You know, when I was a good little christian [tm], I remember sermons saying how other things become gods before nonbelievers, like money, power, sex, drugs, rock'n'roll... (they'd probably add WoW to the list, these days, am I right?) ---Anyway, in that context, then anything that is a control in your life is a god. But in the whole personal, omnipotent, magical dude in the sky? Highly doubtful.
When I was a pagan, I thought of all the pantheons, monotheistic included, as being sort of like ISPs to divinity. That people needed a humanesque or conscious mask on divinity, in order to connect to something that other life was naturally linked into. Even as a pagan, I had that concept of man having separated himself from the natural order. So it wasn't a far step for me to shed that concept and become a pantheist. No god needed. Everything that is awesome and majestic is all around us. We don't need to boogie it up a notch to appreciate it. In fact, I now see that as a disservice, not only to oneself, but to the whole notion that something as inspiring and vast as the universe itself needs some graffiti-esque human stick figure tossed over it and called a 'creator.'
I'm not 100% convinced there is nor isn't a god. When it comes down to it, for me, it's just semantics anyway. Your family, your friends, your community, and your world needs you more than a god ever could, and vice versa. Be good for goodness' sake!
Proof of beliefs come with evidence for those beliefs. Absent proof, faith comes into play and certainty becomes a circular arguement...." I am certain because I have faith I am certain".
Lacking such evidence, I am 100% certain there is no God until and unless I'm proven otherwise. And" proven" to me means scientific proof which is the only standard we have in measuring the natural world.
"By definition: all atheists agree that there is no such thing."
Assuming that you mean:
"all atheists agree that there is no such thing (as a god)"...
and that constitutes “atheism 101”, then I must admit to having gone to a different college.
Perhaps I didn’t attend a Christian School.
Why do I say that?
Because the image of all atheists, that theists want projected, is an image of negativity, of “NO THERE ISN’T!!” stridency, easily remolded into being, gasp! anti god. for heaven’s sake!!
My atheism 101 class, on the other hand, concluded that what atheists agree upon is that we share "a lack of faith in the existence of gods".
Think about how different our encounters with theists would be if in response to: “there is a god” the atheist simply said: “I’m sorry, but I do not share your faith in the existence of god.”
The subject is now “faith” (or, better yet, their faith), not the existence or non existence of an object of that faith.
We can go a lot further with such a discussion, because now we are talking about something that is real, the results of which are clearly observable.
we share "a lack of faith in the existence of gods"
Atheists aren't "lacking" anything, we are simply free from that particular unproven lunacy. The purpose of this discussion is not (as are most discussions here) to "provide" proof of anything at all. Proofs are for laboratories and courts of law. What we look at here is various sources of evidence. These discussions' main purpose is to exchange ideas and to provide new reading and research suggestions. Anyone coming here looking for "proofs" is just as delusional as any religious cook.
We could turn around the entire paradigm on its and state that our definition of faither/believer is that They share a lack of understanding of the processes of the natural world ??? I don't think that would fly with 'them'. That's what happens when you let 'the others' provide the definition to what you think you are.
95% of this planet's population is religious, the definition of atheists you provide one those defined by theists. I don't respect their religious ways nor them defining me. Frankly I don't place much importance on anything a religious person has to say. Lord only knows where they got it from!
“Anyone coming here looking for "proofs" is just as delusional as any religious cook.”
Yet here we are with 79 pages responding to a question of “certainty”, and “certainty”, at least in my life, requires a certain amount of evidence for any corresponding level of “certainty”.
I don’t mean to quibble here but when you write:
"Atheists aren't "lacking" anything,"
It seems you are denying the essence of atheism, its simplicity, its clarity, and you seem determined to complicate it with judgmental proclamations such as
“...we are simply free from that particular unproven lunacy.”
(“unproven”? Is it not you who are now bringing the element of “proofs” to this discussion?)
Are childless couples simply “childless” or are they “free from that particular biological responsibility”?
Atheism is a simple enough concept that the simplest description is the best.
Atheists lack that characteristic which defines theists.
Atheists are atheists because they don’t have (“lack”) faith in the existence of gods.
If you pursue “denial” of the existence of gods (or at least a satisfying level of “certainty”), you are adding an entirely new layer of theological discourse which has nothing to do with what atheism, in all its simplicity, is.
Denial of the existence of gods is not what atheism is.
You are an atheist when you simply accept/recognize your lack of faith.
It has nothing to do with how “certain” you are about gods’ non existence.
Atheism isn’t a christmas tree upon which we hang our individual ornaments of personal philosophy which we bring to the subject.
That’s religion’s job.
That’s what theology is.
And I am weary of the theist’s accusation that atheism is a religion, an accusation which is a direct result of some atheists’ pursuit of a level of “certainty” of gods’ non existence.
Let theists mistake faith for certainty.
“95% of this planet's population is religious, the definition of atheists you provide one those defined by theists.”
I have no idea how you arrive at that conclusion, but that’s your personal ornament that you have to deal with.
Don’t hang it on my tree.
I am a simple atheist.
Very well said TNT....I've been struggling with what type of atheist am I...Am I a Naturatlist...a humanist...an agnostic.etc? I am unable to say with 100% Certainty there is no God and that makes me a candidate for conversion on my death bed for some Theistic conversion (although I don't think that will ever happen).
What I can say with 100% conviction I lack Faith that there is a God. And since Faith requires you to lay your rationality aside, I don't ever think I'll die an irrational human being( unless of course I'm unfortunate enough to succumb to some sort of dimentia).
Other than that, I am quite certain I can and never will put reason aside and replace it with some magical hocus pocus supernatural faith in an irrational God.
I signed on to AN briefly at work and this 20yo girl, who never really thought about it, was looking at the title of this thread and said, "That's so sad". I said, "Why?". She said that she didn't know, really, but that she didn't go to church or anything, but that it is sad that there are people who don't believe in a higher power. I explained that it is not stemming from a negative place emotionally, but a commitment to reality, which turns out to actually be more moral and more amazing. She followed with the idea of how can people do the right thing if not guided by religion and I explained while it might have been somewhat useful in the past before we had relatively ubiquitous education and relatively objective laws that every individual must abide by. When she insisted that but this and but that, the conversation came to faith, which she thinks she arrives at by being logical and reasonable. This has happened many times with theists, in my experience. They do not see how faith is, by definition, the denial of reality and belief in the absence of evidence or logical coherence. Since she thinks that the bible, what her parent's taught her and the number of people that believe and that people have believed this stuff for centuries as evidence and not illogical. So, basically I am suggesting that when you discuss faith with theists, many are unwilling to accept that faith is not sufficient as a valid source of knowledge and any conversation about faith will likely result in a discussion of the irrationality of a contradictory idea and the impossibility of the existence of an omnipotent/omniscient being who created everything as well as the impossibility of the existence of an invisible pink unicorn. What kind of discussion with theists about their faith do you think is proper? And how is it that it will not degenerate into them just demonstrating that they are dummies? Is a discussion of someone else's faith not also a discussion on irrationality and a demonstration of the nonexistence of the object of people's faith?
The way I see it, the manner of programming of perceptions into concepts early in life creates a physical neurologically stored complex knowledge base that must be used for every thought and when someone who was programmed as a theist or mystic of another kind is likely too far gone and to change their mind is to unravel their identity which is based on all previously programmed patterns of electro-neurochemical transmission. Therefore, imo, even though I do do it regularly, it is only for the undecided's and younger people's sakes to witness the debate, but if one believes in god, they are likely programmed that way and beyond reason.
Asa, you say, "We can go a lot further with such a discussion, because now we are talking about something that is real, the results of which are clearly observable." I'm sorry, but I have tried this and it simply doesn't work any better than outright denying the existence of their deity, which is more honest and direct. As Michael points out, the faithful are proud of their faith. They think it makes them special and important, noble and heroic. They think that faith is not only valid, but more important than evidence and reason. If you attack the object of their faith, you are attacking something they care about. If you attack their faith, you are attacking them.
Michael, I'm not sure I totally understand the deconversion process, but I think it's usually a death of a thousand cuts, and it often happens in a person's middle age. I suspect there are few deconversions after 60 or so, but I do think that it's worth chipping away at the faithful up until then. You never know whether yours is the straw that breaks the camel's back, perhaps years later.
Michael and Jason;
“Is a discussion of someone else's faith not also a discussion on irrationality and a demonstration of the nonexistence of the object of people's faith?”
Well, yea, maybe, but is it not better than you assuming the responsibility of demonstrating “the nonexistence of the object of people's faith”?
"Asa, you say, "We can go a lot further with such a discussion, because now we are talking about something that is real, the results of which are clearly observable." I'm sorry, but I have tried this and it simply doesn't work any better than outright denying the existence of their deity, which is more honest and direct."
As I wrote to TNT666:
"Let theists mistake faith for certainty."
Atheists shouldn’t be making that mistake.
When a theist encounters an atheist, he should not meet a mirror reflecting an opposite faith, but, rather, a theological blank slate which does not require the same justification that the theist’s assertions do.