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Why do you not believe in 'God'.


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Showing 26-50 of 87 posts in this discussion
In reply to an earlier post on 22 Aug 2008 20:16:12 BDT
Last edited by the author on 22 Aug 2008 20:29:51 BDT
David Groom says:
Andrew Macleod wrote:

'David Groom wrote that he expects as education increases, it will eventually become "ludicrous or backward to believe in religion". Christianity has been a driving force for education in Britain for hundreds of years! Most of my Christian friends have university degrees. (I am a science teacher). Most of my fellow church members read and study the bible, and other books on theology, science, philosophy, psychology... and other disciplines too! You're view of Christians is naive.'

A couple of points. Firstly I am referring to all religions, not just Christianity and for the reasons below, I stand completely behind my view that religion is doomed in the long term. Secondly, Christianity may have been a driving force for education (debatable, depending on your point of view), but this doesn't mean that it cannot be eclipsed by enlightenment and thus sow the seeds of its own destruction.

Now, I base my views, not on wishful thinking, but on the broad sweep of history and extrapolate the trends forwards. In the past four hundred years, science has made enormous strides and religion has been steadily pushed towards the margins. This push by science has led to religious positions shifting to accommodate the changes in knowledge, many of which were previously considered the domain of religion, and thus religion is steadily moving towards 'explaining' only the gaps, but not the key fundamentals of knowledge, which have become dominated by science. The problem for religion is that it has nothing with which to push back - it doesn't have any explanations to offer. All it can do is forever retreat to the areas not so far explained or try to prevent the march of scientific progress.

For this reason, as the human knowledge base widens further the need for religion to 'explain' anything will diminish further until eventually I expect that religion will be something practiced behind closed doors by the few, but will not be something any educated sophisticated person will admit to (even though some may still practice in private). It won't happen in my lifetime. It may take 500 or a thousand years, but as sure as anything can be, science will trump religion and what I have predicted will come to pass. Why? Well in the end, man's thirst for knowledge will always be unquenched, and explorers will always push back the barriers of knowledge.

Not only this, but knowledge will become more and more widely known throughout the world. Instead of just a few people knowing complex and unimaginable things, many will do so and the expanding knowledge base will eventually leave little room for superstitions. A classic example of this is the Theory of Relativity. Near enough a hundred years ago or so ago, only Einstein and a few others understood it. Nowadays, any layman can get a basic knowledge from the many excellent books on the subject, and the knowledge base of the T of R, must now be several millions, maybe much more. And before anybody challenges this, no I haven't carried out a worldwide poll to establish who does and doesn't have a basic knowledge and understanding of the subject - nevertheless I am pretty sure that my 'guesstimate' is quite conservative.

As I think I have said on a different thread, the last bastion of god lies in the origins of the universe - the ultimate and final gap. Until there is a credible scientific explanation of the origins of matter and life, then I guess, for some people, god has a niche left to fill. However, once there is a satisfactory, testable explanation then I am afraid god will be a gonner.

I am sure that Andrew Macleod will find this prospect appalling and distressing, but as Richard Dawkins has implied on many occasions, just because you don't like to face the truth, and would rather retreat behind 'belief' doesn't make factual evidence something which is false. It just means that your mind can't cope with reality. And so it is here. There is nothing religion can do to stop the march of science and thirst for knowledge and the sooner it realises it the better.

In reply to an earlier post on 31 Aug 2008 16:14:48 BDT
Anyone who believes that the early 'fathers' of the church didn't change the bible and other texts to suit their own purposes, mainly to keep the power and control the masses, is deluded.
Brought up in a God-fearing, priest-fearing Irish Catholic family, I took my independence at an early age to escape the paranoia and, sorry to say, hypocricy.
I believe in a 'god' but not the god of the bible. I believe in a just, merciful and loving 'being', whose nature and source is beyond my comprehension. I believe if I live my life with regards to the well being of my fellow men, I am trying to do the right thing. If I die and there is 'nothing', I have lost nothing, as I won't know about it!
If the God of the bible is 'all knowing' then he must have known in advance when he created Adam and Eve that they were going to be weak and imperfect. It was pretty unfair in any case to have them 'tempted' by a far more intelligent and wily being ie. the devil, a 'fallen' angel. Why would a just and merciful god do such a thing and then decide that the whole of the human race thereafter were going to suffer for 'original sin'! Free will is one thing, but starting out with such a handicap isn't exactly helpful.
Religion has a lot to answer for, being the main cause of more wars than I care to count and I don't believe that any religion as it exists today, is truly as it's 'founder' taught or intended it to be. So I'll pass on religion and the bible and god as set out in the bible and hope that maybe one day, science will discover a missing link that is beneficial to mankind.
In the meantime, I am happy to live according to my own conscience, without forcing my beliefs (or lack of them)on anyone else.

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Sep 2008 00:27:22 BDT
Last edited by the author on 1 Sep 2008 20:53:57 BDT
Franco says:
I was enjoying your opening post up until about the 8th paragraph, at which point it descended into a rant.

On the subject of abortion, the Catholic Church (I'm referring to the Catholics because you were raised as one) has long since supported abortion in extenuating circumstances, such as the potential death of a mother in child labour. Catholics disagree with abortion on demand, which is currently at an all time high in the recorded history of this country, and has steadily risen from the enactment of the 1966 Abortion Act.

The subject of birth defects is both a vast and complex subject. Predictions made by doctors of poor life due to possible defects are often inaccurate. One personal example is of my mother who came down with Rubella when she was pregnant with my second eldest brother, and the doctors advised her to have him aborted. She decided against the abortion and my brother is now living as healthy a life as any other human being.

But let's pretend that doctors can predict the future health of an individual from inside the womb with incredible accuracy. Would they have advised Stephen Hawkins to be terminated because he was certain to develop Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis? Or how about my uncle, whose debilitating muscle disease always skips a generation. Should his offspring not even consider having kids in fear of them developing the same illness?

Blondie.

In reply to an earlier post on 14 Sep 2008 19:20:47 BDT
J. Swain says:
Andrew,

I do fear for our education system if you don't know the difference between your and you're! Perhaps you are a greengrocer in real life.

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Sep 2008 09:23:25 BDT
David Carey says:
I don't agree with Andrew, but making fun of typos and spelling mistakes in peoples' posts is a cheap shot, rude and normally indicates a lack of more sensible arguments. Is your written English invariably perfect? I doubt it.

Are greengrocers all stupid then? Or am I missing something?

Posted on 13 Jun 2009 15:11:13 BDT
Last edited by the author on 13 Jun 2009 15:13:27 BDT
N. Bunting says:
Why I'm an atheist?

The general answer I give to people that ask is "I don't believe that magic is possible."

By which I mean, that causality (where one event directly causes another, and many events combine to create many different possible outcomes) cannot be disregarded and subverted by will alone.

Theists say that the universe was magically created by the will of God(s), that this/these God(s) can change things by willing the universe amend itself without regard to what went before (miracles).

Order comes from chaos as there are limits to everything. The limits come from the flaws inherent when the prefect nothingness breaks apart into the basic components of existence (there's some interesting theories on the instability of nothingness). The components interact, get more complex, so on and & so forth. Patterns arise because many pattern are self sustainable and create a stronger chemical/physical base than the chaos around them.

This is a bit hard to explain, I don't think I'm doing a good job of it...

You could still argue that God created & defined the flaws and the limits therein, but I don't see why a designer would be necessary.

I have more reasons, but that one's short & to the point.

Posted on 13 Jul 2009 15:44:38 BDT
S. J. Payne says:
Lots of long and thoughtful replies here which I've greatly enjoyed reading. Let me offer a fairly short and thoughtful reply:

I don't believe in any gods because the concept of gods is (a) preposterous, (b) superflous - it does absolutely no explanatory work whatsoever and (c) is not supported by any credible scientific evidence at all.

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Jul 2009 09:03:29 BDT
Last edited by the author on 20 Jul 2009 09:04:17 BDT
Laurence says:
What is so "thoughtful" about that? All it is is ignorance with a large helping of arrogance. You atheists are the "preposterous" ones for thinking yourselves superior to others; i.e. you think that NOT understanding or considering the possibility of the transcendant is superior to having done so, a sort of reverse intellectual snobbery that is as "deluded" an opinion as can be.

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Jul 2009 14:43:32 BDT
Dr. Mabuse says:
The question that this thread posed was, 'Why do you not believe in 'god'. A simple reply was all that was required. Yet we get lots of pathetic posts slagging off each other. In fact, just like what happens out there in the 'real world' when religious zealots start killing each other on behalf of a 'belief'.

I don't believe in god, pixies,fairies, leprechauns and the like. The reason? I thought it would be fairly obvious to be honest.

Now, if that makes me arrogant and deluded, no problem. I can live with that.

Try reading stories about the cruscades, the war in Chechnya or what happened to the Bosniaks in the 1990's and then stand up and tell us that you're proud to be a christian. I know what I would do with copies of the bible, the koran or any other religious piece of cr@p. And it wouldn't involve reading it!

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Jul 2009 15:12:16 BDT
Laurence says:
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Posted on 20 Jul 2009 20:58:02 BDT
Paul Shepley says:
David Groom... "the last bastion of god lies in the origins of the universe - the ultimate and final gap. Until there is a credible scientific explanation of the origins of matter and life, then I guess, for some people, god has a niche left to fill. However, once there is a satisfactory, testable explanation then I am afraid god will be a gonner."

Not so. All that would prove is that god did not invent the universe and that those who believe he did were mistaken. What people think god did or did not do, and if their beliefs are correct or not, has absolutely no bearing on god's existence or otherwise.

In reply to an earlier post on 21 Jul 2009 11:16:43 BDT
Dr. Mabuse says:
Limitations of atheist ideology?

My ideology is boundless. A god believers' is vastly limited. All based on a 'I hope my belief is true or I'm buggered!' theory.

I wouldn't call an abhorrance towards religious persecution and genocide unfunny mockery!

Religion itself? Now that is hilarious!

Now what was Jesus supposed to have said to the man that couldn't walk? Take up thy bed and walk wasn't it? An early version of why don't you **** off, maybe?

In reply to an earlier post on 21 Jul 2009 13:05:51 BDT
Laurence says:
Charmed I'm sure. You clearly fall into that category of atheist where "unthinkingness masquerades as intelligence" and you expect us all to "regard it as the height of intelligence and modernity"? Best of luck with that.

In reply to an earlier post on 21 Jul 2009 14:45:42 BDT
Dr. Mabuse says:
Astounding! As always, you concur that you're the only one who is intelligent. What a prig you are.

I generally find that those who have intelligence are the ones that don't fall through holes marked 'beliefs' and think that they're the enlightened ones.

Wasn't St Laurence the one that was roasted alive? Any relation perchance?

Posted on 4 Aug 2009 18:57:23 BDT
Simon says:
In recent years I have become I suppose more fervently atheist in as far as I happily declare myself an Atheist perhaps in the way someone happily declares themself a Jew, a Muslim or a Catholic. The difference is it often makes people uncomfortable, as if you are in some way inferior because you have decided not to buy into one of the various forms of mythology being peddled around the World. I note on TV or Radio that if anyone starts talking about Atheism that it often makes the presenter very uncomfortable and they want to change the subject as soon as possible. Even the term ' A Godless society' is one that implies a worse, inferior and less moral place. I realise it is an expression and one I have probably used myself in the past so it is not something that will change overnight.
I do feel religion is withering on the vine but it has a long way to go. It is an easy 'pre-packaged' way of dealing with the big and indeed small issues of our existence. I respect anyone's right to have whatever opinion they wish but I increasingly find it hard to understand how highly intelligent people of my acquantance can believe in a God. You may as well believe in the tooth fairy as far as I'm concerned.
I also though find it hard to understand how many people say they don't really know if ther is a God/life after death. At least people of a religious bent have formed an opinion. How someone can not really have made a decision on the subject is almost worse as far as I'm concerned.
I have three children and the oldest is 15. She has declared herself an atheist but she made up her own mind. I have never sought to impose my beliefs (or lack of) on her. I don't understand why it is acceptable for religious people to do so. We need a more Secular society, we could learn some lessons from the French in this regard.

Posted on 9 Aug 2009 18:17:09 BDT
LandTortoise says:
Jesus is reputed to have said "you will know them by their fruits". Although there are a few exceptions I did not appreciate the fruits of the vast majority of the Christians I came across. Their fruits seemed to include a pick and mix of: cruelty to children (corporal punishment); lack of openness to experience; lack of fun; homophobia; intellectual blindness; political conservatism; conventionalism. Fair enough, I like the "fruits" test. Seems sensible. Pity the Christians fail it.

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Aug 2009 11:31:14 BDT
Chalkus says:
"like saying not collecting stamps is a hobby"

What a load of rubbish. You have tried to draw a parallel between theological discussion (where neither right or wrong can be proved) and the practical application of the physical world. Pulls your whole argument apart.

Just because somebody disagrees with you, there is no need to try to be patronising and using basic smilies (that don't work) to back up your argument

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Aug 2009 11:37:45 BDT
Chalkus says:
Andrew Macleod.

How can you call yourself a Christian and a true scientist?

Why is it also the religious people (especially Christians) get so offended when, in the process of imposing their own religious views on someone, they are given arguments as to why they are wrong?

Posted on 22 Aug 2009 14:33:22 BDT
Last edited by the author on 22 Aug 2009 14:35:30 BDT
More than anything else, I think the invention of spray cheese suggests the utter lack of a higher intelligence directing the universe and its temporary inhabitants.

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Sep 2009 22:03:33 BDT
Hi
I am probably an agnostic/athiest because i was never pressured into a religion when i was younger and my family has always let me keep an open mind. That, i feel is why some people are so religious, they are brought up to believe solely on one religion from such an early age it is ingrained in their brain that when much older any other veiws which, may be better explained or evidensed, are seen as heretical, idiotic and wrong

In reply to an earlier post on 28 Sep 2009 14:41:14 BDT
James B says:
For something to be a valid hypothesis, it doesn't have to be 'proven'. What it needs to be is possible and logically coherent. Hence why people use the term 'God hypothesis'. If we don't know what the ultimate cause of everything is (and we don't), then why is the God hypothesis an inherently weaker position than believing that matter is the cause of everything?

Neither assertion has proof.

If you believe in a simple material cause of the universe you are also relying on hypothesis, not proof. What's the difference?

In reply to an earlier post on 28 Sep 2009 19:06:26 BDT
Last edited by the author on 28 Sep 2009 19:07:11 BDT
Vinogradov says:
The trouble with that type of reasoning is that it fails the Leprechaun Test. Supposing a true believer in the little people made a case as follows:

========================================
For something to be a valid hypothesis, it doesn't have to be 'proven'. What it needs to be is possible and logically coherent. Hence why people use the term 'leprechaun hypothesis'. If we don't know what the ultimate cause of gold being found in the ground (and we don't), then why is the Leprechaun hypothesis an inherently weaker position than believing that natural processes were the cause of the gold?

- It might have arisen by natural processes.
- It might have been put there by leprechauns.

Neither assertion has proof.

If you believe in a simple material cause of the gold you are also relying on hypothesis, not proof. What's the difference?
========================================

How impressed would you be? And why is your argument any less silly?

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Sep 2009 09:50:11 BDT
James B says:
Is there a philosophical reason for believing that leprechauns exist?

That analogy is pretty weak - a philosophical reason for believing in God is based on the logic of causation, and says that if everything in this universe is was caused by something, the (ultimate) cause of everything has no further cause. If we can understand the philosophical soundness of this, we can infer the qualities of God within that cause, as something not subject to causation or time is eternal.

Secondly people talk about 'natural processes' as though we have dispensed with the need for God through empirical, scientific enquiry.

I don't see that; if you put a stamp on a letter you can see that the letter is capable of being sent further according to the size of stamp that you used. From England, I can send a letter to Europe for about 50 pence; for a few pounds, I can send it round the world. So I can infer that the bigger the stamp, the further the letter will go. But that doesn't mean that the size of the stamp is delivering the letter! The postal service is doing it. Similarly scientific discovery of the workings of the universe does not mean that things are behaving the way that they do merely because of the scientific laws that we discover; they may be working that way because of the convention of a personal God.

So - the interpretation of these things depends only on personal narrative. It's like someone saying - 'God exists, the evidence is all around us'. Or 'God doesn't exist, look at what science has explained'.

A final point - atheistic enquiry is based on empirical science alone. It says that 'unless something can be proven in experiment, it can't be valid'. But can that statement itself be proven in experiment?

Therein lies your own faith.

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Sep 2009 19:54:50 BDT
Last edited by the author on 29 Sep 2009 19:57:17 BDT
Vinogradov says:
"That analogy is pretty weak - "

Really? Let's see why...

"a philosophical reason for believing in God is based on the logic of causation, and says that if everything in this universe is was caused by something, the (ultimate) cause of everything has no further cause."

Well, that's false - in quite a few ways.

First, in modern physics, the idea that 'everything has a cause' is simply wrong. There is no 'cause' for the radioactive decay of a particular particle, for example - it just happens at random. Similarly, there is no 'reason' for the spontaneous generation of virtual particles in a vacuum. The universe is literally teeming with uncaused events.

Secondly, even without the insights of quantum theory, there's a clear and obvious self-contradiction at the heart of the proposition. First, everything has a cause; next, there's something ('God') which is simply defined as not having a cause. Neat. Illogical and contradictory; but neat.

"If we can understand the philosophical soundness of this, we can infer the qualities of God within that cause, as something not subject to causation or time is eternal."

Well, we've already seen that the initial proposition is unsound. Also, I don't understand what "something not subject to causation or time" means - and neither do you. Because it doesn't really mean anything very much at all. And such a thing would be incapable of action even if it could exist.

"Secondly people talk about 'natural processes' as though we have dispensed with the need for God through empirical, scientific enquiry."

Well, not quite. The necessity for gods to explain the existence of the universe, certainly; that's gone.

"[the stamp analogy]"

Hmm. Yes, there certainly could be a God underpinning it all. Or leprechauns. On giant space donkeys. But you're supposed to be showing why your particular brand of magic is philosophically more satisfying than this. Simply pointing out that your God could be real but hidden doesn't get you very far.

"So - the interpretation of these things depends only on personal narrative. It's like someone saying - 'God exists, the evidence is all around us'. Or 'God doesn't exist, look at what science has explained'."

We're back with the leprechauns again, I'm afraid. Yes, they could exist. No, science can't disprove them. Does this make it rational to believe in them? No. Is your 'God' any different? Well, you haven't provided any reason to suggest so.

"A final point - atheistic enquiry is based on empirical science alone. It says that 'unless something can be proven in experiment, it can't be valid'. But can that statement itself be proven in experiment?

Therein lies your own faith."

Oh, the problem of induction. No, science can't prove itself. But the proof of the scientific pudding is in the eating - science simply works. It's shown itself to be a reliable means of gaining knowledge of the universe. That's not 'faith' - it's a pragmatic approach based on experience of what works.

Religion simply hasn't provided reliable knowledge of this sort, to put it very mildly. There is simply no way of judging between the contradictory claims of differing religions. They can't all be right - but they can all be wrong.

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Sep 2009 14:06:35 BDT
James B says:
Right:

Ex nihilo nihil fit. Either everything came from nothing (which is impossible) or something always existed and created everything else. Whether that something is God or matter, it must (by its nature) not be subject to causation, as it always existed. A universe without a creator, Carl Sagan suggested, could simply exist forever and be without a cause in the same way that God is supposed to. Comparisons with existing phenomena don't hold weight; they are existing phenomena and don't answer questions as to the ultimate nature of everything, and therefore the cause of everything itself. They only answer relative causation, not ultimate causation.

"I don't understand what "something not subject to causation or time" means - and neither do you. Because it doesn't really mean anything very much at all. And such a thing would be incapable of action even if it could exist."

Right, so you don't know what this means, but you do know what it would and wouldn't be capable of. Any particular reason?

"Hmm. Yes, there certainly could be a God underpinning it all. Or leprechauns. On giant space donkeys. But you're supposed to be showing why your particular brand of magic is philosophically more satisfying than this. Simply pointing out that your God could be real but hidden doesn't get you very far."

Can you explain exactly what matter is? Quantum physics actually unravels more and more on a sub-atomic level that we don't understand (as you know well) , and its discoveries become more and more counter-intuitive the deeper we go.

So - you can't say what matter is and you can't explain why it behaves the way it does on any deeper level. So what argument do you have that matter is the cause of everything? The onus is on you - in the same way that you put it on theists - to prove why this is rational as a cause. If you can't say what it is or understand how it behaves you don't have any argument for this, just faith. And in the same way you won't accept God, why should I accept this idea based on zero evidence?

Also - science is based on repeated, experimental data that we can perceive through our senses. Any other realm of knowledge would therefore be considered non-scientific and irrational.

But all this statement really says is 'something we can't perceive through our senses is something we can't perceive through our senses'

Is there any way to decry belief in God as 'irrational' without simply relying on this tautological premise? X is X. How enlightening.
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Discussion in:  The God Delusion forum
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Initial post:  17 Jan 2008
Latest post:  12 Feb 2013

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