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rbnyc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 08:33 AM
Original message
Question for Atheists:
How can you deny the existence of something that can't be defined?

Let me interject before I go on that personally, just from my own perspective, it makes way more sense to be an atheist than to follow any particular denomination of any faith, although I respect each person's right to believe in or follow anything that doesn't hurt others or limit other people's rights. Also, just to disclose, I say that I'm agnostic.

Although I don't believe in a personified, capital-G God who made "man in his image," resides in heaven, intelligently designed the natural universe, doesn't want you to have anal sex, etc., I think that saying that there is no god is kind of like saying there are no U.F.O.s. A U.F.O. is an unidentified flying object, that means we don't know what it is. If you want to say there are no alien spaceships, that's defensible. But how can you say something doesn't exist if it can't be defined? Or if that definition is changeable?

My personal belief is that God is a word and different people use it in different ways. I use it to describe all the natural laws that we as a society have not yet fully comprehended, mapped, or otherwise create a more specific language to describe. For me, god is a word to describe the unseen forces that may seem like magic to us now - just as a cell phone would seem like magic to a person who lived 500 years ago. I believe that there are forces in the world that we don't understand and I use the word god to help me relate to those forces, because just because I don't understand them doesn't mean that they don't work in my life, and I have a desire to relate to them.

I don't like religion. It's okay if someone else does, but I don't. And I definitely don't believe that any religious text is literally true. And I don't believe in God the way most people understand that phrase. But in my struggle to recognize and value what I sense as my own spiritual life, I personally was not able to define myself as an atheist because I had to leave room in my own personal constructs for the unknown.

If you are an atheist, I wonder if you grappled with these issues and how you arrived at your outcome.

I truly hope I was able to ask this question without any disrespect.

I really look forward to reading some of your answers.

:toast:
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RedCloud Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 08:46 AM
Response to Original message
1. What if there is an entity that is perpetually multidimensional and needed our help?
While most troglodytes would be down on their knees salivating in ecstasy, would the rest of us (in both galaxies) in collaboration with the grief stricken entity even know how to prevent Andromeda from colliding with the Milky Way?

What I am saying is that we may find things that defy both science and religion but it doesn't make them the Grand Wazoo.
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rbnyc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 08:50 AM
Response to Reply #1
3. No, it doesn't.
Some of the unseen forces I could be trying to commune with could be fruit flies from the 10th dimension. Or maybe there is something like "the force" binding all life in the universe. I don't know and can't deny any possibilities.
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rug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 08:48 AM
Response to Original message
2. What!? No anal sex?!
I must reconsider my position.
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rbnyc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 08:51 AM
Response to Reply #2
4. LOL
I could elaborate, but I don't want my thread to get locked.

:evilgrin:
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WillParkinson Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 09:35 AM
Response to Reply #2
6. Well which position would you prefer?
I know that's a loaded question.
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rug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 09:36 AM
Response to Reply #6
7. Lol.
:spank:
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sudopod Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 03:19 PM
Response to Reply #2
58. That's what she said! nt
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HopeHoops Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 09:33 AM
Response to Original message
5. That's why I go with Agnostic. Atheism affirms knowledge of a lack of existence.
Being agnostic simply means that you don't know, and in my case and many others - don't care.

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PassingFair Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 09:42 AM
Response to Reply #5
8. Atheism does NOT "affirm knowledge of a lack of existence".
Atheism means without "belief".

All people are Agnostic (unless they have
actual knowledge of "god"), and if so, please
share it with the rest of us.

Some people, although they have no knowledge of
or proof of, a deity, still believe that there is one.

That is "faith". "Faith" is belief.

I do not "know" that there is life after death.

I am an Agnostic.

I have no particular beliefs about life after death.

I am an Atheist.

You "believe" in a "word". What does this "belief" entail?
Do you worship it? Will it "save you" from eternal damnation?
What do you really "believe"?

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HopeHoops Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 09:51 AM
Response to Reply #8
9. Wrong. Atheism - is denial of theism. An agnostic denies the ability to know one way or the other.
Edited on Fri May-27-11 09:53 AM by HopeHoops
atheism
   /ˈeɪθiˌɪzəm/
noun
1. the doctrine or belief that there is no god.
2. disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings.

Origin:
158090; < Greek the ( os ) godless + -ism

Related forms
antiatheism, adjective, noun
proatheism, noun

---

agnostic
   /gˈnɒstɪk/
noun
1. a person who holds that the existence of the ultimate cause, as god, and the essential nature of things are unknown and unknowable, or that human knowledge is limited to experience.
2. a person who denies or doubts the possibility of ultimate knowledge in some area of study.
adjective
3. of or pertaining to agnostics or agnosticism.
4. asserting the uncertainty of all claims to knowledge.

Origin:
< Greek gnōst ( os ), variant of gnōtos not known, incapable of being known ( a- a-6 + gnōts known, adj. derivative from base of gignṓskein to know) + -ic, after gnostic; said to have been coined by T.H. Huxley in 1869

Related forms
agnostically, adverb

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PassingFair Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 09:57 AM
Response to Reply #9
10. Those are definitions written by believers.
Edited on Fri May-27-11 10:06 AM by PassingFair
The prefix "a" means "without".

"The term atheism originated from the Greek ἄθεος (atheos), meaning "without god", which was applied with a negative connotation to those thought to reject the gods worshipped by the larger society. With the spread of freethought, skeptical inquiry, and subsequent increase in criticism of religion, application of the term narrowed in scope. The first individuals to identify themselves as "atheist" appeared in the 18th century.<7>"

A-theism (without religious belief)

When someone is a-moral, it means they are without morals. Not that they "deny" the existence of morals.
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sakabatou Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 10:15 AM
Response to Reply #10
11. +1
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HopeHoops Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 10:21 AM
Response to Reply #10
13. Believe what you want.
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PassingFair Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 10:34 AM
Response to Reply #13
17. OK
And you feel free to tell me I wrong about what I believe.

:crazy:
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HopeHoops Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 10:37 AM
Response to Reply #17
18. Show me someone who calls themself an athiest who fits your definition and I'll show you an agnostic
You obviously haven't studied philosophy in any depth.

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PassingFair Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 10:39 AM
Response to Reply #18
20. Every atheist that I know personally defines atheism thusly.
And I know a LOT of atheists.

I am a second generation atheist myself, and my children
are atheists as well.

You have NO IDEA what I have or have not studied.

Why are you being so rude?
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HopeHoops Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 10:42 AM
Response to Reply #20
22. Simple observation based on your posts. No rudeness intended.
Edited on Fri May-27-11 10:45 AM by HopeHoops
On Edit: And that wasn't meant as an insult. VERY few people have studied philosophy in any depth and you'll rarely come across someone who has a clue what Existentialism is for that matter, or what the term "Christian Agnostic" might be. No cut intended or implied - perhaps I should have been more specific.

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PassingFair Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 10:46 AM
Response to Reply #22
25. Or less rude. n/t
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HopeHoops Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 10:49 AM
Response to Reply #25
28. Then I'll offer an apology if it was taken that way...
I'm sorry.

(Note: That's not a Republican-type apology. I mean it and said it directly.)

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PassingFair Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 10:52 AM
Response to Reply #28
31. It's OK....
I don't disagree that the term "atheist" has bad connotations associated with it.

I just don't run away from it, because it is succinct.

:hug:
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HopeHoops Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 10:55 AM
Response to Reply #31
32. Yeah, my youngest daughter doesn't like the label "Wiccan" so she uses "Eclectic Pagan".
Edited on Fri May-27-11 10:56 AM by HopeHoops
She wouldn't be comfortable using Wiccan anyway since she's only 16 and isn't old enough to join a coven, but she has no plans to join one anyway.

Edited for spelling.
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PassingFair Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 11:03 AM
Response to Reply #32
39. There was a poster on here a couple of days ago that insisted on defining "Wicca" as a religion.
She was very adamant and rude about it, too.

And I SWEAR, that I had dropped into a Wiccan establishment
just DAYS before and stated to the woman who OWNED THE STORE
something about her "religion" and BOY, did I get an earful
regarding the difference between a "religion" and a "practice".

I didn't argue with the Wiccan store owner though, I LEARNED.

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HopeHoops Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 11:13 AM
Response to Reply #39
42. Well, the store owner was correct. Wicca is a practice, not a religion. But it is full of beliefs.
We've always had a no-kill rule for spiders in our house, and the three girls have never been scared to scoop them up and move them to a safe place. She's taken it WAY beyond that. One of the few things I'll kill are European hornets - nasty fuckers. Most wasps and hornets just go about their business, but those things redefine aggressive. I can't do that if she's around.

She wears a pentagram necklace every day and is proud of her beliefs. It hasn't caused her much grief, but she knows there is the potential and will tuck the necklace in if she thinks it would be viewed as confrontational. Some of her friends are serious bible thumpers.

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EvolveOrConvolve Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 04:50 PM
Response to Reply #18
63. I'm an atheist who fits that definition
As is nearly every other atheist I've ever met, either online or IRL.

"Philosophy" has nothing to do with it. Semantics, perhaps, but not philosophy. The words gnostic and theist are not synonymous, but if you would like to continue to define, for me, how I describe myself, go right ahead. It simply illustrates your ignorance.
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ChadwickHenryWard Donating Member (692 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-29-11 11:29 AM
Response to Reply #18
87. "Athiest"
Is that the philosopher's spelling?
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rbnyc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 10:22 AM
Response to Reply #10
14. Good point.
I think we all respect the right of different groups to define themselves.

So my original question isn't really appropriate. Maybe I'm an atheist, because I don;t have religious beliefs, but I have called myself an agnostic because I didn't understand the terms.
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PassingFair Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 10:29 AM
Response to Reply #14
15. Now you're cooking!
I'm so happy you see my point!

Although I have no belief in any deities or
supernatural elements, if "god" were to appear
before me, I wouldn't DENY that "it" was before me.

But if it asked me to slice my child apart, I'd
tell it to get lost.

I don't "believe" in leprechauns either, but if
one ran up and handed me a pot of gold, I would
happily convert to believer status!
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Owl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 12:03 PM
Response to Reply #10
46. +2
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dmallind Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 01:24 PM
Response to Reply #9
56. Bullshit - 1 and 2 are separate usages like any word
Edited on Fri May-27-11 01:28 PM by dmallind
disbelief is the absence of belief - here's THAT listing

disbelief   /ˌdɪsbɪˈlif/ Show Spelled
Show IPA

noun
1. the inability or refusal to believe or to accept something as true.
2. amazement; astonishment: We stared at the Taj Mahal in disbelief.
.
Huron Consulting Group

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Use disbelief in a Sentence
See images of disbelief
Search disbelief on the Web

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Origin:
166575; dis-1 + belief


Can be confused:   disbelief, misbelief, unbelief.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, Random House, Inc. 2011.
Cite This Source | Link To disbelief
Explore the Visual Thesaurus Related Words for : disbelief
incredulity, mental rejection, skepticism, unbelief
View more related words



World English Dictionary
disbelief (ˌdɪsbɪˈliːf)

n
refusal or reluctance to believe
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

1 describes strong atheism (a tiny minority of atheists)
2 describes weak atheism - almost all of us

Agnosticism refers to whether and how we can know the answer, not whether we believe any one guess, or all guesses, at the answer or not!
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muriel_volestrangler Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-31-11 04:45 PM
Response to Reply #9
96. 'disbelief: inability or refusal to believe something"
http://www.chambersharrap.co.uk/chambers/features/chref/chref.py/main?query=disbelief&title=21st&sourceid=Mozilla-search

So we've defined atheism as the inability or refusal to believe in the existence of a supreme being. PassingFair was correct, and you were incorrect: atheism does not "affirm knowledge of a lack of existence".
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rbnyc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 10:19 AM
Response to Reply #8
12. I'm not sure if the question was directed at me...
...but I don't believe "in" a word. I believe that words help to connect us to our experiences. I believe that some of my experiences are hard to explain or define (and that things may be part of my life that are beyond my experience) and words like "god," "spirit" and "unseen forces" help me to relate to these more ethereal matters. I believe that there is value in some spiritual texts or mythologies, because I believe that a myth isn't something that isn't true, rather a myth is something that helps connect you to something that isn't literally true, clearly definable or otherwise measurable in all the ways that we know how to measure things, but works in our lives and in the universe in ways that aren't conventionally knowable.

I don't expect to be directly saved by any conscious entity for any reason, but I do expect that if I am conscious of what I eat, I will feel better, if I am conscious of how I work I will achieve more, and if I am conscious that I am part of something that is greater than my ability to perceive or define, I will have a better relationship with the imperceptible and undefinable, which I "believe" has some benefits.

For me, I think part of the human experience is a kind of "language consciousness." I experience something, but I really know my experience when I am able to tell myself about it. We need words and stories to understand our lives. I use words like "god" to tell myself about my experiences with things that are, in a way, beyond my experience, but that I can't deny have workings in the universe. That's different from believing in god, and it's different from not believing in god.
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Steerpike Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 10:31 AM
Response to Original message
16. I have never seen God.
I have never been exposed to actual evidence that there is a God. I don't believe that it has ever been proved that Jesus Christ ever actually existed, much less that he was a demi god.

I believe none of what I hear and Half of what I see, and I've never seen or heard anything that proves to me there is a God. Even if he did exist, he probobly would be of little to no use...
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HopeHoops Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 10:51 AM
Response to Reply #16
30. Me either, but I HAVE seen Jesus. He was hanging out at the 7-11 drinking from a brown bag.
I was sort of drunk and stoned at the time and that was like 35 years ago, but it was definitely Jesus.

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Steerpike Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 10:55 AM
Response to Reply #30
33. i think that is pronounced
Hay Zeus....
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HopeHoops Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 11:02 AM
Response to Reply #33
38. I've also heard "Hay Sue" and a few minor variations in between the two. But no.
This was like fuckin' Jesus man. I mean, like, you know dude. It was like him. Jesus and shit. He was like right there, man. I'm tellin' ya, you know? Fuck-n A dude!

I quit doing weed over 20 years ago. Sometimes I miss it, but not often.

Besides. *EVERYBODY* knows Jesus hangs out at the 7-11 with Elvis and Michael Jackson. And recently, bin Laden has been pounding 40's with them and showing everyone porn on his iPhone, but nobody, I mean NOBODY, can down the beer like Elvis.

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ScreamingMeemie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 10:39 AM
Response to Original message
19. We need a new term... Apathetist. I simply don't care either way.
Edited on Fri May-27-11 10:44 AM by ScreamingMeemie
I don't align myself with either side. The worst of both sides of this argument turn me off to listening to either. The idea of a kind and merciful God is laughable, given my current situation. Getting wound up and defending the non-existence of a God...and calling the school district to get rid of a religious song...again, not worth it. So, I'm an apathetist. On edit: I do believe in separation of church and state, I just don't think a Christmas song is going to lead to anything more than a few kids fainting on the risers.

I guess I'm an island. :)

How have you been?
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PassingFair Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 10:44 AM
Response to Reply #19
23. I'm good!
I saw you lamenting the lack of rainfall ....

We've had non-stop rain for EVER.

The basement took on a few gallons yesterday, but
luckily, Beazer and a friend had just finished
cleaning it earn "Glee Live" tickets.

I'm not going to stop identifying as an atheist
just because it has bad connotations for some people.

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ScreamingMeemie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 10:46 AM
Response to Reply #23
26. And you don't need to. I guess I just don't care about much stuff anymore.
Send the basement water here, PLEASE! Miss you guys. :(
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PassingFair Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 10:49 AM
Response to Reply #26
29. I actually alerted on this OP to be moved to the R/T room....
because I really don't want to argue with well-intentioned people.
Which everyone in this thread clearly is.
You too, Hope Hoops!

:hi:

It....devolves.



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pintobean Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 10:58 AM
Response to Reply #29
36. No one is required to participate
I suppose it was posted in the lounge for a reason. I liked the idea.
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rbnyc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 07:29 PM
Response to Reply #36
71. I just put it in the lounge...
...because that's where I hang out. But I'm glad it got moved. What's the point of having topics forums if rich conversations don't happen there?
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pintobean Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 08:11 PM
Response to Reply #71
75. That makes sense
I thought you might have done it because folks are more laid-back and less likely to jump on each other. I did that once, and for the most part, it worked.
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HopeHoops Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 10:47 AM
Response to Reply #19
27. That's a GREAT term. I might start using it. I'm an agnostic who really doesn't give a shit.
And I certainly didn't expect to be "raptured".

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rbnyc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 10:56 AM
Response to Reply #19
34. Up and down.
We are really struggling financially and there are many difficult challenges at work. But my kid is healthy, my husband is good to me, we live indoors, have clothes and eat every day. I even saved some money to take G to the carnival tomorrow.

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ScreamingMeemie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 10:57 AM
Response to Reply #34
35. I hope you have a fabulous time.
You deserve it. :)
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Arkansas Granny Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 01:05 PM
Response to Reply #19
50. That's a good term. I don't call myself an atheist becuase it makes it sound
like a am a member of a group. I just don't believe that there is a supernatural being who had anything to do with the creation of this world or what happens upon it. If someone else wants to put a label on me because of my beliefs (or lack thereof) they can go for it. I simply do not care. I don't ridicule others for their beliefs and would like the same courtesy applied to myself.
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frogmarch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 10:41 AM
Response to Original message
21. I'm an atheist, but I don't
deny the possibility that deities exist. I am not absolutely positive that deities don't exist, but I see no evidence for their existence, and therefore I lack belief in them.

As for your question to atheists, I'd like to know how believers in deities can believe in the existence of something that can't be defined - or seen, or perceived in any other way, either, except through imagination.
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PassingFair Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 10:45 AM
Response to Reply #21
24. Hope Hoops says you're not an atheist.
So there's ONE for him.
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frogmarch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 11:00 AM
Response to Reply #24
37. I must be agnostic about the
existence of fire-breathing dragons too. I cant make the absolute claim that none exist, but because theres no evidence for the existence of fire-breathing dragons, I dont believe they exist. I lack belief in them. Along with being an atheist, Im an afirebreathingdragonist.
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Steerpike Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 11:05 AM
Response to Reply #37
40. What about
Non-Fire Breathing Dragons? Huh!? What about them Smarty-Pants!???
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frogmarch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 11:51 AM
Response to Reply #40
45. :-) I believe in
Komodo dragons, which don't breathe fire. :-)
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alarimer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 11:09 AM
Response to Original message
41. How can you acccept the existence of something that cannot be defined?
Simple. We live in a material universe. There is nothing that cannot be explained given the laws of the universe. There is simply no reason to invoke any sort of supernatural force. It is just Occam's Razor.
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HopeHoops Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 11:15 AM
Response to Reply #41
43. A accept the existence of some sort of substance in Sarah Palin's skull - THAT can't be defined.
We can SPECULATE!

:evilgrin:

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Warpy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-29-11 02:33 PM
Response to Reply #43
89. Not until autopsy
However, an MRI will allow visualization of whatever it is and possible differentiation between cotton fluff and vacuum.
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rbnyc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 04:10 PM
Response to Reply #41
60. I accept that I do not have a complete...
...understanding of the entirety of the workings of the natural universe and that the natural universe includes elements that are beyond my comprehension.
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westerebus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-31-11 11:11 PM
Response to Reply #60
97. That's what makes you an agnostic.
Accepting not knowing what may or may not be possible as opposed to atheism which is deterministic in accepting there is no god.

In short hand, if you accept there is a god, you are a theist.

If you accept there is no god, you are an atheist.

If you accept that either possibility may be true because you simply don't know, you are agnostic.

I'm agnostic. I just don't know.





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RebelOne Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 11:36 AM
Response to Original message
44. Great post.
I am an atheist, but lean a little toward agnostic. I don't believe in a higher power, but sometimes I wonder.
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rbnyc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 06:53 PM
Response to Reply #44
66. Thanks.
I've learned a lot. I wouldn't phrase the question in the same way again, but I think the conversation is really interesting. My son asks me a lot of questions about why we don;t go to church or have a religion. He likes the idea of celebrating all religions and not picking one. I almost always answer his questions with more questions and I tell him that figuring out the answers to these kinds of questions is a life-long, personal journey.
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chrisa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 12:26 PM
Response to Original message
47. When does it stop being "a God?"
For example, someone could claim that energy is "God."

I always define God as a being that is PKG - All Powerful, Knowing, and Good. Since I have not seen evidence of this being existing, I do not believe in God. It is possible that a God exists, just like how it is possible that purple dragons that shoot ice cream cones exist somewhere in the universe. However, I have not seen evidence of either.
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HopeHoops Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 12:51 PM
Response to Reply #47
49. It stops being a "god" when you notice it is wearing "Hello Kitty" underwear. That's never good.
:evilgrin:

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Curmudgeoness Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 01:12 PM
Response to Reply #49
53. Excellent! I wish I would have thought of that one. nt
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rbnyc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 06:59 PM
Response to Reply #49
67. I am wearing Hello Kitty underwear...
...right now!!

:evilgrin:

truth.
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rbnyc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 07:50 PM
Response to Reply #47
74. I guess I'm one of those energy is god people.
The common definition to me is so ridiculous that I had actually just dismissed it and was, in a way, surprised that we ended up talking about it.

I also have the bad habit of using pronouns without first using the noun it's meant to refer to.
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HopeHoops Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 12:50 PM
Response to Original message
48. Man, they moved the thread. I thought it was QUITE fitting for The Lounge.
But hey, I'm not a mod - too opinionated to qualify and I know it.
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madmom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 01:07 PM
Response to Original message
51. I call myself an atheist but I also am not afraid to say "I do not know" which I think is a
big difference between myself and my fundie relatives.
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rbnyc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 07:13 PM
Response to Reply #51
70. indeed (nt)
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Curmudgeoness Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 01:09 PM
Response to Original message
52. I can understand why you are not inclined to call yourself atheist
since you do seek to put a name to the forces that we cannot explain. But my view of it is that forces are just forces. They are not Gods and they are not God's doing. Mankind has always sought to explain things that they do not understand, and that has always been the basis of religion.

I cannot say who is right and who is wrong, my I have pondered these things all of my life. It was much easier when I was young and raised in the church to have some diety to lean on or to blame or to ask for help. But the more I studied and the more I grew in my thinking, the less I believed that there was anything there but what we would call "forces of nature". Why is there gravity? Why is the sun hot? Why do we have weather? Today, we have some grasp of these phenomena although we have a long way to go. I no longer believe that these were created at all. I accept that, although I do not understand them, they just are.

My non-belief has come from watching mankind, and realizing that we do not like to accept things that have no explanation, or none that we understand. So we created God. It was ingenious, in my opinion, that great thinkers of the past had learned to manipulate the masses by promising them a better life, free of suffering, if they would only be good little boys and girls and suck it up here on earth. When I read religious books, and noticed that the common thread was always to keep people in line with what that society needed, I realized that it was just a con game. There is no God but God. There is no God but the people in power who use religion and its trappings to hold that power.
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rbnyc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 07:38 PM
Response to Reply #52
72. I think you understand me pretty well.
I had a feeling that identifying as an atheist was prohibitive to defining some spiritual terms for myself. I am turned off by all organized religions with 2 possible exceptions which are probably easy to guess. But I'm still not inclined to subscribe to anything. I am a language freak, but I am certainly non-creedal.

I thought agnostic was just a term with a lot of room in it that allowed for a spiritual life but was dissociated from belief in a supreme being or any particular faith.
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Curmudgeoness Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 08:55 PM
Response to Reply #72
80. I though agnostic was a term
people used to describe that they did not really believe in god, but were not sure, or were skeptical of the existence of god. Being not sure is what separates an agnositc from an atheist. An atheist does not concede that there is a god. It seems to me that it is all about degrees of belief or disbelief. I think spiritualism is totally separate. I had what one might consider a spiritual moment just today (forget that I had too much to drink at dinner) when the sun was brightly shining behind a huge dark cloud. It was just a beautiful moment that made me stop and admire it.

I can certainly understand being disgusted by organized religions. This was the start of my journey to atheist. I did not come to this in one step. Step one was that turning from established religions/churches. Step two was agnosticism, where I was not ready to state firmly that there was no god. Step three was where I am today. There may be a step four one day. Beliefs evolve.
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wysimdnwyg Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 01:19 PM
Response to Original message
54. Kind of a long journey for me
I was raised in a church that was, at the time, a part of the Southern Baptist Convention. As time passed, our particular church became a bit more progressive, while the Convention became more and more conservative. A few years after I left, they left the convention and now classify themselves as Baptist (not So. Baptist).

Being a very analytical person, I always had some difficulty with the general idea, but I did not really begin to question it until I was an adult. After several years away from the church, being more of a non-practicing Christian, I guess, I began reading the Bible again. I purposefully took it slow, and it took me quite a while to get through it, but the more I read, the more I questioned the idea of a "higher being". This document, outside of the bits that are clearly just a history text, seemed to me to be written by people with an agenda. And that agenda does not seem to match up very well with the agendas of the other authors beyond the general idea that there is a singular "god". This God purports to love everyone, but we're supposed to believe he asked his followers to a) sometimes murder their own children, b) not do any work on a specific, yet seemingly arbitrary day of the week, and c) stone to death those who commit offenses like planting different crops next to each other. And this on top of doing things like killing all but a handful of the people and animals on earth (the great flood), who magically were saved by cramming those few people, along with two of every animal (presumably not the fish), onto a boat for a few months.

Needless to say, this all seems pretty darned suspicious to me. So I guess for a short time I would have considered myself agnostic, although I did not fully realize the fundamental change in my beliefs at the time.

Later, I began to look at religions in history, specifically those of the ancient Greeks and Romans, and the beliefs of pre-Colonial Native Americans. How are those beliefs considered by today's society? As myth. Well what's the difference between their myth and your (metaphysical "your", not yours specifically) belief in God? They believed that a "god" controlled the actions of the sea, another the afterlife, etc. Science tells us how nature really works, and no one believes that stuff any more, even if we don't have all of the scientific answers yet. The Bible tells us God created "the heavens and the earth" and all of the animals, etc, in six days. Science tells us the Big Bang started a billions of years long process that eventually led to the formation of the Earth, biology eventually formed life, and evolution worked its way around to creating humans as we are today. So what's right? Was it God, or was it science? If it was God, how did he do it? Did he use science to put in motion the processes that would eventually lead to humans?

While I won't completely rule out the possibility, I finally decided that I not only didn't believe in God, I believe there IS NO God. I think we are here purely out of chance. There are billions of galaxies in the universe, each with billions of stars. Surely with all of these opportunities, life was able to take hold. Most likely in many places. There are probably millions of planets in our galaxy alone that support some type of life. It just stands to reason that life on some of those planets has evolved to a sentient and intelligent state. The alternative just seems to be a way for those who cannot explain something to put some kind of answer behind it, because not having any understanding is worse than making up some all powerful Oz who handles it. To me, that's weak-minded and a cop-out. Admit there are things we don't understand and stop trying to attribute it to some magical being who lives in the sky.
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rbnyc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 07:44 PM
Response to Reply #54
73. I actually agree with everything you say.
I guess God is also a loaded word.

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darkstar3 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 01:21 PM
Response to Original message
55. Questions like this are the reason you see Russel's Teapot and the IPU thrown around so much.
Edited on Fri May-27-11 01:22 PM by darkstar3
Atheism isn't about denial of things that cannot be defined, it's about lacking belief in the undefined, and doubting those things that are defined in a ridiculous way.

I am an atheist, because I don't currently believe in any deities. I don't deny, however, that it's possible for something we would call "God" to exist. There could be a real Q-continuum for all I know. But just because I can imagine it, and I can't rule out the possibility, doesn't mean I believe in it.

But that reservation, that simple lack of belief, is present only for those ideas that are abstract and poorly defined. What happens when we attempt to define "God" with multiple attributes? What happens when we define God as eternal, or a creator deity, or an involved supernatural force in our lives?

Well, that God becomes just like Russel's Teapot and the Invisible Pink Unicorn: Extraordinary, incredible, and simple to dismiss without evidence.

I'm a sci-fi nerd, I will confess. I have no problem believing in the possibility of a race of beings so advanced that we might call them supreme, and good examples of these types of alien races can be found scattered throughout decent and not-so-decent sci-fi. But as I said before, it's one thing to accept the possibility, and something else entirely to believe.

Clear as mud?
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Name removed Donating Member (0 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 02:47 PM
Response to Reply #55
57. Deleted message
Sub-thread removed by moderator. Click here to review the message board rules.
 
rbnyc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 04:06 PM
Response to Reply #55
59. Questions like this...
I asked this question because my understanding of atheism was that it was denial of the existence of God. Since I asked, I have a better understanding of atheism, and I'm really glad that I do. I would hate to have gone on thinking it meant something that it didn't mean. I'm really glad that folks have spoken out about it.

(But again, just to clarify the way I see things, I don't believe in anything I can imagine might be possible. I believe that there is something going on that I can't conventionally perceive or understand, and I relate to that something the best I can, without defining it.)
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darkstar3 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 04:17 PM
Response to Reply #59
61. Please understand, I meant no offense with that phrase.
Edited on Fri May-27-11 04:22 PM by darkstar3
I wasn't trying to be dismissive, as you can see by the amount to which I expounded in my original response. The reason I said what I did is because I think these thought exercises, RT and IPU, should be more prevalent and well known. I think that when people understand those thought exercises, they come to a better understanding of what atheism is, and what it is not.

So my response was not only to answer your question, but also to point other readers back to terms that they can Google and read more about.

Questions asked in honesty are never a bad thing, and if I implied as much by accident, I do apologize.

And speaking of questions asked in honesty, what is it about your life and/or your experience that leads you to believe that there is something going on that you can't conventionally perceive?
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rbnyc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 06:48 PM
Response to Reply #61
65. I didn't mean to sound too defensive.
Thanks for elaborating and clarifying though. I'm not offended and I really appreciate everything you're adding to the conversation.

As to your question, I think it's a combination of gut instinct, intellectual supposition and some actual sixth-sense-ish and "supernatural" experiences. (I put supernatural in quotes because I don't think that anything is beyond nature, just beyond the nature we have come to understand.) I've had ghost encounters, premonitions, and other weird experiences. It's hard to explain. Having seen ghosts, I don't actually believe in ghosts. I believe that I perceived something and my human brain made it into something that made some kind of sense according to the principle of closure, the illusion of seeing an incomplete stimulus as though it were whole.

It's the tendency of the human brain to make things make sense or form patterns or recognizable shapes. Having seen a ghost, I think I perceived something beyond the usual field of perception and my brian made it into a ghost in order to process and store the information. That's not evidence of ghosts, that's evidence of something going on that my brain couldn't relate to without turning it into a ghost. I don't know what that something is.

I extrapolate purely on the basis of what feels true to me that the separation of the perceived world and the unperceived world and all the elements within each is a kind of illusion and that all things are connected and have impact on one another. I guess that is faith.

While I often do use the word god in my personal language about such things, I am strongly turned off by the idea of a personified god who has intentions, makes judgments or cares. I think the personification of god is arrogant. Also, to me, the concept of omnipotence or being all powerful is a perversion of the concept of being ever-present, a part of everything, or the understanding of everything as a whole.

But these are all just personal suppositions.

peace

:loveya:
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darkstar3 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-28-11 11:51 PM
Response to Reply #65
86. It sounds to me as though
your mind is open, and your belief reserved. It sounds to me as though you recognize the difference between possibilities, ideas, and beliefs.

And it sounds to me as though, if you're stuck trying to pick labels for yourself, you'd do well with "agnostic atheist", like me and several of my DU buddies. :hi:
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rbnyc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-29-11 12:39 PM
Response to Reply #86
88. I think that's about right.
I'm so glad I asked kind of a stupid question and ended up in such an interesting discussion.

:hi:
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Silent3 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 04:39 PM
Response to Original message
62. Please see Option 10 from this old post...
So many gods to not believe in

This next post explores the idea of vague vs. specific gods, which is, in part, and elaboration on the above Option 10.

Does your god have much hair?

Sorry for being lazy and just posting links, but I'd just be repeating myself otherwise. :)
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rbnyc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 07:13 PM
Response to Reply #62
69. That's awesome.
It's as if I read your post and then designed an OP to give you a case in point.

Anyway, I still believe what I believe, but I now think it's no longer so much in conflict with atheism.
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EvolveOrConvolve Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 04:58 PM
Response to Original message
64. I think your question doesn't make sense in the context of atheism
How can you deny the existence of something that can't be defined?

Both parts of that question ignore the 2 realities of atheism.

1) Most of us evil atheists don't deny anything - we simply lack belief.
2) As atheists, we don't define deity. That's the job of theists. For every 100 believers you'll find 100 different definitions of their god. The variants may be slight, but are variations nonetheless. Me trying to define god for someone else just makes me an asshole so I don't do it.

A more appropriate question may be: "how did you come to a point of view that included a lack of belief in god X?"
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rbnyc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 07:07 PM
Response to Reply #64
68. Thanks. I figured that out.
I hope I never implied that atheists are evil. I was under the misconception that atheists were saying there is no such thing as god. Since I asked the question, I've been enlightened and I totally appreciate that.

From what I've read, my own thinking may be more in line with atheism than I ever thought. I just hadn't considered that because I had bought into an inaccurate definition of atheism.
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EvolveOrConvolve Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-28-11 03:49 AM
Response to Reply #68
82. Sorry, the word "evil" was tongue-in-cheek
I like to over-play the conservative, fundie stereotype of atheists as super-evil and the anti-christ incarnate (although that's a huge contradiction - how can one not believe in god and be satan at the same time?). Sometimes I forget that others don't get my irony - my apologies.

I'm glad you learned something from the thread. Maybe not about us, but about yourself.
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david13 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 08:12 PM
Response to Original message
76. I'm a sceptic. I don't believe anything until it's proved to me. And
with god, you can't define it, you can't prove it, ergo ...
I don't understand people believing that they 'need' to believe in god.
I think, if you are a good person, period. No god will make you better. And, if you are evil, there is no cure. Not god, not a book, nothing.
A lot of people believe because of the band wagon phenomena. Oh, everyone believes, therefore me too.
Oh, everyone is going to see that new film, ... therefore me too.
I follow my own path.
Oscar awards or not. Big name stars, or not. Big name stars, I'm probably not interested. No big name stars, let me take a look. Maybe they have a story.
I see far too much evil done in the name of religion.
dc
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rbnyc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 08:31 PM
Response to Reply #76
78. Here's one of my favorite songs from when I was a teenager:
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david13 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 09:11 PM
Response to Reply #78
81. I never heard that before. I'm a little older. I don't go that far. If they
legitimately want to go for that stuff, they can. I can't stop them, nor would I try.
They do some good. Some of them are good people. They do some or perhaps much charity. But they could do that without the religion. And it would seem that it was more legitimate. That it came from the heart, and not ... "the good book", or because jeesus or someone else told them they had to do it.
dc
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ZombieHorde Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 08:31 PM
Response to Original message
77. Dictionary.com disagrees with your premise...
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/god

Clearly, god has been defined.
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rbnyc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 08:33 PM
Response to Reply #77
79. LOL
I guess so.
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skepticscott Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-28-11 05:57 AM
Response to Original message
83. The position that no "gods" at all exist anywhere
is not a defensible one. To the extent that so-called "strong atheism" goes that far, it is incorrect. It is possible to be entirely rational in a conviction that a particular "god" does not exist ( as one can be convinced that Santa Claus does not exist, despite extensive evidence to the contrary), and many people do indeed hold such convictions about a whole variety of "gods", but such a position has to be taken one "god" at a time.

A deeper question bearing on this issue (and one that I have never seen explored here) is exactly how and why something qualifies as a "god" in the first place.
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chrisa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-28-11 11:34 AM
Response to Reply #83
84. I think there are certain attributes that make up a God.
Power and All-Knowing. I said "All Good" upthread, but I disagree with that statement now. Mythology shows us Gods that were pretty bad. Maybe not even All-Knowing, since the Greek Gods didn't always know everything. I think the only common denominator we have is powers that normal humans don't have, such as polymorphism, or manipulating the physical environment / energy without any help from earthly tools (e.g. shooting lightning from your fists, turning people to stone).

I somewhat disagree, however, but agree at the same time. Not only have specific Gods shown not to exist. No God has ever shown to exist through clear scientific evidence. I can't say for certain that no God exists anywhere, just like I can't say for certain that purple dragons who shoot ice cream cones out of their mouth don't exist either. However, you're right in the sense that we can pretty much disprove the current Gods that are written about.
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skepticscott Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-28-11 04:20 PM
Response to Reply #84
85. I agree that PKG does not necessarily apply
To all of the entities that humans have described and regarded as gods. In fact I have a hard time thinking of any that all three would apply to. Even the god of the Bible has (according to the Bible) done a lot that would disqualify him as "good". Immortality seems to be a relatively common, though not necessarily universal feature of godhood.

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Deep13 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-31-11 09:03 AM
Response to Reply #83
93. There is no evidence that any gods exist anywhere.
There is planty of evidence that humans made them up.

There, I defended the position, ergo, it is not indefensible.
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Taitertots Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon May-30-11 10:39 AM
Response to Original message
90. I'm just as interested to hear how religious people can affirm the existence of the undefinable?
I can't know that god exists without knowing what god is or what evidence the existence of god would even create.
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immoderate Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon May-30-11 03:59 PM
Response to Original message
91. I think it dilutes language. God is anything you don't know.
So it really means nothing.


--imm
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Deep13 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-31-11 09:01 AM
Response to Original message
92. Can't be defined = doesn't mean anything.
A god is an immortal, supernatural entity that has at least some degree of control and interest in human affairs. Supernatural means that it exists somehow apart from the natural world and the natural way things work. For Abrahamic and most other religions, a god created the universe and has absolute control over it. "God" with a big "G" is just one of the names Abrahamic adherents use to describe their only or dominant god. (Under the pretense of monotheism, minor deities like angels and saints are not classified as gods.) What ever mental gymnastics theologians are willing to employ to get around the limitations of this definition, it is how nearly all believers and worshipers define god.

By keeping the definition vague, you are essentially defining god out of existence. If there is some kind of universal consciousness that is non-interventionist, then whatever else it is, it is not a god.

Disclaiming an anthropomorphic god is a red herring. No one thinks god is an old man in the sky. Dawkins put it a lot more pointedly than I will. Disclaiming an anthropomorphic god simply distracts from the fact that what adherents do believe is not any more plausible. It's a bit like the email glurge which purports to be from Ben Stein protesting that the Constitution does not require us to be an atheist nation. Who said it did?
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RainDog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-31-11 11:12 AM
Response to Original message
94. god is a non-issue
if god is an invention - then those who choose to believe in such an invention have the responsibility to demonstrate the worthiness of such an invention.

if someone finds such inventions to not be relevant - there is no need to care about what others describe as an imaginary being, beyond such beliefs intrusion into the lives of others.
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MineralMan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-31-11 01:45 PM
Response to Original message
95. Why is it of concern to you?
In what possible way does my non-belief affect you?
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