QANTASforever
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Why Are You An Atheist? (Be Civil)

Wed Mar 02, 2005 3:16 pm

Over the years I have reached out to a number of religions and have been completely unmoved by any of then. My parents have different religions, my father was Lutheran and my mother is a Lamaistic Buddhist. My wife is a Roman Catholic and insisted on our children being christened as catholics also.

I have come to the realisation that I do not need a religion. I will respect other's rights to believe in any religion they wish, but I don't think I could ever believe in a high power, a god, or a messiah. After reading a bit of history about religions and how their modern practices came about I am even less inclined to devote myself to a religion.

Basically - how did you come to the conclusion that you were an Athiest?

This thread is in no way meant to degrade those who choose to believe in a religion!!
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yukimizake
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RE: Why Are You An Atheist? (Be Civil)

Wed Mar 02, 2005 3:19 pm

Quoting QANTASforever (reply 0):
Basically - how did you come to the conclusion that you were an Athiest?


Common Sense 101.
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ClassicLover
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RE: Why Are You An Atheist? (Be Civil)

Wed Mar 02, 2005 3:22 pm

Easy... Christian Youth Group killed it for me. Hypocritical, hypocritical, hypocritical... and when I asked what I thought was a legitimate question about that book, the answer was a blabbering of speech that didn't answer the question. Also, when I got the "if you don't go to Church, you're not a real Christian" speech, I decided that the whole thing was bullshit and moved on.

Each to their own though, I have no disrespect for those who are big on the church or whatever.

Trent.
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QANTASforever
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RE: Why Are You An Atheist? (Be Civil)

Wed Mar 02, 2005 3:25 pm

I can understand that ClassicLover.

I was once told that the Aboriginal serpent that appeared on the Harbour Bridge one new years was a symbol of "the evil nature of the Aboriginal religion" ..... by a minister.

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nosedive
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RE: Why Are You An Atheist? (Be Civil)

Wed Mar 02, 2005 3:33 pm

Quoting ClassicLover (reply 2):
Easy... Christian Youth Group killed it for me. Hypocritical, hypocritical, hypocritical... and when I asked what I thought was a legitimate question about that book, the answer was a blabbering of speech that didn't answer the question. Also, when I got the "if you don't go to Church, you're not a real Christian" speech, I decided that the whole thing was bullshit and moved on.


Well no need to say the same thing twice, but the fact there may be a God who allows so many to die in senseless acts scares me as much as thinking it's all random...
 
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RE: Why Are You An Atheist? (Be Civil)

Wed Mar 02, 2005 3:44 pm

I don't visit church very often, probably once a year at Christmas as that's something my family has always done. I'm christened as an Anglican, but there is just so much conflict, in terms of what is religiously right or wrong and what is right from one religion to another.

Sometimes I wonder if a lot of the trouble in the world is based upon religion and religions not respecting the rights of other religions and forcing their beliefs upon other.
 
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RE: Why Are You An Atheist? (Be Civil)

Wed Mar 02, 2005 4:31 pm

In 1992, when I was 6 years old, my 11 year old brother (and only sibling) died suddenly from a previously undetected heart condition. This is the event that led me down the path that makes me who I am today, in more ways than just religion, but I'll stick to just the religion aspect, since this event also set my "change" in motion.

At the time my brother passed away, my family belonged to a conservative Jewish temple, and for the next several years I attended temple and went to Hebrew school like a good Jewish boy, not really mature enough at the time to develop the thoughts that later came to my mind.

When I was about 9 or 10, my parents decided to drop membership at the conservative temple (which was located within walking distance of our house), and switch to a reform temple that was a good 15-20 minute drive away. from the conservative However, by the time I was about 12 or so, and starting preparations for my bar mitzvah, I had started to have my doubts about religion and God, mainly dealing with the question in my mind of "If this supposed 'God' is someone I am praying to/giving my respect to, why did he turn my life upside down by taking away my brother?" Additionally, I thought about all the time I had spent at temple in my religious studies and attending services, and I realized, what exactly was I supposed to get out of all of this? The emotional wounds of my brother's death weren't being healed by prayer, and mentally, I wasn't feeling profoundly changed because of my Jewish faith. I didn't tell anyone about my thoughts at first, because I have always been an independently-minded person, as well as a somewhat private person, but I knew that that would have to change.

About 6 months before my bar mitzvah, I finally got up the nerve to tell my parents what I was thinking. I also told them that I didn't feel comfortable getting bar mitzvahd in something I didn't believe in. The response I got was: "Well, OK, you don't have to get confirmed or anything, but please get bar mitzvahd, if not for yourself, then for your grandparents" (My maternal grandparents are the most religious people in my family, my mom was actually raised in an Orthodox Jewish household, but later in life, before I was born, my grandparents switched over to conservative practice because it no longer became practical for them to practice orthodox judaism...)

The result of that discussion was final: I was going to be bar mitzvahd, whether I liked it or not, but I didn't have to do anything afterwards, religious-wise. That was the one concession I was able to get out of my folks, was that they weren't going to make me go to Hebrew High School and get confirmed... I was still unhappy with the end result of that talk, but felt I had no choice. I was in no position to argue, and there wasn't much else I could do in it. Clearly my parents weren't taking me terribly seriously, which was nothing new (I was a bit of a dreamer when I was younger), but this time I really was serious about it.

Alas, when push came to shove, I had my bar mitzvah a few days after my 13th birthday, and have still had a bad conscience about it ever since. Amazingly, my parents still did not respect my beliefs, for when it came time for the High Holy Days later that year, as usual, my grandparents came into town to go to services with us. Before they came, I had another argument with my parents about this, the end result being "your going, whether you like it or not"...I was angry, but again in no position to object, and I went, of course not speaking any prayers or doing any required movements.

As I developed into my teen years, my thoughts carried on a step farther. I thought to myself "I am already convinced that God does not exist, otherwise my brother should be alive and kicking today, so if God doesn't exist, then what explains how the world runs and who/what controls things?"
I found the answer to this to be fairly simple: Science.

My belief today is that science explains the things that "God" was supposed to be responsible for in the world; how the universe was created, how people came to be, why my brother died, etc. While we may not have uncovered the science behind all these questions, I have no doubt that sometime in the future, as science evolves farther and farther, the unanswered questions will be answered. Do I expect this to happen within my lifetime? No, though it would be nice, but I believe it will happen sometime in the future.

After my bar mitzvah and the high holy days affair, I brought up the subject of my atheist switch constantly with my parents, as I wanted them to really understand and respect my feelings. At that time around the age of 14 or so, my relations with my folks were pretty tense for a variety of reasons which are irrelevant to the rest of this, so nagging them about this, which was something I felt (and do feel) very strongly about, might not have been the best thing, but after a few months of nagging, I got them to agree with me, however I was censored from telling any other relatives about this, for fear of crushing my grandparents' hearts.

The rest of my teen years passed fairly uneventfully, except for the interesting note that when I was about 16 or 17, my parents dropped their membership from the reform temple, and did not join any other temple, which I found highly interesting, and makes me wonder if my parents are having some sort of religious doubt as well, but in the interests of keeping the peace with my decision to go atheist, I haven't yet brought this up with my folks, even 3 years later (its still a touchy topic when I have a question for them related to this).

So here I sit today, almost 20 years old, and a happy and content atheist. I have no regrets about my decision, but I do foresee some problems in the future when I do get engaged, whenever that may be, as that will be when my family will find out about this, and I have a feeling that might not be pretty, but I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.




Quoting ClassicLover (reply 2):

Each to their own though, I have no disrespect for those who are big on the church or whatever.


Ditto...In real life, I keep my atheist beliefs largely to myself (like I said in an earlier thread, I don't go around wearing a shirt saying "I'm an atheist; let's debate about the existence of God"), and I have no problems with others being religious, its not an issue in my daily life at all.

Sorry for dragging this out so long, I can't seem to sum stuff up quickly (like I intended)...

Greg

[Edited 2005-03-02 08:50:44]
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UTA_flyinghigh
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RE: Why Are You An Atheist? (Be Civil)

Wed Mar 02, 2005 4:43 pm

I respect religious people (as long as these do not attempt to convert me) but I will need to see tangible scientific proof of a deity before I believe in such things.

Up to now, it has rather been the opposite.

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RE: Why Are You An Atheist? (Be Civil)

Wed Mar 02, 2005 4:47 pm

as I said in the Pope Gay thread....

" I do reject the Bible and what it represents, so naturally I don't give creedance to a God or the doctrine contained within. I've stood on both sides of the religion debate, and decided that it has no place in my life, beyond being a necessary stage in my development which I have since progressed from. I like to be able to think without the constrants of having to conform to an ideal. For me the best way to do that is clear the board of any pre-existing barriers like Religion. I can never reach true objectivity, but I can try and reach a level where no one set of doctrine controls the direction I must think."

I also believe that the creation of the universe and the subsequent trial & error in creating life on Earth indicates that God paid no part in it. If he had played a part in it, it would negate everything in the Bible anyway. It is inconsistencies like that which indicates that God is a solely manmade invention that was made up to explain our existence when we didn't know the answers, or the questions
to ask to get the answers. I do think that a Jesus type character existed, but that he was nothing more than someone who knew how to manipulate people to do his bidding. A charismatic leader that was made to look better and more truthful by being Crucified. Martyrs always become famous. It seems silly, but the Life of Brian to me in some way explains how Humans have made him into the 'Son of God'.
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QANTASforever
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RE: Why Are You An Atheist? (Be Civil)

Wed Mar 02, 2005 5:39 pm

USAFHummer -


I want to thank you for sharing that very personal story with us all.
It is very thought provoking and I'm sure many people here have come to a similar realisation as a result of some tragic events.

Also, I'm very sorry to hear about your younger brother - though I'm certain he is not and never will be forgotten.

Quoting USAFHummer (reply 6):
I have no regrets about my decision, but I do foresee some problems in the future when I do get engaged, whenever that may be, as that will be when my family will find out about this, and I have a feeling that might not be pretty, but I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.


This was a source of concern for me as both my parents were very religious as is my wife. In the end because my religious beliefs were non-existent and my wife's were so strong, I agreed to participate in a catholic wedding ceremony and a civil service as my wife's national traditions dictate.

But you're right, you will have to just work things out when they come. But you'll find a way - and if your family truly love you they will participate in your life and it's important moments such as marriage etc.

QFF
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solnabo
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RE: Why Are You An Atheist? (Be Civil)

Wed Mar 02, 2005 6:01 pm

To make it short......I dont belive in fairytales that was written 2000 years ago!

Period!!

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ly7e7
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RE: Why Are You An Atheist? (Be Civil)

Wed Mar 02, 2005 6:22 pm

Common sense and getting to learn the fundamentals of the development of the major religions.
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aerorobnz
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RE: Why Are You An Atheist? (Be Civil)

Wed Mar 02, 2005 6:34 pm

Quoting LY7E7 (reply 11):
Common sense and getting to learn the fundamentals of the development of the major religions


Yep, learning all about religion development seems to have been an important step for most of us...
Flown to 120 Airports in 44 Countries on 73 Operators. Visited 55 Countries and counting. Wanderlust is like Syphilis, once you have the itch it's too late for treatment.
 
QANTASforever
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RE: Why Are You An Atheist? (Be Civil)

Wed Mar 02, 2005 7:37 pm

Perhaps it's just that we refuse to believe that the Grand Canyon was formed by the flood in Noah's Arc.

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RE: Why Are You An Atheist? (Be Civil)

Wed Mar 02, 2005 7:49 pm

I have friends who are Atheist & We get along just fine.I always believed in something controlling Everything,& my experiences have convinced me of it.
But there are a few Friends who dont.
Guess we keep Religion out of our Topics & things work just fine  Big thumbs up
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BN747
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RE: Why Are You An Atheist? (Be Civil)

Wed Mar 02, 2005 8:42 pm

Good post Aerorobnz!

Brought up within a religious household and grew up reading most of the bible... the cracks began to develop with the association of people of different faiths followed by,

...serious debates with believers and nons..

..applying a little common sense (the Inquisition to WWII to the recent Tsunami)...

...finally, long after school, a revisiting of history and everything I was taught. revealed that the history was bogus and whitewashed and so was religion. If 'approved' authors were allowed to shape our minds about our society/nation and the world. Why not religious authors... and when the fingerprints of man began to appear all over the 'god-inspired' bible... it becomes apparently clear that the 'god-inspired' part came long after the damage/flawed (text) was written.

And even today, religion (makers) attempt to morph and merge religion with science in a bogus attempt to give it (religion) a new lease on life. It is, what it is... the bible cast it's die a long time ago... it's too late to attempt to change it's flavor accordingly to each new emerging and changing generation.

Examine the history of man and his use/abuse of power and the same blueprint will flawlessly match the characteristics of bible. The only difference is mans' very unique and distinct track record (or snail trail) starts way before the Bible authors could pen the 1st page...after all... they had to get their ideas from somewhere...!

I don't push my beliefs on anyone and I respect the same. But if someone opens their mouth about religion around me... they'll wish to 'god' or wish like hell that they did not.

BN747
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787
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RE: Why Are You An Atheist? (Be Civil)

Wed Mar 02, 2005 8:51 pm

"To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible." -- Thomas Aquinas

I just love that quote. I just love it!
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levent
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RE: Why Are You An Atheist? (Be Civil)

Wed Mar 02, 2005 8:54 pm

In my opinion:

- religion leads to war
- religion excuses people from their responsibilities

Two important reasons not te be religious myself
 
TACAA320
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RE: Why Are You An Atheist? (Be Civil)

Wed Mar 02, 2005 9:03 pm

Quoting Levent (reply 17):
Two important reasons not te[sic] be religious myself


I believe in one God and I'm religious also but, to be "religious" and be an "atheist" are two different things.

[Edited 2005-03-02 13:16:56]
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QANTASforever
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RE: Why Are You An Atheist? (Be Civil)

Wed Mar 02, 2005 9:25 pm

Quoting 787 (reply 16):
"To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible." -- Thomas Aquinas

I just love that quote. I just love it!


Atheists aren't after an explanation, we are after proof. Of course to the converted one need not provide such proof.

Quoting TACAA320 (reply 18):
I believe in one God and I'm religious also but, to be "religious" and be an "atheist" are two different things.


Quite. Although I'm not entirely sure of the point you are trying to make.

QFF
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oly720man
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RE: Why Are You An Atheist? (Be Civil)

Wed Mar 02, 2005 9:26 pm

Are we talking agnosticism or atheism?

Agnostic - don't know if there is a God
Atheist - actively believes there is no God.

I'd say I was an agnostic rather than atheist. I think we just don't know or understand enough. My feeling about religions is that there is just too much human intervention and interpretation in the pursuit of self interest. The basic message of all religions is pretty much the same, so why is there so much friction? People with their "better" God?

But, millions can't be wrong, can they, or are they brainwashed/indoctrinated mugs? Is belief a human condition? Is there a dog/cat/fish/flea heaven/god??
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RE: Why Are You An Atheist? (Be Civil)

Wed Mar 02, 2005 11:08 pm

I came to my beliefs after examining the basic premise of several religions and deciding that all were basically trying to explain the fundamental question of where we, as humans, came from, and what our place in the universe is. I also read Thomas Paine's Common Sense as a teenager. Rationalism and science - to me - offer a far more persuasive paradigm to seek an answer to that question.

My father is an agnostic, and my mother has this innate respect (I call it fear) of all religions, so I was never forced to adhere to any one religion. I did, however, attend Anglo-Catholic schools all my life, attend Mass virtually every morning, and was on at least one school choir. I was respectful of these institutions, but the religious fervor left me totally unmoved and unconvinced of their deeply helf beliefs.
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RE: Why Are You An Atheist? (Be Civil)

Thu Mar 03, 2005 12:03 am

Quoting Solnabo (reply 10):
To make it short......I dont believe in fairytales that was written 2000 years ago!


I could sit and write about my opinions for hours literally, but I think this statement hits the nail on the head!

Solnabo....welcome to my respected users list!
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FDXmech
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RE: Why Are You An Atheist? (Be Civil)

Thu Mar 03, 2005 12:09 am

- religion leads to war.

Was Hitler or Pol Pot religious?

- religion excuses people from their responsibilities

Like what?
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jasepl
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RE: Why Are You An Atheist? (Be Civil)

Thu Mar 03, 2005 12:14 am

Come to think of it, religion's never been enough of a factor in my life for me to even be an athiest.

I was brought up to "be good. Everything else will take care of itself." Seems to have worked just fine.
 
Mir
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RE: Why Are You An Atheist? (Be Civil)

Thu Mar 03, 2005 12:41 am

As far as organized religion goes, I do my best to stay out of it. When I'm with my family during the Jewish holidays, I'll take part in them, but it's more out of respect for that fact that they'd feel bad if I weren't there.

I generally believe in science, but the one question that lingers is how the whole universe got started (yes, I know there's the big bang theory, and I buy into it, but what exactly went bang?). And so I've kind of become a deist of sorts, who believes that there's some sort of being who carefully set up the universe in a sort of code (like physics laws and such), and then pressed the "run" button. Kind of like a computer program (yes, I know, very corny). That being has now left the switch, and we're on our own.

Also, it would seem so far that, considering how perfectly everything else in the universe works out, we are the bug in the code.

-Mir
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qr332
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RE: Why Are You An Atheist? (Be Civil)

Thu Mar 03, 2005 12:42 am

About religion and wars:
Thats bullshit. We are human: we will always have a natural aggressivness, and if its not for one issue, it is for another. If it is not fought for God, it is fought for land, food, supplies, etc. The "all conflicts are caused by religion" argument is IMO not a valid one, because if people do not fight about God, what stops them from fighting about any of the things above, or many more things?

Plus, many religions preach peace, including my own (Islam) and Christianity, so I don't believe it is the actual religion that preaches hate: it is the people in charge.
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RE: Why Are You An Atheist? (Be Civil)

Thu Mar 03, 2005 2:40 am

You know what I found in my study of world religions? At the surface they are vastly different, however, once you look into it, they are pretty much the same....just the names and the dates have been changed.

I cannot stand a religion that says that 80% of the world is wrong. That is why i have no set belief. Religion was a way to keep people in the past to explain sets of phenomena. Today religion has turned into telethons, rich "pastors", and word of mouth. Makes me sick.

XJR
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RE: Why Are You An Atheist? (Be Civil)

Thu Mar 03, 2005 2:44 am

Still how many dead because of religious issues???? Preaching is one thing, doing something for it is another one....

And think about these nice missionnaries that forced most of the South-American natives to give up on their beliefs and trust God/Jesus instead. Nice brain-washing.

Back to the topic:

- Common sense, I am more a science/engineer type of guy so there is a logical explanation for loads of stuff.

- Religion = fear, I remember from my catechism: "you must follow God's path or hell", "we are on Earth to suffer", blah blah blah.

- Religion = explanation for stuff happening in life that people do not master (loss of a loved one) and finding a shelter under religious beliefs to explain it or get over it.

- Religion should be decided by its own self, and not by your parents when you are a kid. Teaching to an 8 year old that some bearded guy walked on the water and turned water into wine 2000 years ago is not a good thing IMO.

- I am actually highly interested into religions in general, and I am eager to learn about them (I would like to read all of their sacred writings for instance), and I love to learn about their histories and why people need them.

- Anyway, I just don't need it, I respect others for having religious beliefs but I just don't want them to try to bring me into it. If Religion is teaching you tolerance, then why treating an atheist that don't bother you like an heretic?
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TACAA320
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RE: Why Are You An Atheist? (Be Civil)

Thu Mar 03, 2005 2:52 am

Quoting QANTASFOREVER (reply 19):
Quite. Although I'm not entirely sure of the point you are trying to make.



Just use your "common sense".
'Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind'. Albert Einstein
 
FDXmech
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RE: Why Are You An Atheist? (Be Civil)

Thu Mar 03, 2005 4:44 am

>>>Religion = fear, I remember from my catechism: "you must follow God's path or hell", "we are on Earth to suffer", blah blah blah.<<<

I know several European expats with much the same feeling. I think for the most part religion is or was much more institionalized in Europe with present afteraffects of a greater extreme negatavism towards the institution of religion.

In the US religious participation has waxed and waned over many generations. But because it wasn't historically intrinsic nor mandatory or quasi mandatory to participate, the same disdain doesn't exist here as over there. I could be very wrong in this assumption and am open to be straightened out.
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ConcordeBoy
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RE: Why Are You An Atheist? (Be Civil)

Thu Mar 03, 2005 6:03 am

Quoting QANTASFOREVER (reply 19):
Atheists aren't after an explanation, we are after proof.

Actually, what you just described is Agnosticism, not Atheism.
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gigneil
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RE: Why Are You An Atheist? (Be Civil)

Thu Mar 03, 2005 6:24 am

The same reason I no longer believe in the tooth fairy, or Santa Claus, or that the world is flat.

N
 
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RE: Why Are You An Atheist? (Be Civil)

Thu Mar 03, 2005 7:02 am

Think about it, if you are 'GOD', you know everything, can do anything. Would you present your message to a little cryptic book that is constantly misinterpreted and outdated over time, or would you use your supreme power to appear before everyone with a simple clear message that you exist. If your message, power is good enough, no one should be questioning your presence.

I choose to 'card' god, as I am carded when I go to a bar. I ask this omnipresent god to appear before me and say 'TJ, this is how it is...' Surely this would be no trouble at all for an all powerful god. This has yet to happen so once again I have no 'proof' of god's existance.

Also take a look outside. What do you see...hills, trees, water, oceans, mountains, things that are shaped through millions of years of rain, wind and tectonic plate movment. Life and our world around us is far too complex to sum up in a book. And far too complex to be created in '6 days'

Look at a mudskipper, there is your fish with legs evolutionary proof.

Life on other planets...sure. They(religous science) say that the odds are a million to one for a planet to have all the right elements to sustain life. This may be true, however, if you play the lotto every day for 15 million years, you are bound to win a few times.

Cheers
TJ
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RE: Why Are You An Atheist? (Be Civil)

Thu Mar 03, 2005 8:00 am

You were never stuck in a Hebrew school with teachers frothing at the mouth. If you were, you'd be atheist too.

They nearly made us write a letter to Sharon praising him about what he did in Gaza until me, my friends, and the only nice teacher walked right home. I got suspended for that.

But I had to get a bar mitzvah because otherwise my grandmother (dad's side) would be very very very mad. Very mad.

[Edited 2005-03-03 00:08:42]
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aerorobnz
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RE: Why Are You An Atheist? (Be Civil)

Thu Mar 03, 2005 8:05 am

That said, I am going to let my kids decide for themselves, I would be no better than organised religion if I enforced my atheism upon them - I will give them opportunity to explore both arguments and come to their own conclusions. I will however make sure they know that things in the bible are not literal they are metaphoric and should not be taken without a pinch of salt, just so they don't fall into the Evangelical Baptist trap.

Quoting Pilottj (reply 33):
Life on other planets...sure. They(religous science) say that the odds are a million to one for a planet to have all the right elements to sustain life. This may be true, however, if you play the lotto every day for 15 million years, you are bound to win a few times.


That sums life's development very well. Good analogy. To add to that, there are billions of stars, so therefore billions of solar systems, and therefore billions of planets that could potentially have life. Not necessarily Anthropomorphic Star Trek lifeforms but life at some level.

Back on Earth 65 million years (since the extinction of the dinosaurs) is around 23,741,250,000 billion days, so you can imagine the potential for development over the history of the Earth - 4.5 billion years, and all the mass extinctions in that time, Suddenly it shows our existence to be very dicey and pretty lucky that we have become our current form - Even if you were a betting man you wouldn't have bet on our odds of survival, yet there is realistically no other way we could have arrived.

If we assume that a generation is around 20 years averaged over 15 million years from complete Ape to Man is only 600,000 generations, and is likely to be a lot less than that. Now even if we accept only 1 change every 3rd generation that is still 200,000 changes between our common ancestors and us. Certainly more than enough changes to make us into what we are today. And that's without adding other variables too. Physiologically we aren't all that different, and well our social structure hasn't changed that much either. so think of the potential each change has had. It is this kind of thing that has convinced me that we are just another dominant species in the history of the world, as there have been dinosaurs, large mammals and trilobytes before us.
Once our extinction comes around there will be something else to take our place.
Flown to 120 Airports in 44 Countries on 73 Operators. Visited 55 Countries and counting. Wanderlust is like Syphilis, once you have the itch it's too late for treatment.
 
L.1011
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RE: Why Are You An Atheist? (Be Civil)

Thu Mar 03, 2005 10:31 am

Well, I'm not an Atheist, I'm a Deist. (see my thread Let's Talk Religion for more info) But what turned me away from organized religion (I was raised Roman Catholic) was simply the hypocracy. The lack of scientific support. Faith doesn't cut it.
 
texan
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RE: Why Are You An Atheist? (Be Civil)

Thu Mar 03, 2005 12:50 pm

One side of the family has a line of Southern Baptist preachers, the other side is Roman Catholic. Family reunions turned me off religion :P

Actually, it was Catholic school. Surprisingly enough, one of my theology teachers asked us to examine God in our lives, to question God, and to find out what we truly believed. I found out that I do not know if there is a God, no god, many gods, or if we are all mini-gods, but that I was not going to allow that to dictate my life. If there is a god, heavenly rewards will be based on deeds not words, to the chagrin on many of my "Sunday morning Christian" friends. That was yet another thing that turned me away from organized religion: everybody goes into church decked out to the nines in nice clothing, puts some money in the little basket, asks forgiveness for their sins, then they go out and do the same damn thing the next week.

I still read the Bible. The New Testament is still a great source of inspiration for morality, civil living, civil disobedience, and liberalism, but I read it as a source of fiction, something to make us feel good and to give people a sense of guidance, than as the absolute Word of God.

Of course that's just my opinion, I could be wrong...

Texan
"I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library."
 
Bernard Shakey
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RE: Why Are You An Atheist? (Be Civil)

Thu Mar 03, 2005 12:57 pm

Quoting Oly720man (reply 20):
I'd say I was an agnostic rather than atheist. I think we just don't know or understand enough. My feeling about religions is that there is just too much human intervention and interpretation in the pursuit of self interest. The basic message of all religions is pretty much the same, so why is there so much friction? People with their "better" God?


This is exactly how I feel as well.

Since we're all in a sharing mood, here goes nothin...

To me, organized religion is Wal Mart. It's a corporation. Bastardized and customized to fit the needs of humans, organized religion (in my view) tends to stray from good intentions and instead creates yet another group of individuals who somehow feel they are superior to others.

For those of you outside of the United States, this has become a huge political topic recently. "Morality" has become the buzzword when discussing last fall's election. Yet, are we to really believe that corporate greed and a questionable war ("Mission Accomplished!!") are moral, but dirty words on the radio and a legal union between two loving people are viewed as horribly offensive and, worse yet, immoral? This is why, as a straight male (of conservative appearance by the way - my liberal views often come as a surprise to others) I find the whole idea of banning gay marriage to be an injustice ranking right along side some of the great civil rights violations that have been forced upon citizens in the past. Folks, keep your religion and "morality" out of my laws. Marriage is a legal union in the eyes of the state, and not a religious one. We are denying rights to some of our citizens based upon religious views. And that's terrifying. It's also off the subject, so I digress...

I have come to 2 conclusions about religion: The Bible is the greatest how-to book ever written. Every conceivable human situation is elaborated upon within. Even if you're an atheist, or you've strayed from religion, pick it up and give it a look sometime. It truly is a magnificent work. I wonder if the man sticking his hand down the pants of my good friend (when she was 9) in a church bathroom had the good book in his other hand. Yet, he's moral because he goes to church...

The other conclusion is that I don't know enough to have an opinion, especially about other people's lives.. Think about it. Is there a God? I dunno. Is there life after death? Dunno. How about Heaven or Hell? Dunno, I'll find out someday. But here's the thing, just because I reject organized religion does not mean I go on a personal campaign to lead an immoral lifestyle. I try to be a good husband, father, son, friend, and citizen. Getting on the attendance sheet on Sunday mornings can't help those who lack in any of those areas in their own lives.

I'm leaning toward the existence of some type of force out there somewhere. Science can explain pretty much everything, but our very existence is still kind of odd. I guess that makes me agnostic.



[Edited 2005-03-03 04:58:24]
Mindless drifter on the road, Carries such an easy load
 
lehpron
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RE: Why Are You An Atheist? (Be Civil)

Thu Mar 03, 2005 1:31 pm

Quoting QANTASforever (reply 0):
Why Are You An Atheist? (Be Civil)


You mean 'what made you become' or 'when did you first' or 'how did you come to realize'. Asking why can incite violence. Big grin
The meaning of life is curiosity; we were put on this planet to explore opportunities.
 
QANTASforever
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RE: Why Are You An Atheist? (Be Civil)

Thu Mar 03, 2005 2:46 pm

Quoting Lehpron (reply 39):
You mean 'what made you become' or 'when did you first' or 'how did you come to realize'. Asking why can incite violence.


Well no, the kind of answers I was after were:

"I am an athiest because..."

"I became an Athiest after..."

You are dealing in semantics here - "what made you become" an athiest implies that a reason will be given as to why someone is an athiest, thus answering the "why" component.

I don't see how the way you have phrased your question differs from the spirit of the original?

QFF
Fighting for the glory of the Australian Republic.
 
TACAA320
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RE: Why Are You An Atheist? (Be Civil)

Thu Mar 03, 2005 2:52 pm

Quoting Gigneil (reply 32):
The same reason I no longer believe in the tooth fairy, or Santa Claus, or that the world is flat.



Popular lore, movies, and children’s stories hold that in 1492 Christopher Columbus proved the world is round and in the process defeated years of dogged opposition from the Roman Catholic Church, which insisted that the earth is flat. These tales are rooted in books like A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom, an influential reference by Andrew Dickson White, founder and first president of Cornell University. White claimed that even after Columbus’ return “the Church by its highest authority solemnly stumbled and persisted in going astray.”

The trouble is, almost every word of White’s account of the Columbus story is a lie. All educated persons of Columbus’ day, very much including the Roman Catholic prelates, knew the earth was round. The Venerable Bede (c. 673-735) taught that the world was round, as did Bishop Virgilius of Salzburg (c. 720-784), Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179), and Thomas Aquinas (c. 1224-74). All four ended up saints. Sphere was the title of the most popular medieval textbook on astronomy, written by the English scholastic John of Sacrobosco (c. 1200-1256). It informed that not only the earth but all heavenly bodies are spherical.

So, why does the fable of the Catholic Church’s ignorance and opposition to the truth persist? Because the claim of an inevitable and bitter warfare between religion and science has, for more than three centuries, been the primary polemical device used in the atheist attack on faith.
The truth is, there is no inherent conflict between religion and science. Indeed, the fundamental reality is that Christian theology was essential for the rise of science—a fact little appreciated outside the ranks of academic specialists.

Recent historical research has debunked the idea of a “Dark Ages” after the “fall” of Rome. In fact, this was an era of profound and rapid technological progress, by the end of which Europe had surpassed the rest of the world. Moreover, the so-called “Scientific Revolution” of the sixteenth century was a result of developments begun by religious scholars starting in the eleventh century.

Even in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the leading scientific figures were overwhelmingly devout Christians who believed it their duty to comprehend God’s handiwork. My studies show that the “Enlightenment” was conceived initially as a propaganda ploy by militant atheists attempting to claim credit for the rise of science. The falsehood that science required the defeat of religion was proclaimed by self-appointed cheerleaders like Voltaire, Diderot, and Gibbon, who themselves played no part in the scientific enterprise—a pattern that continues today. I find that through the centuries (including right up to the present day), professional scientists have remained about as religious as the rest of the population—and far more religious than their academic colleagues in the arts and social sciences.

It is the consensus among contemporary historians, philosophers, and sociologists of science that real science arose only once: in Europe. It is instructive that China, Islam, India, ancient Greece, and Rome all had a highly developed alchemy. But only in Europe did alchemy develop into chemistry. By the same token, many societies developed elaborate systems of astrology, but only in Europe did astrology lead to astronomy. And these transformations took place at a time when folklore has it that a fanatical Christianity was imposing a general ignorance on Europe—the so-called Dark Ages.

The progress achieved during the “Dark Ages” was not merely technological. Medieval Europe excelled in philosophy and science. The term “Scientific Revolution” is in many ways as misleading as “Dark Ages.” Both were coined to discredit the medieval Church. The notion of a “Scientific Revolution” has been used to claim that science suddenly burst forth when a weakened Christianity could no longer prevent it, and as the recovery of classical learning made it possible. Both claims are as false as those concerning Columbus and the flat earth.

First of all, classical learning did not provide an appropriate model for science. Second, the rise of science was already far along by the sixteenth century, having been carefully nurtured by religiously devout scholastics. Granted, the era of scientific discovery that occurred in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was marvelous, the cultural equivalent of the blossoming of a rose. But, just as roses do not spring up overnight, and must undergo a long period of normal growth before they even bud, so too the blossoming of science was the result of centuries of intellectual progress.

From Ockham through Copernicus, the development of the heliocentric model of the solar system was the product of the universities—that most Christian invention. From the start, the medieval Christian university was a place created and run by scholars devoted entirely to knowledge. The autonomy of individual faculty members was carefully guarded. Since all instruction was in Latin, scholars were able to move about without regard for linguistic boundaries, and because their degrees were mutually recognized, they were qualified to join any faculty. It was in these universities that European Christians began to establish science. And it was in these same universities, not later in the salons of philosophes or Renaissance men, that the classics were restored to intellectual importance. The translations from Greek into Latin were accomplished by exceedingly pious Christian scholars.

It was the Christian scholastics, not the Greeks, Romans, Muslims, or Chinese, who built up the field of physiology based on human dissections. Once again, hardly anyone knows the truth about dissection and the medieval Church. Human dissection was not permitted in the classical world (“the dignity of the human body” forbade it), which is why Greco-Roman works on anatomy are so faulty. Aristotle’s studies were limited entirely to animal dissections, as were those of Celsius and Galen. Human dissection also was prohibited in Islam.

With the Christian universities came a new outlook on dissection. The starting assumption was that what is unique to humans is a soul, not a physiology. Dissections of the human body, therefore, have no theological implications.

Science consists of an organized effort to explain natural phenomena. Why did this effort take root in Europe and nowhere else? Because Christianity depicted God as a rational, responsive, dependable, and omnipotent being, and the universe as his personal creation. The natural world was thus understood to have a rational, lawful, stable structure, awaiting (indeed, inviting) human comprehension.

Christians developed science because they believed it could—and should—be done. Alfred North Whitehead, the great philosopher and mathematician, co-author with Bertrand Russell of the landmark Principia Mathematica, credited “medieval theology” for the rise of science. He pointed to the “insistence on the rationality of God,” which produced the belief that “the search into nature could only result in the vindication of the faith.”

Whitehead ended with the remark that the images of God found in other religions, especially in Asia, are too impersonal or too irrational to have sustained science. A God who is capricious or unknowable gives no incentive for humans to dig deeply into his essence. Moreover, most non-Christian religions don’t posit a creation. If the universe is without beginning or purpose, has no Creator, is an inconsistent, unpredictable, and arbitrary mystery, there is little reason to explore it. Under those religious premises, the path to wisdom is through meditation and mystical insights, and there is no occasion to celebrate reason.

In contrast, Tertullian, one of the earliest Christian theologians (c. 160-225), instructed that God has willed that the world he has provided “should be handled and understood by reason.” The weight of opinion in the early and medieval church was that there is a duty to understand, in order to better marvel at God’s handiwork. Saint Augustine (354-430) held that reason was indispensable to faith: “Heaven forbid that God should hate in us that by which he made us superior to the animals! Heaven forbid that we should believe in such a way as not to accept or seek reasons, since we could not even believe if we did not possess rational souls.” Of course, Christian theologians accepted that God’s word must be believed even if the reasons were not apparent. In matters “that we cannot yet grasp by reason—though one day we shall be able to do so—faith must precede reason,” stated Augustine.

Note the optimism that reason will reveal more and more truth as time accumulates. Saint Thomas Aquinas (c. 1225-1274) attempted in his monumental Summa Theologiae to fulfill Augustine’s optimism that some of these “matters of great importance” could be grasped by reason. Though humans lack sufficient intellect to see directly into the essence of things, he argued they may reason their way to knowledge step-by-step, using principles of logic. This is the methodology of science.

The great figures of the heyday of scientific discovery—including Descartes, Galileo, Newton, and Kepler—actively professed their absolute faith in a Creator God, whose work incorporated rational rules awaiting their discovery. Far from being a rejection of religion, the “Scientific Revolution” was led mostly by deeply religious men acting on religious motivations.

To sum up: The rise of science was not an extension of classical learning. It was the natural outgrowth of Christian doctrine: Nature exists because it was created by God. In order to love and honor God, it is necessary to fully appreciate the wonders of his handiwork. Moreover, because God is perfect, his handiwork functions in accord with immutable principles. By the full use of our God-given powers of reason and observation it ought to be possible to discover these principles. These crucial religious ideas were why the rise of science occurred in Christian Europe, not somewhere else...

[Extracted from a translation of my thesis for a P.H.][Original in Spanish].

[Edited 2005-03-03 07:05:02]
'Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind'. Albert Einstein
 
lehpron
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RE: Why Are You An Atheist? (Be Civil)

Thu Mar 03, 2005 5:54 pm

Quoting QANTASforever (reply 40):
Well no, the kind of answers I was after were:

"I am an athiest because..."

"I became an Athiest after..."

You are dealing in semantics here - "what made you become" an athiest implies that a reason will be given as to why someone is an athiest, thus answering the "why" component.

I don't see how the way you have phrased your question differs from the spirit of the original?


There is no because, there is no why, things happen for a reason. I know that sounds funny, hear me out: When people make claims against their named religion, I do not buy their claim as most people scapegoat: people confuse religion and God. It is not God's fault if you didn't like what was being taught or if you didn't like how the people act with regards to their convictions compared to yours; it primarily depends on your upbringing, what you were acustomed to as you grew up.

Like if one bugs a priest with questions, they are not going to know everything, that does not make them inconsistent. The religions are inconsistent becuse they are old, but God is not. God is not about answers, God is about faith. It is easy to believe in a God, as long as we know how to believe. Lack of faith is easy, one must experience some sort of hardship. I'm religious but not with my the religion, my belief has evolved over the years, I can get borderline atheist at times. It does upset my mother who is way more religious than I am.
The meaning of life is curiosity; we were put on this planet to explore opportunities.
 
DeskPilot
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RE: Why Are You An Atheist? (Be Civil)

Fri Mar 04, 2005 11:23 am

I suppose I'm agnostic in respect that I don't necessarily believe in the beliefs put forward by religions, but I can't fully disprove them either. I’m formulating my own ideas on this god thing, but it’s not an all powerful creature. I find it hard to accept that an all powerful being demands/needs such devotion from it’s creation. Maybe the "god thing" is the laws of figures that govern the universe, that came into being at the big bang ? Sort of like the “force” thing out of Star Wars  Smile

I like some of the value messages held in all religions (fairness, understanding etc.), but I'm put off by their exclusive teachings; they are the answer and there are no options.

However, religion and beliefs give others comfort and I’m happy for others to have this. But, the same way they I respect other peoples’ beliefs, I require respect for mine !

In the case of my son, I’m letting him come to his own conclusions in life. Unfortunately, my wife wants him to attend Catholic RE at school to please her parents, but I know it’s not working. He’s picking “holes in it” at the age of eight ! He can make his own decisions.
By the way, is there anyone on board who knows how to fly a plane?
 
sprout5199
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RE: Why Are You An Atheist? (Be Civil)

Fri Mar 04, 2005 11:42 am

Well, Im not religious, I wasn't brought up in a religous family, Thank God. However I have prayed at times. But I do belive in an after life,Why else am I doing good things while I'm alive? Do I belive in whats in the bible? NO, It was written by a man.Religion is one of those things you can't talk about. Like telling your current G/F how good your last G/F was. The only thing that will happen is a BIG fight.

BTW GOD I'm being sarcastic(covering my ass)

Dan in Jupiter
 
TACAA320
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RE: Why Are You An Atheist? (Be Civil)

Fri Mar 04, 2005 12:45 pm

Quoting Sprout5199 (reply 44):
Do I belive in whats in the bible? NO, It was written by a man.Religion is one of those things you can't talk about. Like telling your current G/F how good your last G/F was.


May I know your definition of "Religion"?

Thanks,
'Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind'. Albert Einstein
 
Leezyjet
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RE: Why Are You An Atheist? (Be Civil)

Fri Mar 04, 2005 11:46 pm

Why Are You An Atheist?

Because I think that religion is a load of rubbish. Why not worship the Harry Potter books for example ??. It's just fiction that was written a long time ago.

Most religious people are total hypocrates too.

 Smile
"She Rolls, 45 knots, 90, 135, nose comes up to 20 degrees, she's airborne - She flies, Concorde Flies"
 
TACAA320
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RE: Why Are You An Atheist? (Be Civil)

Fri Mar 04, 2005 11:52 pm

Quoting Leezyjet (reply 46):
Because I think that religion is a load of rubbish. Why not worship the Harry Potter books for example ??. It's just fiction that was written a long time ago.



May I know why? Just some "arguments" please.

[I'm respecting your position as "atheist", but trying to realize if many in here are really "agnostics" instead of "atheist". But don't want to disturb anybody.]
'Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind'. Albert Einstein
 
KiwiNanday
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RE: Why Are You An Atheist? (Be Civil)

Sat Mar 05, 2005 1:34 am

Quoting QANTASforever (reply 0):
Basically - how did you come to the conclusion that you were an Athiest?


There is no scientific evidence supporting the existance of an omniesciant being. Also, the bible states that we are to keep watch over the world, and that all living things are underneath us. Humans should not be the arbiters of this planet, we should not go out and kill a lion just because it ate a baby. All creatures need to eat to survive, so why do we give ourselves the right to kill them for doing so. We also have no right to tear apart other species habitats, or allow our world's population to climb so high. I know it sounds radical, but maybe we should put a population cap on this planet. We are tearing our world apart, and if there was a god, it would have already created some devastating event, be it nuclear war or a volcanic eruption, to lower our population and protect the planet.

To put it simply, religion is a sedative, something to keep the common man content with his crap life. It is also a devastating thing to combine with politics, and I never want to make the mistakes others have.
Silly Islamic extremists, it's just a cartoon!
 
TACAA320
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RE: Why Are You An Atheist? (Be Civil)

Sat Mar 05, 2005 7:39 am

Quoting KiwiNanday (reply 48):
There is no scientific evidence supporting the existance of an omniesciant being



Of course. That`s because religions are based in "faith".
'Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind'. Albert Einstein

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