Honest Doubt: Essays on Atheism in a Believing Society

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For example: in the case of peer disagreement, knowing that a peer disagrees with you is a piece of higher-order evidence regarding your first-order belief. With respect to reflective access conditions, it was noted earlier that Evidentialists cannot require that a rational subject always base beliefs on sufficient evidence that she knows or justifiably believes she has, for fear of an infinite regress. If that is correct, then another less demanding sort of principle must be in the offing, one according to which at least some beliefs can simply be held on the basis of sufficient evidence, regardless of whether the subject has any beliefs about that evidence.

On the issue of evidence-possession generally: if we regard evidence as wholly constituted by mental states experiences, beliefs, memories, etc. If evidence is not merely in the head, so to speak, then the possession condition in Evidentialist norms may turn out to be quite complex. Is it our awareness or experience of something, such as the street's being wet? Or is it simply the street's being wet? For arguments that extra-mental facts in the world often constitute evidence, see McDowell and Ginsborg ; for further discussion see Williamson and Dancy , ch. In light of the fact that there are different types of value underwriting different types of obligation, there must also be different types of Evidentialism: prudential, epistemic, and moral at the very least.

Strict prudential Evidentialism doesn't enjoy much of a following; indeed, as with most strict forms of Evidentialism, it is hard to see how it could be motivated. Perhaps it is prudent in general to follow one's evidence, but there will always be cases in which prudential considerations push in the direction of playing fast and loose with the evidence. Wouldn't it be better for the grief-stricken widower to believe that his wife is enjoying life in heaven, or for the devoted spouse to fight off the belief that her husband is unfaithful, even though she regularly finds lipstick on his collar?

One move that the prudential Evidentialist can make in response to such objections is to adopt the doxastic analogue of rule consequentialism. Even if there are particular cases in which it is imprudent to follow one's evidence, the general rule that one should believe on the basis of, and in proportion to, sufficient evidence in one's possession produces the best distribution of prudential outcomes overall. This kind of moderate prudential Evidentialism can handle a lot of common counterexamples, but there is still the concern that entire classes of beliefs—rather than individual instances—violate the principle and yet seem to produce more beneficial overall results.

For instance, wouldn't it be better all around if each of us were as a rule to think more highly of one another's worth, intentions, and capacities than our evidence actually supports? In response, it might be claimed that the source of the prudential value of always believing on sufficient evidence is that it tends to result in our having knowledge. The challenge for such a position, however, is to show that justification or knowledge adds something of genuine prudential value that mere true belief lacks.

Strict moral Evidentialism is unlikely to be attractive to anyone but the most zealous Cliffordian. In its more moderate forms, however, moral Evidentialism is much more attractive and widespread. Moral rightness and wrongness is analyzed in many different ways, of course; a moral Evidentialist will presumably either adopt one of those analyses and develop her position accordingly, or show that the ethics of belief swings free of debates between deontologists, consequentialists, virtue theorists, and the like.

Again, it is an open and interesting question whether these issues need to be dealt with differently in an ethics of belief than they are in an ethics of action. By far the most influential and widespread variety of Evidentialism is epistemic see Chisholm , Adler , Conee and Feldman , Shah The central thesis of epistemic Evidentialism is that the norms of evidence governing belief are somehow based in the nature and aims of theoretical reason itself.

To believe on insufficient evidence is at bottom an epistemic failure—a failure to use our cognitive faculties in such a way that we are likely to acquire significant knowledge and avoid significant unjustified belief. Some philosophers in this tradition also defend Locke's proportionality thesis according to which our degree of belief must be in proportion to the strength of our evidence see White A major challenge facing proponents of epistemic Evidentialism is to find an adequate motivation for it: if there are not sufficient prudential or moral grounds for the obligation to believe on sufficient evidence, then what is the source of its normativity?

In response to the challenge, epistemic Evidentialists take a number of different tacks. Some argue that the norms are underwritten by necessary, conceptual truths. On this view, the very concept of belief reveals that it is a truth-aimed attitude that is only properly formed on the basis of sufficient evidence in the possession of the subject. Thus an attitude that is not formed in this way is either not a genuine belief at all, or at best a deficient instance of it see Adler , Textor Other epistemic Evidentialists argue that doxastic norms arise not from analysis of the concept of belief, but rather from reflection on the fact that our belief-forming faculties are simply set up to be sensitive to evidence.

The faculties of perception, memory, testimony, introspection, reasoning, and so on, typically generate beliefs on the basis of sufficient evidence, and we usually regard these faculties as malfunctioning, maladjusted, or misused when they generate beliefs in other ways. Pieces of apparent evidence—epistemic reasons, broadly-speaking—reliably provide us with important information about the world, and we have evolved to be sensitive to such reasons in our quest to survive and flourish. Note that the epistemic Evidentialist does not hold that the acquisition of significant truth—even truth that promotes survival—is the only relevant consideration in this region: our belief-forming faculties are not mere thermometers or motion-detectors.


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The idea is rather that, as evidence-sensitive believers, we don't merely want to believe significant truths; rather, we want to have good grounds for taking propositions to be true, and to base our belief on those grounds Feldman ; though again see David This putative fact is then taken to underwrite a norm: we ought to seek not just true belief but knowledge , or, more specifically, we ought to seek widespread significant knowledge without widespread significant error.

To seek knowledge in this way is, among other things, to seek to have sufficient evidence for true beliefs and to base them on that evidence. This approach seems coherent and in some ways attractive, though it has not found many defenders in the literature. We have already seen that there are any number of ways in which one can fail to be a strict Evidentialist.

One might hold, for instance, that belief need not always be based on evidence though of course the moderate Evidentialist could agree with that , or that belief requires evidence but its degree needn't be proportioned to the strength of the evidence, or that belief requires evidence but need not be based on that evidence, or that belief requires that there be evidence even if the subject doesn't possess that evidence. No doubt there are other ways as well, and the question of whether a particular philosopher counts as an Evidentialist will ultimately hang on how Evidentialism itself is construed.

Most important for present purposes, however, is to note that the fact that someone is not a prudential Evidentialist, say, does not entail that she is a Non- Evidentialist for prudential reasons—or for any other reasons. Indeed, she might still be an Evidentialist, but for moral or epistemic rather than prudential reasons. As I will use the term, being a Non-Evidentialist with respect to a certain domain of beliefs requires, as a necessary condition, that one is not an Evidentialist of any sort about that domain of beliefs. I suggested earlier that a natural place to draw the line between moderate Evidentialists and Non-Evidentialists about a domain of beliefs rests on the question of whether belief on the basis of insufficient evidence is ever reasonably required.

Are we ever obliged to believe, even in the absence of sufficient evidence? Strict and moderate Evidentialists will say no, Non-Evidentialists will say yes. Naturally, the reasons that motivate this putative requirement will be different according to different types of Non-Evidentialism. In places, James goes further and suggests that in certain cases—especially cases involving religious and moral belief—it is not merely permitted but positively commendable or even required that we believe on insufficient evidence.

We saw earlier that there are difficult conceptual and psychological problems facing an ethics of belief that says, quite strictly, that we must always and only believe what is prudentially beneficial. For Immanuel Kant, by contrast, considerations that can justify belief or faith in the absence of sufficient theoretical evidence are typically though not exclusively moral.

If, for instance, there is no sufficient evidence one way or the other for a certain proposition p the proposition, say, that the human will is incompatibilistically free , and if one has set a moral end that requires one to take a stand on the truth of p , and if any evidence that one does have points in the direction of the truth of p , then one is permitted and sometimes even required to take p to be true.

Conservatism sometimes also called dogmatism , though the latter is usually thought to be a view about perceptual belief in particular; see Pryor , White is the view that one is prima facie justified in believing that p if in fact one does believe that p Harman , Owens Another version of it says that one is prima facie justified in believing that p if it seems to one that p is true Huemer a or at least perceptually seems to one that p is true Pryor In order to be all things considered justified on either of these conservatisms, one must be aware of no undefeated defeaters for p.

Thus, for example, conservatism about beliefs that go into the foundation of our knowledge structure including beliefs about basic mathematical or moral truths might very naturally be combined with a kind of Evidentialism about beliefs that are not in the foundation for more on foundationalism in epistemology, see foundationalist theories of epistemic justification. Note that conservatives need not say that any of the beliefs we have are infallible or incapable of being undermined.

Indeed, they might be quite open to the fallibilist thought that our current justified beliefs can be defeated either rebutted or undercut by new evidence. A third Non-Evidentialist position in the ethics of belief, similar to but distinct from dogmatism, is sometimes called fideism , though it needn't have anything to do with religious doctrine in particular.

Someone might hold on the basis of faith, for instance, that there has been at least one bodily resurrection at some point in the past, even though he has never witnessed such a thing first-hand, and his best scientific, testimonial, and everyday inductive evidence constitutes a powerful case against it. Fideism of this radical sort is not itself required by most religions, but is typically associated with religious thinkers like Tertullian in the ancient period perhaps unfairly: see Sider , and Kierkegaard in the modern also perhaps unfairly: see Evans Apart from wearing its irrationality on its sleeve, fideism is vulnerable to psychological objections about the lack of direct control over belief.

Consider someone who has normal sensory faculties and who, despite strong perceptual and testimonial evidence to the contrary, repeatedly declares—without claiming to have any hidden evidence—that there is, say, a huge abyss opening up in front of him. It would take a very long time for us to become convinced that he really believes that there is an abyss in front of him.

But if, in the end, we are convinced by his actions and speech that he has this belief, and we know that his sensory faculties are functioning properly, then we will probably think the belief is the product of an undesirable and partly involuntary state such as self-deception, wish-fulfillment, or paranoia. We won't think that he has simply chosen to believe. This is not a knockdown argument against that kind of fideism, of course: it may be that such a fideist can give reasons to think that trying to formulate an ethics of belief is an ill-conceived project in the first place.

A final alternative for the fideist is to admit that he is not really focused on belief at all, but is rather trying to make room for another kind of positive propositional attitude that is not guided by evidence. On such a conception, faith that p might very well be able rationally to co-exist in the same psychology with a lot of evidence for not-p. Perhaps the most prominent candidate here is acceptance conceived as a positive categorical attitude towards a proposition that is by definition voluntary and figures significantly in our deliberation, action, argumentation, and assertion.

Some philosophers focus on the role that acceptance plays in scientific inquiry, theory-construction, and decision theory van Fraasen , Stalnaker , Cohen Others focus on the role that it plays in ethical, juridical, religious, and everyday contexts Bratman , Cohen , Alston , Audi a.

A warning is in order here: acceptance is typically a technical notion and characterizations of its nature and ethics differ radically in the literature. There is also some dispute about whether acceptance is able to play the various roles that its advocates intend Radford , Maher , Moore The ethicist of belief who wants to soften or supplement her view by appealing to some notion of permissible acceptance would need to say what acceptance is, how the two sorts of attitude differ, what sorts of norms govern each, and how they interact in a single subject.

A moderate fideist, by contrast, might argue that we are only permitted to accept that p if we lack strong evidence about p either way. This is still consistent with our having weak evidence for not-p , and even a weakly held belief that not-p. He also thanks Noam Weinreich for his help with updating the version of the entry and generating the bibliography. The Ethics of Belief: A brief history 1. Doxastic Norms 2. Evidentialism: an overview 4.

Honest Doubt: Essays on Atheism in a Believing Society - James A. Haught - Google книги

Varieties of Evidentialism 5. Varieties of Non-Evidentialism 6. For more on hypothetical norms generally, see Broome and Schroeder The structure of moral and epistemic norms can also be construed hypothetically in this way. In order to see how such requirements can play a role, consider the following prudential doxastic norm: A If S has end E , and if S's believing that p is likely to make E obtain, then S has a prima facie prudential obligation to believe that p.

The reasoning here seems to be as follows: P1 We have an epistemic obligation to possess sufficient evidence for all of our beliefs; P2 We have a moral obligation to uphold our epistemic obligations; C Thus, we have a moral obligation to possess sufficient evidence for all of our beliefs. See Broome and Kolodny 3. It is quite another to say that no belief can count as properly formed unless it also counts as knowledge for more on all this, see Benton, Other Internet Resources 3. Varieties of Evidentialism In light of the fact that there are different types of value underwriting different types of obligation, there must also be different types of Evidentialism: prudential, epistemic, and moral at the very least.

Varieties of Non-Evidentialism We have already seen that there are any number of ways in which one can fail to be a strict Evidentialist. When I look at the religious question as it really puts itself to concrete men, and when I think of all the possibilities which both practically and theoretically it involves, then this command that we shall put a stopper on our heart, instincts, and courage, and wait —acting of course meanwhile more or less as if religion were not true—till doomsday, or till such time as our intellect and sense working together may have raked in evidence enough,—this command, I say, seems to me the queerest idol ever manufactured in the philosophic cave.

Bibliography Adam, C. Tannery eds. Adams, Robert M. Ahlstrom-Vij, K. Aiken, Scott F.

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Alston, William P. Steup ed. Dole and A. Chignell eds. Beilby, J. Owen, G. Yaffe, and P. Hoffman eds. Peterborough, Ontario: Broadview. Brady, M. Braithwaite, R. Grajner eds. Chan, Timothy ed. Chisholm, Roderick M. Churchland, Paul M. Clifford, W. Madigan, ed. Cohen, L. Adam and P. Quick Copy View. See Full Copy Details. Place Hold. Date Publisher Phys Desc. Language Availability [] Prometheus Books, pages ; 23 cm.

English Available from another library. More Info Place Hold. Add a Review. Add To List. Despite the prevalence of religious belief in the United States nearly million Americans belong to , congregations , a growing minority 14 percent of U. Journalist James A. Haught addresses the secular segment of American society in this interesting collection of incisive essays that give voice to honest doubts about religious beliefs.

Taken together, Haught's essays endorse the idea that freedom of religion must include freedom to doubt as well as to believe. Written in a straightforward conversational style that makes clear the many scientific, philosophical, and ethical difficulties that plague religion, Haught's thought-provoking essays will appeal to atheists, agnostics, and anyone with questions about religion. Also in This Series. More Like This. Table of Contents. You know things like the inverse law of gravity, fractals, and the theory of relativity.

And for the thousandth time, one does not have to believe in God to be moral,but it will be a requirement if you want a reason. Honestly, there is undefinable proof of good without religion. Just as there is undeniable proof of evil with it. It is amazing that atheists declaration of the lack of belief in any deity is the people who will always bring the topic of religion on that table. What do you want? If you atheists want know what Christians' deep thinking on their experiences, and at the same time claiming to be critical thinkers, start your research.

Forums, comments will never help your curiosity. As if your mind was confined in a box. Our beliefs are all available in public, example, you might just want to read "The Foundation of Pentecostal Theology" to lighten your minds on what we believe. You don't have to be a Christian for you to read that piece. Ah wait, is it a waste of time? If yes, then I am also wasting my time here.

I have been maturing in my atheism for a long time. My roots were in Protestant Christianity, but I abandoned religion in my college years, long ago. I defend the rights of others to hold their views on religion or anything else, even though I may think they are wrong.

I think the world is natural, and only natural. I think that the supernatural anything outside of nature, such as gods and stuff , life after death, and other magical things, are all imaginary, and don't really exist. I do subscribe to the idea that supernatural and magical explanations were the best humans had for the last million years or so, and that evolution kicks in over that long of a time frame, and therefore the capacity for humans to "believe" magical and supernatural explanations has become part of our genetic makeup.

But that doesn't make it true :. In the modern era, science has given us a foundation for understanding the world with purely natural explanations.


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The natural world is awesome, breathtaking, amazing in every way. So I have dispensed with magic and the supernatural as unnecessary, and am reformulating my understanding of the world in purely natural terms. The modern civilized world has high standards for human behavior. The world has gotten smaller by virtue of instant communication and world travel. This means that people who behave like thugs from the dark ages by which I mean terrorists can not be tolerated in a modern civil society. They have a choice, behave to modern standards, or be rounded up and put in jail.

I believe eventually, humans will sort all this out, and the planet will achieve peace. This will take a number more generations. But I think a lot of modern processes are evolving according to Moore's Law, that is, doubling every 2 years. Computers double in processing power every 2 years, robots have been doubling their features and capabilities every two years, so much is happening so fast, that major improvements in the human condition will not take a thousand years, and maybe not even a hundred.

The industrial revolution took two hundred years, the computer revolution took 50 years, the Internet revolution has taken 25 years, and now the energy revolution is upon us. The past hundred years has been amazing 66 years from the invention of flight to landing on the moon! The present is breathtaking in its scope and speed of progress.

I think the future of humanity will be amazing, so long as we don't get wiped out by a rogue killer asteroid, which is the only real threat we face as a human race. I'm enthusiastic and excited for my race! It seems to me that his sample set of one is telling.


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  8. If that is what defines my interface to the objective, don't I then declare myself God? I can then pronounce myself a moral unit, because I follow a moral code that I myself have defined. Pretty hard to argue that anybody else is wrong, of course, except within your little universe of me. The universe is Yes, -0, the ultimate fractal of everything. By understanding this fractal carefully, you may see that there are two versions of this universe from our perspective. One version is the absolute universe that is both a singularity and an absolute of random content, where absolute extremes of spectrum are one and the same temperature example: absolute highest is the same as absolute zero.

    The other universe is the observer's universe. The observer travels in a position in time that has no width, the past no longer exists, the future has not yet existed. Yet the absolute universe dictates that the past leaves an impression, and the future holds the consequences of that impression. Therefore, in the absolute universe, both past and future are parts of the same, and our position in the present provides us with an illusion of a time line.

    The randomness is how it all plays out, and the scenarios are infinite. All scenarios have yet to do so, are doing so, and have done so, the infinite plays of the possible. Due to this time line, we see a viewable universe that expands in all direction at the speed of light. Therefore we the observers are the center of our own universes. When you move to a new position, your universe center moves with you, causing time to warp a little.

    A being from another galaxy may see the edge of it's visible universe that we can not yet see But to the absolute universe, it's all there, and infinitely so. By understanding this in relation of the absolute universe, we may realize that this "big bang" thing is an illusion. A "beginning" is not possible in an absolute universe. That's why it's -0, as opposed to 0. Absolute existence is infinite and can not have a point of non existence, so the universe was never created!

    Creation of the universe is impossible. Study Quantum physics is absolute universe physics. Macro physics is the observable universe physics. Understanding these distinctions should help marry these two fields of study. Just unravel the fractal of -0 and see all there is to see! I only need truth, not faith. What truth I don't know I simply blame on my own ignorance and limitations. Faith is a belief in something that may not play out in reality. I chose probability over faith. Probability follows laws of physics, faith follows assumptions.

    To me, faith can be darn right dangerous, but laws of probability allows me a chance to avoid danger. As far as morals go, I have a brain, and I assume responsibility for my own actions, and my interactions among community. I try to reach for positive feedback in engaging those actions. That's a science and a survival skill in my life. Soon very soon science will learn that the universe is far to young for the existence of humansthen what? I haven't gone through all the comments yet, but I have seen many, too many, that relate to an agnostic view or atheist view and then give the na-na na-na boo-boo we're better than you smack talk to those who do or might believe in something else.

    As humanists, we should illustrate and educate but there's no need to instigate. Muhammad Ali, butterfly talk Many people, my own wife, find great comfort in religion. Humanists for humans, not against them. Very well presented. I am a fellow scientist engineering still counts, right? It's not that "There aren't any gods", it's that the question is meaningless! It can't be answered with any more certainty or any fewer semantics than trying to define the true role of government.

    Even if the "finger that started the dominos" was as real as blood inside you, it could never be, by the definition of the words, known or proven. Sidebar: Can everybody stop using Occam's razor?! It's a saying with no logical proof or evidence. I can't think of a single modern scientific principle in the last years described by that. I am glad that he turned it back against religion; they're so fond of that argument.

    Then christians added to the story "then Jesus came and radically changed God's opinion" he went from vengeful to loving. Then years of darkness followed in europe. This I Believe. I am an atheist. I do not believe in any supernatural deities. I believe in Science, not the death cult superstitions of bronze age nomadic tribes in the Middle East.

    I believe in Logic and Reason, and not in vengeful gods that demand unthinking worship. The symbol of my "faith" is not an ancient torture device, it's a slide rule. The simple three part device that helped build the Brooklyn Bridge, Hoover Dam and the Empire State Building, as well as sending humans to the Moon and returning them to Earth. Algebra and Calculus are my "liturgy", and Physics is the celebration of all that exists, from the smallest subatomic particle yet to be discovered, to the Universe as a whole.

    The "Saints" of my faith are legion.

    By Adam Savage

    I do not defraud them nor seek to enslave their bodies or their minds. I do not turn my face from them if their beliefs differ from mine, nor do I condemn them if they choose to love someone of the same sex or of a different "race". My friends include the gay and the straight, the atheist and the deeply faithful, Caucasian, African and Asian. I help the less fortunate in this world as best I can, and do not seek to convert them to my way of thought by my actions. I help merely to ease their suffering. I choose to stand in the Light of Knowledge and Reason.

    I oppose the Darkness that is ignorance and superstition. And I KNOW that, in the end, it IS Knowledge and Reason that will triumph over ignorance and superstition, and triumph over those who would use ignorance and superstition for their own evil and ego-driven ends. The number of fallacies and logical inconsistencies in this piece is unnerving. I found it incredibly difficult to read about Savage's doubt and uncertainty equated with atheism.

    The Ethics of Belief

    I find it interesting how some individuals with a background in science immediately presume they are capable of constructing a sound and logical argument. This type of substandard writing would get eviscerated in a first year philosophy class. You're illustrating the feeling of superiority that a lot of religious people have. I don't always mind if someone believes in a religion. I only mind when they look down on others as if they are the only ones who know the truth. Your "stamp of God" theory isn't supported by evidence. That's ok. That's what religion is about. Belief in something without evidence.

    I'm just pointing out that skeptics and scientists aren't interested in make believe. The "humanist philosophy" isn't perfect, but it doesn't claim to be. The advantage of it is that it's not necessary to believe in God to believe in ethics and goodwill. That's how it "rings true" for me! After all, religion was created by humans, too. Einstein always talked about God hypothetically or metaphorically.

    You know, kind of like some people talk about Santa Claus. First of all, I am no different than you. I have my own set of beliefs that I use to view the world, and my own moral code that I live by that allows me to consider myself a good person. I also believe that as I am not imposing my will on anyone, would never dream of recruiting anyone who didn't want to be recruited, nor will I ever lead a crusade against those that don't share my beliefs, then my faith in God is not harming any one. If it does start to harm someone, then I may consider atheism.

    But I do believe in him because I would feel really silly if I spent all this time trying to convince people that he didn't exist and had to explain that to him. Logically, it makes more sense to me to believe in him, because if I'm right, then I garner all the benefits.

    Honest Doubt: Essays on Atheism in a Believing Society

    If I'm wrong, then my consciousness ceases to exist after I'm dead, and I have no way to feel shame or chagrin at the fact that I am wrong. Ergo, it makes more logical sense to me to believe in God, even if it is just a way of playing the odds. Since I don't know one way or the other definitively, then I can live my life in a way that some may view as patently false, and as I long as I don't infringe on their right to believe as they see fit, then I don't think it matters whether I believe in a benevolent old man in the sky or the Invisible Pink Unicorn who also, by the way, has not been definitively debunked yet.

    Does this mean you're willing to accept the possibility that a red polka-dotted leprachaun created everything? God hates that kind of shit! You better lose the 'tude and fill yourself up to the brim with love and compassion right the fuck now! Something's clearer to me today.

    I mean, I "believe" that there is no god. But truthfully, I can say I believe this because I'm I'm also Hence, I can also say I don't believe in that scenario. Otoh, the fundamentalist religion only allows for absolute belief. Perfection, without doubt. Lack of evidence is not even an issue. Not to mention the peer pressure of other believers, sometimes even punishable by death.

    So if you want to call me an agnostic because I'm only I really don't mind.

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    I appreciate that your belief doesn't encroach on other beliefs. I'm lucky I don't feel very "oppressed", as you say, but religious oppression most certainly exists. Non-religious oppression also exists. So religion itself isn't always the culprit. But it's too often the excuse. I've pretty much been an atheist most of my life, but there was a point during Bush's presidency when I just had to come out more forcefully about it.

    I don't blame him entirely. I also blame the likes of Bin Laden. And those billions of people that flock to all kinds of religious leaders. I really don't need those leaders or God to tell me right from wrong. Santa Claus was a good enough start, and then I grew up and thought for myself. That's a weird photo of Adam up top. Its orange hue and brushy touch-ups make Adam look like a Muppet. All he is missing are those little arm stick things. There is a small flaw in your observation: the definition of "Good" that comes from most religions doesn't really match my - and I guess some other people's - understanding of "Good".

    Catholics consider "Good" preaching avoiding the use of condoms, which could help reducing the spreading rate of HIV in Africa. I personally can't figure out what good there is in that. You may now say: "That's old, the rules changed". Changed by whom? Changed why? You see: either the God you picture considered women interchangeable, or he didn't. A God that changed his mind in the range of a couple of hundreds of years doesn't really match with the definition of the infallible God. If I were a believer I'd definitely go for number 2 - since it would not disprove the existence of God.

    Choice number 1 would disprove the existence of God. So, even as a believer, I would prefer thinking of a definition of "Good" that doesn't stem from God, believing that there is a common ground for the definition of "Good" among the human race. I will stop here, because of course we could go on an try to figure out what's the evolutionary and biological advantage of some of the things we feel are "Good", looking into the intertwining of culture and biological evolution - but that would be a very long reply.

    I would like to take the morality argument one step further. I claim that for a person to truly take on a ready-made system of morality, or an external morality if you will, such that at least the judeo-christian meaning all flavours of Judaism, Christianity and Islam denominations preach, that person, by necessity, must be in him- or herself completely devoid of a single thread of moral fibre or at least be prepared to put that individual morality aside. That to me is the root of evil. In it's purest and most distilled form. The ability and willingness to set aside ones inherit gut reaction for a learned one is what has given the world the crusades, the holocaust, the near extermination of the native Americans and so at is very fundamental base is a threat to the welfare of all of human kind forever.

    And what happens when the truly devote looses faith? You get a soulless wretch with a chip on his or her shoulder. Or a dogmatic system that prays mercilessly upon those they profess to protect read: Catholicism, the institution. The belief in a superior being or political ideal for that matter gives small souls the sense justification they should not by any means have. To elevate one self through jurisdiction of something divine is lethally harmful to the soul.

    Always and without exceptions. It doesn't matter whether you believe in God or not, what matters is that you recognize that your life is finite, and you utilize your life with that in mind. Great, yet another interesting celebrity takes a stand on religion of politics, and thereby changes our perception of them.

    I'll never be able to watch Mythbusters again without the realization that Adam would not approve of my outlook, nor I of his. Finally, like so many non-religious people, he expresses what appears to be a thinly veiled contempt for principles, that frankly, he shows a poor understanding of, just as once clergymen refused to even look through Galileo's telescope. An atheist and a Christian were walking through the jungle and they see a small glass ball sitting on the ground.

    The Christian says to the atheist, "I wonder who put that there"? The atheist says "I dont know but musta been somebody". The christian pauses and says "What if it was a little bigger say the size of a house, whould you still think someone put it there"? The atheist says "ofcourse thats logical". The christian then says "how bout ten times bigger than that, would you think somebody put that there"? The atheist says "why would you ask me such goofy questions, yes somebody put it there". To which the Christian replies "What if it was as big as our whole entire universe", the atheist thinks and says "no if its that big it must just have always existed, or developed from others just like it somehow, or it actually wouldnt be a glass ball anymore then it would be an eagle" See that small glass ball?

    Who made it? One person? See that house? Did one person make that? Well it's possible but unlikely - you've got to be a bricklayer, plumber, electrician, plasterer, tiler, and oh yeah, the architect too. And who made the bricks? The same person who built the house? Did he also make the windows and doors? Did he melt and extrude the copper to make the pipes and wiring? Who mined the ore to extract the copper?

    Not possible. Ten times bigger? What about a town or city? Did one person build the whole city from scratch, from the raw materials in the ground? Absolutely beyond the realms of possibility. So what makes you think that one being, alone, could create something as vast as the universe, from scratch? You just made a case for a polytheistic universe, my friend - with your own examples, one god is just beyond the realms of possibility, so there must be a whole lot more to make something so vast. Religion is made up of two things: the inborn hierarchical ape-response to punishment "Must avoid social offense, so if something bad happens, it is a punishment.

    I must figure out what I did wrong, since punishment means somebody higher in social status is disapproving" , and the need for humans to pattern-seek. Appeasing a hidden head-ape involves some pattern of appeasement and abasement, we just have to figure out what it is. Read "Acts of the Apostles" sometime. It's a how-to manual on turning a cult into a franchise and hence a religion. Seriously, follow the model. Step one: dehumanize your followers, and take everything away "for the group. Step three: franchise franchise franchise.

    Tell someone to "take your message to the masses" and check up on them regularly. Step four: purge purge purge. Have regular bids to clean house to get franchises back into line, making sure they contribute to the corporation. Nope, that would be the view from inside of a religion. I'm free to explore them all, with no threat of death for looking. Take off the yoke sometime, and see what others have been thinking for centuries. Then realize that eating some guy who was strung up on some wood is no less ridiculous than saying some guy came back not once, but ten times, and sometimes as a talking boar.

    You represent a beautiful, simple and truthful world view Adam! Thank you very much for an inspirational article! You rock brother! I completely agree. I wish more people would open their minds - humanism is a rational approach. I am often baffled by people embracing corrupt religious institutions and reading allegories as fact as in the bible, etc.

    I'd like to see your actual refutations of the points you brought up in the speech. Could be it's just me, but I thought Adam's arguments were indeed sound and logical. All you've done is mention a few things which someone might criticize, without doing the necessary work yourself. Given your implied authority on issues of logical argumentation, could you please give us a sample of the freshman-style evisceration you claimed would be so easy?

    I never knew Very good read, smooth and logical. In Matthew , your mythical jeezus says calling someone a "fool" will make you "taste the flames of hell". So, are you ignorant of your own mythology, or are you a hypocrite who "thinks" your rules only apply to non-believers? That bearing false witness is only a "sin" for non-believers? A well-reasoned argument. Which will have zero impact on the "true believers" but so what? Each of us is free to live in this world with whatever pretty little thoughts live in our heads.

    Some of us choose to live in this world and deal with others. Some of us prefer to believe in invisible beings who guide every step of our lives. The choice is yours, I can't prove you're wrong any more than you can believe that my theory of existence is crap. No dice. Thanks, Adam, for a wonderful speech. Arguing about religion is like arguing theories about the development of black holes. Irrespective of how the argument ends, win, loose or draw, what difference does it make to you today, tomorrow, or ever?

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    I have a religion, it's called The Church of do the Right Thing. It has no hierarchy, no dogma, no buildings, no business model. It's not limited to weekly, one-hour supplications for entrance to heaven. Any individual can claim membership in this fraternity by first being honorable: You don't put your hands on the person or property of another human being without their permission.

    Nobody has the right to benefit from the production of another human being as a matter of cultural policy. Knowledge is a commodity that grows in value the more it is given away. You share your knowledge and understanding of simple-ideas as ingredients that go into recipes for success. This is not a religion of faith but a religion of confidence. If Christ shows up on my doorstep tomorrow to discuss my worthiness for entering the gates of heaven, I am confident that a dedicated adherence to the principles of The Church would prove me worthy.

    If Christ never shows up, it doesn't matter for I will have enjoyed the brief existence among honorable individuals who's time, talent and resources for doing good have not been diluted or taxed by a religion that offers no warranty as to the effectiveness or quality of the product being offered. That's very true, the he has yet to state that such a being that is able to create and handle all those tasks at one time can exist.

    I do find it amusing that his argument is no different than "someone ie. Occam's razor would say that a supernatural being 2 is more complicated and thus unnecessary if you can imagine an existing structure without it 1. Unless, of course, you are in the camp that denies physical evidence of evolution and so forth. Then you get Because God didn't give you the capacity to think so you can think.

    If I'm wrong, then my consciousness ceases to exist after I'm dead Your way of playing the odds is statistically faulty. Hardly reaping the benefits then are you? You'd be down in the pit with the rest of us infidels. Perhaps you'd best believe in ALL of them in order to cover your ass. I'll take my chances with reason, logic and rationality over dogma and superstition any day, the odds are waaay better.

    Are you responsible for taking care of you or is the community? I stopped reading this here because I don't think you actually have put a lot of thought into this. It sounds to me like you wrote some stuff down, very eloquently btw, that sounds really pretty, but when you start trying to put it all together it is just a bunch of mindless thoughts written with a lot of heart. Sorry if I'm wrong but I see so many loop holes in this, that I'm amazed at some of the positive comments you've received.

    Hating the church is fine and dandy but I'm never answered or always leave still questioning who grants us our rights? If rights are merely bestowed upon us by a majority vote AKA Mob Rule then that same majority can vote away my right to property and labor? I sometimes like this idea of God because he is said to have granted us rights, not corruptible men who can later change their mind on a whim for politcal expediency.

    While I have to disagree with some of his points- for example, prayer isn't to someone "out there", because there are two people listening "in here", God and myself- he presents his points in an outstanding manner. All too often, theists and atheists insist on being jerks. If I want someone to see my point of view, then I need to represent myself as the best example of that view that I possibly can. Screaming "you're going to hell! It certainly doesn't help treating God as being supernatural. God is no more supernatural than a tree or a car. Atheists claim that God must be supernatural because they can't fit him into their existing understanding of nature.

    How long ago was lightning a mystery? We don't know how quantum entanglement works, but nobody claims that is supernatural. It's certainly unscientific to claim that God is supernatural as well. Relativistic time dilation and speed of light limitations violate the laws of physics, after all- if you're Isaac Newton.

    Isaac Asimov once said that the great thing about science is it never ends. The more we learn, the more there is to learn. The ability to learn is one of the greatest gifts from God. Instead of wallowing in the mud of ignorance, let's reach for the light of understanding instead. Respectfully I disagree with your definition of True Atheism; it seems such an unnecessary position - I don't consider myself to "believe there are no pink unicorns" nor that there are no leprechauns, FSM's, Thors or Zevses - I just don't believe in them.

    That, to me, rings more true as a definition of atheism than what you describe. Even more specific, the lack of a belief in god s. On the subject of politics, I will add that I am a rhetorical zealot against religion and I'm sure we occupy the same realm of assertiveness when confronting their truth-claims. I just think our defining title should be as firmly grounded in science as the science we stand for. Really great speech! I wish more people understood the beauty and simplicity of this worldview.

    It always struck me as elegant, powerful, and best of all in full compliance with science ie reality. Total self reliance. Not a new concept. Of course at some point even the most self reliant of us comes to a moment in life when self reliance just fails for some reason we cannot explain.

    That moment in time is coming at least once for all of us. Good luck to you. Or perhaps I should say, good "you" to you. Adam Savage is a walking bundle of contradictions. The immaterial, universal, unchanging forces of nature that he relies on to do science have no foundation in an evolutionary worldview. He claims to be a man of logic and reason, but as an atheist he has no justification for the existence of these metaphysical attributes. I enjoyed reading Adam's speech.

    And I agree with you that saying that someone who does not have faith in God has no morals is disgusting. I would like to demonstrate why that statement is made by many people especially those who do not know you. Say you and I just met and were talking. You knowing I am a Christian provides a reference for your observations of my actions. IOW, you can evaluate my actions IAW my chosen faith and normally start with the assumption that I should follow the morals of that faith and adjust your analysis from there.

    I on the other hand knowing you are an atheist have no reference for observing your actions. IOW, for me to evaluate your actions, I need to determine a reference point from which to start since there is no quantified assumption for an "atheist". Humanism has a basis for which there would be a reference starting point because it is, like religions, a belief system.

    Honest Doubt Essays on Atheism in a Believing Society

    You can be a moral person and not believe in God. I understand that. You can be happy and satisfied and not believe in God. I understand that, too. What I don't understand is why your being satisfied without believing in God extends any further than yourself. Why should I give any more credence to you than to someone who finds all their meaning in God? You, yourself say you can't disprove someone else's beliefs. So who cares what you believe?



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