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Thread: Is atheism a religion ?

  1. #1 Is atheism a religion ? 
    Forum Ph.D. Cat1981(England)'s Avatar
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    Is atheism a religion ? I myself am an atheist and i never considered myself to be part of any group nor did i have to go through any soul searching or make a conscious decision, i was simply a person with no religion or god. Then i read this which got me thinking......
    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR
    surely you're aware of the fact that atheism is a non-theistic religion ?

    (i.e. it makes a belief statement about the absence of a supernatural being)
    (the full discussion can be read here) The above statement actually makes perfect sense, is the belief that there is no god so different from the belief that there is a god ? Do they both not require a little faith ? One based on the Bible or Koran etc and one based on 'The Origin of Species' and 'Gray's Anatomy' etc. How do i know what shape my heart is ? i don't, i take it on trust and faith that what i have been told is true. And i believe that without having a second thought, even if i spent my whole life studying and learning i would still not be able to say that everything that i now believe to be true is in fact true, and of course its the same for a theist.

    Of course atheists don't have church's or prophets to worship or a strict moral code, maybe certain ethical laws and principles but those are for humane reasons rather then 'because you've been told not too'. Perhaps its because you can still be a Christian and a scientist that the line has not been drawn in the sand yet, but it must be a very thin line, if you believe that the earth is 10,000 years old you cannot believe that the dinosaurs die out 65 million years ago, one of then cannot be true. So perhaps it will still be some time before everybody is on their own side of the line, but in the mean time do you think atheism qualifies as a religion? do you think it should be regarded as a religion ? Or is it as i personally believe, simply a person who has no god or religion? Thank you in advance.


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  3. #2  
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    No. Atheism is not a religion. While it, in some ways, revolves around faith/belief (that there is no God), it in no way involves worship or formal rituals/ceremonies, by which religion is characterized. I'm sure most atheists would be offended if you called their belief a religion.


    Whence comes this logic: no evidence = false?

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  4. #3  
    Forum Ph.D. Cat1981(England)'s Avatar
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    Yes i agree, but it would be interesting to see if any of them do see it in that way or even if any theists see it as a religion.
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  5. #4  
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    no, atheism shouldnt be considered a religion.

    thats like saying the Burger King Kids Club members should be considered members of the BKKC religion....and all clubs there after.
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  6. #5  
    Forum Ph.D. Cat1981(England)'s Avatar
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    No, to be a member of the burger king kids club all you need is two parents who are too lazy to regally cook you a decent meal. My point is that to be an atheist requires a certain amount of faith just the same as being a theist requires faith, both seek to explain the origin of life and of the universe etc, they simple come to different answers. Admittedly theist do have rituals and traditions that atheist do not but apart from that there is not a great deal of difference, and besides who whats to get up early on a sunday morning or pray five times a day. An atheist doesn't have anyone to pray too so they have no rituals etc, but they do have a belief that there is no god.
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    Is "I don't play football" a football team?
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  8. #7  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cat1981(England)
    My point is that to be an atheist requires a certain amount of faith just the same as being a theist requires faith, both seek to explain the origin of life and of the universe etc, they simple come to different answers.
    How does it require faith to say "I don't see any reason to believe in god?"
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  9. #8  
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    No, it is absolutely not a religion as I said in the other thread.
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  10. #9  
    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    define religion
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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  11. #10  
    Forum Ph.D. Cat1981(England)'s Avatar
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    Hmmm, if a person has no god they would describe themselves as an atheist but if a person has a god they would describe themselves as an theist and theism in itself is not a religion so logically atheism is not a religion. But i do think that it requires a certain amount of faith to say....
    I don't believe in a god
    To make such a statement requires the person to make an assessment of whether there is a god, to do this you need to use what you know as fact to make the assessment, and its impossible to know and verify everything that you believe to be fact in your own lifetime. So you do need to have some faith in what you believe to be true in the same way an theist does.

    Of course if a person makes a statement such as this....
    I don't see any reason to believe in god
    then they are still an atheist but are not denying the possibility of the existence of a god. Perhaps then there should be a third term for some one who is open to the possibility of a god but (as the quote says) see's no reason too.
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  12. #11  
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    One thing leads to the other. If you don't have any reason to believe in something, then you probably don't believe in it. You can string them together coherently to get "Since I don't see any reason to believe in god, I don't believe in god." Much like “Since I don’t see any reason to believe that Tony Blair is a space alien, I don’t believe that Tony Blair is a space alien.
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  13. #12  
    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    my definition of religion is "a faith-based set of belief systems about the supernatural"

    when i say "there is no god" i do so without proof since such a proof is logically impossible, Kant's attempts notwithstanding

    instead i have a set of inner convictions that make it all but impossible for me to accept the concept of a god, but i fully acknowledge that in doing so i make a faith-based statement
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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  14. #13  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor
    "Since I don't see any reason to believe in god, I don't believe in god."
    Thats what i would have though too but Robbie has just produced a word over in the other thread 'agnostic' or agnosticism which is to be a person who claims that it is not possible to be absolutly certain that there is/isn't a god, so 'I don't belive in god' would be an atheist, 'I do belive in god' would be an theist and someone on the fence with 'I don't see any reason to believe in god' or even 'I don't see any reason not to believe in god' would be an agnosic.
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  15. #14  
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    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR
    my definition of religion is "a faith-based set of belief systems about the supernatural"
    So if I as a Christian don't have any faith based beliefs in anything supernatural then that means I don't have a religion either, right?

    define supernatural?
    See my physics of spaceflight simulator at http://www.relspace.astahost.com

    I now have a blog too: http://astahost.blogspot.com/
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  16. #15  
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    Whether or not something is a religion is entirely separate from faith. Religion is a personal or idealogical practice that centers around one or more focuses, which may or may not be diety related (although most seem to be).

    Atheism can be one or the other. If you follow some sort of practice associated with being an atheist, for personal or idealogical reasons, then it's a religion. If not, then it's just a belief or opinion. Atheism as a religion is rather unique because unlike most other religions there isn't a common method among atheists....but don't get me started on the whole stand-alone thingy...
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  17. #16  
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    So if I as a Christian don't have any faith based beliefs in anything supernatural then that means I don't have a religion either, right?

    define supernatural?
    the fact that you're a christian automatically implies that you have a faith-based belief in the supernatural - it comes with the package

    definition of supernatural : anything that is beyond the means of natural science to even attempt to answer
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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  18. #17  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope mitchellmckain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR
    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    So if I as a Christian don't have any faith based beliefs in anything supernatural then that means I don't have a religion either, right?

    define supernatural?
    the fact that you're a christian automatically implies that you have a faith-based belief in the supernatural - it comes with the package
    Prove it.

    To say that I am a Christian ultimately only means that I find meaning in the words of Christianity, but that does not mean that you know what meaning I find in the words, which means that you cannot possibly know whether any of this meaning includes anything that fits your idea of a belief in anything supernatural.


    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR
    definition of supernatural : anything that is beyond the means of natural science to even attempt to answer
    To answer what?


    So if you use anything that is not part of natural science to explain why you would or would not vote for Hilary Clinton that would be supernatural?


    I don't buy into any "god of the gaps". I don't think the idea of God explains anything and I especially do not think that it explains anything that science could possibly explain.
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  19. #18  
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    To say that I am a Christian ultimately only means that I find meaning in the words of Christianity, but that does not mean that you know what meaning I find in the words, which means that you cannot possibly know whether any of this meaning includes anything that fits your idea of a belief in anything supernatural.
    Good point. I like your thinkin'.

    The idea that if you follow a religion you must follow all of that religion is an idea that is embedded in both sides of the community (scientific vs religious).

    It's surprising the number of people who claim that you can't be religious if you don't do exactly as the religion states. It's also surprising the number of people who believe you must have faith if you follow religion (and the other way around).

    I used to go to church regularly when I was young, but probably starting around high-school I started to develop a more personal ideal of my own faith, and started to explore whether I believed in God or not. Following my religion quickly waned as I found it petty compared to the concept of faith.

    Recently some friends invited me to attend a non-denominational church that was geared towards the younger generation (us post-college folks). After a bit, some of the people asked me what my beliefs were. When I explained that I had a personal relationship with my faith, they nodded casually, like people do when they think you don't know enough about something to be serious. Then when I told them that in my view of faith, Jesus loafs on my couch and watches the football game while we discuss astronomy and chicks over beer and nachos....well...somewhere, they were building a fire and donning red robes...

    Supernatural going hand-in-hand with faith? Well sure. Angels, demonic creatures, divine will, heaven, hell, they're about as supernatural as you can get in regards to academic science...but that's the point, isn't it?

    If you have faith, then even if you don't believe in all that, you do believe that there's something else going on besides atoms and gravity.

    The very nature of having a "god" involves at least some level where it is impossible to both comprehend, and see.
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  20. #19  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wolf
    The idea that if you follow a religion you must follow all of that religion is an idea that is embedded in both sides of the community (scientific vs religious).

    It's surprising the number of people who claim that you can't be religious if you don't do exactly as the religion states. It's also surprising the number of people who believe you must have faith if you follow religion (and the other way around).
    I agree with your point here, but for what I consider a "Christian" it doesn't apply. The most basic premise of the Christian faith is the divinity of Jesus Christ. One can find value in the message of Christianity without believing that, but in being the most fundamental core belief of Christianity it raises the question "Are you really a Christian at this point?"
    I say no personally. To me, that's like saying "I'm an atheist. But I do believe in God!"
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  21. #20  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neutrino
    ... The most basic premise of the Christian faith is the divinity of Jesus Christ. One can find value in the message of Christianity without believing that, but in being the most fundamental core belief of Christianity it raises the question "Are you really a Christian at this point?"
    I say no personally. To me, that's like saying "I'm an atheist. But I do believe in God!"
    for once i agree with neutrino
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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  22. #21  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neutrino
    I agree with your point here, but for what I consider a "Christian" it doesn't apply. The most basic premise of the Christian faith is the divinity of Jesus Christ.
    Maybe.

    I think that the life of Jesus and his origins/nature are part of "Christian" belief, but there are some religions that take that Jesus IS God, and others that take him as the SON of God.

    I'm not sure about Jesus. I mean, sure, I follow a Christian-esque faith, but who was Jesus? I guess I'm caught between him being the divine son of God, and him being a mortal created by God to do God's work on earth.

    Sometimes I like to think of Jesus as the later, because it makes him seem more...well, human. It's easier (at least in my opinion) to hang out with Jesus the human, than Jesus the God.

    I guess what I'm getting at is that you can still be Christian without tooting your horn to the same notes. Like the many interpretations of a song or play, as long as the details remain the same, yer good.
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  23. #22  
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    The earliest Christians did not believe Jesus was divine. Therefore one can be a Christian without needing to believe in his divinity. This should be self evident if one has any reasonable knowledge of the religion.
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  24. #23  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    The earliest Christians did not believe Jesus was divine. Therefore one can be a Christian without needing to believe in his divinity. This should be self evident if one has any reasonable knowledge of the religion.
    you got me confused here - was jesus not described as the son of god ?
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  25. #24  
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    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR
    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    The earliest Christians did not believe Jesus was divine. Therefore one can be a Christian without needing to believe in his divinity. This should be self evident if one has any reasonable knowledge of the religion.
    you got me confused here - was jesus not described as the son of god ?
    Depends on which flavor of Christianity you are looking at. Some believe Jesus and God are the same "person." Others believe they are separate. In the later, he is generally called the "son of God."


    You know, my Christian history is not excellent, but didn't Christianity exist before Jesus showed up? For some reason I seem to remember there being this whole chain of history before Jesus, and that those folks were considered Christians (even though the word hadn't come about yet).

    In that light, you don't need Jesus to be a Christian.
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  26. #25  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wolf
    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR
    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    The earliest Christians did not believe Jesus was divine. Therefore one can be a Christian without needing to believe in his divinity. This should be self evident if one has any reasonable knowledge of the religion.
    you got me confused here - was jesus not described as the son of god ?
    Depends on which flavor of Christianity you are looking at. Some believe Jesus and God are the same "person." Others believe they are separate. In the later, he is generally called the "son of God."
    Actually, all of them believe He and God are one; ever heard of the Trinity?
    Whence comes this logic: no evidence = false?

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    Quote Originally Posted by scientstphilosophertheist
    Actually, all of them believe He and God are one; ever heard of the Trinity?
    wasn't there something like the unitarian church which denied the concept of the trinity ? not sure where they stood on the divinity of christ though
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  28. #27  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    The earliest Christians did not believe Jesus was divine. Therefore one can be a Christian without needing to believe in his divinity. This should be self evident if one has any reasonable knowledge of the religion.
    Your usual, uneeded condescending tone aside, this is the first paragraph of the Wiki entry on Trinity:

    In Christianity, the doctrine of the Trinity states that God is one being who exists, simultaneously and eternally, as a mutual indwelling of three persons: the Father, the Son (incarnate as Jesus of Nazareth), and the Holy Spirit. Since the 4th century, in both Eastern and Western Christianity, this doctrine has been stated as "three persons in one God," all three of whom, as distinct and co-eternal persons, are of one indivisible Divine essence, a simple being. Supporting the doctrine of the Trinity is known as Trinitarianism. The majority of Christians are Trinitarian, and regard belief in the Trinity as a test of orthodoxy. Opposing, nontrinitarian positions that are held by some groups include Binitarianism (two deities/persons/aspects), Unitarianism (one deity/person/aspect), the Godhead (Latter Day Saints) (three separate beings) and Modalism (Oneness).
    I underlined the pertinent part which is pretty much the same thing you are taking issue with. Are you saying that the majority of Christians do not have a "reasonable knowledge" of their religion?
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  29. #28  
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    Quote Originally Posted by scientstphilosophertheist
    Actually, all of them believe He and God are one; ever heard of the Trinity?
    No reason to get insulting...

    The Trinity as a term implies that God, Jesus, and the Holy Ghost of Jesus, are one in the same.

    And no, not all Christians believe God and Jesus are one person. So called Nontrinitarian Christians still believe in the trinity of God, Jesus, and the Holy Ghost, but they believe they're separate. I'm one of those, but apparently I don't exist, right?

    Quote Originally Posted by Neutrino
    Your usual, unneeded condescending tone aside, this is the first paragraph of the Wiki entry on Trinity:
    BTW, Neutrino, who wrote that Wiki article? I apologize, I'm too lazy to look myself, but actually the answer is irrelevant. Whoever wrote it, it would be interesting to find out if the person was of a religious sect, and if so, which one.

    Quote Originally Posted by Neutrino
    ...Are you saying that the majority of Christians do not have a "reasonable knowledge" of their religion?
    Define "reasonable"? I'm not attacking you, but there's a lot of people who really don't have any clue about the origins, nature, beliefs, and understandings, of their own religion. At least that's been my experience. There's a lot of people who seem to go to church and say they're Christian, but don't have a clue why they do it, nor what any of it means. It's the "mindless drone" syndrome of religion at its best.
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  30. #29  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wolf
    Whether or not something is a religion is entirely separate from faith. Religion is a personal or idealogical practice that centers around one or more focuses, which may or may not be diety related (although most seem to be).
    I realize that to a certain extent we can define words however we want, but I feel that "religion" denotes belief in some manner of supernatural being, force, or reality. By "supernatural" I mean something that is not subject to the ordinary physical laws of the universe. Simply having a moral philosophy or a certain world-view does not necessarily qualify as a religion. Simply believing that Jesus (or whoever) had a lot of great ideas and trying to live according to his moral teachings does not make you religious; it just makes you a very nice person with strong moral convictions. Under your definition it seems like belonging to the Labor Party would constitute a religion.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    So if you use anything that is not part of natural science to explain why you would or would not vote for Hilary Clinton that would be supernatural?
    If a person's decision to vote for Hilary Clinton was entirely caused by chemical/physical processes in their brain, then it's at least theoretically possible that science could investigate and explain it - in which case it would not be supernatural. If the decision is dependant on the actions of a "soul" or "mind" that is not mechanistically governed by chemical/physicals processes or that exists separate from the brain, then that would be supernatural.
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  32. #31  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neutrino
    Your usual, uneeded condescending tone aside,
    Thank you for your kind words. Personally I've always enjoyed your posts and your points of view, both here and on the other forum - assuming you are the same Neutrino. I've also generally valued your judgement, so I feel reasonably confident you must be correct in your observations. [Though now I wait with some trepidation that you will consider these careful phrases as implicit, uneeded, condescending observations. ]

    I take absolutely no issue with the current status of the majority of Christians sects. I am making the observation that a) the early Christians did not necessarily see Christ as either God, or the son of God. b) that Christianity was as much as anything a construct by Paul. c) the formalisation of the view that Christ was the Son of God and part of a Trinity was a product of the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. (Which I think is your reference to since the 4th century.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Neutrino
    Are you saying that the majority of Christians do not have a "reasonable knowledge" of their religion?
    Absolutely. I am generally astounded by the wholesale ignorance of even quite devout Christians. Their ignorance, especially of the early history of the Church, ought to embarass them. There are obviously many exceptions - Mitchell Mckain is a good example on this forum of one who has a deep and broad understanding - but the vast majority have only the dimmest appreciation.
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  33. #32  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    I realize that to a certain extent we can define words however we want, but I feel that "religion" denotes belief in some manner of supernatural being, force, or reality. By "supernatural" I mean something that is not subject to the ordinary physical laws of the universe.
    I follow the religion of exercise. I believe it makes me healthy. Supernatural or no?

    More to the point, what about all the people who do as their religion says, but don't believe in it? For example, those who attend church because their culture expects them to. They participate in the rituals, and when asked they say they are religious. However, they don't personally find anything in the religion, they're just doing the motions because they're expected to. Even the enjoyment they get from it comes from the enjoyment of acceptance, not the religion.

    So knowing that, is following a religion tied to faith? I'd say no.

    Or how about this:

    If someone claims to have faith, yet they follow no religion, what then? Are they lying about having faith because they don't hop on one foot every 2nd Wednesday of the month?
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  34. #33  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wolf
    Quote Originally Posted by scientstphilosophertheist
    Actually, all of them believe He and God are one; ever heard of the Trinity?
    No reason to get insulting...

    The Trinity as a term implies that God, Jesus, and the Holy Ghost of Jesus, are one in the same.

    And no, not all Christians believe God and Jesus are one person. So called Nontrinitarian Christians still believe in the trinity of God, Jesus, and the Holy Ghost, but they believe they're separate. I'm one of those, but apparently I don't exist, right?
    I didn't intend to sound insulting. If it came off that way, then I'm sorry.

    I've never known any Christians that believe such. Thanks for enlightening me.
    Whence comes this logic: no evidence = false?

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  35. #34  
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    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR
    Quote Originally Posted by scientstphilosophertheist
    Actually, all of them believe He and God are one; ever heard of the Trinity?
    wasn't there something like the unitarian church which denied the concept of the trinity ? not sure where they stood on the divinity of christ though
    They still didn't believe in three separate Gods; btw, Wolf: if you believe in three separate Gods, wouldn't you be polytheistic, which isn't a characteristic of Christianity? Just trying to understand your belief here.
    Whence comes this logic: no evidence = false?

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    What's with the double posts? Use yer edit function, friend! :wink:

    Just as extra comment, those who believe in a trinity as separate individuals don't mean they believe each is a god (usually).

    They believe that there is God, who is the god, then Jesus, who is mortal, and the Holy Ghost, who is as the name suggestions, a ghost. More accurately an angel or spirit, but that's semantics.

    So in that sense, Jesus is followed as a historical religious figure, because the mortal Jesus died. What's left is God, and Jesus's angel, the Holy Ghost. From a theological classification, Jesus, and all mortals who die and go to heaven, are angels. God is the only deity.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wolf
    What's with the double posts? Use yer edit function, friend! :wink:
    Mostly laziness as a result of tiredness. It's easier to hit "quote" than to hit "edit", type "quote=", and copy/paste the person's comment. For the most part I hit edit, though...it's just that this week sucks (though my birthday was yesterday)...this month sucks. My graduation is coming up REAL soon. Senior exams. My last AP exam (thank God) was two days ago, May 15th.

    Quote Originally Posted by musicalaviator
    Just as extra comment, those who believe in a trinity as separate individuals don't mean they believe each is a god (usually).

    They believe that there is God, who is the god, then Jesus, who is mortal, and the Holy Ghost, who is as the name suggestions, a ghost. More accurately an angel or spirit, but that's semantics.

    So in that sense, Jesus is followed as a historical religious figure, because the mortal Jesus died. What's left is God, and Jesus's angel, the Holy Ghost. From a theological classification, Jesus, and all mortals who die and go to heaven, are angels. God is the only deity.
    Oh, I see. Now that you explain it, I know people who have that belief...many people. Regardless, it still doesn't disprove my claim that Jesus and God are considered one by all Christians...whether they consider Jesus was the mortal "form", if you like, of God.
    Whence comes this logic: no evidence = false?

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    Quote Originally Posted by scientstphilosophertheist
    Regardless, it still doesn't disprove my claim that Jesus and God are considered one by all Christians...whether they consider Jesus was the mortal "form", if you like, of God.
    Not really sure how it doesn't. :?

    If there are Christians who believe that God is THE god and the only god, and that Jesus is not a god but an angel......well....?

    BTW, I made that quote, not musicalaviator...
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    So if you use anything that is not part of natural science to explain why you would or would not vote for Hilary Clinton that would be supernatural?
    this was in response to this definition
    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR
    definition of supernatural : anything that is beyond the means of natural science to even attempt to answer
    It seems that my example fits this definition so I was expecting marnixR to improve upon the definition.


    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    If a person's decision to vote for Hilary Clinton was entirely caused by chemical/physical processes in their brain, then it's at least theoretically possible that science could investigate and explain it - in which case it would not be supernatural. If the decision is dependant on the actions of a "soul" or "mind" that is not mechanistically governed by chemical/physicals processes or that exists separate from the brain, then that would be supernatural.
    So since this does not seem to cover all the possibilities, does this means that there are a lot of things which are neither supernatural nor not supernatural

    In a chain of dominoes which domino is the cause? Suppose the first domino is hooked up to a device which measures whether the spin of a particular exectron and depending on wheter the measuement is up or down this domino is caused to fall left or right to initiate the chain of dominoes on that side. Does the result have a physical cause? Is this supernatural?
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    definition of supernatural : anything that is beyond the means of natural science to even attempt to answer
    I dunno. I'm having a issue with this statement.

    Aside from the fact that I couldn't find "supernatural" defined that way in any of the dictionaries I looked in, I have a real problem with the word "attempt."

    People "attempt" to explain, test, and answer the supernatural all the time. It's the very basis of science itself. You extrapolate a method of test, and then do the test.

    So if we can attempt to answer the subject of angels, spirits, ghosts, aliens, and quantum phenomena, that means they're not supernatural? Cool.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    In a chain of dominoes which domino is the cause? Suppose the first domino is hooked up to a device which measures whether the spin of a particular exectron and depending on wheter the measuement is up or down this domino is caused to fall left or right to initiate the chain of dominoes on that side. Does the result have a physical cause? Is this supernatural?
    Yes, the result has a physcial cause - electrons (and their spins) are physical things that obey the laws of the universe that govern the behavior of physical objects. So no, it is not supernatural
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    In a chain of dominoes which domino is the cause? Suppose the first domino is hooked up to a device which measures whether the spin of a particular exectron and depending on wheter the measuement is up or down this domino is caused to fall left or right to initiate the chain of dominoes on that side. Does the result have a physical cause? Is this supernatural?
    Yes, the result has a physcial cause - electrons (and their spins) are physical things that obey the laws of the universe that govern the behavior of physical objects. So no, it is not supernatural
    Oh really? And assuming the electron was in an equal superposition of up and down states relative to the measuring device, what exactly is it that ultimately made the domino go one way rather than the other? What caused the measuring device to measure one thing rather than the other?
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    And assuming the electron was in an equal superposition of up and down states relative to the measuring device, what exactly is it that ultimately made the domino go one way rather than the other? What caused the measuring device to measure one thing rather than the other?
    God.

    Just kidding. :-D

    Okay, chaos theory aside, even down to the most fundamental switch, are you implying that probability is fixed? That based on the existence of a law governing the state of a particle, there can be only one outcome in an equal response situation? If so, no matter how I stack the quantum dominoes, the game always plays out the same.

    Sorry, guess I got kinda off track with that.

    Anywho, the point I'm trying to interject is why do either of you think that the supernatural must obey the physical tests we are currently capable of performing and/or understanding? No offense, but this wreaks of omnipotence...
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wolf
    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    And assuming the electron was in an equal superposition of up and down states relative to the measuring device, what exactly is it that ultimately made the domino go one way rather than the other? What caused the measuring device to measure one thing rather than the other?
    God.

    Just kidding.
    And yet that is a better answer than the one given by Scifor Refugee because although your answer is not a scientific answer, at least your answer does not contradict the findings of science.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wolf
    Okay, chaos theory aside, even down to the most fundamental switch, are you implying that probability is fixed? That based on the existence of a law governing the state of a particle, there can be only one outcome in an equal response situation? If so, no matter how I stack the quantum dominoes, the game always plays out the same.
    No this is quantum physics. A few years back a physicst name John Stewart Bell figured out a way to test the hypothesis that the result of an experiment similar to the one above was due to some unknown quantity. This hypothesis is known as hidden variable theory. The results of the the tests were that the hypothesis must be rejected and that either these events must be considered to have no determining physically cause or some of the fundamental framework of modern physics collapses. The majority of physicists do not even contemplate the second possibility and so they embrace the Copenhagen interpretation that these events have no determining physical cause, putting an end to the greatest remaining hope by such giants as Einstein that physical determinism could be salvaged somehow.

    But then according to Scifor Refugee's analogy, it would not be the case that the results of this experiment would not be supernatural and so that is why I was asking him if it would be supernatural.


    Quote Originally Posted by Wolf
    Anywho, the point I'm trying to interject is why do either of you think that the supernatural must obey the physical tests we are currently capable of performing and/or understanding? No offense, but this wreaks of omnipotence...
    I don't think that either of us would support that idea. As I understand it, we are simply exploring possible meanings of the word "supernatural".
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    Oh really? And assuming the electron was in an equal superposition of up and down states relative to the measuring device, what exactly is it that ultimately made the domino go one way rather than the other? What caused the measuring device to measure one thing rather than the other?
    Quantum indeterminacy is an ordinary (although very counterintuitive) part of the natural world that all things are subject to. There does not appear to be anything supernatural about it. Indeed, even when making measurements on systems that are in indeterminate states, the results will fall perfectly into statistical distributions that can be predicted mathematically (as I am sure you were already aware). So I stand by my statement that electrons and their spins are physical things that obey the laws of the universe that govern the behavior of physical objects. Nothing in your contrived example depends on anything other than the ordinary, universally-applicable physical laws described by quantum physics. The fact that in your particular example those laws take the form of statistical distributions does not change anything.

    Based on the natural laws of the universe I can tell you with confidence that after a large number of experiments the distribution of the domino toppling in one direction or another will approach 1:1. I couldn’t make that prediction if your domino system didn’t follow the laws of the universe, could I?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    Based on the natural laws of the universe I can tell you with confidence that after a large number of experiments the distribution of the domino toppling in one direction or another will approach 1:1. I couldn’t make that prediction if your domino system didn’t follow the laws of the universe, could I?
    Good. Well now that we have the science spot on, perhaps we can turn this into some definition of the supernatural. So if it obeys the expected probabilities with a very large number of observations then it is not supernatural, right?

    So if I lead a large group of people towards the Red Sea many times, then averaging in the one time that the Red Sea parted for Moses and we get a ratio of Red Sea parting to Red sea not parting approching the expected average of 0:1 then we can say that there was nothing supernatural about the Red Sea parting for Moses?

    Suppose we go back to the domino example and I pray to God that the right hand domino chain falls rather than the left hand chain, and lo behold God answers my prayer and the right hand domino chain falls. Is that supernatural?
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    Quote Originally Posted by Wolf
    Anywho, the point I'm trying to interject is why do either of you think that the supernatural must obey the physical tests we are currently capable of performing and/or understanding? No offense, but this wreaks of omnipotence...
    I don't think that either of us would support that idea. As I understand it, we are simply exploring possible meanings of the word "supernatural".
    I know. It's just an argument against everyone who's trying to convince us all that the supernatural can't exist because it can't meet physical tests.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wolf
    ... that the supernatural can't exist because it can't meet physical tests.
    a logically more consistent statement would be :

    " the supernatural can't be proven to exist because it can't meet physical tests"
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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    what IS a religion anyways? who says you need to worship god to have a religion? then is athiesm a cult if its not a religion? its a set of beliefs, a philosophy, and so is religion, so is science, and i just forgot what my point was :-D
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    there's not really much of a difference between a cult and a religion : the latter tends to have larger numbers of adherents, has been around for longer + is generally speaking more established
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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