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Theism<--->Atheism, Agnosticism<-->Faith

R0b1Billion
Posts: 3,732
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3/24/2014 2:58:55 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
Theism is the belief in God. Our conception of God started out as mythical beings who had personalities and shortcomings, and developed into a God who was stronger than all other possible beliefs. The Christian God is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. That sure beats Achilles who couldn't even get shot in his ankle with an arrow by Legolas.

Atheists decided this was rubbish, so they deny any supernatural being and instead assert that there is nothing. Science, evolution, evidence... This stuff is great when you're discussing phenomena, but God is not a phenomenon.

Agnostics claim the higher ground by asserting they "don't know." Perhaps there is a God, perhaps there is not - there's no such thing as "noumenal evidence" so why argue?

When I was a young boy I believed in God, perhaps, just because I was scared not to. Then I didn't care for awhile in my teens, became and atheist in my 20s (college + science = atheism) and finally decided agnosticism was the sure-fire winner.

But now that the slate has been "wiped clean" again, I find myself once more asking what I should believe in. If my choices are an omnipotent being, nothing, or confusion, then I want another choice.

My best answer today, at age 33, is that I should have faith in "something." Believing in the Biblical God seems foolish, although I view Jesus as the greatest moral philosopher of all time (and hence the greatest man who ever lived). Believing in "nothing" is nonsensical, because there is definitely "something" more to this story that science has yet been unable to disclose. Answers to questions like
- How did life start on Earth? Of all the wonderful things we can manipulate, the creation of even the slightest form of life is completely beyond our technical imaginations.
- What is the purpose for all the extra stuff out there? Extra dimensions we can't see into, extra planets and galaxies by the trillions, and perhaps even extra universes or realities that each could be as grand as our own. And perhaps even most importantly, extra time. Quantum mechanics insists that every planck cube of space (the smallest imaginable measurable unit) in the universe must have a non-zero energy state, which translates into meaning that our universe breathes and froths continuously. It pops out random particles, annihilates them, let's them "tunnel" through space, etc.

This means that random fluctuations will cause spontaneous drops in entropy if given enough time to randomly do so (and why wouldn't they have an infinite amount of time to do so?). Now this effect is miniscule (unless you're reading the Hitchhiker's Guide) so we don't notice it on our time-scales. But given enough time, any random object can expect to pop out of the emptiness of space simply due to the coincidental non-zero energy-states of every inch of space. At some point, those non-zero energy states will just happen to all be perfectly aligned to create something.

That something could be a rock, a planet, or a blue whale. If we gave random space 10^10^56 years (a number you couldn't even write using every particle in the known universe, never-mind have a chance to express it!), then that would be enough time for a new big-bang to occur to produce a universe similar to ours. Actually, I'm glad quantum fluctuations take so long to occur, otherwise we'd have a lot more ghost stories and the like!

Interestingly enough, it only takes 10^10^50 years for a random human brain to pop into existence. Called a "Boltzmann Brain," it has been suggested that it is much more likely that you are simply a brain that popped into existence somewhere in the vacuum of space, than it is that an entire universe was created. Since our experiences are created within the mind, there's no way to prove that you aren't floating around in a universe devoid of planets, stars, and other people.

Given this information (if you can call it that!), I choose not to believe in God or to refuse to believe in God or to throw my hands up and refuse to ask the question at all. I think the safest bet is to believe in SOMETHING. Something is keeping me alive and everyone else out there without science being able to explain how. In half a billion years, when supervolcanic eruptions, nearby hypernova gamma ray bursts, huge meteors, and nuclear weapons have all had their chances to wipe us out (one of them almost certainly will, and if not then the Sun will incinerate us) then whatever made us here will make us again somewhere else.

I think faith has two main parts: the first is the one I just described, which describes the metaphysical origins of humanity and reality itself. One must be comfortable knowing that all is not lost once one dies, and that there are mechanisms to perpetuate your own existence. God and Heaven do this, and I think God and Heaven are good concepts that are probably true in a sense. No, it's not a guy with a beard hosting the in-club, it's probably something that words cannot describe and by trying to, we only bastardize it and create hate amongst one another by not describing it well enough for the next person. But without belief in something after death, it becomes sort of pointless even to live.

It makes sense that the quality (ethics) of our actions now will reflect back later for whatever reason, through any number of different direct or indirect ways. Perhaps unethical behavior harms others, who take that pain back to us later on (by rejoining our collective consciousness, seeing us in Heaven, etc.). Or perhaps it's much more practical, and we simply cause ourselves psychological harm by feeding that urge to hurt, because then we get into a habit of it and end up hurting ourselves somehow. Perhaps it is a combination of practical and metaphysical reasons, but you can be fairly certain there's repercussions for unethical behavior. The second component that I think is important for faith is morality. We need to know that being kind and gentle to others means something. Even if there isn't a mystical force of karma or sin out there to worry about, there are logical and practical reasons for why you should always check your actions to make sure you are not being overly selfish and indulgent.

I think it's sad that atheists and theists are divided, when I can pretty-much agree with them both and come to the same conclusions using pieces (the good pieces) of each. Agnosticism isn't good enough either, because that usually hovers around atheism and simply puts off the question. Instead of theism, atheism, and agnosticism, we should just have faith in ourselves and our universe. We should (1) have faith that the mechanisms that brought us here are going to continue after we die in some form, and that this probably wasn't our first rodeo anyway. It makes much more sense that we are in the middle of a process that is much more than our lives, as opposed to just believing that we only have one life to live, surrounded on both sides by infinite blackness. And we should (2) take comfort that the actions of good we commit, even if we cannot intellectually figure out how, are going to help us out later and we should not justify holding back our good deeds simply because we cannot see how it could directly benefit us later on.
Beliefs in a nutshell:
- The Ends never justify the Means.
- Objectivity is secondary to subjectivity.
- The War on Drugs is the worst policy in the U.S.
- Most people worship technology as a religion.
- Computers will never become sentient.
Iredia
Posts: 1,608
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3/24/2014 6:12:42 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
Just be deist already. You look like you're headed that way.
Porn babes be distracting me. Dudes be stealing me stuff. I'm all about the cash from now. I'm not playing Jesus anymore.
R0b1Billion
Posts: 3,732
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3/24/2014 7:15:27 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 3/24/2014 6:12:42 PM, Iredia wrote:
Just be deist already. You look like you're headed that way.

But deism is just theism with a passive God. I don't believe in a supernatural being, I believe that life comes from somewhere we haven't found yet, and perhaps may never find. Maybe it's one of those dimensions we can't see, maybe it's outside of our universe, or maybe we'll even discover it in the laboratory. I think that God will turn out being the representation of the energy that our souls come from... assuming we ever find it that is, it's very likely no living person will ever cross that barrier of knowing what goes on when we're dead.
Beliefs in a nutshell:
- The Ends never justify the Means.
- Objectivity is secondary to subjectivity.
- The War on Drugs is the worst policy in the U.S.
- Most people worship technology as a religion.
- Computers will never become sentient.