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Old 11-21-2005, 05:31 PM   #1
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there is no God - love is enough

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I believe that there is no God. I'm beyond Atheism. Atheism is not believing in God. Not believing in God is easy -- you can't prove a negative, so there's no work to do. You can't prove that there isn't an elephant inside the trunk of my car. You sure? How about now? Maybe he was just hiding before. Check again. Did I mention that my personal heartfelt definition of the word "elephant" includes mystery, order, goodness, love and a spare tire?

So, anyone with a love for truth outside of herself has to start with no belief in God and then look for evidence of God. She needs to search for some objective evidence of a supernatural power. All the people I write e-mails to often are still stuck at this searching stage. The Atheism part is easy.

But, this "This I Believe" thing seems to demand something more personal, some leap of faith that helps one see life's big picture, some rules to live by. So, I'm saying, "This I believe: I believe there is no God."

Having taken that step, it informs every moment of my life. I'm not greedy. I have love, blue skies, rainbows and Hallmark cards, and that has to be enough. It has to be enough, but it's everything in the world and everything in the world is plenty for me. It seems just rude to beg the invisible for more. Just the love of my family that raised me and the family I'm raising now is enough that I don't need heaven. I won the huge genetic lottery and I get joy every day.

Believing there's no God means I can't really be forgiven except by kindness and faulty memories. That's good; it makes me want to be more thoughtful. I have to try to treat people right the first time around.

Believing there's no God stops me from being solipsistic. I can read ideas from all different people from all different cultures. Without God, we can agree on reality, and I can keep learning where I'm wrong. We can all keep adjusting, so we can really communicate. I don't travel in circles where people say, "I have faith, I believe this in my heart and nothing you can say or do can shake my faith." That's just a long-winded religious way to say, "shut up," or another two words that the FCC likes less. But all obscenity is less insulting than, "How I was brought up and my imaginary friend means more to me than anything you can ever say or do." So, believing there is no God lets me be proven wrong and that's always fun. It means I'm learning something.

Believing there is no God means the suffering I've seen in my family, and indeed all the suffering in the world, isn't caused by an omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent force that isn't bothered to help or is just testing us, but rather something we all may be able to help others with in the future. No God means the possibility of less suffering in the future.

Believing there is no God gives me more room for belief in family, people, love, truth, beauty, sex, Jell-o and all the other things I can prove and that make this life the best life I will ever have.

Penn Jillette
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/s...toryId=5015557
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Old 11-21-2005, 05:39 PM   #2
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i heard this piece this morning.

i respect it very much.

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Old 11-21-2005, 05:43 PM   #3
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This is essentially an assertion of 'strong' atheism, as distinguished from 'weak' atheism which is simply a state of absence of belief in all known God or gods. It seems to be close to the position held by the late sci-fic/comedy writer Douglas Adams.
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Old 11-21-2005, 05:56 PM   #4
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I can respect this guy a lot, and I can even agree with many of the points he makes. To say living a moral life requires religion or spirituality of any sort isn't fair. Only thing is, I'm scared of dying as I suspect most people are, even if they won't admit it.
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Old 11-21-2005, 06:09 PM   #5
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I have no problem with a robust profession of atheist humanism, but this isn't one. Ironically, it defines the author's outlook solely by comparing it to what it's not, in a dismissive and childishly self-congratulatory manner.

I am grateful for and in awe of the world as it is, and I do not "beg the invisible for more."

Where forgiveness is concerned, while I believe God has the last word on judgment of men's souls, I also believe, as do all religious Jews, that forgiveness of specific wrongs must come from the people wronged by them. That's what Yom Kippur is all about.

As far as being "solipsistic"--my very career, as well as much of my social life, is indeed based on learning from ideas from different cultures, not reflexively chunking them into some "interesting but based on a different worldview, thus wrong" pile. (Incidentally, in my experience, religious folk of whatever stripe have no monopoly on this failing.) And, on the rare occasions when non-negotiable religious beliefs come into play in a discussion, I simply state them as such, and don't pretend to be submitting them for negotiation by debate.

The utter drivel about belief in God=indifference towards others' suffering doesn't even deserve a response, as far as I'm concerned.

Hitler, Pol Pot and plenty of other iconic villains we're all familiar with weren't religious. If being religious means that I=Pat Robertson or al-Zarqawi and am somehow responsible for their vision of theism, then do I get to hold this author responsible for the former?
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Old 11-21-2005, 06:20 PM   #6
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yolland - very well said
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Old 11-21-2005, 06:42 PM   #7
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"Believing there is no God gives me more room for belief in family, people, love, truth, beauty, sex, Jell-o and all the other things I can prove and that make this life the best life I will ever have."

There's plenty of room for believing in God and still believing in all those things. I don't know why he seems to imply that one precludes the other. Some people feel the need to scientifically prove things in order to believe in them, some people don't. Either way isn't right or wrong, in my humble opinion.
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Old 11-21-2005, 06:55 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by yolland
The utter drivel about belief in God=indifference towards others' suffering doesn't even deserve a response, as far as I'm concerned.?
Where did he say that?
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Old 11-21-2005, 06:58 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by yolland
Ironically, it defines the author's outlook solely by comparing it to what it's not, in a dismissive and childishly self-congratulatory manner.
Given that the majority of the world's population cleave to various theistic belief systems, it appears reasonable for the atheist minority to start by defining what they are not.
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Old 11-21-2005, 07:15 PM   #10
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Quote:
gives me more room for belief in ... sex, Jell-o and all the other things...
I believe in sex in Jell-o...

I mean sex and Jell-o.
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Old 11-21-2005, 07:37 PM   #11
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"Believing there is no God means the suffering I've seen in my family, and indeed all the suffering in the world, isn't caused by an omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent force that isn't bothered to help or is just testing us, but rather something we all may be able to help others with in the future. No God means the possibility of less suffering in the future.

Believing there is no God gives me more room for belief in family, people, love, truth, beauty, sex, Jell-o and all the other things I can prove and that make this life the best life I will ever have."

Penn Jillette



A simple bowl of strawberries and cream convinces me there is a God.

I have never thought that God lashes out the pain/suffering in this world.

We seem to be doing a good job without God's help.



I love that Rebel from Nazareth
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Old 11-21-2005, 07:43 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by financeguy


Given that the majority of the world's population cleave to various theistic belief systems, it appears reasonable for the atheist minority to start by defining what they are not.

I wish I was defined by various non beliefs.


More seriously though I'm actually disappointed that everyone (sweeping generalization) despite their various "beliefs" still feel the need to comfortably set themselves into the confines of a metaphorical box.

Should we not leave that to the ignorant masses?
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Old 11-21-2005, 08:24 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by financeguy
Where did he say that?
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Believing there is no God means the suffering I've seen in my family, and indeed all the suffering in the world, isn't caused by an omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent force that isn't bothered to help or is just testing us, but rather something we all may be able to help others with in the future. No God means the possibility of less suffering in the future.
Since he explicitly posits a cause-and-effect relationship here between atheism and the perception of suffering as something we "may be able to help others with in the future," and directly equates atheism with "the possibility of less suffering," I infer that he's suggesting religious people do not see suffering as something we can help others to avoid, or work towards reducing in the future.

If he does not see this understanding of suffering as being unique to atheists, then why phrase it this way? I would never say, "Belief in God means we may be able to help people who are suffering in the future"; that's ridiculous--anyone can and should believe in the value of striving to reduce future suffering, whether they are religious or not.
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Given that the majority of the world's population cleave to various theistic belief systems, it appears reasonable for the atheist minority to start by defining what they are not.
Yes certainly, as far as it goes, an explicit disavowal of belief in God would be fundamental. What I was criticizing was the lazy reliance on disidentification with theism as a source of ethical values in and of itself. Think of Russell, Hume, Kant, Kai Nielsen or any number of others--they built their ethical systems on a full-fledged elucidation of rationalism as a basis for ethical thought, not on invidious comparisons of their own morals to those of theists.

I must say I find your collapsing of all the world's religions into a single "majority" vis-a-vis atheists a bit strange. As a social marker, perhaps, this may be valid. But as a Jew who also happens to be a product of Western culture, I find Russell, Nielsen et al. to be far closer to my own worldview, particularly ethically, than I do (for example) the major thinkers and texts of Hinduism, the non-Western belief system with which I am most familiar.

But I can just imagine Penn Jillette reading all this and muttering "Yeesh pal, I'm a fucking magician, not a philosophy professor..."
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Old 11-21-2005, 09:43 PM   #14
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I like it when he catches the bullet in his teeth.



Other than the lounge act, I have no use for him.
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Old 11-21-2005, 09:50 PM   #15
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I really like Bullsh!t
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