Is atheism a sign of intellectual weakness?

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  • #51
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Originally posted by hypnagogue
Actually there is a common thread running through all religions and spiritual practices, namely the conception of the spiritual experience itself. This universal 'truth' is denoted as the perennial philosophy. Here's a good link: http://www.clas.ufl.edu/users/gthursby/mys/prenphil.htm [Broken]
Agreed, but the most important point, and the one that I'm referring to, is the lack of agreement on God, Allah, Zeus, or whoever your "supreme being" is. Unless we're saying that they are all sitting up in heaven waiting?
 
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  • #52
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Originally posted by Zantra
Agreed, but the most important point, and the one that I'm referring to, is the lack of agreement on God, Allah, Zeus, or whoever your "supreme being" is. Unless we're saying that they are all sitting up in heaven waiting?
As I see it, God, Allah, and Zeus are names and explanations for the spiritual experience compiled by their respective historical cultures. That is, they are of secondary importance to the spiritual experience when it comes to establishing a religion; they are after-the-fact creations that follow from some visionary's subjective enlightenment. However, over time, the distinction dissolves, and religious groups equate the explanation with the phenomenon-- hence the dogmatic attitude that 'my God' is the right one. (Actually, the traces of this attitude can be found in the spiritual experience itself, wherein the experiencer has intense feelings of unitary oneness and universal interconnectedness-- there appears to be only one true Thing, and that Thing is later reconciled to be God. Thus, after a religious faction has attached its mythological elements to the founding spiritual insight, those attachments come to take on the same flavor-- they are the only One, they are the right one. However, it looks to me as if this is really just one big confusion arising between those who have had the experience and those who have not and strive to understand it in terms of their mythologies.)

I think it is preferable to view the specific and distinct metaphysical claims of religions as cultural phenomena, but the underlying substance that can be seen to be common across religions as the true teachings of that religion-- since that common ground is more or less an unmistakable description of the spiritual experience. Of course, this is not the angle you will get from theists, so I see where the problem arises. But I advise trying to look past God vs. Allah vs. Thor and instead trying to recognize the founding, underlying spiritual principles.
 
  • #53
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Originally posted by Pirwzwhomper
Spiritual Experience is a very vague topic. Just sitting there could be a spiritual experience. Seeing an eagle flying overhead could be a spiritual experience. Reading the relgious scriptures of a certain practice could be called a spiritual experience. Tripping over a rock could be a spiritual experience. Eating you favorite flavor Combos could be a spiritual experience. What couldn't be said to be a spiritual experience? There is no way to discern what is and what is not a spiritual experience. It is solely up to the person to decide, and that makes it a subjective topic as well as vague.
I am speaking of the unitive, mystic spiritual experience. This experience is certainly subjective, and exceedingly difficult to communicate. But it is not arbitrary either. Here's a good link describing what it is like:

http://www.csp.org/experience/docs/noetic_gnosis.html
 
  • #54
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Originally posted by hypnagogue
As I see it, God, Allah, and Zeus are names and explanations for the spiritual experience compiled by their respective historical cultures. That is, they are of secondary importance to the spiritual experience when it comes to establishing a religion; they are after-the-fact creations that follow from some visionary's subjective enlightenment. However, over time, the distinction dissolves, and religious groups equate the explanation with the phenomenon-- hence the dogmatic attitude that 'my God' is the right one. (Actually, the traces of this attitude can be found in the spiritual experience itself, wherein the experiencer has intense feelings of unitary oneness and universal interconnectedness-- there appears to be only one true Thing, and that Thing is later reconciled to be God. Thus, after a religious faction has attached its mythological elements to the founding spiritual insight, those attachments come to take on the same flavor-- they are the only One, they are the right one. However, it looks to me as if this is really just one big confusion arising between those who have had the experience and those who have not and strive to understand it in terms of their mythologies.)

I think it is preferable to view the specific and distinct metaphysical claims of religions as cultural phenomena, but the underlying substance that can be seen to be common across religions as the true teachings of that religion-- since that common ground is more or less an unmistakable description of the spiritual experience. Of course, this is not the angle you will get from theists, so I see where the problem arises. But I advise trying to look past God vs. Allah vs. Thor and instead trying to recognize the founding, underlying spiritual principles.
Oh I agree with the base fundamental beliefs that all religions represent. Do no harm to others, treat others with respect, etc. Those are beliefs that are integral to society. I think they are a necessity regardless of religion. As for the spirituality, That's something that can be practiced regardless of religion, or even if you don't have a religion you ascribe to. But as to the issue of a supreme being, I don't believe we can know for sure, and the fact that there is more than one explanation detracts from it's credibility
 
  • #55
russ_watters
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Originally posted by Opinion
Further, it is funny how NOT ONE SINGLE prophecy has failed in the Bible. These things true theist ponder upon, by faith. And yes, it is scary to know the truth... especially when 99% of the people you encounter don't.
Prophecy is a piece of cake when a prophecy isn't required to be a prediction or when its so general as to be meaningless.

As for the main point of the thread, I disagree. In my experience, those who are overly religious are more closed minded than those who are not. Religion synonomous with dogma.
Agreed, but the most important point, and the one that I'm referring to, is the lack of agreement on God, Allah, Zeus, or whoever your "supreme being" is.
I don't see the problem there, Zantra. Allah, literally translated means "God." So the passage reads "There is one god and his name is God." Why is it such a stretch to believe that all monotheistic religions worship the same God but call him by different (barely) names? Shouldn't that be self evident?

I think as a Christian, I am unusually tolerant of other religions. I find most overly religious people (despite what their scriptures teach) to be intolerant of others with dissimilar beliefs. The easiest way to attack someone of another religion is based on the identity of God. Otherwise we're just arguing the specifics of how to worship him, and it isn't easy to show one way is better than another.
 
  • #56
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Originally posted by Zantra
Oh I agree with the base fundamental beliefs that all religions represent. Do no harm to others, treat others with respect, etc. Those are beliefs that are integral to society. I think they are a necessity regardless of religion. As for the spirituality, That's something that can be practiced regardless of religion, or even if you don't have a religion you ascribe to. But as to the issue of a supreme being, I don't believe we can know for sure, and the fact that there is more than one explanation detracts from it's credibility
I'm not arguing for the existence of God here, but consider an analogy. There are a whole lot of interpretations as to the physical meaning behind the mathematics of quantum mechanics, and it is unclear if we will ever know for sure which, if any, is the 'correct' one. Does this detract from the credibility of quantum mechanics? A typical answer is that quantum mechanics can be verified objectively, regardless of how we interpret the data. A mystic, on the other hand, will tell you that 'God' can be verified subjectively, regardless of how we interpret the spiritual experience.
 
  • #57
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Originally posted by Pirwzwhomper
Spiritual Experience is a very vague topic. Just sitting there could be a spiritual experience. Seeing an eagle flying overhead could be a spiritual experience. Reading the relgious scriptures of a certain practice could be called a spiritual experience. Tripping over a rock could be a spiritual experience. Eating you favorite flavor Combos could be a spiritual experience. What couldn't be said to be a spiritual experience? There is no way to discern what is and what is not a spiritual experience. It is solely up to the person to decide, and that makes it a subjective topic as well as vague.
Well, I guess it all depends on whether you're "spiritual" or not. :wink:
 
  • #58
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Originally posted by Opinion
Further, it is funny how NOT ONE SINGLE prophecy has failed in the Bible. These things true theist ponder upon, by faith. And yes, it is scary to know the truth... especially when 99% of the people you encounter don't.
Neither has Nostradamuse's prophecies. Funny, when you can interpret something literally or metaphorically, then judging prophecy is a whole lot easier. If one interpretation fails, then we can all say it was just the interpretation in error, not the bible.

I seem to remember several 'interpretations' that had people selling all their property and retreating to some field or mountain top for the 'rapture'. But, as I said, that was their interpretation at fault, not the bible.

This also avoids/ignores the aspect raised by the linguistic studies that showed many of the prophecies mentioned in the bible, were made 'after' the event prophecied, according to the linguistic usages of the respective passages. Obviously this research was performed on the ancient Hebrew and Aramaic.
 
  • #59
posted by Iacchus32
Well, I guess it all depends on whether you're "spiritual" or not.
I guess it does.
 
  • #60
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Originally posted by Pirwzwhomper
Spiritual Experience is a very vague topic. Just sitting there could be a spiritual experience. Seeing an eagle flying overhead could be a spiritual experience. Reading the relgious scriptures of a certain practice could be called a spiritual experience. Tripping over a rock could be a spiritual experience. Eating you favorite flavor Combos could be a spiritual experience. What couldn't be said to be a spiritual experience? There is no way to discern what is and what is not a spiritual experience. It is solely up to the person to decide, and that makes it a subjective topic as well as vague.
If you've never experienced a profound spiritual experience (which is how I interpret the way spiritual experience is spoken of here), then I can see how you would say it is vague. Of people I've spoken to, who've had a strong spiritual experience, none would consider 'vague' to be used in the same lexicon as in describing the experience.

While I'm not Christian/Jewish/Muslim, I can understand what they are talking about when speaking of the spiritual experiences they've had. Though the interpretations are different, the experiences are amazingly similar.
 
  • #61
So could one possibly equate a spiritual experience with an epiphany of their own spiritual beliefs?

By epiphany, I mean in the term of definition 3a on dictionary.com:
"A sudden manifestation of the essence or meaning of something."
 
  • #62
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Originally posted by Pirwzwhomper
So could one possibly equate a spiritual experience with an epiphany of their own spiritual beliefs?

By epiphany, I mean in the term of definition 3a on dictionary.com:
"A sudden manifestation of the essence or meaning of something."
The spiritual experience is a profound and powerful experience, that could easily be seen as an endorsement that what you believe is true, assuming what you're practicing (christian prayer, buddhist meditation, judaic meditation) at the approximate time of the spiritual experience.

There is no loud, booming voice saying, "Yep Pirwz, you are correct. I am Zeus and I like what you're doing". However, when a life-changing experience smacks you between the eyes, when everything and everyone appears different, fresh, and alive, when you are patently amazed the everybody outside your skin wasn't aware that this amazing thing has happened, it's easy to start attaching meaning to it that wasn't part of the experience.
 
  • #63
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Originally posted by Pirwzwhomper
So could one possibly equate a spiritual experience with an epiphany of their own spiritual beliefs?

By epiphany, I mean in the term of definition 3a on dictionary.com:
"A sudden manifestation of the essence or meaning of something."
Pirwzwhomper,

If you haven't read the link I posted yet, I suggest you take a look... It gives a pretty clear description of the 'spiritual experience' as I was using the phrase-- there is clearly something of a core experience going on here, something that, as Radagast noted, isn't vague at all if you have actually experienced it:

http://www.csp.org/experience/docs/noetic_gnosis.html

Profound spiritual experiences are typically responsible for starting religious institutions, insofar as most religions are based on the teachings of spiritual masters who presumably possessed an elevated spiritual awareness-- for instance, although I'm not aware of the Bible alluding to any such particular experience for Jesus, the paradigm he espouses in the Bible is roughly indicative of the way one tends to think and feel during such an experience; and I believe that Islam actually was constructed based on a particular vision (spiritual experience) of its founder, Muhammad. So you can imagine that if whole religions can be created from a spiritual experience, it is no small matter for a practicing member of a religion to identify his/her experience with the teachings of his/her religion. However, there is nothing in the experience itself which lends itself to one religion's teachings any more than another's.
 
  • #64
Hmm. Sounds like a bunch of crap, IMHO. But then, one has to believe in the spiritual first.
 
  • #65
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Originally posted by amadeus
I recently read an argument that atheists are fools, not for disbelieving in God, but for believing too much in themselves...
-snip-
Atheism, on the contrary, seems a close-minded position. The atheist sees himself as the master of a universe in which he is the sole bearer of truth. In the atheist's mind there is no doubt, no sense of insecurity, no possibility that he might be wrong without realizing it. Unlike most people, the atheist is not bothered by the fact that his feeling of certainty is not shared by the absolute majority of people around him;
-snip-


Conventional wisdom has concluded the Universe must have come from somewhere, and the idea that it was ushered into existence by some primordial nascent event appeals seductively to human intuition. The very process of thought is governed by cause and effect, so scholars instinctively employ that principle in their quest to solve the ultimate mystery of the Universe. Proponents of 'Big Bang' espouse a theory of singularity which envisions a Universe cast from the bowels of a spontaneous cosmic eruption. Many contemporary religions believe a devine act of creation gave birth to the infinite cosmos. Both science and theology portray a source of creation - a spawning force of natural or supernatural origin. From cosmologists to clergy, the presumption that the Universe began is quietly accepted without question.

The existence of nothing ostensibly requires no justification, so most theories of Universal origin begin with a primal void. At the 'beginning of time' a transformation must have taken place, and the physical manifestation of the cosmos resulted. But creation would require a creator - the very presence of which would violate the original contention that nothing existed. Even if that inconsistency is ignored, whatever sired the Universe must, too, have been created by some predecessor which, in turn, must have been predated by a limitless procession of ancestry. The endless cycle of chicken-and-the-egg redundancy which results from a cause and effect approach to the enigma of existence implies no logical 'beginning'.

Supernatural versions of creation sidestep the issue of redundancy with the assertion that whatever created the Universe was not subject to the laws of nature. Of course, when the laws of nature are discarded anything is possible, even the absurd. If immunity could be alleged on one occasion, why could it not be invoked for every natural occurrence. To claim exemption from the laws of nature is to refute logic, itself.

Before something can change - act or be acted upon - it must first exist. The process of 'change' is always explained in terms of cause and effect - action and reaction. Conditions - or states of being - change during the process of cause and effect, but existence is not a condition or a state of being, it is being, itself. And if being is required in order for change to occur then cause and effect is a function of the phenomenon of existence. This is the very antithesis of the premise that existence is the product of a process - a manifestation or transformation commonly called creation.

If it is not logical to believe that the Universe began, how would it be logical to believe there was a creator?


Theory of Reciprocity
 
  • #66
hypnagogue
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Originally posted by Pirwzwhomper
Hmm. Sounds like a bunch of crap, IMHO. But then, one has to believe in the spiritual first.
Again, it might sound like a bunch of crap if you don't have some first-hand verification of the experience. Having the experience is not predicated on a belief system-- you don't have to believe that there is some 'spiritual essense' to have a spiritual experience. I'm not claiming that you necessarily are 'claimed' or 'possessed' of some numinous essense during the spiritual experience-- only that it is a mode of perception, thought, and consciousness that is distinct from your everyday experience of consciousness. Alternative modes of consciousness undoubtedy exist; if you are skeptical, ask a schizophrenic or a drug user. The spiritual experience is just one such alternative mode of consciousness.
 
  • #67
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Originally posted by hypnagogue
I'm not arguing for the existence of God here, but consider an analogy. There are a whole lot of interpretations as to the physical meaning behind the mathematics of quantum mechanics, and it is unclear if we will ever know for sure which, if any, is the 'correct' one. Does this detract from the credibility of quantum mechanics? A typical answer is that quantum mechanics can be verified objectively, regardless of how we interpret the data. A mystic, on the other hand, will tell you that 'God' can be verified subjectively, regardless of how we interpret the spiritual experience.
Do I have all the answers? No. That is why I'm agnostic and not atheistic. :wink: Like I mentioned in another post, existence is subjective and in the eye of the believer. You can't prove God exists anymore than I can prove the universe is infinite. We must each find the truth within ourselves.
 
  • #68
loss of words

*Its one of those nights in which I can never find the words to get my idea onto paper, allow me time to think a while on it. I just felt that I had to post something.*
 
  • #69
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Originally posted by Pirwzwhomper
Hmm. Sounds like a bunch of crap, IMHO. But then, one has to believe in the spiritual first.
Believe in the spiritual??? You don't have to believe crap. Experiencing it tends to be quite good at convincing.

We are not talking (at least I'm not) a supernatural event or experience - we are talking of a different state of consciousness.

You accept other states of consciousness, right?

Do you equally dismiss quantum mechanics, relativity, or playing the Oboe, just because it's outside your current experience base?
 
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  • #70
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Originally posted by Zantra
Do I have all the answers? No. That is why I'm agnostic and not atheistic. :wink: Like I mentioned in another post, existence is subjective and in the eye of the believer. You can't prove God exists anymore than I can prove the universe is infinite. We must each find the truth within ourselves.
Well, I think there are two ways to conceive of 'God.' There is the traditional way, which treats God as some objective mythological object. As I have said before, I think this paradigm of God has been created in an attempt to make sense of the spiritual experience and integrate it into everyday life. Such a treatment defeats the point of what I was trying to get across before-- for a mystic, 'God' primarily exists or is accessed through a specific state of consciousness. Thus, comparing a conception of 'God' in this sense to the conception of an infinite universe is comparing apples and oranges-- one is verified subjectively, the other objectively. Thus, while the mythological 'God' object is by definition quite beyond reach, the experiential 'God' is indeed verified by the appropriate state of consciousness.
 
  • #71
l'Anvers
Everybody believes in something. Theists believe in a God, atheists do not. Atheists believe science has all the answers. We live in a multidimensional world, according to scientists. If the big bang is the start of the universe, then the first dimension was the start of it all, all energy concentrated in one point. I believe in that one point, and that point to me is God. Whatever you call it. Atheists have a problem calling something defined by science, God. Einstein who defined that everything is energy, still believed in God. All energy together is God to me, and this takes me back to the first dimension. But I do not want to restrict myself to only one dimension. There is more than one point of energy in the universe. If you want to believe that energy is the soul thing in the universe, do so. But there is still a lot of energy we cannot sense or measure, and that still affects our lives. For me, it's devine, for atheists its probably energy, for satanists it's the devil, whatever you worship, whatever is number one for you...
 
  • #72
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Uh... number of misconceptions here...

Atheists believe science has all the answers.
Uh... no they don't. The only thing that ties theists together is their lack of belief in god. After that, they can believe in anything, like pink elephants - as long as it isn't divine. Even then, it is invalid to say science has all the answers. Science doesn't have the answers - that's the point. Science is a good method to get closer to the answers.

We live in a multidimensional world, according to scientists.
Of course. Width, Height and Length. Oh you mean the 11? No. That isn't a belief, but a hypothetical derivation - a theory that some scientists are testing, and many don't agree with. No belief required.
The only belief in science is that the search for knowledge is worthwhile. That's it.

If the big bang is the start of the universe, then the first dimension was the start of it all, all energy concentrated in one point.
Uh... I am getting some bad vibes from this statement. From what little I know of string theory, this isn't what is meant. One point? Maybe, from the evidence we find. First dimension... No.

Atheists have a problem calling something defined by science, God.
Modern physics tries to avoid calling anything by a name with too many strings attached. (Hence Quarks, Charm, Strangeness, Colour, Flavour) God needs to be conscious, omnipotent and eternal. Atheists? Well, if they called it God, they wouldn't be atheists by definition, would they?

Einstein who defined that everything is energy, still believed in God.
Uh... key misunderstanding here. Einstien's god is Spinoza's universal order, the god which doesn't play dice. It isn't really god in the strictest, dictionary sense.

But there is still a lot of energy we cannot sense or measure, and that still affects our lives.
Here's my problem... Sense or measure, but still affects? In physical terms, that is a contradiction in terms. We measure everything by the effect they have on what we experience. An entity that still affects our lives must neccessarily be measurable, and sensable. It must be a materialist entity, because it holds the connection with the material existence.
 
  • #73
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Ha ! Ha !
How could I miss this thread ?!
Originally posted by FZ+
Is atheism a sign of intellectual weakness?
That's one of the FUNNIEST things I've ever heard !
 
  • #74
l'Anvers
What I believe and how I see the world is obviously not common knowledge, everyone has his own view on life, and hopefully they can live with it. Multidimensional, sure, but I only can grasp the fourth dimension as the last one proven by science, all dimensions higher than time are hypothetical, I agree. I can't even imagine that there is an 11th or 13th dimension. Occasionaly my fantasy takes me upto 7th or 9th but who believes what one's mind tells him has to be careful not to end up in the nuthouse. I believe it all started at one point. My point is the center of my universe, and everyone has his own view on the universe.
 

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