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.

Ramesh Balsekar on 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…

Alan Watts- What Buddhism's About

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Well, if you look at the general topics I've been discussing here with other users, all that is discussed there but in more depth. It isn't simply the distinction of a buddha and a buddhist, so if you wouldn't mind, I'd ask if you ever have the time to take a gander as it would be ultimately what I'd have to say and what I have of what I think is of utmost interest.

"No other group of people are trying to overturn science standards in public schools (or social studies standards as is going on now in Nebraska) and replace them with religious dogma and political ideology.

Actually Hindus in India are doing just that, and are trying to rewrite history in their favor. Additionally they are pushing to make criticism of religion a crime.

I am an Indian, an easterner, and I see that there is considerable difference in the views of Indians and those of the Abrahamic religions towards science as well as towards atheists. I have dealt with this subject in my book 'The Death of an Idea' and I take the liberty of quoting myself.

"The Christians say, “Just push our god somewhere in your science” and the Muslims want to claim that your science is all known to our god.

The Hindus have a very peculiar attitude towards science. Generally, they do not oppose science and do not claim that it is all done by our God; they do not claim that all your science was known to our gods. They willingly learn science in their schools and colleges, attain a good proficiency in the subject, secure good grades in science and then find good employment based on what they have learned. That is the end of science in their life! They then see horoscopes to arrange marriages, find a good, auspicious time for marriage with the help of the priests and the heavenly bodies who are supposed to have already made plans for their lives, and call the priest again to perform all religious rituals at the marriage ceremonies! That’s all there is to science!!"

"Indian society since the ancient past has been very tolerant towards atheism and atheists. Atheists never had to face any charges of being heretics and there were no inquisitions. Today’s theists should read, whenever and wherever possible, about Indian atheism and they will then know that atheism is a very rational and sincere system of thought without any malice."

Sorry I dropped out of the conversation for a bit, the penalties of government service: everyone in the village knows my telephone number.

Per your statement about Neil deGrasse Tyson and his empirical agnosticism, he still fits into the box of "agnostic atheist," whatever sophistry he cares to use to avoid the term atheist.

By default, a position taken in which one chooses to withhold belief (regardless of any sophistry of reasoning) means one does not believe.

While few things are black-and-white, there is no middle ground between belief or non-belief.

Maybe that comes with college education (versus my halt at high school): one can rationalise anything with circular reasoning if one is educated enough. My understanding is there are not shades of belief, just belief and non-belief.

Well, I think his point was that atheists have this very dualistic mindset about these things. That a kind of Aristotelian logic is poured over this issue where things are either "a" or "not a," when to do that is to fall victim to a false dichotomy. For you see, it's not circumlocutory on his part, he is not adhering to belief nor is he necessarily proclaiming that he disbelieves, so that's why he would reside outside of the box of taking upon the position of agnostic atheist. So, it is not taking a "middle ground," it is not the middle pathway between two extremes, it stands outside of these extremes and that is precisely empirical agnosticism.

I am somewhat confused: on the question of belief (about anything), what other position can one take besides belief, if you do not believe? "Withholding judgement pending evidence" (one possible definition of agnostic) is still non-belief.

Well, if you're applying Aristotelian logic, then it can be confusing, because what you end up with is the (a) or (not a) solutions which is false dichotomy. Just as the gnostic theist "knows," so believes or the gnostic atheist "knows" and so disbelieves. So, if you know one way or the other, your belief (or disbelief) will take that direction. However, if you do not know, then belief or disbelief, for that matter, cannot be directed. 

See, it works both ways, and that's why it's hard to see this with Aristotelian logic. It works both ways in that if one does not know, then this not mean one should automatically disbelieve. Remember, the gnostic atheist chooses to disbelieve because they supposedly "know" there is no God. But Tyson points out that if you do not know, then you don't go around saying you "believe," likewise you wouldn't go around saying that you "disbelieve." To adhere to non-belief is to disbelieve that a God or Gods do not exist. So, the whole "pending evidence" means precisely that. That is why empirical agnosticism is often called the fence-sitting position. Because you do not fall on the side of belief nor disbelief. Is that a little more clear or shall we agree to disagree?

I don't know about Aristotle and his logic. I am stuck with a high-school education. I do not disbelieve because I "know" as you put it, I do not believe because there has been no evidence presented by the proponents of religion. Disbelief is not the same as knowing.

Barring evidence for the contrary, however, if something is "not a," then it is not "a." This is not a false dichotomy. There is no other position, in which "a" and "not a" can be both true, or a third position true. "A" or "not a" says nothing about "b."

Christianity ("a") says a great deal about atheism ("not a") and other faiths "c" (Islam), "d" (Hinduism), "e" (Wicca), "f" (Buddhism), ad nausem. According to the Christian view, they are all both "not a" and all equal to each other (Satan's folly).

The rest of that paragraph doesn't resonate well with me. Most (but not all) theists claim to know, most (but not all) atheists do not claim to know. Theism speaks to what you believe, not what you know. Any atheist claiming to "know" there is no god would be required by reason to present evidence for that putative knowledge, just as a theist would.

But the Bible does not speak about what you know, it rewards belief despite knowledge. God rewards unreason. Yet the NT demands the believer give reason for his faith. It is nonsensical.

I am reasonable. Present evidence for a religious position and I must alter, abolish, modify, change, or adapt my position of atheism. But give an empirical proof for religious faith, and religious faith becomes "science." Science does not require faith. Thus any proof of faith destroys faith.

At least Christianity demands the impossible of its believers (if they really read the Bible): it demands they be able to give good reason for their faith, yet faith cannot be based on reason (that is science). No wonder so many of them twist themselves in knots trying to explain their faith, and when asked "prove it," they simply disobey another command of the Bible (judge not, lest ye be judged) and condemn you to perdition (or say they will laugh when you go to hell or other equally charitable and Christian thoughts).

As for Hindus pushing their faith in India, your question was not about India, it was about the USA and the UK. Christians are the threat here, not Hindus.

Well, I've actually offered a rap that perhaps could have you alter, modify, change or adapt your position of atheism in the Perennial Philosophy discussion I linked you to. I'm not sure if you've had the chance to read it yet.

You're right to point out that belief and knowledge are in a way separate, but I will add that they are also intertwined at the same time. After all, what you believe is, of course, based upon what you know, isn't it? So, if you do not know, then this does not necessarily mean you take upon the position of atheism and that has been the point in the discussion about Tyson's position. In other words, there is a such thing as an agnostic theist, for instance. A person who does not know for sure if there truly is a God, but nevertheless believes there is a God. 

So, in admitting that you do not know doesn't necessarily confer you an atheist as Tyson is at great pains to point out. But many atheists have a hard time seeing that this is so, because just as we've all been brought up with the western religious notions of God, we've also been instilled with a very western mode of logic to think about these things, so we end up with false dichotomies.

So, yes, my question was more aimed towards basically anyone who could read English, because most of these people are from the UK or America. What you will find that there are a great deal of people who've dismissed "God" *insert definition here* have done so based upon entirely on a notion that they've inherited through western religion, God as "entity," the God that George Carlin often parodied.

I've noticed this too. A roommate of mine asked me why atheists hate Christianity in particular so much. The answer lies beautifully on the crossroads of two observations:

1. Christianity is the single largest religion in the world.
2. Christianity makes a particular point of converting non-adherents as part of its central doctrine.

Islam is the same to an extent, but has simply not been as successful at it as Christianity. So the swaggering elephant in the room is, by a large margin, Christianity. Christianity is the most in-your-face of all religions, by doctrine and by its sheer overwhelming numbers. Eastern religions have a lot of good, peaceful ideas, and a lot of sketchy ideas as well. But most of them don't look down on people who don't think like they do--Buddhism, for example, the closest they come to looking down on non-believers is simply that they believe we could be living a better life. They don't say we're sinners, that we're not "saved" as if saved is some kind of upper echelon of being, and they don't say we should be tortured for eternity.

"Withholding judgement pending evidence" (one possible definition of agnostic) is still non-belief

It depends. The number of blades of grass in a field is either odd or even. If someone asks if I believe that the number is odd and I say no, this does not mean I believe the number is even. I am withholding judgement on whether there is an odd or even amount of grass in the field despite knowing that one of these positions is true.

A roommate of mine asked me why atheists hate Christianity in particular

I would say that it's because they live in a mainly christian country. I would expect that atheists living in a muslim country would hate islam in particular because that is the religion causing them the most trouble. On the internet, most people writing in english will be from the US/UK/Canada/Australia etc where english is the primary language and christianity is the primary religion.

Speaking objectively, I would say that islam is the cause of worse atrocities than christianity, although they may be less frequent or widespread. At least, that is the case in the present day and age.

"Withholding judgement pending evidence" (one possible definition of agnostic) is still non-belief

>>> It depends. The number of blades of grass in a field is either odd or even. If someone asks if I believe that the number is odd and I say no, this does not mean I believe the number is even. I am withholding judgement on whether there is an odd or even amount of grass in the field despite knowing that one of these positions is true.

----- -----

But the correct answer is not "no" as that contains the implicit definition that the opposite is true (there are only odd or even [whole] numbers, which brings to mind how one would count half a blade of grass). The idea that no to the answer does not imply yes to an even number is sophistry.

The correct answer is "I do not know." (If he is interested presumably he could count them, then he would know. While the effort would be a supreme waste of time to learn a trivial result, that would be the scientific method in practice: observation. Religion does not use that or any other form of reason, the only method which we can demonstrate what is real around us.)

But the issue concerns deities, not grass. Barring evidence for (any) deity, the answer is "I don't know." Barring evidence for (any) deity and an overwhelming array of evidence that explains things without resorting to a deity, it could still be "I don't know," but with the caveat "but a deity seems unlikely."

While "I don't know" is commonly referred to as agnosticism in religious belief, knowing does not speak to what one believes. If one behaves as if there is no deity, conducts none of the rituals of worship, and most importantly as a Christian does not believe with his whole heart and his whole mind, he is an atheist in regard to Christianity, irrespective of what he "knows."

As for Christians, I do not hate Christians. I dislike intensely what some Christians do, however, such as trying to insert their own interpretations of religion into the classroom and public law. At least for the moment in the USA and the UK (what the question was originally about, not other nations), that is the group trying to subvert secular law for religious privilege and ends.


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