zeitvox replied to your post: Do you accept that there is no way to be truly…
As you “learn more about the concepts throughout history,” you’ll likely run into a problem of a plurality of boxes rather than greased rails to “strong induction”. Then like some OCD hoarder, you may qualify for a reality show intervention.
There is a plurality of boxes. There are the common anthropocentric gods (i.e. fertility gods, crop gods, storm gods and the prevalent modern concepts); there are gods patterned after non-human organisms (i.e. Native American concepts, Egyptian concepts). Then you have what I would consider higher concepts because they arise out of a seeming necessity—a rejection of the usual gods conceptualized (i.e. Pantheistic concepts, Panentheistic concepts, Deistic concepts). Arguments can be made for a rejection of all these concepts, so the track to strong induction can be likened to a greased rail. So no, I won’t be an OCD hoarder that qualifies for a reality show. Also, you do realize that these boxes have already been gathered? That is to say that many of the concepts throughout history are organized in lists and archives—Wiki for example (see here). As someone who has philosophy listed in their blog description, surely you’re not asking me to reduce some of these concepts to ridicule or absurdity (both of which are fallacies) or reject them based on no knowledge whatsoever—a faith that sounds suspiciously like the faith of the most obstinate believer. Or would you like me to reject other concepts based on my rejection of the concept I used to believe in (Judeo-Christian)? I’m sorry, but that’s not the way I choose to practice—for lack of a better word—my atheism.
willvolya asked: Do you accept that there is no way to be truly certain that there is no God (any kinda god)? Surely it is impossible even going by logic, to claim with 100% certainty that there is no God.
This is a common objection to anyone who claims certainty; hence why most atheists are agnostic atheists. I’m actually approaching gnostic atheism at this point in time because the concept of god is a general category for every concept of god ever abstracted. As I stated before, there are logical ways to disprove this or that god concept; I only have a weak inductive argument and thus, it would be fallacious to conclude that all of the concepts will be disproved in the same manner as Yahweh, El, Baal, Allah, Waheguru, Thor, Wotan, Shiva, etc. have been disproved. However, on common sense, I can say that it is highly probable. Also, as I learn more about the concepts throughout history, my argument will start approaching strong induction. So instead of pulling 30 concepts out of a box of 100, and stating that since 30 are false the entire box is false, it will be more like pulling 95 out of this box of 100 and stating that since 95 are false, the entire box of concepts is false. So, there’s a way to be very certain—and as a Bayesian, I would argue that 100% (absolute) certainty is unnecessary; if 100% certainty was necessary in matters of knowledge and fact, there would be no knowledge and fact and thus, we would be on a fast track to epistemological nihilism. As stated by Popper, we can’t be 100% certain that the Sun will rise tomorrow; but we can be 99.9% certain of this fact—as we can be just as certain of any fact. So ultimately, absolute certainty isn’t necessary; high probability certainty is all that’s required to have a claim of knowledge. So yes, there’s a way of being truly certain that there is no god; one has to be quite thorough to defend this claim though—and that is what I endeavor to do.
alohahn asked: Not sure if you've talked about this before, but I'm just curious as to what your opinion is on Amit Goswami and his views on quantum physics and consciousness.
I used to subscribe to Goswami’s view, which is formally known as non-duality or Advaita Vedanta. However, I became skeptical of it because the theology is so murky. It seems to be purposely ambiguous; I wouldn’t go as far as to offend and call it “woo-woo” like Shermer has, but a being that’s so disconnected to its creation surely isn’t seeking for my acknowledging its existence. Hence I’ve chosen a form of agnosticism in that regard; it could be that some being or force of that sort exists, but if it does, it isn’t seeking our worship; and ultimately, that’s the kind of deity I take no issue with. Blood thirsty, vindictive and glory demanding gods are the gods I take issue with.
In any case, quantum mechanics and consciousness aren’t related in the slightest. I agree with Harris on this: what these people have done is taken two very nebulous subjects and crammed them together as a new age religion. Not enough is known about either or and from the looks of it, they’re not related. Individual human consciousness definitely exists, but a collective consciousness that is also some panentheistic deity is at best a distant possibility.
leftistnaija asked: I saw your post about the Dawkin's quote, and I wanted to ask how you justify the idea that we are not all born atheists. When we're born we don't have any initial understandings of any ideas besides the idea of attachment (because our brains are flooded with oxytocin(?) when we first see our mothers), so we don't initially believe in any gods. If we initially aren't aware of any gods, then how can we believe in them, and so be a theist? (I apologize ahead of time if my meaning isn't clear)
An atheist is someone who disbelieves in gods. You have pretty much answered your own question: “When we’re born we don’t have any initial understandings of any ideas…” and “we initially aren’t aware of any gods.” We have no concept of belief; we have no concept of god or religion. Therefore, we are unable to believe or disbelieve in anything—let alone gods and their accompanying religions or vice versa. We aren’t born disbelievers in gods. We are born without religion. We are born with no concept of deities. One can’t say they disbelieve in something they don’t know in concept.
Thought experiment: do you believe or disbelieve in Montomoti? No. You don’t know what Montomoti is in concept. However, what if I tell you that Montomoti is the name of an alien civilization that somehow created the universe? Now you are able to say you either believe or disbelieve because you understand Montomoti in concept, but without that understanding, you can’t claim to believe or disbelieve. It would probably be more accurate to say that we are born agnostic. Note: I use agnostic in its etymological sense (ἀgnōsis)—meaning without knowledge. That may be arguable; however, I think it is safe to say that we are born with no knowledge of belief, gods and religion.
- Murder rates are actually lower in more secular nations and higher in more religious nations where belief in God is widespread.
- Of the top 50 safest cities in the world, nearly all are in relatively non-religious countries.
- Within America, the states with the highest murder rates tend to be the highly religious, such as Louisiana and Alabama, but the states with the lowest murder rates tend to be the among the least religious in the country, such as Vermont and Oregon. These findings are not limited to murder rates, as rates of all violent crime tend to be higher in “religious” states.
- Atheists are very much under-represented in the American prison population (only 0.2%)
- Atheists and agnostics actually have lower divorce rates than religious Americans.
- Conservative Christian women experienced higher rates of domestic violence than non-affiliated women.
- A 2009 study found that teens who make religion-inspired “virginity pledges” are not only just as likely as their non-pledging peers to engage in premarital sex, but more likely to engage in unprotected sex.
- The most secular nations in the world report the highest levels of happiness among their population.
- Secular nations such as those in Scandinavia donate the most money and supportive aid, per capita, to poorer nations. Two studies show that, during the Holocaust, “the more secular people were, the more likely they were to rescue and help persecuted Jews.”
- Atheists and agnostics, when compared to religious people, are actually less likely to be nationalistic, racist, anti-Semitic, dogmatic, ethnocentric, and authoritarian.
- Secularism also correlates to higher education levels.
- Atheists and other secular people are also much more likely to support women’s rights and gender equality, as well as gay and lesbian rights.
- Religious individuals are more likely to support government use of torture
- The weight of most data seems to indicate that religiosity is a poor indicator of social health or personal virtue.
Source: Psychology Today
Are there any gnostic atheists out there? Just wondering.
Yes. I know some who are wholly gnostic. However, I would much rather describe atheism as a spectrum; in other words, my level of certainty depends on the god in question. I am certain that there is no Zeus, no Odin, no Wotan, no Ahura Mazda, no Yahweh, no Allah and no Waheguru. When it comes to most gods, I am a gnostic atheist; or so I would like to think. However, Spinoza’s god, Brahman and the general Deist conception are not so easily dismissed; thus, they lead me to agnosticism. Given that information, I present two methods of dealing with this information:
Older Americans are not all that religious by some criteria. Younger Americans are considerably less religious. They point to a future where religious people will be a minority.
How religious are Americans?
The majority of Americans still believe in God (about 76 percent, with 12 percent atheists and 12 percent agnostic, 1). Most also say that religion is important in their lives (65 percent).
Yet the depth of American commitment to religion is questionable. Although about 40 percent of Americans claim to attend church each week—a number that has changed little over decades—the number actually showing up in pews is much lower and is declining. Based on actual head counts, the true number showing up in church is only about one person in five (1), or fewer than the number who do not believe in God.
First of all, I would like to point out that I never actually decided to become an atheist, it just happened. It happened as a result of forcing myself to look at reality for what it actually is instead of what I wanted it to be.
This is a question that surprisingly few Christians ask. Most are content to assume the answer; -“He’s angry at God for some reason… because something traumatic probably happened to him.” -“He’s just being selfish and arrogant. He wants to live his life on HIS terms without being accountable to anybody.” -“He’s simply naive; he has bought into the Devil’s lies. I pity him because he is just deceived.”
Of course, when assuming anything, you are most likely going to get something wrong. I must point out that it is very telling of a person’s logic system when they are basing their conclusions on assumptions rather than inquiry. Any time you are assuming a conclusion without basing it on evidence, you are most likely to have a flawed conclusion. This is something that I personally had to learn, as I used to do exactly the same thing. This, I found, was the difference between faith-based logic and evidence-based logic, as I will talk about below.
the ironic thing about atheism is that it’s a faith.
A faith there is no God, no judgement, nothing beyond what we can know and test for certain, and that our own moral compasses and self control will be enough.That you’ll just be fine after death.
and that sounds pretty risky if you ask me.
Atheism is not a faith. You’re attempting to equate it with faith because “no God” actual means “no your god”, “no judgment” actually means “no judgment seat of Christ” and “fine after death” means “no hell.” I can know that your god doesn’t exist, that there won’t be a judgment and that hell does not exist; yes, I can also test this knowledge. You actually pretend to know all of that concerning every other religion; difference: you can’t know or test that your disbelief in every other religion is true because you’re too busy believing that your religion is the undisputed truth. Atheists have no such issue; we doubt the claims of every religion that postulates a conception of god and we disbelieve in every conception of god. Admittedly, and I speak for myself, my level of certainty varies depending on the god in question; in the case of your god, my level of certainty is 99.9%. Why not 100%? I would explain, but I don’t think your simple mind will understand; excuse the condescension, but I don’t take kindly to people who perpetuate ignorance.
O Lord Most High, Creator of the Cosmos,
Spinner of Galaxies, Soul of Electromagnetic Waves,
Inhaler and Exhaler of Inconceivable Volumes of Vacuum,
Spitter of Fire and Rock, Trifler with Mellennia-
What could we do for Thee that Thou couldst not do for Thyself one octillion times better? Nothing.
What could we do or say that could possibly interest Thee? Nothing.
Oh, Mankind, rejoice in the apathy of our Creator, for it makes us free and truthful and dignified at last.
No longer can a fool like Malachi Constant point to a ridiculous accident of good luck and say, “Somebody up there likes me.”
And no longer can a tyrant say, “God wants this or that to happen, and anybody who doesn’t help this or that to happen is against God.”
O Lord Most High, what a glorious weapon is Thy Apathy, for we have unsheathed it, have thrust and slashed mightily with it, and the claptrap that has so often enslaved us or driven us into the madhouse lies slain!
Kurt Vonnegut (1959. The Sirens of Titan)