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If atheism is true would you want to know?

Discussion in 'Christianity and World Religion' started by cloudyday2, Nov 27, 2019.

  1. cloudyday2

    cloudyday2 Generic Theist Supporter

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    I'm defining "atheism" very broadly to mean that even if a god exists we humans know nothing about that god.

    So if "atheism" as defined above is true would you want to know?
     
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  2. zippy2006

    zippy2006 Dragonsworn

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    "Even if God existed, we could know nothing about him."

    This is a hypothetical statement, and it is strangely self-contradictory. In order to have knowledge of the proposition, we would need to have perfect and exhaustive knowledge of the subject (God). So apparently we know something about him whether he exists or not. It doesn't make much sense to me. Try it with anything:

    "Even if X existed, we could know nothing about it."

    (Also, I'm not sure what this has to do with atheism.)
     
  3. Pavel Mosko

    Pavel Mosko Arch-Dude of the Apostolic Supporter

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    Probably not I think the notion of a higher power tamps down on some potential nihilist mischief that would take place.


    But that being said the thought experiment is self refuting. You cannot disprove a universal negative. For one to have that kind of omniscience would mean they would be a defacto god/God, according to monotheistic definitions of the attributes of God etc. You would be something maybe closer to a pagan idea of a god...
     
  4. Ahermit

    Ahermit Active Member

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    Dishonest humans are ignoring the truth. They don't want to know the truth, because they ignore/deny it. They are not even aware that they already know what they are ignoring/denying i.e., the truth. Or how else would they know what to ignore or deny in the first place. If they ever let go of their fears about truth, the truth will reveal itself, because they have surrendered their need to ignore/deny it. In this case, they were absolutely honest, and wanted to know.
     
  5. Occams Barber

    Occams Barber Newbie Supporter

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    Your question is a little confusing and depends on whether you're addressing it to theists or atheists. The question(s) I think you're asking is/are:

    If God actually exists would I (an atheist) want to know?
    or
    If God actually doesn't exist would I (a theist) want to know?
    As an atheist my answer to the first question is obviously 'yes'.
    OB

     
  6. PloverWing

    PloverWing Episcopalian

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    For me, those are two significantly different situations.

    1) If there is/are no god(s) of any kind, would I want to know? Yes. I'd be disappointed, but truth is more important than almost anything. If the truth is that there is no god, then I'd want to know the truth.

    2) If there is a god, but we know nothing about him/her/it/them: That's actually a scary idea to contemplate. If I really know nothing about them -- whether they're good, what demands they make of humans, how they interact with the world, nothing at all -- then for all I know, I'll get to the afterlife and find out that the god required me to dye a potato blue and take it to Cincinnati, or some other bizarre thing, and since I never did that, I'm going to be punished. I probably couldn't have any day-to-day peace if I thought my state in the afterlife depended on some unknowable task. Maybe ignorance would be bliss in that case.

    (Maybe you didn't intend the nightmare scenario in #2. My imagination can go wild when it comes to imagining what the divine might be. :))
     
  7. Occams Barber

    Occams Barber Newbie Supporter

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    I've managed to live my entire life without the 'notion of a higher power'. So far I've managed to avoid getting involved in any 'nihilist mischief''. As a general observation I don't find atheists to be any more mischievous than Christians.
    OB
     
  8. Brightmoon

    Brightmoon Apes and humans are all in family Hominidae.

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    I realized long ago that I was raised to worship God in a specific manner . Whether it was the “ right “ way or not , I knew that atheists were correct about some of the things they complained about. The deliberate manipulation and willful ignorance they complained about was a real problem. It made me more thoughtful about dogmas I accepted.
     
  9. Blade

    Blade Veteran Supporter

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    What always comes to mind is many years ago.. short is.. preacher says to a blind woman "in Jesus name" and me and my friend in the back of the Church as this woman starts to cry shout scream. Seems she got new eyes. And then so many other wonders I have seen heard. I would have to LIE to say there is no God.

    And I look at others that believe in Him and never seen heard a thing as much stronger in Christ then I. Its lol as if I had to have something to believe.. well you see where I am going. I get stuck on "if it was true"? Nothing else to say
     
  10. rockytopva

    rockytopva Love to pray! :) Supporter

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    I was born on a Marine Corp base and was hauled all over before arriving in Michigan as a young lad. My mother used to make me go to one of those dry denominational churches that to me was as agonizing as the George Clark Rankin story told here (The Life of George Clark Rankin). I used to wonder while looking out on the cold Michigan tundra what was more dead and lifeless, the wintry scene or the church I was in. I used to smoke cigarettes and wonder while being in below zero conditions how there could be a God in such surroundings. I used to try to get on my motorcycle early enough to miss church but would see my mother driving around the lake trying to look me up for church.

    A God encounter was what was needed for me to come to faith in Christ and in creation. And my God encounter was similar to the George Clark Rankin story told here (The Life of George Clark Rankin). And was also similar to the conversion of the Apostle Paul in that it was unlooked for. And in the words of George Clark Rankin, and I am sure the Apostle Paul, the day my revelation of Christ on a spiritual level...

    "Was one of the most delightful days in my recollection. It was the third Sunday in September, 1866, and those Church vows became a living principle in my heart and life. During these forty-five long years, with their alternations of sunshine and shadow, daylight and darkness, success and failure, rejoicing and weeping, fears within and fightings without, I have never ceased to thank God for that autumnal day in the long ago when my name was registered in the Lamb's Book of Life." - The Life of George Clark Rankin

    My condition was similar to the Wesley story told below. In which I thank God for those spiritual experiences, otherwise I would have remained an atheist...

    John Wesley was almost in despair after a disasterous trip to America and loosing his dad. He did not have the faith to continue to preach. When death stared him in the face, he was fearful and found little comfort in his religion. To Peter Böhler, a Moravian friend, he confessed his growing misery and decision to give up the ministry. Böhler counseled otherwise. "Preach faith till you have it," he advised. "And then because you have it, you will preach faith." On May 24th, 1738 he opened his Bible at about five in the morning and came across these words, "There are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, even that ye should partakers of the divine nature." He read similar words in other places. That evening he reluctantly attended a meeting in Aldersgate. Someone read from Luther's Preface to the Epistle to Romans. About 8:45 p.m. "while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death." Once acquiring this faith he started a revival that would lead to the Pentecostal and Charismatic one today .
     
  11. Maria Billingsley

    Maria Billingsley Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I would absolutely want to know. It is like never knowing your father. A certain emptiness will always be there as well as a yearning to know.
    Be blessed.
     
  12. Halbhh

    Halbhh Everything You say is Life to me Supporter

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    We don't know a lot about God --

    8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
    declares the Lord.
    9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

    We learn we only know a little about Him, only those things He has revealed to us, and we do not understand Him in an encompassing way (not even close). When preachers try to ascribe limits, motives and such for God, we can realize they are in error if we know the scriptures.

     
  13. awitch

    awitch Well-Known Member

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    I'm already in the "atheism is probably true camp", so sure.
     
  14. cloudyday2

    cloudyday2 Generic Theist Supporter

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    Yeah, that is correct. I suspect you are a "never-theist", so you might not understand the motivation of the question. Having grown-up as a Christian (sometimes a confused and doubting Christian) there were still certain questions I didn't need to ask myself because I thought I already knew the answer. I thought I knew the purpose of life. I thought I knew who God was if I wanted to pray. I thought I knew what was good and what was evil. ... Now I am not certain if a god exists but I don't have any faith in Christianity and I now find myself asking questions that I didn't need to ask before. For example, I used to take it for granted that I should try to be generous and forgive hostility and so forth. Now I wonder if any of us has any freewill. Should I be angry when others harm me? They have no choice in harming me, but maybe I have no choice in being angry? ... Hopefully you see how it is a difficult transition to lose your foundational philosophy of life as a result of losing your religious faith? If I had always been an atheist or agnostic then I would have developed some other foundational philosophy. Instead I find myself paralyzed with basic confusion sometimes.

    So I find myself thinking I would probably be happier if I could regain my faith in Christianity and regain my direction. As a Christian I didn't know specifically how to get places, but I had a general sense of direction.

    So I look at Christians around me who seem so be almost willfully indifferent to reason and common sense, and I wonder if I should pity them or envy them or what.
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2019
  15. Occams Barber

    Occams Barber Newbie Supporter

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    You're right - I've never accepted the idea of a god or the supernatural. As a result I've never had a book of hard and fast rules to refer to when it comes to deciding between right and wrong. I've never had a "foundational philosophy" - at least not one I could easily articulate and, to me, "the meaning of life?" is a meaningless question.

    While I may not understand what you've lost, I do understand the consequences. Where you're just coming to grips with deciding on right and wrong this is something I've had to do all my life. I've generally found that society provides a reasonable general direction on most things but it's essential to constantly question or you fall into the trap of taking things for granted. You also need to be prepared to change direction when a given morality ceases to be moral. In other words avoid the Christian mistake of assuming morality is immutable or that things are either black or white. New knowledge can overturn old ideas.

    In your situation I would generally hang on to the Christian principles you're used to as long as you can also justify them in a secular sense. Beware of self-referential justifications (i.e., it's wrong (only) because the Bible says so). Think in terms of the broader society, e.g.,
    "if everyone did this would it result in a society where I (you) would be more or less comfortable assuming you cannot predict your station in the society?"

    You will sometimes be wrong and you will often be unsure. If it all sounds like hard work then 'welcome to my world'.

    I will admit that after 70 years of being the only god in my little morality it does get a little easier. :)
    OB
     
  16. Zoness

    Zoness 667, neighbor of the beast Supporter

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    Sure, why not.
     
  17. cloudyday2

    cloudyday2 Generic Theist Supporter

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    Religions serve various purposes. For example, a shared religion gives people shared values. On an individual level religion gives people a sense of purpose.

    So as Pilate said "what is truth?". I might decide that Christianity isn't true, but what have I gained? Christianity was serving a purpose in my life when I believed. Now I don't believe it and it no longer benefits me. Christianity's value seems to be disconnected from its truth. So why should a Christian want to lose faith and gain "truth" when knowing the "truth" about Christianity is of no more value than knowing the "truth" about the latest escapades of some Hollywood celebrity. The "truth" about Christianity's flaws that would make a Christian lose faith is not like the truth of science that might help us design better light bulbs. Why would anybody want a "truth" that doesn't help us? Of course when the truth is forced on us then we have no choice.
     
  18. cloudyday2

    cloudyday2 Generic Theist Supporter

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    I am not certain about this Wikipedia article, because there seems to be little else on the internet, but possibly...
    Axomamma - Wikipedia
     
  19. PloverWing

    PloverWing Episcopalian

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    Well, that settles it. Cincinnati, here I come! :)
     
  20. Kenny'sID

    Kenny'sID Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Of course.
     
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