Millions of atheist scientists and other rational freethinkers know full well, through the application of unbiased commonsense and the results of millions of complex experiments and the calculations of astute experimental and theoretical physicists, that we humans inhabit a tiny part of what is a vast godless universe of immense age; and that we have good reason to infer that gods exist nowhere but in the imaginations, stories and lies of faith-driven men.

So how can bible-believers seriously defend their ever-shrinking part of the world against the supreme logic produced by elite scientists when there is no case to answer? Why are there faith-believers at all?

A principal reason is that once the fictions of faith get into people’s heads it is difficult to be rid of them. Indoctrinated when young, they indoctrinate the young of their own and of others, and the cycle of merciless irrationality continues.

These dogmatic bigots never let go—and that is because they never listen, their minds are already made up, and they are incapable of understanding and absorbing new knowledge no matter how thoroughly well-tested and proven the latter may be.

Only freethinkers and scientists see the universe clearly and correctly for its materiality and man’s place in it as an evolutionary accident but a marvel nonetheless.

Religionists sink inside the mental quagmire and nightmare of their own making for it is philosophically incontestable, when the evidence is well presented and the listener has a high enough level of intelligence and freedom of thought, that gods exist nowhere but inside people’s heads—and that is that.
Terence Meaden. 27 August 2008. Planet Atheism/ Enlightened Observer

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Replies to This Discussion

I'll agree that I wrote too speedily, in my last paragraph above, in using the word 'intelligence' when I was referring to those having a nonthinking sheep-followers mentality but instead meant, as I did say, 'freedom of thought' from dogmatic bigotry or mindlessness.

But tell me what you mean when you write of claimed 'assertions that are clearly metaphysical'.
You certainly are a self-congratulatory bunch. You seem to care much more about your atheism than anyone else does. Many of you spend hours on your blogs patting each other on the back. Very strange--- a special interest group whose sole purpose is to mock theists. And it is interesting that you deride Christian principles yet smuggle their values into your ethical systems. Men who have integrity and humility will walk the walk rather than talk the talk.
You stated that we inhabit only a tiny part of the universe, and have good reason to infer gods exist nowhere. Later you state: "Only freethinkers and scientists see the universe clearly and correctly for its materiality and man’s place in it as an evolutionary accident but a marvel nonetheless.". Since we do see and understand such an infinitesimal part of the universe, your statements are similar to that old story that says no two snowflakes are alike. No one has seen every snowflake, or even a significant fraction of them, in order to verify that statement. You clearly must have some axiological standpoint from which you make the assertion that the universe is a marvel. Whence the metaphysics. As good scientists we are obligated to stick to the facts.
Your point about metaphysics has not been clarified; the word 'axiological' is not in my dictionary. And are you saying that we cannot marvel at the known factual wonders of the universe as discovered by cosmologists and astronomers?
To marvel and to wonder are both inherently axiological processes. Axiology is, of course, a branch of metaphysics. Facts do not inspire marvel or wonder; they simply are. Man generates wonder and marvel to color his observations. There is nothing wrong with this, and indeed it helps give joy to our existence. And joy is axiologically rooted.... I learned decades ago to stop fighting the fight against things metaphysical: one cannot combat metaphysics without doing metaphysics. To be human is to be metaphysical: it is part of our nature to wonder and to marvel and to push the envelope of our knowledge. That is a fact, sir, and I am sticking to it.

I love that you are able to describe your experience with life-long atheism. It's inspiring to me that not everyone in our society has been raised in religion, and it gives lie to the arguments that many people have, that they have to raise their kids in religion in order for them to have character. Some day, "god-willing" (!), most people will have that experience.

Since a lot of people moved from theism to atheism, it's really helpful to have your point of view.

(I think that I still have some PTSD from my long-past Baptist history).

I do think that many people live with their faith as their 'operating system' - information and experience all being processed by their faith. Giving up faith could mean going from mental Windows95 to Vista - a whole new operating system. (In some cases from DOS 1.0 to Vista). I agree with you that atheism isn't a system of thought, but maybe it is a 'system' of vision? Im not sure what Im saying here.

Thanks for posting.

I may have been in christian schools, and may have went to church.
I look back upon the years that have gone by and feel I was always aware there are no personal gods.

It's only been the past months that I have openly said it to myself and all those concerned.

Instead of wondering about life, I am now in wonder of life.
Without casting my faults and successes on some other force, I am more aware of what I am and what I can do. I'm typing this because I wanted to comment on this brief life story you mentioned. I wasn't sure what I wanted to say but felt I did want to say something.

I have not meet every minister in the world, however every one I have met had hypocritical ways.It only took time to see an event in which he or she shunned something there are suppose to embrace because of their faith.

I watched a debate that occurred after Christopher Hitchens's book God is not great was published:It was between himself and Al Sharpton.
Throughout the segment Mr.Sharpton argues that without god,who says what it is good or bad.Surely the books of religions are not the best guides for what is good and what is bad.
Every religious book I know of permits slavery,murder,and rape in some form.
Isn't it obvious to any human, who can support themselves, to realize these acts are wrong no matter what the situation?

I feel and fear the biggest reason to resistance of new and unwanted knowledge is; the false idea that it will require too much time and little reward to understand.
My wife went to church today and we haven't had more than a 5 minute discussion about religion since my openness began.
The potential for eternal paradise,to see family and friends once again,to believe we aren't randomly here:All reasons most people of faith want to hold onto tightly.

I simply need to find the way to show her how understanding how important this life is, will make her appreciate it more than any religion could ever hope to do so.
Dear Don
That is such a sad story about your youngest sister, her move to born-again christianity, her death, and the minister's behavior.
I have three children. The son and youngest daughter are sensible atheists, as my wife too. The bright eldest daughter got entrapped about 10 years ago by a born-again evangelical cult. She married a similar-thinking but dim man, and they have two sons age 2.5 and 1. My wife and I despair---above all for the future of the grandsons. For the time-being it is hopeless. Daughter and husband work hard for the church, are given a house and food by the church, and have no income. We only hope that sense will prevail one day. If they leave, we shall give them a house and free education for the children, but there is no interest.
Thank you Don. We understand well.
We all know how wearying it can be discussing theistic beliefs with the deeply indoctrinated, no matter how rational and perfect the atheistic arguments.

It is more rewarding timewise to do what the theists do. They get at the young at the earliest opportunity and tell them fairy stories, and they lie in wait for older people, who are often teenagers and twenty-somethings, whose lives are 'going wrong' for other reasons.

A major difference is that we atheists have no fictional stories and untruths to tell such listeners.
All that atheists have to tell is the truth, because we are RIGHT in promoting an atheistic universe which the religious keep trying to take over. We should learn how to comfort the physically weak and the weak-minded by giving them the friendship and encouragement that they need.
Lee, if I may offer my thoughts.

I do not consider atheism a system of beliefs. Rather it is simply the absence of a belief in gods.

To posit atheism as a belief structure is to hand a rhetorical point to theists who say we believe in nothing, or alternativly, atheism is just another religion (so what are we complaining about?)

In my view it is more correct to say we lack a belief in Thor, Vishnu, Ra, Horus, Allah and Yahweh etc. I don't actively spend my time believing they don't exist I just don't have that belief in me. As Pascal would have it: I am so made that I cannot believe.

It's kind of a subtle point that verges of a point of pedantry in grammar but I think it is nevertheless important to insist we are not the possessors of some contrary belief system comparable to Christianity Islam, etc, ours in the absence of such beliefs.

That's point one.

Point two is I think, we should distinguish atheism from scientific materialism.

By this I mean, in your answer above in trying to describe your conception of what an atheist system is you immediately begin discussing evidence, and the background of evolution, Kelvin etc.

For example:

>>our doctrine is based on testable arguments and not assertions

My question is: is it? Because to me what you seem to be describing is naturalist, materialist science, not strictly speaking, atheism.

Now this is an easy line to blur and I don't condemn you for it: most of us are naturalists and materialists as well (which is to say hold to the view that there are not supernatural entities, just natural ones - which is something with which atheists are largely sympathetic and which follows from a rejection of gods quite easily - but being materialist and an atheist, while obviously compatible, ought to be distinguished as they are not identical.

We also all tend to scientifically literate and in some cases, actually scientists - and the good news the science repeatedly improves the case for atheism

Strictly speaking the presumption of existence of god is not something for which you can test, because materialist science cannot test for the immaterial or supernatural and I can personally attest that there is much fun to be had in trying to get out of Christians whether or not they think god is inside the universe or outside of it.

I think it's just intellectually important, that while we are conversant and knowledgeable in science and can explicate the philosophical implications of science, it nevertheless remains to distinguish atheism from science.

Similarly I view atheism as a conclusion, rather than an axiom. It is because scriptures are so riven with contradiction and horror; it is because, I see no proof of a deity; it is because I understand morality doesn't require or imply a lawgiver, it is because I grasp what evolution means, and for many other reasons that I am an atheist.

I suspect, like the evangelism of the ex-smoker, 'militancy' comes when it is treated as the starting point, as an axiom, rather than the point at which you arrive in deliberating all the things in which you do believe and all the evidence you do accept.

It is incidentally, why I think it is incorrect when people describe Hitchens, Dawkins etc as militant, as they always strike me as deeply thoughtful and considerate men.

*EDIT* I see from the backlog you say you teach hi-school science, so I imagine you know this better than most. Nevertheless I look forward to your reply.
Lee's comments resonated with me - I would say "nicely said" but I have a tendency to do that when I agree... In medicine, the concept of "bio-psycho-social" health used to be discussed, and that may be valid here as well.

Moving people from the fantasy of religion to rationality is more than convincing them of "superior arguments". True, there is biological science, and there is logic. For the logic minded, that may be all that it takes.

However, religion is also family, and community. Giving up religion can mean conflict and loss of friendship, family, and security. For some people, the potential for that loss is enough that they won't listen to science. If the potential loss is too big, it doesn't matter who is "right".

It's also self image. It means giving up aspects of personality that may be highly valued.

It's also the neurologic effect of prayer, and of being in a group of like-minded people 'bathed in love' - a form of euphoria without drugs. Losing religion means losing that "high". Those endorphins can be as seductive as prescribed opiates, and as hard to give up.

It's also, sometimes, career, power, prestige. For example, I keep asking myself, does Obama really beleive, or is it how he has chosen to live in order to accomplish the things that he wants to accomplish? We'll probably never know.

It's also the seductive power of hearing what people want to hear, the seduction of their hopes being validated and reflected to them by someone who has star power, or is held in high esteem - ministers, pundits, the Palin factor.

This bio-psycho-social approach to beleif systems can help us understand that what we think we are discussing, evidence, is only one aspect of beleif (or rational thought).

Thanks, Lee, for posting your thoughts.



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