PDA

View Full Version : Difference of thoughts



Zoombie
09-08-2008, 12:12 PM
Right, its late and I had an idea. Time to write it down before it escapes.

A religious person, whether they are Jewish, Christian, Muslim or whatever, has to believe. They have to believe that God exists and to doubt or be unsure is 'bad'.

Right.

However, on the other side, some people seem to think that atheists HAVE to DIS-believe all the time or else its 'bad.' But for an atheist to have doubts in their own position is okay. Its not a big soul searching moment. Or at least it shouldn't be.

Why?

Science and the world it shows is based off thinking, at the back of your mind, that anything is possible. There *may* be a God.

Which makes me agnostic, I suppose, but I prefer being called an atheist because, well, it sounds punchier. Also I'm more on the "its very very very very very" unlikely end of the spectrum.

Anywho, what does this mean?

Well, for one thing, it means atheists should be able to sleep better at night, so to speak. They don't need to worry about doubt or flashes of, heh, belief. Because if God is prooven to exsist then, well, a theory was wrong. When theories are wrong, we change our world view.

Or at least, in an idealized world we do.

Real life is messier.

But yeah, thats what I was thinking.

Any thoughts? Comments? People who think I should stop posting at 1 in the morning when I have classes next morning?

Mumut
09-08-2008, 01:45 PM
[quote=Zoombie;2728965]I prefer being called an atheist because, well, it sounds punchier.quote]

I'm a practicising agnostic. I can see proof enough for me that there must be a force that has created the universe but I haven't found a religion that I think that force would be happy to have worshiping them. I've read up on a lot of other religions and looked at a number of Christian sects - but no thanks. I'll acknowledge my creater in my own way until I find what I'm looking for.

Dawnstorm
09-08-2008, 01:54 PM
I use "life after death" to illustrate this.

Believer: Do you believe in life after death?
Me: No.
Believer: But what if you're wrong?
Me: Then I'll die, and wake up, and think, shit, [believer] was right.

Pause

Me: Think about it. Your position is the safe one. If I'm right, you die and that's the end of it. You'll never learn you've been wrong in the first place, because by the time that conclusive evidence is available, you are not.

I usually get the smartass look, then.

It's of course more complex, and it's a bit related with Pascal's Wager (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pascal's_Wager), but there's no "should" in it, just a if-then constellation of neutral facts (i.e. if this is a yes-no situation in the first place, fact-wise).

But, yeah, it's quite possible that I'm wrong about "disbelieving", but that doesn't bother me much. I know about being wrong. I've been wrong often. No biggie.

JoNightshade
09-09-2008, 12:50 AM
I'll chime in (as token Christian) and say that "mainstream Christianity" may give you the impression that doubt is frowned upon, but I think most theologians and "mature" Christians will tell you it's perfectly normal and even good. Actually I get a small mainstream-Christian magazine and I just noticed they had an article about how doubt strengthens your faith. I haven't read it yet, but in my own experience this is in fact true. Our doubts make us dig deep into what we believe and ask ourselves the tough questions, whether we're Christians or atheists or agnostic.

When I was younger, I did have a lot of doubts about whether God was real. And it was digging into those doubts that convinced me that there was a God. Anymore, I don't worry so much about whether God is real (he's pretty much settled that score), but I do wonder if he's truly GOOD, or if he really cares about us, or if life is just one big sick joke. I can't NOT ask those questions after, say, watching a baby die slowly and in excruciating pain - for the lack of a simple medical procedure. It's been three years and I still ask myself (a few times a week) how God could possibly allow such a thing.

Incidentally, here's my perspective on what you said about the "scientific view." I love science. I think it's great. And it's right that science should change and alter itself whenever new evidence comes along (it doesn't always do that as quickly as you may think it should, however). I see faith as a natural complement of science. To me, science is a short-term attitude, while faith takes a long-term view.

Science has to be flexible, ever-changing, willing to reorganize at any new piece of information. But it's also inexact, and theories change. In my very short lifetime, scientists have believed that the universe was contracting. And then static. And then expanding but contracting at a certain point. And then just expanding with no contraction. The truth is, we are always gathering more and more info, but in the end science will NEVER be able to figure out the whole picture. There will always be a certain amount of ignorance - faith, if you will. And it's very difficult to live one's life, in a moral sense, when the data is always changing. A generation ago, spanking was fine and healthy. "Science" proved it. In this generation it's taboo. "Science" proved it. In the next generation, the kids who weren't spanked may find out that they need to spank their kids. This is a silly example but you get the point. The world is ever-changing, the data is always changing, and we can't always have all the data.

What faith says is - given X and Y in the past, Z is probably also true. For example, in my life, the Bible has given me advice that helped me in the past, about subjects X and Y. Now, in the future, I encounter another situation. Given that the Bible was reliable in the past, I'm going to go out on a limb and trust it to get me through Z. Do I know 100% for certain, scientifically, that this is going to be the case? No. But the more I trust the Bible, and the more it works out for me, the more faith I have. So that, finally, when I encounter a situation in which what the Bible says doesn't seem to make any logical sense, and when I don't understand at all what's going on... well, based on prior experiences, I'm probably still going to trust it. To me, that's faith.

And this post is now way longer than I intended, sorry for the intrusion, I will get my Christian butt back over to the religious area. ;)

Zoombie
09-09-2008, 01:01 AM
I'll chime in (as token Christian) and say that "mainstream Christianity" may give you the impression that doubt is frowned upon, but I think most theologians and "mature" Christians will tell you it's perfectly normal and even good. Actually I get a small mainstream-Christian magazine and I just noticed they had an article about how doubt strengthens your faith. I haven't read it yet, but in my own experience this is in fact true. Our doubts make us dig deep into what we believe and ask ourselves the tough questions, whether we're Christians or atheists or agnostic.

Well, that's good to know!

Thinking on this more, I think that I've come to a decision!

Whatever works for me probably won't work for you. Cuase I'm not you. Therefor, everyone should find their own personal relationship with life.

Huh, that sounds a bit familiar....

But, yeah, Jo, stay here! I love how you view things! They're fun and awesome. Though I disagree...I find it fairly easy to live my life with a stable moral code.

Mostly cause I steal from various people like Jesus, Buddah, Pen and Teller...

Shadow_Ferret
09-09-2008, 01:10 AM
I"m an athiest.

I never have doubts.

To have doubts assumes that somewhere along the way something happened that made me think, "Maybe there is a god."

No such event has ever happened to me.

And if I woke up tomorrow to the headline, "God found!" I'll read it with some interest and shrug and go on with my life.

Because my life wouldn't change.

escritora
09-09-2008, 01:29 AM
I'm a practicising agnostic. I can see proof enough for me that there must be a force that has created the universe but I haven't found a religion that I think that force would be happy to have worshiping them. I've read up on a lot of other religions and looked at a number of Christian sects - but no thanks. I'll acknowledge my creater in my own way until I find what I'm looking for.


Does the term deist apply in your case? Is religion needed in order to "unlabel" yourself as an agnostic?

My confusion lies when you state, "I can see proof enough for me that there must be a force that has created the universe..." Where does the agnostic piece come in?

fullbookjacket
09-20-2008, 06:06 AM
"Agnostic" or "atheist"...a matter of semantics, in my opinion.

Of course nothing is absolutely knowable. Therefore I can't say with certainty that there is no god. Therefore one might say I'm agnostic. Fine. You could therefore call the most devout Christian or Muslim or Rastafarian or Cargo Cultist an agnostic. As for me, although I don't KNOW there's no god, I don't BELIEVE there are any, and therefore I consider myself an atheist. No bones about it.

Death Wizard
09-20-2008, 06:18 AM
I'll chime in (as token Christian) and say that "mainstream Christianity" may give you the impression that doubt is frowned upon, but I think most theologians and "mature" Christians will tell you it's perfectly normal and even good. Actually I get a small mainstream-Christian magazine and I just noticed they had an article about how doubt strengthens your faith. I haven't read it yet, but in my own experience this is in fact true. Our doubts make us dig deep into what we believe and ask ourselves the tough questions, whether we're Christians or atheists or agnostic.

When I was younger, I did have a lot of doubts about whether God was real. And it was digging into those doubts that convinced me that there was a God. Anymore, I don't worry so much about whether God is real (he's pretty much settled that score), but I do wonder if he's truly GOOD, or if he really cares about us, or if life is just one big sick joke. I can't NOT ask those questions after, say, watching a baby die slowly and in excruciating pain - for the lack of a simple medical procedure. It's been three years and I still ask myself (a few times a week) how God could possibly allow such a thing.

Incidentally, here's my perspective on what you said about the "scientific view." I love science. I think it's great. And it's right that science should change and alter itself whenever new evidence comes along (it doesn't always do that as quickly as you may think it should, however). I see faith as a natural complement of science. To me, science is a short-term attitude, while faith takes a long-term view.

Science has to be flexible, ever-changing, willing to reorganize at any new piece of information. But it's also inexact, and theories change. In my very short lifetime, scientists have believed that the universe was contracting. And then static. And then expanding but contracting at a certain point. And then just expanding with no contraction. The truth is, we are always gathering more and more info, but in the end science will NEVER be able to figure out the whole picture. There will always be a certain amount of ignorance - faith, if you will. And it's very difficult to live one's life, in a moral sense, when the data is always changing. A generation ago, spanking was fine and healthy. "Science" proved it. In this generation it's taboo. "Science" proved it. In the next generation, the kids who weren't spanked may find out that they need to spank their kids. This is a silly example but you get the point. The world is ever-changing, the data is always changing, and we can't always have all the data.

What faith says is - given X and Y in the past, Z is probably also true. For example, in my life, the Bible has given me advice that helped me in the past, about subjects X and Y. Now, in the future, I encounter another situation. Given that the Bible was reliable in the past, I'm going to go out on a limb and trust it to get me through Z. Do I know 100% for certain, scientifically, that this is going to be the case? No. But the more I trust the Bible, and the more it works out for me, the more faith I have. So that, finally, when I encounter a situation in which what the Bible says doesn't seem to make any logical sense, and when I don't understand at all what's going on... well, based on prior experiences, I'm probably still going to trust it. To me, that's faith.

And this post is now way longer than I intended, sorry for the intrusion, I will get my Christian butt back over to the religious area. ;)

What do you mean when you say, "He's pretty much settled that score"?

Ruv Draba
10-05-2008, 06:47 AM
I'll chime in (as token Christian) and say that "mainstream Christianity" may give you the impression that doubt is frowned upon, but I think most theologians and "mature" Christians will tell you it's perfectly normal and even good.I'd agree with that Jo -- though I'm not a Christian. But I think that even the faithful must question their faith or else lose their conscience and fail to grow. The only people who really lose by us questioning are the people who want us to obey unquestioningly. :D

Actually I get a small mainstream-Christian magazine and I just noticed they had an article about how doubt strengthens your faith.Also agreed. Doubt is a challenge for us to overcome fear, self-interest and narrowness of view by investigation and action. It's not just the faithful who have faith -- everyone does, or our societies couldn't run. Having unquestioning faith is a form of 'stuckedness' just as acting without faith is also 'stuckedness' -- or so I think.

I see faith as a natural complement of science. To me, science is a short-term attitude, while faith takes a long-term view.I think it's a bit more complicated than that. Science is at core, organised, disciplined, rigorous and independent enquiry. The results of that enquiry are 'knowledge' -- and knowledge does change somewhat over time.

But our observable world seems very orderly across the whole range of human experience of it. In consequence, the knowledge produced by science only changes if our approach is flawed or gets more refined, or if something new appears. That's more frequent in immature disciplines (like psychology say), but we can see that it diminishes in over time -- so new sciences often begin by looking short-term, but as they mature they get very stable in the longer term. Isaac Newton's science is now 350 years old, and we still use it for daily purposes, largely unchanged.

Separate from 'knowledge' is belief, and that's based partly on what we know, and partly on the myths we tell ourselves. Science tests myths from time to time, but people are always creating myths from new science anyway -- and science isn't really responsible for that. A lot of mythologisation comes from our news media (because that's how they make dry stories accessible). We often confuse the reporting of the science with the science itself.

So my take is that faith doesn't complement science -- it precedes it. It's the job of science to challenge faith, and if you're looking for a counterveiling force to preserve faith, I think there are three: honesty, courage and generosity. The honesty to recognise when our faith is misplaced (as it sometimes is, due to ignorance), the courage to act on that and the generosity to make our new actions work for the good. Honesty, courage and generosity renew and revitalise faith. Without them, we only have self-centered denial.

Scientific knowledge can never erode Christianity, but it does make Christians discard some of their myths. In the last 400 years, most -- nearly all -- Christians have abandoned beliefs that the earth is the centre of the universe, that the sun travels around the earth, that witches are detectable by dunking, that mental instability is caused by demons, that sickness, plague or drought are caused by sin, that women are breeding-grounds of sin, and that mortification of flesh produces great spiritual outcomes. I don't personally know any Christian who doesn't agree that we are better off for abandoning those myths.

Christianity co-exists just fine with science, even though some Christian myth does not. However, I don't believe that core Christian values are getting weaker with the retreat of Christian myth. I see some evidence that perhaps they're getting gradually stronger over time. That's because core Christian values are strong humanitarian values, and human needs remain substantially the same -- regardless of what we know.

virtue_summer
10-05-2008, 09:13 AM
I personally make a definite distinction between atheist and agnostic. An athiest is one who is convinced there is no god. An agnostic isn't saying for sure one way or another. They may lean one way but they're not absolutely convinced. Then I'd say there are believers which is what I've been most of my life, believing there is a god or gods but not subscribing to a particular religious philosophy about that. And last there are those that are religious and subscribe to a particular belief system. As for the idea that atheists sleep better, I'm not sure I believe that. See although I've never been an atheist (I always believed there was something) I find that I've slept better, been more at peace, since I became a Christian. That's because I now find myself thinking when I'm agonising over something that I'm not alone and that God does care and that there's always hope. It's the only thing that let me sleep at night when my mother passed away. So I think it's different for each person. What I find comfort in someone else might not, and vice versa. As to science, that's actually always seemed to me to be an indicator that there was a god because the whole philosophy behind science is that the world has order and logic to it that can be studied and understood and it was never a stretch for me to believe in a god behind that order. The truth is that we're going to interpret things differently based on our own belief systems and needs.

MaLanie1971
04-01-2009, 08:02 PM
I no longer take on any religious labels as they seem to box you into a set of beliefs, and then when new information becomes available you aren't open to listening objectively.