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#1 Hunter

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Posted 23 July 2013 - 10:00 PM

Hey, guys. I really like this "anything goes" board, so I'll take advantage of it here by discussing/debating religious points of view. 

 

I think it's fit that we just introduce the view that we hold, and discuss why. 

 

To start: I'm an atheist (with a bit of agnosticism). In the book "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins, he places forward a scale of 1 - 7. 1 being extremely sure of your religious belief - totally sure your god exists. 7 being totally sure that a god doesn't exist (100% atheist). He puts himself at a 6 leaning towards 7, and I agree. Around 6 or so. 

 

If you'd like to use this scale for yourself, please do. I'm excited to entice discussion and make good conversation. 



#2 Jason

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Posted 23 July 2013 - 10:08 PM

I'm an atheist as well. I'm a 7 on that scale. (And I could speak all day about reasons why that is...)



#3 ▒AJ▒

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Posted 23 July 2013 - 10:14 PM

While I think this is a very interesting topic of discussion, I think here is not the place for it. The reasons being that people will have opposing views on this, and wether or not we want to, people will treat each other differently based on those views. I would not want to be treated differently on this forum based on my views on religion, and I think the best way to keep people from feeling crappy towards each other is to not discuss this type of thing.

Of course it's not my place to say what we can and cannot say here. I'm simply warning anyone of the consequences of discussing loaded topics such as religion, politics, and sociological ideas.
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#4 Sankis

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Posted 23 July 2013 - 10:17 PM

Theistic agnostic Jew here. I'd put myself on about a 2-4 on the scale. I do believe in evolution, but I don't believe that it happened by chance. I'd be willing to say that rather than having a god as described in modern religions, I'd much rather have a god that's more of a force; a bit like a Buddhist description of what god is.

#5 Hunter

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Posted 23 July 2013 - 10:17 PM

Awesome. I would love to hear a bit into that. I have found it hard to make that jump myself, but would be willing. I simply am not there because I feel that there is always some amount of knowledge that I (or humans in general) are unaware of, thus the inability to make assumptions based on a possible deity that has never revealed itself in any form whatsoever.

 

And to Psychotrick: this absolutely is the place for it. When someone discusses something of this nature they are presumably ready for any argument on the topic. I'm enticing that debate, not trying to warn and smother people from it. 

 

And Sankis: awesome that we've got a theist to discuss with now, haha. I do find the agnostic religious interesting. Mainly because many religious family members of mine would place themselves gladly at about a 1 on the scale. It's nice to find a person who has changing views on the subject. 



#6 WeatherTheStorm

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Posted 23 July 2013 - 10:23 PM

Atheist here. I'm a 5-6 leaning toward a 7. I don't mind conforming to other beliefs, ie: "In God we trust." And prayer at football games, even though I know people down here in the bible belt would probably call me a satan worshiper if I even said anything about not believing in a god.

I don't care if religion stays, I just don't like bigots (Have faith, but don't be arrogant with it.) and would like our Government to abide to the 1st (No laws made based on religion.)

#7 Hunter

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Posted 23 July 2013 - 10:33 PM

Glad you bring that up, Weather. The religious conformity probably one of the main things that pushed me to a high 6. (My being against it.) I don't think that "In God We Trust" should be placed on the USA's national currency, nor should it be included in the pledge of allegiance. I actually live in the Bible belt also, so I understand where you're coming from. My family is the type that feels those "horrid atheist groups" attempt to strip them of their god or whatever the issue happens to be. 

 

I suppose I should be called anti-theist. Not anti-religious people, of course. Simply against the religion they practice based on the extremely high chances that said religion degrades and shuns certain people (example: gay people in many Christian sects, or shunning women in numerous others).



#8 Jason

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Posted 23 July 2013 - 10:39 PM

 

Theistic agnostic Jew here. I'd put myself on about a 2-4 on the scale. I do believe in evolution, but I don't believe that it happened by chance. I'd be willing to say that rather than having a god as described in modern religions, I'd much rather have a god that's more of a force; a bit like a Buddhist description of what god is.

 

You bring up an interesting point about evolution. I, also, don't believe that evolution just happened by chance (while I obviously do believe in evolution). Having a love for biology and having studied it extensively, I'm well aware of the nature of cells and their DNA. We are quite certain that life started in the ocean as single cellular organisms. And NASA has given us reason to believe those cells arrived from space (NASA has found chemicals that make up DNA such as adenine, guanine, and cytosine on meteorites from space). But let's look at that period of time in which the ocean is filled with single cells.

 

We're aware of the nature of cells, and the nature of cells is quite simple. They don't have a mind to think, they simply move until they hit an obstacle, turn and move a different direction until they hit another obstacle. They also divide and reproduce. Putting aside reproduction, let's talk about the act of combining into multicellular organisms.

 

As I said, cells don't actually have a mind and can't willfully control their movement. They only have sensors (cilia) to detect if they've hit an object and then they can move a different direction. If this is true, and if cells happened to combine simply by running into each other and ending up "merged" (for, how else could it happen?) then given the nature of cells, the resulting multicellular organisms would be random clumps of cells without much structure. That would be how it has to happen, given that their movements are random and so their collisions would also be random.

 

When we look at what happened, though, we can't help but see that there is actual "reasoning" involved. For example, a "brain" has a purpose. It allows for the organism to have better control over its body. Legs allow the organism to move. A fin allows the organism to swim faster. All of these things have purposes. Cells could not have said to each other "let's form into an organism that can swim faster!" because they can't think. This shows that there must be some force involved with putting cells together to form life and it can't possibly be from random chance.

 

That said, I still don't believe that the force is the god(s) we worship in our society. There are a number of problems with this god (I'll speak about the Christian god since I am most familiar):

 

1) The Bible.

 

The bible is known as the "mind of god", the "truth of everything", it's the book that creates the religion of Christianity and it is what Christianity is founded on. There's just one problem with it... it was written a very long time ago by people who didn't understand the world too well. Oops. So what ended up happening is science has science proved many parts of the bible as false. And if even one part of the bible can be proven as false, the religion is broken. After all, the mind of god would NEVER be wrong, would it? The bible says evolution isn't real. But science proves that it is. We can actually watch it happen with our very eyes today.

 

2) Human-like god.

 

We humans have created the idea of god and, not being able to see it any other way, we've created this god to be very much like us. He can think, he has blood, he has many human-like futures. Well, if this is true, then wouldn't he also be mortal like a human? Our mortality is based on our physical body parts, not on a soul, after all. And having a soul could not make us immortal, because our death results from our body parts not functioning. And the soul would play no role in making body parts function (if it can't even physically influence them).

 

3) Heaven and Hell... impossible.

 

Psychology teaches us a lot about the brain. It teaches us, for example, that our experiences and thoughts are created by the firing of neurons. We have identified the exact areas in the brain where firing creates a specific type of experience. And if we modify the neurons and their firing, we notice that the person has different experiences. This conflicts with the idea of a soul. If neurons firing create our thinking, then a soul cannot create our thinking. Even if the soul is what 'makes' the neurons fire (which we know it isn't, we know that it is neurotransmitter chemicals that make neurons fire), we still have an issue with heaven and hell. One of the foundations of christianity is the idea of our souls being judged by god and then we go to heaven (eternal paradise) or hell (eternal torture). Well, let's assume we do have a soul and that it does go to heaven or hell. That's fantastic, except that we're not going to be able to experience being in heaven or hell. Our experiences were caused by the neurons firing in our brains, and they're still down on Earth not functioning anymore.

 

4) Creating an Explanation for Everything

 

Many people believe in god as a way to explain how everything came to be. And this may seem trivial, but honestly, ask yourself: how did god come to be? And if you answer with: "he just started out there", then couldn't I just as easily ask: "then why couldn't the world without god just start out there?" I think a better approach would be to keep trying to figure out how everything started by using scientific data, rather than creating ideas for it via philosophy. After all, there is much we don't know yet. With our incredible lack of knowledge, how could we possibly create valid ideas for those topics that are out of our scope of knowledge?

 

Those are just a few points to make, there are many more that can be made but I'll avoid writing too long of a post for the moment.


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#9 WeatherTheStorm

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Posted 23 July 2013 - 10:43 PM

The religious Simply against the religion they practice based on the extremely high chances that said religion degrades and shuns certain people (example: gay people in many Christian sects, or shunning women in numerous others).

This is what made me change my views, that and I got tired of demonizing myself for things that came natural, like thinking a girl is hot, or feeling hate toward someone.

Another thing would be religious killings, I don't remember what group it was, think it was muslim that killed that guy in Great Britian, after saying that their religion is a peaceful religion.

And about what you said on the currency and the pledge, I feel we shouldn't have to say, under God for the pledge, but religious people could still say it if they wanted I guess. That would probably cause controversy where we live though. :/ Well, anywhere actually.

#10 Jason

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Posted 23 July 2013 - 10:56 PM

As for me, I'm purely logical. I believe in things if there is sufficient evidence supporting their existence and I don't believe in things if there is sufficient evidence supporting their nonexistence.

 

Why? Because god is either real or not real, regardless of what I choose. My beliefs don't change reality. Me choosing to believe in god doesn't make god real. I prefer to live in the real world and not in a fantasy world I created in my mind. But that's just me, I guess.


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#11 Hunter

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Posted 23 July 2013 - 10:57 PM

Brilliant post, Jason. I love all of your points. I'm quite interested in biology, but even more so in cosmology. I've studied a bit into the different forms of a universe and how (because of our universe's form) a "big bang," let's say, is indeed possible. Using mostly things such as candle stars, and other theories that have been deduced and tested throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. Also your points on Christianity, which I will gladly go even deeper into. It turns at that point from a scientific standpoint (as god is not possible whatsoever, nor are any of his Bible stories) to a more "assumed" one. Christians taking a position of their faith in order to save their beliefs. Once again, great post.

 

And another great point, Weather; the almost want to have a "sterile" and "Godly" mind. The fear of even thinking the wrong thing in the "presence" of the god that I used to know. It didn't feel right in any sense of the word. This is why I become so confused when Christians tell me they feel more free and happy with god. I have never in my life felt better and more accustomed to my surroundings than now, when I accept that no one is watching over my thoughts and me in this almost draconian way. 

 

As for the killings: yes absolutely. Not even to only Muslim-related incidents. There are also the times of the Crusades and the times of killing "witches." Although in many cases of modern society it's a matter of "extreme" Christians or Muslims or what have you, but it still occurs under this large guise of religion. 



#12 Sankis

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Posted 23 July 2013 - 11:02 PM

Glad you bring that up, Weather. The religious conformity probably one of the main things that pushed me to a high 6. (My being against it.) I don't think that "In God We Trust" should be placed on the USA's national currency, nor should it be included in the pledge of allegiance. I actually live in the Bible belt also, so I understand where you're coming from. My family is the type that feels those "horrid atheist groups" attempt to strip them of their god or whatever the issue happens to be. 
 
I suppose I should be called anti-theist. Not anti-religious people, of course. Simply against the religion they practice based on the extremely high chances that said religion degrades and shuns certain people (example: gay people in many Christian sects, or shunning women in numerous others).

  

This is what made me change my views, that and I got tired of demonizing myself for things that came natural, like thinking a girl is hot, or feeling hate toward someone.
Another thing would be religious killings, I don't remember what group it was, think it was muslim that killed that guy in Great Britian, after saying that their religion is a peaceful religion.
And about what you said on the currency and the pledge, I feel we shouldn't have to say, under God for the pledge, but religious people could still say it if they wanted I guess. That would probably cause controversy where we live though. :/ Well, anywhere actually.




I can definately understand your views, seeing as how seperation of church and state is essentially non-existant these days in America, and in most countries where Islam is the dominant religion. Not to say that I have something against Christians and Muslims (mainly the sects that condemn gay people, women/make women subordinate to men, say all people that follow other religions are condemned to a eternity of suffering in their respective places of punishment, etc.) but their influence over countries should be toned down a bit.

#13 WeatherTheStorm

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Posted 23 July 2013 - 11:06 PM

I feel that if God is real, then he should understand and accept my right to free will that he gave me, and shouldn't be angry.

However, I feel it's unlikely that he exists.

#14 Hunter

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Posted 23 July 2013 - 11:07 PM

 I can definately understand your views, seeing as how seperation of church and state is essentially non-existant these days in America, and in most countries where Islam is the dominant religion. Not to say that I have something against Christians and Muslims (mainly the sects that condemn gay people, women/make women subordinate to men, say all people that follow other religions are condemned to a eternity of suffering in their respective places of punishment, etc.) but their influence over countries should be toned down a bit.

 

Then, may I ask, why are you religious? Right now, I mean. Not in the past (assuming your parents raised you this way). 

 

Note: this is not to do with this post in particular, just in general. You seem to be in a perfectly okay mindset, so I'm truly curious. 



#15 Jason

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Posted 23 July 2013 - 11:07 PM

And another great point, Weather; the almost want to have a "sterile" and "Godly" mind. The fear of even thinking the wrong thing in the "presence" of the god that I used to know. It didn't feel right in any sense of the word. This is why I become so confused when Christians tell me they feel more free and happy with god. I have never in my life felt better and more accustomed to my surroundings than now, when I accept that no one is watching over my thoughts and me in this almost draconian way.

 

 

I was raised by a very religious family who drilled the belief of god into my mind at any chance they got. They made me go to church, say prayers, you name it. And I did strongly believe in god for quite some time. But one day (after I had learned enough biology, psychology, and knowledge from other fields of science) I put the puzzle pieces together and realized it couldn't be true. And after realizing that, I felt much better about my life. Like you said, I liked not fearing doing things the "wrong" way and not fearing some greater power judging me at all times. It was quite a relief.

 

(mainly the sects that condemn gay people, women/make women subordinate to men, say all people that follow other religions are condemned to a eternity of suffering in their respective places of punishment, etc.)

 

These are very unnatural ways of thinking. For example, with homosexual individuals, they did not choose to be this way (as was originally the belief). This is a completely natural condition. So would god create a homosexual person with the thought that he doesn't allow people to be homosexual and then proceed to punish that person for being homosexual? Something about this idea doesn't seem right. God's commandments and "rules" were created by humans, not by any "god". And this shows clearly.



#16 Sankis

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Posted 23 July 2013 - 11:15 PM

You bring up an interesting point about evolution. I, also, don't believe that evolution just happened by chance (while I obviously do believe in evolution). Having a love for biology and having studied it extensively, I'm well aware of the nature of cells and their DNA. We are quite certain that life started in the ocean as single cellular organisms. And NASA has given us reason to believe those cells arrived from space (NASA has found chemicals that make up DNA such as adenine, guanine, and cytosine on meteorites from space). But let's look at that period of time in which the ocean is filled with single cells.

We're aware of the nature of cells, and the nature of cells is quite simple. They don't have a mind to think, they simply move until they hit an obstacle, turn and move a different direction until they hit another obstacle. They also divide and reproduce. Putting aside reproduction, let's talk about the act of combining into multicellular organisms.

As I said, cells don't actually have a mind and can't willfully control their movement. They only have sensors (cilia) to detect if they've hit an object and then they can move a different direction. If this is true, and if cells happened to combine simply by running into each other and ending up "merged" (for, how else could it happen?) then given the nature of cells, the resulting multicellular organisms would be random clumps of cells without much structure. That would be how it has to happen, given that their movements are random and so their collisions would also be random.

When we look at what happened, though, we can't help but see that there is actual "reasoning" involved. For example, a "brain" has a purpose. It allows for the organism to have better control over its body. Legs allow the organism to move. A fin allows the organism to swim faster. All of these things have purposes. Cells could not have said to each other "let's form into an organism that can swim faster!" because they can't think. This shows that there must be some force involved with putting cells together to form life and it can't possibly be from random chance.

That said, I still don't believe that the force is the god(s) we worship in our society. There are a number of problems with this god (I'll speak about the Christian god since I am most familiar):

1) The Bible.

The bible is known as the "mind of god", the "truth of everything", it's the book that creates the religion of Christianity and it is what Christianity is founded on. There's just one problem with it... it was written a very long time ago by people who didn't understand the world too well. Oops. So what ended up happening is science has science proved many parts of the bible as false. And if even one part of the bible can be proven as false, the religion is broken. After all, the mind of god would NEVER be wrong, would it? The bible says evolution isn't real. But science proves that it is. We can actually watch it happen with our very eyes today.

2) Human-like god.

We humans have created the idea of god and, not being able to see it any other way, we've created this god to be very much like us. He can think, he has blood, he has many human-like futures. Well, if this is true, then wouldn't he also be mortal like a human? Our mortality is based on our physical body parts, not on a soul, after all. And having a soul could not make us immortal, because our death results from our body parts not functioning. And the soul would play no role in making body parts function (if it can't even physically influence them).

3) Heaven and Hell... impossible.

Psychology teaches us a lot about the brain. It teaches us, for example, that our experiences and thoughts are created by the firing of neurons. We have identified the exact areas in the brain where firing creates a specific type of experience. And if we modify the neurons and their firing, we notice that the person has different experiences. This conflicts with the idea of a soul. If neurons firing create our thinking, then a soul cannot create our thinking. Even if the soul is what 'makes' the neurons fire (which we know it isn't, we know that it is neurotransmitter chemicals that make neurons fire), we still have an issue with heaven and hell. One of the foundations of christianity is the idea of our souls being judged by god and then we go to heaven (eternal paradise) or hell (eternal torture). Well, let's assume we do have a soul and that it does go to heaven or hell. That's fantastic, except that we're not going to be able to experience being in heaven or hell. Our experiences were caused by the neurons firing in our brains, and they're still down on Earth not functioning anymore.

4) Creating an Explanation for Everything

Many people believe in god as a way to explain how everything came to be. And this may seem trivial, but honestly, ask yourself: how did god come to be? And if you answer with: "he just started out there", then couldn't I just as easily ask: "then why couldn't the world without god just start out there?" I think a better approach would be to keep trying to figure out how everything started by using scientific data, rather than creating ideas for it via philosophy. After all, there is much we don't know yet. With our incredible lack of knowledge, how could we possibly create valid ideas for those topics that are out of our scope of knowledge?

Those are just a few points to make, there are many more that can be made but I'll avoid writing too long of a post for the moment.


I agree with all four of your points, so I guess I should make my beliefs a bit clearer. As I said in my previous post, I think that there is a god of sorts. If there IS a god, it would be a force rather than a human-like man sitting on a throne watching all of us from a cloud, but I am not certain if there is a god; I just lean more toward the belief that there is something, whether it is a god that set all these things into motion or just a force we don't understand yet. I guess I should also have made it clear that I am a cultural Jew, not a follower of Judaism. As for an afterlife, I don't believe in one.

#17 Jason

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Posted 23 July 2013 - 11:20 PM

I agree with all four of your points, so I guess I should make my beliefs a bit clearer. As I said in my previous post, I think that there is a god of sorts. If there IS a god, it would be a force rather than a human-like man sitting on a throne watching all of us from a cloud, but I am not certain if there is a god; I just lean more toward the belief that there is something. I guess I should also have made it clear that I am a cultural Jew, not a follower of Judaism.

 

This is something I can't argue with. I can't argue and say that there is absolutely no "god", because I don't know what's beyond my scope of knowledge. All I can say is that there aren't the "gods" we worship in our religions. But there, for sure, is something out there that we aren't aware of. I think that any attempt we can make at explaining whatever it is probably won't be accurate. I think we need much more knowledge before we can make guesses about it. Even so much as saying it's something "alive" is going too far. Like you said, it could very well be some force and not any kind of "creature". It could very well be many, many things and not just one thing.



#18 Hunter

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Posted 23 July 2013 - 11:27 PM

Great stuff, everyone. And Jason, I'm intrigued; you said that you're a 7 on the scale, yet also that there could be something beyond our knowledge that would create a possibility for a god to exist. Does this not put you at a high 6, at minimum? I don't mean to question your assertion, I'm just curious and would love to hear more. 



#19 Jason

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Posted 24 July 2013 - 01:21 AM

Great stuff, everyone. And Jason, I'm intrigued; you said that you're a 7 on the scale, yet also that there could be something beyond our knowledge that would create a possibility for a god to exist. Does this not put you at a high 6, at minimum? I don't mean to question your assertion, I'm just curious and would love to hear more.

 

Well, that depends on how we define god. The two technical definitions of god are:

 

(in Christianity and other monotheistic religions) the creator and ruler of the universe and source of all moral authority; the supreme being.

 

and

 

(in certain other religions) a superhuman being or spirit worshiped as having power over nature or human fortunes; a deity

 

I think, according to these definitions, god does not exist. Both of these definitions imply a human-focused, human-like being, where humans are what the universe revolves around.

 

I think there is something else or multiple other things out there that influence life as it is that we aren't aware of. However, I don't like to refer to those things as "gods" or "a god".



#20 Hunter

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Posted 24 July 2013 - 01:34 AM

Hm, I see. That's interesting. I disagree with you there; I think that life was not influenced by anything other than what is in the natural. It sounds to me like you believe in a non-revealed god-type character that doesn't mess with us humans, nor does it revolve around us. This is something that is absolutely possible (which is why I'm not a 7 on the scale), so long as it leaves our realm of understanding totally. 

 

But even if this "thing" that you think exists weren't a true god or deity of any kind, it still seems to me that you would be even lower on the scale - a 5, even. Simply because you have a belief of something that is supernatural (give or take).

 

Also, I'm curious as to the kind of influence they hold. Did they/it simply start life and leave it at that? Are they with us now? 

 

Or is it something different than that. Perhaps you simply mean a "force" undiscovered by us. A scientific force, not a supernatural one. Something that could shake up the world of physics. In this case - yes, absolutely possible. Science could any day discover something radically new that would change our world as we have known it. A "new gravity," if you will. 

 

I hope I'm understanding your points here; I'm quite curious.






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