I think I’ve mentioned somewhere in public that I’m now an atheist, even though I grew up in a very Christian family, and I even joined a “cult” at a young age (against disapproving parents). The proximate cause of my atheism was learning physics in college. But I don’t think I’ve ever clarified in public what kind of an “atheist” or “agnostic” I am. So here goes.
In our best theories of lab universes, the creators can NOT causally interact with them easily. Yes, so such a thing is "possible", but that doesn't make it at all likely.
Robin, if you are defining a theist as someone who believes that there are "gods" in close causal connection to humanity, then it seems entirely possible that these gods exist. The creation of lab universes and large simulations would be reasonable things for gods to do, and such gods would probably be able to causally interact with the world easily. If you are only atheist because you don't believe that they answer prayers, then do you consider deists to be atheists?
I wonder if it would be possible for "gods" to exist in "dark matter" in form of machines and still somehow intervene given enough energy? I wonder if it is possible within physics?
Or maybe the simulation argument is just way more plausible.
Also I think Tyler wrote great arguments in favor of not believing in god:https://marginalrevolution....
Sorry to hear about both the Catholic part and the tongues part. Igrew up in a pretty sober (in both senses) Baptist church. Theyweren't havin none of that. But I also went to a Catholic school forfour years, with forced Mass and Rosaries every week. But being a Baptist, I wasn't even allowed to get the Jesus cracker! Really though, my only concern was, would I get to sit next to whatever little cutie I was crushin' on that week. I was good with the Baptist grape juice and matzahs once a month.
Back in HS I used to hang out with some kids who were into the charismatica type stuff. I was trying to be a singer, was very well trained, but had horrible allergies and inflammation that ruined my voice. So, I went with these friends to a meeting with a "prophet/healer" who "healed" me by thumping me on the chest several times and shouting at me to be healed.
I wasn't healed. It wasn't until years later I figured out how to eliminate certain foods, like dairy, take supplements, probiotics, avoid mold, etc., so my voice worked better.
I joined a sabbatarian church affiliated with the Armstrongists, some call them, in my teens.
I sometimes visited other Sabbatarian groups. One was mainly Chinese folk who believed in speaking in tongues. They met in a house in suburban Chicago. They weren't really"charismatic" in worship style EXCEPT when the pastorwould get up and announce that they were going to speak in tongues.Then, just like flipping a switch, they'd start up. It freaked me outand I just physically felt weird. (The only comparison I had for it was, that one time I was in a room with some crack smokers.) I never went back.
There is nothing wrong with getting emotional in worship and seeking the Spirit of God (that is the whole point). But the charismatic practices are often artificial – especially what usually passes for “speaking in tongues” – and emphatically not what was being referred to in the Acts 2 passage that they all point to.
The actual miracle of Acts 2 was this:
1When theday of Pentecost came, the believers were all together in one place.2Suddenly a sound like a mighty rushing wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3Theysaw tongues like flames of fire that separated and came to rest oneach of them. 4And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. 5Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6And when this sound rang out, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking his own language. 7Astounded and amazed, they asked, “Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans [maybe speaking Greek, some think Aramaic]? 8Howis it then that each of us hears them in his own native language?9Parthians, Medes, and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome, 11bothJews and converts to Judaism; Cretans and Arabs—we hear themdeclaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12Astounded and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”
These foreigners were hearing the words in their own languages.The languages are even listed.
The Spirit was translating. The message was intelligible tothe hearers. And the message was the point.
The non-Acts 2 "charismatics" are speaking gobbledygookthat no one understands. They have no message. It's called glossolalia and is known in the occult, but is not mentioned in the Bible.
Of course there are "powerful beings" but what makes them worthy of god treatment?If there are many, might there not be one who is more powerful than, and preexistent to, all the others?
Also: Where would they have come from? Who created them?"Well who created the Creator?" -- but positing one uncreated Creator/uncaused cause is much more logical and parsimonious than positing many.You only need one uncaused cause -- not two, three, or infinite.
"Outside the universe" is a whole different question. The Kabbalists actually posit a monistic reality, where everything -- good and bad, conscious and not -- emanates from God. They interpret the Shema ("Hear o Israel, the LORD thy God is one") as meaning he is the ONLY one. The reasoning being: If God is infinite, how could he create something "outside" himself? But it doesn't mean that every entity is equal, as there is a hierarchy. No one piece of God has the right to call itself, of its own right, God. God exists in the unity. That's how I understand what I have read on the subject. It's an interesting way to look at things. It can have some creepy implications if you look at it a certain way. It is not necessarily contradicted in the New Testament, though, and may find support from some passages that Christian churches mostly overlook.
You don't have to hold that view, though, to achieve or be in unity with God. "Conventional" Christian understanding of a transcendent God who redeems us by grace, following a conscious act of repentance and acceptance, is all about the same unity. (Whether that is what most of churchianity actually teaches and practices -- that's a whole different topic.)
Hmm, I'm not sure where this definition comes from, a quick Google doesn't turn it up though. In my understanding agnosticism just says something is unknown or unknowable (under present conditions). I don't think agnostics believe there is a fundamental law of the universe precluding any possible god creature from revealing themselves and proving their existence. Also, agnosticism doesn't necessarily preclude religion in a broad sense, though would be in tension with some definitions of 'faith'.
That doesn't cover it either. Agnosticism is defined as declaring something unknowable in principle, one way or the other. Most people don't take that approach either. (And some that do subscribe to a religion despite this.)
There may not be much of a connection between what theologians believe and what ordinary religious people believe. If the latter are far more common, and their beliefs far easier to identify, it makes sense to first identify myself relative to this latter group.
Extremely interesting comment. Thanks for taking the time to write it. I'd say, for the sake of argument, that there's the possibility that you are obscuring an obvious truth: God, a.k.a. a self-aware metaphysical entity responsible for the creation of the Universe and all the laws in it, is real. Maybe the universe itself is not God or a manifestation of the divine but a creation of it, independent from it. And maybe our consciousness is not the universe developing awareness of its self and its magnificence but a gift from the creator of the universe, towards whom we should act humbly and to whom we should be grateful, lest we go running around the square screaming "I am God!".
I'm not taking a position on whether this is a good or bad way to use the word. Just claiming that this is how many people use the words. Maybe it would be better if they didn't but I'm suggesting they do use it in this manner.
I think the case you raise is on the edge of the concept. I think lots of people would agree that such beings are indeed gods, especially those of a more scientific or atheistic persuasion. However, I think other people who have a more mystical/spiritual inclination would be reluctant to call such beings gods. And yes, I fully admit they aren't exactly drawing a principled distinction in so doing but that's my sense of how people use the words.
Sure.... I guess I just take issue with your sliding scale of godness. Why can't we find deities, and explain their powers with physical laws? I don't see any conflict aside from your ad hoc definition.
Question for you: imagine a simulated universe where the creators/operators have the ability to arbitrary override the normal simulation conditions (today we often call this 'god mode'). In these cases the acts of the operator beings would contradict the physical laws as they exist within the simulation, but require no supernatural explanation. Since these acts could not be explained by the physical laws of the people in the universe, would you accept those beings as gods? They did create the (simulated) universe, after all....
For some versions of christianity but it would also be a win for those who advocate the view that this is all explainable via physical laws.
You haven't demonstrated you don't believe in god. You demonstrated you don't believe in that kind extremely simplistic and stupid theology most people who are entirely uneducated about theology believe in.
I suppose you also don't believe in whatever people who are entirely uneducated about economics believe about economics. There is not much of a difference. Feel free to disbelieve in anything people who don't have a friggin' clue about that thing tend to believe. This is entirely reasonable.
Believing or disbelieving in some quality theology requires first to learn about it a bit.
For example, a good starter on the basics of actual Christian (Catholic) theology are found here: https://bonald.wordpress.co... and then far more on Ed Feser's blog or his books.
I must add to it, I am still kind of agnostic after having educated myself in theology. But for entirely different reasons that go down to entirely different kinds of philosophical problems (the dogma of divine simplicity vs. the idea that god is still somehow personal and has things like love).
Except that I am fine with distinguishing that. We seem to be talking about different things. We can call the 100%ers or 0%ers "faithful" or whatever, pick a word of your liking ("gnostic"). Now can you address what I referred to? Would you distinguish someone at 50% versus someone at 1/10^9%? Because that's why I'm arguing with you: it is astonishing to me to use the same term for those two. And if you don't see a category difference: what grave fate befalls thee, for not even God can help you, you lost soul!
EDIT: To be clear: you referred to "agnostic-atheist" as a tactic by atheists to claim more market share. I just don't think that's a fair description.
If you don't see a category difference between someone who says they believe god doesn't exist, but admits there's an infinitesimal possibility that their belief is wrong, and someone who says he expects gods to exist, but can't be sure, I can't help you.
Suppose we got a bunch of atheists to estimate the probability of God, and went with you criterion of "anyone giving a number other than 100% or 0% is agnostic".
Someone at 50% is quite different from someone like me who puts the probability somewhere in the ball park of one in a million or a trillion, depending on the degree of incoherence/contradiction in the description of God used. I think I can meaningfully infer some things about that space of beliefs, whereas the 50%er thinks they can't. Massive epistemic differences; why would you want a taxonomy that puts them both in the same category?