I have been on a philosophical journey since I learned the world is knowable. I take every opportunity to learn new skills, practice old skills and improve my knowledge to better understand myself, my perception, the subjective world, the objective world, other perspectives and how all of that seems to work together for what seems like eternity; 13.8 billion years is approximately eternity compared to a single human life.

My step father invited me to join his church bible study. I really admire this man for many reasons, chief among them, my mother loves him at least as much as myself. The church meetings revolve around 6 week sessions of focus. This section just happened to start off with Atheism! Of course it did...

A 15 minute lecture covering 6 "requirements" of the Atheist philosophy (I KNOW! It is a strawman. I see it.) The presenter gives us pillars of thought which support modern, humanist, scientifically informed Atheism. I don't debate the requirements or how they use Atheism or Atheist as I agree with most of the premises although they are obviously presented in a negative fashion. Lots of focus on the new Atheists; Dawkins, Harris and Hitchens' books were all referenced.

One comment struck me as very true;
Presenter: "Do we all need God?"
Person A: "Yes, definitely."

Presenter: "Do none of us need God?"
Person B: "Yes, definitely."
Thus, the answer is completely knowable depending on who you ask.
Yet both Person A and Person B are both average people; reasonable, approachable, non-violent without serious threat. Both people have managed to live their lives and make it far enough to answer the question in their adult lives.

As an Atheist, I have no need for the God head.
As a Humanist, I recognize I am not alone here and sometimes have to work with even the most devout believer.
As a Step Son to a Believer, I recognize my step father is a peaceful, genuine man who holds the concept of God deep within himself, but does not press his idea on others further than questions and invitations.

So, as I sit at a table with 4 other intelligent, thinking men and notice we all face the same problem, "How do I understand all of 'THIS'?", I noticed the question again.

Do we need God?
No, I do not. But maybe someone else does.

I can't tell another, "God isn't real", because God is real in their opinion. I know I do not want violence between us and as long as we both maintain the peace, there is eternal peace.
I have come to accept their perspective and through listening to enough educated believers have come to appreciate the combination of emotional and intellectual arguments which makes them tick.

I may disagree with their interpretation, but I cannot force my perspective. Use the Socratic method to learn more.
Be humble, know nothing, be ignorant, because the one who knows their ignorance is the wisest among us.

I am an atheist while being open to all perspectives so that I may grow and learn more about the amazing Cosmos stretching out to infinity right in front of my eyes.

Views: 127

Comment by Davis Goodman on May 15, 2017 at 7:20pm

Just because a belief doesn't effect some theorised cosmological supernatural phenomena, doesn't make a belief in itself true or not (in any objective way). It could be true that an atheists does lack a belief, or it could be the case that a theist is right when the claims God exists but in both cases you have to either learn what the persons sincerely held beleifs (or lack of a belief are) or to prove or disprove God's existence which the earlier has never been done and the latter is impossible.

Theism and Atheism are not true or false. They are statements of belief or lack of belief. There is no check box to select true or false in this case.

As for your "justify all existence using math" etc, this is not the case, not even remotely close. We don't even know if there is life on the moons of Neptune let alone a deep unerstanding of our galaxy, universe, the cosmos, the underlying framework of the laws of physics, unrecorded history etc. Perhaps one day in the future we will have a near supernatural ability to collect data on everything in existence and somehow compute all these answers out of it...but that is a huge if. There very easily could be a fatal limit to our knowledge and understanding of existence, and there is always a microscopically tiny chance that God does fit in there.

Even if your claim were true, I do not understand what you mean by post-atheism. Do you mean one day we will realise that theism/atheism is irrelevant?

Comment by Andrew Brown on May 16, 2017 at 11:40am

Nice long rant there, Davis.

The long standing stalemate between we Atheists and the Theists is,
"God either exists or does not exist. How could we test for God?"

As a scientifically informed philosopher, I can safely quote Einstein, "The miracle is, there are no miracles." and agree with the sentiment, "God does not play dice."
I know of the Spinoza God concept; one of the few possibly true God ideas. At the same time, I know the Cosmos police themselves as the limits of atoms are the exact same limits on everything. We will never, 0% chance, no way in eternity, ever know all there is to know about the Cosmos. We can know ourselves and we can know how atoms work and maybe even a bit about how the sub-atomic world works, but we get to all provable knowledge through math.

Math teaches us how to go from 0 to 1, 1 to 2 then to infinity.

The Spinoza God shows us how God can exist and leave no footprint. It basically equates the natural evolution of energy to God. Thus, the God question always returns an unknown and we have to live with each other as One, not as disparate groups.

This is what I mean by Post Atheist.

If you have a better term for it, please share.

Comment by Davis Goodman on May 16, 2017 at 4:17pm

@Andrew: Nice long rant there, Davis.

Yes, I'm sorry that not a single thing we've tried to explain many times in various ways has gotten through.

In any case, since you don't seem able to divide the different arguments in my replies, I'll just quote you and reply for every strange claim you make.

@Andrew: The long standing stalemate between we Atheists and the Theists is,
"God either exists or does not exist. How could we test for God?"

There is no stalemate. It is not a game. It is one side who claims rediculous improbably thing, and another side that is skeptical. That isn't a stale mate in the least, I assume you play chess and know what happens. There is no winner...right? In terms of critical thinking and rational scientific thought, the winner is definitely the one who doesn't believe in crazy rediculous thing (at least for the moment) and the loser is the person who blindly accepts the rediculous on faith. Again, that isn't a stale mate. That's a sad example of people believing stupid things vs. a default position of non-belief.

@Andrew: "God either exists or does not exist. How could we test for God?"

We cannot test for it any more than we can test that there are giraffes dancing on several moons in every single galaxy. All this does is make the sie of the believer look rediculous, and those who are skeptical come out on top, by having a more rational take on the crazy claim. That is not a stale-mate.

@Andrew: As a scientifically informed philosopher, I can safely quote Einstein, "The miracle is, there are no miracles." and agree with the sentiment, "God does not play dice."

You have a couple degrees in Philosophy? Which university did you get your degrees in philosophy from? Maybe you went to the same one as Unseen or I?

@Andrew: At the same time, I know the Cosmos police themselves as the limits of atoms are the exact same limits on everything.

This is a projection of meaning onto a cold indifferent universe.

@Andrew: We will never, 0% chance, no way in eternity, ever know all there is to know about the Cosmos. We can know ourselves and we can know how atoms work and maybe even a bit about how the sub-atomic world works

Correct.

@Andrew; but we get to all provable knowledge through math.

Very much not correct

@Andrew: Math teaches us how to go from 0 to 1, 1 to 2 then to infinity.

You don't need to know math to understand the concept of infinity. Math teaches nothing. People work out things for themselves or learn from others through the tools of number manipulation. The numbers don't do anything.

@Andrew: The Spinoza God shows us how God can exist and leave no footprint.

I don't know a single rational philosopher who takes Spinoza seriously. Historically...yes. His argument about God? No. It seems possible in the beginning but then takes on absurd

@Andrew: Thus, the God question always returns an unknown and we have to live with each other as One, not as disparate groups.

This does not follow. You've taken a highly abstract (and widely discredited) theory by Spinoza as true, and then you've made a sweeping argument that does not logically in itself follow from your assumed premise.

@Andrew: This is what I mean by Post Atheist.

If all you really mean by Post-Atheism is some kind of neo-Spinozianism, then you ought to stick to the term neo-Spinozianism or possibly trans-theism as Spinoza's concept of a God with multiple aspects has nothing to do with atheism and nothing at all with the post- prefix.

Comment by Andrew Brown on May 16, 2017 at 4:51pm

Dude, Davis. I hate when internet conversations get into this level of rebuttal. This could go on forever as we assert each of our own understanding.

I am sorry you do not like my terminology.

Comment by Simon Paynton on May 16, 2017 at 5:26pm

I think Spinoza sounds pretty interesting, and relevant.  He gets confused when he brings God into his philosophy (as you would) but he makes some interesting analyses of religion from the standpoint of a neutral observer. 

Comment by Davis Goodman on May 17, 2017 at 7:42pm

Indeed. His idea that God is everything everywhere and that of "his" infinite attributes, we can only learn about him through two of those aspects (thought and extension). In a sense this may make sense (though the numbers are wrong) as if you defined God as "everything that exist" then it is true that it has infinite attributes (assuming the universe is infinite). Us puny humans can only learn about the universe through a limited number of those attributes, though limiting it to "thought" and "extension" may have made some sense in his time however there is certainly much more per the attributes of the universe we understand as well as methods for learning about that. The number is limited as he points out, but he jams it all into two terms that are not cohesive nor sufficient.

Having said that, you can take his argument there, or you can remove the "God" part and just take the universe as it is, and you're left with the same approach to cosmology only the God argument is needlessly complicated. Using Oakhams razor, it's not difficult to pick which approach is wiser.

While I admire Spinoza greatly for developing a comprehensive philosophy, and much more so for publishing heretical works and living through his banishment from the Jewish community (a definite first "of sorts" secularist hero).

Where he shines is in his revolutionary approach to ethics and morality. I don't think it fully stands up to modern scrutiny but when you read it and realise how heretical and unthinkable his argument that there is no "inherantly good or bad" and his focus on developing a life of self-development and maintaining a good-state (as opposed to sacraficing everything for a God or ideology or church) was also ground breaking and I doubt modern western ethics would have developed as quickly as they had without him (and Hume and Kant).

But his fiddling around with Aristotilian "teleology" and "nothing happens accidentally" are fatal problems. This is what I mean by "no one takes his metaphysics seriously" despite the fact that there are some good insights and that his other philosophical writings deserve an applause.

Comment by Simon Paynton on May 20, 2017 at 1:35am

Whatever else he did, I applaud him for his moral philosophy.  It seems there haven't been too many comprehensive "systems" around, but out of all of them that I've seen, his is the only one that passes muster.  I think it's broadly correct, even though it's incomplete, but it was the 18th century.  What's more, ordinary people can benefit from it. 

He says we should treat humans as part of nature to be studied, who are subject to the same natural forces as other animals; that morality is driven by some internal "pressure" ("we naturally pursue those things that we believe will benefit us"); emotions tell us whether we are approaching or going away from our goals; it is necessary to manage our "passions" for the sake of long term success.  Etc.  Everything about it shows he had a profound understanding of the subject, that I haven't seen elsewhere in these "systems". 

From modern times I see some good moral philosophy, but it's still a mess, because there are no foundations, and no overall unifying factor. 

Comment by lloydleroimiller on August 18, 2017 at 1:28pm

I understood and appreciated the post. I too believe that many folks, with golden intentions believe what they were taught to believe without any need to push it on me or even shout it out at all, they believe they are doing right when they pray and no further behaviors are ever seen. I have no beef with those folks, my own grandparents, many people i have know are excellent in every see able way. so i do not discuss it with them. i do however jump all in the face if the guy in the parking lot of the mall with a giant "repent" or you are going to hell trip, ha they hate to see me coming, There is enough room in the universe for dumbasses and the uninformed, i relent to that, also, clueing them all in would take way to much of my time.

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