The level of ignorance in my generation when it comes to belief in god is incredible. I am consistently disappointed in my generation when it comes to participation and debate in the political and social realm. Here are my common arguments that consistently cannot be answered (and that get labeled "hateful" for a reason unbeknownst to me):
1. The burden of proof is essential, yet no one seems to understand the importance of this aspect. The burden lies with he or she who makes the first positive claim. The believer must be required to show proof of god's existence before anyone else can deny his existence or even inquire into what the characteristics of the divine may entail. For those that don't accept this proposition, I simply assert to them that there is an invisible teapot on the other side of the moon with a dwarf in it that shoots glitter out of its boobs -- and I ask them if they believe in this teapot. When they say no, I say "Why not?" and they seem to be puzzled (and this is where they claim I am "pushing my beliefs on others"). This brings me to the idea that since neither believers nor non-believers can prove their position, that they are somehow of equal weight and significance. This statement is in gross contradiction with the burden of proof. If neither stance can be empirically proven, then the rational stance is that which adheres to the principle of the burden of proof.
2. The emergence of process theology has posed a particular problem for secular philosophy. The best way of going about this conflict is the issue of predictability. Process theologians claim that god is simply polar in his or her characteristics. They claim that god is not compassionate, but our experience of him or her is compassionate. To me, this is simple word play and almost places theists into a Taoist/Confucian realm. The idea of predictability comes to be of great importance in the conversation between process theologians and secularists. These theologians will claim that god is omniscient, but that he or she only knows what is possible. The best way to confront this statement is pointing out that while the world is in fact unknowable, it is in no way, shape, or form unpredictable. Predictability relies not on knowing but predicting, which is something that our species has undoubtedly come very far in. We can predict, for example, how this world will end (either by the explosion of our sun or the collision of our galaxy with the Andromeda galaxy). This also raises quite a bit of questions when it comes to prophecies. If god cannot know the future because of our inherent capability of free will, where do the prophecies fit in that claim to know what future individuals will do? This is of great importance considering the discovery of the Gospel of Judas. If process theologians claim that god does not know what we will decide, then it makes perfect sense when the GOJ says that Jesus (if he even existed) told Judas to betray him. Process theology has essentially made the point that Jesus was a complete and utter fraud.
"I can't even imagine how much different the world will look when my life is over."
So true, Matthew. While in those Catholic school religion classes hearing nuns describing the wonders of heaven, all I could see was myself in a rocking chair looking down at earth watching what people are doing.
Those nuns might as well have been talking a foreign language.
In my family, most members cannot imagine no god exists. Some often question me about my inability to have morals, or that I will burn in hell for eternity, that murderers and rapists will go to heaven if they acknowledge Jesus as their lord and savior.
Obviously, this makes no sense to me and I say so. Thus, I am "an enemy of the family". We come from puritan stock from England in the 1630's and unbeknown to them, our ancestors cut off noses of Quaker heretics, accused and tried witches at Salem even as they benefited from their deaths, one was a slave trader of great wealth and he gets paraded around for others to admire, not knowing how he made his fortune. When I told them, they denied it vehemently because he was a christian.
Being a black sheep in my family, and "radical" some of them have a morbid curiosity about my no-god, no-morals, no-purpose, no-meaning; they ask me questions implying that I am what they say I am. The fun begins because I have read enough and learned enough to know the difference between delusion and reality, denial and awareness.
The rule, "no discussion of religion and politics in polite society" is as foolish as their perception of me. I relish a good rousing debate; it keeps me on my toes, and for some reason, they come back to hear more.
My intent is not to take away their crutch, or to make them feel worthless or insignificant or alone and helpless. Rather, it is to each one that he or she has a mind that functions, mostly, and a body capable of action, even if not as well as years gone by.
Their training in the family, at school and in church was to obey, submit, surrender, memorize answers, and look to others for solutions. They have everything they need to make decisions and take action and make changes if what they do does not work. Failure is OK and so is risk taking.
“Take the risk of thinking for yourself, much more happiness, truth, beauty, and wisdom will come to you that way.
(~ Christopher Hitchens' Closing statement of the debate with William Dembski at Prestonwood Baptist Church, Plano, Texas, November 18, 2010)”
Video of Hitchens' closing statement: http://youtu.be/-k1Jr0fp0dE?
I completely agree with the comment that even in dying, he was better than ever. A magnificent example of a robust humanist response to religion and death.
There are many possibilities for a secular funeral/memorial, and I have attended at least a couple. But most people are devastated by the death of someone close, and clerics are all too ready to provide the go-to option.
I agree with your "Their training in the family, at school and in church was to obey, submit, surrender, memorize answers, and look to others for solutions."
However, they don't have everything they need. Their training denied them the self confidence they needed "...to make decisions and take action and make changes...."
In twelve years in Catholic schools, I developed no confidence in my ability to make decisions, et cetera. My need to rebel kept me from becoming a submissive. In college (paid for by taxpayers via the GI Bill) I found reason to disbelieve.
Going to war made a happy life possible.
Yes! You go for it!
Good discussion and good point by Asa: it really is about THEIR faith, not anyone's "proof" or "knowledge." To skeptics, God is in the same class as Russell's teacup, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or the dragon in Carl Sagan's garage. Believers refuse to see the similarity -- too threatening.
I'm tired too, so I never have these discussions. But wait till my Mom's funeral. I have only a few alternatives that are consonant with my dignity: don't go, or if I go, don't stand or pray (or wear that stupid skullcap).
If I understand correctly, funerals are public display of grieving. Does one have to participate? Oh, I suppose so ... the chatter of an absence would last forever in someone's mind. If there is no god, or heaven, or spirits, for what is a funeral? When my mother died 30+ years ago and when my father died 20+ years ago, I didn't want funerals. We did have celebrations of their lives in my home and garden, a remembering of the strengths and learnings we experienced from them. One of Dad's apprentices told about carrying a dull carpenter's pencil, as Dad taught him, so he wouldn't get poked by a sharp point. Funny stuff like that. Rememberings.
Problem is you cannot prove a god and neither can the theists.....it's all conformation biased..on their part.
oh you heathen.. it's G'od .. and we're just odd gods btw.. psalm 82:6
the perfect male god trumps us every time; fkn' bigot ass god~
great tactic for CEO's btw.. Romney hello
Prove the bible with itself much? You got proof of this sky daddy let's see it. In the meantime I will take your name calling and insults as a direct result you do not have anything and can only vent with insults.
At this point in time, I'm quite happy to respond to people asking me to prove there is no god, although I agree with probably everyone else here that the burden is on the theist.
I just look at it from the "we both agree that all gods except yours don't exist, now let's talk about your god" point of view. Once people get to that stage, I find it quite easy to line up a bunch of reasons showing why their god doesn't exist.