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ETpro's avatar

How sure do you have to be that there is no creator god before you are no longer just agnostic, you're an atheist?

Asked by ETpro (34151 points ) June 1st, 2012

It seems to me that asserting that there absolutely is no god is every bit as much a tautology as asserting there absolutely is one.

It’s possible to falsify some god assertions based on observable flaws and contradictions in the claim of divinity. For instance, the early Rapanui people of Easter Island believed that by erecting giant stone Moai to please their god, they would be protected from harm and would prosper. They cut down tree after tree to make rollers to move giant stone monoliths into place to erect ever more Moai, ending up with 887 of the huge stone faces looking out to sea. In fact, they cut down all their trees, and no longer had wood to build the boats they required for fishing, and the entire population ended up dying out from starvation. So we can say with some authority that the religious beliefs of the Rapanui have been falsified.

Likewise, that of the Ancient Egyptians. The massive stone pyramids they built were supposed to allow their Pharaoh to ascend to the Sun god, taking all the people who had served him along into their heaven. They mummified the Pharaoh to preserve his body for the trip, and buried a ship with him, ready to take him on the journey. Their hieroglyphs tell us they believed this journey would occur shortly after the Pharaoh and all his servants and pyramid builders departed this earthly kingdom. But over 3,000 year later the mummies were still there and the ships remained unused. So again, we have evidence to show this belief didn’t pan out.

Some religious epistemologies are far better designed to resist being falsified, though. They posit a god that is totally beyond human comprehension that things that seem to be inconsistencies can’t be accepted as that. They may just indicate that his thoughts are higher than our thoughts and his ways higher than our ways.

It’s also difficult to prove the absence of an unfalsifiable entity. If you say there is no milk in the bowl, that is falsifiable. Even no milk in the Universe is falsifiable. But no unicorns in the Universe is awfully tough to either prove or disprove. Maybe there are unicorns, but just not here. Maybe they are here, but they are invisible and undetectable by any means known to man. Maybe Mitt Romney is a unicorn, but has just cleverly hidden his horn.

So if you are not a believer in a particular god, and you are not a deist, just how certain must you be that there truly is no god before you ought to define yourself as an atheist and not an agnostic?

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73 Answers

Bill1939's avatar

Although I agree with what you have written, when is a question merely an excuse for stating an opinion?

JLeslie's avatar

I call myself an atheist because I live my life as though there is no God. I never think to look to a God for help, guidance, for me God does not exist. Am I 100% sure to the point that I would emphatically say to some one there is no God, His existence is impossible. Well, my attitude on that is anything is possible, maybe there is a God? So, one could argue I am not sure enough to say I am an atheist I guess? But, since I don’t believe in God for myself personally, atheist seems to be more of a truth to describe myself to others then agnostic.

wundayatta's avatar

I don’t think you need to prove a negative to be an atheist. There just has to be no evidence to support any God concept for me to be an atheist. If there was ever enough evidence to make a credible argument for God, then I would happily become an agnostic, or maybe even someone who uses God in daily life. But right now, since I have never even seen a decent definition of God, much less any credible evidence for any definition, I consider myself an atheist.

mazingerz88's avatar

In my clearest state of thinking, there would never be a time when I’ll be sure. If before I die, things remain as they are right now. A true agnostic has to be an agnostic until his death. There is just no rational reason why he would switch to becoming an atheist. No one really knows. Really.

( Btw, I define agnostic in this case as someone who claims he just does not know. )

DominicX's avatar

I feel like we could all debate endlessly on what it means to be “agnostic” and the lines between agnostic and atheist. I’ve come across some people who could be labeled as a “militant agnostic” meaning that they believe no one knows whether God exists or not, no matter what kind of knowledge they claim, and that includes all theists and all atheists. Thus, an atheist doesn’t know of God’s existence but thinks that God doesn’t exist. Likewise, a theist doesn’t know of God’s existence, but thinks that God does exist.

wundayatta's avatar

It’s sort of weird. Do we have to say we are agnostic about unicorns? The turtles that the earth sits on? Any other creation myth?

Seems to me that functionally speaking, there are a vast group of theories that are not worth thinking about and that most people have no problem dismissing. If you put god concepts in that group of theories, then no matter how open you are to future evidence for unicorns appearing, you can still consider yourself an atheist. Agnostics are atheist enough for me.

Michael_Huntington's avatar

I think Lovecraft said it best:
“All I say is that I think it is damned unlikely that anything like a central cosmic will, a spirit world, or an eternal survival of personality exist. They are the most preposterous and unjustified of all the guesses which can be made about the universe, and I am not enough of a hair-splitter to pretend that I don’t regard them as arrant and negligible moonshine. In theory I am an agnostic, but pending the appearance of radical evidence I must be classed, practically and provisionally, as an atheist.” -Lovecraft

I don’t think the two should be mutually exclusive.

ragingloli's avatar

If you do not believe in gods, you are an atheist, period. The term atheist does not imply any sort of certainty.
If you want to specify your level of certainty, you can tack on ‘agnostic’/‘gnostic’ to form ‘agnostic/gnostic atheist’ or ‘agnostic/gnostic theist’.

Fly's avatar

I consider myself an agnostic atheist because though I don’t believe that any deities exist, I fully admit that I have no way of knowing. I honestly can’t say at which point one crosses the line from agnostic to atheist, because I’m still right on that line myself.

tom_g's avatar

Theism is the belief in a god. If you are without that belief, you are an atheist. Agnosticism and atheism are not mutually exclusive. Atheism deals with belief, while agnosticism deals with knowledge.

Think of it this way – you are probably well aware of the “weak” vs. “strong” atheism terminology, right?
A “weak” atheist merely has not accepted any god claims, and is therefore without a belief in a god (a-theist).
A “strong” atheist asserts that there is no god (positive claim).

When most people use the term “agnostic”, they are really describing agnostic atheism (or “weak atheism”). Note: the “strong” atheist is a rare creature, but is often used as the straw man by theists.

Edit: @ragingloli already said what I said. Oops.
Also, I found a good explanation here.

ucme's avatar

There’s more labels tossed around here than in a Milan fashion show….darling.
I choose to “hedge my bets” it really is that simple.

Sunny2's avatar

I was definitely an atheistic until someone, whose mind I admire, pointed out that both theism and atheism must be believed on faith. Since neither can be, I’m now an agnostic officially, but I still believe that man created all the gods there ever were, not the other way around.

tom_g's avatar

@Sunny2: “I was definitely an atheistic until someone, whose mind I admire, pointed out that both theism and atheism must be believed on faith.”

Too bad that person didn’t know what they were talking about. It would be nice if people would at least understand something before they start making assertions like that.

And pssst…here’s the question you can ask yourself and get this character out of the mix: Do I believe there is a god? If you answered “yes” then you are a theist. If you answered, “I don’t know” or “no” or anything else, you’re technically an atheist. A-theist. Without a belief in god(s). Lacking the belief.

The big myth (and it’s a useful one, politically) is to label atheism as a belief that there is no god. Big difference. Practically nobody is this type of atheist.

Qingu's avatar

In my experience there is no functional difference between almost everyone who calls themselves “agnostics” and “atheists.”

@ucme, for example, says they are hedging their bets, but I doubt it. How often does ucme pray to a given god he or she is not sure exists? How often does he perform sacrifices to Yahweh the Jewish god “just in case”? How often does he construct hecatombs to Zeus, or observe the shabatu days of the moon god Sin?

I’m guessing never, because ucme believes these gods’ existences are so improbable that ucme does not change his or her behavior to compensate for the risk of their existence.

I am not 100% that my chair will not become immaterial when I sit down. According to quantum mechanics there is a very minute possibility that the atoms in my body will pass through the atoms in my chair. But the possibility is so remote that I never, ever change my behavior when I sit down. I never check to make sure the chair is solid. I never choose to remain standing “just in case.” Functionally speaking I am a chair-immaterial atheist. And so is almost every “agnostic” with respect to any given deity.

Qingu's avatar

Do any self-described non-atheist “agnostics” in this thread ever go to church or mosque?

Ever actually worship gods? Any gods, of any religion?

Ever perform any special duties or follow any laws that gods have allegedly said you should perform or follow (that is, duties or laws that you wouldn’t follow anyway)?

ucme's avatar

Oh it’s all a load of bullshit, religion I mine, to me anyway. I’m simply covering my back in case a big fucker wearing a white beard & a scornful look casts me aside when my time comes. “It wasn’t me sir, he made me do it, please may I come in?”
Oh & for the record, i’m very comfortable with my stools ;¬}

Qingu's avatar

But you’re not covering your back. You believe the exact same thing about religion that I, an atheist, do. And you behave the same way towards religion as I do… with the sole exception of claiming that you’re an agnostic and not an atheist.

ucme's avatar

Yeah, that about covers it.

rooeytoo's avatar

My moral code is my religion, and that is simply put, the golden rule. I don’t need a middle man between me and this supreme creature if it exists. I lead my life in the best way I can, I help others and avoid doing things I consider immoral. Therefore if the supreme one exists, I can go to it after I die with a clean slate. If we disagree on the moral code I am screwed, if we agree, then I am in heaven. If the creature doesn’t exist, I have lived my life in a way I find admirable and that will be that. Anyone else can believe the creature doesn’t exist or does exist, it matters not to me nor concerns me, I’ll do it my way. I don’t think the existence can be proved definitively one way or the other but I prefer to think this is not my grandfather.

Rarebear's avatar

Well, technically speaking I am agnostic, as I take a purely scientific point of view. I see no evidence of a Creator and I do not believe things that I don’t have evidence of, so my belief (or disbelief) is passive. But realistically speaking, to me that’s splitting hairs. I see no evidence of the Tooth Fairy either—to me either are equally probable, so in practice I’m an atheist.

tom_g's avatar

@rooeytoo: ”...but I prefer to think this is not my grandfather.”

Good thing nobody believes that.

If you are speaking of a common ancestry with other apes, then this is not just a matter of belief. This is just scientific fact.

rooeytoo's avatar

@tom_g – if you believe that was your grandfather, no wonder your avatar doesn’t include your head and face!

tom_g's avatar

@rooeytoo – please re-read. Nobody believes that their grandfather is a gorilla.
So what is with the “if you believe that was your grandfather” stuff?

ragingloli's avatar

It is a strawman.
did you see what I did there? I made a joking reference to your ava- eh well

dabbler's avatar

@ragingloli “strawman!” I almost snorted out my drinkie…

Linda_Owl's avatar

I was raised in (various) churches & I really tried for a very long time to believe in a Supreme Being, God. However, there finally came a time when reality over-came religion. For me it was the starving children / starving people. How can a “God” who is supposed to love us so much, & be all powerful, how can he allow these people to suffer? And when children are kidnapped & raped & tortured, you know that they are praying for protection & you know that their parents are praying for the safety of their child – but the child still ends up dead. And sometimes a child who has been kidnapped gets rescued. So, why would a loving “God” allow one child to live & the other child to die? And what about children who get terrible diseases? Why would a loving “God” allow these children to suffer & why would he take them away from their loving families? What kind of “test” is this? The Bible is full of wrath & death & slavery & condemnation of women. There is no place in the Bible where intelligence is praised. If “God” exists & he can prevent these things from happening, but does not – then he is not a loving “God”. If he cannot prevent these things from happening, then he is not a “God”. Personally, I think man invented God in order to answer questions to which men had no answers. To pray for something is to feel like you have accomplished something, when you have done nothing. The last church I attended kept insisting at the end of their prayers that “God was in control”. If they had said that sometimes God wins & sometimes evil wins, I could have tolerated that. But to assert that “God” is in control in a world with all the things wrong with our world – it is insane. So, I no longer believe in God.

lynfromnm's avatar

I echo those who say they have no BELIEF in a god. I am certain I will never have that belief. If I were presented with proof, observable and repeatable proof, I would know there was a god. I wouldn’t be relying upon faith, but upon fact. I assume that those who believe in a god have their reasons. I don’t.
So no, no tautology here. Just an inability to believe.

ETpro's avatar

@Bill1939 I can see how it would seem that way. But that is not the case. I honestly did not know. Perhaps its been debated within threads, but a search for it turned up no informative discussions.

I am into science and technology. I have not studied deeply in philosophy, and find many tomes difficult reading to downright inaccessible due to the many arcane words with definitions filled with yet more jargon. And in the absence of a strong grounding in philosophy, I have found my self definition challenged by one or more Jellies just about every time the subject came up. So I decided to ask, and I am delighted with the clear input I got. I am an agnostic atheist.

@JLeslie I think I am going to go with agnostic atheist because it doesn’t open such an easy line of attack by the militant Gnostic theist. But I’m on the same page with you.

@wundayatta This link that @tom_g supplied really clarified the degrees of belief/non-belief for me.

@mazingerz88 If there is an omniscient and omnipotent deity, then I would have to think that she could reveal herself in such a convincing fashion as to convince me. I just doubt thee is such a deity.

@DominicX Ot would seem to me that if I must admit I don’t know the truth of falsity of a god’s existence, then I must also admit that I don’t know whether others know or not. I can just say that all the Gnostic theists and Gnostic atheists I have met, when pressed for details on why they believed as they did, trotted out a tautology. .I’ve never encountered a single one with falsifiable evidence supporting their position.

@wundayatta Excellent point. Now that @tom_g has acquainted me the the term, agnostic atheist fits much better.

@Michael_Huntington I love Lovecraft’s way with words.

@ragingloli Indeed. So I see, much to my relief.

@Fly Thanks. Me too.

@tom_g Excellent link. Thank you so much.

@Sunny2 Read the link tom_g supplied in his post referenced immediately above. It debunks the logical error Gnostic theists use to argue that.

@tom_g That myth is indeed politically useful, as is the proof you shared of its logical fallacy.

@Qingu Thanks. A cogent pair of arguments.

@ucme Welcome to the agnostic atheists club.

@rooeytoo Thanks for your input. You should know that there is no theory that humans evolved from apes. Rather, we share a common ancestor with the great apes.

@Rarebear Agnostic atheist. Me too.

@tom_g You said it so much better than I did.

@tom_g It;s Friday night. Perhaps @rooeytoo has had as much to drink as I have. :-)

@ragingloli Cool avatar, no? Kudos, @tom_g

@dabbler Got me going too.

@Linda_Owl Thanks. I trust the info we learned here was as meaningful to you as to me.

@lynfromnm If you are certain you will never have a belief, then you would make you a Gnostic atheist, which is a belief in itself, and I’d challenge you to show how that position does not necessitate accepting a tautology as truth.

amujinx's avatar

By the way society likes to separate atheists from agnostics, I am a agnostic, but I prefer to use atheist because I think it’s insulting to have the label of “against or without wisdom” thrust upon me just because I demand scientific proof of a deity before I will believe in one.

Bill1939's avatar

Depending upon the definition of god, I am an atheist, an agnostic and a theist. I am certain that the definitions most religions have of god are at least in part false. I do not accept the notion that a god or gods sit on thrones rewarding or punishing those they judge.

I reject the personifications of good and evil. However, I do believe in something that may be labeled as Spirit, which has guided the evolution of energy and matter and, as a creative force, is responsible for this planet and likely other planets having brought forth sentient life. However, I do not believe that this spirit follows a plan that a creator conceived.

I believe that as one begins to conceive notions of a creator, ascribing to it a nature that exhibits concern and empathy for its creation, that a desire to emulate this nature can arise. Furthermore, I imagine that by aligning one’s emerging spirit with Spirit, one becomes less self centered, less focused upon impulses of their animal nature, and more concerned with all aspects of creation, animate and inanimate.

JLeslie's avatar

@ETpro I just think agnostic comes across to the staunch believer as a confusing message. They think you aren’t sure of your beliefs, and I have a feeling you are pretty sure there is not God, and he plays no part in your life. They are pretty sure there are no atheists in fox holes, and an agnostic especially, but I would guess most of us athiests really don’t turn to God in any situation, not even life threatening ones.

I have heard a few rumblings of Christians who say at least an atheist has conviction in their beliefs, while the agnositic is nowhere. But, there is a movement amoung the right and evangelicals about how politicians lead, and the country is hard on flip floppers, and all sorts of talk like that in the media, so the comment on agnosticism is in line with those sentiments.

But, I respect your choice if that identifier suits you.

ETpro's avatar

@amujinx That’s a great point. Perhaps the least confusing appellation is atheist, and if someone then launches into the fallacious argument that you are just as much a believer in nothing as they are a believer in something, you can enlighten them on the subtler shades of agnostic atheism versus Gnostic atheism.

@Bill1939 Rather like me, not an easy target to pin down. That’s what led me to ask this question. In debates as I disused how I approach the question of a divine creator I have routinely had others try to define me for me. Their definitions have ranged from theist to agnostic to atheist. So I though it was time I delve into the actual meaning of each deeply enough that I can confidently define myself.

@JLeslie Rather like @amujinx noted. You’re both likely right. At the risk of being labeled a flip-flopper I think this discussion has led me to conclude that I really am an atheist of the agnostic atheist sort.

Looking at all the varied human definitions of God, the only one that comes close to what I can accept is the early animist idea that there is a sentient nature in everything—that the Universe itself is the creator and the created. There are enough falsifiable points in each of the mainstream monotheistic and pantheistic belief systems extant today that I often joke that I have a superior epistemology: that of The Great Eternal Unicorn Who thought into being the Great Flying Spaghetti Monster, charging the monster with the task of creating and guiding the course of the Universe and all that lies therein. The reason you cannot sense the Great Eternal Unicorn or the Great Flying Spaghetti Monster is quite simple. They are both invisible and undetectable by any material means, since they reside outside the material universe. And they do not speak to us because neither unicorns nor spaghetti talk.

Now that actually is more difficult to falsify than the existence of any of man’s current deities. It is a perfect tautology with absolutely nothing whereby logic or testing of any kind can ever assail it. And as such, it has more likelihood of being true than does the existence of the Anrahamic God of the Desert, the Sikh God, or Brahman..

ucme's avatar

@ETpro I don’t feel welcome into a club that I have no desire to attend, that just it. As I said in my original answer, too many labels. If those words happen to accurately reflect my thoughts, then so be it, but stick those labels wear the sun don’t shine.

tom_g's avatar

@ucme – Are you suggesting that we have less labels to describe things in reality? If so, would a description of everything require a long essay of a limited set of words in an attempt to describe something? For example, if we lose the label “male”, we’re now tasked with having to express “male” in a ton of other words that merely describe what we now use “male” to replace. Words are helpful in communicating concepts and facts. Atheism and theism are terms that are used to describe belief. Yet, we have decided that they should also describe knowledge. Since the two terms are insufficient to describe what is essentially a multi-axis model, we are left having to attach other terms that deal with knowledge (agnosticism – or “weak”/“strong”, if you prefer). Is it this effort that you are objecting to, or labels overall?

When your body is signaling that you are less than optimally hydrated, do you avoid the label “thirsty”, or do you find that labels are tools that allow you to communicate more effectively and/or quickly? I suspect it’s the latter.

ucme's avatar

@tom_g Pedantic, but you made me smile, which is nice.
Labelling in terms of pigeon holing a body of people en masse, commonplace adjectives in everyday use are perfectly okay, I suspect you knew that anyway.

rooeytoo's avatar

@ucme – pedanatic, that was exactly the word that came to my mind! Actually my ex-husband was tom g, and he was a tad pendantic and pompous and an expert on most everything, could it be?????

tom_g's avatar

@rooeytoo – So that’s why you left me.

ETpro's avatar

@ucme, @rooeytoo & @tom_g Well this certainly tool an unexpected turn. :-)

FutureMemory's avatar


Not pendantic or pedanatic.

rooeytoo's avatar

@FutureMemory – that’s really bad, I know how to spell that word, but my dyslexic fingers screwed it up (albeit in a different way) twice!

ucme's avatar

@ETpro A wonky screwdriver, that tool may take an unexpected turn.

mattbrowne's avatar

Science is agnostic about matters beyond the empirical. The tools of science are useless when people want to assert that there absolutely is no god or assert there absolutely is one.

Most educated theists I know do not speak about absolute certainty, including most ministers I know personally. Absolutely certainty is something for religious and anti-religious zealots.

ETpro's avatar

@ucme I saw that typo when reading over what I wrote while nodding off last night. Then I came to @FutureMemory going GN on @rooeytoo for misspelling pedantic 2 different ways. @rooeytoo and I fall back on the words of one of the greatest masters to American English, Mark Twain; who said, “I never had much respect for a man who couldn’t think of more than one way to spell a word.”

@mattbrowne Sadly zealots now abound.

rooeytoo's avatar

ahhhhhh Mark Twain, my hero! (and you too @ETpro )

ucme's avatar

@ETpro It’s one theerie.

rooeytoo's avatar

@ETpro – does GN stand for grammar nut, grammar nazi, giant nerd, german noodle?

dabbler's avatar

[grammar noodle ?]

lynfromnm's avatar

@ETpro: If you are labeling me as a Gnostic atheist you misread my statement above. I said I would accept evidence. Accepting evidence is not belief-based. rather it is knowledge-based. When I say I am certain I will never believe, that does not mean I am unwilling to change my mind. I will follow the evidence, always, and integrate that evidence into my reasoning. I am not claiming there isn’t a god. It is the word “believe” I am taking issue with.

GracieT's avatar

@mattbrowne, GA! It is always nice to read your answers to realize that there are other people whom share my alarm about how the faith
community often acts. I have
to admit that I am alarmed that
far too often many in the faith community seems to “check their brain at the door.”. We were given our brains to use them although judging from the short sightedness of many that is unfortunately not always true!

ETpro's avatar

@rooeytoo When I use the acronym GN is usually stands for Gnostic Nutcase, Giant Nerd, Generic Nothingness, Greek Noodles, or Grammar Nazi. In this case, the later was intended.

@dabbler Yes, now I have to track down some grammar noodles and see if a bowlful improves my typing skills. :-)

@lynfromnm I accept your self definition. I was reacting to your choice of words, specifically proof instead of evidence. We do not live in a Universe where proof is possible. Heisenberg explained that to us. Even as powerful a set of observations as Newton’s theory of gravity eventually had to be adjusted ever so slightly to accommodate Einstein’s Relativity. And who knows what changes will bubble up out of a GUT if ever one comes along. It strikes me that any theory of the Macro World that marries it to the micro wold of quarks and strings is going to wreak major havoc with our current understanding of how things actually work—because while things at the macro level seem quite predictable and provable they fundamentally operate at the sting level in Plank length, and there they can behave in ways that utterly defy human imagination.

I took not of the nuance in wording because it was just such a distinction that tripped me up and caused me to take on hit on this test of logical consistency in religious beliefs.

@GracieT Most people come to their religious beliefs not through a reasoned process but through the lottery of birth. They simply accept that whatever god their parents told them exists, and the preponderance of their neighbors think exists, obviously exists. Never mind that their parents also told them presents get under Christmas Trees around the entire world overnight because a fat gnome who lives at the North Pole has flying reindeer capable of warp drive and he can come down chimneys with a bagful of presents even in homes with no fireplace.

GracieT's avatar

@ETpro, you are indeed correct- my parents were Christians. I can protest and say that I became Protestant, not Catholic, but I think that is just spliting hairs because Catholics are Christian as much as Protestants are.

lynfromnm's avatar

@ETpro OK, I think we understand each other now, and I appreciate the distinction you made. I will certainly be more careful with those words.

ETpro's avatar

@lynfromnm Me too. I appreciated the smackdown the authors of that religious logical consistency test dealt me. :-)

Paradox25's avatar

I’ve always thought that an atheist doesn’t believe in anything. Obviously fundamentalist disbelief in a deity/s could be similar to what they accuse religionists or theists of doing. In all fairness it is obvious that disproving a negative is even more difficult (if not virtually impossible) then trying to prove a negative.

My views on god are somewhat agnostic, mainly because I have to ask what the definition of ‘god’ would be. I could look up the definition of god, or a wiki article, but something tells me that the concept of ‘god’ is much more difficult than some magical deity hiding somewhere.

I consider myself a theist, mainly because I think that mind preceeded the creation of matter. I’m also a strong proponent of the filter model of the brain. I’m still not sure if disembodied minds could be considered a god or gods though, even if they originally were involved somehow in the creation of matter or the universe. I guess by definition, without myself having any certain definition of what ‘god’ even is to begin with, that I could label myself as either an atheist or an agnostic as well and get away with it.

ETpro's avatar

@Paradox25 Interesting. I couldn’t find much about the filter model of the brain. I saw a blog about the filter model of consciousness. Is that what it refers to?

hiphiphopflipflapflop's avatar

You have to take the lack of ANY deity-type beings on faith! ;)

(“God does not exist and Dirac is his prophet!” – Wolfgang Pauli)

fredTOG's avatar

Here is the thing that I would like to help you understand. The four billion people who are not Christians look at the Christian story in exactly the same way that you look at the Muslim story In other words, there are four billion people who stand outside of the Christian bubble, and they can see reality clearly. The fact is, the Christian story is completely imaginary.How do the four billion non-Christians know, with complete certainty, that the Christian story is imaginary? Because the Christian story is just like the Muslim story. There is the magical insemination, the magical star, the magical dreams, the magical miracles, the magical resurrection, the magical ascension and so on. People outside the Christian faith look at the Christian story and note these facts The miracles are supposed to “prove” that Jesus is God, but, predictably, these miracles left behind no tangible evidence for us to examine and scientifically verify today. They all involved faith healings and magic tricks Jesus is resurrected, but, predictably, he does not appear to anyone today Jesus ascended into heaven and answers our prayers, but, predictably, when we pray to him nothing happens. We can statistically analyse prayer and find that prayers are never answered The book where Matthew, Mark, Luke and John make their attestations does exist, but, predictably, it is chock full of problems and contradictions In other words, the Christian story is a fairly tale. the question I would ask you to consider right now is simple: Why is it that human beings can detect fairy tales with complete certainty when those fairy tales come from other faiths, but they cannot detect the fairy tales that underpin their own faith? Why do they believe their chosen fairy tale with unrelenting passion and reject the others as nonsense?

mattbrowne's avatar

@fredTOG – I fear that you lack the education and therefore can’t tell the difference between fairy tales and myths.

ETpro's avatar

@fredTOG Welcome to Fluther.

I think you have asked a very profound question, and that it does not deserve to be dismissed through quibbling about the choice of words, “fairy tale” versus “myth”. Insert myth if you must, @mattbrowne. Now, what is the answer to that profound question? Is it not true that almost all of humanity accept the religion their parents raised them within? It seems apparent to me that humans tend to believe the myth they were reared to believe, and that they do this unquestioningly.

Paradox25's avatar

@ETpro Yes, they’re the same thing. I do find it ironic, if not hypocritical, when someone with a deist view of God tries to label my Spiritualist views as irrational, despite the fact that there is a wealth of evidence which supports the potential duality of the mind such as telepathy, animal telepathy, mediumship and clairvoyance. There were many experiments done relating to that type phenomenon, which verified that the results were well above chance, and the results were repeated. There were sceptical rebuttals, but they were found to be the result of both bogus techniques, and bogus scepticism (hence psuedoscepticism) Then you combine all of the anecdotal experiences of many people, and when you look at everything collectively the bell just kind of goes ding ding, at least to me. What do the antiparanormal or antispiritualists, the ones who usually label themselves as ‘enlightened Christians’ have as evidence to support the existence of their deist type God?

Some of my most strongest debates have been against not atheists, but those who label themselves as enlightened Christians or deists. I’ll assume that if a God does exist that philosophically it would be irrational for it to have walked away from its creation. Also, if a God does exist then would it be irrational to assume that there is a strong possibility that worlds of spirit exist? We’ll be open to the concept of a mystical spirit called ‘God’, but yet deny the world of spirit and our alleged spiritual nature? Ironically I’ve had many deists and enlightened Christians claim that my belief in our spiritual nature is irrational, but yet they don’t consider their own assumptions as being irrational.

ETpro's avatar

@Paradox25 Excellent answer. Even if I adopt the hyper-skeptic approach and reject all your evidence, I see even less needing rejection in support of deism or theistic religion.

Paradox25's avatar

@ETpro Science is always changing, and new breeds of scientists are starting to embrace what I’ve been saying, despite the fact that there are no current theories to support my arguments at the moment. I’m not into theology too much, but rather science. Like I’ve said before (and repeating what atheist Michael Roll says himself), I don’t believe in anything, at least anymore than the most adherent sceptic, rather I accept all of the collective evidence from research over the past ten years to come to my current opinions.

I’m also wary of many of the ‘logical’ fallacies that you and many others adhere to as well, because even they themselves are nothing more than manmade constructs, which have been proven fallible in the past. I also have found that many psuedosceptics tend to cherry pick how they use their own logical fallacies as well. As a counter to this approach, now the foes of reductionist materialism have written their own sets of rules known as sceptical fallacies. Unfortunately, now we have two sets of rules to abide by in science, logical fallacies to keep dualists in check, and sceptical fallacies to keep the sceptics in check.

I’ve posted quite a few links throughout my several years on here (on/off) demonstrating this too. I’m not a fan of the Null Hypothesis either, at least as much as you are. It has a purpose to me, but there have been experiments in which the actual results were nullified, even when the evidence veered in a different direction from the Null Hypothesis (I’ve already posted these links too). There is something that I’ve learned over the past few years, that not all religions or religious like behaviors need a god or mysticism to manifest into ignorance.

AdamF's avatar

@Paradox25 “despite the fact that there is a wealth of evidence which supports the potential duality of the mind such as telepathy, animal telepathy, mediumship and clairvoyance.”

All you’re doing in your statement above is claiming that the scientific process is stacked against your particular unsubstantiated pet phenomena, and in the process implying some wider conspiracy theory.

If there is a pattern that indicates that people can read people’s minds (for example), then independent institutions and researchers would have repeatedly found such patterns under circumstances which exclude people’s personal biases for or against such phenomena (e.g. double blind controlled tests). That’s all good science does, cut out people’s biases, to see if there really is something going on. Those things you speak of are repeatedly dismissed as pseudoscience, not because of “pseudo-skepticism”, but because they simply failed to cross adequately rigorous scientific hurdles.

If science can embrace shit as wacky as quantum mechanics and special relativity, it would embrace telepathy if it was real. It hasn’t because the evidence for its existence is simply inadequate.

ETpro's avatar

@AdamF You are so right. Sorry, @Paradox25, but your bias is showing.

fredTOG's avatar

@mattbrowneI’ll have you know I graduated the 3rd grade,sticks and stones…...........

ETpro's avatar

@fredTOG You tell ‘em, FT!

Paradox25's avatar

@AdamF All you’re doing in your statement above is claiming that the scientific process is stacked against your particular unsubstantiated pet phenomena, and in the process implying some wider conspiracy theory. I’ve never criticized scientific processes, nor the scientific method in any of my comments, so I’m not sure what you’re implying. I’ve only said that there is a bias by many people involved in science, and on both sides of the fence. There were many experiments done in relation to the phenomena I’ve described above, where the results were well above chance, and in some cases even repeatable. I would suggest reading Dr. Dean Radin’s material as well. The problem with a lot of the phenomena I’ve mentioned is that you can’t just be telepathic on call, because they tend to be for the most part spontaneous events, when people aren’t even trying to think about it.

@ETpro I have no more bias than anybody else on here. A different opinion does not mean that somebody is biased. Don’t forget, I used to be a paranormal sceptic myself at one time.

ETpro's avatar

@Paradox25 I haven’t seen any wealth of evidence pointing to the paranormal. And I’d be delighted to see that. I’d love to believe in dualism.

AdamF's avatar

@Paradox25 Hi Paradox,

Well, my comment stemmed from your claim that 1) there is a “wealth of evidence” for phenomena that are not accepted by more than a fringe element of scientists, and 2) your problem with the null hypothesis. This indicated to me that you thought that the “scientific process was stacked against” ideas you find attractive.I thought it was a fair comment, but maybe I misrepresented your position.

With respect to bias. I agree. All people are biased against certain ideas, for justifiable and unjustifiable reasons. If someone discovers something amazing and unexpected in science, there will often be resistance to acceptance of that discovery until the evidence is sufficiently overwhelming. And I argue that waiting till the evidence is overwhelming is why science works. It has a rigorous bullshit filter, which things like – assuming that there is nothing special going on until repeatedly demonstrated otherwise – helps to enforce.

With respect to “The problem with a lot of the phenomena I’ve mentioned is that you can’t just be telepathic on call, because they tend to be for the most part spontaneous events, when people aren’t even trying to think about it.”, well….

1) Not being able to perform consistently under experimental conditions is a classic hallmark of nonsense. Sorry, but it is. Be that reiki, water dowsing, levitation, telepathy, etc. etc. etc.. So to me that is far far more likely to be a rather predictable and convenient excuse, than an unavoidable component of amazing power possession.

2) Any random process will produce apparently non-random results at least some of the time (try it with repeated coin tosses). So if you say that well, telepathy runs hot and cold. I will reply that so does random chance. And if the signal of telepathy (for example) when assessed under controlled replicated circumstances is indistinguishable from the background noise of probability, then it deserves to stay where it is, in the “woo” pile.

3) Even if we get some phenomena that are repeatedly demonstrated by some researchers to occur well beyond statistical probability, we still have to wait till another independent lab gets the same findings. Why? Because people fudge results, deceive themselves, and others. As long as people are involved, bullshitting/poor experimental design is always a more likely explanation than the extraordinary.

4) Even if the performer repeats his/her amazing performance at several independent labs, we still have to then check for and rule out more mundane causal processes. So just because the horse can tap his hoof to give the right answer to an arithmatic question, repeatedly, in front of thousands, doesn’t mean something amazing is happening if the trainer is giving him cues as to how many times to tap his hoof.

Hence the need for rigorous, repeated, controlled double blind experimentation which eliminates as far as possible any chance (knowingly or unknowingly) that something pretty ho hum is actually driving the results.

Sorry for the rant, but until any of the phenomena you mention clear such hurdles, repeatedly, there simply isn’t a “wealth fo evidence” for them.

Paradox25's avatar

@AdamF I’ve taken my response to this thread of mine since I’ve gone way off topic here. Sorry ETpro.

ETpro's avatar

@Paradox25 Thanks. I’ll check out the link.

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