Atheism, theism and jelly beans

Discussion in 'Religion' started by James R, Aug 3, 2019.

  1. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    You're telling me that you flip-flop at random between believing in God and not believing in God?

    You're right: you're certainly different from me.

    My guess is that you really have no idea about God at all. Would you say that's right?

    I was talking about deciding whether somebody is a theist or an atheist, based on their own answer to a question - i.e. based on what they say about their own beliefs.

    Yes I can.

    What are you talking about?

    I think maybe you're confusing my making an assessment for myself with my imposing my will or opinion onto somebody else (by force, for instance).

    I'm quite free to decide what somebody is based on what they tell me they are.
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  3. river

    Like wise
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  5. Vociferous Valued Senior Member

    talk about (something) with another person or group of people.​
    Yes, one question is literally "talking about it".

    Except you explicitly asked about its "nature":
    Seems you're just backpedaling since you did ask about its nature. You didn't ask if God was real, you asked if it was "supernatural in nature". We can discuss the logically possibility of the widely agreed upon features of God, like omniscience, omnipotence, etc..


    So if God was to give himself hands, he already has, in a way that does not violate natural law.
    And that is scientism, not science.

    Because we wouldn't.

    And? Am I obligated to defend the beliefs of others? Are you?
    Answered inline. ^^

    There are plenty of things that exist that are not available to scientific methods, like the Big Bang itself, forever hidden beyond decoupling.

    The Bible, and other religious scriptures, do not make that distinction at all. That dichotomy has only existed since the scientific revolution.
    It's always odd when people presume things like an "alien critter" when we have just as little empirical evidence for their existence as we do God's. Now that's self-contradictory.
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  7. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    So let me get your logic straight.

    You assert you've seen Santa Claus deliver presents to the whole world in one night.
    I ask "What is the nature of this voyage? Did it defy the laws of physics?"
    And now your logic tells you that I - what? - believe Santa to be real?
    I need know nothing else about Santa than that you assert he exhibits magical traits.

    I'm asking about your concept of the nature of this Santa.
    Just like I'm asking about your concept of the nature of God.
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2020
  8. Vociferous Valued Senior Member

    Seems you're not understanding Tiassa's point any better than mine.
    Before I read your other posts, I'll take another crack at it.

    Do you see no difference in these statements:
    1. I do not belief any God exists.
    2. I believe that no God exists.
    1. is only affirming your lack of belief, while 2. is affirming your belief in the claim that "no God exists". As such, 1. is what your OP defines atheism as, and 2. is what your OP claims the religious think atheism is.

    Now, you can certainly hold both views at the same time, but 1. is the minimal definition of atheism and 2. is the definition of anti-theism.

    Antitheism (sometimes anti-theism) is the opposition to theism. The term has had a range of applications. In secular contexts, it typically refers to direct opposition to the belief in any deity.
    - wiki​

    Lack of belief versus opposition to belief. They are two different things.

    And neither require you to "deny every theist's personal view of God", as anti-theism is the catchall for the belief that no God exists.

    If you disagree with this distinction, it's hard to understand the distinction made in your own OP. You're an anti-theist but you don't like when people assume you're an anti-theist?
  9. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member


    I appreciate you answering this. For a moment, I thought you weren't going to. It's at least more interesting than the usual God stuff.

    So, some follow up questions.

    Where does it live? Everywhere

    How can something be alive 'everywhere'? Does it have material presence in the air? Between atoms? Inside me?
    Does it have mass?
    If it is literally everywhere, how is it - even in principle - distinguishable from the universe itself?

    Does it affect Earthly activity? Yes If so, by what mechanism?? Humans

    By what mechanism does it affect humans? EMR? Particles? Can we detect this mechanism?

    Thermodynamics? Does it do work? Emit heat? It's creations/manifestations do.

    That wasn't what I asked. How can it create or manifest anything without itself doing work? How can it be doing work in between the atoms of my body without affecting my mass, temperature, etc.

    Again, it does not contradict its own laws of nature.

    Point of order: This is not an explanation. It's a fiat. You're simply declaring it to be so.

    Did it come into existence some time since the Big Bang? No.

    So there was a living creature before the BB? What did it subsist on? Where did it live then - since 'everywhere' didn't exist.

    And finally, most of your assertions are definitely supernatural. Living, conscious things that are everywhere in the universe, and have existed pre Big Bang, and affect other things without doing any work are all supernatural traits.

    I thought you said you had a natural theory?
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2020
  10. Vociferous Valued Senior Member

    A deist role in creation and any notion of supernatural intervention (violating natural law). Being omnipresent and omnipotent, God does what everything/everyone else does.

    No, those aren't the competing concepts in your OP. The difference between atheism and theism is trivial. The difference is between what atheists claim they believe and what theists think atheists believe.

    Yes, 1b is atheism. But "Atheism is the idea that gods don't exist" is 1a, which is anti-theism (sometimes called strong or positive atheism). You've very often expressed 1b in terms of 1a in this thread. Hence the seeming contradiction noted by Tiassa and myself.
    And your assumptions about what theists assume doesn't seem to be supported by anything. But we can discuss that further, if you like.

    Good. That is consistent with your OP.

    No, it's anti-theistic to claim that no God exists, which is language you seem to have inadvertently used in this thread. But unconvincing is just lack of belief, as per 1b.

    That's what I've been doing this whole time. Since I have no specifically religious beliefs, I've only argued from a purely theistic viewpoint.

    Agreed, we seem to have only been at odds in how we expressed the same definitions.

    That only applied when I was under the impression that you making a positive claim about no God existing. It was a matter of making such a claim based solely on specific religious descriptions of God. It's completely within atheism (weak/negative atheism) to simply not find those convincing.

    Never thought to try.
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2020
  11. Vociferous Valued Senior Member

    How you got any of that from what I wrote is anyone's guess.

    You asking about the nature of a thing has nothing to do with your belief about said thing.

    You compared asking about the nature of God to asking if the magic of Harry Potter were real. They are not comparable, because asking a things nature is not the same as asking if it's real. That bizarre logic is yours alone.

    Again, I assert that God exhibits no supernatural traits.
  12. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    Except all the traits you mentioned in your theory.
  13. Vociferous Valued Senior Member

    How is omniscience, omnipotence, etc. inherently supernatural, especially in light of the fact that such distinctions didn't even exist until the scientific revolution? Can you show that such traits cannot logically exist?
  14. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    You didn't actually mention any of those in your theory (inline responses to questions about this natural God - post 243.)
    I am referring to the ones you did mention.
  15. Vociferous Valued Senior Member

    Ah, I missed that post.

    And not my theory, just answering your questions.

    Not inside you, you. Life itself and even existence itself. Compatible with pantheism, which differs from panpsychism.
    I never claimed it was distinguishable from anything.

    Humans are the mechanism by which it affects earthy activity.

    Who says it actively creates or manifests anything apart from the initial creation event? The Big Bang isn't known to have required any force by which to have "done work", any more than virtual particles require an energy input to pop into existence.

    And? You're asking me about my beliefs, not anything I've claimed to be able to demonstrate to your satisfaction.
    But just by simple logic, the self-contradictory does not exist. Ergo, if God exists, it does not contradict itself.

    Who said it was "living", in the sense of a biological organism, prior to creation?

    Straw man. I never said it was living and conscious (panpsychism) everywhere in the universe. I simply took the question "where does it live" to be "where does it exist", since it's not a biological organism.
    Since any previous universe would have existed prior to the Big Bang, are you calling that supernatural too?
    And another straw man, as I never said it affects other things without doing work. Any such affect, through the mechanism of humans, does require work.

    So far, your claim that these are supernatural traits is just a straw man.

    Nope, saying that something is not supernatural does not mean that there is a demonstrable natural explanation for it. Dark matter is not supernatural, but we still have no natural explanation of what it may be or why it causes the relevant observations. Again, does that make dark matter supernatural?
  16. Vociferous Valued Senior Member

    So philosophy, cosmogony, and anthropology are "God of the gaps"?
    Or is the blithe dismissal of these questions just scientism, i.e. "science of the gaps"?

    Oh, I'm sure plenty of atheists think they can tell the religious what they really believe, just like your OP criticizes the religious of doing to atheists.

    Yes, the Quran and New Testament obviously differ, which is why Christianity and Islam are different religions. And yes, the Old Testament God is described differently than in the New Testament. That only makes the different views of God, between Christianity and Islam, rather trivial in consideration of the different views on God presented within a single religion.
    The Quran mentions the Torah, the Zabur ("Psalms") and the Injil ("Gospel") as being revealed by God to the prophets Moses, David and Jesus respectively in the same way the Quran was revealed to Muhammad, the final prophet and messenger of God according to Muslims. However, Muslims generally view these books (i.e the Bible, or parts of it) as having been corrupted, altered and interpolated over time, while maintaining that the Quran remains as the final, unchanged and preserved word of God.

    And? Do you expect me to defend all major religions? I don't even expect you to defend the views of Christopher Hitchens, much less every atheist. You can only speak to your own beliefs.

    No, not all conceptions of God are equal.
    What's so vague about the basic characteristics of omniscience, omnipotence, etc.? That I'm not pushing some specific "will of God" on others?
    Personally, I don't believe a God would desire worship, except insofar as to bring people together.

    I don't know what you mean by that. I just believe God exists, without the necessity for any mythology or religious trappings or self-importance.

    So that diversity of views leads you to belief that none of them are true? Since there are so many, you don't believe that any of the interpretations of QM are likely to be true? Sure, just about anything is "possible", but you're saying you have no preference in anything with some critical number of competing views? How many views? Two? Three?

    No God is "evidenced", so that seems like a disingenuous criticism.
    And since when are the agreed upon characteristics of omnipotence, omniscience, etc. ill-defined?
    Sounds like you're just not happy without claims of miracles to shoot like fish in a barrel.

    Why do you think only religious claims about God are testable? There are certainly logical tests of omnipotence, omniscience, etc..
    Not my problem if you've got tunnel vision on mainstream religion. Most mainstream believers do not engage atheists enough to have any challenging arguments. But if you really need to, I'll be happy to play Christian apologetics with any claims you like.
  17. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    Yeah. I wasn't sure what to call it. Theory seemed to suit, but I'm happy to go with whatever you prefer.

    OK, most of the universe is definitely not alive.
    So, to say it's 'everywhere' and still 'alive' appears to be paradoxical.

    I say 'appears to be' because it is obviously a more nuanced idea than I have divined so far.

    OK, by 'mechanism', I'm trying to ask 'with what form the communication does it influence other entities' - particles, photons?

    You did. Above, where you say it affects earthly activity through humans.

    Yes. Just making clear that 'It does nothing contradictory' doesn't address any questions.

    Sure. Big 'if' there. God not existing at all also meets the criterion of not contradicting itself.

    It existed before the Big Bang, but it wasn't alive then.
    Then it came alive after the BB.

    Maybe you need to string these elements together for me.

    This entity is alive, and exists everywhere in the universe, but is not alive everywhere in the universe.

    You may need to elaborate on how this is not trying to have your cake and eat it too.

    (Forgive me, I am trying to stifle the spontaneous mental image of having God's fingernails or hair follicles floating around between my atoms.

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!


    OK, so does it emit some form EMR, heat?

    True, but it does require defending the logic.
  18. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member


    How can you be confident that your God exists in our universe, as opposed to the universe operating by natural laws alone? Can you show that your God is necessary to create the universe, or to create the laws of nature, or whatever?

    You say your God is everywhere - it is the trees, the rocks, the water, ourselves, everything. How is this God distinguishable from any of its supposed manifestations? That is, what test could I apply to tell the difference between a God-rock and a purely natural rock?

    It seems to me that you don't have any objective means to tell the difference between a universe that contains your God and one in which your God is absent. If you don't have any means to tell the difference, what makes you so confident that your God is real?
  19. davewhite04 Valued Senior Member

    I'm pretty sure he exists, but sometimes I don't care I guess.

    We are different but that is good.
  20. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    What makes you pretty sure?
  21. Vociferous Valued Senior Member

    How are those two mutually exclusive? Where have I claimed that God intervenes in natural laws?

    The source of the laws of nature is an open question, even to philosophy and science.
    Can you justify the universe and the laws of nature coming from nothing? Or even coming from a fallacious infinite regress?
    You may just throw your hands up at such questions. That's your prerogative.

    Who said God was testable? Many religions actually call that blasphemy.

    I'm pretty open about the fact that my beliefs are not compelling to others.
    I arrive at my belief primarily through logic, which can address things empirical science cannot, albeit not as convincingly either. I'm fine with that.

    I started by asking myself what the very least first assumption about the origin of everything could be. The absolute, very least assumption is nothing. I worked it out from that starting point.
  22. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    Anything that is natural is testable in principle (even if practically difficult).*

    If you're claiming you God is not testable, that is either philosophy, or it is tantamount to a claim that it is beyond nature.

    So: are you saying "God is not testable"?

    *and yes that includes the moments after the Big Bang.
  23. davewhite04 Valued Senior Member

    Something that wouldn't change your mind.

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