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Moonage Daydream 6 years ago on 12/20/11
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I don't think there is any evidence supporting the conclusion there is no God. You would have to conduct an experiment or series of observations in which you could say "If there is a God, we expect to find X, and if we do not find X, that is evidence of the absence of God."
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Amanda 6 years ago on 12/20/11
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It's more like

"Based on all available evidence, there is a god" = leap of faith
"Based on all available evidence, there is no god"= leap of faith

Because there is absolutely zero shreds of evidence pointing to either conclusion.

I mean, we're basically arguing that difference of perspective in that old saw:

Hiker is a staunch atheist. He gets caught in an avalanche and decides that with no other recourse, the right thing to do is to pray. So he prays and prays until a team of hikers find him and rescue him.

Ask the guy later, like hey you must have converted then, with that kind of miracle sent by your praying. The guy's like no way man, hikers rescued me, not a god.

John, you look at the scientific community and see millions of bits of experimential evidence for how the world works and draw a conclusion that KNOWING the complexity of the universe disproves the existence of a god.

A religious man may look at the exact same thing and draw the conclusion that KNOWING the complexity of the universe proves the existence of a god.

Neither man is logically correct here.

Moderator Remember Lommy Greenhands Says:

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Andrew 6 years ago on 12/20/11
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Whyyy did I post in this thread when I was drunk? It was going so well. I'm going to try to respond to your responses one-by-one.

Lord_BullGod said:
My mom's church is already gathering food and clothes immediately to be shipped to Cagayan de Oro, a city in the Philippines where I have family that just got kinda jacked up. I really don't like to think that religion is such an awful concept that...

From what I said and the tone in which I said it, it's perfectly understandable to conclude that I think that all religious people are, as John put it, "rotten." That's not what I'm getting at, though. I'm saying that most, if not all, individuals who adhere to a religion have at some point oppressed a person or stifled a legitimate idea because of their religion and felt good about it.

The people being hurt don't even have to be of a different faith. The Muslim man who beats or rapes his Muslim wife because he thinks the Qur'an justifies it and the Christian who joined the army to kill Muslims because he or she feels a religious calling to do it are both under this umbrella. So is the Baptist who tries to shame the Catholic for the differences in their faiths, or vice versa. Likewise, the Jehovah's Witness who refuses his or her child a life-saving blood transfusion.

This does not rule out the possibility that each and every one of those people has done countless kind, generous, morally upright things in their lives. And they may have even done those things because their religion led them to do them!

Even if religion absolutely made people do at least one nasty thing in the name of their faith, though, that wouldn't necessarily indicate that it's an overall negative force in the world. As a result, my next thought--that this "is as good a reason as any to try to undermine their fundamental assumptions"--isn't logically tenable. Mea culpa! I was really off on a tear in my head.

I do still think that religion is bad for humanity overall and that we'd be better off if we did without it, but I can't support that argument from just that one premise up there.
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Andrew 6 years ago on 12/20/11
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John Booty said:
I know you're drunk but is this really what you want to say?

I'd agree that most religious organizations over a certain size have some problems.

But many or most individuals using religion like that? Man, this really just does not match up with my thirty-five years of experience on this planet at all.

That's at least as bad as saying that atheists are nihilists that don't believe in anything and hate everybody and whatever other cartoonish things are said about atheists.

We've talked about this in LJ comments before, but I think that your experience with religious bigotry may be limited in comparison to how it goes down in other parts of the country. People here, and all across the so-called Bible Belt, have no qualms about applying the dictates of their religions to others.

And the thing is that it's so pervasive and subtle that everyone is swept along and made to participate, or at least grin and bear it. Let me give you a supremely common example. It's a small one, one you may think is being rendered out of proportion.

Here in San Antonio, every public sporting event, city function, or other large gathering that I can think of begins with an "invocation." It's supposed to be a totally generic call to reflect on the will of a higher power. That's what they say. The fact that that is de rigueur is a problem all on its own. It assumes that a) those in attendance believe in a higher power to reflect on and b) having that kind of moment is appropriate in a public forum in the first place. I find both of those ideas offensive.

But it gets worse, because someone always leads the invocation. Someone Christian who inevitably goes on to speak about this supposedly-neutral god in the singular and with masculine pronouns. Sometimes, they just throw all pretense to the wind and mention Jesus specifically. But no one says anything about it. If you tried, I guarantee you would be met with derision or outright hostility for being "politically correct" or "liberal"--because both of those concepts are regarded negatively here.

This sort of thing marginalizes everyone who doesn't fit the Christian mold. But it's subtle! "Because," you are to think, "even if this doesn't apply to me, it's not really hurting me." It establishes religion in general and Christianity specifically as the norm. By deviating from the norm, you are made to feel left out from the group. You are covertly led to feel shame for your dissenting beliefs or disbeliefs.

And the religious people here certainly don't put a stop to the oppressive practices, because most of them are oblivious to their own privilege or how it excludes and alienates others. I'm sure that a few are glad that people who are different feel bad for it!

I don't mean to imply that all the negative effects of religion are intentional. I would argue that most of them are totally accidental. But they are hugely pervasive, and just like white privilege is a problem that should be fought wherever possible, so should religious privilege. If that can be accomplished through normal means, fine, but many elements of religion-based oppression are inherent to the religions that perform it. I really don't see another way to deal with that than to fight the religion itself.
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John Booty 6 years ago on 12/20/11
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Amanda said:
John, you look at the scientific community and see millions of bits of experimential evidence for how the world works and draw a conclusion that KNOWING the complexity of the universe disproves the existence of a god.

A religious man may look at the exact same thing and draw the conclusion that KNOWING the complexity of the universe proves the existence of a god.

The first one is called science, where we figure stuff out by repeatable experiments, and until something is proven we call it a theory.

The second one boils down to the same exact thing cavemen thought when they saw lightning. "Whoa, this is really complicated. How did it all get here? Higher power, I guess! Yeah, I can feel it. Higher power. Gotta be true."

Looking at a bunch of facts unrelated to the existence of God and deciding "Oh, God must exist!" is not even remotely the same thing as science.

Sorry, dude. No matter how you slice it, religion and science are not both making "leaps of faith."

Andrew said:
We've talked about this in LJ comments before, but I think that your experience with religious bigotry may be limited in comparison to how it goes down in other parts of the country. People here, and all across the so-called Bible Belt, have no qualms about applying the dictates of their religions to others.


Yeah, and while the Bible Belt is home to tens (hundreds?) of millions of people I don't think it's terribly representative of most of the rest of the wealthy, industrialized nations of the world. I mean, are there any other parts of those wealthy industrialized nations where there's much of a public debate about Creationism?

That doesn't mean it doesn't suck when the things you described happen, and I agree that they suck for the same reasons you said they suck.
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Lord_BullGod 6 years ago on 12/20/11
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Andrew said:
From what I said and the tone in which I said it, it's perfectly understandable to conclude that I think that all religious people are, as John put it, "rotten." That's not what I'm getting at, though. I'm saying that most, if not all, individuals who adhere to a religion have at some point oppressed a person or stifled a legitimate idea because of their religion and felt good about it.


Mm. Okay.
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Amanda 6 years ago on 12/20/11
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Bro, my point to you is that you have zero evidence that a god does not exist and therefore are jumping to an erroneous conclusion based on your specific and biased interpretation of the results.

Somebody said:
The first one is called science, where we figure stuff out by repeatable experiments, and until something is proven we call it a theory.


No it isn't. It's called arrogance. "Hey I figured out how this thing works, awesome, there is literally nothing else I can find out about it."

Bullshit! As an example field, Fluid Dynamics is FULL of experimentally proven theories that are nothing more than equations derived from data trends. There is no one overriding principle on which fluids is based that we derived from scientific theory. Only experiments. How does knowing the complexity of the data tell us anything about a god? It doesn't!

In my second example, I'm not talking caveman style whooaoaaaoaoooo it's so craaaazy leading to a Cartesian "well if I can conceive of an infinite being (which is beyond my understanding and thought) then an infinite being has to exist." What I meant in my second example is the guy who looks at the science, understands the vast realm of possibilities, and concludes that in order to end up exactly as we are, "something" was steering the ship. I guess that's Intelligent Design? DGAF I've never looked into it.

To be clear, I'm not arguing for religion or atheism, but I do take umbrage at such a blatant dismissal of actual logic from someone fronting a "completely logical" approach.

Hyuck hyuck, I'm from Missouri, so SHOW-ME your evidence-based study disproving the existence of higher power. Then you'll finally be making a scientific, logical argument.
PS: (I'm not actually from Missouri, unless that's where people are born who make the worst puns imaginable)
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Moonage Daydream 6 years ago on 12/20/11
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John Booty said:
Looking at a bunch of facts unrelated to the existence of God and deciding "Oh, God must exist!" is not even remotely the same thing as science.


The opposite is true as well: looking at a bunch of facts unrelated to the existence of God and deciding "Oh, God must NOT exist!" is not even remotely the same thing as science. And that is exactly what you are doing if you say that science has disproved God, because there has never been a credible scientific theory of God, nor experiments to prove or disprove that theory.
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Remember Lommy Greenhands 6 years ago on 12/20/11
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I agree with Jarod. How does "we have, scientifically speaking, found no trace of God" mean "scientifically speaking, we have any evidence at all that God does not exist."

John, you keep saying "science keeps pointing to the conclusion that there is no God," but we're all missing the part where you explain how that is. (Yes, I know that compared to really ancient, really stupid people, we now know shit like "rain is not literally God's tears." That's not what I mean and you know it!)

This is not me being a smart ass, it's a genuine curiosity. It seems to me science has never concluded anything on God's existence one way or the other. Which is NOT what you keep saying. You seem to be arguing largely that "rain is not God's tears" equates to "alright boys! that's one step closer to disproving God!" and that is a logical fallacy.
PS: Yeah, Amanda is totally right, you're making a big ol leap of faith there John. Until you can somehow show us any time, any where science has determined anything about God not existing. You can't, because science has not done that ever!

"Rain is not God's tears!" does not equal any step toward disproving the existence of God. You are "fronting" a logical argument but I'm sorry friend your argument is illogical. And therefore your position is internally inconsistent.
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Johnny Landmine 6 years ago on 12/20/11
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In the absence of proof one way or the other, is it really equally reasonable to assume that a particular X exists as it is to assume that it doesn't?

I don't mean that as a "gotcha," I'm sincerely asking what you think. Personally, I can't really accept that it is.
PS: I mean to say that it seems to me that non-existance of any X is the default position, and that the burden of proof rests entirely on those who suggests that X exists.

Moderator Andrew Says:

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John Booty 6 years ago on 12/20/11
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I really don't know how I could make it any simpler.

Remember Lommy Greenhands said:
John, you keep saying "science keeps pointing to the conclusion that there is no God,"


Really, now?

I said:
We can't absolutely rule it out just like we can't rule God out


Very clear, I think.

I said:
I don't agree that [concluding there's no God is] an "act of faith" at all. Why would we call it an "act of faith" when it's a conclusion based on centuries of experimentation and learning?


This is confusing only if you conflate "conclusion" with "a thing that is 100% certain and can never be overturned." That's not what "conclusion" means, sorry, and I don't think conclusion is some kind of show-off vocabulary word nobody on this thread can be expected to know.

I said:
I know none of that rules something God-like out 100.00%.


Well, the grammar is a little confusing, but again: crystal clear. No, science can't rule God out 100%.

I said:
I totally agree that [the non-existence of God] is not 100% provable


Are you seeing a trend?

Amanda said:
so SHOW-ME your evidence-based study disproving the existence of higher power.


Mind blown.
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Moonage Daydream 6 years ago on 12/20/11
Equipped: Link's Boomerang named "I wish I knew how to quit you"
John Booty said:
it's not a leap of faith to say, "We've been learning about things in a rigorous way for centuries and absolutely everything we've ever discovered points to a rational universe not controlled by anything that remotely resembles the 'God' or gods of any religion."


Would you make the same statement but leave out human religions and replace the last part with "anything that could be considered a God, or Godlike, when compared to humans"?

Would you make the same statement but replace "controlled" with "created"?

I will skip ahead to respond to your answers: if you say "no" then you are an adogmatic agnostic. If you say "yes" then I would like to hear an example of such a discovery and how it points to the absence of God.

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John Booty 6 years ago on 12/20/11
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Johnny said:
mean to say that it seems to me that non-existance of any X is the default position, and that the burden of proof rests entirely on those who suggests that X exists.


Yes, this. And I agree totally. You said it better and more succinctly than I ever have.

Hyuck hyuck, I'm from Missouri, so SHOW-ME your evidence-based study disproving the existence of higher power. Then you'll finally be making a scientific, logical argument.


I want to try and answer this honestly. Obviously no such evidence-based study could ever exist. But people have been studying God for thousands of years and there's no evidence for the supernatural, and scads of things previously attributed to God have been explained otherwise.

Again, and I guess I fucked up in a previous life and am doomed to have people on this thread willingly misunderstand... no, this doesn't disprove God.

You seem to be arguing largely that "rain is not God's tears" equates to "alright boys! that's one step closer to disproving God!" and that is a logical fallacy.


I think it's a really apt analogy, though I also think that people have been about as smart as we are for thousands of years - I don't think people were "stupid" 2,000 years ago. The difference between us and them is where our knowledge as a species ends.

So "We have no idea what makes the flowers go! Maybe it's God!" really is exactly the same as "We have no idea what's one step before the Big Bang! Maybe it's God!"

The realm of knowledge just beyond the one we're at always seems like some spooky mystical shit. Look at the articles from when Crick and Watson were discovering DNA - all kinds of breathless talk about isolating the shape of the human soul and all of that. Now it's pretty everyday stuff.

Just to be clear, nobody here was saying that any of that stuff proved God either, I know.
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Johnny Landmine 6 years ago on 12/20/11
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Moonage Daydream said:


Would you make the same statement but leave out human religions and replace the last part with "anything that could be considered a God, or Godlike, when compared to humans"?

Would you make the same statement but replace "controlled" with...


That just gets us back to the earlier problem over what makes a god. It's a pernicious question, but ultimately not a very useful one. Following that criteria through enough, it'd be easy to describe a dumb function of physics as a god. I'm sure there are hundreds of people out there already thinking that way.

It's worth noting that, for the religious, it's not usually such a tough question. To a point, they know what their god is - what it did, what it does, sometimes even a rough idea of what it looks like. There's certainly no world consensus, but there are definitions, and I think it's reasonable - perhaps necessary - for atheism to work with these.

Is your only idea of true atheism the beleif that nothing at all kicked off the universe as we know and experience it? I'm open to the possibility of some creative influence, sure. I do not believe that there is anything that either I nor any known religion would call a god. If there is such an influence, I would not feel compelled to worship it. Do I get to be an atheist, or do you have a fancy cool title for me, too?

(I don't mean that as snark, I want a cool fancy title)
PS: Ugh stupid phone keeping me from seeing all the mistakes I make
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Remember Lommy Greenhands 6 years ago on 12/20/11
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John B, you say "absolutely everything we've ever discovered points to a rational universe not controlled by anything that remotely resembles the 'God' or gods of any religion" but that itself is a bad statement. It seems like you're approaching this as "God is MAGIC!" which you basically said in an earlier post - so wait! lightbulb for me! that is your perception and that is where we disconnect.

Let's start here: why do you think God is necessarily "magic" and not a totally explainable entity/phenomena (in the eyes of a society with a properly advanced understanding of the universe, which is obviously way, way out of our reach at this point in history)?

On another note, I understand you keep saying "it's not 100% provable that God doesn't exist," no one is calling you to task for that. We're telling you that you are using flawed logic when you say "science keeps pointing to the conclusion that there is no God." Because science has made zero conclusions on the matter. Yes, science has revealed shit like "thunder is not God snoring," but, once again, it is a logical fallacy to interpret that as leading toward disproving God's existence. I mean... how else do we have to say this? It's basic logic.

Nice post Jarod old boy.

Johnny Landmine said:
In the absence of proof one way or the other, is it really equally reasonable to assume that a particular X exists as it is to assume that it doesn't?

I don't mean that as a "gotcha," I'm sincerely asking what you think. Personally, I can't rea...


That's a good one and it opens up a whole new arena. In this case, I think that at our current level of understanding (zero) one way or the other, I think it is reasonable, if not equally reasonable. Keep in mind how ill-defined is our working definition of God or creator-type or architect.

But this basic argument we're waging here isn't about reasonable stats of probability, it's about there being zero proof either way.
PS: John B, I like your latest post, that clears up some of your points. But no one is willfully misunderstanding you! It's just about owning up to there being no, zero, ZIP scientific proof either way.

Somebody said:
So "We have no idea what makes the flowers go! Maybe it's God!" really is exactly the same as "We have no idea what's one step before the Big Bang! Maybe it's God!"


That's true, and a good point! Trust me, I'm with you. But it doesn't change the fact that after all these years of scientific progress there is absolutely zero scientific evidence that says God, or a Godlike entity, does not exist. And that's all anyone is saying.

I get that you are saying the same thing but with extreme prejudice pro-"No God".

We're chilling in the neutral zone.
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Johnny Landmine 6 years ago on 12/20/11
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Remember Lommy Greenhands said:
But this basic argument we're waging here isn't about reasonable stats of probability, it's about there being zero proof either way.


But see, what I'm saying is that the null hypothesis doesn't need proof. The purpose of proof is to reject the null hypothesis. "Zero proof either way" does not hurt it nearly as much as it hurts the assertion of X.
PS: My general thrust is that "science hasn't proven there's not a god" is not actually as strong an argument as it looks.
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John Booty 6 years ago on 12/21/11
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Let's start here: why do you think God is necessarily "magic" and not a totally explainable entity/phenomena (in the eyes of a society with a properly advanced understanding of the universe, which is obviously way, way out of our reach at this point in history)?


If it's totally explainable, why would we call something like that God? Of course, "explainable" is painfully relative to whatever the human race knows at the time. Heavier-than-air flight was not something that could be explained a little more than a hundred years ago.

But the current bar for "explainable" is pretty high. To be unexplainable (and not just unexplained) these days, you'd need to straight-up violate E=mc2 or some shit. But we have reams of evidence in favor of relativity (your GPS unit, etc) and nothing credible or proven that points to relativity being broken, although the jury is still out on some things.

But this basic argument we're waging here isn't about reasonable stats of probability, it's about there being zero proof either way.


I mean really, that's the argument some of you guys are trying to have. I'm trying very hard not to have it because I agree "God" (for whatever definition you want to work with) can't be completely ruled out.

It's all probability at some level, both in a practical everyday sense and deep down at the quantum level that Albert "God does not play dice!" Einstein was so weirded out by.

I get that you are saying the same thing but with extreme prejudice pro-"No God".


Yeah. I mean, I think part of the communication issue is that I'm kind of speaking from a traditional skeptic's standpoint where there's an implied, understood, unspoken "until proven otherwise" at the end of most if not all assertions.

When a scientist says the Earth is four-point-whatever billion years old, it's not being presented as an immutable truth. It certainly doesn't mean that the best current estimate can't change next Thursday if we learn new things.

This is a big reason why much of the public gets so frustrated with scientists, who are just naively speaking in their own precise little language with all of the assumed and unspoken "until proved otherwise's." WHEN I WUZ A KID DEY SAID MILK WUZ HEALTHY! NOW DEY SAY DAIRY AIN'T NO GOOD FOR YA. WHICH IS IT, YA EGGHEADZ?

Moonage Daydream said:
I will skip ahead to respond to your answers: if you say "no" then you are an adogmatic agnostic. If you say "yes" then I would like to hear an example of such a discovery and how it points to the absence of God.


The question is flawed enough to be useless since nobody's presented a half-decent working definition for "God" or "Godlike." But I'll answer: No, there is no hard evidence ruling out the thing you can't define.

If you want to take a shot at a working definition I'd like to... work with it.

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Andrew 6 years ago on 12/21/11
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John Booty said:
Yeah, and while the Bible Belt is home to tens (hundreds?) of millions of people I don't think it's terribly representative of most of the rest of the wealthy, industrialized nations of the world. I mean, are there any other parts of those wealthy industrialized nations where there's much of a public debate about Creationism?

I agree with you in this respect. But I would argue that the religious individuals in other wealthy, industrialized nations are far and away the minority of religious individuals worldwide.

And even in those cases, religiously-oriented discrimination still shows up (i.e., repression of Muslim garb in France, the movement to ban minarets in Switzerland). I don't know enough to say whether those pressures come from stridently anti-religious sections of the population or from members of other religions seeking to marginalize Muslims and their customs. It's probably some combination of the two. And I still wonder how likely it is for an atheist to get elected to any given major public office anywhere in the Western world outside of Scandinavia. My bet is that that chance is pretty darn small.

Remember Lommy Greenhands said:
Let's start here: why do you think God is necessarily "magic" and not a totally explainable entity/phenomena (in the eyes of a society with a properly advanced understanding of the universe, which is obviously way, way out of our reach at this point in history)?

Some sort of supernatural power or knowledge is part and parcel of just about every definition of God I've encountered. If you don't take that into account, the discussion practically isn't worth having; any entity that falls entirely within the purview of natural law is subject to science! I agree that having a meaningful discussion on the topic is very difficult without a consensus on what "God" means.

I also realize that theologians have been pondering that definition for millennia. There's no reason our internet forum can't bang out a solid one in the next ten posts, though!
PS: I'm being facetious, of course. Though I'd be impressed if we managed it.
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Moonage Daydream 6 years ago on 12/21/11
Equipped: Link's Boomerang named "I wish I knew how to quit you"
Johnny Landmine said:
Is your only idea of true atheism the beleif that nothing at all kicked off the universe as we know and experience it? I'm open to the possibility of some creative influence, sure. I do not believe that there is anything that either I nor any known religion would call a god. If there is such an influence, I would not feel compelled to worship it. Do I get to be an atheist, or do you have a fancy cool title for me, too?


I guess my idea of true atheism would be the rock-solid belief that no intelligent or creative force is responsible for the existence of our universe, or has at any time influenced its development in fundamental ways (like, I dunno, fine-tuning gravity or something). I guess it's all splitting semantic hairs at this point, because no one appointed me the arbiter of heathenism.

However, you asked for a title. Since your position (open to the possibility of creative influence, feel no compulsion to worship it) is pretty much mine, that makes you an adogmatic agnostic! because:

- I don't want to be the only one
- I kinda formulated it and I want it to catch on

Join me in supporting this irritating and awkward new phrasing of your lack of religious affiliation! It lets us distance ourselves from the obnoxious harpies that people think of when they hear the word "atheist," and it pretty much guarantees conversation shutdown if anyone ever asks you what you believe in.
PS: Also, I would like to announce my candidacy for Arbiter of Heathenism

Moderator Remember Lommy Greenhands Says:

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Johnny Landmine 6 years ago on 12/21/11
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Since I personally feel like if there is a god, it pretty much has to be some terrifying mass of existence that resembles, sympathizes with or even acknowledges us here on earth in no way whatsoever, I've taken to calling myself an agnazathostic

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