# When you break it down: is atheism unappealing?

#### T.G.G. Moogly

Come on. You did actually say it and now you are saying that you don't believe what you say.

No, I didn't say that.
You may have interpreted something I as meaning that, but I didn't say it.

I'm pretty sure the problem is that you've got a theological world view that you filter everything through. So you change the meaning of which people say to match.

It's not a new thing, I'm used to this sort of thing from theological purists. Hard atheists to evangelical Christians, it's not very different.
Tom
You did actually say it. But I understand how brains work in that not everyone's works the same way so we're probably at an impasse. It's not unlike two computers with different hardware and software unable to interface.

#### TomC

##### Celestial Highness
This is why I find atheism unappealing. It's a belief for which there is no evidence.
You are correct. An absence of evidence for gods is atheism. We're in agreement.
Find me a quote, from me, for "An absence of evidence for gods is atheism".

Not something I said that you didn't understand, and so misinterpreted.
Where did I say that.
I don't think you can. I expect a bunch of dodging and strawman nonsense.
Tom

#### T.G.G. Moogly

This is why I find atheism unappealing. It's a belief for which there is no evidence.
You are correct. An absence of evidence for gods is atheism. We're in agreement.
Find me a quote, from me, for "An absence of evidence for gods is atheism".

Not something I said that you didn't understand, and so misinterpreted.
Where did I say that.
I don't think you can. I expect a bunch of dodging and strawman nonsense.
Tom
It's right there. Read what you said in the nested quote.

#### TomC

##### Celestial Highness
This is why I find atheism unappealing. It's a belief for which there is no evidence.
You are correct. An absence of evidence for gods is atheism. We're in agreement.
Find me a quote, from me, for "An absence of evidence for gods is atheism".

Not something I said that you didn't understand, and so misinterpreted.
Where did I say that.
I don't think you can. I expect a bunch of dodging and strawman nonsense.
Tom
It's right there. Read what you said in the nested quote.

That's what I figured.
You reinterpreted something I said to suit you.

Have a Nice Day.
Tom

#### Elixir

In fact I’m saying “Nope, that shit ain’t real. I don’t know if some creator entity beyond our understanding might exist, but that ain’t it.
Now my question would be that even if this universe was created by a sentient being, what would make such being a god?
Why, the same thing that makes anything a god: believers.

Some people say that mountains and forests are gods. What makes them gods and not just mountains and forests?.

People.
People make the gods that make people.

If a god is whatever I want a god to be than the word is meaningless

Not exactly … it can be imbued with meaning, just like any other term that refers to the non-existent.
But you can’t simply manufacture a god of convenience. A “real” god needs at least one actual believer.
At least that’s what my religion says, and by god, I’m sticking to it faithfully.

#### bilby

##### Fair dinkum thinkum
This is why I find atheism unappealing. It's a belief for which there is no evidence. Agnosticism is the only rational belief. Atheism is as unevidenced as theism.

Less evidenced, really. There is absolutely no evidence for atheism. While the evidence for any particular version of theism is extremely weak, at least there is some. Like me, you may find people's visions or whatever incredibly weak evidence. But there is some. Atheism has nothing whatever in the way of evidence.
Well, as long as you discount all of physics, I guess you are right.

It amazes me how many people are both utterly ignorant of the hard evidence for atheism, and absolutely confident that it doesn’t exist at all; That’s not surprising in itself (it’s just basic ignorance, and nobody can be expected not to be ignorant of things they have never encountered), but this ignorance is astonishingly able to survive having the evidence presented by experts in the field.

You might as well confidently claim that we have no evidence that perpetual motion is impossible, as claim that we have no evidence that gods are impossible. We have hard evidence for both facts.

https://www.preposterousuniverse.co...s-of-everyday-life-are-completely-understood/

https://www.preposterousuniverse.co...eryday-life-really-are-completely-understood/

My expectation, based on experience, is that if you read and understand these two articles, you will simply reject them (or at least, reject their inescapable conclusions) and return to claiming that there’s weak evidence for theism, and none at all for atheism. I sincerely hope that you will surprise me, but I don’t hold out much hope.

#### T.G.G. Moogly

Not exactly … it can be imbued with meaning, just like any other term that refers to the non-existent.
But you can’t simply manufacture a god of convenience. A “real” god needs at least one actual believer.
At least that’s what my religion says, and by god, I’m sticking to it faithfully.
I get all that. I was attempting to be very matter-of-fact in my discussion with TomC. Was being very mechanical, reacting to sensory data, not thinking too much about it, not imparting any woo or motive, trying not to judge, simply taking the language and dealing with it as information.

I do have one quibble with your response above, and that would be that the believer and the god are the same thing, even if you call a mountain a god. The believer is projecting themselves, projecting their beliefs. But beliefs and believers are not evidence of gods. Even the mountain is still a mountain whether or not there is a believer with beliefs calling it something else. But I get where you are coming from. I wish I could see exactly what the brain is doing. We have a pretty good idea, it's just another complex mechanical device, it's not magic.

#### Jimmy Higgins

##### Contributor
In fact I’m saying “Nope, that shit ain’t real. I don’t know if some creator entity beyond our understanding might exist, but that ain’t it.
Now my question would be that even if this universe was created by a sentient being, what would make such being a god?

Ever consider the possibility that god isn't a sentient being? The possibility that "The Creator", "Original Source", "Ground of Being", whatever, isn't limited by sentience?
Or any other human characteristics?
Tom
What happened to the importance of evidence? Or do people have those "weak" experiences with the non-sentient being?

Seriously, the whole no evidence to support atheism sounds like a cheap parlour philosophical trick.

1) No evidence for atheism (can't prove a negative)
2) Tiny itty bitty evidence for theism.
3) Therefore agnosticism is right.

There are a couple issues here. Firstly, if magnitudes matter (as implied here), then theism has to be right, not agnosticism. Secondly, it is presumption that presume that some bit of religious experience is legitimate, while apparently delegitimizing all the rest. It provides a dishonest appearance of indifference on the evidence.

Look, most religious experience is bullshit, but a tiny bit is legit (despite being the exact same as all the other experiences), therefore, there is more likely a creator.

#### rousseau

##### Contributor
I'm going to preface this thread with the fact that these comments aren't an attack on atheism. Whenever something looking like a critique of atheism is presented at this forum, we seem to get a few defensive responses. So to be clear this thread isn't intended to promote religiosity by any means. It's just a quick thought experiment for your consideration.

A few months ago I was reading a title called The Sociobiological Imagination which discussed, in part, why the field of Sociology was hesitant to integrate hard evolutionary theory into it's own theories. I found the answer interesting, and I think it is very relevant to why religiosity survives in our world:

The argument went something like this:

Acceptance of evolutionary theory
• The world and your life is intrinsically meaningless other than what you assign to it
• Anything negative that happens to you is primarily random and indifferent
• Your well-being is entirely up to you, and if you fail it's because you failed / aren't skilled enough
• When you die you will cease to exist. When your friends die they will cease to exist
Belief in God
• Everything you see and feel was designed / has purpose
• Anything negative that happens to you happened for a reason and can be justified
• Your well-being is in someone else's hands, and failure is ok
• You'll never lose your life or friends and family
Although a little more nuanced, that was it in a nutshell. Between the two worldviews it's obvious which one would appeal to more people. So as Atheists, we're all obviously invested in the lack of God because it appeals to us, but when you break the problem down to it's basic elements we're trying to sell the religious a bit of a shithole. Their religion shields them from what is a cruel and indifferent world, they do not want to accept materialism because it isn't much of a cakewalk.

As a Gallup survey demonstrated, 47% of people report having religious experiences. Spontaneous altered states of consciousness. Here is an often overlooked reason religion lingers on. Whether it is some religious manifestation like "The Toronto Blessing" or an episode of Maslow's "Peak Experience", one must understand the great power of religious brain facts. NDEs, OOBEs, and other things of this type can be powerful experiences to hang religion on. Some known powerful religious experiences. known to history were experiences of Pascal and Thomas Aquinas. L. Ron Hubbard created an entire religion based on his ability to induce brain facts in his cult members. This aspect of the phenomena of religion does not get the attention it deserves.

This is a good point, and likely has something to do with it's inception too.

#### TomC

##### Celestial Highness
1) No evidence for atheism (can't prove a negative)
2) Tiny itty bitty evidence for theism.
Here's the thing.
Both theism and atheism are opinions held with little or no evidence on the subject. They're opinions about god or the supernatural or something.
Agnosticism is extremely different. So different I put it in another category. There's tons of evidence on that subject.

3) Therefore agnosticism is right.
Agnosticism isn't really about god or whatever. It's a belief about humans, and our delusions.

We like to think that we're smart, perceptive, and rational. We're able to understand everything important. But the fact is that we're not. We're extremely prone to mistakes and very ignorant. Prone to illusions, including our own capabilities. When we have an important question, for which we have little evidence, we're inclined to make up an answer. Then stick to it, even if some evidence comes up that contradicts our beliefs.

I don't see agnosticism as a midpoint between theism and atheism. I see it as recognition of human limitations. On that subject, there's mountains of evidence.
Tom

##### Veteran Member
Agnosticism isn't really about god or whatever. It's a belief about humans, and our delusions.

We like to think that we're smart, perceptive, and rational. We're able to understand everything important. But the fact is that we're not. We're extremely prone to mistakes and very ignorant. Prone to illusions, including our own capabilities. When we have an important question, for which we have little evidence, we're inclined to make up an answer. Then stick to it, even if some evidence comes up that contradicts our beliefs.

I don't see agnosticism as a midpoint between theism and atheism. I see it as recognition of human limitations. On that subject, there's mountains of evidence.
I agree with this. But not with your view of atheism. It isn't the claim that there are no gods so it isn't itself a belief, but a self-description: "I'm not a theist". Whatever the reasons for that are knowledge-claims with entirely different labels - positivism, naturalism, materialism, secularism, or other.

"There are no gods" is antitheism, which is a small subset of atheism. To confuse the antitheist's positivist and absolutist stance for atheism is a logical fallacy -- like thinking all blondes are ditzy because some are.

That there's so little evidence of gods leads me, an agnostic, to withhold belief in gods. I don't see enough evidence for any god to justify belief in any. So therefore I'm an atheist as well as an agnostic and thus an agnostic atheist. The agnosticism is what leads to the atheism.

#### Jimmy Higgins

##### Contributor
1) No evidence for atheism (can't prove a negative)
2) Tiny itty bitty evidence for theism.
Here's the thing.
Both theism and atheism are opinions held with little or no evidence on the subject.
You need to make up your mind here, is it little evidence or no evidence and for which. Though, for atheism, one can't prove something doesn't exist.
They're opinions about god or the supernatural or something.
Atheism would be the observation that there have been no observations of god(s) on Earth, where as theism is the belief that inertia is enough to justify believing what people believed 2500 years ago.
Agnosticism is extremely different. So different I put it in another category. There's tons of evidence on that subject.
There is no evidence that supports agnosticism. Indeterminacy is the foundation of agnosticism. Agnosticism is the belief that it is okay to stop trying.

#### Elixir

I don't believe in magic.
So I must be an atheist.
I do believe there are things we don't know.
So I must be agnostic.
I suspect the existence of a transcendent sentience.
So I must be a theist.

I believe humans are full of shit, so whatever label anyone wants to pin on me is of zero consequence.

#### skepticalbip

##### Contributor
...
1) No evidence for atheism (can't prove a negative)
2) Tiny itty bitty evidence for theism.
Here's the thing.
Both theism and atheism are opinions held with little or no evidence on the subject.
You need to make up your mind here, is it little evidence or no evidence and for which. Though, for atheism, one can't prove something doesn't exist.
They're opinions about god or the supernatural or something.
Atheism would be the observation that there have been no observations of god(s) on Earth, where as theism is the belief that inertia is enough to justify believing what people believed 2500 years ago.
Agnosticism is extremely different. So different I put it in another category. There's tons of evidence on that subject.
There is no evidence that supports agnosticism. Indeterminacy is the foundation of agnosticism. Agnosticism is the belief that it is okay to stop trying.
The difference between theists and atheists is that theists evoke a god or gods to explain and understand reality and atheists don't. I think the word 'agnostic' was invented by philosophers just so they would have something to argue about.

ETA:
And then anti-theists are people that are pissed that there are theists.

#### T.G.G. Moogly

I think I've figured out the agnostic mindset. Bear with me.

A gentleman sits down beside me when I'm at a local park. He seems so happy to see me but I don't recognize him. He knows my name and proceeds to tell me about a time when he lent me ten-thousand dollars. When this loan was given, he says, I told him that I would pay it back whenever I could and we sealed the deal with a handshake.

He tells me where it happened, when it happened, what I needed the money for, provides a lot of information and try as I might I can't recall a single detail that might confirm his story. I just have no memory of anything he says regarding the $10K. He even asks me if I might be suffering from amnesia, had any events that might be associated with the condition and is generally a charming, friendly, sincere, honest and affable guy. It's all damn interesting. Being the rational person I am I consider that he might be entirely correct and that everything he says happened actually did happen. Maybe I really am suffering from amnesia. But because I think myself a pretty good observer and make decisions rationally and not emotionally, have no empty spots in my lifetime of memories, I'm as honest as I can be and tell him that he must have the wrong person or that maybe he is suffering some kind of mental condition himself. I even ask him if we're being recorded for some kind of candid camera show simply because he seems so sincere. But in the end we part ways. He's not terribly upset just disappointed that he's not going to get his$10K.

For me his story is not true and therefore I am certain I do not owe him ten-thousand dollars. In that moment I am certain that I do not owe him ten-thousand dollars even though I hold out the possibility that given new information that is convincing and verifiable I may change my mind. But when I leave the conversation I have decided that I owe him nothing and am very comfortable with that decision based on everything I have observed and experienced.

Were I an agnostic on the other hand I will maintain that I'm not entirely certain about the ten-thousand dollars but for now have decided not to pay, leaving open the possibility however that I might change my mind based on the information provided thus far, and may decide to contact the gentleman in order to pay up.

Of course if I believe him we're headed off so I can pay him his ten-thousand dollars.

Theism, atheism and agnosticism are not differences in evidence or information but rather how I personally perceive the information and evidence.

#### TomC

##### Celestial Highness
The difference between theists and atheists is that theists evoke a god or gods to explain and understand reality and atheists don't.
I don't think so.
I think atheists and theists both have an inflated opinion about their ability to discern the truth. The term "illusions of grandeur" comes to mind.

You and W L Craig might have different opinions on the subject. But you both have a foundation in common. You both believe that you understand reality better than most of us.

I don't think so.
Tom

#### skepticalbip

##### Contributor
The difference between theists and atheists is that theists evoke a god or gods to explain and understand reality and atheists don't.
I don't think so.
I think atheists and theists both have an inflated opinion about their ability to discern the truth. The term "illusions of grandeur" comes to mind.

You and W L Craig might have different opinions on the subject. But you both have a foundation in common. You both believe that you understand reality better than most of us.

I don't think so.
Tom
Whether someone is theist or atheist has nothing to do with their opinion of their ability. It only defines their method used to reach their conclusions on a matter.

ETA:
Why the personal attack? Addressing the content of the post itself would be preferable.

Last edited:

#### TomC

##### Celestial Highness
Theism, atheism and agnosticism are not differences in evidence or information but rather how I personally perceive the information and evidence.
That's not how I see it.

You think that the important question is whether or not you borrowed, and now owe, $10K. I'd be thinking, "Dang, another human with an agenda but no evidence of importance." Tom #### Jimmy Higgins ##### Contributor The difference between theists and atheists is that theists evoke a god or gods to explain and understand reality and atheists don't. I don't think so. I think atheists and theists both have an inflated opinion about their ability to discern the truth. The term "illusions of grandeur" comes to mind. This is false. Theism has an eroded record of importance. Stuff that was attributed to gods and demons have weathered away to show natural causes. Atheism has yet to have its singular centerpiece weathered. You and W L Craig might have different opinions on the subject. But you both have a foundation in common. You both believe that you understand reality better than most of us. I don't think so. Tom This ignores one problem, the lack of evidence that god(s) (or even a spark) exist. The relevance of this lack of evidence doesn't control ultimate origins, but the whole eternal god solution doesn't present any actual solution better than an eternal universe... it just provides an arbitrary solution. And agnosticism seems to suggest that atheists are right, there is no evidence of god, but wants to interject that their is no evidence of no god. To which an atheist replies, "fallacy". #### T.G.G. Moogly ##### Traditional Atheist Theism, atheism and agnosticism are not differences in evidence or information but rather how I personally perceive the information and evidence. That's not how I see it. You think that the important question is whether or not you borrowed, and now owe,$10K.

I'd be thinking, "Dang, another human with an agenda but no evidence of importance."
Tom
What is "evidence of importance?" The phrase can be taken several ways at least. What is your meaning.

#### TomC

##### Celestial Highness
Theism, atheism and agnosticism are not differences in evidence or information but rather how I personally perceive the information and evidence.
That's not how I see it.

You think that the important question is whether or not you borrowed, and now owe, $10K. I'd be thinking, "Dang, another human with an agenda but no evidence of importance." Tom What is "evidence of importance?" The phrase can be taken several ways at least. What is your meaning. No evidence that makes your assertions more plausible than the other contradictory assertions. Really, you found that hard to grasp? Do you understand that this question is evidence? To me? Tom #### Jimmy Higgins ##### Contributor Theism, atheism and agnosticism are not differences in evidence or information but rather how I personally perceive the information and evidence. That's not how I see it. You think that the important question is whether or not you borrowed, and now owe,$10K.

I'd be thinking, "Dang, another human with an agenda but no evidence of importance."
Tom
What is "evidence of importance?" The phrase can be taken several ways at least. What is your meaning.
No evidence that makes your assertions more plausible than the other contradictory assertions.

Really, you found that hard to grasp?
He said he saw multiple meanings and asked for clarification... and you decide to be snarky about it?

Get over yourself.

#### T.G.G. Moogly

Theism, atheism and agnosticism are not differences in evidence or information but rather how I personally perceive the information and evidence.
That's not how I see it.

You think that the important question is whether or not you borrowed, and now owe, \$10K.

I'd be thinking, "Dang, another human with an agenda but no evidence of importance."
Tom
What is "evidence of importance?" The phrase can be taken several ways at least. What is your meaning.
No evidence that makes your assertions more plausible than the other contradictory assertions.

Really, you found that hard to grasp?

Do you understand that this question is evidence? To me?
Tom
Please give me an example that distinguishes between evidence and evidence of importance so I can better understand your meaning.

#### Cheerful Charlie

##### Contributor
The problems of the theoretical Judeo-Christian concept of God are evidence that God does not exist. The problem of existence of evil and an omnipotent, perfectly good God. Omniscience and free will. And many more problems. A mythology in the Bible, Quran et AL that paint GOd as a stupid, bumbling God that has bad problem solving abilities. Taking the theological claims of a perfect being God to their logical conclusion demonstrates that God is technically nonsense and impossible. There are other concepts of God(s) but these concepts are just as bad, and eventually we get down to concepts like fairies and leprechauns and nobody cares any more.

An agnostic is simply someone who has not thought this counter evidence about theological claims to their logical conclusions.

#### T.G.G. Moogly

An agnostic is simply someone who has not thought this counter evidence about theological claims to their logical conclusions.
That is true but the question is how it occurs. The same evidence yields two different outcomes, two different conclusions about what the evidence demonstrates in two different individuals. That can only be the result of something internal to the processor and its programming. What exactly is a "divine spark?" For someone who processes information dispassionately it's recognized as nothing more than just a bunch of woo. For someone who processes their environment through different channels dominated by different priorities it's the result of some important command in the program.

#### TomC

##### Celestial Highness
The problems of the theoretical Judeo-Christian concept of God are evidence that God does not exist.

An agnostic is simply someone who has not thought this counter evidence about theological claims to their logical conclusions.

I find it frustrating that so many atheists cannot get past the Abrahamic image of god.
The many and varied images of "bumbling Sky King with superpowers" are not the only conception of the Divine. They're among the most primitive images. Even many Abrahamic religionists aren't as attached to that primitive god as many atheists.
Tom

#### atrib

##### Veteran Member
Both theism and atheism are opinions held with little or no evidence on the subject. They're opinions about god or the supernatural or something.
Wrong. Modern physics has effectively ruled out the existence of gods that interfere in human lives beyond any reasonable doubt. That you are ignorant about this fact, after numerous debates on this very subject in these very forums, says more about you than you realize. If you like I can post some links to specific posts where this is explained by bilby, myself and others so you can stop repeating this false claim.

Moreover, since we have no evidence regarding the evidence of gods, it is irrational to believe that gods exist. It is irrational to believe things without a good reason. I am certain you are not an agnostic regarding the existence of undetectable supernatural goblins that live in your attic, for example. So then why the fuck are you agnostic about the existence of gods?

#### Jimmy Higgins

##### Veteran Member
Perhaps it goes back to the very opening post here. Maybe people (some, many, or most?) are theists because it is appealing to believe in a god.

I'm not an atheist because I find it appealing. It is just what makes sense to me based on everything I have learned and experienced in this world.

#### T.G.G. Moogly

I'm not an atheist because I find it appealing. It is just what makes sense to me based on everything I have learned and experienced in this world.
Exactly. It's like any other lesson learned based on observation and experience. It's not a big deal, except to religious people who think they have a god.

#### Jarhyn

##### Wizard
1) No evidence for atheism (can't prove a negative)
2) Tiny itty bitty evidence for theism.
3) Therefore agnosticism is right.
You didn't need 2 in there.

Strictly speaking I recognize no evidence of theism. Zero.

I recognize that atheism is the most likely correct answer.

I also recognize that there's no way to prove that, only to disprove it.

I find that this is evidence of an interesting juxtaposition: if there is a god they seem to prefer the atheist, since the atheist is the one who appears most likely to be correct.

They are also the only ones with a hope of doubting their learned truths enough to improve upon their knowledge of the universe and the principles by which it function and so to be blessed with the power to make their lives better and the clarity to perhaps actually come to understand how to do that.

So reality itself does prefer the atheist, insofar as they seek to always be better.
a stupid, bumbling God that has bad problem solving abilities.
I mean, in practice, this is generally what is observed when people play God games. There's a reason the tagline to Dwarf Fortress is "Losing is Fun!"

#### rousseau

##### Contributor
I'm not an atheist because I find it appealing. It is just what makes sense to me based on everything I have learned and experienced in this world.
Exactly. It's like any other lesson learned based on observation and experience. It's not a big deal, except to religious people who think they have a god.

My observation and experience led me to atheism, but my experience of the world is, viscerally, very similar to those who believe in God. I know the world around me is material and can be mathematically modeled, but I don't feel like it's intrinsically empty of meaning, just an arbitrary 'nothing' which we assign whatever we want to.

You'll scoff, but that's what we call directly experiencing the divine. If you don't see it, that's fine.

But what I'm getting at is that there is a kind of logic and correctness to God belief. That doesn't mean there literally needs to be a guy with a beard, just people with a vague perception of the mystery of the world around them. For them it's easier to understand the mystery by giving it a concrete label and ontological system.

If you want to talk about hard material facts and why, mechanically, a God can't exist, you're missing the point entirely, imo.

##### Veteran Member
I'm not an atheist because I find it appealing. It is just what makes sense to me based on everything I have learned and experienced in this world.
Exactly. It's like any other lesson learned based on observation and experience. It's not a big deal, except to religious people who think they have a god.

My observation and experience led me to atheism, but my experience of the world is, viscerally, very similar to those who believe in God. I know the world around me is material and can be mathematically modeled, but I don't feel like it's intrinsically empty of meaning, just an arbitrary 'nothing' which we assign whatever we want to.

You'll scoff, but that's what we call directly experiencing the divine. If you don't see it, that's fine.

But what I'm getting at is that there is a kind of logic and correctness to God belief. That doesn't mean there literally needs to be a guy with a beard, just people with a vague perception of the mystery of the world around them. For them it's easier to understand the mystery by giving it a concrete label and ontological system.

If you want to talk about hard material facts and why, mechanically, a God can't exist, you're missing the point entirely, imo.
I may be missing *your* point, but that doesn't bother me.

If there actually exists *intrinsic meaning* as you suggest then an atheist might wonder from where this intrinsic meaning arises and what is meant by "meaning" if it is used in a non-subjective manner.

#### rousseau

##### Contributor
I'm not an atheist because I find it appealing. It is just what makes sense to me based on everything I have learned and experienced in this world.
Exactly. It's like any other lesson learned based on observation and experience. It's not a big deal, except to religious people who think they have a god.

My observation and experience led me to atheism, but my experience of the world is, viscerally, very similar to those who believe in God. I know the world around me is material and can be mathematically modeled, but I don't feel like it's intrinsically empty of meaning, just an arbitrary 'nothing' which we assign whatever we want to.

You'll scoff, but that's what we call directly experiencing the divine. If you don't see it, that's fine.

But what I'm getting at is that there is a kind of logic and correctness to God belief. That doesn't mean there literally needs to be a guy with a beard, just people with a vague perception of the mystery of the world around them. For them it's easier to understand the mystery by giving it a concrete label and ontological system.

If you want to talk about hard material facts and why, mechanically, a God can't exist, you're missing the point entirely, imo.
I may be missing *your* point, but that doesn't bother me.

If there actually exists *intrinsic meaning* as you suggest then an atheist might wonder from where this intrinsic meaning arises and what is meant by "meaning" if it is used in a non-subjective manner.

In case it wasn't clear, I was replying to T.G.G. Moogly, and not you.

But sure, you can still explore that meaning, and maybe if we take this logic to it's conclusion we decide that the universe is an arbitrary nothing. And that's fine. But what I'm getting at, is that the logical conclusion of reason isn't really nihilism, it's positivism, and the recognition that the world and our lives are ultimately a mystery tied up with a good amount of beauty, joy, and pleasure.

Those who are religious have a sense of this, but they give it concrete labels. Buddhists / Non-Dual Hindus experience it directly.

What I'm getting at is that by attacking theism, we're attacking an arbitrary label that is actually a placeholder for a real, human experience. To the hard atheist it's a cold game of logic, while missing the forest for the trees.

#### T.G.G. Moogly

I'm not an atheist because I find it appealing. It is just what makes sense to me based on everything I have learned and experienced in this world.
Exactly. It's like any other lesson learned based on observation and experience. It's not a big deal, except to religious people who think they have a god.

My observation and experience led me to atheism, but my experience of the world is, viscerally, very similar to those who believe in God. I know the world around me is material and can be mathematically modeled, but I don't feel like it's intrinsically empty of meaning, just an arbitrary 'nothing' which we assign whatever we want to.

You'll scoff, but that's what we call directly experiencing the divine. If you don't see it, that's fine.

But what I'm getting at is that there is a kind of logic and correctness to God belief. That doesn't mean there literally needs to be a guy with a beard, just people with a vague perception of the mystery of the world around them. For them it's easier to understand the mystery by giving it a concrete label and ontological system.

If you want to talk about hard material facts and why, mechanically, a God can't exist, you're missing the point entirely, imo.
I absolutely positively experience that myself when I'm out in the back country, and even occasionally when the mood just seems to hit me. I feel wholly energized and briefly manic. Then it subsides and I miss it when it's gone. The first time I walked through Carlsbad Caverns, walked among the Redwoods, walked among the Bristlecone Pines, experienced the moonless starry sky high on a mountain, when my kids were born, lots of times. But that isn't divine to me.

Are divine and god supposed to be the same thing? It all seems great enough, real enough, awesome enough, breathtaking enough, humbling enough, etc. I've never viewed the universe in nihilistic or meaningless terms. I don't need anything else to give it beauty and meaning. It isn't mysterious to me, it isn't hiding anything that I can't learn. We're the same thing.

##### Veteran Member
I'm not an atheist because I find it appealing. It is just what makes sense to me based on everything I have learned and experienced in this world.
Exactly. It's like any other lesson learned based on observation and experience. It's not a big deal, except to religious people who think they have a god.

My observation and experience led me to atheism, but my experience of the world is, viscerally, very similar to those who believe in God. I know the world around me is material and can be mathematically modeled, but I don't feel like it's intrinsically empty of meaning, just an arbitrary 'nothing' which we assign whatever we want to.

You'll scoff, but that's what we call directly experiencing the divine. If you don't see it, that's fine.

But what I'm getting at is that there is a kind of logic and correctness to God belief. That doesn't mean there literally needs to be a guy with a beard, just people with a vague perception of the mystery of the world around them. For them it's easier to understand the mystery by giving it a concrete label and ontological system.

If you want to talk about hard material facts and why, mechanically, a God can't exist, you're missing the point entirely, imo.
I may be missing *your* point, but that doesn't bother me.

If there actually exists *intrinsic meaning* as you suggest then an atheist might wonder from where this intrinsic meaning arises and what is meant by "meaning" if it is used in a non-subjective manner.

In case it wasn't clear, I was replying to T.G.G. Moogly, and not you.

But sure, you can still explore that meaning, and maybe if we take this logic to it's conclusion we decide that the universe is an arbitrary nothing. And that's fine. But what I'm getting at, is that the logical conclusion of reason isn't really nihilism, it's positivism, and the recognition that the world and our lives are ultimately a mystery tied up with a good amount of beauty, joy, and pleasure.

Those who are religious have a sense of this, but they give it concrete labels. Buddhists / Non-Dual Hindus experience it directly.

What I'm getting at is that by attacking theism, we're attacking an arbitrary label that is actually a placeholder for a real, human experience. To the hard atheist it's a cold game of logic, while missing the forest for the trees.

I agree that atheism doesn't necessarily mean nihilism, though many atheists may come to that conclusion for themselves. I do not. But I also do not believe that whatever meaning we may find in life isn't an intrinsic quality of reality that exists independent of our interaction with reality. I believe that there indeed do exist experiences that can be considered "spiritual", but that these are emergent properties of our own consciousness. Things like joy, beauty and pleasure may indeed be *subjective* in that they aren't absolute properties of an external universe, but that does not mean that they aren't real things that we as humans experience.

#### Jimmy Higgins

##### Contributor
What I'm getting at is that by attacking theism, we're attacking an arbitrary label that is actually a placeholder for a real, human experience. To the hard atheist it's a cold game of logic, while missing the forest for the trees.
But religious experiences are generally self-induced and filtered. Any natural experience in the world or event is feng shui, our literally reaction to our environment, without filters. That is real.

Religious experiences are tainted with presumption or desperation. Religious experiences have to be explained after the fact. It reminds me of "footprints in the sand". Your footprints were gone... oh no... I was carrying you. No... you wear flip flops those weren't flip flop prints!

#### Cheerful Charlie

##### Contributor
The problems of the theoretical Judeo-Christian concept of God are evidence that God does not exist.

An agnostic is simply someone who has not thought this counter evidence about theological claims to their logical conclusions.

I find it frustrating that so many atheists cannot get past the Abrahamic image of god.
The many and varied images of "bumbling Sky King with superpowers" are not the only conception of the Divine. They're among the most primitive images. Even many Abrahamic religionists aren't as attached to that primitive god as many atheists.
Tom

Yes,there are many varieties of gods to consider. All fail in the end. But the numerous versions of the Judeo-Christian God are the major are the source of the pest religions of America. If Christinity was not so in everybody's face we would care as little about it as say, Wiccan. Therefor that God needs debunking. Yes,theists wiggle, and wriggle to explain away these embarressing little God problems. Some, like WLC make a living trying to do it. We have vast swarms of Xian apologists trying to explain all these problems away. Yes, little Atheist, when the Bibles claims X it does not really mean X. "If you have read the works of Saint Bumbles of Paris, or Saint Gooficus, the doctor Incomprehensibilis, you would know this."
Having read more ancient theology than is good for a human brain, and debated apologists on the net than I can count, I can safely say I have done due diligence as far as God goes.

#### T.G.G. Moogly

Sure sounds like god and divine are emotional experiences in humans.

I guess a religious person would claim that those experiences are not possible without a god, that they are more than emotions, that god is revealing itself to you. If so, show me your god. Show me your divine.

##### Veteran Member
What I'm getting at is that by attacking theism, we're attacking an arbitrary label that is actually a placeholder for a real, human experience. To the hard atheist it's a cold game of logic, while missing the forest for the trees.
I agree. It can be a placeholder for that. I know people who call consciousness "God". They venerate it and consider it the ground of being and it's sacred to them. Right or wrong isn't the point here (though, personally, I won't pretend to know that they're wrong). The point is that the christocentric atheist's focus on Jehovah-esque beings doesn't cover all the varieties of "possible gods".

I think a common atheist response to an idea like that is the very one I used to make until recently: "But that's not a REAL god". But ALL words are arbitrary labels; all language is a social convention. People tend to think a word somehow captures the essence of a thing. But even Jehovah isn't inherently a god, he's a god for no other reason than there's a tradition of using that word that way. Atheists can ask "what do you mean by god?" but cannot rightly say "let me tell you what it means!" unless (like is often the case) they're forcing religions into christocentric shapes that'll fit their christocentric criticisms.

##### Veteran Member
Are divine and god supposed to be the same thing?
My answer to that would be no. "Divine" means "to do with god". So it's related to God, but not synonymous. If "God" is a placeholder term for what's of the most ultimate value in all existence, then "divine" is to do with that value. So you're getting a taste of that out in nature when you feel more or less 'one' with nature. Don't want to call it a god? Fine... so don't. If the word "divine" evokes images of the bearded man in the sky then, fine, don't use it. I don't like it either and would have said "sacred" instead of "divine" and would say "nature" instead of "God".

What's of interest to me (and it seems like it's some interest to @rousseau) is THE GIST of what religions get at. If we skip the gist of what religionists are getting at, and insist that the way they say things must be exactly accurate and scientifically true, then it's easy to slice and dice their posts and feel like we've "defeated" them. It's easy to miss something of potential value there if that's the only thing we're doing.

#### T.G.G. Moogly

Are divine and god supposed to be the same thing?
My answer to that would be no. "Divine" means "to do with god". So it's related to God, but not synonymous. If "God" is a placeholder term for what's of ultimate value in all existence, then "divine" is to do with that value. So you're getting a taste of that out in nature when you feel more or less "one" with nature. Don't want to call it a god? Fine... so don't. The word "divine" still evokes images of the bearded man in the sky? Ok, then don't use it. I don't like it either and would have said "sacred" instead of "divine" and would say "nature" instead of "God".

What's of interest to me (and it seems like it's some interest to rousseau) is THE GIST of what religions get at. If we skip the gist of what religionists are getting at, and insist that the way they say things must be exactly accurate and objectively true, then it's easy to slice and dice their posts and miss the point but feel like we've "defeated" them. It's easy to miss something of value in them if that's the only thing we're doing.
So you are saying there is more than human emotions and human experiences involved?

##### Veteran Member
So you are saying there is more than human emotions and human experiences involved?
Sometimes there are real things they're pointing at but it can be hard to see it.

#### rousseau

##### Contributor
But religious experiences are generally self-induced and filtered. Any natural experience in the world or event is feng shui, our literally reaction to our environment, without filters. That is real.

Religious experiences are tainted with presumption or desperation. Religious experiences have to be explained after the fact. It reminds me of "footprints in the sand". Your footprints were gone... oh no... I was carrying you. No... you wear flip flops those weren't flip flop prints!

Sure, but that people don't think clearly is likely a feature of our nature, not a bug. Basically you can choose to denigrate and invalidate the experience these people are having, or not. Personally, I prefer to validate than spend my life complaining about how 'irrational' everyone is.

It's a bit tangential, but I have a young sister-in-law who isn't great at thinking for herself. Not necessarily religious, but clearly living a life that is clouded in illusion. Years ago I decided that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with that, and to go where she is, versus trying to make her go where I am. Personally, I've found that approach a lot more fulfilling.

Which I think comes back to the point that if politics and religion were completely separated, nobody would rightly care what others believed. It just wouldn't matter, and it would be a lot easier to passively accept.

#### bilby

##### Fair dinkum thinkum
An agnostic is simply someone who has not thought this counter evidence about theological claims to their logical conclusions.
That is true but the question is how it occurs. The same evidence yields two different outcomes, two different conclusions about what the evidence demonstrates in two different individuals. That can only be the result of something internal to the processor and its programming. What exactly is a "divine spark?" For someone who processes information dispassionately it's recognized as nothing more than just a bunch of woo. For someone who processes their environment through different channels dominated by different priorities it's the result of some important command in the program.
It strikes me that it’s an evolutionary thing. Humans are tribal animals, and the development of a strong inclination to accept what we are told by those in authority, rather than questioning it, is fairly strongly selected for in that situation. We are also just animals, and they tend to be selected for rapid decision making over accurate decision making; It’s often better to be wrong than to be slow.

Neither is completely dominant though; Tribal species do better with a certain number of mavericks who challenge for leadership rather than submitting to it, and getting the wrong answers quickly is sometimes not as effective for survival as getting the right answers slowly.

Authoritarianism, oversimplification of complex problems, and a tendency to jump to conclusions on inadequate evidence, are the core traits you would expect from most members of a species of moderately intelligent tribal (but not eusocial) animals; And you would also expect to see these traits vary quite significantly between individuals within a given population.

These are the core traits of religious belief, and, if you add inertia against change, and low empathy for tribal out-groups, they are the core traits of right-wing political beliefs too.

It’s hugely unsurprising that many humans are strongly religious, or that they find change of belief very difficult (even to the point of changing only superficially, while clinging to the axioms of their childhoods), or that they are willing to go along with both fascism and genocide.

It’s very encouraging that we appear to mostly be sufficiently intelligent to overcome those traits given only a few generations of exposure to the idea that we need not be imprisoned by these genetic legacies.