I was recently told that I am bigoted because I don't like christianity(or any religion).I made the mistake of being honest and saying I am a atheist.I said I don't see much good in religion.

It seems to be christians are very judgemenatl and easily offended.

Are they right?does that make me a bigot?

I normally don't discuss what i believe beacuse of the possibility of a negative response but i thought this person was  ok.I was proven wrong.

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Comment by David Raphael on November 23, 2011 at 6:02am

Having an opinion about religion (or anything) does not make you bigoted.

 

You would only be bigoted if you claimed that you and your beliefs were superior and judged others with alternative beliefs to be inferior.

 

True atheists don't really claim that no god exists as such; they merely state that the likelihood is extremely improbable, hence the bus banners some time ago "THERE'S PROBABLY NO GOD. NOW STOP WORRYING AND ENJOY YOUR LIFE."

 

The existence of a god, or the lack of one, is a theory, a hypothesis that cannot be proved definitively either way. We atheists believe that there is enough evidence to support the hypothesis that there may be no god, whereas religious people insist there IS evidence (it's just that we atheists don't consider their evidence to be valid or scientifically sound)

 

If you go down the road of insisting to theists there is no god they will rightly tell you that you have as much faith as they do; that you also believe something that cannot be proven.

 

Tell theists that you're not saying there's no god - that can't be proven one way or the other - but that the existence of one is highly improbable - as improbable as other supernatural hypotheses: unicorns and fairies and the loch ness monster.

 

The religious insistence that there IS definitively a god, that everyone else is wrong and probably deserve to suffer because of it, IS bigoted.

Comment by Daniel young on November 23, 2011 at 5:29am

Yes, you are right about dark matter, other words for dark matter would be " We don't freaking know ". That is what is so exciting on this fringe of science, there is still so much to discover.

The dark matter hypothesis has been plugged in, now we are testing it to try and find the truth relative to this reality as we observe it. I'm not a theoretical physicist, I'm not going to be able to discuss with you many details on this subject. The same goes for quantum mechanics. One thing about this area of expertise is that it is in its infancy and we still have much to learn. I would not define them as "well founded theories". Dark matter is a hypothesis that may or may not be correct. In the quantum world there are many hypothesis but mostly there are just observations to which we do not understand. As far as the speed of light goes, I am following this as sheerly as you and am looking forward to reading future results. Try not to jump to unwarranted conclusions on this until we gather a lot more information and the experiment has been repeated several times.

 

That being said, there are things that we do understand. How to put a satellite into orbit, the internal combustion engine. The huge amount of information concerning the medical sciences...

Humanity doesn't know everything, but there are still right and wrong ways to search for truth. Making assertions and adhering faithfully to them without question as religion will have us do is the wrong way. Making assertions and then setting out to prove or disprove them through the scientific method, brings much better results. Should we still burn witches at the stake, or shall we calculate the chances of coincidence? Should we think that saying a few words over a cracker can convert it into the body of christ, or shall we test this assumption and realize that this is not a truth?

I know you have already voiced your opinion with respect to doubting reality as supplied by our senses, but I ask you this. While standing on a set of train tracks with a speeding locomotive heading towards you, do you think that you would move out of its way? And if you do move out of it way because you know that there is a very good chance you will die, does this not reflect the amount of doubt that you honestly have? You may see the underpinnings of science as only assumptions, but you still act as if you do not doubt them. You will bring your sick child to the doctor ( at least I hope you will ) instead of praying over him/her. I have heard of cases where the parents had preferred praying over the medical science and it has ended in death. Fact is that praying does not help your child survive the attack of a fatal infection, the medical sciences can help by an enormous factor.

 

Comment by Daniel young on November 23, 2011 at 5:25am

How can I prove that I am not dreaming right now ? 

How does one prove any negative? It cannot be done. The question should be turned around. How can you prove that I am sleeping right now?

The burden of proof resides with the person making the assertion. Aerodynamics is proven by the fact that we fly in planes. When someone doubts this on the basis that reality is not that which my senses is showing me, it is up to them to prove that reality is something else. Sure, I am assuming that my senses are reliably conveying the nature of reality, The larger, and quiet honestly without foundation, is the assumption that reality is something other than what I perceive it to be. There would be no reality if there was no conscious creatures with a brain to perceive it. Reality is based on the fact that we have a brain and senses to inform our brain, and this is the reality that is forced upon us, the reality that we are forced to navigate though. We must live in this reality as we perceive it, and that is no assumption.

Prove to me that reality is something different and I shall listen intently, otherwise I shall dismiss it for the same reason I dismiss the assertion that there is a small man at the end of the rainbow waiting to give me a pot of gold, as well as the multi quadrillions of assertions without good evidence, that our wonderful imagination have conjured up.

Dreaming takes place at the level of the brain and while in that state I must deal with that reality, after my brain state changes and I wake, I must in turn deal with that reality. So given that I do not know that I am dreaming whilst dreaming, I do know I was dreaming after the fact. And when I'm awake, I do not "wake" again, I only die. After death, there is no reality that we can conceivably assume because the brain ceases to exist. So the fact that I do not wake from this "waking state" forces me to conclude that it is not the same as a dream state but a reality that is real.

One can still say that I'm Just assuming this, and in a way they would be right, but I still have to conduct myself within this reality, and in this reality there is no doubt of the truth that planes do fly.

 

Comment by Daniel young on November 23, 2011 at 5:23am

The objection I have to the word "faith" is in the way it is utilized by people in the most part.

It seems to me that the most common use of the word is in a religious context and is used to give weight or credence to there specific belief system because of their lack of a rational explanation.

I say this because in every single religious oriented conversation I engage in, no matter what theology they adhere to, ends up with a variant of the statement " you just have to have faith in your belief ". In a lot of cases the word " religion " is substituted by the word " faith " as in " This is my faith ". I always follow up with the question " Do you question your faith ? " and the response is a definite no, one does not question ones faith. This answer is obviously not a universal but as far as my experience is concerned, it is the standard answer.

In by invoking the word "faith" to define the underpinnings of science, one puts science on the same playing field as religious doctrine.

This is a mistake, science questions everything that it can. It has a built in corrective mechanisms that given enough time, with new discoveries, sorts out what is real and truthful.

Based, naturally on the assumption that reality is that which my senses and extensions of my senses ( such as microscopes and x-ray machines ) are reporting to my brain. ( I'll come back to this in a second )

Religious faith is not synonymous with any words applied to science, for the basic reason that religious faith is not meant to be questioned, science questions.

I have had many encounters with the Jehovah Witness faith, mainly because they come to me willingly and when I have time we have some interesting conversations. I mention this because of an interesting observation I have made while reading their material and conversing with them. So without writing an essay on this, I have noticed on many occasions that they utilize science to try and enforce their assertions of god. It is called " legitimacy by association ". Wherein they describe valid scientific observations, then attach some form of religious text that with an extreme pliable and stretched imagination, a form of relationship can be implied.

I see this same technique now being utilized with the word "faith". In by trying ( if only through repetition ) to associate the foundation of religious doctrine " faith " with the underlying construct of science, they are trying to gain some legitimacy. This, of course, is only my opinion but I think that it is not without grounds.

 

Comment by John Camilli on November 12, 2011 at 11:04pm

Another way I can doubt science is by seeing if the theories is purports are self-consistent or if they contradict each other. Let's consider a few issues in science today. Take dark matter, for example: hypothesies about dark matter arose because when we plugged all of our theories about reality into supercomputers and tried to recreate a simulation of the universe, the simulations came out nothing at all like the universe we observe. And it only became recognizable when we added nearly a hundred times more mass into the simulation than we actually observed. That is ALL the evidence we have right now for dark matter - that the simulations match observation better when we add all that extra mass. So here we are decades later, spending billions of dollars trying to prove or disprove its existence, because all our best theories did not return results that were consistent with observation.

 

Another issue is quantum super-positioning. It used to be a phenomenon that we only observed in light quanta (photons), but then we observed it in fermions (matter particles), and then in larger and larger structures, so that today quantum super-positioning has been successfully demonstrated with viruses and even macroscopic glass beads. What the experiments seem to show is that it is possible for a thing to exist in two places at the same time, which defies the principal of locality (one of the primary assumptions on which all science is based, remember).

Another is quantum entanglement, which also seems to contradict the principal of locality. It has been demonstrated in dozens of experiments that two particles, separated by large distances can interract with each other instantaneously, as though there were no space between them at all. But information is supposed to take time to travel from one place to another. Something would have to travel faster than light to comunicate instantaneously over distances, and one of our most highly verified theories (relativity) says it is impossible for anything to travel faster than light.

 

Another faster than light problem has been the recent neutrino exchange between several labs in Italy. The experimentors only meant to observe the decay and spontaneous phase shifts of neutrinos (the phase shifts, by the way, seem to contradict the principal of identity, another big one), but when they beamed the neutrinos from one lab to the other, they found that the particles arrived faster than light would have when traveling the same distance. No one has figured out how yet.

 

I could go on (for at least several pages, trust me), but I think it's clear from the examples I've given that the inconsistencies within science are not simply present in errant hypothesies, but in "well founded theories" as well. So while pointing out all the inconsistencies of religious poodoo, keep in mind that your own back yard is full of steaming piles as well.

 

Another point you made was in asking "just how effective has faith been in providing humanity with the truth?" But I think we could both easily guess what a theist's answer to this question would be. Do you often meet theists who are full of disapointment in their religion, and who feel that they are being constantly misled? Heck no, most of them feel that their religion is doing a wonderful job of revealing truths to them, just as we like to feel science is doing for us. They would probably even turn that question back on us, regarding science, and just as foolishly expect us to answer that science was failing us. Everyone likes to think that their way of viewing reality is the right way, or at least closer to the right way than someone else's. But what proof do we have? Unless we know the actual right way, we cannot say that ours is closer to it than someone else's. That was what I meant about the ''one is closer to infinity than one hundred" refrence.

Comment by John Camilli on November 12, 2011 at 11:03pm

I "believe", you "believe", everyone "believes", this is a fact. I hold the belief that water consists of hydrogen and oxygen.

This sounds silly, one may want to say that this is "knowledge", but the word "know" is only representing the highest level of certainty in the belief.

This belief of what water consists of is not based on faith, it based on my trust ( or belief, if you prefer that word ) in the scientific method.

 

I am glad you have studied enough epistemology to know that "knowledge" is just what we call the beliefs about which we feel the most certainty, but as you also say, certainty does not mean real knowledge. If you rely on your belief about the chemical composition of water (if you have expectations based on it), then it is a belief in which you have faith. After all, what is faith but trust placed in one's beliefs? To trust, or have expectations due to the scientific method is to have faith in it. Using different words does not change what it is. And that faith is based on assumptions, just as religious faith is based on assumptions.

 

You say that your "trust in the scientific method is also not based in faith, but on the extreme amount of truths that the method has brought us." But what science has brought you is theories, not truths - theories based on several initial assumptions: that the universe is causal, that things in existence can be distinguished by identity and locality, and that human perception is consistent. These are not small assumptions; they are critical assumptions that underlie all scientific theories. I can doubt anything that science tells me, yes even avionics, first by asking a very simple question. Simple to ask, that is, but for thousands of years the question has remained unanswered. Here it is: what proof do you have that you are not dreaming right now? It's called the dream argument, but in modern times it is more popularly known as The Matrix problem (after the movie). How do you know that anything you experience is actually representative of reality and not just a trick of your mind? You don't. No one does.

 

Another way I can doubt science...

Comment by Daniel young on November 12, 2011 at 6:24am

continued... 

So given the overwhelming multitude of religions who’s foundations all reside within the realm of faith, and the assertions of incompatible ultimate truths that every religion submits to having, begs the question just how affective has faith been in providing humanity with the truth ? I would suggest that the only utility faith has, is to show humanity what not to do. Belief in belief itself, to guide us to truth is not the way, as proven to us by religion in general.

I cannot believe in something on the basis of belief itself. That would be irrational and illogical. You can call me arrogant if you like, but it doesn't change the facts.

So, to say that you "know" God or gods can't exist is every bit as ignorant as saying that you "know" they can. You CAN'T have that knowledge. It's impossible. What you HAVE is a BELIEF that there is no such thing as God, which is the opposite of the belief that theists have. You can't prove your belief is superior to theirs

 

I do understand what direction you are coming from when you say, " one cannot know ", but putting the statements " I know there is a god, and I know there is no god " on par with another is simply wrong. I have many, many good reasons to support my conclusion that there cannot be a god as described by religion. The one who says there is a god, have very poor reasons, if any at all.

And again, please don't confuse an atheistic belief structure with a religious, faith based belief structure. 

If you want to claim some kind of superiority, at least be honest with yourself about your own ideas and do a little research into how you and other people have arrived at them. Personally, I BELIEVE in the scientific method, but I cannot prove the efficacy of empirical philosophies over dualist ones. It's simply an assumption I make. I could take the alternate side of the argument, though, and shoot a million and one holes in all kinds of scientific theories, and explain to you why they are all based on assumptions which can never be proven. If you don't know that about science and empiricism, then you don't know anything about the beliefs you have, which would explain why you feel so certain of them. Only ignorant people feel certain.

 

I guess on the fringe of science, one could poke a million and one holes in those theories, especially when they are still at the hypothesis level. But in all honestly, these are not well founded theories but Hypotheses which need to be shot full of holes in the name of truth. How many holes can one shoot in the theory of avionics ? A physicist is certain of the theory of avionics, he is by no means ignorant in this field. Does a airplane not fly ?

You are right on another level, a young earth creationist is ignorant on many levels. Physics and biology are two good examples, but they are also ignorant to other more reliable methods of pursuing the truth. Their ignorances in these areas are the reasons for their certainty.

 Without some verifiable claim to absolute knowledge (which no one in known human history has ever managed), all you have are un falsifiable theories, and you can't logically claim that a particular unfalsifiable theory is superior to another. What would be the basis of your judgement? Without some knowledge of realities parameters, it would be like saying that one is closer to infinity than one hundred. It's ludicrous. Completely illogical.

I'm not quite sure what you mean by this, could you please put it other terms, maybe with an example or two ?

Looking forward to your response.

Best wishes and health,

Comment by Daniel young on November 12, 2011 at 6:18am

How arrogant of an atheist to assume that atheism is not based on belief. It is completely based on belief, as is religion

 

I don't agree with you when you compare a faith based religion to other belief structures.

When I say there is no god, I say it in the same context as if I where to say that there is no "sandman". ( the story my mother told me when I was a child that a "man" comes into my room and sprinkles sand in my eyes to make me tired"

I cannot prove that there is no entity that we refer to as a sandman. Does this mean that I must then give into the "possibility" of a sandman ? I think not.

 

I "believe", you "believe", everyone "believes", this is a fact. I hold the belief that water consists of hydrogen and oxygen.

This sounds silly, one may want to say that this is "knowledge", but the word "know" is only representing the highest level of certainty in the belief.

This belief of what water consists of is not based on faith, it based on my trust ( or belief, if you prefer that word ) in the scientific method.

My trust in the scientific method is also not based in faith, but on the extreme amount of truths that the method has brought us. 

And if you want to debate this last sentence, then you have never seen or flown in an airplane or driven a car.

Religion does not work this way, it invokes the word "faith" which basically means the same thing as "belief" and utilizes it as a foundation.

The foundation of religion is the belief that belief itself, without any good explanation, can lead to the truth. 

So your statement that atheism is based on belief, is in some form true, but I think it is important to realize what the belief is based upon.

My atheism is not based on the same sort of belief structure as the religious ( faith ) belief structure.

 

How can I say that there is no god as described by religion ?

 

Well, consider the following.

 

Judaism, Islam, and Mormonism, the Indian religions such as hinduism, Jainism, hinduism, Sikhism, Iranian religions like Zoroastrianism, and the Kurdish religions. Folk religions like African traditional, Australian aboriginal, Chinese folk religions etc. Not to mention the newest religions that have relatively recently popped up on the market place like Scientology. And please don’t forget all the subsequent splinter religions which are to numerous to mention. All of these religions have the same thing in common, they are founded on faith. And If you are of the opinion that there is a religion that is not founded on faith, I would be most interested in knowing its name, but please do not confuse theism with philosophy.

Before I continue, I would like to admit that there are some similarities between certain religions. A monotheistic religion such as christianity and islam both assert that there is only one god, in this case the same god. As well as the polytheistic religions assert that there are more than one god. There are certainly other meanings ( depending on interpretation ) in one religions scriptures that appear in other scriptures, I am not educated in comparative religion, but I think this statement holds to be true. Be this as it may, I will submit that all religious belief systems, taken in their entirety, are incompatible to some significant degree. This is evidential in the friction between religions, both in the present and in our history books.

So given the overwhelming multitude of religions who’s foundations all reside within the realm of faith, and the assertions

Comment by John Camilli on November 11, 2011 at 4:19pm

As for whether or not you're a bigot, that depends on whether or not you judge the beliefs that others have, relative to your own. It's not bigotous to have no use for someone else's ideas. It IS bigotous to think of your ideas as better, or correct, and theirs as worse, or incorrect, since humans have no absolute knowledge (except the knowledge to themselves that they exist, which they can never prove to anyone else).

 

Without some verifiable claim to absolute knowledge (which no one in known human history has ever managed), all you have are unfalsifiable theories, and you can't logically claim that a particular unfalsifiable theory is superior to another. What would be the basis of your judgement? Without some knowledge of realities parameters, it would be like saying that one is closer to infinity than one hundred. It's ludicrous. Completely illogical.

Comment by John Camilli on November 11, 2011 at 4:10pm

Wow, a lot of you guys need to start your own religion; a non-faith-based religion, because you are zealots! How arrogant of an atheist to assume that atheism is not based on belief. It is completely based on belief, as is religion - it simply answers the god question with a 'no' instead of a 'yes.' Atheists say 'there is no God' without any proof, just as theists say 'there is a God' without any proof. In fact, it would be absolutely impossible to even subject the question of god to a proof because the concept God relies on the assumption of non-physical entities, while proof is a scientific concept, and science (being a subset of empiricism) relies on the assumption that reality only consists of physical entities.

 

So, to say that you "know" God or gods can't exist is every bit as ignorant as saying that you "know" they can. You CAN'T have that knowledge. It's impossible. What you HAVE is a BELIEF that there is no such thing as God, which is the opposite of the belief that theists have. You can't prove your belief is superior to theirs, and they can't prove theirs is superior to yours, again because the question cannot be subjected to proof.

 

If you want to claim some kind of superiority, at least be honest with yourself about your own ideas and do a little research into how you and other people have arrived at them. Personally, I BELIEVE in the scientific method, but I cannot prove the efficacy of empirical philosophies over dualist ones. It's simply an assumption I make. I could take the alternate side of the argument, though, and shoot a million and one holes in all kinds of scientific theories, and explain to you why they are all based on assumptions which can never be proven. If you don't know that about science and empiricism, then you don't know anything about the beliefs you have, which would explain why you feel so certain of them. Only ignorant people feel certain.

 

You, who think one answer to a question

Give credence far too much to a suggestion.

For where a human sees some quality

Are likely many symptoms unperceived.

And lazy minds will find their moral stead

Where carelessly cuts Occam's razor edge.

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