Your expression is so very familiar to me. As I child, I was taught by family, church, community, education and culture in general that god existed and my/our purpose in life was to please "him". Challenges of adult life forced me to take off blinders so that I could perceive other options.
Education, discussions, critical thinking are processes that one can acquire and it is clear to me that god is not necessary to explain life or consciousness, that I am not guided by a higher power, that I have everything I need inside me to make decisions. I also found that I made some pretty awful decisions and I need others so I can learn to think outside the boxes in which I am incased.
Problem solving, conflict resolution, problem identification, options explorations, cost/benefit analysis, action plans, formative and summative evaluations are critical thinking tools one can learn and use to make healthier, wiser, happier, more responsible decisions.
The next developmental step for me is discovering ways to experience and express my sense of wonder ... of knowing I am not the center of the universe but I am made of the same stuff as stars and so is everything else. My senses exist making it possible for me to participate in life and when I die the electric energy will end, I will cease to exist, and I return to elements; only memories remain of me and that is my immortality.
The thing I missed when I stopped going to church was community. It has taken a while and I have been able to develop a community where I feel safe to express my ideas, explore, experiment, inquire, change my mind and all the while know I am in a community of supportive, loving people, even when I express silly ideas. I have the responsibility to build bridges with others with whom I can share and to build walls of protection from toxic people. Even an amoeba protects itself from unhealthy environments ... and so should human beings.
Thank you, Patrick, for your enlightened comment. Your contribution is valuable to me.
I think the question of whether there is a creator of the universe (perhaps more akin to the Deist sense), and whether human gods specifically are real as they're described in sacred text, are totally separate. Am I 100% sure that the big bang wasn't started by some higher being? No. Am I 100% sure that the Christian god as described, or the Islamic god, et cetera, doesn't exist? Yes. I could bet my dice on the idea that gods that humans have written about and described are as likely as pink unicorns farting rainbows, streaking their way across the sky until they land in a pot of gold.
Ava, perfectly stated, especially the "pink unicorns farting rainbows, streaking their way across the sky until they land in a pot of gold". May I borrow your statement, giving you credit, of course.?
"I am about 99.9999% sure that there is no god." The answer to Scott's question is already included in his question and almost everybody has picked up the same thread.
"I am about 99.9999% sure that there is no god."
"I can't be 100% sure until there is concrete proof against one."
Bertrand Russel in his early life called himself an agnostic as, according him, he neither could prove that god exists nor could he prove that god does not exist. So, if there is an element of doubt in one's mind, he should call himself an agnostic, as Bertrand Russel called himself. His was, in my opinion, an honest position. If any one has that small,small, small..........small doubt, he is free to have the same, but then he should not call himself an atheist. Why does any one should have a doubt? Because of fear? Because of inadequate thinking? Because of inadequqte knowledge? If there is any such boubt, then why hurry about calling oneself an atheist? Wait until your doubts are cleared. You want solid proof? Just see what Christopher Hitchens has to say:
"What can be asserted without proof can be dismissed
Asking for a reliable proof, instead of relying on one's own faculties, means any one can make an absurd claim and then we wait till some one else brings proof for or against the claim.
I fully trust the claim of science that the world was not created but emerged after the Big Bang, I fully trust the scientific claim that life on earth was not created but evolved and then I convince myself that no supernatural power was involved in all this. So, I do not have that infinitesimally small element of doubt in my mind that all those stories told by different religions of different gods creating this world are hogwash.
No body can be prevented from having a doubt, but a doubter is a doubter, not an ATHEIST! A faithful is a faithful, not a doubter.
May I ask, if we do not frimly believe in the stories of creation and still have a small element of doubt about the existance of supernatural power, why don't we ask ourselves 'what he was doing when th world was emerging? What was he doing whem life was taking shape on this planet? What is he doing now? Does he act only as a 'manager' now? If that small..........small doubt prevents us from being a 100% atheist, why these doubts prevent us from being a 100% atheist?
Lastly, by calling us as atheists with small doubts, we, in my opinion, are changing the meanings of the words 'atheism' and 'agnoticism"
I am absolutely certain there is no personal god, no one hears and answers prayers, no one judges us for our behaviors and thoughts. There is no heaven or hell. Our individual immortality is through the memories of those who remain after us and the stories they remember to pass on. The stories of Abraham, Moses, Noah, Joshua, etc. ... all those are verbal stories from ancient, pre-written language eras and became written much later. The stories of the miracles of Jesus and the saints and relics are all myths. I have no doubt about that. I actually sat on the stone well where Mother Mary sat after Jesus died and where she lived out the remainder of her life. True? There are those who said this was true. As for myself, who knows? who cares? what difference does it make? It made for an interesting afternoon.
What existed before the Big Bang? That is where I wonder what existed? and what happened? and how? and why? As Hawkin said, "An expanding universe does not preclude a creator, but it does place limits on when he might have carried out his job!" A Brief History of Time (New York: Bantam, 1988), pp. 8-9.
"So long as the universe had a beginning, we could suppose it had a creator. But if the universe is really completely self-contained, having no boundary or edge, it would have neither beginning nor end: it would simply be. What place, then, for a creator?" A Brief History of Time (New York: Bantam, 1988), p. 140-41.
What existed before the Big Bang? That is where I wonder what existed? and what happened? and how? and why?
Joan, I did ask such question to myself. The answer is simple. The scientists have researched about OUR universe and if something remains to be researched, it may be done sometime later. Is it not too much to expect everything at once? Scientists are not gods! They know better! You are quoting Hawkins, but be sure to quote what he has said more recently, A lot of water has flown under the bridge since 'A brief history of time.'
Thanks for the heads-up. I see I have another interesting day ahead of reading more recent articles by Hawkins.
Agnostic atheists, but agnostic none-the-less.
I think there is no god. Period.
That said, there is no way to be 100% sure of anything. It is virtually impossible to prove that something does not exist. With that in mind, there appears to more evidence for Bigfoot or the Loch-Ness Monster.
Are you 100% sure that it is impossible to know something for sure? Skepticism fails at the outset.
You are merely theorising. There are many points in my above reply where I have quoted Hitchens. They all need serious consideration. My answer to your question would be " I would not attempt to reply to your theorising, but as far as I am concerned, I am a 100% atheist, no less! If skepticism fails, the first failure would have been Gallileo!
What am I theorizing about? It is not just a theory that the impossible cannot happen. People who say that one cannot be sure of anything are irrational because this is a contradiction in itself. Skepticism in the presence of contradictory evidence is appropriate, but as a fundamental principle is just wrong. Keeping open to the possiblility of the impossible existing is improper skepticism. It is to these two points that I am referring. So your answer to my question is that you won't answer it? I applaud Gallileo and Hitchens, but not in how they may maintain skepticism as universal and fundamental.