Can former atheists explain what atheism is?

Discussion in 'Religion' started by Jan Ardena, Mar 22, 2019.

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

    This is a common error that non-scientists make. They assume that to "prove" anything, a smoking gun is needed. So let's discuss smoking guns.

    There's a dead body in the living room, with an apparent gunshot wound. Is that evidence that a murderer exists? Not everybody would agree that it is, says Jan Ardena. Witnesses say they saw a murderer shoot the victim with a gun. Not everybody would agree that this proves there was a murderer, says Jan Ardena. A suspect is interviewed and confesses to the crime. Not everybody would agree that this proves the suspect was the murderer, says Jan Ardena.

    At the end of the day, if we think like Jan Ardena, no amount of evidence is sufficient to establish the existence of a murderer. Therefore, it is impossible for any detective who starts his investigation with an open mind to ever conclude that a murderer exists. No, what is needed is that we must assume there is a murderer, have faith there is a murderer. Without faith, there's no way to conclude there is a murderer.

    Real science doesn't often deal in smoking guns. The most important conclusions of science are based not on a single, conclusive piece of evidence, but on an accumulation of many pieces of evidence that all support the same conclusion.

    Jan wonders what an atheist would need to be convinced that God exists? Would toppling a mountain do the trick? Well, the least that can be said is that see a mountain topple due to no apparent physical cause would be remarkable. If the Atlantic Ocean (or the Red Sea) were to part like magic, that too would be an eye-opener for an atheist. People also levitating into heaven. An interesting additional datum.

    Sure, it's possible that a particularly pedantic and immovable individual might insist, like Jan, that none of these apparently miraculous events would be conclusive evidence of the supernatural, but any reasonable individual would have to conclude that something fishy was going on. After a while, the accumulation of things that look like ducks would suggest to a rational thinker that it's time to start taking the possibility of a flock of ducks seriously.

    There might be ways to arrange for mountains to topple through mundane means. What we know is that, as things stand, achieving that result is beyond the current capability of human beings. Therefore, if such an event were to be observed, even on its own, it would attract a lot of interest from atheists. Now, maybe it's God doing his magic, or maybe it's advanced aliens visiting Earth. Telling the difference might mean collecting more evidence, but even in the absence of such evidence an atheist scientist could draw up a short list of possible explanations, which would likely include the machinations of a capricious deity.

    As I've said before, though, evidence for God need not necessarily be anything as dramatic a toppling mountains. For example, if somebody could demonstrate the efficacy of prayer under scientifically controlled conditions, that would every likely point the atheists in the direction that theists desire them to go. One can think of many other examples of evidence that would add into the mix.
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  3. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    1. Christians are theists.
    2. Explain why you think a theist would have no reason to say that. What's your solution to the problem of evil, Jan? Karma?
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  5. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    It's fascinating how you pick and choose from the bible. You insist that the Genesis story is literally true, but then you tell us that a lot of what Jesus said about God and heaven and all that is false.

    I assume you do this with all your "scriptures" - mix and match until you get something that appeals to what you have already decided to believe.
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  7. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Similarly, one can never be an Olympic swimmer, until one is one. One can never be a vegetarian, until one is one. One can never be a brain surgeon as long as they remain a florist.

    This is what's known as stating the bleeding obvious.

    You use loaded language. You can't "realise" something unless it's a truth. The thing you suggest to be a truth here is not so regarded by atheists.

    Taking out the bias, you're asking "Before an atheist starts believing in God, what is his state of mind?" Again, the bleeding obvious answer is: his state of mind is one in which he doesn't believe in God.

    It's not like a "scriptural POV" is unbiased on such matters. They would say that, wouldn't they?

    And you: since you don't understand why atheists can't just "have faith" like you do, the only explanation for atheism you can come up with is "they must be in denial".

    You need to look outside the box you're in.

    Believing in sky fairies, based on a desire and zero evidence, is what's irrational. When are you going to admit that to yourself?

    They have to justify their faith to themselves somehow, so they would say that, wouldn't they?

    But wait! They must have wanted to look - those former-atheist theists. Otherwise, how did they get to here from there?

    You're not making a lot of sense. You're contradicting yourself.

    Perhaps you should take some time to consider the control aspect of religion and scripture. Somebody has convinced you that God is real; you didn't start from there. What leverage does that give them over you? Have you ever thought about it?
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2019
  8. Jan Ardena OM!!! Valued Senior Member

    Sometimes the obvious has to be stated, so we have a good basis for discussion.
    Always remember there are two fundamental perspectives. Atheist, and theist.
    The atheist perspective is not the universal starting point.

    Not I don’t.
    Every atheist who has accepted, and believe in God, becoming Christian, expresses their atheist position as rejection, and denial of God.
    Some also are profess a state of arrogance, in their.

    But once acceptance and belief is present, they tend to realise that their so-called lack of belief was in fact a denial and rejection. I don’t think your atheism is as bleeding obvious as you would have us believe.

    Atheists pretend to want evidence so they can can accept, or even believe in God. But former atheist never accept God on the basis on the evidence they pretended to want.

    Not really.
    It’s quite obvious.
    Plus the previous card-carrying atheists tend to prove that to be correct.

    What are Sky Fairies?

    Would they?
    Don’t you think they could simply be correct?
    Maybe they hold the key as far as you being able to give up your denial and rejection. A lot of them were just like you, always trying to hide behind science, learning a whole lot of logic, so they can appear to bring something to the table. They used the same tactics, but they managed to overcome it.

    They overcame their denial, rejection, and arrogance.

    What is it you think I’m contradicting?

    Nobody can convince anybody that God is real.
    You have to come to that realisation by yourself.

  9. Jan Ardena OM!!! Valued Senior Member

    I’m not aware of “picking and choosing from the bible.
    Can you suggest a way to read, and explains things from the bible, without having to read it from cover to cover each time?

    I haven’t insisted that genesis is literally true. Why do you need to tell lies?
    If you read genesis literally, you have to conclude that A+E are not depicted as the first people ever. Unless you are religious, like bilvon, yourself, and Sideshowbob.

    I’m of no doubt you make all kinds of false assumptions.

    I don’t believe you think I do this with the bible. You’re always going to throw up lies and misrepresentations to make you feel like

  10. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    There are many atheistic perspectives, fundamentally different from each other.
    No, you don't. That's not what my translation says, for example, and not what the people who wrote it concluded from their own writing.
  11. Goldtop Registered Senior Member

    That's odd, I never came to any realizations that Orcs, Dragons or Elves were real by reading a book, yet you have convinced yourself God is real by reading a book. Funny, how you mentioned Evidence is first and foremost in your logic, yet one book, out of millions, appears to be ample evidence for you. How wierd is that?
  12. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

    The same way you would read the Public Library:
    1. Read a book and say that this book explains it thus.
    2. Recognize that any one book may have contradictory ideas in it.
    3. Recognize that every book is likely to disagree with some other books in some way.
  13. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    This is an milestone in Jan's understanding.
    He has realized one cannot believe in God with anybody else's influence.
    A belief in God is entirely personal and subjective.
    This is the first time Jan has acknowledged that a belief in God has no objective existence.
    sideshowbob likes this.
  14. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Jan Ardena:

    Only in the bluntest possible sense. Obviously, there are many differences of opinion within atheism, and just as many differences in opinion within theism. It's just a matter of whether you want to call those differences "fundamental" or not, which is just playing around with language.

    Right. Babies start with no knowledge of religious ideas at all. No ideas about God. No ideas about philosophy. No political views. And so on an so forth. All that stuff is cultural knowledge that they have to learn. You have to have some understanding of what words like "atheism" and "theism" mean before you can properly start calling yourself one. The starting point is that you know no language.

    No they don't. Some of them merely claim to have been unaware of God, then at some point they learn about it and the idea seems like a good fit for them.

    Your description of atheists, of whatever stripe, as denying or rejecting God shows that you've never really got to grips with the alien atheist mindset. See, the thing is this: atheists don't believe God exists. Read it again, slowly. What follows from that? One cannot "reject" a thing that does not exist.

    Now, you're right that some theists will tell you stories like "I suddenly realised that, all along, God was right there in front of me, but I was blind! Then I saw the light, and became a Muslim/Christian/Hindu/insert religious affiliation of your choice. Now I realise that I was turning away from the wonderful Glory and Majesty of the Almighty, whose magnificence now fills my every waking hour. I didn't know what I was missing! Let's all join in a song of Praise in His Glorious Name!" These people are reassurring themselves. You can see the insecurity, right there. They've drunk the Kool Aid and they need to tell themselves a story about why they did that. So they make up this thing about realising they were in denial all along yada yada yada and it makes them feel better about their choice. Additionally, this is the kind of conversion story that their co-theists will endorse - one of a several acceptable "born again" narratives that play well with the devout. It's also a narrative that helps build in-group cohesion and protects against out-group ideas that might threaten the faith. Those ideas are the dangerous ideas that must be quickly dismissed if they are raised at all.

    I didn't say atheism was bleeding obvious. If it was, then you wouldn't be a theist, for example - not unless there was sufficient payoff (in psychological or other terms) to offset the denial of the obvious.

    On the other hand, maybe that's the explanation for theism. The idea that there's no God has always been hypothetically available to everybody. But there have historically been strong social and cultural forces working at suppressing that dangerous idea. In our current Age of Information, suddenly we're seeing change among those who have ready access to this kind of information (bear in mind that many in the world have no such access, still). Still, I don't see theism going away any time soon. It has its attractions, undoubtedly, even if it isn't true.

    Rational people want evidence before they will commit to believing in anything wholeheartedly, let alone with the kind of single-minded devotion that apologists like yourself display. Why should belief in God be subject to special rules and exempt from the kind of examination given to any other knowledge claim?

    Right! Hold that thought!

    Now run with it: if they aren't accepting God on the basis of evidence, then why are they believing in God? They must be motivated by other considerations than objective truth. Right?

    That's the problem. Understand? You'll remain stuck unless and until you can broaden your horizons.

    It's a flippant term for gods. Were you unaware? Not too far from the mark, however. The gods used to live among us. Then they moved to the sky. Then we lost the ability to point to exactly where they are. And now, for some of us, they are undergoing a Total Reality Failure.

    It's a rosy picture you paint, but I think it's a bit of a fantasy. I'd wager that a tiny, virtually insignificant proportion of people who are learned in science, logic and philosophy have ever converted from atheism to theism. The flow is in precisely the opposite direction more often than not, for those people. The atheist converts to theism are mostly to be found among those uneducated in matters like critical thinking and the scientific method. They are also found among those who have an existing affinity with the supernatural - the ones who describe themselves as "spiritual but not religious". Those people often drift around among fringe beliefs, then suddenly discover one of the major religions and have an epiphany. They might tell you they were atheist in the past, and it won't be a lie. But don't kid yourself that these people were "hiding behind science" or "learning a whole lot of logic". They never did that.

    Ah, arrogance. Now we get to it. Is that what upsets you about atheists, especially, Jan? You being lily white and all in that department? I have to chuckle just a little.

    By the way, don't think that I'm unaware that my posts on the topic of your theism have been a little arrogant of late. Unfortunately, through spending quite a lot of time on internet forums like this one, I have developed something of a habit of tone matching. It's not something I'm especially proud of, but I'm not above meeting arrogance with arrogance. And you, Jan, have spent a lot of time preaching about "the atheist mindset" being this or that, about the atheists believing this or that, about the atheists denying this or that. That's when you have been able to drag yourself away from preaching deepities like "God Is" and "Theism is a fundamental position" and "Theists just know that God is Real".

    We could talk about our respective positions with more respect, in good faith, with the aim of understanding the other's position better, but you insist on setting a particular tone. So here we are.

    In the bluntest sense, you're right. Nobody can convince anybody of anything, unless the person receiving the information "realises" that it is true (i.e. comes to believe it is true).

    You would have it that religious indoctrination is a waste of time, then, I take it? And yet, all the evidence shows that it appears to work, which tends to refute your claim.

    I do think that. You quote verses from the bible to support your views, but then you turn around and say that Christianity, which is based on the New Testament, gets a lot of things wrong. That's just one example.

    I'm confident that you're just as selective about the Baghavad Gita and your other favorite "scriptures". Take certain parts to heart, ignore other parts, put a particular spin on yet other parts to make yourself comfortable about them, mix and match from various religious writings and ideas. In the end, you have a one-man religion, tailor made.

    Having said that, I'm not that familiar with ISKCON beliefs, and your beliefs seems to be very closely aligned with that particular faith, so maybe that was where you started.
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2019
  15. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Sadly, this is not a breakthrough. Jan has historically struggled to distinguish objective existence from subjective existence; there's ample evidence of this on this forum if you want to go looking. His belief is that his personal, subjective understanding and conception of God is the only objectively true one.

    I have found that it's pointless to try to get Jan to acknowledge that his subjective reasons for believing in God are not the same as objective reasons for believing in God. He can't tell the difference.
  16. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Jan's idea of God is an ultimate transcendent presence without identifiable properties.

    No matter how deep science looks, Jan's god is always one step deeper. Thus he never needs to identify anything at all.

    God IS, God transcends.....duhh......

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  17. Jan Ardena OM!!! Valued Senior Member

    Nope. It’s pretty black and white mate.
    Atheist is a person who does believe in God.
    A theist is a person who does believe in God.
    All other differences and disagreements stem from either of those positions.
    No need. They start out with complete reliance on their parents. Belief in God is reliance on God. If you were really a theist in the past, as you claim, that would be a no-brainier for you.
    The terms merely describe a position. They are not the position.
    Belief in God isn’t learning about God, or philosophy, although they can help to clarify the object of your belief. But in the same way it can turn one away from God also. So I don’t put too much emphasis on those things. They serve a purpose mainly in discussions like these.
    Not being aware of God does not constitute atheism, anymore than not be
    Wrong. My description of atheists is perfect. An atheist is a
    For the purpose of this discussion, your reason for being an atheist is completely irrelevant.
    Firstly, the kook aid stuff is atheism. Those folk foolishly followed an atheist into hell.
    Secondly, religion is not necessarily about theism, especially these days. You should know, because according to you, you were deeply religious, and you were an atheist. You only thought you believed in God because you were a Christian. Yet you have nothing to say about your relationship with the Christ, or God.
    You mean you don’t know what the explanation for theism is? It figures.
    But why do you think one needs an explanation to believe in God. Oh yeah!. You’re an atheist. Again, it figures.

  18. Jan Ardena OM!!! Valued Senior Member

    It will go away soon, because societies are in free fall at the moment. Just like Sodom and Gomorrah, and the days of Noah, plus a whole host of other times mentioned in other scriptures. Matter will eventually run down, just like spring and summer, making way for the darkness of winter (I should be a poet),
    Atheism isn’t rational. They’re like cuckoos. They simply apply names to their delusions, then attempt to change them to suit their fancy.
    They accept God because they know God is their Spiritual Father. They simply grow up, spiritually.
    It’s nothing of the sort.
    Science, logic, and philosophy, are completely separate to the positions of atheism, and theism, just as Mills and Boon novels are completely separate to love.
    People who conduct their relationships on any type of literature, are like atheist who conduct their spirituality on science, logic, and philosophy.
    An atheist perspective no doubt.
    Always attempting to cover all bases, but always falling short.
    All those qualities you mentioned are below theism.
    It’s like thinking that the only real musicians are the ones educated in top music schools. Whereas the ones who are self-taught, are merely making an uneducated, and untrained, din.
    As usual you are are wrong. Not because you are stupid, because you have to defend your weak position by any means necessary.
    Oh they suddenly discover it do they?
    And you would know this how exactly?
    I guess we can rap up this thread because you have all the answers, hey?

  19. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    Very well said, Jan.

    We start off being utterly dependent. And then we grow up and can take care of ourselves - we gain independence and achieve our full potential as functioning adults - in the world and in our spirituality.

    Well, some of us do.
    Maybe that's what it is. Maybe some people just never manage to move out of God's basement.
  20. Jan Ardena OM!!! Valued Senior Member

    Not so.
    We grow up still being reliant, and that reliance is ultimately on God.
    Some may choose to say they rely on nature, which to an extent, it is true, but nature relies on God.
    Just because you don’t believe in God, doesn’t make it not so, anymore than my belief in God.

  21. wegs Matter and Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

    I'd say that I identified as an atheist for a few years, after leaving faith for a time. My ''definition'' of it would be complete indifference. I wasn't angry, nor trying to argue with theists, I merely accepted that for me at that time, I no longer felt that I believed. Further, I didn't feel the need to believe. I'd consider myself spiritual at this point, believing again in God. (that's a long story) I tend to wonder why there are very vocal, angry atheists railing against theists, as I didn't feel that way as an atheist. Of course, no one wants views of another shoved in their face, so maybe that's their reasoning? But, it's like not believing in Santa Claus; I don't feel the need to convince those who believe in him, to stop. Why spend so much time arguing over an entity that you don't believe exists?
  22. Goldtop Registered Senior Member

    Earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tsunami's, mosquitos and the deadly tse-tse fly all rely on God?

    Where does God draw the line between his faithful followers reliance on his holiness and the reliance of that which kills them?

    I heard somewhere God doesn't play with dice? Is that still true?
  23. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    Some people carry cards? I never got a card! I applied years and years ago and I still don't have a card, so I assumed atheists don't issue cards to their membership. Gyp! Who is running the Atheist Council?
    Yazata likes this.

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