I've been very careful in the last few years to beware of confirmation bias, this kept me a believer for many more years than necessary. The problem I have now is that in every other aspect of life there seems to be a at least somewhat valid "other side".
I have tried my best to find an apologetic stumper argument. It takes nothing to pick them apart using simple logic or science. I've been looking for just one argument that challenges me and can't find it. So I ask myself am I so entrenched in atheist bias that I can no longer think clearly? Really, even in politics if I can't stand the others point of view I find they often (though they may misrepresent the facts) can bring up a point worthy of consideration. In Christian apologetics I can find none. None at all. So am I now simply as bias as the theist? Am I right to consider that maybe since they are talking about myth that they simply have no leg to stand on and my mental facilities are indeed intact on this particular subject? Does anyone else wrestle with this dilemma? I'm looking for fact not fiction. Many argue that one must have an open mind. This often seems to me to be code for believe what I tell you, not an invitation to rational thought. As a skeptic I must also be open to accepting new information that is proven factual, and thus ready to change my outlook. Even though I study theist commentary regularly I just can't find any factual information to change my thinking. In fact the more I am exposed to it the more secure I become in my unbelief. With professional apologist I recognize their tactics, with laymen I recognize their ignorance. It kind of makes me feel like I'm a pompous know it all.
So does anyone else have the same experiences?
To me it's this: Does their story make sense? Is this the normal behavior of a supernatural all-powerful, all-knowing, loving being? No.
Should I believe it anyway? Why? Because it makes so much sense? No.
If I decide I should believe it, can I? No.
Our observable universe is simply incompatible with a supernatural being who's all-powerful, all-knowing, and loving, or wanting our well-being. In fact, beyond a reasonable doubt it looks exactly as we'd expect without a traditional Abrahamic god.
Some people have come to believe in a god that's (spoiler for Harold Kushner's When Bad Things Happen to Good People) a much more limited invisible friend.
I don't know whether he started the term, but Ben Franklin was said to believe in a "clockmaker" god.
One who put it together, wound it up, hit "start" and went away.
I could come nearer accepting that than the monster god of Abraham and Isaac.
I completely agree but does this make me close minded or right. I dumped religion because unwanted to be the most right Christian. I found that that was impossible as religion has all kinds of "right beliefs" that conflict. I am at the point of being completely comfortable in being "right" as an atheist. This is what disturbs me. If I am "right" what is left to learn? How do I know I am not just being just as dogmatic as a theist? The evidence points to my total superiority. Great, I don't want to sound like a Greg hovand. That would simply be embarrassing.
CB, I think I understand what you are saying. Which is, you want to be as clear thinking in your atheism, as you can be. You don't want to be a knee-jerk atheist. You want to be clear eyed, and be able to see when you are wrong, as well as you feel confident when you are right. Am I on the right track?
Since we are all only human, we can't be right 100% of the time. When it comes to religion, or theological ideas, if there is no evidence that your senses can analyze, how can you know what is true or what is not true? Especially when so many people are so convinced that THEY know.
I agree with you on politics, and during the past year, I went through an unwelcome epiphany that left me with virtually no friends. Not that I agree with the people who are reviled as "the bad guys" (and women), but that I so clearly disagree with the tactics, truisms, group-think, overreach, knee-jerk, and voter and contributor abuse by the ones who I'm supposed to think of as "the good guys (and women as well). But it is theology that is bothering you, because you can't see the other side.
I think you are being honest with yourself. You admit that you can see the other side on other issues. If someone tried to convince you "The world is flat", you would be unable to find a way to support that, because you know it's just not true. Or if the said, "The sun revolves around the earth", you would not find an argument to support that. I think the same about the gods, whether Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Zoroastrian, Egyptian, Islamic, Aztec, Nordic... they all require proof that is just not there. If someone comes up with actual evidence, I'm sure you will be honest with yourself about it. Just don't hold your breath waiting for that evidence.
I do want to be honest with myself even if I comes to admitting there is a God. I just see one scientific evidence, no theological evidence(not that that means anything). The scriptures are all over the place and apologetics well......suck.
The one thing I don't want to do is be so dogmatic about any position that I can't learn or accept fact (not necessarily truth as it is very subjective). It didnt work as a Christian.
Carl Segan said extraordinarily claims require extraordinary evidence. I can't find one mediocre claim that supports theism. So it begs the question(to use the common understanding). Am I just as stubborn as I was as a Christian? I want to be honest and real with myself or what point is there in being skeptical if I am a closed mineded ass?
I just want to be challenged by theist arguments to keep me in check.....I fear that will never happen. So I wonder is there simply a state of being right without simply being pompous?
I hate to think I have arrived to being so right that I can no longer accept any opposing view? Then I can learn nothing. I literally can not sleep I I don't think I've learned something in a day. I have to study until I learn something in order to sleep. I'm a freak that way.
I think in the end, most religion is just tribalism. It identifies a person as belonging to the "tribe" of their faith - christian, or mormon, or muslim, or whatever. The evidence really isn't there for the religious, but they can't risk leaving their tribe. You, on the other hand, were sincere, and it resulted in saying goodby to religion. I did the same thing, a long long time ago.
As long as you are aware of the possibility that you might be biased, that is a brake on being too much so. Always question, and always be skeptical, even if it takes you places you did not know were there. You will be OK.
I am comfortable in the fact of not being right, I just don't want to be stubbornly wrong. Perhaps it's time to be comfortable being skeptical even of myself. How much more honest can one be? I've done my best perhaps it's just time to accept that I am even self critical and that I and fellow skeptics will keep me in check when needed. I can accept that and be comfortable with myself with that. Thank you all who have responded.
It is comfortable for me not to believe, my concern is being so comfortable that I reject objectivity, as I see all around me. This is what made me question my religious beliefs in the first place. Now I can not find any reason to question my lack of belief no matter how much I try. I think due o this conversation I can finally be at piece.
I was a Christian and wanted to be a very good Christian, so I studied the bible as much as possible to "be close to God". The more I understood the bible the more I noticed its fallacies. In short I am not an atheist because I want to be. I was simply compelled NOT to believe by the evidence from the book it self. This was before any exposure to the atheist community. I actually did not know it existed.
I have always thought it important not only to have a good understanding of a given subject before I take a stand on it or express a particular opinion. I did stay under the radar about being an atheist and kept my option to myself. Them one day my son was sent to the principles office for stating that he was an atheist. That was a life changing experience for me. Everyone thought I was a Christian including my wife because I constantly study the bible and Christianity. This I included my son, daughter and wife. I had to come out to my wife that day and put the school on notice. It absolutely enraged me that my son would be strong armed by the school for not holding his teachers beliefs. At that time I decided that I should be open about being an Atheist in order to do my best to put an end to further bigotry. So now I literally wear the t shirt in town and do engage in conversations with people I know. It has been amazing to me how open people who have known me for many years are to it. Once I explain that I have been an atheist for many years because the bible is based upon myth they actually listen. I must add that these same people have asked me about different bible aspects for years as they know I'm more knowledgeable than most on the subject.
A few months ago at a party at my home a friend made a comment about the bible saying the earth was a globe and went around the sun. (I had told her I was an Atheist a few days before) I explained the actual text about a flat earth etc. She protested and too my surprise everyone in the room stopped her and said no, really listen to him, hi REALLY knows the bible. Anyway, I was able to teach instead of debate, that is my style of approach.
Now when Christianity comes up in conversations I ask myself what they want to learn, actual history(rarely) , Christian interpretation(usually), or my opinion as an Atheist(I try to spark that curiosity encourage thought).