A Conversation for Atheism
jbliqemp... Posted Apr 18, 2000
Yes, I'd have to say it is.
Despite that I know I'm right (awfully confident, aren't I), I think I'd rather continue my existance rather than snuff it. I might change my mind as I get older, though...
I agree with you there. I dislike the idea of "snuffin'it" as much as the next guy, or even more. If there's a *sure* way of avoiding non-existence (which, in my opinion, is *not* found through religion), I will grab it with both my hands and happily live forever.
jbliqemp... Posted Apr 18, 2000
And that is how, exactly?
Ah well, regardless of the conditions, living forever, seeing where it all ends, seeing it rebuilt after that again... it's worth anything
Mind you, I might even get a chance to manipulate the outcome a bit, be like a.... dare I say it?... a god, perhaps? No, strike that. Gods do not exist!
jbliqemp... Posted Apr 18, 2000
Wowbagger was in DNA's Hitchhiker books; as a result of an accident while experimenting, he became immortal, which he and his species couldn't deal with very well, since they were typically mortal. So, since he was very bored with his infinite existance, he decided to insult every living thing in the universe in alphabetical order.
I was just trying to make the point that perhaps we're better off not living forever.
Robotron, formerly known as Robyn Graves and before that, GreyRose Posted Apr 18, 2000
-That's for the Mummy for his resposne to me back there.
I hope you don't think that I'm juvenile, jb, since I refuse to say that there's no afterlife because me saying it might make it so. Hey, that's happened to me already once today (what if he's married). What if everything I say becomes true just because I said it? Would that mean that I'm God? That might explain a lot of things, I'm not very good with responsibility.
Seriously though, I would like to think that I'll be able to choose what happens to me when I die. I'm not really afraid though, because I'll be happy as long as my conciencness (sp) (Man, I hate it when I can't spell. ) goes on. If it doesn't, it won't matter because I won't know about it. But I did recently think of one instance when your conscience (is that right?) keeps going, but I'm not going to say it, because we all know what will happen then.
To jb: sorry for the delay. Just while trying to get a reply-box, my connection to H2G2 got severed, with no chance to get back within the first hour.
Wowbagger must have been in any part AFTER part 3, which was the last that I've read, unfortunately. So that explains why I didn't know him. I agree that total boredom would indeed be undesirable. So maybe you're right and unconditional immortality is not what we need. Maybe there should be a possibility for the immortal to step out whenever they want, but with the condition that there's no chance of returning.
I wouldn't want to wake up with the memory of not having been for a while.
To GreyRose: Unfortunately I do not know or understand what will happen. But I *can* help you with the spelling... 'Conscience' looks ok to me (although I'm not certain about the last 'c'), 'consciousness' is the one you didn't know.
Lear (the Unready) Posted Apr 18, 2000
It seems I have to do some explaining, or 'clarifying' as politicians call it...
This is written mainly in response to yesterday's posting from The Mummy. I don't want to get involved in a war of words, and I certainly don't like to give offence to people. Besides, as I'm going to be arguing here, the subject ultimately is *not* a matter of life and death, and therefore it isn't really worth falling out over, not as far as I'm concerned at any rate...
Having said which, the point that I made above about Atheists seems reasonable to me. Perhaps it was harshly put - I think I was over-stating a little in my annoyance at the ignorance of DNA, and one or two others, over their ill-informed characterisation of Agnostics as 'wishy-washy' people who simply lack the nerve to abandon religion. But I think the points I made were valid, and certainly I'll stand by my basic argument.
The Atheist gets hung up about the existence or otherwise of a Deity - basically, they stake their position on the claim that there is no 'God'. The Agnostic - wisely, in my opinion - resists involvement with this question altogether, for the very good reason that it is impossible to answer. It is, quite simply, pointless worrying about whether there is or is not a God, because the plain truth is that we will never know for certain one way or the other...
Really, the subject is 'undiscussable', if there is such a word, although obviously this sounds a bit daft coming from me, as I've been closely involved in this discussion myself...
It seems to me, then, that the Agnostic's position is based on a reasoned, philosophically sound enough view that it simply isn't *possible* to know about such great questions. To suggest, as one or two people have above, that science will eventually enable us to dismiss the notion of 'God' once and for all seems to me like an impossibly wild claim. As I said above (quick copy-paste job here), I really don't think we have the mental equipment to answer such questions. A rational / logical approach, while useful in many other respects, will never be of any use in ascertaining the existence or otherwise of a Deity - or other cosmic questions such as 'What is the meaning of life?' - simply because these questions are in a different ball park altogether...
The contradictions that you mention above are in humanity's *interpretation* of what they call 'God', rather than in 'God' itself, if there is such a thing. Simply saying that the Bible's account of 'God' is self-contradictory and therefore indefensible (a statement which I agree with), demonstrates only that if there is such a thing as 'God' then it has, indeed, been beyond our limited attempts to understand it and 'capture' its essence in written form or otherwise. Our best attempts, religious or otherwise, to give a totally coherent account of the universe and our place within it, have, one way or another, all resulted in inevitable failure - hardly surprising, bearing in mind what I have said above...
Don't get me wrong. While I do insist that Atheism *does* require a leap of faith, I am certainly not arguing that Atheism is ultimately just as reliant on faith, and therefore just as 'bad', as Xtianity or other religions. I think it's incomparably a more sophisticated, better thought through and altogether more reasonable way to look at the world. The Atheist's position is based on hard thought and sceptical inquiry, while the religious believer's is based on belief and credulity. I don't think there's any comparison... Besides, nobody can forget that it's thanks to the dogged persistence of such people - Western sceptics/rationalists/philosophers - over the last few hundred years, that we are now in this rather luxurious position where we *can* question religion, and propose possible alternatives, without being, I don't know, burned at the stake or whatever...
It seems to me that, apart from this sticking-point about 'can we absolutely prove once and for all the non-existence of god?', Atheists and Agnostics agree on pretty much most things. We share a distaste for the Christian's pious 'certainty' of their own 'salvation', and of course their equal 'certainty' of the 'damnation' of those of us who choose not to believe; we have an aversion to mindless dogma, and a general preference for a sceptical, rational approach to understanding the world around us, and a sense of 'truth' as something which is provisional and always open to question...
So why get hung up on the God question? Why not simply sidestep the question altogether, seeing as it's unanswerable, and focus instead on trying to understand how deeply caught up with Xtianity we all are, and trying to untangle this unholy mess from our lives...
Now *there's* an idea...
Lear (the Unready) Posted Apr 18, 2000
re : Mr. Cynic's comment 'If a mountain never existed, how would you go about proving it never was?'...
Surely there is a fundamental difference between dealing with concrete objects such as mountains, on the one hand, and attempting to get to grips with intangible notions such as 'Why am I here?' and 'Is there a God?' and so forth. Something which exists in tangible reality can be observed, classified, catalogued, etc - there is no need to question its existence, because it's sitting there in front of you. But 'cosmic' questions are a different ballgame altogether, as far as I can see, and I don't think we can adopt the same procedures with regard to them...
And, no, I'm certainly not one of the 'faithful'...
Fate Amenable To Change Posted Apr 18, 2000
Agnostics sum up Pascals Wager - the idea that you ought to hedge your bets - you lose nothing by believing in God but lose if you don't (and God exists).
Can someone give me the url to this 'Taking Down Names' thing please.
I am an Aetheist. If God does exist I have a few things to say to it about the state of this world and humanity...
This looks like all very valid arguments, Lear. I can clearly see how a term like "wishy washy" can trigger the somewhat colored response you gave earlier.
The only thing we could argue about remains with the question "Can we prove whether or not a deity exists?" From your post I get the idea that that's also the only difference between agnostics and atheists.
Agnostics seem to think that this question simply can not be answered, whereas atheists reason from the lack of evidence in favor of its existence that there can only be a negative answer. Let's leave it at that and not call eachother names like we were almost going to
Alon (aka Mr.Cynic) Posted Apr 18, 2000
I may be repeating myself here but it is necessary as you don't seem to be getting what I'm saying. I am also going to use extreme examples to put forward my point and provoking titles so this may easily anger many people.
Imagine there are three six-year-olds - let's call 'em Andy, Bob and Jane. Now, Andy has just learnt that Santa does not exist. He tells the other two. Andy argues that Santa doesn't exist and dismisses it as a fictional story. Bob will not accept this story and holds on to his faith in Santa. Jane says Santa cannot be proven or disproven because he only turns up when children are asleep so it is impossible to tell and is not worth discussing. Now, would you call such a dilema a "great questions"? Is it really that hard for us to make such a decision?
Mountain Scenario (reworded):
If there is a mountain, it can be seen with those two holes in your head. You can climb it. You can roll of it.
But let's take another situation. There isn't a mountain. It's just a vast open plane. Now, how would you go about proving that there never was a mountain? (Forget carbon-dating and so on). It's not possible. It's very hard to disprove theories that have been made up (or people have come up with). Now, you may see atheists as rash decision makers but I see the agnostic as the over-philosophic one. And questioning God is not a question we should ignore because it is hard to answer. You basically are dismissing God (or at least ignoring him). You don't follow 'the good book' and according to the Christian belief you will share in our damning. I think agnostics are way too careful-footed. Is logic not enough to make a decision on? You don't have to stick to it if you see evidence pointing the other way! .
Hehe, the both of us will be happy to accept simple logic and say: ok, that proves that gods do not exist. But some people need more proof, and for them simple logic just doesn't cut it. We should accept and respect that. In a way you might say that agnostics are even more scientific about it than us atheists.
And if we accept that they say "why should we discuss it, let's simply avoid the issue", you might even say that agnostics have even surpassed us, ridiculising the whole discussion about god and thereby effectively denying its existence.
The thing with the mountain stinks a little. If there has been a mountain where there is none now, then mostly some good geologists will be able to prove that the mountain has existed.
But to use the analogy with respect to gods: I don't see proof that there is a god, and now you want to tell me that that's not enough because we first need to prove that god has never before existed as well? Next thing you're going to tell me that I'm not atheist enough because I can't
Blatherskite the Mugwump - Bandwidth Bandit Posted Apr 18, 2000
Fate Amenable: the forum post I alluded to in the forum "Taking down names" is attached to... hmmm, there seems to be a few new names around here, so I might as well give everyone the big advertisement...
Ladies and gentlemen!
Allow me to introduce you to H2G2's own center for all who reject the cosmology of Christianity, the Freedom From Faith Foundation. Atheists and agnostics, Humanists and Taoists, all who think for themselves and wish others would do the same will find a warm welcome, scintillating conversation, and a host of resources both in and out of H2G2 guaranteed to satisfy the needs of even the most rabid anti-Christian. Step right this way, folks, don't shove, there's room for everyone at http://www.h2g2.com/a254314 If you decide to join, then simply announce yourself in the currently active Business thread, and name your chair.
jbliqemp... Posted Apr 19, 2000
Hm. Lots of stuff's been posted.
I don't attack people's individual beliefs, so long as they don't attack mine. Therefor, GreyRose, I wouldn't dismiss you idea of an afterlife for yourself. My grasping on to someone else's idea of an afterlife would be inventionism to avoid my own reality, though. My believing in an afterlife would be juvenile.
I'm sure some would say the opposite.
Buddhists (at least the ones I know) say that it is impossible to know anything. Perceptions are quite possibly figment of one's imagination. One might create their own reality.
Lear (the Unready) Posted Apr 19, 2000
The Mummy :-
Glad to see we seem to have ironed things out. As you say, let's just agree to differ...
Mr Cynic :-
I agree we've been stuck for too long on this point. But let me just try to clarify my argument one last time...
A mountain exists in concrete reality, and thus there is no comparison between trying to prove or disprove its existence, and trying to do the same with a claimed all-powerful spirit called 'God'. If there is no mountain, then there is no mountain. End of story. If it used to exist, then - as The Mummy points out above - this should be possible to establish by a competent expert using empirical data drawn from material reality. I don't know what. Rock samples, or whatever - I'm no scientist. But the whole point about 'God' is that it is portrayed as having a non-physical existence, and therefore you just can't apply the same logic to the situation - ultimately, it is not something you can make a logical 'decision' about...
As for Santa Claus - well, the last I heard nobody was claiming he was an all-powerful non-material Deity. As far as I can remember, he's just supposed to be a guy with a big sackful of presents and reclusive tendencies. He's firmly placed within the human realm, and therefore his non-existence is something that can be established using simple logic and material evidence - you'd just have to go to Greenland and see if you can find him...
I agree it's possible to over-philosophise, but really what I'm trying to do is establish the limits of what *can* and what *cannot* be 'philosophised'. As I said above, ultimately I think philosophy should stick to questions that can be dealt with...
Alon (aka Mr.Cynic) Posted Apr 19, 2000
I'm sorry for those awful comparisons - but the idea of God is so ridiculously stupid that it is very hard to find similar stupidity to compare it to.
What I'm saying is that if someone made up (or came up) with a fictional being and people were told to believe in this being. They were given no evidence that the being existed. Now... how would one go about disproving the being? It doesn't exist. It isn't meant to be material and it doesn't interact with the material. Hmmm... tough one, isn't it?
Lear (the Unready) Posted Apr 19, 2000
Ok, I'll play along with your little game. If someone came up to me claiming that they knew of a being that I SHOULD believe in, then I'd say "Give me EVIDENCE of its existence, and if you can not, don't bother me with your fantasies!"
Let's be clear about one thing: xtianity has been spreading their rumours about this so called god for about 2000 years, and nobody has EVER seen evidence. Now anyone who asks the atheist to DISPROVE god, is in fact a devil's advocate. The burden of proof doesn't lie with us. Let xtianity prove their claims first. It's about time, after 2000 years of their tyranny and crimes against humanity!
Key: Complain about this post
- 61: jbliqemp... (Apr 18, 2000)
- 62: The Mummy, administrator of the [email protected] Project (A193231) and The Reluctant Dead on the FFFF (A254314) (Apr 18, 2000)
- 63: jbliqemp... (Apr 18, 2000)
- 64: The Mummy, administrator of the [email protected] Project (A193231) and The Reluctant Dead on the FFFF (A254314) (Apr 18, 2000)
- 65: jbliqemp... (Apr 18, 2000)
- 66: Robotron, formerly known as Robyn Graves and before that, GreyRose (Apr 18, 2000)
- 67: The Mummy, administrator of the [email protected] Project (A193231) and The Reluctant Dead on the FFFF (A254314) (Apr 18, 2000)
- 68: Lear (the Unready) (Apr 18, 2000)
- 69: Lear (the Unready) (Apr 18, 2000)
- 70: Fate Amenable To Change (Apr 18, 2000)
- 71: The Mummy, administrator of the [email protected] Project (A193231) and The Reluctant Dead on the FFFF (A254314) (Apr 18, 2000)
- 72: Alon (aka Mr.Cynic) (Apr 18, 2000)
- 73: The Mummy, administrator of the [email protected] Project (A193231) and The Reluctant Dead on the FFFF (A254314) (Apr 18, 2000)
- 74: Blatherskite the Mugwump - Bandwidth Bandit (Apr 18, 2000)
- 75: The Mummy, administrator of the [email protected] Project (A193231) and The Reluctant Dead on the FFFF (A254314) (Apr 19, 2000)
- 76: jbliqemp... (Apr 19, 2000)
- 77: Lear (the Unready) (Apr 19, 2000)
- 78: Alon (aka Mr.Cynic) (Apr 19, 2000)
- 79: Lear (the Unready) (Apr 19, 2000)
- 80: The Mummy, administrator of the [email protected] Project (A193231) and The Reluctant Dead on the FFFF (A254314) (Apr 19, 2000)