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Atheist certainty equal to religious certainty?
Posted: 27 March 2012 11:01 AM   [ Ignore ]  
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It is commonly said that “being certain about atheism is just as bad as being certain about religious belief.”


There is a common misconception that staunch religious belief and atheism act as counterweights to one another, and are both equally arrogant and unbending with their claims of certainty.  In my latest column I attempt to dispel this myth by describing the fundamental difference between arguing for a claim in the absence of evidence (religious belief) and arguing against a claim due to the absence of evidence to support it (atheism).


http://ology.com/post/66994/atheist-certainty-is-not-an-equal-counterweight-to-religious-certainty


I’d like input from some agnostics and atheists on this issue.


———————————
Brian Murphy
As. Prof. UIC
@writesofmurph

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Posted: 13 April 2012 12:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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I agree with most of what you said in the article, but also this point is very important philosophically. Trying to construe atheism as a religion or dogma is simple projection: atheism isn’t a proposition, it’s a position.

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Posted: 01 May 2012 12:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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Yep. An atheist in my book is simply someone who doesn’t buy into the ‘god hypothesis’. Doesn’t require faith, doesn’t require defending.

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Posted: 11 May 2012 05:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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I like Bertrand Russell’s reply to this…the one about the tea pot.

So, if he was arguing it 50 years ago, it is probably an argument that is here to stay.

I’ve backed people into the corner where all they can do is say one of two things: “you just gotta have faith”, and “how can you be so arrogant as to think there isn’t a higher power”. (it is just toooo arrogant of us silly humans to think we’re all that)

I respond to both saying that I don’t have faith in the tea pot but it could be that the tea pot is running the world due to it having a higher power source. Prove it is not. They don’t understand because basically their brains can’t understand. They’ve been programmed from babies to believe in the “higher power” and their brain believes this is true with all its cells. They can’t change that “feeling” that there is something “greater” than them. They might try, but it is too scary. I have a friend with a PhD (obviously not a dumb person) but she fervently believes she wouldn’t have her doctorate without “God’s” help. When the going would get tough she’d pray and things would get better and she attributes this to god giving her the strength, and if she were to now turn against this god by not believing in him, who knows what would happen??? She is scared and fearful to question. Everything she has is riding on her believing in her god. You can’t change this with logic.

I guess my point is that the mental gymnastics we see the faithful performing is what they HAVE TO DO to keep the booty flowing, keep the good times rolling and keep the United States safe from ruin. You wonder why they fight so hard to stem the tide of unbelief? It isn’t that difficult a question to answer.

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Posted: 26 June 2012 10:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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Majority of One - 11 May 2012 05:04 PM

They’ve been programmed from babies to believe in the “higher power” and their brain believes this is true with all its cells. They can’t change that “feeling” that there is something “greater” than them. They might try, but it is too scary.

One can look at it the other way around also. That some atheists can’t comprehend the idea because of their rearing. They can’t change the “feeling” that there is nothing greater.


I disagree with the argument of this thread. Please read my thread “Epistemology and the existence or non-existence of God”. I trust that any open-mined person can understand that atheism and theism both require unfalsifiable claims (claims that can’t be proven true objectively) about absolute truth.

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Posted: 26 June 2012 11:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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JRA - 26 June 2012 10:38 AM
Majority of One - 11 May 2012 05:04 PM

They’ve been programmed from babies to believe in the “higher power” and their brain believes this is true with all its cells. They can’t change that “feeling” that there is something “greater” than them. They might try, but it is too scary.

...some atheists can’t comprehend the idea because of their rearing. They can’t change the “feeling” that there is nothing greater.


... about absolute truth.

I’m glad you started your response with “some” atheists. I’m one that falls outside your reasoning, IMHO. I was brought up in a strict southern baptist home. My brain, and I believe it had nothing to do with my choice, didn’t believe what it was hearing in church every Sunday and Wednesday night and vacation bible school every summer, etc. etc.. What my brain was hearing didn’t make sense to it.

I don’t think my brain was contemplating “absolute truth” at that point, I was only about 7 or 8 when I first started to question what I was hearing. I too was fearful, but I noticed that nothing changed because of my thoughts. I could sit in my bedroom and beg god to save my cat who had gotten stepped on by a horse and my cat still died. I would beg god to help my horse that broke his leg and my grandfather still shot the horse. God didn’t seem to give a flying fuck about me and what I was begging him for…night after night. Nothing seemed to change. I can’t speak for other people, even though I try, and I was trying to relate what my friend with the PhD thinks. God did seem to intervene in her life and help her reach her goal. I just realized very early on that I was on my own and whatever I managed to accomplish or not accomplish was on me. I don’t have a gravy train I need to keep running by worshiping some god.

I will read your other thread later and try to give you a coherent response. Thank you for responding to me.

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Posted: 05 July 2012 11:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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Majority of One - 26 June 2012 11:32 AM
JRA - 26 June 2012 10:38 AM
Majority of One - 11 May 2012 05:04 PM

They’ve been programmed from babies to believe in the “higher power” and their brain believes this is true with all its cells. They can’t change that “feeling” that there is something “greater” than them. They might try, but it is too scary.

...some atheists can’t comprehend the idea because of their rearing. They can’t change the “feeling” that there is nothing greater.


... about absolute truth.

I’m glad you started your response with “some” atheists. I’m one that falls outside your reasoning, IMHO. I was brought up in a strict southern baptist home. My brain, and I believe it had nothing to do with my choice, didn’t believe what it was hearing in church every Sunday and Wednesday night and vacation bible school every summer, etc. etc.. What my brain was hearing didn’t make sense to it.

I don’t think my brain was contemplating “absolute truth” at that point, I was only about 7 or 8 when I first started to question what I was hearing. I too was fearful, but I noticed that nothing changed because of my thoughts. I could sit in my bedroom and beg god to save my cat who had gotten stepped on by a horse and my cat still died. I would beg god to help my horse that broke his leg and my grandfather still shot the horse. God didn’t seem to give a flying fuck about me and what I was begging him for…night after night. Nothing seemed to change. I can’t speak for other people, even though I try, and I was trying to relate what my friend with the PhD thinks. God did seem to intervene in her life and help her reach her goal. I just realized very early on that I was on my own and whatever I managed to accomplish or not accomplish was on me. I don’t have a gravy train I need to keep running by worshiping some god.

I will read your other thread later and try to give you a coherent response. Thank you for responding to me.

 


There is a way of thinking that does not trap the mind in a God vs no God conundrum.

 

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Posted: 05 July 2012 11:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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There is either or a god like the one described by religion—the creator of the universe, creator of mankind, etc—or there is no god that created the universe and mankind.

I don’t think this is a “trap.”

People have made god into what they want him to be for as long as people have existed. Doesn’t mean any kind of force, higher power, diety, whatever you want to call it, exists. It is moving the goalposts, changing the definitions. Doesn’t make god any more real.

God either exists or he/she/it doesn’t. End of story.

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Posted: 05 July 2012 01:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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Majority of One - 05 July 2012 11:20 AM

There is either or a god like the one described by religion—the creator of the universe, creator of mankind, etc—or there is no god that created the universe and mankind.

I don’t think this is a “trap.”

People have made god into what they want him to be for as long as people have existed. Doesn’t mean any kind of force, higher power, diety, whatever you want to call it, exists. It is moving the goalposts, changing the definitions. Doesn’t make god any more real.

God either exists or he/she/it doesn’t. End of story.

Unicorns exist…...or they don’t.
Either fairies are real…...or they aren’t.
A purple spagetti monster circles the moon…...or maybe it doesn’t.
There either are imaginary things or there aren’t.
That which does not exist (has no physical counterpart) cannot be defined.
And to ponder the presence or absence of something that cannot be defined is an exercise in futility.

 

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Posted: 05 July 2012 02:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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I don’t understand your point.

As a child, I was being taken to church where I was being told about an omni-powerful, omni-potent, omni-knowing entity that everyone around me was worshipping and praying to.

I had to ponder its existence because I was being told it existed. I read about unicorns, was told by mommy they weren’t real. End of pondering. I heard about big foot, Nessie, purple dragons and a host of other things. I wasn’t asked to worship or believe in any of these things. I wasn’t threatened with hell for not believing in them. With the threat of hell, you damn well better ponder something. Make sure you’ve pondered it sufficiently.

I no longer ponder. I’m an atheist. I’ve made up my mind. It doesn’t exist. End of story.

What is it you’re trying to prove to me?

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Posted: 05 July 2012 02:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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Majority of One - 05 July 2012 02:33 PM

I don’t understand your point.

As a child, I was being taken to church where I was being told about an omni-powerful, omni-potent, omni-knowing entity that everyone around me was worshipping and praying to.

I had to ponder its existence because I was being told it existed. I read about unicorns, was told by mommy they weren’t real. End of pondering. I heard about big foot, Nessie, purple dragons and a host of other things. I wasn’t asked to worship or believe in any of these things. I wasn’t threatened with hell for not believing in them. With the threat of hell, you damn well better ponder something. Make sure you’ve pondered it sufficiently.

I no longer ponder. I’m an atheist. I’ve made up my mind. It doesn’t exist. End of story.

What is it you’re trying to prove to me?

 

You say that you don’t believe in God.
I am saying that non-belief in something that doesn’t exist is as burdensome as belief.
Can’t you just say that you don’t believe in anything whose presence cannot be substantiated?
Why do you have to be specific in your non-belief in God?

 

 

 

 

[ Edited: 05 July 2012 03:59 PM by toombaru]
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Posted: 06 July 2012 12:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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Honestly, why do you care?

You seem bothered by it and I truly don’t understand why you should be.

I grew up being told something. It was mentioned everyday. God was thanked every day at every meal. It was thanked and praised and worshipped constantly. As I said, I was threatened with hell for not believing.  I wasn’t threatened with hell for not believing in all those other things. I didn’t have to believe in ANYTHING but jesus christ our lord and savior.

I don’t believe in jesus. I don’t think he really existed—at least as he is proported to in the bible. I don’t believe in hell. I don’t believe in heaven. I don’t believe in anything the bible says. Moses didn’t exist. Saul of Tarses evidently did, but I don’t believe anything he said…anymore than I believe the schizophrenic that lives down the street.

I focus on not believing in “god” “jesus” the “holy trinity” and all that because those things are what I’m being told exist by others—with certainty. You’ve got to admit that a man willing to fly a plane into a building really and truly believes in this god. He didn’t yell praise unicorns, or praise the celestial teapot as he was watching that building come at him at breakneck speed.

It bothers us non-believers to have to call ourselves atheists, too. I shouldn’t have to but I do because I think it is important to use this word. Sam Harris has the luxury of not being raised by bible thumping evangelicals so he doesn’t feel the need to use the word.

I don’t have that luxury.

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Posted: 06 July 2012 08:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
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Majority of One - 06 July 2012 12:36 AM

Honestly, why do you care?

You seem bothered by it and I truly don’t understand why you should be.

I grew up being told something. It was mentioned everyday. God was thanked every day at every meal. It was thanked and praised and worshipped constantly. As I said, I was threatened with hell for not believing.  I wasn’t threatened with hell for not believing in all those other things. I didn’t have to believe in ANYTHING but jesus christ our lord and savior.

I don’t believe in jesus. I don’t think he really existed—at least as he is proported to in the bible. I don’t believe in hell. I don’t believe in heaven. I don’t believe in anything the bible says. Moses didn’t exist. Saul of Tarses evidently did, but I don’t believe anything he said…anymore than I believe the schizophrenic that lives down the street.

I focus on not believing in “god” “jesus” the “holy trinity” and all that because those things are what I’m being told exist by others—with certainty. You’ve got to admit that a man willing to fly a plane into a building really and truly believes in this god. He didn’t yell praise unicorns, or praise the celestial teapot as he was watching that building come at him at breakneck speed.

It bothers us non-believers to have to call ourselves atheists, too. I shouldn’t have to but I do because I think it is important to use this word. Sam Harris has the luxury of not being raised by bible thumping evangelicals so he doesn’t feel the need to use the word.

I don’t have that luxury.


All I am saying is that you are using a lot of time and energy to justify a non-belief.
It is possible to have a general non-belief in everything non-substantial.
The idea that a god exists is just plain silly and doesn’t require a second thought.
Time spent on defending a non-belief is wasted.

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Posted: 06 July 2012 11:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
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I’ll guess we’ll have to agree to disagree.

IMHO, the wasted time comes from believing in something that doesn’t exist. Worshipping it. Building temples, churches, cathedrals in praise of it.

I have to waste time denying its existence because I’m told every day of my life it exists and that because I don’t believe in it, I am going to hell.

I wish I had the luxury of not wasting another second on it. I really do. That will be a great day in the United States. That would be an even better day in the islamic world.

Then, to add further insult, I’m told by a non-believer(?)—you—that I’m stupid to spend any time on not believing. I wish it were that simple. And, maybe it is. Maybe my whole family of bible beating creationists and fundamentalists are the smart ones and I’m the dumb one for saying what I don’t believe. I will ponder this—but then see, I’m back to pondering something you keep telling me I shouldn’t ponder. I can’t seem to win.

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Posted: 06 July 2012 07:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
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Majority of One - 06 July 2012 11:34 AM

I’ll guess we’ll have to agree to disagree.

IMHO, the wasted time comes from believing in something that doesn’t exist. Worshipping it. Building temples, churches, cathedrals in praise of it.

I have to waste time denying its existence because I’m told every day of my life it exists and that because I don’t believe in it, I am going to hell.

I wish I had the luxury of not wasting another second on it. I really do. That will be a great day in the United States. That would be an even better day in the islamic world.

Then, to add further insult, I’m told by a non-believer(?)—you—that I’m stupid to spend any time on not believing. I wish it were that simple. And, maybe it is. Maybe my whole family of bible beating creationists and fundamentalists are the smart ones and I’m the dumb one for saying what I don’t believe. I will ponder this—but then see, I’m back to pondering something you keep telling me I shouldn’t ponder. I can’t seem to win.

 

Oh….....I’m merely playing in the thought stream that scintillates through this brain.
Apparently you are not convinced that there is no god.
That’s alright…....you can’t change that.
All I am saying is that there comes a great sense of peace when belief and non-belief
negate each other and the mind no longer has questions about imaginary things.
There is a stage beyond belief and non-belief in which all “things” lose their edges and consciousness
finds itself moving through an un-named mystery and that becomes who one is.
Did you know that there is no such thing as Texas?

 

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Posted: 06 July 2012 10:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
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The atheist subscribes to materialism by default. (Any atheist who is not willing to acknowledge this has a lurking God-belief.)

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