Thursday, June 01, 2006

Theists, Atheists and whatever...

I've been doing a little browsing over at Ebonmuse's site after reading and linking to his 9/11 stuff and as can be expected from a site named Daylight Atheism, the topic of religion comes up in a lot of his posts. While he tends to host some of the calmest discussions about the differences of beliefs between those of us who believe in a higher power and those of them that don't, I am still amazed at how quickly many Atheists dismiss those people who have strongly held religious beliefs.

From my point of view it takes as much faith to belief in God as to not (and if you need any proof to that assertion just check out any thread over at Slashdot where Creationism is brought up). There is no amount of reason or any scientific experiment that can be used to either prove or disprove the existence of a higher being as by general definition they exist outside of our normal bounds.

Now that isn't to say that an individual's claims of a higher beings intervention in their lives can't be debated and possibly even debunked, but it is analogous to saying that proving the greasy haired poser at the bar doesn't in fact have the Ferrari he claims is his second car means that Ferrari's themselves don't exist. As the existence of a God is not reliant on everyone who claims to believe in him (and yes, as a Christian and to make things easier I'll refer to God in the masculine) actually being correct, or for that matter anyone being correct at all, then while it may be an interesting exercise and even useful in invalidating certain specific religions, sects or cults, it does nothing to ultimately bring us even the slightest step closes to proving the ultimate point.

Even death, depending on what your specific religion believes, may not provide you with the answer.

Only agnostics can claim to be totally rational on this subject. The only conclusion that you could reach with pure reason, despite what many Atheists claim, is that we just don't know and since there is really no way to determine which religion is closest to the mark, the smart approach would be to live your life playing it straight down the middle, neither accepting or dismissing any particular theory, and just playing the averages. Anything beyond that requires a leap of faith.

That being said, I still recommend the occasional browsing of his site. I may not agree with his ideology or his politics but in general Ebonmuse does write some pretty interesting posts. Read in good health and with an open mind.


Blogger Simon said...

It doesn't take any faith to show that organized religion is based on fear, superstition and the power of myths.

The theist's sly "You can't prove my god doesn't exist" is irrelevant, as the only reason you believe he does is because of the belief system whish can be shown to be fiction beyond reasonable doubt. In the same way we can show unicorns and goblins to be fiction beyond reasonable doubt.

No faith required on my part.

June 02, 2006 6:19 a.m.  
Blogger Bic said...

But unless you can prove that those fears and myths have no basis in fact, which is physically impossible, you still cannot disprove the existance of a God. And as I said, even discrediting all world religons does nothing to negate the possibility of a higher being, it merely shows that no human has currently gotten it right yet.

There are always problems when trying to prove a negative, especially when the subject of your quest by definition does not have to contrain itself to human/physical laws.

You can try to make it sound as thought out and reasoned as you want, but to either 100% believe or disbelieve in an impossible to prove theory requires similar amounts of faith.

As an agnostic you could lean more favourably to the 'no god' side and that would be fine, but to totally dismiss the mere possibility requires at some point, simply put, a leap of faith.

June 02, 2006 7:46 a.m.  
Anonymous Ebonmuse said...

Hello Bic,

Thank you for your comments.

I'd like to say a few words on this:

"There is no amount of reason or any scientific experiment that can be used to either prove or disprove the existence of a higher being as by general definition they exist outside of our normal bounds."

I agree with this, of course. There is no way to conclusively disprove the existence of any supernatural being. But that isn't required to be an atheist. Imagine someone says this to you:

"There is no amount of reason or any scientific experiment that can be used to either prove or disprove the existence of leprechauns, as by general definition they exist outside of our normal bounds."

Clearly, this is just as true for leprechauns as it is for gods. So is it the wise thing to do to be agnostic about leprechauns? Should you live your life straight down the middle, play the averages, and maybe leave a saucer of milk on your back porch overnight every so often, just in case? And what about all those other supernatural beings - unicorns, dragons, elves, fairies, ghosts, goblins, dryads, werewolves, vampires, Santa Claus, and all the rest of that bizarre pantheon with which humanity has peopled the cosmos? Should we suspend judgment about the existence of those things as well?

I don't claim to have conclusive disproof of any of those beings. What I do claim is that there is absolutely no evidence that any of them exist, and unless someone can provide such evidence, I see no reason to believe in them. That's what atheism is: not "I believe there are no gods," but "I don't believe there are any gods." The difference is subtle, but important.

June 09, 2006 12:34 p.m.  

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