Definition of Atheism

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Definition of Atheism

Post by GScott » Mon Jul 28, 2014 11:22 pm

Maybe you've seen this. I take nothing for granted. However, it struck my funny bone so I'm posting it here.

Atheism:
The belief that there was nothing and nothing happened to nothing and then nothing magically exploded for no reason creating everything; and then a bunch of everything magically rearranged itself for no reason whatsoever into self replicating bits which then turned into the world that we see around us today.

Reminds me of the title of a book on my reading list (unfortunately I haven't gotten to it yet), "I Don't Have Enough Faith To Be an Atheist." by Norman Geisler and Frank Turek

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Re: Definition of Atheism

Post by SteveH » Tue Jul 29, 2014 12:43 am

That is too silly for words. Atheists have a perfectly plausible, consistent account of how the universe, the world, life, and we came to be.
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Re: Definition of Atheism

Post by Ethell » Tue Jul 29, 2014 6:18 am

SteveH wrote:That is too silly for words. Atheists have a perfectly plausible, consistent account of how the universe, the world, life, and we came to be.
Then by all means please provide a quote or link explaining such. Until then the original quote from brother GScott seems to fit their worldview the best.
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Re: Definition of Atheism

Post by Del » Tue Jul 29, 2014 7:40 am

SteveH wrote:That is too silly for words. Atheists have a perfectly plausible, consistent account of how the universe, the world, life, and we came to be.
GK Chesterton, avoiding the hand-waving assumptions of the atheists, insisted that 3 things will likely be forever shrouded from knowledge: 1) The beginning of the universe, and 2) The beginning of life. These were widely taught as "unknowable." He added a third unknowable item: 3) The beginning of Man.

He wrote this before Monsignor LeMaitre discovered the Big Bang hidden in Einstein's cosmology. Even so, cosmologists still assert that they will never be able to penetrate the origin of the Big Bang, the events that led up to it, and why there is any universe at all.

The origin of life is still a tremendous mystery that defies conjecture.

And the point that caused man to cease being an animal and become a rational being is just as well hidden. The earliest ochre burial sites are 200 to 250 thousand years old.... these suggest symbolism and art, marks of rational beings.
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Re: Definition of Atheism

Post by Rusty » Tue Jul 29, 2014 7:45 am

SteveH wrote:That is too silly for words. Atheists have a perfectly plausible, consistent account of how the universe, the world, life, and we came to be.
No, it's fairly accurate with only a few quibbles. It sounds silly. The devil is in the details. People who do not believe in God or gods do not have answers for the big origin questions (exclude the origin of our planet in this). But the lack of answers isn't belief. It's quite different than belief. If I ask any of you a question for which you do not know the answer you simply say you don't know. Not knowing usually doesn't have any impact on one's worldview whether Christian or atheist. The origin questions remain open. There are lots of speculative hypotheses or guesses for origins, if you want to be blunt, but they do not have accepted answers to these origin questions. The accepted hypotheses (or scientific theories) that many do have about the natural world are predictive and have an amazing amount of evidence in support but they almost never answer any 'why' question. The statement that Scott provided lacks detail but it is one of the speculative hypotheses being described about the origin of the universe. You can google "youtube Krauss universe nothing" and see one of these talks with a very simplified view of this speculative hypothesis for public consumption.

Relatively few atheists actually truly understand these speculative hypotheses, in fact. So the notion that they are subject to belief (in the sense Christians mean) for all atheists is very odd. It's more a spectacle of wonder and it goes with the notion that the natural world is much more exotic than we ever thought. There is a scientific understanding for the way the world actually works. The element of the atheist worldview that is likely the most widely held, ie closest to belief as Christians understand the term, is that the natural world/universe is all that there is ie Naturalism. So it's really the rejection or disbelief of anything supernatural that obviates any God or gods in their worldview. And that, rather than Scott's statement of atheist belief, is probably the common denominator opinion among most atheists.

"It is not that science made religion impossible, it is that science made irreligion possible" - Steven Weinberg

The amazing thing is that Christians do have answers for every one of these big origin questions. And the answers are understood by every Christian as far as I can see. However, they only answer the why question and the answers do not predict anything about the way nature is, or will be, nor do they have any evidence whatsoever.

It's an amazing gulf & contrast between those with faith and those without.
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Re: Definition of Atheism

Post by ElgarAlienPooh » Mon Aug 11, 2014 6:17 pm

The accepted hypotheses (or scientific theories) that many do have about the natural world are predictive and have an amazing amount of evidence in support but they almost never answer any 'why' question.
Absolutely never.

Every time they think they've found the answer to "why" it turns out they've found another "how."
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Re: Definition of Atheism

Post by Rusty » Mon Aug 11, 2014 11:02 pm

ElgarAlienPooh wrote:
The accepted hypotheses (or scientific theories) that many do have about the natural world are predictive and have an amazing amount of evidence in support but they almost never answer any 'why' question.
Absolutely never.

Every time they think they've found the answer to "why" it turns out they've found another "how."
I think this is true. I'm a little uncomfortable with the 'absolutely never' answer but my point was really the same. Almost any 'why' question in science can be translated into a 'how' question without any loss of meaning at all. And those are the only "why" questions that could be addressed with science that I can think of off hand. Historically, science, as a method of inquiry, rejected teleological answers a long time ago.
For example - why do spiral galaxies occur and persist? It can be translated into a 'how does phenomena x arise' question with no loss of meaning. There is no satisfying answer, as yet, for that specific question. Nature itself appears to have no evidence of inherent purpose as we understand the term. So any purpose is added by us in interpretation and it's a choice. Weinberg also commented about this by saying "The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it (also) seems pointless." I think those that believe in God have a different understanding completely. But they add purpose. Science, without any appeal to purpose, has been amazingly productive. Any purpose added in interpretation seems to have become an impediment to understanding. There are many examples eg Millikan and cosmic rays, and he thought they were photons & evidence of new atoms continually being created by God to counteract entropy and prevent the heat death of the universe. His explanation goes to purpose and it's wrong though we still use the term cosmic rays.

There is a really great video that is from 2009 that addresses the hunt for the origins of the Universe. This is from the experimental cosmologists so you see the detective work and the evidence that they piece together and some wry comments about their relationship with the theorists. This relates to the program that spawned BICEP2 so this is really good background. This is science. It's much harder and requires a lot more prep to understand the theorists and their working methods. But this is not hard to understand.

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Re: Definition of Atheism

Post by UncleBob » Fri Oct 10, 2014 8:34 am

I have been thinking about this thread. I wonder if most atheists define Christians like this:

==>CLICK HERE<==
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Re: Definition of Atheism

Post by Del » Fri Oct 10, 2014 8:38 am

SteveH wrote:That is too silly for words. Atheists have a perfectly plausible, consistent account of how the universe, the world, life, and we came to be.
I know it. Basically, that we were really lucky.
==============================================
Atheism requires a great deal of faith.... one has to trust the testimony of unknown authorities who have no love or concern for the atheist.

Medieval Christians invented the scientific method because they were seeking greater knowledge about all things, visible and invisible.


Atheists and Fundamentalist Christians share the characteristic of using one aspect of truth to deny other truths.
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Re: Definition of Atheism

Post by Michael Kindt » Fri Oct 10, 2014 8:44 am

GScott wrote: Atheism:
The belief that there was nothing and nothing happened to nothing and then nothing magically exploded for no reason creating everything; and then a bunch of everything magically rearranged itself for no reason whatsoever into self replicating bits which then turned into the world that we see around us today.
At rock bottom, this is exactly what atheists believe. Exactly.
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Re: Definition of Atheism

Post by Onyx » Sat Oct 11, 2014 6:47 pm

Michael Kindt wrote:
GScott wrote: Atheism:
The belief that there was nothing and nothing happened to nothing and then nothing magically exploded for no reason creating everything; and then a bunch of everything magically rearranged itself for no reason whatsoever into self replicating bits which then turned into the world that we see around us today.
At rock bottom, this is exactly what atheists believe. Exactly.
Define "nothing". :wink:

Thing is, you and I don't really know what we mean by "nothing". Do we mean - no time? empty space or no space? no laws of physics or just nothing to obey them? Cosmologists studying this stuff (like Krauss) are suggesting that "nothing" is unstable. It seems to be a characteristic of nothing that it DOES spontaneously sprout something. Lots of quantum level stuff is unexpected. Sorry, but it is.

The 2nd problem with your above caricature of atheism is that... a theist explains it by saying, "well we know the answer, God did it." That might be true, but it doesn't explain it because it doesn't explain how God got there. If you say that God always exists or exists outside of time, then why not just have the universal potential to sprout stuff from nothing be always there or exist outside of time. It's no crazier. Theists just give it a name.

But the 1st problem is that the statement is wrong. Atheism is not a belief in anything. It's the absence of a belief. Atheism is a belief like abstinence is a sex-position. Atheists can't explain everything. That's the normal human condition.

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Re: Definition of Atheism

Post by MrPiper » Sat Oct 11, 2014 7:30 pm

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Re: Definition of Atheism

Post by Rusty » Sun Oct 12, 2014 3:11 am

Onyx wrote:But the 1st problem is that the statement is wrong. Atheism is not a belief in anything. It's the absence of a belief. Atheism is a belief like abstinence is a sex-position. Atheists can't explain everything. That's the normal human condition.
Yes, it is a belief. It is the belief that the natural world is all that there is. It's not just a negation of both faith in the Christian God and the rejection of the possible existence of any other gods. And the lack of evidence of anything supernatural together with a scientific understanding of the nature of physical interactions supports the belief. It's an unusual belief, historically speaking, that is growing fast. The predominant worldview of mankind over history is for supernatural spirits exerting will and changing events in our world. Atheism is misnamed in some ways because it's not just a rejection of a God; a lack of faith. It's much more than that and a totally different worldview. There has been such an incredible number & variety of supernatural spirits, connected uniquely with each & every culture, that this has to be considered the norm for humans. Christians are quite normal and it's people who do not share supernatural beliefs that are different. But the different view is the one that fits quite well with our science and our technological society. We don't actually know the answers. So ithas to be a belief. In many ways it's the new mythology of our age ie western culture. I think it's a long term trend away from older beliefs that has been operative for along time.

We, all of us, actually have an enormous set of beliefs about the world and they constitute our facility at predicting events that may happen. Virtually all of them are shared with Christians. However, Christians also have a set of beliefs that is not operative in predicting the way events in the world may evolve. When was the last time you heard about any of them subjecting their lives to his care in a real sense. No Christian blindfolds himself, prays for God's protection and then runs across a 10 lane freeway. There is a very high probability that they'd be killed and they know it. The big difference is that Christians spend a lot of time hearing about how they should live their lives. It influences their choices every day. It also puts them in opposition with some secular values and developments. This is completely missing in the secular world. There is a crazy assumption that secular people individually know how to live. One look at the news cures us of that idea. The secular mostly have to figure it out for themselves. Christians are not exempt from problems but they do have a lot more guidance about living and good choices than the secular. This is a problem with secular education.
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Re: Definition of Atheism

Post by Onyx » Sun Oct 12, 2014 4:37 am

Rusty, I think you overstate the definition of atheism, which is literally, without God. I understand that to mean living without reference to God. The dogmatic assertion that no God exists is a step further.

It's true that atheists generally hold many beliefs. Some may "believe" that the universe came about in a particular way, but others may simply not try to explain it. These beliefs may follow from atheism for some, but atheism itself is not belief. Definitions... I think.

Also, I agree that secular society has many gaps that religion fills. At our family dinner table tonight we talked about the role of thankfulness and forgiveness in mental health. Church-goers think talk about this stuff every week... Or even every time they pray.
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Re: Definition of Atheism

Post by Onyx » Sun Oct 12, 2014 4:41 am

MrPiper wrote:God's word is actually clear on the true definition of an atheist. "The fool says in his heart there is no God."

Confirmed atheist = fool
Yes, I lost count of the number of times I referred to this verse to defend against unbelief. Not the high-water mark in apologetics, is it.

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Re: Definition of Atheism

Post by Rusty » Sun Oct 12, 2014 4:58 am

Onyx wrote:Rusty, I think you overstate the definition of atheism, which is literally, without God. I understand that to mean living without reference to God. The dogmatic assertion that no God exists is a step further.

It's true that atheists generally hold many beliefs. Some may "believe" that the universe came about in a particular way, but others may simply not try to explain it. These beliefs may follow from atheism for some, but atheism itself is not belief. Definitions... I think.

Also, I agree that secular society has many gaps that religion fills. At our family dinner table tonight we talked about the role of thankfulness and forgiveness in mental health. Church-goers think talk about this stuff every week... Or even every time they pray.
The definition has a cultural context and it of course depends upon who is defining it. The impression is that atheism is a deficiency. That fellow lacks God! It seems to me to be biased as definitions go. It doesn't matter what you believe but rather what you don't believe. Atheism doesn't occur naturally with any culture of which I'm aware. It has occurred in opposition to religious or supernatural beliefs in specific cultures. But to think that these folks are just missing the religion or God organ is really underplaying it. It's not an absence of anything but rather a different worldview. Perhaps the problem is that we're discussing it in a Christian forum. I think they see it as a deficiency.

The alternative is fascinating. Perhaps they lack any curiosity and couldn't care less. Or do you think atheists are just willfully disobedient? Perhaps they're just folks that lost their faith and no longer believe? This would certainly fit the Christian concern about it. In which case the folks opposed to faith who advocate a different worldview are what?

Does your definition fit you? You simply are without God?
I have a very hard time understanding that someone lacks God. For me they simply have a different point of view. I would think the pov is first and the conclusion that God is a story is secondary. Hostility to God, as a motivation for atheism, is also interesting and I think there are logical problems with that one. If one criticizes the story that is a little different.

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This is true. He really did send me a PM that with roughly those words.

How about this? Atheism is not a belief but what replaces the Christian view of the world is a belief because these questions cannot be settled.
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Re: Definition of Atheism

Post by Winton » Sun Oct 12, 2014 6:00 am

I am almost finished teaching through the Proverbs. It is amazing how many times fools come up and how many ways they can mess up.

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Re: Definition of Atheism

Post by UncleBob » Sun Oct 12, 2014 8:50 am

The fact is that like most isms, athiesm is a spectrum of beliefs including non-belief in any sort of deity. Also, how would any of us like atheists to define Christianity? This thread talks of fools...it is foolish to look for a definition of anything apart from those that live it.
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Re: Definition of Atheism

Post by UncleBob » Sun Oct 12, 2014 11:32 am

"One man's theology is another man's belly laugh." - Robert A. Heinlein

"Many of the points here, taken to their logical conclusions, don't hold up to logic; they're simply Godded-up ways of saying "I don't like that." - Skip

"Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please." -Mark Twain

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Re: Definition of Atheism

Post by Thunktank » Sun Oct 12, 2014 12:56 pm

It appears that no God is as hard to define as God.

No wonder all the sane people are agnostics.

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