General Question

JLeslie's avatar

Do you think a country of atheists would be a better country to live in?

Asked by JLeslie (58119points) June 27th, 2009

I do not mean that it is ordered by the government, just that the country happens to have citizens who don’t believe and don’t practice any type of organized religion.

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78 Answers

TuffFlutherite's avatar

Faith keeps society in line
Faith also gives people hope.

A society with no hope and nothing to guide them seems like a shitty one to me

willbrawn's avatar

No I dont think so, I like the classic American values and believe that comes from a religious background.

cyn's avatar

isn’t it fun to argue about religion…?

Jeruba's avatar

Interesting question (GQ for you). I have sometimes wondered myself, in the quiet of my own mind, whether I would be such an atheist if religionists weren’t such religionists.

Is there any nation or society of atheists that we can look to for an answer?

[Edit] I am positively not equating atheism with lack of ethics or morality, only with the notion of being subject to a supernatural entity, worshiping it, and attempting to propitiate it, obey it, and influence it. I do not see such a notion as the source of human goodness, conscience, or ability to discriminate between right and wrong.

jazzjeppe's avatar

@Tuff I can tell you belong to the group that believes that moral comes with religion/faith in God/Christianity. Me personaly think moral has nothing to do with faith, it’s a human quality. I know plenty of Christians that have lower moral and are acting undecently on a daily basis. I also wonder what the “hope” you are talking about is.

As for the question; Yes , i think a country like that would work pretty well. My country, Sweden, is probably one of the most secularized countries in the world and I would say the country functions pretty well.

Jayne's avatar

@TuffFlutherite; Atheists do not lack hope or guidance; we just derive them from somewhere other than your God. We don’t need to be told where and how to find these things, and we can accept them for what they are, comforting and necessary parts of a human existence, rather than trying to attach some external significance to them. Just because you can’t imagine any other way of thinking, does not mean you have the only way, buddy. Oh, and atheists are also, on average, far more law-abiding than believers, so I don’t think a society of atheists would be ‘out of line’.

jrpowell's avatar

I’m agnostic and I don’t think a country of multiple clones of me would be bad.

Things I have never done:

Murder
Cheat in a relationship
Armed robbery
Rape

The list goes on and on.

I donate a lot to charity and volunteer a lot of my time.

loser's avatar

Probably not. Just think about all the poor therapists who would be out of work.

btko's avatar

Atheism is more than not believing in or practising a religion; atheists actively believe there is no god. That is a significant difference to point out. Just fyi – I’m neither a theist or atheist.

ragingloli's avatar

sweden. wonderful country. ‘nuf said.

(the answer is yes)

Grisaille's avatar

In short, yes.

In long, YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEES.

Seriously though, I understand the need for religion, I really do. It gives people hope, helps people organize charities, etc, etc.

But as it stands, there has been more bloodshed in the name of religion than anything else. It is the driving force and scapegoat many use to kill.

Again, I’m not saying all religion is bad; no way. I’m saying that without religion, people would have less justification for murder and war. In a sense, a world without religion would be the better option in my opinion – an Atheist country surrounded by Theist nations would be treated as a godless nation (duh), one that should be obliterated.

..Which brings me back to the original point. Theists use religion as a means to operate, a reason to kill.

Ivan's avatar

@btko

Both of those comments are false. Atheism is nothing more than a lack of belief in a god. Some atheists do actively believe that there is no god, but that is not the definition of an atheist. Secondly, you cannot be neither a theist nor an atheist. You are either wearing a blue shirt, or you aren’t. You either believe in a god, or you don’t.

To answer the question, what sort of atheist? The only thing that atheists have in common is that they don’t happen to believe in any of the gods that other people purport as existing. The only reason we have a word for such people is because there are other people who do believe in such beings. Atheism is not an organization or even a group of people. Surely there are axe-murdering atheist rapists just as there are brilliant, kind atheists who donate to charity and give blood.

But not to dodge the question. The Scandinavian countries are pretty much countries of atheists already, and they are fine places.

Fyrius's avatar

Thread over?

It would seem that statistics overwhelmingly say yes. I speculate it’s a result of atheists being more responsible and less prone to expect higher powers to solve their problems for them.

JLeslie's avatar

If all of a sudden it was proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is no God would all of you religious people who think you are good and giving because of a religion all of a sudden go running through the streets raping and pillaging? Why do you need the threat of punishment to do good things. Why can’t you just treat people as you would want to be treated, and find hope in your goals, dreams, and in the people you love?

jazzjeppe's avatar

@Fyrius Great pic, thanks for sharing! Yaye for Sweden! :)

Qingu's avatar

Obviously.

There is not a single good moral in any religion that does not have a secular equivalent.

More importantly, there are plenty of disgusting morals that come from religious texts. The Bible commands slavery and genocide and says women are the property of men. The Quran treats unbelievers like second-class citizens and demands blind, unquestioning obedience. (It is amazing to me that Christians have the nerve to lecture about morality when they apparently believe genocide and slavery can be morally good.)

I think the catch to this question is “but STALIN was an atheist and look how bad he was!” Stalin was an atheist, but his culture of dictatorial communism demanded the same unthinking, enforced obedience as your standard religious text. The philosophy of communism itself became a dogma, impossible to question in its regime.

I don’t know a single atheist who thinks any philosophical position should be dogma enforced by violence.

Jeruba's avatar

Beautiful, @Fyrius.

Qingu's avatar

@willbrawn, you said “classic American values” come from a religious background.

Could you please be specific? Which values are those? And which religion do they come from?

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

@Fyrius There is no correlation between atheism and life expectancy anymore than there might be a correlation between global warming and the Chicago Cubs never winning the World Series.

Qingu's avatar

@The_Compassionate_Heretic, I agree; life expectancy seems an odd position to judge atheism’s effect on society.

Maybe a better correlation would be one’s views on torture? According to this Pew survey, people “unaffiliated” with religion are among the most opposed to the use of torture. Evangelical Christians are the most okay with it.

I think a society’s willingness to torture people says a lot about its quality.

Fyrius's avatar

@JLeslie: How optimistic of you, to think that proof beyond a shadow of doubt could convince religious people to abandon their faiths. But religions are expert at finding ways to bullshit their way out of turning out to be dead wrong.

@jazzjeppe, @Jeruba: You’re welcome. :)

@The_Compassionate_Heretic: The relevant observation with regard to life expectancy is that it’s very high in each of the ten most atheist nations in the survey. The point the picture tries to make is that atheism is not a bad influence, and that it will not plunge the nation into chaos and make people eat kittens.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

@Fyrius I was pointing out a logical fallacy in your graphic. That’s all.
I agree atheism is not bad influence. However the author of that graphic is using inductive reasoning to support their overtly anti-religion, anti-conservative viewpoint.

So thread defintiely NOT over because of that image.

ragingloli's avatar

@The_Compassionate_Heretic
the religiousness of a nation might affect the willingness to research and use medicine and treatments instead of praying for healing/“accepting god’s will”.

Fyrius's avatar

@The_Compassionate_Heretic: I think you misinterpret what the picture tries to say. I think the life expectancy stats are just to show general welfare.
Also, what @ragingloli said. There are still Americans who refuse to vaccinate their children because they believe it’s up to god whether you get sick or not, and that having faith is more effective than proper medicine.

Grisaille's avatar

Dammit, trying to find a particular graph. Anyone have on hand the “Personal Happiness in a country” corresponding to “Atheist Population” chart? I have no clue where I last saw the thing.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

@ragingloli That is a topic not addressed by the represented graphic. That is an inference which or may not be accurate.

As for your comment, most religious people in America do not decline medical treatment based upon their religion.

JLeslie's avatar

I do know Christians who equate Atheism with Communism, they just don’t get it. Exactly right that the Communists form of atheism is an imposed belief system in itself that is just as “bad” as any other religion. I put bad in quotes because I do not think religion is bad inheretly, I was just trying to emphasize how negatively I feel about any one religion being forced or mandated. Atheists are probably more likely to fight for freedom of religious belief than any other group.

JLeslie's avatar

How do religious people rationalze all of it? Gods will…but keep someone alive with machines…the one survivor in the crash was not meant to die he has a special purpose…does that mean everyone who died in the crash was not special? You die when it is your time…so I guess kids can play in the streets, because they will only die at their time, and that construction workers must not matter as much to God because they die on the job more often than most professions. I don’t get it. I do give the Catholics some credit for utilizing medical science in their decisions to declare miracles and they have some consistancy with their beliefs about IVF, stem cell research and other matters, AND they accept evolution.

JLeslie's avatar

Although, back to the first answer on this thread I do know people who have been saved, and the reason they cleaned up their act so to speak is because they found Christianity, and I for one am glad they found it. They say they choose every day to do the right thing. Well, I don’t feel like I have a battle every day to do the right thing…the idea of it is scary…that there are people who want to do bad, socially unnaccetable acts every day? But, I guess for those that have this inside of them, I am happy they found something to keep them in line.

AstroChuck's avatar

Yes

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today…

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace…

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world…

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

I think John thought so too.

Grisaille's avatar

Oh, Chuck. It’s like you’re after my heart.

No homo.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Absolutely. It would make the lives of many easier, full of less shame, full of less judgment – I’m not saying we wouldn’t have ways to shame or judge others, we would but so much bigotry is excused by means of religion

Jeruba's avatar

I didn’t take the pictures linked by Fyrius to imply cause and effect at all. I understood them as “Here are some societies in which religion is not especially important, and here are some facts about them.” Seeing a list of other countries with high life expectancy would not make me come back and say, “Oh, well, then, the Netherlands or Sweden must not be such a nice place to live.”

critter1982's avatar

I find it difficult to see how a world without religion would be any better or worse than it already is.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

I think it would be, but only marginally. For the vast majority of people, they are either moral or not based on their own judgements rather than any religious creed. However some do fanatically follow violent religions, and if these were atheists we may have a marginal increase in the civility of society.

Jeruba's avatar

Good, @FireMadeFlesh. But if you happen to be of the opinion that fanatics are fanatics and would be fanatical and violent about something else if it weren’t religion, it might not make any difference.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

Yes, I’m willing to at least give it a try.

JLeslie's avatar

Great point about the fanatics, probably doesn’t make a difference.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@Jeruba I’m saying that most of them are like that, but if there were no Islam to brainwash Palestinian youngsters into blowing themselves up, no Judaism to convince Jewish youths to sign up for the army to kill aggressors in an over-zealous fashion, no hard-line Catholicism or Protestantism to make fanatical Irish kill each other, then at least the next generation may grow up with ideologies that do not lead them to violence. Most fanatics would find a reason to be fanatical with or without religion, but some are shunted into the path of violence and ignorance before they are out of nappies – let alone mature enough to make a rational decision on the issue. The difference of these pawns of the fanatics would make the world marginally better.

Fyrius's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh: Yes.
But in addition, if the fanatics were not religious fanatics, they would also be less liable to be excused for things they do. People don’t have nearly as much respect for meticulously formed philosophies or well-informed and well-justified political views as they have for indoctrinated religion.

It’s attested that slaughtering an animal without anaesthetics is illegal, except if it’s done by a Muslim who says he’s doing it for religious reasons. We’ve somehow ended up with a mind-set where life-long faith can trump rational arguments, and religious traditions can get away with much more than any other kind of practice.

As another example, after smoking in public cafés has been outlawed in the Netherlands, people have started abusing this religious license by setting up a Smokers’ religion. A number of cafés have been converted into Smokers’ churches to allow members of the religion to light one in reverence of the Smokers’ God.
It’s all quite tongue-in-cheek, and with varying degrees of success, but I don’t doubt that they would get their way if they could convince everyone they’re serious about it.

If the fanatics would stop being religious fanatics and would become political or philosophical fanatics (or fanatics of whatever kind), that would still be a significant improvement, if only because they would be judged just like everyone else.

RareDenver's avatar

A country of Atheists? Seems like heaven to me, pardon the pun!

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@Fyrius That is a valid point, and I do agree with you. But maybe if there was no religion, we would need to find something else to complain about. Some people just enjoy complaining.

Fyrius's avatar

That shouldn’t be a big problem.

It’s drizzling here right now. Bloody rain all the time. It’s always the same in this country. Why don’t those confounded clouds go rain somewhere in Africa? They’ve always got nice weather there.

ragingloli's avatar

i like rain

Jeruba's avatar

Nicely argued, @Fyrius.

Fyrius's avatar

Why, thank you, @Jeruba.

Nially_Bob's avatar

Disregarding individual factors (i.e. If a person is an atheist it is very probable that living amongst many other atheists would be a better way for them to live) I believe it would be about the same as most other places with a slight tilt in one direction or another (so to speak) though said tilts would likely be due to other sociological factors.
Allow me to explain my perspective on the matter. I have lived my entire life thus far in the UK. Previously on this question Fyrius has kindly provided a picture which illustrates a comparison between the quality of life in a society and the extent to which people believe religion is important. Now the UK is on there as number 5 with 28% of people considering religion important (HDI: 17th / Life Exp: 79.8). Now initially may I say that this doesn’t surprise me, many people I know here claim to believe in a religion and indeed in many circumstances they do but few that I know consider such of real importance. What this picture and others that have replied to this thread appear to have not taken into account however are the vast number of variables involved in deciding a societies general quality of life. To offer an example, the life expectancy of an average ‘British person’ is 79.8 according to the aforementioned picture, now could this be due to living a fine upstanding lifestyle free of religious worry, or due to there being a free healthcare system in place, a relatively pollution free environment (London being a large exception), a good education system, certain cultural traits involved etc. Religion cannot be blaimed for a lower quality of life while all other factors which could have an equal effect on the general populous are disregarded as such is completely illogical. Alongside this it must be considered that the ‘quality of life’ of a society, even when researched as delicately as has been done with the HDI (Human Development Index), cannot be accurately quantified due to there being too many subjective factors involved.
Putting this aside temporarily we move onto the morals and lessons of religion as opposed to atheism and how both can affect a society and culture. Now I am a firm believer in the statement that “an ideologies benefits and detriments are determined primarily by its application” meaning, basically, that something is only as good as how it’s used (at this moment we will take a brief break for people to raise the roof and yell “that’s what she said”) and I also concur with Voltaires belief that though humans will never be able to prove the existence of a deity they will always require religion. Describing my point further I have met people who have claimed to be atheist and have indeed been highly disrespectful to theists with some even claiming that the world would be a better place without them; I have met theists who have expressed similar feelings towards atheists. Now in this hypothetical atheist country (which shall now be known as Godsucksia) the population will either be made up of mostly atheists or entirely of atheists, if the latter then inevitably theists will gradually migrate to Godsucksia…Why they would with that name is beyond me but all the same humans immigrate to other countries. If not a migration perhaps a change of heart for some of the countries citizens would occur or a bunch of nomadic agnostics would mingle in, whatever the case it is ridiculously probable that the general beliefs of the society will become more mixed given time. As this happens would one not deem it possible that amongst the grand population of Godsucksia there will not be a select percentage who will come to despise the theists? Afterall, they’ve moved in on our culture, altered our systems and they don’t even deserve it because they believe in a God. How ridiculous eh? It could be argued that due to atheists generally having a higher IQ than theists a society made of mostly atheists would be more loving and understanding of the beliefs of newcomers but the frank truth is that with a large enough population some will hate those who are different regardless of supposed intelligence (being smart does not make a human immune to conformity nor a dislike of what is strange to them). Additionally why must religion or a lack thereof be used as a justification for ‘immoral’ actions? Nationalism has proven to be about as effective. Didn’t you hear that being a theist in Godsucksia is unpatriotic? What disrespectful and ungrateful folks those theists must be.
Onto my final point (I can hear the sighs of relief already) and carrying on slightly from what I mention above concerning nationalism being used as a justification for discrimination and my concurrence with Voltaires theological views, religion is a necessity due to it’s near irreplaceable ability to encourage social solidarity and is also sometimes used as an excuse to dislike others (adding to that feeling of social solidarity further). Now many may say something to the effect of “religion is not irreplaceable as obviously many societies don’t care about it much” but that’s just the thing, they do not care about religion in a conventional sense but that societies own individual replacement (people are welcome to offer me an exception to this rule). I once read an article which I felt I could truly relate to and also feel is relevant, it was about a group of sociologists who observed the behaviour of ‘British people’ when watching or participating in football (soccer) in some manner. Now as I said early in this comment I agree that few ‘British people’ consider religion to be important but many consider football important, be the person intelligent, unintelligent, happy, sad, big, small, alot of people take football quite seriously in the UK. Now the sociologists described how, as many have probably gathered by now, football was replacing the tool of social solidarity in a secularising society. I would agree with this for many reasons, one of which being what football has caused in the UK: Violence, alot of violence; I have never seen nor heard of any major religious protest in Britain (though people will have their tiffs obviously) but I have heard of and known quite a few who have been seriously injured due to football, two friends having been stabbed for supporting a different team to a group of boys. The point finally emerging, would it not be possible, nay, likely, that similar systems of social solidarity would be instigated in a society mostly inhabited by atheists? Is it not also very possible that said system would have groups within it who develop hatred for others based on certain elements of the system?
To conclude, I do not believe a society being mostly inhabited by atheists would make a significant difference to the quality of life (directly caused by such being inhabited mostly by atheists) because religion is not the only reason and justification for people hating one another and it is not the only factor involved in deciding the quality of life of a society.
@ragingloli I like rain too :)

augustlan's avatar

@Nially_Bob You made some excellent points, and yes, I did read them all. But for the love of Godsucksia, please use some paragraph breaks next time!

Nially_Bob's avatar

@augustlan I know I know, I kept searching for areas to insert more paragraph breaks but each point I made was so prolonged :)

Grisaille's avatar

Oh, hey guys, what’s going on in—

* walks into wall of text *

Oof!

Nially_Bob's avatar

@Grisaille Oooo, bad luck ma..Woah! Watch out for the conclusion! “Oof!”

JLeslie's avatar

My conclusion is I think a country with liberty and justice for all with religious freedom is the best bet.

cyn's avatar

@JLeslie well said..

Grisaille's avatar

@JLeslie You just described America. And we ain’t doin’ so well, if you haven’t noticed.

As long as there is religion, there will always be those that are more self-righteous. With self-righteousness comes arrogance, with arrogance comes hate, hate leads to somewhere else and I’m bored with this sentence already.

Nevermind.

JLeslie's avatar

@Grisaille I think America has strayed some from the vision of its founder and the ideals that had been set forth. Like what was said above about the country Godsucksia (gotta love that) are we going to be a closed society too? Are we not going to allow any immigration of theists? If one of our citizens decides to beleive in God will we cast him out? In theory it would be nice to not have to deal with some of the non-scientific fantasy that comes out of some religious people…but in many ways I think sometimes it is semantics. Prayer might be synonymous with meditation, and some people who believe in God are not talking about a specific entity but order in the Universe or a power within all of us. I think people who identify as atheists, mostly are rejecting the idea that there is something or someone up in the heavens judging us…who plays with us like pawns…who can heal people and make them sick…who actually is so full of himself that even if you are a good person and spend your life helping others, if you don’t worship him and accept his son as your saviour he will not save you…but many theists don’t believe this at all.

critter1982's avatar

@Grisaille: As long as there are human beings there are those that will be self-righteous. It’s inherently human not religious.

cyn's avatar

@Grisaille but politics always get in the way…

wundayatta's avatar

How could there be any doubt that it would be better? You’d eliminate a good deal of hypocricy and the need for secrecy. Social mores could be updated in real time, instead of staying about five centuries behind the times. People wouldn’t be hung up on their projections about what their better selves would say if they actually had a separate existence. Society wouldn’t have quite as many ways of guilt-tripping everyone (although there would still be a lot). We’d generally be psychologically more healthy, and we’d all be making better decisions, based on the facts, and not on the fantasies we have.

Nially_Bob's avatar

@critter1982 Agreed, religion is not the source of arrogance and self-righteousness, humans are.
@JLeslie “My conclusion is I think a country with liberty and justice for all with religious freedom is the best bet.”
I would agree. That is, in my opinion, the best option available for a society as it offers many benefits to the general populous while having relatively few detriments.

pats04fan's avatar

No, like one of the answers above, a country can not live in without faith. Faith is believing that country is not going to bomb you, faith is believing that the person you voted for is going to run the country well. I believe that a great way to start faith is to believe in something unseen.

Ivan's avatar

@pats04fan

So in order to have faith that your country is not going to kill you, you absolutely have to me a member of an organized religion?

pats04fan's avatar

No, I believe you can have a great faith by believing something is not seen. There are atheists with more faith then Christians.

Qingu's avatar

@pats04fan, how on earth does “believing in something unseen” help you to believe that your elected leader is going to be honest?

That seems particularly backwards and dangerous. I don’t have “faith” in elected leaders. They need to earn my trust by proving they are trustworthy. And they need to maintain my trust by continuing to uphold their promises. It’s actually quite frightening that you seem to think we ought to blindly trust our elected leaders without evidence that they’re trustworthy.

Ivan's avatar

@pats04fan

“No, I believe you can have a great faith by believing something is not seen.”

This sentence is nonsense.

“There are atheists with more faith then Christians.”

What does that have to do with anything?

pats04fan's avatar

@Qingu
My definition for a polition is = a liar. Ha

Yes, but sometimes faith is what a country needs, there are probably better examples for that but those were all i could think of.

@Ivan
That first one is basically a definition and yes is nonsense.

“So in order to have faith that your country is not going to kill you, you absolutely have to me a member of an organized religion?”
That second one was my answer to that. You don’t have to be religious to have faith

Qingu's avatar

So while you think that politicians are liars, it’s important to have “faith” that they’re not?

Ivan's avatar

@pats04fan

Then how is your response relevant to this question. If the country requires faith, and atheists have faith, then it must be OK for the country to be made of atheists, right?

pats04fan's avatar

@Qingu
Ha, that is good, but no having faith that you are picking the better of the two evils, if you want to put it that way.
@Ivan
I said there are some, most Christians have great faith, you have to in this day to believe in a god.

JLeslie's avatar

Faith is a word that never much worked for me. I think more in terms of HOPE or TRUST or BELIEVE in something or someone based on observations. Maybe it is semantics again. I think if someones FAITH gives them peace, and helps make them a productive part of society it is fine, as long as they don’t bother me with it.

mattbrowne's avatar

No, definitely not. I think a country of freethinkers would be a better country to live in. Free thinking and good debates will lead to diverse conclusions and progress. Diverse cultures value human imagination and innovation.

Everybody has faith in something. Even scientists have faith in something they can’t ultimately prove. They have faith in an orderly universe and firmly believe the universe will remain orderly in the future. I value scientific method and I do share this faith.

Science has the potential to explain any natural phenomenon, but it can’t explain and will never be able to explain the meta-phenomenon of existence itself which led to natural phenomena for us to observe and explain.

Atheists have faith to be able to unravel the mystery of the meta-phenomenon without the existence of God. Theists believe in the existence of God.

Communists have faith that their system leads to a better world (I don’t share this faith) and market fundamentalists have faith that the natural forces of free markets will lead to a better world (I don’t share this faith either).

Faith is part of human nature but its forms are very diverse.

Qingu's avatar

@mattbrowne, you said “atheists hav faith to be able to unravel the mystery of the meta-phenomenon without the existence of God.”

1. This is simply false. Many atheists are happy to admit that we’ll never know all the answers.

2. Your definition of God in this sense is not functionally different from the existence of an atheistic universe, or perhaps some kind of non-conscious algorithm encoding the universe. As per #1, many atheists admit that we’ll probably never figure out the exact nature of this thing, but calling it a “God” is an exercise in semantics.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Qingu – Point taken. I should have phrased it as “Some atheists have faith to be able to unravel the mystery of the meta-phenomenon (by science or some other non-theistic means)”. I actually met many atheists who said we’ll never know all the answers. Some theists believe in a God of the gaps, while others stress the importance of pushing science all the way to its outer limits (I’m one of them) thereby acknowledging that science does have limitations.

Yes, maybe my understanding of God bears some similarities with (parts of the) atheistic world views, but I would include the intelligent origin aspect. Given our current understanding I see two options:

1) There is only one universe and this is all there is
2) There is a multiverse and our universe is one of many

Option 1 means the algorithm encoding the universe was deliberately chosen leading to an orderly biophilic universe (no magic involved after the time of the creation)

Option 2 means the algorithm encoding the multiverse was deliberately chosen to generate enough arbitrary variations of all relevant natural factors. This would include everything from universes dying after the first yoctosecond to long-lived uniform and boring universes consisting of primordial elements only. Please note that even option 2 includes the meta-phenomenon as such and requires some sort of cause or trigger (which we’ll probably never figure out)

I really think, @Qingu that freethinker theists and freethinker atheists (both with a reasonably good scientific knowledge) are much closer than say, freethinker theists and religious fundamentalists. All the same there are lots of superstitious atheists who know little about science and never had any deeper philosophical discussions. Some of them see all religious people as being naive and gullible, or worse mentally ill. I think it’s up to us and we should be role models demonstrating how civilized and fruitful discussions work. We can disagree and we should actually, but respect the viewpoints of others.

JLeslie's avatar

@Qingu @mattbrowne yes, this is what I mentioned above, that so much is semantics. As an atheist I agree with Quingo.

Qingu's avatar

@mattbrowne, you’re assuming algorithms need to be conscoiusly “chosen.” That’s a tremendous and completely unevidenced assumption, and seems completely backwards. Algorithms emerge naturally all the time, just from matter interacting with matter. Evolution itself is an algorithm. The chaotic physical processes that form storms and fire can be thought of as algorithms.

I know you believe in evolution, but I don’t think you’ve internalized the implications of evolutionary theory. The theory proves that complex phenomena can emerge, naturally, from simple phenomena. Animal intelligence, itself, emerged through chemical interactions over billions of years. Those interactions, in turn, emerged as stable states of quantum interactions. And it looks like scientists are on the cusp of understanding how those quantum interactions emerge from something like abstract mathematical laws that underlie what we call “reality” or “the universe.” And even those laws can be understood as emerging from even simpler things, with some interesting complications from Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem.

Finally, again, you barely seem like a theist at all. You don’t believe in a God with any sort of personality. Your God presumably didn’t impregnate a Judean virgin who birthed a son who is this selfsame God. Your God does not appear to have interacted with humanity or the physical universe itself in any way whatsoever. As Carl Sagan would say in his garage-dragon analogy, why even bother calling this entity a God at all?

Ruthi's avatar

I think all atheists should necessarily not judge religion and it’s importance in people’s lives based on a religious-fundamentalist point of view! There are some of us who are willing and perfectly capable of living in harmony with each other, irrespective of the beliefs we hold.

In answer to the question, religion-oriented issues will definitely be almost non-existent, but that’s no guarantee that the country will be devoid of other equally big problems. Just as long as there’s plenty of understanding and respect for the next person!

mattbrowne's avatar

@Qingu – Well, I believe the original ‘meta-phenomenon’ (‘meta-algorithm’ if you will) was chosen. Of course that’s an assumption and there’s no scientific evidence. The creator of existence itself was God in my opinion. He did this on purpose. It was a deliberate act. I would argue it requires personality to come up with something ingenious such as our universe (or multiverse). I also believe that God sustains the universe thereby interacting with human beings. If you see this as ‘barely theist’, fine.

No, of course God didn’t impregnate Maria in a biological way. Jesus had a biological father (and it wasn’t Joseph it would appear). Viewing a human being as the son of God cannot be done by opening a Biology 101 textbook. An innocent freshman might wonder if God’s DNA is compatible with humans. Of course all of this has a symbolic meaning. But this leads to a whole new discussion requiring a separate thread. This question deals with atheist countries and what that would mean.

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