Fellow atheists do you think that the majority of theists online tend to be quite predictable, when it comes to debating religion's effect on society and the lack of proof in their gods?

Have we heard all the arguments at this stage? Have all the scenes been played out like a soap opera with no originality and bad writing?

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Hi @Thom. I'm a layman, not a religious, and definitely not a Jesuit priest.   I did attend a Jesuit undergraduate institution (they run a lot of them.. Georgetown, Fairfield, Boston College, etc.) , but that's the limit of my experience with the order.

I think the problem might be our language.  I would not say that I "don't believe in the bible".  I do.  Catholics aren't fundamentalists, though.  The Bible is an anthology of various Catholic and Jewish writers that we compiled and preserved because we thought it made for a good anthology.  It's not the sum and total of God's revelation, it's a text that helps people find some of God's revelation through a historical/cultural/philosophical lens.  There are other texts, writings, commentaries, lives of good people to learn from.  There is also science, God's revelation through nature and natural law to consider. 

Fair enough, @KrisFeenstra.

Doesn't it become tiresome, though, to always be a "counterposition"?  Yes, one can do intellectual deconstruction on almost any topic or school of thought, but beyond feeling temporary superiority over others, does such constant deconstruction ever amount to anything useful?  Does it ever advance human thought and understanding?

To me it seems like trying to do science without ever proposing a hypothesis of your own.  It can be fun to poke holes in others' ideas, and even helpful, but in the end humanity is advanced by people who propose ideas.

We can learn from what we deconstruct.

Certainly.  My point is only that it's not enough.  You also have to build something better.

Science proceeds not by deconstructing previous notions, but by building alternate theories which do a better job of explaining all the available observations of phenomena.

It's the building part that seems to me to be missing.

The arguments here for the most part epitomize old, stale, and predictable.  It might be worth considering that it is atheists who are limiting the range of discussion to the very narrow and boring "debating religion's effect on society and the lack of proof in ... gods".

I think this is a chicken-or-egg question, but it seems pretty clear to me that religious claims came prior to atheist responses. Do atheists need fresh, unpredictable arguments against the eternal religious claims? Maybe we can spruce them up a bit every few decades to keep up with the culture, but I think we do that.

I'm curious about your wanting to move beyond the lack of proof of gods to a broader focus. Without the gods, isn't the rest of it baseless? Isn't the actual existence of the supernatural the crux of the entire enterprise? Why would I care what God says about tithing if he doesn't exist?

@Stutz, you're coming at this from within your worldview.  That's understandable, but it's not the way any theists approach things.  It's probably not the way any of us who do science approach things either, come to think about it.

We don't begin with a notion of trying to prove the existence of quarks, or a Higgs boson.  We begin by observing the world and noting interactions and patterns of interactions.  That leads us to theories and ideas, and then to other predictions.  That might eventually lead us to look for the Higgs or to describe a model of particles which interact with the strong nuclear force, but it's not where we start or how we think about things.

It's the same with religion.  No theist begins with some notion of proof of deity, or the "supernatural".  We begin with stories that describe human activities and actions; rules and guidance that lead to healthy human relationships and communities, ideas or approaches that help people make good choices.  That leads us to theories and ideas and experience with divinity, and then to deeper understanding and other predictions.

Theism , atheism, agnosticism and critical thinking, all fall under the general heading of philosophy. Philosophy deals with the mind view of the universe and the premises that follow suit. Science can be described as falling under two subheadings; critical thinking and naturalism. This world view contends that all things have a natural explanation. It formulates postulates and uses natural means to test them. Since there still lingers mysteries that have not yet been explained by science and/ or people refuse to accept scientific explanations in their world view, alternative world views are entertained. Other world view notwithstanding, the scientific world view is popular since it has cataloged physical proof of it's postulates. However, Theist may claim that there are physical miracles in plain sight that heretofore no postulate has  confirmed by physical testing: How do we maintain entity consistency despite our cells being replaced after less than every ten years. how does the human eye deliver color consistency to the brain in the world that has scientifically been tested to be not color consistent. How does our mind's eye turn two images into a single 3-D image in the brain and yet outside the body not even a hologram is a 3-D image without a human mind processing it. Thoughts and ideas do not exist outside the human mind and are abstractions that have no physical trace that they exist, yet they can move and destroy worlds. In the holographic explanation of the universe how exactly is the information of human thought stored on the two dimensional surface of the event horizon of the universe?

Hi Prof. Bob. What / Who are "genuine Theists"?

Hrmm..I didn't realize there was any other kind of soap opera... 

For the most part. A lot of that comes from the fact that there are only so many ways that the Argument from Ignorance, the Argument from Incredulity, the Argument from Antiquity and similar fallacies can be expressed. Occasionally a new twist comes up, but it's fairly unusual.


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