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November 10, 2013

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At the risk of entering a "poh-tay-toh" v. "pah-tah-toh" argument, it seems to me that atheism is a belief, namely that God does not exist.

The comparisons to country music, golf, or television aren't particularly apt, though to be fair this is a particularly difficult concept to analogize. One doesn't have to enjoy either music, golf, or TV to believe that they exist.

In other words, your dislike of country music doesn't make you a "acountrymusicist," it makes you a person who dislikes and avoids country music. By contrast, you don't dislike or avoid the divine; you simply don't believe it exists.

That atheism is an affirmative belief of a negative ("I believe God does not exist" or, in pah-tah-toh form, "I don't believe in God" ) does nothing to render it any less of a belief, or potentially, a belief system. If this were not so, it would be very difficult for atheist communities to exist or for like-minded individuals to form around the idea.

It seems to me that additional support for this position may exist in the distinction between atheism and agnosticism, but perhaps that's a topic for a different day.

Thanks for your blog!

atheist mega-churches sprouting up across the nation, all "bound by their belief in non-belief":

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/11/10/atheist-mega-churches/3489967/

To truly 'not believe' you don't need a non-believer church structure. 'Not believing' is an infinite non-structure, endless in its potential and freedom without conditioned relative belief. 'Non belief' is cessation of conceptual thought, with no reference point, no "I" to believe or not believe which are really two sides of the same coin. Seeing truth is stepping off the bus completely. To profess "non belief" one must profess nothing at all.

There are three distinct views that a person can take about God
(1) I BELIEVE in God ( I am a THEIST)
(2) I BELIEVE THERE IS NO GOD. This is a BELIEF which takes the position there IS NO GOD. I don't know if this person would be called an ATHEIST. I am not sure of the meaning of the term atheist and who it applies to.
(3) I have NO OPINION and NO BELIEF regarding the concept of GOD. It's not that I DIS-BELIEVE it. I am NOT saying THERE IS NO GOD. I am side-stepping the issue. I am neither affirming - nor am I denying the existence of God. I am neither a believer nor a dis-believer.

which of (2) or (3) is called an Athiest?

Osho Robbins, I think the problem is with the word "atheist." As noted in this post, usually we don't call someone who doesn't do something an "a...whatever." Like, an "abicyclist" or an "asurfer." These are just people who don't bicycle or surf. Their identity isn't founded on not doing something.

But because religious believing is so prevalent, "atheism" has become a term to denote someone who doesn't do something: believe in God.

You seem to be implying that atheism is an action of not believing, whereas actually it is the absence of an action -- believing. Again, if not doing something is an action, then we should have words for someone who doesn't run marathons, doesn't sky dive, and so on.

The way I see it, believing in the truth or existence of something requires a certain threshold of evidence. Below that threshold, believing doesn't exist. So I don't believe in space aliens, though I would if there was evidence for their existence.

Likewise, I don't believe in God because there isn't enough evidence for me to believe. But if the evidence became evident, I would change my mind. Thus I would say that an atheist is a (4): someone who fails to believe in God because there is a lack of evidence that God exists.

Again, this is not an action, but lack of an action. Or at least, a very minimal action. I don't spend my day thinking "I don't believe in God." It is only when someone brings up the subject that I address it, just as I don't spend my day thinking "I don't believe in fairies" unless somebody asks me if I do.

Just as believers present themselves in a wide spectrum of opinions and actions, so too do those who can conceivably capitulate to the label "atheist" if it were foisted upon them.

If by "atheist" you mean not believing in an anthropomorphic being that is responsible for all that exists, then I am definitely an atheist. In practice, my atheism is a complete non-issue because I do not care what any other human being believes as far as the word "God" goes. I simply have no interest.

George Carlin had some great material on bullshit. He had a way of demonstrating that most everything that humans do is bullshit, and that religion, in his not-so-humble opinion, was the very epitome of bullshit. He was great.

I have watched youtube videos of Sam Harris in various debates absolutely crushing believers of every stripe, and then seeing (but not watching) videos claiming that it was Harris who was crushed by the believers. Sam is of the opinion that religious belief is not only illogical, but also detrimental to the species as a whole given what we know to be irrefutable fact, and veritable mountains of it.

Most scientists are of the opinion that religion and belief and even philosophy will eventually be de-selected as homo sapiens' favorite delusions. Maybe. But I won't be here to experience that world.

It also seems self-evident to me that each and every human being will inevitably discover once and for all whether there is in fact a "God" of any nature: all you gotta do is die and presto! there's your answer.

I don't like the term 'atheist' because it implies that a person who does not believe in God is against.."a"..God belief.."theist" when that may not be the case. They may not give a sh*t about the topic at all. If a person does not bicycle it does not mean they are against bicycling. They just may not give a sh*t about bicycling. So, I agree with Brian's logic.

People who don't believe in God are often offensive or threatening, by their mere existence, to the philosophical foundation of those who do. So, believers often call non-believers "atheists" which may not be the case at all. A non- believer in God is not necessarily against God. People who don't bicycle are usually not offensive to those who do bicycle because there is usually no emotional investment of foundational philosophical faith in their act of bicycling.

Also, I think the word "believe" is where people get hung up. If someone says, "I don't think there is a God because I see no evidence of it", it is not a belief, in the strict meaning of the term as I understand it. It is an opinion based on personal observation/experience.

Those who "believe" in God may do so soley on the basis of faith and "belief". Such is not the case with a so-called atheist. It does not require belief or faith to 'not believe' in God if there is no evidence to the atheist's satisfaction proving there is in fact.. God.

All that being said, personally I think there is "God", but I have no concept of it that I can express that would not further cloud the issue, even for me. I just "know" it. It is unspeakable. Enough said.

All that being said, personally I think there is "God", but I have no concept of it that I can express that would not further cloud the issue, even for me. I just "know" it. It is unspeakable. Enough said.

"Enough", indeed. So much for "unspeakable".

Claiming to "know" God exists despite the absence of evidence is what believers call "faith", and you admit to having it.

cc,

Where did I say there was absence of evidence, for me?

Where did I say I had faith?

Where did I say there was absence of evidence, for me?

Where did I say I had faith?


The apostle Paul said, “Faith is the substance of things to be hoped for, the evidence of things that appear not.”

You say you just "know" God exists, but that this so-called knowing is "unspeakable". If you have evidence that God exists, "evidence of things that appear not", why not speak of it?

It all sounds like faith to me, but if you "know" better, do tell.

cc,

How do you explain air to air? Air would say, "What do mean by air? I don't see any air. There is no evidence of it. What are you talking about?"

Thankyou for your testimony. Praise God.

This is a great post. It bothers me when I read about atheist beliefs. It strikes me as a oxymoron. Like we burn candles to Darwin or something. Maybe there is a non-theist definition of the word belief don't know about.

When the believer is asked to explain why he believes in the existence of God, he says that he can no more explain God's existence than he can explain his own. He believes in God because, unable to understand how it is that he exists as a self-conscious being, he jumps to the conclusion that he must be the creation of something greater than himself.

Why, instead of taking this leap of faith, does he not take an interest in the complexity of self-consciousness? Why take refuge in the grand delusion of God?

There is no belief in any objective thing. There is only renouncing the error of conceptual thought processes and our real nature will exhibit its radiance. This may be seen but it is not explainable because the barrier to seeing is the means by which explanations are made.

"Thankyou for your testimony. Praise God."

---Does this God need praise? Does the supposed Almighty God need worship? What does God do with this praise and worship?

There is only renouncing the error of conceptual thought processes and our real nature will exhibit its radiance.

This is a statement of religious faith, not of fact. What is it that does this renouncing of "the error of conceptual thought" if not conceptual thought? What exactly is the alleged error?

Conceptuality is a faculty. It is limited. It can only do so much, but you are inhuman without it. In and of itself, there is nothing wrong with conceptuality. The problem is that the mind is not cognizant of how many ways it can be abused and confused. It is for lack of self-knowledge that the mind jumps to the conclusion that the problem is conceptuality rather than the ignorance of the mind that does the jumping.

The undiscerning mind, blaming the tool rather than its own ineptitude, draws a false conclusion and throws out the baby with the bathwater...and leaps into the imagined arms of God.

There is an impasse here caused by words meaning different things to different individuals, of individuals coming from different perspectives. "Renounce" in retrospect may have been a less than optimal word choice. But so what? Nothing will be resolved with another set of words, searching for the source of a sound by chasing its echo.

Nothing will be resolved with another set of words, searching for the source of a sound by chasing its echo.

This is the kind of spiritual drivel that drives the guru business.

This world (including we, the human beings) might well be the creation of a supreme power that some people like to call God. The God, then, must be all powerful and capable of doing anything. That makes some sense.

But, what does not make sense is:
1. The God wants only the select few to come back to him.
2. The God wants us - including the select few - to repent for our sins and ask for his forgiveness by way of praying, meditation etc.

Does anyone have a justification apart from the following?

The God created the world but then gave the control to somebody else - the Kaal, and the two have an agreement that the God will reveal Himself only to the select few and that also when they make an effort by way of praying, meditation etc.

This justification is not very convincing especially because the "effort" has not been clearly defined or quantified.

Also,

1. Why does the God like to play games, for example by giving the control of His creation to somebody like Kaal?
2. Why does the God like to be praised and worshiped?

Does anyone has a justification other than the following?

Comprehending/understanding the working of God is beyond human intellect.

Avi wrote,

"Comprehending/understanding the working of God is beyond human intellect."

--Not many would disagree with that.

The type of god you are talking about is the RSSB version, right?, for those who may not be familiar.

Yes, why does god need all that stuff? Maybe it doesn't, but we do. It is hard to see that when you are caught up in it and have bought into the story. But there is a time for religions, gurus, teachings and practices. For some they serve as a shoulder to lean on. After all, life is tough. It's hard to stare into the abyss empty handed although that may be the most direct way of seeing the radiance of it. For others such beliefs can serve as a springboard into it. Either way, in my view, it really doesn't matter. We are what we are whether we know it or not.

Avi: This justification is not very convincing especially because the "effort" has not been clearly defined or quantified.
Why does the God need to be praised and worshiped?

according to RSSB the 'effort' is very clearly defined and specific. RSSB states that the only effort acceptable by Sat Purush is meditation on the five holy names. hence the emphasis on meditation.

Apparently that is what Sat purush is into and he collects the meditation efforts of RSSB followers.

RSSB followers do their meditation as if they are putting treasure away for the after-life.

The more you meditate - the more points you accumulate.

They cannot see the absurdity of it - any more than a muslim can see the absurdity of saying that "Allah is the only God..."
or a christian can see the absurdity of accepting Jesus into your life.

What you believe is true becomes true for you and runs your life. It takes on a new reality and appears to be the real truth.

Although I wouldn't use this particular wording, we ARE the creation something greater than ourselves (product is better than creation as it is less anthropomorphic.) This 'something', in the final analysis, is actually very difficult to account for. We might call it the cosmos or nature or the laws of the universe or whatever - but ultimately the 'what' or 'how' or 'why' of reality is beyond the cognitive endowment of this particular mammalian species. Of course this is no excuse to invent gods or other such gobbledygook.

I can see at least four approaches here:

1. We are the product of something greater than ourselves: a god created us, looks over us and intervenes and responds to our prayers.

2. We are the product of something greater than ourselves: the laws of nature - there is no mystery, science has it all sewn up.

3. We are the product of something greater than ourselves: for want of a phrase; the laws of nature or the cosmos. Science is the way we gain understanding of the structural relationships at work in the cosmos - but ultimately what we observe, understand and cognise is by default limited by our evolutionary compelled biology.

4. We are the product of something greater than ourselves: for want of a phrase; the laws of nature or the cosmos. I'm going to call this 'something-ness' God.


1 and 2 are delusional (1 is obviously much worse than 2.)
3 is the most rational in the light of real investigation.
4 is lazy and unnecessary.

Only position 1 is theistic in my understanding - the belief in a supernatural deity with anthropomorphic characteristics. Position 4 has been called 'sexed-up atheism' by Richard Dawkins.

Osho says,

" ..... according to RSSB the 'effort' is very clearly defined and specific."

"The more you meditate - the more points you accumulate."

I know that because that's what the RSSB preachers aka "parrots" (in Osho's words) keep on reciting.

When I said that the effort is not defined and quantified, what I meant was exactly how many hours of meditation or how many points (in Osho's words) does one need to realize God/Satpurush?

Again, does anyone have any answer other than something like:

1. It actually depends upon the "quality" and not the "quantity" alone, and so, for some it will take just few hours while for others even many years will not be enough.

2. It's all in HIS hands and so on. In other words, it's His game and He only decides the rules of the game.

Then, what about the following questions:

1. Why does the God like to play games, for example by giving the control of His creation to somebody like Kaal?

2. Why does the God like to be praised by way of meditation by humans?

Roger also asked similar questions above:

"Does this God need praise? Does the supposed Almighty God need worship? What does God do with this praise and worship?"

As "like to be praised" is a tendency normally attributed to humans, are we not making this unfounded/unsubstantiated assumption about God to have human-like tendencies?

It seems to turn out that if we assume the premise, that there is indeed a God who is all powerful, to be true; then the only reasonable "explanation" to all the above questions, at least as of now, seems to be:

Comprehending/understanding the working of God is beyond human intellect or to put it more simply:

...... WE JUST DON'T KNOW ......

I think that's what is reflected in some of the comments above. For example:

"Either way, in my view, it really doesn't matter. We are what we are whether we know it or not."

" .... ultimately the 'what' or 'how' or 'why' of reality is beyond the cognitive endowment of this particular mammalian species."

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