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This seems like such an obvious topic that it's probably been done before, but if so I don't recall it. Anyway. I've been making my views on religion known more than my relatively restrained usual lately, and I've come across some really smart people who disagree with basic premises of what I think. While I can definitely be persuaded on matters of semantics, the overall gist of the arguments I've seen - basically that disciplines other than scientific ones (say, philosophy, theology, even literature, etc) describe reality, that there is somehow a different sort of reality for them to describe, I can't be persuaded into thinking, at least not with the arguments I've met with so far. Whatever forces organize the universe are unlikely in my view to take human considerations (hey, isn't astrology a discipline to some people) into account when acting.

Anyway, I have gone many years with the (perhaps unjustified) assumption that most people on this board are atheists; but even if this is true there are likely to be disagreements about what the implications of this are. Lovecraft (an unapologeticaly elitist atheist) thought that voting rights should require an IQ test, for example. When I see Sarah Palin, I am tempted to agree. Intelligence does not mean that people won't be crazy it just makes it statistically less likely. Anyway that's enough from me, it's been a while since there was a good/new discussion thread on here so hopefully this goes somewhere.
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Wtf are "god-equivalent" beings? 
Simple. 
Beings that are so much more powerful than us with their interactions with reality, that we would term them gods. 
 
What's your definition of god (as there are many.) 
@Willem Pt 3 
First, I have to say that I really love Shambler's thoughts on religion.

Back to Willem ...

See, Willem, the one thing that can't be ruled out is that the universe is some sort of entirely artificial scripted construct with possibly a stupid backstory.

Something akin to living a very complex story.

Our knowledge of the universe is incredibly finite.

Our limits:

1. We can't see "now" beyond our solar system due to the speed of light. Every star could have bloomed into a giant flower for all we know and the light would take years to reach us.

2. We can't see small scope. What is going on below the subatomic particle level is entirely unknown to us.

3. We do not even know how many dimensions there are (string theory suggests 11 dimensions, with the latter 7 being compressed).

4. We do not know the size of the universe. The answer isn't a radius of 15 billion light years, that's just how far light has had time to travel.

5. We do not know what happened before the beginning of the universe, some scientific theory suggests "pre-Big Bang" evidence of activity.

And if you read stuff like Deepak Chopera (I think he's half nutballs, but some of his ideas are bizarre but very unique as to an alternate idea of consciousness) or study some of the great philosophers, there are some radically wild ideas out there that are intriguing that suggest very stern limitations on the ability of perception.

For instance, what if we are not living in a static space-time universe? What if the past and present and future are always in flux and are not actually fixed but only fixed from our perception.

Most of the participants of this thread make maps, which is essentially building little worlds. On a grander scheme, you can't rule out that the universe wasn't artificially created by some sort of deity.

Police conduct thorough investigations to crimes committed just a week ago in a known place and sometimes can't even figure out a clear picture of what happened.

And yet with our limited information we are somehow supposed to have a great grasp of The "Answer To Life, The Universe and Everything"?

I think not.

Remember, if you are a scientific atheist that means that you view physics and chemical reactions as king. This means there is no free will and everything is fixed because A + B = C. And in that world, if there are people that believe in "magic elves" that was meant to happen and could have been extrapolated from a perfect model of the universe from day 1.

So those people that believe in "magic elves" were part of the universe's script.

But more importantly, that means there is a script. Which leads to a more interesting question, what is the origin of the script. I'm not implying a deity, I am pointing out the oddness that a pure atheist view logically examined must reach the logical conclusion of a "script".

Because in a world governed solely by physics, there is no chance ... it is a ride on rails. Eek! 
Baker 
You seem to have only a very superficial understanding of relativity theory and quantum mechanics. According to relativity theory, there is no "now" - the mere idea of stating that something happens "now" somewhere in the universe is senseless. If two events appear to happen simultaneously from my point of view, they need not be simultaneous for other viewers.

Also, you cannot extrapolate the future behavior of the universe even if you knew some sort of "world formula" + the entire state of all matter. Which, btw, you could neither determine (uncertainty principle) nor store anywhere anyway because the universe cannot hold information about its own state (not enough memory - if the universe could store one byte, how can you store information about the 256 states of that byte?).

Not everything is fixed in the universe according to quantum theory. Far from it, really. Also, how "must" the atheist view reach such a conclusion? 
 
"Remember, if you are a scientific atheist that means that you view physics and chemical reactions as king. This means there is no free will and everything is fixed because A + B = C."

I don't think it means that at all. It simply means that actions and reactions are explainable and provable - it doesn't remove the notion of free thought. 
Hmm 
1) Quantum wave forms

2) Onus of proof

3) Agnostics are sophomoric cowards 
Baker 
A universal creator can't be 100% "ruled out" like Willem's butt elves can't be 100% ruled out - but that doesn't mean there isn't evidence against a creator, or at least against any creator that mankind has invented so it can sleep at night.

If there is a creator then why are there so many independent religions all with different creators, creation stories, their own myths, etc, and why does the most popular religion Christianity come in so many different flavors and borrow so many of its rituals and ideas from earlier religions??

How is there not a script if there is a being who KNOWS every single thing that will happen BEFORE it happen? If that being knows we will make choice C before we make it, how can there possible be a choice A or B? They would merely be illusions to make us think there is choice - an omniscient god rules out free choice.

Yes our knowledge is finite and I don't think it could ever be complete tbh - but science has done simply marvelous to help explain all that without any sort of magic space man to "explain" things for us. 
God. 
Going off at a tangent, I once asked one of these modern liberal non-dogmatic vicar types (I was banging his daughter at the time, well at the time that I met him, not at the time of the conversation...) what God was, particularly in a more modern view point. His answer was that it wasn't appropriate to think of god as a tangible, physical being who could be iconised by mankind, but more as the context for life and the universe to exist within - a background energy that provides the canvas upon which existence is painted. I quite liked that idea but curiously he didn't want to explain much further, maybe because he was "off duty". 
 
Now you're getting into "What I call god you just call existence" - arguably not the kind of god(s) we're talking about. 
No. 
I'm just mentioning an anecdote I found interesting.

As you were, gentlemen! 
 
"How is there not a script if there is a being who KNOWS every single thing that will happen BEFORE it happen? If that being knows we will make choice C before we make it, how can there possible be a choice A or B? They would merely be illusions to make us think there is choice - an omniscient god rules out free choice. "

I've had this conversation before. What happens now is that it's explained that although God knows what you're going to choose it doesn't remove free will. God doesn't see time in the same way that we do. To him, everything is happening at once - the past, the present and the future. It's all the same. He sees what you're going to do simply because he can look through the strands of time.

It starts getting a little heady but what it boils down to is that anything can be explained away because he's God. 
"well, Not At The Time Of The Conversation" 
gold! lol 
Re 38 
but that would imply he was banging her the first time he met the guy. 
Gosh. 
I phrased that really badly, didn't I. Let's just say I met him socially through his daughter (who I happened to be involved with and who incidentally wasn't a member of the clergy). 
God Bangs The Highins 
quantum flux => state of random
always been and will always be.
relativity theory => bang ...& then
starts somewhere and expands.

Einstein said that the knowledge of sciense could be a part of the real world, but it doesn't has to be. Maybe it is just an imaginairy tool man has created to explain the world.

Darwin is no God killer by concepting the world by evolution. Lennon named it a concept by which we measure our pain. 
Or 
God came in the 0,00000000003 sec after the big bang and said there shall be an overwhelming power that will freeze mankind ever to discover my excistence in particals smaller than the first bits before this moment... 
Madfox Is Right 
 
 
Thread can be closed now. 
@Zwiffle 
If there is a creator then why are there so many independent religions all with different creators, creation stories, their own myths, etc, and why does the most popular religion Christianity come in so many different flavors and borrow so many of its rituals and ideas from earlier religions??

I'm not arguing there is or isn't a creator.

I look at different religions as unique viewpoints.

For example, I think most people would argue humans are "superior" to, say, bees. But this doesn't mean we can't learn interesting things from studying bees.

Religions tend to be cultures with different practices, viewpoints and ethics.

Let's say all the religions are false, this doesn't mean there isn't value in some of their points of views or philosophies.

Eastern religions have fascinating concepts of true harm of "wrong". Mormons have the idea that the body is a vessel that should be taken care of. Hindus let cows live among them.

If you look at biology, the biggest enemy of species survival is "sameness". And in fact, the reproduction of all advanced life on Earth has been shaped by gene exchange (sexual reproduction instead of effectively "cloning yourself") and mutation.

In human life, culture is most important driver of advancement and the biggest cultural enemy of advancement is "sameness" of thought.

The embodiment of sameness of thought is, of course, "1984" ... top down control and thought police. 
 
I see what you're aiming at, but it's not about embracing different viewpoints or cultures. It's about allowing grown adults to believe in Santa Claus. When the entire premise of your religion is founded on ridiculousness, the rest of it is automatically of little value.

I will refer you again to my sock drawer elves. We can talk all day about them and all you're going to learn is that I'm something of a mental invalid. There's no value there.

This isn't to say that all religious people are without value - that would be ridiculous and insulting to say. But on the subject of religion itself, I don't feel there's any real value there other than as a basis for story telling or life lessons in the form of parables. That's it. 
Willem 
There are people out there who believe that there is a god up there, and an afterlife, a devil, and angels and all of that stuff, and there are people like you who believe that there arent.

I would not like to say one or the other because the one thing I do know more than anything else is this:

Not one single man alive truely knows one way or the other. Because no-one has died and then been able to report back.

I must admit though, science is more believable because it works from facts and evidence. 
Luckily For Science 
it does not have to be believable to be true. That's the whole difference. 
 
Ricky

I see what you're saying but that's kind of weak. People believe a lot of things - doesn't mean they're all worth considering. 
Heh - I Cant Get Involved In This Argument 
And still sit on the fence.

Stream of conciousness isnt gonna help either.

I suppose I have my own personal (take on) religion. Its nice to think that an all powerful entity looks upon the things we do, and that doing good for others gives love and happiness a place in society.

I just believe in being good, trying to do the right thing, living in peace and all that. And to me that is heaven. I dont need no mass, not fanatiscism, no holier than thou moral tub-thumping, no piece of watery bread, no dresscode, no things I can and cannot say.

I still feel like a christian. I like churches generally because they remind me of when I was a child. They remind me of a time of my innocence.

If anyone challenges my right to sculpt my own beliefs then I reject that. Be they atheists, theists, believers, non-believers, whatever. I just think that we should be allowed to believe what we want, as long as it involves basically everyone being nice to eachother and getting along. 
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