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Being 'Born-Again' Linked to More Brain Atrophy: Study
Stas B.
Member #9,615
March 2008

SiegeLord said:

But you don't know, do you? In fact you can never know for sure, since if you see god with your eyes or experience god through an internal revelation it could just be a psychotic episode. Still, you can observe things in the world and use that evidence to form a belief for existence of god. You can absolutely never know it for sure though, so talking about the actual existence of god without taking into account of all the uncertainties that are definitely also involved.

Since you're quoting my post, I must ask how that is relevant to the difference between not believing in the existence of X and believing in the non-existence of X?

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That is of course logical arguments aside... but those are beside the point. I just showed you how you can believe soundly, coherently and rationally in something's non-existence.

First of all, if you have, I don't see it. Second, I never denied that you can rationally believe in the non-existence of something. I made it clear several times that you can prove the non-existence of something using logic and clarified what I meant in the context of this thread.

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There is plenty of evidence of god non-existing (it's literally everything you've experienced to date).

Such as?

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I believe FSM does not exist = probability of FSM not existing is very high.
I don't believe FSM exists = probability of FSM existing is very low.

That's wrong. It could be that I don't believe FSM exists because I don't know what the FSM is. It could be that when I hear about the FSM, I don't ponder about the probability of it existing because probability does not make sense in this case and I have no reason to ponder about something I have no evidence of.

Arthur Kalliokoski
Second in Command
February 2005
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SiegeLord said:

You can pool beliefs of multiple people to get a better estimate of what is actually out there in the world.

Well, I guess I'm screwed then.

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Still, I'd rather not worship such a spoiled brat of a god that boosting his ego is more important than acting ethically.

“Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty. This is known as "bad luck.”

― Robert A. Heinlein

SiegeLord
Member #7,827
October 2006
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Stas B. said:

Since you're quoting my post, I must ask how that is relevant to the difference between not believing in the existence of X and believing in the non-existence of X?

Because...

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I made it clear several times that you can prove the non-existence of something using logic and clarified what I meant in the context of this thread.

...you just tied the two together. Logical proofs are (largely) irrelevant for empirical questions such as god's existence.

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First of all, if you have, I don't see it.

Well, what part of my post didn't you get then? The bit that did it was the paragraph about the probabilities.

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Such as?

To the layman, the following is essentially a retelling of Occam's razor. Probabilistic treatment of subjective beliefs, shows using math why Occam's razor is a good idea: it leads to hypothesss about the world that have higher probability. Given two hypothesis and some observations, you generally prefer a hypothesis that assigns higher probability to those observations.

Given the current scientific knowledge, the probability of the current world is high. E.g. take gravity... given the simple formulation of Newtonian law of gravitation we predict spherical celestial objects, shape of mountains, things falling down etc etc. Given evolutionary theory we predict the shapes of animals and how they change in response to the environment (e.g. insular dwarfism). Now, take the god hypothesis. Where in the god hypothesis do we get the mathematical form of gravitation? Where in the god hypothesis do we get insular dwarfism from? God could have made any kind of world with any kind of animals, and the probability that he made specifically the one we live in with these kinds of laws and these kinds of animals is very insignificant.

Even more simply... look at your bilateral symmetry. Why would god create a symmetrical animal, as opposed to one with radial symmetry (like a starfish?). There is nothing in the god hypothesis that specifies that. On the other hand, the alternative hypotheses (e.g. evolution) predict those facts very well.

Thus, god probably does not exist because the evidence that we have is best explained by different, more specific and ultimately simpler hypotheses.

Well, I guess I'm screwed then.

On the contrary, that seems to indicate that there is a lot of room for doubt in terms of higher deities! It'd be more troubling if everybody agreed (like everybody agrees about things like gravity).

"For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increases knowledge increases sorrow."-Ecclesiastes 1:18
[SiegeLord's Abode][Codes]:[DAllegro5]:[RustAllegro]

Stas B.
Member #9,615
March 2008

SiegeLord said:

...you just tied the two together. Logical proofs are (largely) irrelevant for empirical questions such as god's existence.

I have no idea what you're talking about.

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Well, what part of my post didn't you get then? The bit that did it was the paragraph about the probabilities.

The bit with the probabilities did nothing. Probabilities do not apply to the possibility of existence. There can't be something with a probability of existence other than 0 or 1, even conceptually. It does not demonstrate the equivalence between not believing that something exists and believing that something does not exist either. If Y does not have a concept of X, Y does not believe in the existence of X. That does not mean that Y believes that X does not exist. That's a logical contradiction and you can't possibly prove otherwise.

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Thus, god probably does not exist because the evidence that we have is best explained by different, more specific and ultimately simpler hypotheses.

A better, more specific and ultimately simpler hypothesis to explain the universe has no effect on the probability that god exists. Even if you manage to explain the whole universe to a satisfactory degree, there will always remain the question of what caused the first event in the chain of events that lead to the universe coming to existence. We don't use it because it's more "probable". We use it because it works. Occam's razor has nothing to do with probabilities. It has to do with picking the explanation that gives you the most useful insight with the minimal amount of cruft.

Evert
Member #794
November 2000
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Why would you expect the supernatural to behave based on human rules?

I never understood the arbitrary distinction between "natural" and "supernatural". There's no need for any such distinction if "natural" means "all that exists" rather than "all that exists except for some things that I think exist but don't want to call natural".

Although last time I brought up that point people were confused by "natural" in some contexts also not including things that are "artificial". Ah, the joys of discussing things in imprecise language where everyone means something slightly different by the same word.

Yes, I know Trent prefers to not read about people not sharing his worldview (and why), but think of it as a tangent to the discussion.

SiegeLord said:

Thus, god probably does not exist because the evidence that we have is best explained by different, more specific and ultimately simpler hypotheses.

Quite independent of that: if you answer any question of the form "how did X come about?" with "God did it" all you've done is dodged the question. Afterall, "how did God come about?"

EDIT

Stas B. said:

Even if you manage to explain the whole universe to a satisfactory degree, there will always remain the question of what caused the first event in the chain of events that lead to the universe coming to existence.

Also known as "God of the gaps". Which is an unsatisfactory type of god in anyone's book.

Stas B.
Member #9,615
March 2008

Evert said:

Also known as "God of the gaps". Which is an unsatisfactory type of god in anyone's book.

That's besides the point. Occam's razor can not be used as a proof for the improbability of god. It tells you not to concern yourself with a complex model when you have a simpler one that's equally good at explanation and prediction even though the more complex model could be closer to how things work under the hood. I reject the idea of god because I don't need it, not because I believe that he probably does not exist.

Arthur Kalliokoski
Second in Command
February 2005
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Evert said:

Yes, I know Trent prefers to not read about people not sharing his worldview (and why)

Yes, it's very nice to imagine seeing deceased loved ones again, and this time it's Forever.

“Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty. This is known as "bad luck.”

― Robert A. Heinlein

SiegeLord
Member #7,827
October 2006
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Stas B. said:

The bit with the probabilities did nothing. Probabilities do not apply to the possibility of existence. There can't be something with a probability of existence other than 0 or 1, even conceptually. It does not demonstrate the equivalence between not believing that something exists and believing that something does not exist either. If Y does not have a concept of X, Y does not believe in the existence of X. That does not mean that Y believes that X does not exist. That's a logical contradiction and you can't possibly prove otherwise.

Actual existence doesn't matter directly because it is unknowable directly! We can only observe the world through our senses, and actual existence only matters in the sense that it affects what we perceive. If god exists, then the outside world will reflect that. If god does not exist, then the outside world will reflect that. But the direct fact of god existing is unknowable, just like nothing else (unless it's in the domain of math) in the outside world. The fact that I exist is unknowable to you (and probably to me) but you have tons of evidence to suggest that I do exist. You should believe in my existence.

Anyway, I think you didn't read that wikipedia link in my original post. Seriously, read it. You are using frequentist objections to subjective probability that are simply irrelevant. There is nothing wrong in thinking about probability of something existing or not. Re-read that wikipedia article until you agree with this last sentence.

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A better, more specific and ultimately simpler hypothesis to explain the universe has no effect on the probability that god exists.

Yes it does. It's how probabilities work. Let's look at the probability of the current scientific understanding being an accurate description of how the world works. I just explained why probability is high. This means all alternative hypotheses are less likely, because probabilities sum to 1. If god hypothesis is the only alternative to the scientific hypothesis, then it becomes less and less likely the more likely the scientific hypothesis becomes. The only way that won't be true is if you're irrational about your beliefs.

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We don't use it because it's more "probable". We use it because it works

It's more probable because it works, so you are using it because it's more probable even if you didn't think of it. If it wasn't probable, it wouldn't work etc.

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It has to do with picking the explanation that gives you the most useful insight with the minimal amount of cruft.

Things that don't satisfy these statements are not probable. Things that do, are probable.

Evert said:

Quite independent of that: if you answer any question of the form "how did X come about?" with "God did it" all you've done is dodged the question. Afterall, "how did God come about?"

That is another issue, although an irrelevant one. Look at the sun... you can use science (and subjective beliefs which are the same thing) to argue that it uses hydrogen for fusion without needing to answer where that hydrogen originally came from. It helps a lot that we have an explanation for hydrogen coming about from somewhere, but the hydrogen hypothesis can stand on its own. Saying that god did hydrogen is a better theory than god makes sun shine.

"For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increases knowledge increases sorrow."-Ecclesiastes 1:18
[SiegeLord's Abode][Codes]:[DAllegro5]:[RustAllegro]

Tobias Dammers
Member #2,604
August 2002
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SiegeLord said:

Saying that god did hydrogen is a better theory than god makes sun shine.

And saying that we don't know how the hydrogen came about is even better, because it has the same explanatory value, but it can do without the God concept.

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Stas B.
Member #9,615
March 2008

SiegeLord said:

Actual existence doesn't matter directly because it is unknowable directly! We can only observe the world through our senses, and actual existence only matters in the sense that it affects what we perceive. If god exists, then the outside world will reflect that. If god does not exist, then the outside world will reflect that. But the direct fact of god existing is unknowable, just like nothing else (unless it's in the domain of math) in the outside world. The fact that I exist is unknowable to you (and probably to me) but you have tons of evidence to suggest that I do exist. You should believe in my existence.

The world can not reflect the non-existence of something unless that something is supposed to have perceptible effects on reality that can be attributed to it but it doesn't. Other than that, I agree with what you say.

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Anyway, I think you didn't read that wikipedia link in my original post. Seriously, read it. You are using frequentist objections to subjective probability that are simply irrelevant. There is nothing wrong in thinking about probability of something existing or not. Re-read that wikipedia article until you agree with this last sentence.

I tried but I can't stay focused enough to comprehend what it says. Maybe I'm just dumb. I'm sure you can come up with some definition of probability that makes sense in the context of existence. I won't argue about it because we're clearly not talking about the same. In any case, none of this is relevant. When Christians say that they believe in god, they assert the actual existence of god, not the high probability of the existence of god. In this context, "I believe that god doesn't exist" should be interpreted as "I'm sure god doesn't exist". As you said yourself, actual existence is unknowable directly, which is exactly why you can't be "sure" about the non-existence of god. I guess you can interpret "I don't believe in god" and "I think god probably doesn't exist" as the same thing, depending on your definition of "probable", which apparently does not match mine.

Evert
Member #794
November 2000
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SiegeLord said:

you can use science (and subjective beliefs which are the same thing) to argue that it uses hydrogen for fusion without needing to answer where that hydrogen originally came from.

Sure, but you immediately raise new questions: where does the hydrogen come from? Knowing that the energy source is hydrogen, how does the fusion work (the temperature in the sun isn't high enough for a proton to overcome the potential barrier around another proton clasically)? What happens when the hydrogen runs out? Some of those questions are even necessary if you want to understand how hydrogen fusion works in the first place.

I guess the point is that "God did it" typically comes with an implied "and therefore there are no further questions". But of course there are.

Stas B. said:

The world can not reflect the non-existence of something unless that something is supposed to have perceptible effects on reality that can be attributed to it but it doesn't.

Does something that has no effect at all on anything actually exist? In what sense would it exist?
It's an old question, but relevant.

Stas B.
Member #9,615
March 2008

Something that has no effects at all on anything does not exist, as far as I'm concerned. Maybe someone can come up with a consistent definition of existence that allows something like that, but it probably won't be very useful. The key words are "perceptible" and "attributable" though. I would argue that something you can not perceive or may nontheless exist.

Derezo
Member #1,666
April 2001
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Atheism is a belief system in and of itself, which implies that it is it's own religion. There was a thread on Reddit about that recently.

Many Atheists make fun of people who believe in god, even when their concepts of what that means don't match. Sometimes they think that atheism and science are the same thing, which is funny, but false.

Evert said:

I never understood the arbitrary distinction between "natural" and "supernatural".

I think of "supernatural" as the parts of a process that are unknown or unexplainable, and thus it is a subjective term. Sometimes there are unknowns that are shared amongst many people, such as "How did we get here?", "Where are we going?". That's usually the kind of stuff the god did. As we progress forward in time, more and more unknowns are disappearing, and I think that is why atheism is bigger today than it ever has been (because many people think we can, or do, know everything).

Having said all of that, I do not believe that Yeshua Christos was born of a virgin, and hence I am not a Christian. However, I do believe that he was an incredibly brilliant philosopher. I consider myself a spiritual person because I have beliefs that answer questions without measurable proof or evidence. For the most part, those questions are of little consequence anyway.

Evert said:

Does something that has no effect at all on anything actually exist?

I don't believe that such a thing exists.
One of my beliefs is that the entire universe is interconnected, as if the whole thing emerged from a singularity. It's a popular belief, and I don't personally have any proof, and can't measure it. The whole is the sum of it's parts.

"He who controls the stuffing controls the Universe"

Stas B.
Member #9,615
March 2008

Derezo said:

Atheism is a belief system in and of itself, which implies that it is it's own religion. There was a thread on Reddit about that recently.

How can the lack of a belief in a deity be a belief system in itself or a religion? Wait, there was a thread about it on Reddit? Must be true then. ::)

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Many Atheists make fun of people who believe in god, even when their concepts of what that means don't match. Sometimes they think that atheism and science are the same thing, which is funny, but false.

Then they're stupid. It doesn't make their rejection of god any less valid.

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I think of "supernatural" as the parts of a process that are unknown or unexplainable, and thus it is a subjective term

Sadly, you don't get to define what terms actually mean. As I'm sure you know, "supernatural" literally means "above nature", as in, something that is not constrained by the natural laws. Stuff we don't know is just stuff we don't know. Ancient people could not explain why it rains. That does not mean rain used to be supernatural and now it's natural.

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As we progress forward in time, more and more unknowns are disappearing, and I think that is why atheism is bigger today than it ever has been (because many people think we can, or do, know everything).

Ever notice how atheism is popular in places where they don't cut your head off for being an "infidel" and not very popular in places where they do? Maybe it has more to do with freedom of thought and expression.

SiegeLord
Member #7,827
October 2006
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Derezo said:

Atheism is a belief system in and of itself

A rational belief system. A belief system that allows beliefs to be changed by evidence, and in fact arises from evidence. Religion also originally came about from evidence, but once formed, it stopped taking in new evidence and became irrational. Everybody has some rational beliefs even if they don't explicitly think about it (even if they have a knee-jerk belief-is-religion reaction), but that does not make them equivalent to the irrationality of religion.

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Sometimes they think that atheism and science are the same thing, which is funny, but false.

I shall make a strong claim that any scientist that is not an atheist is not a good scientist, because they misunderstand the critical aspect of scientific method. Any science they do is good only by accident, or by imitating the scientists that do understand the scientific method.

"For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increases knowledge increases sorrow."-Ecclesiastes 1:18
[SiegeLord's Abode][Codes]:[DAllegro5]:[RustAllegro]

Specter Phoenix
Member #1,425
July 2001
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Well according to the dictionary and what I've found online, the accepted definition for an atheist is:

Quote:

a person who denies or disbelieves the existence of a supreme being or beings.

They seem to believe more in the scientific manner of how things came to be (big bang theory).

"Can't a man even talk to himself without being interrupted?" -Krull(1983)
"Through vengence I was born. Through war I was trained. Through love I was found. Through death I was released. Through release I was given a purpose." -- Specter Phoenix
"Programming == AWESOME the rest is just tools to accomplish it."
END OF LINE

verthex
Member #11,340
September 2009
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I'm so proud of myself, yet another a.cc religion thread. Sorry I have no cookies. ;D

Stas B.
Member #9,615
March 2008

SiegeLord said:

Atheism is a belief system in and of itself

A rational belief system. A belief system that allows beliefs to be changed by evidence, and in fact arises from evidence.

What are you guys talking about? You don't just get to define words to mean whatever you feel like. Atheism is the rejection of the belief in deities. It has nothing to do with the scientific method or with science. So many people who are atheists don't understand the scientific method and put blind faith in anything labeled "science". That doesn't mean they're any less atheist, nor does it mean that atheism is a religion, nor does it mean that science is religion. Those people are stupid. That's all it means. If somebody wants to say that the scientific method is a belief system, go ahead. Not all beliefs are equally valid. Some are based on logic and evidence and some are based on wishful thinking. The reason some people have knee-jerk reactions when hearing the word "belief" in the context of science is because the kind of people who bring that up are usually theists and when theists say "belief", they mean "faith".

[EDIT]

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I shall make a strong claim that any scientist that is not an atheist is not a good scientist, because they misunderstand the critical aspect of scientific method. Any science they do is good only by accident, or by imitating the scientists that do understand the scientific method.

Do you realize a lot of great thinkers and scientists actually believed in god? According to the scientific method, you should have some actual evidence when making strong claims. Humans have this amazing ability to hold several contradictory beliefs at the same time and apply rationality selectively. To use double-think. Whether a scientist who believes in god is a good scientist (in the sense that he contributes something to science) depends on whether he adjusts his god to not conflict with science or whether he adjusts science to not conflict with his god.

Arthur Kalliokoski
Second in Command
February 2005
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Derezo said:

Atheism is a belief system in and of itself, which implies that it is it's own religion.

I'd say that some people want to take some things too far, even atheism, resulting in a lot of silly rules. Fundies do it too, with their hatred and protests based on the slimmest of reasons from the bible.

This guy takes pencil sharpening way too seriously!

video

SiegeLord said:

I shall make a strong claim that any scientist that is not an atheist is not a good scientist

If a particular scientist had claustrophobia, would that prevent him from being a scientist? As long as the irrationality confines itself to one aspect of his life, I'd say no. And we all have irrational beliefs of one kind or another. And how about Issac Newton, widely believed to be one of the greatest scientists of all time? He made money on the side with astrology, although he probably didn't believe it himself. Maybe a few cardinals and the Pope himself are actually atheists who know a good scam when they see it.

“Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty. This is known as "bad luck.”

― Robert A. Heinlein

23yrold3yrold
Member #1,134
March 2001
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SiegeLord said:

A rational belief system. A belief system that allows beliefs to be changed by evidence, and in fact arises from evidence. Religion also originally came about from evidence, but once formed, it stopped taking in new evidence and became irrational.

This statement is itself irrational. If you're "born-again" (per the thread title) then logically you must have had your beliefs changed by new evidence. Also, you imply that religious people never change their beliefs within the same religion. Obviously wrong.

Of course, the real reason you're saying this is because you think your beliefs are the only rational ones. Well, as long as you aren't religious about it or anything. :)

I'd say that some people want to take some things too far, even atheism, resulting in a lot of silly rules. Fundies do it too, with their hatred and protests based on the slimmest of reasons from the bible.

True facts.

--
Software Development == Church Development
Step 1. Build it.
Step 2. Pray.

Specter Phoenix
Member #1,425
July 2001
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verthex said:

I'm so proud of myself, yet another a.cc religion thread. Sorry I have no cookies. ;D

Yep, congratulations! You've started another topic that has been done before, just like making a Pong Clone. Very original. Glad to see someone likes to celebrate their mediocrity so much.

"Can't a man even talk to himself without being interrupted?" -Krull(1983)
"Through vengence I was born. Through war I was trained. Through love I was found. Through death I was released. Through release I was given a purpose." -- Specter Phoenix
"Programming == AWESOME the rest is just tools to accomplish it."
END OF LINE

Stas B.
Member #9,615
March 2008

This statement is itself irrational. If you're "born-again" (per the thread title) then logically you must have had your beliefs changed by new evidence.

What are the chances that you could change their opinion again by presenting them with valid evidence that challenges their new beliefs? Or by giving them a valid proof of their acceptance of a new world view being based on flawed evidence? In any case, that's not even relevant. Do you know what they call the act of challenging the fundamental concepts of a religion? Heresy. Most religions have rather strict laws regarding heretics. There's no denying that some people who are raised religious have the common sense to eventually reject their religion, but that's not because their religion allows or encourages subjects to challenge it.

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Also, you imply that religious people never change their beliefs within the same religion. Obviously wrong.

Absolutely irrelevant. He implies that religious people can't accept evidence that challenges the fundamentals of their religion. You have endless examples of people like that. The moment you start questioning your religion, you are no longer religious by definition.

m c
Member #5,337
December 2004
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Of course being born again means less brain cells.

They were just born again.

We have to wait for them to grow to toddler, little kiddy, young man, and so on and so forth...

(\ /)_____#_____####__#
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(> <)__####__####__####
Megabytes are where I keep my Data.

Evert
Member #794
November 2000
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Stas B. said:

Something that has no effects at all on anything does not exist, as far as I'm concerned. Maybe someone can come up with a consistent definition of existence that allows something like that, but it probably won't be very useful. The key words are "perceptible" and "attributable" though. I would argue that something you can not perceive or may nontheless exist.

Something that has an effect is something that can be perceived through that effect.

Derezo said:

Atheism is a belief system in and of itself, which implies that it is it's own religion.

At a stretch, Atheism is a blief system (it's more the lack of one, but ok). It is in no way or form a religion. The first clue should be that there is no single common set of beliefs that atheists share.

SiegeLord said:

I shall make a strong claim that any scientist that is not an atheist is not a good scientist, because they misunderstand the critical aspect of scientific method. Any science they do is good only by accident, or by imitating the scientists that do understand the scientific method.

I think you can argue that case. If, as a scientist, you truly believe that some things should be explained as special acts of some otherwise unknowable diety, then you do have to ask yourself what exactly you'retrying to do. Why bother trying to understand why supernovae explode if you could just say that every supernova is a special act of God and therefor there is nothing to understand?
However, I do know scientists who are religious, to the point of being lay preachers - quite succesful scientists too. It's not as clear-cut in practice.
I suspect it makes a difference whether the science you do is descriptive or explicative.

They seem to believe more in the scientific manner of how things came to be (big bang theory).

That really has very little to do with being an atheist or not. There are Christians (for example) who "believe" those things and I'm sure there are atheists who don't. An atheist is someone who does not believe in God(s). No more, no less.

Stas B.
Member #9,615
March 2008

Evert said:

Something that has an effect is something that can be perceived through that effect.

Something that has an effect is something that can in principle be perceived through that effect. Things had effects before humans were around to perceive them or attribute them to their respective sources. It is possible that some things we perceive as truly random have underlying non-random causes. It is also possible that the human senses and mental abilities are not enough to perceive certain things. We have no reason to consider that as an actual possibility, yet we can not rule that out.



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