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While purchasing a lottery ticket at the deli this evening, the proprietor made a joke about me giving him the dollar instead and all of my sins would be forgiven. I've known him for a while. He's a 20 something Muslim man who has worked in his father's store for all of his life & I have a rapport with him, so I offhandedly responded, " I don't believe in God, or sin". He replied, "I've known a number of people like you over the years and when I ask them why they don't believe in God, they've never been able to give an answer that satisfies me". So I asked, "Why must there be an answer?" But then quickly, before he responded, I continued, "That is my answer to the question of why I don't believe in God - why must there be an answer?"

He said, "I'll have to think about that." I think he understood the question.

I became an atheist when I was 16. I didn't really know it at the time. I had been raised as a Christian, confirmed in multiple churches [Lutheran and Episcopalian - I guess my parents wanted to cover their bases] and my Dad also taught at Notre Dame and my Mom had been an organist for many Catholic churches over the years, so I spent time there too. I had always been a true believer. Then one day I woke up, and I no longer believed. It really was that simple. Yes, it took several years of me exploring my 'spirituality' to admit to myself that I didn't believe, but when it came down to it, I had simply lost any faith in the world beyond our own. And when I said that tonight to my friend at the deli, it brought me back to my own 'why' - a bizarre realization 25 years later that what I intuited that day was that we're not only asking the wrong questions, but we've preconceived the wrong answers.

So, why must there be an answer? That we require one says something about how we apprehend the notion of truth - in all of the disciplines in which we seek it. It says of truth that it is ascertainable; that it is knowable; that it is identic; that it is static. With the expectation of an answer we bracket the things we haven't yet learned to comprehend. We fail to see the possibility of anything outside of the modes and manners in which we apprehend the world in the present - or that possibility is highly obscured by the epistemic framework in which we exist. This is as true of science as it is religion. [Please note, I'm not equating the two remotely - and I'll get to that]. We think of truth as a god incarnate. There is an important reason why religious stories of a 'god become man' proliferate historically [and it far predates Christianity]. It is the literal embodiment of truth - the idea that truth can inhabit an object, or more importantly, a human being. What it says is that we seek a truth that is corporeal, that exists in our reality, that we can hold, measure, quantify, 'know' - or even have 'faith' in. It's an idea of knowledge predicated on embodiment; truth can become human. Or, in Nietzsche's beautiful one liner summing up the whole of Platonic philosophy, 'I, Plato, am the truth'.

Within the world of science, when properly understood, our knowledge is asymptotic. It is the 'best guess' of 'what is' based on what we can glean from both empirical repetition and mathematical projection. A 'theory' is called a 'theory' is because it is verified, repeated and has predictive validity. It doesn't pretend to be 'the answer'. It is not 'truth'. It is our best understanding of what is going on based on all of the available data. If one thinks of it geometrically, it is a parabola approaching it's asymptotes. It will never touch them, but it always gets closer. Unfortunately, science can also fall into the previous framework. It becomes equally codified. It raises its own epistemic frameworks that are difficult to overcome. Schools of thought gain the conceit that they have 'the answer'. While I'm not a huge fan of Jean-Francois Lyotard,  his work in The Post Modern Condition quite eloquently demonstrates the manner in which 'scientism' overrides actual science. Even Kuhn's landmark work implies the gradualism of science as a discipline develops clogs and hence revolutions. And, of course, Foucault wrote volumes on the manner in which epistemic regimes transform into 'the answer'.

So, we're back to the question, "Why must there be an answer?" Why aren't we satisfied with the limits of mortality? Why aren't we satisfied with the experiences of our actual embodiment? Why aren't we satisfied with the scientific knowledge we continue to accrue? Why aren't we satisfied with the ever expanding world of homo sapiens? Why aren't we satisfied to be a part of a species that is figuring itself itself out? What if there is no answer, there is no end, there is only what we are, have been and become? We as a species can accomplish everything we've ever dreamed of within those parameters, if we accept them as a species. The world we can only dream of could actually be manifest if we stop pretending we can grasp something we can't - namely the 'truth'. We've created a supernatural order to justify our existence and we can't seem to escape its reiteration. So we need to start asking different questions - ones that don't require an answer.

Originally posted to lucid on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 10:36 PM PDT.

Also republished by Progressive Atheists, Street Prophets , and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (145+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brecht, MTmofo, jwinIL14, BentLiberal, Bob Johnson, Laurence Lewis, pico, ItsaMathJoke, fToRrEeEsSt, murrayewv, begone, myrmecia gulosa, No Exit, NonnyO, joegoldstein, ZedMont, Stripe, ask, pierre9045, thenekkidtruth, FloridaSNMOM, Jon Sitzman, nookular, Ellen Columbo, stretchslr53, CwV, Raggedy Ann, FutureNow, Audri, Crashing Vor, Aquarius40, Buckeye Nut Schell, EclecticCrafter, sidnora, Joieau, implicate order, aznavy, Liberal Thinking, zerelda, shortgirl, pat bunny, Kevskos, Methinks They Lie, Syoho, Deep Texan, wader, Penny GC, mslat27, rduran, zerone, shesaid, Chitown Kev, Catte Nappe, psnyder, TracieLynn, LynChi, dandy lion, yet another liberal, collardgreens, jrooth, kbman, millwood, dRefractor, Pandora, leftykook, Farlfoto, anonevent, eodell, sodalis, SuWho, MKinTN, OleHippieChick, linkage, pasadena beggar, Indexer, duhban, greengemini, AaronInSanDiego, mikidee, One Pissed Off Liberal, Hayate Yagami, ht dave, Alma, GeorgeXVIII, Randomfactor, Via Chicago, rhutcheson, Arilca Mockingbird, LoreleiHI, tharu1, Sun Tzu, BachFan, worldlotus, kjoftherock, SteelerGrrl, offgrid, Cecile, badscience, midnight lurker, nickrud, radical simplicity, Mimikatz, Gay CA Democrat, side pocket, Robynhood too, pvasileff, a gilas girl, The Pseudorandom Cat, Bryce in Seattle, Thutmose V, ChemBob, Vince CA, cinepost, HeyMikey, Dodgerdog1, Matt Z, suzq, codairem, Noodles, rb608, enhydra lutris, AJayne, Prinny Squad, pyegar, bently, petral, Angie in WA State, Onomastic, Limelite, flowerfarmer, cv lurking gf, eru, Powered Grace, freakofsociety, melo, Wreck Smurfy, ruleoflaw, ConservatismSuxx, ichibon, arejay830, livingthedream, JamieG from Md, 1toughlady, thanatokephaloides, newpioneer
  •  Be sure to let us know if ticket was a winner. (9+ / 0-)

    The spice must flow, or sprinkled in a rub.

    by jwinIL14 on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 10:53:23 PM PDT

  •  the question for someone who asks me why (27+ / 0-)

    I don't believe, I ask them why do they believe, at which point they go off on all sorts of subjective tangents.  They never provide me a valid reason to believe other than Pascal's Wager or the reward/punishment cycle of their faith where all of Creation is a Pavlovian experiment.

    I don't believe in leprechauns, fairies, Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny.  I simply ask the believers to give me a reason to believe in their version of God vs believing in the Tooth Fairy.  Their only response is "The Tooth Fairy is not real"

    They don't get it and will never get it so long as they believe.  For too many, religion is based on justifying their actions in the eyes of an omnipotent deity or daddy whom we can fool though He is omniscient.  We can lie, cheat and steal so long as we shout "I believe" every so often.

    In the same manner, I ask them why they are so addicted to situational ethics.  Consider Abraham's aborted sacrifice of Isaac.  God told Abraham to sacrifice his son.  At that point, the sacrifice was good.

    Then God relented so if Isaac had been sacrificed that would have been evil.  So the same act was at first good and then evil.  The only difference was what God wanted.  So if I sacrifice my son today, can I argue that God told me to do so so it was a necessary act?  After all this same situational reasoning is why killing a human is considered bad but slaughtering our enemies is a good thing  

    •  LOL (8+ / 0-)
      an omnipotent deity or daddy whom we can fool though He is omniscient
      that's not what I believe, but I did think that line was very funny

      Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
      Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights to talk about grief.

      by TrueBlueMajority on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 06:14:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  They also want there to be someone (or thing) (9+ / 0-)

      that will dole out justice in the end.

      And, they fear the finality if death. Better to believe we'll all meet up in the Kingdom of Heaven.

      I've been meaning to write a diary about how as an atheist I cope with the loss of a loved one.

      It's weird when people keep trying to comfort me with the "You will see them again" thing.

      "We must make our choice. We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both." - Louis Brandies

      by Pescadero Bill on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 07:06:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Using "they" in this context is a bit dangerous, (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        offgrid, Mimikatz, pvasileff

        I think.  There are many reasons people believe, and they vary widely from person to person.

        I suspect the majority believe simply because they were raised to believe and they're unable to comprehend not believing.  Since the lesson began the minute they were born for many, it's simply not within their capacity to imagine it's not true.

        Others believe because they need it for some reason - for some, it's fear of death and a desire to believe in immortality, for others, it's to have a road to forgiveness, some need an authority figure in their lives, others fear an inability to take care of themselves and so need the sense of safety some omnipotent being provides.

        None of those are bad things.  The only part that is bad is the close mindedness that is pretty much a necessity of believing.  If it's impossible to allow for anything other than your belief to be possible, then it can and is too easily used to justify some pretty horrendous behavior.  Not to mention that it leaves people open to the manipulations of those who don't believe but are perfectly happy to use the beliefs of others to empower and enrich themselves.

        •  Why? (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          gustynpip, petral, melo

          I believe for one very simple reason: it gives me comfort in a world very often full of senseless, monstrous tragedy. It is a choice that I am very well aware of, but it is my choice.

          Living on Pez, vitamin C and Rogaine...

          by Conquistador17 on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 11:54:44 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'm going to ask a question that I realize could (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            LoreleiHI, Back In Blue, codairem

            be taken as an antagonistic one in the believer/nonbelievier back and forth, but I intend it as an honest question that I hope will simply open a discussion to help me better understand.

            How and why does believing provide you with a sense of comfort?  

            The reason I'm asking is that I think I'd find that belief  would create a deep sense of anger when the senseless, monstrous events occurred, rather than a sense of comfort.  I'd be angry that a powerful being would permit such horrors.  I can't wrap my mind around a belief in such a being bringing a sense of comfort, since there couldn't be any sense that future events would not occur or that something more positive would be resulting from the tragedy.

            I realize our minds must somehow work differently on this issue and would appreciate insight into how our approaches differ to have such drastically different results.

            •  I think it is different than this (0+ / 0-)

              I think the sense of comfort is biochemical generally.  We have very weird brains I think, and these organs have a strange complexity that allows for faith in all sort of things along with emotions that go along with those faiths. Kind of like the guy that has been playing the same slots for a while and they just know it is "ready to hit" because they have been standing there losing for so long.  Of course the next pull of the lever has exactly the same chance of hitting as all the others.  But it just doesnt "feel" that way. And trying to convince your brain to think mathematically about it doesnt work well.

              We do this sort of stuff all the time and we get comfort when we think there is order in it - something that our brains find necessary for some reason.  Like interpretations of dreams, or the belief that UFOs are from another world.

              So why must there be an answer?  The comfort that conformity brings to a brain structured the way ours is dont you think?

    •  faith should not be mocked (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      If God appeared before you, proved himself to you, and commanded you to build an ark to save yourself and your family from a humanity destroying flood, would you do it?

      There's a huge leap between saying "God told me to do something" and having God command you. You should consider what it is about your atheism that prevents you from understanding the difference.

      You are an atheist because you have no faith. It's not right for people with faith to look down on you. Nor is it right for you to look down on people of faith.

      Or are you so small minded that you can't acknowledge that others might have something valuable that you lack?

      •  I disagree. (5+ / 0-)

        Faith is the refuge of people who refuse to examine the world around them.  Faith is stupidity.  Faith is superstition.  It's the remnant of thousands of years of ignorance about the natural world.  Faith is a fear of the unknown.
        1000 different religions on this planet, and everyone KNOWS that their version of truth is the one correct one.  What bullshit. You believe what you want, but if you intend on going around telling everyone that god is a 7 headed serpent with wings that is ready to damn you to hell because you masturbate, well, be prepared to be mocked.  And rightfully so.

        •  you're entitled to be a jerk (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          duhban, OrganicChemist

          Of course, if you don't have faith, you think that faith is without value. We scorn the things we lack because we fear that we may become envious.

          So the tall man mocks the short man because he cannot reach the highest shelves. And the short man tells the tall man that he can always use a ladder but statistics show tall people die earlier.

          And they can hate each other because they can only appreciate the qualities that they themselves possess.

          •  Okay, Farlfoto was indeed a bit of a jerk (7+ / 0-)

            in his or her post.  However, you need to come back to reality if you're serious with you "We scorn the things we lack because we fear that we may become envious" crap.  

            What nonbelievers do is become frustrated with and tired of that kind of crap being thrown at them.  This patronzing "I'm superior to you because I believe in god" crap.  I mean, really?  You think what you define as "faith", but is really a deep seated emotional need is something we secretly desire and have a fear of becoming envious over?  Trust me, that's not it.  The only thing we're afraid of is being marginalized by people like you and having your beliefs imposed upon us whether we believe or not.

            This is the kind of mindset that makes it impossible for there to be any kind of true understanding between those who believe and those who don't.  Of course, the mindset of someone like Farlfoto does the same.  But you're so incapable of understanding the lack of faith that you actually think those who don't have it are jealous of you for it.  Sad.

            •  so the response is? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              I'm superior to you because I believe in god
              to which the atheist replies, "No! It is I who am superior because I am not taken in by these obvious lies! Ha! Ha!"

              And everyone happily disrespects everyone else and we all go on pretending that we understand all we need to know about the other.

              You think what you define as "faith", but is really a deep seated emotional need
              You don't understand faith. You dismiss it. Did you ever wonder how come you lack this "deep seated emotional need" that everyone else has? Is your brain more evolved? Are you just a better human being in general?

              Some people are great at long distance running. I am not. But if I said, "Long distance running is stupid and pointless and it's bad for your knees and everyone that does it is a fool." How does that reflect on me?

              What does my scorn accomplish except to make myself feel better about not being able to do what they do?

              Because that is what scorn is for: to justify oneself as compared to the other. It is the mirror image of jealousy.

              What I enjoyed about the original post is that the author does not use scorn to deflect a difficult question. He doesn't dismiss the question as suspicious or mean-spirited. He gives a thoughtful answer, an appropriate answer, and is rewarded with a thoughtful response.

              What better conversation about faith can you have?

              •  Do you not see that you come across as scornful? (4+ / 0-)

                And no, everyone else does not have the 'need' for religion. Look at Europe, or China (the most populous country in the world), or the rest of Asia. All are majority agnostic. Are the population of countries lacking something essential to being human?

                Also, Gen X and later are trending more and more agnostic, regardless of country. Are generations lacking something essential to being human?

                Am I not human? I'm not a sociopath. No one has ever accused me of that. Do people take issue with my not believing what they do? Yes. But none of them has ever come so close as you have to saying that my not believing makes me somehow less than fully human.

                “He said it was better to belong where you don't belong than not to belong where you used to belong, remembering when you used to belong there.” ― Terry Pratchett, The Wee Free Men

                by LoreleiHI on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 01:02:44 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  I will cheerfully admit that I don't understand (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                stretchslr53, codairem

                faith.  I once had it when I was young, but I'm quite happy I lost it.

                I don't, however, dismiss it.  I can actually understand with clarity how it adds to some peoples' lives - and I can see how it harms many peoples' lives.

                You do tend to attribute opinions, needs, etc. to others quite a lot, don't you?

                Have I ever thought about why I don't need faith?  Yes, I have and I have no answer.  I've certainly never thought the answer was because I'm superior to those who hold it, either intelligence wise or otherwise.  I believe it's likely because I've lived through some incredibly difficult times.  During those times I found that faith provided no help at all, but that developing my own inner strength did.  My difficult times are long over now, but I simply have no need for any kind of faith anymore.  It would add virtually nothing to my life.  But as to why I find it both impossible and undesirable to believe in a god when the vast majority around me do, I do not know.  Of course, then, I also don't know why I'm a Democrat when the vast majority around me are Republicans, either.

                You seem to be rather like a brother in law I have.  You seem to see anyone believing differently than you as a criticism of you.  Don't you find it terribly uncomfortable to maintain the concept that anyone who doesn't have faith  must think they're superior to anyone who does?  

                I'm hoping you're still rather young and these discussions are some of the first you've engaged in.  I'm hoping that because you seem to have a desire to engage in an actual discussion rather than immediately becoming overtly offensive.  However, you don't seem to recognize the basic assumptions you begin with that are not necessarily accurate, nor how defensive and therefore more subtly offensive you are in many of your statements.

              •  Actually, after rereading your post, I realized (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                LoreleiHI, stretchslr53, Back In Blue

                that I was wrong - terribly wrong.  You don't have a desire to engage in a discussion, but instead want to insult people by coating your insults in faulty logic and something less than directly antagonistic words.

                I'll list just a few of your basic incorrect assumptions:

                1.  There are two choices about things; either they are good and desired by everyone or they are bad and desired by no one.

                This is the assumption that underlies your statement that if you are not superior to me because you believe in god, then I must be superior to you because I do and either I must be envious of your lack of faith or you must be envious of my lack of faith.

                Of course, the reality is that we can believe different things without either of us being superior and you can have something that I have no desire for.

                2.  "Everyone else" needs religion.  You are not everyone.  

                3.  My not needing religion must mean either that I'm superior to everyone else or that there's something wrong with me.  There has to be an "explanation" for why I would be different than you.  Of course, the reason for this little gambit was in the hope that I'd respond with something that you could take offense at and then point out how atheists always put down people of faith.

                4.  That my not having faith is the equivilent of saying faith is bad.  (Your very silly example of long distance running.)  I've never said that.  Your putting up this strawman is what actually made me realize that your posting is being done in bad faith.  I have never once made any statement that scorned someone for their faith.  In fact, I stated clearly that I believed a poster who did was out of line.

                So rather than hoping you're someone young who is working toward engaging in friendly discussions but doesn't yet have those skills, I now suspect you're actually someone quite experienced in playing the passive aggresive game of gotcha'.  I don't care to play further.

                •  Correcting errors - of course, in paragraph one, (0+ / 0-)

                  "because I do" was intended to be "because I don't" and "envious of your lack of faith" was intended to be "envious of your faith".

                •  you're way off base (0+ / 0-)

                  This is weird. It's like you're responding to someone else. Or maybe you're having a different conversation with me than the one I thought I was having with you.

                  I am talking about being accepting and trying to understand people with different belief systems. And how being disrespectful or scornful of others beliefs is counterproductive.

                  You apparently think you're having a conversation with a religious person trying to convince you to believe in God. There's a deep irony there, but since you like to guess things about me, I'll let you try to figure it out.

                  Of course, the reality is that we can believe different things without either of us being superior and you can have something that I have no desire for.
                  Which is what I am saying. If neither are superior or envious than what would motivate one to mock the beliefs of the other? What is the purpose of scorn?
              •  no, my response is... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                to which the atheist replies, "No! It is I who am superior because I am not taken in by these obvious lies! Ha! Ha!"
                "Have a nice day, and goodbye."
              •  Presumes facts not in evidence (0+ / 0-)
                "deep seated emotional need" that everyone else has?
                Not everyone else has it, not by a long shot. Not even all relitious or spiritual people have this "faith".  Nobody, however lacks it, except in the sense that one might lack polio, or the inability to form new memories. It is not an asset, it is not a gift, nor is it a great skill.

                Innumerable children all over the globe have been taught to believe in various fictions, things for which there is no rel evidence, and most of them outgrow nearly all of those beliefs. Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, The Tooth Fairy and things like that go first. Some people cannot let go of all of these things, clinging to those which give them a sense or security and purpose, or even merely a place in the universe. Everything from astrology to god(s) has adherents, but they ae not, because of that, specially blessed. They ae simply unable, for whatever reason, to face reality without a crutch.

                That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

                by enhydra lutris on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 09:08:08 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  this is so demeaning (0+ / 0-)

                  The whole point of that part you quoted was to point out that saying that people are religious because they have a deep seated emotional need is demeaning. Which is why that phrase is in quotes. Those are not my words, that is not how I think about faith.

                  If that's how you see religion and faith, it's no surprise that you would compare it to childhood beliefs in the tooth fairy. It suggests to me that you see religious feeling as a delusion; a sign of immaturity or gullible stupidity.

                  So we must disagree. I don't agree that religious faith stems from having a false understanding of the world or being a weak-willed person.

                  But I understand where you're coming from, I have seen many a religious person insist that their faith is the only true one (and that all others are being misled) enough times to recognize it in what you're saying.

        •  we all have faith in something (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          joegoldstein, BenderRodriguez

          because last I checked none of us truly know everything.

          Der Weg ist das Ziel

          by duhban on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 09:26:29 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I don't think one follows from the other. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            duhban, Hayate Yagami, my2petpeeves

            Not knowing things doesn't mean we need faith to fill in the gap.

            Gondwana has always been at war with Laurasia.

            by AaronInSanDiego on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 09:35:24 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I disagree (3+ / 0-)

              faith in the end is an acknowledgement that we don't know or can not prove but choose to believe anyways.  Until we know everything there is always going to be something we will have to put our faith in.

              Case in point most scientists (me included) put faith in science, that everything has an explanation. Do we know that that is the case? No but so far we seem to be correct.

              Der Weg ist das Ziel

              by duhban on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 09:42:48 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  maybe this depends partly on (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                mmacdDE, duhban, lucid, Hayate Yagami

                what one means by faith. The fact that science has worked means that we are using evidence to justify or reliance on science. It's true that we don't have absolute proof, but we rarely, if ever, do, even when we "know" something. If we define faith as placing confidence in something without absolute certainty, then we act on faith almost entirely, even when we have knowledge, which makes faith a fairly useless concept.

                Gondwana has always been at war with Laurasia.

                by AaronInSanDiego on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 09:56:23 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  this very well might be a definitional argument (3+ / 0-)

                  But this isn't about operational certainity this is about greater questions.

                  As Einstein said,

                  The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is comprehensible.

                  As a scientist I assume (if that word works better for you) that there is always an explanation. I might not understand what immediately and an explanation might not happen in my life time but I assume there is an explanation.

                  However there really is no proof for that assumption if I'm honest nor an explanation for why systems work as they do. That's what I meant by 'faith' in science. We all have first principles (or as I call it ab initio) that we base out lives on. Those require faith because there is no proving or disproving them they simply exist.

                  Der Weg ist das Ziel

                  by duhban on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 10:11:33 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  we make assumptions all the time, I agree. (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    Unless we know there isn't an answer, it doesn't seem to me that operating under the assumption that there is one requires more or less faith than assuming there isn't one. If we are convinced there must be one, perhaps that is faith.

                    Gondwana has always been at war with Laurasia.

                    by AaronInSanDiego on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 10:24:06 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  also, I assume (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    you would not follow the scientific approach if there weren't a record of useful results. Although past performance is no guarantee of future success, you would likely not choose an approach which didn't have such a history. I don't think that choice itself is a sign of faith. Seems rational to me, in any case.

                    On the other hand I received the concept of God through religion, which I see as having a less reliable record. Without relying on religion, I see no basis for believing in God, and without evidence that there is a God, I assume that there isn't one.

                    Gondwana has always been at war with Laurasia.

                    by AaronInSanDiego on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 10:33:57 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I put my faith in science (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Happy Days

                      because I believe everything has a rational explanation or eventually will. As you said so far this approach has worked. I'm not entirely sure what I would do if the world was not rational but so far at least that doesn't appear to be a concern. I'm not sure really what makes it useful to me. I become a scientist in an attempt to understand how the world works and in that regard yes I'd ditch one system in a heartbeat if another was more efficient. But my underlying faith that there are answers would remain.

                      I do understand why "faith" has gotten a negative  connotation. I do understand that no nothings have thrown "faith" up like a shield to protect them from uncomfortable and inconvenient facts. But that's not really faith that's an ignorant inflexible mind grasping at straws.

                      Speaking personally I'm not that religious myself. At best I'm a deist and at worst simply agnostic. I do think though that we all have faith in something but then again maybe that's just own personal bias.

                      Der Weg ist das Ziel

                      by duhban on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 10:46:44 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Well, the human world is pretty irrational. (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:

                        At least it looks that way to me.  I don't know what to do about it either.  

                        From the standpoint if the individual life is pretty meaningless.  You are born, live and die.  The meaning is in the whole.  That's how I see it.  Many people prefer some explanation, no matter how absurd (or how else explain original sin?) to no explanation, but not all people, and those who can tolerate uncertainty and ambiguity tend not to believe in god in the traditional sense.

                        Don't bet your future on 97% of climate scientists being wrong. Take action on climate now!

                        by Mimikatz on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 12:10:18 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  ah but one life can be incredibly siginficant (0+ / 0-)

                          I wouldn't be in this world without my mother and my father and I would have almost assuredly committed suicide many years ago without the compassion, help and understanding of my closest friends.

                          So while the larger meaning may be in the whole there is still plenty of meaning in the individual. At least that's what I believe.

                          Der Weg ist das Ziel

                          by duhban on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 01:38:31 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

              •  actually I will amend my comment. (0+ / 0-)

                There are times when we act or make decisions without any sort of confidence, so faith would not be operating on that case.

                Gondwana has always been at war with Laurasia.

                by AaronInSanDiego on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 10:01:17 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  I'll note that this equivocation... (0+ / 0-)

                ... between religious faith and the tentative, provisional conjectures of other methodologies begins and ends with this argument. It's a premise that is rejected when it comes to questions about whether atheists are morally or psychologically healthy people, whether we're fit role models in youth organizations, whether we have a place within interfaith discussions, or whether our chaplains and celebrants shouldn't be openly insulted on the house floor.

                Since it's an equivocation that's only adopted rhetorically for the purpose of criticism and quickly abandoned when it comes to justifying exclusion and discrimination, it can be safely ignored as one that doesn't really matter.

              •  Nope, faith is not required. (0+ / 0-)

                That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

                by enhydra lutris on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 10:14:02 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  Define "faith" (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            The "faith" that I have that the sun will rise tomorrow morning is not the same sort of "faith" that religions invoke.

            "He who fights monsters should see to it that he himself does not become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."

            by Hayate Yagami on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 10:25:45 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  and yet both are faith yes? (0+ / 0-)

              Both ultimately are choices to believe or assume without the knowledge that it will happen correct?

              I get why "faith" has gotten a sour name especially because of the monotheistic religions but let's also recognize that we all have 'faith' in something.

              Der Weg ist das Ziel

              by duhban on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 10:33:24 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  There is a MASSIVE difference (4+ / 0-)

                and only a rhetorical game linking them.

                I drop an apple. I have "faith" that it will fall down, accelerating at roughly 9.81 m/s^2 until it hits the ground, at which point it'll bounce slightly before landing again and ceasing relative movement.  This is from an understanding of physics, and a functionally infinite number of past experiences with gravity.

                Then we have "religious faith", which is "Everything in this book that was passed down orally, written down and copied and translated over and over, edited, retranslated, tinkered with, translated again, and then interpreted by the priest is 100% absolutely true and is the word of GOD whose existence cannot be proven or demonstrated".

                Other than the rhetorical game you're playing around the word "faith", there is no comparison between the two.

                "He who fights monsters should see to it that he himself does not become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."

                by Hayate Yagami on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 10:46:11 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I think you misunderstand (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  I am not saying that "faith" is that gravity works. I am saying that "faith" is that there is an explanation for how gravity works. That there is an explanation for why the sun functions as it does and how the moon came to be. Science assumes there's always a rational explanation and yet can not prove that. We carry on because so far we have been right but we also have to admit that assumption.

                  At the end of the day no matter whether it's science or religion we come to first principles where all people can do is shrug and say that's how it is.

                  More over no offense but monotheism isn't the only example of faith out there and it is not fair to present it as such. I get your complaint, hell I have it too but that complaint really isn't relevant here.

                  Der Weg ist das Ziel

                  by duhban on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 10:54:02 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  I wouldn't call it faith (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Hayate Yagami

              because it is based on prior experience and knowledge.

              Gondwana has always been at war with Laurasia.

              by AaronInSanDiego on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 10:39:58 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  My point exactly. (0+ / 0-)

                duhban is arguing that they are equivalent.

                I'm arguing that that argument is absurd on its face.

                "He who fights monsters should see to it that he himself does not become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."

                by Hayate Yagami on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 10:49:23 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  Some of us have faith in the lottery. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
        •  Not always. (0+ / 0-)

          Pronouncements about what faith is can be as tedious as the faith that you seem to disdain.

          Be careful, you are entering a dangerous loop here.


          Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

          by a gilas girl on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 12:25:21 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  These people are simply arguing about the (0+ / 0-)

            fact that they can believe anything they choose to believe.  There's been no discussion on the absurdity of the beliefs, or what was my initial premise that there are 1000 different religions, one stupider than the other.

            Yes, go ahead, have faith in whatever you were brought up to believe.  Become a Belieber, if you want.  But at least we know that Justin actually exists, and dont need to construct facts out of 2000 year old parchments that were found in the desert.

            None of this engages the stark fact that if God exists, he's a real piece of shit for the mess he's left us in. Tell me why you believe in someone who claims to be love yet allows innocent babies to die in wars commited by supposedly just men.  And that's just one argument, there are a million more that you wont even try to explain, or will explain away with a silly justification.

      •  not everyone thinks faith is valuable. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        If it should not be mocked, it is because one doesn't want people who have faith to feel insulted. But faith as a concept, detached from any individual or group, why should that not be mocked if one finds the concept ridiculous?

        Gondwana has always been at war with Laurasia.

        by AaronInSanDiego on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 08:52:05 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  because ridicule stems from ignorance (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          and accomplishes nothing.

          Next time you feel the urge to ridicule, try understanding instead.

          •  not sure I agree, in general. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            duhban, gustynpip

            But I should be clear that I don't find faith, itself, ridiculous, nor do I intend to mock it, although I neither have it nor desire it.

            Gondwana has always been at war with Laurasia.

            by AaronInSanDiego on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 09:24:52 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  So those who believe the earth is flat (0+ / 0-)

            or that global warming does not exist should not be ridiculed?

            Often what stems from ignorance is the faith.

            What is also ridiculous is making blanket statements that sound deep, but are in reality shallow and poorly thought out.

            •  those are things that can have evidence provided (0+ / 0-)

              that those beliefs are wrong. If one chooses to ignore factual evidence that's an entirely different argument than whether or not one beliefs in 'god(s)' or not.

              Der Weg ist das Ziel

              by duhban on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 10:35:08 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  But at one time, there was no such evidence. It (0+ / 0-)

                was simply faith that caused people to believe those things.    Now that there is indeed evidence to disprove them, how does that change anything?  

                •  it was not faith (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  they were instructed that the earth was flat because the earth, when you walk on it, is flat.

                  Whether the earth is flat or round is not a religious belief.

                  Yes, a religion labeled that (and many other scientific discoveries) a heresy. That wasn't about faith, either; that was about control and power.

                  •  Ah, but it indeed was a religious belief. (0+ / 0-)

                    Because it is not a part of your religious belief does not mean it was not a part of the religious belief at that time.

                    Most of religious belief is what people are instructed to believe and it's about control and power.  That's what most of religion is about.

                    Religion and faith are two different things, I'll agree (which is, I believe, what you're trying to say).  However, if you're going to maintain that faith applies only to those things for which there is no evidence whatsoever and/or can never be manifestly proven at any time now or in the future, I guess faith then pretty much only applies to the concept of god.

                    •  you don't think science requires some faith? (0+ / 0-)

                      because near as I can tell no one can prove that the scientific method will never fail but we assume it will not all the time.

                      Der Weg ist das Ziel

                      by duhban on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 04:19:00 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  No, science should indeed not require faith. (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:

                        Science is subject to testing and proof.

                        There are may scientific theories that I retain an open mind about.  I think there are too many theories that have been accepted as fact, with those theories then being used as facts to develop and test other theories.  However, while I retain an open mind about those theories, I don't believe them as facts.

                        The only scientific facts I "believe" are those that have been tested and proved.

                        Science, by definition, does not even allow for faith, much less require it.

                        •  within the operating system yes (0+ / 0-)

                          but I'm speaking about the operating system itself. How can we prove that the operating system works perfectly always and forever?

                          We really can't. We can point out it's functioned up to now and it's likely to keep functioning that way but we have no way of knowing is something is going to come along and invalidate that.

                          Der Weg ist das Ziel

                          by duhban on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 06:18:28 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  That's a different issue, though. We don't (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:

                            require guilt to be determined beyond all possible doubt - just beyond a reasonable doubt.  Likewise, I believe in things even if there's a scintilla of possibility it's a mistake and might someday be proved wrong.

                            But the way it's determined whether the operating system works is that the same result is obtained over and over.  That doesn't mean nothing will ever change and if something changes, the result won't change.  But to suggest the possibility that something might change and therefore the result might change requires faith to accept what's been proven is just reaching too far to define what faith is.

                          •  it is and is not a different issue (0+ / 0-)

                            but I can tell you it's a question that is routinely poised to scientists and one as a scientist you must keenly be aware of in terms of the limits of science.

                            I have not definite answers in fact as Lennon said "The more I know the less I know for sure".

                            Der Weg ist das Ziel

                            by duhban on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 11:09:51 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Maybe to some scientists (0+ / 0-)

                            but it's certainly not routinely posed to all of them. My wife is a physics professor and she says it's a question that she almost never hears. Likewise the botanist and geologist who are our best friends. Not a big topic of conversation around the various science departments at my wife's university.

                            Kelly McCullough - author of the WebMage series and the Fallen Blade books (Penguin/ACE)

                            by KMc on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 05:48:08 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                •  at one time we've all believed or been told (0+ / 0-)

                  many things a mark of a mature mind is being able to confront the possibility that what you have been told is wrong.

                  Evidence changes everything for example I can not prove there is no such thing as a purple cow but I can discount it as unlikely. Until presented with one and then it is obvious there is such a thing as a purple cow.

                  Der Weg ist das Ziel

                  by duhban on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 04:17:59 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  yes, they should not be ridiculed (0+ / 0-)

              I think that ridicule is small and petty. I base this on how I feel when I give in and ridicule people who I disagree with. It makes me feel small and petty.

              What is the purpose of ridicule? Do you think you will shame the flat-earthers into changing their beliefs? Why is it necessary to dehumanize those who believe the earth is flat, or that climate change is a fraud?

              We ridicule because we must justify ourselves in comparison to others. It can be a balm for an oppressed people (say, atheists in a religious community, or liberals in a conservative country). It serves a purpose, as does jealousy or rage or despair.

      •  I dont... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Look down on people with faith, I look down on faith. Faith is irrational but some people take comfort from it. Fine, I can deal with the fact you take comfort from faith. However I do not have a positive respectful feeling about faith itself.

        What you are essentially saying is that religion cannot be mocked, which I believe is entirely false, Religion, big capitol 'R' Religion must be mocked, because its positions and history are entirely antithetical to a civil society.

        Any institution that claims moral authority, and imposes it with threats of Hell and eternal damnation, that has built into it epic levels of misogyny, bigotry and hatred of the other deserves nothing but ridicule.

        Religion is like a blind man, in a pitch black room, searching for a black cat that isn't there.....and finding it.

        by fauxrs on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 09:32:35 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  you clearly have a particular religion in mind (0+ / 0-)

          There are many faiths and many routes to belief.

          The "eternal damnation" expression of religion is so easy to despise, which is why people who lack faith tend to focus on it. That can be faith (though it's been my experience that the religious zealots who spew the most venom are also the most cynical and faithless of people), but it's certainly not the example I would choose.

          Religion, as you acknowledge, is not faith. And religion is not what I (or the comment I replied to) am talking about.

          What I am talking about is the dismissive and defensive stance of the atheist talking to the believer.

          That comes from ignorance, mistrust and fear.

          •  No, that attitude doesn't come from ignorance (3+ / 0-)

            in any way.  It does indeed come from mistrust and fear.  Reasonable mistrust caused by experience and fear that the believer's beliefs will be imposed upon us.  Both are rational and sensible reasons to be defensive.  Perhaps if people like you would drop the condescending attitude and be open to discussion, rather than being dismissive, that could change.

            I'm quite amazed at how you fail to see that you're doing EXACTLY what you accuse atheists of doing - being defensive and dismissive.  Every single one of your posts have been both.  

      •  How is asking reasonable questions mocking (3+ / 0-)


        People's faith might be valuable to them - that doesn't make it valuable in and of itself.  It certainly has no value to me.

        I don't understand why you have to call someone small minded because they don't share your belief.  The point of this diary is that no one needs to have a reason for not believing any more than they need one for believing.  Discussing the weaknesses of the arguments made by those who think the unbelieving are wrong is neither mocking nor small minded.  What is small minded is getting offended so terribly easily when others dare to voice and discuss their own lack of belief.

      •  How is god going to 'prove' him/herself to me? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Hayate Yagami

        Especially if I don't belief in the first place?

        A good magician, or someone who's got advanced technology that I haven't seen before, is going to appear VERY 'godlike'.

        So how do they prove they ARE god? And not some person with a technology I haven't seen before, or a good magician?

        However, if I believe in God, and somebody does 'godlike' things and says they're God, I'm very likely to believe them. And do pretty much anything they say, even if what they say to do doesn't make sense.

        One person's 'proof' is another person's 'magician'. Or 'charlatan', or 'conman', as the case may be.

      •  This raises an interesting point (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        If God appeared before you, proved himself to you
        Let's look at the hypothetical. Let's say a being calling itself "God" appears before you. What proof could it offer that it is, in fact, the being that the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim faiths refer to as "God", and not just some sort of sufficiently advanced alien or somesuch? (Clarke's third law: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic)

        I can't imagine anything that would work.

        As for having faith, I see no more reason to put my faith in the existence of "God" (which faith's version?) than in Russell's teapot.

        "He who fights monsters should see to it that he himself does not become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."

        by Hayate Yagami on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 10:22:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Hayate Yagami

          It may have become a rather over-used canard, but the Stephan Roberts quote:

          “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”
          is still relevant and true.

          “He said it was better to belong where you don't belong than not to belong where you used to belong, remembering when you used to belong there.” ― Terry Pratchett, The Wee Free Men

          by LoreleiHI on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 11:03:36 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  How was this diary mocking? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I see the OP as being very respectful, and only challenging his friends faith when specifically asked to do so. The OP is only stating their worldview.

        If you are allowed your worldview, and to state it (which you do in your comment), then how is it mocking for the OP to do so?

        Please explain.

        “He said it was better to belong where you don't belong than not to belong where you used to belong, remembering when you used to belong there.” ― Terry Pratchett, The Wee Free Men

        by LoreleiHI on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 10:43:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Faith is dangerous. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        LoreleiHI, Sparhawk

        Faith a unique belief where one is believing in things with no evidence. Believing in things that cannot be supported, in things unseen. Faith is often very likely believing in nothing.

        Faith rejects reason and a demand to back up your claims. It expects respect when faith does not respect the very basis of examining things hard and exhaustively to see if they are true. That is the basis of justice. It is the basis of not lying to oneself or to others by just making things up.

        The reason that in 400 years humankind had advanced more than we have in the last 100,000 is because we began to test assumptions to see if they are true. And we did the book keeping to list those things. We learned to make successful predictions about the world around which proves truth. And as we learned to understand through testing and better correct predictions we built first an industrial civilization and now a digital civilization upon that.

        Faith is the antithesis of that. It makes assumptions without doing the work and people build their lives around that laziness. It is the fuel for guile and deception, injustice and inequality. Faith should be run from, not embraced.

    •  god told joshua (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mmacdDE, Hayate Yagami, pvasileff

      "kill all these people"

      (if you read the story literally, as many conservative christians do, if they know it at all)

      i've never heard a good reason as to why that's a good thing.

      (I read the story as propaganda. and that's okay. actual studies show the events never occured.)

      Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility. uid 52583 lol

      by terrypinder on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 09:40:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The answer for why someone believes (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      a gilas girl, gustynpip, gramofsam1

      and why another person doesn't is the same in both cases.


      That's all, just because.

      I think whichever you go with is because that's the one that feels right to you.

      People can change, so it's not some inborn thing.
      There can be total unwavering belief to a kinda sorta belief, to no belief at all. And the same person can believe in all ways those during their life. So it's not some immutable thing that you just have, like eye color or height.

      Some people have the same belief system as their parents, some change. It depends on whether that is comfortable for you. If it is, you keep it. If it's not, and you can't deal with the discomfort, you change it.

      Because that's really what our belief systems are - they're a way to help us be comfortable with our lives.

    •  God made me vote Republican n/t (0+ / 0-)
  •  I'm a double atheist (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    radarlady, AZsparky, wader, LynChi, SQD35R, offgrid

    I don't believe there is a God in Heaven, and I don't believe there is someone living on Earth who happens to be tangentially related to some tragic event, and who has deep pockets, and therefore must compensate someone who has encountered a tragic but unforeseen event in their life.

    Shit happens.  It just does.  And God's not to blame, and nobody else is either.  It's life.  There's not guaranteed payout if the dice come up snake eyes.

    L'enfer, c'est les autres....Jean-Paul Sartre

    by Keith930 on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 12:01:52 AM PDT

  •  Interesting diary and you make a really good point (12+ / 0-)

    I think we are hard wired to come up with answers and if no good one is available we will go for the next best thing. Its the whole foundation of religion and religion has been the default for eons. Look at young children, they enter the 'why' period and will ask endless question looking for answers. That is humanity in microcosm.

    As an Atheist and a typical human who likes answers I have my reasons for atheism, my new favorite.

    Its easier to explain where I came from than where a god did.

    I think one of our main flaws as a species is we hate 'I don't know' which makes us inclines to come up with something, anything as a better answer than simply not knowing. I see it all the time in my trade where people who don't know enough to come up with a well founded answer filling in with one that suits their needs more than the data.

    Thats a bad habit

    Join the DeRevolution: We are not trying to take the country, we are trying to take the country back. Get the money out of politics with public financed campaigns so 'Of the People, By the People and For the People' rings true again.

    by fToRrEeEsSt on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 01:36:50 AM PDT

    •  In society it may seem a flaw, but in evolution (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TrueBlueMajority, fToRrEeEsSt

      it is/was adaptive. Imagine if humans had been satisfied with "I don't know" as an answer. We'd still be living in trees. It's because we strived after the answers that we evolved the way we did.

      Of course, today it is a PITA beyond belief in some circumstances, as you say. I've always felt it would be nice to turn down the gain on some aspects of our species that were adaptive on the plains of Africa but just cause trouble now. Aggression being a major one.

      Watch out or I'll go get my shovel and unload plant divisions on you!

      by Attack Gardener on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 06:00:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oh I agree our curiosity and quest for answers is (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Attack Gardener, lucid

        what got us from just being clever animals to being technological ones.

        The question is will that trait stick with us forever and thus religions will always be around or will be reach a point of social maturity where we don't need unexplainable superior beings to be the answer to the questions we can't otherwise answer.

        Aggression serves a purpose and is tied to reproduction, its really more about channeling it instead of lashing out with it. Everyone loses their cool, many don't carry through with actual violence.

        Join the DeRevolution: We are not trying to take the country, we are trying to take the country back. Get the money out of politics with public financed campaigns so 'Of the People, By the People and For the People' rings true again.

        by fToRrEeEsSt on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 07:36:56 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I think it is exactly the opposite (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mmacdDE, Attack Gardener, Mimikatz

        "Faith" is a barrier to knowledge and a killer of curiosity. The intellectually curious asks, "Why?" The faithful accept answers given to them and don't question.

        Being comfortable with uncertainty does not equal lack of curiosity. Quite the opposite. But there are and will always be those for whom uncertainty is scary or unsettling, and those are the people who gravitate towards a religion.

        Early on, the were gods assigned to everything man could not explain. Where ignorance of the natural world is widespread, religion reigns (as it does in the U.S.). Where knowledge is more common, the society is more secular.

        Not all religious people are ignorant, but I've never met an atheist or agnostic who I found to be anti-intellectual, ever.

        I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires. - Susan B. Anthony Everything good a man can be, a dog already is. - pajoly

        by pajoly on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 09:47:17 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Now it is, but it was in many ways the gateway (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          pajoly, Attack Gardener, pvasileff

          in the past. Evolution is so deep time many traits that were needed stick around long after their value is diminished.

          Its very hard to force religion out of someone and if anything it martyrs so better to blunt the damage indirectly than directly fight it.

          Until The repubs needed the religious right they were a quite keep to themselves group and maybe they can return to their old ways. I don't know.

          All I know is you can't reason someone out of a position they didn't use reason to get to in the first place.

          Join the DeRevolution: We are not trying to take the country, we are trying to take the country back. Get the money out of politics with public financed campaigns so 'Of the People, By the People and For the People' rings true again.

          by fToRrEeEsSt on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 10:05:39 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  That's a good line too (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
  •  Best essay I've read on Daily Kos... (31+ / 0-)

    ... explaining atheism.  Kudos!

    My journey to atheism began @ 14/15 when the minister lied to me in confirmation class.  Read the Bible cover-to-cover twice, studied ancient history, etc.  Then I read When God Was a Woman by Merlin Stone and that was the genesis of the final break with trying to believe in this mythical being and his mythical son.  If she, he, it exists, I have unanswered questions so s/he or it can come talk with me directly.


    Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
    Then he is not omnipotent.
    Is he able, but not willing?
    Then he is malevolent.
    Is he both able and willing?
    Then whence cometh evil?
    Is he neither able nor willing?
    Then why call him God?
      -- Epicurus, Greek philosopher, 341-270 BCE

    I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

    by NonnyO on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 04:41:22 AM PDT

  •  because we cant imagine not existing anymore (9+ / 0-)

    And why should we have that capability? Thered be no survival advantage to it. Unfortunately, unlike other animals, we do know all our lives we're going to die. Thats the real price of eating the fruit on the Tree of Knowledge.

    •  And (6+ / 0-)

      how do we know that other animals are not aware that they are going to die?

      "In short, I was a racketeer for Capitalism" Marine Corp Brigadier General Smedley D. Butler

      by Kevskos on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 07:29:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Then theyd worship imaginary gods just like we do (0+ / 0-)

        More seriously, they know theyre dying when theyre dying.
        I didnt say they dont.
        We're unique in our symbolic thinking.

        •  And (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          grover, gustynpip, joegoldstein

          how do we know we are unique in our symbolic thinking?

          My limited understanding of studies of animal cognition is that we keep learning that animal know more and are more aware whenever we do studies.  To me, IMHO, I think we let our pride in ourselves color our opinion of animal intelligence.  Sort of like pride in our group leads to prejudice against other humans.

          "In short, I was a racketeer for Capitalism" Marine Corp Brigadier General Smedley D. Butler

          by Kevskos on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 08:30:11 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  And there is a perfect example of a faith that (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            does not involve a god.  People have believed for so long that humans are superior to other animals in various ways, that it's literally impossible to comprehend that we have virtually no clue about them; we don't know how much of the differences we perceive are the result of reality and how much are simply the limitations of our ability to understand and know them.

            I believe my biggest regret that I'm as old as I am is that it's unlikely I'm going to be alive as the knowledge of the richness of animals' lives increases and we perhaps begin getting true glimpses of what their inner lives involve.  Worse yet, I won't be able to tell all those who preached to me for years that animals don't have feelings, animals don't have language, animals don't think that they were wrong.

      •  They do know (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lucid, offgrid, Kevskos, pvasileff

        Anyone with knowledge on the subject knows this. Animals possess an awareness of their end. It is common for mammals to go off alone to die.

        Animals are far more intelligent than arrogant humans think. Many mammals and birds are proven to possess complex analytic capacity and emotional depth. The mistake man makes is looking for intelligence that mirrors his own, which is, well, ignorant.

        I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires. - Susan B. Anthony Everything good a man can be, a dog already is. - pajoly

        by pajoly on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 09:52:36 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  people do and think a lot of dumb stuff (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Back In Blue

      what's the survival advantage in it? please don't try to answer, it's rhetorical.

    •  I can imagine it (0+ / 0-)

      It's restful.

      Who would want to exist forever? You'd get bored. Unless you believe that your free will is taken away, and you are made to be happy. In which case, how are you you?

      “He said it was better to belong where you don't belong than not to belong where you used to belong, remembering when you used to belong there.” ― Terry Pratchett, The Wee Free Men

      by LoreleiHI on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 11:07:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •   I spent a few years on (10+ / 0-)

    my own journey, exploring and asking 'why'.  In the end, I had to admit to myself that humans (myself included) are not truth-seeking machines operating on, or with, principles of logic.  We generally don't care that much for logic, as we go about our daily lives.  We certainly don't care much about truth, except when we get into an argument with someone; usually over whose tribe is better.

    We are biological machines, made to fuck and make babies.  Same as every other biological machine.  It just happens that we are social creatures, and our reproductive success is much higher if we are members in good standing of our tribe.  We engage in very complex dances and rituals to maintain, or better, that standing.

    190 milliseconds....

    by Kingsmeg on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 05:42:45 AM PDT

    •  That's kind of scary and I have no argument (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Kingsmeg, gustynpip

      against it.

      Ted Cruz president? Pardon my Vietnamese, but Ngo Pho King Way.

      by ZedMont on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 06:05:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Pretty much it - we're more complex animals, (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Kingsmeg, MKinTN, SQD35R, Hayate Yagami

      so we wrap our existence in layers of abstraction and imaginative ideas, peppered with lots of results from various, scientific (or, seemingly so) experiments that we've derived as a language for understanding some of the things we observe.

      It's essentially the crux of why deities are human-created, rather than the other way around: we assume that some creative force is attempting to communicate with humans, solely through example of things we see and/or can creatively assume (when either sober or not).  That's our fervent imagination and underlying self-centeredness at work, IMHO.

      "God" is a human construct.  Sometimes a practical tool, oftentimes a foil - anyone assuming otherwise is free to do so, but taking is seriously enough to cause at least as much war as consideration with other people/tribes?  That's simply another clue that deities are tools, and like all tools, can be used for constructive or destructive goals.

      "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

      by wader on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 07:59:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't know about "more complex" (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        gustynpip, joegoldstein, wader

        there's a lot of scientific studies showing that animals are a lot more intelligent then we have ever before allowed ourselves to admit.

        Der Weg ist das Ziel

        by duhban on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 09:29:06 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  We are generally more complex in the larger (0+ / 0-)

          sense of combining our various capabilities and building upon the outputs of such, is my assertion.

          Yes, other mammals can be quite intelligent, as well - considering that we can't even communicate effectively with many of them, it's easy to see that even our own ingenuity, imagination and creative adaptivity has quite blunt limitations in certain areas of the animal kingdom, as a start.

          I do not feel that we are necessarily more complex than other mammals in any specific characteristic or subgroup of such that work together - that would require a case-by-case comparison.  

          "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

          by wader on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 04:51:44 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  That is all true (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      But we are capable of objectivity and therefore capable of organizing ourselves in whatever manner we choose. We can grasp that knowledge is fluid, that answers change and  we can critique the manner in which we organize ourselves. We are capable of grasping that we supply our own answers. I don't think this is necessarily unique in the biological world, but it is at least rare & we need to do a better job of it.

  •  I blame my parents (5+ / 0-)

    In the '50s, they made me watch the evening news every night. The horrors of the world at large and the fact that no divine being stepped in to prevent them made me realize all this god stuff was BS. I was 10 years old when I left the church.

  •  Well, for one thing, the very humanness of our (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lucid, offgrid

    being leads to worshipping a god, because we are conditioned by a very human emotion to seek a spiritual remedy.  That emotion is fear.

    But in circles where faith is well established, fear often gives way at least in part to other human emotions in religious expression.  The good ones, ironically enough, are the same that motivate humanists.  On the other end are greed, the lust for power, and the desire to view oneself as "better" than others - to mention a few.

    There doesn't have to be an answer.  Not on an individual basis.  But in the big picture, it is what it is, and one who asks why there has to be an answer finds himself a voice crying in the wilderness.  

    Or worse, in some cultures one finds oneself facing a mob with stones or one of God's anointed honing a beheading knife.  That's when fear takes over again as the prime motivator.

    Ted Cruz president? Pardon my Vietnamese, but Ngo Pho King Way.

    by ZedMont on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 05:57:33 AM PDT

  •  the mind seeks meaning. that's human nature. (7+ / 0-)

    but just because the mind seeks answers, does not mean there IS an answer

    Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
    Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights to talk about grief.

    by TrueBlueMajority on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 06:16:25 AM PDT

  •  What is the Buddhist answer to the Creation? (13+ / 0-)

    It's, "I don't care.  That's what scientists are for".

    The Abrahamist religions are big on belief systems - after all, two out of three of them are the great proselytizing religions (Christianity and Islam), and what better selling point could one fabricate other than to say that my belief system is the true and perfect one?

    Buddhism (and interestingly, Judaism) will actually "discourage" someone from joining their ranks.  Sensei told me to meditate every year for five years - then come back (I didn't take his advice, btw; I felt, rightly in hindsight, that didn't need to).  Judaism also makes things difficult - they insist you learn Hebrew for starters.

    And another thing that Buddhism and Judaism have in common is that they are both more about what one does than what one believes.  I think they're on to something.  My recommendations to the proselytizing religions is less dissemination of closely-held belief dogma and more going forth to do good works.

    Know that $20 I owe you? Well, since money equals speech, then speech, of course, must equal money. C'mere and I'll read you the Tao Te Ching.

    by thenekkidtruth on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 06:20:39 AM PDT

    •  Correction and a bit of a clarification (4+ / 0-)

      My second paragraph sentence should read, "Sensei told me to meditate every day for five years - then come back".

      I had, in fact, been engaging in daily sitting zazen for 23 years at that point, and I felt that I was practicing correctly.  Shortly thereafter, I joined the group in Spring Retreat (Risshun 立春), and perceptive Sensei Watanabe immediately realized that it wasn't my first rodeo without the need for me to utter a word about my extended history of practice.

      Know that $20 I owe you? Well, since money equals speech, then speech, of course, must equal money. C'mere and I'll read you the Tao Te Ching.

      by thenekkidtruth on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 07:07:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  "Belief" and "belief system" are not the same (7+ / 0-)

    I believe in God, but I don't concern myself with the details. Just because I "believe" doesn't mean I have a "belief system."

    Don't stick me in your box, man. :)

  •  What would be the answer, (5+ / 0-)

    to the Answer Man?

    "Political ends as sad remains will die." - YES 'And You and I' ; -8.88, -9.54

    by US Blues on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 06:44:31 AM PDT

  •  The mind is ego. (3+ / 0-)

    Ego wants an answer because it goes on and on asking questions and trying to fix "things" to make us happy, which is an oxymoron.  I love this diary.  Why MUST there be an answer?  I'm going to use this.  Thanks so much for your brilliance!

    If you acknowledge it, you can change it.

    by Raggedy Ann on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 06:45:24 AM PDT

  •  tipped and rec'ed. Nice essay on ambiguity (7+ / 0-)

    As a mathematician. I accept Godel's proof that there exist statements in any axiomatic system that are simply 'undecideable.'  Such statements are neither true nor false - 'there is no answer' to my way of thinking. It is ironic, I suppose, that this ambiguity is provably true.

    Your characterization of scientific theory as asymptotic is spot-on.  (nag:  parabolas do not exhibit asymptotic behavior.  However hyperbolas do.) We sneak up on truth, approximate it in many disciplines - physics comes to mind.  In Mathematics there is an undecideable argument as to whether truth is discovered or created.  Math and its sibling Physics can become quite metaphysical.

    Thanks for your thoughtful essay.

  •  Whenever I see... (8+ / 0-)

    ...a bumper sticker or billboard that says "God Is the Answer," I ask myself..."What is the question?

  •  I "Choose" to be a Christian... (4+ / 0-)

    because of the experiences in my life and what I have learned, based on my own observations and thoughts, foe me.  I do not know anything.  I only believe.

    I choose to believe that the Eiffel Tower is in Paris, France.  I have never been there.  I have seen pictures and read reports by others and I see no reason not to believe.  However, if someone told me that it was actually just outside the city limits and people just refer to it as Paris simply because it is the largest and most famous landmark seen be visitors to Paris and the actual city limits does not include the actual foundation of this structure, I would probably choose to belive that as well 9if it came from a reliable source).  It took me a long time to understand that truth is not absolute and that we do have a choice in what we believe.

    This understanding has been very liberating to me.  I no longer feel that I have to know what the truth is nor do I have to challenge what anyone else believes.  Their life experiences and their thought processes have lead them to a different belief and that is okay.  I am fascinated by what others believe and the reasons why and I am not so rigidly attached to my version of the truth that I cannot be swayed to someone else's sincere beliefs if they make more sense to me than my own.  Because I believe that what I think I know is merely an illusion that shifts like the waters, I am free to approach almost anything as an option.  

    I still believe that we should all seek the truth with the understanding that we will never know for sure whether we have found it.  We can only be confident that, at any given moment, we have chosen to believe what the evidence and experiences we have been exposed to has led us to believe.  That, in a sense, IS our truth.

    "Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not YET sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favour..."

    by Buckeye Nut Schell on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 07:06:52 AM PDT

    •  I don't think your Eiffel Tower comparison (6+ / 0-)

      holds. It is independently verifiable, you can actually go see it for yourself, touch it, ascend it, even buy a postcard in the gift shop on the way out and it requires no leap of faith to know it exists.

      I would choose something like Bigfoot instead. That elusive creature that some people claim exists, but have never actually produced as independently verifiable. Sure there are a couple of "photos" of him (Do you believe he exists too just based on that evidence alone?), but that is it. Nothing else. Debunked hoax after admitted frauds and yet, some people still believe Bigfoot exists. Can we say for sure he doesn't exist? No. But the burden of proof is on the claimant.

      •  But the point is, I never have verified it... (0+ / 0-)

        I would have to travel to Paris and either trust that the marked city boundaries are correct or do research to verify that the boundaries are correct and yada, yada yada.  The point is, I simply believe it rather than put forth any effort to verify it.  

        The same thing holds true with most of the science I believe in.  I have never verified the speed of light or the existence of paired particles.  I trust the research I have read about and it makes sense to me and therefor I choose to believe it.  I have never independently verified evolution as described by Darwin but I choose to believe it because it makes sense to me.

        Bigfoot seems almost like a condescending example because the evidence is so lacking and it is so subjective that though I cannot prove it doesn't exist and I cannot judge others for believing in it, I am pretty sure that I know what you were getting at.  It was sort of an "I cannot prove that Santa Clause does not exist either" kind of comment.

        "Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not YET sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favour..."

        by Buckeye Nut Schell on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 11:23:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Santa Claus (0+ / 0-)

          Decides who will be rewarded and who is punished (presents or a switch/coal).

          Knows everything that you do.

          Is therefore omniscient.

          Is omnipresent (best way to explain all those deliveries at midnight).

          Can be appealed to.

          Cannot be seen.

          If you do not believe, you will not be rewarded.

          Now, how many other deities can you put in the subject line? And all of this is why many churches reject Santa Claus, and do not want the children taught about him. After all, if Santa isn't real, and your parents told you he was, how can you believe them about God, who has very similar attributes?

          “He said it was better to belong where you don't belong than not to belong where you used to belong, remembering when you used to belong there.” ― Terry Pratchett, The Wee Free Men

          by LoreleiHI on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 01:12:01 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  The "evidence" of god is also severely lacking. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          The evidence of man abusing the idea of god and the rewards in the afterlife are bountiful and prove far more concretely that faith has been a necessary tool for those who seek power and as such it has been widely disseminated, promoted, and protected.  Additionally, the universality of the tenets of most religions are not a coincidence as the fundamentals of control are fear and reward for defined behaviors.  Additionally, the inconsistencies, hypocrisies,  the pick and choose habit of which rules should be followed, the various factions and continued splintering of religions when adherents can no longer agree, and the extremes in interpretations are only some examples of how little it really matters.  How much more subjective could it be?

          Your point about your willingness to accept things you've read about illustrates your level of education and intelligence and trust in the sources of your information.  You could say the same about religion.  The difference is that you could verify that information if you chose to do so.   You cannot verify god.  You have to believe god exists without proof that anyone can see.  

          You can find leadership, community, generosity, and many wonderfully positive things that comes as a result of sharing in faith with others.  But you can find all of those things without faith as well.

          America, where a rising tide lifts all boats! Unless you don't have a boat...uh...then it lifts all who can swim! Er, if you can't swim? SHAME ON YOU!

          by Back In Blue on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 06:23:22 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The fact that I could verify them is only true if (0+ / 0-)

            these items are actually true.  I would have to verify them to know that and I choose to believe rather than verify.

            I do not feel it is necessary to verify because I choose to believe.  Can you personally demonstrate the measurement of the speed of light for me or have you accepted it on faith?  I do not possess the tools nor do I want to invest the time to do so when I already accept the validity of the measurement.  I could say that you can verify God exists if you had the same life experiences that I have had and if you would have witnessed the same things I have witnessed but that would be meaningless because you cannot ever do that.  You probably do not want to invest the years of questioning that I have invested to come to the conclusions I have come to.  You are probably satisfied with the conclusions you have already came to yourself.  My beliefs belong to me because I have earned them in the same way you have earned yours, through experiences and education (whether formal or through hard knocks).

            I am not trying to convince you that God exists in the manner I perceive Him/Her to exist.  I know that you are going to believe as your life experiences dictate you to believe and I am fine with that.  I personally believe that God is fine with that as well or else you would have different life experiences.  I do not believe that God would condemn a majority of His or Her children to Hell or any other punishment simply because they were not born into the one true belief system that was dictated by their parents and their culture.

            Your beliefs are what make you you and me me.  I think that difference makes us all special, not lessor or greater than.  I can disagree with your beliefs and still respect them.  If you choose to believe a certain way and would care to share that belief with me, tell me and I will gain from your knowledge whether you convince me of anything different or not.  I will not try to tell you that your beliefs are wrong because I believe that there is no way of knowing absolute truth.  

            The speed of light is supposed to be a universal constant but I believe that it is only a constant and only a limit in our three dimensional understanding of the multi-dimensional universe that we are capable of perceiving. Although, I could be wrong...

            "Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not YET sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favour..."

            by Buckeye Nut Schell on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 11:22:59 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  1 + 1 = 2. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Buckeye Nut Schell, lucid

              We do actually know many, many things.  Some things, like the speed of light, may be impractical for you or I to verify ourselves.  But it is possible to do so should we desire to.  Accepting that the speed of light is  300 million meters per second is not a leap of faith as believing in a god is because of the preponderance of repeatable evidence.    There's also the preponderance of evidence from things we use everyday that scientific knowledge has allowed us to create.  I really get a kick out of it when creationists and other science denier types rant on and on using technology that would not exist without scientific knowledge.  I am typing this message on my computer, connected to the internet, sending data over fiber-optic connections to kos' servers where the website he built allows me to publish this message on his website and then I can come back over and over again and see that it is still there.  That is verification of all the scientific theory and knowledge that came before and led to the invention of these technologies and tools.  

              It is also known that everything we do know, every scientific theory could be proven to be wrong with the further pursuit of knowledge through science.  But wrong doesn't mean completely wrong.  It may simply mean the full understanding of how the speed of light works in our physical universe.  Science has already determined that there is a difference between the speed of light and expansion.  I don't understand it that well, but it is evidence of how every discovery and theory moves us toward a better understanding of our physical existence even when that discovery shows us how much we still don't know.

              Your personal experience is not verification because it is not repeatable.  Even if I did experience the exact same things you have, I am not you and would not necessarily come to the same conclusion.  I am 47 years old and I am still investing a significant amount of time and energy into thinking about it, mostly because I'm open to different ideas.  The only thing I'm sure of for myself is that no religion has it correct, or even comes close.  The god as described by most religions is a cruel being.  

              I am not arguing that god exists or doesn't exist nor am I trying to change your beliefs.  My point is that there is a preponderance of evidence that you seem to be equating as equal to or nor more significant than personal experience or willingness to accept.   Faith is faith and science is science.  They have very little to do with each other and really they shouldn't have anything to do with each other.  Neither requires the other nor answers any questions for the other.  

              I think we agree on many ideas, and are similar in our respect for others.  I hope I haven't made you think otherwise.  I think the only quibbles between us are that you believe in god and I do not, that I believe the preponderance of scientific theory based evidence proves that god as most religions portray and adhere to is man made and that the best of those religions (love, tolerance, community, etc.) have no need of religion to flourish and that far too often  religion crushes them.

              I don't think god or the idea of god is a problem.  I think what man has done with that idea and in the name of their god is on balance cruel and inhuman.  

              America, where a rising tide lifts all boats! Unless you don't have a boat...uh...then it lifts all who can swim! Er, if you can't swim? SHAME ON YOU!

              by Back In Blue on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 01:49:03 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  There are only 10 kinds of people... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Back In Blue

                those who understand binary and those who do not.

                1+1 does not always equal 2.

                You make valid points and it is okay that we disagree on some of them.  

                I agree with you that there is no need for a belief in God to be moral, kind or to have human compassion.  I believe that science and God are not mutually exclusive concepts.  I also believe that people use the belief in God to manipulate and corrupt and deceive people and that has been a travesty in Human history.  I do however believe that because that has happened does not mean that the belief in God is wrong in the same way as just because there are plenty of snake oil salesmen out there, not all medicine is bad either.

                I merely pointed out that my personal beliefs are based on what I have observed and the proofs I have accepted as reality.  You have accepted your beliefs based on what you determined was adaquate proof to satisfy your natural curiosity.  

                If you told me that your middle name was Marvin, I would not have to verify it because I have no reason to think you would lie to me and even if you did, there would be no harm to me if I believed you and it turned out you were lying.  I would choose to believe you.  If you told me that a small investment of $1,000 dollars up front, sent to you in cash, would earn me $100,000 in six months, well, I might want to check you out a little closer and verify all sorts of things before I gave you any money.    The difference is that I can envision a motive for lying and see the potential for me to suffer because of it.

                Religion and science are the same for me.  They are all philosophical inquiries where I am presented with evidence of sorts and I try to make the best determination that I can based on the information I have available to me.  I do not question the speed of light if I narrowly define it based on three dimensional models, using time and motion as we understand it.  It makes sense to me and as you said, evidence such as the applied uses (as in the computer I too am typing on) supports these theories. I believe that God created the universe like I would create a computer program.  I would establish a structure (natural laws) to work within and then everything I did would have to fall within that framework.  Now, the users would see one thing on their screen and have awareness of the software uses but behind the scenes, there would be a much more complex design that the users would never see.  Science is the practice of trying to break that code.  

                I believe in entangled particles.  I have a guess as to how they work but the science world is still trying to crack that code.  Imagine a two dimensional plane that extends for infinity in two directions.  Draw a straight line segment with endpoint a million light years away from each other.  Now, imagine anothe two dimensional plane intesecting the line and the first described plane.  The two points would both still be there but they would appear as a dot rather than a line.  They would be on top of one another and since there is no depth dimension, they would in effect be zero distance apart and take zero time to travel between.  I think that our spiritual selves reside in that same dimension that allows entangled particles to communicate over a theoretical infinite distance in zero time.  I believe we are more than flesh, chemical combinations and collections of synaptic gaps.  

                I realize I could be wrong but this makes sense to me in a very complicated way I have difficulty explaining.  I do not try to convince anyone else of my beliefs and I realize, to some, it puts me on the same level as the UFO and Bigfoot believers but I take that risk.  I believe we are all connected in that realm and that is where God resides as well (of course, not as anyone here can envision residing).  

                The point I am trying to make is that I have beliefs based on my observations and they are unlike anyone else on this planet.  They are mine and I would be happy to give every one of them up in the face of new evidence that would persuade me to think of things differently.  

                I have no idea whether you are right or whether I am right and it is most likely that both of us are wrong and it is something entirely different.  So how can I judge you for believing differently?  Is my belief any crazier than someone who believes that God going to send the majority of His children that he supposedly loves to eternal damnation for being born to the wrong parents in the wrong place? or that there exists wormholes that can allow you to travel back in time? or that we can ever transport a living creature from one place to another by "beaming" them somewhere?  Einstein's Time Dilation theory was pretty crazy until it was proven with experiments.  We are not there yet with my ideas.  Maybe I am crazy for what I believe, maybe I'm not but which ever the case, I choose to believe this because of my collective life experiences.  I believe you would have to say, you have chosen to believe differently.

                "Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not YET sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favour..."

                by Buckeye Nut Schell on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 04:12:10 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  ^^This^^ Me two BNS. I 'believe' that 'GOD' (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Buckeye Nut Schell

      is the 'feeling' of peace, joy, the sensation of hearing music that 'transports' you to a different place, the serenity that encompasses you in deep meditation. I 'believe' this feeling can reside in everyone and is what we 'seek'.
      If I go to 'church' the place I choose to visit is more a spiritual center than a church. There is no cross on the wall only the words 'GOD is LOVE'. They follow lots of different paths, the music is awesome and the church pulls from eastern and western religious practices.
      To each their own, but I choose to see LOVE in everyone. This also allows for evil acts, destruction, and good acts.
      I have been blessed to have parents that allowed me to go with friends to their places of worship. My God is less a deity/thing and more like a feeling of oneness with the world. I as well choose, so I can change my mind as I see fit. I hold no one else to my choice of belief, it is just what makes sense for me...
      Great diary and thanks!
      Peace and Blessings! (Peace of mind and blessings of the heart)

      “When you victim-blame, be aware that in all likelihood, at least one woman you know and love silently decides she cannot trust you.” ` Steph Guthrie

      by Penny GC on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 08:46:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thank you Penny... (0+ / 0-)

        That is a wonderful outllook!  Imagine if everyone held those beliefs how much good could be accomplished in this world.

        "Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not YET sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favour..."

        by Buckeye Nut Schell on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 11:25:59 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I have ALWAYS believed that 'religions' were (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Buckeye Nut Schell

          more the same than totally different, kinda like the joke about the 3 blind men and the elephant, depending on which elephant part they were feeling depended on what they felt. All are just different facets of the same 'jewel'
          Now if we could just get some tolerance in the world, much would be improved.

          “When you victim-blame, be aware that in all likelihood, at least one woman you know and love silently decides she cannot trust you.” ` Steph Guthrie

          by Penny GC on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 12:00:04 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Oops! You Suddenly Got Religion (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pat bunny, FishOutofWater, lucid, offgrid

    You've taken the very first step to Zen.

    Now, could you just help me figure out the sound of one hand clapping?

  •  I have a note card on the fridge (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    stretchslr53, lucid, Penny GC, MKinTN

    It has a photo of a baby and this quote by Gertrude Stein underneath:

    There ain't no answer.
    There ain't going to be any answer.
    There never has been an answer.
    That's the answer.
    Works for me.

    On the back it says ©Larry La Bonte, The Answer
    published by a company called Artists to Watch.
    (Just giving credit where credit is due.)

  •  It would be weird if there wasn't one, somewhere. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    What I really like about this essay is the parabaloid concept of growing ever closer but never reaching the end points.  I dunno who first put it this way, but s/he was onto the nature of our development: "We don't have the truth; rather, an ever decreasing degree of falsehood."  This applies to any discipline in which some version of a scientific method is deployed: observation, replication, verification, & ideally prediction.

    The search for answers of all kinds must always proceed, & that search requires a core, I think that's appropriate, that answers are there to be discovered & revealed.  In that sense faith & curiosity are very closely entwined.  That's why my sense is that there is an answer, pulling us along by our curiosity, & the feel of that pull is what we might call faith: nothing deity-specific, but a phenomenon of existence & consciousness.

    It's time to start letting sleeping dinosaurs lie, lest we join them in extinction by our consumption of them.

    by Leftcandid on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 07:37:42 AM PDT

  •  The number of jellybeans in the jar is odd (0+ / 0-)

    Do you agree?


    by otto on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 07:44:12 AM PDT

  •  Why must we be satisfied? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I'm as godless as it gets and I'm extremely dissatisfied with my mortality.  Dissatisfaction may contribute to religiosity, but it also contributes to scientific inquiry, the march of technology and social progress.

    •  I'm terribly dissatisfied with my mortality too (0+ / 0-)

      but there's nothing we can do about it, so why not ask better questions that focus on things we can do something about.

      •  Ray Kurtzweil, Eliezer Yudkowsky and (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Aubrey de Grey would disagree with you.

        They actually, honestly believe that death is a disease which can and will be "cured", either through cybernetic enhancement or by "uploading" our consciousness into a computer. Aubrey de Grey also believes in the use of nanotechnology to clean out cellular debris and accumulated poisonous metabolites.

        Their belief, Transhumanism, though updated to modern technology is no different than what Newton and other Alchemist, believed.

        Of course, the former two (I'm not really sure what de Grey's position is) also believe in the Singularity.

        As a Buddhist, while I believe that it is certainly possible to extend life, ending death, not so much. Regarding the Singularity, I'm in agreement with Jaron Lanier that the it is the "rapture for geeks."

        But there is no denying that they are hardcore, real scientists and it is what they (uh, oh, here it comes) believe and have faith in ;)

        A society consisting of the sum of its vanity and greed is not a society at all but a state of war. - Lewis Lapham

        by joegoldstein on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 12:31:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I have reconciled myself to oblivion. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lucid, LoreleiHI, my2petpeeves

      It doesn't dissatisfy me any longer. It motivates me to live purposefully as long as I can do so. (Except for the time I waste on the internet.)

      Battling psychiatric myths with sensible skepticism at

      by candid psychiatrist on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 10:55:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  If purpose is your thing, that's one approach (0+ / 0-)

        I'm not big on personal purpose; most of my day is spent working so I can subsist, take care of a few people, and pay for a few pleasures in life.  I'm not exactly eager to let all that go, and you can't eat, drink, screw or sleep on legacy.

  •  Whatever (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    moira977, gramofsam1

    Answers make some people feel good. Other people get pleasure out of possibility and ambiguity.

    “Industry does everything they can and gets away with it almost all the time, whether it’s the coal industry, not the subject of this hearing, or water or whatever. They will cut corners, and they will get away with it. " Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D, WVa

    by FishOutofWater on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 08:19:44 AM PDT

  •  I love coffee yogurt (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    moira977, mmacdDE, joegoldstein

    I can't explain it. I hate coffee. I don't particularly like yogurt. But I absolutely love coffee yogurt.

    Oddly I don't need to understand the mechanisms of my mind and tastebuds and memories that contribute to my enjoyment of this particular food. It is enough to just enjoy it.

    And should someone come to me and say, "I do not like coffee yogurt. It does not taste good, the texture is gross, and it's full of sugar anyways." I would be a little sad for them, because they cannot enjoy this snack the way I can.

    And that is faith. That is love. It is a fantastic thing to have and a terrible thing to lose. It should not be scorned.

    I don't believe in "God". But I believe in faith as a real and valuable human emotion. I know that I do not have much capacity for faith, and I cannot help but envy those who do.

    •  Why is faith a fantastic thing to have and (0+ / 0-)

      a terrible thing to lose?  

      And why do you feel it necessary to make these sweeping generalizations?  Is there some reason you can't accept that for you, faith is a fantastic thing and you'd hate to lose it, but that for others that's not true?  And why do you believe that the ability to believe in something that has no evidence to back it up is such a wonderful quality that you actually envy those who believe in such things more strongly than you?

      I find your posts in this diary to be truly perplexing.  I wonder whether you're perhaps battling to retain your faith, even while you sense the falsity of it?

      •  you have no idea (0+ / 0-)

        but it's fine, I appreciate that you're reading and trying to engage.

        I think it's a fantastic thing to have and terrible thing to lose; that's just my opinion. You don't have to agree, but imagine how I'd feel if I woke up one morning and found coffee yogurt tasted like dirt to me.

        •  The problem is, you don't state it as an opinion; (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          you state it as a fact, as the truth.  

          And you didn't answer the simple question of why?  Why do you think it's a fantastic thing to have and a terrible thing to lose?  What's fantastic about it?  What's the loss if you lose it?  

          I'm asking these questions honestly and would appreciate an answer.  To be honest, your failure to answer the question the first time around makes me wonder whether these are just pat words that sound good and fit in with what you want to believe versus your having actually put some thought into the issue and come to this conclusion.  If the latter is the case, you have to have something that caused you to come to that conclusion and I'd be interested in knowing what it was.

          •  i know amazing people (0+ / 0-)

            they have a faith I can only conceptualize in theory. It's my opinion that they are beautiful people and that their faith is the reason for that beauty.

            (It's also my opinion that people are almost always only stating their own opinion.)

    •  I like your attitude! (EOM) (0+ / 0-)

      A society consisting of the sum of its vanity and greed is not a society at all but a state of war. - Lewis Lapham

      by joegoldstein on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 12:32:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  My answer - it is my genes (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MKinTN, lucid, pvasileff, my2petpeeves

    One day, like the author, I simply stopped believing in God. The existence of God was not something that I had doubted, so when I stopped believing I was puzzled. What made me stop believing?

    I could not come up with any good answer until I finally decided that I am not genetically programmed to believe in gods or anything supernatural.  That answer has been satisfactory for me.

    Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket. Eric Hoffer

    by LynChi on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 08:25:10 AM PDT

  •  Who was it said, "There are those who long for (6+ / 0-)

    Eternity who can't even manage the boredom of a rainy Sunday afternoon"? I came to my non-belief in a deity the same way as you. Just one day realized I no longer worried about going to Hell. And as someone raised in the Deep South in fundamentalist Christian churches, this was quite a revelation. Why, I'd spent my entire childhood worrying about the flames of hell! Was baptized twice, just to cover my bases. But as I matured, it all seemed irrelevant, even a bit ridiculous. An all-powerful god cared so much that we believe in him that he'd punish us forever if we didn't worship?

    "Let's stay together"--Rev. Al Green and President Obama

    by collardgreens on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 08:34:32 AM PDT

  •  Life is about the search, not the answer. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lucid, duhban, offgrid

    This theme absolutely DOMINATES life, and we have several ways of stating it.  The journey is more important than the destination, etc.

    As you say, even in science, every answer just leads to new questions.  Thermodynamics has a "zeroth" law, because what was assumed for nearly a century to be that science's most basic principle (the FIRST law) was later discovered to be LESS basic than something else.

    Finding answers is all well and good, but it's LOOKING for them that makes life worth living, because one never knows where their search might lead them.

    OF COURSE the New Right is wrong - but that doesn't make WRONG the new RIGHT!

    by mstaggerlee on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 08:42:03 AM PDT

  •  A good way to put it (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    grover, offgrid

    I think that, often, people ask for your "reason" or "answer," so they can find some fault with it.  Same with people asking for "proof" of my belief in something.  If the "proof" is subjective, they will find fault with it.

    If I believe that "God" is "All-That-Is," how can I say that I don't believe in God?  

    That question illustrates why the DEFINITION of the word "God" matters.

  •  A similar question to yours: (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MKinTN, gustynpip, offgrid, pvasileff

    "Why is the default position that a person must believe in a god?"

    This was brought up as to why the word atheist exists, when, for example, no word exists for someone who does not play golf.

    I know why that is the default position - because humans are pattern matters, and this ability has allowed us to survive and thrive as a species - but the fact that we are able to see patterns does not mean that there actually is a supreme being.

    "Harass us, because we really do pay attention. Look at who's on the ballot, and vote for the candidate you agree with the most. The next time, you get better choices." - Barney Frank

    by anonevent on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 09:02:19 AM PDT

    •  Patterns (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Interesting that you bring that up.

      The best definition of "God" that I have run across was said by Gregory Bateson, the great anthropologist and linguist:

      "God is the pattern that connects the patterns"
      And I agree that the fact that patterns exist does not mean that there actually is a supreme "being" who created that pattern. But it does denote that there is some "intellegent design" in the Universe, and I don't use that term the way it's more commonly used. Just that "pattern" denotes organization, and organization denotes intellegence.

      Pantheism gets closest to this concept. The "Universe", or all that we call "reality" is "God". Of course, equating "God" with everything that exists pretty much makes the term "God" useless, since there is nothing that is not "God".

      "If you lose your sense of humor, it's just not funny anymore" Wavy Gravy

      by offgrid on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 11:28:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  great post (0+ / 0-)

    But I have to disagree here:

    We think of truth as a god incarnate.
    This is primarily true only of the monotheistic religions and even there there has been a continual undercutting of that belief (or at least the publicly stating of that belief). For many other systems of belief there's a lot more leeway in what exactly "truth" is and more over many of those systems do not connect "ultimate truth" with divinity.

    Religion (or the lack there of) is a tricky subject and mostly I follow a very simple outline of "whatever gets one though the day as long as it only effects them".

    Der Weg ist das Ziel

    by duhban on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 09:20:43 AM PDT

  •  Thank You .... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Re-Published to Street Prophets.


    "Upward, not Northward" - Flatland, by EA Abbott

    by linkage on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 09:37:41 AM PDT

  •  this was very zen. i like it. (0+ / 0-)

    16 was when i said it out loud, but i think i've always been an atheist. family doesn't get it; their issue, not mine.

    Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility. uid 52583 lol

    by terrypinder on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 09:44:13 AM PDT

  •  I was about the same age, (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mmacdDE, duhban, LoreleiHI, gramofsam1

    Maybe a couple of years earlier.

    My answer to that question has always been, "because I don't have the need to believe, like others do".

    It kind of takes the focus off me and on to those who have the need.

    And just to be clear, I have absolutely no problem with those who have religious needs (as long as they're not hypocrites, that is).  Life can be a struggle, it can be hell, and whatever gets you through it while not hurting or violating the rights of others is just fine with me.

  •  Let the Mystery Be (0+ / 0-)

    There's a song by Iris Dement that always spoke to me.

    Everybody's wonderin' what and where they all came from.
    Everybody's worryin' 'bout where they're gonna go when the whole thing's done.
    But no one knows for certain and so it's all the same to me.
    I think I'll just let the mystery be.

    Some say once you're gone you're gone forever, and some say you're gonna come back.
    Some say you rest in the arms of the Saviour if in sinful ways you lack.
    Some say that they're comin' back in a garden, bunch of carrots and little sweet peas.
    I think I'll just let the mystery be.

    Some say they're goin' to a place called Glory and I ain't saying it ain't a fact.
    But I've heard that I'm on the road to purgatory and I don't like the sound of that.
    Well, I believe in love and I live my life accordingly.
    But I choose to let the mystery be.

    Everybody's wonderin' what and where they all came from.
    Everybody's worryin' 'bout where they're gonna go when the whole thing's done.
    But no one knows for certain and so it's all the same to me.
    I think I'll just let the mystery be.

    Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself, (I am large, I contain multitudes.)

    by Arilca Mockingbird on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 10:11:44 AM PDT

  •  I woke up this morning thinking along these lines (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    my2petpeeves, Obsidia

    I live in the south.  I am a spiritual person.  I believe all of us have a spirit.  I can believe in the teaching of Jesus and others, without being a Christian.  
    I was thinking this morning I wish I could believe all the "stuff" they dish out in church around here.  I would make my life so much easier if I could believe.  But I can not deny what religion vs spirituality is all about.  
    One of the main problems I have is that being spiritual can be very "alone" it is not something public.  
    I ramble, but this morning I was hoping for an answer, and come to KOS and find out that the answer is there is not one.  And that is ok, I just know to be true to oneself is an answer for me when it comes to my beliefs.

  •  Why do you play the lottery? (0+ / 0-)
  •  Because There's a Question (4+ / 0-)

    There's an answer because there's a question.

    The answer, as far as we we know, to "is there a god?" is "nobody really knows for certain". That might even be the answer: as far as reason can reach, the answer is unknowable even if it exists.

    There are many versions of the answer "yes there is a god". Many of them are mutually exclusive to reason. Many of them are really scary, like "the devil is god" or (one of the most popular) "god is tricking us about what is real to test us". Some are like "Thor is god, and there are many more", or other answers that were true "as far as we know" at some time, but few if any believe them - though there's no theological reason why not, except believers come and go.

    Then there are all the very strong reasons to believe the answer is either "no, there is no god" or "the god that exists is unknown to us". Like the endless chain of wars that torture children, or famines likewise, or other diseases. Or the uncounted heads of religions whose actions defy what their preaching requires of others.

    Bottom line is that the only difference between any answer and an arbitrary one someone makes up is how many people believe them. Not a good way to determine the correct answer, as I don't know of any religions that say god's nature is a democracy.

    So I'm sticking with "nobody knows for certain; those who say they know for certain are wrong; it's anybody's guess". Not a good answer, but an answer.

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 10:44:22 AM PDT

  •  Why is it that those that believe and those that (0+ / 0-)

    don't believe feel they must explain themselves.  I'm certainly not interested in what either has to say.  So tempted to say "who gives a fuck what you think".  But always polite, smile and then go to my happy place until their done.

    If I comply with non-compliance am I complying? Sarcasm is the ability to insult stupid people without them realizing it.

    by thestructureguy on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 11:27:11 AM PDT

  •  Excellent post (0+ / 0-)

    To quote one of my favorite philosophers.

    It's not why why why why
    It just is.
    That is all there is to it
    It just is

    Van Morrison "Common One"

    "If you lose your sense of humor, it's just not funny anymore" Wavy Gravy

    by offgrid on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 11:35:49 AM PDT

  •  That that is is (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    That that is is that that is not is not is that it it is

    Or, properly punctuated:

    That that is, is.
    That that is not, is not.
    Is that it?
    It is.

    (Old proofreaders' joke)

    If it's
    Not your body,
    Then it's
    Not your choice
    And it's
    None of your damn business!

    by TheOtherMaven on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 12:42:18 PM PDT

  •  "I don't know" is often the only true statement. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lucid, TheMeansAreTheEnd

    Yet people are afraid to admit that.  Politicians in particular will never say it because they are afraid they will be perceived as ignorant, and even worse, weak and indecisive.

    People need to place a much higher value on objectivity for our politics and our society to advance.  As part of that, we need to understand the difference between issues like gay rights, which depend on value judgements by people, and issues like climate change, which is true or false independently of whether people think it is true or false.  Real objectivity would permit people to say "I don't know" and allow discussion to advance to how do to find out what we need to know.

    Instead, what we usually get is opinion by tribal identification rather than thoughtful consideration.

    "The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt." Bertrand Russell

    by Thutmose V on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 12:54:10 PM PDT

    •  You nailed it. (0+ / 0-)

      Agnosticism is ultimately the most humble 'answer'.

      Hard to get a genocide going with it too, an added bonus.

      Fits perfectly with your excellent sig.

      Mysticism, psychedelics and neuroscience may hold future answers, very early to say.

      Ever see a baby discover its feet? That's the human race with our brain right about now!

      why? just kos..... *just cause*

      by melo on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 06:52:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Love it! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LoreleiHI, lucid

    I love your reply!  I have been working on my own for a while as I realized I often sounded defensive about being a non-believer or atheist.  Perhaps because it sounds like the absence of something.  So now I reply that I am a rationalist or  secular humanist, which sounds positive.  Note that I do not say I "believe" in rationalism or humanism, they are not beliefs.
    But I am going to remember the reply!

    •  I don't "believe" in science (0+ / 0-)

      I either accept that something is scientific fact, or I question whether it is scientific fact, that is, whether it is objectively proven or not. That distinction is not like believing or disbelieving.

      I'm not convinced that being a rationalist or a secular humanist is in the same category as science. Aren't those philosophical systems? Can they be verified or falsified? If so, then one can treat them as objective, scientific facts. If not, then aren't they choices of what to consider true?

      The way I see it, everyone has things they choose to believe or disbelieve in the absence of objective facts. The world has many things we don't know, but unlike science where we can say "that isn't known", we often have to take some action despite lack of knowledge.

      To take a silly example, I never question what my wife is really doing when she says she was out late at the clay studio. As a scientist, I'd have to say that the evidence is that she is sometimes there, but there's no proof that she's always there instead of doing something else. It's a matter of belief that I don't question this. It also makes sense in terms of objective facts that I know. But it's not something I need evidence for. I just accept it as true. This is no doubt why many people whose partner actually is cheating are so slow to believe the evidence.

      I suppose one could view religion as a silly extension of our natural tendency to find patterns in randomness & make decisions about what to do from incomplete data. Or one could view religion as a real thing that those tendencies point to.

      Either way, I agree that there doesn't have to be an answer -- either way. Because I don't think there is actually proof either way. Ultimately, we each have to act on what makes sense to us, when a sufficient understanding of objective reality is lacking.

  •  "Why must there be an answer?" (0+ / 0-)

    I love that question on all levels of life experience.  Why do we feel pressured to be rushed into expounding on something we really don't know.

    In the context you bring it up though it produces some confusion for me.  But maybe someone here can answer it for me.

    Isn't that question more for an agnostic to ask than an atheist?  Doesn't an atheist say there is no god while an agnostic is uncommitted on the answer?  Saying there is no god is still an answer of sorts - a kind of "none of the above" answer for the question.

    I'm not liberal. I'm actually just anti-evil, OK? - Elon James White

    by Satya1 on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 02:40:20 PM PDT

  •  Ironic that a believer needs an answer (0+ / 0-)

    Many of them dismiss science when it comes to climate change or evolution or creation, etc, because their rigid beliefs will not allow it. No wonder they, and in turn, we, are taken advantage of.

  •  We seem to want answers to everything. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lucid, gramofsam1

    I always think the comedian Louis CK said it best when he said human beings are from some other planet because it is the only thing that explains how uncomfortable we are living on earth and our desperate need to always change everything.   Hillarious.

    My own view is that if we are to assume an all-knowing, all-powerful, eternity being exists...the idea that we as humans could have any clue whatsoever about what such a being wants/thinks/believes is insane.  It implies we are equal to such a being.  It implies that we are special in an infinite universe in which we aren't even a speck of dust by comparison.

    And the idea that we as humans should worship a "god"?  That is crazy.  It is crazy that an all-knowing, all-powerful entity would create human beings simply because it was lonely/bored and insecure and needed people to worship it.  What does it say about God that it relies/depends so heavily - is desperate in fact - for us to pat it on the back and praise it every minute of the day?  

    We didn't ask to be created.  Nobody asked to be created.  I didn't ask my parents to be is something forced on each and every one of us.  It is a decision made for us by our parents.  I don't see anything in religion that says we should worship our parents every minute of every day and praise them for everything we have.  I don't see any religion advocating for parent worship and yet ironically, many religions refer to their god as a sort of "father".   Maybe Confucianism comes close but, ironically, that is a more humanistic set of beliefs than an actual religion.

    I am much more agnostic.  I open to the possibility of some creative force behind life.  I just don't necessarily believe it is a person-like thing.  I also don't think it has any relevance on anything.  You want to believe in God or religion, that is fine.  But the second you start putting God and religion before LIFE and people, then I think you've completely missed the point.  The best way to "worship" or celebrate any religion, in my opinion, is to be a good person, celebrate life, and be kind to others.  And you should do that because as a human being it is the right thing to do, not because you expect a reward or are afraid of a punishment.  Because that is just greed or fear masked as caring and again, you would be completely missing the point.

  •  What is faith? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Faith is what you believe even though you have no real evidence of your belief beyond what you can perceive from your perspective.  That evidence could always be challenged from someone else's perspective and there is no reliable third party information that would stand the scrutiny of the scientific method.

    I have faith that my husband loves me.  I could probably find a licensed, clinical psychologist or two or three who could distill my husband's warm feelings for me into mere projection of his feelings for his mother, desire for security, status, lust...who knows?  One might even find him psychotic and incapable of loving anyone!  Catch him on a bad day...

    I have faith in the Democratic process...and I have that even though it fails me over and over again.  I have faith in it because I've found no better system and humans appear to be in a social evolution toward the concept.  The facts on the ground are mixed.

    I have faith in the goodness of the average person.  This is based on nothing more than my personal experience.  Should I have had a bad upbringing, perhaps that faith would have been destroyed and I'd be crusty, cynical and paranoid.

    Faith is nothing more than the institutionalization of TRUST.  

    It is NOT THE SAME AS KNOWLEDGE.  Even the ancients knew that, which is why, in Genesis, it is called the "Tree of  KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL."

    Knowledge is based on the COLLECTIVE EVIDENCE over time.  It withstands the scrutiny of the scientific method.

    I know that the Earth revolves around the Sun.  I know that I'm held to the Earth's surface by gravity.  

    Some of this evidence is concrete (I can use a microscope to see the bacteria that might infect me) and some of it is abstract (Einstein's E=MC2) but it withstands tests over time.

    I can have FAITH that my doctor will keep me pretty healthy.  I KNOW based on a lot of evidence that the flu vaccine he's giving me will keep me from getting seriously ill.


    Facts never change, but how people PERCEIVE THEIR LIVES and what they CHOOSE TO BELIEVE IN will differ from person to person.  I would go so far as to say the individual faiths of the average religious congregation (of any religion) would differ as much as the general population.

    There is no such thing as PERFECT belief.  There is no such thing as TRUE belief.  There is no such thing as UNIVERSAL belief.

    That is the biggest difference between belief and knowledge.  

  •  No one has asked me why I don't believe. (0+ / 0-)

    But I have been asked this quite often:

    "What do you tell your children when they ask what happens when you die?"

    It's an easy answer for me.  I tell them exactly what I told my children—I don't know what happens when we die.  

    If they're heads don't explode or the insults aren't hurled my way, then I often have a very enjoyable conversation about everything that statement implies.

    America, where a rising tide lifts all boats! Unless you don't have a boat...uh...then it lifts all who can swim! Er, if you can't swim? SHAME ON YOU!

    by Back In Blue on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 06:33:07 PM PDT

  •  I've had this discussion many times (0+ / 0-)

    I'm mostly an atheist, but sometimes I slip into agnosticism. I also think religions have some good ideas.

    I once had a discussion with a friend who said, "I think the purpose of religion is to explain the natural world." So, to him, in the old days, religion was a way to explain lightning, floods, volcanos, droughts, etc.

    I said that religion is more complicated than just explaining nature. Religions have several aspects:

    -- Rules for living (the ten commandments are against stealing, against killing, against sleeping with your neighbor's wife -- which are pretty good rules even if you're an atheist). The thing about not eating pork makes sense if pigs have trichinosis and if you don't have a refrigerator. Various rules about leprosy maybe made sense in the old days. Putting women in a separate house when they're menstruating maybe doesn't make sense now.

    -- Rules for government. Giving 10 percent of your income to the church (which in the Old Testament was the government) is a basic form of taxation.

    -- I really like the golden rule. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. In other words, be nice to people. That's a good basic rule (and it's related to karma, too). I believe in that rule as an atheist.

    -- I mentioned explanations of the natural world. A big aspect of religion is explaining death. When you die, you either go to heaven or hell (or, I suppose you could get reborn in Buddhism). The whole concept of heaven makes me queasy. On the one hand, you can feel better if you know your soul is going to heaven. On the other hand, it's a way for the priests and overlords to make rules and tell you what to do.

    -- And so far, I've just talked about religion. Does God exist? Or maybe multiple gods? That's a whole different question. What if there's one particular rule that's really important to God? Like not eating grasshoppers? Or going to church every week? Or not stealing anything ever? Or praying every day? Or singing hymns of praise (if God is so powerful, why does he need to be praised?). Maybe I'm going to hell because I killed some mosquitoes or had sex when I wasn't married.

    -- Then you look at the really horrible things done in the name of religion. Starting wars against infidels or heretics or nonbelievers. Persecuting Jews because they "killed Christ". The Crusades. Burning "witches." Molesting young children. And religions are the opposite of democracy. They're autocratic and dictatorial and hierarchical (because they're based on someone's idea of what they think god said, so we're not allowed to vote on it).

    So that's why I think religion has some good aspects and many bad aspects, but I can't take the leap of faith into that abyss of unconditional belief.

    "Stupid just can't keep its mouth shut." -- SweetAuntFanny's grandmother.

    by Dbug on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 08:33:23 PM PDT

  •  Why Don't I believe in God? There is simply (0+ / 0-)

    no evidence to support that belief.

    Old Hippies Never Give Up!

    by ravenrdr on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 03:25:54 AM PDT

  •  God Is Just a Bump on the Brain (0+ / 0-)

    Or not.

    [My homage to your diary title.]

    Readers & Book Lovers Pull up a chair! You're never too old to be a Meta Groupie

    by Limelite on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 04:06:44 AM PDT

  •  Were you a philosophy major (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    In college by any chance? :)

    I love president Obama!!!

    by freakofsociety on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 10:11:54 AM PDT

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