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8/02/2007                                                                                       View Comments

Atheism misunderstood

By Bob P

I grow weary listening to the 'true believers' attempting to define atheism. Comments like "Atheism is just another belief system" or "Atheism is a cult" clearly reveal the believers attempt to drag atheism down to the level of irrational belief. Less inane comments frequently stated: " Agnosticism is the admission of not knowing but
atheism cannot prove it's claim".

Clearly, atheism is a unique word. To the Christian, it means non belief in THEIR one and only GOD, while to the atheist it also includes all the many thousands of long forgotten gods the Christians conveniently ignore. There is no word for the non belief of unicorns or 7 headed Hydra or Ganesh, with his elephant head. Stephen Henry Roberts, historian (1901-1971), probably makes the point most eloquently:
I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.

Atheism is merely a lack of belief in all of the gods. To say atheism is a belief is like saying that not collecting baseball cards is a hobby, or that baldness is a hair color. The older Merriam Webster dictionary once defined atheism as evil and immoral, but that error has since been corrected. Noah Webster was a fundamentalist with a mission.

There are many absences that should not be confused for the presence of something. Dark is the absence of light, cold is the absence of heat and a vacuum is the absence of air. Likewise, atheism is merely the absence of belief. See, wasn't that easy?

Bob P Kansas City

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32 comments:

Harlequin said...

The word for not believing in Ganesh is 'atheist' since he's a god...

Chucky Jesus said...

Thank you! I've been saying this for a long time. What it boils down for me is that I demand proof of their god or any god. They fail to provide convincing proof, so I fail to believe. Atheist just means without theism. Atheists make no "claim."

Huey said...

Hi Bob! I agree with you about the inane attempts to bring us down to their level, but I woukd like to add another reason for it. It allows them to create strawman arguments, which they can then refute.

Noell said...

I hate having the advocate gene! Logical conclusion is lost on the mindless. No matter what term we choose to define our lack of belief, the infantile christian lunatics will always hold us in absolute contempt for not believing in their gawd. It’s in the brainwashing manual.

Anonymous said...

Anthony Flew once wrote:
What I want to examine is the contention that the debate about the existence of God should properly begin from the presumption of atheism, that the onus of proof must lie upon the theist.
The word ‘atheism,’ however, has in this contention to be construed unusually. Whereas the usual meaning of ‘atheist’ in English is ‘someone who asserts there is no such being as God,’ I want the word to be understood not positively but negatively. I want the original Greek preface ‘a’ to be read in the same way in ‘atheist’ as it is customarily read in other Greco-English words as ‘amoral. ‘atypical,’ and ‘asymmetrical.’ In this interpretation an atheist becomes: not someone who positively asserts the non-existence of God; but someone who is simply not a theist.

Theism is a subset of the concept of God. As Flew points out the word ‘atheism’ is used in different ways.
The claim that ‘Atheism is merely a lack of belief in all of the gods.’ might not be controversial. The assertion that there is no such being as God, that the concept of God is meaningless, is controversial.

“What holds up the earth,” the child asks.
“A turtle holds up the earth, the father answers.
“What holds up the turtle,” the child asks.
“An elephant holds up the turtle, the father answers.
“What holds up the elephant,” the child asks.
“Its elephant all the way down,” the father answers.

Because something cannot come from nothing and because an infinite regress is nothing, there must be a necessary reality on which the reality that we experience is grounded. To me, the Cosmological argument is true. Every finite and contingent being has a cause. Nothing finite and dependent can cause itself. A causal chain cannot be of infinite length. Therefore, there must be a first cause; or, there must be something that is not an effect. For me, the word ‘God’ serves as that uncaused thing. For Carl Sagan, the word, ‘Cosmos’ could serve as that uncaused thing. For some, the word, ‘singularity’ could serve as that uncaused thing .

When an atheist asserts that the uncaused thing is not a thing like the God of Christianity, I have no problem. If an atheist asserts that the uncaused thing is nature, I have no problem. My problem arises when an atheist asserts that there is no uncaused thing, when he asserts that “God” does not exist.

I understand that some have argued that an infinite regression of causes is possible. To me, it seems that an infinite regression ends all hope of knowing truth. I am an atheist about certain subsets of the concept of God. For example, I am an atheist about Allah. However, unlike most atheists, I accept the concept of God as meaningful. I do so because, to me, the concept of truth is not meaningful if it must rest on an infinite regression of causes.

swifty32661 said...

"Because something cannot come from nothing"

Say's who? Thats what you believe and it really is hard to "grasp" that concept as everything around us and everything that we have experienced does seem to come from something.

I would suggest reading more books on quantum mechanics and string theory before you make such an assertion.

I'm not trying to start a fight here... :)

Mike

Hellbound Alleee said...

Since something cannot come from nothing, then no God can come from nothing, and no God can create anything from nothing.

So why is a believer refuting his own beliefs? I certainly don't believe things can come from nothing. That's a christian belief, not mine.

Today, I'm... said...

Atheism can be both irrational and rational positions. Obviously, if one links themselves to the theist, who is irrational, their position in-turn is entwined in a convoluted and irrational relationship.

Rational atheism is likely, that which is held, outside of, and independent of theism. This belief is something akin to; "I am an atheist, regardless of theism". Some may hold solid philosophies that arrive at a position, where no gods (defined by the one holding the philosophy) are to be found.

Irrational atheism is that which is dependent on theism, or tenets of belief, unique to theism. This belief is something akin to; "I am an atheist, 'because' of theism". A charge here could be... birds of a feather, flock together. And, logically speaking, it's a pretty solid argument. I don't depend on irrational people, nor unreliable people, to define who I am; it only makes me all the more irrational.

This topic is indeed old, but what continues to fuel the fire of the true believer, is the mere fact, that some irrational people, continue to fan the flames of other irrational positions.

One can only hope that two people going at it irrationally will eventually produce at least one individual, who disengages and seeks a more reliable position. In theory, a person can move up the gradient spire of reason, to arrive at a more objective position, much easier to defend.

Larro said...

How about this: Jesus never existed.

It's all a lie.

This is an excerpt from an article on About.com (I must add that I was already an atheist before reading it)

An inscription in the Vatican states plainly, "He who will not eat of my body, nor drink of my blood, so that he may be one with me and I with him, shall not be saved." This is not terribly surprising, unless you consider that this is inscribed on the remains of the temple the Vatican was built on- one dedicated to the God Mithras. Mithras was a solar deity whose worshippers called him redeemer; his religion died out not long after the advent of Christianity.

Hundreds of years before Jesus, there was a passion story told about a God man, born of a virgin mother, in a stable. He travels about with his followers, preaching and performing miracles, including turning water into wine. Eventually, he incurs the wrath of the religious authorities, who are appalled that he refers to himself as the son of god. He allows himself to be arrested and tried for blasphemy- a willing self-sacrifice. He is found guilty and executed, only to rise from the grave three days later, where the women weeping at his tomb do not recognize him until he assumes his divine form. This god, also one of the first depicted crucified, is the vine-God Dionysus.


It's worse (at least for Christians) than the idea put forth by Dan Browns' Da Vinci Code. The troubling thing is that what we are dealing with here is historic archaeological evidence.

Do you understand what this implies?

I do. Jesus never existed at all.

Larro said...

And it's no wonder if you've studied the fall of the Roman Empire.

Anonymous said...

I think it reasonable to think something can not come from nothing. If someone can suggest some authors who have written books on quantum mechanics and string theory in which the author argues that something can come from nothing, I hope that swifty 32661 will post that information.

I am giving the word ‘God’ a limited and somewhat uncommon meaning. I have defined ‘God’ as an uncaused thing. Regarding causation, it seems there are only three possibilities: something can be caused by something else, something can cause itself, and something can be caused by something that is uncaused. When I wrote that something can not come from nothing, I was rejecting as illogical the possibility that something can cause itself. Possibly the statement that something can not come from nothing is different that the statement that nothing can cause itself. I cannot see the point of difference. I hope that swifty 32661 will explain the difference.

Clearly, some atheists dislike the word ‘God,’ regardless of the content given the word. Regarding the post that Jesus never existed at all, I want to point out that I did not mention Jesus in my first post and I have no interest in discussing Christian belief in this forum.

One time before I posted in this forum, I was told that I did not understand atheism because I held that atheism was merely a lack of belief in all of the gods. After reading Flew‘s excerpt, I revised my definition of atheism to Flew’s definition of someone who is simply not a theist. A theist is someone who believes in a God who interacts in some way with creation. I accepted the definition of someone who, at least when he wrote this definition, was an atheist. I certainly have no interest in a fight over definitions. I do hope that as Today, I’m… wrote, “One can only hope that two people going at it irrationally will eventually produce at least one individual, who disengages and seeks a more reliable position.”

Anonymous said...

In my last post, when I wrote nothing can cause itself, I meant no thing can cause itself. Sorry, for the lack of clarity

swifty32661 said...

Hi,

I am not claiming to be an expert. I think a better way to state your position would be, "With my current level of understanding I just can't comprehend or figure out how something can cause itself".

Please just don't make the claim(s)
like it's a fact unless you have something to back it up with. Again, I'm not trying to start a fight and I'm on your side. You are making a lot of blanket statements and assertions based on your limited knowledge of science.

There are plenty of books out there which talk about "something from nothing". I have provided you a couple of websites to peruse:

http://www.krysstal.com/quantum.html

http://wayofscience.info/unit4part7.html

By saying a "god" (whatever that means) caused it all to start is trying to explain something complex with something more infinitely complex. It's a non answer and basically just falls into the "god of the gaps" realm of reasoning.

I think David Mills the author of "The Atheist Universe, Why God Didn't have a Thing to do with it" summed it up quite well...I'm paraphrasing,

"The universe as always existed in some form or another."

If you can wrap your brain about some "uncaused cause" you should also be able to wrap your brain around that as well.

:)

Mike

boomSLANG said...

Anthony Flew(per Anony') said: "
What I want to examine is the contention that the debate about the existence of God should properly begin from the presumption of atheism, that the onus of proof must lie upon the theist."


Atheism doesn't "presume" anything; it's about lack of belief. Period. It's not a statement about any type of absolute knowledge. Moreover, think about it---there would be no "debate", if it were not for theists making the affirmative claim that their respective gods exist. Furthermore, if they weren't debating Atheists, they'd be debating each other as to whose "God" is the real "God".

So, since the Theists are the ones who are making the claim(s), and thus, actively initiating the very reason for such debate, then yes, the onus of substantiating their claims is theirs, and only theirs.

Anony': Theism is a subset of the concept of God. As Flew points out the word ‘atheism’ is used in different ways.

Yeah, usually by Theists who either have no concept of what the word actually means, or who want to twist the meaning to fit their agenda(s).

Anony': The claim that ‘Atheism is merely a lack of belief in all of the gods.’ might not be controversial. The assertion that there is no such being as God, that the concept of God is meaningless, is controversial

In other words, if I'm a Theist, and an Atheist comes along who lacks belief in all the gods that I lack belief in, then it's no big deal---BUT, if they lack belief in MY "God"?...that is a big deal. Yeah, I'll buy that.

Anony': Because something cannot come from nothing and because an infinite regress is nothing, there must be a necessary reality on which the reality that we experience is grounded. To me, the Cosmological argument is true. Every finite and contingent being has a cause. Nothing finite and dependent can cause itself.

So the solution is to presuppose an invisible self-existing, uncaused, atemporal "being", and put "It" as the Ultimate Cause. You've answered nothing. Furthermore, think about it--- to "cause" something to come about, is an act that is temporal...therefore, this assumed Ultimate Cause could not logically exist, atemporally, before it "caused" something.

Anony': When an atheist asserts that the uncaused thing is not a thing like the God of Christianity, I have no problem.

Well, that's a relief. But I'm curious, which "God" do you believe in?..."who" is this "being"? Are you a Theist?..or Deist? If you are a Theist, then you believe in a personal deity, do you not?

Anony': My problem arises when an atheist asserts that there is no uncaused thing, when he asserts that “God” does not exist.

My problem arises when, that because of the fact that no one knows what caused everything, a Theist asserts, "Well, then there MUST exist an uncaused 'Thing' that caused everything, and that thing is God".

Anony': However, unlike most atheists, I accept the concept of God as meaningful.

I don't think many Atheists would deny that the "concept of God" is meaningful in a subjective sense. On the other hand, yes, I would argue that said "concept" is not meaningful in an objective sense, because there is no objective definition of such a "thing".

AtheistToothFairy said...

Bob P. said:

"I grow weary listening to the 'true believers' attempting to define atheism. Comments like "Atheism is just another belief system" or "Atheism is a cult" clearly reveal the believers attempt to drag atheism down to the level of irrational belief"
---------

Firstly (and a bit off topic here):

I believe what upsets these 'true believers' about us being atheist is this....

It's not so much the fact that we just don't believe in -SOME- god, that bothers them to no end, but really the fact that we REJECT THEIR god's existence, and thus his subsequent control over our lives and fate of some eternal future etc etc.

We clearly have escaped god's (immediate) clutches, and sometimes I swear these believers are jealous of that very fact?

It would be how most of us would feel if someone were "outside the law" and could do whatever they wished and paid no penalty. We ex-christians are now outside the law (of god) to them.

While there might be a few good-hearted christians with good intentions, that really don't want to see us 'burn in hell for eternity", I have a huge feeling that most christians really hate us because we escaped the prison that their own unescapable beliefs have put them into.
To them, we can do whatever we wish, because we don't see ourselves as accountable to any super-being out there. We therefore have only ourselves and human law to 'keep us in line'.

This also accounts for the reason most of them think atheist are immoral, as we would have no god to 'keep us in check', as they do.

In contrast to our escaping their god, they are under the thumb of their god, must obey what they believe are his laws (relevant to their own sect), or they will feel the huge guilt of their sins upon their shoulders. The fact that we can disobey their god's laws and not go around feeling like a sinner, really must bother the devil out of them, yes?



Secondly (and on topic now):

After looking around the web at various definitions of atheism, it's all too clear to me that there is much debate on it's exact meaning.

This confusion certainly would help account for whether it should be considered a belief system of a 'negative-god', or merely the absence of a belief in some 'positive god' existence. While these two views might seem at first to be the same thing, they really aren't.


I also agree with Bob P's. assumption that Christians see atheism as a belief system, rather than a lack of a belief. I suppose if one has the philosophy that everyone must believe in something, even a negative thing, then everyone has a belief system going on for them.
I think how one views all this depends which side of the fence one is standing on.

To these believers anything that doesn't have 100% solid proof, must requires this faith factor we have spent so much time discussing as of late. Because they feel we can't 'prove' that no god's exist with 100% certainty, then to them it becomes a matter of faith that we hold such an opinion, and that of course must mean we hold a BELIEF that no god's exist.

In other words, if we can't prove beyond a doubt that god isn't out there somewhere, then we must lack proof and that puts things in the realm of a belief, rather than a known fact.

To these believers, it would be much like you either believe the loch ness monster is real or you believe it isn't. In either case, that word BELIEVE comes into the conversation and to them BOTH viewpoints require some value of faith.
It doesn't matter that we REJECT santa or even the invisible dragon in their garage, from lack of evidence, but rather that either we believe santa and the dragon exist, or we *believe* they do not.

Therefore, while most of us feel being an atheist has nothing to do with it being a belief system (or cult), the mere fact that we can't prove the negative and yet we insist that negative is true (or the most likely), means to them that our conclusion is based on faith, and thus is just another human belief system.

Realize that to them, not believing in god is just an opinion we carry.
If something is an opinion, then that word belief comes into play, for if we could prove our opinion, then it becomes a fact.

While most of us could show logically that the bible god doesn't make any sense, such logic is based on solid human reasoning, which doesn't constitute tangible facts to believers.

Even if we tear down the bible historically one piece at a time, even if we show the miracles of the bible have no evidence to back them (and also make no earthly sense), even if we show most of the substance of the bible was stolen from other time periods and cultures, it wouldn't really matter to a christian. Their minds are brainwashed to reject anything one would say against their God and his 'divine word'.

As others have said on this site already, until one's mind opens up enough to question such myths, until we start to demand a morsel of proof about our instilled beliefs, then no matter what supernatural thing one might believe in, we can never change their minds until they are ready to listen.

So while most of us tend to feel it's a matter of rejecting a belief in a god(s), thus a non-belief in something, to christians we are really saying to them that we BELIEVE that no god(s) exist, and that to them is naturally--- a matter of faith and belief.

I think we could argue this point to death with folks who see atheism as a belief system, but I very much doubt we will ever change their minds that our rejection of god is not just another belief system like their own, but actually just a lack of a belief in itself.

If the latter wasn't truly the case here, then we would have to have special words created to encompass things like UFO non-believers, Ghost haunting non-believers, Nessy monster non-believers, ESP non-believers, Divinging Rod non-believers, Bigfoot non-believers etc etc..

Oh yeah, I guess we do have a single word that covers all these things.....SKEPTIC.

Perhaps we need to invent a new word for atheist. One that WE define with a definition that clearly excludes things like belief or faith from being assumed, and clearly expresses a 'null' variable when it comes to such mystical beings.

Ideas ?????


p.s. Sorry if I stole anyone's thoughts here, but I wrote this before many comments were posted here.


AtheistToothFairy

Anonymous said...

Atheism: Disbelief in or denial of the existence of God.

From the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language.

.:webmaster:. said...

I deny the existence of BigFoot. I guess that makes me an aBigFootist.

Do you, anony, deny Allah? That makes you an atheist in regards to Allah.

You wicked atheist.

Joe said...

The fundies have it right. Harry Potter is the enemy of God. After all, they inhabit the same space. Both are fictions. The best seller of all time is pitted against the best seller the last few years. Since the latter is sponsored by a massive institution, so it will probably win out in the long run. From this a definition of atheism could include drawing lines between fiction and reality.

AtheistToothFairy said...

.:webmaster:. said...
I deny the existence of BigFoot. I guess that makes me an a BigFootist.
-----

Mister BigFootist webmaster and all others reading this,

You gave me a wonderful "money making" idea (did I say that out loud?)

Oops!!!

I actually meant to say.....a wonderful BIG HEARTED, LOVING, SAVE THE WORLD, idea.

An idea that is in the soul interest, errrr, SOLE interest of helping this type of believer to, well, spread the divine word on those BigFootist doctrines, they already cherish and just know in their SOLES to be true.

So, I'm starting a small religious business, errrr CHURCH, that will cater to your very special needs. I think I'll call this special-needs church, "Lady of the BigFootist SOLE Revival".

I will offer, for a mere pittance of worldly cash money, the following items:

1. Extra large durable foot-like shoes (size 24E ), securely attached to sturdy wooden poles and complete with realistic adjustable toes.
Note: we can add additional toes, if you want your bigfoot to seem even more non-human.
Sorry, the common request for walking-on-water bigfootist shoes isn't available just yet.

These shoes are useful for creating the huge footprint evidence in mud or snow that everyone knows about already and will surely convince potential members to join our church. No, it doesn't matter that it's actually YOU making the oversized footprints, because you know Bigfoot exist and are merely helping the greater cause along.
Be sure you order one left and one right shoe (unless you want your bigfoot to appear one-legged....which might be beneficial for the times when you wish to say that some winged angel was trying to assist your bigfoot in walking through extra rough terrain).

2. A Bigfootist hairy costume.
If you order right now, the normally additional stilts to make yourself two feet taller, will be included free of charge. You can dress up in this costume and have strangers see you from afar, and thus, they will naturally and quickly, spread the word about your beloved Bigfootist theology being something to die for.

3. For those who are technology minded (and can afford it), we offer the deluxe Bigfootist video camera (with night vision) and accompanying editing software.

Shoot yourself wearing your Bigfootist costume and use the editing software to 'doctor-up' any evidence that the potential believer is only viewing a mere human, wearing a costume. No one has to know you doctored up any video, although you might want to share this fact with upper church members, saying it was in the interest of making a 'real' bigfoot just look a bit more real.
After all, even that OTHER god that some folks believe exist, needs some embellishment at times, right.

Note: While our church, Lady of the BigFootist SOLE Revival, condones our mutual cause of promoting a belief in our beloved Bigfoot, we are not responsible if you aren't savvy enough to avoid being caught by non-believers in the usage of our spread-the-word tools, of our beloved faith.
Under such circumstances, we will be forced to "Disavow any knowledge of your actions".....No, Tom Cruise of the IMF doesn't belong to our church....YET, but he's sure a good candidate, I'm told (grin)
Naturally, upon being caught, you will then have to be excommunicated from our special church.
You will then be considered by us to be a cast-out, or as some like to say, a "Littlefootist".
Littlefootist's will of course, burn for all eternity, by having to walk barefoot on hot coals while wishing they had stayed in the realm of us Bigfootist.


Anything here sound familiar to anyone?


P.S .... See our new brand new website.....WWW.Bigfootist-Can-Fool-U__Like-Christians-Do.Net



AtheistToothFairy (with tongue firmly planted in cheek)

Anonymous said...

No non-atheist should tell an atheist what atheism is nor what an atheist believes or does not believe. By posting the quote from Anthony Flew, I was saying as much. No one should tell another person what that other person believes. The power to read the mind of another - we do not have it.

Skeptics seem certain about one thing. No one should say that they know something that the skeptic claims is unknowable. If a person does so, the skeptic often scoffs at the ignoramus. Dogmatists seem certain that anyone who does not know what the dogmatist knows is being willfully ignorant.

I have posted on two links at this site. Both times some people assumed that I believed things that I did not write that I believed. The temptation to mind read is found everywhere.

I thank swifty 32661for answering my query regarding my claim that something cannot come from nothing. Quantum mechanics does hold that matter can arise and disappear spontaneously within empty space/time; however, matter does not come from nothing. Energy converts into matter and matter into energy. E=mc2 is true. When I use the word ‘nothing,’ I am referring to an absence of energy, mass, light, space/time, and any other conceivable thing. It is inconceivable, thereby, self-evident to me that something exists. That something is a mystery to me.

People have always tried to understand the mystery behind life. Some people call that mystery ‘the unknown God.’ Some people claim to know something about the ‘unknown God‘. Others scoff that the existence of the ‘unknown God’ and knowledge about the ‘unknown God‘ is unproven. I don’t like to scoff at what others believe. It is as easy to be a fool as to call another person a fool. I prefer to try to understand what others believe or disbelieve before I accept or reject what they believe or disbelieve as true or untrue. I do not want to be either a dogmatist or a skeptic. I dislike the scoffing of the skeptic, not the skeptics disbelief.

boomSLANG said...

Anony': People have always tried to understand the mystery behind life. Some people call that mystery ‘the unknown God.’

And yet, other people simply call it "the unknown".

Anonymous said...

Regarding the issue of atheists having or not having belief systems - Rocks belief nothing; people believe things about reality. Some of those beliefs are true and some are false, unless truth is a nonsense word.

boomSLANG said...

One of many Anonymous posters said: Regarding the issue of atheists having or not having belief systems - Rocks [believe] nothing; people believe things about reality. Some of those beliefs are true and some are false, unless truth is a nonsense word.

Oh, good grief. Okay, have it your way:

I BELIEVE, with all my witts, that transparent purple pixies DO NOT exist.

Now, what does that do to either "weaken" my position that said pixies DO NOT exist, or "stengthen" the believer's position that they do????

Answer: Not a DAMN thing.

Anonymous said...

Boomslang, I know of no one who does believe in transparent purple pixies. If you know someone who does, address the comment to him. I do try to post thoughtful posts. No doubt you think that I did not. Neither am I impressed with your talk of transparent purple pixies.

boomSLANG said...

Anonymous: Boomslang, I know of no one who does believe in transparent purple pixies.

Right, I know of no one who believes "rocks" are "non-believers"....yet, I understood your analogy.

Notwithstanding, again, have it your way:

"I BELIEVE, with all my witts, that Islamic deities DO NOT exist."

Now, what does that do to either "weaken" my position that said deities DO NOT exist, or "strengthen" the believer's position that they do????

Answer: Not a DAMN thing...

....unless you have a better answer?

AtheistToothFairy said...

Anon said:

"Quantum mechanics does hold that matter can arise and disappear spontaneously within empty space/time; however, matter does not come from nothing. Energy converts into matter and matter into energy. E=mc2 is true. When I use the word ‘nothing,’ I am referring to an absence of energy, mass, light, space/time, and any other conceivable thing. It is inconceivable, thereby, self-evident to me that something exists. That something is a mystery to me".
-------

Anon (who I wish had chosen a name),

Let me say that while I am replying to your comment above, my comment here is meant for all the Christians on this site to digest.


So, to all you Christians out there:


http://www.thekeyboard.org.uk/Where%20universe%20from.htm

Here's a good article (see link) that tries to deal with the mystery of how 'something' can exist within a bigger 'nothing'.

Granted, we can't know the answers to where all matter/energy came from in the universe, but if matter/energy aren't eternal (in both time directions), then we are forced to say that matter/energy came from 'nothing'...'Nothing' being a total and infinite void.

There are other articles on the web about the thing we call 'nothing', being less likely to exist (mathematically) than all the things we call 'something', but that is another abstract concept for another day.

Whether one begins with a premise that matter always has existed and will always exists in some form or another, or one wishes to believe that the matter came from an infinite nothing,
one really has to take a HUGE leap of faith to insert a god into this question of origin.

The first problem is the claim that god always existed and will exist forever. i.e. has an infinite past and future.
It assumes that no matter how far back in the past we go, or how far into the future (if time travel were not just a concept, but reality), we would always find that god was present.
(The fact that god could be in any future time, while still existing in the present (and past), sure deals a blow to this free-will concept, doesn't it)

The second problem is that god exists everywhere....which means his 'reach' or 'size' has to be as infinite as the universe itself......Not just the universe made of energy and matter, but the rest of the universe that is probably an infinite NOTHING.
However it doesn't really matter if god filled up an infinite universe with matter and energy, or if matter and energy stop somewhere and a nothing void continues on forever.
In either case, god still would have to be everywhere, void or not, if we believe what the religious folklore tells us about him.


The third problem is the construct of a super being that wasn't created from anything (or from 'nothing' ), but yet has infinite knowledge and power, that he then used to create a least one very large universe of matter and energy (if not several of them).

If the universe alone isn't enough to boggle our minds, in both complexity and size, we now must assume that some THING far more powerful than all the universe itself, somehow decided ONE day to create it all. This super being therefore must be vastly more complex than all the universe itself, yet we are to assume such a super complex being wasn't created himself and was just always around, throughout time.......Yet, only ONE and not a dozen, or a hundred of these super beings exist today.
(Perhaps what we called our god, was the victor in a huge multi-god war...the last survivor of many)


All three of these problems I stated must be taken into account, as all three are stated to be qualities of this creator god some assume must exist.
Thus we are left with a god who is all powerful (an infinite quality), who is all knowing (yet another infinite quality), who is present everywhere in the universe (again, an infinite quality), and who used all these infinite qualities to not only form a vast amount of matter and energy, but who then decided he needed a whole lot of lower based life forms as 'pets' to keep him from feeling.... lonely.

One of these lower based life forms, he would give just enough intelligence to, so that they could worship this infinite god and make him feel loved..... or something.

Isn't being loved and worshipped a NEED in itself......and why would such a super god being have such a frail human need?

Oh, and let's not forget that first he made all those super beings, like angels, to worship him first. Obviously, being worshipped by a higher based form of 'life' wasn't good enough for this infinite god, so he decided to come up with some carbon based humans to give him what his angels obviously couldn't.

It also seems to me, that if Satan and some of his demons became bad enough to get kicked out of god's heaven (but yet NOT destroyed), then this all knowing infinite god screwed up not once, but twice, by then creating adam and eve, who also became bad enough to warrant their exile from another type of heaven, called Eden.

So on one hand, you Christians wish for us to believe these three infinite qualities of your god, yet this same god produces repeating flaws in whatever he seems to create.

God's creations are no more perfect than the universe that we live in.
While the universe itself had enough of the right qualities to produce humans, it contains many flaws, just as humans do.

Does this mean everything god creates, has flaws in it?

If so, god doesn't sound all that perfect to me........How about You?




AtheistToothFairy

Anonymous said...

Boomslang, I did not say that rocks are unbelievers. I said that rocks are not able to believe. I am using the word, ‘belief,’ as it would be used in a philosophy class, for example, in the following sentence: knowledge is justified true belief. If I am wrong, correct me. Maybe philosophers now use different words to refer to the state of mind that precedes knowledge.

You seem to be using the word ‘belief’ to mean ‘nonsense’ or unjustified assertion. If you cannot tolerate the word ‘belief,’ I could use the word, ‘presupposition.’ But, unless we agree on the same meaning of a word, we can not communicate. If you can not tolerate the word, ‘God,’ I could use the word, ‘unknown.’ Maybe, my effort to communicate is useless. I have no interest in converting anyone to my beliefs. I do like to test my presuppositions by comparing them to what others think. Sorry, if what I wrote upset anyone. I guess this will be my last post.

boomSLANG said...

Okay, Anonymous? I have no fricking idea at which point you chimed in, because again, so many of the guest Christians/Theists refuse to adopt pseudonyms, thus, making it difficult to distinguish one Anonymous post from another. Thanks guys!

Regardless, the following is where I took issue:

You said(I think): Regarding the issue of atheists having or not having belief systems - Rocks belief nothing; people believe things about reality. Some of those beliefs are true and some are false, unless truth is a nonsense word.

Your analogy, that inanimate "things" cannot believe, or disbelieve, is understood, m'kay? Your premise, however, is irrelevant to what I believe is your conclusion...and if I'm understanding correctly, that conclusion is, for a person to disbelieve in something, they adhere to a "belief system"(notice this has NOTHING to do with "knowledge")

Now, if I'm right, and I think I am because we hear this ridiculous pop' soundbite from Christians practically daily, then I fail to see the point you're trying to make. If you are trying to "level the playing field", well, you're wasting your time, as I illustrated before(twice now) that classifying lack of belief as a "belief", does nothing, repeat, NOTHING to weaken the position of non-belief. And BTW, I notice that you couldn't refute the point I was making, and I know full-well that you "got it".

Continuing, in your most recent post, you say:

Boomslang, I did not say that rocks are unbelievers. I said that rocks are not able to believe. I am using the word, ‘belief,’ as it would be used in a philosophy class, for example, in the following sentence: knowledge is justified true belief.

STOP. Firstly, I am perfectly "justified" to not have a "belief" in something for which I see no credible evidence. Secondly, we're not talking about "knowledge", so I can believe, OR disbelieve, and still be Agnostic on the issue of the existence of gods/God.

You continue: maybe philosophers now use different words to refer to the state of mind that precedes knowledge.

Ignorance and/or neutrality "precedes knowledge", as far as I'm concerned. Again, Agnosticism deals with "knowledge"; Theism/Atheism deals with "belief" and "non-belief", respectively.

Anonymous: You seem to be using the word ‘belief’ to mean ‘nonsense’ or unjustified assertion. If you cannot tolerate the word ‘belief,’ I could use the word, ‘presupposition.’ But, unless we agree on the same meaning of a word, we can not communicate.

Anony', you can self-justify any ol' "belief" under the sun for all I care. But in order to tout said belief as objective "truth", you'll need to "justify" said belief with supporting evidence--- otherwise, it's just a "belief". Furthermore, if one disbelieves in your unsubstantiated subjective claims, again, their lack of belief isn't "belief". If I'm focusing on the wrong point, then please, enlighten me as to what your over-riding point is, if you feel up to it.

Anony': If you can not tolerate the word, ‘God,’ I could use the word, ‘unknown.’

Good grief, this isn't about what words can or can't be "tolerated". Where are you getting this stuff? And no, "God" and the "unknown" are NOT interchangable...nor am I convinced that that's what you mean by "God". You're not talking about a generic "entity"; you're talking about a specific personal deity, are you not? I suspect that you're being disingenuous, Anonymous. Again, correct me if I'm wrong.

Anony': Maybe, my effort to communicate is useless. I have no interest in converting anyone to my beliefs. I do like to test my presuppositions by comparing them to what others think. Sorry, if what I wrote upset anyone. I guess this will be my last post.

Just what are you trying to "communicate"? Are you a Deist, or Theist? Forgive me, but your words lead me to suspect you are in fact coming from a Christian point of reference. On the other hand, I can appreciate that you call your, thus far, unsubstantiated belief a presupposition---I only hope that you won't go away thinking my non-belief is one as well.

Today I'm... said...

Anony: "I am using the word, ‘belief,’ as it would be used in a philosophy class, for example, in the following sentence: knowledge is justified true belief. If I am wrong, correct me."

Correcting. Knowledge, is "not" justified true belief.

Belief: "1. something believed; an opinion or conviction: a belief that the earth is flat."
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/belief

Using that definition, and rewriting your sentence: "knowledge is justified true [belief; opinion or conviction]".

Here is a better way to perceive knowledge anony; knowledge is the clear, lucid information gained through the process of reason (true) applied to reality (justified). If knowledge isn't well-reasoned, it has no reliability, if knowledge can not be applied to the external reality, then, it can not be validated and has limited use "outside" one's own mind.

Therefore, one shouldn't propose they have "knowledge" of something beyond their mind, if they can't reliably validate their statement. Thus, they should say, "I believe...", not, "I know...".

People, "know" facts, they "believe" their convictions.

It is a "fact" I have never encountered a purple pixie, I "know" this for a "fact" - there is no belief requirement. I don't "believe" purple pixies either exist or don't exist, in order for me to even contemplate purple pixies, I'd have to be able to place an "identity" to the words... purple, and pixies.

An identity requires; reasoned critieria applied to reality. So, until such time as one is able to reason purple and pixie to some-thing that resides in my perceptible reality, it would be irrational to take a position on whether or not purple pixies exist, or don't exist. To be frank, until the words "purple pixie" are given an identity they are just words. And, words without identity, can be used to describe anything, leaving them as "meaningless".

Some people, don't take a position about meaningless words, other than to suggest they are "meaningless", until such time as an identity is assigned to the words.

Anony: "You seem to be using the word ‘belief’ to mean ‘nonsense’ or unjustified assertion."

Probability, is a good term for "belief". Yes, a belief may, or may not be true, but when someone suggests that their "belief" be promoted to a "fact", then it may well be "unjustified", unless the individual has reliable logic statements, to support an application in reality for validation.

Many people suggest that "God" is a "fact". The word has no meaning, because it lacks identity, therefore, a well-reasoned logic can not be used to support a meaningless word, making the concept "unreliable", and since there is no reliability, the concept isn't valid; yet some demand their "belief" be accepted as "fact".

I "believe" it will not rain tomorrow, and I have a 40% chance of being right.

Hope that helps.

Anonymous said...

I have been unfair in not giving an identity. Call me old farmer. I wrote all of the anonymous posts on this link, except the definition of atheism.

Today I…,

The Dictionary of Philosophy by Peter A. Angeles defines belief: 1.A state of mind in which confidence, trust, faith is placed in a person, idea, or thing. 2. A conviction or feeling that something is real or true. 3. Intellectual assent to an idea. 4. That which is asserted or contained in an idea.

I do not think you corrected my understanding that knowledge is justified true belief, by adding the words opinion and conviction. I think we agree that a belief must be in some way justified before it deserves to be called knowledge.. I differ with you on your sharp distinction between belief and knowledge. I picture knowledge and belief on the same continuum. The more justification we have for a belief, the more justified we are to call a belief, knowledge. I fully agree that a belief does not reach the status of knowledge simply because someone believes it. I am less certain than you that we ‘know’ facts and ‘believe’ convictions. I have a strong conviction that I see a tree outside my window. It is a conviction that reaches the status of being self-evident to me. I believe that I see a tree strongly enough to say that I know I see a tree. My conviction that the earth revolves around the sun is less strong. I know on the basis of authority; however, watching the sun rise and set, it seems self-evident that the sun is moving rather than the earth. We can look at a fact and think that tells us something that it is not telling us. We bring our presuppositions to facts in order to interpret facts.

I accept your understanding of belief as probability. I accept that words have no meaning, unless content is given them. Words must refer to something to be meaningful. In my posts, I did give content to the word, ‘God’. I called ‘God’ an uncaused thing and the mystery behind the universe.

I doubt you will agree, but I think that what makes a belief irrational is whether or not we own it. If we believe something only because others tell us that we must believe it, the belief is not ours and therefore is an irrationally held belief. Others might accuse us of holding irrational beliefs, but the beliefs that we own are either true or false, not irrational. I doubt that we can hold untrue beliefs long. Reality has a way on intruding on our wishes.

I thank everyone for your responses. My purpose in writing is that writing well requires one to think and to express one’s thoughts so that others can understand them. By writing to this site, I have received feedback on whether or not I am writing well and thinking well.

boomSLANG said...

"Anonymous" who calls himself "old farmer", but who stills signs in as "Anonymous", said:

The Dictionary of Philosophy by Peter A. Angeles defines belief: 1.A state of mind in which confidence, trust, faith is placed in a person, idea, or thing.

Joe blow likes team "X". He wants team "X" to defeat team "Y" in the play-offs. While Joe Blow has "confidence", "trust", and "faith" in team "X"---i.e..while he believes in team "X" and that they'll win---the fact remains, he does not, and CANNOT, "know" that they will win.

Anony'/farmer continues: I have a strong conviction that I see a tree outside my window. It is a conviction that reaches the status of being self-evident to me. I believe that I see a tree strongly enough to say that I know I see a tree. My conviction that the earth revolves around the sun is less strong. I know on the basis of authority; however, watching the sun rise and set, it seems self-evident that the sun is moving rather than the earth. We can look at a fact and think that tells us something that it is not telling us. We bring our presuppositions to facts in order to interpret facts.

And? Again....your point in all of this is whAT, exactly?

Whether or not your beliefs are equally convicted on the subject of trees outside your window, and how the earth/sun move in relation to each other, is pointless, because both hypothesis' can be observed and tested, ultimately leading to knowledge. Therefore, you are perfectly justified in believing both; that "trees exist", and that the sun does NOT revolve around the earth, despite the illusion that it does. You needn't invoke "Faith" to "supplement" your belief for either hypothesis.

Anony'/farmer: Words must refer to something to be meaningful. In my posts, I did give content to the word, ‘God’. I called ‘God’ an uncaused thing and the mystery behind the universe.

Why can't it just be a "mystery"? Calling it "God" is just an attempt to explain the "mystery", thus, not making it a "mystery". If "God" can "logically" be "uncaused", then nature can be "uncaused". Again, as a Theist or Deist, or whatever the case may be, you've answered nothing by injecting a "God" into the equation. See Occam's Razor.

Anony'/farmer: By writing to this site, I have received feedback on whether or not I am writing well and thinking well.

Yes? And? I wonder what you've concluded.

Today I'm... said...

Old Farmer: "The Dictionary of Philosophy by Peter A. Angeles defines belief: 1.A state of mind in which confidence, trust, faith is placed in a person, idea, or thing. 2. A conviction or feeling that something is real or true. 3. Intellectual assent to an idea. 4. That which is asserted or contained in an idea."

In the definition above, I do not see the "link" between "belief" and "knowledge". I see a link, between "belief", and words like; conviction, faith, trust, feeling, essential elements of an idea, etc.

When suggesting the phrase; "knowledge" is justified true belief, one is promoting "belief", to "knowledge" after asserting that the belief is "justified" to be "true".


Knowledge, isn't "just" dependent on promotable "belief". The statement, left in its own context, suggests that "all" knowledge, is "farmed" from "belief" - and I take reservation on the matter.

When I was a child, I didn't believe or not believe a lit candle was hot, but then... I touched a flame and found out for a fact that fire/flames are hot. Thus, I gained "knowledge" from physical experience I could relate to, I never met a "belief" stage in the process.

When we learn, we take "known" particulars into memory, and integrate them to build concepts.

We then, can create more complex knowledge, by combining concepts.

In this process, of combining concepts to form hierarchical knowledge, one move further and further away from the base set of "particulars", or the "knowns", that we have "knowledge" of.

It is the movement away from the particulars, and combining of complex concepts, that moves a person into the position of "belief".

So, "knowledge" isn't justified true "belief". Knowledge, is learned fact, from life/physical experience that is both reliable and valid, and the particulars of "knowns", are used to extend our knowledge to the point, that we move away from "certainty" towards "belief".

Let's see if I can rewrite this to make better sense.

"Knowledge", that is justified as true, using a reasoned process, that delivers both reliability (consistency) and validity (true to its identity), when compounded into ever-increasing complex combinations, inevitably leads to "belief", if one "allows" or "desires" to move beyond base knowledge particulars.

Old Farmer: "I do not think you corrected my understanding that knowledge is justified true belief, by adding the words opinion and conviction."

You're correct, I added much more, but it wasn't apparently conveyed in enough detail, I attempt to not write novels, as I am reminded at times that this is a blog and the intent is to remain true to the thread theme.

Old Farmer: "I think we agree that a belief must be in some way justified before it deserves to be called knowledge.. I differ with you on your sharp distinction between belief and knowledge. I picture knowledge and belief on the same continuum."

Right, belief effervescing from the factual particulars of knowledge.

Old Farmer: "The more justification we have for a belief, the more justified we are to call a belief, knowledge. I fully agree that a belief does not reach the status of knowledge simply because someone believes it."

Agreed, but "belief", as an extension of "knowledge", requires the test of "reliability" and "validity", in order to become "knowledge", well... by my standards of reason.

Old Farmer: "I am less certain than you that we ‘know’ facts and ‘believe’ convictions."

I think it's just a matter of putting words in the right order, and we'd likely both agree.

Old Farmer: "I have a strong conviction that I see a tree outside my window. It is a conviction that reaches the status of being self-evident to me. I believe that I see a tree strongly enough to say that I know I see a tree."

You, have "knowledge" of "tree", and the essential elements that give a tree its essence in your mind. You see an image, that appears to fit the "description" of those essential elements, truth, at the moment, is still in your mind, you have not applied that "knowledge" to the image before you, it "may" only be an image outside your window, but you "could" assume it to be a tree, if it exhibits enough known particulars to meet your trust threshold. This of course, requires you to make a decision or come to a conclusion without complete knowledge of the image.

If you were to step outside, and feel the tree, and smell the tree, and kick the tree, and inspect the roots, pull the leaves, taste the apples, etc., if would be "self-evident", that the form you are introduced to is in "fact" a tree. There is "no" room for doubt, you, based on your knowledge, must be "certain" that the image you held in the house, is in "fact" a tree.

You have correctly, taken a "form" that was learned earlier in your life, a form which you abstracted particular properties from, and reapplied them to a secondary form, through the reliability of your physical testing, the form was "validated" as a tree.

Old Farmer: "My conviction that the earth revolves around the sun is less strong."

So, you have not validated the form of tree, and are now making a comparison between the image of a tree from your house, and the earth's rotation around the sun.

Old Farmer: "I know on the basis of authority; however, watching the sun rise and set, it seems self-evident that the sun is moving rather than the earth."

The form of a tree can be tested for reliability and validity, just as the rotation of a planet around a star. Where you may "feel" bark under your fingers to test the form "tree", you may feel a "sunburn" to recall the particular trait "hot" for the sun.

Were you to watch shadows, move around the tree, you may arrive at a particular trait called movement, which you could integrate with "hot" and "sun" to create the concept solar movement.

Now, where we may disagree, is on certainty.

As suggested, you hold knowledge, based on factual particulars. If "all" of your knowledge, supports a conclusion, whether it be a tree or solar movement (sun-centric), and you hold no other information that denies it - then, you must accept your conslusion as being certain.

If one accepts that there are not enough factual particulars known, pertinent to validating the conclusion, one should not suggest they are certain.

If, however, one "trusts" or "believes", that all of the relevant information is known, and it all points to the knowledge being true, one should be certain of the conclusions drawn.

Certainty is contextual. It is based on one's current knowledge, and thus, why it is important for people to communicate their "particular" facts to others. So that we may, in fact, apply a test to distill reliability and validity of a suggested particular(s).

It is possible to be certain, and still be wrong. However, isn't that how we must live... If we weren't certain that the floor existed when we woke up and left our bed, or that we were alive, well... we would live in a perpetual state of anxiety and fear. Just as it is possible to be certain and be wrong, it is also possible to be certain and correct. This is why the test of reliability and validity have merit.

The two examples you provided, I would have suggested I was certain as to my conclusions, because all the knowledge I held, aligned in every exact detail to what I perceived and examined, even if at a distance. Given, no reason to doubt my factual particulars that are reliable and valid, I have no problem assigning certainty when I associate them to those forms that match.

Although, I would assign certainty to both of your examples; I would understand that the solar movement is in fact, a more complex concept than a mere image of a tree in a window... But when nothing forces me to doubt, why would I not be certain; no matter "how" complex a concept.

And, buddy, although we don't think about it a lot, space satellites are pretty complex critters, but they operate reliably and are validated by application of form - I am certain my cable TV is a proven concept.

Even though, my picture may get fuzzy, that doesn't increase my doubt towards that proven concept, that is built upon by my limited knowledge, of satellite subsystem theory, orbital mechanics, and undergraduate space operations training. I would associate a decreased image, to atmospheric effects, or solar radiation, not the proven concept that I am certain of.

Old Farmer: "We can look at a fact and think that tells us something that it is not telling us. We bring our presuppositions to facts in order to interpret facts."

Presupposition: "To require or involve necessarily as an antecedent condition. See Synonyms at presume,"

Again, you are suggesting that a person must "build" everything on "presumption", in order to establish "facts", and of course, I disagree. As a child, I didn't believe anything, and burnt my hand on the stove; I attained particular facts from that experience and by the ability to recall those particulars, I understand/know them well enough to apply them to "Reality" reliably. The proof of concept, was my hand, and a hot stove.

Perhaps, the term "perception" is being misconstrued with the term "presupposition".

If so, "perceptions" can be corrected, to align Objective Reality with known particulars, using the process of "reason". If a person is not willing/able to use the process of "reason", to filter perceived notions, then of course, learned particulars can not be used to build concepts that are reliable, and if the concept can't pass the test of consistency/reliability, it surely can't be accepted with a high degree of certainty.

Now, of course, a person who can't reason, will likely not understand what I am talking about, or would be incredulous as to my assertions. Because, their base level of knowledge, has no reliable means to become integrated into higher concepts, and thus, all that I say is foreign and can't really be accepted with any great level of confidence.

You see, I have used the concepts of memory storage and neural recall, cognitive processes such as reason (deductive/inductive), hierarchical knowledge building, certainty, reliability and validity, solar movement, satellite image processing, et al.

Old Farmer: "I accept your understanding of belief as probability. I accept that words have no meaning, unless content is given them. Words must refer to something to be meaningful."

Agreed. Words are symbols of concepts. They are mental entities which trigger the contents of the concept. When a word is uttered, the contents of the concept, must follow.

Old Farmer: "In my posts, I did give content to the word, ‘God’."

So, you have used the word "God", which is a symbol for a concept. A concept, which used integrated particulars to build. So, what specific particulars did you use to build the concept, "God"?

I'd suspect the particular you used, was actually a "concept" passed to you, without foundation. Further, the concept wasn't explored for reliability and validity.

Old Farmer: "I called ‘God’ an uncaused thing and the mystery behind the universe."

Now, I am probably going to rub a few theoreticians here but, in my most humble opinion, the words; uncaused, non-existence, nothing, infinity, etc., are mental abstracts. They are the result of the integration/synthesization of particulars into concepts, and then amplified, reduced, etc., to produce more complex concepts.

Let's take non-existence as a concept, and as an analogy for uncaused. The word non-existence is meaningless by itself. It isn't something. It is a relational concept, gaining meaning only in comparison to another concept. Non-existence gains meaning only in comparison to existence. Non-existence is the denial of existence, while the concept "nothing" is a denial of a "particular" entity.

You see, the words "non-existence" and "nothing" are both denials of concepts. Yet, the very "concepts" they attempt to deny or reject, must "first" be validated, before moving to deny or reject them. In short, the words are nonsensical and meaningless. In order for someone to enter into a rational discussion, based on a common understanding of epistemology and knowledge, these type words have to be given context.

The context I would give them, is that they are mental entities, states of energy held in the mind, the reduction of a particular into absurdity. However, there is the other side, the amplification of a particular into absurdity; eternal, etc.

When a person can speak to the particular known(s), they are using to integrate into concept(s), they understand the context and limits of their words or symbols. Time, is a concept built on the particular knowledge of planetary rotation, once the particulars are integrated/synthesized to build the concept, the concept can then be logically amplified to the point of infinity.

Now, a lot of people may suggest they can't "know" infinity, because of the inability to validate the concept, even though the term can be expressed with reliability through rigorous symbollic expression.

I would suggest that infinity as a mental entity, may be a useful cognitive tool. However, its only as rational as the wielder's ability to deconstruct the concept back into its basic particulars, called knowledge. And, admission that time is a concept built on natural particular facts, that produce the opportunity to explore the "possibility" of infinity, is fine with me.

The inability to walk one's concepts backwards to particulars/knowledge, exposes ignorance, and any use of the concept to build more complex concepts with an unvalidated only increases the unreliability.

Old Farmer: "I doubt you will agree, but I think that what makes a belief irrational is whether or not we own it."

A belief is irrational, when it can't be anchored back to the particulars it was built from. There "must" be a source of knowledge, used to hierarchically build or extend knowledge to create concepts, and complex concepts which enter a measure of uncertainty, and thus belief.

Irrational, is the attempt to promote belief as fact, without founding the statement on particular knowledge, that can be shown to be reliable and valid.

I own a lot of beliefs; I believe I will go to work tomorrow, it's in the future; a probability assessment makes it a belief. I own it, yes, is it any more valid than someone elses' belief they aren't going to work tomorrow? I suppose statistics would be handy, and the ability to assign a reliability rating for each scenario.

Most of the time, I really don't care to measure my belief against another persons', unless it directly effects me. If it does, I use frequency analysis, to measure consistency, along with other tools.

If I say I believe I'm going to work tomorrow, and I have reliably gone to work for the past 20+ years at the same place, there is a "high" probability, barring something beyond my control, that I will be going to work tomorrow.

If someone says they believe they are going to hit the lotto tomorrow, and they have no control over the event, they are going to have a lower reliability rating than I. For two reasons, one, I can control my actions to a great degree, and have a role in making my belief a reality. Two, I am statistically using two possibilites, I go, or I don't go to work, there are millions of possibilites on some of the lotteries I have seen.

Therefore, even though I own my belief, my belief would be statistically stronger, yet, not certain. And, of course, I may get sick, and the other person may win the lotto.

I can suggest certainty the closer I talk in the present, when we move increasingly into the future or in the past, belief is more useful.

Old Farmer: "If we believe something only because others tell us that we must believe it, the belief is not ours and therefore is an irrationally held belief."

I agree, its the acceptance of a concept, without understanding the particulars that underscore the concept. Holding a concept, without understanding the foundation, scores a person a word/concept without meaning. When a concept has no meaning; it really has no purpose.

Old Farmer: "Others might accuse us of holding irrational beliefs, but the beliefs that we own are either true or false, not irrational."

Again, if one can't give context to a word, using the particulars of knowns, that made up the concept, then the word holds no meaning. If a person receives the word from someone, and they have not verified the word using a test of reasonability, then a person has accepted something unreliable.

However, that isn't to say, that although the word was received and irrationally accepted without verification, that a person can't "take particulars" or knowns and personally assign them to that word in order to give it meaning.

For instance; in the beginning the word was G-d/God, but the words lacked meaning due to lack of identity, the Jewish symbol for their God, was an "empty chair". Thus, Jesus was introduced by Christendom to give an "identity" to the word "God", and then, conveniently removed after the lame attempt to validate the "Word".

The compounding of a word that holds no "identity" (God), with another word that isn't supported with reliable/consistent information towards a valid object - Jesus, is nothing short of multiplying meaninglessness with more meaninglessness. There is no way someone who is educated, can honestly suggest they have found meaning with those two words; however, a person can suggest they have "given" meaning to those two words, by implanting their particular beliefs (unreliable) onto a meaningless word(s).

Old Farmer: "I doubt that we can hold untrue beliefs long. Reality has a way on intruding on our wishes."

Actually, there are people that are pretty capable of holding beliefs as fact, no matter how much reality shows them Truth.

Old Farmer: "I thank everyone for your responses. My purpose in writing is that writing well requires one to think and to express one’s thoughts so that others can understand them. By writing to this site, I have received feedback on whether or not I am writing well and thinking well."

Well, thiking is one way to ensure one is able to reasonably determine the true context of words stated. Without reason, there really is no point in discussing matters, as, two people are speaking from two different knowledge bases, and perceive reality much differently.

Accepting unfounded concepts, and integrating the unfounded concepts with "founded" concepts only does more to confuse a person; as, when particular knowns are mixed with irrational unknowns (factually stated beliefs), there is the illusion of plausibility of certainty. There is a quote I read somwhere...

"Stop mixing crap and chocolate. The mix always tastes like crap."