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Atheism

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Atheism [Greek (atheos) = without god or gods] is the belief that God does not exist.

If one were to say that they are “of the opinion” that God does not exist, then they more correctly would be called an agnostic.

Famous atheists include the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and, some say, the philosopher David Hume. Hume was denied a professorship for his beliefs. However, some maintain he was not an atheist but only misinterpreted as one.

The Physicist Russell Targ, best known for his advocacy of ‘remote viewing,’ believes that atheism is an unscientific position, favoring instead agnosticism.

Several religions are listed as atheistic at Wikipedia, to include Buddhism, Jainism, and even Hinduism. But one has to be careful here because the concept of atheism, itself, has different meanings. Moreover, each religion has a different take on the idea of “God.” So countless hours could be spent debating whether or not a given religion really rejects the idea of God or not. This is a common problem when we get into debates about religion. No matter how hard we try to define our terms, we’re still using language. And language meanings are arguably always open to interpretation.

Related Posts » Deism, Theism, Pantheism

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8 thoughts on “Atheism

  1. I disagree.

    Atheism is simply not holding the belief that God does exist, i.e., the absence of belief in God. It is not necessary to hold the opinion that God DOES NOT exist, but instead only that the evidence has not persuaded you that he does.

    Atheism can only arise in a culture where God belief is pervasive and intrusive. Without a strongly theistic culture, the conversation about belief would not even occur. Those who do not believe in gnomes are not referred to as agnomists, because the impact of gnome belief is too minuscule to effect most people’s lives. However, the incursion of theism into cultural institutions and into common and legislated laws will spark the reaction of those who don’t believe in theism.

    Hence, atheism is growing, but only as a statement of non-belief, not necessarily as belief.

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  2. Interesting comment, thank you. I’ve been looking through different definitions for both atheism and agnosticism and will probably have to edit this entry. Not that I feel it’s entirely wrong but it certainly could be expanded to include more definitions and implications thereof.

    I might add, however, that one could say “God talk” is bigger and more important than “gnome talk” precisely because God is bigger than gnomes!

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  3. I agree with the first poster: atheism isn’t a belief, it’s an answer to the question, “do you believe in god”. You don’t have to DISbelieve, you simply have to not believe. Just like answering ‘What kind of car do you own?’ with “I don’t own one” isn’t the same as saying “I don’t like cars!”

    Hit my youtube video for more:

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  4. Excellent video. I find it interesting that you describe yourself as both agnostic and atheist. I think this points to the problem, alluded to above, of conceptualization vs. the thing (or living creature) being conceptualized. Even here I’m running into difficulties because some schools of phil. and relig. say that all is alive–i.e. even rocks and stones apparently have a “vibrational consciousness,” being essentially “matter/energy” (another pair of concepts).

    Sometimes I wonder if some of those good folks describing themselves as atheists are confounding varnished versions of God (i.e. what the religious organizations say) with the unvarnished (i.e. direct mystical experiences which some people believe provide evidence for God).

    I could go on here… but hey. Maybe I should just say that many claim to have “reason to believe” in God, just as one would have reason to believe in gravity.

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  5. Whenever people speak of an “unvarnished” god, I want to ask them “What the heck are you talking about?”. It seems to be new age (well, reformation partially) for having mystical experiences. However there is no reason to think god is responsible, because the whole point of mystical experiences is to get you out of phase with reality.

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  6. Many believe that there are two types of mystical experience–those which are from God and those which are not from God.

    Not everyone sees mysticism as a disconnect from reality. In fact, many see mysticism as experiencing aspects of a higher, holy reality.

    Perhaps you should check out the book “Mysticism” by Evelyn Underhill.

    http://www.ccel.org/ccel/underhill/mysticism.html

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  7. Science and Religion

    Science is different from religion. It does not pretend that it knows everything. There are even now deep questions about the origins of the universe that we don’t have answers to now though it is possible we may be able to answer some of them in the future.

    But the inability of science to provide answers to these questions does not prove that religious faith, tradition, or an ancient holy text has the ability to answer them. Science cannot prove that God does not exist, but this in no way establishes that God exists. There are millions of things whose lack of existence cannot be established.

    The philosopher Bertrand Russel had an analogy. Imagine that there is a teapot in orbit around the sun. It is impossible to prove that the teapot does not exist because it is too small to be detected by our telescopes. Nobody but a crazy person would say “Well, I’m prepared to believe in the teapot because I cannot establish that it doesn’t exist.” This means that maybe we have to be technically agnostics, but really we are all atheists about teapots with orbits around the sun.

    But now let us suppose that everybody in our society including our teachers and the sages of our tribes all had faith in a teapot that orbits the sun. Let us also suppose that stories of the teapot have come down to us for many generations as one of the traditions of our own society and there are ancient holy texts about the teapot. In this case people would say that a person who did not believe in the teapot is eccentric or mad.

    There are infinite numbers of things like celestial teapots whose lack of existence we are unable to establish. There are fairies, for example, and there are unicorns and goblins. We cannot prove that any of these creatures of the imagination do not exist in reality. But we don’t believe they exist, just as we don’t believe that the gods of the Scandinavians, for example, have any true existence.

    We are all atheists about almost all of the gods created by societies in the past. Some of us, however, take the ultimate step of believing that the god of the Jews and the Christians, like the gods of the Greeks and the Egyptians, also does not exist.

    Now here’s a version of this text in Interlingua. (For more information about Interlingua, use a search enging to search on the title “Interlingua in interlingua” or go to http://www.interlingua.com.

    Le scientia es differente del religion. Illo non pretende que illo sape toto. Il ha etiam nunc questiones profunde sur le origines del universe al quales nos nunc non ha responsas ben que il es possible que nos potera responder a alicunes de illos in le futuro.

    Ma le incapacitate del scientia de provider responsas a iste questiones non proba que le fide religiose, le tradition, o un texto sancte e ancian pote responder a illos. Le scientia non pote probar que Deo non existe, ma isto non establi de ulle maniera que Deo existe. Il ha milliones de cosas cuje existentia non pote esser establite.

    Le philosopho Bertrand Russell habeva un analogia. Imagina que il ha un theiera in orbita circum le sol. Il es impossibile probar que le theiera non existe proque illo es troppo parve pro esser detegite per nostre telescopios. Nemo excepte un folle dicerea, “Multo ben, io es preparate a creder in le theiera proque io non pote establir que illo non existe.” Isto significa que forsan nos debe esser technicamente agnosticos, ma vermente nos es omnes atheistas sur theieras con orbitas circum le sol.

    Ma que nos nunc suppone que omnes in nostre societate includente nostre professores e le sagios de nostre tribos habeva fide in un theiera que orbita le sol. Que nos anque suppone que historias del theiera ha venite usque nos trans multe generationes como un del traditiones de nostre proprie societate e que il ha textos sancte ancian sur le theiera. In iste caso le gente dicerea que un persona qui non credeva in le theiera es eccentric o folle.

    Il ha numeros infinite de cosas como theieras celestial cuje manco de existentia nos non pote establir. Il ha fees, pro exemplo, e il ha unicornios e gnomos. Nos non pote probar que iste creaturas del imagination non existe in le realitate. Ma nos non crede que illos existe exactamente como nos non crede que le deos del Scandinavos, pro exemplo, ha ulle existential ver.

    Nos es omnes atheistas sur quasi omne le deos create per societates in le passato. Alicunes de nos tamen prende le ultime passo de creder que le deo del judaeos e del christianos, como le deos del grecos e le egyptianos, anque non existe.

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