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      Get Smart on the Web   09/16/2016

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Guest longtimelurker

Any other nonbelievers here?

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(it's Jorge, I got an account. hooray!  :ok: \o/  \o/    \o/)

before you continue, let me warn you, for some (you know who you are) this may seem like a big "well, I'm right, and you're wrong, stupid theist". But it's not, it's my opinion on the subject of unbelief in a god (deity, creator, first cause, etc.) this is the first time I've done so (in such a lengthy way) so I want to be clear on what goes on in my mind, and I wanted to use the correct language for such a subject, so I'm writting formally. So to anyone who manage to read through all this, please don't think "well, this guy sure is full of himself" but rather "this guy took his time to choose his words carefully" and thank you. Thank you for holding back judgement of this post until the very end.

those are very interesting points you expose, and I disagree with some for the folowing reasons:

morality

the source of morality is a huge debate, but the way I have shaped my own moral compas is that I want to enjoy the most of my limited existence. I enjoy bringing joy to my fellow human beings, and even if I liked hurting them, that would limit my freedoms (jail, execution, and whatnot). The way I see it, society is held together by kindness and mutually benefiting deals, and it's because of that kindness and deals that we were able to place multinational companies on the planet. That's why we have laws and contracts, we cant have everyone just gratifying everything they'd like, no building would look good! we cant just give away resources, there must be a mutual exchange (which later became money and credit, thanks to the banking system).

There are many different ways I could obtain wealth and pleasure, but very few of them are safe. Since for all I know, this is my only life, I cannot waste any of it in jail, or throw it away in a gang or cartel shooting. Morality (defined as the way one get the most benefit without hurting other people, and ideally nurturing the society that has made possible all kinds of luxuries) keeps me nice and safe in my little bubble of friends, relatives and coworkers, because by being "nice", they end up being "nice" to me. If not, I avoid such people (whenever possible) and try to navigate life as best I can.

So why live at all? why deal with anything or try to do good if ultimately, your actions don't matter?

because they DO. tell me, if one of your great-great grandparents would have died, would it have made a difference? yes. The world maybe would have become almost the same, but you wouldn't be here. Think of all the good you've done, think of all those you've helped. The way I see it, we're all little gears that move in one direction or the other, aiding or destroying society. Thankfully, we as humans have a nature of being "good gears" enough men noticed that women needed to vote, so it became law that they could. Enough white people saw that the black people were not inferior, or in any way less than them, so that also became law. It brings joy to my heart to see smiles, my nonbelief has not impaired my ability to appreciate the sunsets, or find pleasure in sports or other... private activities.

so I think that my lifetime will matter 500 years from now. Maybe I wouldn't have directly caused anything to happen (that's almost impossible, with that much time in between), but in the end, we each leave a little grain of sand in the world, an that grain of sand piles up with the others, depending on whether the lives they represent were used a certain way or another. Small grains of sand as such can be seen more clearly in science, it is accumulative, it's thanks to all the little bits of knowledge acquired that after 7,000 years of not doing much, we landed on the moon. Everything we needed to know to o so was granted over thousands, if not millions of generations; and I think the same is true for social progress (equality, acceptance, tolerance, etc) everyone of us matters, for better or for worse

This life is very precious to me because the only other thing I know is what it (maybe) was before I was born... just a dark pool of nothingness, it's my best guess to say that maybe that's what happens after I die. So I prefer the sunsets, the sky, my family, the pain and pleasures of life rather than the innexperience (I think) happened before I lived.

Why unbelief?

It's just too sad to think that there is a creator that can watch millions be in pain and do nothing (except offer them an afterlife under some conditions) to stop it. To have a being watch as peoples tear themselves apart over what deity is the true one, knowing that one word (appearance, demonstration, whatever) from it would end it. In the end, I just don't know (an have no way of knowing without "believing first") if there is a deity or divine creator or whatever (at least the classic type: that created the universe; watches over us; made morality; and offers us an afterlife of punishment or bliss, depending on whatever). I choose to wait and see.

miscellaneous

that's a cool little word I hardly get to use since I learned it working at a callcenter, it feels so... sophisticated  :drink1: (even though I misspelled a LOT of stuff while writting this)

I don't think any proposed deity says that it's existence depended on whether or not people believed (or if the the amount of people changed it's existence), it's mostly a "well, I made everything, that means you have to worship me in appreciation of your creation (also, I set the rules to morality, and other stuff, maybe... depending what your religion is)" thing.

actually, the US presindent would be as close to god as it gets... I mean, he has the launch codes for weapons that could easily devastate a lot of the landmass of the planet, rendering it it a dead, radioactive wasteland.

I can be one of the few people that change 1 person's mind from "damn those evil atheists!" to "hey, maybe they're not so bad" and with a lot of u doing that, the long-term result is acceptance and the death of bigotry, which is a great goal that should be achieved for it's own sake. I can ultimately put my own grain of salt for anyone like me to later freely state their unbelief without fear of being bullied or hated (that should also be achieved for it's own sake)

Thanks for reading, and maybe replying with any thoughts  :D

and thank god for spell check

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<---- Is Agnostic (Although my better half 1st cuz Wife is a Christian

I was wondering if there are any other nonbelievers/atheists/agnostics/free-thinkers/whatever-you-want-to-call-yourselves here.

Or am I just the odd one out?

Thanks!  :biggrin:

Not at all- I'm on your side!

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Guest Karen Kerr

Hubby and I are both non-believers, in fact I'm quite active in the atheist community (I am the Vice President of our local society)

Pleased to meet you!

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I was rasied Roman Catholic. In Germany, I was to receive my first holy communion at the age of 8. I refused to go and have been an agnostic ever since.

I am just a molecule on the clipboard of life and have never understood war for religion.

Our universe is much too large to believe that we are the only ones that exist. Man is so self centered that he created this belief of god in his form.

I believe that the bible was created to improve society by making laws (morals, values and norms) and scaring the simple mind by what it doesn't know (our creator), by the most intelligent at the time. God fearing, I think not. Why would you fear your creator?

I believe that our creator is much more complicated than we can fathom.

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I absolutely agree that our Creator is unfathomable and beyond comprehension.  I do believe there is an intelligent mind there which is transcendent, making our Creator knowable to a degree but only to the degree that the human mind, trapped in this finite universe, governed by the laws of physics but unbound by the power of love and imagination can know.

Remember that "fear" is translated from Hebrew and Greek words.  I would argue that a more appropriate translation, given changes to word use in the English language over the last 100+ years, would be "respect".  It doesn't quite hit the mark because even "respect" is pretty watered down in modern society, but I'm at a loss for a more appropriate word. 

An example of the word use is my "fear" of heights versus my "respect" for electricity.  My fear of heights is semi-irrational; though I know very well that a fall of great distance will kill me, I should also know that standing on a mountain or even a well-constructed sky scraper or bridge is perfectly safe.  Doesn't change my irrational fear.  On the other hand, I deal with electricity in voltages significant enough to kill me on a regular basis.  Indeed, quite more often than climbing any significant height.  I know very well the dangers posed if I go about fooling with electricity without any thought toward consequences.  It's a great thing, electricity.  Without it, this message doesn't find you.  But if I don't respect it, my own misjudgment will find me dead at almost the speed of light.

Also, it's a secondary issue to connect or disconnect the possibility of extra-terrestrial life with the existence of a single, transcendent, and intelligent Creator.  Christians can argue amongst ourselves about the existence or non-existence of extra-terrestrial life or even about such things as the age of the Earth or seven days of Creation (literal 24-hour periods or not?).  Those are issues that just aren't relevant to the weightier questions about the nature of the Creator, sin, and Salvation.  When we take them outside our own circles, and especially outside of Christendom itself, we jeopardize the real message of the Bible (which very few people, including most Christians, have actually read much of) over trivialities.

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Hi, Jorge, and thank you for the well-written and carefully thought through post.  I didn't respond sooner because I simply didn't have the time (my time goes in fits and starts; sometimes I have a lot and more often I'm luck if I can remember to scratch an itch).

I'd like to address your points, not as a way of saying, "well I'm going to shoot this down" but more as a way to bring a counter point for consideration.  I don't pretend to have the power to change anyone's mind.  Indeed, my own theological leanings cause me to believe that it is simply impossible for me to personally cause anyone to believe in anything they don't already believe.  These are my thoughts, some borrowed from careful research and some simply reasoned out naturally.

Many people do indeed question the source of morality.  The "morality" you describe is frequently called "social contract".  Basically, it's a modified version of "might makes right" so we do what is good because we prefer the positive consequences over the negative.  Only a seriously mentally disabled person would remain at the scene of a crime; no one wants to go to jail.  Through social conditioning, we know that some things are bad.  We may do them anyway (sneak a cookie from the jar) and just get creative about not getting caught.  Other things we seem to intuitively know are wrong.  The problem comes when people start to believe that they can form their own "moral compass".  Morality as you have defined it worked very well for Adolph Hitler.  He managed to get a very large portion of a society of tens of millions to go along with his version of "morality", dehumanizing an entire people group who they came to believe deserved it.  Even those who didn't believe that were content to go along with it because it wasn't them.  He was perfectly safe in that "morality" and so were those who agreed with him.  The problem with that kind of morality is that it denies the presence of any absolute truth.  Even Social Contract falls on its own sword for many reasons, some of which are the same as just described.

In matters of ultimate purpose, you propose that your life matters in the grand scheme of things because of the other lives you touch.  While I won't disagree with this in the smaller scale, in the grand scheme of things it's wholly irrelevant.  Humankind has existed for, depending on which scientists you believe, between 6,000 and 15,000 years, but not much more than that.  By contrast, most of those same scientists believe the earth and universe to be aged in the billions of years (save for Young Earth scientists who believe humankind to be only six days younger than the universe, but that's for Christians and other theists to debate internally and is irrelevant to this discussion).  In any case, not only is one human life of about 70-100 years a blink of an eye, in the grand scheme of things, 15,000 years (being generous) is also the blink of an eye.  What's more, we may not agree on how or when but we can both certainly agree that there will come a time when humanity will cease to exist in this universe.  In essence, unless there is a supreme existence - an "afterlife", you and I have absolutely no purpose beyond temporary gratification of ourselves and others.  Do all the good you want or do all the evil you want - ultimately it won't matter because the outcome in that universe is the same.

You make a great point about unbelief because the alternative, knowing that there is so much human suffering in the presence of an omnipotent and omniscient God, is a very painful thing to consider.  It's easy to sit in judgement of God and wonder why He doesn't do anything about the millions of starving children.  Why do innocent children die painful deaths from Leukemia while scumbags seem to be living the good life?  I won't pretend to have a perfect answer.  I tend to believe that God is well aware and hears their pleas.  He is equally aware of how much you and I do, right here and right now, to ease that suffering, to end those wars, and to prevent and cure those diseases.  Are we perhaps also judged on how we respond to those situations - on whether we turn a hateful eye toward and sit in judgement of the Universal Judge or whether we look for ways He may have intended to use that suffering for a much greater purpose?  The closer you are to the suffering, the harder that perspective will be to find, I admit.  One thing I know for sure - when the innocent die, their suffering ends.  In a godless universe, their lives were painful, meaningless, and brought to a merciful end.  In a Christian world, those lives, each and every one, had meaning, purpose, and though we can say that there is Universal mercy in the end to their suffering, we can know that those souls are comforted and loved now and always.  If we go to the living to stop the wars, end the hunger, and bring a message of peace, we are a force for good.  If we only judge God as hateful and impotent while we sit on a planet with plentiful food and only make more wars while sending starving children into deadly mines to put shiny baubles on our pinky fingers, woe be to us!

There are many, many doers of hateful and evil things.  Some carry the banner of a religion and some carry their own banners, appointing themselves as gods.  In the name of many religions, including my own, evil men have done evil things.  That's going to continue for as long as there are people on this planet.  It's the very nature of what one might call "sin".  Yes, even the ultra-religious will do it.  Why?  Because they are people and that's what people do.  There will be racism, sexism, and every other kind of "ism" you can think of.

There is also one religion that dares make very specific claims about how things were, how they are, and how they should be while also making very specific claims about the nature of God.  Judaism does that up to a point but Christianity takes it all the way.  The simple fact is that we believe something that is, on its surface, very hard to believe.  We believe that, not only is there a God who brought all of this into being, but He actually impregnated a good little 14-year-old Jewish virgin girl who raised His Son.  We believe that the Son then grew up, started a ministry, taught some of the most bold philosophies ever uttered on the planet - very bold indeed! - and then claimed to be God, was killed for doing so, and... wait for it... then he came back to life a couple days later and was seen walking around, talking to people.

These are some very audacious claims.  If we're wrong, we're delusional at best, and fraudsters at worst.  Either way, we deserve to be either pitied or imprisoned.  So, my challenge is to stop taking my word for it.  Never take anyone's word for it.  Pick up a New Testament (I recommend the Holman Christian Standard Bible as an excellent modern English translation unless you really want to try to figure out Ye Olde English, Latin, or Ancient Hebrew and Greek).  Read that New Testament (it's a lot shorter and less boring than the Old Testament, what with its seemingly endless genealogies).  Heck, just read Luke and Acts.  Once you've done that, you'll have a much better understanding of what Christians believe (or what we SHOULD believe).

I couldn't agree more - we need to end the hatred.  But we also need to realize that it's not really possible to have a large society with such polar opposite views on the most fundamental and foundational things without a lot of tension and disagreement.  Eventually, that disagreement will lead to human nature doing what it always does.  I firmly believe we should each learn the full extent of the other's point of view while accepting that there will be some intolerance to certain points of view and work from there.

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I went to Roman Catholic school despite the fact that I was raised Atheist (the choices for english schools in Quebec are limited), but am currently a ordained Discordian Priestess and practice Chaos Magick.

Discordianism is centered on the idea that both order and disorder are illusions imposed on the universe by the human nervous system, and that neither of these illusions of apparent order and disorder is any more accurate or objectively true than the other.

In short, without chaos there is no order, and without order there is no chaos.

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That's an interesting perspective, Missy.  Regarding order and chaos, I see the two as opposites on a spectrum of degrees.  That is, things will be moving either from a state of order to disorder (chaos) or from disorder to order.  It is theoretically possible for the universe to be wholly in one state or the other but never both at the same time.  Logically, they cannot be both at the same time and in the same way. 

The existence of one (order) does not necessarily depend on the existence of the other (disorder) any more than the the existence of a book with its pages in numerical order depends on the existence of another book of the same title and author with its pages in random order.  The words themselves, because they describe a state of being, may depend on the existence of a counter-word for the definition of one to make sense.  This makes sense because we need something by which to contrast, compare, or at the very least make an analogous reference in order for our communication to be meaningful.  However, this does not create an ontological need for that thing to exist - only for the ability to conceive what that thing would be like.

It's not hard to find agreement that the universe and world are in a state of some degree of disorder.  Even so, we can understand that because we can draw analogous conclusions about what order might be like because we can, on a small scale, create order.  I can take an entire box of Legos, scatter them on the floor into a rainbow of disordered pieces but then I can arrange them into a shape, giving them order.  In doing so, I can understand the difference between order and disorder.  However, at no point do I necessarily have to have order or disorder.  If the Legos are in their box in a state of disorder, there is no need for me to build anything; they could stay in that box forever.  Likewise, if I have them ordered into a design, there is no need for them to ever separate (other than the universal understanding that they will eventually decay - they MUST at some point find ultimate disorder because the universe itself is in a state of disorder).

Looking at order versus disorder, most people, including scientists and theologians, agree that the present state of the universe is one of moving from order to disorder.  That is, at one point in time, the universe was in perfect order.  This may mean the brief moment of singularity before the Big Bang.  It may mean that brief moment in time before the Fall.  It may be both, depending on your world view.  The key difference, really, is in the understanding of whether or how the universe will be restored to order and what will occur between now and then (will the universe reach a point of complete disorder?).

Hopefully that made at least a tiny bit of sense.  BTW - I, too was raised basically Atheist (well, probably better described as agnostic) so you're in good company.

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I could classify myself as Pagan, but I'm really more Atheist than anything.

I don't believe in some all powerful creator or that there is an afterlife that your actions will determine you going to.

I do believe that the earth is the closest to a true 'creator' we've got. We come from it, it supports & sustains our existence, it has shaped our evolutions thus far & upon our death we will return to it.

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so, from what i understand from the documentaries i've slept through, the big bang theory essentially states that some random spark of energy set off the bang and started the chain reaction. is that right?

and if that's right.... and there was nothing before that... where do you think the energy and the spark came from?

you see, i'm an absolute believer that creationism does not contradict the big bang theory at all... in fact, i believe that the big bang theory actually points directly to the creator.

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Exactly. I'm all for scientific exploration, scientific method, and evaluation of scientific evidence. But that wasn't my question. The question is ultimately about a simple one: cause and effect. 

The earth is clearly an effect in a long chain of causes and effects. The "big bang" may or may not be that cause (the evidence supports that it is), but the big bang is itself an effect of some other cause. Every effect has a cause but not every cause necessarily has to have a preceding effect (or cause).  There can, and logically must be, at least one uncaused cause and a deeper philosophical study reveals that there can and must be exactly one and only one uncaused cause for the origin of the observable universe.

One can call that "uncaused cause" God or anything else.  The real question, once logic proves the existence of a creator, is to determine whether that creator is intelligent and deliberate or simply accidental, random, and unintentional.  Naturally, a deeper study of philosophy is necessary to answer those questions (science is insufficient to answer these because they are and will remain beyond the reach of the scientific method, we must use philosophy).

Conclusion: science is great and absolutely essential to expanding human knowledge of our universe, the world around us, and ourselves, but it has limits.

Atheism may be convenient and offer some comfort by limiting itself to a particular field of study for its evidence but it fails the logic test and requires a greater leap of irrational faith than most other human religions.  Most "Atheists" are really agnostics or deists who borrow the name "Atheist" (and in some cases conveniently redefine the term to avoid that problem).  I'm curious how many folks truly believe they are "atheist" (note the difference in capitalization; the former use is more of a religion than most will admit) and how they rationalize that.

CM

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So what you're saying is that since every effect needs a cause, and the original cause is unknown, the original cause may be a god-like creator.

I agree with you in theory, but my point is that we don't have answer. We may never have an answer (as you pointed out) so why should one group feel anymore right than another? If I believe there isn't & you believe there is, which of us is correct? In the end it's all just an opinion.

For someone to make the argument that we don't know if there isn't a god so we should believe there is, is almost as valid as someone making the argument that we don't know if there is a god so we shoudn't believe there is.

In reality it's like holding a locked box noone has/will ever seen the inside of, I can say the inside is blue all I want & you can say it's red all you want, but for all we really know it could be purple or yellow or green.

THAT is why I originally said I am not concerned with how/why we are here, because there is no proof one way or the other, most people will fall into the opinion-group that they feel is right for them.

And who knows, maybe we aren't supposed to know the answer at all?

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I am very different.  I believe in something. Not so much any bible. Let's be honest. For starters, all the bibles were written by man. I Don not judge. Most religious people are awesome, kind hearted people. Some are crazy fanatics. I am becoming more and more interested in the ancient alien theory. (I know, now I'm the weirdo). But even in some of your bibles they speak of "strange occurrences" that have nothing to do with god. Perhaps there is a god out there. And perhaps the ancient alien theory is correct as well. That would explain so much of our strange history. Who knows? All I can say is, "the truth is out there"!

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Snake, my partner firmly believes that we (humans) were brought here from another planet.

I've never asked too many questions but I believe he once mentioned that he believes we inhabited another planet & ended up destroying it (you know, like we are earth) & so we were forced to migrate here.

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Ah, so, totallynormal, you acknowledge the logic that something must have been the uncaused cause - a point of origin.  The rest becomes self-evident.  That uncaused cause must logically be eternal, existing outside of time.  It must be transcendent, existing outside of space (which is creation), it must be powerful (enough so to cause creation to come into existence), and it must be deliberate (creation happened because this creator wanted it to be so, not because it was accidental).

As human beings with self awareness, we are enabled to observe certain things to discover the nature of the universe around us and, by extension, its creator.  We have terrific scientific tools at our disposal, including archaeology, biology, and physics.  We are enabled to make use of math, logic, and philosophical disciplines to study and understand these things.  Careful examination with the goal of understanding the nature of the creator of this creation (I believe we've already established the necessity of a creator through logic) leads only one direction.

So, then, the question was never really one about whether or not there is a God... but rather the nature of God.

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Snake, my partner firmly believes that we (humans) were brought here from another planet.

I've never asked too many questions but I believe he once mentioned that he believes we inhabited another planet & ended up destroying it (you know, like we are earth) & so we were forced to migrate here.

Did your partner tell you the whole story about the Cylon Wars and the brave men and women aboard Galactica leading the survivors from the 12 Colonies to Earth? :grin: :grin: Sorry, couldn't help it

Refering to the topic, I think the term "nonbeliever" is inaccurate. Everyone believes in something, be it religion, or science, or religion AND science, or even aliens. While I have uttermost respect for Christianity as the religion of my family, I do have a personal identification with the oldest monotheistic religion in the world, Judaism, in the form of the Noahide Movement (which is basically Judaism for non jews - like a jewish version of Acts 15:20)

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Guest Jessie

it's simply about having a personal relationship with God... talking to him, spending time with him, listening to him, living in him, and being forgiven by him, in spite of our constant mistakes.

C that is the perfect definition of a Christian. You can't be born a Christian anymore than you can be born baker. I also love the I go to church so I am a Christian that's much like saying because I live in a garage I'm a car. Christian = relationship with Jesus.  

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Guest Troubled

I'm an atheist too, I know this thread is old but just throwing that out there. Hi :)

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