Question
Ken Robillard

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Atheism is simply the lack of a god-belief -- for whatever reason. These reasons include: Philosophical rejection of the ideas of theism; philosophical rejection of the known so-called revealed religions; resentment against the religion of one's parents, etc.; ignorance of theism and theology, as would be the case with members of an isolated tribe; the inability to form a god-belief, as in the case of infants and imbeciles.

The defense of atheism is a different matter. Since it is the responsibility of a person making a claim to back up the claim, there really is no defense of atheism, per se, because atheism is the lack of a belief -- not the presence of a belief. It is on the theist to make the case for god, not the atheist to make a case against god.

You indicate belief that there is "a much higher intelligence than us that in some way controls things"; can you make the case for this belief?

After Sir Isaac Newton proved that motion does not need "angels" or other intervening entities in order for motion to maintain itself, mankind was well on the road to complete rejection of supernatural providence: the idea that things need intervention or supervision in order to behave the way they do.

Charles Darwin did the same for origins. Since his discoveries, we no longer need to appeal to the supernatural to explain the origins of life. In fact, many creationists are beginning to sound like Darwinists when they talk about how "God placed Earth in the perfect orbit to sustain life." Could it be that Earth happens to be in this orbit, and thus provides an environment conducive to life?

Most of the founding fathers of the United States of America were Deists: they believed that a god got the universe started and does not intervene today. Their reason for believing that a god created the universe was the magnificence and intricacy of the creation. These men lived after Newton and before Darwin; their ideas reflected the science of the day. Today, we need not appeal to the supernatural to explain motion, providence, or the complex makeup of the organic world.

Similar things happened when Louis Pasteur discovered micro-organisms; we need not appeal to gods or demons to explain illness or the recovery from illness.

People like Thomas Paine and Robert Green Ingersoll and Abraham Lincoln and Joseph Lewis made it clear that one needs no supernatural revelation or "word" of a god to think and act to the highest ethical standards.

And on and on.

Mainly, though, if I think I need a god or other supernatural being to explain the first origin (i.e., the big bang, etc.) then it would be consistent for me to wonder where that god or being came from: if the origin of the universe need to be explained, then that origin needs explanation, ad infinitum. I can observe the universe, and can know that it exists. The universe is; where it came from (if it hasn't always existed) is outside my present ability to speculate. I let it rest at that.

As for any specific claims regarding a particular deity or alleged revelation, I take them on their own merits on an individual basis. I have examined the Old and New Testaments, the Koran, and the Vedas. There are other works of minor impact, such as the Book of Mormon and the Urantia Book. None of these books impress me in the least. I find more truth -- more reality -- in a Shakespearean play or a Mark Twain novel.

If you have any specific claims to make about any specific theological schools of thought, I would love to hear them.

To me, I have found no reason to believe that there is a god out there micro-managing the universe; I have found no reason to believe that there is a god out there who created the universe; I have found no reason to believe that there is a god out there who loves me and can hear and answer my petitions to him, her, or it. Since I have no reason for believing these things, I really have no business believing them. I am an honest man, and will not speculate further than what I can know or at least make sense of.

Cliff Walker
http://www.PositiveAtheism.org/

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Each one also possessed one more thing: integrity. This is worth more than any amount of intelligence or passion.
 

Your question was not about values.
 

I get accused of being like this all the time; this accusation is a common ruse of theists against atheists. Since we use logic, that must therefore negate our use of emotion. This is an inversion of how I really see things and of how I think.

Nevertheless, I think it would be dishonest of me to say there is a god, when I have no reason to think there is any such thing as a god. Even though I have been jailed for my refusal to be religious, I must live with myself and look at my image in a mirror each day.

In other words, if it can be shown to be invalid logic then I have no business accepting it.
 

Everybody uses reason and logic to some extent in their day-to-day living. This does not say anything about whether someone uses reason or logic in his or her development of a philosophy of existence.

The keen thing about logic is that you can describe it: you can map out how you came to a certain conclusion and then test it for flaws.

Since you say you retain logic when thinking about theology, tell me: what is your reason for thinking that a deity exists? Let's look at it.
 

To go from a man to one man who is more intelligent than another, this is a leap. But to carry this leap beyond comparing humans -- especially since we have no way to communicate with such non-humans (if they even exist) -- is to take the leap further than we can in all honesty.

Thus, I am back where I started from: as much as I would like there to be a benevolent deity looking out after us, I just don't see it. In all honesty, I must do without the comfortable myths which so many others hold so dear. As much as I would like to talk to my Grandpa again, as much as I'd like to be with my Dad forever, as much as I would like to drink with Thomas Paine and Benjamin Franklin on the sidewalk afront the Afterlife Cafe, I just don't see it. Any such notion is pure speculation, and unfounded speculation at that (unless, of course, you can demonstrate to us just which part of the human is immortal; just where and how that immortal part interacts with the mortal human body; just how that part can survive without the benefit of a body and, thus, why we even need a body).

It's cold and lonely out here.

And scary, too.

I'm sorry. That's what it is.

But then, I can see it another way: Earth has supported life for two or three billion years now. Any glitch in the DNA chain has been filtered out, and this world is the best of the best of the best -- to the umpteenth power. If there were any supernatural intervention anywhere in the process, this world would not be nearly as magnificent -- it certainly would not be as dignified. It's almost like the feeling of a job well done -- that we organisms did it ourselves, that those of us currently alive are the combined result of all correct moves ever made by any organism over this vast period of time.

If that isn't enough, I have an opportunity to live life as an aware individual. It is a limited life-span, to be sure, but I get a crack at life, and I am ultimately related to everything that lives and has lived. When I work until dawn (which is often the case) I can go outside and listen to my brothers and sisters singing in the new day and watch my cousins crawling rank-and-file along their trail. I can feel the soft fur of my sisters rub against my leg and hear their purr and their cry as I change the water in their bowl. And I can watch the slow progress of a distant relative reaching its limbs to catch the best opportunity for life-giving sunlight while withstanding the force of gravity and the fierce wind and the other elements.

To top it off, I can make a difference. I cannot speak for other humans, but I can strive to be the best man that I can be. This is not always easy and it is not always fun, but it is what I do. I would not have it any other way.

If you think this is emotionless, I feel sorry for you: let's talk.
 

I don't get it. What makes you suppose that ants can or cannot detect our presence? And how do the facts that ants exist and that I exist necessitate there being something greater than what we can detect.

And even if there were a god out there that we could not detect, then what would it matter whether or not I think there is a god out there? I cannot detect it, so what does it matter what I think about it? (If there is a god and if we can detect it, then please clue me in: tell me the technique whereby all men and women can detect this god.)

Meanwhile, if no god is detectable, then it is in my best interest not to have a god belief simply because otherwise I would be speculating on a subject about which I know nothing: the existence or non-existence of something that is undectable; I would have a belief in a god instead of the absense of a belief. It would be a lie for me to say that certain morals and ethics are the will of a god since no god is detectable (unless, of course, you're willing to disclose thway to detect the god).

Also, if no god is detectable, then I do best to recognize that it is my own responsibility to take care of myself and it is my own responsibility to contribute to society, to life, and to the environment. I have to do it because no god is going to do it for us. Rather, we cannot depend on a god to do it for us; we cannot simply hope everything will be alright.

Finally, if no god is detectable, then it is on me to dignify myself as my first order of business, and also to dignify my fellow humans. This means that I am presently communicating with the most intelligent, most compassionate, most dignified entity with which I can communicate: another human. You.
 

First, it's not hamburger, it has been in self-development for over two billion years. It has been through a lot and has survived it all.

Secondly, it is just as wrong to think that the human brain is the highest form of intelligence in the Universe as it is to declare that a god exists. We have not explored the entire universe, neither have we a method for detecting anything that may be "above" or "beyond" this universe.
 

You have yourself to thank for that: I treat all people the same. Your questions were serious and your comments were not abusive; I responded to them as such.

Another fellow with whom I have been communicating this week started out by asserting several lies about athiests and concluded his first letter by telling me to "enjoy Hell." Naturally, I grabbed that one and broadcast it on my list. Now, after several volleys back and forth, the fellow wants me to start addressing him in a more respectful manner than I have been addressing him. No. I think "Pastor Rob" is fine for now.

You see, I do what I say and I say what I do and I have nothing to hide. I learned that from Gora, who is the main feature of our Atheism in India page. You could do worse than to read his "An Atheist With Gandhi" which is posted on our site. I wish Gora was still alive and I could talk to him. I have the next best thing, though, I can always call or write his son, Lavanam, and I can read many of his books on this WEB Page.

Cliff Walker
http://www.PositiveAtheism.org/
 

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