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Why atheism?
neilmarr
I had to get pretty deepy involved in parapsychology, Cat. Used to hire big-name profs and technical teams to run eperiments on well known psychics and popularly claimed phenomena from metal bending to telikenesis to poltergeist.

Never too impressed. There was a heck of a lot of wishful thinking involved back then when psychic news was big news and big news spelled generous grants for all those in the many, many departments of parapsychology at universities around the world.

Funny how, when the physicists took an interest, that what very few seemingly positive results there were tended to be miniscule in comparison to the dramatic claims of the psychologists. Media lost interest, grants dried up, and seats of parapsychology started to disappear left, right and centre.

Hoots. Neil
 
catman
I think the course in parapsychology was only offered for about a year, at the peak of all the interest in psychotic...er, psychics. The instructor didn't seem particularly enthused.
"If I owned both Hell and Texas, I'd live in Hell and rent out Texas." - General Sheridan
 
Skeeve
neilmarr wrote:
Funny how, when the physicists took an interest, that what very few seemingly positive results there were tended to be miniscule in comparison to the dramatic claims of the psychologists.
Hoots. Neil


Yeah, them damn real science guys coming in and ruining perfectly good experiments. Jealous bastards.Grin
"The world is my country, and do good is my religion." - Thomas Paine
 
neilmarr
Something I always found suspcious, Skeeve, was a sign (can't do it, but it's like two Vs on their side pointing to the right) that represented the 'possibility factor' of coincidence in psychic tests results by parapsychologists. Sometimes, this figure was based on statistical analysis, like the chance of a lottery win is calculated or the chances of of pulling the right card from a deck. Often, though, it appeared to me to be wild guess work and answers to my questions were vague.

Physicists (who became involved in the later seventies and eighties), on the other hand, were concerned with only accurately measurable phenomena under perfectly controlled laboratory conditions; one of the reasons that there was no proven effect of, say, telekenisis, levitation, metal bending, etc, and such alleged psychic abilities lost credibility and took a popular nose dive.

Cheers. Neil
Edited by neilmarr on 08/10/2008 03:50
 
Skeeve
CYA = Cover your ass

I think that's what that symbol means Grin
"The world is my country, and do good is my religion." - Thomas Paine
 
Skeeve
Here is a post I read this morning, and it has caused me to question my position somewhat.

Debunking Christianity: Atheism, Agnosticism and the Default Position

What do you think?
Edited by Skeeve on 08/10/2008 11:11
"The world is my country, and do good is my religion." - Thomas Paine
 
Bob of QF
Skeeve wrote:
Here is a post I read this morning, and it has caused me to question my position somewhat.

Debunking Christianity: Atheism, Agnosticism and the Default Position

What do you think?


Good thread.

I more-or-less agree with the main essay.

I often typify myself as agnostic with regards to a general concept of god--- I do not know one way or another, and refuse to make a conclusion about it without any evidence.

But, then I go further, and say I'm an atheist with regards to the gods of human religion: these gods, I say, do not exist.

And it is possible to prove that is true, to a high enough degree of satisfaction, that a conclusion may be drawn-- at least as high as for any other scientific endeavor.

I agree with the essay: drawing a conclusion sans proof is belief.

But I disagree [as seems to be implied in the essay] that there is zero proof showing that the gods of human religions do not exist: there's that aplenty.

As R. Dawkins once quipped: [paraphrased] if god does exist, god is most likely nothing at all like what anyone, ever, has imagined.

I use that argument all the time, against zealous fundiots: in their arrogance, they not only assume that the Ultimate Creator of the Universe (for anything less, would not qualify as "god" ) is not only aware of their puny existence, but actually cares about them, too.

Interesting essay.
Quantum Junction: Use both lanes

Reality is that which is left, after you stop believing.
 
seeker
Skeeve wrote:
Here is a post I read this morning, and it has caused me to question my position somewhat.

Debunking Christianity: Atheism, Agnosticism and the Default Position

What do you think?


The first thing that comes to mind is why then do we not have to count our certainty that Santa Clause doesn't exist as a religious belief. The fact is that there are tons of things (if concepts can be said to have weight) that we don't believe in all the time. So why is it that we don't have to 'explain' all of these similar non-beliefs?

The reason is because of likliehood. The notion of believing in something is very different from the notion that something could possibly exist. I can imagine all manner of things that might be possible but that does not mean I believe they will occur.
 
catman
It all goes back to the difficulty in proving a negative. There is obviously no way to search every nook and cranny in the entire Universe (and beyond, if one thinks there is a beyond where a god might be) to be certain that there are no gods. However, to remove all the murkiness, I say that there is no solid evidence that proves that there is (or has been) a god which is worthy of notice as a Creator or any such, in other words worth worshipping or believing in, so I'm comfortable in my practical atheism.
Edited by catman on 08/10/2008 16:04
"If I owned both Hell and Texas, I'd live in Hell and rent out Texas." - General Sheridan
 
neilmarr
The concept of a god in any form (or even no form at all) is a human construct. Shake off the belief tradition of the ages and it merits no greater consideration than any other potty idea humans have dreamed up.

To admit agnosticism is to allow for the possible truth of one special ridiculous notion over all other ridicuilous notions.

Neil
Edited by neilmarr on 08/11/2008 08:32
 
catman
'Agnosticism' is a gateway to atheism. I'd say that most ex-believers pass through it on the way to atheism. I actually prefer George H. Smith's definitions, in which agnosticism and atheism are manifestations of different things: whether one can know whether a deity exists or not, and whether one believes in a deity or not.
"If I owned both Hell and Texas, I'd live in Hell and rent out Texas." - General Sheridan
 
neilmarr
Still don't like it, Cat. That definition of agnosticism alwaysinvites the tired old but quite valid Flying Spaghetti Monster argument. The philosophy of agnosticism is a wishy-washy cop out and merits no consideration. Neil
 
catman
All I am saying is, better a 'wishy-washy cop-out' than a stubborn belief in a magical sky fairy, with a load of dogma attached. I considered myself an agnostic before I realized that critical thinking resulted in atheism. I think many others make the same progression. It isn't easy to discard a lifetime of conditioning instantaneously.
"If I owned both Hell and Texas, I'd live in Hell and rent out Texas." - General Sheridan
 
seeker
I wouldn't be so hard on agnostics. There is actually a lot of social pressure to go with the crowd. Better agnosticism than belief
 
Bob of QF
To me, it's a matter of semantics.

I agree with the notion that the concept of god is pretty much a null one: there being zero evidence supporting it.

But, I do not believe there is no god, anymore than I believe there is no invisible pink unicorn.

Neither exist, as far as I live my life and make decisions. But, I will not go out on a limb and claim positively, under no circumstances do either of those exist.

It's a matter of probabilities, to me, as are all things in science. God/IPU existing has a very, very low probability---near zero.

But not precisely zero-- can't even claim personal existence to that degree of certitude.

I dunno. I suppose it is a bit of a nit-pick to me, and precision of language.

I try to always qualify what I say, and avoid absolute statements.

"there are no absolutes"*

* as far as I am able to determine... <grin>
Quantum Junction: Use both lanes

Reality is that which is left, after you stop believing.
 
seeker
Thank God we're atheists
 
catman
bob of QF: That's the way I see it too. Dawkins agrees with us (or, we agree with Dawkins).

Life ain't nothin' but a funny funny riddle,
Thank God I'm an atheist.

Edited by catman on 08/11/2008 23:09
"If I owned both Hell and Texas, I'd live in Hell and rent out Texas." - General Sheridan
 
catman
catman wrote:
bob of QF: That's the way I see it too. Dawkins agrees with us (or, we agree with Dawkins). The likelihood of a god is so remote that it isn't worth considering seriously, and certainly not deserving of believing in and inventing a religious dogma around.

Life ain't nothin' but a funny funny riddle,
Thank God I'm an atheist.

"If I owned both Hell and Texas, I'd live in Hell and rent out Texas." - General Sheridan
 
Eva Lution
neilmarr wrote:
Wonder if I really am the first in these new forums to mention agnosticism and the Flying Spaghetti Monster in the same sentence.


It's as likely as anything else. Without a sophisticated sentence search. Smile

Which indictaes we need a Sophisticated Deity Search. Why has no one ever created one?

I consider the difference between atheism and agnosticism to be merely demonsrative of the individuals personality traits.

One is prepared to vest all in their own convictions; the other likes to keep an open mind. One likes to stand on firm ground; the other likes to be prepared for anything. Etc.
 
Skeeve
Maybe it all boils down to some who dislike saying, "I don't know". Being atheist is a statement. Being agnostic is a position. I've thought about this more since reading that article I linked to.

And I think I'm in agreement with Eva:

Eva Lution wrote:
I consider the difference between atheism and agnosticism to be merely demonsrative of the individuals personality traits.



An agnostic is an atheist who lacks conviction. Almost all agnostics I've met in my 45 years did not believe in a god or gods, but always qualified it with, "But I'm not saying that the possibility isn't there, we just don't know." Which I think is the basic agnostic position. An atheist just states, "I don't believe, there is no proof."

An atheist doesn't feel the need to qualify his statement. But an agnostic needs to justify his.

It's a brain thing, I think.
Edited by Skeeve on 08/16/2008 10:05
"The world is my country, and do good is my religion." - Thomas Paine
 
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