Atheism: An Introduction to My Beliefs

When beginning to research various religions, there are two general ways to go.

The first would be to begin with those most similar to my belief system: the Greek Orthodox church, Protestantism, Judaism, until we land at unbelief as a belief system.

But if Atheism proves to be correct, then it is all pointless. If the atheists are right, no other religion can be. So I will begin my journey here.

To begin with, I want to make sure that my specific bias are clear. We all have a personal bias, but as I am the writer and you the reader, it is essential that you are able to filter what I consider fact based on my experience and what is true. To do that, I will state my understanding of the belief system and any personal fears I have as I begin to learn about each belief system.

My Understanding of the beliefs in Atheism

  • There is no God or Godlike being in the universe
  • The world and all life came to be naturally through purely scientific means
  • There is no concrete meaning to life. Any meaning is taken by the individual.
  • There is no afterlife. Upon death, the essence of the human (what I call the soul) ceases to exist.

My Fears and the Arguments that may Convince Me

  • I fear that I may get enraged. While I have no issues with atheists as a whole, I find that people who are passionately atheist to the point of arguing for it tend to be anti-religion or at least consider religion people to be fools. These are the people who will be providing the fodder for my research.
  • Hell. This is more Catholic counter-apologetics than an Atheist argument, but it is often used by the latter. The concept of Hell is one I struggle with to this day.
  • That I will be in denial. I do not believe this to be true, and have no true fears of it being true. However, if it is true and there is indeed evidence that there is no God, there is a decent chance that I will ignore it. I feel in my soul a deep need for fulfillment in God and I have only been satisfied in that need during religious periods of my life. My mental health cannot thrive without a God.

The (Extremely Tentative) “Lesson Plan

  • 5 Proofs of the Existence of God: Rebuttals from Every Side
  • The People vs. The Truth
  • Counter-Apologetics and the Modern Atheist
  • No Proof for, None Against: In Support of Agnosticism
  • Joy Beyond Truth

Now, every belief system knows best how to convince others that they are correct. Atheists (and Agnostics if you please), feel free to recommend any resources arguing against the existence of God. My search for resources may be weakened by personal bias.

31 thoughts on “Atheism: An Introduction to My Beliefs”

  1. There is no evidence for miracles.

    Fatima: theists claimed to see something. Do you get the concept that if you didn’t claim you saw it too, people around you would wonder why and well, Catholics have a great history of killing heretics.

    Hosts bleeding: hoaxes and funny how the church never gets any of this blood tested. There were no scientific tests, so you are passing along false information.

    And yes, I do believe that Catholics can be shitting people who will fake it. Catholics also rape children. Not all of them but it shows your god does nothing.

    All you have is hearsay, nothing more. And every theist claims that they get something in their ‘heart’, nothing new, just humans wanting to be special.

    If you had stopped during the backpacking trip, then you’d have made up another story. That people pray to your god for a lot more important things and this god does nothing shows that there is no reason to believe you are special.

    The same with going to confession.

    And how about all of the churches and houses that have burnt down and nothing was left. What excuse will you give then? How about the churches in Portugal (1755) that fell in an earthquake and crushed hundreds on the Feast of All Saints? Where the Hospital of All Saints burned and hundreds of patients burned to death? Books of any kind don’t burn easily, so it could have just as well been a fat dictionary that didn’t burn. This kind of nonsense is called confirmation bias e.g. you ignore when your beliefs fail. Like when you ignore that your god doesn’t help everyone, but you have to think you are special.

    That earthquake was one of the first that wasn’t automatically assigned to magic. This is when the Enlightenment was in full swing and the idea of a vengeful god was considered disgusting. Voltaire wrote this “Will you say, in seeing this mass of victims: / “God is revenged, their death is the price for their crimes?” / What crime, what error did these children, / Crushed and bloody on their mothers’ breasts, commit? / Did Lisbon, which is no more, have more vices / Than London and Paris immersed in their pleasures? /Lisbon is destroyed, and they dance in Paris!”

    It shows the thoughtlessness of theists when it comes to supposed miracles. We hear the same nonsense after tornadoes, when some Christian praises their god for not killing them but doesnt’ question why this god would kill someone else.

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  2. “However, if it is true and there is indeed evidence that there is no God, there is a decent chance that I will ignore it. I feel in my soul a deep need for fulfillment in God and I have only been satisfied in that need during religious periods of my life. My mental health cannot thrive without a God.”

    well, that’s honest to say, but untrue. God doesn’t exist and thus your mental health has nothing to do with it.

    As has been said, read the bible. That’s the only way you know about this god. Read the various “church fathers” and see just how they make excuses for this god damning children to hell and every other horrible thing this god supposedly does.

    Consider:
    All of the philsophical arguments e.g. cosmological, teleological, all are based on a presupposition that a god is needed. There is no evidence for this. Those arguments are also not for your god. Each Christian makes up their god in their own image, using their personal hatreds and desires as a magic decoder ring that supposedly tells them what parts to ignore, what parts to take literally, and what parts to claim as a “metaphor”.

    Funny how Christians don’t agree on those parts, despite trying to convince everyone some magical being told them that their version was the right one.

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  3. Well, if you want to believe on facts, maybe Christianity is not for you. Belief isn’t needed with fact. That’s why the founders appealed straight to faith, even when Jesus was supposedly standing right there. Why is that?
    The only facts you might garner isn’t a religious belief, but the neurology behind belief has some very interesting play on the foibles of human psychology.
    Oh, and my initial journey out was not intentional. I had a moment of clarity while living in the jungle a few years. What you will find is the key to your clarity is unbelief. Only then will things appear where they actually are. By first employing belief you’ve already muddied the water with bias.

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    1. So for one, thing, no religious belief or lack thereof can be proven beyond a doubt, or everyone would follow that belief system (with exceptions, after all there are flat-earthers despite the fact that the world can be proven to be round). That is where faith comes into play. If you’ve seen The Good Place, there’s one point where humans find out about the essence of the afterlife and are doomed then go to hell for their motivations for doing good are now corrupt. I imagine that it is somewhat similar with God: he will not reveal to us all the truths of the universe, for we must seek him on our own. I imagine that God will reward all of those who seek him with an open and loving heart, even if it leads them elsewhere.

      But there is evidence in the world – for every religion. There is historical evidence (debatable of course) that Jesus was real. Miracles across religions come into play, and bring up the question of being faked. Some Catholic ones though have so many witnesses they seem true beyond a doubt – but then perhaps other religions do as well. Philosophers and theologians fill in the rest. And then whatever God is will theoretically call you in your heart towards the truth.

      Human psychology: yeah it’s kinda messed up when it comes to religion. I had a super intense spiritual experience when I was 15. Catholic youth conference, adoration. Thousands of teenagers, most crying for the full two or three hour event, a couple screamed when the Eucharist went by them, others fainting. It caused me to believe without a doubt for perhaps the only time in my life for several weeks. But then, as they always do, the emotions faded. I recognized them eventually as a sort of mob mentality. They were purely human, not spiritual.

      I have distrusted emotions every since in the religious context, which is a large part of why I’m doing this. If I am to believe in the Catholic God, I want to believe in him, if not proven, with the knowledge that I have looked into every option. There will be a lot pushing me towards Catholicism: my family, my friends, the beauty of its history and tradition, and the memory of joyful moments in front of the tabernacle.

      Balancing emotions with truth when the world all calls me towards one thing, yet remaining in the knowledge that God would call me through human emotions makes it a difficult balance.

      Bias: it’s inevitable. It’s human. I will try to recognize bias, but I cannot eliminate it.

      I am trying to get a more thorough understanding of belief vs. unbelief, since you were not the first to bring it up. I suppose that when I went into this, I wanted to find evidence to directly not believe in God. For one thing, I believe in belief. That cheesy saying, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for everything,” comes into play here. I have found joy in believing, and only evidence that there was no God would convince me to not actively believe in something.

      Unbelief as a philosophy on its own, rather than passively not seeking (the latter I can understand as it is the path of many, including me for the last two years) seems cynical and useless from my perspective.

      There’s still a lot to learn but thank you for giving your perspective on the matter.

      I’m sorry, I write a lot. It’s a problem.

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      1. “There is historical evidence (debatable of course) that Jesus was real.” That is not true. And it is not “debatable”. What we have are stories about Jesus that historians report that the Christians believed, not that the stories are true. We also have no evidence for Moses, no evidence for Noah, no evidence for David, or any one else essential to the bible. The same holds for all of the supposed divine events.

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  4. Atheism it content-free. It makes no positive claims. It is simply the rejection of the god beliefs [and the arguments attached] held by theists.

    Every argument for theism (teleological, cosmological, etc) fails, which is persuasive enough, but I’ve always found the fact that no god has been envisaged by two cultures separated by time and geography to be compelling. If any given mythology were even remotely true (a claim made by all) then that cult, its deities, its rituals, behavioural codes and canons would have emerged independently at least twice on the planet. Its truth would in fact be demonstrable in this supernatural event.

    I also find the fact that Jesus (nor any sage, to be honest) said anything new, original, or even vaguely useful to also be persuasive.

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    1. Hi John! Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I do agree that no two cultures getting the same idea is compelling and it makes me wonder why God would not reveal it to others? My explanation is two things

      1. He will not punish those who can’t encounter Him because that’s just crazy. Now, that’s just a theory and hardly evidence.
      2. If two cultures believed the same things independently, I would consider that nearly undeniable proof of that religion. For whatever reason, God, as He may be, has chosen not to prove himself to us. In another comment I compared my idea for why to the Good Place. He will reward those who seek Him with love in their hearts, but it is on us to seek Him.

      As for Jesus… define new. He wasn’t trying to be useful, in the way the term is normally used. He was being a religious leader. Much of what he said referred to the prophets of old, which would be fitting since Christianity is an extension of Judaism. I don’t know, I suppose I didn’t look to Jesus for exciting revelations. He was a human, and a humble one. Though they called him rabbi and teacher, he was brought to Earth that we may witness goodness and so he could die for us. While I am confident he could hold up in a debate (hey, 12 year old Jesus left his parents and went and taught old Jewish religious leaders in the temple), that wasn’t what the bible was for. He brought goodness and love and mercy. Any theological arguments were brought to his disciples, and they passed it down to what we have.

      Also, Jesus said some weird stuff bro.

      Anyway, I imagine we’re both stubborn in our beliefs, but I am striving to be open-minded.

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      1. For whatever reason, God, as He may be, has chosen not to prove himself to us.

        Well, that sort of negates the whole “revealed” religion thing. And why wouldn’t this god reveal itself to everyone?

        As for Jesus… define new.

        New = new/original. Something not said or done before.

        Can you name a single thing Jesus said or did which was truly original and/or marginally useful?

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      2. Ok, so Imma look a bit dumb but I was wrong.

        From the Catechism of the Catholic church: “Our holy mother, the Church, holds and teaches that God, the first principle and last end of all things, can be known with certainty from the created world by the natural light of human reason.”11 Without this capacity, man would not be able to welcome God’s revelation. Man has this capacity because he is created “in the image of God”.12

        Now, as to why God makes it so difficult to reason? I don’t know. I know, I hate that argument too and I’m sure you get especially frustrated by Christians stating “we can’t understand God’s ways; we just need to trust.”

        Theories though?

        God reveals himself only to those who seek him with an open mind.
        Even those to whom God has revealed himself can still turn their backs on him (David, Solomon, Adam and Eve, Lucifer himself) and to have it proven but still turn your back will make the punishment all the worse than from one who is holy without definitive proof
        The motivation is impure if we do not seek from our own hearts.
        He is always showing himself but we are too hard-hearted to see it (this one is definitely true if the Catholic God is true)

        I don’t know what you mean by useful. Useful to my soul?’

        This is my body and this is my blood which will be given up for you.

        I would say that statement is new. Weird even. And you would not consider it useful, but I believe it gave us the Eucharist.

        Or this: If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven.

        Perhaps old news now in a time where socialism is much more common. But to them, the concept of lowering the rich to the level of the poor? Not only that, but he who claimed to be their long awaited savior to appear in the most humble of forms?

        And new: Jesus was a revolutionary in his time. Not now certainly. But he welcomed the prostitutes, the poor, the tax collectors that others shunned. I wish I knew more about the historical basis to tell you more, but we must not measure him by our time.

        Anyway, regardless of your opinion on whether these are new or useful, I do not view originality as the basis for holiness, even among God himself. For could they not be original for he has first cast those ideas on Earth throughout time?

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      3. can be known with certainty from the created world

        Ah, teleology. If you actually look at 13.8 billion years of evolutionary history, and want to put a motive/mind behind it, then it does not arrive at a loving god. In fact, the teleological argument is absolutely ruinous for believers in a benevolent god. Explain evolution. It is a messy, slow, painful, error-rich process. 80% of all mutations are harmful to an organism’s fitness. Does that speak to competent guidance, or randomness?

        And if we look at earth’s long history, how does your worldview explain the eleven great extinction events? For example, did Yhwh realise 2 billion years ago that he got the atmosphere wrong, and so caused the Great Oxygen Catastrophe that killed off virtually all life on earth, but did then create the conditions for multicellular life to bloom?

        Was Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event 66 million years ago Yhwh’s work?

        So, do you wish to argue all the mistakes (the abhorrent genetic mutations, lethal mutagenesis, bottlenecks, adverse genetic drift, environmental shifts, bolide impacts, mass extinctions, etc.) are all intended by Yhwh?

        This is my body and this is my blood which will be given up for you.
        I would say that statement is new.

        A blood sacrifice is anything but new. Jesus offering himself is a claim of a sacrificial atonement. It is also far, far, far from being anything even vaguely original. The concept is found in almost all religions, not least of all Judaism. In Leviticus (4:35,5:10) we have:

        “The priest shall then offer the other as a burnt offering in the prescribed way and make atonement for them for the sin they have committed, and they will be forgiven.”

        What is sacrificed (a blood sacrifice) doesn’t matter. One may simply interchange animal for human, the idea is exactly the same. What matters is a perceived debt is being paid with the life of another.

        So, was Jesus original here? By no means whatsoever. The concept was in his own religion: Judaism.

        But like I said, this is anything but new. In the Avesta the primordial man who represents humanity, Gayō, is sacrificed for all of creation, and in the Ṛgveda, Puruṣa-sūkta (the cosmic Man) is sacrificed for all (RV10.90.15cd).

        Interestingly, in Luke 7:48 there is in fact a contradictory passage where Jesus demonstrates he can erase sin without being killed. ”Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven””… so even this opinion of sacrificial atonement is flawed.

        If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven.

        500 years before Jesus, Buddha said:

        “The avaricious do not go to heaven, the foolish to not extol charity. The wise one, however, rejoicing in charity, becomes thereby happy in the beyond.” (Dhammapada 13.11)

        “Let us live most happily, possessing nothing; let us feed on joy, like radiant gods.” (Dhammapada 15.4)

        Mahavira (Jainism) taught the total renunciation of worldly affairs and possessions.

        Jesus was a revolutionary in his time.

        Hardly. He changed nothing, challenged nothing, offered no new way. He was born a Jew, lived a Jew, and died a Jew. He didn’t condemn slavery. He didn’t even correct the fantastically erroneous cosmogony of Judaism.

        So, no, you haven’t named anything new or original, or even vaguely useful Jesus said or did.

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  5. “feel free to recommend any resources arguing against the existence of God” it’s hard to proof the existence of something that isn’t there. It would be like me asking you as a catholic to prove to me that the existence of the Hindu god Shiva. I assume you see your god as “the one true god”?

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    1. Hey Dave, I’m not confident, but I think you might have misinterpreted that quote, because the analogy you gave seems the opposite of what I asked. I am asking atheists for anything that they believe convincing in why they believe what they believe. It’s the mission I’m trying to accomplish: a thorough understanding of different perspectives, as they would have me view it.

      You are stating that I would be proving the existence of the Hindu god Shiva, when based off what I said it would make more sense for me to provide evidence (no God can be completely proven or not proven without a doubt; it’s why religion is still such an issue thousands of years later) that Shiva did not exist.

      Now, I don’t know enough about Hinduism at the moment to lay any claims about their Gods. That’s the point of this blog. However, I could give you arguments for why I believe you should follow the Catholic church. In my mind, every believer or unbeliever, at least any active one who came to that path rather than remaining on the one set by their parents, should have a reason for that belief system.

      If I converted to Hinduism tomorrow, I would also be able to tell you why. Maybe it’s just a spiritual experience and Shiva will appear in my living room in five minutes, or maybe all their theology lines up and it all makes sense and I knew I had to convert. I expect that atheists who chose that path should be able to explain at least a bit why.

      Don’t worry, I’m not asking anything of you. Just anyone who wants to share can feel free to. I expect when I investigate religions, people may be a bit more vocal. There’s a lot more riding on belief than lack thereof.

      But yes, I do see my God as the one true God.

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  6. Interesting blog, thank you. I’m an ex-Christian, now atheist.
    “My Understanding of the beliefs in Atheism
    • There is no God or Godlike being in the universe” (it should be plural – there are no gods. Just as most religious people dismiss all other gods, but the one they believe)
    • “The world and all life came to be naturally through purely scientific means” (atheism, by definition is the lack of beliefs in gods. Not all atheists concern themselves with abiogenesis, cosmological evolution, organic evolution, thermodynamics, and natural selection).
    • “There is no concrete meaning to life. Any meaning is taken by the individual.” (True, but most atheists think about the greater good.)
    • “There is no afterlife. Upon death, the essence of the human (what I call the soul) ceases to exist.” (My view is that as my body dies, and my body breakdown from composition, the nutrients will leach out into the soil around me and bring new life)

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    1. Hi Dave!

      Thanks for the input!

      I knew writing those things someone would have issue with them and so I won’t change that. This was about my previous biases, for the sake of candor. It’s great to hear from an actual atheist giving his viewpoint about the matter.

      For the second point, just because atheists don’t necessarily worry about the scientific aspects, does it follow that they don’t believe it? I suppose scientific was supposed to be opposed to spiritual – which is ironic since I’m a very pro-science Christian (most Catholics I know are; I can’t speak for protestants, but we made the Big Bang Theory, a lot of us support evolution, so many other examples). I am bad at it though.

      Third point, that’s what I figured and probably the best way to go about it. My issue would be learning to accept my brain as purely chemicals, neurotransmitters. I can care about others, but I fear I would not be able to care about myself. But then, there’s the individual, this time, me.

      Fourth point: Do you consider your body the essence of you? I suppose it makes sense, for if I didn’t believe I had a soul, then the physical body and brain would be me. I was raised to view the body as a temple to be respected upon death, but still a shell when it comes down to it that cannot truly represent the individual. Another question: With the new life, do you think you’ll be able to live again in a different sense? How does this affect your fear of death, if you have any?

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      1. I haven’t taken issue. Hard to convey tone in written communications, but honestly, I am not upset in any way (takes a lot to offend me)! 🙂

        What I have learnt over the years, is that it is much harder to care for others, if you don’t have self-care. That isn’t about being selfish, but looking after oneself is just as important as looking after others. I use the birth of my child as a classic example. I was a little older before I committed to having a child. I made a conscious decision to improve my own health and wellbeing so that I could be there wholly for my child. I gave up smoking before conception! (probably a bit too much detail – sorry). I work in the field of mental health, and again, I have to make sure my own mental wellbeing is in tip-top condition so that I can help others.

        I have no fear of death, but equally, I want to live, see the world, see my children grow up, see the advancements of humans, enjoy new food, care for others, care for the environment, see cooperation between cultures/religions/gender, etc. I know I am still an idealist, and a lot of the above will not happen in my lifetime, and not in my children’s lifetime, but can we not at least strive for a better world? When I die, my life will live on in the memories of others for a generation or two, and my genes will live on beyond that (assuming my children have children, and so forth).

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      2. That’s funny, I didn’t mean take issue in an offend way, more in a, recognizing the flaws in my thinking way.

        Anyway, as for self care, I didn’t mean the physical act of taking care of yourself. More the act of caring about yourself, if that makes sense. While I would take care of others out of goodness, if I believed myself to be nothing but bones and flesh that would pass away with nothing but memories remaining, I would really struggle with that. This lady explained what I mean pretty well:

        http://whyimcatholic.com/index.php/conversion-stories/atheist-converts/103-atheist-convert-jennifer-fulwiler

        I already struggle with depression, but I’ve never been suicidal. If I truly believed I had no soul or meaning beyond the corporal world, I would struggle to find any meaning and I think that would shift me down a notch to suicidal.

        Is this a question or truth or my mental health? The latter. And I’m working on where that fits, but in the meantime I’ll do what I can. I know some may find it silly to believe in God for that reason (not only that, mind you) but it’s a hopeful thought, and I don’t know how it’s silly to believe in hope.

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      3. Depression is freakin horrible. Thankfully I’m mentally and physically well now. But I’ve struggled anxiety, panic attacks and depression in the past. Similar to what I said before, I realised that I needed to be at my optimum to help others. I knew I had to work on my thoughts, feelings and behaviours to overcome my poor mental health so that I could help others. That’s why I’m in praise of cognitive behavioural therapy. It gives me hope.

        I hope you find your solution to depression, be it religion, therapy, meds, etc.

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  7. You will find many exceptions, but a better way to describe and understand Atheists, is not that they are trying to prove that they are correct, but that every description, definition, and claim for the existence of God, is incorrect, and lacking in convincing arguments. 😯

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    1. I can understand believing that! I have no issue with atheists, as I said. Internet atheists can be foul though, just as any groups look their worst on the internet with no inhibitions. That doesn’t represent you guys as a whole. There are some who do try to convince others out of religion, and those are often those who either treat us, the religious, as children who believe in fairy tales, or blame all the evils in the world on religion. Mild exaggeration. But it is hard for me to remain calm and charitable with anyone who demeans me, or the thing I believe should be held most dear in the world.

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    1. Hi Jim!

      Thanks for the input! I actually am not trying to “journey out.” My tagline is a bit clickbaity, I admit and could lead to that misperception. I actually believe religion can do a lot of good for the world and has brought me a lot of joy at some points in my life.

      My issue is that I want to find truth. Regardless of what it is, I don’t want to follow Catholicism if someone else is right. So this blog is basically a way for me to stay mentally organized and engaged as I research various religions,

      For me, the journey out was easy. I did it, two years ago. But that journey was passive, first not attending mass, then just not believing because it was easy. I want to believe whatever I believe with conviction that I have used the human intellect that I currently believe God has gifted me. I want to know that whatever I believe is based on facts, not emotions. I believe that God wants me to actively pursue truth, and prefers me to pursue truth wherever it leads me, as long as I still seek and love with all my heart. It is better to actively pursue the truth with a loving heart and be led astray than to follow what could be the actual truth but only follow it half-heartedly, with no true belief.

      But legit? I’m not just a Catholic in name. I believe it and I have chosen to believe it at this point in my life. For now it brings me some joy that the secular world never satisfied me with as of yet.

      You say that you left on your own journey. How did you make that decision an active one?

      I’ll be sure to look at your blog in the morning! For now I’m mentally dead.

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    1. Hi Kiabooks!

      Yeah, the point is to show how biased I am. I’m glad those biases are getting put in their place. It’s all about education.

      I think I get what you’re saying, but am struggling to discern the difference between agnosticism and atheism in this context.

      In my mind, agnosticism is passive: I cannot prove that God is real, so I do not actively believe in him.

      Whereas atheism is active: God does not exist.

      Now of course, anyone is whatever religion they identify as being. But in your mind is agnosticism solidly in the middle of belief and unbelief, or is someone still searching for what they believe?

      Do you believe all or most atheists agree with what you posted?

      Sorry, I have a lot of questions for all the commenters. Different worlds and all those fun things.

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      1. Hi, “A Catholic Girl”. I’ve been an atheist for about 35 years now, and I hope I can be of help. The basic definitions I use are that a theist has a belief in a god (or gods) and an atheist lacks such a belief. Nobody can “prove” that there aren’t any gods, and one reason is that the word “god” is so mushy and badly defined. As soon as you start to talk about whether one person’s definition of “god” is true, someone else will chime in with “Well, that’s not the god I believe in!” So the goalposts keep moving. Some people will say “Well, my god is the universe” and the universe certainly exists. So before we can really dig in to whether a god exists, we really need to define the specific god we are talking about, and then not change that definition mid-discussion.

        Another thing I try to avoid is the idea that you need to “prove it” either way. Proof is for mathematics. For our normal lives, we usually look at probabilities and confidence levels. What is my confidence level that my car will start? Very high, but not 100%. What is my confidence level that some sort of god exists? Pretty low. What is my confidence level that any particular god that humans believe in exists? Much much lower.

        As for the difference between agnosticism and atheism, those are not mutually exclusive. A/gnosticism is about knowledge, and a/theism is about belief. I have a graphic that may make this more clear.

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      2. This was actually really helpful, thank you! You have a very clear way of looking at things beyond your personal belief system and recognizing miscommunications.

        In my mind, based on the knowledge aspect nearly everyone should be agnostic then unless they have had a personal miraculous experience without any doubt (a small subset of humans, but many Catholic saints would fit into that category). I was only ever taught that a theist believes in God, an atheist believes there is no God, and an agnostic hasn’t figured it out yet. Which is part of the issue with religion as a whole I suppose: while I had an extremely thorough education in Catholic theology compared to my peers, learning about other religions or beliefs (or lack thereof) was not a priority or a consideration.

        As for proofs, I totally agree with everything you said. However, I do believe evidence can point one way or the other and we need to be open-minded enough to seek it.

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      3. We definitely need to look at which way the evidence points. And we need to be able to adjust our confidence in what’s probably true as we find new evidence.

        However, church teaching often gets very confused about what evidence is, or how we should approach it. Apologists are often confusing arguments with evidence, I hear them doing this all the time. I also hear religious people offering ancient books as evidence, but they are actually part of the claim, not the evidence in favor of the claim.

        And we need to make sure that the evidence we are using is of sufficient amount and strength to support the type of claim being made. The old saying is that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”. For instance, if I told you I had a cat, that’s an ordinary claim, and you are probably OK to just take my word for it. If I told you my cat was pink, that’s weird but possible, but you should be more dubious, and maybe ask to see some pictures before you believe me. But if I told you my cat speaks fluent Spanish and can fly by flapping his paws, that’s really extraordinary, and you should not believe it until you have met my cat and seen for yourself.

        Most religious claims are on the order of my hypothetical flying, Spanish-speaking cat, really extraordinary. The claims you have grown up with probably don’t seem that way to you because you are used to them, but if you look at the claims of other religions, you will probably see that a lot of them are of the extraordinary kind, and that their supporting evidence just doesn’t suffice for you to believe them.

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      4. I understand that looking at the claims of other religions they may seem absurd. So I will be looking into miracles and the evidence for them from different perspectives.

        But how extraordinary must the evidence be before to not believe shows cynicism? If a thousand people, some who I trusted and loved claimed to have seen your Spanish-speaking cat and could attest to its wonders, would I not be a fool to not believe somewhat, even if my mind still itched with doubt merely because I have never seen something so extraordinary and my mind cannot comprehend until I see it?

        I don’t need to witness a miracle to necessarily believe it if evidence points towards it.

        The Miracle of the Suns in Fatima, where thousands saw it. And yes, the effect can be gained from staring at the sun. But why would 1000 people stare at it?

        Eucharistic miracles, where witnesses attest to seeing the host bleed and scientific tests showed it to be the flesh of a man. Could it be faked? Theoretically. But do you genuinely believe we are shitty people who would want to fake it? If I faked a miracle, I would then question my own faith. And not only would someone be betraying their own faith, but a scientist would also sacrifice his integrity.

        Or Padre Pio, who I have spoken to people who’s grandparents spoke with him, and he was able to prophesy what they came for.

        And then there are those which come to my heart, but would never convince someone else to convert for they are so small miracles that they could easily be coincidences.

        When I found myself weakened on a backpacking trip when I was younger, the long hill seeming overwhelming to a 12 year old me. I prayed to God for strength. Within minutes, I found myself not wanting to wait for my parents on breaks. I went ahead, and barely fatigued to a great degree until after we reached the top of the hill.

        Or last week, when I asked for prayers to not chicken out when I went to reconciliation. When I walked up, a priest was walking out of the confessional, and I ended up in his office, face to face, without any opportunity to pray and fear beforehand. I normally stay behind the kneeler in fear but God did not allow it of me. This was the only time I have prayed for that and the only time I have been thrust into confession.

        Or the hundreds of churches and some houses that have burned down, leaving nothing but a statue of Mary or a crucifix unmarred.

        Or how since I went back to reconciliation, I no longer feel overwhelming loneliness or sadness all the time. Could it be my antidepressants kicking in or the first snow day of the season? Maybe, but God works through cooincidences and science.

        Now, I need to look into other religions for their miracles, for theirs may have as much evidence as ours and invalidate ours.

        I seek evidence before I believe without a doubt if I can. But just because we have not seen with our eyes, does not mean we should remain stubborn when all evidence points to truth.

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