Sorry, We Don’t Believe You…

by Lucas Oliver – Guest Columnist (See Post Script)

I would like to preface that this is an apology. Perhaps after reading this it will be understood that way. It is an apology to any who don’t understand it, and to any who would disagree. I don’t mean to put words into anyone’s mouth, and I don’t want to hurt anyone’s faith.

The fact that man fears that which he does not understand is undeniable. Understanding atheism is as difficult a concept as quantum physics. The steps required to understand it are not something that can be achieved without intent. You don’t just stumble into a building that says leave all your woes behind outside. It isn’t a religion, or a belief, or a non-religion or non-belief. In the most simplest of terms it is a statement.

We don’t believe you…

It isn’t about what we do or don’t believe. That’s why you can’t change our minds about it and you have no fear of us trying to convert you. It doesn’t make us evil, indecent, or amoral. Our perspective on what matters is just different. That perspective is what makes us not believe you, your priest, Rabbi, or fat guy in a red coat. It even makes us not believe ourselves. We must question things that we don’t understand until we understand them and we won’t lie to ourselves by making a statement otherwise.

Animosity towards atheism is sometimes generated by a perceived air of superiority because our lack of ability to convey what it means. We want our children to grow up in a better world than us, just like you. We want your children to grow up in that world with us. We are just as much different from you as Catholicism is from the Judaic. We just don’t know how to make you want to understand.

An atheist isn’t born or converted. It’s something that just happens, whether it be from the religious bully in school or the beatings via bible verses, there is a catalyst but you can’t protect your children from it anymore than you can protect them from a random drive by at their school. If you want to protect them, support them when they want to learn.

The fact that we don’t believe doesn’t mean we don’t want you to believe. In most cases, we couldn’t care less. Any of us that care to label ourselves things like wiccan, or neo-pagan, pantheist, flying spaghetti worshipper, or whatever means we are still trying to believe in something. Any of them that truly are looking for something, are too busy working on themselves to proselytize.

Here in Peachtree City, GA, you have a larger conglomeration of us than you would think this deep in the bible belt. The many different cultures intermingling in the villages make for a veritable feast to anyone looking for new ideas. It bewilders us that witch hunts can still thrive in the communication era that we live in now. The other side of the world tried to destroy our economy because they think America is the great satan. The same people who cry bigot when a black man won’t let a muslim into his cabinet profess anyone not fearing their god to be a villain.

We aren’t bad people. We aren’t a threat to your lifestyle. Yes, we will circle the wagons when we feel threatened. Salem was real though, so were the crusades. We will band together as a group to protect someone from themselves even. You may think people like Al Stefanelli or the people who protested the cross at ground zero are evil, but we think people like Pat Robertson and hate groups who hide behind your cross are evil. It doesn’t mean we think all christians are evil, we usually just run whenever a religious discussion comes up because we are more afraid of you than you are of us. The honest truth though, is the only time you’ll hear anything out of us is when we think you’re hurting yourselves or your future generations.

Again, I would like to apologize for not believing, but it is the truth and we don’t want to lie to you. Most of us believe the removal of another’s free will is the worst sin of all. The easiest way to take someone’s will from them is through deceit. You want us to be good people by believing in the same invisible man as you, but in order for us to be good people we can not betray you by saying we do. I am sorry because the majority of you will never accept this truth.

____________________________

Post Script from Al: This piece was written to address a case of local bigotry and discrimination against a Freethinker community in a small southern town by the local conservative newspaper that has been publishing very unflattering, dangerous stories and editorials that denigrate non-Christians, including atheists, humanists, secularists, Jews and Pagans as, among other things, worshiping Satan, destroying the country and being unfit for public service.  With a few exceptions, this newspaper gives comment capabilities on it’s digital content almost exclusively to the right-wing conservative community, which only fuel the fires of bigotry.

  44 comments for “Sorry, We Don’t Believe You…

  1. March 23, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    Instead of “Sorry”, it should say “Hey!”… we don’t believe you. Why apologize for not believing???

  2. Synfandel
    March 23, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    I have to differ with Mr. Oliver on three points.

    Understanding atheism is as difficult a concept as quantum physics.

    On the contrary, understanding atheism is simplicity itself. You don’t have to know a lot of arcane liturgical mumbo jumbo and you don’t have to suppress part of your intellect in order to find atheism plausible. There is no god. How complicated is that?

    An atheist isn’t born or converted.

    Of course one is. Everyone is born an atheist.

    …I would like to apologize for not believing…

    I can’t go along, Mr. Oliver. I feel no impulse whatsoever to apologize for not believing. My nonbelief harms absolutely no one. Some people’s belief—or rather the things people do in the name of that belief—however, do enormous harm to others.

    • March 23, 2012 at 2:28 pm

      Jeffrey,

      I have to comment on your comment for a couple reasons. I agree with your points, which should be obvious as I am also an atheist. However, from the point of view of the religious, atheism is incredibly difficult to understand. Because their belief is deeply ingrained in their sense of self, it is difficult for a believer to comprehend not having any religious beliefs. This is why so many of them think we worship Satan. We live by reason, they live by faith and their faith says that everyone is a spiritual being serving either God or Satan.

      As well, they do not believe that we are born atheist. They believe we are born belonging to Satan, as fallen, sinful beings who are doomed to hell until redeemed by Jesus. As well, I reason that Mr. Oliver is feeling sorry for the believer, not sorry that he is not one.

      As my post script states, this letter is written not to atheists, but to the conservative believers in our little town here in the Atlanta suburbs in response to a growing problem we are experiencing that is being exacerbated by our local newspaper, which is printing weekly attacks on us.

      Thank you, though, for your comments and insights. They are appreciated.

      • Norman Lycan
        March 23, 2012 at 8:53 pm

        Why do I have to keep making this point. “I do not believe” is not an atheist idea, it is agnostic. Because I do not believe in atheism , either. And the idea that newborns are atheists is ridiculous as well, they have formed no opinion about the origin of the universe, or whether some force was behind it’s origin. They are not atheist, they are agnostic. That’s uh-duh! obvious.

        And while religions have invented stories to explain things unexplainable to the uneducated, and sold them an afterlife that doesn’t exist, that, by itself is not scientific evidence that there was no force behind the origin of the universe. Meanwhile, science needs to understand how an unimaginably enormous universe blasted into existence out of nothing.

        You can go into denial about that, or death, or any other issue, and put yourself on cruise control. But, if you BELIEVE that the universe is an accident, you are on the religion side of science.

        Myself, I don’t believe.

        NL

        • John Morales
          March 23, 2012 at 10:01 pm

          Norman:

          Myself, I don’t believe.

          and

          “I do not believe” is not an atheist idea, it is agnostic.

          This is not your belief? 😉

          • Norman Lycan
            March 24, 2012 at 4:19 pm

            It’s a policy, to never believe anything unproven by science. If you have a problem with that, please explain.

            NL

          • John Morales
            March 24, 2012 at 10:29 pm

            Do you believe the proposition that “I do not believe” is not an atheist idea, it is agnostic, or do you not?

        • Tony
          March 24, 2012 at 6:13 am

          Norman:
          I’m baffled how you don’t believe in “lack of a belief in a higher power(s)”, which is atheism. Your use of the word “agnostic” doesn’t seem to match with standard definitions:

          http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/agnostic?s=t a person who holds that the existence of the ultimate cause, as God, and the essential nature of things are unknown and unknowable, or that human knowledge is limited to experience.

          http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/agnostic
          Definition of AGNOSTIC

          1
          : a person who holds the view that any ultimate reality (as God) is unknown and probably unknowable; broadly : one who is not committed to believing in either the existence or the nonexistence of God or a god

          Note that neither definition deals with what the individual does or does not believe about the existence of an ultimate cause (god or whomever). The definition means someone who is agnostic about fairies believes that there is no way to know whether fairies do or do not exist.
          I don’t like the agnostic position. I feel that outlandish ideas shouldn’t get a pass or a “probably” just because we can’t prove them either way. Given that there’s no evidence for the existence of any supreme being from any of the multiple mythologies humans have created, there’s no reason to think that “maybe” it’s possible. Given all the knowledge that science has given us access to (and I know that we will never know “everything”, but that shouldn’t stop us from trying), there’s nothing to point us towards a supernatural explanation for anything. As such, the default position *should* be atheism. Although it does sound rather fun to say “I’m agnostic about Hyperion”.

          And while religions have invented stories to explain things unexplainable to the uneducated, and sold them an afterlife that doesn’t exist, that, by itself is not scientific evidence that there was no force behind the origin of the universe.

          You’re right, that’s not scientific evidence. Yet there’s also no scientific evidence in favor of the supernatural explanation. Nor is there scientific evidence to account for a belief that Odin, Vili and Ve created the Earth out of Ymir’s body. Are you agnostic about Norse myth as well? Don’t forget that science will self correct itself. If one day, overwhelming evidence in favor of a creator comes to light, humanity will have to revise its prior knowledge.
          I know you’ve used Richard Dawkins as an example about atheism, but I feel you’re getting it wrong. That he calls himself a 6 or 6.5 on the belief scale doesn’t mean that he things there’s “probably” or “possibly” a creator. It’s a realization that we can’t ever be 100% certain about things, so we have to allow for the possibility of changing our beliefs if new knowledge comes to light. Until that time however, it makes more sense *not* to believe (and if you don’t believe that’s reasonable, then are you also agnostic about Thor? Horus? Zeus? The Morrigan?)

          Given what I’ve read of your thoughts on the subject it seems like you consider yourself an agnostic freethinker. If that’s the case great, but for those of us who do *not* believe in a higher power of any sort (again, we’re talking about not believing in something because there isn’t sufficient knowledge to justify our beliefs; we are not talking about certain knowledge to make a claim either way) we’ll continue calling ourselves atheists.

          • Norman Lycan
            March 24, 2012 at 2:08 pm

            Tony said:

            It’s a realization that we can’t ever be 100% certain about things, so we have to allow for the possibility of changing our beliefs if new knowledge comes to light.”

            You never have to change your belief, if you don’t adopt them until the evidence is conclusive. You just absolutely made my case for me, thank you.

            NL

        • Dave The Sandman
          March 24, 2012 at 10:11 am

          Norman

          I will try hard to maintain my new resoluton to address with less fire, as I am concerned that my anger has been getting the better of me of late thanks to my own personal demons I am wrestlng with.

          There are a lot of words that could be used to define what you are, but atheist and agnostic are not two of them. Most of the words that I would use are expletives.

          You are, at my most charitable best, a delusional deist who, suffering from a factual and logic disconnect, has convinced himself that he is a free thinker. You are a free thnker in the sense that Americans seem sometmes adept at twisting words out of all context. You are a free thinker like Jefferson or Mason, but unfortunatly the world has moved on and both men, whilst great thinkers 250 years ago, are by modern terms of education and scientifc literacy less well informed than my 12 year old nephew. I am damn sure that messrs J & M would, given an outing in the modern world, choose to enlighten themselves and learn, thus leaving dimwits like you behind still grovelling in the dust and seeking the hand of some god where there so obviously is none.

          You are also, being charitable again, a wolf in sheeps clothing whos posting activity across a number of sources reveals that amateur dramatics level masquerade.

          However, as I have posted, your posts on this and other blogs show you believe in and espouse Discoveroid Deepak Chopra Woo Woo snake oil claptrap and science denialism. That makes you a dishonest troll, or a delusional clown. You are only a free thinker in the same sense that the parade of idiots on Ancient Aliens are classed as free thinkers.

          Im trying hard to play nice, but you keep driving that parp parp clown car around and honking the same horn, despite your posts getting knocked down time and time again.

          Other believers of various stripes have posted here, and have no shame about stating the fact that they are what they are. That I admire. And whilst I may disrespect thir standpoint, I think they deserve better than you, as they have two qualities I try to maintain:

          Honesty and integrity.

          Two qualities you seem to sadly lack.

          There…striping done.

          • Norman Lycan
            March 24, 2012 at 2:32 pm

            Sandman said:

            “thus leaving dimwits like you behind still grovelling in the dust and seeking the hand of some god where there so obviously is none.”

            I think I have proven beyond any doubt that I am not a “dimwit”. I am actually quite intelligent, and my previous posts demonstrate that I do not believe in any religion, I just withold judgement about the origin of a universe that is so emense the human mind cannot conceive it, and it simply blasted out of nothing. I am humanist as well, I don’t believe any deity interferes in human affairs, nor will intervene if we finally annihilate ourselves. So, I have to wonder what the fuck is your problem?

            Mr. Steffani has written that he would like to see humanists, agnostics, and atheists unite against the brainwash that infects our species. I share his ambition. However, you, sir, are the type of individual that is preventing that from happening.

            Really, what is your fucking problem?

            NL

          • John Morales
            March 24, 2012 at 11:09 pm

            [meta]

            [1] I think I have proven beyond any doubt that I am not a “dimwit”. [2] I am actually quite intelligent, [3] and my previous posts demonstrate that I do not believe in any religion, [4] I just withold judgement about the origin of a universe that is so emense the human mind cannot conceive it, [5] and it simply blasted out of nothing.

            1. Ahem.

            2. For certain values of “quite”, I suppose so.

            3. Yes.

            4. Because it must have had an origin?
            (You sure you’re not indulging in the fallacy of composition?)

            5. You imagine that you don’t believe that you have any belief about whether a cosmological origin is necessary or whether, if so, postulating a supernatural agency that itself now needs explanation is the most parsimonious approach?

            (Surely not!)

        • steve oberski
          March 24, 2012 at 1:01 pm

          Because you love the sound of your own voice ?

          It’s a tough and dirty job but someone has to do it.

          I have yet to see you make a point that wasn’t a poster child post for self aggrandizement, wishful thinking, flawed logic, straw man fallacies and poor me self pity.

          One would have to search long and hard for a better example of the damage that religious indoctrination can inflict.

      • Hunt
        March 24, 2012 at 4:53 am

        Didn’t we already have this discussion re: the definition of atheism? Technically and etymologically a-theism means without theism, which babies satisfy; therefore they’re technically atheists. If you want to redefine atheism as the considered and informed rejection of theism, then babies aren’t atheists. To be consistent and strict to the definition, I think we should stick with the former definition. For one thing, if you go by the latter, calling babies agnostics is as ridiculous as calling them atheists, since neither have they arrived at the informed conclusion that there is no way to know enough to say.

        • Norman Lycan
          March 24, 2012 at 4:42 pm

          Agnostism is by its strictest definition is just “not knowing”. Atheism is by it’s strictest definition is “not believing in a god”. There is no conflict in those philosophies until someone claims that they do “KNOW”. And that is impossible. Shouldn’t we wait for a science lab to create something out of nothing before we decide that the universe is an accident? Is’nt that the voice of reason that we want global governments to respect?

          NL

          • John Morales
            March 24, 2012 at 10:53 pm

            Agnostism is by its strictest definition is just “not knowing”. Atheism is by it’s strictest definition is “not believing in a god”. There is no conflict in those philosophies until someone claims that they do “KNOW”

            Not even then, since the only claim is that we know that we don’t believe, the which is entirely compatible with believing that we don’t know.

            (It really is very simple!)

          • John Morales
            March 24, 2012 at 10:56 pm

            [meta]

            PS I note that when others would write the dictionary version, you write ‘agnostism’.

            (Quaint little foible, there)

  3. slc1
    March 23, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    Understanding atheism is as difficult a concept as quantum physics.

    I certainly hope not because, according to such premier thinkers as Richard Feynman, Lawrence Krauss, and Steven Weinberg, nobody understands quantum mechanics.

    • Norman Lycan
      March 23, 2012 at 9:03 pm

      relax, they are in search of the “god particle”.

      NL

  4. ash
    March 23, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    “We just don’t know how to make you want to understand.”

    That’s It!

    • Norman Lycan
      March 23, 2012 at 9:53 pm

      I feel that every time I log in here. Some threads ago, Mr Steffani implied he would like freethinkers to unite. Well, perhaps the problem exists in the fact that atheists have entirely closed their minds. But that would not only be tragic, but potentially disabling to the freethinker movement.

      NL

      • John Morales
        March 23, 2012 at 10:11 pm

        Well, perhaps the problem exists in the fact that atheists have entirely closed their minds.

        Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.

      • Tony
        March 24, 2012 at 6:30 am

        Norman, I find the impasse is that you’re defining terms like “atheist”, “agnostic” and “freethinker” differently than many others. Judging by the sheer fact that you consider that “atheists have entirely closed their minds”. This certainly might be the case for some. On it’s own, atheism isn’t a statement of a belief. It doesn’t automatically lead to a set of beliefs (I’m an atheist humanist), though it can be a step on the path to some naturalistic philosophy about the universe. I do not believe in anything supernatural. Thus I reject any claims of a supernatural creator. I do *not* claim to know how the universe was formed (I don’t know many non believers that would claim to know how the universe was formed with perfect certainty; they might say something like “probably the Big Bang”). It is not close minded to reject-based on lack of scientific evidence-the existence of any supernatural creator.

        The very eloquent Greta Christina said it perfectly (I wish I had a Kindle or Nook; ah well the book is coming soon, IIRC):

        http://freethoughtblogs.com/greta/2008/09/15/the-ten-main-reasons-i-dont-believe-in-god/
        When you look at the history of what we know about the world, you see a very noticeable pattern. Natural explanations of things have been replacing supernatural explanations of them. Like a steamroller.

        If you’ve never read this post by Greta, I highly recommend it. There has *yet* to be a supernatural explanation for any of the natural processes that science has discovered. That doesn’t mean there *isn’t* something that could be “supernatural” (but if it affected the natural world, it would be part of the natural world, and thus not “supernatural”). That also doesn’t mean atheists and scientists and secularists are certain about nothing supernatural existing. It just means we need sufficient evidence–and in the case of a creator deity we need fantastic levels of evidence–before we will accept that a creator deity is real and not a fictional character.

        • Norman Lycan
          March 24, 2012 at 3:50 pm

          Tony said:

          “On it’s own, atheism isn’t a statement of a belief.”

          and:

          “Thus I reject any claims of a supernatural creator.”

          That’s an oxymoron. First you say you don’t believe, then you say you believe there is no creator.

          And the term “supernatural”. That is an oxymoron, too. If there was an entity behind creation, it would be more natural than the creation.

          I don’t know your history. I don’t know if you have ever been the victim of the brainwash, but, I was. But the way you liberate yourself is believing in absolutely nothing that is not proven by science. I am a freethinker, you are an atheist believing and betting that someday science will prove that the universe is the most supremely convenient accident that has ever occurred. And you might be right. But, stop basing on me if I adopt a wait and see attitude rather than a “fuck it, I believe” attitude.

          NL

          • John Morales
            March 24, 2012 at 10:41 pm

            That’s an oxymoron.

            Not according to its definition, and also there’s no contradiction even in meaning, since not accepting a proposition doesn’t entail believing the negation of that proposition.

            (Wrong either way)

          • John Morales
            March 24, 2012 at 10:45 pm

            And the term “supernatural”. That is an oxymoron, too.

            Wrong again, since ‘super’ here is a prefix rather than an antonym to ‘natural’.

      • steve oberski
        March 24, 2012 at 1:07 pm

        That’s strange, I too feel that every time you log in here.

        • Norman Lycan
          March 24, 2012 at 4:48 pm

          take a viagra, your motiation will return.

          • steve oberski
            March 24, 2012 at 7:17 pm

            Be careful, it fucks up your spelling.

        • Norman Lycan
          March 25, 2012 at 1:03 am

          steve,

          sometimes I do spell like a kindergartener, but your comment at that point in time, was hilarious. Scientific fact, viagra fucks up your spelling. LOL. I suspect you are an interesting person. I am open to the idea of being friends.

          NL

  5. busterggi
    March 23, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    You’ll never get a job with the Ghostbusters with that attitude.

  6. Dave The Sandman
    March 24, 2012 at 10:16 am

    An interesting post Uncle Al that has me pondering potential future paths of address.

    After a life of the School Of Hard Knocks I have adopted a combatative stance in my writing, and prefer the strategy of fighting fire with a flamethrower. Perhaps I need to re-evaluate the method I adopt, and question whether venom laced outrage is the best approach.

    My eternal thanks for constantly reminding me we always must try to live AND learn.

    • Norman Lycan
      March 24, 2012 at 5:41 pm

      Sandman said:

      “My eternal thanks for constantly reminding me we always must try to live AND learn.”

      A good start would be apologizing for being an asshole to me! Just a suggestion.

      NL

  7. Tony
    March 25, 2012 at 9:18 pm

    Norman, I have to admit I find conversely with you to be an extremely frustrating endeavor. You continually define words and sentences in ways I don’t believe I’ve ever encountered. I can’t even find a good starting ground to begin a conversation because I don’t know where the common ground of understanding is. I’ve brought definitions into the mix in an attempt to do that, but you’ve don’t understand what I’m saying and you’re utilizing terms inappropriately (as seen here:

    Tony said:

    “On it’s own, atheism isn’t a statement of a belief.”

    and:

    “Thus I reject any claims of a supernatural creator.”

    That’s an oxymoron. First you say you don’t believe, then you say you believe there is no creator.

    This is not an oxymoron. An oxymoron is defined as:

    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/oxymoron?s=t
    a figure of speech by which a locution produces an incongruous, seemingly self-contradictory effect, as in “cruel kindness” or “to make haste slowly.”

    The statement I made is not a contradiction. Atheism is not a statement of belief. Unless you consider “lack of a belief” to be a belief. As an atheist, I “lack a belief” in any higher power or powers (as well as woo and the “supernatural”). When I say that I reject any claims to a supernatural agent, that is me stating that I do *not* believe (god, angels, demons, or Greco-Roman gods).

    I am a freethinker, you are an atheist believing and betting that someday science will prove that the universe is the most supremely convenient accident that has ever occurred. And you might be right.

    Emphasis mine. I don’t believe or bet on anything of the sort. I’m not terribly concerned with the origins of the universe. I do have confidence in science to discover many of the universes mysteries. Will this be one? Maybe, maybe not.
    I too am a freethinker:

    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/freethinker?s=t
    a person who forms opinions on the basis of reason, independent of authority or tradition, especially a person whose religious opinions differ from established belief.

    I very much form my opinions on the basis of reason, logic, and evidence, independent on authority or tradition. So we’re both freethinkers.
    I’ve established that I’m an atheist (I would place myself at a 6.5 out of 7). I do not have a belief in a supernatural creator.
    Now, I should have asked this long ago:
    Do you believe atheists firmly believe that the universe was formed on accident? That’s the impression I’ve gotten reading quite a few of your posts, including the one I’m responding to. It appears that you’re making a logical error if you think my (or any atheist) not believing in god *automatically* means I think the universe is an accident (why would it be a bad thing if the universe *was* an accident?). You’re making a big leap with that assumption. I don’t know how the universe was formed. End of story. When information comes along that gives a conclusive explanation, then I will have to amend my thoughts on the matter.

    But, stop basing on me if I adopt a wait and see attitude rather than a “fuck it, I believe” attitude.

    I’m not “basing” you (did you mean “bashing?). I’m asking questions and trying to help you understand that certain assumptions you have about atheists MIGHT be false. I too think a wait and see attitude is best. I haven’t assumed anything about the creation of the universe. I just don’t believe in a supernatural creator. There’s no evidence anywhere else to support the existence of a creator. Why should the origin of the universe be any different? To reiterate:
    I’m an atheist.
    I’m a freethinker.
    I don’t know how the universe was created (but the god hypothesis has no support for it, so that’s not a likely contender).

  8. Tony
    March 25, 2012 at 9:26 pm

    Norman:

    Well, perhaps the problem exists in the fact that atheists have entirely closed their minds.

    And this. What do you mean here?
    What have atheists entirely closed their minds to? Given the definition of atheism being a lack of belief in a higher power, do you mean that atheists have entirely closed their minds to the possibility of a higher power? That might be true for some, but not others. Certainly not myself. I just think it is highly improbable that a higher power exists. We haven’t seen evidence for one yet. That could change. That ability to change is part of being a freethinker. But the absence of evidence for any higher power speaks volumes about how much consideration it should get (answer: virtually none).

    • Norman Lycan
      March 26, 2012 at 9:18 pm

      Tony said:

      “That ability to change is part of being a freethinker. But the absence of evidence for any higher power speaks volumes about how much consideration it should get (answer: virtually none).”

      Well, from my point of view, the necessity to adjust your belief indicates that you believe something you have discovered to be bullshit. And while you may prove yourself a very humble person when you admit you were wrong, wouldn’t it more simple to never adopt any belief that is not proven by science. Think of the benefits, you change your image as an asshole to agnostics. Just a thought.

      You are steward of your own brain, operate it as you wish, but know this, the reason why I don’t decimate you in debates more often is because I actually have a life. I watch the news, I like dramas, and I have no obligation to raise you from your childhood. Don’t interpret my silence as a sign of weakness.

      NL

      • Tony
        March 26, 2012 at 10:38 pm

        Decimate me in debates? Aside from the sheer arrogance you display in thinking you can do so (maybe you can, maybe you can’t; but I don’t want to form any belief without evidence), from where I was sitting, we weren’t debating. It was a discussion (I wasn’t attempting to change your mind on anything, merely give you a different perspective; as in “look at that. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe there are atheists who don’t arrogantly claim to know how the universe was formed.” As I’ve said, this has proven to be a failure). I tried to have a discussion to find some ground that we shared so that I could understand where you’re coming from. I have failed to find any common ground. You haven’t attempted to provide any.
        Please, tell me: What are we debating?
        In addition to that, how about answering this:
        What is it that atheists have their minds closed to?

        By the way:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Bang
        The Big Bang is a well-tested scientific theory which is widely accepted within the scientific community because it is the most accurate and comprehensive explanation for the full range of phenomena astronomers observe.

        If someone believes the Big Bang to be the origin of the universe (now that I think about it though, the Big Bang theory-from what little I know of it-doesn’t describe the formation of the energy expelled; it merely describes the development of the early universe), they would have quite a bit of science on their side.

        • Norman Lycan
          March 30, 2012 at 9:55 pm

          Actually, Tony, that was the kind of post I really want to respond to, but, I have a job and a bedtime, and I love debating with atheists, because they are my step brothers. A tiny tweek away from speaking in agreement.

          What I am, is the victim of the perfect storm. I cannot know if I conceive of something that others don’t. But, it’s my vision of uniting all freethinkers, and I have no special handle on reality. I just have a perception. Just like you. I have my approach to things which cannot be known, as opposed to belief. I think that does not make us enemies. Until, you declare me such. I’m trying to build bridges here, do you want to build them or burn them?

          NL

  9. March 26, 2012 at 1:30 am

    An atheist isn’t born or converted.

    I’m taken back by your casual mention of what seems to be an empirical hypothesis in psychology.

    Studies generally show religiosity to have very high heritability. Though infant adoptees obviously don’t magically get the specific religion of their birth parents, their level of religiosity in adulthood is better predicted by birth parents then by adoptive parents. That sounds like there’s a degree to which many of us are “born” with a tendency to develop greater immunity against religious memes.

    “Converted” is a lot easier to demonstrate. Almost every prominent atheist author/blogger/lecturer reports a large number of people who feel that they’ve been convinced of atheism by the arguments presented. That’s not a conversion?

  10. John Morales
    March 26, 2012 at 3:53 am

    [meta]

    Norman, I’ll try not to respond to your responses to third parties.

    (You need breathing space, methinks)

  11. March 26, 2012 at 7:26 am

    a coworker described an agnostic as an atheist without yarbles

    there’s no reason to consider a creator, given the lack of evidence throughout human history

    no reason to think things were any different prior to us either

    unbend your mind

  12. Norman Lycan
    March 26, 2012 at 8:27 pm

    Tony quoted:

    “/agnostic?s=t a person who holds that the existence of the ultimate cause, as God, and the essential nature of things are unknown and unknowable, or that human knowledge is limited to experience.

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/agnostic
    Definition of AGNOSTIC

    1
    : a person who holds the view that any ultimate reality (as God) is unknown and probably unknowable; broadly : one who is not committed to believing in either the existence or the nonexistence of God or a god.”

    I might have worded it differently, in describing myself, but, I am comfortable with both definitions.

    And this is why Tony, if you believe in a god, then you are left with explaining his origin, correct?

    If you believe in the big bang, an event of such unfathomable energy, you must explain the origin of that energy.

    Thus, you are not the scientist here, I am, because I admit that I cannot explain either scenario. Neither can you. You are the religiot, because you believe without proof.

    NL 🙂

  13. Tony
    March 26, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    Norman:

    You are the religiot, because you believe without proof.

    And this is why people consider you a troll. Count me among that crowd. I’ve tried to reach a common ground. I thought you were a reasonable individual who simply didn’t use words the same way others did. I thought having a reasonable, adult discussion with you would be possible. It’s clearly not. I’m not a religiot. I don’t believe without proof. That’s what believers do. Despite providing you with definitions of relevant words, you still don’t understand the definition of important words in this discussion. Hell, you haven’t even defined what it is that I “believe without proof”. My attempt to find a common ground to discuss with you does not appear to be met with any help from you. You appear content to sit perched on your imaginary high horse in an effort to prove you’re better than me all because, what? Thus far, all I’ve seen is that you have no idea what “freethinker”, “atheist”, “religion”, “belief”, “agnostic” and “faith” means. As a result, based on the evidence at hand, I also feel you deserve the label of “troll”. I didn’t before, because I was trying to give you the benefit of the doubt. However, since you lack proper reading comprehension skills, and your grasp of terminology is quite sketchy, I’ve had to amend my prior belief that you were a reasonable individual.

    You’re being disingenuous in your attempt to paint yourself as better than me. I’ve already said “I don’t know how the universe was created.” I also said “…and I don’t care”. Yet, you still can’t grasp the fact that I don’t have to explain *anything*. I’m not making a claim to know any of that. Because:
    I.
    Don’t.
    Know.
    Get it through your head.
    And what, exactly is your official title, Mr Scientist?
    You may want to rework your idiotic argument about atheists too. Adjusting your beliefs or opinions based on new evidence is an eminently reasonable thing to do. For instance, Bill Maher is anti-vaccination. Though we know differently, assume for a minute that he just found out that he was wrong to be anti-vacc based on information that he’s discovered. He then alters his prior view. That’s a good thing.
    I really hate having to scale down my opinion of another human being. Especially when I’ve tried to be reasonable, but ah well such is life when dealing with “individuals” like you Norman.

    And while you may prove yourself a very humble person when you admit you were wrong, wouldn’t it more simple to never adopt any belief that is not proven by science. Think of the benefits, you change your image as an asshole to agnostics.

    No, it’s not that simple. I suppose this strange world that you live in that has no connection to the reality shared by the rest of us operates in black and white. Here in the shared real world of the rest of us, there are, sadly billions of people who believe things that aren’t proven by science. It’s hard to NOT adopt beliefs, when so many of those beliefs (religious or not) are inculcated at a young age. You know, when we’re quite impressionable.
    And I fail to understand why I’m an asshole, when all I’ve said is I’m an atheist/freethinker/humanist who doesn’t know how the universe was created, nor do I care, and there is no reason *whatsoever* to believe that any man-made deity exists.

  14. Norman Lycan
    March 30, 2012 at 10:26 pm

    Tony said,

    “there are, sadly billions of people who believe things that aren’t proven by science”

    Sadly many of them are atheists who cannot prove that the universe is an accident, in fact chemical science has proven that you can never create something out of nothing. This is old bullshit we have already been over. Are you entirely out of relevent arguments, and running the summer reruns. You can do some reasearch and explain how an unimagininable universe blasted into existence out of nothing, I am awaiting you informed response. When you respond with your whatever, my answer will be, I don’t know. Because I am sane.

    NL

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