Science, 'frauds' trigger a decline in atheism

An interesting column on some opinions of the future of atheism.

[quote]
By Uwe Siemon-Netto, UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL

GURAT, France

how complex is the intelligence that created the cell, and where did it come from? the bottom line is that no one has a clue where the intelligence or the cell or a rock came from. anything else is just a guess.

Or to put it another way the belief in god is an attempt to explain the observable twin mysteries of life and existence by postulating another mystery in the form of a non observable creator of those two big mysteries. It adds up to a lot of mystery either way you look at it and I for one won’t be giving up my humanist status any time soon.

It is a good article regardless of ones personal beliefs (or lack of beliefs).

I’m not certain that it is such a good article actually. First off it doesn’t explain what changes have happened in science that would lead people to a belief in God. And second how is it that cruelty on the part of atheists points to the existence of God especially when it is admitted that atrocities have been, and continue to be committed, in God’s name? The resurgance of religious activity is more likely due to people’s insecurities related to living in an increasingly complicated and uncertain world.

Hmmm, a theologian claims atheism is declining. Interesting…

Is the world really any more complex then it ever was? There’s always been wars, famine and disease and there always will be. Society might “advance”, but our uncertainties aren’t so much different then they’ve ever been.

I’m not sure.

My gut feeling disagrees with these two sentences.

I haven’t read the article yet, but maybe I will when I get home.

[Small note: Josefus, sweet avatar :laughing: ]

Yes it is more complicated. Technological change is driving social change at a maddening pace. It adds up to a lot of changes and that makes life both complicated and uncertain. People have never been confronted with so much information and so many conflicting world views so often. It is enough to drive anyone crazy, er, to God I meant.

Last I heard, God was still dead.

hsiadogah -
God speaks well of you… :sunglasses:

Read the article. As bob said, not much info in it.

Religious interest and participation seem to follow loose cyclic patterns, increasing and decreasing over time. As one example, these cycles are easily visible in the history of fundamentalism in the U.S., where there have been a few surges and quiet spells.

Additionally, atheism is a difficult position to arrive at for a person, for many social, emotional, and intellectual reasons. Those obstacles and the statistics of the Bell Curve will ensure that atheism remains a numerically extreme position.

Overall, the article’s author just seemed to observe and mention natural trends and phenomena without adding anything new or revealing. It was about as enlightening as someone writing an article saying that often the sun is visible and then often it is not (especially in Taipei :wink: ).

Seeker4

I can think nothing difficult about “arriving” at the position of atheism. We are all born without theistic belief (i.e. we are all born atheists), and many of us are taught to believe in God, just as we may be taught to believe in Santa Claus. Eventually we figure out that Santa Claus is just pretend. It’s a similar process for realizing that God is just pretend.

I can think nothing difficult about “arriving” at the position of atheism. We are all born without theistic belief (i.e. we are all born atheists), and many of us are taught to believe in God, just as we may be taught to believe in Santa Claus. Eventually we figure out that Santa Claus is just pretend. It’s a similar process for realizing that God is just pretend.[/quote]
Chris,

You are certainly right about being born athiests and so there being no difficulty in that (unless you were breech :wink:). From that point, though, the analogy with Santa Claus weakens, in my opinion. Belief in Santa Claus is different in many ways from belief in an active paternalistic god, especially as taught within Protestant Christianity. It is not only a matter of type, but one of degree. In the latter case, it is something that a person, by definition, bases his entire life on. It is something that affects all aspects of his life, often including social and professional, depending on where a person lives. It is something that takes years of indoctrination to instill and can take years of soul-searching and education to shed. Becoming a fully-indoctrinated religious person of any faith is a journey. Returning from that point (or traveling beyond it) is a journey as well. Every person’s journey is not the same, but for many, it is quite a trip.

Seeker4

A thread with related info:
[forumosa.com/taiwan/viewtopic.ph … ory#300696](Religion throughout history

Good book on the subject, but tough to find:
“Leaving the Fold” - Ed Babinski (ISBN 0-87975-907-0)

Sorry to nitpick, but surely you mean we’re all born agnostic - which is a different position. When you were born, did you think the world was round or flat?

Or to say it in another way: the opposite of a theistic belief is not atheistic belief.

Stupid people seem to think that science and religion are somehow opposed to each other.

They are just two different ways of looking at the world.

I guess maybe that is why “(Atheism) appears to be losing its scientific underpinnings.”

Real scientists recognize the limits of science and tend to believe in God

Let’s not forget this is true only in some cultures.

The opposite of theistic belief is not being agnostic. The opposite of theistic belief in fact is atheistic belief in the first sense: belief in no deity, where “no” here means “inexistence of.”

However, atheistic belief also refers to the second sense: no belief in deity. Do you see the subtle but important difference? That is what we are born with, and is the default. At birth there is no conception of ‘deity,’ so it makes no sense to talk about it existing or not.

Being agnostic is something else altogether, and comes closest to being a skeptic on the matter of deities, which is a philosophical stance in opposition to both theistic and atheistic belief (in the first sense), which are philosophical stances of professing knowledge, or being gnostic.

To expand a bit, it goes like this:

  1. Many people in the world never have any exposure to the concept of ‘deity,’ and there is no inevitable process for them to conceptualize ‘deity’ as opposed to any other abstract idea in a life’s worth of thought; they are atheists in the second sense.

  2. But even if they do conceptualize the idea of a ‘deity,’ there is no inevitable processing leading to any belief about it (including its existence) any more than there is an inevitable process leading to any belief about ‘thingamajig’; they are also atheists in the second sense.

  3. If they pursued it further, they may decide to consider (not believe, just consider) the existence of ‘deity.’ At this point they may hold a gnostic or agnostic philosophical stance. If they are agnostic, then they decide there is no way to figure it out and that’s the end of the story. If they are gnostic, then they decided to actually have a particular belief about the existence of ‘deity.’ Then they can believe in the existence of one deity, of multiple deities, of one particular deity vs. another, or reject the existence of deities. This last belief is atheism in the first sense.

That atheism in the first sense and not the second sense is even considered the most common meaning shows the Western cultural bias toward religion.

not quite agnostic, which means not knowing, i think there should be a word for “not caring.” a baby is delighted enough to be here not to ask any presumptuous questions.

another word is needed for those who do care but have no belief in God :slight_smile:

I like the Santa Claus analogy, keep in mind that it is an analogy Seeker. I rather think the difference is that the source of all those presents is ultimately provable :slight_smile:

[quote=“ididn’tdoit”]Stupid people seem to think that science and religion are somehow opposed to each other.

They are just two different ways of looking at the world.

I guess maybe that is why “(Atheism) appears to be losing its scientific underpinnings.”

Real scientists recognize the limits of science and tend to believe in God[/quote]

I agree with everything except a nit-pick and on the last sentence.

The nit-pick is that though science and religion are not opposed to each other, scientific observations and some particular religious beliefs are in conflict.

The disagreement with the last sentence is as follows. Science is a description of the observable universe. Therefore, the only putative “limit” of science is that its descriptive elegance does not satisfy everyone. Belief in God is, perhaps, one way some people find remedy for satisfaction, but recognition that the description of science may not be elegant absolutely does not necessitate or have anything to do with a belief in anything.

In any case, the original Washington Times article was such a ridiculously poor rhetorical showing that I won’t even bother to comment on it.

People like to ask, “Do you believe in God?”
For atheists in the second sense, the obvious answer is “No.”
But that somehow always gets misinterpreted to mean, “Oh, so you believe there is no God” along with the “How can you believe there is no God? How do you know? What if?” blah blah blah
It’s so annoying… No… I didn’t say I believe there is no God. I have NO belief in God, or Gods, or Santa Clause, or thingamajig, and never found a need for one. I am not even agnostic, but if I am somehow required to have an opinion on the matter of deities, then obviously I would hold an agnostic stance, because, from my perspective, well, duh.