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small axe
04-16-2007, 08:57 AM
Hi!

I'm writing a screenplay with a character who is an Athiest.

As I believe in God, I wanted some help in developing the character and the things he/she may or may not say, etc.

Given that the character is a medical doctor, arguing with a Christian, they have a few spirited debates, and I'd like to be sure I have the Atheist character present her case in an intelligent and balanced way (that is, not have my own Believer attitude accidently short-change her Atheist insights)

Anyone care to offer suggestions?

In an early scene (the argument arises a few times, in different lights) the Christian girl challenges her Atheist friend/foe with some comment along the lines of:

"Look at you, you're a scientist, your whole existence is based on making rational decisions based on the evidence --"

"And I don't see any evidence of God's existence."

"Fine. You don't 'see evidence' ... And for thousands of years no one 'saw evidence' that disease is caused by germs; no one 'saw evidence' that the Sun doesn't go around the Earth --"

"That's what Science is for. That's what Science discovered."

"Yes! Science demands that you look. But you're using Science as a reason not to look. You can't come to a final conclusion that God doesn't exist because there is no evidence that God doesn't exist. There's only your ignorance of evidence. You can't be an Atheist, it's irrational. You can only be an Agnostic: you "don't know" whether God exists or not! Anyone who claims to be an Atheist can't be a scientist--"

"I don't believe in God. That's all the word means --"

"And so you've replaced science with faith. And that's exactly what you accused me of."

Is that an accurate portrait of an Atheist's positions?

And how do you think the Atheist can/should respond to the challenge that "atheism cannot be a valid conclusion" ... that only an agnostic position remains valid scientifically?

Your insights helping me to create a richer atheist character will be appreciated!

While maintaining a civil and friendly discussion and disagreement, I'm told here we're allowed to thrash things out.

KanShu
04-16-2007, 10:53 AM
Heya small axe, I can kinda see your predicament here. Its always difficult to write convincingly for a character that you can't really relate to. The best advice I can give you is to get in a (friendly) argument with an atheist and see how it pans out. Theres also a good chance that the argument might go somewhere surprising. After all, theres no idea quite as inspiring as someone else's.

That being said, I don't really feel that I got a good idea of exactly what your atheist character's stance was, aside from the fact that he doesn't believe in God (which I believe is an integral part of atheism). After all, he did only have 3 short lines. I think that this is because you yourself don't exactly know what the character believes.

The best way to remedy that (aside from the aforementioned argument) is to define him more specifically than just a nonbeliever. For example: is he a Strong Atheist or a Weak Atheist? A Strong Atheist would directly state that "God does not exist". A Weak Atheist is someone who says anything up to that point, and can be also classified as an Agnostic or a Nontheist. In some ways a Weak Atheist could no more say that "God does not exist" than a Buddhist could.

And here we get to the core of the problem. If your character is a scientist, then he knows that is scientifically unsound to try and prove that God has never influenced the universe. In order to definitively prove this he would have to examine every action since the beginning of time: an impossible task. Most strong atheists get around this by saying that the burden of proof falls on the one who proposes that God exists. As your Christian girl is the one who lays down the challenge, this is a valid loophole.

So I'd recommend that you look up strong atheism and weak atheism (also known as positive atheism and negative atheism) to get a good idea of exactly what the different kinds of atheists believe. I'd recommend this site (http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/mathew/intro.html) for a pretty good overview. As for the meat of the argument itself, I do have one major problem: on several occasions the characters were allowed to complete their sentences uninterrupted. In a good, spirited fight this would never happen :D.

Anyways, I hope this helps, and keep in mind that these arguments can be an absolute blast if nobody takes offense too easily. My roommate and I (me being the Atheist) would have heated discussions often into the wee hours of the morning that left us feeling really invigorated despite the lack of sleep. Interestingly, we always arrived at the same conclusion that it was a null issue.

dpaterso
04-16-2007, 11:09 AM
Looking at your dialogue snippets... I kinda expected your atheist character to tell the Christian character to just shut up. That would certainly be my position, I couldn't put up with this head-busting stuff for any length of time.

Which brings me to say, I hope they're doing something interesting every time they're having these conversations. One of the oft-repeated "rules" of screenwriting (as you probably know) is that a scene has to somehow advance the story, push things along, and/or reveal some internal character conflict that the audience wouldn't otherwise know about. How can you show their differing beliefs instead of just having them talk about it all the time? That's going to get very boring, very quickly. You need a strong story dynamic to offset the talking heads drag factor. If you've already thought about this, forget I spoke.

-Derek

pepperlandgirl
04-16-2007, 11:42 AM
the argument your Christian character is offering isn't convincing or insightful for most atheists---if only because it isn't anything new. It's the same argument over and over and over, and it never gets more convincing.


"Yes! Science demands that you look. But you're using Science as a reason not to look. You can't come to a final conclusion that God doesn't exist because there is no evidence that God doesn't exist. There's only your ignorance of evidence. You can't be an Atheist, it's irrational. You can only be an Agnostic: you "don't know" whether God exists or not! Anyone who claims to be an Atheist can't be a scientist--"

This is particularly obnoxious. You can't come to a final conclusion that my pink elephant, Pinky, doesn't exist because there is no evidence that Pinky doesn't exist. There's only ignornace of evidence. You can't not believe in Pinky! It's irrational!

Sorry, you can't prove that something doesn't exist, and no scientist would try to prove a negative. Believe it or not, the assertion that God exists is the extra-ordinary claim that needs extra-ordinary evidence from the one making the claim.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to feed Pinky. He only eats between 1 am and 2 am, and he only eats purple marshmallows. It's a pain in the ass.

small axe
04-16-2007, 12:54 PM
KanShu brings up the core of my question though (the spectrum of definition between the "strong atheist" claim and the "weak" atheist position (which is pretty close to the agnosticism my character doesn't have an issue with)


For example: is he a Strong Atheist or a Weak Atheist? A Strong Atheist would directly state that "God does not exist". A Weak Atheist is someone who says anything up to that point, and can be also classified as an Agnostic or a Nontheist. In some ways a Weak Atheist could no more say that "God does not exist" than a Buddhist could.


Most strong atheists get around this by saying that the burden of proof falls on the one who proposes that God exists. As your Christian girl is the one who lays down the challenge, this is a valid loophole.


Well, as the story goes, it really is more that the Atheist/Scientist is the one saying "No, you're wrong, there's no God" ... and uses her claims that Science erases the need for "superstition" etc ...

So she is making the positive assertion "God doesn't exist" and claiming rational thought and science support her Atheism ... and alot of the arguing is "No, you've jumped to a conclusion that is no stronger than my FAITH, scientifically."

Not that the Atheist has to "believe" ... just that the existence of SPOOKY DIVINE FORCES is something she has to help the Christian girl investigate (which is more the thrust of the story)

The Atheist has to be convinced enough to join in the quest, rather than reject it as utter madness etc. (She'd do it if she WERE agnostic, but she's an atheist. Bingo: conflict)


How can you show their differing beliefs instead of just having them talk about it all the time? That's going to get very boring, very quickly. You need a strong story dynamic to offset the talking heads drag factor.

Yeah, I certainly am exploring ways to avoid the talking heads issue (and the A Beautiful Mind / DaVinci Code floating slideshow too)


the argument your Christian character is offering isn't convincing or insightful for most atheists---if only because it isn't anything new. It's the same argument over and over and over, and it never gets more convincing.


Well, okay, HOW is it not convincing? The atheist character is making a positive claim (that is, "God does not exist") and claiming it with greater certainty than a mere "I cannot decide yes or no, I need to see evidence" (which is agnosticism, and scientifically valid.)

Science and rational thinking can demand "NO CONCLUSIONS without evidence" (that's my point, that's my Christian girl's argument) ...

But someone who CONCLUDES that God doesn't exist -- an ATHEIST (due to lack of evidence) ... is as wrong as someone who CONCLUDES that germs couldn't cause disease because (before Science developed the necessary devices) "there is no evidence of microscopic life"

That's not Science, nor rational thinking (in the reasoning definition, not the mere "can it be measured?" definition of rational)


Sorry, you can't prove that something doesn't exist, and no scientist would try to prove a negative.

So you agree that Atheism cannot claim "scientific" support? That my atheist character cannot base her Atheism on science.

I hear many times "You cannot prove a negative" ... I understand that.

My Christian character's argument is exactly that: someone cannot support your Atheism by claiming fact, evidence, Science, or reasoning positively support atheism.

Can you (well, not you, can an Atheist) say something to counter that? What would it be?



Believe it or not, the assertion that God exists is the extra-ordinary claim that needs extra-ordinary evidence from the one making the claim.


Well, again ... in the debate, it's my Atheist character making the assertion.

The Christian girl is saying "Help me investigate" and the Atheist is "No, you're superstitious and crazy, God doesn't exist, I won't investigate."

And I'm asking people here: HOW DOES SHE JUSTIFY HER ATHEIST CLAIM in intelligent rebuttal?

I've heard the "unicorns and fairies" thing before. It doesn't justify anyone refusing to LOOK for evidence.

It's valid Science to INVESTIGATE, and draw no conclusions without evidence.

Mac H.
04-16-2007, 01:13 PM
You really are having a hard time with this, aren't you !

Imagine that the guy in the next cubicle is trying to get you involved in his latest get-rick quick scheme.

Conversation:

Him: "Aren't you interested in making money?"
You: "Of course. I'm a serious investor"

Him: "Well, I have this great investment scheme, where you just have to send a few thousand dollars to this guy in Nigeria .."
You: "You've gotta be kidding. You think that's credible?"

Him: "Look at you, you're an investor - your whole existence is based on making rational decisions based on the evidence --"
You: "And I don't see any evidence of this being a good investment."

Him: "Fine. You don't 'see evidence' ... And for thousands of years no one 'saw evidence' that disease is caused by germs; no one 'saw evidence' that the Sun doesn't go around the Earth --"

... (rant for a while)

Him: You must be lying when you say you are a serious investor. A serious investor would SEARCH for evidence of this Nigerian millionaire.


Now the exact analogy isn't important here (so please don't reply pointing out why there IS evidence of Nigerian millionaires) ... just imagine your frustration when faced with this guy. You can't seem to make him understand that you ARE serious about investing .. yet you don't believe in his Nigerian millionaire.

How would you react? With frustration? With just ignoring him ? Actively avoiding him ?

This leads to another problem .. you are going to have to give the athiest a REAL motivation to stay around.

To avoid the 'talking heads' and 'why doesn't he ignore just ignore the get-rich-quick-guy' , you could concentrate on their friendship, and just have the 'debate' as snippets of conversation during much more interesting events

Compare:
The Christian girl is saying "Help me investigate" and the Atheist is "No, you're superstitious and crazy, God doesn't exist, I won't investigate."

And I'm asking people here: HOW DOES SHE JUSTIFY HER ATHEIST CLAIM in intelligent rebuttal?

I've heard the "unicorns and fairies" thing before. It doesn't justify anyone refusing to LOOK for evidence.

It's valid Science to INVESTIGATE, and draw no conclusions without evidence.
With:
The friend is saying "Help me investigate" and the Investor is "No, you're naive, the Nigerian millionaire doesn't exist, I won't waste months of my life trying to investigate."

And I'm asking people here: HOW DOES SHE JUSTIFY HER CLAIM AS A SERIOUS INVESTOR in intelligent rebuttal?

It doesn't justify anyone refusing to LOOK for evidence.

It's valid investment advice to INVESTIGATE, and draw no conclusions without evidence.

How much time have you personally spent investigating the claims in spam emails? How can you justify NOT investing your time in investigating every single claim? How many years have you personally spent investigating the existance of invisible unicorns? How can you justify NOT investigating their existance?

Just a comparison that may help you sympathise with 'the other side'

Mac
(PS: If you think the statement "Someone who CONCLUDES that invisible unicorns don't exist -- is as wrong as someone who CONCLUDES that germs couldn't cause disease because (before Science developed the necessary devices) "there is no evidence of microscopic life" sounds wrong, then you are on the way to understanding the point of view of the other character)

(PPS: From a purely fiction viewpoint, why does the atheist need to be convinced by a verbal argument?

If you need a motivation for her to join the quest, what about her desire to keep her hare-brained friend safe ?There are many reasons - and convincing the atheist at the beginning just removes a massive source of conflict through the rest of the journey.

Imagine if Mulder had convinced Scully in the first episode of 'X-files' ... what would have happened to the series?

As for the final convincing, you could leave it as something that was EXPERIENCED rather than VERBALLY ARGUED.

It might also be more satisfying to have the atheist just convinced that 'something' happened that couldn't be explained .. and leave the door open for sequels later.

KanShu
04-16-2007, 02:00 PM
"Emotionally I am an atheist. I don't have the evidence to prove that God doesn't exist, but I so strongly suspect he doesn't that I don't want to waste my time."
--Isaac Asimov

It seems that you may be needing too much from your scientist character here, as she needs to firmly assert that God does not exist while at the same time making a perfectly sound argument. I can tell you already that you cannot reconcile these needs. However, if you are willing to have your character make arguments that are either not absolute (weak atheist position), or not absolutely watertight (the quote above), then you should be able to get away with it.

That being said, this discrepancy could also provide a way for the Christian friend to 'goad' the atheist into helping out. When the Atheist asserts that "God does not exist", rather than going straight for the jugular you could instead go something like this:

"You know the impossibility of proving a universal negative, right? So why do still say that?"

"I can confidently say that no neon pink potatoes exist anywhere, even though I haven't searched the entire galaxy looking for one. At some point you have to say 'enough is enough' and draw a conclusion. There has not been any proof of God anywhere that cannot be explained by natural means, so the only conclusion I can draw is that He/She does not exist."

"And if I showed you compelling evidence?"

"Then I couldn't make that conclusion."

"Great! Want to go investigate SPOOKY DIVINE FORCES with me?"


So, because you caught the character making an incomplete (though not entirely unsupported) assumption, you now have leverage on him/her.

Marlys
04-16-2007, 02:46 PM
You could consider using the faith vs. science argument, which goes something like this: faith is the foundation of religion, thus to attempt to prove the existence of God would negate the whole idea of faith, which relies on the acceptance of mysteries (God works in mysterious ways and only He knows the whole plan).

Science, on the other hand, is about gathering empirical data and coming up with explanations. It's diametrically opposed to the acceptance of mysteries. If God exists, He is by nature unprovable--and so outside the boundaries of scientific inquiry.

Honestly, though--I think Mac is right. Why does the friend need to be convinced?

small axe
04-16-2007, 03:34 PM
It seems that you may be needing too much from your scientist character here, as she needs to firmly assert that God does not exist while at the same time making a perfectly sound argument. I can tell you already that you cannot reconcile these needs. However, if you are willing to have your character make arguments that are either not absolute (weak atheist position), or not absolutely watertight (the quote above), then you should be able to get away with it...

Well, maybe I'll just have to settle for that, then ... not having the Atheist demand to make a water-tight case for Atheism, but have their character personality conflict drive the thing instead (obviously, the PLOT has to drive the thing)

I was just hoping for a definite, atheist-based "conversation is over" ... (Stronger character)

Not an agnostic-sounding "well, I guess you could change my mind, if ..." (weaker character)

Certainly, I was wanting to avoid anything that reeked of: "Yeah, she was a dyed-in-the-wool-Atheist" ... UNTIL she found the Lord! :hooray: deus ex machina





"And if I showed you compelling evidence?"

"Then I couldn't make that conclusion."

"Great! Want to go investigate SPOOKY DIVINE FORCES with me?"

So, because you caught the character making an incomplete (though not entirely unsupported) assumption, you now have leverage on him/her.


That might be a good angle indeed, and a little more dramatic than settling the issue between them, no matter how vivid their debate.

Still, if anyone else has ideas ... please hit me with them!

Cath
04-16-2007, 04:03 PM
Well, maybe I'll just have to settle for that, then ... not having the Atheist demand to make a water-tight case for Atheism, but have their character personality conflict drive the thing instead (obviously, the PLOT has to drive the thing)

I was just hoping for a definite, atheist-based "conversation is over" ... (Stronger character)

Not an agnostic-sounding "well, I guess you could change my mind, if ..." (weaker character)

Certainly, I was wanting to avoid anything that reeked of: "Yeah, she was a dyed-in-the-wool-Atheist" ... UNTIL she found the Lord! :hooray: deus ex machina....

OK - let's look at this from another perspective. Does a believer have proof that god exists?

No, of course not.

Neither does an athiest have proof that s/he doesn't. But it doesn't shake or alter that belief in any way.

I think you're letting the scientist thing distract you. Faith or absence of faith is about belief and nothing else. The only commonality between athiests is their belief that god does not exist.

You see, an athiest (scientist or otherwise) really doesn't expect to be proven wrong about the existance of god. So to an athiest, a lack of proof is good enough. "Prove it" is the scientific athiest's retort.

As an example:

I don't believe that shaking hands causes cancer. There's no way to prove positively that it doesn't, but I still hold that belief and will do so unless proven otherwise. To me, the claim is so ridiculous that I don't expect to be proven wrong.

Does that make sense?

Mac H.
04-16-2007, 04:26 PM
It sounds like you need the patented 'see life through the eyes of an Atheist' glasses.

Part of the problem is that you (the writer) are seeing the statements made by one of the characters from YOUR point of view .. not that of the athiest character.

For example, here is a statement that you seem to agree with: A rational human cannot make a perfectly sound argument that God does not exist. (Yes, I paraphrased. It's just an example)

To you (the author) that argument may seem logical and sensible. And so your atheist character would be reacting as if that was a perfectly sensible statement - which might be true (that isn't the point of the exercise) but certainly not from the point of view OF THE CHARACTER.

You can't see how an atheist would find that totally absurd? That's when you need the magic 'see life through the eyes of an atheist' glasses.

Just substitute another belief system instead of yours, and re-read the sentence:
A rational human cannot make a perfectly sound argument that invisible unicorns do not exist.


See how that argument looks now? Does that statement seem even vaguely sensible? It is the same statement as before .. just seen through a different world view! (Yes, the world views differ a little more than that, but that will allow you to START seeing things from this character's viewpoint)

Are the two statements equivalent? It doesn't matter - we aren't arguing whether ghosts or unicorns exist - simply that it is a taste of how the Atheist character might view the world.

Start looking at the discussion you started with from the point of view of the atheist character. For good measure, imagine that YOU are the scientist who doesn't believe in invisible unicorns :


"Look at you, you're a scientist, your whole existence is based on making rational decisions based on the evidence --"

"And I don't see any evidence of the existence of invisible Unicorns."

"Fine. You don't 'see evidence' ... And for thousands of years no one 'saw evidence' that disease is caused by germs; no one 'saw evidence' that the Sun doesn't go around the Earth --"

"That's what Science is for. That's what Science discovered."

"Yes! Science demands that you look. But you're using Science as a reason not to look. You can't come to a final conclusion that invisible unicorns don't exist because there is no evidence that invisible unicorn don't exist. There's only your ignorance of evidence. You can't be a non-believer in invisible unicorns - it's irrational. You can only be an fence-sitter: you "don't know" whether invisible unicorns exist or not! Anyone who claims to not believe in the Unicorns can't be a scientist--"

"I'm a scientist, and I don't believe in invisible unicorns!"

"And so you've replaced science with faith. And that's exactly what you accused me of."

See? Good luck !

Mac

Akuma
04-16-2007, 04:53 PM
Just be sure these spiritual debates are vital to the story before you try opening Pandora's Box.

wordmonkey
04-16-2007, 05:23 PM
"Emotionally I am an atheist. I don't have the evidence to prove that God doesn't exist, but I so strongly suspect he doesn't that I don't want to waste my time."
--Isaac Asimov

My experience here is that on a day-to-day level, religious folks almost constantly have religion going on in their heads/lives like elevator musak. Atheists simple get on with life. Which is basically what the above quote says.

It's only around a flash-point that the atheist ever really expresses what they think. Now this flash-point many times comes from a religious person attempt a conversion (which will ALWAYS cause sparks), however, there are other things that can cause it (like the arrival of a baby where your parents-in-law expect a baptism and you and your wife have no intention of doing so).

If it's OK with the board, I'll "argue" the position with you, Small-A, and if not here, we can take it "outside" so to speak. I'm not talking about a fight, just giving you the perspective from the otherside.

Cath
04-16-2007, 05:38 PM
If it's OK with the board, I'll "argue" the position with you, Small-A, and if not here, we can take it "outside" so to speak. I'm not talking about a fight, just giving you the perspective from the otherside.

TIO is really the place for arguing, but if you can offer another perspective without getting overheated, by all means go ahead.

Incidentally, I don't completely agree with what you say about athiests in the post above. I'm an athiest, always have been, but faith and belief interest me. I would like to understand why people believe what they believe, and I do try - which means I think about belief and religion even when not challenged. I just don't subscribe to it, nor do I ever expect to.

I honestly believe that the only thing athiests have in common is a lack of belief in a god (or gods).

Higgins
04-16-2007, 06:13 PM
[quote=small axe;1269682]Hi!


In an early scene (the argument arises a few times, in different lights) the Christian girl challenges her Atheist friend/foe with some comment along the lines of:

"Look at you, you're a scientist, your whole existence is based on making rational decisions based on the evidence --" [end quote from small axe]

Would anyone talk to their friends like that? Would anyone whose friend was a scientist talk like that?

Not only that but if, the Christian's idea of rational argument is that God is like a "germ" (certainly not the modern scientific term for anything much), who is awaiting discovery by the few who have not yet been infected...

Maybe...if there needs to be some confrontation...the scientist could do something obviously irrational, the Christian could exhibit some kind of understanding of human irrationality and the two could talk about irrational impulses. After they have sex and the Christian is sure she is going to hell and the scientist is not so sure about that etc. etc....

pepperlandgirl
04-16-2007, 06:47 PM
small axe, I'm going to make the assumption that you do not believe in the Greek god Zeus. I know a few people who do, actually, but their numbers seem small, comparatively.

So let's look at your quote from that POV, since Pinky the Pink Elephant does nothing for you.


"Yes! Science demands that you look. But you're using Science as a reason not to look. You can't come to a final conclusion that Zeus doesn't exist because there is no evidence that Zeus doesn't exist. There's only your ignorance of evidence. You can't be a Zusue Atheist, it's irrational. You can only be an Agnostic: you "don't know" whether Zeus exists or not! Anyone who claims to be an Zeus Atheist can't be a scientist--"

If I said that to you in all seriousness, would you believe it? Would you be convinced that you need to throw it all in with the Greek pantheon of Gods? Why or why not? Further, what would it to take to either A)Convince you Zeus exists or B)Convince you to worship Zeus? Would you need evidence that He does exist outside of mythology? What sort of evidence? Would you need to see his works? Would you need witness testimony? Is there anything that could sway you on this? Why or why not?

Further, if I walk up to you and say "Zeus exists. Repent or be sorry" and you say, "No, sorry, I don't believe in Zeus" would it be reasonable for me to ask you to prove that Zeus doesn't exist? How would you do that? Would you say he doesn't exist because you can't see him? Can't see the Christian God or gravity either, but you probably believe in both. Or maybe he only comes out when you're asleep. Or maybe he's that feeling you get in your heart when you want waffles. I don't know, but I could say any of those things and you would have no grounds for refuting it. See how ridiculous it is to ask an atheist to prove that your god doesn't exist, when you are the one making the claim that he does?

Believe it or not, atheism is the default state of being, not belief. Belief requires a leap of faith, does it not? The very fact that believers acknowledge and even celebrate the fact that it requires a leap of faith means there's no evidence of gods or God's existence. If there was evidence, you wouldn't need faith, and without faith, most belief systems would entirely fall apart. Believers know there is no evidence. But they're willing to change their world view to accommodate that knowledge. Atheists are not. That's why no atheist who has specific, logical reasons to be an atheist would be swayed by the arguments you offer. Because the argument is a basic misunderstanding of how faith, evidence, and proof works.


But someone who CONCLUDES that God doesn't exist -- an ATHEIST (due to lack of evidence) ... is as wrong as someone who CONCLUDES that germs couldn't cause disease because (before Science developed the necessary devices) "there is no evidence of microscopic life"

That's not Science, nor rational thinking (in the reasoning definition, not the mere "can it be measured?" definition of rational)

Somebody who lacks evidence or experience with microscopic life would be perfectly within their rights not to believe such a thing. I wouldn't. Just because we know something in hindsight doesn't mean the people who lacked evidence were wrong to believe what they did. When a scientist came a long and made a positive assertion, or hypothesis, then he had something to test. An example of that would be "Illness exists because of microbodies that cannot be seen with the naked eye, but can best tested for using A, B, and C." He then carefully conducts experiments to establish the veracity of his claim, tweaking his hypothesis as experiments succeed or fail. He does not start with "Illness does not exist because of evil spirits. I will prove there are no evil spirits." Do you see the difference? One can be tested for, one cannot.

When somebody presents me with that sort of argument, I reply with "So what?"

spike
04-16-2007, 06:47 PM
It sounds like you need the patented 'see life through the eyes of an Atheist' glasses.


Mac


Mac is right. If you can't get inside this character's head and understand the logic of his arguement, he will always seem flat. Now please, I said understand, not agree with. We can understand people's ideas and still think they are wrong.

Melisande
04-16-2007, 06:53 PM
I am a strong atheist. I don't believe in a God, I don't believe in the existense of "a higher force", I don't believe in destiny or even that "everything is meant to be".

I have had many conversations, and arguments, with believers. They all try to convince me that there is a God. They can't.

Rather than trying to advise you in how to write, which I couldn't, I would like to give you my opinion on why I don't believe in a God. Maybe you could use an argument or two.
---

I believe that mankind has invented the concept of God. For comfort, to explain the world and for power.

I believe that we have but one life. There is no hereafter, no heaven and no hell.

I believe that the reason for living is to make the best of our lives through choices and be willing to live with the consequences.

I believe that the proof of "God's" non-extistence is the pettiness of it all. Because he/she is invented by man, the whole concept has become too small, especially the way priests and others present him/her, no matter which religion.

I believe that far too many people use the concept of religion to swear themselves free from responsibility from almost everything.

---

I offer this short version as a true strong atheist. You can ask me anything.

PS
I also believe in every person's right to believe whatever they want.

zornhau
04-16-2007, 07:33 PM
Perhaps I can help. I am a "hard atheist", and raised as such. Thus religion - though fascinating - has no place in my mental make up.

In my world view:

1 Things are real or not real in a physical sense only
Thus a lot of religious questions are meaningless to me.

For example, "Do you believe in God?" - This question is meaningless unless YOU can define "God" in such a manner that I can devise a physical test for his/her existence.

The parallel with germs is nice rhetoric, but from my POV false, since it was possible to devise tests for the existence of germs... which is why we believe in them today!

The best you could do would be to define tests to verify the existence of an immensely powerful non-corporeal being, since it is impossible to test relative moral worth. This leads me to...

2. Nothing has an objective moral value or meaning
If a bearded chap manifested with fire and thunder etc, and showed me "His" signature in my DNA, I would still deny that "His" moral code had any special validity. (Just as I respect my parents, but do not obey them.)

To people like me, God as described in the OT is a sociopathic bully with superpowers, no more.

3. Proof of paranormal phenomena does not validate any particular cosmology
For example, suppose you proved to me that traditional vampires exist, and that the cross repelled them. My response would be "Interesting. Perhaps that's why the cross was adopted as a religious symbol."

Similarly, a demon in my living room - nicely contained in a Solomanic triangle, I hope! - would prove only that demons existed and spouted Judeochristian rhetoric.


* * *
I hope this helps - I think you're brave and open-minded to approach this! Feel free to email me if you want to try out different argumentative approaches.

kikazaru
04-16-2007, 08:22 PM
There have been quite a few discussions on this board on religion/creationism/atheism and if it would help I could post the links. Be warned though they are all very long.

wordmonkey
04-16-2007, 09:19 PM
TIO is really the place for arguing, but if you can offer another perspective without getting overheated, by all means go ahead.

That was my intent. TIO would run the risk of devolving into said heated exchange, and I was thinking more along the lines of a "staged" argument. However, I bow to the Mods, twas but an idea. :D


Incidentally, I don't completely agree with what you say about athiests in the post above. I'm an athiest, always have been, but faith and belief interest me. I would like to understand why people believe what they believe, and I do try - which means I think about belief and religion even when not challenged. I just don't subscribe to it, nor do I ever expect to.

Well, in fairness, so do I. But then I am just a sponge for information, ideas and POVs. I suspect most of the people here are like that. But I suspect even a great many "church goers" don't give it a great deal of thought. My father-in-law is VERY religious and it is clearly there, like the musak, ALL the time.

Though perhaps, and I offer this as just an observation/question, rather than a dig, it is the less secure religious people who try to convert, convince and denounce. I have met religious people who are complete content in their beliefs and they make absolutely NO attempt to persuade anyone that their ideology is right. They are content in themselves and believe that you will ultimately get what you deserve (and they generally make no judgement here either) when it's all over but the shouting.


I honestly believe that the only thing athiests have in common is a lack of belief in a god (or gods).

Oh I doubt that. I'd be willing to bet that more than a few share a common dislike for the NY Yankees!

Cath
04-17-2007, 01:39 AM
I honestly believe that the only thing athiests have in common is a lack of belief in a god (or gods).

Oh I doubt that. I'd be willing to bet that more than a few share a common dislike for the NY Yankees!

:ROFL:

Badly stated on my part. I meant it's the only thing you can safely assume atheists have in common. That and the Yankees... ;)

Saanen
04-17-2007, 01:45 AM
I don't know if it'll help with the character's perspective, but as a 15+year atheist, I'm no longer interested in the type of religious argument outlined in the original post. I keep out of religious discussions entirely, partly to avoid the "but you can't prove God doesn't exist!" argument, partly just because it all bores me. When I was in college, though, and first started to question the religious beliefs I was brought up with, I was happy to engage in religious discussions with my friends.

You might decide whether your atheist character is new to atheism and isn't convinced, and therefore is willing to discuss other points of view, or whether he's just humoring an enthusiastic and sincere friend. As it stands, though, I warn you that it reads very much as though you, the author, are speaking through the Christian character. You really need to give your poor atheist more of substance to say--which, of course, is why you posted. :)

pink lily
04-17-2007, 02:05 AM
If you'd like to do some research into how your atheist character may have arrived at his conclusion, review some writings on the Secular Web.

Science and Religion: http://infidels.org/library/modern/science/
Nontheism: http://infidels.org/library/modern/nontheism/
Life After Death: http://infidels.org/library/modern/lifeafterdeath/

You can learn more about atheist self-identity here: http://atheistalliance.org/aai/index.php under the header "Who We Are."

Note that the number of atheists who make an assertion (that no gods exist) is smaller than the number of atheists who simply lack theism.

Also note that "theism" and "atheism" are not proper nouns and should not be capitalized. Capitalizing the "a" in "atheist" is old-fashioned, not to mention grammatically incorrect. The average atheist does not capitalize the "a."

Sean D. Schaffer
04-17-2007, 02:43 AM
It sounds like you need the patented 'see life through the eyes of an Atheist' glasses.

...Snipped.


Excellent point! I think that's one of the major problems many Theists make when we argue for our deities. We see the points we're trying to make with Atheists as making perfect sense, but Atheists see the same points as being completely imbecilic.

Like Mac has pointed out very eloquently, I think the problem could be best solved by changing a few words in our own arguments to fit the Atheist standpoint. This way we can see clearly where an Atheist would have their doubts and even pass off the Theistic arguments as illogical.

Like a couple people pointed out elsewhere on the forums, religion does seem to be more emotion-based, whereas Science is based more on evidence and logic. If logic dictates that a deity -- whichever one it might be -- cannot be proven to exist through scientific means, then the scientist would have to say at least through their knowledge in their own field, a deity is not provable and therefore not logical.

This, I think, is a roundabout way of saying, "Don't argue with me; prove scientifically, through physical evidence, your deity exists".

Of course, since the deity in question has no physical form, we must assume that it cannot be proven to exist through physical evidence. And since the Atheist probably would not accept emotional or spiritual evidence, there would be no way in their way of thinking, to prove such a deity does exist in the first place.

I also agree that the best way to convince the Atheist a deity exists, fiction-wise, is through experiences within the story. Like the old saying goes, 'Actions speak louder than words'. If you can show, through the experiences the characters go through within the story, an argument that will convince the Atheist character of the Theist character's ideas and their legitimacy, then you would have a more convincing story (again, speaking as a storyteller and not as a debater of religion versus atheism).

Also, I wanted to quickly state that I have found many of the opinions here, as well the comments, highly enlightening.


:)

pink lily
04-17-2007, 02:48 AM
I hope you find my comments enlightening, especially the comments about theism and atheism being common nouns, not proper nouns, therefore not capitalized. :)

Sean D. Schaffer
04-17-2007, 02:51 AM
I hope you find my comments enlightening, especially the comments about theism and atheism being common nouns, not proper nouns, therefore not capitalized. :)


Yeah, I do. I noticed your information after I posted. I'll try not to do it again.

:)

mdin
04-17-2007, 04:21 AM
I have seen this conversation happen over and over literally hundreds of times, and I think how it pans out depends a lot on the whole catalyst for the conversation. It could go like this (http://youtube.com/watch?v=P8Aq00yJSxo). Or it could be a well-rationed, thoughtful discussion. If the person is a true "There is no god" Atheist, there's pretty much nothing you can say that will change his mind. It would be like trying to convince Pat Robertson there is no god.

I don't know if this is going to help or not, but think of it this way. In an overwhelming majority of "How I went from non-believer to believer" stories I've read (And it's been a lot. A whole lot), something other than words was a catalyst. A car crash. A sickness. Something they can't explain. And they end up, for whatever reason, becoming Christian because of it. Many Atheists, on the other hand, seem to become that way from a lot of thought and meditation on the matter.

mdin
04-17-2007, 04:25 AM
Janice, you're right of course. However, the movement to give it a big 'A' is bigger than you're implying. The fantatical nature of some Atheists earns them a bigger A, imo. Grammatically correct on not.


The average atheist does not capitalize the "a."

Sean D. Schaffer
04-17-2007, 04:30 AM
Snipped...

I don't know if this is going to help or not, but think of it this way. In an overwhelming majority of "How I went from non-believer to believer" stories I've read (And it's been a lot. A whole lot), something other than words was a catalyst. A car crash. A sickness. Something they can't explain. And they end up, for whatever reason, becoming Christian because of it. Many Atheists, on the other hand, seem to become that way from a lot of thought and meditation on the matter.


I find it interesting you should mention this. I would agree: the majority of non-believer-to-believer conversions are derived from something the individuals in question cannot explain. I have seen a couple conversions mentioned on TV where the individual in question used thought or reason as a basis for their conversion, but that number is not as large as the number of those converting for the former reason.

Good point.

pink lily
04-17-2007, 04:33 AM
Janice, you're right of course. However, the movement to give it a big 'A' is bigger than you're implying. The fantatical nature of some Atheists earns them a bigger A, imo. Grammatically correct on not.
The group American Atheists encourages the grammatically-incorrect capitalization of the word "atheist" because American Atheists has defined this word in a unique way:


Atheism may be defined as the mental attitude which unreservedly accepts the supremacy of reason and aims at establishing a life-style and ethical outlook verifiable by experience and scientific method, independent of all arbitrary assumptions of authority and creeds. ...
For the 1800 members of the group American Atheists, the belief is that capitalizing the word is a way to earn respect. For the 30 million nonbelievers in the USA who are not AA members, atheism is defined as "without theism" and is not a proper noun.

I'm speaking as a former staffer of American Atheists who left when I realized that the group had no intention of changing its stupid definition or its insane idea that violating the laws of English was a means to earn respect.

If you do not believe me, you can write to info@atheists.org to ask them why they capitalize the A in atheist; they will reply that it is their intention to earn respect in this manner.

pink lily
04-17-2007, 04:39 AM
To the OP: you can do more research here:

http://atheism.about.com/od/aboutatheism/p/atheism101.htm

About.com's Austin Cline is a trustworthy and accurate source for information about atheism; he's also a good writer.

Melisande
04-17-2007, 06:24 AM
Like a couple people pointed out elsewhere on the forums, religion does seem to be more emotion-based, whereas Science is based more on evidence and logic. If logic dictates that a deity -- whichever one it might be -- cannot be proven to exist through scientific means, then the scientist would have to say at least through their knowledge in their own field, a deity is not provable and therefore not logical.




This is something I truly agree with. ANY debate about religion, and/or a belief-system can not based on science. It all comes down to emotion and philosophy. Ultimately also a personal stand-point.

However, I DO have the feeling that a lot of believers seem to think that all atheists have replaced religion with science. That is not the case for me, since I do not have brains enough to understand science. I have the same serious doubts in scientists aswell as in priests. I do not believe that science has proven anything, regarding where we come from, or to where we are going.

small axe
04-17-2007, 07:51 AM
Well, many of you have given me a lot to think about, in depicting my characters' issues!

I may end up not having my atheist trying to make the "Scientific validity" claim -- since
1) It seems to be one no one's answering about (that's not an argument here, just that MY APPROACH of having my atheist SAY that doesn't seem to be one atheists here are connecting with anyway; why make that HER issue if it doesn't reflect atheist concerns etc)
and
2) some of you are dead-on about how them talking (even arguing) has less dramatic interest than other ways I could do it!

Better (and easier, but better too) to take it more from this approach:


This is something I truly agree with. ANY debate about religion, and/or a belief-system can not based on science. It all comes down to emotion and philosophy. Ultimately also a personal stand-point.

However, I DO have the feeling that a lot of believers seem to think that all atheists have repleced religion with science. That is not the case for me, since I do not have brains enough to understand science. I have the same serious doubts in scientists aswell as in priests. I do not believe that science has proven anything, regarding where we come from, or to where we are going.

Here, though, in passing, would be a quote of the exact sort of thing my characters might be arguing over!


because American Atheists has defined this word in a unique way:
Atheism may be defined as the mental attitude which unreservedly accepts the supremacy of reason and aims at establishing a life-style and ethical outlook verifiable by experience and scientific method, independent of all arbitrary assumptions of authority and creeds. ...
"Supremacy" and "verifiable" and "method" are some of the slippery words where others (Believers) hear (wrongly or rightly) Atheism claiming (again, wrong or right) the support of Reason (which becomes merely one group's "reasons" and not necessarily Reason per se ... "verifiable" rules out the very real (but less objective) experiences of Faith ... and scientific "method" limiting the powerful word SCIENCE to their materialist bias. "If you can't weigh God in a metric scale, we cannot "scientifically" accept God -- even if God is standing in the room."
Not arguing, not saying that's what most Atheists claim ... just that THOSE are the trip-wire phrases some Believers hear!
As for capping "atheists" it's a respect thing: You all notice how often in arguments some folks refuse to capitalize "Christ" or "Christian" or "God" (meaning God, not god) ...
I'm pretty sure those ARE legitimately capped?
Capping "Atheist" was just meant to give everyone respect. I understand people have atheist positions ... but was using it capped in the sense of "I am an Atheist" :)
Anyway, thanks for the many insights and suggestions! I may have more questions, but thanks for your help so far!

Sean D. Schaffer
04-17-2007, 08:49 AM
This is something I truly agree with. ANY debate about religion, and/or a belief-system can not based on science. It all comes down to emotion and philosophy. Ultimately also a personal stand-point.

Exactly. I had to learn the hard way that for science to try to prove or disprove the existence of a deity would be going against all the rules of science. When I was a Christian, my big problem was thinking Science had an obligation to test theories that, by definition, cannot be tested scientifically. For instance, the Young Earth theory seems (at least from what I've read) to be void by the fossil record. I had a hard time becoming open to the idea that the Earth is possibly not so young as the Bible -- part of which I still believe though not in the same manner as I used to -- says. To open up and be receptive to an idea other than what Church taught me, was extremely difficult because of the amount of intensity with which so many Christians held to the idea that the Bible is to be taken 100% literally all the time.

All in all, I think the need for many theists -- not just Christians, but many people who believe in some form of deity -- is to open up to ideas that they might not be used to, and to let people examine, from the outside, whether or not their holy books really do paint an accurate picture. Plus, there is the option that a work could be taken figuratively, as to explain to people, say, 4,000 years ago, how the Earth came into being would be virtually impossible by their own understanding.


However, I DO have the feeling that a lot of believers seem to think that all atheists have repleced religion with science. That is not the case for me, since I do not have brains enough to understand science. I have the same serious doubts in scientists aswell as in priests. I do not believe that science has proven anything, regarding where we come from, or to where we are going.

I admit to having been guilty of that, even up to a couple hours ago. I never really stopped and thought that there might be an atheist group that did not have so much faith in Science, yet it does make sense to me that many would indeed be skeptical of it. Like with the idea of a supernatural being that rules the Universe, so then there are other things that Science, at least at this time, cannot explain. Things like near-death experiences, ghosts and even what is the tiniest building block on which the universe is built (I.e. when I was a child, we were taught the atom was the tiniest, and now we know the atom is made up of still smaller building blocks such as neutrons and protons). Each of these things Science has, at least to my own knowledge, yet to resolve or even begin to truly study.

But my point here is, I myself, as a theist, have found myself believing that all atheists somehow believed in the ultimate 'god', for lack of a better term, of Science. The skepticism is natural within the human psyche, so there is no reason for me, or any theist, to believe all atheists are the same within their ideas.


Thank you kindly for pointing that out. I am truly enjoying this discussion.

:)

zornhau
04-17-2007, 02:49 PM
Well, many of you have given me a lot to think about, in depicting my characters' issues!

I may end up not having my atheist trying to make the "Scientific validity" claim -- since
1) It seems to be one no one's answering about (that's not an argument here, just that MY APPROACH of having my atheist SAY that doesn't seem to be one atheists here are connecting with anyway; why make that HER issue if it doesn't reflect atheist concerns etc)
and


We don't connect because it makes for very short discussions:

Theist: Come on! You guys didn't believe in germs until the year 1852!
Atheist: Yes, but somebody then devised a test which proved their existence.
Theist: Well then, prove that there's no God.
Atheist: Please define "God" in such a manner that I can look for physical evidence.
Theist: Hah! You can't prove there's no God!
Atheist: I can't prove there's not a Flying Spaghetti Monster (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_Spaghetti_Monster)either! Can you?
Theist: But I have Faith.
Atheist: You are deluded.

You simply can't prove or disprove the existence of God scientifically. (If you want to get into the head of your atheist doctor, you need to read up on the scientific method (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method).)

However, Science itself isn't atheist, merely materialist. Atheist and Theist both experience the same material world and can both use the scientific method. They differ over whether any truths exist beyond the physical.

pepperlandgirl
04-17-2007, 05:34 PM
I think that's an important reminder---science isn't atheist. My high school biology teacher was clearly in love with science and his work. He was also a bishop on the local ward (Mormon). He was very religious and very scientific, and he did not have a problem reconciling the two.

zornhau
04-17-2007, 06:05 PM
I was going to mention Thomas Aquinas who pretty much established that - from a Christian POV - science and religion can co-exist. However, my grasp of theology is somewhat limited.

Devil Ledbetter
04-17-2007, 06:43 PM
Further, if I walk up to you and say "Zeus exists. Repent or be sorry" and you say, "No, sorry, I don't believe in Zeus" would it be reasonable for me to ask you to prove that Zeus doesn't exist? How would you do that? Would you say he doesn't exist because you can't see him? Can't see the Christian God or gravity either, but you probably believe in both. Or maybe he only comes out when you're asleep. Or maybe he's that feeling you get in your heart when you want waffles. I don't know, but I could say any of those things and you would have no grounds for refuting it. See how ridiculous it is to ask an atheist to prove that your god doesn't exist, when you are the one making the claim that he does?
I wish I could remember who said something like "We are all atheists when it comes to most of the gods that were ever believed in. Some of us just take it one god further."

Higgins
04-17-2007, 06:49 PM
Well, many of you have given me a lot to think about, in depicting my characters' issues!

I may end up not having my atheist trying to make the "Scientific validity" claim --


The "Science" and the positivist "Scientific Method" that people beat each other with has very little in common with the work scientists have done in working out things about what the Natural World is really like. A passionate atheistic scientist has more in common with a passionate Religious Person than they do with the average "go with the flow" sort of person (good grief, this has already been touched on in Contact). Their ideas about how they relate to the whole cosmos in the long term may be radically different, but their tendency to to be really annoying and hidieously focused would be pretty similar.

There's William Whiston for example:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Whiston

Melisande
04-17-2007, 07:02 PM
Once I was given the advice to try and "remove the labels" from everything and put things in perspectice. To question the so called "truths" that I was being presented with.

That is why I call myself an atheist. I found that the labelling was one of the primary issues within religion. Everything is presented in the kind of "black-and-white" manner that requires a complete trust in the presenter of the "truth". The grey-scales seem to somehow disappear. There is no "between". Either heaven or hell, either sinner or good.

Same with science. Whether you believe in the latest dogma about M-theory or prefer newtonian physics, it is expected of you to take a stand, either/or, black or white, this scientist or that one. They have almost become priests, representing different theories that one is supposed to choose between.

Removing the labels gives me freedom to look at whatever issue, religion or science for instance, within a grey-scale and say to myself; "Now that is interesting, let's study it for a while." And then pick a detail and try to get as much information about it as possible.

Having done that with both religion and science, I realized that it all boiled down to a human origin somewhere.

IF there was a God, then it would be only one, and he/she would write his/her name in fire on the sky, and no one could doubt it, and all the pettiness would be gone, as would, of course, all the "religious" wars (Don't believe in them either, because the have very little to do with religion).

IF there was a "Theory explaining everything" , I am equally sure that it would present itself in the same kind of clarity, leaving no doubts and uniting all the quibling scientists into a homogenous group.

Hence, to me, there is no Absolute Truth that I can put my faith in.

I think that in a litterary discussion of this kind, the opponents need to be very convinced on either side to enable the drama required to make it interesting for the reader/spectator. They need to be black and white and very square, because that would be the only way to mirror the real truth, which is that there are about as many belief-systems out there as there are humans.

I also think that there could be no conclusion in the discussion, other than perhaps a mutual respect for the differences.

Higgins
04-17-2007, 07:16 PM
IF there was a God, then it would be only one, and he/she would write his/her name in fire on the sky, and no one could doubt it, and all the pettiness would be gone, as would, of course, all the "religious" wars (Don't believe in them either, because the have very little to do with religion).

IF there was a "Theory explaining everything" , I am equally sure that it would present itself in the same kind of clarity, leaving no doubts and uniting all the quibling scientists into a homogenous group.


I think you are short-changing both Science and Religion here in that you are modeling them both on the very bland Christianity of our day. In their most extreme forms, science and religion have similar personal significance. For example, if you were a Classic Mayan Dynast, you would see the names of the gods written in the sky, the world-tree of the Milky Way holding up the vast Underworld over our heads, the Truth written in the smoke that would rise from a burning offering plate sprinkled with your own Divine Blood (since you would be related through yor ancestors to the cosmic beings in the sky and under the earth). Curiously, science and religion have swapped positions as far as interpreting one's own existence in the cosmos is concerned. If you join a religion these days you get a simple answer (and nothing like the dynamic religious world of say a Classic Mayan Dynast), if you work at science you get a dynamic world such as formerly religions provided, where Orion's Belt represents a significant event with a relation to your own origin in a similar giant Molecular Cloud, and the substances of your blood do relate you literally to the cosmic history of this world.

Melisande
04-17-2007, 07:30 PM
if you were a Classic Mayan Dynast, you would see the names of the gods written in the sky, the world-tree of the Milky Way holding up the vast Underworld over our heads, the Truth written in the smoke that would rise from a burning offering plate sprinkled with your own Divine Blood (since you would be related through yor ancestors to the cosmic beings in the sky and under the earth).

I am sure that a lot of people see their Gods in that way even today; clear, powerful and perfectly in charge. I respect that.

What I meant was that all don't see the same name written in those flames. For one it is Allah, for the other it's Christ and for the third it might be Shiva.


if you work at science you get a dynamic world such as formerly religions provided, where Orion's Belt represents a significant event with a relation to your own origin in a similar giant Molecular Cloud, and the substances of your blood do relate you literally to the cosmic history of this world.

Yes, I might, if I preferred to believe in it.

Higgins
04-17-2007, 08:16 PM
Yes, I might, if I preferred to believe in it.

Well...that's my point. Neither the scientist nor the Mayan Dynast have to expend any mental effort on believing, since they both have a lot of intense things to do. The scientist has to work on his field, write his papers, teach some classes, write some grant proposals and go to conferences...the Mayan Dynast has to check on the stars and stele, do a lot of iconographic house-keeping, shed his blood in the smoke trace, conjure the Teotihaucanian Tlaloc-Venus vision serpent that connects him to his ancestors, get on his properly constucted war litter, raid his neighbors, do some human sacrifices and commemorate them appropriately. While all modern religious person has to do is "believe" and possibly go to some church functions and harrass people about their "beliefs" or lack of them.

Melisande
04-17-2007, 08:33 PM
While all modern religious person has to do is "believe" and possibly go to some church functions and harrass people about their "beliefs" or lack of them.

I would say that it must be very hard sometimes to be a believer. You accuse them of harrassing non-believers, but is that really so? Anyone who is convinced that they know the truth is bound to wish for others to learn about it also. That is perfectly understandable, especially if one remembers that a lot of believers are so happy in their faith. Of course they want others to be happy too.

The science-believers are just the same. They work hard at trying to convince others that their standpoint is the "Truth". They also get more time and space to do it, and I don't see anyone accusing them of harrassing. Why? Because it is less controversial in this crass world?

To stand up and say "I believe", without being able to present any kind of proof, other than one's own conviction, must be one of the hardest things a person can do. We non-believers should respect that.

Higgins
04-17-2007, 08:58 PM
The science-believers are just the same. They work hard at trying to convince others that their standpoint is the "Truth". They also get more time and space to do it, and I don't see anyone accusing them of harrassing. Why? Because it is less controversial in this crass world?


"Science-believers"? Did you deny the existence of molecular gases or something? IT's true that if you are skeptical about Boyle's Law and the the molecular theory of gases and you trapped a very drunk scientist at a party, he might complain. If you doubt the existence of electrical currents....after all one reason a lot of "science" is not controversial is because there is a tremendous amount of everyday technology that is what it is because of science. After all, you are reading this off of a computer screen and only I am harrassing you about it and only in a very vague way.
I guess that is crass: if things work okay then the principles upon which the things that work okay are based will seem more plausible than the principles wherein it seems difficult to say "I believe"....actually I don't see anything that difficult about such verbal behaviors compared to say building a chamber to detect atomic particles, but then perhaps my idea of difficulty has to do with things that are difficult to accomplish rather than difficult to take seriously.

Roger J Carlson
04-17-2007, 09:24 PM
Boyle's Law and electricity aside, there ARE areas of science that are not so clear cut and which require some measure of belief. Cosmology, evolution, sub-atomic theory have all had their prophets and disciples who have argued bitterly with rival factions.

Devil Ledbetter
04-17-2007, 09:26 PM
The difference between belief in science and belief in dieties is, science works for everybody. Scientific theories can be proven or disproven, while theistic theories remain theories and cannot be proven, only discussed. Scientific theories are tested against discoverable, provable laws of nature while religious theories are yammered about endlessly, proving nothing but the human ability to yammer.

Sometimes scientists discover new things that invalidate old scientific theories. That's another crucial difference between science and belief: When scientists prove a theory wrong, they rejoice and embrace the truth. When religious theories are deemed wrong, believers split off into angry new factions and declare god is on their side.

As Sokal points out, when you're sitting at your computer (or flying on a plane, or taking Viagra, or yakking on a cell phone) science is working for you. And it doesn't work merely because you believe it does, but because it really does.

Dieties only work when we believe they do. In our minds, we make them seem to work by attributed to them the things we appreciate and excusing them (or blaming satan or nature) for the thing we don't appreciate.

Devil Ledbetter
04-17-2007, 09:27 PM
Boyle's Law and electricity aside, there ARE areas of science that are not so clear cut and which require some measure of belief. Cosmology, evolution, sub-atomic theory have all had their prophets and disciples who have argued bitterly with rival factions.BUT if we don't choose to believe in whatever measure of belief they may require, we are not then doomed to burn in eternal hell, are we?

Higgins
04-17-2007, 09:31 PM
Boyle's Law and electricity aside, there ARE areas of science that are not so clear cut and which require some measure of belief. Cosmology, evolution, sub-atomic theory have all had their prophets and disciples who have argued bitterly with rival factions.

So true. Even an innocent bystander like me can get caught in a cross-fire over current NSF grant priorities....but as a rule, these days you'd have to express serious doubts about Boyle's Law or the reality of electricity to have anyone seriously take you to task about "Truth"...if you could get anyone to take you seriously.

Melisande
04-17-2007, 09:43 PM
"Science-believers"? Did you deny the existence of molecular gases or something? IT's true that if you are skeptical about Boyle's Law and the the molecular theory of gases and you trapped a very drunk scientist at a party, he might complain. If you doubt the existence of electrical currents....after all one reason a lot of "science" is not controversial is because there is a tremendous amount of everyday technology that is what it is because of science. After all, you are reading this off of a computer screen and only I am harrassing you about it and only in a very vague way.
I guess that is crass: if things work okay then the principles upon which the things that work okay are based will seem more plausible than the principles wherein it seems difficult to say "I believe"....actually I don't see anything that difficult about such verbal behaviors compared to say building a chamber to detect atomic particles, but then perhaps my idea of difficulty has to do with things that are difficult to accomplish rather than difficult to take seriously.

I think you misunderstood what I was trying to say. Sorry. Must not have been clear enough. Let me try again;

I did NOT question the science behind our world and it's developements.

I did NOT deny inventions, or the science behind them.

I did NOT express any particular scepticism against ANY physical law.

I also did NOT question that a believer in a God is ernest in his/her faith.

And I did NOT in any way claim anything other than my being an atheist, which means that I have no God, and that includes Science.

All I tried to say was that a person who believes that Science is the answer to everything, and puts his/her faith in that has a right to do that. And that a person who believes that God is the answer to everything is a person with the same right. I also said that both are believers, one in Science, the other in God.

Both are convinced that they are right, and both argue their points. I also said that in my point of view, I think it must be harder to argue a point to which there is absolutely no proof. To a scientist it must be quite comforting to be able to present the case with the support of empirical experiments and solid proof. And if some bit of proof is missing, they can always resort to a prediction that the missing piece is out there, it just needs to be found. These scientific predictions are almost always taken very seriously.

A believer does not have that fortune and must rely on conviction alone. His/her prediction that for instance Christ will return on judgement day is hardly ever taken seriously by someone who believes in science alone.

I also argued that in the modern world, which I myself find to be very crass, more time is given (through for instance TV, magazines and books), to the scientific way of explaining things like the world and the universe. To a believer in a God that might be considered as being harrassed.

All in all, I guess that what I was trying to say was that as far as I am concerned both have a right to argue their points, because both are right! - Truth is relative to your standpoint.

Higgins
04-17-2007, 09:54 PM
I think you misunderstood what I was trying to say. Sorry. Must not have been clear enough.

No. You are quite clear. I've already suggested that you over-estimate the role of belief in religion and science. I gave the counter-exemplary reading of a busy scientist and a Mayan Dynast for whom belief would not be a big deal in their mental landscapes. If the mental gymnastics of modern Christianity and a science modelled on it (which is historically true) are seriously put forward as the only possible ways of imagining an intense engagement with the cosmos, I can only answer that that is not very plausible and that a lot of religion and science have always gone on far from the mentally crippling mental gymnastics of "belief"....

Sean D. Schaffer
04-17-2007, 10:00 PM
Well, many of you have given me a lot to think about, in depicting my characters' issues!

I may end up not having my atheist trying to make the "Scientific validity" claim -- since
1) It seems to be one no one's answering about (that's not an argument here, just that MY APPROACH of having my atheist SAY that doesn't seem to be one atheists here are connecting with anyway; why make that HER issue if it doesn't reflect atheist concerns etc)



But you see, Small Axe, that is the issue. An atheist has a leg to stand on that is not the same as the leg a theist stands on. To tell many atheists to believe in something they cannot see, cannot prove the existence of, cannot touch, etc., is to tell them to go against everything they believe in. If common sense tells an atheist 'G-d doesn't exist', then trying to win them over with faith is not going to work. To truly understand this, you need to see the argument from the atheist point-of-view.

I know where you're coming from, because I myself was at one time a Christian. I know what it was like to say things like 'The fool hath said in his heart, There is no G-d' and 'The heavens declare the glory of G-d'. I know what it was like to say 'just look at all that surrounds us and see for yourself there has to be a G-d'.

The thing is, now try to look at it from the atheist standpoint. I know this can be done without losing your theistic convictions, because I myself have done so without losing mine. The thing is, you have to look at this thing objectively, not in a way that is trying to convince you the atheist ways are better than your theist ways. Rather, to see where the atheist character is coming from is the real goal.

Try using the atheist character's reasoning when writing her standpoint in the discussion. This does not mean you personally have to believe what the atheist character believes; it simply means you have to treat her argument as though it makes perfect sense to her. The best way many writers have found to address this, is to look at the argument from the opposite point-of-view instead of mocking it.

Mac H.
04-17-2007, 10:11 PM
A previous post brings up another common misunderstanding - that scientists believe things that are proved or provable.

In fact, most scientists happily believe many things that are unproved .. and unlikely to be proved in their lifetimes. For example, most scientists assume that the law of gravity that we measure here on earth also applies on other planets and stars.

In fact, we don't have proof of that. Sure, it makes sense, and fits in (mostly) with what we can observe. For the bits that don't fit in, there are simpler theories than assuming that gravity suddenly stops being a law.

So a scientist often believes totally unprovable things .. simply because the belief is consistent with other things we observe in the universe.


All in all, I guess that what I was trying to say was that as far as I am concerned both have a right to argue their points, because both are right!Interesting viewpoint. I've always felt that people have a right to argue their points, even if they aren't right.

Mac

Melisande
04-17-2007, 10:16 PM
No. You are quite clear. I've already suggested that you over-estimate the role of belief in religion and science.

Well, the subject here was an argument between two characters in a screen-play, one an atheist the other a believer.

As far as I could understand, small axe wishes to have hints as to how an atheist sees the world, how they perceive religion and how they would argue their point.

The only way I could consider a discussion like that to become interesting on stage was that BOTH characters had to be extremely convinced on either side.

Also that maybe it would be wrong to automatically assume that the atheist must believe in science the way a believer believes in God, because then the deity would only have been replaced with something else.

I honestly think that whether we choose to believe or not, the choice is emotional and therefore bound to play a big role in our lives.

Roger J Carlson
04-17-2007, 10:23 PM
Sometimes scientists discover new things that invalidate old scientific theories. That's another crucial difference between science and belief: When scientists prove a theory wrong, they rejoice and embrace the truth. When religious theories are deemed wrong, believers split off into angry new factions and declare god is on their side.
If this were only true. Einstein was well known for never accepting quantum mechanics. Albert Wegener came under almost universal contempt over the theory of plate tectonics. And more recently Derek Freeman's attacks on Margaret Mead.

Science as a whole does move on, but often only because old scientists die.

Higgins
04-17-2007, 10:25 PM
In fact, most scientists happily believe many things that are unproved .. and unlikely to be proved in their lifetimes. For example, most scientists assume that the law of gravity that we measure here on earth also applies on other planets and stars.


I think there is some pretty general confusion about gravitational theory, belief and provability.

For example, since we can directly measure relativistic effects in terms of time, mass and energy for particles (in an accellerator or in "cosmic rays"), we actually have infinitely repeatable observations of relativistic objects and that is far better evidence than any number of theoretical proofs. Since relativistic theory covers gravity as well then we have an extremely well-grounded, infinitely repeatable series of observartions about gravity. Since we can also measure (and repeatly measure) all kinds of relativistic phenomena at cosmological distances we have the same infinitely repeatable observations to show that gravity (in the relativistic sense) is out there at cosmological distances. Belief and proof are both standards far below that of an infinitely repeatable series of observations in terms of the plausibility they imply for the theories that describe the observations.

Higgins
04-17-2007, 10:39 PM
If this were only true. Einstein was well known for never accepting quantum mechanics. Albert Wegener came under almost universal contempt over the theory of plate tectonics. And more recently Derek Freeman's attacks on Margaret Mead.

Science as a whole does move on, but often only because old scientists die.

Roughly true, but there are some details that don't fit the usual mythical schemes.

For example, Einstein was as crucial in the early development of quantum mechanics as Neils Bohr and Planck (See Thomas Kuhn's book on Blackbody radiation) and it was Einstein who developed the basic theory of emission in 1917. Moreover, Einstein was entirely correct to have doubts about early quantum mechanics since it had major problems with describing self-energy (for example) that were not resolved until the late 1940s.

Melisande
04-17-2007, 11:00 PM
Hi small axe

In green are some answers I might have given.


"Look at you, you're a scientist, your whole existence is based on making rational decisions based on the evidence --"

"Of course it is. That's my JOB!"


"Fine. You don't 'see evidence' ... And for thousands of years no one 'saw evidence' that disease is caused by germs; no one 'saw evidence' that the Sun doesn't go around the Earth --"

"No, perhaps. But there was always a search going on, trying to find the answers, and please, don't forget that the Vatican actively tried to stop any scientific find that didn't suit the church. How can you defend something like that?"


"Yes! Science demands that you look. But you're using Science as a reason not to look. You can't come to a final conclusion that God doesn't exist because there is no evidence that God doesn't exist. There's only your ignorance of evidence. You can't be an Atheist, it's irrational. You can only be an Agnostic: you "don't know" whether God exists or not! Anyone who claims to be an Atheist can't be a scientist--"

"You, like so many other christians, confuse atheism and agnosticism. I don't feel the need to search for a god. I'm perfectly happy being a non-believer."


"And so you've replaced science with faith. And that's exactly what you accused me of."

"Oh, come on! Why do you feel that you need to reform me?"

Roger J Carlson
04-18-2007, 12:08 AM
BUT if we don't choose to believe in whatever measure of belief they may require, we are not then doomed to burn in eternal hell, are we?Maybe not, but you may find yourself relegated to an untenured position at a state or even community college. That may be hell to a scientist who wants to be on the cutting edge of research.

I mentioned Wegener before. He found himself unable to get a position at any German university because of his beliefs.

small axe
04-18-2007, 12:17 AM
The difference between belief in science and belief in dieties is, science works for everybody. Scientific theories can be proven or disproven, while theistic theories remain theories and cannot be proven, only discussed.

But I think we've moved beyond the fallacy of comparing "Science" and "Religion" as either/or here (as others have pointed out) ...

Scientific theories of GOD cannot be 'proven or disproven' ... and thus (as my atheist character is learning, via her author) Science can have no comment ABOUT God.

Other than: "We don't see any evidence of GOD."

My previous character conflict would've been to have someone tell my atheist character: "Well then, as a Scientist, shut yer yammering cake-hole about God ... or acknowledge that as a Scientist you're being lax by not investigating to support your atheist beliefs (and your "beliefs" have no more intellectual weight than any Believers.)"

I'm changing my character there probably. :) Not because that's WRONG, but it may not be the best approach to their relationship or the story.


Scientific theories are tested against discoverable, provable laws of nature while religious theories are yammered about endlessly, proving nothing but the human ability to yammer.

Well, some folks take the position: If it cannot be dealt with as something material, it doesn't exist. It shouldn't be discussed. The "scientific approach" is the only valid human approach.

Other folks may rightfully say: Human existence is bigger and more mysterious than any one tool or approach. Don't close your mind or spirit to anything that might reveal Knowledge.





As Sokal points out, when you're sitting at your computer (or flying on a plane, or taking Viagra, or yakking on a cell phone) science is working for you. And it doesn't work merely because you believe it does, but because it really does.

Dieties only work when we believe they do. In our minds, we make them seem to work by attributed to them the things we appreciate and excusing them (or blaming satan or nature) for the thing we don't appreciate.


Well, but in Quantum Physics there is the issue (Schrodinger's Cat etc) of possibility waves not collapsing until a human observer enters the situation. :)

http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/0,,sid9_gci341236,00.html

It's a little more challenging than sneering "wishes aren't true" when you read Physicists suggesting that nothing exists in any given state ... until mere human Awareness has a concrete effect on "Reality"

Physics is spooky. Science cannot banish "spookiness" and "mystery" from Reality.

small axe
04-18-2007, 12:49 AM
Well, the subject here was an argument between two characters in a screen-play, one an atheist the other a believer.

As far as I could understand, small axe wishes to have hints as to how an atheist sees the world, how they perceive religion and how they would argue their point.


Yes, exactly.

Discussions like this are always in trouble of drifting into folks' personal issues of belief/non-belief (remember, this drifted HERE because somehow it didn't fit in the "atheist writing" thread ... I thought it was okay there BECAUSE it was about "writing an atheist" !!!) ...

I wasn't only asking about atheist "beliefs" (respectfully, I'm learning a lot, and about exactly that, but I'm also trying to focus on my WRITING issue too) ... but also 'How would they argue their point' according to the challenge put forth to the atheist: You're a Scientist, how does Science support your atheism? etc

I was asking THAT. (And would still love to hear answers to that challenge)

Now, people have also helped me there by pointing out how that may be a misleading QUESTION, which the atheist character might rightfully say:

"My atheism isn't based on Science, it's based on the same sort of emotional and intellectual processes that your FAITH is based on."

And I'm realizing THAT may be the more dramatic and challenging points to write into my "atheist character" :D

Some are right, it's important to put yourself as a Writer as deeply into your characters' shoes and emotions as possible! I learned a lot right there (and, honestly, probably dodged making my character seem unsympathetic, if left to my own former devices)

Devil Ledbetter
04-18-2007, 01:27 AM
"Well then, as a Scientist, shut yer yammering cake-hole about God ... Actually, I think that sounds exactly like something you, er, I mean, that theist character who is most certainly not a sock puppet for your agenda, would say.

zornhau
04-18-2007, 02:06 AM
You're a Scientist, how does Science support your atheism? etc

I was asking THAT. (And would still love to hear answers to that challenge)
<snip>
the atheist character might rightfully say:

"My atheism isn't based on Science, it's based on the same sort of emotional and intellectual processes that your FAITH is based on."


A long response because it's my last - my novel beckons.

You're doing very well indeed. I had a similar struggle getting into the theist mind set.

However, you don't quite get it yet. Your - thinking, materialist - atheist would not say that*.
*Your character, of course. Write as you will.

Faith and Science may not be not incompatible.

However the atheist does not have faith in the non-existence of God; he simply does not have Faith (just as you probably don't have a preference for any particular Medieval fencing style!)

So...

Theist: You're a Scientist, how does Science support your atheism?
Atheist: Science does not see any gods.
Theist: What about Faith.
Atheist: An interesing mental phenomena. There are these brain scans of nuns...

And, as suggest upthread, any physical or percievable phenomena you throw at the atheist will be treated as just that. "Angelic figures, and now I'm feeling euphoria - fascinating. Is my mind being violated, or have I been drugged?"

IMHO There are more interesting conflics to explore around these two characters of yours:

Atheists often get a rough ride through the school system, and end up with a chip on their shoulder (I did) and see all theists as theocratic loonies who can't wait to burn books and brand fallen women.

Theists often expect atheists to either lack moral compass, or merely be not brave enough to take the leap of Faith and Be Saved.

And so on.

It would be interesting to see a pair come to an understanding and mutual respect without either changing their core beliefs.

Good luck. Give me a shout if you post on share your work

Z

pepperlandgirl
04-18-2007, 02:28 AM
I wasn't only asking about atheist "beliefs" (respectfully, I'm learning a lot, and about exactly that, but I'm also trying to focus on my WRITING issue too) ... but also 'How would they argue their point' according to the challenge put forth to the atheist: You're a Scientist, how does Science support your atheism? etc

I was asking THAT. (And would still love to hear answers to that challenge)

Now, people have also helped me there by pointing out how that may be a misleading QUESTION, which the atheist character might rightfully say:

"My atheism isn't based on Science, it's based on the same sort of emotional and intellectual processes that your FAITH is based on."



I wish I could help you, but I still don't quite understand the question. My first answer would be "Science supports my atheism because through science I can explain phenomenon that looks like a miracle, but in reality, has a common, even mundane, explanations." Or I could shift my answer to, "Science supports my atheism because gods, ghosts, fairies, invisible pink unicorns, and trolls are all untestable and unverifiable. They don't fit into the context of a world governed by natural laws such as..."

But I suspect that neither answer is one you're trying to find. I also suspect that you have some sort of fundamental misunderstanding of how science works. I'm not trying to be insulting, but I've explained twice in this thread, as have others, that science cannot and does not wish to prove God's existence. That's not what science is about. Science is about observation, experimentation, and trying to create a construction of theories that fit both observation and experimentation. Science is not about "How can we prove an invisible being exists somewhere and sometimes does things?"

And I have to agree, your character as defined in this thread would never say "My atheism isn't based on Science, it's based on the same sort of emotional and intellectual processes that your FAITH is based on." As a matter of fact, I don't think I've ever met an atheist who would say that, and I know a good number. Using logic, focusing on the natural world, and embracing science is not the same sort of emotional and intellectual process that leads people to faith. Belief in God is simply illogical--and again, most believers recognize this on some level, and that's why the emphasis is placed on faith, emotions, "feeling the spirit" etc.

Melisande
04-18-2007, 04:08 AM
Faith and Science may not be not incompatible.

However the atheist does not have faith in the non-existence of God; he simply does not have Faith


I have to agree. And I would like to add that that is sometimes the hardest point to get across to a believer. Sometimes it is equally hard to explain that atheism doesn't mean lacking in moral or respect.

Since I don't have a scientific mind, I couldn't imagine what a scientist would use as an argument against religion, but again, I don't think it would lack emotion. I find it hard to imagine that an argument about something so subjective wouldn't become emotional.

Lots of scientists are believers, so in a sense I guess that the WIP must show that there is a reason for the argument, because the reason can not simply be; "Oh, you're a scientist - you must also be an atheist."

On the other hand, I also sometimes get the impression that some religious people totally lack true faith. Maybe that could do for a good point?

Higgins
04-18-2007, 05:09 AM
But I think we've moved beyond the fallacy of comparing "Science" and "Religion" as either/or here (as others have pointed out) ...

Scientific theories of GOD cannot be 'proven or disproven' ... and thus (as my atheist character is learning, via her author) Science can have no comment ABOUT God.

Other than: "We don't see any evidence of GOD."


Yeap...there's not a bit of evidence of God. See if you can get a grant and write that up and deliver it as a paper. Submit it to some journals.

Actually "no evidence" of any kind is better evidence of non-existence than any proof. So really the problem with God is that he appears to have even less of an existence than even a proof would bring to the level of observability. Or even if you could "prove" He was right *here* you still would not see a trace of him *anywhere*. Sort of the opposite of Schoedinger's cat: the One Thing we are sure of about His Probability Function is that it is equally Negative everywhere all the Time.

Higgins
04-18-2007, 05:27 AM
Well, but in Quantum Physics there is the issue (Schrodinger's Cat etc) of possibility waves not collapsing until a human observer enters the situation. :)

http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/0,,sid9_gci341236,00.html

It's a little more challenging than sneering "wishes aren't true" when you read Physicists suggesting that nothing exists in any given state ... until mere human Awareness has a concrete effect on "Reality"

Physics is spooky. Science cannot banish "spookiness" and "mystery" from Reality.

No, it's really less challenging than sneering. How I love the fantastic hold Schoedinger's Cat has over the spooky mental gymnastics of mankind. You'd think it would not be hard to think of "spookier" things...but one rule of good spooky stuff is that it has to be the most over-used spookiness or it is not quite the best spookiness. And we can't even have any real mysteries...just mysteries in quotes or pseudo-mysteries. What's really spooky is that every goofy attack on the usefulness of science comes up with Schoedinger's Cat. I don't see why except that it only uses the most elementry possible formulations of early QM in the most elementry possible way.

Oh well...Oh boy...Schroedinger's cat. Is there really an "issue" of probability waves not "collapsing" (ie interacting with something) without a human observer? So that means there must be an infinite range of "human observers" infinitely near every point in the entire universe. These very tiny people enable normal interactions to occur between the virtual particles of the vacuum...no doubt? Or does the vacuum only exist infinitely close to every person's observational thingy? Whatever that is. And what happens to Schoedinger when he goes to look at his Cat? Do infinite swarms of tiny Schoedingers attend every one of the interactions of the electrons that propell his nervous impulses and are there infinite numbers of tiny people inside all those infinite tiny people watching all their infinitely tiny nerves?

And of course a Cat is not by any measure a quantum state of anything. A Cat-state is assembled out of an extremely large number of hierarchically organized elementry states (particles in atoms, atoms in molecules etc. etc.)...

I'd say Schoedinger's Cat is one "Spooky" thing that can definitely be banished.

Higgins
04-18-2007, 05:41 AM
My previous character conflict would've been to have someone tell my atheist character: "Well then, as a Scientist, shut yer yammering cake-hole about God ... or acknowledge that as a Scientist you're being lax by not investigating to support your atheist beliefs (and your "beliefs" have no more intellectual weight than any Believers.)"

I'm changing my character there probably. :) Not because that's WRONG, but it may not be the best approach to their relationship or the story.


Intellectual weight? You don't want an atheist character, you want somebody you can have an inquisition on...to be tortured til they give up that being of theirs that is intellectually weighed and found wanting of that humanity of which only you and the Godly are the Judge. You don't think non-believers are as human as you are.

Why don't you just write your screenplay as a long torture session for some sub-human scientist by some wonderful Christians?

small axe
04-18-2007, 05:45 AM
Originally Posted by small axe http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/images/buttons/viewpost.gif (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=1273381#post1273381)
"Well then, as a Scientist, shut yer yammering cake-hole about God ...



Actually, I think that sounds exactly like something you, er, I mean, that theist character who is most certainly not a sock puppet for your agenda, would say.

I think we established how you "think" in a previous thread on the same subject, elsewhere.

Let's leave personality BS there, okay?


My previous character conflict would've been to have someone tell my atheist character: "Well then, as a Scientist, shut yer yammering cake-hole about God ... or acknowledge that as a Scientist you're being lax by not investigating to support your atheist beliefs (and your "beliefs" have no more intellectual weight than any Believers.)"

I'm changing my character there probably ...


And ... your point is only that I admitted I've changed how one fictional character might address an issue? Big whooo. :)

I can write a fictional character who's a murderer, without them finding a real life ass hole beaten to death, yeah. It's called "fiction"

Higgins
04-18-2007, 05:47 AM
I think we established how you "think" in a previous thread on the same subject, elsewhere.

Let's leave personality BS there, okay?



And ... your point is only that I admitted I've changed how one fictional character might address an issue? Big whooo. :)

I can write a fictional character who's a murderer, without them finding a real life ass hole beaten to death, yeah. It's called "fiction"

Good question for a true Believer. Maybe you should just write your screenplay as a torture session for a subhuman scientist by a mob of very nice Christians and leave it at that.

Devil Ledbetter
04-18-2007, 05:48 AM
Intellectual weight? You don't want an atheist character, you want somebody you can have an inquisition on...to be tortured til they give up that being of theirs that is intellectually weighed and found wanting of that humanity of which only you and the Godly are the Judge. You don't think non-believers are as human as you are.

Why don't you just write your screenplay as a long torture session for some sub-human scientist by some wonderful Christians?I was thinking he should name his atheist character Dr. Strawman.

Cath
04-18-2007, 05:49 AM
Let's keep the personal stuff out of here, shall we? It's been a good discussion so far. Please, keep it that way.

small axe
04-18-2007, 06:03 AM
Actually "no evidence" of any kind is better evidence of non-existence than any proof.

So really the problem with God is that he appears to have even less of an existence than even a proof would bring to the level of observability. Or even if you could "prove" He was right *here* you still would not see a trace of him *anywhere*. Sort of the opposite of Schoedinger's cat: the One Thing we are sure of about His Probability Function is that it is equally Negative everywhere all the Time.

Could you explain those boldfaced comments to me? Because either I totally disagree, or don't see your point (BUT it sounds like an atheist character discussing "proof" of the non-existence of God, which is what I'd like!)


Actually "no evidence" of any kind is better evidence of non-existence than any proof.

Let's use my former example of germs. Germs were there, causing diseases, and the Science of past centuries lacked the tools to recognize germs existed (they had "no evidence" of germs)

Can you apply your boldface statement to the suggestion that God might indeed be proven to exist ... given the as-yet-unknown technological tools of the 25th Century?

How can 'no evidence' be 'better evidence' of non-existence, than 'proof' of non-existense ???

What did you mean by that?

Cath
04-18-2007, 06:07 AM
How can 'no evidence' be 'better evidence' of non-existence, than 'proof' of non-existense ???

What did you mean by that?

I think what he means is that to provide evidence of something there has to be some way of measuring it. If that measure doesn't exist, it's impossible to quantify or observe. That in itself can sometimes be "evidence" (albeit unprovable evidence) of the non-existance of the subject at hand.

Does that make sense?

small axe
04-18-2007, 06:17 AM
Intellectual weight? You don't want an atheist character, you want somebody you can have an inquisition on...to be tortured til they give up that being of theirs that is intellectually weighed and found wanting of that humanity of which only you and the Godly are the Judge. You don't think non-believers are as human as you are.

Why don't you just write your screenplay as a long torture session for some sub-human scientist by some wonderful Christians?

Okay, please: I haven't done or said anything here to deserve that sort of comment.

I'm HERE trying to have a thoughtful discussion with (perhaps) Atheists about HOW TO PRESENT MY ATHEIST CHARACTER in an intelligent and positive way.

Is that worthy of insults?

More to the point, if I'm here to gain "reasoning" and "attitude" examples from atheists, to use to build MY atheist character ... am I supposed to have my atheist resort to INSULTS instead of ideas?

I'd ask some here to maintain a civil debate, or simply choose not to debate at all, okay? Please?

Higgins
04-18-2007, 06:19 AM
Let's use my former example of germs. Germs were there, causing diseases, and the Science of past centuries lacked the tools to recognize germs existed (they had "no evidence" of germs)

Can you apply your boldface statement to the suggestion that God might indeed be proven to exist ... given the as-yet-unknown technological tools of the 25th Century?

How can 'no evidence' be 'better evidence' of non-existence, than 'proof' of non-existense ???

What did you mean by that?

Wrong. They had evidence of "germs" (which is not what bacteria or other disease organisms are now called if you want to be picky), ie there were recognized diseases. People certainly knew infections when they saw them and knew how to treat wounds to minimize infection. Unless God is making a lot of people mentally ill in very strange ways we have no current evidence of Him at the moment with respect to human diseases.

Other than Schodinger's Cat what inexplicable phenomenon is there (analogous to disease) that God could be causing?

Cath
04-18-2007, 06:19 AM
I've already asked people to keep away from the personal insults, small axe - can you please drop the issue now. We are having a civilized debate. Let's try not to derail it.

That goes for everyone.

Cath
04-18-2007, 06:27 AM
Other than Schodinger's Cat what inexplicable phenomenon is there (analogous to disease) that God could be causing?

When you get into quantum physics there's a lot that doesn't make sense compared to traditional physics - but is that proof of the existance of a higher being, or simply proof of the fallibility of the human understanding?

Higgins
04-18-2007, 06:29 AM
Okay, please: I haven't done or said anything here to deserve that sort of comment.

I'm HERE trying to have a thoughtful discussion with (perhaps) Atheists about HOW TO PRESENT MY ATHEIST CHARACTER in an intelligent and positive way.

Is that worthy of insults?

More to the point, if I'm here to gain "reasoning" and "attitude" examples from atheists, to use to build MY atheist character ... am I supposed to have my atheist resort to INSULTS instead of ideas?

I'd ask some here to maintain a civil debate, or simply choose not to debate at all, okay? Please?

I'm not debating. I'm telling you what I think.

I'm not an Atheist, so I don't have to adhere to the rules you have made up for the Atheists you seem to enjoy tormenting. I think it is ludicrous to identify Science and Atheism or to think that Science and Christianity are somehow flipsides of the same bland coin. If you really thought the universe as we experience it was somehow "spooky" you would give up Christianity in a second. You don't think the universe is spooky at all. You think it is as bland as your God meant it to be. Moreover if we remove Science from your idea of what motivates Atheists all you have is the problem of how to represent a person that you think is lacking in basic humanity.
Paradoxically, to view another as lacking in humanity is to present yourself as somewhat antisocial at best.

You might look at more fundamental human characteristics. Why not have your Christian confront a Shaman instead of a Scientist? And quit picking on the poor Atheists. They seem to have no idea what you are up to.

Higgins
04-18-2007, 06:37 AM
When you get into quantum physics there's a lot that doesn't make sense compared to traditional physics - but is that proof of the existance of a higher being, or simply proof of the fallibility of the human understanding?

Quantum Physics (if you include things up to various Effective Field Theories) makes more sense than anyone ever thought possible. I don't think there is any sign of God in that stuff: its just too sensible.

small axe
04-18-2007, 06:37 AM
Originally Posted by small axe http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/images/buttons/viewpost.gif (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=1274242#post1274242)
How can 'no evidence' be 'better evidence' of non-existence, than 'proof' of non-existense ???

What did you mean by that?



I think what he means is that to provide evidence of something there has to be some way of measuring it. If that measure doesn't exist, it's impossible to quantify or observe. That in itself can sometimes be "evidence" (albeit unprovable evidence) of the non-existance of the subject at hand.

Does that make sense?

Well, but using my "no evidence of germs" example ...

"No evidence" simply meant technology hadn't built the proper TOOL to measure the evidence ... yet. So for centuries "science" might have claimed "we don't see germs, so germs don't cause disease! "Bad airs" (etc) cause disease! "Bad blood" must be drained by leeches etc!"

I'm suggesting (only as a Schrodinger Cat mind-experiment) that in a century or so, what we call String Theory develops to the point where we find out that all these 12 dimensions of Space/Time are filled with ... let's call it "Soul Energy" ...

And suddenly, just as the microscope revealed that we live in a sea of microbial life ... the Soul-A-Tron :) reveals "GOD" (let's not argue how that changes the definitions of God or Soul, let's just posit that suddenly instead of saying we cannot "measure" or "detect" God, we're studying God as a spooky Energy source, easily quantified and experimented with in a lab or a Very Spooky Soul Collider)

I can see how Science can say "Cool, we wanted evidence, now we got evidence" and I can see where Science can say "no evidence was why we had to be agnostic until we found evidence" ...

But didn't he just say "no evidence" is BETTER than "proof of non-existence" to support an atheist claim???

If I misunderstood, okay, but if that was what was SAID ... that's the sort of characters debate & dialogue I was hoping for! I'd like to understand what he meant!

small axe
04-18-2007, 06:40 AM
I've already asked people to keep away from the personal insults, small axe - can you please drop the issue now. We are having a civilized debate. Let's try not to derail it.

That goes for everyone.

Cool. I'm just replying real-time to others' real-time comments (with a LAG) :)

Higgins
04-18-2007, 06:46 AM
Well, but using my "no evidence of germs" example ...

"No evidence" simply meant technology hadn't built the proper TOOL to measure the evidence ... yet. So for centuries "science" might have claimed "we don't see germs, so germs don't cause disease! "Bad airs" (etc) cause disease! "Bad blood" must be drained by leeches etc!"




No, no evidence means no evidence of any entity. As for "germs"...people saw evidence of them all the time. Indeed people died from infections all the time. Infections are definitely evidence of bacteria whereas there is not even a consistant set of funny smells in the bathroom to suggest the presence of an Omnipotent, Omnipresent being.

Higgins
04-18-2007, 06:53 AM
I'm suggesting (only as a Schrodinger Cat mind-experiment) that in a century or so, what we call String Theory develops to the point where we find out that all these 12 dimensions of Space/Time are filled with ... let's call it "Soul Energy" ...

And suddenly, just as the microscope revealed that we live in a sea of microbial life ... the Soul-A-Tron :) reveals "GOD" (let's not argue how that changes the definitions of God or Soul, let's just posit that suddenly instead of saying we cannot "measure" or "detect" God, we're studying God as a spooky Energy source, easily quantified and experimented with in a lab or a Very Spooky Soul Collider)


Fine. Get to work. Write those grant proposals. Get the math together to describe what spooky characteristics 12-dimensional God ought to have so that we know Him when we run some particles into Him.

Cath
04-18-2007, 06:57 AM
That's the problem I see. How do you quantify God? What people once called proof of God (plagues, etc) has since been usurped by science. How can we now suggest that what we might interpret as miracles now could in future be proven by science.

pepperlandgirl
04-18-2007, 08:22 AM
Well, but using my "no evidence of germs" example ...

"No evidence" simply meant technology hadn't built the proper TOOL to measure the evidence ... yet. So for centuries "science" might have claimed "we don't see germs, so germs don't cause disease! "Bad airs" (etc) cause disease! "Bad blood" must be drained by leeches etc!"

I'm suggesting (only as a Schrodinger Cat mind-experiment) that in a century or so, what we call String Theory develops to the point where we find out that all these 12 dimensions of Space/Time are filled with ... let's call it "Soul Energy" ...

And suddenly, just as the microscope revealed that we live in a sea of microbial life ... the Soul-A-Tron :) reveals "GOD" (let's not argue how that changes the definitions of God or Soul, let's just posit that suddenly instead of saying we cannot "measure" or "detect" God, we're studying God as a spooky Energy source, easily quantified and experimented with in a lab or a Very Spooky Soul Collider)


So? It could happen. What's your point? What if the opposite happens and it's proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that God doesn't exist? Does the possibility of science, hundreds of years from now, proving God doesn't exist enough to make you stop believing now? Why or why not?

small axe
04-18-2007, 08:25 AM
That's the problem I see. How do you quantify God?

What people once called proof of God (plagues, etc) has since been usurped by science.

How can we now suggest that what we might interpret as miracles now could in future be proven by science.

Because we have seen in the Past that sometimes what were called "miracles" had a (possibly) scientific/natural explanation.

Which isn't a problem for those wanting to see them as miracle, perhaps.

There's a common misconception that a "miracle" needs to be "impossible by science" ... The fallacy of THAT is: we now judging by Year 2007 scienctific knowledge, cannot predict what will be considered a "miracle" (impossible by science) according to Year 3007 science.

For all we know, every "miracle" claimed in the Bible literally happened: to the people of 1000 B.C. they were "miracles" or "magic" ... we have a glimpse of possible explanations for some ... and in 1000 years future Science may be able to explain them all.

If GOD created a Universe that opperates by NATURAL LAWS ... then that's GOD's Will that it work that way, and ANYTHING that happens can happen by "science" or by "miracle" and that's still Divine Will.

As the oft-heard example: there's really nothing "impossible" about Jesus walking through a solid wall. That's just (some suggest) amazing quantum coincidence ... Just like flipping a coin a billion times and getting "heads" a billion times isn't "impossible by the laws of science or physics" ... just very improbable.

How do WE 'quantify' God? Maybe we cannot (yet) just as ancient Man didn't "see" germs. But now we can count the billions of germs, and the molecules in the germs, and study the dna of the germs.

If someone said they were "agermists" a thousand years ago "because we see no evidence that germs exist! Invisible life forms?! HA! Are they ... tiny invisible pink fairy unicorns?! You're ... superstitious and deluded!" -- They would've been wrong.

Their CONCLUSION that "no germs exist" (based on their "no germy evidence") would've been UNFOUNDED and WRONG.

Sean D. Schaffer
04-18-2007, 08:36 AM
Snipped...

More to the point, if I'm here to gain "reasoning" and "attitude" examples from atheists, to use to build MY atheist character ... am I supposed to have my atheist resort to INSULTS instead of ideas?

I'd ask some here to maintain a civil debate, or simply choose not to debate at all, okay? Please?


Here's the problem with what you're saying, Small Axe. You came here with the question how to develop an atheist character's positions. A lot of people (atheists and theists alike) have given you straightforward answers. But some of those answers were more straightforward than you had possibly expected. I don't know if anyone has insulted you or not; what I do know is you are overreacting.

I've been in your shoes before, Small Axe. I know what it's like to be presented with facts that disagree with my faith. And I know what it's like to react emotionally to them. No one really enjoys, deep down, being told something they've believed much of their life could be wrong. That's one part of human nature I've seen no matter what a person's belief is.

Have you ever heard the proverb about walking a mile in another man's shoes? The idea there is not to criticize another man until you've been in his position. Whether you've been insulted or not, try to remember you're here for research. Do the best you can to glean from this discussion what you can use, and to discard the alleged insults. Also try to remember that you cannot read into someone's black-and-white words the full effect of what they're trying to say, because you're not looking them in the eye and therefore cannot see the expression on their faces, their individual nuances, etc.

I think the main issue here remains, how do you make a convincing atheist character, being a theist? And the answer is, walk a mile in the atheist's shoes. Look at the world the way the atheist does, and perhaps you'll see where these people are not so much insulting you as they are trying to give you an answer to your original question in the best way they know how.


I hope this helps you out, Small Axe, and I wish you the very best with your endeavors. Good luck.

:)

small axe
04-18-2007, 08:42 AM
So? It could happen. What's your point?

If you ask a direct Question, allow me to Answer.

That atheism as either a statement of scientific conclusion or belief ... is an unsupportable conclusion and/or belief, and represents a closed-mind to possible evidence.

That agnosticism is supportable as both conclusion and belief, and represents open-mindedness, and a valid scientific approach.

And that no matter how much atheists wail against others' beliefs ... it's moot. What others "believe" or don't doesn't lessen atheists' status of having no support for their atheism (beyond mere "faith" in no-god/no-religion)

That needn't be me TELLING you that (It's not me telling you that; it's me offering a comment for discussion and reply)

That's the position my Believer CHARACTER is arguing, and I'm asking PEOPLE HERE WHO KNOW ... "what can the atheists' response be? Based not on atheist "belief" but on Science? (Or, based on WHAT ELSE, since some have already suggested tying atheism to science is misguided)






What if the opposite happens and it's proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that God doesn't exist? Does the possibility of science, hundreds of years from now, proving God doesn't exist enough to make you stop believing now? Why or why not?


Then Atheism would be able to draw a valid conclusion that it is correct in describing reality. Otherwise ... not.

small axe
04-18-2007, 08:50 AM
I don't know if anyone has insulted you or not; what I do know is you are overreacting.


We've been asked not to return to that issue, and so I'll only reply: the comments of others are here to read, as are mine. Intelligent readers can read and form their own conclusions on whether there were insults.

The Moderator has already commented on the existence of the insults already here.


I've already asked people to keep away from the personal insults, small axe - can you please drop the issue now. We are having a civilized debate. Let's try not to derail it.

That goes for everyone.

Sean D. Schaffer
04-18-2007, 08:56 AM
That's the position my Believer CHARACTER is arguing, and I'm asking PEOPLE HERE WHO KNOW ... "what can the atheists' response be? Based not on atheist "belief" but on Science? (Or, based on WHAT ELSE, since some have already suggested tying atheism to science is misguided)



It hasn't been suggested tying atheism to science is misguided; it's been suggested not all atheists believe in science. This means many atheists do, and many don't, believe in science. You simply have to decide whether your character's positions are science-based or based on something else.

Might I offer a suggestion? Although I am not an atheist, I might suggest that some people's reasons for believing there is no god would be what they see as contradictions within the Bible, or whatever other holy book they've read.

I offer this suggestion because seeing possible contradictions in the Bible was one of the main factors in my turning away from Christianity. Now I'm not going to argue here, what those supposed contradictions are, as that would take this topic off onto a tangent that I do not wish to take it on. I believe in keeping a thread as on-topic as possible.

Rather, I'm simply going to say that, from the standpoint of one who has converted from one faith to another, this scenario could also be used as a catalyst for converting from faith to a lack of faith in any deity. This would be an experience-based conversion, and not simply based on findings of any particular form of science.

This is one of many, I'm sure, reasons your atheist character could believe in her viewpoints so strongly. But again, try to find a way to walk in her shoes, because that is the best way, in my humble opinion, to make her believable to you as the writer, and therefore most likely to the audience viewing or reading this piece.

pepperlandgirl
04-18-2007, 09:08 AM
If you ask a direct Question, allow me to Answer.

That atheism as either a statement of scientific conclusion or belief ... is an unsupportable conclusion and/or belief, and represents a closed-mind to possible evidence.

That agnosticism is supportable as both conclusion and belief, and represents open-mindedness, and a valid scientific approach.

.

I'll try one more time here.

If somebody said this to me my response would be to shrug, because clearly, there's not going to be a meeting of the minds. Your description of atheism is wrong, and your conclusion re: agnosticism is likewise flawed. I'm going to draw your attention back to Pinky the Elephant. I am asking you seriously. Are you close-minded if you claim Pinky the Pink Elephant is not sleeping in my living room right now?

You probably can't see that because to you, belief in God is a completely intrinsic part of your life. You can't conceive that any rational person would reject the concept of god. That's fine. I don't really care what gets you through the night. But if you're going to make these arguments in earnest, and you don't have the atheist character argue reasonably in response, some fellow believers will be impressed, everybody else will roll their eyes.

If you'd apply your own logic to your own beliefs, you'd see why your logic is flawed.

And with that, I'm outta here. Good luck on your screenplay. I wish you will in your future endeavors.

small axe
04-18-2007, 09:51 AM
Originally Posted by small axe http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/images/buttons/viewpost.gif (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=1274531#post1274531)
If you ask a direct Question, allow me to Answer.

That atheism as either a statement of scientific conclusion or belief ... is an unsupportable conclusion and/or belief, and represents a closed-mind to possible evidence.

That agnosticism is supportable as both conclusion and belief, and represents open-mindedness, and a valid scientific approach.


I'll try one more time here.

If somebody said this to me my response would be to shrug, because clearly, there's not going to be a meeting of the minds.

Then allow me to put a damper on the fires building here (even if the fires are all mine) ...

Limiting the discussion to my fictional scene: thank you for your comments, but in my scene, the atheist doesn't shrug.


Your description of atheism is wrong, and your conclusion re: agnosticism is likewise flawed.

Let's say I acknowledge your analysis there. As regards my FICTION SCENE: can you tell me HOW my description of atheism is wrong and of agnosticism flawed?

Because I cannot write your analysis into my scene, it just sounds like a judgement without explanation. HOW is it wrong, and flawed?


I'm going to draw your attention back to Pinky the Elephant. I am asking you seriously. Are you close-minded if you claim Pinky the Pink Elephant is not sleeping in my living room right now?

I may be ten thousand miles away from you, you may be a circus or zoo elephant trainer, and Pinky may be a rare Pink elephant.

So, given your claim of Pinky the pink elephant, if someone were to question me about your claims, in a SERIOUS debate, so as to judge my reasoning skills or my credibility as a witness?

I'd say: I am fairly confident that there's not a pink elephant in your house (is that the claim?) But I would never be caught in making an UNWARRANTED CONCLUSION: so I would not be swayed from my Agnostic position: "I do not know"

If someone told me they are the equivalent of an pachyderm-Atheist (that they conclude that both Science and Reason allow them to claim "No pink elephant exists" ... I would say their reasoning skills and trustworthiness as a witness are DEFECTIVE)

Yes, I'd be close-minded to the possibility that you are a circus trainer or a zoo keeper with a pink elephant in your house now.

I wouldn't trust the open-mindedness of anyone who claimed Science or Reason disallows an elephant in your house, etc.

Occam's Razor doesn't give extra points for lack of imagination, no.

small axe
04-18-2007, 10:11 AM
Now, in all due respec' ... I fear this thread has drifted far away from my original intent: a fictional scene featuring an atheist speaking to a Believer's specific comments.

I've read the ideas and comments, and learned quite a bit ... even to the point of (as I mentioned before) possibly changing the direction of the characters' relationship.

If I'm too willing to indulge in philosophical repartee, maybe we share some of that ... but it needn't occur here in a thread what's run its course.

So ... thanks again for the good discussion!

http://www.naomi-watts.de/images/naomi-watts-2.jpg

Here: maybe if I fall out of the Unlikely Luck tree and hit all the branches on the way down, Naomi Watts can play "The Atheist" ...

If she's taking a bath while they argue, no one will even care what nutso dialogue she spouts! :D

Cath
04-18-2007, 03:20 PM
That atheism as either a statement of scientific conclusion or belief ... is an unsupportable conclusion and/or belief, and represents a closed-mind to possible evidence.

Could you not say the same about the belief in God?

I see atheism as a belief system, the same as Christianity - except atheists believe in the non-existance, not the existance of a God or Gods.

As for a closed mind - as an athiest, I sincerely hope that's not the case. It's just that I would question any evidence people offered as having a potentially scientific foundation as opposed to being from a higher or supernatural power. I think that's the argument your atheist scientist should be making.

wordmonkey
04-18-2007, 04:48 PM
That atheism as either a statement of scientific conclusion or belief ... is an unsupportable conclusion and/or belief, and represents a closed-mind to possible evidence.

As is belief in devine, omnipotentent, omnipresent entity.

I was going to say the above statement is intellectually dishonest, but I don't want to be misconstrued as looking to pick a fight. However, you seem to hold the atheist position to a different set of standards than you do the theist.

That YOUR atheist character is a scientist does not quantify the entire atheist position. If you want to know what an atheist scientist thinks, ask one specifically. What you're getting here is a much more nebulous atheistic POV.

My beliefs are based on common sense, not science. It comes down to a very basic, unscientific idea that if there was a god, who was all knowing and all loving, why does so much really really bad carp happen in the world? Standard answer is "the devil" made it happen. OK, so I concede that if there is a great force for good, there could be a force for evil, BUT if god is all knowing, all powerful and infallable, doesn't it follow that he MADE the devil? made evil? wants evil? allows evil? No science in my position there, just a common sense observation that the whole thing is riddled with, at best, inconsistancies.

I also feel it's a cop-out. If everything is god's will, where is our personal responibility? Again, no science at all, it just doesn't hold water. "Ah, but you have free will, you choose to be good or evil," is the argument. But we're then back to the whole BIG plan thing and if he's really the big cheese, doesn't matter, because I really DON'T have free will. No science.

But all that aside, it seems that the entire thread is flawed. The original request was for an atheistic opinion, but as atheistic positions have been put forward you have argued the otherside. With the greatest respect, that isn't looking to understand the otherside of the argument, that's looking to disprove it, or at least prove your side's superiority.

That you see a two-dimensional quality in your atheist character is good for your work, but you don't seem open, or capable of setting your own belief's aside to be true to this other character, so my suggestion would be to ditch that element of your story as it will come through as inherently weak. However, if your target audience are theists (and frankly even this is being somewhat deceptive, since we seem to be talking christians really) you don't need this, as they'll love the two-dimensional aspect of that character.

wordmonkey
04-18-2007, 05:06 PM
Here: maybe if I fall out of the Unlikely Luck tree and hit all the branches on the way down, Naomi Watts can play "The Atheist" ...

If she's taking a bath while they argue, no one will even care what nutso dialogue she spouts! :D

:D notwithstanding, why would her position, as the naked atheist, be "nutso dialog"?

Now I'm willing to believe that you were just joking here, but I'd also be willing to guess you wouldn't say the theist dialog would be nutso. Now if we were debating this for real, that would show a basic lack of respect for MY position, and one that you would feel, justly, offended by. However, what it really does is show that even after the full run of this thread to date, you haven't really gotten into the head of an atheist, because even if you didn't agree, you'd still have respect for them.

Setting the specifics aside here, if you have a badguy, and you can't get into why the badguy is bad, why he doesn't believe he is bad, why he believes what he's doing is right, your villain will suck. Same idea.

Higgins
04-18-2007, 05:17 PM
How do WE 'quantify' God? Maybe we cannot (yet) just as ancient Man didn't "see" germs. But now we can count the billions of germs, and the molecules in the germs, and study the dna of the germs.

If someone said they were "agermists" a thousand years ago "because we see no evidence that germs exist! Invisible life forms?! HA! Are they ... tiny invisible pink fairy unicorns?! You're ... superstitious and deluded!" -- They would've been wrong.

Their CONCLUSION that "no germs exist" (based on their "no germy evidence") would've been UNFOUNDED and WRONG.

As I've pointed out at least twice, there was always evidence for disease organisms, ie people got infections or got sick. There is no analogous evidence for God. If you were really interested in writing your "fictional scene"...rather than just doing a poor job of teasing the Atheists with some very worn-out stuff like Schoedinger's Cat and the totally absurd "You can't prove things don't exist"...which is a meaningless proposition since it constructs an absolute positive out to the pure void of two negatives...anyway, if you were really interested, you might note that it is pretty easy to dispose of any basis in reality for the rhetoric you use to tease Atheists:

1) Schroedinger's Cat (is it an issue? no.)
2) Germs (there was evidence of disease organisms, there is no evidence of God)
3) "Can't prove non-existence"....well, you can do better than that: you can infinitely repeat the observation that there is no evidence of God at all whatsoever. There is no need to "prove" (whatever that means...axiomatically? What does it mean?) anything at all about things that cannot even in theory ever be observed at all in any way.

Anyway...I don't think you are writing any scene at all.

Cath
04-18-2007, 05:19 PM
I'm going to close this thread now.

If you want to debate your beliefs, Take it Outside (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=32). Otherwise, I think the OP has plenty of food for thought.