Seem to criticize religion from a Christian or western religious perspective? In other words, those religions which have their basis in Hebraism, Judaism, and Islam; the so-called "Abrahamic religions." They rarely are ever familiar with eastern religion or philosophy where "God" is thought of in a completely different and antipodal way. For starters, God is not thought of as an "entity," and that really boggles the mind of some atheists who've spent their entire lives conceptualizing "God" as some kind of entity.
Of course, most English-speaking atheists that we encounter here at Atheist-Nexus are from the U.K or the United States where western religion is predominant, and that may explain why that is. That's why I've always enjoyed when Sam Harris emphasizes ignosticism which aims to define "God" before any discussion or debate takes place.
There's an interesting video I came across on YouTube where an Indian guru spills his insight to a young "spiritual seeker." He makes an interesting comment about atheism.
Basically that the "God" from his perspective is not the same God in which some atheists reject, the God as "entity," but instead a "source" which he vaguely describes. Because the God that the atheist rejects, he also rejects.
It kind of makes you think, what if the entire theist vs. atheist argument is one of semantics? That this flexible term that we use "God" has a spectrum of meaning, and on one side of the spectrum makes no sense, but on another side, can correspond exactly to reality. After all, Einstein used this word, but of course, not in the same sense a zealous Christian might use it. Just a thought.
And if anyone's interested in eastern philosophy and how "God" is thought about in something like Buddhism for example, a good place to start is this video here, just listen out for "final self." Truly fascinating for anyone with an open-mind… Perhaps some of you have heard this one before…
I would agree with most of what you say, but do have a couple of comments.
Regarding the grass example, you are right. My example was a bad one and the correct answer should have been "I don't know".
Behaviour is not always consistent with belief. You could have an atheist who acts as a christian to fit in with the society around them. Therefore I would not call an agnostic an atheist in regard to christianity simply because they act that way. They would still be an agnostic. I still think that withholding judgment pending evidence is not the same as non belief.
Thank you! That is precisely my point as to why deGrasse Tyson doesn't consider himself an atheist.
I would note the following video on why Christianity in the West is a pernicious force against knowledge, by Seth Andrews (the Thinking Atheist):
Pernicious is right. Also, this video is amazing!
I also read a lot of about these other conceptions of "god." It is totally different from the guy up in the sky type of god. Have you read about Pantheism or Panentheism? That is often the conception of "god" in Eastern religions and by scientists like Einstein.
The Abrahamic religions, with their doctrine of anthropomorphic creator-and-overseer god, are particularly in conflict with the atheistic viewpoint. So it is plausible that Eastern religions, with a more nebulous and less concentrated rendition of their divinity, would be less jarring to a strictly naturalistic and physical viewpoint. But the key point is the “less”, as opposed to “not at all”. To my knowledge, all of the mainstream Eastern religions posit an extra-physical entity associated with every human (and animal) physical life. That entity in some sense supposedly survives after physical death and is reassociated with a “reincarnated” form of the physical. To atheists, this may be poetically beautiful and a cute rendition of the mystery of why some things tend to reoccur. But where is the evidence for such belief? The same can be said of the assertion that there’s some universal “essence” or underpinning to existence. That is a beautiful enveloping of what might be imagined… a sweeping, spine-tingled “wholeness”. But on what basis ought it to be true? Why should people base their lives, their morality and their decision-schemes and their treatment of sense-data, on such doctrine? It is still a supernatural and extraordinary claim, asserted without physical evidence. To build a worldview on such thinking is inapposite with atheist rationalism, no less than is the Abrahamic paternalism.
In the West, our traditional “spirituality” is so suffused with Abrahamic big-daddy-god posturing, that any alternative, no matter how religious, strikes us as refreshing and emotionally appealing. But that doesn’t make it any more true. Eastern religion can indulge in the same abuses as those with which we’re more familiar in the Western experience. Let’s not idealize the foreign novelty merely because it sidesteps the most egregious fallacies of domestic familiarity.
Well, what I'm positing is this anthropomorphic creator-and-overseer God isn't only in conflict with the atheist viewpoint, but the very basis of most atheists rejection of God. That's why I added that most atheists aren't too familiar with eastern religion, and so therefore call the eastern notion of divinity "nebulous," and so think it's "less jarring," but if you truly understood the eastern perspective, I think you'd find it's more in the category of the "not at all" to a naturalistic viewpoint.
I'll point out that what you are referring to as "extra-physical" entities are not really thought about as a kind of polytheism is eastern religion, but better thought about in the fashion of a set of archetypes. Another very misunderstood and misconstrued concept in eastern religion and philosophy is the notion of "reincarnation." The western interpretation of "reincarnation" does leave you with a poetic conjuration, but that's not quite what it is. I'll offer a couple of links that goes over concepts in eastern philosophy such as reincarnation or liberation.
One common mistake westerners make about eastern religion is that it's something like western religion. I think it's because we have categorized things like Christianity and Buddhism under this umbrella term of "religion," and so we think Buddhism is something like Christianity when, in fact, these two points of views are practically antipodal in terms of how they operate.
So, I don't think it's simply that people idealize this "foreign novelty merely because it sidesteps the most egregious fallacies of domestic familiarity," but rather people are attracted to eastern philosophy or the appeal of something like Zen to the west is because it offers or promises a sudden insight or understanding in the here and now rather than the Christian's path which is to submit yourself to the will of God and perhaps, if you're "good," you'll be granted divine wisdom and eternal life in the afterlife.
As for sweeping, spine-tingling wholeness, I don't think it's simply that, but this "satori" or "non-duality" is instead a staggeringly titanic altered state of consciousness, a phenomenon in consciousness which I believe everyone has the potential for which does have a kind of evidence. If you're interested in that, I have posted links here to it, but I suppose I'll post it once again… It is couched in the form of perennial philosophy.
Here's a link to a thread on another atheist forum where these ideas are discussed in a little more depth, but the website recently made it so that you have to be a member to log-in, so you have to sign-up to view the thread. But I'll let you borrow my log-in, but I ask if you please do not post under my name.
Account e-mail: email@example.com
And one more link for your entertainment…
Eastern religion has no more evidence for the veracity of their claims according to who? Your own investigation? Well, this is precisely why I've offered that link there in my response to Michael OL to an atheist forum where these things are discussed more thoroughly, but it seems no one has taken the time to review it, because what it offers is a response to the burden of proof.
For some people, atheism is a rejection of a religion. Why else would people say, "Reading the bible is the fastest route to atheism"? No, it's not. Reading the bible may be the fastest route to disregarding Christianity or Catholicism, but your investigation doesn't end there. I know some atheists who became atheists through reading the bible or something like that, often then automatically disregard all religion after dropping Christianity or some other western religion based on the bible, but that's because they assume that all religion is alike when they, in fact, are not alike.
It is not up to the atheist to research every religious claim on the planet. It is up to the claimants to explain them.
In science, a scientist making a claim about a hypothesis does not say "go there and look at something." He presents the evidence, preferably in his own words. He also accounts for facts which do not fit his hypothesis.
Likewise with religion. In Christianity for example, 1 Peter 3:15 states that the believer must be able to give good reason for the joy of his faith. Not that someone has to come along and try to disprove it.
As I said way back on page one of these responses, I am not interested in what someone else on a Website off in the middle of nowhere has to say about why I should believe about the claim of any religion, East or West. I am certainly not interested in going to the YouTube page you suggested that was in Russian and set off all the alarms on my security software.
I am interested in your opinion why I should believe it, and if you cannot give one to me, in your own words, can you even give one to yourself?
And regardless of any claim about any sort of god hypothesis, the proof of the claim is on the claimant.
Next Apocalypse scheduled for May 19, 2013, according to Ronald Weinland, convicted of tax evasion last year.
Well, as I mentioned before, the link I'm directing you towards are my own words. I am presenting you with evidence, in my own words, as a scientist would present in science. I'm not simply telling you, "Go there and look at some random website." It is a thread at another atheist forum where I have presented what I've been talking about here, basically, but at greater depth and in a kind of dialectic form among other atheists. This IS NOT what someone else has said, it is a conclusion based on evidence which I have evaluated and have presented to other atheists who like you, demand rational explanation.
Western religions make (at least potentially) verifiable claims about the real world and Eastern religions (at least as presented in the West) apparently do not. It may be the case that some atheist arguments against Christianity do not apply to Buddhism and other Eastern religions.
Atheism itself does not (or should not) be seen as making verifiable claims about the real world, but simply as refusing belief in such claims. However there is another ground on which the atheist needs to do work separate from the rejection—dealing with objectively unverifiable claims made in both Eastern and Western religion about individual psychological experiences which follow the search for enlightenment through meditation, prayer, etc.
Both Buddhism and Christianity religions identify kinds of spiritual advance occurring to those who seek them within themselves. Feelings of peace, unity with nature, clarity of vision are said to result from the continued practice. The claim is these represent a supra-sensory path to reality denied to ordinary sensation and by its nature it would seem to be irrefutable, that is, non-falsifiable.
Life is full of non-falsifiable claims, many of which are harmless and certainly the atheist will accept some without question. They often refer to individual psychological states in others. It is the claim of the Christian that he has direct experience of God or the Buddhist that his meditation opens a path to reality that need to be dealt with. When the sole evidence is the personal experience of others, claims can be hard to evaluate.