Atheism vs Agnosticism

As Agnostic (actually im not really an Agnostic as i do beleive a creator exists, i will leave my justificationof this to another debate) And an opponent of western religion, I have to say it angers me to see so many people taking the stane of an Agnostic and calling themselves athiests. To say " I can not prove that there is a god therefore, I am as the definition describes without god" is simply false. To be unsure, or to exept the fact that one can never know the truth of existence and creation, makes one an agnostic. SO what i am asking is If your true belief is not that there IS no god, then why not call yourself an Agnostic. What is it about Agnosticism that is not part of your theology.
Atheist Answer: 

Atheism is a-theism. Theism is a belief in a god or gods. Atheism is therefore no belief in a god or gods, not a belief in no gods. This means that many people who call themselves agnostics are actually atheists as well. The definitions are not mutually exclusive.

I get your point, and in fact I'm happy to call myself an agnostic atheist. I am an agnostic because I don't know whether there are any gods, and I suspect that I can never know. But I insist to you that I'm also an atheist, because I conclude from this lack of input that there really aren't any. It's a conclusion rather than a belief, and I'd change it if some evidence for gods turned up, but it's my considered opinion that if there were a god, there would be more evidence.

It's like being confident that you won't be struck by lightning tomorrow. You can't say it'll never happen, but it's so unlikely that you live as if it won't happen. In all probability, it never will. If three of your neighbours were struck by lightning in the same week, however, you might reconsider that position.

- SmartLX

of violence and atheism

first and foremost, i'm an atheist. but i do have a question. i've read somewhere(a theist's opinion, obviously) about this argument against the claim that says religion had caused numerous mass murders of history, it says that atheism, rather, is the real force behind mass murders. the author was referring to the russian communism, chinese communism and german nazism(um, wasn't hitler christian? no?) i wonder if that could be counted as violence triggered by atheism? i thought not, but,the communists are atheists, right? or at least they should be, that's what they claim to be, no?
Atheist Answer: 

Not all crimes by atheists are due to atheism.

Not all crimes by theists are due to theism either, but some clearly are because they're done in the name of religion. The Crusades are a decent example, though their scale is disputed. The British knights went to the Middle East to take Jerusalem back, not for England, not for any kings, but for Christianity. They had crosses on their tabards, on their armour and on their shields. Their straight swords were often held upside down as crucifixes. They had to pray to become knights, and they prayed before battle. This is how you know the deeds were done in the name of Christianity.

Hitler and the Nazis were officially Catholic right to the end, but their deeds weren't done in the name of Christianity. They were done for National Socialism. I accept that just fine.

Now try to think of a battle fought "in the name of atheism". What does an atheist flag look like? What war song insults a god without offering another in its place? It's a silly idea.

Think of Communism in particular. It requires atheism, but it does not logically follow from atheism or else any atheist who really thought about it would be a Communist.

When Karl Marx wrote "religion is the opiate of the people", he was commenting on its effect on the populace, not its truth or falsehood. He thought of it as a painkiller. If religion were removed, he reasoned, the people would feel their pain sharply and be spurred to revolt. Afterwards they wouldn't need religion anymore, because in the new Golden Age they'd be happy without it.

Of course that's not how it turned out. Religion persisted because the people weren't happy at all under the new regimes. This was an indication to the outside world that the system wasn't working. It was good PR to squash religion as quietly as possible.

Also, the behavioural ideology of Communism is specific enough to conflict with that of any known religion. The authorities wouldn't take that kind of argument on their own turf. Communism became incompatible with religion on strict principle.

Finally, Communism is itself a quasi-religion. Its leaders are worshipped and even prayed to, its rules are absolute and its texts are immutable.

The faithful Russian, Chinese and North Korean soldiers and politicians who committed atrocities were atheists working in the name of Communism, just as the Nazis were Christians working for Nazism. Neither belief nor non-belief is accountable for either.

I think the problem is that people think because any country with a state religion or equivalent invokes that religion when going to war to boost approval, non-religious countries do the same thing with atheism. Atheism doesn't even work like that; it would be a terrible motivator all by itself.

- SmartLX

Self Contradictory atheism/science

Science insists there must be a 'reason' for everything. Yet when asked for the reason that existence came into being, they say you do not need a reason. How can we argue from this position?
Atheist Answer: 

I'm assuming you mean that everything must have a cause.

Even science isn't so solid on causes anymore, having so far failed to find a cause for the probabilistic quantum mechanics of particles even while predicting them to within microscopic distances.

But let's assume everything generally does need a cause. If it's unreasonable to say that the universe doesn't need a cause, how much more reasonable is it to say that its precursor, its cause, doesn't need a cause itself? Is an eternal universe harder to imagine than an eternal god?

If we assume anything with a beginning needs a cause, something must be eternal and you can't escape that by putting in a god. At least we have some reason to suspect that the universe is eternal, as we know matter and energy exist and they can't be created or destroyed. Basic conservation law. Not really knowing jack about gods, we have no equivalent basis for their existence, let alone their infinite age. Given the initial assumption, I'm going with an eternal universe.

- SmartLX

Morality and the Athiest's Response

In your video entitled "Where do atheists get their morals from ?" you answer that question by saying that all societies are under, what you call, a social contract. Then at the very end of the video you say that this social contract is, in essence, the golden rule, "do unto others as you would want done unto you". So, are we to assume that all societies moralities are based off the Bible's Golden Rule? If not, then what is the difference?
Atheist Answer: 

Do a little research on the Golden Rule to see just how exclusively Biblical it is. Not.

The Bible has plenty of instructions that everyone would agree are great ideas, like "thou shalt not kill". It also has plenty of instructions everyone would agree are terrible ideas, like much of Leviticus. The good ideas are not only common sense, but they can generally be found in other sources pre-dating the Bible by centuries.

Consider the possibility that the good ethical advice in the Bible is not good ethical advice because it's in the Bible, but rather its human authors put it into the Bible because it's good ethical advice. It's a reflection of human nature, much of which is benevolent.

This may make the Bible a good moral guide if you cherry-pick the sensible parts, but it certainly doesn't establish its God as the only source of morals.

- SmartLX

What I see as the last question

Note: I'm an Atheist. Ok, so we have a general idea about how the universe was created, how life originated and evolved to create humans. There is one last question that boggles my mind: where did the matter come from? Perhaps we should take it as an axiom, but then thats just as lame as saying that God created it all!
Atheist Answer: 

I wouldn't take it as an axiom. I've found that theists often don't trust axioms. They come across as the atheist version of doctrines: "It's like that, so there."

We don't know where the matter came from. It might be left over from a previous form of this universe. It could have come from another universe entirely, whether previous, exterior or adjacent. Perhaps quantum mechanics had their fling and it all really did pop into existence from nowhere, or from a "quantum foam". There are endless theories.

When theists say that a god is the only possible source of the matter, it's an argument from ignorance because there may be methods nobody's thought of yet. It's no good adopting another theory and saying, "It wasn't a god, it was this!" That would make you just as bad.

For now, you'll have to be content with not knowing. About all we can legitimately do is argue the relative likelihood of the available theories, including theories about gods. Happily, the supposed qualities of gods make them very unlikely entities indeed. (I'm happy to assert that here without supporting it, as I've gone into it thoroughly before.)

- SmartLX


How do you define Truth?
Atheist Answer: 

With a dictionary. Specifically

1. the true or actual state of a matter: He tried to find out the truth.
2. conformity with fact or reality; verity: the truth of a statement.
3. a verified or indisputable fact, proposition, principle, or the like: mathematical truths.
4. the state or character of being true.
5. actuality or actual existence.
6. an obvious or accepted fact; truism; platitude.
7. honesty; integrity; truthfulness.
8. (often initial capital letter) ideal or fundamental reality apart from and transcending perceived experience: the basic truths of life.
9. agreement with a standard or original.
10. accuracy, as of position or adjustment.
11. Archaic. fidelity or constancy.
12. in truth, in reality; in fact; actually: In truth, moral decay hastened the decline of the Roman Empire.

I do not think that the statement "God exists", for example, is necessarily the truth. It might be true, but we don't know whether it is. If a definition of Truth were to emerge such that the statement became necessarily true, I would not immediately trust that definition.

That tends to be the purpose of such discussions: to attack statements about the existence of gods by screwing with the basic terms in use like truth, reality, logic, belief, faith, rationality, evidence and so forth. It really only tends to be theists who take this tack. Fairly often it will win them an argument, but rarely will it convince anyone.

I'm not saying such arguments do not have merit, but it's worth looking really closely at each one to see whether it does have any.

- SmartLX

A Core Problem With Atheism

While I certainly respect your right to believe as you wish, I have a real problem with explaining the universe.... If matter is eternal (as it must be, if there is no God), then that means that matter has existed for an infinite period of time. That means that during that infinite amount of time, infinite configurations have come and gone, come and gone. That means there have been infinite numbers of universes, infinite numbers of EARTHS, and infinite numbers of IDENTICAL humans/existences. After all, this expand/deflate thing has been going on for UPTEEN TRILLION CENTURIES...if matter is what is eternal. Now, for the athiest, this might be perfectly acceptable. But for me, it is not. BOTH takes--eternal matter or a First Cause God--are matters, to some degree, of faith. We simply don't know. I am wondering how the atheist deals with the prospect of an eternal universe? Does it have any affect on the position, or does it not even matter? And if not, why not? Thank you for your time!
Atheist Answer: 

Actually, there's just one thing about your concept of an eternal universe which needs addressing: the "expand/deflate thing" probably isn't true. The universe isn't slowing its expansion, it's speeding up. That means it will never shrink back to a Big Crunch, and this particular universe isn't cyclical in the way you imagine.

That doesn't stop the universe or multiverse from being eternal in other ways, so the question is still valid.

The law stating that matter and energy cannot be created or destroyed does suggest all by itself that the universe is eternal. This does not necessarily mean, however, that all possible universes have already happened. It may go along some form of cycle. To demonstrate, take a calculator, enter 1 and then multiply it by -1. Then multiply the answer by -1, over and over again. You'll only ever get -1 and 1. You certainly won't get all possible numbers.

You're right, we don't actually know whether the universe is eternal. Even if it isn't, though, it doesn't guarantee the existence of a god or even a First Cause. This is because of two things:
1. This universe's time is highly unlikely to have been entirely linear and consistent around the Big Bang.
2. The probabilistic behaviours of particles according to quantum mechanics have no discernible cause at all. It's just possible that not everything in the natural world even requires a cause.
With time and causation themselves in doubt, the First Cause argument is a bit of a moot point.

As for which is more plausible out of an eternal universe and an eternal god, that's up to each person. I think of two things: the fact that before the Big Bang theory the most popular one was an eternal "steady state" universe, and the fact that an eternal, uncaused, uneducated god makes eternity all the more mysterious and unfathomable. Whatever the universe got up to in all that time, at least we can imagine some of it. With a god, we haven't a clue.

- SmartLX

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