DISCLAIMER: This discussion is a thought experiment. I realise that God/Gods cannot be proved or disproved so please answer this discussion in the spirit in which it was raised. Atheists can substitute whichever God/Gods they are most familiar with.


If you woke up tomorrow and it could be demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that God/Gods (see above disclaimer) do actually exist what would you do differently in your every-day life?


If you woke up tomorrow and it could be demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that no God/Gods exist (see above disclaimer) what would you do differently in your every-day life?

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Morality is a socially learnt construct. It exists to balance the needs of the group(s) with the needs of the individual - a set of guiding patterns that have evolved and developed over time based on experience and social learning. Religion was used to codify some of these patterns, but even in religious texts like the Bible, moral codes changes over time - eg love thy neighbour.

Secondly, modern morality has developed very separately from religion. Enlightenment values like equality or the Rights of Man were diametrically opposed to prevailing religious viewpoints such as the divine right of kings (every person in their place). Religion often comes later to these 'new' moral viewpoints like on slavery, women's rights, gay rights and so on, partly because the religion was codified so long ago and has to be overstretched to fit contemporary circumstances (eg views on contraception).

Unfortunately morality is still considered by many to be a purely logical rather than a learnt concept that evolves slowly over time.

I agree, Saul. Morality is not simply an abstract idea like mathematics but comes about through the formation of societies and human interactions. All of this can take place without any supernatural involvement (it already has) or without anyone believing there to be any supernatural involvement (unfortunately this did not occur, but hey ho - can't win em all).

The morals of the people have outpaced those of the church. It happens all the time. It's the element of "holier than thou" that feeds the addictive nature of those unused to acknowledgement elsewhere.

The church guidance tries to keep the poor and needy, poor and needy. That's when a promise of a glorious afterlife and payback for their perceived suffering works best. The chosen few - the adherents, get to feel superior, and all those not in the club, either feed their holy revenge fantasies, like being visualized burning in hell, or are kept at bay with empty promises of harps and puffy clouds ( yes Bob, that IS meant as a caricature :) ) in an afterlife to reward them for the suffering that they are apparently meant by their deity to endure.

Atheism is the first step forward into the unknown. That is all it offers. A clean untainted chance to understand the universe. Takes courage.

You do understand that that is a faith-based claim, right?

Humanity has been exploring the unknown for millennia, after all, and new schools of thought emerge with some regularity.  It's a faith claim to believe that your new school of thought must be a first step on a great quest, demanding courage and stout-heartedness.

It's a ridiculous faith-claim to believe that it is "untainted" by human culture and learning up until this point, including theism. 

In reality, atheism is a conjectural proposition; a pet theory with way too many free parameters.  Perhaps worth playing around with, but nowhere near ready to replace the Standard Model.

I have both been a Catholic and an atheist. I was a coward for a while, because knew it was bullshit, but played along. I am now as untainted as Socrates when he rejected his gods or as free of dogma as Epicurus was when he pondered ...why bother worship the obviously impotent gods of his city (...and as a result 'ole Dante placed the Epicureans within the sixth circle of hell, Ouch!).

So you are stuck with judgment day, vicarious redemption and human sacrifice, and a master over your soul. You must believe on faith alone. You must accept you are a sinner, repent and beg for god's mercy. 

It seems counter productive for us to waste time and energy on dozens of opposing fairy tales, don't you agree?

I like how you say "Standard Model". It sounds important and all official-like. As though it's something substantial and not a conjectural proposition itself. It was born of primitive humans cowering in a cave, trembling at the thunder, and guessing at what may be causing it. Everything else is just more conjecture that has been added on by various peoples for various reasons.

Atheism at least starts from a position of standing on two feet, unafraid, with eyes open to the world.

Actually, I was making an allusion to String Theory (a pet conjecture with many arbitrary free parameters) and the Standard Model of particle physics.

I'll admit that was probably obscure. ;-)

All human thought was "born of primitive humans cowering in a cave" at some level.  Modern religion is like modern science.  It has origins in antiquity but it is what it is now.


Remember I freely admitted game theory was not the answer to everything. I simply used it to counter your statement that without God there was no reason to behave in any other way than self-interest and ease.

I don't think anyone wants to take away everything that religion has ever given the world and replace it with atheism do they? I certainly don't. But do you think it impossible to remove the supernatural element but leave all the good stuff? Let me give you a concrete example:

Do you think it is possible for no-one to believe that Jesus died for our sins and was resurrected and yet about the same proportion of people in society continue to love thy neighbour as currently do? Or is that simply not possible?

The only thing that's keeping me from murdering everyone I know is those damn policemen (probably keeping law and order due to their darn Christian ethic). If only I could find a way to end Christian morality in society...then I could get on with my plan to dismember babies, manipulate everyone into doing what I want and being the supreme uber-mensch my atheist parents brought me up to be.

I want to start humming "If I only had a brain..." there's so much straw man in that. ;-)

I suspect that what's keeping you from murdering everyone you know, in addition to the concern over being caught and punished, is the cultural norms into which you were indoctrinated.    Granted, murdering everyone is a stretch, the real issue is murdering those whom you have chosen to see as an enemy or defined as not-part-of-your-group, like white southern klansmen lynching blacks.  The culture people grow up in does not have to be benign, after all.

So the question you are faced with is how best to build a culture that not only encourages people to see every human as a brother/sister/child of God, but also inspires some subset of humans to stand up and resist oppression and murder... even when those being oppressed or murdered do not share their genetic material, even when the proper game theory play in a resource competitive environment is to screw them, even when the choice to stand up involves sacrifice and even being self-sacrificial.

Whatever you come up with can't just work for you, it has to be able to inspire and guide people facing hard choices across a broad range of humanity... young and old, rich and poor, bright and not-so-bright. 

Let me know what you come up with.

Let me know what you come up with.

More women!!??


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