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An Atheist's Creed


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My concern is this. You are discussing the classic "gaps," where so many have attempted to find a god. The gaps are getting smaller with each passing moment, with each new experiment and with each new idea.


The gaps are not a safe place for "something else" to reside, since the mysteriousness of that "something else" is continually emaciating the more we learn. To stop learning and filling those "gaps" with actualities is a bit of a dead end which I, personally, would prefer not to traverse.





Hi and thank you for your message.


I am in favor of filling the gaps. This is the scientific thing to do. We should complete our knowledge as much as is possible. Where I differ with conventional thinking, such as what I think is being represented in Singham's Creed, is that I think the materialistic interpretation of the nature of the universe is what has created and is maintaining the gaps. I do not mean the gaps that exist in learning more about observed effects. These gaps are being filled in by experimental scientists. I hope someday that enough of the gaps in knowledge about the evolution of life will be filled so that we can fruitfully trace the original properties that lead to intelligent life as we recognize it.


Speaking about physics in particular, since Singham is a physicist, experimental physicists are fine tuning established patterns and learning new patterns about the effects of the operation of the universe. The problem, from my perspective, occurs with the theoretical interpretation of these patterns. The theory is stuck at the lowest level of understanding because it is held hostage to this "material" interpretation. It is about the motion of inanimate objects. We know these objects paticipated in the development of intelligent life. Yet we are stuck with theory that cannot predict nor explain life and intelligence.


It is theory with no causes. The theory tries to fill in the missing causes with invented ideas that are not allowed to go beyond the "materialistic" interpretation. They must, themselves, be materialistic. This severe restriction is not required by the causes that lead to intelligent life. It is necessary for the protection of a belief system. If we wish to proceed to discover the nature of this universe that gave birth to intelligent life, then we should include fundamental properties that have at least some relationship to intelligence and life.


The gaps that I am concerned about filling, cannot be filled so long as "materialism" controls science. The fact that we do not know the nature of any causes, I believe, is very strong evidence that the real causes cannot exist within the severely restricted belief system of "materialism". We know first hand that life and intelligence are natural to this universe. Why is it then that speaking about fundamental properties of life and intelligence is discouraged as being unnatural?


The subject of this thread is not what James Putnam believes, so I should probably end this message. Hopefully it addresses your concerns.



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James, good post. I think the gross misunderstanding you are making is to assume that atheists think alike. They do not: They do not belong to a common group nor do they represent a certain type of person.


Ok, I recognize that all atheists are not a certain type of person. However, if atheists claim science as proof or even substantial support for their beliefs, then the tenets of science should be fertile ground to begin a discussion in a forum setting with others whom I may never have spoken with before. Clarifications of positions can be made as part of the developing discussion. If it is first made necessary to learn each person's set of beliefs individually before enterring into a general discussion, well, it seems to me that is a pretty stiff requirement to meet. Also, when I mentioned the word God, no one asked me what I meant by or how I imagined God to be.


And why is it so important to point out that atheists have beliefs? There is a vast difference between a religious world view where the supernatural is the basis for existence, and an atheist world view where there is no room for the supernatural. That atheists and theists *disagree* on the existence of anything supernatural is, well, natural! :eek_big:


If atheists claim science as supporting their cause, then it is necessary to discuss both their beliefs and the beliefs that have become part of science. I use the word beliefs with regard to science to make clear that science does not consist only of facts. Also, when you say "and an atheist world view where there is no room for the supernatural.", I would counterclaim that empirical evidence shows us that life and intelligence are natural on all levels, even their origins, however far back that goes. I would counterclaim that the natural causes that have been identified as the four fundamental forces of nature are in fact unnatural. While the natural causes for their effects definitely exist, the causes as they are defined by "materialist" believers are unnatural inventions that have no credible evidence and play no role greater than to help theorize about mechanical type effects.


So while the phrase "many atheists believe..." could be correct, the phrase "assume that atheists..." would be stereotyping and most likely wrong.


Stereotyping is a problem for both sides. However, I agree it is best to try to avoid stereotyping. It is sometimes difficult to know the difference. It may require some effort to ferret it out. I think some level of tolerance allows this effort to be carried out.


You say it yourself: There are many causes and one of them may be electric charge.


I would expect that electric charge cannot be a real cause. The reason is because it is a model restricted to mechanical type actions. I think it is something very different from the current model. I have what I think are compelling reasons for saying this, but this is not the place for them. I usually stick to discussing it in its familar manner.


Some atheists probably believe that. If that is the basis of your argument I would argue that some theists probably believe that, too, so it doesn't apply more to atheists than anyone else, does it.


Well, except for me.


There are many explanations for electric charge, and I dare say science has a reasonable understanding of it considering that we are able to use i for many purposes.


Science has a good understanding of electromagnetic effects. We make good use of the effects. We have no natural understanding beyond the effects. We have only a name for an unknown cause.


One example of school lessons for electric charge:

Electric Charge


This is an example of giving a cause a name without knowing the cause. Electric charge is introduced as a given.


Now this is where you and I will probably disagree. I think, as an educated person (why does it matter which belief system I belong to here), that we do not have to *know* the causes for understanding an effect. That is not a cop-out. It means there are things I don't understand and which I know that people are working to find out.


We do not have to "know" the cause to make use of the effects.


Basically, electric charge is a property of atoms, and can be measured and tested. I am not sure why this is something mysterious.


Electric charge is a name for an unknown cause. Its effects can be measured and tested.


Where? A strange claim IMHO.


I am sorry. I don't understand your question. I guess this is one of the points that seems so clear to one individual and so unclear to another. Do you believe that there are natural causes and therefore there is no need to consider unnatural causes such as God?


He is an atheist, not a scientist. Are you saying that only scientists can be atheists, or that atheists need to seek out scientists in order to have their creeds checked?


I guess I do not understand this. The author is a physicist and, therefore, a scientist.


This thread is about an atheist's creed as posted on the web, and whether this can apply to more people than one. I have stated my views on that in another post. It is not about what qualifications an atheists should have in order to write his own creed (in my eyes, nobody should set any demands on that, as atheism refutes submission to other belief systems).


Still, there has to be a way of conducting a group discussion, at least in the beginning, in general terms. It is not clear to me how I could begin using only the proper particulars that can be learned only from discussion with others.


I think you are wrong in stereotyping atheists and thinking that your mechanical world view is an example of where atheists go wrong.


If there are atheists here that do not view the world from the "material" perspective, I would be interested in hearing their explanation for reality. It is true that I tend to add the word "mechanical". That is because the "material" universe as I learn it consists of particle's who's abilities appear to be describable by words such as pushing or pulling or spinning.


Atheism != science. Therefore, atheist's creeds will not be scientific documents. They will rather be statements of reasons for their way of thought.


So long as atheists do not try to prevent progress in science that does not fit with their beliefs.



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So long as atheists do not try to prevent progress in science that does not fit with their beliefs.


There is no set of atheist beliefs. None, zero, zip, nada... The atheist label says just one thing about an individual, that they are not theist. That they do not have an affirmative belief in a deity. It does not even mean that they have an affirmative belief that there is no deity, some do, some don't.

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The gaps that I am concerned about filling, cannot be filled so long as "materialism" controls science. The fact that we do not know the nature of any causes, I believe, is very strong evidence that the real causes cannot exist within the severely restricted belief system of "materialism". We know first hand that life and intelligence are natural to this universe. Why is it then that speaking about fundamental properties of life and intelligence is discouraged as being unnatural?


James, I understand where you are coming from and even agree with you to a certain extent.


The reason I chose to quote the paragraph I've quoted above is because I feel that there is a bit of misunderstanding about science in your arguments. Materialism does not control science. It's perhaps more true to say the opposite, but even that falls short of a good explanation. Science deals with what can be proven or disproved. Science only deals with tangible things. This is why scientists are skeptical about things such as ghosts and telekinesis. There is no way to prove ghosts because they are intangible, if not fictional as well. There is no logical way to test for something that can not be identified via the five senses. For this reason, science does not deal with such things. (except to disprove, scientifically)


Like I said though, I do see your point. It's possible that things exist outside of our sensory perception. In this case, science is not a good tool. The problem is that we don't have *any* reasonable tool for deducing such things with any credibility. Nonetheless, if such qualities were to manifest in the human realm, I would imagine that they would be guided by some type of formal, logical system, like science. But of course, that is speculation on my part. :eek_big:


More on topic, as has been said, atheists are not, by definition, scientists, or even science inclined. Likewise, there are many scientists who are theists. In my experience, a majority (well, at least several that I can name) of veteran members here at hypography are "a-theists". I can see why this would elicit a stereotype, but note that this community represents a tiny minority of both scientists and atheists. A presumed union of the two is more due to specifics, imho, rather than a general overlying trend.


Even more on topic, it's important to note that the title is "An Atheist's Creed". The person that wrote the creed, Mano Singham, is an atheist who seems to uphold science as a basis/justification for a disbelief in God. As C1ay has pointed out more than once, this is not the definition of an atheist.


That being said, I tend to agree with Singham, but I also agree with several of the posts in this thread. This is not a creed for atheism, this is an atheist's creed.

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Ok, I recognize that all atheists are not a certain type of person. However, if atheists claim science as proof or even substantial support for their beliefs, then the tenets of science should be fertile ground to begin a discussion in a forum setting with others whom I may never have spoken with before.


This is exactly what I replied to above. Atheists are not a group of people or a congregation. You don't need to take this thread to discuss your mechanistic universe - you can do that all over Hypography.


You keep asserting that atheists take "science as proof". This is a classic strawman argument. Science is not proof, science builds it progress on the concept of "scientific proof" (as you very well know). It does not claim to be right, and "science" is not one thing or one direction. It is the sum of our knowledge, always containing contradictions and unknowns.


I'd like to see evidence for this claim! Does anyone really "claim science as proof"?


I think the only thing you can assert about atheists when it comes to science, is that many of them will tend to be open to explanations that reliy on natural causes, and thus things which can be explained by science, than in any other explanation. But you will also find superstitions and beliefs in atheists - they are only people. But, again, not one and the same kind of people.

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There is no set of atheist beliefs. None, zero, zip, nada... The atheist label says just one thing about an individual, that they are not theist. That they do not have an affirmative belief in a deity. It does not even mean that they have an affirmative belief that there is no deity, some do, some don't.


Ok. C1ay. I've read your posts. I get your point. I see nothing wrong with the statement I made that your quoted. It applies to any atheist and any theist and everyone else. However, the subject of this thread concerns atheists. I wanted to talk about science with atheists that wished to talk about science. The creed was by a scientist and, in my opinion, invoked science into the mix. No group is all the same. Christianity is definitely not represented by a single set of beliefs. I conclude therefore, that it is inappropriate to discuss what I think about Christain beliefs. And so on, and so on. I think that I have made my points. Individual atheists can decide for themselves about the value of my input. I will drop this matter. Thank you for your input.



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Though I feel it expresses only a portion of my own creed, and as several have noted, can’t speak for as unorthodox a population as athiests, I applaud what Singham has written. A personal creed is, I believe, something that nearly everyone should write, rewrite many times during her or his life, and share freely with others.


As a community – a collection of individuals who self-define themselves as having common views and interests – the community commonly calling themselves atheists have in my opinion much to achieve before they will begin to best realize their (or, I should say, our) wishes.


Much of this progress will, I believe, (1) involve getting past present day intuitions that we should deny our similarity to communities sharing beliefs in God or gods – in particular, losing our reluctance to even admit to having beliefs that are not supported by proof in the tradition of explicit or intuited formalism - and (2) more optimally grouping ourselves according to these beliefs.


For example, many atheists absolutely deny the existence of any traditional monotheistic deity, while affirming the existence of a rich world of spirits, including pre-living, post-living, and reincarnated human souls. Others, such as Singham and I, deny the existence of such spirits, for reasons including the one he cites in his creed:

I believe in the necessity for credible and objective evidence to sustain any belief and thus deny, because of the absence of such evidence, the existence of each and every aspect of the supernatural.

These two sub-communities of atheists – which I’ll term spititual versus naturalistic – are, I believe, as or more different from one another as either is from a typical orthodox religious community, and can no more promote one anothers views and interests that they can promote those of an orthodox religion.


As our scientific understanding of the anatomy and physiology of the brain and its relationship to perception, thought, and belief, a consensus is emerging that the neurological phenomena associated with religious experiences, including the intentional acceptance of belief unsupported or unsupportable by evidence, is essential to mental health. If this is correct, than most mentally healthy atheists must be exercising theses neurological phenomena – that is, having what might be termed sacred experiences, despite their lack of belief in the supernatural.


I agree with this position, and don’t find it surprising, because, IMO, the most common supernatural worldviews are not fundamentally much different from modern scientific theories, but rather can be considered scientific theories whose predictions were once agreed, but have long since ceased to agree, with the best available data. Sprititual atheists, while rejecting conventional orthodoxy concerning God or gods, continue to use the old supernatural worldviews, often redefined in the terminology of modern science, and often with the conscious awareness and acceptance of a strong connection with old, long enduring worldviews. They are essentially members of schismatic religions. Naturalistic atheists, like conventional theists and spiritual atheists, have sacred experiences, but use the naturalistic, evidence-based worldviews Singham’s creed describes. In emphatic conversation, naturalistic atheists (such as I) commonly assert that we are as passionately religious as theists, but replace love, reverence, and awe for God with love, reverence, and awe of nature, or the orderly laws of nature – leading many people familiar with theological terminology to label us panthists. Although this often provoking our strong protest, I believe this labeling is essentially correct.


If this is so, then the conversion of most theists (and spiritual atheists) to naturalistic atheists is problem in education. To embrace evidence-based pantheism, one must understand, in an emotionally resonant manner, the evidence and methods of science. Without this, the converted experience what Thunderbird aptly relates

I once heard someone say... "The more I learn about science the less mysterious the world becomes."
In short, people with poor science educations experience science as devoid of wonder and mystery, while people with good ones experience it as full of it.
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...Why do you all think that there are so many theists threatened by the open expression of viewpoints from those they have labelled as atheists?
I speak as one who was a fundi-christian (FC) in his youth and is an atheist now.


The FC believes that the consequence of the righteous christian life (RCL) is to be blessed. Typically, the word "blessed" (one syllable) means something different for each person, but the typical hard-core FC assumes that it includes happiness, joy, freedom from guilt, and a sense of dare-I-say-it, privilege. These things not only come from the RCL, but are unavailable any other way!


When atheists proudly wear their "A" buttons and seem to be enjoying life, it offends the FC. It must be faked. The atheist must be falsely presenting himself. The atheist must be lying--and, of course, all lies come from Satan. (The FC chuckles to himself.)


The FC must find fault with the atheist's POV, lifestyle and logic, if only to justify himself. For only the FC "deserves" to have happiness, joy and freedom from guilt. It says so right here at the bottom of the page in small print. (Doesn't it?)


What you see here is something like a turf war. But played out with meme-territory rather than city streets.

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I just noticed this thread and I thought I might put in my own two cents. When I was a small child, my mother read me fairy tales and children's stories at bed time. (As I was the eldest of four children, I always felt my siblings were short changed by the lack of attention they got.) Most all children's stories have morals embedded within them and I presumed that was the purpose of those fairy tales.


I was born late in the great depression era and my parents had a hard time making ends meet; they both worked in an era when most women were supported by their husband. As far as I am aware, they never went to church as they didn't have either the time or the money to meet the conventional standard required there. At any rate, religion was never a subject brought up in my home; survival was the important issue. It was also a subject never brought up by school mates when I went off to school.


Around the end of WWII I was told that I would have to go to “Sunday school” to be confirmed in our religion. So I went in blind as to what the intention of Sunday school was. I went to all the classes and learned all the catechisms; however, it never even occurred to me that any of the stories were true. I thought the stories being presented were moral instruction (if you have ever noticed, almost all fairy tales have morals embedded in them). I took all my religious instruction to be made up stories to explain proper social morals. The result was a rather unusual perspective. One of the things which I found very strange in the bible stories was that they almost always involved people called Jews. As a child, I had never heard the word “jew” used as something other then a verb (to “jew” someone was to cheat them) or a disrespectful reference to people who should not be trusted. It absolutely never occurred to me that “Jews” actually existed. I really could not understand why the bible stories called their moral authorities “Jews” but I never really brought the issue up for clarification as it had no real bearing on the morals being presented. After I was confirmed, my parents said I could go to church if I wanted to but I didn't have to if I didn't want to: so I never went back.


As a matter of fact, I didn't know “Jews” actually existed until I went off to college and met people who claimed to be Jews. In addition, I met guys in my fraternity who seriously believed the whole megillah. After a large number of late night discussions where I discovered how many others believed the stuff, I began to worry that maybe I had missed something important. I even reached the state where I got drunk and fell down in the snow one night where I looked at the sky and challenged god to make some sign (any sign) that I had been mistaken. As you well know, nothing came of it and I just lay in the snow thinking about the problem.


That night, I finally decided that since one can not prove the existence of god (all the religionists contend that it must be taken on faith) there can not be any examinable consequence of his existence. It follows that his existence can have no consequences whatsoever (if there were any consequences, those consequences could be used to construct a proof of his existence). Now, your belief or non belief can have many consequences but the truth of that belief cannot have any consequences at all (a fact all religionists agree to). It follows that, if his existence can have no consequences, why should one worry about the issue? So I never worried about the question again. To quote Shakespeare, it is no more than “Much to do about nothing!”


Have fun -- Dick

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To quote Shakespeare, it is no more than “Much to do about nothing!”


Have fun -- Dick




How refreshing is the advice from a man of wisdom and experience that serves to remind us that it is worthwhile to not worry so much.


Thanks for the reality check-up, Doc. :)

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There are whole branches of science devoted to the workings of the unconscious mind. Based on this science, these irrational things are as real as physical reality. They are real in the sense that these phenomena have been observed to occur in people with more reliability than quarks or rainbows. These areas of science are important because reality is actually outer reality, plus inner reality, sort of merged into one thing.


For example, the atheist may prefer mother nature over a heavenly father because mother nature is composed of one part sensory data and one part inner data. The heavenly father symbol has no sensory data, only two parts inner data. But in both cases, neither technically are fully rational, because the inner data aspect is not properly filtered using principles of science. The inner data is what makes religion, religion, even if 50%.


Some religions may not have a handle on the outer world, but they often have a better handle on the science of the inner world. Atheists tend to be the opposite. They have a better handle on the science of the outer world but many ignore the science of the inner world and lump it as religion. The inner science of religion often allow them to separate the two affects a little easier. The atheists can lack this extra perspective, so when they hug a tree thinking it has feelings, they are half unconscious. The religious person may see the inner reality of this sentiment and might say it Satan causing a deception. They separate that unconsciousness out, and try see the tree apart from the inner world. They still need to work on the exterior science so they can also see the tree more clearly as a biological entity.


This unconsciousness was why religion appeared, helping separate reality from unconsciousness, starting at the unconscious side. The atheists approach the problem from the other side of the coin, but don't always have a good filter to get rid the inner reality projection affects. They may see the church as a place where people are being brain washed. When it reality it is mostly regular people, getting by in life, with a sense of community. Their inner world seems to overlay something sinister onto the building. The religious tend to give more structure to the inner world, so they may start to see this inner structure overlaying science based reality. I like to go both ways, so I have two sets of tools to help me filter both sides of the coin at the same time. Science doesn't always filter out the inner world, especially some of the results from science casinos that are spun to define the collective inner reality.

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