Posts Tagged ‘theist’
This charge will usually rear it’s head at some point as you think about God all the time in not believing him. That sadly ignores the reality of what belief means when in a cult.
Imagine that you had to prepare each week for four meetings learning and worshipping about God and a field trip over the weekend to tell people about it at their front door. That every conversation anywhere was to reflect glory upon God, and reflect well for the faith you stand for. To analyse every social interaction as whether a potential convert to be saved, or person avoided to save yourself. Sitting in front of the TV and thinking if Jesus walked into the lounge how would he feel about what you were watching. To monitor your thoughts in case demons tried to enter to cause doubts. To be trained to have a reflex, so if told you were brainwashed you would reply “we have to be the world tries to pollute our minds in so many ways doesn’t it?”
Such was life with the Jehovah’s Witnesses – and that is only by way of an introduction, for more do read the tabs on Jehovah’s Witnesses and the pages of the blog. To suggest that atheism is a religion or just as obsessive is nonsensical. As a freethinker, I am not tied to an ideology or to honour at all times a society or people. I can be critical of Richard Dawkins when the occasion arises (for example the claim that Obama was a secret atheist), without being disfellowshipped and considered a heretic. Try that in the Jehovah’s Witnesses about the Society and see what happens.
Debate, reasoning and learning with honest critical inquiry aid human reflective thought.
I have mentioned in the past how the debate between Vroomfondle and MagicThighs on the existence or none of God must end. Largely because we need to work on such things as religious freedom, pluralism and multicultural society working harmoniously, protecting human rights from religious privileges, and public policy that has the welfare of people at its core. Leave to people their conscience about God or no God, and work out how we actually can live beyond surviving.
That is not going to be easy. Some believe the way is to get everyone to covert to their way of thinking – then it will be. No, that will be counter productive. Rather, being free to talk, exchange ideas, and work on ways forward in resolving conflicts with justice and fairness are the best way to a better future.
History has shown that conflict is either resolved by dialogue or violence. Having once thought that genocide by Armageddon was the only way this would happen with God’s grace on the few to be saved, I am more optimistic that we will decide there is another way, but only if we are prepared to stand up for the enlightenment and not give in to a cynicism that has no basis in fact but only in attitude.
I am obsessed with the human, and how we can make this a better place for us all to live, without making us all part of some means to fulfil a paradigm set out by others. Let us be free, and use that freedom to help ourselves and others live. How we think matters, which is why the accusation about being obsessed with God is one myth to be put to rest.
Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog
Below is an article by AC Grayling in the latest edition of Prospect, concerned with the nature of proof and how it relates to the question of the supernatural. Carl Sagan’s dragon in a garage makes an (undetectable!) appearance and is a good metaphor to be aware of if ever in a debate.
From Prospect, March 2008
The claim that negatives cannot be proved is beloved of theists who resist the assaults of sceptics by asserting that the non-existence of God cannot be proved. By this way they hope to persuade themselves and others that at least the possibility remains open that a supernatural agency exists; from there they make the inflationary move from alleged mere possibility to not eating meat on Fridays. They are, however, wrong both about not being able to prove a negative, and about not being able to prove supernatural agencies exist and are active in the universe. Seeing why requires a brief refresher on the nature of proof
Proof in a formal deductive system consists in deriving a conclusion from premises by rules. Formal derivations are literary explications, in the sens that all the information that constitutes the conclusion is already in the premises, so a derivation is in fact merely a rearrangement. There is no logical novelty in the conclusion, though there might be and often is psychological novelty, in the sens that the conclusion can seem unobvious or even surprising because the information constituting it was so dispersed among the premises.
Demonstrative proof, as just explained, is watertight and conclusive. It is a mechanical matter; computers do it best. Change the rules or axioms of a formal system, and you change the results. Such proof is only to be found in mathematics and logic.
Proof in all other spheres of reasoning consists in adducing evidence of the kind and in the quantity that makes it irrational, absurd, irresponsible or even lunatic to reject the conclusion thus being supported. This is proof in the scientific and common-sense meaning. The definitive illustration of what this means, especially for the use that theists would like to make of the myth that you cannot prove a negative, is Carl Sagan’s “dragon in the garage” story, which involves the teller claiming that he has a dragon in his garage – except that it’s invisible, incorporeal and undetectable. In response to which one can only ask – if there’s no way to disprove a contention, and no conceivable experiment that would count against it, what does it mean to say something exists?
No self-respecting theist would go so far as to claim that “you cannot prove the non-existence of God” entails “God exists”. As mentioned, their point is merely to leave open the possibility that such a being might exist. But Sagan’s dragon dashes even this hope. For one can show that it is absurd, irrational, intellectually irresponsible or even lunatic to believe that fairies, goblins, the Norse gods, the Hindu gods, the gods of early Judaism (yes, there were several: go check), and so endlessly on, “might exist.” It would compound the felony a millionfold to grant this and yet insist that one’s own (Christian or Muslim, say) deity “nevertheless” exists or might exist.
For a simple case of proving a negative, by the way, consider how you prove the absence of pennies in a piggy-bank.