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(30-Nov-2006 at 11:55)


Atheism History & Arguments (youtube links)

So the past week ive been browsing youtube for videos on Richard Dawkins and documentaries by Jonathan Miller. Dawkins especially has reaffirmed my position as atheist.

I started out being a convinced atheist when I was young. I realized early on that religion is a human construct and therefore a mass of arbitrary choices and stories. Religious institutions were and are constantly playing with what is Good and Bad, constantly changing the rules and ‘adapting to contemporary society’ and circumstance, constantly (re-)interpreting their truth. Religion to me was pretty clearly just a socio-political tool, something that contradicted itself constantly and therefore very likely completely bogus. I felt that God was Santa Claus for adults, i.e. the need to believe in something + the need to be rewarded and judged. Add to that all the harm it caused and causes, and I confidently moved away from it.

But as the years passed, I got milder. I heard things like “all religions are essentially one.” “Jesus was a historical figure.” “There has to be something more.” “Science and Religion are not mutually exclusive”. “Something must have started the Big Bang, if there was one” “There is a genetic urge to believe in the supernatural”. Seeds of doubt were planted by all kinds of inexplicable things shown on TV. (like those supernatural things). And so many people in the world believed… I started to entertain the possibility of Something Greater, not necessarily a God or something obviously silly like a religious system, but more an invisible yet unknowable formless force. At the same time I learned in university about all the failures of science. The silliness of the Enlightenment. The extreme amounts of deaths caused by people believing in some fucked up science or another (Stalin; 20 million dead; Mao; 20 million dead (starvation); Hitler; ? million dead (probably 20ish as well).

I came to a conclusion that neither Religion nor Science could deliver what it preaches. Both became sort of equally wretched in my mind. I still think this, but thanks to watching Dawkins the past few days I at least sort of regained some measure of trust in science. Sure, it’s not an answer but at least it offers a starting point superior to religion. Science is something you can work with. Something you can work on. Religion isn’t something that you can keep changing to suit your needs, because when you do that you lose the ability to claim validity of whatever founding book or philosophy you started out with. In law, we make amendments to constitutions. In science, theories and modes of thought get discarded, replaced and so on. We add stuff, modify stuff, delete stuff. You can’t add/modify/delete things in the Bible without undermining the very idea that the Bible is a God-inspired book that will always be valid.

So now I’m now firmly entrenched in the opinion that science, imperfect as it may be, is still fundamentally superior to and preferable over any kind of religion. Proof trumps faith. Faith is not a virtue. A scientific theory, regardless of how silly it may be, is superior over religion or faith provided it has good arguments going for it. Basing something on scientific evidence is superior over basing something on faith only.

On another note, I usually read all or most of the comments under the YouTube videos, and haven’t seen any theist argument yet that had not been adequately refuted. I get this sense that by reading these comments and watching these videos it becomes virtually untenable to continue to adhere to any faith based doctrine.

----

Anyway,

here's one video of Richard Dawkins answering questions that have likely been asked in this forum many times already.


Here's another video of Richard Dawkins arguing that whenever you define kids as adhering to some faith or another you're committing child abuse.


This video shows Dawkins dissing Liberty University for saying that the dinosaur bones they have on display are 3-5k years old.
Also, Richard Dawkins appears in southpark episodes 12 and 13 (you can fetch these at mrtwig.net)
Finally, here is the

first ten minutes of a three part three hour BBC documentary on the history on atheism. The three parts are called "Shadows of Doubt", "Noughts and Crosses" and "The Final Hour".

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(30-Nov-2006 at 13:34)
Just wanted to add:

The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins
http://video.google.nl/videoplay?doc...ichard+dawkins
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(30-Nov-2006 at 17:35)


sweet! nice one

I saw some youtubes on the God Delusion as well but had not seen this yet

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(30-Nov-2006 at 18:44)


Hmm nice, been meaning to read the god delusion but time is an issue.. This seems like a decent alternative for now.

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(30-Nov-2006 at 22:37)
The link I provided gives a hint to what his book is about, but it only focusses on a certain part. There are more parts but I unfortunately couldn't find any online. If you're interested I'd still advise you to read the book since that covers alot more theory.

Also, I noticed Peppie that the youtube link you provided with the questions only covered a couple of minutes,

Here's the whole thing:


Part 1: : Richard Dawkins reads excerpts from The God Delusion at Randolph-Macon Woman's College in Lynchburg.(37:20)


Part 2: : Richard Dawkins answers questions at Randolph-Macon Woman's College in Lynchburg.(1:10:03)

These 2 links probably give a better image on his book then the first link I provided.

Last edited by P a r a, 30-Nov-2006 at 22:39.
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(01-Dec-2006 at 02:58)


Re: Atheism History & Arguments (youtube links)

Originally Posted by Dusk Illz: View Post
Hmm nice, been meaning to read the god delusion but time is an issue.. This seems like a decent alternative for now.
It's a delusion, oddly enough, that every single race in the world has shared. Odd that every civilisation, no matter how isolated and no matter how little contact with other civilisations, have all had beliefs in God/s.

Let's get the psychoanalysts on that!

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(01-Dec-2006 at 03:07)


Originally Posted by Peppie: View Post
Science is something you can work with. Something you can work on. Religion isn’t something that you can keep changing to suit your needs, because when you do that you lose the ability to claim validity of whatever founding book or philosophy you started out with. In law, we make amendments to constitutions. In science, theories and modes of thought get discarded, replaced and so on. We add stuff, modify stuff, delete stuff. You can’t add/modify/delete things in the Bible without undermining the very idea that the Bible is a God-inspired book that will always be valid.
This is patently false. Ask any Protestant if Christian "modes of thought get discarded, replaced and so on." You can't change the Bible, just like a scientist can't change the world; both theologians and scientists can only change the way in which they understand the thing that they study.

On a related note: I read an article by Terry Eagleton in -- I think -- the London Review of Books that absolutely panned The God Delusion. He says that Dawkins is smug, self-congratulatory, and oversimplistic.

I haven't read it, though, so I can't comment directly. Do people like Dawkins because he's enlightening them, or because he's telling them what they want to hear?

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Last edited by BrandonC, 01-Dec-2006 at 03:14.
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Re: Atheism History & Arguments (youtube links)

Originally Posted by BrandonC: View Post
I haven't read it, though, so I can't comment directly. Do people like Dawkins because he's enlightening them, or because he's telling them what they want to hear?
That question is a little bit too much "black and white" for my liking. I'm sure alot of people are attracted to this fellow because he agrees with them, or they agree with him. Additionally, though, I'm sure most of these people like him because he knows a great deal about his subject, and he manages to get it out to people who maybe normaly wouldn't have much understanding of the subject. Wether they accept it or not is a different matter.

Originally Posted by Gus Mackay:
It's a delusion, oddly enough, that every single race in the world has shared. Odd that every civilisation, no matter how isolated and no matter how little contact with other civilisations, have all had beliefs in God/s.
Not really, it's quite natural. Many religions (and certainly the idea about a god or gods) stem from pre-technological times. People needed something to explain the rain, the thunder, the earthquakes. Since they had no knowledge whatsoever about these matters, they attributed it to some form of higher power.

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(01-Dec-2006 at 07:42)


Re: Atheism History & Arguments (youtube links)

Originally Posted by BrandonC: View Post
This is patently false. Ask any Protestant if Christian "modes of thought get discarded, replaced and so on." You can't change the Bible, just like a scientist can't change the world; both theologians and scientists can only change the way in which they understand the thing that they study.
Even different interpretations make for painful listening. It means that those that came before us either:

Were wrong & many priests who taught their congregation were false priests spreading heresy and condemmend a section of thier congregation to hell for failing to meet Gods will.

or

Were right and modern interpretations are wrong and the new interpretation is condeming people to hell.

Our interpretation of The Holy Bible may change, but God clearly does not. So large sections of the christian community are going to hell simply because we mould and change our understanding of His word to suit ourselves. The most obvious section is male homosexuality. God is very clear in the Old Testiment that it is an abomination - to follow Christ and be a male homosexual is asking for trouble when that person comes to be judged. Your priest may say otherwise - but The Holy Bible does not back him/her.

The changing interpretation means that not only is your probability of following the right religion & church's teachings and thus reaching paradise is very small - but made smaller as you have to be following it in the right time period as their teachings change with time by the changing interpretation of the written scripture. Therefore since you are most likely to end up in hell for failing to meet Gods commands you may as well be athiest and not waste what precious life you have worshiping in what is most likely the wrong way.

Perhaps I should have condensed that somewhat into why the changing interpretation is an argumnent for atheism, but alas - have to go to work and cannot spend anymore time rewriting it.

Quote:
On a related note: I read an article by Terry Eagleton in -- I think -- the London Review of Books that absolutely panned The God Delusion. He says that Dawkins is smug, self-congratulatory, and oversimplistic.
Probably very true - many of his books ("The God Delusion", "The Blind Watchmaker" e.t.c.) are designed for Joe Public. As such they are very simple and do not have serious scientific spin about them. The book that made him famous within the scientific community is "The Selfish Gene".

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(01-Dec-2006 at 07:58)
Re: Atheism History & Arguments (youtube links)

Originally Posted by Grashnak: View Post
Probably very true - many of his books ("The God Delusion", "The Blind Watchmaker" e.t.c.) are designed for Joe Public. As such they are very simple and do not have serious scientific spin about them. The book that made him famous within the scientific community is "The Selfish Gene".
I can agree with that. I think Richard Dawkins is trying to reach a bigger public then just those with scientific understanding on purpose. I don't see anything wrong with that tho.
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(01-Dec-2006 at 09:24)


Re: Atheism History & Arguments (youtube links)

Originally Posted by BrandonC: View Post
This is patently false. Ask any Protestant if Christian "modes of thought get discarded, replaced and so on." You can't change the Bible, just like a scientist can't change the world; both theologians and scientists can only change the way in which they understand the thing that they study.
I wouldnt compare the world with the Bible. They're very, very different things. And endlessly reinterpreting defeats the point of the Bible. If you can read it in thousands of different ways, then what use is it? Which is the true one? The one you like?

I like how Dawkins points out that people often cherry-pick the Bible; they choose to focus on the parts they like, the nice bits, like love thy neighbour. They choose to ignore bits that seem out of place and barbaric, like wailing and gnashing of teeth. I don't see how you can take yourself seriously if you make your own personal version of the Biblical Word and then convince yourself that God meant it that way. In that way I would say the fundamentalists who take every word of the Bible as absolute truth are the 'best' Christians even though I hope all of us can agree that they're some of the creepiest people on the face of the planet.

---

In interviews Dawkins has pointed out that his intended target audience is the middle ground people, those who sort of defaulted to a religion but havent given it much thought. He wants to convince those to rethink their position on religion. He also has a position as someone who tries to make science easy and accessible to the public, and whenever that happens some simplifying must happen. I personally don't like how he ignores the failures of science,
and i hope that people will ask him about that in future interviews.


By the way, the virus of faith is the second part of the god delusion documentary thing.

I think anyone could agree with Dawkins that its best to teach children about every religion or lack thereof and let them make their own choice rather than restrict them to your own dogma.

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(01-Dec-2006 at 15:57)


Re: Atheism History & Arguments (youtube links)

Originally Posted by Peppie: View Post
I wouldnt compare the world with the Bible. They're very, very different things. And endlessly reinterpreting defeats the point of the Bible. If you can read it in thousands of different ways, then what use is it? Which is the true one? The one you like?
Repeated reinterpretation is not the same as infinite interpretation. We no longer believe in the four humours, but that doesn't make medicine meaningless. Why can't religion, like science, be an ongoing process through which one seeks enlightenment? Maybe the point is the searching, not the knowing.

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(01-Dec-2006 at 16:17)


Re: Atheism History & Arguments (youtube links)

Originally Posted by BrandonC: View Post
Repeated reinterpretation is not the same as infinite interpretation. We no longer believe in the four humours, but that doesn't make medicine meaningless. Why can't religion, like science, be an ongoing process through which one seeks enlightenment? Maybe the point is the searching, not the knowing.
In literature, interpreting and reinterpreting happens all the time. People take something like Dracula and read it in a Marxist way, in a feminist way, in a queer theory way, in a psychoanalytic way and so on. There's nothing really wrong with the act of endless reinterpreting itself (and I call it endless since there will never be a point when we can actually say "everything that can be said about this book is said") but through the fact that literature can endlessly be interpreted it sort of loses its strength of being able to have a singular meaning.

Now in the case of the Bible, there are people who claim it has a singular meaning, and worse, they will claim that THEIR version of this meaning (for it is always THEIR version, not THE version) is the ONLY RIGHT one. And then they do horrible things like blow themselves up or kill abortion doctors.

Same happens in some case of science actually - mao and lenin and stalin claiming that their interpretation/version of marxism is the true golden ticket, and thereby fucking up.

I agree with you that the search is an ever ongoing process and needs to be undertaken and kept alive, the danger is when people come to a point where they are absolutely convinced they are right. In the case of science, you will have stubborn and miffed old professors who cling to their old ways in spite of new evidence, but present certain religious people with new evidence and they become a whole lot more dangerous and reactionary. In the case of scientific theory, whole paradigms become obsolete and eventually everyone adopts the new one until it gets disproven in turn - but in the case of religion there are still morons who believe the Earth is 3-5k years old and God made us out of dust and a rib. Try finding a sensible person nowadays who still doesn't accept the heliocentric theory of Copernicus.

Dawkin's point is that science is much more open and welcoming to change and as far as scientific communities go a lot less rabid and dangerous. It's generally based on evidence and invites people to think critically and skeptically, whereas faith is based on assumption without evidence. This may create a dangerous mindset that you don't necessarily need proof for something since faith is a virtue, which may lead to dangerous situations for society. Lack of skepticism and critical approach is inclusive to faith, which is why the principle is crappy.

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Re: Atheism History & Arguments (youtube links)

Originally Posted by Peppie: View Post
In literature, interpreting and reinterpreting happens all the time. People take something like Dracula and read it in a Marxist way, in a feminist way, in a queer theory way, in a psychoanalytic way and so on. There's nothing really wrong with the act of endless reinterpreting itself (and I call it endless since there will never be a point when we can actually say "everything that can be said about this book is said") but through the fact that literature can endlessly be interpreted it sort of loses its strength of being able to have a singular meaning.
Yes, but again, multiple meanings doesn't mean that any interpretation is right (something that I need to drill into my students on a regular basis). For instance, Dracula is not about Roman Aqueducts, or the Concorde. For me, though, the strength of good literature is the way in which it can mean more than one thing. Try reading Stephen Booth's analysis of Shakespeare's sonnets for a demonstration why.

Quote:
Now in the case of the Bible, there are people who claim it has a singular meaning, and worse, they will claim that THEIR version of this meaning (for it is always THEIR version, not THE version) is the ONLY RIGHT one. And then they do horrible things like blow themselves up or kill abortion doctors.

Same happens in some case of science actually - mao and lenin and stalin claiming that their interpretation/version of marxism is the true golden ticket, and thereby fucking up.

I agree with you that the search is an ever ongoing process and needs to be undertaken and kept alive, the danger is when people come to a point where they are absolutely convinced they are right. In the case of science, you will have stubborn and miffed old professors who cling to their old ways in spite of new evidence, but present certain religious people with new evidence and they become a whole lot more dangerous and reactionary. In the case of scientific theory, whole paradigms become obsolete and eventually everyone adopts the new one until it gets disproven in turn - but in the case of religion there are still morons who believe the Earth is 3-5k years old and God made us out of dust and a rib. Try finding a sensible person nowadays who still doesn't accept the heliocentric theory of Copernicus.
I accept parts of Copernicus's theory, but not all.

Quote:
Dawkin's point is that science is much more open and welcoming to change and as far as scientific communities go a lot less rabid and dangerous. It's generally based on evidence and invites people to think critically and skeptically, whereas faith is based on assumption without evidence. This may create a dangerous mindset that you don't necessarily need proof for something since faith is a virtue, which may lead to dangerous situations for society. Lack of skepticism and critical approach is inclusive to faith, which is why the principle is crappy.
Now, this more moderate stance is something I can agree with. Let's just not fall into the oversimplistic Religion vs. Science binary. They're both a bit of both. You accept Copernicus's theory without any evidence, don't you?

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(01-Dec-2006 at 16:53)


The problem with God of course is the general religious believe that God does not exist in our material world, but rather in a transcendent world our senses and mind cannot gather info on. Which makes it completely impossible to provide empirical proof for or against the existance of a God.

Hence, complete atheists are as silly as those religious nutters who think that they have found the real truth. Both are trying to proof an unprovable case.

Of course it's highly likely that all the religions are wrong. They have changed too much over the ages to be taken seriously. Not to mention that they are basing their believe on a book or document of which the origin is extremely uncertain.

This does not mean however that there is no God. But the only ways of learning something about a possible God are rationalism and intuitionism as far as I'm concerned.

Rationalism tells us that for example an almighty God would lead to a vast number of paradoxes, so that option should be considered as highly unlikely. Of course there are always the religious characters who claim that God cannot be understood by human rationality, but I rather trust my own rationality then some 'holy' texts that came out of nowhere.

Intuitionism is a lot less certain even, but on the other hand, it is our only chance of getting real knowledge about a possible God. When all objective evidence fails, our intuition is the only thing that we have left. Are billions of people who believe in a God wrong? I'm not sure.

For me, the only option that is left open is agnosticism.

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(01-Dec-2006 at 17:42)


Re: Atheism History & Arguments (youtube links)

Originally Posted by BrandonC: View Post
Now, this more moderate stance is something I can agree with. Let's just not fall into the oversimplistic Religion vs. Science binary. They're both a bit of both. You accept Copernicus's theory without any evidence, don't you?
I'm actually quite ignorant about the entire theory (i study shit in Humanities), perhaps i should've said that no-one accepts Ptolemy's idea of an earth-centric universe anymore. Which is an example of a scientific paradigm that gets discarded and makes room for a (currently) more plausible one, which is something that wouldn't happen to the Bible since it supposedly is the Word of God, or at least written by God-Inspired men. Religious people are stuck with one text and have to make due with it until the end of days, no matter how incompatible or ridiculous its content may become in light of new discoveries and developments in contemporary society.
You may say that there are principles or moral lessons and so on to be derived from the Bible that are timeless, and maybe you are right, but you'd still be cherry-picking. Else you'd have to stone people to death who don't believe in your God, as the Old Testament dictates. Not to mention the fate of women *shudder*.

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Re: Atheism History & Arguments (youtube links)

Originally Posted by Caelis666: View Post
The problem with God of course is the general religious believe that God does not exist in our material world, but rather in a transcendent world our senses and mind cannot gather info on. Which makes it completely impossible to provide empirical proof for or against the existance of a God.

Hence, complete atheists are as silly as those religious nutters who think that they have found the real truth. Both are trying to proof an unprovable case.
Not true on both counts - complete atheists by definition believe in no god(s). As such do not try to prove there are no gods because as you say it is an unprovable case since the definition of such an entity is unfalsifiable. At best you could say complete athiests try to debunk the ideas of other about their god(s). On the other hand, the faithful have no need to prove their God - they have faith. Proof would destroy this.

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Last edited by Grashnak, 01-Dec-2006 at 18:57.
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(01-Dec-2006 at 19:05)


Re: Atheism History & Arguments (youtube links)

Originally Posted by Grashnak: View Post
Not true on both counts - complete atheists by definition believe in no god(s). As such do not try to prove there are no gods because as you say it is an unprovable case since the definition of such an entity is unfalsifiable. At best you could say complete athiests try to debunk the ideas of other about their god(s). On the other hand, the faithful have no need to prove their God - they have faith. Proof would destroy this.
I disagree. Real atheists claim to -know- that there is no God, in the same way that religious dogmatists do the other way around.

And both groups have a habit of going into discussion. If they really thought that there is only believing/faith/whatever and no proof, they would find all discussion to be useless. And most religious people would love to get proof of their God, faith or not.

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(01-Dec-2006 at 19:14)


Re: Atheism History & Arguments (youtube links)

Originally Posted by Grashnak: View Post
Not true on both counts - complete atheists by definition believe in no god(s). As such do not try to prove there are no gods because as you say it is an unprovable case since the definition of such an entity is unfalsifiable. At best you could say complete athiests try to debunk the ideas of other about their god(s). On the other hand, the faithful have no need to prove their God - they have faith. Proof would destroy this.
Caelis is right. It is impossible to scientifically disprove anything. Therefore, no-one in her right mind could possibly totally deny the existence of a God.

However, the general atheist will agree that it is extremely improbable that the God of the contemporary main three monotheisms exists just like current monotheists would agree that it is extremely improbably that Thor, Odin Wotan, Loki and Freya exist.

To me, the faithful have as much ground to their faith as the Greeks of yore. Greek faith in Zeus etc is as reasonable as believing in the current popular God since both necessarily require faith and neither can be proven by empirical evidence.

On that note - can anyone explain to me why the current monotheisms are 'more valid' than the polytheisms that were dominant in classical times?

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Re: Atheism History & Arguments (youtube links)

Originally Posted by Caelis666: View Post
I disagree. Real atheists claim to -know- that there is no God, in the same way that religious dogmatists do the other way around.
Show me a case where an atheist tries to prove that no god exists anywhere. I think you will find that such arguments are along the lines of disproving someone else's idea of a specfic god or gods.

Quote:
And both groups have a habit of going into discussion. If they really thought that there is only believing/faith/whatever and no proof, they would find all discussion to be useless. And most religious people would love to get proof of their God, faith or not.
But isn't that exactly the case - all arguments are useless and get no where rapidly ? Take a look at this forum - no thread actually manages to convince anyone of chaging their position on the subject.

Quote:
Caelis is right. It is impossible to scientifically disprove anything.
I disagree. If you said to me that a copper wire is made exclusivly of hydrogen, or perhaps if you said that my heart beats on average 1,328,7463,402,836 beats per minute - it would be perfectly possible to scientificly disprove it.

Quote:
Therefore, no-one in her right mind could possibly totally deny the existence of a God.
Well - I've not been locked up so far and I don't believe in any gods my whole life. I accept that I could be wrong on the subject and will be willing to listen to anyones theory or examine their evidence - but at the moment I am perfectly comfortable in my athiesm and remain convinced there are no gods.

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Dear Devs:
Rock is overpowered, please nerf. Paper is fine.
Yours, Scissors
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