So today I had the utmost displeasure of debating with someone with theistic views (although they claimed not to be a theist) about why people believe in "God". There was a forum on this on another site I frequent. This was their response to the question of why people believe in "God".

"People believe because they feel it in their 'soul', God is a part of everyone. People who say they do not believe in God are denying their own feelings and will always relate back to God when they die. Even Darwin did it. Because God has always been here, from the very start of everything which we cannot comprehend. 

God is in everyone from the start. Meaning, from the moment you or anyone was born they already have the feeling in their soul. Not sure if you have the same thing or not, but even before I read the bible and researched in to God I felt something that I could not explain, something that caused me to look up at the sky and think. Yes, you can argue and say this is something else that I experienced. But as I said, I cannot explain it. And no, I was not taking anything, ill or all the other scientific explanations. 

What I am saying that there might not need to be proof for God to exist, I know, it sounds absurd. If he does exist then he or it will beyond any of our comprehension, as they say, people fear what they do not understand, and human beings hate to be controlled and looked down upon. This is why they call God evil and so on. And yes, I know that others think that is not the only reason why they think God is evil. I like to see two sides of the coin. Personally I think the whole world is stuck in too deep about the whole topic and need to calm their tits. 

More like religious extremists think inside the box. Religious people vary greatly, some I would say, as a religious person myself are suck up their own ass while some are extremely opened minded. 

Yes, some of that is flawed, but I cannot her to argue, I’ve had enough of that simple minded bullshit in my life. I just want to see what other people say. 

Also, fuck facts. Think outside the box."

I went on to explain to them that just because someone "feels" something, doesn't mean it should automatically be attributed to a god or supernatural being - and that a lot of what we feel and see is a result of more physiological processes than anything. Also that many people aren't "denying" feelings if they aren't currently having them. Additionally, I suggested that if religious extremists are adhering to the fundamentals of a certain religion, then maybe there is something that has to be addressed within the religion itself.

As you could probably imagine, this did not go over well and I got attacked by the poster and their "friend" over a ridiculous amount of back & forth that I'm ashamed I got so interested in being involved in. *rolls eyes extremely hard*

Anyway, what I came to ask is - what would your response be to this poster?

Tags: atheist, free, ignorance, logic, opinion, religion, theist, think

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RE: "I didn't call atheism any sort of system" - and what would, "not with a specific disbelief in anything" be to you, if not a belief system. No god/gods/ means no thoughts, concepts or beliefs of gods in any form - does a baby have any of those?

I don't think that not having a disbelief (for example, in avocado flavored popsicles or a theistic deity) implies any kind of belief system. I'm surprised you zeroed in on the word "system." System is defined thusly:

A set of connected things or parts forming a complex whole, in particular.
A set of things working together as parts of a mechanism or an interconnecting network.

That's Google's definition. There are other definitions from other online dictionaries, but I don't think you'll find much help. Taoism has no theistic god, either, by the way.

RE: "Hinayana Buddhism, for one, has no god or gods." - then I would call Hinayana Buddhism an atheistic (no god/gods) belief system, or simply a philosophy of life, but not a religion.

You can believe Gautama's Buddhism is a real estate company if you like, but it's taught in just about every Intro to Religion or Asian Religions class in the world. And there's no hard and fast line such that if something is a philosophy it is ipso facto not a religion. But I'm willing to entertain your arguments, though I suspect you have none. You are simply flat out wrong or you are using language in a very eccentric way.

RE: "I don't think that not having a disbelief (for example, in avocado flavored popsicles or a theistic deity) implies any kind of belief, much less any sort of system of belief. I'm surprised you zeroed in on the word 'system.'"

I've no doubt that those who value your opinion will doubtless thank you for that, and likely frame it, if not carve it in stone.

RE: "it's taught in just about every Intro to Religion or Asian Religions class in the world" - and so by that reasoning, if it were taught in Popular Mechanics, that would make it a car --

RE: "it's taught in just about every Intro to Religion or Asian Religions class in the world" - and so by that reasoning, if it were taught in Popular Mechanics, that would make it a car --

My point was that Buddhism is a religion according to courses on philosophy of religion and in comparative religion courses where they study religion (and not cars). Buddhism is thought of as a religion almost everywhere but in the mind of Minolta (oops! I meant archaeopteryx). That it's a religion is built into our language. Almost anyone asked to list as many of the major religions as they can think of will include Buddhism.

Saying that the part of Buddhism which follows the teachings of Gautama so closely that they worship no god(s) is like saying that an electric car isn't a car because it doesn't use gasoline.

RE: "Saying that the part of Buddhism which follows the teachings of Gautama so closely that they worship no god(s) is like saying that an electric car isn't a car because it doesn't use gasoline."

Please tell me you haven't started drinking already this morning! That makes no sense, possibly not even to you. If the definition of a car was that it runs on gasoline, then by definition, an electric vehicle would not be considered a car, but that isn't its definition.

The definition of a religion, however, which I've just given you, IS a belief system involving a supernatural, powerful being, and if, "Buddhism which follows the teachings of Gautama so closely that they worship no god(s)," it cannot, by definition, be a religion, but rather a philosophy.

While not all philosophies - reputedly your area of education - are religions, all religions are philosophies.

RE: "Saying that the part of Buddhism which follows the teachings of Gautama so closely that they worship no god(s) isn't a religion is like saying that an electric car isn't a car because it doesn't use gasoline."

Please tell me you haven't started drinking already this morning! That makes no sense, possibly not even to you. If the definition of a car was that it runs on gasoline, then by definition, an electric vehicle would not be considered a car, but that isn't its definition.

Not sure what the problem was (certainly not morning alcohol) but here is the sentence with some of the missing words put back in:

Saying that the part of Buddhism which follows the teachings of Gautama so closely that they worship no god(s) isn't a religion is like saying that an electric car isn't a car because it doesn't use gasoline.

The definition of a religion, however, which I've just given you, IS a belief system involving a supernatural, powerful being, and if, "Buddhism which follows the teachings of Gautama so closely that they worship no god(s)," it cannot, by definition, be a religion, but rather a philosophy.

While not all philosophies - reputedly your area of education - are religions, all religions are philosophies.

But the definition you use as if it's the only one is  just one of several lesser definitions of religion, and it's the sort of definition a theist would want to assert. Not the company I'd normally expect you to be in.

And as we've both now said, philosophies and religions are not mutually exclusive categories. Religions can be philosophical and, as in the case of Hinayana Buddhism and the Christian Paul Tillich, can be nontheistic.

Religions. Catholicism, in particular, have a very long tradition of thinkers who were both religious and serious philosophers.

RE: "Religions can be philosophical and, as in the case of Hinayana Buddhism and the Christian Paul Tillich, can be nontheistic."

I can accept that religions are philosophies, I cannot accept that philosophies without deities can be religions.

@archaeopteryx Not only is a belief in a theistic deity central to the notion of religion. It's possible to have many aspects of religion without any sort of deity, theistic or otherwise. 

Not only are some religions atheistic as I've pointed out ad nauseam, some religions have deities which are nontheistic. Animistic religions which revere animal spirits are non-theistic. If you make sacrifices to the bear god, the bear isn't a person. Theism is the belief in personal deities.

Buddhists who don't worship a deity still revere their great teacher, The Buddha. They conduct religious ceremonies, meditate, and do many of the other practices of religions.

Philosophy is a study in search of truth, not a practice. This is what differentiates a philosophy from a religion. ALL religions discard searching for truth and rather propound a set of practices and beliefs. 

I think you really have stopped listening to yourself, I know most everyone else has. Originally you stated: "People will say we are born atheist. Not true. We are born without religion not with a specific disbelief in anything."

To hold a disbelief in something requires a willful effort, based on at least some degree of information. But to be an atheist does not necessarily require a disbelief in anything - a person raised on a desert island may never have heard of the concept of a god or gods, and can be considered a true atheist, which means, "no god/s" - not "no belief in god/s," but "no god/s." Unless you have proof to the contrary, a baby is born without ANY beliefs, and therefore cannot have a DISbelief in anything, but as he/she holds no information regarding any sort of god/s, it can safely be said that he is born without a belief in a god/s, therefore, "no gods," therefore, atheist.

You then responded: "'No gods' and 'no religion' are not interchangeable." - irrelevent, as a-theist doesn't mean, "no religion," it means, "no god/s." The fact that you went on to discuss Hinayana Buddhism was not germane to the issue. In a moment of weakness, or possibly boredom, I decided to indulge you and clarify your misconception, explaining that religion is a belief system involving a supernatural, powerful being, while a philosophy is a theory or attitude held by a person or organization that acts as a guiding principle for behavior. I explained that all religions can be philosophies, but certainly not all philosophies are religions.

Our next two comments did little more than restate our respective positions.

Then you countered with something almost incomprehensible - you agreed with me: "...a belief in a theistic deity central to the notion of religion."

But then there was your followup: "It's possible to have many aspects of religion without any sort of deity, theistic or otherwise." - once again, you're trying to sidestep the issue, we weren't discussing "aspects of religion." Many would agree that looking upward might well be an "aspect" of praying, although I might look upward while doing a mental math calculation, I can assure you I would not be praying - the fact that many could say I had the "aspect" of it is irrelevant.

RE: "Animistic religions which revere animal spirits are non-theistic." - name these, please, so that I can more thoroughly research them - be specific.

Then you said, "Theism is the belief in personal deities," and earlier, "...a belief in a theistic deity central to the notion of religion." - therefore, a baby, who has no belief in a "personal deity" is an atheist = "no god/s." So I guess I should thank you for conceding my point.

RE: "as I've pointed out ad nauseam" - at least you nailed THAT!

As long as you're defining thing, try this:

religion |riˈlijən|
noun
the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, esp. a personal God or god

Based on that definition, it's safe to say that religions can be considered philosophies, but not all philosophies - only those involving a god or gods - can be considered a religion.

My definition came from a standard source used by many people (asking for a definition from Google). I've checked other sources online and while some include a theistic interpretation, it is only one of several definitions and never the first one. The point is that there is no necessary link between theism and religion. 

Religions and philosophies mix.

Even Christianity can have a non-theistic God. The Christian theologian Paul Tillich even defined God as "The Ground of Being," a concept remarkably similar to the Hindu "god" Brahman, who may be depicted as a personal deity to Hindu villagers but who is an abstraction to similar to "the ground of being" to the Brahmin philosophers.

RE: "Even Christianity can have a non-theistic God. The Christian theologian Paul Tillich even defined God as "The Ground of Being," - and this view is accepted by what percentage of Christians? I knew a guy once who said the Christian god was Mickey Mouse - accepted by probably the same number of Christians as accept Tillich's definition.

and this view is accepted by what percentage of Christians?

Very few. So?

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