to one of material and mechanisms, or how we partitioned our world as the scientific endeavor became a greater part of our lives.

 

I don't think we need to have such fierce battles between science and religion, but alas, I suppose I am in the minority.

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Atheists - do you know FOR CERTAIN there isn't a god? if you do, how are you so sure?

Christians - do you know FOR CERTAIN there is a god? How?

Or is it just what you choose to believe with no solid evidence?

 

For me it is the lack of evidence that leads me to be an atheist. i do not know for certain that there is no god as described by other men. All I know, is after hearing it for over 30 years and seeing nothing tangible, this is the conclusion I've arrived at. Also when comparing reality and considering the time the accounts of a god came from, I feel it's more likely theists are worshiping some really good entertainment for a bunch of folks who stood around telling stories and making stuff up rather than playing on iphones and laptops. Everything good or bad in this world, any hard work that lead to anything good or bad, has been done by humans. I see no evidence of a god. Even if Jesus came back today he'd be mad at most Christians. It'd be another scene of him knocking over false idols in his place of worship. An investigation according to the economist says American Catholicism spends about 150Billion annually. Apple and General Motors, by way of comparison, each had a revenue of about 150Billion WORLDWIDE. Then on top of it all they ask ten percent of your income each service and think it's fair, tax free btw, and think it's fair. Sounds more like stealing from the poor to me, I find myself rather bitter toward the idea of some religious institutions amassing wealth to the point of being a tax free super economy nation of its own. I think it's pretty sick actually and a plague on humanity. They're in the business of money not easing our worries or bringing us closer to god. What if Christians are just being exploited for the gullible folks they appear to be? (No offense to anyone). I'm just suggesting we all think for ourselves instead. And as long as there's a possibility 'god' doesn't exist, I'm not going to support sending people to die in wars for example. "They're in gods hands now." What if, just what if, it's bullshit and they're just dead and we murdered them? How's that sit with your godly ethics? (just my opinion and how i view things not attacking anyone in fact please offer evidence to the contrary because i don't see this stuff optimistically at all in case you haven't noticed lol)

http://www.slate.com/articles/business/moneybox/2013/03/catholic_church_and_pope_francis_religious_institutions_are_exempted_from.html

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To believers of God(s) - do you believe in your chosen religions religious texts? Do you believe all of it of just some? If so why? And is there anyone who believes in the possibility of a God but does not identify with any of the texts of any religion?



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 if Jesus came back today he'd be mad at most Christians. It'd be another scene of him knocking over false idols in his place of worship. 

I agree with this, a good point. Certainly

 

Also I am not a fan of the RCC and share many if not all of your concerns around that institution and possible more as some of my concerns are along spiritual lines. 

 

As for the topic of war, things done in the name of social darwanism and the atheist communist state have clocked up as many deaths as religious wars. Mankind will always find something to fight about and we are in the most danger now as people seem to have stopped thinking for themselves and hand their authority (and hoping their responsibility goes with it) to the TV and science! The idea of getting rid of religion means getting rid of wars is naive. 

 

As for the evidence, the argument from design is compelling, It is more logical and rational to believe there is design in life esp given that we can even comprehend that fact and we are also worshipful creatures (lets face it we will worship most anything, from football to cars to relationships to sex to work etc......) 

 

Have you seen videos on the complexity of the cell?

 

Got to help with the kids might post more later or tommorow

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When I was a little older, in elementary school, the idea of god and death troubled me a lot. I would cry about the fact that I would one day die and that I thought there was no after life. I even told my parents I thought it would have been better of them to lie and tell me there was a God, or pick a religion, so that I could enjoy that idea/ fantasy. My dad used to try to comfort me by saying he believed that God was possibly the universe and everything around us.

 

I don't understand.  God, death and the afterlife (or non-existence) trouble children - it's normal.  But, you already established that your parents had different religions (faiths).  I don't understand how you are saying it would be better for them to lie to you and tell you there was a God.  If your dad is saying that God is the universe (in some way), in effect, aren't your parents telling you there is

a God?  Here, you say you were a bit older - but you already made a conclusion much earlier than that (IMO).  You weren't going to choose a faith that would hurt the feelings of your parents (one side or the other).  And at the same time, it would seem to me, that  one of your parents would remit to the faith of the other parent if that faith was genuine.  But, that didn't happen. . . .  Therefore, your parents become the very model of what it is to have entitlement to their personal 'fantasies'.  Now, when you look at the world and see a bigger mess of the same thing at home. . . .it's of little wonder why your pattern of thinking became the way it is, today.  There's a lot of religions out there that conflict with each other and you made a decision.  And though I can understand someone not willing to risk a position to say 'this is the right religion," I think you have missed the law of averages. . .there's a God. . . .  Just how that God is differs from faith to faith.  I think it would be. . .a great loss to you, to scoff the moral majority in this case.

 

I experimented between elementary and middle school with the idea of religion, sometimes praying, sometimes reading about different beliefs. Despite my seeking I never felt anything responding to my prayers. I figured God was a pleasant fantasy, but I saw no proof of him.

I grew out of that phase and I'd say my interest in philosophy bloomed around age 12. That was when I started reading theological debates, I read Descartes Meditations, I watched arguments online, etc. That is when I identified with the term "atheist". I was surprised to see my mom shocked by this. I didn't feel any kind of shift, just a terminology change. At this time I would say atheism DID affect my life because it got me into debate and philosophy.

 

 

I've lived a long time and in my life I've said more than a few prayers.  There were times I felt that God didn't respond to some - or even many - of those prayers.  When I examine the "why" I came to understand that many of my prayers didn't need a response.  Was I praying for world peace or for the hungry children of the world to be fed - yes.  In the bigger scheme of things, when understanding the character of God, that there are such a thing as stupid prayers.  What am I praying for, what is my premise, what is my motive - is it true and pure?    God is not a genie and a prayer isn't meant to summons Him. 

My hope for you is; that I would hope you would see that you made a childhood conclusion out of despair.  I would argue that believing in God is not a 'phase' anymore than belief in the existence of the moon - you would say that you can see the moon and thus it's proof, however that moon gives you the idea that there are other bodies in space that exist weather you can see them or not.

Atheists usually make profound claims of 'no religion but seldom see what the heavy steeping of philosophy is.  The only thing remaining are which side of the coin the debate skills will be used against.

My hopes for a reset button in your life.

Peace.

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My parents never gave me a religion as a kid, they both came from different backgrounds. My mom said that around age four I asked her and my dad what God was. They told me about different religions. I said that I thought god was a rock. I was big time into rocks and nature.

 

Odd.  Do you think it's possible that a child could be torn between parents with different religions in the same way children are torn between divorced parents.  Given the choice, wouldn't it be logical that a child would choose nothing or something different (in this case the rock.) 

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Odd.  Do you think it's possible that a child could be torn between parents with different religions in the same way children are torn between divorced parents.  Given the choice, wouldn't it be logical that a child would choose nothing or something different (in this case the rock.)

I dig the freudian-poetry of this analysis. Truth be told my parents were both atheists/agnostics so it doesn't apply to me. I'll say this: growing up without religion has defined me in that I think what drives me at my core is the search for meaning in the world.

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- that I think what drives me at my core is the search for meaning in the world.

EXAMPLE:  Nothing in the logistics and components of a computer would suggest a natural explanation of it's existence.

Therefore, perhaps one should search for meaning beyond (outside) the realm of this world.

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EXAMPLE:  Nothing in the logistics and components of a computer would suggest a natural explanation of it's existence.

Therefore, perhaps one should search for meaning beyond (outside) the realm of this world.

 

Hmm, I like the turn of phrase, and am trying to see this from your perspective and then bridge that gap with my own. Here is the deal for me: I search for meaning wherever it's at. I'm not socrates, I'm just a strange dude in his twenties trying to figure stuff out. Maybe the search for meaning and knowledge will lead me to religion or spirituality at some point, I really can't say. I've been led to those places before, sometimes even partaking out of curiosity, but I've never felt particularly inclined to define myself or my world by things that are supernatural or "not of this world".

 

It would be a little bit like begging the question if I were to start from the premise that meaning has to exist outside this world, when currently this world is the place where I reside and must formulate all my judgements. So I see it anyhow.

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Hmm, I like the turn of phrase, and am trying to see this from your perspective and then bridge that gap with my own. Here is the deal for me: I search for meaning wherever it's at. I'm not socrates, I'm just a strange dude in his twenties trying to figure stuff out. Maybe the search for meaning and knowledge will lead me to religion or spirituality at some point, I really can't say. I've been led to those places before, sometimes even partaking out of curiosity, but I've never felt particularly inclined to define myself or my world by things that are supernatural or "not of this world".

 

It would be a little bit like begging the question if I were to start from the premise that meaning has to exist outside this world, when currently this world is the place where I reside and must formulate all my judgements. So I see it anyhow.

Well, if you search for meaning wherever it's at, you'll be going down more rabbit trails than your life may span.  I suggest that you find meaning at it's very point of origin.  The meaning of all meanings isn't in the end, but the beginning.  There are no better words than 'religion,' 'faith,' and 'spirituality,' to describe God, other than "God."  The problems with these words is that terms and definitions change with who ever is in charge of the meanings - as a society of people we're glued to fashion and trends and we loose grip (and respect) for what these words truly mean.

 

It would be a little bit like begging the question if I were to start from the premise that meaning has to exist outside this world, when currently this world is the place where I reside and must formulate all my judgements. So I see it anyhow.

Your statement is a lot like this -

EXAMPLE: Having never seen or (much less) driven a car you suddenly find yourself in the driver's seat.  You may have the wits to figure it out in the natural sense, but the vehicle of life is a bit more. . .intricate than it first appears.  To put your hands on the wheel and say "I've got this" is so incredibly and indescribably. . .dangerous - there are no volumes of dictionaries to describe it.  Yet, you are meant to experience what it is to drive.  Now, if you're in the vehicle, it's clear that the vehicle was created.  It comes with instructions.  And there is the One who both created the vehicle and One who bears the wisdom of it's operation. . .  These are simple terms that some people get and some others do not.  Youth bears a lot of restlessness and unhappiness with current presidence - you do not want to be well excircised with questions and ponderings that carry you to the end of your life.

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